Saturday, February 28, 2009

Levi Busts A** in Tour of California

Remember this crash? When Levi overlapped Lance's rear wheel and went down in the middle of the pack? He was up and running in no time, but it still looked nasty.

Turns out it was. He fractured his sacrum (the "large triangular bone at the base of the spine") in the fall and rode on to victory nursing the injury, not realizing how bad it was.

Pic and story at VeloNews

An exciting day...

I know how I'll be spending my afternoon and evening.

Get This Album

The newest compilation from the Red Hot Organization is amazing. It defies the normal rules of charity comps--namely, that it's all really good.

Red Hot's got a better reputation than most when it comes to putting these out. They did Red Hot + Blue, the Cole Porter covers record back in the 90s. They also did No Alternative, an amazing record that gave us new or obscure tracks from some of the best around at the time. I know that a lot of people still listen to that one, front to back.

Dark Is the Night deserves the same honored place on the shelf. You'll listen to this a lot. There are very few >>'s here. New stuff from The Arcade Fire, Feist, The National, Bon Iver, Ben Gibbard, Yeasayer, My Brightest Diamond, an absolutely epic track from Sufjan Stevens, Decemberists, Beirut--this just goes on and on. (Cat Power, Andrew Bird, Sharon Jones, Blonde Redhead, ok that's enough.) And the tracks are solid across the board.

They're raising money for AIDS awareness and research. You get a heap of great new music. Don't you love it when everybody wins?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wait a minute...

This doesn't look like what the Chicken Littles of right wingery are saying. Think they know they're the fringe minority?

From Sullivan

Touch and Gone

I've been remiss in not writing about this sooner, because this is huge. OK, it's not as huge as it was when Pitchfork first came out with the story, but the revised version, though not as tragic, is still pretty big.

So, on with it.

Touch and Go, the venerable Chicago record label that's been as important as anyone in the formation and development of indie rock, will stop releasing new music and will close its distribution arm.

The original report said essentially that the label was shutting down. But Pitchfork has since printed this update:

UPDATE: Touch and Go has clarified the information it gave to Pitchfork. We were originally told that the label will no longer be releasing new music. However, the label has since clarified that it hopes to once again release new music at some point in the future, once the dust has settled from the restructuring brought about by the shuttering of its distribution arm.

So, as I said, not as dire as we thought, but still. Just the fact that this label is getting hit may not be surprising, but it's upsetting nonetheless. I mean (and here I insert the obligatory roll call that would appear in any post about this label), Slint? TV on the Radio? Talk about spanning the arc of indie rock. In between there's been Calexico, Mekons, Jesus Lizard, Shellac, Butthole Surfers, Dirty Three, Big Black, Girls Against Boys, Don Caballero, June of 44, silkworm, For Carnation, !!!, and oh so much more. I know, right? It's sick.

And if you're wondering what that distribution arm bit might mean, I'm not really sure. Labels who took care of their distribution through Touch and Go include Merge, Kill Rock Stars, Drag City, Suicide Squeeze and Jade Tree, among others, so all those folks will have to find someone else to produce and ship their stuff. No small order, that.

Everything changes. But we still need Touch and Go. It's the roots. It's an anchor that keeps this unruly and far-ranging beast we love tethered to the earth. It's just great to have such a trustworthy, reliable, steadfast part of this whole world still around and still vital.

But, there's hope. New music could still come. Let the dust begin to settle.

Obama's Budget

I have not read through the budget. (God, can you imagine?) But I've read quite a bit about it. And it's not surprising that so many people are upset with it. To that, I say, Good.

From the NY Times editorial:

The Obama budget — a bold, even radical departure from recent history, wrapped in bureaucratic formality and statistical tables — would sharply raise taxes on the rich, beyond where Bill Clinton had raised them. It would reduce taxes for everyone else, to a lower point than they were under either Mr. Clinton or George W. Bush. And it would lay the groundwork for sweeping changes in health care and education, among other areas.

More than anything else, the proposals seek to reverse the rapid increase in economic inequality over the last 30 years.

Not fair, you say? The wealthy pay most of the taxes, you say? So? That's because they have most of the money.

Over the last three decades, the pretax incomes of the wealthiest households have risen far more than they have for other households, while the tax rates for top earners have fallen more than they have for others, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The fact is that many people will be unhappy--irate and furious, actually--about Obama's budget. To them I'd say, Sorry. And then, Tough sh*t. The disparity between the haves and have-nots in this country is out of control, and it's about time someone took bold steps to change that. Obama's taken those steps. I hope it works. And if it does, I imagine those who are upset at this budget will not change their tune. I think most of us can live with that.

Happy Friday

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Think about this for a second...

Faced with the economic problems we now are, broke as we now are, perhaps it's finally time to end the senseless other prohibition we've been living with for decades now, forged of ignorance, perpetuated by political opportunism, kept alive by fear.

According to the Guardian, decriminalization of marijuana in California has been introduced as legislation:

The bill by San Francisco representative Tom Ammiano, would legalise the cultivation, possession and sale of marijuana by people 21 and older. It would charge growers and wholesalers a $5,000 (£3,400) initial franchise fee and a $2,500 annual renewal fee, and would levy a $50 per ounce fee on retailers.

The law, which would make California the first state to legalise marijuana, would inject an estimated $13bn a year in revenue into California's empty coffers.

13 billion a year. A year. And that's just California. What about Kentucky, where marijuana is the biggest cash crop? What about Texas, Oregon, Idaho? And what of the money we'll save and the prison space we won't need if these petty pot criminals are no longer criminals?

This is big agricultural business. It is happening, whether we want it to be or not. It will continue to happen. And we are not benefiting from it. It's a huge industry that operates completely off the books. Why not bring it into the light of day and get the huge tax revenues of this ready-made industry quickly?

There is no way that this doesn't make sense. I think it's time we wake up. Whatever your personal opinion of marijuana, the use of it for personal or medical reasons, I don't see how we can deny the good sense of this. At the very least, it's time to get beyond the reefer madness and have an adult discussion about it.


Headlining Sasquatch, eh? Might be worth the trip...

This is from a super secret gig this past weekend. Yeah, like this band can exist without Eric A's bass.

I imagine it'd take Perry some time to get the high notes back... And the key... Give them time.

Do you hear like a teenager?

Can you hear this? Or, should I say, is this a load of BS?

Train Horn

Created by Train Horn

Apparently it's a "tone that is generally only heard by people under the age of 25. It has been used as a deterrent device to keep teenagers from loitering in malls and shops, and sounds similar to a buzzing mosquito. Typically the longer you listen to it, the more annoying it gets."

I know I've sustained some hearing damage in my time, and I can hear it plain as day. Anyone else?

Windsor for the Derby

Someone tell me how I missed these guys when I lived in their hometown for 10 years?

I just last week decided to have a listen to the new record from Windsor for the Derby, called How We Lost. Blown away. This is some really gorgeous, dense, brilliant music, straddling the universes of indie rock and ambient so effortlessly that it seems they're one in the same.

I liked this record so much I got online and grabbed an older one, Difference and Repetition, which shows me that their newest lies on the far point of their arc, a different point on the trajectory of their music. Where Difference... revels in the void, in the space between the parts, How We Lost is more about the combinations, the fitting together of all things into pop songs that resonate longer than pop songs.

How We Lost is dark and ethereal, very moody, spare and lasting guitar notes playing off each other, echoey drums skitter slowly behind them, and vocals done in the same chamber adding just enough human presence to keep it all from floating away. Sometimes they sound a lot like Yo La Tengo, often more akin to Monroe Mustang or Labradford. In time I'll come to recognize them for them, and maybe to see them in others instead of the other way round.

So, sure, I'm an idiot. These guys were right under my nose, beloved by friends, and I just never caught on. But then again, I get to listen to all of it, now, for the first time. Not so stupid.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama's Speech

What struck me most about Obama's speech last night was its clarity. I don't claim to understand whether the things he said will pay off. They sound like a sound step forward toward getting our financial system working as it should--cutting taxes for the middle class, helping banks get solid enough footing to begin lending again, creating an environment in which small businesses want to borrow again, investing heavily in education and energy production--but I guess time will tell if it works.

But its clarity, the way he explained the problems we're dealing with not in terms so inside that we couldn't understand, not in terms so basic or banal as to make it seem he's talking to a room of second graders (that was Jindal's tactic), but a very clear and concise explanation on how we got here, where we are, and where we need to go--as well as why he is doing what he's doing with the bailout and the recovery act. (And that, too: The American Recovery Act, not the Freedom Lover Act, or the American Eagle Liberty Act...)

He talked to us like adults. As if we cared enough and were smart enough to understand what he was saying, how it impacted our lives, and what we need to do to move forward. How refreshing. He was smart to acknowledge the anger of those of us who are getting the rawest end of this deal--namely those of us who have lived within our means, who will have to bail out those of us who have not--and to say simply that although that anger is justified, it is not a place from which we can govern.

That's the other thing that struck me: How nice it is to have adults in charge again. We ask so little, don't we?

Image from The Guardian

Jindal's Inanity

I spent all of Jindal's speech trying to figure out who the heck he reminded me of. Forget the substancelessness of it, the inane repetition of the need for tax cuts in the face of the cuts Obama just described, the unfathomable reference to Katrina by a Republican, and the rest of it.

Not Mr. Rogers. Not Captain Kangaroo. But someone... Sullivan got it:

Monday, February 23, 2009

No Easy Answers

That's the problem with the wrecked economy we're dealing with. That, and the anger. This isn't something that happened to us. This is something that we--certain very identifiable members of our society--did to us.

Some of us were greedy and reckless and stupid. And now the rest of us, those who watched their pennies and spent and saved wisely and prudently and who LIVED WITHIN OUR MEANS, have to bail out the idiots.

So, yes, it's easy and tempting to rail against these people and to be angry about everything and think that the new administration is killing us to save them. But: What else do we do?

A couple good reads:

Sullivan's post: "I understand the systemic dangers of letting a wave of foreclosures trigger another wave of collapsing demand. But I also know that I never took out risky loans, diligently paid back three separate mortgages, saved for my retirement, and now pay more than half my income to the government ... to give to those who gave in to greed, wishful thinking and recklessness."

Brooks' op-ed: "It makes sense for the government to intervene ... It makes sense for government to try to restore some communal order. And the sad reality is that in these circumstances government has to spend money on precisely those sectors that have been swinging most wildly — housing, finance, etc. It has to help stabilize people who have been idiots."

Let's be clear: No one likes this. At least, no one on the giving end of this equation likes this. But let's also be honest: There's no other way out. Kick the idiots out into the streets and avert your eyes as you pass? Any other option? No. Like it or not, we're all in this together, us and the idiots. Let's hope for (and push for) some accountability in all this. But let's stop fighting about it and get it moving. We'll get over it if we address it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Levi Takes California

Today Levi Leipheimer won his third Tour of California in as many years. This is an amazing race, and this year saw the strongest field ever.

Levi did everything right--climbed fast, attacked explosively, hung on when he had to, stayed (mostly) out of trouble. It was inspiring to see him launch one on Bonny Doon, answering all us critics who have thought him something of a boring wheel-follower. He's one hell of a strong and smart bike racer.


I have to admit that I grabbed this off one of Deeds' posts, but it's too cool to not put up just cause of that.

Restiform Bodies

Saturday night's show at the Bouquet was up against a huge crowd-draw out at the VAC, so the odds were stacked against a huge turnout. Even so, I was disappointed at the numbers there for this lineup. Boise needs more shows like these, more of this brainy progressive hip hop and DJ work. Now that we're actually getting some, let's hope folks start showing up for it.

As for the show itself, every act was outstanding. Openers Ninth Cloud were smooth and hard, two MCs rapping and singing over some killer tracks from their third member, who left his consoles to get some words in too. Egadz was probably the biggest eye-opener of the night. I was unfamiliar with his work, but he blew me away from the first tune he played. A big burly bearded dude with a huge console spread out before him, Egadz hammered out beats and melodies without ever engaging a laptop.

Restiform Bodies was one MC and one DJ. It was obvious they were a bit off by the size of the crowd, but they gave it all they had and worked the folks that were there into a mini frenzy. They worked their way through much of the stuff on TV Loves You Back, and for the most part it came off great live. Bobby Trendy and Panic Shopper were strong moments, and the DJ beat drums along with his console, especially at the end when the MC joined him for some instrumental tracks before calling it a night.

Great show. I wish more people could have seen it. The Bouquet stands to become a really good venue for this town. So let's start going there.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New on the Range

It's a treasure trove, a cornucopia, a veritable fountain of new music on the Range Life today.

I've got new tracks from The National and Superchunk, plus stuff from Beirut, Aether, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Restiform Bodies, Glasvegas, DJ Signify, The Tasteful Nudes, Asobi Seksu, Obits, Odd Nosdam, Telefon Tel Aviv, Phosphorecent, and a crapload more. Tune in at

Tour Coverage

In case y'all didn't know this, you can follow the Tour of California live online at

The site is great--live video, GPS, course profile with moving icons, a play by play ticker, and lots more stuff. Very cool. Now if only the Tour de France would join the 20th century and offer a similar setup.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nevermind what I said before...

Roland Burris is a lunatic and needs to get the hell out of the news. As the Tribune says, dude needs to resign.

He didn't talk to Blago, then he did. He didn't raise money for him, then he did. He can't decide what the truth is, so he just makes it up when he gets caught in a lie, hoping that the benefit of the doubt will carry him into office.

He's becoming a stain on the party, a pain in the political ass, and he's making Illinois Democrats look even worse (who'd have thought that was possible?!)

Anyway, geddafuggout already.

Enough is Enough

Rising waters, increasingly violent storms and natural disasters, dire long-term predictions--obviously, we feel ok ignoring all these things. Hell, it seems we don't even really care about polar bears.

But f*cking with the penguins? That's too much. From an article in Discovery:

Argentina's Magellanic penguins are moving north, laying their eggs later than they used to, and struggling -- often unsuccessfully -- to feed their chicks, all as a result of climate change.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Powder Day!

OK, so maybe I wasn't thinking about the bike.

Me and John Betts put in a great afternoon today. And that means big thanks to Cathy and Joy for letting us ski on Valentine's Day.

7" of new snow over night, and it's still snowing up there. Heading up again in the morning. How could I not?

Leipheimer in the Hizzouse

The Tour of California gets underway today, and it looks like it's gonna be a hell of a week of racing. They've got the strongest field I've ever seen in a race on American soil, and the 2 time defending champ, Levi Leipheimer, is riding with one of the strongest teams I've ever seen anywhere.

And if you wonder whether his team is committed to him, take a look at this awesome TT bike he'll be riding.

Suddenly, it's cycling season again. That's pretty exciting--even if there are 7 new inches of snow up on the mountain today. I'll ski, but I'll be thinking about the bike.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Jamaican Gold!

Today's the final day of Special Olympics events here in Idaho, so Cathy and I headed out to the fairgrounds to watch some floor hockey medal matches.

The place was pretty packed, from the bleachers to the rink (court?) sides, with people singing and chanting and cheering on their favorite teams. We watched a bit of Russia-Hungary (Hungary took gold in D1), but were quickly swept up in the D2 gold medal match between Canada and Jamaica.

When we got there, it looked like a rout. Canada had the lead 5-0 and appeared to be doing whatever they wanted with the puck--or whatever that soft doughnut-shaped thingy they play with is called. But the tide turned, and quickly.

Shortly after we grabbed a spot behind a rowdy bunch of Trinidad and Tobago fans, Jamaican scored their first goal. Their player had run the length of the floor, through the whole Canadian team, seemingly untouched, and put it in the net. The crowd went nuts.

And Canada looked tired. There was lots of standing around on the red team, and lots of very fast movement from the green and yellow. No great passing, no amazing strategy, just push it up, dodge the defenders, and throw it at the goal. But it worked, and it kept working.

The Canadian team suddenly seemed out of breath and helpless against the speedy Jamaican onslaught. Another goal, then another, punctuated by some quality net play by the Jamaican keeper, and suddenly the score was tied at 5.

Jamaica scored to take the lead, then scored again. Canada answered with one, bringing it to 7-6. Jamaica would deny them the tie with another goal, and though Canada put another in the net, they were unable to close the gap in the final line (9 "lines" of 3 minutes each makes a match, I learned). Some confusion in the final seconds saw 3 seconds added to the clock and a keeper switch for Jamaica, but the green team cleared the puck and the game was done. 8-7 Jamaica.

It was an amazing and wonderful thing to see.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rosa Sat

This is pretty great. The song is a little awkward at times, but the sentiment is no less moving for it.

Mostly I think it's important to not lose sight of how we felt about our collective potential between November and January 21st.

Stay inspired.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New on the Range

Lots of great new stuff for Range Life this week. I've got this awesome record by Phosphorescent (see post below), along with a great new comp of new bands, including Girls, Jumbling Towers, Man/Miracle, Victoire, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, She Keeps Bees, and much more.

Plus, I've finally got my hands on last year's Windsor for the Derby release, and other new stuff from AC Newman, Restiform Bodies, These Are Powers, Lithops, ...Trial of Dead, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird, Couch, and more from the Animal Collective CD and Pavement's reissue of Brighten the Corners.

So much freaking music. Tune in, 5 to 7 MST, won't you?

Phosphorescent Nelson

This album, To Willie, is really something. The solo artist who goes by Phosporescent, Matthew Houck, has done Willie Nelson justice with this set of 10 covers. Some are the well-worn standards of Willie's thousands of shows, while some are not among the most popular songs in the Red Headed Stranger's catalog, but great tracks nonetheless. Somehow, though, Houck is able to own almost all of these songs ("The Party's Over" excepted, for obvious reasons--it'd be like trying to cover "Whiskey River," and good luck with that).

But what songs.

"Walkin'" soars on lap steel and a rousing chorus, while "It's Not Supposed to Be That Way" breaks your heart with it's fluttering acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies. "I Gotta Get Drunk"stomps where "Heartaches of a Fool" offers up the most bittersweet regret.

It's no big assumption to say that these songs have great meaning for Houck, but he never slips into sentimental tribute here. He makes these songs his own while staying true to the spirit of the man who wrote them.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Brilliant, especially the end.

Tuft as Nails

This story, about Svein Tuft, is pretty amazing. DIY mountain man explorer with gobs of pure natural cycling talent gives it a full go on the pro circuit at age 31. Most careers are winding down by then, but not this guy.

He goes from pulling his 80-lb dog on a homemade trailer into the wilderness to climb mountains to riding in the Tour of California--and likely the Tour de France, along with Paris-Roubaix, for which he seems a natural.

Just when you think most pro roadies are spoiled doping douchebags, this guy comes along. Hallelujah.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Tonight: The Delta Spirit

The Delta Spirit plays the Neurolux tonight, Monday, here in Boise. I caught these guys at ACL Fest last year and they were sh*t-hot indeed. Great bluesy countrified rock with a big gorgeous piano sound.

Check out Trashcan below. (It's not really a video, just audio.)

And check them out tonight at Neurolux.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Week of the Gourd--UPDATE!!!

It may be the year of the ox, but right now in Boise it's the week of the Gourd. Austin favorite sons The Gourds are braving the Northwest's wintery climes for 3 nights in a row in Idaho.

And as if that ain't enough, check this: The Gourds, or some arrangement of the characters making up The Gourds, will play live in the Boise Community Radio studio with me during Range Life tomorrow. Not sure exactly when, but Kevin Russell's confirmed that he and whoever else he can get to come will play something for us.

Of course, they have an in-store at 7pm (see below), so there's a chance they could be running late and not be able to make it. But we'll hold our breath until that happens. Tune in 5 to 7 MST at

Now, the schedule.

Wednesday night, 7pm, free in-store performance at the Record Exchange.

Thursday night, The Mint theater in Hailey. Buy tickets here.

Friday night, The Egyptian Theater in Boise. Buy tickets here.

In case you've been hibernating, the band's new record, Haymaker!, is a fantastic batch of country cajun rock and roll, digging deep into the musical soil of the borderlands they inhabit--both the physical ones of Texas-Louisiana-Mexico and the musical ones of rock-tex-mex-country-cajun. The greater role of keyboards and electric guitar lightens the mood and firms up the band's roots, if that's possible.

Grab a copy while you're at the free Record Exchange show on Wednesday. And hope to see you Friday as well.

Maybe Cheney Ain't All Bad

"Organizers reported Sunday that the 44th White House Carnival was a rousing success, raising a record $800,000,066,845 for the federal government—$800 billion of which came from a dunk tank featuring former vice president Dick Cheney."


As usual, The Onion hits it on the head. Then and now.

January 17, 2001 headline:
Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'

November 5, 2008 headline:
Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job