Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Modern Vampires of the City

this could be the best record of 2013...
"We know the fire awaits unbelievers
All of the sinners the same
Girl you and I will die unbelievers
bound to the tracks of the train"
                              - Unbelievers
New York City has given us many things, it helped to spawn Vampire Weekend in 2006. On May 14th this indie-rock-pop outfit gave us perhaps the best album of 2013 (Muchacho by Phosphorescent is right there too). It took me a couple of listens to come to this conclusion, but now I cannot wear it out. Each song has its own personality while never loosing site of the band's. Ezra has a forcible skill in writing words that are both prophetic and stinging. He also taps into that which helps us to identify with what he's singing. As a band, they have a knack for creating a sound that's catchy amidst the cultivation of their own identity. This record feels different, better, like the birth of an idea.

When a world originates through creativity and collaboration it allows for more of us to accept it, maybe because we think we understand it. Modern Vampires of the City has given us a path that has no end, only definitions of an end. There are times when I absorb the lyrics as though they are from my thoughts. Assimilation aside this record touches on the contemplations that surround me and the overarching state of affairs that we all try to escape from; self doubt, the world, cultural decline, travel, mistakes made, the past, what's next, faith, love and death. Twelve songs, speaking one after another, each possessing an identity to stand alone, yet cohesive as a collection. This may be their third release, but it's far from junior. 

My personal favorites are Unbelievers and Diane Young. Unbelievers borders between a preacher's sermon and a sort of rhythmic clamor, producing a hook which could become the narrative of an entire summer. I can only hope, dogmatic or not, that this track will speak to others. 

"I'm not excited, but should I be? Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me? I know I love you and you love the sea. Wonder if the water contains a little drop, little drop for me?"

The latter of the two seems to be lurching into the David Byrne side of things, which is the ultimate compliment. Diane Young is more than a pun, it's playfully rambunctious with a dash of dread, wrapped in honesty. Who dares to go this route?

Irish and proud baby naturally                                    
But you got the luck of a Kennedy                               
        So Grab the wheel, keep holding it tight                                   
'Til you're driving off in the black of the night 
If Diane Young won't change your mind
Baby baby baby baby right on time

To Vampire Weekend, 
Thanks for giving me something substantial to wrap my head around when I'm trying to escape the down pressing grind. Your songs are infectious and thoughtful. I feel almost more connected when attempting to run away. Seeing the lyrics next to the cover art sheds new light on the interpretations. eightychoices. 

*Catch 'em August 11th at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park*

Monday, May 20, 2013

Seven Oh Seven

Take me home country roads, to the place that I belong.
Who does number 7 work for? Apparently us. On this day in May of 2006 we voiced our vows to one another, with the Pacific as our witness at Schoolhouse Beach. Seven years and counting. Thanks to all of our friends and family for giving us love and support. Many places have been home to us, yet Sonoma was and is home to us now. All my love goes into the partnership I have with my secret agent wife. You're the best Agent M. Happy anniversary. We're up to the challenge that is life's journey.                                     eightychoices.

"He who binds himself to a joy does the winged life destroy; but he who kisses the joy as it flies lives in eternity's sunrise."     -William Blake

Monday, May 13, 2013

Technicolor Dream Tour

Yesterday was Mother's Day so I trust everyone spoke to theirs. Last night was also the reunion of Jim James and The Fillmore. San Francisco has been quite privy through the years in getting to experience quintessential performances during the ascension of My Morning Jacket. Jim playing with a new band felt like an experience that had to be had. Rallying with a great group of friends never hurts either.
Ever the showman, he came out with an energy that coursed its way through you. These songs, written by Jim, were soaked in live reverb, piercing with tone. There were tracks that teetered near too loud. On the other hand, who doesn't like some good old fashioned rock and roll? Sure there were times when the audience wanted what was familiar, yet he remained vigilant, perhaps stubborn, in uncloaking his new songs. Like most true art, there are times when the artist must not compromise their mission. He clearly had his. His demeanor hovered between crooning band leader and the commander of a force that needed to be unleashed. Jim James is an entertainer, he's intimate with the power of being on stage. During one song he was in full character, fake-smoking a cigarette and all. Other times he would jump in a gangly-limbed exuberance, resembling a human starfish. His newest bandmates react and interact well with him. I wonder if he feels like he's cheating on The Jacket? The drummer was phenomenal and the the two multi-instrumentalists were indeed grizzled musicians who fit seamlessly into the world of Yim. The bassist was the steady hand amidst the sonic jams - of course she was. There were moments when they emanated an almost Pink Floyd like thrill, capturing us all, putting us in a zone. Another name came to mind while listening - Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

The five of them had a tight synergy performing the material from his solo debut, Regions of Light and Sound of God. Set one was a live version of the album, played in order as it appears on the record. For what it's worth, the first three songs of the night were straight delicious. I was especially spellbound by State of the Art. To the delight of the crowd, Jim came out alone with an acoustic guitar for the encore, coaxing a beautifully stripped-down version of Wonderful. What began as a My Morning Jacket song bloomed into a series of covers from the Monsters of Folk and New Multitudes.

Regions of Light and Sound of God.

Setlist: State of the Art (A. E. I. O. U.), Know Til Now, Dear One, A New Life, Exploding, Of the Mother Again, Actress, All is Forgiven, God's Love to Deliver
Encore: Wonderful (My Morning Jacket), Dear God (Monsters of Folk), His Master's Voice (Monsters of Folk), The Right Place (Monsters of Folk), Losin Yo Head (Monsters of Folk), Changing World (New Multitudes)

If you find yourself with time to spare inside The Fillmore I recommend chilling out upstairs in the great poster room with an adult beverage. There are so many awesome vintage prints. I have my personal favorite. Surely you can find one too. Remember to stay until the end of any sold out show for the free poster (one of my favorite nuances).


Sunday, May 5, 2013

It's Only Rock & Roll But I Like It...

The Rolling Stones
Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie are back on the road unleashing the greatest rock 'n roll catalogue of hits on the 50 years and counting tour. For those of you who will be in attendance tonight in Oakland, be prepared to get annihilated. With only ten North American cities playing host, the bay area receives some serious love with two shows. Tonight the lads take over the Oracle arena in Oakland. On May 8th they'll invade San Jose. Ticket prices are a bit steep, but it's not everyday that you get to be entertained by the great living institution in rock 'n roll. The Stones' ability to smith timeless songs and their uncompromising longevity have allowed them to remain much more than relevant. They are the conquerors of rock who won't go away because we as fans cannot imagine a world absent The Rolling Stones. The band's magic draws deeply from the songs, or rather, the fountain of youth that they have created. Their artistry endures because it's rooted in tradition - soul/rhythm and blues. Sure I'm a Stones guy, but really who isn't? Here's a glimpse at the L.A. set from May 3rd.

get off of my cloud, the last time, it's only rock & roll, paint it black, gimme shelter, wild horses*, factory girl, emotional rescue, respectable*, doom & gloom, one more shot, honky tonk women, before they make me run, happy, midnight rambler, miss you, start me up, tumbling dice, brown sugar, sympathy, encore: can't always get, j. j. flash, satisfaction. (*special guest)

No one does it like The Rolling Stones because no one else can. They are rock and roll. Witness it live.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day

Thanks for being so beautiful California. As parts of America deal with inclement weather, we out here, along this stretch of the Pacific, are embracing the glorious sunshine and perfect days of Sonoma County. I recommend visiting... now, or sooner rather than later. Quality of life can dictate our lives as emotional beings. I for one feel blessed to live in such a naturally diverse place with a superb climate.

It's time for us all to indulge in that which is spring. Camping, ball games, road trips, festivals and debauchery are all par for the warm weather course. Dust off your gear and ramp up your outdoor outings. If you're able to partake, there's a plethora of bay area/northern California happenings.

Mr. Salty, the ambassador of radical 
So, with Mr. Salty being the ambassador of all things radical, here's a little rundown of what's going down...

Up in Boonville this weekend there's the legendary beer festival. Next weekend Napa plays host to their very own four-day music fest with the inaugural bottle rock aiming to please. The following weekend, San Francisco runs wild with the yearly ritual, bay to breakers. On the last weekend in May there's the strawberry festival, which borders the epic wilderness of Yosemite for an extended weekend. "I highly recommend doing any one of the above."     - Mr. Salty

So, with a little bit of energy and some additional resources, anyone can go out and enjoy a social event. If larger crowds aren't your thing, I understand. Maybe a nice bike ride, a pair of baseball mitts, some gardening or a relaxing day at the nearest beach calls to you. No matter what your preference is, get outside and enjoy your surroundings. Remember when your parents would say, go play outside? They were right. Go on, get outside and soak up some sun.


P.S. Feel free to peruse the side bar of this site for links to other fun things to do: three2see. Or scroll down a bit for the bay area bulletin.