Thursday, December 31, 2009

My favorite songs of 2009

Well, it's the last day of 2009. In the spirit of such things, I'm going to let you know about what I thought about the year in music.

If you haven't seen it yet, The World-Herald ran with my best albums of 2009 column a few weeks ago. Mal Madrigal or Bear Country may have slipped into that list had I done it a little later. Maybe they'll make it in next year.

Tomorrow, check out to read my take on the best stuff of this whole decade. The online piece is expanded from the version that's going into the paper.

Today, check out my favorite songs of 2009. This is a sampling and not nearly everything I liked. For example, I love that Brad Hoshaw album, but I can't for the life of me find my copy, so I didn't add one of his songs to my list. You should go listen to him anyway.

Here they are, my favorite tracks from 2009:

Japandroids, "Young Hearts Spark Fire"

The line "I don't wanna worry about dyin'" is so brutally honest that it makes you stop and worry for a second. Then when the lyrics turn to "sunshine girls," your thoughts do to.

Monsters of Folk, "Whole Lotta Losin'"

I liked the Monsters best when they were playing fast and loose, like on this tune. I also like when they were collaborative, trading off verses and singing harmonies.

Conor Oberst, "Slowly (Oh, So Slowly)"

Like the Monsters, my favorite stuff from Conor's solo projects are when he doesn't make more Bright Eyes songs, but instead rocks out a little bit, playing it loose and fast. He does so here and does so very well.

Pete Yorn, "Social Development Dance"

Yorn's true tale of meeting a friend then, years later, finding out she died after the fact is heartwrenching. Special recognition goes to him for the line, "Googled your name in quotes, got no results," which comes off much less cheesy than it sounds on paper. (Side Note: Yorn recorded with Mike Mogis at his Omaha-based ARC studio.)

Phoenix, "1901"

You've seen it on the Lexus commercials, but it's even better in its whole version. And who hasn't lived the line, “I'll be anything you ask and more"?

Little Brazil, "Brighton Beach"
Tim McMahan put "Separated" on his year-end list, but my favorite is definitely this one, the song that sets up the relationship between the main characters that the rest of the album proceeds to tear apart. (I can't find anywhere to embed this song from, so go to their MySpace and check it out there.)

Meat Puppets, "Sewn Together"

Way better than most of the stuff they were famous for in the mid-'90s. Even more impressive after reading their story of breakups, drugs, arrests, prison and reuniting.

The Aliens, "Sunlamp Show"

I'm a sucker for the Beta Band (especially that scene in "High Fidelity") and this song is right up that same alley.

Miike Snow, "Burial"

I have no idea what the lyrics are, but the melody there makes me bob my head every time. There's a remix of this song by DJ Mehdi that's phenomenal, but the original is quite good too.

Silversun Pickups, "There's No Secrets This Year"

I'm not even sure what that title means, but it feels like they're right. Oh, and Brian Aubert's fuzzy guitar and high-pitched, Billy-Corgan-esque vocals are pretty great too.

Miles B.A. Robinson, "Shake a Shot"

This songs simple guitar and MBAR's mumbling vocals meander their way into a pretty sweet song.

Jay Z, "Run This Town" (feat. Rihanna and Kanye West)

This might have been my song of the year, except that Kanye's part is kind of terrible. Actually, I don't like it at all. So, this is 2/3 of an amazing, incredible song. The other 1/3 is crap.

Weezer," (If You Are Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To"

Rag on them all you want ("'Raditude' is no 'Pinkerton,' man!"), but this song is still pretty fun. And I have a penchant for parenthetical song titles.

Ben Kweller, "Sawdust Man"

How does this guy write these strangely-timed piano lines? They don't feel right, but they sound so good. Also, the lyrics about leaving work, meeting up with your baby and heading for a night on the town are pretty great.

Telekinesis, "Coast of Carolina"

Chris Walla of Deathcab produced this one, a full band album made by a drummer. And a damn good one at that. The guitar on this track rocks.

Rural Alberta Advantage, "Drain the Blood"

It was hard to pick a favorite on this album, but "Drain the Blood" just sounds cooler. Also, if it weren't a cover, I would have picked their version of "Eye of the Tiger."

Matt Whipkey, "If I Was Your Man"

Dreaming about being with the girl always brings up uneasy feelings. Whipkey's song about it is perfect, mixing dreams about the perfect life tinged with the realization that it's not going to happen.

Bear Country, "Dandy Andy"

Any song that has the line, "The toilet is my favorite place to shit in," and makes it sincere is a great tune in my book.

O+S, "We Do What We Want To"

Orenda Fink's dreamy vocals mix some dream-like music on this tune she did with the Scalpelist (a.k.a. Cedric LeMoyne of Remy Zero).

The Avett Brothers, "I And Love And You"

A great song exploring three simple words with much more complicated meanings to them.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In 2010, I resolve to...

New Year's resolutions are usually bogus. "I'm going to lose weight." "I'm going to save money." "I'm going to not drink as much." "I'm going to volunteer." "I'm going to quit smoking."

Yeah, all those are great things. Some succeed, some fail (I've done both). You know what sucks about all those resolutions? They're no fun. Going to a gym 5 times a week is no cake walk. Staying at home to watch CW Thursdays instead of getting a beer with your friends ain't a bowl of laughs either.

You'll have a ton more fun doing something else. Try to hit up a festival this year (SXSW, Lollapalooza, etc.), go on a road trip to see a band that's skipping your town, or finally sync up "Dark Side Of the Moon" with the "Wizard of Oz."

You'll have loads more fun, you'll probably learn something and you'll definitely have some stories to tell. I assume you're reading my music blog for music-related stuff, so here's a load of musical resolutions for you and your friends to try out in the new year.

Go to a music festival. Today more than ever, there are tons of music festivals (off the top of my head, I can think of SXSW, CMJ, Outside Lands, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Pitchfork, Summerfest, Austin City Limits, All Points West, Sasquatch, Wakarusa, and there are about a hundred more). The road trip aspect is fun in itself (so is camping, if they have it), but you're likely to see more bands in two days than you normally do in a month. I hit about 26 bands in three days at Lollapalooza and I wasn't even in front of a stage the whole time. You'll hear music that you've never heard before and you'll see one of your favorite bands perform in front of the largest crowd they've ever seen (try 40-50k for Kings of Leon).

Hang out after the show and try to meet/get autograph from/take picture with/join the afterparty of your favorite musician. It's always a fun story to tell about the time you talked to the drummer from Iron Maiden or show off that picture of you and James Hetfield from Metallica. A friend from work likes to talk about the time he and a friend met Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead and his buddy got tips from him about a learning guitar part in a Radiohead song. The strategy of waiting near the stage or by the tour bus or merch booth works for everyone from Motley Crue to Ben Kweller. (Tip: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. So, don't get too disappointed. Stories about meeting your fave star are great, but stories about trying to get backstage are still kinda fun.) (Tip 2: Act cool. Telling them about the poster in your room and/or trying to make out with the band member is not a good strategy. Saying, "Good set," or "I've always wondered about the lyric in..." is a much better way to get the conversation started.)

Make it a goal to go to 1/2/10 show(s) a week/fortnight/month. Looking back on the last year, you could write down the shows you went to in one column and the shows that you wanted to go to but didn't in another and have some interesting reading. This year, if you make it a goal to go to a certain number of shows no matter what (make your goal more than last year's total), it will get you out of the house more, you'll see those bands that you wanted to and you'll likely get to experience something new. Bonus points: Setting a goal to go to a certain amount of local shows. (Tip: If you want to get the most bang for your buck with local shows, I recommend hitting up CD release shows. More bands, usually a genre-specific lineup and sometimes some fun shenanigans all in one place.)

Finally sit down and listen to the Clash's entire catalog. You've always wanted to do it, but never had the time or the patience or resources to collect all the albums and listen to them. All the while, you've been collecting and listening to plenty of other new bands that probably are nearly as good as Joe Strummer and Co. So, what's your excuse now? Anyway, if you're not huge on the Clash, that's totally cool. Pick another band you like and do it with them, be it Joy Division, Black Flag, ZZ Top or Sha Na freaking Na.

Pick up an instrument (and put down Guitar Hero) and learn a few songs. I don't care if it's a guitar, a piano or a kazoo. Even if you can't play it particularly well, learning an instrument will give you an appreciation for the music you listen to. And it will give you a little more authority when you go on and on about how awesome or emotive the new Avett Brothers record is. Plus when you learn a couple tunes, you'll be able to impress your friends, get the girl (or guy) and, at the very least, be able to have a story to tell at parties when you talk about how you learned the solo on Queen's "We Are the Champions."

Start a band. This is an extension of the previous one (and obviously a little more complicated), but why not try? You'll be able to put those funny band names you and your friends come up with to some good use, you'll be able to tell your kids "I was in a band once" and it's probably a better use of your time than playing Xbox. And it doesn't matter if you can't play an instrument yet. Silversun Pickups could barely play a few years ago and now they have a Grammy nomination. No one in U2 knew what the hell they were doing and look where they are. Hell, punk rock (an entire movement of music and culture) was started around guys who couldn't play their instruments. What do you have to lose?

Road trip to see a band that is skipping your town. Everyone knows the wave of disappointment that washes over you when you look at a tour schedule and notice that the Rolling Stones or Pete Yorn or Tech N9ne or whoever is going everywhere else in North America but decided to skip one of the five perfectly good music venues in your own town. So, why miss out on the fun? Grab a few buddies, pick the closes city and get your ass on the road. The road trip (and the skeezy hotel you'll end up staying in) will be most of the fun, but at the end of the day, it will be capped off by seeing the band kick out the hard jams. Bonus Points: Follow a band for a few dates on their tour. Start in your own town or in a nearby city and check them out for a few nights in a row (or 10 if you can afford it). Works for everyone from Pearl Jam to The Samples.

Try something new. Your staple is acoustic singer-songwriters. Or it's pop-punk. Or it's 17th-century Baroque concertos. Whatever it is, find one of your friends that likes something that you don't and ask her for recommendations on metal or nerdcore or classic rock. You'll impress your friend by wanting to expand your horizons and you might find something you actually like. And even if you don't like it, at least you'll have ammo when you get into that metal sucks/punk is awesome argument with the aforementioned friend.

Listen to an album. I mean actually listen to it, not put it on your iPod while you work out or clean the house. Digest it like you would a book: Put in on your computer or stereo, sit down on the couch (preferably with lyric sheet in hand) and just listen. Even if it's your favorite album and you've listened to it more times than you can count, without all those distractions you'll hear instruments, words and emotions that you never have before. Bonus Points: If it's on vinyl and you get to flip it half way through, which is always a special experience.

Read a book about music. Music is about listening, I know, but you'll learn a lot by reading some. And if it's about a band or genre that you particularly like, you'll probably gain a new appreciation for something that you thought you already knew everything about. If you're not a big reader, try something that's more magazine style (short articles instead of long chapters and lots of pictures instead of text-heavy) such as "Punk: The Whole Story," "Michael: From the Editors of Rolling Stone," "1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die" or "Rock And Roll Hall of Fame: The First 25 Years." Diary-style books are always interesting, two of my favorites being Nikki Sixx's "The Heroin Diaries" and Henry Rollins' "Get In The Van: On The Road With Black Flag." Other recent books that I've enjoyed are "Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age," "The Pitchfork 500," "The Band Name Book" and "Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Music Scenes."

Send a fan letter. With message boards and live chats and e-mails and everything else, the days of the fan letter are likely dead. But just for fun, try it out. Pour your heart into it. Write as if it was the teenage you, telling the guy that he's your favorite guitarist or asking what that one lyric is really about. Ask for an autograph. Include some fan art. If the person reads it, great. If not, it doesn't really matter. If they respond, jackpot! Bonus Points: Type-written is OK, but it's much better if it's hand-written on a piece of blank notebook paper.

Experience "The Dark Side of the Rainbow" - sync up Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" with "The Wizard of Oz." Yeah, it seems stupid and sounds like something only really bored stoners would do, but I have to attest that it's pretty awesome. (Side note: I've never been high in my life, so I assure you that one need not be drugged out to enjoy it.) Floyd almost certainly didn't do it intentionally, but the synchronities between the music and film are astonishing. (My personal favorite is when the "cha-ching" at the start of "Money" comes at the exact moment Dorothy opens the door to the house and the movie switches to color. So cool.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Last night was a blast at the Faint show. I recommend going tonight or tomorrow if you have a ticket or finding a friend with an extra one and going with her. It's well worth the investment.

So, what happened in the world of music today? Feast on these headlines!

• Brooklyn Vegan has a great list of 10 things metal bands have said on stage in 2009. I always love between song banter.

• Julian Casablancas of the Strokes has a new video from his solo thing.

• John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants talks to the A.V. Club.

• 2009 seemed to be the year of the NSFW music video (that's "not safe for work" for the uninitiated). Stereogum lists the top 10 in that category.

• Spin is offering a free download of music to watch out for in 2010.

• Lil Wayne started his pre-jailtime tour last night.

• Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, drummer for Avenged Sevenfold, has died. Sullivan was 28.

• Rolling Stone looks at the decade's wildest moments.

• A Patti Smith documentary will air on PBS. It's also Ms. Smith's birthday tomorrow.

• Van Morrison had another child. He's 64. Most impressive.

• LA Times' Pop & Hiss blog looks at the 42 memorable music moments from 2009.

Completely unrelated to music: A new trailer is out for Kevin Smith's new movie, "Cop Out." One, I love me some Kevin Smith. Two, last time I read about this movie, it was called "A Couple of Dicks," which sounds a lot funnier. Three, this does not look that funny and it doesn't have Kevin Smith's name attached to it except in the credits. Interesting.

Today in rock history: In 1966, The Beatles began recording "Penny Lane" at EMI.

Birthdays: Singer Marianne Faithfull is 63 today. Jim Reid, singer of The Jesus and Mary Chain, is 48.

Today's Mail: A third copy of Katharine McPhee's "Unbroken." I guess they really want me to review this one.

The Faint does it again

I must say that I've never been disappointed by concert from The Faint. I've seen them in Omaha a lot, but I'm never bored and I always leave wishing the set was just a few songs longer.

In fact, I'd venture to say that "Paranoiaattack" might be the best song I've ever heard performed live by any band that I've ever seen. The energy of the band, the crowd popping around, the call of "paranoia" and Todd Fink's manic look as he leads the band and the fans are superb.

After taking the stage with "Mirror Error," Fink said, "Alright! Waiting Room! Fuck yes!"

He generally looked more excited and happy than I've ever seen him onstage before. I wonder if it's because he's had a break from The Faint for a little while and actually gets to enjoy it.

Anyway, last night was a lot like other Faint shows that I've been to. Lots of dancing, both from folks in front of the stage and those on it. Lots of strobe lights.

There were a few differences. The lights were cool and timed to the music, but nothing fancy like in years past. No video screen or elaborate montages timed with each song.

And they were playing in a tiny venue. The couple hundred folks (maybe) that were at the sold out show is a far cry from the 1000 or so + that pack into Sokol Auditorium. It made for a much better show: You could actually see and hear the band, you didn't suffocate from the heat and the band connected with the audience a lot better. Jacob Thiele and Fink were talking to the crowd a lot, high-fived people and generally interacted a lot more.

The Faint were also feeling generous last night, giving everyone in the crowd a copy of their latest album, "Fasciinatiion." After coming back for the three-song encore, Fink broke it down thusly: "In the spirit of the holiday, we have a gift. Not the gift of leaving for a second, taking a piss and coming back on stage to play a few more songs. Well, we're going to do that too. But this gift is some merchandise. Anyone who wants a CD while you leave, we have one for you."

A Waiting Room employee handed out copies of the CDs while folks left. It was a pretty cool thing to do for their fans, although I wonder if they were just trying to get rid of some extra CDs.

Today, I popped "Fasciinatiion" in the CD player and a few things struck me. First, this CD is better than a lot of people made it out to be when it came out in 2008. Yeah, it's not terribly different from past efforts, but why does it have to be? Second, these songs fit into their live show very well. Watching last night, I didn't realize that they played so many tunes from their latest album.

Third, why have these guys never made a live album or DVD? The live show is what defines this band for me. I love bringing people that have never heard of them to see The Faint live. Usually it's a "Well, I heard one of their songs one time and didn't like it." My response is that you have to see them live because it's a totally different experience. For these people that I've dragged along, it's a life changer every time.

Here's the full setlist, which I took a picture of with my cell phone:

Monday, December 28, 2009


Well folks, it's been awhile since I've been on the blog, so some of today's headlines may not have happened today. For example, did you know that John Frusciante quit Red Hot Chili Peppers? Man, I had no idea. I hope they don't replace him with Dave Navarro again. That "One Hot Minute" album they made was not good. And it followed "Blood Sugar Sex Magik," so it was even more of a disappointment.

Anyway, I digress. On to other important music news, followed by entries on today's mail, today in rock history and today's music birthdays.

• Paste's "Listen Up" blog addresses all the people that hate on every year-end list. It's a really well-written and funny post. Most of the lists (including mine) are based on personal opinion, so it's kinda hard to read a list that you absolutely agree with. I don't really like a single one that I've seen aside from my own.

• Spike Lee is directing a new video for Michael Jackson. I wonder how much unreleased material the guy had sitting around.

• Trent Reznor says he's going to make more NIN music and "something else" next year. I thought NIN did a farewell tour. Or was it a "we're not going to tour any more" tour? Who knows? Is anyone else sick of musicians "retiring" or "going on hiatus" only to show up again (Reznor, Jay-Z, Garth Brooks)? I sure am. Just make an album or don't.

• Mark your calendars, folks. The Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards will be on Jan. 24.

• Writer Andy Whitman explores his personal journey through music in the aughts.

• Glenn Kotche of Wilco told us his top 10 albums of 2009. Fellow Wilco-er Nels Cline's album takes one spot. Wilco's isn't on there, but one would assume he took himself out of the running.

• Vic Chestnutt died at 45.

• Gene Simmons is being sued by folks that say he assaulted them.

• Jimmy Fallon was joined by the Muppets to sing the 12 Days of Christmas, quite similar to the furry puppets' version with John Denver. My favorite part is Fozzie (also my favorite Muppet) forgetting all the lines.

• Stereogum lists their favorite late night TV performances.

• Apparently Radiohead is going to head back into the studio. This is after Thom Yorke crashed the climate summit with a press pass.

Today's Mail: Hamilton Loomis, "Live in England;" Mudvayne's new self-titled disc and a Christmas card from local group Fortnight (they're recording a new album).

Today in rock history: 45-rpm prices jumped from $1.68 to $1.98 in 1981. Founding member and drummer for the Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson, drowned in 1983.

Birthdays: Alex Chilton, guitarist, songwriter and namesake for The Replacements song, turns 59 today.

I'm back!

Hey folks. I'm back in the office after taking my holiday-time vacation. Looks like my blog hasn't been updated in more than two weeks. My apologies for that.

There were a lot of shows going on, a lot happening in music and it seems like I missed it all. Sadly, I didn't make a single show recently because of all of my family events surrounding Christmas. But I'm back on the wagon tonight, checking out tonight's sold out show from The Faint at the Waiting Room.

I've seen them a ton of times before, but it's always been at Sokol. I remember back in the day when they used to play the smaller places. It will be interesting to see if and how they scale back their large light and video displays to a smaller place like TWR.

And while I'm not sure that I've ever been to a place hotter than a sold out Faint show at Sokol, I imagine that a smaller room like TWR will get even sweatier. Ugh.

(Also, TWR's Twitter states that "parking blows in benson so we advise you to carpool." Consider yourself warned.)

If you didn't get a ticket to the Faint tonight, I highly recommend hitting up Slowdown for the Bear Country release show. I've been listening to the seven songs on the 10" and they're fantastic. This band will go places if they get some folks to hear these songs (i.e. go out and tour a lot).

The melodies are decidely alt-country and the harmonies are delightful, bordering on pretty. They even make lines such as "the toilet is my favorite place to shit in" sound good.

I can't wait to get my hands on the vinyl (I've been listening to the digital press copy the band sent me) as I imagine it will sound even warmer on my turntable at home.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Daily Headlines!

I'm here, I'm here. I promise. Sorry I missed out on daily headlines on Friday. I had to review KISS that night (review here).

It was quite the spectacle. I know some people look down on KISS because of how silly the whole concept is, but you have to admit that it's pretty fun. The folks next to me won tickets from a radio station and left halfway through. The guy was talking about how awesome it was going to be to see Buckcherry, who left the KISS tour the week before. He seemed pretty down when I informed him that Buckcherry wasn't going to be there. I sort of felt bad for him that he couldn't get into the whole KISS spectacle, but the thought of Buckcherry got him going.

I'm of the opinion that no one should really take them that seriously and I honestly don't think that Paul Stanley or Gene Simmons take themselves that seriously either. I mean, they have a new song called "Say Yeah," and half of their old tunes are very thinly veiled euphemisms about having sex. The whole thing was quite hilarious the other night.

Anyway, I missed headlines the other day. Here's a special Sunday edition to make up for it:

Jason Boesel is putting out a new album on Jan. 12 from Team Love. You know Boesel as the drummer of Rilo Kiley, Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band and stints with Bright Eyes.

• Axl Rose got in a fight with some photographers. Apparently he punched one of them in the head.

• This happened about a month ago, but Minneapolis Fucking Rocks music blog had it up and it's worth posting again: Christopher Walken does Lady Gaga's "Pokerface."

• Michael Jackson apparently commissioned a portrait of himself: A creepy Renaissance-esque portrait of him surrounded by little cherubs. One thought the man couldn't get weirder after his death. Guess not.

• Not a big surprise to anyone that follows it closely, but Flight of the Conchords is not coming back for a third season on HBO. I hope they make another album and tour. I'd love to see these guys live.

• Rivers Cuomo is out of the hospital.

• Lady Gaga is on the U.S. leg of her tour. Sounds more like a theater production than a concert.

• Massive Attack is releasing a new album and put out a video for "Paradise Circus." Warning: it's definitely Not Safe For Work or young eyes as it features graphic scenes from porn movie "The Devil and Miss Jones." It's a cool video though because it has pieces of the song interspersed with Georgina Spelvin, former porn star who talks about her role in the film.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Daily Headlines! The Good Life, Lil Wayne and more

Hey folks. Didn't talk to anyone particularly interesting today as I spent most of the day working on

Check out my interviews/articles on Cursive, KISS and Ten Out of Tenn on

Tomorrow, I'll be posting an extended interview with Sam Martin of Capgun Coup because I couldn't fit it in the paper.

For now, feast on headlines!

• The Good Life is going on a small tour with Old Canes opening. This is going to be pretty sweet. Only four dates are posted so far.

• More best of lists, this time Rolling Stone's 100 best albums of the decade. I like this one, for the most part.

• Spin posted their best songs of 2009 today.

• Jay Reatard was attacked by fans, got in a fight and a few people were arrested.

• Lil Wayne's new disc, "Rebirth," was pushed back. Again.

• Morissey is making another appearance on TV. No big deal, right? Well, he's going on George Lopez's show. An interesting choice.

• Lilith Fair is back again. Tegan and Sara, Erikah Badu and others are playing.

• Does Metallica's cover for "Death Magnetic" look like a vagina? Hehe, kinda does now that I think about it. I guess Lars Ulrich agrees.

• People has a rumor about Jessica Simpson dating Billy Corgan. As usual, it's a really trustworthy report because they quote an unnamed source.

The Weekly List: Four worst holiday songs by pop musicians

Man, it's the time of year that every single station decides to switch over to Christmas music. Even the local college radio station decides it's time to play the occasional Weezer cover or something.

Amid the good (Bright Eyes' "Blue Christmas" or John Denver & The Muppets' "12 Days of Christmas), there is lots of bad.

Here are four of the very worst.

What are your least favorite Christmas songs? Let me know in the comments.

4. "Santa's Beard," The Beach Boys

Wow. I love the Beach Boys, but this is just silly. Give me "Little Saint Nick" or "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" any day of the week. Looks like the Wilsons were fishing for something to write about on this one.

3. "The Chanukah Song," Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond's:

Adam Sandler's original:

Neil Diamond finally decides to do a holiday song about his own faith, and he chooses, uh, "The Chanukah Song"? Well, nice try, Neil, but where Adam Sandler's was silly, hilarious and satirical your version is only silly. Neil, you should have tried to do it a little more tongue-in-cheek instead of full-on serious singing a la "Sweet Caroline."

2. "All I Want For Christmas Is a Real Good Tan," Kenny Chesney

Really Kenny? Is that all you want? I wonder if he stole this song from Jimmy Buffet as he seems to be stealing his country-singer-gone-island-troubadour career path as well.

1. "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays," NSYNC

Wow, with all of the harmonizing, drum machine and synth guitar in this, it really smacks of 90s boybandness. This was really popular, wasn't it? Ugh. I feel sorry for everyone in that decade. At least it gave us the modern day Justin Timberlake, right?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Daily Headlines! Late edition...

As promised, here is the second edition of headlines. The early one was mostly stuff from yesterday. Here's stuff that happened today:

• Rolling Stone has their best songs of the decade. I like what I've read so far.

• Pearl Jam is going on tour next year. In Europe.

• Check out Bob Dylan's video for "Little Drummer Boy."

• The Rural Alberta Advantage has a new video for "Drain the Blood." In similar news, Saddle Creek is offering a 7-inch of "Drain the Blood" and "Eye of the Tiger" at their store. I will be pre-ordering because that cover of "Eye of the Tiger" was fantastic.

• More SC store news: The Bright Eyes Christmas album is available on 180 gram vinyl. I'll probably be getting one of those too. Side Note: I was at one of those Conor shows he does around the holidays a lot and he invited his dad on stage. They played "Blue Christmas" and it was quite amazing.

• Paste revealed their 100 best band names of all time and I couldn't agree more with their No. 1 selection. They did have a few others that I would have included, but I really have no big complaints.

• More best of lists: Spinner reveals their best albums of the aughts.

• Susan Boyle be breaking records. The woman never ceases to amaze.

• Fleet Foxes say their new album is "pretty boring." Could you really describe their first one as "exciting?" It was damn good, but I think they're using the wrong words to describe things here.

• The Flaming Lips have a new trinket/toy/piece of merchandise: a silver-colored fetus Christmas ornament. Just when I thought they couldn't go weirder...

• Coldplay is working with Brian Eno (which I talked about with Coldplay drummer Will Champion a long time back... What he had to say about Eno: "He is fascinating. He’s a mixture of like a professor, a musician, an artist, a mathematician. He’s a very interesting man and very inspiring to be in the studio with. He’s always full of new and innovative techniques to get us to approach music in a new and interesting way."


Tonight's show with the Flobots at the Waiting Room is canceled.

"The band is stuck in Iowa somewhere and can’t make it. We will refund tickets, but they hope to reschedule," according to the Waiting Room's site.

Slowdown is closed tonight, but didn't have any shows. Film Streams is also closed.

Saddle Creek Bar is closed.

The Sydney is open, according to their Twitter.

No word on any others. Let me know if you hear.

I suggest taking the advice on the Saddle Creek Bar's site: Stay home, build a fire and ... (meet) those hot chicks that just moved in next door."

Daily Headlines: Not so daily

Yeah, totally missed the boat yesterday on that one. I'm trying to do this every day, but yesterday really threw me a curveball with all of the weather-related stuff going on and Star Wars: In Concert to attend and review.

So for you, dear reader, I will make your daily headlines even dailier today, with an early edition now and a another one later today.


Cancellations: Tonight's performance by Bo Burnam, musician and comedian, at the Omaha Music Hall is canceled.

• Slowdown is closed today.

(I'll post more cancellations as I hear about them.)

• Tupac's "Changes" made the Vatican's MySpace playlist. For those wondering, I mean the actual Vatican, not some collective or hip-hop group. Like, the Pope. Seriously. Check it out.

• Spin's Top 40 albums of 2009 list is out. Expect many more to follow. I'm not too impressed with Spin's list. I'm working on mine now and it will be out at the end of the year.

• If it matters to you, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is getting married.

• A new Beatles biopic (as if we need more of them) will air on BBC.

• Rivers Cuomo got hurt in a bus crash over the weekend. He's getting better. I hope when the reschedule their tour dates, they add more and come somewhere close to here.

• M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel announced details of the second She & Him album.

• Lady Gaga met the Queen of England. I guess the occasion called for dressing up, right? Wow, Lady Gaga... You don't even tone it down for the friggin' Queen.

• So, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver helped out his high school's jazz band awhile back by performing at a fundraiser concert with them. That show is now available for purchase.

• Kings of Leon and Lady Gaga are some of 2009's top sellers on iTunes.

Apple bought Lala, the online streaming site. This should be interesting.

• Anthony Daniels (C-3PO in "Star Wars") is the emcee of Star Wars: In Concert and had this to say about Omaha (via his Twitter): "To the dedicated audience in Omaha: you fought your way to Star Wars In Concert and were a gracious and warm part of the show. Thank you all"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The show must go on...

What a day! I can barely see out of the north window of my building. To the east is a little clearer, but it's still pretty white.

If you're not in Omaha, it's snowing like freaking crazy. (If you're in Omaha and you didn't know this, turn on a TV or look out the window. What have you been doing all day? Seriously, it's nearly noon.) Up to 10 inches of snow is expected to fall from now until early morning Wednesday.

Anyway, for local music fans that means there's a lot less to do tonight. Slowdown, which was planning on hosting pub quiz tonight, is closed for the day. The Waiting Room, which was planning on hosting Underoath tonight, is not hosting the concert.

"Star Wars: In Concert" is going to happen tonight at Qwest Center Omaha, according to their people. The symphonic show features music from the movies, huge video screens displaying film footage and it's hosted by Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO in all six movies. (Read my interview with him.)

So, that's the skinny. If I here more, I'll let you know as soon as I can.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Daily Headlines! Beasties, Pumpkins and more

Adam Yauch (MCA) of the Beastie Boys

Tomorrow, you'll get some a few pieces from me on Capgun Coup and Cursive, both of which told me interesting stuff that doesn't fit in the paper.

As for today, how about some headlines?

• Rolling Stone has a list of albums snubbed by the Grammys.

• Animal Collective's Deakin is trying to go to Africa. If you you help him out, he'll give you a limited edition CD.

• Here's an interview with one of Saddle Creek's newest additions: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson.

• Smashing Pumpkins (yeah, Billy Corgan is apparently still trucking along with their 44-song album) put out a new song today: "A Song For A Son." Pitchfork called it "epic." I'd say it's just OK. In my opinion, "Cherub Rock" wins out any day.

• Does anyone else think that new Theory of a Deadman song , "Hate My Life," sounds like parody of every other Creed-ish, Nickelback-y song every made? It sounds like every terrible alternative rock clone mashed up into one. Too bad Theory of a Deadman isn't in on the joke... They're apparently serious with this song, but it's still hilarious. As is their frontman's soul patch.

• Billboard names its one hit wonders of the decade. These bring back some terrible/great memories and also keeps making me thing, "What happened to that guy?"

• Adam Yauch (MCA) of the Beastie Boys talks about his fight with cancer. Glad the guy's doing OK. I wish I could have seen the Beasties instead of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Lollapalooza this year. (The YYYs were terrible.)

• Last month's Paste had all of its best of the decade stuff in it, but my favorite piece was the "Evolution of the hipster." I guess other people liked it too: Paste said today that the story has more than 1 million views.

• Girl Talk (Greg Gillis) is putting out the Night Ripper album on limited edition, 180-gram, pink vinyl. For $100. The expense is because it's for charity. The vinyl is supposed to be up at the Illegal Art store soon.

• There's a new version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" And it's sung by comedians. And it's therefore pretty funny.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Grammy noms coming tonight

Grammy nominations are being announced this evening.

I, for one, don't really care. It's a nice honor for someone to be nominated or win one of the statues, but I find it no more important that winning an AMA or a VMA, to be honest. Music awards, in particular, seem to have less and less meaning considering how many ceremonies there are every year. If you're a country artist, especially, you have about nine opportunities a year to win an award. I wonder how many Taylor Swift will rack up in 2009 alone...

Robert Plant & Alison Kraus, Coldplay and Adele took home the major trophies Did you remember who won? I had to look it up. Last year, I was much more interested in the performances than I was on who won the awards. And they were quite impressive.

This year, the most talk I've heard of is the controversy over whether Lady Gaga can win the best new artist Grammy. First, she can't. Thems the rules, kid. Second, who cares?

As a major-label artist, it doesn't seem like a big deal to win. Hell, it's certainly not that honorable to be nominated any more. John Mayer has won about six. He's been nominated for thirteen. Hell, even Kid Rock has been nominated five times.

When it happens to an indie, it's a lot more interesting. Why? Well, because the indie bands and artists are folks that are bucking the system and to be recognized by the people running the system is impressive. It doesn't seem to happen that often.

But if Katy Perry gets to put another trophy on her shelf, I won't care that much.

As for me, let me know when they announce the performers. (Side note: I hope the Jonas Brothers aren't on the list this year...)

* * *

Anyway, the one-hour nomination special airs on CBS tonight at 8 (central).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Leather Gum Drops

Every week, Stereogum drops a new free mp3.

This week, it's from Omaha-based (Phoenix-born) band Digital Leather.

Usually it's an original tune from an upcoming album or something, but Digital Leather did a cover of MGMT's "Time to Pretend."

Shawn Foree explains that "Stephen and I were talking about synths one day. He mentioned that MGMT used the same machine on 'Time To Pretend' as I did on 'Modern Castles.' ... We decided to cover it. You know, just for fun."

I happen to love the MGMT original and this version is damn good. It's pretty faithful, from the aforementioned synths to the hand-claps in the background.

PHOTO: Sherry Cardino (I don't want Digital Leather to "fucking kill me.")

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Daily Headlines! Pixies, Paramore and Muppets

Today, I got the new Animal Collective EP and finally got a chance to hear Jay-Z's "Blueprint 3" (it came out months ago... I'm a little behind).

I also spoke to Trent Dabbs from Nashville music collective Ten Out of Tenn and singer Jeremy DePoyster from metal heads The Devil Wears Prada. Tomorrow, I'm talking to Chris Carraba from Dashboard Confessional.

Enjoy some music news headlines:

• Sigur Ros is going to score a new film.

• iTunes is offering up a new section of live material. Looks like there's a connection with Live Nation-owned venues.

• Spin checks out the inside of Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig's apartment.

• Spinner picks its best songs of the aughts.

• The Strokes did a new album.

• The Pixies have their own shoes. I'd rather have these shoes without all the Pixies stuff all over them, but that's me.

• Blender examines why bands that never did festivals before are now flocking to them.

• Blender also talks to Art Alexakis of Everclear. Remember them? "Father of Mine," "Everything to Everyone," "Santa Monica" and about 12 other songs were 90s radio.

• Check out Paramore's new video for "Brick By Boring Brick." Hayley Williams looks like she went blonde.

• And for my favorite link of the day: The Muppets do "Bohemian Rhapsody." Hells yes.

From the "fake news" dept.: Nation's Music Snobs Protest Predictable Use Of Metallica, Pantera To Torture Prisoners

Jason Segel is really funny and talented

That headline makes it sound like I have a crush on the guy, but it's honest.

I'll admit to watching How I Met Your Mother every week and having seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall more times than is probably healthy. But they're both great.

To show that he is even more awesome, Segel showed up at a Swell Season concert this week and took the stage. He joined Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of "Once" and sang a song about using his celebratory status to make love to a Swell Season fan; bringing a lesbian friend to his "swanky Los Angeles mansion;" his, uh, personal endowments and even offered up his phone number to the crowd.

In case anyone is wondering, it's 1-315-329-6673.

Anyway, enjoy the video:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Daily Headlines! Adam Lambert, Animal Collective and more

Spent today writing about Christmas, music, Christmas music and trying to get and interview with Anthony Daniels (he's the guy that played C-3PO in the Star Wars movies for all you non-nerds out there).

Anyway, here's today's music headlines:

• Big news of the day is Adam Lambert's racy performance at the American Music Awards. He made out with his (straight male) keyboard player (photo above), grabbed his crotch and did a bunch of other stuff. I didn't see it because I turned off the TV before that. Taylor Swift won the top award. The LA Times blog grades the performances (none of which I thought were very good).

• Spoon changed its album release date, announced a new single and tour dates.

• Scott Stapp from Creed answers questions about leather pants, the band's reunion, his fist fight with 311 and a bunch of other stuff.

• Speaking of Creed, Paste compares the band to the character from "The Office."

• My Morning Jacket was on "American Dad" last night.

• Some Michael Jackson stuff at auction, including the white glove, raised more than $2 million.

• The Avett Brothers have a new music video and a spring tour. And they still won't be in Omaha... Grrr... (I missed them when they were here a few months ago, dammit.)

• Animal Collective has a new mp3 out from their new EP.

• Paste's best of the decade stuff continues on (I think their roundups are much better than Pitchfork's from a few months ago, but that's neither here nor there) with a look at the best movie soundtracks.

Today's Mail: "Just Like You" by Alison Israheta ("American Idol" runner up)

Photo from the Associated Press.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The List: Top 5 Unintentionally Funny Music Videos

Hey folks! I'm starting a new weekly feature called "The List." It's going to be a Top 5/10/20/whatever-number-I-feel-like list that will pop up once a week.

Have any suggestions for what I should cover? Post in the comments, find me on Twitter or Facebook or send an e-mail.

I'll be doing anything from "Top 5 punk albums" to "Top 10 books about music" to "Top 8 Eagles songs that make you want to claw your eyes out."

* * *

For the inaugural list, here's the Top 5 Unintentionally Funny Music Videos.

These aren't from the Foo Fighters or Beastie Boys or Weezer, groups that make music videos that are supposed to make you laugh.

Nope, these ones were supposed to be serious, but end up coming off as ridiculous.


5. "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison

Weren't the '80s awesome? Maybe at the time, but watching this video makes me laugh.

Shots of a mostly-naked Bret Michaels sleeping next to some half-naked woman spliced in with backstage video and Michaels in an empty room playing acoustic guitar with a cowboy hat and aviators on.

I guess the video and song are supposed to show that Poison's life was really hard, what with the millions of dollars they were making and good looking women they were with. Favorite moment is Michaels getting his ankle wrapped after a failed rock kick from the drum riser. Real rock 'n roll, buddy.

4. "The Dope Show" by Marilyn Manson

Is this supposed to be freaky or something? The only thing freaky to me is that Marilyn Manson has boobs and apparently no genitalia.

I'm not even sure what the premise for this video is supposed to be. Marilyn-with-boobs gets examined by scientists, then does a press conference in a dress while cops in pink riot gear make out? Yeah, ok.

3. "Video Phone" by Beyonce

She's trying to look cool and it's just not working for her. I mean, the song's pretty laughable by itself, but every time she appears in a new outfit, its just silly. I mean, when Lady Gaga is dressed less ridiculously than you in a video, it's time to re-evaluate.

The dance moves are straight out of a Paula Abdul video. I started laughing out loud when she shoved her ass in the face of one of those men with camera heads and he kept trying to grab it.

2. "Opposites Attract" by Paula Abdul

Yeah, the one where she dances with the animated cat (his name is MC Skat Kat, if you're wondering). I guess her "opposite" is an cartoon that can dance.

Coming a year after the live action/cartoon mix of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," the video shows Abdul dancing with the cat, rapping with him and wearing everything from a suit to pajamas to some sort of dress/pants combo. What the hell?

On a related note: this video caused MC Skat Kat to go on and release an album. Seriously.

1. "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meatloaf

What. The. Hell? It's not enough that this song is more than seven minutes long, but Meatloaf is some kind of weird vampire? Yeah, sure.

He kills a few cops, creeps through the woods, stalks a hot chick who's hanging out at his deserted mansion's fountain, croons from his throne, hides from above-mentioned hot chick when she enters the mansion, creepily stares at her while she sleeps, watches as his vampire maidens sex up the hot girl, smashes mirrors and then runs from the cops with the girl.

Exactly what is it that he "won't do" for love? Be uncreepy, perhaps? Refrain from sexually assaulting and/or killing people? You got me.

Mercy Rule is back

It's been about 10 years.

Back then, Mercy Rule was one of those names you heard a lot if you were into local music. They played a lot of live shows and did two CDs on Relativity Records (they were called "God Protects Fools" and "Providence" for anyone keeping track).

After that, they got picked up by MCA records, but in one of those "screwed by a major label" stories, their A&R guy got fired and then they were dropped.

After buying back their already-recorded CD from MCA, they released it on Lincoln label Caulfield Records. It was called "The Flat Black Chronicles."

After Mercy Rule's era ended, Jon Taylor and Heidi Ore created Domestica with Boz Hicks.

Anyway, they're back and playing shows again even though the group's members are now in their 40s. Along with SPEED! Nebraska friends Ideal Cleaners, Wagon Blasters and Jake Joyce McCoy, they're doing a set at O'Leaver's on Saturday (check out the poster above). $5 gets you in, as always.

Check out their band bio page at SPEED! to hear a song sample.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Headlines! Cleveland, I'm slacking and more

I've been slacking on the headlines lately. It's actually something I'd like to compile every day, but I honestly haven't done it for a few weeks.

Well, headlines are back!

• Hall & Oates are going to be on the Cleveland Show this week (Family Guy spinoff). Excellent.

• Blender has an awesome post about the top 8 songs used as Facebook status updates.

• Vampire Weekend's new video for "Cousins" has been all over the Internet today.

• Rod Stewart likes Arcade Fire. Count me surprised.

• The guy from Hot Chip talks about the group's new album and how Susan Boyle was an influence. I don't believe him.

• Speaking of Susan Boyle, her new album is the biggest pre-order in's history.

• Like music? Thinking of it as a career? Go work for Spin magazine as an intern. I couldn't think of too many internships that would be cooler.

• Bonnaroo set dates for 2010. Ticket sales start Nov. 27 (seems a little early, doesn't it?).

• The Decemberists have turned their last album into an animated film.

• This isn't really news, but I've been listening to the new Avett Brothers record a lot today and checked their tour schedule. They're not coming to Omaha, and I don't like that.

• Motley Crue explains how they wrote "Girls Girls Girls." I'm not sure why, but I find this fascinating.

• The MTV Woodies were last night. Does anyone care?

Today's Mail: Brandi Carlile's "Give Up the Ghost" and Dashboard Confessional's "Alter the Ending"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Monsters of Folk: Unoriginal?

I got my copy of Paste Magazine in the mail today. It's always a treat, mostly because of the CD sampler they always send along that, month after month, features awesome music.

What caught my eye this time though (aside from the bevy of "best of the decade" lists in the mag) was a simple letter to the editor. In it, an astute reader points out that the foursome of Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Dave Alvin, Tom Russell and Chris Smither put out an album and toured under the name Monsters of Folk in 1998.

That's a full 11 years before Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, Jim James of My Morning Jacket and M. Ward of She & Him (as well as his own solo career) used the name on its album this year.

Here's a Rolling Stone article about the original folks from '98.

There doesn't seem to be any controversy, aside from the Paste letter to the editor and, to my knowledge, no one is getting sued or anything. It's nonetheless interesting.

Was the name used before? It certainly appears so. Does it really matter? I don't think so. You could call the Oberst-Ward-Mogis-James combo Bright Morning Jacket & Him and I still would like the songs on it.

Oddly enough, the foursome themselves make fun of their own name in a previously-published Paste Q&A:
Oberst: Really, when you think about it, band names are so ridiculous. I mean, I can’t think of a good band name.
Ward: I like Led Zeppelin. That’s the only good band name.

* * *

Speaking of the Paste sampler, mentioned above, three Omaha-related tracks made it on the disc (a first as far as I know).

First is "Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)" from the Monsters of Folk. This isn't much of a surprise to me, considering the MoF have been getting lots of write-ups and praise all over the place.

Second is "The Sound" by Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson from his impeccable release on Saddle Creek Records. He's not from O-town, but SC is, so it counts, right?

Third is "Ari Are We" from Capgun Coup off of the Omaha group's recently-released disc "Maudlin." This is pretty wide exposure for a band that still feels like a local band. What I mean there is that while their record is out on Team Love, they still feel like the local group playing local venues and house parties at Hotel Frank. Probably what Cursive seemed like 10 years ago.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Late to the party

Hey folks... Sorry I've been off the blog for nearly a week. It's been a busy week, but I'm back. I'll be posting every day this week with new stuff.

Today, I'd like your help with something. I'm starting a new column in the Omaha World-Herald that focuses specifically on local bands and upcoming shows.

What I don't have is a name. Think of something clever. Think of something silly. Think of something smart. Think of something funny.

If you have an idea, send it my way through the comments, Twitter or e-mail (

If I choose yours, you get a prize. Likely a CD or two or more.

The first column will appear on Thursday, Nov. 19 (that's this week, kids!).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lots of tickets going on sale...

Gather up your ticket money, kids. It could be an expensive weekend.

On Saturday, tickets go on sale for four Faint performances and a show from The Good Life.

In past years, The Faint has done a pair of Sokol Auditorium shows in Nov./Dec. They always sell out and they're always fantastic. Why they're doing four this year and why they're at the Waiting Room (with one show at Lincoln's Bourbon Theatre), I have no idea.

It will be pretty sweet to see the Faint in such a small space. They used to do small shows back in the day, but it's been years as far as I can remember.

The Good Life show will be a good one too. Does this mean that we'll be seeing some movement from Tim Kasher a la new material for the Good Life? We shall see.

On Thursday, tickets go on sale for a Dashboard Confessional and New Found Glory acoustic show.

This is the kind of show where it's really cool if you're into one of those two bands and probably pretty freaking lame if you're not.

I, for one, am pretty surprised that Dashboard is coming back to Omaha after the incredibly weak showing of fans at the Maha Music Festival back in August. All-day attendance was pretty slow, but decent. However, by the time that Dashboard came on, it was down to a few hundred people. Thank goodness (for them) that a few hundred people in Slowdown will make it look at least half-full.

As for the big boys, John Mayer tickets go on sale on Saturday as well. Bon Jovi tickets also go on sale Monday.

I'd like to see John Mayer play a guitar-only show. I'd pay for that. Hearing him play "No Such Thing" (that "run through the halls of my high school..." song) isn't all that appealing to me.

As for Bon Jovi, I don't really care about that either. The old stuff is just OK and the new music is pretty terrible (and I would guess that this show will be half new stuff since they're releasing a new album soon).

Supergroup news!

• Them Crooked Vultures (the Zeppelin-Foo Fighters-Queen of the Stoneage supergroup) put their full album streaming on YouTube today.

For those interested, here it be:

I haven't decided if I like it or not. As usual, this supergroup is not as good as Zeppelin or the Foo Fighters (Point one: no one is as good as Zeppelin. Point two: I don't really like Queens of the Stoneage that much).

The album is out Nov. 17.

• Monsters of Folk (the Bright Eyes-My Morning Jacket-M. Ward supergroup) is still doing it's thang.

They were on Jimmy Fallon the other night:

I'm not a huge fan of that song and I question why the hell they'd play it on national television. You'd think they'd go for something up-tempo that might get viewers interested in the song instead of this goofy, Yim Yames slow jam. But whatever... I'm not involved in these decisions.

And I can't remember if I've posted it in this space or not, but they did a kickass version of Kiss' "Detroit Rock City" on Halloween. Dressed as Kiss. No joke. Watch it.

• In other supergroup news, Chickenfoot continues to be, well, Chickenfoot.

Never heard of them? Yeah, you're not alone. It's Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony from Van Halen, Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Joe Satriani.

Weird combo, right? They're alright. It basically sounds like Joe Satriani was hired as Sammy Hagar's backing guitarist. That's about it.