Choppin’ Wood

How did I not know about this until now?

Who knew? from mikedidonato on Vimeo.

This is Mike Didonato by the way who, aside from being an exceptional wood splitter, is also a mechanical engineer, accomplished rock climber, roller-derby fanatic, Kung Fu black belt and all-round nice guy. He keeps a pretty neat website to document his achievements and tickle your funny bone too.

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Music Punctuation

Look, we all forget. I’m no exception; no doubt, if you poured through this blog long enough you’d find a couple examples of thoroughly un-Strunk&White examples of punctuation.

We should try, though. So, for the record, here is how you punctuate music titles:

An album, EP or similar collection of songs should be titled in italics. A song title should be written in quotations. When it comes to band and artists names, however, we must resign ourselves to whatever form that artist has chosen, bizarre though it may be.

Thus, in my August, 2009 post, I discussed the song “This Blackest Purse” from the album Eskimo Snow by Why?.

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OMG, They’re Real!

The Alliance of Magicians

Click here to see the real magicians' alliance.

Mumford & Sons

Judging by their record sales, I’m a bit late jumping on the Mumford and Sons bandwagon. But, I don’t care; this is the best new band since the North Mississippi Allstars released Shake Hands with Shorty and the people must know!

They’re basically a British version of the Avett Brothers, only less gimmicky and with much better writing. The difference between these two bands is striking because they arrived at a similar tone and instrumentation from very different angles. The Avett Brothers started as rock band and gradually shifted into a country outfit with a punk/rock affect. They started crashing bluegrass festivals, often playing in the lobbies of hotels, were they were greeted with horrified responses from purists and patent glee from the No Depression crowd who were enthralled by their daring and by the guitarist playing a kick-drum. Not surprisingly, their deliveries are intensely genre-conscious and sometimes come off as ironic or, worse-yet, disingenuous. They have gone on to a successful career largely due to their stunning good looks, their novel instrumentation and little else.

Mumford and Sons, on the other hand, came from a more strictly folk background and the authenticity-focus of that scene guided them towards emotionally honest music even as they strayed from its forms. They mix country, maritime, bluegrass and British folk music with remarkable fluidity while the swells and breaks in their songs evince keen ensemble instincts, reminiscent of early Allman Brothers and The Band.

I’m desperately trying to avoid hyperbole here, so understand when I tell you that this is a serious band making important music and backing it up with exceptionally well-made video content, some of which follows:


Wilco Concert Review

I should confess that I have some very ambivalent feelings about Jeff Tweedy.  I think he’s one of the best and most important song-writers of his generation, but I also find him obnoxiously pedantic and, at times, exceptionally self-indulgent.  His embrace of avant-garde noise sometimes makes for eloquent soundscapes and sometimes tips into a realm that sounds suspiciously like the alley cats in my neighborhood getting laid.

I could probably get over all this if his fans (and some music critics) didn’t talk about him as if he were the only guy making his kind of music or, worse yet, that his particular brand of avante-garde/pop/country/rock is the only valid expression of modern music.  Ryan Adam’s did a better job of expressing this frustration than I ever will, so I’ll let him take over for a second….

Take that, you snobs!!!

OK, so it’s not Jeff Tweedy’s fault that Jim DeRogatis wrote a bad review about Ryan Adams, but you see where I’m going with this… or maybe not, and that’s fine too.

At any rate, we arrived at the Bushnell to find an impatient throng donned in carefully pressed flannel and delicately frayed denim. We made our way to our seats and took stock of the stage. A mountain of drums, keyboards and amps were ringed by 1″ plumbing-pipe stands erected with long, incandescent, vacuum-tube-like bulbs perched atop them, such that one might expect Nikola Tesla to arrive at any moment for the seance.


You’ll understand my disbelief when I first saw this:

Rayland Baxter

Rayland Baxter

Rayland Baxter looking rather chilly


I knew Rayland in high school. At the time, I was only jealous of his athleticism, devilish good looks and height (he’s well over 6′). Imagine my anguish to find out he’s also a talented songwriter with an angelic voice.

In all seriousness, Rayland is writing some excellent compositions and, perhaps more importantly, he is bringing them to life with judicious instrumentation and uncommon restraint. Have a gander at this video and then saunter over to his Myspace page to get the goods.


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Spoon Video

OK, so this is the second Spoon video I’ve posted in a month. Why, you ask? Because a) these guys are underrated and really, really awesome and b) this particular video is, unfortunately, a very accurate depiction of what a recording session can devolve into when a band shows up with an entourage.

The Underdog from Spoon on Vimeo.

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Serious Sam Barrett

This guy’s from Yorkshire. Like, England!

Serious Sam Barrett – Lay A White Rose from James Rhodes on Vimeo.

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The Morning Benders

I was really taken with this video; real people, in a real room, singing and playing together in real time! This kind of production is becoming rarer by the day and there are some good reasons for this. The additional prep-time it takes to teach a multitude of people when to start and stop is pretty obvious, but it is also exceptionally difficult to edit this type of session because of the bleed from various sources into mics designated for a different source. For example, if the snare drum is off on the drum track, you can move it, but then you’ll still be able to hear the error on the vocal track and the corrected hit on the drum track; this sounds bad.

So, you’re basically left with whatever is captured on one take. This can be a nerve-racking experience, but it can also lead to pretty amazing moments being captured that would otherwise be “fixed” in a modern, non-linear editing process.

This video seems to support the now-novel idea of capturing a real moment in time as apposed to using the recording process as a method for achieving an ideal that only exists on Steely Dan records. It is a very unique piece of music, and that, in and of itself, is a rarity these days.

Yours Truly Presents: The Morning Benders “Excuses” from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

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