Worthy of our obsession: Okkervil River's Black Sheep Boy.

Listen here. Better yet, buy here.

This album speaks to your inner Jeff Mangum. Literate, passionate, folk-rock-art. (Dave, you'll love this.)

Some lyrics from "So Come Back, I Am Waiting":
A black sheep boy dissolves in hot cream, in sweet moans, in each dead bed and empty home, in each seething bacterium. Killing softly and serial, he lifts his head, handsome, horned, magisterial. He's the smell of the moonlight wisteria. He’s the thrill of the abecedarian. (See the muddy hoofprints where he carried you?) ... So come back to your life on the lam. So come back to your old black sheep man. He says “I am waiting on hoof and on hand. I am waiting, all hated and damned. I am waiting - I snort and I stamp. I am waiting, you know that I am, calmly waiting to make you my lamb.”
Notable tour stops:
05/01 Dallas, TX - Gypsy Tea Room
05/06 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
05/20 San Francisco, CA - Slim's
05/21 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour


Today's quote:

"Do not hurry; do not rest."
-- Goethe


Stream "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" from Spoon's forthcoming Gimme Fiction. T minus 11 days and counting...I have to get a copy with the bonus 4-song disc. I can't remember the last time I counted down to an album's release date.

Radio.blog.club will let you stream music from your website. I really want to do this, but the instructions seem a little bit intimidating.

Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley rocked the Boston Film Festival, as usual. Read more about it on Cherry Coloured, Fungible Convictions, and Dykstranet.


In case you were wondering what to get me for my birthday, I would like one of these:

I'm not exactly sure what it is, but it's quite possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen. I'm talking about the tiny animal, not about the boy holding him. No offense to Blu, who I adore because he knows me well enough to send me photos like this.

Take a look at Blu's other camera photos, and click here to read about his funny & touching experience with the late great comedian Mitch Hedberg.


Something new to file under the aggressively annoying category, along with Mark McGrath's flapping white choppers: Frickin' A.

I caught their video for "Jessie's Girl" on MTV's Fresh New Music show the other day, and had to rub my eyes in disbelief. It's not that I was transported back to 1981 when Rick Springfield's song topped the Billboard charts -- although, Frickin A's cover isn't much of a departure from the original. No, I just thought we were through with the intolerable trend of rock bands trying to achieve a number one hit with an ironic cover from the 80's. Weren't the successes of Limp Bizkit's cover of "Faith" and Alien Ant Farm's cover of "Smooth Criminal" enough? When was the last time anyone even said the phrase "frickin' A"???

My question to the members of Frickin' A -- is it really rewarding to top the charts with a rehash of someone else's hit song? I guess I'm applying my own values of original songwriting and creative innovation where they're really not welcome. Some people just want to rock in a band with no regard to artistic exploration or expression.

It's interesting to note that Frickin' A is the first and only band on an independent label to land a spot on a NOW! That's What I Call Music compilation. Um...positively groundbreaking. Rick Springfield thank$ you.


In other news, my friend went to the doctor while on tour to find out that he has corneal ulcers. That means ulcers. On his corneas! Frickin' A! Sounds like something you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. He said it wasn't so bad, except that he couldn't wear his glasses or contacts and therefore couldn't see very well. Beware the dangers of long-wearing contact lenses, people.


I wrote up part of my interview with Feist, which is the headline article in the Venus website's music section. Click here to read, please and thanks!

Inspired by my friend's suggestion that ties are sexy on women (hi you), I decided to wear one on Saturday night to Bottom of the Hill. I was taught to tie a tie by my father when I was about 8 years old, so my skills were understandably rusty. Tim had to step in and fix it for me, at which point he became inspired to wear a tie on stage. Instead of grabbing one from his suitcase like he said he would, the next thing I know he's stolen Craig D's tie, as well as the shirt off his back. Craig ended up with Tim's wrinkly plaid shirt here, but it was a noble sacrifice for the rock fans.


Last night I took my friend who's in town to the Opera Plaza Cinema on Van Ness, which I've never been to before. We were shocked to see that there were a grand total of thirty seats in our theatre. THIRTY. The screen itself was only about twice as big as a large television. But once the lights went out, we got used to it.

We saw Dot the I starring the always toothsome Gael Garcia Bernal, the excellent James D'Arcy, and the stunning Natalia Verbeke. Aside from the beauty of the main actors and many of the shots in the film, I can't really recommend seeing it, unless you're a big fan of crazy plots. I wish the whole "Two Thumbs Up!" rigamarole came with a money-back guarantee. But Verbeke, she's amazing. She basically scowls and/or cries throughout the entire film, but she does it well, and you never get tired of looking at her.

Most of the soundtrack was really good as well. Here's a tracklisting:
.Doris Day - Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps
.Pink Martini - Sympathique
.Space Raiders - Beautiful Crazy
.Ozomatli - Super Bowl Sundae
.Doves - There Goes The Fear
.Bentley Rhythm Ace - T-Spot
.Carlos Jean - Mira Pa Dentro
.Idlewild - Out Of Routine
.David Danvers - Cross The T
.Rachid Taha - Barra Barra
.Lotte - Empty
.Tito Herido & Olayo Guiminez - Dot The I Flamenco Song
.Omar Faruk Tekbilek - Red Skies
.Aqualung - Just For A Moment
.Christian Basso - The Movement
.Iota - Gears
.DJ Shadow - Blood On The Motorway
.Fun Lovin' Criminals - Fun Lovin Criminals
I think "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" is my new favorite song of all time.


Read my brief interview with the singer of Electric Six on SFist here. And if you're in San Francisco, go see them tomorrow night. Thanks to my good man Mr. "Dequindre" for the hookup.


At last night's Chillin event, a nice stranger came up to me weilding this sign. It said "You are beautiful! And so much more." He wanted me to pin it to his shirt. The little sign was so cheesy, but he was too genuine and cheerful to be annoying. I dug around and found a straight pin, and wished him luck with his pick-up line. He balked at my assumption, so I called it an icebreaker instead, and sent him back into the crowded venue to spread his message. It was interesting participating in a sample sale at night at a crowded club with people drinking, dancing and chatting you up. There are never that many men at a normal fashion event.

It was a lot of fun but exhausting. As the long day (two sample sales back-to-back) and night drew towards a close, my friends appeared out of the clear black night! Xavi, who has been gone a long time, is back and we took it as a good reason to celebrate.


Pick up the current issue of Bitch Magazine to read my reviews of Client's City and Esthero's We R In Need of a Musical Revolution EP. Actual hold-it-in-your-hands, ink-on-paper style.

Sometimes I fantasize about moving to a small town, but living in the city has its advantages, not the least of which is the fact that sooner or later most of your friends come to visit, whether they're on tour, on a business trip or on vacation. Plus, the weather is just too perfect today; I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. And in a big city, it's easy to disappear completely.

I need to get back to work. If you have a copy of Kid A nearby, throw it on, and climb into spring:

"Eyesight" by A.R. Ammons
It was May before my
attention came
to spring and

my word I said
to the southern slopes

missed it, it
came and went before
I got right to see:

don't worry, said the mountain,
try the later northern slopes
or if

you can climb, climb
into spring: but
said the mountain

it's not that way
with all things, some
that go are gone


One of my fellow -ists, Jen from Gothamist, is buzzing about The National. I saw the first song of The National's afternoon set for WOXY at SXSW and was enthralled. My dear friend Brandon, who I only get to see once a year, knew one of the sets of brothers in the band (there are two sets) and encouraged me to stay. I would have stayed, but I promised a friend I'd see his band's show so I dutifully left.

Jen posted a link to this player where you can preview their record Alligator, which I listened to yesterday. I'm having an unusual reaction to it. I'm officialy on the fence. Part of it is brilliant, and speaks to me in a way that favorites like Criteria and Shiner know how to do. But part of it irks the crap out of me -- maybe it's some of the lyrics, or the way he sings them, can't put my finger on it yet. So far the like and dislike are head to head -- I don't know what will win out. Frustrating.

I am happy to report that South San Gabriel's new record The Carlton Chronicles: Not Until the Operation's Through is gorgeous. It's one of those records that can take you somewhere if you give it your full attention. I haven't focused in on the cat-centric lyrics yet, but I've decided that whatever inspires Will Johnson to make music is OK by me.
The Dark of Garage mp3
I Am Six Pounds of Dynamite mp3


Stereogum posts about Death Cab For Cutie selling out, and gets some interesting comments from readers. The sad part about any major-label-sellout discussion amongst fans is that they focus on the artistic integrity issue without understanding the financial stakes. I don't think any band that jumps to a major is planning on changing their music. I believe they go in with the best intentions, having their egos so recently fed by suits upon suits making them huge promises to make their genius music heard by the world.

What the bands don't think about, in my opinion, is the financial reality of signing to a major. Sure the payoff could be bigger (commercial radio, more fans) but the stakes are higher. The recoupable amounts and overhead get way higher, they take home fewer dollars per records sold, and suddenly they have people who've failed their way up the corporate ladder pressuring them for a single. Forget the indie one-release-per-year pace and hands-off artistic freedom. All this for the shot at one radio hit. I mean, best case scenario is what Modest Mouse just went through. You get your big hit, but then you go away. If Modest Mouse has another huge radio hit, I will eat my words.

My bet is that DCFC will look back on the times when they could sell a few hundred thousand records on Barsuk as the "good old days."

(As far as the issue of selling out goes, I don't think bands should be criticized for having their songs played on "The O.C." or licensing their music to commercials. It's hard to make money out there as a musician. And that licensing money, unlike a major label contract, should come with no strings attached and therefore be no threat to derail anyone's career.)

But I digress. One of the most interesting comments on the Stereogum discussion had a link to a rant by Dave Eggers from 2000, in response to some Harvard literary magazine writers who asked, among other questions, if Eggers was "keeping shit real?"

The rant is wordy but interesting. If you wish to skim, don't miss the part toward the end where he namedrops a bunch of celebrities and mentions money amounts he was paid by prominent media outlets to do very little work.

This is my favorite part. It shall be our thought for the day:
And I do not get along with people who say no. When you die, and it really could be this afternoon, under the same bus wheels I'll stick my head if need be, you will not be happy about having said no. You will be kicking your ass about all the no's you've said. No to that opportunity, or no to that trip to Nova Scotia or no to that night out, or no to that project or no to that person who wants to be naked with you but you worry about what your friends will say.

No is for wimps.... No is to live small and embittered, cherishing the opportunities you missed because they might have sent the wrong message.


Sunday in the park with Jet. Note the leash, the only thing preventing all hell from breaking loose.

Sef has some photos from Austin on his blog. I'd never heard of Shiner Light before -- I'm not a big fan of light beer but Shiner is close to my heart.


Feist took home two Juno awards, for Alternative Album of the Year and New Artist of the Year.

See what the fuss is about by downloading "One Evening" for FREE from iTunes this week.


South San Gabriel's new record The Carlton Chronicles: Not Until The Operation’s Through is out today. That tidbit is for the Will Johnson and Centro-matic fans among us, which ought to be all of you. I haven't listened to the record yet, but it's a bit of a concept record about a sick cat, which is enough to chew on for now.
This amused me. Ah, if only it were that easy. I scored an "A" but didn't feel motivated to complete the Girlfriend Application, although I'm sure he's a great guy. Dude's gotta run spell-check though, because calling it a "bacholor's" degree is not a good idea.


Brad Armstrong plays a mandotar on track 8 of Maria Taylor's new CD 11:11. What the hell is a mandotar, you ask? Why, I was wondering the same thing myself.

According to Bill Littleton, who erroneously considers himself "the only active mandotar player on the planet," a mandotar is a
"'twelve-string soprano guitar' or 'twelve-string mandolin' -- Charlie Louvin tells me that Ira built a half-scale guitar that he called a mandotar, but it has only six strings (and currently resides in the Country Music Hall Of Fame)"

This is a photo of Hammertone's mandotar. Someone should cook up a Wikipedia entry for it, so no one goes around thinking a mandotar was a wooly beast from the dinosaur age.


Friday night multitasking.

My friend Darren was telling me about Jonathan Safran Foer's new novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I haven't read his first novel yet, but I am going to read an excerpt of the new one and this Village Voice interview. JSF apparently has a blog as well. I already own too many books I haven't read yet -- I finished Cherries in the Snow and I think Middlesex is next on my list. I should be reading instead of blogging.

A Jonathan Safran Foer quote from the Village Voice interview:
"Auden once said that he looked at what he wrote so he could see what he thought. That's how it is for me, too. Understanding comes after. I have no points to make. Not even a story to tell. I have my instincts, my past, my subconscious. Sometimes the switch is at the end of the dark hallway, and you have to feel for it with your hands. A book is a lot like a light switch."

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