Camper / Cracker / Lowery

Due to a random Facebook post, i went deep, deep into a Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven hole. I’ve been listening to most of the older Camper records that i’ve loved for years and “discovering” the more recent Camper releases. The earlier stuff was both dumber and better than i remembered and i LOVED them at the time. But the more recent records are just great recordings. The songwriting is still distinctive, literate, funny and novelistic. They’re even better players now, balancing good, tasteful restraint with just enough showiness.

I kind of stopped listening to Cracker after Kerosene Hat for some reason, so i’m going through the Cracker catalog now and really enjoying getting to know the songs. New to me.

Lowery is one of my favorite writers. He’s way more than a musician; i keep hoping he’s going to turn to novellas, short stories or an autobiography.

I really enjoyed this three hour (!) podcast with two writers from the National Review (!). And the site is new to me, but you can find a travelogue of sorts masquerading as blog telling the backstory of the Camper Songs.

A Music Album You Can Only Listen To In A Forest — Pop-Up City

Such a great idea. Kind of gimmicky, but still a good way to make an artistic statement via tech.

The app works by using Google Maps to identify areas that are forests (those that are shaded a specific green on the mapping system). Then, the coordinates are sent from your phone and that is what allows you to access the album. By releasing an album in such a way the band is offering listeners a unique and multi-sensory experience of their music whilst also encouraging people to go out and spend time in nature.

via A Music Album You Can Only Listen To In A Forest — Pop-Up City.

The DB’s – Not Quite a Hit, But no Flop

Anatomy of a Flop – Measure for Measure Blog – i was 16, right after i got my drivers license, i would drive to downtown Green Bay, to the really, really rundown part, with my buddy Peter and he and i would go to a little store that rented out records. Can you believe that? Rented. Records. Good old vinyl for rent. With a wink and a nod, Stan (i can't believe i remember his name) would let me walk out the door with a clutch of discs and a smile to speed home, tape the things onto cassette, and then return the rental. Sometimes i'd round trip it in the same day and grab another record to tape. This was, very obviously – and even to a dumb-ass 16 year old – illegal. But, for the four or five months that it lasted, i got a bunch of good music.

This album by the DB's (Like This) is one of them that i loved the most. I don't remember all the songs anymore, but i bet i could sing most of them now, word for word. So, i was really glad to stumble across the link above, from the New York Times, written by Peter Holsapple. He may be better known to most of you as the trusty sideman for REM, but i'll always know him as the DB's guy.

(If you want a beautifully written, well performed, and incredibly well produced album, please do check out "Mavericks", by Holsapple and Chris Stamey. "She was the One" is the best song on there, "Angels" the hit. )

If you like this story from Holsapple, you should probably also check out Suzanne Vega's story about Tom's Diner and how she helped create the MP3 file format. Excellent writing…

New Music Obsession: Blitzen Trapper

Love love love the new Blitzen Trapper album. The song "furr" will go into the "Songs for my Sons" project.


Yeah, when I was only 17,

I could hear the angels whispering

So I droned into the words and

wondered aimlessly about till

I heard my mother shouting through the fog

It turned out to be the howling of a dog

or a wolf to be exact.

The sound sent shivers down my back

but I was drawn into the pack.

And before long, they allowed me

to join in and sing their song.

So from the cliffs and highest hill, yeah

we would gladly get our fill,

howling endlessly and shrilly at the dawn.

And I lost the taste for judging right from wrong.

For my flesh had turned to fur, yeah

And my thoughts, they surely were turned to

instinct and obedience to God.

You can wear your fur

like the river on fire.

But you better be sure

if your makin’ God a liar.

I’m a rattlesnake, babe,

I’m like fuel on fire.

So if you’re gonna’ get made,

don’t be afraid of what you’ve learned.

On the day that I turned 23,

I was curled up underneath a dogwood tree.

When suddenly a girl

with skin the color of a pearl,

wandered aimlessly,

but she didn’t seem to see.

She was listenin’ for the angels just like me.

So I stood and looked about.

I brushed the leaves off of my snout.

And then I heard my mother shouting through the trees.

You should have seen that girl go shaky at the knees.

So I took her by the arm

we settled down upon a farm.

And raised our children up as

gently as you pleased.

And now my fur has turned to skin.

And I’ve been quickly ushered in

to a world that I confess I do not know.

But I still dream of running careless through the snow.

An’ through the howlin’ winds that blow,

across the ancient distant flow,

it fill our bodies up like water till we know.

You can wear your fur

like the river on fire.

But you better be sure

if your makin’ God a liar.

I’m a rattlesnake, babe,

I’m like fuel on fire.

So if you’re gonna’ get made,

don’t be afraid of what you’ve learned.

At the Risk of Becoming a Fan-boy: Bon Iver

I wanted to write a long, long post on digital project execution, the challenges of corporate web development teams in a tech world gone crazy, the difficulty of maintain creative excellence, and other sundry concerns. I wanted to find some music, too, to play in the background while i wrung my certain-to be-excellent treatise. I did a quick search for Bon Iver and came across this video of him/them doing a cover of "Lovin’s for Fools", by Sara Siskind. They did it on stage at the Bowery Ballroom with the Bowerbirds and its just… so, so beautiful. Simple, like a lullaby, soothing almost. But, listen to the kiss off buried beneath the beautiful harmonies!

I’ve clearly turned some corner in my life, where songs like this come really, really close to making me tear up. The depth of the emotion, the wistfulness, the regret, the strength that’s at the core of it all. There’s something very centering (is that a word?) about six or seven voices singing in harmony. Anyway. give it a listen.

On a side note, if you’re a fan of Richard Buckner, you might want to check out Siskind. Based on a limited listening, admittedly, she’s on the same page.