>A Seemingly Conceptual Cursive

Of course, Cursive is not the first band on Saddle Creek Records to move towards deeper political, social, religious commentary. But honestly, they were a one that I least expected it from. Per usual, SC offered two mp3’s from the soon fall-coming Cursive release, Happy Hollow, to be released on August 22nd.

For some personally meaningful history: I did not learn of Cursive until Spring-ish 2004, when a girl in debate class showed me The Ugly Organ, almost promising it would change my life. I remember coming to Art Is Hard first, and then The Recluse. Cursive was, in actuality, my first Saddle Creek band. So, as always, it was exciting to learn that a favorite band was releasing another album – but…I squirmed. It makes me nervous, you know? I don’t want Cursive to violate who they are in my head. I first knew there was serious change when I learned about Nate Walcott’s horn arrangements on the next album, Happy Hollow. But, that was no end…

It turns out that Happy Hollow is on the border between concept album and social venting. But, to read interviews with lead Tim Kasher and guitarrist Ted Stevens, it seems like they know where they are, as far as politics and religion go. It seems as though they have a lot of the same frustrations as I. So, I lost the squirms. This seems to be a comfortable area for them.

The Cursive from debate class controled lyrics that were haunting and beautiful, and I imagine that these will be haunting, in an “Our society stands for that?” way…Nonetheless, I already pre-ordered the album, and am excited for it. It ships two weeks early (the standard SC deal on pre-orders) along with two new SC Samplers.

The first track here is Dorothy at Forty. Make another tally mark for harsh Cursive realism. The song is about Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, and her desperately unrealistic dreams. The song’s ending? “Dorothy, wake up, Dorothy, wake up. Dorothy, wake up, it’s time for work.”

Cursive – Dorothy at Forty

Track two is Bad Sects, a tale from a Catholic priest and his repessed same-sex love. That last lyric is: “I know this is wrong cause we’re told this is wrong.”

Cursive – Bad Sects

Pre-order the album, Happy Hollow, here.


>Sufjan Stevens’ Chicago

In the current issue of Under The Radar I got in the mail yesterday, I quickly turned to a wonderful photo (per usual) and article on Sufjan Stevens inside. I feel as though I could read his words, or even better, hear him speak for quite some time without tiring. And as I read through the article, I found Mr. Stevens talking about the song “Chicago”, which was a best song of 2005. Here is the quote:

I really struggled with (Chicago). I think those versions (in The Avalanche) reveal something about my obsessive-compulsive disorder and my desire to really master that song. It was very frustrating every time. It’s such a primitive song, but there’s something really appealing about it, so I kept trying new ideas. I think every version is in a different key and a different format. We’ve performed it live so many different ways. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten it right. There’s a perfect form for that song, and unfortunately I think it’s like any Coldplay hit. They’ve mastered that song already. I think what I was really trying to do was write a Coldplay song.

Take those last three sentences however you will (I choose dry humor), but he is right about a few things. There is something very appealing about “Chicago”. The other “fact” is how he has performed it live so many different ways. There also happen to be four different “album versions” of the song. Fortunately, Sufjan’s self-proclaimed obsessive-compulsive tendencies worked out for the best of everyone. There are nine different versions here, and they are all different.

Before I put forth nine different versions of “Chicago”, as well as the bonus “Chicago Cheer”, I should thank Michael Huff for most of these versions, as well as for telling me of Sufjan (who was Suff-jenn at the time). Click on his name to go to his music page on MySpace.

This is not meant to be a complete listing of each version of “Chicago”. I am sure there are more out there, probably a countless number. These were just the ones I had as of when I read the article. Certainly the upcoming version from his soon-coming tour will be just as good as all the others. I am excited to hear it. And they are (in no order, no less):

Sufjan Stevens :

Chicago (Live at WNYC)


Chicago (Live at KCRW)

Chicago (Live at The Bluebird Theatre)

Chicago (Live at The Majestic)

Chicago (Live at Paradiso)

Chicago (acoustic version)

Chicago (adult contemporary easy listening version)

Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder version)

If you ask me, Sufjan Stevens got it right every time.

And, as promised, the

Chicago Cheer.

Buy Illinois or The Avalanche.

>Eric Bachmann


“Hi, I’m a folk singer.”
“Ah, the next Dylan…”

I feel the need to apologize, because when I was mustering up what I could say about Mr. Bachmann, the name Dylan has come up quite a few times. Some similarities? Yes. Similar instrumentation, and similar frogs in their lungs they can’t avoid. So, I decline to make the full comparison. Lyrically? No. Not even in the same continent.

But in this case, the lyrics go with the music well. Bachmann’s words are the kind that you can visit every so often while absorbed in the song, check in on them…yes, still speaking English…singing about wild animals…and then distracted by the vocals, or harmonica, or guitar.

Saddle Creek, as (mostly) always, I am proud of you. This soon-coming release might have made more sense under Team Love, at the same time, I find it is a good move for Saddle Creek, diversifying their folk content outside of Azure Ray (and the branching solo careers), Son, Ambulance, and…sometimes, Bright Eyes.

Overall, this is good music. It can’t really compare to much while still being much like an album I’ve heard a thousand times (in the best way possible). Dondero? Dylan? No, just in a way. It is an example of a strong artist who’s achieved solo well. I will start listening to it at an inreasing rate, when I’m by myself, and appreciate the music’s complementing my mood. And what mood would that be? Just an Eric Bachmann mood, no one else.

In good SC fashion, a couple of mp3’s were put out on the website in support of the album.

Eric Bachmann – Carrboro Woman
Eric Bachmann – Lonesome Warrior

If you like them, pre-order the album here, and of course, comment if you have anything to say, or took and wouldn’t mind informing me. For more information on Eric Bachmann, go to www.saddle-creek.com , and then his artist page. The ablum comes out on 08.22.06.

>"Happy Birthday, Darling"

>Father got an iPod for Father’s Day. It seems as though this will be his first mix. So, here it is, a birthday mix for Father. The goal was to get songs that he loves, or that I think he will love. There is a combination between newer things (see 8) and older (see 6). Considering this is his 48th birthday, why not include music from throughout the past and recent years, as opposed to just new or just old?

To download 4 or 10, Right Click, then Save Target As…

1. Bright Eyes- At The Bottom of Everything
2. Belle & Sebastian – The Stars od Track and Field
3. Damien Rice- Delicate
4. Bright Eyes – Entry Way Song (live in Seattle)
5. Bob Dylan – Mr. Tambourine Man
6. Buddy Holly – Everyday
7. Don McLean – American Pie
8. Feist – Mushaboom (Live at El Mocambo) (Thanks to All Things Feist, download it there)
9. The Beatles – Hey Jude
10. Iron & Wine and Calexico – Wild Horses (Live @ KEXP)
11. Azure Ray – November
12. Iron & Wine and Calexico – Dead Man’s Will
13. Bright Eyes – Make War

Considering those two are live tracks, you can’t buy them on an officially released album, but you can go to the Saddle Creek site. The next post should have an Eric Bachmann theme, or Eric Bachmann & Cursive (08.22.06).

Dad’s birthday present from me was Neil Young’s Heart of Gold DVD. We saw the movie in theaters, and both loved it. We both listened to Neil Young around this age. It was a good memory between the two of us. It seemed like a good present.

I also won an eBay item. It’s a Bright Eyes one-sided 7″ Promo from 2005. It apparently has When The President Talks To God on it. I also bought Sufjan Stevens’ The Avalanche, and enjoyed it to such alarge degree that I bought two more copies for friends (welcome homes). I also got Sarah Harmer’s Im’ a Mountain. Dad and I gave it a good listen and approved.

>Danielson – Live, 07.09.06; Oklahoma City, OK



Listening to a soulful, peaceful, sometimes motherly, sometimes fatherly Nina Simone on the way to The Conservatory provided a high contrast compared to the Danielson set. It was an energetic night.

The opening band was It’s Hysterical, who were enjoyable, but sounded too similar to the next band, a much better Student Film. Check out their music. I liked their being picked as opener’s for Danielson. I missed Seth(y) playing in Student Film. And then, after an enjoyable nap between the first two bands, and after the second band, Wayne Coyne (of The Flaming Lips, of course) showed up. No, this does not happen at all the Oklahoma shows. I think I overheard him saying, “I want to see what everyone was talking about”. And then Danielson:

They set up their instruments in partial uniform, and then came back on stage after a good amount of time (and a lot of cricket sounds from a cricket) in full Danielson Family Uniform. I clumsily asked Megan after the show at the merch booth, where I bought an LP, if the uniforms were modeled after another uniform, such as boy scouts or a more militaristic one, she said “No, it is The Danielson Family uniform.”

Here are Andrew (capless) and Megan modeling the upper-half of the uniforms.

The songs-choice was nice. I appreciated the great amount of songs from Ship being played, as I am a new fan, including a couple of favorites. Beforehand, I assumed I would join all of my courages and ask for the formal set list after the show, but learned that Danielson plans well ahead, and had their music in sheet protectors in folders on music stands. So here is a list of the songs played, in their order, according to my sloppy notes. (To download 5 and 9, Right Click, and Save Target As…)

1. Ship The Majestic Suffix
2. Cast It At The Setting Sail
3. Bloodbook On The Half-Shell**
4. Did I Step On Your Trumpet*
5. Kids Pushing Kids*
6. (Sorry, I don’t know the title)*
7. Two Sitting Ducks*
8. (Sorry, I don’t know this title, either)
9. Five Stars And Two Thumbs Up*


10. Cutest Little Dragon***

*Daniel told the audience these were clap-alongs.
**Daniel told the audience this was a snap-along.
***Daniel told the audience this was a sing-along.

Danielson was made up of six people: David, the first-chair percussionist; Andrew, the second-chair percussionist; Jedidiah, the bassist; Evan on the keyboards, vocals, snaps, and claps (probably one of the most entertaining performers I have seen live, at least when it comes to facial expressions); Megan playing the glockenspiel, marimba, claps, snaps, and vocals; and Daniel, who sang lead vocals, played the trumpet, snapped, clapped, footstepped, and played the guitar. All members were fun, entertaining. I was very impressed by the percussion section, and their minimal sets (still sounding great). I also liked Jedidiah’s glasses, but thought it would have seemed lame to go up to him just to converse about his glasses.

At the end of the last song, there were swirling lights and flashing lights. It was the first time I had seen the Conservatory do anything of the sort. It was a nice experience.

Overall, the show was great, and great fun, and I have a newly regained respect and appreciation for Danielson.

Jedidiah on the bass

I apologize because the images of the drummers is of such incredibly poor quality (thus, the images shan’t be posted).

Daniel and Evan (this was the best I could get of Evan from my angle)

Megan, who I forgot to mention, also whistled along with Evan (and maybe, sometimes Daniel)


and Daniel.

>Xiu Xiu; Son, Ambulance (similar foundations)


As opposed to doing another group of the similarly-themed (however desperate the reach was), I decided to join songs that came from nearly opposite ideas. The two don’t, though, escape the similar foundation of honesty, certain sadness, and beauty.

I honestly hadn’t thought highly enough of Xiu Xiu until I heard Fabulous Muscles. When I heard that song in a car with friends, I realized the honesty held within his vocals, that is released with each gasping sound. I appreciate how he is able to morph words that would otherwise be disgusting in value, and translate them into some other language of feelings and emotion, where the surface is not judged, rather the meaning underneath it.

Xiu Xiu – Fabulous Muscles

Sadly, I don’t believe that Son, Ambulance gets the attention they warrant. Albeit, Key was kind of a miss (a friend of mine threw it out of his car window after one listen). I believe it was another case where a band progressed and sounded worse. But this song, Kaite Come True, is pretty minimal (vocals, piano, guitar, drums, am I missing anything?). It was my first Son, Ambulance song, and still my favorite (right next to Brown Park). In fact, those two songs were on my first Saddle Creek mix, which was, in essence, my introduction to my current musical tastes. While we’re on the subject, I think I might make a post of that Saddle Creek mix (I believe that all of the mp3’s are still at www.saddle-creek.com .
And…Kaite Come True…wonderful song, wonderful idea. Where there is physical gratification in “Fabulous Muscles”, there is a lack of mutual emotion (which can be found in “Kaite Come True”, as well). Come to think of it, both are about strong, one-sided emotions. They both have quite a bit of longing. Though one (the first) has quite a bit of physical presence from the opposite half, “Kaite Come True” shows a complete lack of physical presence from the other person. Here it is.

Son, Ambulance – Kaite Come True

For more information on Fabulous Muscles, or to buy it, click here.

To buy a Son, Ambulance release, click here.

>Cursive – Dorothy at Forty Single

I received Cursive’s latest single in the mail the other day (I promise, pre-ordering is the way to go). So, here is the second track from the latest Cursive, the Dorothy at Forty single. Evidently, as most bands do (seemingly sooner than Cursive has), Cursive moved further down the path of unique intrumentalism, past the cello, past the organ, and is now amongst the horn arrangements composed by Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes).

Tim Kasher’s singing voice has somehow become an imitation of Mike Meyers poetic voice found in So I Married an Axe Murderer. I am still trying to figure out why that is. The difference is, the poetry’s undeniably better, more mature. Of course, Kasher has been making a living from his writing voice since The Storms of Early Summer. So, here is the second track from the latest Cursive, their “Dorothy at Forty” single. “The Bitter End” contains typical Cursivic pessimistic realism, while moving beyond the Cursive usual.

As this was my first Saddle Creek band, it should be hard for me to move on from the sounds of Domestica, Ugly Organ, and others, but it is too good for me to turn away from. The problem is track three on the record, “The Censor”. I thought Tim Kasher swore to stop making music about making music?

Cursive – The Bitter End

Buy the single from Saddle Creek here ($4)