Monday, June 30, 2008

Brave New World

So... I started a new internet project. It spawned out of the country music post, which received an amazing response. Then I kicked it around for a few days, enlisted some incredibly talented contributors, and Music Is The Message is born.

I'm hoping it'll be a way for everyone - reader and writer alike - to learn something new - new bands, new genres, new sounds. So come on by, check us out regularly.



Friday, June 27, 2008

Sneaker Pimp

Do people over the age of 16 still wear Chuck Taylors?

Because, well... this is n excellent point. I mean, seriously now. Get a real pair of shoes, people.
That link is from my friend Ervie, who is getting his blogging feet wet. Keep an eye on him. He's shifty.

Also, what's got to thumbs and is super-excited for his four-hour policy meeting this afternoon on a gorgeously warm sunny day?

Some other asshole, I guess.

This is one of the more terrifying webcomics I've ever seen:

So, the response to the country music post was kind of insane... but in a really awesome way. Probably the most comments I've ever received, far too many for me to address/respond to individually. So let me just say to everyone who read and/or commented: THANK YOU. That was amazing, both that people were that interested, and also that I got so many new names to look up as a result. In fact, Ervie (my friend who sort of inspired it, as well as who de-lurked to comment) and I spent a few hours last night throwing back PBR's and geeking out over the whole thing and music in general. So again, let me just say - thanks. You guys rock.

I'm considering on expanding upon the idea... maybe doing something fairly regularly, either here or via a new blog. Something sort of round-table-ish, collaborative, with reader input, multiple authorship, that kind of thing. What do you guys think? Would people be interested in reading/participating? It seems like a cool way to learn about new kinds of music, minus the pretense of, say, Pitchfork. Kind of like Blog Me a Tale, but for music. So what do people think?

Anyway, have a good weekend, folks. Be careful out there.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.


Listening to: Béla Fleck - When Joy Kills Sorrow

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In Defense of Country Music

It recently came to my attention in the comments section of another site that country music is pretty unpopular among many of my peers, friends and associates. It's an unfortunate trend, bred mostly out of ignorance. I don't say ignorance to be insulting, mind you, but instead use the word in its true sense - people are simply ignorant of what good country music sounds like. The fact is, when the average person thinks of country music, they think of Big and Rich, Billy Ray Cyrus, or (God forbid) Toby Keith. Big, dumb pop stars with little or no respect for the genre's roots other than the occasional fiddle and a southern accent.

The truth is, country music is so much more. As it's grown and evolved over time, country music has been a vehicle for protest and change, not the rabid, propagandist "America, Fuck YEAH!" bullshit that they have bastardized it into. Country music, in all its forms, can be in equal parts beautiful, funny, dark, subversive, clever, scary, sad, romantic and tearful. More importantly, it, like most types of music, is more than just one type of sound. It's changed over time, drawing influence from bluegrass, blues, rock, metal, pop, you name it. It's impossible to nail down country anymore, and that's why I get so irate when people slam it wholesale.

So. A challenge was issued (well, I kind of volunteered for it) - create a list of good country music, that those who denied its appeal would enjoy. And since I a) love a challenge, b) love music in general and c) love lists, I picked up the gauntlet and ran with it.

Only one small problem: I realized, after looking at the thousands of songs in my collection, that I own a fuckload of country/alt-country/country rock/ etc. music. Because make no mistake: the purpose of this exercise is not to create a list of country songs. That's boring, not to mention that inevitably some jerkoff is going to come along and say that they're not the "best" songs, only my "favorite" songs. No, instead the purpose is to demonstrate the reach and influence of country music, and to show that it has something for everyone. Now the dilemma: what to leave off the list? Because the original list was literally over 100 songs.

In the end, I decided, sadly, to leave out the classics. Hank Williams, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings - I figured people (hopefully) knew those reasonably well. Besides, like I said, the point is to see what the genre is capable of, not where it came from. The more roots-oriented stuff can be part of another list - a list, to be honest, that others are probably more qualified than me to generate (it should be noted that probably 50% of this would never be in my library were it not for my friend Ervie, a true country junkie).

So, here's the list. It's still long as hell - 50+ songs at last count. But I guess that's the point - there's that much out there. More importantly, there's something for everyone. Like Punk rock? Try Tenderloin. More into the hardcore stuff? Mule. How about Metal? Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. OK, like the female sound? Alison Krauss, Beth Orton (a former Chemical Brothers collaborator), Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, even the Dixie Chicks. Dig Alt-Country? There's Uncle Tupelo, not to mention it's offshoots - Son Volt & Wilco, as well as Whiskeytown, The Patrons and dozens of others. Hell, even techno is represented with A3 and Andrew Bird. There's literally something for everyone.

Please to enjoy, and thanks for indulging me. And Bethy, should you read this - consider your challenge answered.

Artist Song Title Album
Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins Run Devil Run Rabbit Fur Coat
Defiance, Ohio The Temperature is Dropping The Great Depression
The Legendary Shack Shakers Thin The Herd Pandelirium
The Pine Hill Haints When You Fall Ghost Dance
Old Crow Medicine Show Tear It Down O.C.M.S.
This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb Better Off Dead Three Way Tie For a Fifth
The Gourds Ringing Dark & True Dem's Good Beeble
The Little Willies I Gotta Get Drunk The Little Willies
Gram Parsons How Much I've Lied G.P. / Grievous Angel
The Reverend Horton Heat Five-O-Ford Liquor in the Front
Calexico Yours And Mine Garden Ruin
Blaze Foley Election Day Live at The Austin Outhouse
Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster Plenty Strong And Plenty Wrong II
Tenderloin Hearty Beef Party Bullseye
Blacktop Tornado Love I Got a Baaad Feelin' About This
Lazy Cowgirls Another Long Goodbye Ragged Soul
Andrew Bird Fake Palindromes Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs
Pedal Steel Transmission Maritime Glare The Angel of the Squared Circle
Norah Jones Lonestar Come Away With Me
The Bottle Rockets Get Down Hell-Bent: Insurgent Country Vol. 2
Old 97's Time Bomb Hit By a Train - The Best of Old 97's
Hillbilly Hellcats Train To Nowhere Our Brand
The Black Keys Strange Times Attack and Release
P.W. Long's Reelfoot Aw Bruiser We Didn't See You On Sunday
Gillian Welch Dear Someone Time (The Revelator)
Lucinda Williams Drunken Angel Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
The Patrons Didn't Love You Anyway All That Is Tied
Uncle Tupelo Life Worth Livin' No Depression
Alison Kraus and Union Station Find My Way Back To My Heart So Long So Wrong
William Elliott Whitmore Life My Jug (Song For Hub Cale) Ashes To Dust
Indigo Girls Three County Highway Despite Our Differences
Gob Iron Death's Black Train Death Songs For The Living
Bare Jr. Tobacco Spit Boo-Tay
Blanche The World I Used To Be Afraid Of Little Amber Bottles
Rocket From The Crypt Ball Lightning Scream, Dracula, Scream!
Lucero What Else Would You Have Me Be Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers
Dixie Chicks Lubbock or Leave it Taking the Long Way
Whiskeytown Sit & Listen to the Rain Pneumonia
Noahjohn More Like Jesus Tadpoles
Ryan Adams The Sun Also Sets Easy Tiger
Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter The Air is Thin Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul
Railroad Jerk Natalie Third Rail
Son Volt Tear Stained Eye Trace
Uncle Tupelo Moonshiner March 16-20, 1992
Jay Farrar Cahokian Terroir Blues
Drive-By Truckers Hell No, I Ain't Happy Decoration Day
Beth Orton She Cries Your Name Trailer Park
Mule Lucky Mule
A3 Speed of the Sound of Loneliness Exile on Coldharbour Lane
Sun Kil Moon Carry Me Ohio Ghosts of the Great Highway
Jackie-O Motherfucker
Beautiful September (We Are Going There)
That's Not The Issue
Fig. 5

Yeah, I know. I have too much spare time. This is what happens when Mrs. TK works overnights.

Now playing: Willie Nelson - Whiskey River
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Things I Have Done and Seen

Shameless self-promotion.




Listening to:
Puscifer - Queen B

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This is Boston, Not L.A.

Well, I didn't get nearly enough sleep. My head is pounding, my throat is dry, and my eyes feel like I've got dryer lint stuck in them. I drank too much, and the large iced coffee I guzzled on my way to work is rolling around my stomach like liquid fury.

You know what else?

I feel great.

Thanks to each of you. But especially you, P Squared:

I love this town.

Listening to: The Freeze - This Is Boston, Not L.A.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Good-byes and artwork

Well, my parents are gone.

That sucks.

The airport scene wasn't as bad (meaning: depressing) as it usually is - I don't know if that's because it's different/harder when I'm leaving Cape Town, or if it's becoming easier over time. My parents left the country 12 years ago, and our good-byes are still indescribably painful. This one - there was crying, and I was (and still am) incredibly sad, but I didn't completely fall apart like I sometimes have in the past.

I feel almost guilty for that.

Mrs. TK was wonderful though, a rock for me to lean on as she usually is. We went over to a friend's house Friday night for a bbq, just to distract me, if nothing else.

I have to admit, one of the highlights of the trip was sports-related. My father is a huge sports fan, and a huge basketball fan to boot - he's the reason I'm as big a Celtics fan as I am. So being able to watch Game 4, one of the all-time greatest comeback games in the history of the NBA (and a Celtics-Lakers game, no less), while sitting next to him was truly a special experience. So, thanks for that, Celtics. I appreciate it.

Saturday was a good day, though. I had round three of my arm tattoo which, while ultimately something of a disappointing session (I got there late, we didn't get a whole lot done), was still enjoyable. I really dig the place I've been going to (Redemption Tattoo). I went by a different tattoo place, Chameleon Body Arts, in Harvard Square, last week and... man, that place was just weird. Cold, emotionless place. As someone said - it felt like a gynecologist's office. Plus, the "Piercing Menu" freaked me the fuck out. The place I go to has a warm, kind of retro feel to it, the guys are all pretty goofy, and there's usually screaming heavy metal/hardcore music blaring. All of those are good things.

The remainder of the day was well spent - outside at a friend's house, watching ships go by in the harbor, cold beers and hot Mexican food, listening to the Sox game. There are few better ways to spend a lazy summer afternoon.

Anyway, here's some blurry if anyone's interested:

It's a little hard to make out, but the design goes up past the shoulder and all the way around the arm - most of it's still outline, and it weaves around and through a series of small pictographs/images of San rock art. The San, for those unaware, is an indigenous South African tribe, who hundreds of years ago did many cave and rock paintings that are, sadly, vanishing over time. Interestingly, the San are also thought to probably be the the oldest people on the planet, a "Genetic Adam," if you will.

In any event, it's where I've gotten the ideas for a few of my tattoos, including a larger scene of tribesman hunting a springbok that goes across my back - oddly, the only tattoo that my mother actually likes.

That was probably more explanation than was necessary.

Anyway. Have a good week. I've got a review going up in a few days, I'll keep you posted.

PS - I want to go to work tomorrow like I want a hole in my head. [sigh]

Now playing: Bobby Womack & Peace - Across 110th Street
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, June 12, 2008

London's Burning With Boredom Now

Again, with the quickness:

Click here and prepare for the scathing. Stupid crappy dragon movie...

Now playing: The Reverend Horton Heat - Revival
via FoxyTunes

Monday, June 09, 2008

Which Way Do I Go to Get to Your America?

Click here for the newest review - HBO's John Adams miniseries.

Oh, by the way - it's hot as Hell over here.

That's all for now.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Truth is Out There

  • First off - thanks to everyone who inquired about my creaky back. I feel like an old man, but at least I feel like an old man who can walk. Progress, people. Progress. And I'm weaning myself off the painkillers - I feel like I've been over-medicating myself over the last several months, and not in the fun, recreational way.
  • My parents have been in NYC and Vegas with my sister this week, meaning I've been back at work. But I'm back on vacation next week, their final week here. Unfortunately, that means that at the end of next week, they depart. I'll tell you right now, it will be the lowlight of the year. Partings with my parents, regardless of who is visiting whom, are brutal and heart wrenching for all parties involved. My mother and I are usually the worst, sadly. There's nothing, I repeat nothing, worse in this world than seeing your mom cry. But I'm trying to focus on the next few days, when it'll be sunny and beautiful and they'll be back at my house.
  • I suppose I should mention that I had a little mishap this morning. I was eating one of those little plastic cups of applesauce and I somehow screwed up when I was lifting the spoonful of 'sauce from the cup. In my efforts to stop myself from spilling, I lurched forward, banged my elbow (of the arm with the spoon) and somehow managed to fire applesauce onto the floor, my computer monitor, my glasses and my groinal area. It all happened in about 1.5 seconds. It isn't even 9:30 AM yet.

  • Last night was one of the greatest and most bizarre nights of Boston sports I've seen in a long time. But I was reminded of my favorite Shaquille O'Neal quote of all time:
"My name is Shaquille O'Neal and Paul Pierce is the motherfucking truth. Quote me on that and don't take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn't know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth."

Listening to: Elliott Smith - Wouldn't Mama Be Proud