Tag Archives: music

Saw The Thermals (Wampire, Guidance Counselor too) last night, am inspired by the Portland indie goodness!

Their new music video is rad, and it’s built up as (perhaps) the last ever film recorded and produced on Kodachrome (cue oohs and ahhs). It’s sure pretty to look at, that much I can say.

View it here.


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Thanks to my good buddy Patrick, I’ve finally participated in making music for the first time since finishing at Reed.

So, for your listening pleasure, here’s a cover of Elliott Smith’s “Pretty (Ugly Before),” inspired, mixed, and all-but-entirely performed by Patrick excepting the female vocals, which are mine. Thanks for listening!

© 2011 Patrick Finley

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“Andrew Bird’s one-man orchestra of the imagination”

“Alright. It’s kinda cool, like, songwriters can sorta get away with murder, you don’t really have… you can throw out crazy theories and not have to back it up with data or graphs or research…

“But uh, I think reckless would be my, uh, what the world needs now.”

It sounds more articulate when he says it.

Anyhow, I wanted to share this because I think Andrew Bird’s style is sweet. I like his fanciful instrumentation and lyrics, his unconventional use of the violin, and his enrichment of a single idea through looping. Glad to see that Mr. Bird is getting some TED action.

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“The Cover,” Zeppelin, Portland, and Good Causes

Covering a musician that you hold dear is one of the most difficult personal tributes one can attempt to translate to an audience without getting only the proverbial squealing, distorted feedback in response.

For me, situation qualifies the experience. I find it much easier to be swept up in a moment of shared appreciation when I’m at a show and the performing band decides to break into a cover. The gesture recognizes that there’s something bigger than both the performer I’m currently watching and me, something we both love, and therefore, something that connects us even more than the current situation (hopefully) has.

A recorded cover is an entirely different matter. The lack of (seeming) spontaneity adds a serious intent to the rendition; choosing to listen to the recording without a crowd surrounding you sharpens your perception. A listener familiar with the original can’t help but compare: is the interpretation unoriginal, a carbon copy of the prototype—or is does it stray too far from the artist’s original intent, and is it therefore too weird for a curious fan to buy into (tangentially, does this latter judgement label the listener as close-minded and does it matter what the artist originally intended?). The notoriety and influence of the original performer multiplies this contentious situation, probably weighting the general perception of an attempted cover as just that—at worst, a failed attempt to channel brilliance, and at best a reincarnation of a beloved number so that the new performer rekindles public interest and respect for the original. It’s a “thank you” from the performer to the orignating genius and an incidental “hey, have you heard…” to the audience. Most of the time I find myself responding with “Yes, asshole. Now why did you choose to massacre this masterpiece the way you did?” And here we are again, left to wonder if I’m just a lame traditionalist.

I think my presentation of this dichotomy of “the cover” only proves how wary I am of potential reinterpretation of a classic. I don’t want my tender love for some piece of music to be dragged along through someone else’s foreign nostalgia. I do, however, really like to be pleasantly surprised and see something anew—again.

And that brings me to the point of why I’m here: to draw your attention toward a tribute compilation that has recently inspired me.

From the Land of the Ice and Snow: The Songs of Led Zeppelin (Jealous Butcher Records)

Released 10/12/10

Album artwork by John King and Carson Ellis


I can’t say I’ve listened to it enough to truly feel acquainted with all the material on it, so don’t consider this a review of its total musical quality (though so far, 3 listens in, I’m really enjoying it). Do consider it a stamp of approval though. The 2-disc (3 with the bonus digital download-only tracks), 50+ track compilation is the brainchild of Rob Jones of Portland’s Jealous Butcher Records , Matt Ward, and John King. The project started through a shared love of Led Zeppelin, a band which inspired each of these people to do what they do today. “And wouldn’t it be nice to put together a tribute release featuring friends both near and afar, not being a ‘who’s who’ sort of tribute, but rather a ‘community’ inspired collection of Zeppelin songs.” (Quoted here) Jones issued a call-to-arms to musicians that he knew and submissions started to pour in—not surprising, given Zep’s God-like presence, with influence over so many different genres.

That was six years ago. The project’s momentum dipped and rose, certainly moving to the back burner along the way, but with more submissions of varying quality arriving all along the way. The project needed some fresh energy in order to draw it to a satisfactory close. This rekindling arrived in the form of Ward’s idea to turn the project into a benefit. Thus a percentage of the sales for this record go to First Octave, a Portland non-profit organization which issues grants to local school music programs. And this is the part that really inspired me to go out on a limb and risk purchasing a compilation that I might only listen to once, dour cover-consumer that I am (though, due to my knowledge of who was involved on the project and my love of the subject, I guessed that probably wouldn’t be the case). Portland is a city where just over 50% of schools lack any sort of music program (stat courtesy of First Octave’s site). Music education is something that not only supplements but enriches education at any age, whether it’s a pleasant addition to one’s daily activities or the sole focus of study and activity. Engaging with music makes you a smarter, sharper, better person. It was the bright spot in my public school education here in Oregon, and I certainly attribute it with keeping me involved in the classroom and inspired to learn. Those brave public school teachers who introduced me to music were what inspired me to go to college and keep engaging my brain. Funny, I wound up choosing music as my major concentration. I think it’s awesome that a local record label coupled with over 50 local artists to produce an item that would generate funding for our local school-age population. Cyclic action is part of what makes music really beautiful. Some of the smartest musicians I know taught me that repetition regenerates and renews. So check this out and throw some dollas toward what’s good—for you now, for the current music scene, for rock and roll’s past, and for the future generation.

Image courtesy of oregonlive.com

More reviews of this tribute can be found here, here, here, and here. For Willamette Weekly‘s awesome Q&A with Rob Jones, click here.

Check out the album’s page on Facebook for more news and media.

And here‘s the write-up of the October 9th release party at the Doug Fir.

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“Do you remember that day you fell outta my window?”

“I sure do, you came jumpin’ out after me.”

Looks like I’ll mostly be posting Youtube videos ’til graduation. Hope that’s enough to make you stick around, ’cause I sure like it when people read this thing, tiny & inconsequential as it is.

Anyhow, here’s a song of which I can’t seem to get enough. As usual, I’m behind the times, so I won’t be surprised if it’s already one you know and love. If not, listen up.

“While you were sitting in the back smokin’ a cigarette that you thought was gonna be your last, I was fallin’ deep, deeply in love with you… and I never told you ’til just now!”

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Change is good.

We’re getting to the truly crazy point in my last semester in college. I have just over 21 days left to me before my first draft is due to be submitted to the division. Yet even as my headspace is becoming more and more manic (termed the “crazy steady state” by a charming duo), I’m still managing to take good care of myself, with a good amount of help from some beloved friends. Musical therapy doesn’t hurt either.

The reason I’m here is because I’ve had a couple of serendipitous afternoons, walking down the hill from the coffeeshop to campus, where the shuffle setting on my iPod has rewarded me and coincided perfectly with the fleeting sunshine. And maybe between my slightly manic state of mind and the thin warmth from the spring light, I’ve developed a higher tolerance for pop-y covers and remixes, replete with handclaps and toy xylophone. In any case, the changing of the seasons from gray to gold is what I need and these few covers seem to be the perfect soundtrack, no matter their creative merit. Timing is, after all, everything.

Feist — Lonely Lonely [Frisbee’d Remix]

I’ve been revisiting Open Season. I only love few tracks off the album — this one, and then also the k-os remix of “Mushaboom,” since its freestyle contains some endearing Feist/Broken Social Scene references. Good cherry blossom music.

Thom Yorke — Atoms for Peace [Four Tet Remix]

The perfect combination.

Miles Fisher — This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody) [Talking Heads Cover]

Talking Heads holds the special-est of places in my heart. If it weren’t for them, Reed College would not be what it is. I can say that much with certainty. I’m looking at you, “crazy steady” duo.

Anyhow. I know some of you will think this is blasphemous. Whatever. Embrace it. And happy March/thesising.

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Recommendation: Mirah’s (A)Spera


1. Generosity (3:44)
2. The World Is Falling Apart (5:00)
3. Education (5:18)
4. Shells (2:32)
5. Country of the Future (3:35)
6. The Forest (3:30)
7. Gone Are the Days (3:41)
8. The River (7:49)
9. Bones & Skin (3:12)
10. While We Have the Sun (4:41)

Over the last year Mirah has become one of my favorite artists. I find her lyrics sweetly impressive and clever. I think her lo-fi idiom is solid, well-practiced, but never boring. She mixes her troubadorial guitar with instrumental choices that might otherwise be surprising if you were listening to any other singer-songwriter. “The Forest” (off of (A)Spera) shows off a tight horn section with a military flavor; “Shells” is carried by a light, arpeggiated dulcimer (one of my favorite sounds in the world); “While We Have the Sun” unfolds over a thumb piano loop (thumb piano!), dulcimer (!!), and layered vocals. The overall scope of her records shows a positive correlation between her creative bravery and the progression of time.

Her newest album (A)Spera came out about a week ago and marks her first release of new material since 2004. It highlights all of her abilities as a musician, lyricist, and songwriter, furthering her arc of successful artistic projects. If you’re already a listener, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re not, now would be a good time to change that.

A well-written review of (A)Spera can be found here. Give her opening track a listen. And to all you folks lucky enough to live in Portland (her chosen artistic base), she’ll be playing the Aladdin Theater on the 4th of April. See you there.

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