Four songs, and the briefest SPF yet. Work has been kicking my ass up and down I-95, and then beating me over the head every evening, and even in the early morning hours when I usually have time to write. Hopefully this stretch ends soon.
No time to write, with little time for music makes Mr. Jimmy a cranky boy.
Did I once say “I love my job?”
Kathleen Edwards-Hockey Skates/Failer
Kathleen Edwards burst onto the music scene in 2003 with her critically acclaimed Failer disc. You couldn’t turn on the radio and not here one of her songs being played on Adult Contemporary radio.
Edwards cites Neil Young as one of her influences, which makes sense if you’re a Canadian singer-songwriter. Being Canadian, Edwards also sings about Canada’s most favorite export—hockey.
I like Edwards’ writing. It’s gritty, and there are a wealth of references I connect with. Oddly, as Pitchfork noted, Edwards also produces the kind of stuff that wins “Grammys and sits on the coffee tables of well-behaved urbanites, who will shiver a bit when Edwards says ‘fuck,’ but quickly grin and giggle at her candor, clinking their martini glasses.” That’s irony, I guess.
John Doe-The Golden State/A Year In The Wilderness
John Doe has been a favorite of mine since I first “discovered” LA punk legends, X, back in the early 80s. Once you hear them, you never get Doe and Exene Cervanka’s restless harmonies out of your head.
Doe’s continued to record, act in films, and maintain a frantic work schedule that puts many of his younger peers to shame.
Interestingly, Doe and Edwards toured together back in the fall of 2008, co-headlining 11 dates, and she contributed vocals on Doe’s 2007 release. Their harmony on this track takes me back to when I first heard Doe and Cervanka for the first time. Of course, there’s only one Exene.
The Bottle Rockets-Indianapolis/24 Hours a Day
This is shit-kicking at its finest. One of the best stuck-in-the-middle-of-nowhere tunes ever written, IMHO.
This song nails a band’s worst nightmare, “broke-down” in a place that while, technically a city, isn’t exactly the cultural milieu where the songwriter wants to stranded. I think this line is so apropos to the singer’s plight:
Sittin' in this bar is gettin' more than I can stand,
If I could catch a ride, would they think I ditched this band.
Who knows what this repair'll cost, scared to spend a dime.
I'll puke if that jukebox plays John Cougar one more time!
The Bottle Rockets are one of many American bands that crank out fine tune, after stellar track, in relative obscurity. Since forming in 1992, the boys from Festus, Missouri have churned out 10 records, with nary a bad one in the bunch. This one, along with The Brooklyn Side are my favorites, with Zoysia being a close third.
Think Uncle Tupelo, with a bit more southern twang.
30 Seconds to Mars-Kings and Queens/Kings and Queens
I now try to catch Robin Ivy’s Zodiac Zone each day, leaving the house for another long work day. Ivy’s the longtime morning DJ on the only rock station left in southern Maine that plays music newer than 20 years old. Ivy gives her daily astrological forecast, and also provides the “color for the day.” She also gives daily music news updates, which is where I caught her talking about Thirty Seconds Over Mars and the short film, The Ride, set to their song, "Kings and Queens."
Set in Santa Monica, the film features hundreds of riders, descending on Santa Monica’s historic pier, where I spent some time, back in April. The film’s cool, so check it out.
For those who don’t follow music, or may know little about the band, 30 Seconds to Mars is actor Jared Leto’s band, formed back in 1998 with his brother, Shannon.
Jon Nolan-Hope, AR/When the Summers Lasted Long
Jon Nolan at one time fronted Say Zuzu, one of the best alt-country bands I’ve had the pleasure to catch live. I happened to see them the first time, at the Cumberland Fair, where they burned through a set for about 20 people. Subsequent live sets never failed to leave me in awe and wondering why they never had the success they obviously deserved. Did I mention that they were just great guys and always emanated appreciation for their fans.
Say Zuzu, who hailed from neighboring New Hampshire, slogged across many miles and American landscapes in their infamous “Bull,” their tour bus (and the title of their 1998 record) . Much bigger in Italy than they ever were stateside, nevertheless, to have seen and heard the band over their decade long run is to have loved them and their music.
Nolan, who is now plays mostly local gigs as a solo artist, released the amazing When The Summers Lasted Long in 2008, his debut disc.
“Hope, AR” is the final track on the song, and like “Indianapolis,” uses the locale of a breakdown to pen an ode to life on the road, at least the less enjoyable aspects of being a touring rock musician. It also happens to be the birthplace of our 42nd president, William Jefferson Clinton.