Spree Music with Me: Fucked Up

Punk has an interesting history with concept albums; they’re something that isn’t usually associated with the common perception of punk’s ethos. The Clash gave us Sandinista!, Hüsker Dü dropped Zen Arcade, and, skipping a bit forward and with a looser definition, Green Day released American Idiot. Loud, fast, and short are the adjectives that come to mind, but the main characteristic of punk is, and always will be, to break the rules.

F@#*ed Up, based in Toronto, released their 18 track 78-minute long concept album David Comes to Life earlier this year, and by their name alone, it is clear they are not strangers to breaking rules.

Who doesn’t like a nice concept album or rock opera every once in a while? To add a little to this article, I would have included Titus Andronicus’ recent “The Monitor”, The Decemberists’ “Hazards of Love”, and some longer explanation of concept albums and rock operas, and how much I love them, and how much I think they’re a natural evolution of the album proper. You can read the rest of the article here.

Anyway, I’m excited for this show, and about Fucked Up. Just about as excited as I was when a friend recommended Refused to me almost a decade ago. I can’t resist, here’s the title track from “The Shape of Punk to Come”, live somewhere exactly it should be played.

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Sing Along Song: Lucky Denver Mint

Jukeboxes have always interested me, and that’s probably connected to my fascination with music choices. As someone who grew up on identity-supplanting music–soundtracking my life with music, and using mix tapes, albums, and songs to express myself–I’m interested in how music effects people’s minds and perceptions, and how easily songs can become evocative of particular moments in our past. The choices bar owners use on the CD or 45 based seem specifically made to build these particular moments each night someone puts money in to play a song. There’s a particular bar in Buffalo, NY that has made a significant impact in my social life over the last several years, specifically with their jukebox. Gordon’s jukebox keeps Radiohead, SloanBen Folds Five, and they spin Jimmy Eat World‘s Clarity instead of Bleed American.

With all of the songs and bands I have pushed through my brain, somehow this song gets stuck again and again. “Lucky Denver Mint” and its album Clarity have it in for my brain. I’m not sure how or why it lodges itself in my brain, but when it does, its there in a world of its own. There were a few days in a row last week, where I woke up with the lyrics in my head as the first full sentence of the day.  Specifically, I get the closing couplet of the first verse jammed in the gray matter:

Somewhere I made a wish
With Lucky Denver Mint

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Spree Music with Me: Great Lake Swimmers

The following is part of a true story, and also one of the best ways to find great music (SPOILER: work at a radio station):

Deep inside a bin of leftover promo CDs, two albums sat waiting to be opened, reviewed, and enjoyed. Neither of these discs, or the surrounding leftovers, had been given more than a cursory listen by the staff at the college radio station I worked for at the time. Which was understandable, as there were, and continues to be more music released than can be consumed by any individual. The first of these discs would be set aside for six months, revisited, and loved, seeping its way into my life song by song. Conversely, the second album let me sail into its textures upon first listen. That first disc was Okkervil River’s Black Sheep Boy and the second was Great Lake Swimmers’ Bodies and Minds.

You can read the rest of the post over at Buffalo Spree, and check out a live video of the band performing “Bodies And Minds” below.

Spree Music with Me: Return to Forever Review

On Monday I saw a band I learned about the Friday before. Not such an odd occurrence typically, but this was the legendary Return to Forever, and opening for them was Zappa Plays Zappa. I wrote a review of the experience in my bi-weekly column over at Buffalo Spree. Here’s a snippet from the post:

Almost every seat was filled at UB’s Center for the Arts on Monday night. I sat in mine with a simple benediction my fellow attendees bestowed upon me before heading in: “I’m so jealous that you’re seeing these guys for the first time.” The double bill of Return to Forever and Zappa Plays Zappa is not a show you would have caught me at before, oh let’s say, last Friday. That’s when I was subject to a marathon session of audio research by fellow music aficionados, who gave me the same jaw-dropping eye-popping expression I’ve been known to give when I realize someone’s missing a huge piece of music knowledge.

I’ll admit that I don’t know much about jazz. I’ve dabbled here and there with some of the larger figures of the sound, but never put the time and patience into any further investigation. To take this a step further, Jazz Fusion is something I didn’t consider my palate ready for, even after digesting Miles Davis’ masterpiece, Bitches Brew. This weekend I had no choice but to embark into some challenging waters. Two drummers, a bassist, and a pianist got me plugged in and primed for what I was going to hear at the show….

You can read the rest here, and watch an audience member’s short video of the performance below. Couldn’t tell you the song, but it was just about the end of the show.

Spree Music with Me: Aaron Perrino Interview

Aaron Perrino is a big influence on me, and I still haven’t figured out why. I don’t get to plumb the depths of that question in this article, or the interview, but I get some good answers. Perhaps next time.

Meanwhile, I found a fan video of Awful Age, from the first album. Its not bad at all.

Spree Music with Me: London Vs. New York

I write about London Vs. New York often. This article proves it. Where is that new CD of theirs?

Here’s one of their recent tracks Music is a Cult, which you can download on their site, or stream over at last.fm.

Spree Music with Me: Interview with Ron Hawkins

Lowest of the Low, courtesy of the band.

 

I interviewed Ron Hawkins! I don’t know what else to really say about that, cause my excitement speaks for itself. Its right there in the exclamation point.
Here’s the article, and the Lowest of the Low’s first video for Eternal Fatalist.

Spree Music with Me: Steven Page

Album Cover courtesy of the artist.

In 2005 Steven Page released his first solo album, The Vanity Project, a collection of songs with long time collaborator Stephen Duffy. Initially considered a side project to his successful career with the Barenaked Ladies, that first album now marks Page’s emergence as an independent performer. I’ve often noted that I enjoy experiencing the growth of an artist as they experiment and push the boundaries of their craft, refining and building on their talents with each successive album release. For me, the success of an artist is, to some extent, connected to their creative journey.

Oh, Steven Page, you’ll always be one of my musical heroes. Read the rest of the article over at Buffalo Spree.

The Changing Conversation

A few weeks ago, Visit Buffalo Niagara released a new video aimed to promote the Buffalo Niagara region to a particular type of traveler. Despite the public’s reservations about the new slogan, the video demonstrates the effect that the increased citizen investment in preservation is having on the conversation about the Greater Buffalo Area. Acknowledgement of the architectural treasures in the region has been able to permeate the boundaries of development and re-use issues, and find its way into conversations about the region’s identity. …

You can read the rest of my new article up at GLUE about some of Buffalo Niagara’s Preservation efforts. Below you’ll find the video that does–in my opinion–more for the region’s identity than “For Real” could or will (though it is one of my favorite Okkervil River songs.

Spree Music with Me: Okkervil River

This is not Jimmy Eat World: Okkervil River photo by Alexandra Valenti, courtesy of Jagjaguar

“This week, the question on everyone’s lips is: Did you get your tickets to the sold out Jimmy Eat World show? I didn’t, but that’s because I’ve been championing the upcoming Okkervil River show as themust-see show. On June 9th, the Town Ballroom will host three great bands—Okkervil River, Titus Andronicus, and Future Islands. Storytelling is the thread which connects these three somewhat dissimilar groups, each band successfully employs lyrics which evoke fully-realized characters and tell engaging stories.”

So begins my stint as a bi-weekly blogger about music for Buffalo Spree. I am satisfied with my first update, though I feel this is still a shot over the bow of what I really want to write. So stay tuned, won’t you? Also, one of these days I’ll explain exactly how much I get lost in everything Okkervil River does, and hopefully not to Will Sheff’s face. Read the rest of the article here.

And watch the video for “Tin Man” by Future Islands, and the video for Titus Andronicus’ “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future”, both of which should give you a great idea of what to expect from these bands.