Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

My Favorite Albums, Songs, and Shows- 2010

Friday, December 31st, 2010

The National High Violet

My Favorite Albums:

The National – High Violet
Beach House – Teen Dream
The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Freelance Whales – Weathervanes
Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid
The Black Keys – Brothers
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Best Coast – Crazy For You
Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me

(Favorite albums from 2009 that I didn’t hear until 2010…)
The xx – xx
Edwarde Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Up From Below
Florence + The Machine – Lungs

Freelance Whales

Most-Played Songs:

We Are The Willows – A Funeral Dressed As A Birthday
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home
The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
Kid Cudi – All Summer (feat. Best Coast and Vampire Weekend)
The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt
Eminem – Not Afraid
Kanye West – Lost In The World (feat. Bon Iver)
Freelance Whales – Hannah
Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
Antoine Dudson – Run & Tell That (The Bed Intruder Song)

Andrew Bird

The Shows (Gasp! Only five all year!):

Andrew Bird, YuGong YiShan, Beijing (my view from the show)
St. Vincent, YuGong Yushan, Beijing
Handsome Furs, 13 Club, Tianjin (These guys are moving to Beijing next year! They told me themselves…)
Wil, 13 Club, Tianjin
Skip Skip Ben Ben, Riff Live House, Tianjin

How about you? What were your favorites from the past year?

My Favorite Songs, Albums, and Live Shows from 2009

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

If you couldn’t tell, I love music. And I’ve only come to really love it in the past few years… way too late in the game, I tell you. In my opinion, appreciating and enjoying music is an art that can help you in numerous ways. For example – music increases brain function. It relieves stress. It could possibly start a revolution too. When I was younger I took music lessons but must’ve lost interest somewhere along the way. I wish I hadn’t given up on them, but this is something that can change! Maybe with all my free time here in China, I can pick up an instrument again and not just my iPod.

Do you think it’d be possible to go all of next year only listening to music made before my lifetime? It’s a nice thought but probably not. I have this dilemma that I keep “discovering” “new” music only to find out it came out in the 90s or something. I’m getting better at keeping up with current music coming out, but then there’s this Bob Dylan guy I discovered… … alas – it keeps me busy.

This year did wonders for my music collection! Lots of good tunes, and hopefully my vinyls will stay in tact as they wait until I find a cheap way to get them and a record player to China.

My Favorite Songs:
Animal Collective – My Girls
– The song I listened to 20 times in a row the first time I heard it
The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition
– From 500 Days of Summer, I think
La Roux – Bulletproof
– The song I listen to every time I meet a new girl here in China
Phoenix – Listzomania
– The song that introduced me to the The Breakfast Club
The Lonely Island – I’m On A Boat
– The best SNL song ever written and the best use of T-Pain
The Phenomenal Handclap Band – 15 to 20
– Redundant but memorable
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll
– The song I dance to down GuangDong Road
Amadou & Miriam – Sabali
– The first time I heard this song on the radio, I txted all my music-loving friends about it
We Are The Willows – A Funeral Dressed As A Birthday
– Best song when you miss Minneapolis
Andrew Bird – Oh No
– This reminds me of the roadtrip for some reason, probably the whistling

My Favorite Albums:
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
Derek Webb – Stockholm Syndrome
The Swell Season – Strict Joy
Mute Math – Armistice
Haley Bonar – Sing With Me (album cover art pictured)
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeaus Phoenix
Andrew Bird – Noble Beast
The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You
The Temper Trap – Conditions
Monsters of Folk – Monsters of Folk

My Favorite Live Shows:
Lykke Li @ The Varsity
– Up front and close to the stage, this Swedish songstress impressed (pictured above); I heard it wasn’t so good from the back, though?
White Ghost Shivers @ Lee’s
– Possibly the best live show I’ve ever seen, and I didn’t even realize it
A Night In The Box @ Kitty Cat Klub
– All 11 times I saw these guys (truth) was a great show
Caroline Smith & The Goodnight Sleeps @ The Varsity
– My friend and I weren’t even there to see them, but new fans were created
The Tallest Man On Earth @ Turf Club
– I saw him here twice this spring… he’s not tall at all, it’s a metaphor
Haley Bonar @ The Walker’s Sculpture Garden
– Haley has long been the favorite part of my Minneapolis summers
Fleet Foxes @ First Avenue
– Hearing these harmonies come together live, is an amazing experience; and to think, I almost overslept this one
Phoenix @ First Avenue
– My last show in Minneapolis
Mute Math @ The Majestic
– So electric, so creative, so worth it… Mute Math continues to impress with their live shows
Au Revoir Simone @ Beijing’s Yu Gong Yi Shan
– First live show in China! And it was awesome…

Any thoughts? Am I totally off my rocker? What were some of your favorites this year?

Memory of Decay

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Feel free to skip this post – I might get a wee bit vulnerable…

You were forewarned: This week has been especially lonely and self-reflective. Maybe it’s the start of the holiday season. Or maybe it’s the lack of foreigner interaction? If I can speak candidly, life overseas is not all fun stories and awkward adventures. It’s hard. It’s really hard. And it’s not just because I didn’t have turkey on Thanksgiving. That was the easy part! I had delicious Chinese food instead. Pumpkin pie might’ve been nice, though.

The hardest part about being overseas is being away from the people you care about. Their lives seem to go on “normally” without “you” but you’re in this entirely new place with new things happening every day. You still know it’s where you’re supposed to be, etc., but it’s like there’s this parallel universe occurring without you on the other side of the world. It’s almost too much to think about. So, I’ll stop. Let’s think about the times I had and the feelings I confronted with those people before I left, instead… remember, you don’t have to read this.

In the months leading up to my departure, I experienced a huge range of different emotions. During May and the early part of June, my feelings were pure excitement. Quitting my job, selling my junk, roadtripping with the best of friends, and my amazing “Going Away Party” all contributed to my enthusiastic anticipation. I thought I was completely ready to be a bigger-boy long-term overseas-liver! I thought I was two years too late, even.

But summertime followed fast. In Texas and Italy this summer, my feelings turned to complete inadequacy. I began to second-guess everything. And most of all, I was afraid. I was “alone” in a crowd of wonderful young people all summer long and felt helpless to change it. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid of the unknown and afraid of that expected loneliness once I got over here. How long could I handle being the only one among millions? … Was I thinking straight? … I can’t just move to China, right? … I can’t just leave everything, right? … I can’t just say the words, “See you later!” and leave everyone I love, right? Pardon my French, but what the [crap] was I about to do!? (Cue Survivor – Eye of the Tiger, please.) (No one did.)

But the summer ended fast. Back in Minneapolis during August and September, my feelings really went downhill. I don’t think I was actually depressed, but I was pretty darn close. I was sleeping ungodly hours and dreading my fast-approaching exodus. I was staying at my parents’ and living off of what little I had left. I seemed to save everything for the last minute, but maybe that’s normal. I think I annoyed my friends. Don’t get me wrong, those two months were great and included plenty of high points! In fact, let’s recount those high points now: the Fleet Foxes concert, the unexpected MN State Fair visit, the bird-in-my-truck incident, the last trip to The Library, the watching of The Breakfast Club for the first time (and 16 Candles too), the indoor bonfire, the spur-of-the-moment Beantown & NYC trip, the Como Zoo/PNG/Japanese Tea House expedition, the cupcake nights, the outdoor Solid Gold concert at The Walker, the epic bachelor’s weekend up north, the Charlie The Dog incidents, the going away party for a different friend, the Phoenix concert, the walk around Powderhorn, the Vikings starting 4-0, the armoire incident, the A Night In The Box and White Ghost Shivers show at Lee’s, the many moves, the Lake Vermillion canoe adventure, the last-minute trip to Cedar Point and subsequent visit to 8 Mile, the numerous cups of coffee and conversations, the failed cookies incident, the retreat at Lake Beauty, the Mary Poppins show at The Orpheum, the Uptown cougar incident, the shisha on the back porch, the ridiculously awesome Mute Math concert, the unplanned visa run to Chicago with my mom, the times I visited my grandparents in Lake City with my dad, and the two beautiful weddings of four good friends…

Wow. Umm, that’s a longer list than I initially thought it would be… in hindsight, I guess I had a pretty outstanding couple of months at home. Maybe some of the best months ever. Why did I feel so depressed? Ah, I know why. Every one of those memories includes people. I honestly don’t know what all of them were thinking in those moments, but there was always a lingering thought in the back of my mind. A thought of “last”… would this be the last time I would ever see them? (Cue Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit, please.)(Someone did.) Dramatic, I know. But valid, methinks, for someone in my situation. I tried my best to change those thoughts to “last in a long while” but it was difficult. R-e-a-l-i-t-y had come – I was sad to go, but “going” was exactly what I was going to do.

All these depressive feelings came to a head the night of the second wedding I was in. It might’ve been the fact that I had to say goodbye to 50+ people in a short amount of time, or twas the one-week countdown, or maybe I had just been holding it all in. Needless to say, the tears started flowing. I hope my newly married friends didn’t mind.

Describing those tears is beyond my writing capability, but suffice it to say they were needed. With those tears, came realization. A dream-following life is full of loss, and following your heart is going to be hard, but that does not mean you don’t follow your heart.

That final week, I was just lost. There’s no better way to describe it. I was just going through the motions, barely got any sleep, and slowly packed my bags. The world was knocking on my door; I was about to open on up.

From pure excitement to absolute fear to borderline depression to just plain lost, all in the span of a few months. There were only two Things that really got me through. The First is obvious and I probably shouldn’t mention it here. The second is music.

Everyone enjoys the art of mix tapes. We love piecing together the perfect songs to speak for us when we can’t find the words. Well, that’s what I did. I made a mix of songs to express my crazy emotions. With lyrics like “If you’re going abroad, I can’t help you; if you’re crossing the street, I might be there” or “I liked reality better when it was a dream” spoke volumes to me. “I have had so many people I deeply care for; I’m so blessed to have spent the time, with my family, and the friends I loved in my short life.”

I thought I should share my mix with you. It’s titled, “Memory of Decay” from one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs called Every Grain of Sand. (Cue it, please.) (I did.) It’s also a lame pun for “DK” – I normally wouldn’t have explained such an obvious pun, but some people had difficulty with it.

Memory Of Decay Album Cover01 – Flight of the Conchords – Friends
02 – Music Go Music – Just Me
03 – A Night In The Box – The Garden
04 – Lykke Li – Breaking It Up
05 – P.O.S. – Goodbye
06 – The Big Pink – Dominos
07 – Mates of State – The Re-Arranger
08 – Bayside – Moceanu
09 – Fever Ray – When I Grow Up
10 – Anis Mojgani – Shake The Dust
11 – Miley Cyrus – The Climb
12 – Peter Björn & John – Stay This Way
13 – Tegan & Sara – Call It Off
14 – The Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Found
15 – Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps – Tying My Shoes
16 – The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You
17 – Daniel Johnston – True Love Will Find You In The End
18 – Patrick Watson – Beijing
19 – Antony & The Johnsons – Another World
20 – Haley Bonar – Drinking Again
21 – Yeasayer – Red Cave

Download (137MB .zip) *Click link *Enter captcha *Wait 15 seconds *Select “Regular Download” *Hopefully it works!

Don’t feel obligated to listen to it or anything, it gets kind of depressing toward the end. You might just get a glimpse into my pre-voyage emotions, though.

Today, my feelings are quite different. Although the expected loneliness is very evident at times, I’m so thankful to be here in China! It’s completely worth it. I love almost every aspect of being here and am doing quite well. I understand it’s a slow process in connecting with people. And if I made a music mix today, the songs would be much more happy and upbeat. That is all.

Bring it on, Advent.

Best Places to Buy Vinyl in Minneapolis / St. Paul

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Electric Fetus

The four building blocks of the universe are fire, water, gravel and vinyl.
-Dave Barry

There’s nothing like listening to a Keith Green record…. unless, of course, you’re listening to him on vinyl.

Last year, I just so happened to acquire my parent’s old record player. And it couldn’t have been better timing! It was in fairly good shape, but I decided to get a new needle for it anyways. I found a replacement at the first place I looked, The Needle Doctor in Dinkytown. It was a very friendly place with many knowledgeable helpers. I struck up a conversation with the guy who was ringing me up and we started talking about the best places to find vinyl in the area. He knew many more places than I did, so I asked him for a list.

These places are gold. I’ve browsed most of them. We’re not messing with garage sales or your local Goodwill here – these are the big guns. And yes, it’s true, vinyl sales had an 89% increase last year

Electric Fetus
(612) 870-9300
2000 4th Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am – 9pm, Sat 9am – 8pm, Sun 11am – 6pm
Genre: All kinds (new & used)

Eclipse Records
(651) 645-7724
1922 University Ave W
St Paul, MN 55104
Hours: Mon 11am-10pm, Tue & Wed 2-10pm, Thur 2-11pm, Fri & Sat 11am-11pm
Genre: All kinds (new & used)

Extreme Noise Records
(612) 824-0100
407 W Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Hours: 12-8pm everyday
Genre: Punk Rock, Metal

Fifth Element
(612) 377-0044
2411 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-6pm
Genre: Hip Hop (new & used)

Hymie’s Vintage Records
(612) 729-8890
3318 E Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 1-6pm
Genre: All kinds (new & used)

Know-Name Records
(612) 869-1070
6009 Portland Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55417
Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30am-9:30pm, Sun ’til 6:30pm
Genre: Used

Landfill Books & Music
(651) 644-8612
1222 University Ave. W
St. Paul, MN 55104
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Genre: All kinds

Roadrunner Records
(612) 822-0613
4304 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55409
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12-5pm
Genre: All kinds (rare, vintage, and used)

Treehouse Records, Inc. (closed down?)
(612) 872-7400
2557 Lyndale Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 12-6pm
Genre: Rock, Soul, Jazz, R&B (new & used)

Vital Vinyl
(612) 874-8892
3 W 15th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Hours: Mon-Fri 1-9:30pm, Sat-Sun 1-8pm
Genre: Electronic, House, Techno (new & used)

Cheapo Discs
(612) 827-8238
1300 W Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Hours: 9am – 12pm Everyday
Genre: All kinds (new & used)

What’s your favorite spot to flip through records? Any luck on craigslist?

Great Music Lives Here

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

The Current tshirtTwenty aught eight was truly a great year for music, regardless of which genre you prefer… Better than ‘07, I think, and close to ‘06. It’s all relative to your music taste, I guess. Tons of wonderful albums came out this year, and many that came out last year become prominent this year.

Even more notably, local music found a very special place in my heart this year… The Minneapolis / St. Paul music scene is fascinating, “the backbone of the area’s counterculture”… ( Even Mpls mayor R.T. Rybak says, “This is a great music town, and you can come in here and find something that is not out of some kind of box or the big chain stores.” ( And living in the city has given me many opportunities to see live music this year – and it hasn’t disappointed.

There are simply too many great venues to enjoy music that I couldn’t possibly get to them all in just a couple years, but I tried. My favorite venue, by far, is the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown. It has a retro feel with excellent sound and lighting systems. It’s also in a great location, walking distance from the Loring Pasta Bar and Annie’s Parlour.

If you’re interested in more of the history of the scene, here’s a great, all-inclusive article on music past here in the cities: And here’s a radio broadcast on the history of rock in Minneapolis:

Also, don’t forget to tune into The Current on New Year’s Day to hear all the top tunes of the year as voted on by their listeners. It should make for a good day of music-listening. Their annual music poll. Now on to my lists… Most of the web has their “top ten” or whatever, so I just decided to showcase some local gems:

Favorite Local Albums:
Haley Bonar | Big Star (1)(video)
Chris Koza | The Dark, Delirious Morning (1)
Doomtree | Doomtree (video)
Bon Iver | For Emma, Forever Ago (sort-of local)(1)(video)
Jeremy Messersmith | The Silver City (1)(video)
A Night In The Box | Write A Letter (You just have to see them live…)
Atmosphere | When Life Gives You Lemons… (1)(video)

Most-Listend-To Album:
Kanye West | 808s and Heartbreak (only because it took so long to figure out if I liked it or not) (video)

Most-Listened-To Song:
M.I.A. | Paper Planes (video) Fabulously addictive song with a great message… And it was featured in the recent movie, Slumdog Millionaire, one of the best of the year…

Favorite Live Shows I attended:
Haley Bonar acoustic set in the rain @ Mears Park
Fleet Foxes early show @ The Cedar Cultural Center
A Night In The Box @ 331 Club – And they just so happen to be playing here again on New Year’s Eve!
Ra Ra Riot @ 7th St. Entry
The Fiery Furnaces @ The Whole

Favorite Radio Station:
(a given…)
89.3 The Current (listen online)

What was your favorite music this year?

delirious? has a new one

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

delirious - Mission BellI just acquired the new delirious? album and it’s hot. A couple of years ago, I was on tour with Acquire the Fire and these guys were with us almost every weekend. (Boy, do I have some stories…)

They’re very big in the UK and are becoming bigger here in the US…their new album is called “The Mission Bell” and it’s all about missions. I love it. The music is pretty much the same as always, but very solid, and the lyrics are amazing.

One song is titled, “Our God Reigns.” It speak of some of the injustice going on in the world today, but that through it all, God is still reigning true and in control…

God didn”t screw up when He made you,
He’s a Father who loves to parade you.

Forgive us all, forgive us please,
As we fight for this broken world on our knees.

MuteMath – Chaos

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

In honor of me having 12 days before I leave the country, I give you a live MuteMath video:

And I hear they”ll be in town in February….oh well.