Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Remembering When with R.E.M.

Okay, so I've been really bad about keeping up with the blog. I could tell you about how I've been crazy busy working for Apple, but then Steve Jobs would have to kill me. So, let's just take a deep breath and dive in.
First order of delayed business is catching up with a set of shamefully old concert shots. You saw Modest Mouse pics a while back, and now here's R.E.M., who headlined that same show back in June.

I'll admit, despite being a fan of R.E.M.'s from the band's earliest days when I met and interviewed them for a story as "Murmur" was launched, I've had issues with the past few releases and was fairly bored by the concert I saw during the "Around the Sun" tour. Hubby has remained more (blindly?) loyal, but I needed to be re-convinced that the band still had its power, and its sense of humor. (Michael Stipe, dear boy as he is, had been coming across a bit stridently of late.)
Anyway, from the first moments in the photo pit, where I spotted the dinosaur display along the top of Peter Buck's amplifiers, I felt that things were looking up...

The band was in fine form and good humor, Master Stipe exuding just the right mix of Shiny Happy People-ness and rage against the political machine. When he's on - and without that distracting blue facepaint - he's still one of rock's most charismatic showmen.

The group tore threw a well-paced set list (I got a copy from the road manager!) of new tracks from the "Accelerate" CD, which has revived their reputation for hard-driving alt. rock, along with classics from the past.

Grace, who had come along mostly to see Modest Mouse, grew a little restless toward the end. Given my previously stated apprehensions about the last R.E.M. show I'd seen, I made the mistake of saying I might be willing to leave early. But I was swept up in the band's momentum, grateful to feel a rekindling of my admiration/affection for the guys, and we stayed until the end.

R.E.M.. welcome back. All is forgiven.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fleet of Fox, if Not of Feet

Last night, I heard the live online broadcast on NPR of The Fleet Foxes, playing some 25 miles away at the Black Cat in DC. So that reminds me...

1.FLEET FOXES - self-titled (Sub Pop)
I bought this CD last week, at a genuine old skool record store, Plan 9, in Richmond while Soon-To-Be-College Girl and I were in the city for a VCU orientation. I went into the store as if into a church, a quick visit to pay respects to the vanishing house of music worship, and to ask if they had the Johnny Flynn vinyl single that I’d heard was being serviced to independent stores as a teaser for his full-length debut.
The nice older guy (owner) and younger cashier chatted with me about what they had listed in the upcoming release charts, but the vinyl itself was nowhere to be seen, and then I caught sight of the Fleet Foxes CD, lined up in a row just above a set of My Morning Jacket CDs. That seemed fully appropriate as I find the Foxes tapping a similar vein of fiercely beautiful, near-choral indie rock, though the Foxes have a slightly more pastoral take that made me initially think they were British. As I paid for the album, the older gent remarked, "Album of the year!" and said he was driving to DC for the show.

The band members trace their music to that which their parents played: The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, The Zombies, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Crosby Stills and Nash. The Foxes’ harmonies harken particularly to the latter, and frontman Robin Pecknold was quoted on the NPR web site as explaining, "To me, the most enjoyable thing in the world is to sing harmony with people.” It shows.

Oh, and since we were talking about them, I’ll add to the tally my emusic purchase of:
Have seen and enjoyed the band in the past, but this album is really sticking with me in a big way. On track as one of the best of the year.

Here's a shot from the band's appearance at the 930 Club in 2005. It's not so much a concert shot as a cool image I use as a desktop.

O/CD Year to Date Tally: 120

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

We celebrate as we always do - with a screening of "1776," in which we lustily sing all the songs (Terry abstains, courteously), preceded by a short subject - the "Freedom" number from "Holiday Inn," in which Fred Astaire dances while tossing firecrackers.

As "dreamy" (Post-College Girl's word) Thomas Jefferson moves ever closer toward completing the Declaration of Independence, I share some of the remaining concert photos of recent vintage.
Here is Modest Mouse, who opened for R.E.M. at Merriweather Post last month...

As I stood in the photo pit, waiting for the show to begin, a guitar tech strummed Johnny Marr's guitar and it rang with that distinctive wah-wah sound that marked so many Smiths songs. I got chills. A fine performance, though as glad as I was to hear "Dashboard," I think I prefer the studio version.

Isaac Brock is an interesting character, an obvious musical talent with a slightly deranged air.
And Johnny Marr...? A wizard. A true star.

And while the Continental Congress continues to "piddle" (John Adams' word), I found and bought and downloaded a nifty collection from It's called
A compilation of independent artists that's being sold only from July 4 to July 6. Tracks from artists like Ani Difranco, Frank Black, Atmosphere, Dr. Dog and some less savory (Slipknot). 25 songs for $2.99. Good deal.

Year to Date O/CD Tally: 118