The Husky Tenor streaming, available for preorder

Endless Mike & The Beagle Club - The Husky Tenor

Go directly to purevolume and listen to The Husky Tenor by Endless Mike and The Beagle Club. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

And it won't ship until December 5th, but you can finally pre-order the record here.

Take a minute to clear your head.


Now listen very carefully. If you haven't already, scroll back up a tad and start listening to this record. You need to hear this record. This record is too good not to be heard. This record will change the way you think about rock and roll. You'll stop forgiving bands for making shitty albums. Because you won't have time to waste listening to sub-par material. You'll spend that time listening to The Husky Tenor instead, thank you very much.

Really. Really really. You need it. Go.


I was right! I was wrong.

Some time ago I made a completely baseless conjecture that "Sowing Season (Yeah)" by Brand New was inspired by a short story. Well, I was right in assuming there was some literary inspiration. I was just wrong about everything else.

The 2nd verse of Sowing Season is adapted from "If" by Rudyard Kipling. You read it here first. I read it in the liner notes. It used to hang on Jesse Lacey's father's wall.

The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is out today, btw.


Nobody likes anything

Here are some less-than-stellar reviews of the big techy product launches from this weekend. Personally, I'm not surprised about any of it. Pat yourself on the back that you didn't spend 72 hours outside of a Best Buy or slam your face into a pole or anything.

NY Times on the PS3.

"If there is one thing one would expect Sony to get perfect, though, it would be music. Wrong. Sure, you can plug in your digital music player and the PS3 will play the tunes. But as soon as you go into a game, the music stops. By contrast, one of the things I’ve always enjoyed most on the Xbox 360 is being able to listen to my own music while playing Pebble Beach or driving my virtual Ferrari. Doesn’t seem too complicated, but the PS3 can’t do it."

Washington Post on the Zune.

"This is a breathtaking display of corporate faithlessness, cluelessness or both."

CNET on the Wii.

"The bottom line: It lacks the graphical prowess and rich media features of the Xbox 360 and the PS3, but the Nintendo Wii's combination of unique motion-sensitive controllers and emphasis on fun gameplay make the ultra-affordable console hard to resist."

The Wii seems to come out smelling like roses in all of this, but not because it bowled anybody over. Just because it didn't let anyone down too badly. Red Steel, the game that had me ALMOST buying a Wii, got completely shat on. The lesson to be gleaned from all this is not to believe the hype about anything anymore. Most of it is dreck.


The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

I'm sitting here listening to Brand New's The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (out Tuesday). Honestly I don't even know where to begin. Or where to end. I'm just going to ramble for a while, I guess. If endless ebullient blubbering isn't your thing, the take-home message will be this: It's GOOD.

At 21 years old, a man in body but not yet in mind, I was an emotional wreck. Nobody's fault but my own. I know that now. But then, oh then. No record in the world could have fallen into my lap and done for me what Your Favorite Weapon did. God, I played the shit out of that. Over and over. I'm lucky my roommates didn't kill me. The vitriol.

Is that what you call tact?
You're as subtle as a brick in the small of my back.

And then the summer of 2003. Deja Entendu never left my cd player. It was darker. More grown up. There was responsibility in the lyrics. Turns out Jesse wasn't able to stay 18 forever, stay like that forever. Turns out it's more complicated. Turns out life on the road isn't all parties and fun. Turns out people expect a lot from you when you're their favorite band. They expect a whole lot from you, and you're just a kid.

And we won't let you in...

And the critics got on board. A major label deal. And then three years of silence. Cancelled shows. Was the pressure too much?

8 untitled, unfinished songs leak. More silence. And then a few shows. A small tour. A bigger tour. Videos of the new songs start to surface on youtube. The faithful work themselves into a frenzy. We knew it was going to be good. We knew they'd come through.

My bright is much too slight to hold back all my dark

Believe me when I tell you that it's better than you thought it would be. That it was worth the wait. I haven't even had time for all of it to sink in, yet. But believe me, believe me, believe me. Believe me. It's good.

Your Favorite Weapon Deja Entendu The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me


Clear Channel has a price


Looks like Clear Channel accepted an offer today to be bought out for $18.7 billion. EIGHTEEN POINT SEVEN BILLION DOLLARZ.

The important part of this story, though, is that they're selling 40% of their radio holdings. That's a pretty big shake-up, and I'll be interested to see where all the chips fall when it's over. Maybe some terrestrial radio stations that serve the public interest?

What'll they think of next?


Out yesterday...

Tenacious D The Pick of Destiny
Tenacious D's The Pick of Destiny is a soundtrack to accompany their movie, so don't expect it to hold together on its own quite as well as their debut did. But it's got a couple cameos (Dave Grohl, Meatloaf, more...) and should be good for a chuckle or two. Long ago I had a radio interview with Kyle Gass and he insisted that I let him wear my headphones. So I couldn't hear his microphone malfunctioning. That was a really awful interview.

Damien Rice's 9 is out now, too. The first track, "9 Crimes," is really cool, and "Rootless Tree" rocks way harder than I thought I could reasonably expect from Mr. Rice. Not as good as O, but fans will find plenty to like here. Everyone else might be able to get away with just picking up a couple tracks on iTunes.


Why I won't be buying a Zune

It's not the functionality. I'm not a gadget head and I haven't played with one, anyway. You can read up on it at Gizmodo, if you're interested. It actually looks (marginally) cool. I'm boycotting the Zune (and you should too) because of this:
Yesterday, Microsoft agreed to share revenue from Zune sales with record labels and artists. Forcing the issue was Universal Music Group, which at deadline is the only label named in the program. UMG refused to license its music to the Zune unless it could receive a percentage of each device sold, in addition to standard music licensing fees for downloads and subscriptions.

"These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it," UMG chairman/CEO Doug Morris says. "So it's time to get paid for it." (billboard)
Bob Lefsetz basically took the words out of my mouth when he covered this last week. I figured I'd wait to echo him until this thing was actually on the market. This old-school bullying has no place in the portable player space, and Microsoft should have just told Doug Morris and his cronies to take a long walk off a short pier. It's worked for Steve Jobs.


Dave Melillo - Knights of the Island Counter video

You know how there are some movies where the good guy dies in the end and even though you've seen the film a million times you still kinda hope that this time the ending will magically change? This video is kinda like that for me.

Fall Out Boy - Carpal Tunnel of Love

They're streaming it over at absolutepunk.net, but you've gotta be registered to listen. Clever, huh?

Apparently, this won't be the first single from Fall Out Boy's upcoming release. It's just something they decided to throw up on the web without permission of their label. That is so punk rock. Next thing you know they're going to wear their shoes in the house and track mud all through the kitchen and when their mom yells at them they'll just be all like "Whatever."

Thankfully, there are no new pictures of Mr. Wentz in negligee to accompany this "leak."


Jaymay - The Living Room, 11/4/06

Every time I see Jaymay, it's different. She plays with a different band. She performs her songs a different way. She keeps it fresh.

The thing about her is that she's contagiously comfortable on stage. The first time I ever saw her was by accident. I was at The Living Room to see Josh Pyke perform, and she played beforehand. She was in the middle of a residency there, and I had to crane my neck to see behind the crowd that had packed in. That was the night she recorded the version of "You Are The Only One I Love" (mp3, right click to download) that's readily available on myspace. I mention it because at the end of the song she took a long sip of water from a bottle of Poland Spring as the bass and drums wound the song down, punctuated by a satisfied "ahh" that you can hear on the recording, and that you could hear even at the very back of the packed Living Room. You could have heard a pin drop. Not a tense, "now what?" silence. A comfortable, "wow" silence. Contagious comfort. She's good.

This time it wasn't a water sip. This time it was an improvised song (roughly to the tune of "Gray or Blue") calling Ferraby Lionheart*'s bass player (who was outside smoking a cigarrette) to the stage at the beginning of the set. Like she was the only one in the room. And then she played songs that I've listened to probably a hundred times and made them new. Changed some melodies, some rhythms, some instrumentations. Added some Dylan-esque talk-singing at the end of some lines (and it worked).

Honestly, I can't say this strongly enough: Jaymay is mesmerizing when she performs. And I don't know how better to describe it than by using silly anecdotes like the ones above.

A note about the photo: I'm just not cut out for concert photography. I refuse to be "that guy" taking flash photos. I considered just not using one or using a press photo of Jaymay or something. But then I used this one anyway. I like how it says "The Living Room" in it.

*Ferraby Lionheart played before Jaymay. He was good.


Endless Mike and The Beagle Club - Goodbye Blue Monday, 11/3/06

"Do you know what this is?"

Mike was holding a plastic dinosaur that he had found lying around somewhere inside Goodbye Blue Monday. The whole place is littered with old stuff. All of it is for sale, reportedly. None of it has price tags though. I smiled and shook his hand.

"It's a dinosaur," I said.

"Yeah, but what kind?"

Avoiding the question because I couldn't remember, I launched into a story about my childhood. "You know, when I was a kid I was convinced I wanted to be a paleontologist and when I told my first grade teacher that she had to ask me what it was."

"The exact same thing happened to me," he said. "At first I felt smart but then we did a dinosaur unit and the teacher kept singling me out, asking 'Is that right, Mike?' After everything she said. It made me feel like a freak so finally I just said 'I don't like dinosaurs anymore.' But do you want me to tell you what it is? Or will it drive you crazy that you couldn't remember?"

"It's on the tip of my tongue. But yeah, go ahead."

"Pachycephalosaurus." Not what was on the tip of my tongue. "When me and Matt were kids we were in the drug store with our grandma and we wanted to buy a book because we thought it was Godzilla but really it was about dinosaurs and that ended up being the book we used to learn to read. And I guess we just kinda kept going and going and soon enough it was paleontology text books from the library."

Mike is this easy to talk to. Like an old friend the minute he's a friend at all. And it's partly this willingness to reveal what's underneath in such detail (even when it's just dinosaur enthusiasm) that makes him the gifted songwriter that he is. I'm talking, of course, about Mike Miller, from Endless Mike and The Beagle Club (Matt, his brother, is also in the band).

We spent most of the time before the show started reading books we found on the shelf near our table (Male Sexuality, 101 Questions and Answers About Welding, etc.) and stacking cans of $2 PBR.

A guy named Drew opened the show with an acoustic guitar. He was pretty good, his myspace page doesn't really do him justice.

endless mike and the beagle club

And then, overflowing off the stage like they often do, The Beagle Club took over. I've tried before to put the energy this band has into words and I've always failed. Maybe energy isn't even the right word. It's more of a feeling. Some members never stop dancing. And some hardly ever leave their position, sitting on the corner of the stage and playing whatever handheld percussion the song calls for. But there's a unity in the group, such that every role, from biggest to smallest, is equally dedicated to creating this experience. Endless Mike and The Beagle Club delight in blurring the line between rock concert and performance art. Anyone who has ever sat around and dreamed of being in a band has dreamed of being in a band like this one. I can't think of any band I've ever seen that's more authentic.

And the songs are just so good. God damn are they good.

The Husky Tenor, a record I've been waiting for with baited breath, is finally done and I got my hands on it Friday night. In lieu of liner notes, the package contains a six page hand-written letter from Mike. A sort of stream of consciousness about what the band means to him and about free will and decision making and it closes with an invitation to discuss it all further with Mike's email address and, if you're a fan of pen and paper, his mailing address.

I, for one, intend on writing him. And you, well you should find a way to see this band in concert. And you should order this record, which I believe will eventually be available here. And you should never ever tell me that rock and roll is dead because I will tell you exactly where it is alive and well.


The Decemberists - Apple Store SoHo, 11/3/06

Decemberists - Apple Store SoHo

photo credit.

I usually attribute my unwillingness to wait in line to being "too old for this shit" but the fact of the matter is that I refuse to wait in line for almost anything because I've found that with few exceptions, the best rock and roll experiences come queue-free. But to see The Decemberists play 6 songs in SoHo for free? Yeah, I'll stand in line for that.

Let's back it up a bit. The night before (Thursday night) I had tried foolishly to see a band that a friend recommended called La Rocca play at Pianos. I hadn't known ahead of time that Silversun Pickups were headlining the night, so needless to say I didn't show up nearly in time to get in. This is the worst thing about CMJ: it becomes impossible to see bands that you otherwise would be able to see with no problem. Since I wasn't able to get into the performance area for the show I stayed back in the bar area with my friends and got drunk and took a few pictures with my camera of stupid things. Then I fell asleep on the subway until it brought be back home in Brooklyn, and stumbled to my computer to drop those pics on there before bed. I left my camera connected to the computer and powered on all night, so the battery was dead when I woke up in the morning (design flaw much!?) and went to grab it for the Decemberists show. This long aside, you see, is basically meant to explain to you why I failed to get any pictures of this totally memorable and awesome event. It's because I'm an idiot. But I met a nice chap in line who also works in internet radio and he had a really expensive looking camera with him and I saw him snapping some shots so maybe some shots will appear online eventually and of course I'll link you to them then.

When a band strips down their sound for performances like these, it can be disastrous and it can be transcendent and it often oscillates between the two throughout the set. While I wouldn't say that any particular moment in this particular set was bad, there were certainly moments that were less good than others. But this is a softball blog and far be it from me to pick on a band for trying. The great moments were indeed, GREAT. The quite-reworked "Song for Myla Goldberg" was the unquestionable highlight; it came off like a song they've done acoustic many times before and had perfected in that setting. "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" was also great. Another aside: they have "Yankee" spelled wrong on their own official site!

I'm not sure how these things work...whether the show was recorded for possible iTunes release in the future or what. If it ever is, I'd say the whole show is worth the buy for a big fan, and "Myla Goldberg" is worth the buy for anyone save for the most adamant Decemberist haterist.

The setlist (maybe in the wrong order, but almost surely the right songs):
1. July, July!
2. We Both Go Down Together
3. The Perfect Crime 2
4. Song For Myla Goldberg
5. Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)
6. O, Valencia!

The Crane Wife Picaresque Her Majesty Castaways and Cutouts


Rooftop Suicide Club as an animated .gif

Rooftop Suicide Club is a band (not a real club) from Massachussetts. They put out a great record last year called Always Like This that I still play once in a while, and they've got some pretty promising demos up on their myspace page that would indicate their best work is still ahead of them. If you ever listen to this radio station you are familiar with "Captivated" and "Boston," both of which you can download from myspace.

Rooftop Suicide Club - Arizona (mp3, right click to download)
(One more free download available at their label's site.)