Always a stranger

Cotton Jones, “Paranoid Cocoon” on Suicide Squeeze Records.

This is wonderful, wonderful, warm dark psyche-pop-rock-relaxed music. Michael Nau seems well suited here, moreso than Page France. This isn’t as cute, it’s more serious but it charms with its own characteristics rather than effort. Much of the record is sung in harmony, and this works perfectly. It’s got that gospel soul feel to it, but it’s slower and windier. I have a feeling that this will be one of the growers of ’09 on me. This is a record light on its feet, to say the least. Give it a whirl.


Charles Gibson is hip.


But Scott, there’s no WAY that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were on ABC News!


The lead-in groove on my copy of “Another Side of Bob Dylan” sounds like the channel on TV where the black and white dots battle back and forth for control of the screen. Someone once called it the Salt and Pepper war.

My uncle, whose name is scrawled on both sides of the jacket and label, must have listened to this a lot of times. The plastic (not paper) sleeve in the jacket smells like the 1960s.

The recording is so stark that it’s not even noticeable once the music starts. It’s hard not to adore this entire situation.

Nice to be home

There are moments when listening to Neil Young that make me extremely happy to be alive. Live at Massey Hall is one hell of a snapshot of a time and place. Playing songs off of Harvest prior to its release to a crowd of overzealous Canadians. Before “Bad Fog of Loneliness”, they start to clap – he stops and asks “Why are you clapping? You don’t even know this song!” He plays it, and then while fooling around with his guitar thereafter, begins to start playing the intro guitar riff to “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” for about three seconds. To me, this is hilarious. I laugh out loud at things like this. No one in the crowd can be heard laughing. He chuckles to himself and moves on into “The Needle and the Damage Done” – a song he describes as “not that funny” after telling the crowd that they each probably know a junkie.

I’ve gotten to the point with Neil Young that it’s these things which keep me coming back, on top of the music. The crowd is screaming for more after he plays “See the Sky About to Rain” which wouldn’t be released on an album for several years. Something is lurking in Massey Hall. There’s a spirit within Neil Young and the words that come out of his mouth. It’s completely incredible. It moves through me.

Dose of Thunder, 1.8.09

Dose of Thunder (w/Cate)

1. Firehose, “Brave Captain” from Brave Captain 7″
2. Pere Ubu, “Street Waves” from The Modern Dance
3. Abe Vigoda, “Don’t Lie” from Reviver
4. Times New Viking, “Call and Respond” from Stay Awake
5. Eric’s Trip, “Follow” from Love Tara
6. That Ghost, “Never Have Fun” from Young Fridays
7. The Botticellis, “Awaiting on You All” from 7″
8. The Magnetic Fields, “Strange Powers” from Holiday
9. The Clean, “Tally Ho!” from Compilation
10. Crystal Stilts, “Shattered Shine” from Alight of Night
11. The Walkmen, “Wake Up” from Everyone who pretended to Like Me Is Gone
12. The Dutchess and The Duke, “Never Had a Chance” from Never Had a Chance 7″
13. Francois Virot, “Dummies” from Yes or No
14. Tim Hardin, “Reason to Believe” from Tim Hardin 1
15. Okkervil River, “Black Sheep Boy”
16. Eric’s Trip, “Behind the Garage” from Love Tara
17. Neil Young, “On The Way Home” from Sugar Mountain: Live at the Canterbury House 1968
18. The Tallest Man on Earth, “Shallow Grave” from Shallow Grave
19. Fred Neil, “Little Bit of Rain” from Little Bit of Rain
20. Karen Dalton, “Something on Your Mind” from In My Own Time
21. Brightblack Morning Light, “All We Have Broken Shines” from Brightblack Morning Light
22. Phosphorescent, “Cocaine Lights” from Daytrotter
23. Here We Go Magic, “Tunnelvision” from Here We Go Magic
24. Animal Collective, “Summertime Clothes” from Merriweather Post Pavilion
25. The Fugs, “Slum Goddess” from The Fugs First Album
26. Stiff Little Fingers, “Suspect Device” from Inflammmable Material
27. Pere Ubu, “Navvy” from Dub Housing
28. The Stooges, “1969” from The Stooges
29. The Stooges, “Down On The Street” from Fun House
30. The Stooges, “T.V. Eye” from Fun House
31. The Stooges, “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell” from Raw Power
32. The Stooges, “Raw Power” from Raw Power

An influence set: 14 and 15, 19 and 20. “Black Sheep Boy” is a Hardin track. Fred Neil wrote “Little Bit of Rain,” Dalton covered it. “Something on Your Mind” is Nick Cave’s favorite song. Daytrotter’s version of “Cocaine Lights” is amazing. Matthew Houck is quite something, and has a Willie Nelson covers album coming our way on Dead Oceans this year. Last five songs in tribute to Ron Asheton’s shred-dom. Picked ‘Raw Power’ on the jukebox last night at the Rush.

Throw me in the fire now, come on.

As someone who listens to a lot of new music all the time, a guy playing a guitar with no other accompaniment has become one of the most tired concepts my mind could dream up. That said, the debut album by The Tallest Man on Earth is captivating and worth every second of yours that it takes.

Kristian Matsson, a swede who may not actually live up to his name makes music that sort of transcends his genre. Unlike all the music that bills itself as “folk” these days, I believe that this music is based on a folk tradition inherent in all of us who listen to music that comes from the earth we inhabit. If that doesn’t make sense, think of it this way. Folk music is supposed to be relatable, right? The reason Dylan and the throngs of people in Greenwich Village 45 years ago flocked to Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk music is because it told tales that everyone understands and that line the fabric of our culture. Ballads, labor songs, social music. We know these things and relate to their concepts. Matsson’s music is relatable not only lyrically, but musically. The songs don’t drag. This isn’t a psych-folk masturbatory piece, it’s short and to the point.

I talked today with my friend Rachel, and basically said that songs should be interesting rather than uninteresting. That I want to be compelled to listen to music, not invited to wish I was somewhere else, maybe drinking a milkshake after the show.

In less obvious things, The Tallest Man on Earth is completely interesting. The guitar work is quick and fleeting, his hands move as fast as light. His songs are stark and simple, the melodies impel you to focus on them only. This is folk music that makes you move in your seat, it adds spring to your step. This is music you want to see live. This does not bore. Matsson challenges you, he questions you – “throw me in the fire now, come on!” he screams, in “Pistol Dreams.” This is music that asks something of you, it’s not music that begs you to sit.

Is Kristian Matsson more punk than we all think? Ask me to hear.

Eight Pack!


Just ordered this. You can get it here. Money goes to charity. Yo La Tengo is still the greatest. I don’t even like white t-shirts.