Sunday, December 30, 2007

thnks fr th mmrs

I started dating Traci when I was a senior in high school. At Murray High School, you generally take your girlfriend to the big dances (proms, etc.), but ask other girls to the lesser dances. Toward the end of the year, Traci's best friend Katie (pictured above) asked me to a girl's choice dance. I can't remember who Traci asked, but we were all in the same group. After the dance everyone went to Katie's house to watch a movie. While everyone was in the basement Traci and I snuck upstairs and made out in the kitchen.

December Consumption

It's been a while since I've tracked what I've been listening to...


The Killers - Sawdust
Cake - B-Sides and Rarities
Jimmy Eat World - Chase this Light
Voodoo Glow Skulls - California Street Music
Streetlight Manifesto - Somewhere in the Between
I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends
Cobra Starship - Viva La Cobra
Aesop Rock - Labor Days
Kylie Minogue - X

Mo' Best and Worst of 07

Because I was frantically trying to create that other best of '07 so I could give an unsolicited copy to In Utah This Week, I forgot some stuff.

Mo' good albums:

Alkaline Trio - Remains
Brand New - The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me
The Kooks - Inside In/Inside Out (released in '06)
Silversun Pickups - Carnavas (if it wasn't released in '06 it would have been my best of '07)
Matt & Kim - S/T (Another '06 that I listened to every day of '07)
Mark Ronson - Version
Up Up Down Down Left Right BA - Worst Band Name Ever
The National - Boxer
Tiger Army - Music from the Regions Beyond
Rivers Cuomo - Alone: The Home Recordings of

Crappy Albums

Here are some of the albums I was really looking forward to in '07 that ended up letting me down:

Bad Religion - New Maps of Hell
Bloc Party - Weekend in the City
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Kanye West - Graduation
50 Cent - Curtis (I wasn't looking forward to this album, but it sucked nevertheless)
Jay-Z - American Gangster
Aly & AJ- Insomniac (Yes, I was looking forward to this. You got a problem with that?)
Beastie Boys - The Mix Up
Dashboard Confessional - The Shade of Poison Trees
Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light (good but not good enough, this goes in the "okay" pile at best)
Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist (worst album of the year)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best Music of 2007

This may or may not be my complete list for best of '07. It's 11:59 p.m. and I'm very tired. I didn't realize it was going to take me this long to put this together. I've been working on it for like three days. Maybe I don't really want to write about music for a living.


Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

Iron & Wine, aka Sam Beam, became a folk cult hero after just one album, The Creek Drank the Cradle. But anyone can grow a beard, play an acoustic guitar and sing pretty. It was The Woman King EP that really set Iron & Wine apart. The record felt like the soundtrack to oldie-timey saloon brawl, all brown teeth and chairs breaking over dudes' backs.

The Shepherd's Dog
feels like a mixtape of all of the styles Beam has experimented with over the past few years. It's quiet acoustic one minute, and distortion-drenched vocals the next.Though the album can feel a bit uneven at times, the style hopping makes for a great ride.

Standout Tracks: White Tooth Man, House by the Sea


Bishop Allen - The Broken String

Bishop Allen became blogger darlings when they accomplished their goal of releasing an EP of new music each month in 2006. The band chose to rework and rerecord 10 of those songs for 2007's The Broken String. Though the result is not what you would consider tight, the looseness of the sound is endearing. "Click, Click, Click" is hands-down the catchiest song of the year.

Standout Tracks: Click, Click, Click, The Chinatown Bus


Streetlight Manifesto - Somewhere in the Between

Ska, and all of its related subgenres, had a great run in the mid-to late '90s. But just as quickly as it skanked into our hearts, it skanked back out of style. Fortunately, either no one told Streetlight Manifesto or they just don't care. Somewhere in the Between is better than anything released in the '90's, with the exception of Catch 22's Keasbey Nights - an album that SM frontman Thomas Kalnoky also authored. Kalnoky is again on a lyrical rampage, but after touring endlessly with Reel Big Fish, the tunes are a bit peppier. The album doesn't pack the same bunch as the band's 2002 debut, but certainly won't disappoint fans of the band or the genre.

Standout Tracks: We Will Fall Together, The Receiving End of It All

Hip Hop

Aesop Rock - None Shall Pass

With commercial hip hop being weighed down by the bloated corpses of predictable/crappy albums (think 50 Cent and Kanye West), it's refreshing to hear someone take the genre in a different direction - or to another world. Though Aesop Rock's lyrics rarely touch down on planet earth, he certainly knows how to spit 'em. Here's a typical stanza, "If you never had a day a snow cone couldn't fix/You wouldn't relate to the rogue vocoder blitz/How he spoke through a no-doz motor on the fritz/Cause he wouldn't play roll over fetch like a #$@#$." If the lyrics are a bit too out-there, the production and delivery should bring you right back in. None Shall Pass is definitely a bright spot in this year's dirge of rap music.

Standout Tracks: Keep off the Lawn, None Shall Pass

Christian Rock

The Almost - Southern Weather

Chug-a-chug, chug-a-chug, chug-a-chug, chug-a-chug, BOOM! Southern Weather's opening track and first single "Say This Sooner" gets me every time. I start tapping my finger on the steering wheel, then my foot starts going and by the chorus I'm singing loud enough to be embarrassed when I notice the folks in the car next to me giving me an uncomfortable look.

Underoath drummer Aaron Gillespie took a break from Christian metaling to a do a bit of Christian emo-ing with his side project The Almost. Writing all the songs and playing all of the instruments on the record, Gillespie shows that he can do more than just keep the beat. He's got a knack for a melody, a solid voice and an ear for radio friendly pop structures. Mixing a little rock, a little country, and a lot of lovin' the Lord makes Southern Weather a surprisingly good record.

Standout Tracks: Say This Sooner, Dirty and Left Out

Pop Punk

Motion City Soundtrack - Even if it Kills Me

Motion City has always had the right elements - dancy punk singalongs, plenty of Moog keyboards, a singer with hair as big and out of control as his heart - but has had trouble bringing them all together. On Even if it Kills Me they finally succeeded. The album manages to be fun without being annoying, and touching without feeling contrived. And "Last Night" may be my favorite song of the entire year.

Standout Tracks: Calling all Cops, Last Night

2006 HoldOvers

For me, the best two albums of 2007 came out in 2006.

Silversun Pickups - Carnavas

How Silversun Pickups managed to make the best album of both 2007 (I know it technically came out in 2006) and 1991 at the same time is a mystery to me. With all of its big guitar riffs and spacey keyboard layering, Carnavas sounds like it should be follow-up album to Smashing Pumpkins Gish. Outstanding from start to finish, its hard to even pick the album's best track - and it gets better with each listen.

Standout Tracks: Well Thought Out Twinkles, Three Seed

Matt & Kim - S/T

[coming soon]

Standout Tracks: It's a Fact, Light Speed

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

christmas yights

Paige has been loving the Christmas season. She's learned all sorts of words - Santa, reindeer, tree, snow, and snowman - and says them incessantly. She loves yights (er, lights) the best so we were excited to take her to Temple Square - even though we knew it would be a huge battle to get her to wear her warm weather gear. She prefers to wear no clothes at all.

We were given a little Christmas miracle when she didn't put up any fight about the clothes. She even wore her mittens. Though the mittens only inhibit the use of her fingers, she thought both of her arms were also immobilized. She spent the whole night moving her arms in robot motion, without bending her elbows.

Despite the millions of lights at Temple Square, she was most intrigued by the one light we could have seen from our house - the moon. "Paige, look at those pretty pink lights." Nope. She was too busy looking into the sky and saying "Moon! Moon!" I tried to get some good pictures of her in front of the lights, but almost all of them turned into neck shots as should couldn't stop staring into the heavens.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Currently Listening To...

Here's a random sampling of what I've been listening to lately.

Voodoo Glow Skulls - California Street Music
I really wanted this album to be good. VGS hasn't put out an interesting record since 1998, but I was hoping this would be their triumphant return. Instead, the result was firmly mediocre. Perfectly listenable (for those who can stand to listen to the Voodoo Glow Skulls), but far from inspiring. Though the songs are tight (and they should be - they've written the same song for the eight records), they don't quite manage to bring the passion.

Voodoo Glow Skulls - Fire in the Dance Hall [MP3]

The Hives - The Black and White Album
Though it's hard to take them 100% seriously, The Hives know how craft a catchy garage punk tune - consistently and thoroughly. On their new album they try to expand their palette a bit, adding a few quirky, synthy, haunted housey songs ("Puppet on a String," "T.H.E.H.I.V.ES.," "Giddy Up") to the tracklist - all of which basically suck. Drop those songs from your iPod and you've got yourself a half hour of good times.

The Hives - Tick Tick Boom [MP3]

It's also impossible not to love a band with a band that both a charismatic frontman and two guys who look like they should be selling used cars. Check out the video for Tick Tick Boom here.

David Bazan - Live at the Grey Eagle
I saw the artist formerly known as Pedro the Lion play at Club Sound last week. I enjoyed the ambiance of watching bums and Greyhound buses pass by the club window as David Bazan serenaded the 50 or so attendees with just his voice and an electric guitar.

To get the gist, visit at HardtoFindaFriend to download a complete live show. The Salt Lake City show was even better. There's nothing like watching a man losing his faith right in front of your eyes. I haven't been able to stop thinking about "Please Baby Please" or "Harmless Sparks."

David Bazan - Please Baby Please [MP3]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Walmart-ization of My Heart

I am the reason why local companies don't survive. The other night I went to buy a Christmas tree. I was on borrowed time, in a borrowed truck. I normally get the tree at Smith's Marketplace, but to save time I went to the little tree lot around the corner from my house.

It was 7:30 p.m. and when I pulled in I didn't know if the place was still open. After walking around the empty lot for a few seconds, a guy came out of the house next door and greeted me. I asked him how much he was charging. $30-$50. I could tell immediately that it was going to be a little uncomfortable.

I wouldn't be opposed to paying $30 or even $50 for the best tree ever. But all of the trees looked like the Charlie Brown trees that we used to cut down at my grandpa's ranch...for free. They were all crooked, barren little things. I wanted to support this unknown gentleman and his locally owned and operated tree farm, but I just couldn't find anything at all. "Uh, I don't think you've got what I'm looking for." I sheepishly got back in the truck.

I drove to the other side of town to the Smith's Marketplace. I went straight to the $20 bin and found just what I was looking for. And I felt completely horrible about it. Sorry, local merchant. You just can't compete with the selection and discounts of a regional chain.

On a happier note, Paige just recently discovered trees, thanks to the Christmas lights attached to them in the neighborhood. She went nuts when she saw a tree come in through the front door of her house. "Dad! What's that? Tree! Dad! What's that? Tree! Tree! TREE!! What's that? TREEEEE!!!!"

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Somewhere in the Between

Best. Artwork. Ever.

The three best ska albums of the past 10 years have all been written by the same man. Thomas Kalnoky has completed the trilogy with the recent release of Streetlight Manifesto's Somewhere in the Between. I could spend forever analyzing how this record fits into the Catch 22/Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution/Streetlight drama, but I'll stick to the music itself.

The album rocks. Standouts include "We Will Fall Together," "One Foot on the Grave," and "The Receiving End of It All." It has all of the crucial Streetlight elements: great horn lines, huge singalong hooks (some songs have multiple hooks, it's like an advertising campaign gone crazy) and lots of big, dramatic decrescendos. "One Foot on the Gas, One Foot in the Grave" also contains the best intro of any Streetlight song.

The record differs from previous works because of a greater percentage of upbeat tunes, even if they are about going to hell or watching life pass you by. ("Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Cafe," "Somewhere in the Between.")

With all of that said, this record is probably my least favorite of any of Kalnoky's work. I love it. It's solid. It's awesome. (It's got a few too many happy tracks for me, but I can deal with that.) Keasbey has set the bar so high. It would be next to impossible to beat Keasbey Nights. (Even Kalnoky couldn't beat it when he recorded it again.)

Somewhere in the Between
is a must-have for anyone who loves punk or ska or any of its combinations. And the band is coming to the SLC in January. I'll see you there.

We Will Fall Together

Daddy Daughter Time

Now that Paige is a nonstop chatterbox (she's always been a talker, now she just inserts actual words) here's an average chain of events and conversation when I'm babysitting.

Paige and I, sitting in the family room when she says, "Dah-rums?" She takes my hand and leads me to the door of the basement. We go downstairs.

Paige sits at the drumset and pounds away. She starts out with the drumsticks and I use the brushes. Every few seconds she says "trade" and we switch. When she hits the cymbals especially hard she looks at me and says "Good dah-rums?" I nod in approval. She gets bored after a few minutes and says, "Nino?"

Nino is her word for Play-Doh. We walk back upstairs and sit at the kitchen table to play nino. She sees the purple container and says "par-ple, par-ple, PARPLE!!!" I mold the play-doh into various shapes and she tells me all the names - circle, square, heart, diamond, etc. She can nino for quite a while, but she will invariably catch a glimpse of her halloween bucket on top of the fridge. At which point she says, "Can-dy?" I say no. "Can-dy?" No. "'Nacks?" (fruit snacks) No. "Shapes?" (her Baby Einstein Movie about shapes) No. "Yion?" (lion, a reference to the lion in the same movie) No. "Buh-bles?" I concede.

We go upstairs and I put her in the empty bathtub and blow bubbles at her. When she's had enough she says "Count?" which means she wants to count all of the assorted shampoos and soaps in the bathroom. I put them on the side of the tub and quiz her on the colors. She then counts each of them and tips them back over at me. She will play this game forever. The only way to make it end is for me to say to her "brush teeth?"

We stand and brush our teeth together - she will not brush hers until she sees that I brush mine. Her brushing consists of chewing on the bristles or eating the toothpaste off the brush. When we're finished, I rinse her mouth out three times (she sticks her tongue out and I put water on it), and then I pat her mouth dry. "Brush teeth" is officially done by Paige exclaiming "All clean!" At this point she looks at me and says "Nino?" And we start all over again.