Monday, December 17, 2007

Santa Rampage

On Saturday night, Cathy and I joined in what I expect will become a new tradition for us: The Santa Rampage.

A whole mess of people get dressed up in Santa-inspired costumes and do an organized bar crawl, getting free cover and drink specials all over town.

The getups ranged from sexy to creepy to silly and back to sexy again.

Funny how a costume strips away inhibition.

Big fun.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Top Ten Albums of 2007

This is always hard, but this year's crop has proven especially difficult to cull. But, at long last, I've made the tough decisions and whittled the 20 down to 10. So, here they are, plus lots of extra categories so that I didn't have to completely leave these things off.

Please send me yours as well. Happy 2007.

Top Ten Albums of 2007

1. The National ~ Boxer
2. Radiohead ~ In Rainbows
3. LCD Soundsystem ~ Sound of Silver
4. The Octopus Project ~ Hello Avalanche
5. Blonde Redhead ~ 23
6. Matthew Dear ~ Asa Breed
7. The Twilight Sad ~ Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters
8. Spoon ~ Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
9. MIA ~ Kala
10. Les Savy Fav ~ Let’s Stay Friends

Indie Greats That Should Have Made It But Didn’t
Arcade Fire ~ Neon Bible
The Ponys ~ Turn the Lights Out
The Shins ~ Wincing the Night Away
Band of Horses ~ Cease to Begin
Menomena ~ Friend and Foe
Earlimart ~ Mentor Tormentor
Dinosaur Jr. ~ Beyond
Okkervil River ~ The Stage Names*

Other Great Stuff That Would Have Made a Top 20 List
Manu Chao ~ La Radiolina
The Gourds ~ Noble Creatures
Feist ~ The Reminder

Experimental / Electronic Music and Other Slightly Odd Stuff That I Love
Burial ~ Untrue
Fridge ~ The Sun
Subtle ~ Yell & Ice
Deerhoof ~ Friend Opportunity
Artanker Convoy ~ Cozy Endings
Trans Am ~ Sex Change

Records From Fave Bands That Were Really Good But Not Great
Cloud Cult ~ The Meaning of 8
Iron & Wine ~ The Shepherd’s Dog
We Are Wolves ~ Total Magique
Art Brut ~ It’s a Bit Complicated
Caribou ~ Andorra
Wilco ~ Sky Blue Sky
The Sea and Cake ~ Everybody
New Pornographers ~ Challengers
!!! ~ Myth Takes

New Stuff That Turned My Head
Yeasayer ~ All Hour Cymbals
Kevin Drew ~ Spirit If…
St. Vincent ~ Marry Me
Shout Out Louds ~ Our Ill Wills

Big New To Me Discoveries
Apparat ~ Walls
Blitzen Trapper ~ Wild Mountain Nation
Manu Chao ~ La Radiolina

Soundtracks That Stood Out
Into the Wild

Albums That I Looked Forward To But Didn’t Much Care For
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah ~ Some Loud Thunder
Bloc Party ~ A Weekend In the City

Huge Phenomena About Which I Remain Ignorant
Amy Winehouse

*(UPDATE: After being called on it no less than 4 times, I admit that I totally forgot about Okkervil River's new one. I feel shame. So I've added it. Sorry.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

LOL President

Ever seen this site?

Some weird and funny shit. Photos captioned out of context and in horrible weird grammar.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Got Your Top Ten Yet?

Mine's coming end of this week. Lots to choose from this year. An embarrassment of riches.

Let's compare, shall we?

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Conservative's Case for Obama

I can't help but wonder lately what rational Republicans and conservatives are thinking about their options in the upcoming Republican primaries. I mean, being of the more liberal bent myself, of course I view the slate of candidates as a godawful collection of mean spirited liars and warmongers--with a couple exceptions. Ron Paul is a lunatic but he's antiwar. And Mike Huckabee--well, I'm not really sure what to make of him.

At the same time, I wonder whether those on the American right are able to look across the divide and give any of the Democratic candidates an honest and objective look. Recently, I've gained hope. Cathy's cousin Tim has come to the hard-gained, thoughtful, and difficult conclusion that Obama deserves his support and assistance. And while I applaud his objectivity and willingness to set partisanship aside, I hold no illusions that this will happen with any significant number of US conservatives.

But a leading conservative thinker and journalist has inspired a little bit of hope.

This blog post by Andrew Sullivan links to this article, also by Sullivan, and both go a long way in revealing how Barack Obama appeals to the conservative voter. And while I'm biased to start with, it all makes perfect sense to me. Rather than try to summarize Sullivan's points, I'll let you read the article and see what you think for yourself. But I will offer my own perspective.

For me a large part of my decision to support Obama lies simply in the sense of hope I feel around what an Obama presidency could foster. The hope is similar to what I felt in 92 during Clinton's campaign, but it's not the same. Clinton, while a charismatic person and a brilliant politician, was as much a part of the Us v. Them political system as his predecessor. He brought the Democratic party closer to the center, but it was still purely a D v. R thing.

I don't pretend to think that Obama can cure partisan politics. To a certain extent, we need partisan politics. But the fact is that the partisanship of the Boomer generation has crippled our government and our country and has left us unable not only to have any substantial political discourse, but unable to really do anything of significance at home or abroad (launching a pre-emptive strike against a sovereign nation notwithstanding...).

Boomer politics are poisonous, plain and simple, and it's time for them to give up the reins. Obama is not of those politics. He is also not of the Civil Rights movement or the Vietnam era. His politics and viewpoints and education are largely post- these things, which gives him a freedom we need in a leader. (Dude's got a MySpace page, for pete's sake.) Newness is possible with Obama, both in thinking and acting on domestic issues and in how the world perceives the USA.

Check out the article above. There are many great points, from the simplicity of what Obama's face can accomplish to the importance of his complicated but thoroughly modern-America life story. He offers what no other candidate on either side of the aisle can really offer: A chance to start again, and to get it right.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Frozen Singletrack

Went for a great ride this morning up through the Reserve and around Shane's Loop. The trail was still frozen solid at 9:30, and the sun made the cold temps not so cold.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Come On Snow

It's started, but we're not quite there yet. Here's an image from the webcam looking down the line of the Pine Creek Chair up at Bogus Basin. It's sunny up there, above the ocean of clouds blanketing the city. Gorgeous. Can't wait to hit that mountain.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Practice New Year's Eve Party

To all-a-y'all out here in the BID, there's a big party this weekend that you should not miss. It's a fundraiser for Boise Community Radio, and this time the funds are for something very specific: To get us on the air!

That's right. We've filed out application, and all that stands between us and turning this internet-only affair into a full-blown presence on your FM dial is the technicality of an approval from the FCC and a pile of dough.

This is a Practice New Year's Eve Party. We'll have live music from locals The Universal, The Invasion, and more, as well as DJs spinning between sets. I'll likely have a set later in the evening, around 11-12ish, of seminal 90s indie rock, techno, and IDM. Plus, every hour on the hour, we'll do a countdown and ball drop, closing another decade and moving to the next, all the way up to the Oughts.

Come on down and rock out or get yr dance on with us. It was a blast last year, and it should be even better this year.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Burial ~ Untrue

The second full-length release from Burial, called Untrue, is an intriguing and affecting affair. Dark, somewhat hyper and frantic, and infused with a foreboding and dread that is hard to put a finger on, this is the stuff of creepy lucid dreams or long half-awake subway rides.

In "Near Dark," an altered female voice intones over and over "I can't take my eyes off you," spread and filtered over a quick and skittery beat, surrounded by echoing tones and shifting reverbs, creating more a feeling than a reaction, more a sense than an understanding.

This is common to the whole record: Burial creates fleeting sounds that leave lasting impressions. There are few to no identifiable melodies in these songs, and not many decipherable lyrics, but none of these are necessary to adequately internalize the music. You can't dance to it, you can't sing it in your car, but you can walk around with this stuff echoing in your head, slightly disturbed and put off, anxious to give it another spin.

Friday, November 23, 2007


It's been some years since I've cooked Thanksgiving dinner, and I wasn't about to start up again this year. Instead, Cathy and I made the rounds, stopping in at friends' and family's houses, hopping from dinner table to dinner table.

We started out at Richard and Allison's place, where we had a glass of fortified and fizzy cranberry apple cider while watching them get the first steps of dinner preparation underway.

Then we drove out Hill Road to my brother John's place for dinner #1. He's perfected his brining method, and along with some pumpkin gnocchi, two kinds of stuffing, steamed veggies, mashed potatoes, and the mandatory baker hat biscuits, this could have been his best holiday dinner yet.

At Sara's parents' house, we had some lovely wine from the Duoro valley as we stood around the kitchen island watching them go through the final prep for the meal, thickening gravy, carving the bird, filling glasses.

Then on to Chuck and Chris' place, where we spent our 5th Thanksgiving dinner with a dozen or so friends. Dueling turkeys were both fantastic, the gravy was divine, and the wine flowed freely. A great meal and a great time that lasted well into the night. So long, in fact, that Pong became a spectator sport.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Band of Horses

This five-piece, formerly three-piece, played the Neurolux on Sunday night to a sold-out house. In fact, the tickets sold out some time ago, an odd thing if you consider that the last couple times the band played here they played to a receptive and even enthusiastic but only half to two-thirds filled room.

But there's no doubt they deserved it. The new record, Cease to Begin, while not as immediately captivating as their debut, is a grower. The songs are solid, the melodies memorable, and the performances admirable, singer Ben Bridwell's voice as clear and ringing and powerful as on plastic. Still, there's something different in them, which could be traced to the departure of one founding member and the band's subsequent move to South Carolina from Seattle. There's a different feel, as if the country-infused indie rock of the debut has been turned on its head.

Anyway, the show rocked. They trounced their way through tracks off both albums about equally, shredding Is There A Ghost? as thoroughly as Funeral, The Great Salt Lake as gorgeous and fresh as Ode to the LRC. And the crowd responded. Fists raised, singing along, swaying and grasping themselves in an ecstatic musical state that usually doesn't come around on Sunday nights.

I worry that we'll see these guys less now that they're true Southern gentlemen, but if that's the cost to get shows like these, so be it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cram It

Check out the new digs:

Over the weekend, my stuff was moved from my small office to my tiny brand new cubicle space. See, being that my team is working on the "cutting edge" products, top brass thought it prudent to build a new workspace, innovative in its design and conducive to collaboration and creative thinking.

So we got cubes. And now we've got all the space and air and feng shui that was available to Julie the Time-Life operator. Almost.

Funny that everyone who's come to check the new space out is struck silent before offering sympathy or condolences.

I'll try and keep tabs here on how my Dilbertification affects my psyche or current level of job satisfaction. I have a pretty good idea how this will go, but I'll try to stay open minded.

If only I could turn around without banging my leg or head on something...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Candidate Test

I've taken a couple of these things, but none of them really had a depth of question that would suggest solid results. This one was a bit better than the others, and though I don't really know who this Alan Auguston person is, and I'd have hoped for a better ranking for Colbert, the rest of it seems pretty reasonable to me.

If I can't have the ideal, I'll take Barack. Link to the test below.

2008 President Selector


1. Theoretical Ideal Candidate (100 %)

2. Barack Obama (76 %)

3. Alan Augustson (campaign suspended) (76 %)

4. Dennis Kucinich (70 %)

5. Joseph Biden (67 %)

6. Christopher Dodd (67 %)

7. Hillary Clinton (67 %)

8. John Edwards (66 %)

9. Wesley Clark (not running, endorsed Clinton) (64 %)

10. Al Gore (not announced) (63 %)

11. Michael Bloomberg (says he will not run) (56 %)

12. Mike Gravel (55 %)

13. Bill Richardson (52 %)

14. Ron Paul (43 %)

15. Elaine Brown (36 %)

16. Kent McManigal (campaign suspended) (36 %)

17. Mike Huckabee (32 %)

18. Rudolph Giuliani (28 %)

19. John McCain (27 %)

20. Tommy Thompson (withdrawn, endorsed Giuliani) (23 %)

21. Mitt Romney (22 %)

22. Alan Keyes (20 %)

23. Fred Thompson (18 %)

24. Chuck Hagel (not running) (16 %)

25. Jim Gilmore (withdrawn) (16 %)

26. Sam Brownback (withdrawn, endorsed McCain) (15 %)

27. Tom Tancredo (15 %)

28. Newt Gingrich (says he will not run) (13 %)

29. Duncan Hunter (12 %)

30. Stephen Colbert (campaign ended) (6 %)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I know who the guy on the right is. That's Ian MacKaye of legendary DC band Fugazi. He's also half of The Evens, a great new guitar-drums duo.

But who's that goof with him?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Camera Phone Sunrise

These things are always so much more impressive in person.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Weekend in November

It's been yet another amazingly lovely fall weekend here in Boise. A weekend of hanging out, taking it easy, and dogs.

Outside right now it's chilly and sunny, the leaves are carpeting the sidewalks and streets, and every sprinkle of rain brings the anticipation of snow. We've had a couple dustings so far, but nothing that's stuck.

This has been a weekend in slow motion, sort of, easing into it with a day working at home, then lingering over dinner Friday night after the ride. Yesterday was spent on errands and projects around the house, walking the dogs, hanging out. Today I got a ride in, a short windy road ride, I hung a cuckoo clock, I made breakfast. Now we sit in a coffee shop, reading and typing, drinking coffee and watching the sun drop and the shadows get long. It's 4:30 and I can already feel it sliding toward evening.

We're watching Woody, our friend James' yellow lab, for about a week or so. He's a great dog, as labby as lab could be, and it's a pleasure to have him around. But having a third dog around always reminds me that there is such a thing as too much dog. It's nice for a while, but I can't imagine living with more dog than we have already. Still and all, he's such a good dog it's fun to have him in the house.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lit Up

It's been a long while since I've strapped on the helmet light and rode trail in the dark. I'd forgotten just how intense and invigorating an experience it is.

Varner and I went out and rode 3 Bears around 6pm last night. Wonderful ride. The air was a bit chilly but out of the wind, as we seemed to be everywhere but at the bottom, it was perfect riding weather.

The long climb up was enjoyable until we hit the Bears themselves, and when David climbed away from me a bit I found myself alone in my little circle of light and remembered, too, that riding in the dark sometimes creeps me out a bit. The coyote whoops surrounding us didn't relieve that sense, but it was really cool to hear so close.

The descent, once I got used to going downhill with these lights on again, was fantastic, very focused, skimming the sandy surface and trying to keep my vision trained out ahead, not on that shadow of the front wheel, not on the big rocks and loose rubble that pop into the light and demand attention.

David took a tumble on the Buck Trail, soon after I took the lead, but it was a flatland affair and other than a scraped arm and being a bit shaken up there was no damage. It was a real kick descending for so long into the sea of lights in the city below us. Great views, and the perfect trails for it.

I'm gonna have to try to do this more often.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New on the Range

UPDATE: Apparently, there are technical difficulties down at the studio. Sorry, for anyone's trying to listen. It woulda been good, too.

Howdy peeps. Tune in to Range Life on Friday for a whole mess of wonderful new music.

I've been busy in hunter-gatherer mode lately, and I've come up with some juicy morsels. Perhaps most exciting of all, We Are Wolves have released a new record, called Total Magique, and it's as raucous and fun as you'd hope.

I've also grabbed the new one from Yeasayer, called All Hour Cymbals, and it's an interesting piece of music, leaning from indie rock into that weird space between Animal Collective style freak folk and something a bit more subdued and psychedelic.

I've also got a new old CD from Manual, an electronic artist formerly of the Morr Music roster, the debuts from HEALTH and A Place to Bury Strangers, and the solo debut from Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene fame.

A recent trip to Other Music in NYC left me with some shit-hot tracks as well, and I'll keep spinning selections from a dynamite Morr Music comp, a collection of DFA remixes, and a crazy-ass electronic long-form composition by Nobekazu Takemura called Sign. Great stuff. And keep an ear out for a classic of classics in electronic jams from Underworld. Raise your arms, duff duff!

Also newish: Radiohead, Beirut, Stars of the Lid, Eddie Vedder, Les Savy Fav, and so much more. Check in, won't you?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My Uncle Bob

I believe everyone should have an Uncle Bob. It seems most people do, actually, which is a good thing. I've been lucky enough in life to have two of them, one on each side of the family.

Recently, though, I lost one of them, my Uncle Bob Hess, from the north side of Chicago. He was a great guy, and though I haven't been able to see him or my Aunt Dottie much since I bolted Illinois for Texas and now Idaho, I'm finding that I miss him.

Uncle Bob was my closest uncle growing up. We spent all major holidays together, as well as birthdays, family milestones religious and otherwise, and every single Christmas Eve I can remember during my childhood, switching off years between his place in Chicago and ours in the suburbs. I have vivid memories of falling asleep in the car on the way home, every single year, watching the city lights slide past through the blackness outside the car windows. His daughter, my cousin Kim, spent summers with us through middle school and high school. He was the oldest of four sons; my dad the youngest.

I find it frustrating to try and fail at remembering stories or specific profound events revolving around my Uncle Bob. But then, I have no shortage of images and memories involving him, and in fact most recollections of holidays or parties have him smiling in the background. He was a presence, a happy and calm being in the room who always called me and my brothers Butch or Tiger, and we loved it. His answer to any impatient kid question of When can we open presents? or When's dinner? or When can we have dessert? was a patient "After while." That says a lot about my Uncle Bob. Nothing was so important that it couldn't wait until after the football game or after one last cup of coffee or just to wait, to wait until the extended family unit was ready to move on to the next item on the day's unspoken schedule.

I flew to Chicago last weekend for my Uncle Bob's funeral. It was wonderful to see everyone, if a bit disorienting, to be transported back from my life in Boise to the midst of all these people who I hadn't seen for so long, to suddenly be in the middle of one of these gigantic family gatherings, surrounded by cousins and aunts and uncles and family friends and my Godfather (Bob's son), but to not have Uncle Bob there, the quiet patriarch at the center of it all. I'm glad I went, but I feel changed because of it. Older. And I feel more distinctly now being separated from family by miles.

My Uncle Bob was an anchor to my family and my past. He was a constant, a benevolent human being who was a truly good guy. And in a world lacking in good guys, his loss is that much more profound.

Uncle Bob, you are missed. I hope to see you again. After while.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Down Time

Hello out there.

Again I've been remiss in putting the things here that I want to put here. It's been a rough couple weeks, including a short-notice trip to Chicago last weekend for the funeral of my Uncle Bob. More on that later.

I'm working on finishing up the New York tale, and there's lots more to say beyond that. So check back. I'll get it together.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, NYC 10.07

After getting our chicken and waffle on at the M&G diner in Harlem, we made or way to the bus stop to catch our ride to Randall's Island for the big big show. The trip over was quick and easy, and we arrived at the gates early. Quite a bit early. So we waited and waited in a tight throng of indie kids until they let us in around 3:30.

The concert venue at Randall's Island is essentially a ginormous field connected to a huge paved rectangular area at least a couple hundred meters across and twice that deep fronted by a tall girdered bandshell. Not exactly what we were hoping for, but plenty of room and easy access to beer and food.

Besides, later, when the Arcade Fire hit the stage to send the already ecstatic hordes into orbit, mere details like the asphalt underfoot wouldn't matter.

But first, out of New Hampshire, Wild Light. In a word: Lame. Perhaps I'm being too hard on them, but their Wallflowers meets Midnight Oil vibe just wasn't doing it for me. They looked like rock stars, but they were just plain boring, pedestrian lyrics made all too clear and intelligible in the vocal heavy mix, with the same description applying to the rhythm guitar. And no matter. Les Savy Fav was next.

Tim Harrington moved as quickly from normally dressed to costumed to half naked to costumed again (this time in a leotard with the nervous system printed on it, far as I could tell) as he did from flailing about the stage to wandering in the crowd to flailing about the stage again, and again. He was all frenetic magnificent energy, romping through plenty of new stuff off Let's Stay Friends (Raging in the Plague Age stood way out) and reaching way back past Inches (The Sweat Descends!) to ROME and beyond to drop some Who Rocks the Party on us real quick like. A great set, even if the sound and maniacal presence were somewhat unavoidably tamed by the size of the stage.

Blonde Redhead followed, as the sky darkened a bit, and their all-red lightshow matched well to the darker, more ethereal and mysterious feel of their new record, 23. The threesome stayed with the new release for most of their set, and this was a good thing, the set bound together by common vibe and sound more than I've felt with them before. Even if the new one is more poppy and accessible, adjectives some wield as condescension but I feel serves them well this time round, the show was magnificent, the mood sustained and the songs memorable to the last.

When LCD Soundsystem took the stage, launching straight into Get Innocuous off their latest, the crowd blew up. James Murphy's sort of solo recording act is a full-on dead-righteous band in the live setting, up to 4 or 5 people playing percussion at any given time, and Murphy himself with charisma to burn. The songs were long and knocked out with unflagging energy every time, from the showstopper North American Scum to the first album's Tribulations. The light show was hot, and the band obviously thrilled to be back home after a long time on the road.

Us v Them was a nonstop dance party, and Someone Great was sublime, ringing through the doorbell melody and accentuating the lightly plodding bottom. They ended with New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down, of course, and it was a fitting end to a brilliant set.

It'd be hard to imagine having to follow this band on this night, but when the Arcade Fire is headlining, the wonder stops pretty quick. It'd been since Sasquatch two years previous that I'd seen them, and I found myself as excited as the first time as they took the stage. They started a bit slowly, with Black Mirror off their new one, but there'd be no disappointing this crowd tonight. Keep the Car Running was right on its heels, and that one elevated the assembly to the heights they'd been expecting. From there on, it was relentless. Haiti, Power Out, Intervention, I'm Sleeping In a Submarine, No Cars Go, they just kept coming. They closed the set with Antichrist Television Blues, powerfully, and came back out for a few more, including the showstopper Wake Up.

The Arcade Fire play every song like the world will end with its final crescendo. Who knows how long they can keep that up, or how long we'll rise and fall with their every move. From the looks of this show, from the sound of this band, the end is nowhere in sight.

(photos horked from,0740arcadefire,77987,3.html?pic=1&total=39)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Catching Up

Although the New York trip lasted a day longer than we'd planned, we did get back just fine, and we've been so busy since then I haven't had time to write a single thing about the trip. But I've got notes, and I'll be putting them and some pics together very soon and posting it to the travel blog. Here, I'll make extensive note of the Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem show we caught while in NYC.

But not tonight, as Interpol and Liars are playing the Big Easy. I'll be doing that instead, thanks.

Other things of note to be hitting this blog soon:
  • Thoughts on Radiohead's In Rainbows.
  • Updates on Boise Community Radio's progress toward obtaining a license and frequency.
  • Notes on Les Savy Fav's Let's Stay Friends.
Check back, would ya?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Cathy and I are in New York City for a week, visiting friends, seeing music, and eating everything. Check back later for a full report.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Zambrano takes the mound tonight in the opening game of the National League Division Series. The Cubs face the Arizona Diamondbacks, and it looks to be a promising series.

The NL is looking ripe for the taking. Could we be looking at a Red Sox-Cubs world series? That'd be something.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Shepherd's Dog

Hill Country transplant Sam Beam, aka Iron and Wine, has released his newest record for Sub Pop. It's called The Shepherd's Dog, and though I haven't got hands or ears on it yet, early reports are strongly favorable.

I've been a fan of Beam for a short while, and was totally convinced of his talents after hearing his collaboration with Calexico of last year.

Check out my man Dan Oko's piece on Beam, his music, his art, and his new home, on the cover of the Austin Chronicle.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Weekend In THE City

Cathy and I are headed to NYC this weekend. I've never been there, if you can believe that, so I'm incredibly terribly really excited. I mean, really excited.

The main reason for the trip is to catch the rock show of the decade: Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, and Blonde Redhead. We've been scouting the opportunity to catch AF and LCD on tour together, and had just about bought tickets to Denver to see them at Red Rocks when we found out that Les Savy Fav and Blonde Redhead were joining the bill on Randall Island in New York.

Cathy got in touch with our wonderful friend Heidi who is gracious enough to put us up, and the deal was done.

We'll catch music and eat our way across the city.

I hope to take plenty of photos and do some writing over on the travel blog, if you care to check in there. Also, if you have interest, Cathy will soon be putting together some words and pictures from her recent trip to Burma over on that blog.

Check it out.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Bullets Fly

It was a matter of time before the military government of Myanmar (Burma) lost its cool. And now it's happening.

Monks are being beaten and arrested, and protesters are being shot by police. In full view of the world, a peaceful uprising of democracy-hungry Burmese people and their religious leaders is being violently shut down..

The images are stunning, and the stories get worse and worse. And unfortunately, with China standing in the way of any international action, I can't see how the UN or anyone else will be able to do anything about this.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Burmese Pressure Cooker

It's impossible to say right now whether the people of Myanmar (Burma) are taking the first dramatic steps toward political change and democracy, or if the government and military are just waiting to react, but whichever way it goes, there is something big stirring in Southeast Asia.

The images coming out of the country are striking--monsoon-soaked monks marching through the streets of the nation's cities in full scarlet robes, at first alone and observed, now joined by increasing hordes of citizens. They turn their "begging bowls" upside-down in a gesture packed with significance. Myanmar is a heavily Buddhist country, the monks widely revered, and turning the bowl upside-down means they accept no alms from and perform no rites or services for military and government personnel.

Americans claim to be intensely religious, but I think this gesture is largely lost on us. This is a huge thing for Buddhists, on par with being excommunicated from the church, though I still don't think that goes far enough in translating the importance.

This article in the NY Times covers the current situation and offers links to the stories that have charted this movement's progress up until now.

We, who take democracy and freedom for granted even while we claim to fight for it, who view politics as a series of soundbites and tawdry tabloid snippets, who decide on the person and administration we want to run out nation based on such subjective bullshit as family values and whether or not the person is for or against gay people getting married, could learn a lot from these folks about what freedom means.

(Image taken from The New York Times.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


In many cases, moving from experimental music toward the mainstream, in however small an increment, can be disastrous. Fans turn against you, critics slam your lack of principle, and fans you might gain will generally only engage you cursorily, abandoning you as soon as the next Modest Mouse release trundles along.

Not so Blonde Redhead, at least as far as I can tell. Their new release, 23, has been a grower for me.

To be fair, I've only recently come around to Blonde Redhead. While there have been tracks that have clicked with me and I've seen them do some solid shows, it wasn't until I saw them open for Interpol and gave Misery Is a Butterfly a really close listen that I felt like I was getting it. And then, of course, wandering through their back catalog brings about all sorts of epiphanies and rewards.

23, though, for all its change in tone and structure and its migration toward the middle, has really grabbed me. From the outset, the title track puts Kazu Makino's ethereal vocals at the fore of the mix, which is a good thing. The strong, spacey melodies they've developed their songs around for this record swath her voice in a cozy nest of sound, both nurturing her breathiness and strengthening her enunciations. It's a fantastic balance, made stronger by the sturdiness of the tunes.

Perhaps the new sound is a result of the change in producer, as no shift from Guy Picciato (of Fugazi) to Alan Moulder (producer for U2, NIN, and the friggin Smashing Pumpkins) could go by unnoticed. But it's not just the sound; the songs have shifted as well, focusing more on the flow and fluidity of each song and melody more than the breaking down of those things.

The record is largely midtempo, and while Amedeo Pace does get some time at lead, neither small shifts in tone nor a different singer break the mood of the whole.

If you've already come to love Blonde Redhead, this album might be a shock to your system. But accept that bands evolve and change--and that this very well may not be where BR stays--and you will no doubt enjoy this. And if you're new to the band, this is an accessible inroad to their music. Start here and work backward.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cubs Tops in NL Central

Here's a surprise for anyone not following along.

It's mid-September, and the Cubs are in 1st place. They're a game up on the Brewers going into the last dozen games of the year. That's exciting news.

Tonight we start a 6-game homestand, first the Reds and then the Pirates. That's what you call the catbird seat.

How long can we put the heartbreak off? It'll be exciting to find out. Stay tuned.

George Tops in Missouri

Big George Hincapie came through in his final race for Discovery Channel to win the Tour of Missouri.

Not the biggest race in the world, but a solid overall victory for Hincapie. This is the inaugural edition of the new week-long tour, which is big in itself. But even bigger, Team Disco is over, and George is going out on top.

Next year he'll be in the big pink of T-Mobile, and while that'll be a big big change, gone are the days when pink and black stood for the German dynasty. They're up-and-comers now, focusing on racing clean and developing the next generation of pro riders.

George has a valuable role to play. Strong as he is, and destined though he was to play a perennial supporting role, he'll be of utmost value to teaching the young guys how it's done in the bigs. I can't imagine a better mentor.

Congrats, George.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New on the Range

New music rains down on the Range this week.

We got the good stuff, and we're sharing it with you.

New music from Modest Mouse, Wilco, New Pornographers, MIA, Earlimart, Editors, Artanker Convoy, St. Vincent, Manu Chao, Thee More Shallows, Imperial Teen, White Stripes, Minus the Bear, and more.

Join me Friday from 1 to 3 mountain time, won't you?