Moonshine Matinee - Two Nineteen
Record Label: None (free download)
Release Date: March 30, 2010
Gather ‘round the campfire, children, because John Rowland is back with some new tunes, and he’d like you to take a listen. You might know Rowland as the frontman of the folk band Dorsey; if you don’t, you’d best get acquainted with them if you want to be my friend. But this is not a Dorsey release we’re talking about here. It’s an EP courtesy of Rowland’s new act, Moonshine Matinee. Nifty name, I know. So, how does this EP, Two Nineteen, stack up? Unsurprisingly, these six songs are certainly worth a listen.
Things start off familiar enough with “The Mysterious Disappearance (Jesse James),” a full band folk song with a nice outlaw analogy: “But if you’re going to rob trains than you rob ‘em like Jesse James. / ‘Cause thieves with grace are men with nothing to shame.” Next up is “Wrong Most of the Time,” and it signals a change by solidifying the piano’s place on the EP. Unlike Rowland’s previous work, these songs are led by piano keys, not acoustic strumming. The piano’s prominence, combined with other artistic choices, create an old-time feeling that your grandparents could appreciate. But if you’re looking for an excuse to boogie, the pace picks up considerably with “Dr. I’m Alright,” a jazzy number inspired by New Orleans flavor. It gives the EP a well-timed kick in the pants, but a production misstep makes the horns sound somewhat grating to the ear, something dancers won’t appreciate.
Closing out Two Nineteen are the bluesy “Mississippi Angel,” which features fantastic, deep toned guitar, and “Annie Come Back Home.” The light touch of a fiddle and soothing female backing vocals (“bah bah oooh”) make “Annie Come Back Home” sound like something you’d hear coming over AM radio waves during Depression-era America.
My fear is that you may be spooked away by some phrases used in this writing, namely “old-time feeling” and “Depression-era America.” Don’t go running away, just square this with yourself: this isn’t trendy new music. It was made by those with a fondness for music history, and it’s refreshing to hear a band trying on the hats of musicians from different genres, regions, and timeframes to create something new. This is Americana, this is country, this is the blues: “There’s no silver screen, and this ain’t Hollywood.”
I spent time at the newish social networking site GetGlue.com this month, liking things left and right. I also wrote comments/blurbs on some of my favorite books, movies, and music, and I thought some of you may be interested in reading them. I've pasted a few examples below.
I wonder if any author cherishes his imaginative world more than J.R.R. Tolkien loved Middle Earth. The Silmarillion is more plodding than Tolkien's more popular works, but it is for good reason - it entails the creation of a world and the destruction of its greatest evil. To chronicle all of this, The Silmarillion sometimes reads more like a history book than a work a fiction. But after taking in the key events that shaped early Middle Earth -- such as witnessing Fingolfin's desperate battle against the colossal Morgoth -- it's easy to say The Silmarillion is worth the price of immersion.
The Fly is an exception to the rule that Hollywood remakes are shallow cash grabs. Jeff Goldblum's transformation from man to grotesque insect is truly a disturbing sight to behold. Like the novel Frankenstein, The Fly examines the effects of man testing the limits of science and nature, with the result being inevitable human tragedy. Science fiction, in print and film, does not get much better than this.
Pinkerton is the voice of that geeky, bespectacled kid from your high school who spent his time after school (and after chess practice) playing D&D in his parents' basement. He never spoke up in class, but it turns out his favorite hobby was shredding guitar. Fast forward a couple of years and that same kid is a rock star on stage, wailing his laments of a life full of hedonistic but loveless sex. Apparently he also has quite an infatuation with Japanese girls. This kid is weird, he's loud, but his music is oddly appealing. No, scratch that: his music kicks ass. He's opened up a Pandora's box of rock and you're ready to party with his inner demons.
I'm surprised I haven't done this before, but I thought it would be cool to take note of the books I read in one year. I kept track of everything I read in 2009 (reserving a special space on one of my bookshelves) so I could compile the titles in 2010. Since I graduated at the end of 2008, I was somewhat burned out on reading, so this list isn't too grand. Some of these works are old favorites of mine that I decided to revisit (including Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies).
Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale
Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Lois Lowry - The Giver
George Lucas - Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Richard Matheson - I Am Legend
Cormac McCarthy - The Road
Walter M. Miller, Jr. - A Canticle for Leibowitz
George Orwell - Animal Farm
Georges Simenon - The Blue Room
Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming - Powers Vol. 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?
John Byrne - Superman & Batman: Generations, An Imaginary Tale
Peter David, Dale Keown, and George Perez - Hulk: The End
Robert Kirkman and Phil Hester - The Irredeemable Ant-Man
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons - Watchmen
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely - JLA: Earth 2
Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada - Daredevil Visionaries Vol. 1: Guardian Devil
Various Artists - Star Wars Omnibus: Tales of the Jedi, Vol. 1
Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra - Y: The Last Man, Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
Short Story Collections / ETC
Rosario Ferre - The Youngest Doll
Harvard Student Agencies Inc. - The Official Harvard Student Agencies Bartending Course
Ana Menendez - In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd
Maurice Sendak - Where the Wild Things Are
Jerry Seinfeld - Seinlanguage
Luisa Valenzuela - Symmetries
Jeanette Winterson - Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery
I finally got around to watching the two newest James Bond movies, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. I'm a fan of quality action movies - the Jason Bourne series comes to mind - so I had high expectations for this new Bond series. I remember when I first heard Daniel Craig was cast as the title character, I thought he didn't visually suit the part. He won me over about two minutes into the first film. After finishing up Casino Royale, I was hesitant to jump into Quantum of Solace. I know it wasn't received as well as the first film, but I was not let down at all. Actually, I think it benefits from better pacing than its predecessor. Either way, these new Bond films are fantastic, and I'm ready for a third one right now.
Put aside that Star Trek Blu-ray, it's time to reflect on the great music that was released in 2009. I think my list of top albums this year is pretty varied, so maybe it'll help you discover some new music that tickles your fancy. Next year I hope to listen to more hip-hop (new and old) and tons of Beatles songs (want!). If you think of an album from 2009 that is sorely missing from my list, let me know.
15. As Tall As Lions - "Is This Tomorrow?"
14. The Swellers - "Do You Feel Better Yet"
13. Paramore - "Where the Lines Overlap"
12. Portugal. The Man - "Do You"
11. Nightmare of You - "Hey Sweetheart"
10. Jay-Z - "Run This Town"
09. fun. - "Be Calm"
08. Brand New - "Bought a Bride"
07. Audrye Sessions - "Dust and Bones"
06. Manchester Orchestra - "Pride"
05. Third Eye Blind - "About to Break"
04. Wale - "Shades"
03. Kevin Devine - "All of Everything, Erased" (this spot could be taken by any of the first five tracks off Brother's Blood)
02. P.O.S. - "Low Light Low Life"
01. mewithoutYou - "A Stick, a Carrot & String"
Artist of the Year
Best New Band
Most Disappointing Album
Say Anything - Say Anything
I Don't Get It
The Dangerous Summer - Reach For the Sun
Releases I Rocked in 2009 That Weren't Released in 2009
AFI - Sing the Sorrow
Alkaline Trio - Crimson
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The Beautiful Mistake - This Is Who You Are
The Benjamins - The Art of Disappointment
Bush - The Science of Things
Butch Walker - Sycamore Meadows
Cartel - Chroma
Cary Brothers - Who You Are
Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
The Early November - The Acoustic EP
Eve 6 - Eve 6
Frank Sinatra - Songs For Swingin' Lovers!
The Format - Dog Problems
The Format - Snails
Green Day - Nimrod
Gym Class Heroes - As Cruel As School Children
Incubus - Make Yourself
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced?
Jimmy Eat World - Static Prevails
John Anderson - Seminole Wind
Jonathan Vassar - The Hours and the Days
Lifetime - Jersey's Best Dancers
Midtown - Save the World, Lose the Girl
Muse - Absolution
MxPx - Teenage Politics
The Narrative - Just Say Yes
Ramones - Greatest Hits
Ramones - Ramones
Saves the Day - Can't Slow Down
Various Artists - La Bamba Original Soundtrack
Weezer - The Lion and the Witch
Heartsounds are proof that the punk rock spirit is alive and in good hands. They're a fairly new band, so now is the perfect time to hop on the bandwagon. If you're looking for up-and-comers who are more concerned with substance than style (yes, they aren't that easy to find these days), look no further than Heartsounds' debut album Until We Surrender. Along with singing about the seeming futility of mortality on title track "Until We Surrender" and symbiotic love on "Walking Dead," the band calls out all the "artists" who create music for the wrong reasons:
"So count the numbers and on to the next city. / Preach to the choir of unknowing children / Who will scream back to you with sterile expressions of passion. / Oh how I pity you who think you've struck gold / But you're mining for shit in a sea of coal."
Last night I turned on the TV for a bit of entertainment before bed. Instead I saw a farm worker bash a piglet's head against a pen. He dumped it in a bucket, assuming it died on impact. When told that it was still moving, his response was, "Let it bleed out." It turns out I caught Death on a Factory Farm close to the start, a documentary about an undercover agent who caught video footage of animal cruelty on an Ohio farm, and the subsequent court trial that followed. The focus of the trial quickly became the definition of cruelty, and which forms of death are the most humane and least painful for an animal (the hanging of a pig is the crux). It is a clash between an outside team that is clearly appalled by the video footage and a farming community that accepts it as old fashioned farm business.
As far as I'm concerned, when farm workers become exuberant when carrying out various forms of slaughter they have lost basic human empathy. And aside from the death, the living conditions of the pigs is abhorring. It is a shocking film, and it raises issues that need to be addressed immediately.
It was about time I picked up a Jay-Z album. The Blueprint 3 is pretty much a platform for Jay-Z to celebrate the greatness of Jay-Z, and I'm not complaining. There are some solid hits on this album that make it well worth the price of admission. I was fortunate enough to pick it up for $3.99, and Amazon MP3 is currently offering it for the very fair price of five bucks. Tracks like "Run This Town" and "Empire State of Mind" are obvious album standouts, but maybe you don't know how outrageous and funny some of the lyrics on the album are. Example:
"No I'm not a Jonas / Brother I'm a grown up / No I'm not a virgin / I use my cajones."
I know, good stuff. Oh, and "On to the Next One" will forever be my Vegas song. Double your money and make a stack.
I had been meaning to listen to a Paramore album, so I'm glad I got a chance to hear Brand New Eyes this week. Since this is the first Paramore album I've heard, I cant' say whether the band has grown/matured/whatever, but I'm sure these new tunes will not alienate their fanbase. The music is standard pop punk fare, but Hayley Williams' vocals really propel the songs forward. Now it's clear to me why Paramore's music is adored by young music fans who want to rock out, and it explains why I overheard two teenage girls at the movie theater singing along to "Misery Business" without the slightest inkling of public embarrassment. My favorite moment album moment comes during the track "Where the Lines Overlap" when the music cuts and Williams belts out, "No oooooone [her voice gets a bit surly at the end] is as lucky as us" (2:12). I don't know how many new fans will be drawn in by this album, but it is definitely worth a $3.99 digital download. So go ahead and find out why Hayley Williams is cool like Thundercats.
On a Fueled By Ramen side note, I wish I was as into the new Swellers album as much as others seem to be, although I really like the lyrics to "Dirt."
I hope by now everyone has found a band they enjoy through our Absolute 100 feature (major props to Julia and Blake for pulling extra weight this year). My picks can be found below, and make sure to check out Moonshine Matinee as well -- we were unable to include them in the final list due to some technical difficulties.
Heartsounds - San Francisco, California AP.net Profile | Myspace Why We Like: Quick drum beats, fast guitar strumming, high energy, blaring hooks -- yup this sounds like punk rock. Heartsounds (catchy name, right?) already have a few admirers here at AbsolutePunk.net, and it's time to expand their audience. Ben Murray and Laura Nichol, the dynamic duo who form Heartsounds, remind us why we fell in love with the punk rock genre all those years ago. Buy their new album Until We Surrender and immediately burn a copy for your car CD player. You'll want to sing along with this one. RIYL: The Swellers, The Loved Ones, How Water Music
Slave To a Heart That Strays
Jonathan Vassar & the Speckled Bird - Richmond, Virginia AP.net Profile | Myspace Why We Like: If you were siting at ease in a rocking chair paying mind to only the natural world before your eyes, you'd want Jonathan Vassar and his acoustic guitar by your side. Though artists are always borrowing elements from the past to create their current sound, Vassar sounds like he could have shared a stage with classic country and folk acts on The Johnny Cash TV Show. It's a rustic sound that time appreciates. Vassar doesn't offer big hooks to catch fickle listeners, but instead rewards patient minds who remember a time when a musician's studio was the open air. Triple Stamp Records knew exactly what they were doing when they signed this gentleman. RIYL: David Shultz and the Skyline, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits
Turn Down the Sun
Moonshine Matinee - Dupage and Will County, Illinois AP.net Profile | Myspace Why We Like: It's about time "John Rowland" became a household name. Rowland first caught our attention with his great Limbeck-esque band Dorsey, and he's currently moonlighting as the lead singer of Moonshine Matinee. Though the band is brand spankin' new, the music is an affable kind of folk-meets blues-meets rock 'n' roll soul that sounds pleasantly aged. Become a fan of Moonlight Matinee now, before Rowland starts up another talented band you're missing out on. RIYL: Dorsey, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Good Old War
The Mysterious Disappearance (Jesse James)
The Narrative - Brooklyn, New York AP.net Profile | Myspace Why We Like: When your unsigned band receives the coveted Henderson seal of approval, you know you've got something special. The Narrative are the kind of raw, young talent that makes lesser bands envious. The charming duel vocals of Jesse Gabriel and Suzie Zeldin on Just Say Yes are some of the best you'll ever find on an introductory EP, and the music is alluring in its own right. Stream the EP on the band's AP.net profile and fall in love. RIYL: Lydia, Death Cab for Cutie, Destry
The Soldier Thread - Austin, Texas AP.net Profile | Myspace Why We Like: It feels a bit redundant adding The Soldier Thread to this list of up-and-coming artists. Many of the Absolute 100 picks are made based on the promise of further maturity, but as of this moment The Soldier Thread sound ready to rule the world with their haunting ambiance. There's an engrossing density to their sound that is made all the more special by the addition of lead singer Patricia Lynn and her viola. Often a band that falls under the "ambient" headline will better serve listeners as background music (for studying, relaxing, what have you), but The Soldier Thread don't make the kind of music that is secondary to anything. RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie, Eisley, Copeland, The Narrative
Ah, Little Toot. You would make the ocean liners wait while you make a figure 8.
I recently rediscovered some classic Disney sing-song stories on YouTube that I hadn't thought about in many years. Ah, childhood nostalgia. Did anyone else watch these in school? They were released in the mid-1900s, so I feel like an old man referencing them. Oh well. Click on the links below if you feel like spending time with these animated characters that are drawn from popular folklore. The music used in these is timeless.
"This is what the good guys do. They keep trying. They don't give up."
We have blasted the earth and destroyed its life. The sun is hidden behind endless haze. Ashes cover all. A father and son journey south to avoid freezing to death. But death takes on other forms as they travel along the road.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy is heartbreaking. It is a dismal tale of survival that takes place years after a catastrophic flame deluge, and its mood brings to mind stories written by those who endured the Holocaust. This is jarring fiction, and it's important fiction. The Road fits alongside classics like 1984 and Lord of the Flies in all their disturbing glory - it shakes us awake and warns us of the dreadful capacities we possess. Read this.
I recently put together some of my favorite movie soundtracks for Adam Pfleider's (aka duffmanrxbandit) "Five and Alive" blog feature. You can find my picks here, and be sure to keep up with Adam's blog regularly -- it's one of the best on the site.