The Static Podcast: The Career of Jenny Lewis, the Voyager.

jenny lewis stuffToday we embarked on a podcast spanning the career of Jenny Lewis and a review of her new album “The Voyager” due Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

This was new ground for the Static Podcast, as Chris, Robert and I recorded remotely from our homes rather than converge upon the Static Headquarters, also known as my living room. We used the magic of the Internet and the secret power of friendship to record our first show.

As Chris pointed out, I sound as if I am calling in from the field in Tel-Aviv. I’m getting a new microphone before our episode covering The Roots.

I had fun discussing Jenny’s career, as I am a ultra mega megafan. We all had different takes on her music and career. 

For the rest of our podcasts, click The Static Podcast link at the top of the page. Here’s the Jenny Episode: 

Five for Friday aka [Witty semi-relevant title]

I recently found out that the comedy group Garfunkel and Oates are coming to Chicago, about 2 weeks after my birthday.  I love these ladies. I first heard of them back in 2011, and was lucky enough to see them at Bonnaroo 2012 (I even made a sign that read “I heart Kate Micucci”, sat in the front row and held it up.  Riki saw it and called me out on it saying that no one loved her). Needless to say I’m very excited I’ll have the chance to see them again.  So no real theme today, no story about my childhood or anything.  Just five songs from Garfunkel and Oates, one of my favorite comedy duos.

If you’re in the Chicago area they’re playing House of Blues on September 6th.  You can also go to http://www.garfunkelandoates.com/ for more information on the group.

This party took a turn for the douche

Weed Card

Handjob, Blandjob, I-don’t-understand job

29/31

Go-kart racing (Accidentally Masturbating)

-Robert

 

Sunday from the Porch: It’s Baby Time?

This whole writing blog posts from my porch thing is not working out so well for me.

Tonight, I am writing this from the couch, next to my 9 month pregnant wife and we are counting contractions. It’s almost go-time. No beer and peaceful writing next to the fountain on my deck tonight.

It’s hard to think about music when there is a child impending. But of course, I can.

Anne will be our third (and last) child. She will be joining her brother Elliott, who love Death Cab for Cutie and just turned six, and Madelyn, who is really into Lorde these days and is four.

I love that both of my kids are into music. Elliott is laying in bed, listening to a Wilco mix I made him. Madelyn is in bed listening to Civil Wars. When Madelyn listens to the radio in her room, she often runs out (when she is supposed to be in bed) to call me in to hear a song she really really loves.

I love that about her so much. I love how they have connected with music in their own ways.

When Elliott was an infant, he was a fussy sleeper. One night I could not console him and he was crying like crazy. I was watching some late night talk show and Gnarls Barkley “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?” was performed. He instantly got quiet and faced the television for the duration of the song. Once it was over, he threw a fit. His first musical experience at only weeks old.

I wonder what Anne’s first musical connection will be.

We’ll find out in a few hours/days/weeks/months. Best believe Daddy is wearing his Wilco shirt in the delivery room.

-John

Five for Friday aka Bottoms up

When I was younger I remember the first time I tried beer: My dad let me have a sip of his Old Milwaukee at dinner one night.  I don’t know if it was my young taste buds, or the fact that Old Milwaukee did and still does take like piss, but I hated it.

Fast forward several years.  Late teens, early twenties. I have money now and a bit more of taste.  Most of my college friends drink Natural Ice, or Keystone, or may go all out for Bud light or Miller light.  Life is too short to drink shitty beer.  I would always spring for at least Sam Adams or something else with a bit more taste to it.  From these early days I knew there was always a better beer out there.  Tomorrow I’ll be heading with my wife Randi, and one of our best friends Margie (who helped with the list this week) to the Naperville Alefest.  100 different breweries with over 200 different beers will be available for my tasting pleasure.  In honor of this fantastic occasion I present five songs about drinking Beer.

Jesse Stewart- Cold Beer (Best quality version I could find.  It’s a cover of a comedic song, but there’s nothing funny about it when he performs)

The Replacements- Beer for Breakfast

Black Flag- Six Pack

Hank Williams- Tear in my beer

FIDLAR- Cheap Beer

Bonus Song (because i couldn’t make up my mind)
Beastie Boys- Brass Monkey

My Essential Decemberists Playlist

Hi folks.

Those who have listened to the most recent Decemberists podcast will remember us talking at length about my “Essentials” playlist. Well, here I am delivering on our joint promise to provide you said playlist for your Decemberistsing pleasure. As noted in the cast, it boils down to being more being what I consider to be the best/most accessible Decemberists tracks, neatly organized in a listenable flow, and not necessarily what the mainstream fanbase might actually consider “essential”. Anyway it’s good. So there.

Sunday from the Porch: Amateur Songwriting Edition

Hey kids!

So, I took the laptop out to the porch tonight to write. Shortly after I typed the words “Hey kids!” the mosquitoes and moths saw the light from my monitor and decided “this is where the party is at!”

Forget that noise. Forget it to heck.

ANYHOW, I had occasion to start up the songwriting process this weekend with my friend and podcast fellow, Chris. It was great fun and we got the ball rolling, bringing to life songs I’d only heard play in my head, but not through my guitar.

I was thinking about it today, and I realized, I have been a writer of lyrics for nearly 21 years. My brother and conspicuous vinyl purchaser, Jake, and I used to play music together in our fictitious band The Blacksocs. The first time I remember writing a song was in the summer of 1993 at our house on Main Street in Ashland. I distinctly remember commandeering a yellow legal pad and one of my mother’s coveted Pilot Precise V5 pens.

(Sidenote: I was not to use her Pilot pens, yet to this day, it is my pen of choice. I have literally forgotten things I meant to write down because I spend so much time looking for the right pen.)

Flash forward to 1995. I’m 14 years old and my family had moved to Glasgow, Kentucky. I was in junior high and I was still writing junior high songs. My friend Richard had a bedroom in his parent’s basement and a room stocked with a drum kit, multiple guitars, and recording equipment. Pretty posh for an 8th grader.

Summer of 1995, Richard and I would alternate back and forth at whose house we were staying. I think at one point, we stayed over at each other’s house every day for a week. We would play Green Day’s Dookie album incessantly, him playing along on guitar and me on drums. We would stay up late watching Alternative Nation and Bevis and Butthead on MTV. (I was not allowed to watch MTV at the time.)

One day, which I distinctly remember was a Thursday, we planned in advance that we would record a song I had written called Just Another Day. (Not to be confused with this song.)

Now, I had already recorded a version of the song with my brother, using his keyboard to give us a drum beat as he played the bass line on the keys. I strummed along on guitar and sang. We decided to do an alternative rock version of the song with Richard shredding the guitar (relatively.)

We recorded it in about three takes after one practice through. It sounded like Meat Puppets meets Better than Ezra. Which makes sense, because that is what we were listening to at the time. We thought it was fantastical.

Here’s a snippet of lyrics from my song:

“I went to ask her out/ Just the other day/ When she started laughing/ There wasn’t much to say/ Just another day/ Just another day/ Not much left to say/ Just another day.”

Yes, I wrote that.

Later, I would discover that Richard was not the guitar virtuoso I thought him to be at the time. He couldn’t keep time. The verses and the chorus had entirely different time signatures. So many missed notes. Unnecessary use of a distortion pedal just to change the sound because we thought it was cool. I mumbled the lyrics because to this day I am afraid of singing in public.

But, it. Was. Awesome.

Richard, for his part, is now an accomplished multi-instrumentalist who studied at university such things as composing. I believe he has transcended his junior high music career.

I’ve been told  by the few who have seen my lyrics that I too have grown as a writer. This remains to be seen.

I still have it out on cassette somewhere in my basement. Maybe someday it will surface.

I don’t have an accompanying music clip this week, so since this is Sunday from the Porch, here’s what Spotify considers “Sittin’ On the Back Porch” music:

-John

Five for Friday AKA like Peanut Butter and Jelly

I remember it so vividly: It was Christmas in 1998.  I was 14 years old.  My parents, sister, and myself were in Georgia visiting family for the holiday.  Earlier in the the year I has asked my mom for a skateboard.  I attribute this to the Tony Hawk video game coming out and me playing that thing to death.  I guess I figured if I loved the game that much then the real thing would have to be just a great.  Christmas morning, get to opening presents.  I couldn’t name anything else that happened that except for my dad saying “hey, look under the couch” and me finding a brand new Element Skateboards complete.  I ran outside right away and began pushing around the driveway and street.  I had no idea what I was doing on the thing, and on top of that it was probably 30 degrees outside, but I stayed outside for an hour or so until I couldn’t feel my fingers.  Once I finally got back to Miami I had my sisters friend Milo show me how to Ollie.  First attempt I fell flat on my stomach and knocked the air right out of me. Fantastic.

Over time I got a little bit better.  I met people who enjoyed it as much as I did and had friends to go skate with during the summer or after school.  I went over to my friend Jose’s house one day after school and he played for me the skate video The Storm from Osiris.  I remember watching the whole thing, and my immediate thought afterwards “Holy Shit.  Let’s go skate right now.” My second though was that I hadn’t heard anything like it either.  Up until this point I would listen mainly to what my sister listened to, or the radio.  The moment I heard Busta Rhymes “Extinction Level Event” I knew I had to have that song some how. From there I went on to watch other videos and find other bands I had no idea about.  Jets to Brazil, The International Noise Conspiracy, The Album Leaf, The Avalanches, Built to Spill, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Enkindels, Reflection Eternal, Sizzla.  Hell, even bands I was familiar with like Iggy Pop, The Offspring, and Iron Maiden were seen in a new light when paired with someone completely ripping to the music.  Reading magazines and watching internviews in 411 VM, I discovered he symbiotic relationship between skateboarding and music.  Certain bands make skate music, or even just rebellious music for people to enjoy in their own way.  Skaters go out an create in their own specific manner as well, whether in vert, tech, or gnar fashion.  It became apparent to me that wherever there was skateboarding there was music, and wherever there was either of these things you would find people expressing themselves creatively, passionately, and hopefully just for the love of doing it.

This week’s Five for Friday are skate video parts from video’s I owned/watched in my youth.  I gave myself some guidelines for picking the parts:

-I had to have owned the video, or at least seen the whole thing.
– I can’t pick a part based on the music or skateboarding alone.  It has to be a combination of both.  Danny Gonzalez’s part in The Reason is amazing, but the music is lackluster to me.  Alternatively, Heath Kirchart’s part in Sight Unseen uses The Moody Blues “Knights in White Satin”, which I love but I don’t think fits in with the part.

I present the Five for Friday

Mike V-Black Label’s “Label Kills”
Song: Rollins Band-Hotter and Hotter
Mike V.s part isn’t the most technical, or or most gnar, or doesn’t even have the most tricks.  But when he skates you sense a furious drive behind each kick, a person intent on destroying whatever is in his path.  Henry Rollins singing feels like it’s pushing him on, at other times like it just might get left behind.  Vicious and fast, Mike V. is amazing.

Cairo Foster-Transworld Skateboarding “The Reason”
Song: Built to Spill-Carry the Zero
The Reason came out at a time that video’s were transitioning from being the gnarliest, grainiest things you’ve seen to more of Skateboarding meets Art.  I think that’s the perfect way to describe Cairo’s style too.  The part impressed me when I first saw it mainly because of the amount of switch tricks he goes for.  Secondly, I had never heard of Built to Spill, and I felt like their laid back sound match the editing and style perfectly.  Such a great thing to watch.

Marc Johnson- Girl Skateboards “Yeah Right!”
Song: Joy Division-Love will tear us apart
I’ve always seen Girl Skateboards, and their sister company Chocolate Skateboards, as sort of the dynasty team of skateboarding.  Always sponsor great riders, seem ageless, the cool kids everyone wants to hang out with.  On top of that Marc Johnson is a smooth son of a bitch.  His skating seems so effortless and buttery smooth that I can watch him do nothing but pop ollies all day.  Then you have Joy Division’s Love will tear us apart, which is a phenomenal, albeit sad, song.  It’s almost as if Marc is having a farewell romp with something that he loves so much before saying good bye (which is a lie cause he went on to become skateboarder of the year a few years later and still rips till this day).

Nate Jones-Real Skateboards “Real to Reel”
Song-Gil Scott Heron “Gun”
Nate Jones is another smooth dude, and match that with Gil Scott Heron who one of the smoothest….damn, just too good.  Nate has this great flow to his skating that it feels like he board is urging him to keep moving, which is helped along by the flowing streets of San Francisco. Gil has this same style where you want the music to never end.  It felt as if the song and the part were made for each other.

Kenny Anderson-Adio Footwear “One Step Beyond”
Song: Mr. Scruff “Get a move on”
Kenny Anderson’s part is a standout from what is otherwise an average skate film.  He has great style, seems like he’s having a fantastic time, and makes it look effortless.  Mr. Scruff’s “Get a move one” has this great beat and bounce to it that seems to match Kenny’s personality.  This part also get’s bonus points for a lot of spots in Miami (That opening line he does with the step down nose slide and the back bluntslide…yeah, that’s at University of Miami, near my mom’s old office.  I’m VERY familiar with those pads).

This is just scratching the surface of the skateboarding and music collaboration.  Expect another post similar to this in the future.  But for now, do you have a favorite past time/activity that you feel is only heightened by music?  Let us know!

-Robert

Sunday from the Porch: Lakeside with the Preatures

I spent all day on the 4th of July power washing and staining my deck, my usual haunt for posting the Sunday from the Porch posts. I also spent all day Saturday staining the deck. Sunrise to sunset, work work work.

You should see what I am seeing right now. It looks fantastic.

porch 1

Today, I promised my wife that I would enjoy one work free day and do nothing with the family. We decided to head to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for a day at the lake at our friend’s lake house.

I spent the day sitting on the pier, drinking beers and lemonade with vodka infused strawberries. I watched the kids wading in the lake and we took the sailboat out for a ride. Very peaceful and restful day.

20140706_124256

All day, in my head, I had The Preatures “Is This How You Feel” stuck on loop. Not that I am complaining – its a catchy song.

As I sat on the pier, soaking up rays, I kept comparing this song to Feist. Isabella Manfredi’s vocal delivery is dead on for Leslie Feist in a few parts and the general structure of the song could be a poppier Feist track with a little bit of her other band, Broken Social Scene thrown in for good measure.

It got me thinking – after the success of Feist’s 2007 album, “The Reminder,” this track by the Preatures could have been the direction she went in. Instead, she took a step off the fringes of pop and took it in a different direction with 2011’s “Metals.”

As Pitchfork put it:

Metals displays a shift in Feist’s perspective as a songwriter; after The Reminder she’s said she’s now less interested in writing songs that could be read as intimate and personal but instead crafting lyrics that read almost like sparse proverbs.

Lindsay Zoladz, October 3, 2011, pitchfork.com

When Feist does pop, she does it well. I think of the classic pop structures of “1234” or “I Feel it All” from the Reminder and try to compare it to anything on “Metals” but I can not. The album feels slower, more intentional, and filled with nature imagery. I’m pretty sure they did not put any songs off “Metals” in an Apple commercial.

But it is sparse, yet lush with beautiful imagery. It’s really a great album.

Would I have wanted Feist to create a pop masterpiece instead of “Metals?” Probably not. Maybe she will someday. For now, we’ll let the Preatures handle it for her in the meantime.

-John