Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Of the Year – 2016

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

ALBUMS

1. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine — Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam 
I love when my favorite album of the year comes out of nowhere. I listened to this on NPR first listen because I liked the title and Hamilton’s last name. And I pretty much haven’t stopped listening to it since. Never been a big Walkman fan, though in hindsight I always liked the music of Vampire Weekend more than the lyrics. Sooo good.

2. Wild Dark Metal — Mason Jennings
Probably Mason’s best record since Blood of Man (if you don’t count The Flood as an excellent collection of older songs) — and somewhat of a companion piece with the electric guitar focus. He didn’t tour for this album, and an interview seemed to suggest he’s contemplating retirement. I hope he doesn’t hang it up for good, but completely understand if he needs a break.

3. Ruminations — Conor Oberst
This is the first time I’ve genuinely loved a Conor Oberst record top to bottom on my own vs. slowly come around to it based on my wife’s interest in it.

4. Give It Back To You — The Record Company
This one feels weird to me in some regards since I’ve been a fan of this band for so long that these aren’t really “new” songs to me.  But super proud of the buzz they’ve achieved in the leap from “best local band in LA” to “Grammy nominated artist for best contemporary blues album.”

5. Songs in the Key of Animals — Benji Hughes
Another time travel moment since this tied for my second favorite album of 2014 in its original form, but got a re-issue on Merge with a different track order and some new flare to a few of the intros/outros of the songs. Love that Benji is getting more well-deserved exposure, though I’m still a little baffled by the re-ordering since I’ve always thought the “draft” version was especially well sequenced.  Maybe I’ll get to ask him someday.

6. Emotions & Math — Margaret Glaspy
Favorite debut of the year — if “debut” is defined as “first release by someone I hadn’t heard of before.”

7. Life in the Dark — The Felice Brothers

SONGS

1. Couples Skate — Robert Ellis

2. O’Brien is Tryin’ to Learn to Talk Hawaiian — The Mr T Experience

3. Two Dollar Man / Old Daze — Mason Jennings

4. Freaky Feedback Blues — Benji Hughes

5. Plunder — The Felice Brothers

SHOWS

Sweet Spirit @ ABGB 1/31/16
They did a cover from Blackstar shortly after Bowie’s passing — and then went straight into an awesome rendition of “Young Americans” that brought down the house.

Benji Hughes @ The Bootleg Bar 2/4/16
My grandmother passed away this year.  The funeral was the weekend before this show.  I was scheduled to go to LA for work and could have been off the hook no questions asked, but decided to keep the trip anyways.  Whether it was too soon or not is still debatable, but seeing Benji and hearing “I Hate When Pretty Ladies Die” live at this show was exactly what I needed.  RIP, Gram.

Smooth Hound Smith @ ON A RIVERBOAT (!!!) at SXSW 3/18/16
I already covered this show in the SXSW recap, but man was that fun.

Supersuckers @ The Continental Club 3/19/16
This one didn’t get too much detail in the SXSW recap, but was a highlight.  When the schedule first came out and I saw the Supersuckers were playing the Continental at 1am I was pretty sure I’d be going by myself, but somehow managed to convince my wife to join me (as well as our friend Hunter) and a good time was had by all.

Reverend Horton Heat & Dale Watson @ Strange Brew 7/23/16
Dale Watson became our discovery of the year due to this show.  And I fulfilled my musical bucket list item of finally hearing “Liquor, Beer & Wine” live.  One of four times I saw the Reverend this year after way too many years off.

Felice Brothers @ the Sidewinder 10/5/16
Super cool venue, super cool setlist by a band that’s really coming into their own. And we kept up our remarkable run of consecutive shows where they play “Marie” — still my favorite song of theirs.

The Record Company @ Antone’s 11/12/16
Coverville introduced me to the Record Company years ago based on their awesome cover of “So What’cha Want?” by the Beastie Boys. My favorite part of this show was turning around to watch the crowd while they played it, watching everyone slowly reach the same revelation about what song it was when the signature guitar riff kicks in. I also got to ask singer Chris Vos about the lyric change on “This Crooked City” from “…and we shared a couple of beers” to “…and we shed a couple of tears.”  Both work well, but completely change the interpretation of the song.  He laughed when we screamed the older “beers” version during the set, and later told me “to be honest, I still sing beers sometimes too.”

SXSW 2016

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

3 Days + 1 Night. 19 Shows. 33 sets. 25 bands. So much fun. So glad it’s over until next year…

Playlist below. One song per set in the order we saw the shows.

(Multiple songs by the same band means I saw them multiple times. Smooth Hound Smith wins with 4 incredible sets — including one on a boat!)

SXSW in a nutshell...

SXSW in a nutshell…

Of The Year – 2015

Friday, January 1st, 2016

My annual best of music list — which this year will hopefully not be among my only posts of the year.

Albums

1. Sound & Color — Alabama Shakes
No sophomore slump here.

2. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit — Courtney Barnett
Most anticipated album of the year (thanks, Bob Boilen!). Best album title of the year. Heck of a live show (we saw her twice, listened from outside when we couldn’t get into a SXSW show, and strongly considered going to see her open for Blur in LA.)

3. Eponymous — Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
This thing is just so damn fun on so many levels.

4. Here Come The Girls — The London Souls
2nd best discovery of the year thanks to ACL.

5. Slow Gum — Fraser. A Gorman
Best discovery of the year thanks to Courtney Barnett at SXSW.

6. Star Wars — Wilco
Surprise, it’s good.

7. Sweet Tennessee Honey — Smooth Hound Smith
This record grows on me more and more with each listen. Every time I forget about it, I fall in love with it again.

Songs

1. To Fill My Heart With Love Until It Almost Breaks My Heart — Spirit Family Reunion

2. Book of Love — Fraser A. Gorman

3. Dark Bird Is Home — The Tallest Man on Earth

4. Jazz x10 — Benji Hughes

5. Ghost Ship — Blur

Shows

1. Courtney Barnett w/ Fraser A. Gorman @ SXSW

2. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats w/ Caroline Rose @ the Historic Scoot Inn

3. The Record Company @ Sam’s Burger Joint

4. Smooth Hound Smith @ Stay Gold

Of The Year – 2014

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

For once I’m writing this at a not too unreasonable point after the end of the year in question, so no need for a backdated post inserted via time travel…

1. LILILIL — Benji Hughes
I can’t think of another album in the last decade — if not ever — that leaves me with such a big grin every time I listen to it. LILILIL is concept album Benji wrote for his daughter. The story is a time travel rock opera set in outer space and narrated by Jeff Bridges.  Various characters leave “space messages” that are basically introductions to “space jams” by Benji.  Plus the whole thing starts off with a repeated chant of “I am from the future…I am from the future…I am from the future.”  You had me at hello…

2. OXOXOXOX / Songs in the Key of Animals / XXOXOXX – Benji Hughes
Yes, I really am saying my 4 favorite albums of 2014 are by the same artist. And it was pretty much a no brainer.  Since they are only available for purchase as a set I’ll go Nielsen-style and group them together under a single number.  (This also gets me off the hook from needing to rank them individually.)  Can you say infallible band?

3. Supernova – Ray LaMontagne
Ray’s best record since his debut. Taking chances with vocal arrangements and cool stuttery noises that paid off big. Any other year this would have been number one with a bullet.

4. The Voyager – Jenny Lewis
Breezy, poppy, snarky, confident and fun.

5. V for Vaselines – The Vaselines
Kurt Cobain’s fandom and Nirvana’s 3 famous covers sent me seeking out the Vaselines 20 years ago. Some songs I have always loved (“The Day I Was a Horse,” “Teenage Superstars” and “Dying For It”), but mostly I respected them and found the other songs more interesting than good. The same was mostly true about their 2010 comeback record — but V for Vaselines is easily the best album in their catalog. I hope they do another one.

Rocktober Recap

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

I know I go to more concerts than the average person. But October was nuts even for me. Let me count the ways…

October 1 – The Felice Brothers at the Roxy
The Felices are my wife’s favorite band, and have come to hold a special place in my heart too.  Their show was a rollicking good time as always. Plus the opening act was Spirit Family Reunion who may have my favorite song title of the year: “To Fill My Heart With Love Until It Almost Breaks My Heart.”  Highlights: “Marie” (my favorite Felice Brothers Song), “Silver in the Shadow,” “White Limo,” “Lincoln Continental.”

October 5 – Conor Oberst & John Prine at the Greek Theatre
More spousal influence: my wife has dug Conor since I dragged her to see Monsters of Folk at this same venue 5 years ago. (And she discovered the Felice Brothers when they opened for Conor at Pappy & Harriets.)  His set here was pretty good, but John Prine really stole the show.  Somehow I’d never heard of John Prine before, but when I checked out his back catalog in preparation for this show I was blown away.  (Incidentally I had heard some of his songs before, most famously Evan Dando’s cover of “Sam Stone” from the Griffith Sunset EP.)

October 7 – Conor Oberst at the Grammy Museum
Seeing the same artist multiple times on the same tour isn’t a common occurrence, but it isn’t unheard of either.  Shows at the Grammy Museum have a neat talk show style format with a short interview followed by a short set of music.  They also keep video of every on site event in their archives that anyone can view when visiting the museum.  Highlight of the live set was closing it out with a cover of John Prine’s “Pretty Good” — my favorite John Prine song that wasn’t played by Prine at the Greek show.

October 9 – Damien Rice at Immanuel Presbyterian Church
Between the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and this venue, the “concert in a church” thing is starting to really take off in LA.  This was the first time I’ve had an opportunity to see Damien Rice since discovering him.  Venue suited him perfectly and he nailed it.  He didn’t play my two favorite songs (“Rat Within the Grain” and “Coconut Skins”) — but still blew me away.  Highlights: “Rootless Tree” (on piano!), “Cheers Darlin” (complete with wine bistro skit lead-in), “Volcano” (with full on audience participation).

October 10 – Bahamas at the Roxy
Bahamas made my favorite albums list in 2011 & 2012 and are likely to do so again this year.  I’ve seen him play twice before — both times as an opening act, and both times left me wanting more.  This was the first time I got to see a full set.  It was good, but the setlist left me wanting more.  (No “Little Record Girl” or “You’re Bored, I’m Old.”)  Sometimes I feel guilty for criticizing setlist selections since I agree it should be fully in the artist’s control.  But I really was expecting more here.  (Sorry, Afie!)

October 11 (morning) – The Record Company at the Taste of South Lake Festival
A rare day/night doubleheader featuring the best band you’ve never heard.  Scrambled to get here on time after brunch for an 11am start time.  Missed a couple of songs, but caught most of the set.  These guys continue to blow me away every time I see them.  They’re about to go on a national tour opening for Brian Setzer — check ’em out if you can.

October 11 (evening) – Ray LaMontagne at the Greek Theatre
At one point Ray said he felt bad that people think his old songs are better.  I love Supernova — so much it might have been my favorite record of the year so far if not for the forthcoming trio of Benji Hughes albums — but the old Ray songs really are better.  “Burn” / “Trouble” / “Jolene” / “Shelter” stole the show.

October 16 – Jenny Lewis at the Broad Stage
This was part of Q Live — a Canadian talk show I’d never heard of when we bought the tickets to see Jenny but has become somewhat infamous since then due to the Jian Ghomeshi scandal. Jenny was great; I just wish she played more than 2 songs. I thought Q was a cool show and Jian was a great interviewer at the time, but now I’m second guessing myself and remembering creepiness in hindsight. #IBelieveThem

October 18 – Mike Doughty at the Mint
A Mike & Scrap question jar show is always a must see event.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every Doughty show in LA since 1999 (at least in part — I got lost and only caught the last 3 songs at McCabes in 1999, and didn’t go to the matinee of his 2 separate admission sets at the Hotel Cafe a few years back).  I figured Soul Coughing was going to be reintroduced to the solo repertoire, but was actually a little surprised at how many songs made the cut.  “Janine” and “True Dreams of Wichita” would have been fine by me.  He didn’t play “True Dreams,” did play “Janine” plus the two hits.  “Lazybones” was a nice bonus surprise.  When it’s Doughty playing acoustic guitar with Scrap just about everything is a highlight, but if forced to single some out I’d go with “Janine,” “Looks,” “Put It Down / Pleasure on Credit,” “Ossining,” and “Train to Chicago” — plus his stopping to yell at chatty folks in the crowd!

October 24 – John Denver Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony
Fun fact: John Denver is the 2,531st star on the Hollywood Walk of fame.  He was awarded the star in 1982, but never got around to scheduling the required personal appearance.  His family accepted it posthumously in his honor, with the band Trampled by Turtles covering “Annie’s Song” at the afternoon ceremony and an exhibit of John Denver’s photography afterwards.

October 30 – Citizen Cope at House of Blues
I used to hate full-album shows, but now I think they are absolutely brilliant.  The underrated yet iconic Clarence Greenwood Recordings record is 10 years old, and it’s still a humdinger live and by far his best work.  Only downside were all of the chatty folks in the crowd during “d’Artagnan’s Theme.”  (Where was Doughty when I needed him?)

October 31 – Nirvana Live at the Paramount
Ok, this one doesn’t really count.  But I figured the 23rd anniversary of this legendary show was as good a reason as any to break out the DVD and send off Rocktober in style.  I always forget how much the kinetic energy of this concert just sucks me in.  It’s also one of the first bootleg cassettes I ever bought as a kid and wore out in my car.  And it’s still powerful after all these years.  Wow…

Kurt Cobain + Time Travel = 3 Books

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Fun fact:  Searching for Cobain time travel on Amazon yields 3 results:The Drawing of the Three

Lost in the ’90s by Frank Anthony Polito — A teenaged rocker stage-dives during a ’90s themed dance and wakes up in 1994.

Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman — An essay collection featuring unrelated sections on time travel and Kurt Cobain.

Timely Persuasion by Jacob LaCivita — A rock and roll time travel tale about a music critic trying to save his sister.

Discounting Klosterman (who I love, but isn’t directly relevant here), I was pleasantly surprised to find Lost in the ’90s. I’d never heard of it before, but immediately purchased it — and really dug it too! Not only had someone else decided to revolve a time travel story around a cultural red-letter-date, but they did so with a lot of other interesting overlaps to the way I handled things in Timely Persuasion.  Song titles as chapter titles, lyrical allusions, musician fathers, and even bowling (!!!) pop up in both books.

I reached out to the author and he agreed to do a joint interview around our mutual inspirations.  So without further adieu, here’s Frank & Jake’s timely & persuasive take on being lost in the ’90s…

FAP:  Hey, there! My name is Frank Anthony Polito. I’m a Detroit-based writer and Lost in the ’90s is my first YA novel — though you don’t have to be a Young Adult to enjoy the story. In fact, you may appreciate it even more if you actually grew up in the 1990s.

JL:  Thanks for taking the time to do this. I’m not a young adult anymore, but I did grow up in the ’90s and can say you are spot on that it does help you appreciate the book.

People on this blog likely already know me, but in case you’re coming in for the first time via this post my name is Jacob LaCivita. Timely Persuasion is a rock and roll time travel novel I released in 2008 — though the bulk of it was written back in 2003. You don’t need to be an obsessive music fan like me to get into the story, but as Frank said about his book it may give you some added appreciation.

Let’s start off with the most timely question with the 20th anniversary upon us:  Why Kurt Cobain in a time travel tale? You nicely weave this throughout on a few different levels and have the bulk of the story set during those fateful days in early April 1994; my narrator tries to save Kurt as soon as he realizes what he can do…

FAP: Well, I hope this doesn’t come as a shock, but… When I began writing Lost in the ’90s I didn’t intentionally set out to include Kurt Cobain in my story. I’m a very realistic writer in that I write fiction that is fact-based. Based on my previous publishing experience, I figured (best case scenario) LIT90s would hit bookstores sometime in 2012. That said, I counted back 18 years in order to calculate my protagonist’s birth year — which took me to 1994. When I researched what was going on in the world that spring, I was reminded of the death of Kurt Cobain on 4/5/94 and voila!

JL:  That’s interesting.  I had many similar “count back X years and research” moments while plotting Timely Persuasion, but Kurt Cobain was there from the start.My standard answer to the “If you had a time machine…” question has been “find out how Kurt Cobain died” for as long as I can remember, so I knew I had to explore that in Timely Persuasion. I was 17 when Kurt died, and it hit me pretty hard at the time.  The Tom Grant murder theory started to gain press at about the same I discovered the Internet.  I became super obsessed with it right away. I’m not really a conspiracy theorist in general, but I’ve always been fascinated with unanswered questions. The hardest part in the writing process was figuring out a way to leave the suicide/murder question unanswered while still using it to explain the rules of time travel and give deeper insight into the narrator’s character.

FAP: Again, I hope this isn’t a shocker, but… Back in the day, I was not much of a Nirvana and/or Kurt Cobain fan. I didn’t find the music (or Cobain) attractive or interesting. In fact, I kind of sort of hated it (him). I was more into the music scene that had come out of Manchester (The Sundays, The Charlatans UK, etc.) Now that I’m older (and wiser), in doing research to write LIT90s I was happily surprised to discover that I honestly didn’t get Cobain back in 1994. I didn’t realize how ironic his lyrics were or what a supporter of gay rights he was, and how often he was misunderstood by his peers — something to which I could totally relate. Now I really wish I could go back in time to the early ’90s because I would totally change my tune. 

JL:  Like many ’90s teens Nirvana was my gateway into music I could call my own, but I really dug the British music scene too. The Manchester bands you mention were great (don’t forget the Happy Mondays!), along with new britpop revolution led by Blur & Oasis. Plus my favorite band to this day is still Carter USM — and not so coincidentally they have the most lyrical references in TP.

Sometimes I wonder if the love of the Beatles instilled in me by my parents paved the way for that. Which leads into another interesting overlap our books have: protagonists who meet their parents back in time.  In both cases they are surprised to learn that their father is a musician and decide to teach him some tunes… 

FAP: When my father was in high school he played guitar in a band — which is actually how he met my mother. As a kid, I was always fascinated whenever he would drag out his Fender and plug in the old amp and crank out some Black Sabbath. I can’t say that I based the parental characters in LIT90s on my own parents, but I knew that I wanted my protagonist and his father to have a musical bond. I was also a big time-travel geek growing up (Back to the Future, Voyagers!, Somewhere in Time), and I always enjoyed whenever someone from the future would teach someone from the past something and they would try to take credit for it.

JL:  I was also (and still am) a big time travel geek. I knew I wanted to write a time travel novel, but I had a few options on what the main plot would be. A so-so musician going back in time and finding fame by stealing music was one of my initial ideas.  Sort of a parable about the digital music industry. But I didn’t think I had enough for a full novel and scrapped it. Then somehow this story sent the narrator into the 1960s to meet his Dad (which wasn’t in the original outline), so I revived that older idea and ran with it.

FAP:  My idea for LIT90s came from an obscure “After School Special” called My Mother was Never A Kid, based on an obscure book by Francine Pascal (Sweet Valley High) called Hangin’ Out with Cici. In the story, a teenaged girl travels back in time from the 1970s to the 1940s where she meets (and befriends) her mother, who she doesn’t get along with in present day. And of course the aforementioned Back to the Future.

JL:  At the time I was excited and surprised nobody had done a time travel story that stole music from the future. And even though I included a number of Back to the Future references, it wasn’t until years later I realized that the Marty McFly “Johnny B. Goode” bit counted. Duh… 

FAP: Yes! This is exactly what I’m talking about… That moment when Marty is playing “Johnny B. Goode” with his band and that other guy is on the phone with his cousin, Chuck Berry, and he’s like “Listen to this!”

JL:  Classic moment. And tying it back to Kurt Cobain, there’s an episode of The Simpsons where they parody it by having “Marvin Cobain” call his cousin Kurt after hearing Homer’s band play grunge at a Lollapalooza type festival…

Sticking with music, we both also seem to weave little known “real” songs into the plot. I’m guessing “Basement Ghost” is by someone you know based on a few Googles, but I might be wrong.

FAP: You are correct. “Basement Ghost” was written by a friend of mine, Gabriel Grady. I have my MFA in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon, and I knew that I would eventually adapt the novel for the screen. Because music is such a part of the story, I wanted to make sure there would be an original song for the soundtrack. I knew that Gabe — being a Class of ’94 grad and a musician himself — was totally the guy to write my movie’s theme song. Now, if I could only sell that screenplay…

JL:  I could totally see LIT90s as a movie. Or maybe even an “After School Special” if they ever revive that concept…

It was especially impressive that you managed to make “Basement Ghost” a downloadable single to go with the book.  I wanted to do something like that but wasn’t ever able to find a musician to work with. It was always my secret hope that putting “Won One” in Timely Persuasion would nudge my college roommate into re-recording it for me (I lost my old cassette copy years ago). But it’s been over 10 years and the song still only exists in my memory and in my book.  And I still dig it way more than he does.  (Chris Evjy, if you’re reading this that was a not so subtle hint :))

FAP:  Again, the credit for this goes to Gabe Grady. It also helps that Gabe was in a band at the time I published LIT90s, and he was looking for promotional opportunities for himself and his work as well. I’m a firm believer in the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours…” theory of life, and in helping others along the way, if possible. The great thing about “Basement Ghost,” I will say, is that I told Gabe the basic gist of my story (how boy meets girl) and he ran with it. The lyrics and subsequent music are all to his credit.

JL:  Another item we share along the lines of great music-themed minds is using song titles as chapter titles. Yours are all great ’90s tunes that often aptly summarize the action.  What gave you that idea and how hard was it to pick the songs? 

FAP:  In my first two novels (Band Fags! and Drama Queers!) I did this same thing — only with ‘80s tunes. While LIT90s isn’t part of the trilogy, I wanted to continue using this technique, especially since music plays such a part in the story. In terms of choosing which songs to include, I have to say “Thank God for the Internet and Wikipedia!”

JL:  Originally Timely Persuasion didn’t have chapter titles. Then one night I woke up at 2am with this idea that every chapter was a song title that contained a number.  It would start with “One” by U2.  Just a single word so nobody realizes what’s going on yet. Then “Two of Us” by the Beatles. Then “Gimme Three Steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. And that’s when I jumped out of bed and made a huge list of candidate songs — first from my iTunes library, then falling back on the Internet like you did.

FAP:  That is an awesome idea! (I wondered where you came up with “Tram #7 to Heaven” by one of my faves, Jens Lekman.)

JL:  Jens is one of my favorites too. “Tram #7” plus “Wounded Kite at :17” by Pavement were the two titles that made me so giddy I just had to find a way to make this work. And later figuring out I could slot “Won One” in as #11 sealed the deal.  Hardest one was for 26 — it’s the only song I don’t like in the list. “Across 26 Winters” is a cool title and fits the chapter, but with apologies to Phoenix Mourning it’s not really my style.

Of your titles I especially liked “Fade Into You” & “Divine Thing.” And of course “Here’s Where The Story Ends” was the perfect ending…and it happens to be by another British group.

FAP: I’m particularly fond of “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star myself. I really think the song sets the tone for this particular chapter. “Action” is such a big component when it comes to film and, if memory serves, this chapter is almost all inner monologue for the female character as she rides along in the car with the two other guys in the story. I look forward to seeing how the scene would play out on the big screen — like an old-fashioned MTV music video.

JL:  Along with the musical nods taking the reader back into the era, I really liked the way you sprinkled references to other time travel stories throughout Lost in the 90s — and not just Back to the Future. Time travel seems to pop up all over the place. I’d never heard of Hangin’ Out With Cici before, but I do remember that time travel episode of Family Matters and liked the Somewhere in Time reference too.

FAP: Thanks. Like I said, I was a big time travel story geek growing up. And no surprise that you’d never heard of Cici — which most would call a “girl” book. I’m actually surprised that you know Somewhere in Time which is set in Michigan where I grew up, and I’ve somehow managed to reference in almost every story I’ve ever written.

JL:  I told you I was a time travel geek too! In TP my narrator sees a movie trailer for Peggy Sue Got Married on his second trip back in time (before he realizes that’s what’s actually happening). I picked it as a hybrid music & time travel reference — though it was totally one of those “need a movie from 1986” research happy accidents along the lines of how you picked Kurt Cobain for LIT90sBTTF & Quantum Leap are where my love of time travel came from, so I felt it only fair (and polite) to tip my cap to the greats.

FAP: Kudos to you, sir! I appreciate your appreciation of the greats who came before us 🙂 I’ve seen Peggy Sue, but only once (years ago!) and I don’t really remember the plot. I also didn’t watch Quantum Leap for whatever reason. But, as I’ve mentioned, there was a time travel show back in the early ‘80s that I loved as a kid called Voyagers!, starring Jon-Erik Hexum, whose career was tragically cut short after he accidentally shot himself in 1984. If you haven’t seen it, you should totally check it out.

JL:  Yes, I like Voyagers! too. And the Omni is one of the coolest time machines, right up there with the DeLorean and the Tardis.

Anyways, this was pretty fun. Anything else to add in closing?

FAP: Thanks for finding me and making this happen. It’s been almost 2 years since LIT90s was released, which in book terms makes it “old news.” My goal was to do a big publicity push to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death… But having worked in the New York City publishing industry as a book publicist, I know what a pain — and how futile — it can all be. Here’s hoping we both will find some new readers.

JL:  Indeed. We write books so people can read them, right?

Anyone interested in learning more about either Lost in the ’90s or Timely Persuasion can check out both of our books below for a trip down memory lane via April 8th, 1994:

6 Songs of Your Life

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Read about this cool 6 songs of your life idea via NPR about a month ago and have been thinking about it ever since. After several drafts, here are my six…

“Taxi” by Harry Chapin
My parents are big Harry Chapin fans and would play this a lot when I was little. So much that the first sentence I ever said was the paraphrased “I go fly high stoned” lyric from this song. (Allegedly my grandmother was not amused.)

“Back In Time” by Huey Lewis & The News
The first album I ever owned was the Back to the Future soundtrack. BTTF kicked off my lifelong obsession with time travel, but the way this song loosely tied in confused my nine-year old brain. It’s a song about the movie. But they don’t actually go to 1999 so it’s wrong. Did Huey even see the movie? Maybe the movie was based on the song? I still overanalyze little things like this today.

“Even In His Youth” by Nirvana
I knew I needed a Nirvana song for this list. And right when I decided I’d go with Smells Like Teen Spirit instead of a deep cut I realized this was a better choice. It was the first time I learned of the concept of a B-Side. There’s this awesome song. But it’s not on the album. And every band does this?!?!? Teenage mind blown…

“All Night Thing” by Temple of the Dog
In college we used to frequent this awesome restaurant in Syracuse called Mother’s Cupboard.  They were only open for breakfast, and the hours were (and apparently still are) 6:00am – 1pm. Being up by 1 on a weekend was tough for us college kids, so the only times we’d go to Mother’s Cupboard were when someone had the idea at 1am and we stayed up all night to arrive right when they opened. We’d always listen to this song on the way home.

“Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz
My first “real” job after moving to California was running a call center for a startup called iNetNow. It was the era before smartphones and our business was looking stuff up on the Internet for people who called in. We had special software for searching, and an interface called “term trail” that let you see what others were searching for in realtime in case they needed help. One night I saw “damon albarn rap song” pop up on term trail and scrambled to monitor the call to learn what this was. The caller ended up being my best friend from high school calling after hearing it on the radio. Even 3000 miles away we were able to discover music together almost simultaneously.

“Farther On Down The Road (You Will Accompany Me)” by Taj Mahal
My wife and I eloped, but we still consider this to be our wedding song. We first heard the Jack Johnson cover version which caused us to seek out the original. We went to see Taj Mahal at the House of Blues and by the end of the set he hadn’t played this. My wife wanted to leave to beat traffic, but I made her stay for the encore just in case. First and only song of the encore was this, and it was magical.

Of The Year – 2013

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

It’s best of time again…

1. We The Common — Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
This album came out in January and managed to hold the top go to slot all year. Rockin’ and poppy, with shades of The Breeders here and there. Saw them live three times this year and they didn’t disappoint. Thao’s encore duet of “Be My Baby” with the opening band at the Troubadour was a concert highlight.

2. We Are The 21st Century… — Foxygen
Heard “No Destruction” from this album for the first time on December 28th when my iPod died in the car on the way home from dinner. Then I listened to the full album 7 times in the next 24 hours. Love love love love this record and how it feels like an oldie in a Local Boyish sort of way. Only reason I’m not calling it #1 is the late discovery and acknowledging I’m still in the honeymoon phase, but I reserve the right to retcon later.

3. The Ghost of Escondido — Escondido

4. Solid Sound Covers Set — Wilco
Though not really an album per se, you can buy it from Wilco’s site so I’m counting it. An unexpected all request covers set at the third annual Solid Sound Festival, and one heck of a diverse setlist.

5. The Ballad of Boogie Christ — Joseph Arthur
Benji Hughes once sang “I haven’t heard an original heartfelt song about Jesus in awhile.” Here are a bunch of them — in a non-religious musical concept that plays like a modern alt-rock Jesus Christ Superstar.

6. Charge — David Ford

7. Fade — Yo La Tengo

November 22nd

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Impromptu playlist for 11/22:

Re-imagined, Reissued, Remixed, Recovered

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

My original plan wasn’t to review these two albums together, but when the synergy hit me I couldn’t pass it up.

Nirvana & Mike Doughty somehow managed to intertwine themselves with my musical DNA years ago and haven’t ever let go. Nevermind was my first favorite album and the one that pretty much made me who I am today. Doughty’s Skittish solo record dethroned it when I’d tell everyone I knew that “the guy from Soul Coughing has this amazing acoustic solo album!” Both artists left a heavy stamp on Timely Persuasion. By my unofficial count Nirvana got 14 allusions and a subplot about a time traveler trying to stop Kurt’s death, while Doughty got 21 allusions (10 solo & 11 SC) and his handwriting font used on Local Boy’s setlists and retirement letters. (Yeah, I’m not fanatical…)

And now they both put out records a week apart that let me revisit my misspent youth in new and interesting ways. Nirvana’s In Utero gets the 20th anniversary deluxe treatment highlighted by a new nifty alternate-history style Steve Albini mix. Doughty hits the reset button on his past band by re-imagining 13 songs from the Soul Coughing back catalogue in solo form on the greatly titled Circles Super Bon Bon Sleepless How Many Cans? True Dreams Of Wichita Monster Man Mr. Bitterness Maybe I’ll Come Down St. Louise Is Listening I Miss the Girl Unmarked Helicopters The Idiot Kings So Far I Have Not Found the Science (which are the names of all the songs included, but not the actual running order…).  Re-issues and re-covers in general tend to be a mixed bag with a touch of a bad name, but these manage to pull it off in differing ways.

When I heard about the In Utero deluxe edition I was more excited about spending some 20th anniversary time with the record than actually buying it again. I’d already bought it thrice in my life (on the day of original release, then again 6 months later when I found an import copy, noticed something was off about the back cover tracklist and excitedly realized it had a bonus track!, and finally about a year later when I found a bootlegged version billed as the Pachyderm Sessions with Albini’s mixes), already had all of the B-Sides (pre-box set from singles and compilations — I confess I bought The Beavis & Butt-head Experience the day it came out so I could hear Nirvana’s “I Hate Myself and Want to Die” song…), and never really found remastered or remixed versions of anything all that compelling. But when details of the mysterious “2013 Mix” started to emerge I was pretty intrigued.

The idea was pretty cool. This remix would be more about “exploring the roads not taken” by subbing in different guitar solos, vocal takes, and backing parts recorded originally but not used. Sort of an alternate history, second chance at mixing the album with 20 years of hindsight. The changes are relatively minor in the scheme of things, but I still smile when I catch one of them. “Serve the Servants” has a different guitar solo. “Dumb” no longer has a cello. “Heart-Shaped Box” has an extra harmony on the verse. “Very Ape” adds some more guitar feedback to the intro. But my favorite part of all are Kurt’s screams on “Scentless Apprentice.” I’ve always said that “Spank Thru” had my favorite studio version of a Cobain howl, but now there’s a new winner.

While the In Utero 2013 mix is about small differences, Mike Doughty went for some bigger changes with his album of re-imagined Soul Coughing songs. Soul Coughing covers used to be a big part of his solo shows, but they slowly dwindled as he had more of his own material until they evaporated altogether. Doughty later started discussing more openly how much he really hated his time in Soul Coughing and how the old songs brought back that pain, culminating with the release of his memoir, The Book of Drugs.

After reading the book I felt guilty about often referring to Doughty as “the guy from Soul Coughing” (as I did at the start of this post), but later realized that wasn’t really such a sin. I wasn’t calling him “one of the guys” from an old band, but specifically “THE GUY” — as in the one and only. In the eyes of my younger self it was his band, they were his songs, and he can and should take them with him to do whatever the heck he wants with him. So I was especially excited to learn he was taking them back in an attempt to reclaim them for himself and purge the demon of a dark time in his life.

The differences in the new Doughty versions vs. the old Soul Coughing versions vary a bit, but all in all I’m really digging the re-done versions. “Sleepless” loses the lo-fi intro I never really liked and gender swaps the personified sleep character to make the lyrics work better. I have a vague recollection of sitting in a car outside a party listening to the original “How Many Cans?” when a friend said “this song would be awesome if the music part was better.” Seems he was right. “True Dreams of Wichita” has always been one of my favorite songs by any artist, and the new version further cements it for me — even improving on it by nicely retconning the awkward “stand on the corner and bellow for mush” lyric with the far better “stand in the branches of a juniper bush.”  (Plus I love the inclusion of “I Miss The Girl” since the line “going down to Baltimore, going in an off-white Honda” is among the top utterances to slip out in my lifelong battle with lyrical tourette’s.)

Of course playing the comparison game sometimes exposes some questionable calls on the new takes. Does “Dumb” really benefit by taking away the cello? Was “Monster Man” really worth redoing when most of the lyrics were skipped? How would Kurt Cobain have felt about the whole reissue/anniversary type thing?  That’s a loaded question that’s pretty much impossible to answer. Doughty’s change of heart around revisiting his past illustrates that anyone’s perspective can shift — and that’s a good thing.