cleaning out the drafts folder


From the last 18 months, a bunch of record reviews I didn’t finish writing. You, too, can wonder where they were going! You can try to figure out why I was so bad at blogging last year! You can hope that I am better at this shit next year!

First up, some two sentence reviews from summer 2014:

Stone Jack Jones — Ancestor: the cover of this record is a foggy, moody, black and white shot of, I assume, Jones, in the distance, walking in a field by himself; sometimes people pick out album art that’s perfectly tuned to describe the album even before you listen to a single track. Ancestor is minor key and almost out of tune; his vocals are almost a flat drone, with just enough power and well-placed harmonies to keep them atmospheric and deliciously creepy instead of just creepy. It’s a sonically poignant and pointed record, more focused on the feel of the whole thing than the individual songs, and Ancestor pulls that off extremely well.

Lake Street Dive — Bad Self Portraits: it’s funny; about ten days before this dropped and the music writing world lost their collective fucking minds over it (deserved, but more on that in a minute), I was curled up on Trav’s couch and he was playing me the video where Lake Street Dive covers “I Want You Back” on a Boston sidewalk — the bassist’s brother graduated from college with him. Anyway, it was just proof that Travis is way more plugged in than he thinks, because he introduced me to these guys before the whole internet tried to. (He wants you to know that he saw them play the 7th Street Entry in 2006. Indie cred!) This is a great record, too, just like everybody says — it’s modern torch songs with punk rock drums and tongue-in-cheek self-awareness. The title track is completely my theme song.

John Howie Jr & The Rosewood Bluff — Everything Except Goodbye: so, you know, John Howie Jr, he’s been making fucking excellent country records that don’t get national notice for, oh, like, twenty years now. This is another one, with his post-Two Dollar Pistols band, and it is, again, a fucking excellent country record that not enough people will hear. The Rosewood Bluff are the cream of the Triangle crop in terms of backing bands, and this twangs and smokes all over with John’s voice aching through the broken hearted songs of love and loss and more loss and then some drinking.

Dave Hause — Devour: okay, this came out last year, hence “reasonably” new, but, my God, it’s good. Dave’s mournful howl over churning drums and loads of guitars, Devour is far less stripped down than Hause’s debut solo Resolutions, but it’s equally as devastating. It’s filled with phrases like I promise and words like better and feelings like regret and hope and heartbreak. I really can’t get over how true my mantra that everything needs more Dave Hause is, but listening to this album just makes me centered, and calm. I might not feel better, but I feel less like spinning out into the universe out of control. I don’t know if that actually tells you anything about Devour, but it’s loud and fierce and it fights against giving up with everything’s it’s got. So maybe it does.

Gerard Way – Hesitant Alien: I’m not sure how I feel about this record, even after a couple of times through; it has the same kind of big feeling that Gee was good at with My Chem, but it’s way less … cinematic in its bigness? The guitar sounds are rougher and less melodic, the vocals are hidden behind the soundscape a little more, and overall, I think it’s a pretty good album, but I’m not sure that I like it, necessarily. I didn’t need Gerard Way to make me the next My Chemical Romance record, but I’m also not sure this is the record I did need from him. On the other hand, “Brother” is one of my favorite songs of 2014. So what do I know?

Noah Gundersen – Ledges: start to finish gorgeous heartbreaking alt folk. One of the best records of 2014.

And now, my thoughts on the Gaslight Anthem’s Get Hurt:

“This is either a supreme Jersey punk record about heartbreak, or a really supreme Jersey punk concept record about vampires. I haven’t decided which one yet.”

That’s what I said to Trav back over the summer, the night I got my review copy of Get Hurt, and I only sort of meant it: it is, obviously, a supreme Jersey punk record about heartbreak, not vampires, but seriously, before I get into this review, go listen to it and think about vampires and you will find them all over this album. I’ve improved your listening to this spectacular record 1000% elephants with this. I promise.


Now that you’re not thinking about vampires any more, think about the Gaslight Anthem’s Get Hurt, their 5th studio album, the “different” record, according to lead singer Brian Fallon. Gaslight, and Brian, are, obviously, one of my favorite topics — one of my favorite bands, one of my favorite songwriters, and I am usually quick to jump on writing about their new stuff. This one, though, was in fact different for me. I listened to Get Hurt endlessly over the summer after its release, mostly late at night, mostly on headphones, mostly in the dark. And I didn’t write about it because some weird different part of my brain said that if I didn’t write about it, it only belonged to me. If I didn’t write about it, I didn’t have to share it with anyone else.

A single paragraph about Kacey Musgraves’ Pageant Material, which I really, really loved:

I suppose that someone with no taste could level the accusation at Kacey Musgraves’ sophomore album that it’s simply more of the same tongue in cheek mind your own business observational country songwriting that made Same Trailer, Different Park so much fun, and sure, maybe that’s the case. “Biscuits” definitely has that flavor, but so what? That’s what Musgraves does well, and if that’s all she wanted to do, I’d still be buying her records and enjoying the hell out of them. But after a couple of listens, Pageant Material is a lot more than that, as well. It’s still tongue in cheek observational country songwriting, but there’s even more depth, and thus bite, to it, although it bites in some different directions than Trailer did.

2016: let’s actually finish things.

concerts: the gaslight anthem & cory branan @ cat’s cradle

the gaslight anthem @ cat's cradle

Setlist: ’59 Sound / Old White Lincoln / Biloxi Parish / Howl / Stay Lucky / Film Noir / The Patient Ferris Wheel / 45 / The Queen Of Lower Chelsea / Boxer / Too Much Blood / Wooderson / Drive / American Slang // Encore: National Anthem / Handwritten / Great Expectations / House of the Rising Sun / Blue Jeans & White T Shirts

Glorious as always. I want the new album so badly I can taste it.

cory branan @ cat's cradle

Second Cory Branan set in a month, and he was fabulous, again. He played “The Corner” for me. between what I want, and what I intend to get.

fun with search strings, summer 2013 edition

riotfest chicago friday

More things that people Googled instead of, I don’t know, Wikipedia-ing them. Or having opinions of their own.

    • north carolina triple a baseball: the Durham Bulls, and the Charlotte Knights, who technically belong to Charlotte and also technically play in South Carolina.
    • 100 foods in 100 counties nc: I assume you’re looking for Our State magazine’s list from several summers ago, which I have compiled here and am eating my way through.
    • what kind of film for toy traveller camera: depends on the camera, but most “toy” cameras these days take 120mm film (you can order it from Amazon or buy it at most good camera shops) or 35mm film. 35mm is easier to load, but I do love my Holga and its 120mm spools.
    • doing roy g biv in retail: are you trying to arrange your store in that order? That would be cool. Sometimes I just want to buy “a green dress” and then I could go to the green section. But I think you’ve been beaten to the idea, probably.
    • backsliders cat: I don’t know if any members of the Backsliders have cats, and if they did why you care, but I suppose someone who knows those guys better than me — Billie? — could speak to their positions on cats.
    • haunted old smithville burying ground southport nc: ooooh, is it haunted? I didn’t know that. Now I need to visit it again.
    • chad holbrook mike fox: to the best of my knowledge, Chad and Coach Fox (still) have a very good relationship — even despite our unceremonious removal of Chad’s USCe team from the NCAA tournament this year.
    • jason isbell pedalboard: circa 2009.
    • matt harvey vs alex white: via, below are their collegiate stats at UNC:
      Year       ERA   W-L   App  GS  CG   IP     H    R    ER   BB   SO  B/Avg  WP HBP BK
      2007....  4.94   6-7    19  18   0  98.1   100   63   54   48   83  .277   6   7   2
      2008....  2.83  13-3    20  15   1  101.2   78   43   32   42  113  .215   6   5   3
      2009....  3.87   8-4    16  16   1  107.0   93   49   46   44  121  .233  16   6   4
      Year       ERA   W-L   App  GS  CG     IP    H    R   ER   BB   SO  B/Avg  WP HBP  BK 
      2008....  2.79   7-2    19  16   0   67.2   52   31   21   47   80  .214   5   3   0
      2009....  5.40   7-2    21  13   0   75.0   88   52   45   42   81  .293  13   8   1 
      2010....  3.09   8-3    14  14   2   96.0   80   42   33   35  102  .224   9   6   2

      On the other hand, who started the All-Star game this year? So. Make your own decisions. (Also. The Carolina pitching staff threw a lot of wild pitches in 2009. Jeez.)

    • holiday brand mandolin: is there a particular mandolin for holidays? I’ll ask Andrew from Mandolin Orange.
    • i love brian fallon: me too, anonymous searcher. Me, too. I love Brian Fallon a lot.
    • gaslight anthem pedalboard: the edge, circa 2013.
    • matt harvey jerk: actually, when I poured a beer on him in 2010, he was really sweet about it. I certainly don’t know him beyond that beer incident, having watched him at Carolina for three years, and followed his pro career, but I don’t think Matt Harvey’s a jerk. He gave me an ulcer when he was in college, he was so inconsistent, but that doesn’t make him a jerk.
    • song cats and the cradle: Googler, I believe you mean Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In The Cradle”, also covered by Cat Stevens. Or you mean what songs have been played at Carrboro’s Cat’s Cradle, which is a lot, so I will not list them here.
    • hery der schnabeltir oyun: I have no idea. Someone enlighten me as to what this means.
    • promo code for aunt ruby’s peanuts: if you find one, Googler, please email me and share. Alternately, Aunt Ruby’s Peanuts, you could send me a free sample.

And that’s your Late Summer Fun With Search Strings!

favorites: boys with guitars

the gaslight anthem @ lincoln theatre

There are things that always make me happy, and I have three things to share from three people who bring me great joy today.

One: Josh Ritter’s genius double record Live At Iveaugh Gardens is free on NoiseTrade today. If this album fails to make you happy, please check your pulse.

Two: Brian Fallon says the next Gaslight record is going to be “the weird one”. Because he, himself, is a sincere weirdo, and I love him. Please bring unto me a “weird” Gaslight Anthem record, Brian Fallon. Please.

Three: Frank Turner has a new record coming out in April, and he released this brilliant fascinating hypnotizing might-cause-a-seizure-so-be-careful video for the next single, “Recovery”, behind “Four Simple Words”. Watch it. Love Frank. Be happy.

the gaslight anthem @ the lincoln theatre, raleigh

the gaslight anthem @ lincoln theatre

the gaslight anthem @ lincoln theatre

I wrote about last night’s Gaslight show for Speakers In Code. Brian Fallon is still my favorite forever and ever amen.

matrimony @ lincoln theatre

cory branan @ lincoln theatre

Charlotte’s Matrimony and Bloodshot Records’ Cory Branan opened; Matrimony was really enjoyable, but a little less electric guitar-y than I expected from a Gaslight opener. Cory was genius as always, and closed with “Girl Named Go”. Finally seeing him with a camera and a Bloodshot release means I get to check him off my list, too. Just such a lovely human. If you haven’t checked out his 2012 release Mutt, do it. It’s brilliant.

Full set here. Extra smoochy thanks to Tito from Big Hassle for the tickets and the photo pass, and extra smoochy thanks to the venue for the photo pit. Easy life!

the gaslight anthem @ the cat’s cradle

the gaslight anthem @ cat's cradle

the gaslight anthem @ cat's cradle

the gaslight anthem @ cat's cradle

the gaslight anthem @ cat's cradle

the gaslight anthem @ cat's cradle

Great Expectations / 45 / Old White Lincoln / Even Cowgirls Get The Blues / Howl / Casanova, Baby! / The Diamond Street Church Choir / Here Comes My Man / I’da Called You Woody, Joe / Angry Johnny And The Radio / Blue Jeans & White T Shirts / Film Noir / American Slang / The Queen Of Lower Chelsea / Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid / The Backseat — > Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

She Loves You / Changing Of The Guards (Bob Dylan cover) / Senor And The Queen / Boomboxes and Dictionaries / We Came To Dance / ’59 Sound

Full set, including a whole bunch of shots of opener Dave Hause, is here.

Check out Songwriters on Process’s interview with Brian from last year here. I missed it the first time around and, whoa, boy, is it a great one.

(Also, just as a polite warning: if you steal my photos and repost them anywhere without my full name and a link to my website, you will find yourself in a polite world of unpleasant but polite legal pain. Link here, link to Flickr, that’s great, but do not repost my images without my permission. Kisses!)

photo preview: the gaslight anthem @ cat’s cradle

the gaslight anthem @ cat's cradle

I’ll have photos up tomorrow and a full write-up on SIC on Monday, but this photo really says it all: my heart is aching and singing in a way that transcends words, and if you have never loved a band that much, so much that it makes you ache with longing and want and joy and gratitude, well. Well.

The Gaslight Anthem makes me feel all those ways; I will not see a better show this year*.

Because people are searching for it, the setlist from last night:

Great Expectations / 45 / Old White Lincoln / Even Cowgirls Get The Blues / Howl / Casanova, Baby! / The Diamond Street Church Choir / Here Comes My Man / I’da Called You Woody, Joe / Angry Johnny And The Radio / Blue Jeans & White T Shirts / Film Noir / American Slang / The Queen Of Lower Chelsea / Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid / The Backseat — > Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

She Loves You / Changing Of The Guards (Bob Dylan cover) / Senor And The Queen / Boomboxes and Dictionaries / We Came To Dance / ’59 Sound

It took me forever to identify “Film Noir” in my scribbled on a receipt set list, because it mostly appeared as “Lit Film Would Noomie”, which is what I get for writing in the dark.

* Okay, except for Josh Ritter with shep. in two weeks. Because Josh Ritter is pure joy in human form. Gaslight and Josh. And Two Cow Garage on July 31. I mean. If I could get a Mason Jennings show in between tonight and July 31, I could die happy on August 2. I don’t want to! But I could, I’m just saying.