Links List: November 8

  • RIP Blockbuster. I spent many nights of my teenage years aimlessly wandering around the aisles, looking for a movie to rent. It always ended with grabbing “Cruel Intentions” or “Varsity Blues.” Sigh. Youth.
  • BuzzFeed said it won’t publish negative book reviews. I get how scathing news (and reviews) are often shared more than the positive ones, but if everything is sunshine and daises, how is independent reviewing different from sponsored publicity?  #ObjectiveJournalismRage

10 Years Later: The Long Winters’ When I Pretend to Fall

I received a email from Barsuk Records about their 15th anniversary. They announced a bunch of special shows at landmark venues around Seattle featuring some of their landmark bands, including Nada Surf, Mates of State, David Bazan, Rocky Votolato, The Long Winters, and Death Cab for Cutie.

As the email pointed out, The Long Winters’ When I Pretend to Fall is 10 years old. This got me thinking about how excellent this album is. 

Yes, this album came out in 2003 but I was not aware of it until a few years later. As a someone who listed to a lot of pop-punk in those days, I was constantly yearning for something a little more adult as I completed my first years of college. I wanted smart, fun and emotionally-aware music to soundtrack my walks to class and study sessions. 

When I first heard this album something just clicked. It has a lot of those pop-punk sensibilities I loved but took the aesthetic a bit further.  As with a lot of Seattle indie-rock, The Long Winters are a smart band with smart lyrics. Their songs are built around common emotions and experiences.  Their albums touch upon alienation, love, and introspection. John Roderick is consistently one of the funniest men in indie-rock (along with Jon Wurster, of course) and as a result, here is something so enchanting about the songwriting method and instrument style. 

The album begins in a typical way.  “Blue Diamonds” is a song where the slow drums and vocals rein supreme. As the song continues, more elements enter the song (including back-up vocals and some other brass instrument).  

There is that accessibility built into the songs, like on “Shapes,”  Roderick sings “Secrets/ Secrets/ Damn your secrets!”  “Cinnamon” explores being in-love and is followed up “Bride and Bridle,” which seems to be about being strapped down and feeling anxious.  

There is an acoustic song about being careless and free (“It’ll Be a Breeze”), followed by “Stupid,” a song about being wrapped up in another and taking chances. 

(I just realized Sean Nelson from Harvey Danger does back-up vocals on this track! Note: he is a former member of TLW, with other well-knowns

“The Sound of Coming Down” is a sad song about (relationship?) decline. The instrumentation and harmonies slowly draw you into acceptance; sometimes things deteriorate and you need to accept it and move on.

The Long Winters use energetic harmonies.  This is especially apparent in “New Girl” where “No You are!” is repeated in the background of song.  It feels like a sing-along that I would love to be part of. 

“Prom Night at Hater High” is a delightful jaunt full of parody that seems to be about going back to your hometown to find that you don’t understand anyone anymore.  Who hasn’t felt alienation when being in the presence of hometown heroes? He seems like a guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously. In an increasingly humorless world, this attitude is quite refreshing.  My favorite part was always: “So won’t you quit talking down to your girlfriend/ Oh, I see, you’re not fighting, you’re flirting/ Well I hope it’s exciting.” One cannot listen to this without imaging Roderick’s gap-teethed smirk. 
+ + +
This album was followed by Ultimatum EP and Putting the Days to Bed, an LP that seemed like an attempt at mainstream. The former featured two version of “Ultimatum” including a finger-picking version that is great. The latter had some great tracks, including a song that got played on some NPR called “Fire Island, AK” and one of the catchiest opening tracks ever (“Pushover”). 

I always feel like this band doesn’t get the recognition that they deserve. Maybe it has to do with the fact that The Long Winters haven’t released an album since 2006 (even though Roderick claims one is coming soon-ish).  

If you are a fan of smart indie-rock, I’d suggest checking out this band.  The themes continue to resonate and with each listen, I feel refreshed and eager for some new material.  

But if there isn’t new material, I am perfectly happy with these three albums and one EP that have held up for 10 years and will probably hold up for at least 10 more. 

+ + +

Here is a video from 2012, where John Roderick preforms “Prom Night at Hater High” at the Showbox.  It has a little bit of his signature banter and acoustic guitar picking.  

Check out Roderick On the Line, a weekly comedic podcast featuring Roderick and Merlin Mann talking about stuff on the phone. 

He also has a very funny twitter (@JohnRoderick), where he shares musings about life and often converses with his friends (who happen to be John Hodgman and others)

Earlier this year, he wrote a piece for Seattle Daily entitled Punk Rock is Bullshit.

List: Best Concerts of the Year, Part 2

Here is part 2 of my best concert list of 2012:

John Roderick (January 28, Mercury Lounge)
The Long Winters have not released an album since 2006. Frontman John Roderick really knows how to engage an audience. With a plethora of witty banter and audience participation, this was one of the most fun concerts of the year. Now all there is to do is hope for a new album sometime this decade.

Pulp (April 11, Radio City Music Hall)
Pulp is a newer discovery for me.  After many different people suggesting this English alt-rock band to me, I dove into their discography and then went to see them live.  The live show sold me.  Jarvis Cocker pranced around the stage and up the sides of Radio City Music Hall. He had so much energy and the band was tight. The entire audience danced along and sang out the lyrics. It was a pretty magical experience.

Regina Spektor (May 15, United Palace Theater)
United Palace is a very unique place to see a concert.  Located in Washington Heights, it has the charm of the old theater. In fact, it looks like no updates were made this century. Spektor fit in perfectly in this venue. Her old-school charm and quirky nature really shined through.

Radiohead (June 13, Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden NJ)
Radiohead, outside venue, Thom Yorke dancing. That is really all that needs to be said.

Bob Mould (Sept 7, Williamsburg Park)
This former Husker Du/ Sugar frontman started the set with the seminal Sugar album “Cooper Blue.”  He then went on to play other selections from his solo releases and Husker Du albums.  Another energetic concert, the background of an concrete park fit perfectly with the vibe of the songs and Mould’s voice.  His album “Silver Age” is definitely one of the best of the year.

Bonus: The Hold Steady (December 31, Wellmont Theater, Montclair NJ)

Opener Lucero really pumped up the audience and laid the groundwork for an excellent show. 

Despite being put on hold for about 10 minutes due to an incident on the dance floor, this show was awesome top to bottom. With a set of older and newer songs, Craig Finn and the rest of the band worked the audience through fist pumps and sing-alongs.  They counted down at midnight and shot confetti into the audience.  There was complimentary champagne and giant balloons that floated from the stage.   It ended around 1:20 in 2013 and can be counted as one of the best shows of 2012 and 2013.

Twitter-Mania, Euphonie Style

Twitter is sweeping the nation! Some love it. Some hate it. Some just don’t get it. But the truth is every one seems to be talking about it. Me myself, I am an avid twitter follower and updater. I love the constant connection with friends and famous “friends” and the fact that you can be tuned in to their musings at all times. I find enjoyment in each tweet, no matter how random. Actually, the more random the better! Here is a list of some of my favorite “famous” twitters for your consideration. Enjoy!

Rob Thomas (@ThisIsRobThomas) has been filling up my twitter page these days. Through his random musings, I feel as if I am intimately acquainted with the Matchbox 20 front-man. From the political (commenting on the Sonia Sotomeyor justice nomination) to the mundane (spending time with his wife, Mari) to the “rock star” (getting interviewed and photographed by Rolling Stone), Thomas covers the spectrum. Even if you don’t like Matchbox 20, you have to appreciate his ability to stay personable to all 48,000 of his followers.

Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) is one of my favorite parts of the “I Love The…” series. In his twitter, he tweets about his family, mostly. But each entry is funnier than the last one. HIs self deprecation-filled brand of humor is what makes him so enjoyable, as well as such movies as “Wet Hot American Summer” and involvement with “The State.” For example, who can’t not laugh at this sample tweet: “Khakis are to cool pants what math students are to cool people.” It is a daily dose of the M.I.B. we have all come to love.

Jon Cheese (@JonCheese) is an unknown name to most, but to me he is the most beloved member of Limbeck. Most of his recent tweets have been regarding several nights out on the town that ended up with hangovers and complaining. One night he updated 4 times in a 20 minute period, all with the same message: something along the lines of “i’m a drunk idiot.” Who can’t relate to that? In addition to booze-fueled entries, he also talks about missing the road, riding the greyhound bus with all “the crazies” and his addiction to “I’m On A Boat.” Don’t you just want to be his real-life friend? Because I most definitely do!

John Mayer (@JohnCMayer) is a constant updater. If you think he is a pretentious and overindulged asshole, like some people do, do not subscribe to his twitter. His twitter is really just another manifestation of how into himself he is (by my count, it is in a good way of course). He talks about the Titanic, song-writing, current events and family (several entries include the @carlmayer tag). He is incredibly random. There is almost no filter. It is great – just great fun.

Ezra Koening (@arzE), from Vampire Weekend, runs a twitter that is sparse but has the potential for daily witticisms. Like this May 29th tweet: “faux-accent Friday! today I’m from New Hampshire.” He is as New York-centric as any Ivy League New Yorker, as displayed in this May 21st entry: “At my cousin dan’s graduation from St. Jude’s. Can’t stand the UES. so much pretension and backstabbing.” Funny. Keep it coming, Ezra.

Other Notable Twitters:
Colin Meloy, of The Decemberists: @ColinMeloy
John Roderick, of The Long Winters: @JohnRoderick
Jim Gaffigan: @JimGaffigan
Ingrid Michaelson: @IngridMusic
Justin Timberlake: @JTimberlake
Matt Pond PA: @mattpondpa
Dr. Tobias Funke: @DrTobiasFunke

On a related note, I was extremely disappointed by the twitter of Real Housewife of NYC Bethenny Frankel (@Bethenny). I expected it to be filled with musings in line with the persona she presented through the two seasons of RHWONYC. But instead, she just updates you on the going-ons in her life, from to her book signings to upcoming magazine interviews. Booooring Bethenny, real boring.

Also check out the twitters of your favorite fantastic bloggers Allie (@allie_roth) & Jenna (@mostunsavory). Follow us! And we’ll follow you.