Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

It started snowing today in Minneapolis. It's very pretty, although dangerous for you New Years partiers out on the roads, so safety first, people!! I've been increasingly ill over the past three days, so Leo and I are spending the night in with the bunnies and Dick Clark.

I took this pic of the snow from our front window:

Friday, December 29, 2006

Beatles' LOVE on double LP

MusicDirect is the first site I've found to be taking pre-orders for LOVE on vinyl. If it's true that LOVE is getting a vinyl release this is very good news, as it's a great album IMO.

1981

With the close of 2006 I somehow feel sentimental about 1981 (25 years ago). Yesterday I bought a brand new copy of Billy Squire's awesome "Don't Say No", and today I found a half-speed mastered copy of ELO's time, both from '81.

My memories of 1981 are not particularly fond, at least not the first nine months. John Lennon had just been killed, for starters. As a scrawny freshman in a big high school I frequently feared for my survival. Life was scary. Still, the music was great that year, and by the start of 1982 I had a fine new group of friends and life was fun again.

1981 was probably the last year that Apache Plaza received a significant chunk of my record money. By this time I was navigating the great record shops in downtown Minneapolis, and few stores could compete with the selection offered by stores like Music City and Hot Licks.

Upon quick glance through my collection I found the following LPs from 1981:

ELO - Time
Billy Squire - Don't Say No
The Rolling Stones - Tattoo You
Olivia Newton-John - Physical
Hall & Oates - Private Eyes
Foreigner- 4
Prince - Controversy
The Knack - Round Trip
KISS - Music from "The Elder"
Journey - Escape
Yoko Ono - Season of Glass
Pat Benatar - Precious Time
Go-Go's - Beauty and the Beat
Buggles - Adventures in Modern Recording
Ringo Starr - Stop and Smell the Roses
George Harrison - Somewhere in England
Various - Concerts For the People of Kampuchea

Saddam & GWB

I realize this is over-simplifying things, but riddle me this...

I don't doubt for a second that Saddam Hussein is a horrible man. According to CNN he is being hanged for "crimes against humanity in connection with the killings of 148 people in Dujail."

Our delightful dumbass president Bush is responsible, in my opinion, for the killing of some 3,000 Americans (and counting) as a result of the Iraq war. When do we get to convict Bush for his connection to the killings of thousands of his own people???

Thursday, December 28, 2006

On my turntable: New York Dolls - One Day It Will Please Us...

Here we have my last new LP of 2006. I bought this based on some of the samples I'd heard online, and the fact that it's limited edition PINK vinyl. It's very lovely. The LP also features a bonus track, "Seventeen".

I had heard that this was supposed to be a decent album, and it really is. The only other NYD's LP I've heard is the first one, which I like. This new one is far more polished (and thus less raw and punk) than the debut. Still, there aren't many bands that have managed such a strong comeback album after an almost 30 year absence.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

Two beef burritos, no sour cream

Last night Leo & I were xmas shopping and headed to the Columbia Heights Taco Bell for a little nosh break. The high school kid behind the register was a trainee. Nice kid, just a little on the hearing impaired side. Not deaf, just having a hard time understanding pretty much everything. It was my standard Taco Bell order: two bean burritos, no cheese.

So I tell the young man my order. After some length of silence, someone comes over to help him figure things out. Apparently there are a billion different buttons on these high-tech Taco Bell cash registers. "You want two burritos, no sour cream, right?" No, I said no CHEESE. More silence. Then he says "You said two BEEF burritos?" Ya, no. Bean. Two bean burritos, no cheese. "Bean burritos don't come with sour cream." Well that's dandy, because I don't want any sour cream. Nor have I mentioned sour cream at any point during this transaction. You see, CHEESE is what I want to avoid this evening. And I want a small soda. Again, more silence. Minutes later all is good and I got my burritos, but no soda.

I overheard the kid saying that he's planning to attend Augsburg next year. I say good for him. I understand Augsburg is a good school. He might just want to get that hearing checked though. Just sayin'.

Feliz Navidad!

4.0

Grades are in and I earned a 4.0 GPA for my first semester as a Ph.D. student. Granted, I only took two classes this term, and one of them was pass/fail. Still, it's a good feeling. Feels like I am doing the right thing.

Life can change pretty fast sometimes. A year ago I had not yet decided to apply to this program, and now I'm a full semester in. I'm feeling very grateful this morning. Thanks to Leo and to all my friends for the support you've given me. It really does mean a lot.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Virgil not-so-Goode

So I'm reading at the StarTribune that Virginia Republican Rep. Virgil Goode recently made an insane statement about our new representative Keith Ellison. I quote:

"The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran."

Um, is he kidding with this? WTF? To quote the immortal Mr. T, I pity the fools who voted for Goode. What an ass.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Infusion Day

Every seven weeks I get hooked up to an i.v. to get infused with Remicade for treatment of Crohns Disease. Remicade is the first drug that has really made a difference for people like myself with fistulizing Crohn's, which can be particularly painful and gross to live with. When the nurse sets me up with the i.v. I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have health insurance (one Remicade infusion costs around $3,000), and how lucky I am to be one of the patients who respond well to this drug. There are other crohnies that aren't so lucky. I took this pic from my infusion chair.

Hate crime in Oklahoma

Have you heard this story? On December 4 an Oklahoma woman was attacked outside of her home by two men. One of the men pinned her down while the other carved the word "Lesbian" into her arm. Since there is currently no hate-crime legislation protecting gays & lesbians in Oklahoma, the woman believes that police are not acting on this crime. This is what happens when we teach our children to hate, folks.

full story here

Saturday, December 09, 2006

On my turntable: Hymns - Brother/Sister

This past Tuesday I went to see the Lemonheads perform at the 400 Bar. It was a school night, so I wasn't too pleased to see that there were two opening bands, since that meant I was going to be up really really late. Well, this band called Hymns took the stage around 9:00, and by their second song they were my new favorite band. I actually liked them just a little bit more than the Lemonheads (I'd already seen Lemonheads live). While the Hymns were playing I was thinking "I'd so totally buy their album if it were on vinyl." So, after the set I go to the merchandise table, and there's the lead singer selling stuff, and sure enough there's a limited edition vinyl version of Brother/Sister by Hymns. I asked where the band was from (Brooklyn), and if they had plenty of copies of the vinyl (they did). Then the singer, whose name is Brian, told me that the album sounded much better on vinyl, adding "but you probably know that already." I did know, since everything sounds better on vinyl! I complemented him on the band's great set, and he asked me my name (Jeff). We then shook hands, thus cementing the Hymns' status as my fave new band of the year.

Brother/Sister is a terrific album, filled with some power-pop, some Neil Young-style rock, and some very Kinks-like sounds. The vinyl LP is limited to 1000 copies according to the band's website, and features cool artwork that is completely different from the CD. It also sounds fantastic, but you probably know that already.

Buy Brother/Sister by Hymns HERE.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

NEW BANGLES

The Bangles have a *brand new* holiday song that will be available on iTunes starting on 12/9! Click on the banner for more info...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another indie bites the dust

I suppose it was inevitable, but it's still very sad to see Know Name records in Dinkytown closing. The location has been a record store in some form or another since the 80's. It's a sad reminder of the changing music business, how people don't really shop at record stores anymore, and when they do buy music it's some Faith Hill CD that they saw at the Target checkout. Pisses me off. Support your indie record stores!

Know Name Records to Close

Monday, December 04, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas at Apache Plaza

I miss me my Apache Plaza.


www.apacheplaza.com

On my turntable: Monkees - The Birds, The Bees, & The Monkees

The Birds, The Bees, & The Monkees (1968) was the last million-selling album to be released by The Monkees in the 1960's. It was also the first to feature the words "Produced by The Monkees" printed boldly on the back cover. The album is a grab bag of different styles representing the band's varied tastes. Some say the results are mixed, but I think it makes for a very interesting record.

In 1996 this album, along with the first four Monkees records, were re-issued with bonus tracks on the Sundazed label. Each record was pressed on a different colored vinyl, with Birds & Bees on yellow (pictured at right). Each record has since been re-issued again on 180-gram vinyl.

Best of 2006

After a quick little brainstorming I present to you...

Jeff's Fancy Best of 2006:

Best album: Scissor Sisters – Ta-Dah!
Best single: The Vines - “Don’t Listen To The Radio”
Best debut album: The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
Best re-issue LP: George Harrison - Living In The Material World
Best record store (new LPs): Cheapo Uptown
Best record store (new singles): Tree House Records
Best record store (used LPs): Roadrunner Records
Best online record store: InSound.com
Best new TV show: 30 Rock
Best work time waster: CuteOverload.com
Best Guzman: Leo
Best live music venue: First Avenue
Best Movie Theater: Riverview
Best online radio station: popbang.com
Best college radio station: Radio K
Best sodie pop: Vault Zero
Best sorbet: Ben & Jerry’s Jamaican Me Crazy
Best bagel: Brueggers salt
Best coffee shop: Bordertown
Best cheap lunch: Chili Lentil Soup at Espresso 22, Dinkytown
Best free Sunday lunch: Fernie & Jimbo’s house
Best MN State Fair Food: The Preferred Pickle
Best breakfast: Al’s Breakfast, Dinkytown
Best N.E. Minneapolis bar: Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge
Best pizza: Campus Pizza, Stadium Village
Best Vietnamese restaurant: Kihn Do, Uptown
Best veggie sandwich slices: Tofurky Deli Slices
Best reality show: Celebrity Fit Club
Best TV comeback: Rosie O’Donnell on The View
Best Wacky Package sticker: Brokeback Mountain Duo
Best shower gel: Kiss My Face Peaceful Patchouli
Best retro cardigan: Izod

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fave coffee shop: Bordertown

I have a number of coffee joints that I love, but Bordertown tips the scale with their amazing vegan muffins. They are unbelievable, made in small batches on site. I'm writing this from Bordertown, where I just finished a fantastic apple pecan muffin. Oh yeah, the coffee's good too.

Bordertown is housed in a formerly abandoned frat house near Dinkytown. It's a cozy space, with a fireplace, plenty of tables and a nice couch. check out their website for more info & pics:

Bordertown Coffee

Monday, November 27, 2006

On my turntable: Olivia Newton-John - Physical

All this talk about Olivia (see previous post) had me hankerin' for some Newton-John. Physical (1981) was such an enormous record that I've not had much interest in listening to it for the past 25 years, but I must say it's a pleasant album. While it does have some very 80's synth sounds on it, it doesn't sound as dated as say, a Hall and Oates album. I remember watching the full video album of Physical when my family got our first VCR. Back then there was talk that video albums were going to replace conventional LPs.

The Physical tour came to the St. Paul Civic Center on September 26, 1982, and I was in the crowd on the main floor. I bought a tour jersey too (back then you HAD to buy the tour jersey to prove you were at the concert), but I didn't wear it to school more than once or twice. It was kinda ugly, and well, dare I say a bit gay. A guy could get beat up in the 10th grade for wearing his Olivia Newton-John jersey to school, and I still had emotional scars from when I wore my Bay City Rollers t-shirt to school in the 5th grade. That was begging for an asskickin. I'm just sayin'. Anyway, the night of the concert was Olivia's birthday, and they wheeled out a birthday cake for her. She was definitely at her commercial peak at this time, headbands and all.

Song stuck in my head


"Please Mister Please" by Olivia Newton-John. Don't know why.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Shredding newspaper is hard work!

Here's Simon taking a well deserved break from tearing up paper (note Austin supervising in the background). Two minutes after this pic was taken Simon was back on the job. Such a hard worker. Such dedication to his craft. Such a big white fluffy tail.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Top 20 Songs of 2006

I'm pretty confident that these are my 20 favorite songs of 2006. They are not in order, except for the first three songs, which I know were my top 3. Songs with an asterisk (*) are tracks that to my knowledge have not been made available on vinyl.

1."Don't Listen To The Radio" - Vines
2."Not Tonight" - The New Cars*
3."I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" - Scissor Sisters
"Love You In The Fall" - Paul Westerberg
"Steady As She Goes" - Raconteurs
"Black Sweat" - Prince
"Be A Man" - Hudson Brothers
"Mine Exclusively" - Big Star
"Hazel Eyes" - Darkness
"Endless Harmony" - Free Design
"I See The Rain" - Sid & Susie
"Become The Enemy" - Lemonheads
"Bubbles" - Free Design
"We" - Neil Diamond
"Dead Meat" - Sean Lennon
"And The House Fell Down" - Elton John
"Cellphone's Dead" - Beck
"It's A Hit" - We Are Scientists
"A Love That Will Never Grow Old" - Emmylou Harris*
"An Easier Affair" - George Michael*

Buy The Raconteurs' Broken Boy Soldiers on LP at InSound:
Buy it at Insound!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Tofurky Day!

I'm thankful for many things this year, including the Tofurky that I will be feasting on tomorrow. My mom is such a rockstar to cook a Tofurky roast for me each year. I hope she knows how much I appreciate it. Apart from the food, I'm also grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my family. I know that I'm lucky to have a family that actually enjoys spending time together.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Q&A with Mike McCready

The Crohn's & Me website has a great new interview with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, where Mike talks candidly about living with Crohn's. You probably know that I have Crohn's myself. McCready's thoughtful interview sheds some light on what life is like for many of us Crohnies, except of course the part about being a rock star. I guess I can find gratitude in knowing I never need to worry about crapping myself onstage in front of thousands of people! It's all about the silver lining, folks.

Q&A with Mike McCready

Monday, November 20, 2006

RIAA says vinyl sales increasing

Feb. 2006: "Though vinyl LP sales constitute only one percent of new music sold in America each year, that percentage is growing as more record companies press new albums into vinyl. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl sales have doubled in percentage of music sales since 2000 to become a $110-million-dollar industry. Since that same year, overall music sales dropped to $12.2 billion from $14.4 billion, a plunge that the vinyl industry escaped without a scratch."

Read the full article here.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

2005 records in 2006

Here's a list of new 2005 releases I purchased on vinyl this year. I figure they deserve mention. Go here to see 2006 releases.

Big Star - In Space (Rykodisc)
Beastie Boys - Solid Gold Hits (Capitol)
Weezer - Make Believe (Geffen)
Neil Diamond - 12 Songs (Columbia)
Gravy Train!!!! -
Are You Wigglin? (Kill Rock Stars)
New Pornographers - Twin Cinema (Matador)
Elton John - Peachtree Road (Rocket)
Why? - Elephant Eyelash (Anticon)
The Darkness - One Way ticket To Hell...And Back (Atlantic)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

On my turntable: Joey Ramone - Don't Worry About Me

Another LP from 2002. From what I've read, Joey Ramone was an interesting character who lived with obsessive compulsive disorder (Suggested reading: former Ramones tour manager Monte Melnick's On the Road with the Ramones). Don't Worry About Me, Joey's only solo record, is certainly as good as some Ramones LPs.

The Don't Worry About Me LP is pressed on lovely marbley pinkish vinyl. Fave tracks: "What a Wonderful World", "Maria Bartiromo", "I Got Knocked Down (but I'll get up)".

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Enjoy Tab and be a mind sticker..."

I know this is why I enjoy Tab:

On my turntable: Ze Malibu Kids - Sound It Out

Ze Malibu Kids are Steven & Jeff McDonald (Redd Kross), Anna Waronker, and Astrid, Jeff's daughter with Charlotte Caffey (Charlotte is rumored to be the album's actual drummer, but it's cuter to imagine that it's Astrid). While this is definitely not a Redd Kross album, it does have its RK-esque moments, especially "Your Bed" and "Standing In The Wrong Line". Most of Sound It Out (2002) has a homemade feel to it, much in the way that the old Tater Totz albums did.

ReddKross.com

On my turntable: TLC - 3D

You may have noticed that the past several LPs on my turntable have been from 2002. Next to the stereo I keep a stack of albums from the past five years. Since the year is coming to a close I've started playng the 2002 records and moving them, in order to make room for the NEW YEAR. I'm a music geek.

TLC 3D (2002) may be my favorite TLC album. It's very solid, and should have been a big seller, but sadly I think some folks saw it as a reminder of Left Eye's absence. It couldn't have helped that the girls were unable to tour in support of the record. It's too bad since Left Eye is present on almost half of the tracks, which is about as much as she was heard on the enormous Crazy Sexy Cool (1995). So many good songs here, but my favorites are: "Quickie", "Girl Talk", "Turntable", "Damaged".

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

On my turntable: The Aluminum Group - Happyness

This album and 1998's super smooth Plano are my two favorite albums by The Aluminum Group. I remember hearing that there were going to be three volumes of Happyness, although I don't think that Happyness 3 was ever released. I do know that MoreHappyness (2004) was not as good as the original Happyness (2002).

As much as I love The Aluminum Group I must admit that I don't know a whole lot about them. I know they are from Chicago, and I am pretty sure the two main guys are brothers. A lot of their lyrics are sung from a gay male perspective, but I don't know if both brothers are gay. Their stuff is very retro, lounge, and Bacharach-esque, which is my favorite kind of music for when I'm being Senor Lazypants around the house.

First time in 18 years

2006 has turned out to be the first year since 1988 that I've purchased all of my new music on vinyl. No CD's folks. Just vinyl and the occasional (legal) digital download. Granted, there were a couple of releases this year that haven't yet made it to vinyl that I've missed, albums like Cheap Trick's Rockford and the new Sean Lennon. Eventually I'll break down and buy those. Still, it feels pretty good to be fully back and truckin' on the LP train.

Vinyl rules.

Monday, November 13, 2006

On my turntable: George Harrison - Brainwashed

Great album. Listening to Brainwashed (2002) now, four years after its release, it somehow rests more comfortably within the Harrison catalog (at least to my ears). Brainwashed is a very friendly, cozy album. George sounds happier here than on almost any previous record, which is ironic considering that he was living with terminal cancer at the time it was being recorded.

The LP is beautifully packaged in a gatefold sleeve, with a full-sized book and custom labels. Highly recommended.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

On my turntable: Quasi - The Sword of God

Quasi is an interesting duo. Their style doesn't really change much, although each Quasi record does tend to have a certain "feeling" to it. The Sword of God (2001) is not as heavy as this year's Going Gets Dark, but not as perky as 1999's Field Studies.

The Sword of God
may be my favorite Quasi album so far. The limited vinyl release is pressed on three sides of groovy red wax (see my fancy pic).



Buy Quasi's The Sword of God on LP at insound:

Buy it at Insound!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

On my turntable: The Beach Boys - Sunflower

Pet Sounds (1966) may be Brian Wilson's greatest work, but Sunflower (1970) is the best thing the Beach Boys ever completed as a band. This was their first LP under their contract to Reprise, after leaving Capitol records. All six Beach Boys (including Bruce Johnston) contribute to the songwriting here, and Dennis Wilson particularly shines. The album was painfully ignored by the public upon its release.

This record is as stunning to me now as it was the first time I heard it. I bought when I was freshman in Duluth, MN (84-85), at the Miller Hill Mall Musicland. For most of that school year I was obsessed with the Beach Boys, and frankly I don't know how my roommate Randy tolerated it. Thankfully we're still good friends (love ya, Rand)!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tet Anus

This morning I got a flu shot in one arm, and a tetanus booster in the other. As I type this, the tetanus arm hurts like a mofo. I'm sure lockjaw hurts more, but still. Yeeowch.

This is what evil looks like...


C'mon - you gotta admit, she looks a little devilish. And not in a good way.

I'm just sayin'.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Who's house? BUN'S HOUSE!

2006 records

I've pretty much come to accept that November is really the last month of the year for "new music", as my December is typically spent listening to Christmas music and rehashing the past 11 months. So now feels like a good time to list the NEW records I purchased in 2006. This list only includes new vinyl released in 2006 (re-issues don't count). There were some great 2005 records I bought this year (such as Big Star's In Space, Neil Diamond's 12 Songs, the list goes on), but again -- this is 2006 releases only, 'cause it's my blog and I do what I want.

12":
Quasi - When The Going Gets Dark (Touch and Go)
Elton John - The Captain & The Kid (Mercury)
De La Soul - Impossible Mission (AOI)
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussant - The River In Reverse (Verve Forecast)
The Elected - Sun, Sun, Sun (Subpop)
Prince - 3121 (Universal)
The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers (V2)
GitoGito Hustler - Love & Roll (Gearhead)
Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah! (Universal)
The Who - Wire & Glass (Polydor)

10":
Paul Westerberg - Songs from Open Season (Lost Highway)

7":
Beck - "Cellphone's Dead"/"O Menina" (Interscope)
Sean Lennon - "Dead Meat"/"Freaking Out"(EMI)
The Flaming Lips - "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song"/"Why Does It End?" (Warner Bros)
The Vines - "Don't Listen To The Radio"/"Fuk Yeh"/"Nothin's Comin'" (EMI)
We Are Scientists - "It's A Hit"/"Surprise" (Virgin)
Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs - "The Pillowcase E.P." (Parasol)

Buy Scissor Sisters' Ta-Dah! on LP at Insound:
Buy it at Insound!

Vote Peace

Make time on Tuesday to VOTE! In Minnesota we still use paper ballots that can be COUNTED, unlike states using faulty electronic machines that have no paper trail. The right to vote is one of the most powerful resources we have in this country. Make your voice heard!!

Thus ends today's soapbox minute.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

MTV Christmas

"Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You" by Billy Squire, featuring the original MTV VJ's. See if you can spot 'em!

Today's spins

Records heard today from my turntable:

Fantastic Plastic Machine (1998)
Keats w/Colin Blunstone (1984)
Paul Westerberg - Songs from Open Season 10" (2006)
Brian Wilson
presents SMiLE (2004)
Bay City Rollers -
Wouldn't You Like It? (1975)
Elton John - The Captain & the Kid (2006)
Billy Preston - Encouraging Words (1970)
Jupiter Affect - The Restoration of Culture after Genghis Khan (2003)

Purchase Brian Wilson presents SMiLE on LP at Insound:
Buy it at Insound!

In my kitchen: smile.