May 9, 2008

I wish I was a tightrope walker with legs made out of gold

When I saw Bob Schneider last November in Denver there was one simple, naked song that felt like a heavy weight settling in on my chest as he performed it. Maybe it was just something in the air that night but I remember that it knocked me back on my heels; it’s rumored that hot tears may have inexplicably pricked into my eyes about two thirds of the way through this, but no one has any proof of seeing that happen so it’s hard to say, really.

I finally found an mp3 of that song a few months ago after much searching. There’s a lyric in it about candyteeth, and so that line popped into my head last night while driving home from having my face melted (again) by Wilco, listening to my Summerteeth CD. This is how my brain works.

Anyways. Last night I turned off Tweedy and Co. and sang this quietly to myself instead. It’s got signature Schneider phrasing, but reaches deep to be a song of longing, defeat, and maybe a glimmer of hope for some future contentment.

Blow Me Back To You (live) – Bob Schneider

I wish I was a baby bear sleeping in the brown
winter grass in April, while the sun was going down
and I wish my shoes were empty
and I was still in bed
with you there beside me
with your dreams inside your head

Oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
and I wish the wind would blow me, blow me back to you

I wish your mom was ugly and your dad was ugly too
cuz then they couldn’t of had a girl to be as beautiful as you
and I wish I was a tightrope walker
with legs made out of gold
I’d hold you in my golden legs
and never let you go

Oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
and I wish the wind would blow me, blow me back to you

Well I wish I could see Jesus shining in the sky
so that he could finally let me know
that everything would be just fine
I wish I knew that God’s love
was all I’d ever need
I’d cut my candyteeth for fun
and let the good times bleed

Oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
and I wish the world would blow me, blow me back to you

[“Tightrope Walker” by American painter Everett Shinn (1924)]

November 19, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Ah, MySpace, why do you sucketh my time so?

Bleary eyed, I am emerging from a quickly-passed hour on MySpace to begin writing this post on Sunday night; I’ve been looking up people I went to high school with because my 10-year HS reunion is this Friday out in Campbell, California. Yes, our class (1997) was a little lazy and we didn’t get anything organized until now, about 5 months after the actual anniversary date of the blessed graduation day. We all vowed to K.I.T. and never change and stay sweet (S.W.A.K. of course); I am pleased to report that we have all, in fact, changed.

Looking at people’s profiles, sometimes it’s shocking to stare at a face and then suddenly like one of those 3-D pictures where the image jumps out at you, go “Oh my gosh! That’s ____!” All these far-flung jobs, babies, spouses, organizations, not to mention new haircolors, different sizes now, better fashion sense — all these things should make Friday night a total mind trip. I am looking forward to it.
Well, that and the karaoke.

I feel like I should go make a 1997 high-school memories playlist, but won’t subject you to it. New tunes:

Arm Twister
The Tripwires

Like a rough-edged Beatles track lost in the vaults, or something from a Sunday drive with Chuck Berry (who they also cover on their album) this pleasantly powerpopped-out track from Seattle’s The Tripwires features a lot of connections to bands we love ’round these parts. Members of the Minus 5, The Young Fresh Fellows, Screaming Trees and REM cooperate here to make some mightily pleasing sounds. Count me a fan of the crunchy guitar, the layers of harmonies, and the pitch-perfect ’60s rock sensibilities. Makes You Look Around is their current album, just out last week on Portland’s Paisley Pop label.

Like A Vibration
The Whigs
Stream the new plugged-in album version: Windows [Lo] [Hi]
Quicktime [
Lo] [Hi]
or if you need an mp3
Like A Vibration (live on MOKB)
Oooh, these guys rock. I wrote about The Whigs last year with their fantastic song “Technology”, when they were a wee unsigned fledgling band. Now they’ve gone and hooked up with ATO and are prepping to release their first album with them, Mission Control, due January 22. Definitely stream the album version of this song — kinda like a Replacements-meets-Pavement yowly-howly vibe here, all fuzz and aggression, but with a strong melody. In order to stretch and include them in the mp3 roundup, I got the acoustic live version above too from Dodge’s awesome in-studio session with The Whigs earlier this year. The Whigs will be heading out on tour with Johnathan Rice and The Redwalls in the next few weeks.

We Don’t Talk Like We Used To
Elliot Randall

This dude opened for Roger Clyne at the formidably barn-like Slim’s this last weekend in San Francisco, and he’s also on the new KFOG Local Scene CD along with Fuel-favorite Ryan Auffenberg
[KFOG’s podcast on Elliot here]. My friend Brad Kava at the Mercury News said of Randall’s 2007 album Take The Fall that it “flies below the radar but could take off at any minute… A little bit country, a little bit Elliott Smith.” This cut is a slowburn little gem of bittersweet harmonies that reminds me of Ryan Adam’s duet tunes with Norah Jones like “Dear John.” In fact, whoever’s doing backing vocals here sounds a lot like her. Lovely and sad, tear in your beer stuff. Note: Elliot is definitely not the same grizzled guy with a similar name from Steely Dan; according to this Elliot’s MySpace, we share a birthday three years apart — he just turned a mere 25 on August 19. Sounds like he’s lived more than just those years, don’t it?

Wave of Mutilation (Pixies cover)
Joy Zipper

There’s a fantastic new Pixies covers jamboree out on the very cool, always vinyl-loving American Laundromat Records. These are the same folks that brought us the 7″ vinyl series and the High School Reunion soundtrack covers album. This new covers album Dig For Fire: A Tribute To The Pixies features artists well-known and otherwise, but the variety just serves to highlight how well the original songs were constructed. This version of “Wave of Mutilation” loves being done by a girl-fronted band, all loud and fuzzy like the Breeders’ second coming. Joy Zipper is a guy-girl duo from NYC and I dig em like The Raveonettes — absolutely go check out their song “Go Tell The World” on their MySpace. Yum. Other artists on the Pixies comp that I’ve written about before are OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mogwai and Dylan At The Movies. ALR also has an interesting-sounding album of female artists covering Neil Young due in early 2008. I am never let down by their offerings.

Changing Your Mind
Bob Schneider

Lest you think I gave ole Bob the short end of the nasty stick with my recent show review, allow me to suggest this soul-flaying unreleased tune from him. This just goes to show that when he’s good, he’s really good. This pure, achingly vulnerable track is one that he performed in Denver, and listening again to the full studio treatment of it just does something to my heart. I also located a live mp3 of that song I quoted at the end of the show review, I’ll be adding that up shortly. So worth delving into.

November 16, 2007

Color me confused, Bob

Right before Austin, Texas singer-songwriter Bob Schneider took the stage in a packed Denver house last night, I was talking to a nice 20-something accountant named Kristen about what we expected from the concert (both of us Bob first-timers). I told her that I didn’t exactly know what was to come because Bob seems to vacillate between two disparate musical extremes.

A friend of mine made me two Bob Schneider mixes last year, one of all his best album tracks (songs like “Come With Me Tonight” [my video], “God Is My Friend”, “I’m Good Now” [my video] and “Big Blue Sea”). The other CD was full of his random outtakes and b-sides, with decidedly a more playful twist. The b-sides mix often wandered into rap territory, silly rhymes, salty language, crowd-singalongs, etc. I was wondering how he was going to integrate the disc one tunes with disc two last night.

The show ended up uncomfortably trying to straddle both types, and I found it to not serve either aim as well as it could. On the one hand Bob has these amazingly compelling, honest, searching tunes of alt-pop perfection, where his strong clear voice fills the room with evocations like “just want to shine as bright as brooklyn on a saturday night / just want to scream until i drown,” and then the very next song is about a mummy (yes, as in spooky dead Halloween mummy) who can’t get no play walkin down the street, and then a tune about (kids, cover your ears) “Tittybangin” and its mass appeal for a variety of practical reasons (heavy flow –yes, he sings that– or not wantin to have a new baby brother). Sure, we chuckled, but the vast incongruity threw me.

So the wacky parts felt like an R-rated Dan Zanes (children’s troubadour). Like maybe the best option would be to bring your 15 year-old kid brother to the show, and he could hold your beer and laugh at the tittybang jokes while you go to the bathroom, and then while the serious and gorgeous songs are playing, he could be amused by the (not lying) girl who ran up next to me, casually said, “Can I just sneak in here? I need to flash Bob” and then proceeded to do so, the full deals right there in his line of sight. The 15 year-old would like that. But the rest of the audience seemed split by the two different shows going on; half there to party, half there to see his music. Bob’s got a lot of talent, I was just unclear where he was going with it all.

He did move me with his “grown-up” songs, if we wanna call them that. He played a tune which I can only find one lone reference to online, but he hit it out of the park last night.

Something about the way the lyrics of the short chorus hung in the air just sliced me; we all wish the world would do what we wanted it to do, and we all know when we make that plaintive request that it never will.

I wish I was a baby bear sleeping in the brown
Winter grass in April while the sun was going down
And I wish my shoes were empty
And I was still in bed
With you there beside me with your dreams inside your head

Oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
And I wish the wind would blow me, blow me back to you

I wish your Mom was ugly and your Dad was ugly too
Cuz then they couldn’t had a girl to be as beautiful as you
And I wish I was a tight rope walker with legs made out of gold
Cuz I’d hold you in my golden legs and never let you go

Oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
And I wish the wind would blow me, blow me back to you

I wish I could see Jesus shining in the sky
So he could finally tell me everything was just a lie
And I wish I knew that God’s love was all I’d ever need
I’d cut my candy teeth for fun and let the good times bleed

Oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
Oh I wish the world would do what I want it to
And I wish the world would blow me, blow me back to you

UPDATED: Hear it here

[more pics]

June 14, 2007

Bob Schneider mixtape :: Demos/live/unreleased

Bob Schneider (former frontman for The Ugly American and The Scabs) is a singer-songwriter from down in Austin, Texas who is quite the funky little mofo. He’s got a hard-strumming goodtime acoustic sound, incorporating rootsy beats and funk: he calls this style “frunk” (n.b.: not to be confused with crunk).

I am just getting more into his tunes recently, and to help me with this enjoyable process a pal made up two mix CDs for me with hearty doses of his music, both album stuff and rare/unreleased/bonus tracks. The range is broad, from these achingly doubting, intimate bedroom ballads (“Things My Head Heard” demo) to headliners for your next party mix (the fantastic “Assknocker”) and salutes to your workplace as you drive out of the parking lot on a Friday afternoon (“Fuck It”).

I’ve compiled my favorites into this little Bob Schneider mix. I left off songs from his two most popular albums, Lonelyland (2000) and I’m Good Now (2004) except for some bonus tracks, because you can (and should) get those albums. A few tracks from lesser-known albums made it on (the danceable “Mudhouse” and “Boombox” from The Californian, “Candy Man” and playful “Ooey Gooey Chocolate” from the self-released Galaxy Kings, “Drinking Song” and “Over The Rainbow” cover from Songs Sung And Played On The Guitar At The Same Time). The rest are unreleased/demos/live stuff. Overall, the castoffs tend to be a bit more playful and mischievous than the album stuff, so if you just listen to the biggie albums, you might have a slicker adult-alternative impression of him. This mixtape will be awesome for summer.

Get to know Bob Schneider. He’s on tour now (always), I hear the live shows are impressive and FUN.

Mudhouse (he ain’t got nobody he can call his shorty)
Ooey Gooey Chocolate
Captain Kirk (live)
Things My Head Heard (original demo)
Batman (live on ACL)
Everybody’s Doing It (unreleased demo)
Good Thing (live)
Snow Maps
Taking Care Of Business (BTO cover)
Over The Rainbow
King Of The World (bonus track, Texas Edition of Lonelyland)
Broke Dick (unreleased demo)
C’mon Baby (live)
Drinking Song
Piggyback (original demo)
The World Passes You By (bonus track, Texas Ed./Lonelyland)
Flowerparts (live)
The Bridge Builders (live)
Randall’s (live)
If I Only Had A Brain
Fuck It (definitely not suitable for work. Unless you work at, say, Bada Bing)


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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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