November 2008 Archives

More New Music


Last month I wrote about the fact that I hadn’t listened to a lot of new music in 2008 and went out and took on new releases from bands that hadn’t paid much attention to. Results of that little experiment can be found here, here, here, and here.

For some reason that exercise rattled me from my new music lethargy and I’ve taken on some other new(ish) releases. This is what I found.

Weezer – The Red Album. Although many Weezer fans hated Make Believe, I thought it was great and wrote about it last year here. The once again self-titled album (clad in red) harkens back more toward the Blue and Green albums and turns its back on the route found on Make Believe. To my ears the Red Album is a mixed bag. The good songs are quite strong (Pork and Beans, Troublemaker, Everybody Get Dangerous) while the rest is o.k. It definitely is a Weezer album and if you like Weezer, you’ll be all over this album. A highlight is the Shaker hymn song Simple Gifts. Which is Weezerized to full effect.

Hold Steady – Stay Positive. O.k. I’ll admit I wasn’t a big fan of Boys and Girls in America. I couldn’t just get my head around it. Plus Craig Finn’s talk-sing has irritated me since the Lifter Puller days. I know I am the minority so I was willing to try the Hold Steady again with Stay Positive. In a sentence, it’s much better than BAGIA. Finn’s talk-sing is still prevalent but not as much and it’s still a little irritating but it’s hard to ignore the rock anthemesque quality of this album and the infectious sing-along songs. It’s Bruce Springsteen for the Obama generation. Sequestered in Memphis is the obvious first single and a great song. Constructive Summer and Lord I’m Discouraged are other highlights (although the later can be a little overwrought.). Anyway a fine album from a band that obviously loves rock and roll and should be a lot more popular than they are.

Replacements – Remastered Sorry Ma, Stink, Hootenanny, and Let It Be. I’ve written plenty on the Replacements. Check here if interested so I will spare the sentiments of seeing this band from it’s humble beginnings to cult favorites. Having these albums re-mastered is great as the sound quality of the original releases was definitely lacking. The question everyone had was how were the outtakes, b-sides and demos. I would say, just like the band itself, they are a mixed bag.

The Sorry Ma extras are by far the most diverse. From the 4-song demo tape given to Peter Jesperson (the Holy Grail for Replacement fans) which includes Raised in the City, Shutup, Don’t Turn Me Down, and Shape Up one can understand the excitement Jesperson must have felt when he heard this for the first time. Also it’s nice to have If Only You Were Lonely in electronic form. The rest of the outtakes are o.k., nothing special. The Stink extras include Hey Good Lookin.’ Unfortunately it is a lesser version than the one that was a b-side to the I Will Dare single. You’re Getting Married is a classic, too bad it was never fleshed out and released on an album (would have fit nicely on Let It Be). The Hootenanny extras are o.k. Nothing to write home about although Ain’t No Crime is kind of fun. The Let It Be extras includes three covers (20th Century Boy, Temptation Eyes, and Heartbeat, It’s a Love Beat) which were heard a lot in concert at the time Let it Be was released. An alternative version of 16 Blue with some changed lyrics is interesting but not as good as the released version.

Overall some fun songs but typical of outtakes and demos. There was a reason they weren’t released. I still hope to get the Tim remastered as well, although those extras look more like alternative takes and not songs that were never released.

Finally I’ve been all over The Wedding Present. I picked up Bizarro, Seamonsters, and Hit Parade (singles compilation). This band is awesome. I can’t believe it took me until the later half of 2008 to discover them. Bizarro has to be one of the greatest albums ever and definitely would have easily fit into my favorite 30 albums of all time. Finally I picked up an Ike Reilly album (Junkie Faithful) that is really good. I may try to find more of his stuff too.

So there you go, lots of new music, at least for me. What are you listening to? Anything worth checking out?

Maybe I spoke too soon

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Last week I stated that the Gophers didn't suck. Well after Saturday's 0-55 debacle against Iowa I may have to revise that sentiment.

I'm not going to re-hash the game except to say that it was an embarrassing performance by the Gophers and this game and the Michigan games were god-awful to watch.

So where do the Gophers stand? On September 1st if you would have said the Gophers would be 7-5 and won two Big Ten Road games I would have been ecstatic. But given the way the season ended, it's a big let down. Here are some thoughts:

The Defense clearly improved. From last year's worst team ever to a decent squad this year. Hopefully more players come on board next year.

Offense regressed with no running game. Adam Weber is tough but needs a better line and better running backs. Dunbar's spread offense has not been too impressive. No tears shed if he doesn't return.

Coach Brewster still has a lot to prove. Sure he can recruit but the book is still out whether he can actually coach. Not only did the players not respond over the last four games, but the coach didn't either.

One good note. Saturday's "game" was the last one at the Metrodome. Somehow it is fitting that the Gophers go out 0-55. It's but a dirty coda on a sad chapter of Golden Gopher football history. Good riddance HHH Metrodome may your crappy atmosphere, too loud P.A., knee-shredding turf, and bad mojo never mar a Gopher football game again!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday Random Top 10

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I finally got the Replacements remasters of their first four albums with all the demos and unreleased material. Hopefully some sort of review next week but I am excited. Let's celebrate with a Friday Random Top 10:

1. Gun Shy -- Paul Westerberg
2. Unlovable -- The Smiths
3. Moral Kiosk -- R.E.M.
4. Delilah -- Tom Jones
5. Through These Eyes -- Social Distortion
6. This Time -- Gear Daddies
7. High Plains Drifter -- Beastie Boys
8. The Levee's Gonna Break -- Bob Dylan
9. Films -- Gary Numan
10. I Can See For Miles -- The Who

Nice list. Not a bad song in the bunch. Very manly list too. What's your top 10?

The Gophers Don't Suck

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On Saturday the Minnesota Golden Gophers had an excellent chance to beat Wisconsin in Madison and bring home the Axe for the first time in five years. In fact at half-time the Gophers took a 21-7 lead and looked to have a lousy Badger team back on its heels. There was some concern that the Gophers left some points on the field when the didn’t try to score when they had the ball with 2 minutes left in the half but generally every thing was looking good.

A second half of mistakes, fumbles, and inspired Badger play gave the Badgers a 35-32 win even though the Gophers had a chance to win in the last minute. It was a very entertaining game, a frustrating game, and ultimately a disappointing game.

Some have pointed to the final result and say the Gophers never gave up and even though they tried to hand the Badgers the game on a silver platter, were still in it at the end. Others, like Dan Barriero, have said that Gopher fans are in denial, this was a lousy Badger team and a loss is a loss, especially one where you had a 14 point lead at half time.

I’m somewhere in the middle. This isn’t a good Gopher team. There I said it Dan Barriero, this Gopher football team isn’t very good. But you know what? I don’t care. Compared to where they were last year, the Gophers are light years ahead of where I expected them to be. This year is just gravy and the fact that the Gophers were competitive and never quit at Ohio State and at Wisconsin is something to hold on to and kinda feel good about. I’ve lived through too many Golden Gopher seasons where a 56-10 final score was considered a mercy killing to feel otherwise.

However, a improvement in play brings higher expectations and I expect the Gophers to win games like the Wisconsin and Northwestern games next year. This is based on the improved play, improved coaching, and promise of better recruits. This year I’ll cut them some slack, next year I’ll be a little closer to the expectations spewed by the Dan Barrieros of the world.

So last game this week against Iowa. One last chance to get a trophy this year and last game ever at the soul-crushing Metrodome. I’d like to see a win so that I can hoist the Pig once again and update my picture with one showing off my new, svelte figure. If they don’t win, I’ll be disappointed once again but amazed that the worst team in football last year was able to win seven this year.

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Friday Random Top 10

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The Hold Steady and Drive by Truckers are here for two nights and I don’t have tickets. I thought when Obama was elected President everything was going to change for the better? Oh well, I guess we need a Friday Random Top 10 to soothe the pain.

1. The Golden Age – Beck
2. Curtain Calls – Old 97’s
3. Born to Lose – The Heartbreakers
4. Fallen from the Sky – Glen Hansard
5. Wishing the Days Away – Billy Bragg
6. Trying Your Luck – The Strokes
7. For the Price of a Cup of Tea – Belle and Sebastian
8. As Long as the Grass shall Grow – Johnny Cash
9. A Spoonful Weighs a Ton – The Flaming Lips
10. Tourette’s – Nirvana

Nice list for a cold and gloomy fall day. What’s your top 10?

Another Lost T-wolve Season

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Another NBA season has begun and even though it is the middle of November, another Timberwolves season looks lost. The team is 1-6 after playing against a pretty ratty bunch of teams (overall record .263). Big Al Jefferson and Mark Miller can score but neither can play defense and the rest of the team is a bunch of plug-and-plays. What was hopefully looked at as a team on the way up with the modest goal of 35 wins looks like another lost season and a team that may struggle to win 25 games.

It’s really too bad because personally I could become a big NBA fan if we had a team worth watching. I think the Twin Cities area as a whole could be a vibrant NBA market too. High School basketball has never been played at a higher level in this state than right now and collegiate signing day finds scores of high school players signing at D-1 schools. Tubby Smith promises to resurrect the Gophers program and another top 20 recruiting class points to that promise being kept. Basketball fans are becoming more savvy and invested in the game. That’s why the Timberwolves 20 years of woe (minus 1 fun season) is so frustrating.

Now I’m not going to suggest how the Wolves could improve. I was glad they got rid of the old, over-paid players they were keeping and there doesn’t seem to be a head-scratcher of a contract on the team. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of personality or anyone who can spark this team either. Firing the coach could help, getting rid of McHale would definitely excite the fans for a week or two but other than that, the only light at the end of the tunnels seems to be an uncoming train.

So I’ll probably ignore the NBA for another year, look forward to the upcoming college season and shake my head as I look at another Timberwolves loss in the box score.

The Recount

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We are about to embark on a recount process for U.S. Senate which promises to be heated and controversial for the next 4-6 weeks. With Senator Norm Coleman ahead by 206 votes out of 2.9 million cast, the results are about as close as they can possibly be. Fortunately Minnesota has a reputation for a clean electoral and recount process and the final results shouldn’t be called into question. The fact that a recount is needed is based on the state law that any election with a margin of less than ½ a percent triggers a required recount. In this case that means any result that had the two candidates within 14,500 votes of each other. The fact that the result is 206 votes shows how tight this election really is.

Unfortunately Senator Norm Coleman and his henchmen are trying to muddy the waters, make it look like there is something wrong with a recount, Minnesota’s electoral process, and Secretary of State Ritchie. Neither could be further from the truth. One of Coleman’s complaints is that the number of votes has changed from what was reported on election night. Coleman has gone from nearly a 800 vote lead to about a 200 vote lead. What Coleman’s supporters don’t mention is that this is normal for any election and that the roughly 600 vote change is actually quite small. This is an important and crucial part of the election certification process and has been for decades in Minnesota. In 2002 when Coleman was first elected, Coleman lost 8,920 votes from the unofficial canvas to the final official total. Did Coleman complain or question the canvassing then? Of course not, he was firmly in the lead and those 9000 votes were meaningless to him.

The fact is that the State of Minnesota will do an independent, publically witnessed, ballot-by-ballot recount of the Senate vote. We will have a winner. It makes no sense for Senator Coleman to cast dispersions on this process as there is no evidence that it will not be on the up-and-up. Maybe Coleman is worried about the results.

The fact is that many of the votes that may be in question look to be in areas that Franken ran strongly. It doesn’t take a whole lot of uncounted ballots to get to 207. On the other hand, Coleman does have the lead and recounts rarely overturn a lead. I think with 2.9 million votes cast that 206 votes lead could easily go away (or increase). No one knows and that’s why we have a recount. Coleman’s complaints only serve to have the public question our electoral process. Given the fact that the State’s electoral process has a national reputation for being clean and fair, Coleman’s complaints seem to be self-serving rather than civic minded. Hmm… self-serving over being civic minded, why do these terms always seem to be associated with Norm Coleman?

Friday Random Top 10

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We want the jug!!! To motivate those Golden Gophers here's a Random Top 10:

1. I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' -- Louis Armstrong
2. Brown Eyed Handsome Man -- Johnny Cash
3. House We Used to Live In -- The Smithereens
4. If I Give My Soul -- Johnny Cash
5. Deathly -- Aimee Mann
6. I Dig Rock and Roll Music -- Peter, Paul, & Mary
7. I'd Rather be Thin Than Famous -- Jack Kerouac
8. Cold Brains -- Beck
9. Mystery Dance -- Elvis Costello
10. Funk Soul Brother -- Fatboy Slim

I always thought that if you had to state in a song that you dig rock and roll music, that then you really didn't dig rock and roll music. What's your top ten?

It Looks Like Things are Going to Change Now

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Bob Dylan’s first concert on the U of MN campus since the early 60s. The promised election of Barack Obama. Both exciting, historic events. What happens when they occur on the same night? I was one of the lucky 4,800 people who got to find out if it would work, to see and take it all in.

Bob doesn’t talk much, in fact he didn’t say a word until introducing the band before the last song, but his song selection spoke volumes: The second song, The Times they are a Changing left barely a dry eye in the place. A very aggressive interpretation of Masters of War and a strong rendition of the stridently anti-war John Brown made it very clear that the protest songs of the early 60s are very relevant today. The last song was a rousing Blowin’ in the Wind.

The crowd was very aware of the special night too. Like I said, “Times? was very emotional, the line “there was revolution in the air? from Tangled Up in Blue got a huge response, as did the line Sometimes a President has to stand naked. Plus cell phones, blackberrys and I-phones were constantly being opened to look for election updates. Clearly revolution was in the air.

Bob was in rare form too. A couple of times he took center stage during a harmonica solo, sometimes with a dance step or two. The band was extremely tight and they just rocked during Summer Days and Thunder on the Mountain. I’ve been to a number of Dylan concerts and this by far was the rockingest, jammiest show I’ve ever experienced. The band was truly inspired.

Unfortunately Bob’s voice wasn’t able to rise to the moment. At times incomprehensible, Dylan’s voice was raspy, hoarse and not very strong. If you didn’t know the lyrics, you were hard pressed to even know what song was even being performed until you heard the chorus.

In the end, that didn’t matter. Bob even opened up at the end of the show. After introducing his band, Dylan stated that he was born in 1941. “That was the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. I've been living in darkness ever since. It looks like things are going to change now." The band then kicked into Blowin’ in the Wind.

As we were leaving the show it was announced that Obama won and in the lobby a big screen showed the results. People went crazy and as the lobby filled, additional people were added to the craziness. The party spilled out to the Northrop Mall where an impromptu rave was ramping up. People were singing Dylan songs, dancing filled the streets, and strangers hugging each other was the norm. Shouts of “Yes We Did? filled the air and for the first time in years the promise that Bob Dylan held out in his songs and career, seemed like it was in reach.

Here’s the song list:

Cat's in the Well
The Times They Are A-Changin'
Summer Days
This Wheel's on Fire
Tangled Up in Blue
Masters of War
Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
John Brown
Beyond the Horizon
Highway 61 Revisited
Shooting Star (with Dylan on guitar -- another rarity)
It's All Right Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
Under the Red Sky
Thunder on the Mountain
Ain't Talkin'
Encore:
Like a Rolling Stone
Blowin' in the Wind

Election Day 2008

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I went walking around campus day around Noon to get a sense of what was happening on election day. In honor of the concert tonight I had Dylan on the headphones (Blonde on Blonde, natch). In a word the feeling was electric. Red White and Blue Vote posters with Obama’s image was plastered all over the campus, everyone had red I Voted stickers and there was a low frequency buzz in the air. You could literally feel it.

Now a 70 degree day in November will always bring a level of giddiness in Minnesota but the excitement was palpable. I voted this morning in my heavily Democratic precinct and while it usually takes me 10 minutes to vote, today it took me 40. Change is in the air. Given the level of turnout nation-wide, it looks like people are fired up a ready to go. Tonight we shall see.

Obama for President

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As any regular reader of this blog knows, I’ve supported Barack Obama for a long time now and will be proudly voting for him tomorrow. There are multiple reasons in no particular order: Fear of a Palin Presidency, the desire not to reward a Republican candidate for 8 years of utter Presidential incompetence, Obama’s tax policies favor my family over those proposed by McCain. Obama’s policies on the war in Iraq, Global Warming, energy independence would all gain my support. But one of the other reasons that Obama is getting my support is that he looks and acts like America and looks and acts now.

Republicans have long trafficked in fear and our differences instead of policies that unite. Obama’s mixed race heritage, his ability to talk about what unites us reflects where we are as a country. Obama looks to the future and offers hope, Republicans look to the past and offer fear. For that reason alone I will be voting for Barack Hussein Obama.

Here are my predictions for Tuesday. Use the comments to give your predictions, lets see who is the best political prognosticator at LFAD!

President – Obama 338 EV, McCain 220 EV

MN Senate – Franken 43, Coleman 41, Barkley 16

MN CD6 – Bachman 51, Tinklenberg 49

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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