“The Suburbs” – The Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs” (2010)

May 30
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I just heard the two new Arcade Fire songs, for the first time, on Sirius XM. The first one, “Month of May” has a very propulsive, driving, riding the express kind of urgency to it. It’s more electric and less contemplative than a lot of Arcade Fire songs. The second song, “The Suburbs” feels more like a lot of stuff that we’ve heard in the last two albums. Not like that is a bad thing. Win Butler’s tone always lends itself perfectly to telling of things lost or fading, for good and bad, while trying to be hopeful of what’s to come.

I’m hopeful. Why wouldn’t I be, I’m barely halfway through a long, relaxing weekend with a half a glass of Green Lake Organic Ale at my side and more in the fridge. And, the rest of the new Arcade Fire album is due out in two months.

Tomorrow’s Memorial Day. You know what that means. Americans love affair with hot dogs is officially in season. An estimate that I heard last year was that Americans eat seven billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That’s about 23 apiece for every man, woman, child, vegan, vegetarian, raw foodist, and blood thirsty cannibal who counts themselves a citizen of this glorious country. So, do your part people, eat wieners, drink beer, and go to as many concerts as possible this summer.


“The Last of The Famous International Playboys” – Morrissey – “Bona Drag” (1990)

May 28
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Upon first entering the lawless blogsphere last August, my goal was a song a day. Just be consistent and add content to the blog. Don’t be like those vacant spaces where the author talks of designer yard furniture on February 4, 2008 followed by the religious of experience of eating hamburgers at a White Castle in New Jersey on May 1st, 2009. I just wanted to pick a topic and add content. Mission mostly accomplished. This space, or the author creating this space still needs to evolve into something a little more refined, but for now I like the musical chaos that I’ve assembled.

Have I posted any Morrissey to this blog yet? I did a pretty good of indexing all of the Play On entries for about the first three months but I’m nine months into this, and I’m not in a big rush to go back and see if I’ve featured Mr.” Most Unlikely Watch A Camp Vegas Commercial, Hop On A Plane And Release His Inner Porn Star” Morrissey.


Prolonged and Unintended Dio Moment of Silence

May 27
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I’ve been noticeably absent for a few days – not due to being on vacation, or because my world orbited around the Idol finale (Yawnsville, USA), or even because of the awesome new book that I am engrossed in (see below) – because my internet was down. Why? Qwest gremlins? A switch got flipped that left my house in a scary, Dark Ages state of flux, not experienced since sometime in the late 90’s. I admit, I sponged an unsecured connection from some unknowingly benevolent neighbor, who I probably pass on the way to the bus each morning, while trying to avert eyes (thanks Jon). Jon’s connection was intermittent, so my posts were nonexistent. But, I’m back.

So let me tell you about the super cool new book. First, I found about it on the best music site ever (Seattle Sparkly Indie-Pop Press) Three Imaginary Girls. The book is called, “Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics Among Us” by Steven Almond. In huge chunks of the book, it’s like someone is telling me my own personal history of discovering music. Almond tells me how I figured out what I liked, told me where I was the first time I heard something, and explained to me how I got to my current play list.

Almond is two years younger than me. He talks about hearing American Pie over and over and being fascinated by the lyrics although he had no idea what levee was, just like me. He was into Styx, spent hours looking at album art and liner notes, and intersperses some entertaining lists amongst his deft prose.

List # 3

Rock’s Biggest Assholes

3. Madonna
Responds to criticism of her devotion to Kabbalah by stating, “ It would be less controversial if I joined the Nazi Party.” I smell a career move!

Other crowd pleasers on the list include: Pete Townshend, and Scott Stapp.

The book is chock full of colorful, pop anecdotes, and perfectly worded evocations of why music means so much not only to him, but also to those of us who he refers to as the “Drooling Fanatics.”

The first paragraph of Chapter 5:

As a broad working definition, art awakens feeling. Every form has its merits and demerits. Paintings, for instance, work fast and require no moving parts, yet are hard to steal. Films are easy to watch and enveloping, but carry the risk you will see Philip Seymour Hoffman naked. The only thing wrong with music, as far as I’m concerned, is that you cannot eat it. From a purely emotional standpoint, it remains far more potent than any other artistic medium.”

I would like to add to this that music holds its own as a solo act without having to collaborate with art or film. This is coming from someone who to a huge extent has always hated music videos. I want to hear music on my head phones and make up what the music looks like if translated to visual images. I enjoy going to museums and tend to get transfixed by paintings or pieces but rarely find any truly emotional attachment. Good films almost out of necessity need a solid musical component whether it is an orchestral score, full of pop tunes, indigenous music, etc.

Don’t read this book at your own risk. I love everything that Chuck Klosterman writes about music, and I think that Steve Almond is just as deserving of my attention.

Here’s a cut from the new Keane (featuring K’naan) album:

“Stop For A Minute” – Night Train (2010)


“Holy Diver” – Dio – “Holy Diver” (1983)

May 23
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Preeminent metal front man Ronnie James Dio passed away last weekend, succumbing to stomach cancer for which he began treatment last November.

Dio was at the top of the list back in my metal years. Iron Maiden, Saxon, Krokus, and Accept could also cause me to break out in voluntary head banging seizures, but in retrospect, Dio was the one for me. He was menacingly elfish, took up the cause of the downtrodden and disenfranchised, comic bookish in dabbling with the dark side, snarly and guttural yet was still a good singer. He was a good singer wasn’t he? I mean there are all kinds of metal fans that their favorite can sing, whether it is Jonathan Davis from Korn, Mike Patton from Faith No More, David Draiman, or a hundred other guys posted up with their foot on the monitor, bludgeoning the audience with assertive words. Dio though, always sounded good in the little soft spots like the intro to “The Last In Line.”

Dio fans will have their chance to say one last farewell, and raise a pinkie and index finger at a public memorial at Forest Lawn in LA on May 30th.


“For Us” – Pete Yorn – “Nightcrawler” (2006)

May 20
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Me, as American Idol Lobbyist/Judge: “Lee, congratulations for making it to the top three. For your judge’s selection song this week, I choose for you, “For Us.” This is the kind of artist that you are/who I am demanding that you become. This is the kind of music that the 75 billion people that Ryan says watch and vote every week, don’t listen to. But, I’m going to ignore the weekly deposit of $5 million that Fox and the record companies put into my account, in order to procure my lobbying skills and give them a ho hum artist that sell several hundred thousand copies of their debut album and then fades into the oblivion from which I initially pulled them from. Nothing that I’m saying right now makes any sense except that covering Pete Yorn is true to who I think you really are.”


“Irish Celebration” – Macklemore – “The VS. EP” (2009)

May 19
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Day two of perusing the newest Northwest hip hop acts. My thumb was pointing only ever so slightly up on Shabazz Palaces yesterday. On to the next act.

After listening to most of their EP from last year, I found Macklemore in collaboration with Ryan Lewis to be a little more interesting. The samples were diverse, and the reverence for the duo’s roots whether it be their home town or ethnicity is interspersed throughout.


“4 Shadows” – Shabazz Palaces – “Shabazz Palaces” (2009)

May 17
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A local blogger, here in Seattle, devotes what seems like, half of his written words each week to Shabazz Palaces. The blogger is a guy that I don’t care for – too high and mighty, too much hate for anything remotely mainstream, too ridiculous that he shunned Emily Haines partially based on the glittery form fitting dress that she often gigs in – so I have a tendency to dismiss what likes based on my undying need to spite.

Shabazz Palaces really are worth a listen if you tend to fit a little hip hop in your musical diet. The beats and bass are intriguing, subdued, understated but refined. The flow and content isn’t doing much for me, not overly clever, and lean towards common urban themes. I’ll listen to the rest of this album this week, and hope that my bias against the unnamed blogger’s opinions proves to be unfounded.


“Welcome To The Future” – Brad Paisley – “American Saturday Night” (2009)

May 15
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So, I’m starting to go a little country, or should I say, a little more country. Not that I’m foregoing my rock and roll roots, but there’s no sense in denying, that I’m starting to dig the twang a little more than I ever thought I would. It’s not like I’ve never enjoyed any country. The outlaw sounds and themes of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and the like plus Patsy Cline who is one of my all time favorites of any genre, dominate the top of my country favorites list. Fast forward to 2010, and I find those acts sort of blending country, folk, and rock such as: Deer Tick, Justin Townes Earle, and The Duhks consistently showing up on my Zune. But, what I’ve just never had much love or even like for is the “new” country sub-genre.

That’s starting to change though, and I might be powerless to resist. I went to Brooks and Dunn two weeks ago, ignorant of 99% of the material and legacy that one of country’s greatest duos has established for the last 15+ years. It was a great show, opened by Jason Aldean who is very much “new” country, and I started feeling it. My averseness to “new” country has been that I think of it as being as much rock as country and if I really wanted to listen to rock, then I’d just crank some Nickelback (or not). The more I listen, the more I realize that I’m never going to listen to Nickelback or Hinder, and I’m probably going to listen to a fair amount of Rascal Flatts and Zac Brown.

The middle of the road rockers who get played on top 40 radio as much as rock stations are just so watered down. They make songs that are 51% about picking up chicks and partying and 49% about winning those chicks back after they got dumped. Everything goes down in the most clichéd terms with rhymes painfully jammed into every crevice of the listener’s body. New country? Some of the same stuff is talked about, and a lot of it is cheesy, but the play on words tends to be a hundred times more clever, and the steel guitar helps deepen the mood. Plus, there are more fishin’ references. After all of these years, I’ve come to the realization that it’s not “new” country that I have no place for, it’s middlin’ rock which is built for chicks with big hair.

Brad Paisley is my new country music man crush. This song is a new country style anthem to the max. A chorus emphasizing a strong unifying theme (paying homage to our current president all the while thanking god above) flanked by anecdotal chapters in chronological order from throughout Paisley’s life; this is a song that no doubt will bring down the house on tour all summer long.


“Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” – Ray Charles – “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” (1984)

May 14
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If anyone is getting a head start on Christmas shopping and is wonder what to get me, a phonograph would get me jumping up and down like when I was a kid and got Ricochet Racer. I’ve started my long review process/window shopping which typically is a slow agonizing death crawl as I go to the store pick up the object of my desire, walk around the store for a half hour, and then put it back. This process is often repeated 12 or 17 times and can span 3+ years as I wait for the right price and spotless consumer reviews.

So any ways, yeah, a record player would be great and well used in my house. All of those crispy, little wobbles that are distinct to vinyl have the ability to transform the listener to nostalgic places where MP3, satellite, and CDs didn’t exist.

Ray had a lot of success on the country charts in the mid-80’s. He had tunes in that genre that charted better than “Do You Ever Think of Me” but this one has that country feel and a typical theme as it examines relationships past, and the lack of fruition that causes many a soul to order another beer and wonder what if.


“Baby Doll” – Dan Wilson – “Free Life” (2007)

May 12
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No, not the former catcher for the Mariners, this is the Dan Wilson who used to front Semisonic.

I like music filled with heaps of desperation and vulnerability. It’s what sets a lot of good song writers, singers, and musicians apart from the rest of us. They go on stage and play and bare their soul and say all of the stuff that their audiences want to say. Unfortunately, it’s probably what drives a lot of rock stars – the rest of us unable to understand their misery – to the bottle, rock, pipe and needle in order to try and find some balance. This is not a statement about Mr. Wilson; it’s a statement about life and the light that is shed on it by people like him.

Baby doll
I’ve been melting candles into wings
So I can fly up high and buy you things
Diamond rings and pretty horses, too
It’s much less than you deserve but if I don’t I’m guessing
I won’t get the chance to make amends
While I’m paying, you’ll be in the ladies’ making contact with your friends
Then you’ll disappear again