October 18, 2009

i miss the ocean when i go to sleep


Mason Jennings’ Cave Recordings capture an artist very early in his career with stripped-down versions of some of his best songs. Recorded in 1998 at The Cave (a student-run pub at Carleton College in Minnesota), the blues emphases really shines through in this set, sounding timelessly rustic and eternally honest.

Mason’s rendition of “California (Part I)” here is one of my favorite versions – the earnest, unadorned way he sings the lines, “California, I’m gonna miss you … like I miss the ocean when I go to sleep / Man, it’s gonna break my heart….”

(That’s it — next time I come out to Cali I’m gonna stay in one of these, and listen to the ocean again as I fall asleep. Done.)

Stormy Weather
Flight Path
Better Than That
Ain’t Gonna Die
Isabella (Part II)
Emperor Ashoka
Damn (What a Beautiful Man)
Darkness Between the Fireflies
Little Details
The Magician
12/8 Time
California (Part I)**
Amphetamine Girl
Rebecca DeVille


Mason’s eighth studio album Blood of Man is out now on Brushfire Records, and Mason plays Denver’s Bluebird on Friday, November 13th with Nathaniel Rateliff and The Wheel (yay!).

[thanks Keith!]

August 25, 2009

The creative process of Mason Jennings

This new short film about Mason Jennings was released yesterday, detailing the creative process behind his forthcoming album, Blood of Man (due Sept 15th on Brushfire Records). I’ve gotten to sit with this album for a few months now, and it definitely is darker and more brooding than much of his previous work. Mason has always been a storyteller capable of great depths in his songs, but this album plumbs some of the blacker ones. But still – the songs feel rich, and many leave a lasting gorgeous vapor.

UPDATE: Here’s a brand new track from the album!

The Field – Mason Jennings

And (previously on LOST): Mason Jennings interview (2007)

08.30 – Montauk, NY The Surf Lodge
09.15 – Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern
09.16 – Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern
09.17 – Tucson, AZ Rialto Theatre
09.19 – Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theater
09.21 – San Luis Obispo, CA The Downtown Brewing Company
09.22 – Santa Cruz, CA The Catalyst
09.24 – Eugene, Oregon McDonald Theater
09.25 – Seattle, WA – Showbox at the Market
09.26 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Commodore Ballroom
09.27 – Portland, Oregon – Wonder Ballroom
09.29 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
09.30 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
10.09 – New York, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
10.10 – Hoboken, NJ – Maxwell’s
10.11 – Troy, NY – Revolution Hall
10.13 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Small’s Theater
10.15 – Boston, MA – Somerville Theatre
10.16 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
10.17 – Northampton, MA – Pearl Street
10.18 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
10.22 – South Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
10.23 – Toronto, Canada – Mod Club Theatre
10.24 – Detroit, MI – Magic Bag
10.26 – Bloomington, IN – Bluebird Nightclub
10.27 – Champaign, IL – High Dive
10.28 – Cincinnati, OH – 20th Century Theatre
10.29 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
10.30 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues Chicago

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October 10, 2008

“…Like an addiction — you gotta do that so you can go home happy” :: One Track Mind surf film & music

Woodshed Films is the surf film collaborative through which brothers Chris and Emmett Malloy (along with Tim Lynch, Jack Johnson, and other artists) have turned out artistic surf culture films like Thicker Than Water, Sprout, Brokedown Melody and Shelter.

I appreciate how their work turns a daring eye towards breathtaking natural cinematography, and captures a raw & pure excitement for surfing that I can catch onto even though those damn surfboards have never cooperated with my specific self. Their films succeed at what good filmmaking is supposed to do (what good anything is supposed to do, really — writing, music included): they make you feel the way it feels, and they show you why they love it.

In addition to the graceful arcs of the ocean and the powerful control exerted by the surfers they follow, their films are always accompanied by some fantastic soundtracks. Not surprising since The Malloys are also heavily involved with the Brushfire Records label, which began with Jack Johnson as an outcropping of their film soundtracks. Check the trailer for their new film One Track Mind which premieres on Facebook next week.

Is There A Ghost – Band of Horses

How perfectly does that song align?! The visuals demonstrate all my favorite majestic aspects of that song, the way it shimmers and breaks. Here’s the rest of the One Track Mind soundtrack:

One Track Mind – Soundtrack

Not too shabby.

When I spoke with Mason Jennings back in May, he mentioned that he was working with the Woodshed guys and James Mercer from The Shins on the 2009 film 180° South about the pristine Patagonia region of South America. I’ve been waiting eagerly for that collaboration since then (fueled by the bus-singalong video clip Stereogum featured). You can finally hear some of their joint endeavor now — featuring virtuoso whistling which may or may not be the otherworldy skills of Andrew Bird.

April 8, 2008

Exclusive first listen! New from Mason Jennings :: “Fighter Girl”

Hot on the heels of a great solo Ed Vedder show last night (more later), I am so pleased to find a song from the new Mason Jennings album sitting in my inbox this morning — fresh for the sharing with you all!

Mason’s brand of songwriting has affected me with his vivid lyrical pictures and the simple honesty in his music (I interviewed him last year, if you missed it). “Fighter Girl” is a concert favorite that has finally made it onto a proper album for his upcoming effort In The Ever, due in May on Brushfire Records. This tune was previously on the If You Need A Reason bonus EP in a different version.

In The Ever is the follow-up to his major label 2006 record Boneclouds, on Isaac Brock’s Epic-distributed Glacial Pace label. The new album was recorded during stripped-down sessions in Mason’s home studio in the Minnesota woods. “It’s been a slow growth, but extremely fun for me,” he says. “For me, it’s about expanding and working from a place of joy. If I can enjoy what I do, and make new art that inspires me, everything will work out for the best.”

This is one of my favorite songs on the (excellent) new album:

Fighter Girl – Mason Jennings

Spinning your umbrella over your head
You should be in bed but you’re here instead
Walking with me towards a midnight swim
I can give you baby what you can’t get from him

Songbirds singing in an old dead tree
The way you drive honey scares the hell out of me
A hundred miles an hour on a brand new road
Look at me again, you make my heart explode

Hey hey little fighter girl
It’s you and me now against this whole wide world
Sleeping together in the lion’s den
Got your earrings in my pocket till I see you again

Clouds roll by, laying up on the hill
Everything is still, do you think we will?
If we do there’ll be no turning back
If we don’t — well there’s no chance of that

Come on kiss me
Keep on kissing me

Cars in the distance, a bicycle bell
Dogs are barking as the kingdom fell
And in its place stood a golden town
Where people walked without touching the ground

April/May – Co-headlining tour with Brett Dennen & Missy Higgins
– Jack Johnson US tour & Bonnaroo
July – Jack Johnson European tour
August – Lollapalooza
– Austin City Limits

All dates at www.masonjennings.com

October 20, 2007

Exclusive! Eddie Vedder & The Million Dollar Bashers, “All Along The Watchtower”

The new Dylan biopic I’m Not There takes the interesting, surrealistic angle of illustrating Bob at different stages of his life through the rubric of six distinctively different actors (including a black man and a woman): Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Ben Whishaw, and Christian Bale. I am very curious to see how this works itself out in the film – at least it’s a fresh angle (I mean, how many Dylan movies can you make?).

In addition to this creative lens used in the film to examine the man himself, the soundtrack is a double disc jamboree of some pretty cool Dylan covers, including disc 1, track 1 with Eddie Vedder & The Million Dollar Bashers covering “All Along The Watchtower.” Fuel/Friends is pleased as punch to get an exclusive stream for you guys to take your first listen of this!

“All Along The Watchtower”

Stream FLASH

And who are said Million Dollar Bashers? It’s Wilco’s god-like guitarist Nels Cline, Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley (from Sonic Youth), bass player Tony Garnier, keyboardist John Medeski (from Martin, Medeski and Wood), and guitarist Smokey Hormel (onetime Beck guitarist, Smokey & Miho). I never thought I’d hear musicians from those bands all jam together. The guitar solo (assumedly from Nels?) is pretty blazing, and Vedder’s got the seething caged scream goin’ on.

Historical tie-in from last summer: there was an absolutely scorching live version of this song that full-band Pearl Jam did in San Francisco (when Sonic Youth opened), climaxing in a very rock n roll moment of Mike McCready giving his guitar the Townshend treatment and then surfing on it across the stage. PJ has played Watchtower 4 times live before, but that was my favorite. If you’d like to hear that one as well, the link over on that old post still surprisingly works.

You can also stream four other full songs from the biopic over on the soundtrack’s MySpace (the ones by Sufjan Stevens, Cat Power, Jeff Tweedy, and Jim James with Calexico). Among others, I’m also looking forward to hearing Mason Jennings’ two contributions, The Black Keys cover of Wicked Messenger, and The Hold Steady enticing me to climb out my window. The soundtrack is out October 30, and the film opens Thanksgiving weekend.

Would you like to win one of two copies I have to giveaway of this lovely double disc? Of course you would. Leave me a comment to enter, make sure I have a way to contact you (might wanna spell out that email addy), and if you feel so inclined, please let’s talk about your favorite Dylan cover. So I can wrap this up before I head to NYC, this contest ends Wednesday at midnight.

Disc 1
1. Eddie Vedder & the Million Dollar Bashers: “All Along the Watchtower”
2. Sonic Youth: “I’m Not There”
3. Jim James and Calexico: “Goin’ to Acapulco”
4. Richie Havens: “Tombstone Blues”
5. Stephen Malkmus & the Million Dollar Bashers: “Ballad of a Thin Man”
6. Cat Power: “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again”
7. John Doe: “Pressing On”
8. Yo La Tengo: “Fourth Time Around”
9. Iron and Wine and Calexico: “Dark Eyes”
10. Karen O and the Million Dollar Bashers: “Highway 61 Revisited”
11. Roger McGuinn and Calexico: “One More Cup of Coffee”
12. Mason Jennings: “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”
13. Los Lobos: “Billy”
14. Jeff Tweedy: “Simple Twist of Fate”
15. Mark Lanegan: “The Man in the Long Black Coat”
16. Willie Nelson and Calexico: “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)”

Disc 2
1. Mira Billotte: “As I Went Out One Morning”
2. Stephen Malkmus and Lee Ranaldo: “Can’t Leave Her Behind”
3. Sufjan Stevens: “Ring Them Bells”
4. Charlotte Gainsbourg and Calexico: “Just Like a Woman”
5. Jack Johnson: “Mama You’ve Been on My Mind”
6. Yo La Tengo: “I Wanna Be Your Lover”
7. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”
8. The Hold Steady: “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window”
9. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott: “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”
10. The Black Keys: “Wicked Messenger”
11. Tom Verlaine and the Million Dollar Bashers: “Cold Irons Bound”
12. Mason Jennings: “The Times They Are a-Changin’”
13. Stephen Malkmus and the Million Dollar Bashers: “Maggie’s Farm”
14. Marcus Carl Franklin: “When the Ship Comes In”
15. Bob Forrest: “Moonshiner”
16. John Doe: “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine”
17. Antony and the Johnsons: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”
18. Bob Dylan: “I’m Not There”

[Vedder photo credit Kerensa Wight, header image credit Playlist]

June 29, 2007

Mason Jennings: Frick fight and a cover by Kweller

I came across this hilarious bit of storytelling on Mason Jennings’ MySpace blog page yesterday.

Frickin’ awesome:

So, there I was, walking through an herb garden at a lovely spa/retreat in New Mexico. We had the good fortune of staying there on our last tour. I was walking the grounds thinking about how beautiful the day was. I was walking around a grove of trees when, bam, I walked smack into my first Frick Fight.

I don’t know if I saw them or heard them first but, the scene was this: One man was sitting in a golf cart, he had a mustache, he worked at the spa and I would have to say he was the employer. The other man was standing, he didn’t have a mustache, his hair was pomaded down flat, he was younger and he was definitely the employee. Neither was the top dog. I would guess “weekend manager” and “caterer”. Both were dressed in colorful buttoned down shirts that were tucked into khaki pants. Anyways…

Mustache: What the frick were you thinking?
Pomade: I frickin told you, I didn’t frickin do it…
Mustache: Yes, you frickin did. Don’t frickin say you didn’t.
Pomade: I frickin didn’t.

Mustache: If you frickin do that one more time, I’ll frickin..
Pomade: I frickin said, I frickin didn’t do it.
Mustache: Don’t frickin lie to me. I have frickin had it.

Can you imagine my joy? My unbounded sense of being at the right place at the right time? In the lovely land of desert and sky, I had stumbled across one of the truly rare natural wonders of the world. An isolated employee-employer microcosm in which both were suddenly suspended in the space between between employment and profanity. It sort of reminded me of when you are playing a video game and you suddenly figure out how to run your little guy somewhere where he shouldn’t be able to go. Like through the air or into the stands.

They didn’t see me. Mustache stared down Pomade and then vroom-vroomed his little golf cart huffily away. Pomade stormed off.

Thank you, thank you, thank you God.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Also, I had missed that Ben Kweller covered Mason’s song “Sorry Signs on Cash Machines” last year on the Sundress EP, but am enjoying it now. When I hear different versions of Mason’s songs, I’m always struck by just how visceral and evocative a songwriter he is:

Sorry Signs on Cash Machines – Ben Kweller

Sorry Signs on Cash Machines – Mason Jennings

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June 3, 2007

Be here now: Interview with Mason Jennings

Mason Jennings just might be the nicest guy in music today (well, at least that I’ve met so far). I had a chance to sit down with Mason after watching his soundcheck at the Fox on Friday afternoon. Just as I opened my mouth to explain who I was and what I wrote for, he jumps in with comments to me about the specific articles he was reading earlier on my blog, offers me something to drink, and asks if I need him to hold the voice recorder. Yeah. No pretense here — Mason stands out with his completely earnest and kind nature, and commitment to the music.

I shouldn’t be surprised, since these same qualities come through in his music and are part of what draws me to his lyrics, but hearing his eloquent discussion of songwriting, the music industry, and parenthood made me really pleased to get to spend some time catching up with this talented musician.

HB: You’ve shown a strong do-it-yourself ethic throughout your career, from recording your first album at home by yourself, to forming your own record label to distribute your work. And yet, you’ve called your first major label release (Boneclouds) “the record I’ve been trying to make for years.” I thought that was very interesting. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Mason: Well, it’s just that I hadn’t been able to spend enough time in the studio with the DYI . . . is it DYI? Wait, do-it-yourself. DIY. I couldn’t figure out how to spend more time in the studio because it cost so much money, you know, and I wanted to make a more hi-fi sounding record and this gave me the opportunity to be in there for a bunch of weeks, 5 or 6 weeks. And I got a producer involved, which cost money, and I tried some stuff I just couldn’t do before. So that’s what I meant by that – just to see what it sounds like to try a bunch of different stuff without worrying about the clock ticking as much.

And that’s the same dichotomy you were talking about on the Use Your Van DVD . . .

Right, but that was back before I even signed or started recording [Boneclouds], so it’s neat that now I’ve gotten just what I had wanted then. I had time to try different arrangements, get different musicians in there, just try some stuff I’d never tried before. Like, recording Birds Flying Away was like . . . 5 days? And Use Your Voice was like less than two weeks, but that’s including mixing it too. So before I’d basically have one day to do a song, and if you don’t get it then everyone starts to stress, and then you get behind, and it’s not a good way to work. Plus, I don’t really like – it’s not the most comfortable environment to be in a studio for me. It’s just so sterile, usually.

So, you usually were used to going into the studio with the songs totally finished, and not doing much editing or noodling or revising in the studio?

We did that a lot on this album, for example a song like “Some Say I’m Not” was basically a first take in the studio, just like totally improvised. But we tried some different stuff, like the production aesthetic was different with slap-back vocal effects and things that were on the record were definitely not planned going in, it’s just a matter of now being able to experiment with different things and see what turns out the best.

Do you think . . . is there ever a danger of musicians getting, I don’t know . . . drunk on the power of being able to use whatever effects you want in the studio [Mason cackles] and then the ultimate result may be something that doesn’t really sound like you?

Maybe, yeah, like that kinda happened to me. I recorded the whole record in the studio, but then I ended up using about half of the demo tracks on the finished album. It was fun in that I got the experience, but at the end of recording it was just like, wow, this is way too glossy for me. So to balance it out I made sure that I put some demos on there. It was definitely fun to experience it [the toys in the studio], but it’s not necessarily something I think I’d do again in the same way.

So looking forward to your next album, now that you’ve successfully made the jump from independent to major label and released your first album this way, how might you do things differently next time?

Well, I bought a studio, a house in Minnesota, so I have a place that I can go every day now and start recording. I’m starting to do it all myself again, you know, with me playing all the instruments again, but I’ll be able to bring in different people as I need them, and different instrumentation, or singers, or producers or mixers – but as I need it, instead of having to go into a studio for ten days and have to get it all done exactly on schedule.

Do you have the same capabilities in your home studio as you would in the studio you recorded Boneclouds in?

Yeah, we recorded Boneclouds at a place called Pachyderm, where Nirvana recorded In Utero – it’s southern Minnesota. My home studio will be set up more for me, so it’ll be the same quality stuff but set up just for one person. So you don’t have to have everything to record a band or a big bunch of people. I’ll be more comfortable and I can just be there all the time if I want, like I could be there for a year and recording by myself, instead of always having people from the label there or even people that work in the studio wandering in and out. It’s harder to be intimate with it, you know, in that kind of setting.

I am currently writing new material and getting the studio set up so aesthetically it just feels really natural and comfortable to me. I don’t want to move too fast with it. It’s a slow process. I plan to start recording in August, and hit it pretty hard.

Where are you finding musical inspiration these days? Is it ever hard to be inspired on the road?

No, it’s always just really random for me. I mean, I’ll always try to just sit down with a guitar and write, but when songs come to me, it’s really hard to know what inspires it. I try and make sure that I take in as much input as I can and just . . . live as much as I can. And then the songs will just come naturally. It’s pretty great – it’s the best part for me. My favorite part is the writing. For me it’s just, I feel totally interconnected, like something’s just cruisin’ through you, and you get in the zone. It’s really, really fun when it works. It kinda feels to me like when I meditate twice a day, and it’s kinda like that . . . everything feels in line, you know? It’s hard to describe.

Art often inspires art, and you’ve said that “Adrian” was sparked by the immense feeling in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Are there other songs that you can specifically recall that were inspired directly by another piece of art, whether it was a book you read or a song…?

Well, yeah – on the new record the song “Be Here Now” was inspired by the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass. And “Moon Sailing On The Water” was I think pretty influenced by a book called In The Lake Of The Woods by Tim O’Brien. He wrote a bunch of Vietnam books, like Going After Cacciato and The Things They Carried. The book just stuck with me.

Let’s see, it’s hard to tell exactly what’s influencing what. Adrian’s not about Beloved, it just feels like it. And on that same record “East of Eden” is sort of inspired by a Steinbeck book, and also “Dewey Dell” is inspired by the Faulkner book As I Lay Dying, there’s a character Dewey Dell.

It’s almost like . . . [pauses] when you just step one little step off your own life, you can just see something open up in front of you, and you just follow it.

The thing for me is that I really wanted to write because when you read books or when you watch movies or whatever, and you get to that point where you get really moved and you transcend and you start to, like, almost cry or get teared up at a really great piece of art and that’s what I’m always trying to look for in the music too. If people tell me, “Man, you made me cry on the one song,” I mean, it’s not like I wanna say that’s the point, but I like the transcendence in relating to another person’s point of view so much, and feeling so connected and not alone in the experience, whatever it is, the book or song or whatever. That’s so powerful, I think, that connected feeling.

I thought it was interesting when you were talking about the difficulty for you in finding music after your sons were born that honestly reflected the contrasting emotions that parenthood brought up, without sounding like Raffi. Where are you at with that? I know you’ve written some of your own music that’s influenced by those experiences of fatherhood.

Well, now my [4-year-old] son likes Led Zeppelin, so I’m like, “Okay, we’re safe now. We can hang.” But, I’m trying to think . . . Paul Simon’s really good about talking about those things; I mean he has that one song about his daughter that’s really famous but there’s also like The Rhythm of the Saints or Graceland that’s so much about that. Jack Johnson’s starting to write some stuff about his family life.

It’s really hard, though. I mean, the one song that’s on my record “Which Way Your Heart Will Go” was called Fatherhood, and there was a line, instead of going “darling, there’s no way to know which way your heart will go,” instead it said “I would never trade a thing for fatherhood and the joy you bring.” But it was hard because I actually liked the original way better and it was more powerful to me, but then I played it for certain people and they just didn’t feel anything. Like, if they’re not a father, then they couldn’t relate, so I was like, “wow.” That was a tough one for me to change the lyrics. It makes sense, I guess, because then it opens it up to more people, but it still to me . . . there’s not enough songs about fathers I think.

You said when we first sat down that there is a lot of great stuff happening now in music. Tell me about that – what excites you in music lately?

One thing I like is the intimacy, like everyone’s starting to really get to know musicians in a closer way, through things like MySpace the walls are just coming down. I mean, like you look up Lou Reed’s MySpace page and he’s just like on there, sitting at a restaurant. And it’s like, “What?” All the veils are coming down. It’s a really interesting time for that.

And then you get these really incredible people like Joanna Newsom and Chad VanGaalen, just like these hybrid artists that just have these amazing kinds of new talent. So, that’s exciting to me.

Also just the instantaneous nature of music now, like you can just put something up on the web so fast and hear it. I love going to people’s MySpace pages and hearing different songs and demos. It can be hard figuring it all out though. It seems like the albums and CDs are kind of in a weird spot, like it doesn’t really make sense in a lot of ways to make CDs anymore? And people don’t think about them . . . I mean, they put like seventeen songs on an album and . . . I can’t listen to that in one sitting. It’s sort of weird to make art that you can’t experience in one sitting . . . like, cohesively. I don’t know how to address that. I keep thinking of different things like maybe just releasing songs as I write them or record them, individually through the web or something?

Yeah, because it’s changing, people’s attention spans, what they are willing to invest their time in. It’s going from full albums experienced completely as opposed to this era now with music just flying at you, detached from any sort of context.

Exactly. Like when I first started recording music ten years ago, the internet wasn’t even there. I mean, it was there, but I wasn’t using it as a tool. I didn’t have a CD player, and I didn’t have a computer. It’s really bizarre, I mean I remember putting up flyers on telephone poles. It’s just weird how within the last ten years, which is not that long, it’s just totally changed the game.

So it’s just trying to figure out how to go about it now, and it’s fascinating to me. I go into a CD or record store, or am flying around doing all these in-stores and record conferences, and everyone is so depressed, telling me that this is a dying trade. They’ll say, “Well, our store doesn’t really live except through vinyl.” So it’s like this archaeological store, this retro relic. People come in as collectors; I mean they might as well be selling Hummel figurines. It’s weird. There will always be a need for physical music, but maybe it will become like paintings or something, you know? It will probably be more like art galleries, especially once the thing you are listening to it on can be afforded by everyone. It’s a very interesting time.

Another thing that’s cool now is how live performing is coming back in, too. You can get all this stuff on the internet, you can download it for free, but you can’t replace coming out to see a show. I’ve experienced that, like, I’ll go to a city where I’ve sold a couple hundred records and there’ll be a lot more people there. I’ll say, “Wow, this is crazy. I thought there would be, like, forty people and there’s like 500.” I guess that’s the internet. They can hear one song and decide to go to the show. It’s cool.

If you feel that the emphasis is shifting away from whole albums, do you still write that way, or do you take it song by song?

Yeah, I don’t know. I’m sort of in the middle with that right now and trying to decide what to do a little bit. I mean you could have someone like Ryan Adams who just releases like a zillion a year, or you just have your traditional release every two and a half years . . . I don’t know. I am writing all the time, and now with my own studio, I guess it just depends on what I feel I should put out there and I am still trying to decide how to best do that.

Are you going to put “In Your City” on a record?

[Laughs] I tried putting it on the last one, it just didn’t fit, it sounded different. Do you want me to?

I love that song.

Yeah, I like it. It’s like . . . little.

In Your City (live) – Mason Jennings
(the sound here streams slow and weird – donno why. If you download it, it should sound normal. Sorry!)


The sold-out live show that followed was just fantastic; Mason’s an artist who you should see live to truly appreciate and understand his music. Even if you’ve never heard a single song he’s written before walking into the show, I think you’d be impressed and enjoy it immensely. Songs that are good on the album become explosive in concert. “Godless” was a churning, raging, consuming storm. “Jesus Are You Real” was brutally honest, and lovely acoustic songs like “The Simple Life” (which Mason started with, solo) lend a playful and easy vibe. He even covered Buddy Holly. He just plain rocks.

He’s on tour through the month of June, and has six albums out for you to enjoy – #1-#5 are out on his own Architect Records, and #6 Boneclouds was released last year on Epic subsidiary (and Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock-helmed) Glacial Pace.

Mason Jennings: Butterfly
(kickass drummer Brian starts the song, Mason takes his sweet time joining in, with a smile)

Mason Jennings: Fighter Girl


May 31, 2007

Mason Jennings :: Boulder tomorrow night

Looking for a good show tomorrow night? Of course you are.

Mason Jennings is coming to Boulder’s Fox Theatre this Friday with Ferraby Lionheart (that’s a fairytale character, right?) and Patrick Park. Mason is growing into a favorite of mine, with a sound that is alternately described as folk-rock-pop, protest-funk-rock . . . etc etc etc. I just call it some of the most fun you can have with an acoustic guitar, a bass, and some fat drum beats.

He’s got a wonderfully organic do-it-yourself ethic, from the home-recorded first album, to the forming of his own record label (Architect Records) so that he could release “his music, his way.” Now signed to Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock’s Glacial Pace label, Mason is still blending introspective, poetic lyrics with inventive and soulful acoustic musicianship.

In the next few days here, I’ll have some good interviewin’ with Mason to share with you guys — so brush up now by coming to see him live (TIX):

Living In The Moment – Mason Jennings

Nothing (live) – Mason Jennings
(from the Living In The Moment EP)

Fighter Girl (b-side) – Mason Jennings
(from the If You Need A Reason EP)

Oh Susannah – Mason Jennings
(from the Down By The Riverside comp)

Angeles – Mason Jennings
(Elliott Smith cover, 2/13/04)

California (Mason Jennings cover) – The Kooks

Jun 1 Fox Theatre – Boulder, Colorado
Jun 2 In The Venue – Salt Lake City, Utah
Jun 4 Neumo’s – Seattle, Washington
Jun 5 Aladdin Theatre – Portland, Oregon
Jun 7 Bimbo’s 365 Club – San Francisco, California
Jun 8 Catalyst Club – Santa Cruz, California
Jun 9 Malibu Inn – Malibu, California
Jun 10 House of Blues – San Diego, California
Jun 12 Rialto Theatre – Tucson, Arizona
Jun 13 Santa Fe Brewing Co – Sante Fe, New Mexico
Jun 15 House of Blues, Cambridge Room – Dallas, Texas
Jun 16 Antone’s – Austin, Texas

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April 22, 2007

I’m (finally) gonna see Mason Jennings

Hip hip hooray for little birdies who let me know when good tours are coming my way. I somehow completely missed new June tour dates from acoustic rock/folk-with-a-beat singer Mason Jennings:

April 22 Latchis Theater – Brattleboro, VT (solo acoustic)
June 1 Fox Theatre – Boulder, CO
June 2 In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT
June 4 Neumo’s – Seattle, WA
June 5 Aladdin Theatre – Portland, OR
June 7 Bimbo’s – San Francisco, CA
June 8 The Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA
June 9 Malibu Inn – Malibu, CA
June 10 House of Blues – San Diego, CA
June 12 Rialto Theatre – Tucson, AZ
June 13 Sante Fe Brewing Co. – Sante Fe, NM
June 15 House of Blues – Dallas, TX
June 16 Antone’s – Austin, TX

Butterfly – Mason Jennings
Southern Cross – Mason Jennings

Photo credit
Cameron Wittig
Tagged with .
March 29, 2007

Win the new Modest Mouse

New contest for you kids, this time to win one of five copies that I’ve got of the new Modest Mouse album We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. The big news for Isaac Brock and Co. this week is that his little band’s new album (their 5th full-length) debuted at #1 on the charts, selling 129K copies in the first week. It must have been propelled by that good review in Teen People.

THE CONTEST: One thing I find fascinating about Modest Mouse is how different each of their songs sounds. Sure, you’ve got that jangly, slightly off-kilter feel and the disorienting warble of Brock’s vocals, but beyond that there is huge and pleasing variety in the tunes.

To enter to win, leave me a comment with your favorite Modest Mouse song thus far (including new and/or unreleased songs is okay) and why. I want to take a listen. My wonderful student assistant Kathy once made me a Modest Mouse sampler with a great variety of tunes (rare/live/album) and I’ll admit I want to add any overlooked tunes to that. We’ll run it a week, ending next Thursday April 5th, and winners will be randomly selected.

I think my favorite MM tune is “Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes” — it has a narcotic-like effect on me in that I just can’t get enough of it. The first time I heard it, I just wanted to shake my moneymaker and I still feel that way every single time it comes on. Big fat delicious bassline, the trademark droning blend of two-octave vocals, and I love the lyrics, “I’m gonna get dressed up in plastic, gonna shake hands with the masses oh yeah . . .” Sounds a little OCD to me, but I love it.

Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes – Modest Mouse

NEW: Missed The Boat – Modest Mouse

Brock has been busy parlaying his past A&R experience at Sub Pop into a successful record label of his own with the development of the Epic subsidiary Glacial Pace Records. His first signing was singer-songwriter-cool dude Mason Jennings and the 2006 release Boneclouds was the premiere for the hatchling label. No word yet on other releases.

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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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