Category Archives: Music

Music Review: “Working on a Dream,” Though Apparently Not Too Hard

It’s no coincidence that the release of Bruce Springsteen’s new album, Working on a Dream, comes a week after the joyous inauguration of President Obama. Bruce came out in support of Obama during the primary, and he stumped for his man just as he had for John Kerry.

The venture into politics is paying off huge: besides the obvious benefits of having a competent President, the Obama campaign appearances were clearly the launching pad for a whirlwind of publicity: a Golden Globe win here, an inauguration gig there, a Wal-Mart exclusive compilation for casual fans who should know all those songs already, a performance at the Oscars (that one didn’t pan out), and the pinnacle of American consumer culture, the Super Bowl half-time show.
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Real Long Distance

I a big fan of Josh Ritter and he’s recently made a (very) low-budget video for “Real Long Distance,” from his latest album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter.

This goes out to all my women living oh-so far away (“You’re a real mean Mama but you got a lot of time for me“).

Sean McCaul, Subway Virtuoso

I’ve seen Sean McCaul play on the Union Square L-train platform three times now, and each time I haven’t had the $10 in cash to buy his (presumably) self-produced CD. I need to put a ten-dollar bill in each of my bags and backpacks and be prepared, Hardy Boys style, to meet risk with success.

I want McCaul’s album because he’s brilliant. I remember coming down the stairs to the platform a couple years ago and being surrounded by soothing noise, rising and descending tones of an ethereal, emotion-made-sonic quality. McCaul plays the vibraphone, a rack of metal bars of specific length that, when struck, emit a note; depending on how you strike the bar and the type of mallet used, it can sound either like a rolling wall of noise, liquid and intermingling, or a staccato, if mellow, sort of polyphonic drum. I’ve only ever heard vibes played on a Miles Davis album before McCaul.

He is a slight, calm presence on the stewing chaos of the platform. I remember a black t-shirt with black jeans and work boots, eyes on his vibes unless someone drops a bill into his case and then he’ll nod his thanks. His eyes bespoke concentration and an interior peace I can only imitate. I assume he plays his own compositions. His music moves quickly but unhurriedly to cover a range of moods, and he uses space to fine dramatic effect. There is also a narrative quality to his music. I get the sense, more immediate and vivid than another instrument, that he’s telling me a story that takes place over a period of years.

Poking around the internets, I found a lone video of McCaul at work. Unfortunately, it cuts off before his stream-of-consciousness mellowification can build to full effect, alas. I hope to see him again soon, and this time have $10 in my wallet.

Music Video Meltdown: Electronica

At the behest of my loyal, sometimes frightening fans, I’m posting regularly again and trying to develop some running themes to distinguish this blog from the billions of other, lesser blogs. With that in mind:

Many Fridays ago, I posted some music videos because I was feeling too lazy to compose brilliant scratchings. It’s Friday again. Enjoy this Electronica-themed Music Video Meltdown!

Junior Boys – “Last Exit” (excerpt)

Modeselektor – “Ziq Zaq” (homemade vid.)

Beck – “Bit Rate Variations in B-flat (Girl remix)” (The regular song is great, but this is pure uncut fucking magic)

Random Cultural Stats: 2/18/08

Beatles Songs From “Across The Universe” By The Numbers

By Album

With The Beatles (3)
It Won’t Be Long
All My Loving
Hold Me Tight
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Some Super Tunes for Super Tuesday

Hey, Keesup here. Hope everyone is having a pleasant winter and has decided what they will give up for Lent. (Me? I’m quitting the sex clubs.) I hope everyone is voting tomorrow if they have a primary in their area. Specifically on the Democratic ballot. And even more specifically, for Senator Barack Obama. I’m volunteering, and have donated, and it’s not to late for you to do the same. You could even just engage in vigorous, substantive debate with vindictive Hillary supporters. Here are some tunes to get you pumped up, inspired by Obama’s own playlist for his events.

American Land” by Bruce Springsteen

New Wave” by Against Me!

Beautiful Day” by U2

Waiting On The World To Change” by John Mayer

Allentown” by Billy Joel

We’re All To Blame” by Sum-41: Ok, yes, they are clearly aping the basic songwriting dynamics of System of a Down, but I actually think it’s kind of moving to see these sub-blink-182 retards start to care.

A Rush of Blood to the Head” by Coldplay: Reminds me what we’re fighting against in the first place.

What’s Goin’ On” by Marvin Gaye

Everyday People” by Sly & The Family Stone

Who’ll Stop The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Instant Karma” by U2 (or the original by John Lennon)

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” by Elvis Costello and the Attractions

I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty

Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder: The man’s signature song on the trail.

Move Along” by The All-American Rejects

Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield: I never really paid much attention to this song until I heard this at an Obama appearance. But it strikes me more and more as the perfect embodiment of Obama’s real message: he isn’t appealing us to buy into his potential, he’s telling us to believe in ours.

Long Walk Home” by Bruce Springsteen

A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke: The best song ever?

Futures” by Jimmy Eat World

Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who

Here’s the Senator’s victory speech from South Carolina.

And here’s a strong rebuke to the identity politics the Clinton’s have engaged in by Andrew Sullivan.

Let’s fucking do this.


See the World

Are you depressed? Weather got you down? Boyfriend/girlfriend/other dump you? Realize you were born without the capacity for human love?

Watch this (by Gomez) & take cheer: