Top 5

Mar 202014
 

commongrounds

Back in the day, these guys would play every weekend, every festival, and they kicked such ass. Then they, like, got lives or something. Come back! Make more things for me!

5. Anchor Arms – from the outside they may not have seemed so distinguished from any Gainesville late-aughts beardpunk band, but their reign of terror coincided with the years I left campus for downtown and started going to shows. I got to see them as a 3-piece, a 4-piece, and a 5-piece, I think, and it was like getting to sit in on a band-dynamics class. I learned a lot about how to watch live music from Anchor Arms. I saw their last show and it was the first time that I realized that there was such a thing as last shows—that bands were real things with beginnings and ends. But surprise! They just released a new free album this January! I just found out about that right now.

Poison Arrows

4. Liza Kate – she recently had an acting role in the movie The Comedy staring Tim Heidecker, but before that she was part of Josh Small and Tim Barry’s Richmond scene. She released her album Don’t Let the Dogs in 2009 and has a mini-live-album from 2010 up on her bandcamp, but was (as far as I know) last heard guesting on Josh Small’s 2010 album Juke. Her strumming was mellow and her voice not overly dramatic, but she could make a room shut up and listen, she made devastation very appealing.

O Sally!

3. Mike Hale – how many people have you seen Austin Lucas harmonize with? Probably enough to start their own township. But nobody paired quite like Austin Lucas and Mike Hale. Hale’s deep gravelly voice, guitar submerged in minor chords, and his confessional lyrics made him one of the saddest songwriters I’ve ever seen. I used to think he was way too sad-sack, but looking back I think he had a really brave and interesting project going. I would love the chance to see him and Austin sing together again. A download of Hale’s solo album is still available for free from Suburban Home.

Lives Like Mine (live w/ Austin Lucas)

2. Sarah Dougher – I never saw Sarah Dougher play live, but her albums Day One (1999), The Walls Ablaze (2000), and The Bluff (2001) are among my favorites. Working from Portland, she made literate, punk-inspired, jangly-but-severe, pop songs. Since those albums, she’s gone on to be a full-on academic–teaching at Portland State, working with girls rock camps, publishing about feminist issues in music, even traveling to Bahrain as a guest of the US Embassy to teach music to Bahraini girls. Her latest musical projects have been a song-suite based around the poems of the late Leslie Scalapino, a soundtrack to a local production of The Orestes by Euripides, and a concept album about The Odyssey called Harpers Arrow. She’s a hero. Whenever I think of her, it inspires me to not give up on making an academic and artistic life out of the subjects that I care about. It can be done. But I like pop songs a lot and would love another batch.

The Ground Below

1. Christina Wagner – the only words I’ve probably ever said to Christina Wagner were “do you have an album yet?” and that makes me feel like a jerk. I said them often. But her songs are great and I thought the way the world works is that there has to be an album. Chris Wollard was going to produce it at one point. Her shows are always winners–amazing murder ballads, gorgeous Johnny Cash covers, and some badass spanish-guitar-like finger-picking. She still plays shows, so it’s not like she disappeared, but she’s on this list because I really want that album. Last I’ve heard, she opened her own cafe in Jacksonville, so I bet that place is the best. If anybody has any Christina Wagner demos or recordings, please send them my way. She had a tour EP with Austin Lucas, right?

a full set of Christina Wagner

Who do you wish was still working on the reg?

May 012013
 

Or at least tangentially about food. And like all good lists this one goes, in alphabetical order, to 11.
  1. The Band – “Home Cookin’” from A Musical History. A 1976 outtake, this is Rick Danko near his vulnerable best.
  2. Carolyn Mark & the New Best Friends – “Yanksgiving” from The Pros and Cons of Collaboration. Cooking to this song is tons of fun, but also guaranteed to make you wish that you were at Carolyn Mark’s party instead.
  3. Descendents – “Weinerschnitzel” from Fat EP. Good advice re: bull sperm.
  4. Guy Clark – “Texas Cookin’” from Texas Cookin’. He also wrote “Home Grown Tomatoes,” which is going to be the anthem of my forthcoming Summer of the Caprese Salad.
  5. John Mellencamp – “Hot Dogs and Hamburgers” from The Lonesome Jubilee. The American version of Leatherface’s “Baked Potato” (see below).
  6. Leatherface – “Baked Potato” from Mush. The British version of John Mellencamp’s “Hot Dogs and Hamburgers” (see above).
  7. Parallel 5th – “Carrots and Peas” from The Living Room Compilation. They were a Rhode Island new wave band that hardly mattered, but this song is funny and takes the place of The Beach Boys’ “Vegetables” which is on every other list of best food songs on the interwebs.
  8. Patty Griffin – “Making Pies” from 1000 Kisses. This is the best written song on this list. And Guy Clark is on this list. Good god, this song.
  9. Robert Earl Keen & Lyle Lovett – “Front Porch Song” from Keen’s No Kinda Dancer and Lovett’s Lyle Lovett. In addition to the much acknowledged steaming greasy plates of enchiladas, also consider the pimento cheese sandwiches that inspired the fourth verse.
  10. Steve Goodman – “The Vegetable Song” from Somebody Else’s Troubles. Most underrated songwriter on this list. And Guy Clark is on this list.
  11. Tom Waits – “Eggs and Sausage (in a Cadillac with Susan Michelson)” from Nighthawks at the Diner. *rhythmic snap*

We’re well aware that this site takes its name from a song on an album called Pizza Deliverance and offers sporadic taco recipes, and know you know that I, personally, am always starving. What do y’all got in the pantry? Food songs! Deliver them.

Jul 302012
 

Well. I asked. Y’all listed and I tallied. The result is the Top 5 of the first 1/2 of 2012 as selected by the readership. Thanks for voting! In the end, Lee Bains simply ran away from the crowd getting twice as many votes as any other album.

Here’s the list:

5. Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
2 (tie). Truckstop Darlin’ – Hope And The Heart It Breaks
2 (tie). Lucero- Women & Work
2 (tie). Arliss Nancy- Simple Machine
1. Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires- The Is A Bomb in Gilead

Apr 162012
 

Seeing all the chatter about the Tupac hologram performance got me to thinking. Who could they hologram that I’d go see? Which then got me to thinking, who would y’all pay to see via hologram? Here are mine (not in any specific order):

5. Waylon Jennings: I never saw him but I’d go see a Waylongram.
4. Hank Williams: Died before my time.
3. Jimi Hendrix: Drop acid before this show and shit might get freaky.
2. Lane Stayley: I was always a big Alice In Chains fan and this could be fun.
1. Tupac: I ain’t lying. I’d drop cash right now to see a full show of that video.

Remember laser light shows? Could hologram shows become the new laser light shows? Does anyone else also find it just a smidge creepy?

Jan 112012
 

I’ve been lucky enough to see Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson twice each. Exactly how lucky is that? I don’t know. They’ve all toured non-stop, but Destination Florida is always up in the air. There are some artists, though, that I’m thankful I’ve had the chance to see just the once, and that one show encompasses everything I hold dear about live music: the surprise, the intimacy, the times when you get so absorbed in the band, deciphering drumbeats and riding pedal steel riffs, that you finally stop worrying about people judging both of your dance moves. Perfect, untouchable nights, in the moment and in the memory. But at the same time, I’m always lustful for an encore show. These are the best one night stands I can think of:

5) Alejandro Escovedo — I saw the Austin TX stalwart in Austin the one weekend I’d happened to be visiting my sister and her new daughter. The best show I’ve ever seen with a full stable of background singers. He’s the man, total professional. Gun. Slinger.

Alejandro Escovedo – Gravity Falling/Down Again/Street Hassle

4) Neil Young — Duh. It was the most recent tour, for Le Noise. He’s been spooky on his own, acoustically, and he’s been spooky with Crazy Horse, but this tour was him being spooky all on his lonesome, electrically. Neil and his echoes, which is what he’s been all along anyway. Allan Toussaint opened. Nothing like the smell of weed wafting through the Hard Rock Casino. Rock on, sexagenarians.

Neil Young – Sedan Delivery

3) Ruby Coast — 3pm on a Friday, the very first show of the very first Harvest of Hope Festival in Elkton. Besides me, the only people there seemed to be the folks from the To Write Love on Her Arms booth trying to give me stickers. Ruby Coast played great songs, coming out of nowhere, in the middle of a fairgrounds in the middle of nowhere. It reminded me that afternoons can be fun. There are others whom I’ve only seen at Festivals like this: Glossary, Billy Bragg, The National, Hot New Mexicans, Avail. But, Ruby Coast was the show that made me felt like I’d earned it. They were all in high school at the time.

Ruby Coast – Liza Liza

2) The Pack A.D. — Not to be too incestuous about it, but the only time I had a chance to see Canadian duo The Pack A.D. was at the NineBullets 4th Anniversary Party. And they blew my face off. And I don’t even miss my face. Just guitar by Becky Black and drums by Maya Miller. It was all sweaty screaming hammering effort. Lots of interaction between Black and Miller, jumping on the drum kit, windmills. Not unlike a Two Cow Garage show. They put everything they had into a show where they were the oddball on the bill. Plus, Miller was willing to humor me a conversation about Star Wars and Sleater-Kinney afterwards. (By the way, the Pack has a new album on the way.)

The Pack A.D. – B.C. Is On Fire

1) Jonathan Richman — Slow as I am, I found out about Jonathan Richman coincidentally one week before he came to town because he was mentioned in Carolyn Mark’s years-old cookbook (she spelled his name Jonathan Richmond), from which I was preparing a delicious whiskey cake. Going into the show I knew only one song, “Dancing at the Lesbian Bar,” so everything was new to me. Richman had the whole bill to himself that night, and he played two sets, just him and his drummer Tommy Larkins. As each song passed I couldn’t believe how tight every lyric was, how complete of a grasp he had over his words, every one was so exact and so rightly chosen. I didn’t know lyricists were capable of that precision. The only people who even come close are Leonard Cohen, David Berman, Branden Barnett, and Franz Nicolay. What I needed was not so much to be loved, as to love, Richman sang. It was the first time I’d heard that, but it’s simple and true enough that it beats with familiarity. Songs he sang in Spanish, French, and Italian all hit as heavy. He sang about Vermeer and Picaso and Van Gogh and driving through suburbia at night out of boredom. He knows how to eschew all the false angles of approaching an emotion and doesn’t settle for a lyric until he finds the absolute core of what he’s trying to say. It felt like I was being serenaded, and I’d never been serenaded, so I wasn’t sure if that’s what it felt like, but I didn’t care. Favorite line of the night: We don’t want the past, we want the moment, just like bread, it’s gotta be fresh, even a day old is getting to be…too much.

Jonathan Richman – Since She Started To Ride