I Feel Safest Of All

It is a very tempting time to buy a new car. Years ago, I might have done so on a mere whim. The economy is horrendous, the automobile companies are a disaster and based on a few friends I know who’ve purchased lately, the deals are fantastic. I might view it as a good opportunity to finally get myself into a Hybrid vehicle. But as I make my way into my late 30s, my fiscal conservativeness continues to apply me in a tighter headlock. We probably could get a car, but we’re not. For some reason, this recession feels more threatening than the 2000-2001 recession did. Part of it has to be the new spawn that now live with us. Like they say, that changes everything. But it’s more than that – there’s a quiet nervousness about everything given the plummet we’ve seen since late summer. It’s frightening.

So I’ll continue driving my 2002 Camry. Hell, it only has 76,000 miles on it and I get it serviced every 3-5K miles. So if Consumer Reports is right, than I have another 5-7 years left on this thing. At least. We’ll see if my, um, vanity can last that long.

I see that Blitzen Trapper, one of my new bands-of-the-month, made an appearance on Conan O’Brien on Monday. Here’s the video:

Oh, Stormy

I’ve had a couple of recent releases playing relatively non-stop on my computer lately. Here’s a couple of samples:

Easton Stagger Phillips is a side-project of the grossly underrated Tim Easton, whom I interviewed here back in 2004 and actually posted on the morning of my wedding day. Easton has quietly built himself an arsenal of some of the best recordings of the past 10 years. He has multiple musical personalities, but it all ties back to his strongest asset – his songwriting. For this album, he teamed up with fellow musicians Leroy Stagger and Evan Phillips, his friends from Alaska and they put together a collection of songs that feel awfully Big Pinkish – and that’s a compliment of the highest order. The album is called “One For The Ditch” and the sample here is called “Stormy.” Easton doesn’t handle vocals on this track, but any of the songs will give you a sense of the great vibe on this record.

[audio:stormy.mp3]

Blitzen Trapper is a band that kind of defies explanation. Part indie rockers, part campfire singers and part psychedelia, I suppose. But certainly unique. They sound like the kind of band that might not shower very much. I really have no idea what that means, but I think you still get the point. They’ve just released “Furr,” which I believe to be their 2nd full length release and it’s really moving the needle for me. Sample here is “War On Machines.”

[audio:war.mp3]

ID, Please

Seriously, who believes these Chinese gymnasts are 16 years old or older? Steph and I are channel flipping tonight and we stop at the Olympics because, well, 60 Minutes is over and there’s literally nothing to watch. I mean it – we went through just about the whole online guide. Nothing of interest. More on that in a second. The gymnasts from China look like they are 7. I’m not even kidding. Steph and I were pretending that we were the color-commentators and saying things like “and here’s Lio Zinzan, she’s 18 (minus 10)” and “here’s Siano Yuanyuan, she just entered pre-school last year.” Honest to god, can they find fake 16 year old that are least 50 pounds and taller than 2 feet, 4 inches?

I’m beginning to wonder if having cable TV is worth it. Seriously. We watch very little TV nowadays. I guess when fall comes and Lost, The Office and 30 Rock are back on, it may make it worth it, but I’m thinking maybe my money could be better spent elsewhere. We’ve also been thinking about removing the TV from the family room and setting it all up in the basement. Imagine that – no TV in the living room. That would be the first time in my life and you know what, it’s not sounding too outrageous right now. Having to go down into our basement (it’s finished) for TV isn’t ideal, but with the amount we’re watching, it’s acceptable.

I’ve been digging on Blitzen Trapper lately. They’re a group of lads from the Pacific Northwest who are fairly hard to classify, although somebody on Wikipedia called them “an experimental folk band,” which I take exception to. I don’t like experimental folk bands. I poked around on the web for a better explanation and I guess I found one on Pitchfork, from a review of their last album:

While I’m loathe to make a Pavement reference (lo-fi recordings! Slackers with guitars!!!), ‘Wild Mountain Nation’ comes closer to catching the carefree fuck-off sprawl of [Pavement’s] ‘Wowee Zowee’ than any record in recent memory. Here the band sail through any number of genres and styles without giving off a whiff of effort, their apparent West coast breeziness covering for the judicious amount of detail crammed into nearly every song.

Yummy. Here’s a taste for you, a song called “Wild Mountain Nation”
[audio:mountain.mp3]

Runnin’ A Blender In A Lightning Storm

Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman are two names you have probably never heard before if you’re just a regular consumer of music. But for us music-obsessed nerds, their story is the one we all dream of. Bruce and Jonathan, music geeks galore, connected in the early 1980s through the local music scene in Seattle and ended up starting Sub Pop Records, in an effort to simply better expose the great music they thought Seattle was producing. By 1988, they had an office. By 1991, they had $2.5 million in the bank, thanks to a little trio who called themselves Nirvana. Sub Pop is now celebrating their 20th anniversary and if you want a good, interesting read today, then I suggest you head on over to Pitchfork, where both Sub Pop founders are subject of an excellent interview about the innerworkings of a small record label. A lot of this stuff is exactly what we went through at Tar Hut (besides the, uh, large sums of money they ended up with), so it really resonates for me. But even if you’re not at all into the business of music or independent record labels, it’s just a pretty captivating read to see what they went through and how they reacted to their success and how they adjusted to the post-Nirvana world.

Sub Pop is still a terrific label – by no means a one-hit wonder. Band of Horses, Blitzen Trapper, Fleet Foxes, Mudhoney, The Shins and the GREAT Kelley Stoltz are all on the label and still producing inventive, relevant music. Good for them!