Thursday, September 25, 2008

random music bulletpoints

1. Maybe i'm a decade or so late, but how fucking brilliant is "Creep" by Radiohead? I know OK Computer was their masterpiece and that their later work was maybe more interesting on a technical level, and maybe even that The Bends had more great melodies and structured songs, but on a purely emotional, lyrical level, i honestly don't think they've ever surpassed "Creep." I'm listening to the Brandi Carlile cover right now, and it's just incredible. It's one of Radiohead's most human songs, and it's just so on point on every level. Those lyrics, literally (she's too good for me) and metaphorically (what's the point of my even existing?), are deceptively deep, yet it's still catchy as hell and even transcendent toward the end-- Thom Yorke's voice, yo...

2. Speaking of Brandi Carlile, I know nothing about her, but i have a few of her songs and i love the cracks in her voice. That raggedness, even when she's oversinging (which i would do too if i had a voice like that) is so perfect.

3. I'm starting to think my favorite album of all time might be the first Mermaid Avenue album-- Billy Bragg, Wilco and Natalie Merchant singing Woodie Guthrie lyrics. If you haven't heard it, definitely check it out. I'm not a huge fan of any of those artists by themselves, but coupled with Guthrie's lyrics they really do a great job here.

4. I need to pick up that new Raphael Saadiq album. From what i've heard, it's lovely. "Still Ray" is one of my favorite songs, and we all love Tony Toni Tone, but the rest of his work has been underwhelming to me. I have a feeling this album will be something special, though.

5. Be sure to check out Big Cats' "Sleep Tapes," an instrumental hip hop album. He's produced for Sage Francis and others, and we're currently working together on a full-length concept album that's going to be rifuckingdamndiculous.

6. In other local news, the new Haley Bonar album, "Big Star," is really good. For those of you outside the Twin Cities, you may not have heard of her. But definitely check her out on Itunes or MySpace or whatever, especially if you like that alt-country singer/songwriter stuff. I generally don't, actually, but Bonar has such interesting lyrics and such a unique delivery that she won me over. Her older albums are also worth checking out. "Am I Allowed" is probably my favorite song of hers.

7. Upcoming shows: the Soapboxing Poetry Slam season opener is Monday, 10/6 at 8pm at the Artists' Quarter in St. Paul. I'll be competing there. On Saturday, 10/11, i'll be playing with Junkyard Empire and Face Candy for the former's CD release show at the Nomad. Finally, we're having a CD release show on Halloween at the New Acadia Cafe as part of KFAI's MN Soundtrack. Details to come.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

new reviews: Common Market, Kings of Leon

Review of Common Market's "Tobacco Road"

Review of Kings of Leon's "Only By the Night"

Both are up now at Culture Bully. I was maybe a bit too hard on Common Market, who are a great hip hop act and have a very solid album on their hands, but I stand by what I wrote. The more I listen to the album, though, the more I really like it.

As for the second link, reviewing non-hip hop acts is fun because I don't get so bogged down in politics and context-based stuff-- it's really just about "is the music cool, or not?" May not win me any journalism awards, but it's fun.

Lots more on the way.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

in the City Pages

Here's a feature on the upcoming slam season, featuring a walk-through of one of my poems.

And no, I didn't write it. It's in this week's City Pages.

This is cool. I'm exciting about building the slam scene this year-- getting more audience, getting more poets to perform, expanding the base, so to speak. These days, it's not cool for a poet to enjoy slam; the fashionable attitude is that you do it for a while and then "grow out of it." But it's been a lot of fun this past year and has definitely made me a better writer, not just a better performer. And the TC scene is, as Matthew says in the article, pretty great. There's a lot of work to do, but we have a firm foundation to build on.

I'll be competing at the Artists' Quarter in St. Paul on October 6th at 8pm. I'll be just getting back from Madison this coming Sunday, so will miss the Parkway slam this month, and I'm not sure when the next Kieran's slam is but I want to try to make it that one too. Hope to see lots of people out this year.

Monday, September 01, 2008

a few RNC protest thoughts

The crowd seemed smaller than expected, but the space was really big too so i have no idea how many people actually showed up. The march was relatively short, though i had to do it one and a half times for various reasons and my feet hurt like hell. Here's a shot of me performing on the main stage:

Obligatory police photo:
Didn't witness any major run-ins with the police, though a segment of the march got a little crazy and there was some pepper spray and all that. Those big sticks are pretty crazy.

And another shot of me performing:

All in all, it was an interesting day. As much as i support large-scale marches and protests, i think they all could be improved organizationally. I'm working on an article along those lines that i'll forward to the appropriate people. The one thing i said before i performed was that i really believe all this marching is next to worthless if people don't take this energy and excitement back with them to their own communities and build/organize there. Hopefully that happens. Election years can wreak havoc on organizing communities, as good activists are sucked into the campaign machine, which IS important, but also distracts from the work that needs to be done every day.

Lots more articles and thoughts coming up.

Oh and the link to the free mixtape will go live very soon, i promise.