May 14, 2009

The campaign to save Paste

Most months, the only music magazine I read cover to cover is Paste.

I always walk away from devouring each issue with a mind that feels sharpened and engaged by all kinds of new music and interesting stories I want to investigate further. I believe that Paste is in it for the right reasons, and are trying to do nothing more than write about music (and books and movies and more) that they love. Same thing I do, essentially, except they’ve chosen the far more expensive “paper magazine” method of distribution, and have run smack into some hard times.

Here’s their letter, they’re asking for you to chip in now to help save the magazine, and in return they’re opening their vaults to a bunch of great rare tracks, including this one from Matt Nathanson (below), and folks like The Avett Brothers, Thao, Jamie Lidell, Emmylou Harris, Josh Ritter, Rosie Thomas, The Low Anthem, Matthew Caws….it just goes on and on (and on).

AND if you’re feeling especially feisty and wealthy, and donate $350, you get a subscription for life. Considering inflation (and you not dying before you can get the full value of the subscription), that’s a pretty solid investment.

Dear Paste readers,

We write this letter with great appreciation for all you’ve done for Paste, as well as sorrow that we need to come to you and ask for further support. The economy has taken its toll on Paste, and we need your help to continue.

As the global recession has continued, many of you have written us (especially as ad pages shrunk) to say, “If you ever need help, let us know.” That day has come.

…As a completely independent company, Paste has struggled for the past nine months as advertisers have decided to wait out the recession. As most of you realize, magazines are heavily subsidized by advertising. Industry experts estimate that an average subscription for a monthly publication would cost $60-$80 per year without advertising support. But last month was brutal…

We’ll make it through this short-term economic crisis—but it’s only with your help. Our fate is (and has been and always will be) in your hands. Big-time investors are not “in the game” right now—but readers can rise up and “invest” in Paste’s future. Will you be a part?

It doesn’t take much. Every little bit helps and you can be a part of continuing our efforts to help you find signs of life in music, film and culture. Know that every dollar you give goes into keeping Paste alive and, ultimately, making it even better.

With our sincerest thanks,

Josh, Tim and Nick for the entire Paste family

I am confident they will be successful. I just donated some money — jet on over and do the same, kid.

STREAM: Still (acoustic) – Matt Nathanson

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A note about that song: I’ve always thought this was one of the most powerful and simple songs on Matt‘s current album, and something about this even-more-stripped version just pierces….

i remember hearts that beat
i remember you and me tangled in hotel sheets
you wore me out
you wore me out
i remember honey lips and words so true
i remember nonstop earthquake dreams of you
coming on a fast like good dreams do…

November 16, 2008

“make you believe / make you forget” :: Matt Nathanson in Denver

San Francisco songwriter/rocker (and fellow covers-whore) Matt Nathanson played the Bluebird last Monday in a sold out show which, as usual, juxtaposed his own wonderful songs with a well-picked stream of covers and snippets of other tunes. I’ve seen Matt several times and always walk away from his shows feeling a little gutted by his songs (especially his recent output chronicling the unmagnificent relationship difficulties of adult life) and smiling from the force of his hilarious and engaging personality.

He closed the night with this, one of the saddest songs of the year in my book:

Come On Get Higher (live in Denver) – Matt Nathanson

And I had not realized how devastating (and uncomfortably close) the lyrics of “Cath” by Death Cab for Cutie are until Matt quoted a few of them at the beginning of his song “Wedding Dress.”

Cath –> Wedding Dress (live in Denver) – Matt Nathanson

Check out the rest of the show on the Live Music Archive, including a sweet little cover of “All I Have To Do Is Dream” by the Everly Brothers, which was a song I’d requested, and came out just lovely. Also, we rocked that singalong cover of “Take On Me” in a catharsis I wouldn’t have thought possible.

[see all pics here]

August 22, 2008

Matt Nathanson has a big ole man crush on Springsteen

Greetings from San Francisco! Here I am nestled under the fog, bravely going to cover the Outside Lands Festival for you all (take one for the team, I know). Things get underway in just a few hours and I will be heading over once I can figure out what to do with my car. I think I’m walking 26 blocks. Awesome.

One of the artists I am really looking forward to seeing this weekend (there are many) is the always-enjoyable Matt Nathanson, who plays a hometown show tomorrow at 7pm on the Avenues Stage. I’ve recently been listening a lot to this stellar cover he performed not long ago on Sirius radio:

Thunder Road (live on Sirius) – Matt Nathanson

In related news, this second Springsteen cover features Charlie Gillingham of the Counting Crows and David Immerglück of the Crows and Camper Van Beethoven. Both of those guys played on Matt’s record Still Waiting For Spring back in the day.

Atlantic City – Matt Nathanson w/ Immerglück and Gillingham

Both covers are lovely. Maybe everything that dies someday comes back. Ah, I hope.

August 4, 2007

It’s just madness. Boulder madness.

Freshly back from the annual summit of record label and radio folks up in Boulder (I didn’t fit into either category; I just happily observed and chit-chatted, gratefully partaking in a bunch of good showcase shows).

First up was the side-achingly-hilarious Matt Nathanson, rocking through a solid set of mostly new material which sounded fantastic. Even though he had to face an oddly pugilistic audience, he handily slayed them all with his sharp wit, leaving one golf-shirted middle-aged heckler kind of speechless (the guy made some random crack about Matt “giving it up” in prison, to which I believe Matt called him a big hairy beast and told him to wear something frilly so he had something to grab on to).

Despite all the distractions (or maybe because of them), I thought it was a great show. The full band sounds tight and energetic, and the new material has a razor-sharp emotional edge to it that smacks with a welcome realism about long-term relationships. I hope to have a little interview-dealie with him sometime this week, for those of you playing along at home. Matt’s new album Some Mad Hope comes out August 14th — here’s one song off it that alternately sounds like his own special Prince nu-wave ditty, mixed seamlessly with the Ryan Adams song “Gimme A Sign.” I like it.

MATT NATHANSON: To The Beat of Our Noisy Hearts
(new, live 8/1/07)

And this one always, always gets me. A perfect little song, which the audience appreciated and sang along with:

MATT NATHANSON: Angel (live 8/1/07)

After Matt Nathanson the place kinda cleared out to go across the street to the sweet little digs of Lulu’s Kitchen, a teensy venue with a warm vibe from the owner of Albums On The Hill. Fionn Regan had just completed his set (all I can say is he looked the rockstar part with floppy satin vest and skinny jeans) and Willy Mason was performing an affecting little tune that I understand is new, called “I’ve Been Waiting For You” (maybe). I’d seen him back at Noise Pop (come to think of it, on a night where I also saw Josh Ritter and ran into Matt Nathanson. WHOA glitch in the matrix).

So yes, then Josh Ritter had a late-night set back at the spa/hotel thing where the conference was based, in the Xanadu conference room no joke. I was extremely excited to see this show as the new album is rocking my socks. I sat there all barely-contained with friend Bodie, who was just as excited as me. Bodie lavishes credit upon me for helping to introduce him to Josh’s music with Thin Blue Flame back in 05. He owes me.

So Josh was circulating through the crowd (dapper, as usual, in his white suit — he said he likes to “dress for the occasion”) and I got a chance to talk to him. What a wonderful, happy human being. He glows with excitement about what he is doing.

He also TOTALLY copped to the similarities between new song “Rumors” posted in last week’s Monday Music Roundup) and Britney Spears’ Toxic. I wouldn’t have believed it –I thought it was just me hearing things and being a little too fond of the video– but I asked and he concurred. His new album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter is out August 21 and Amazon just wrote that it “may be the best album of 2007, hands down, by the most under-accorded American musical genius.” He blew the crowd away with a set of mostly new material (aka rocking) but also the fantastic “Wolves” and desired “Kathleen” — oh, and “Girl In The War,” which I never tire of.

JOSH RITTER: Rumors (new, live 8/1/07)

In addition to Some Velvet Blog‘s Bruce Warren enjoying all the conference festivities alongside me (from the astoundingly good WXPN radio station out in Philly), Wednesday ended with me staying the night, coincidentally enough, at a hotel in Denver with lovely blogger C from Scatter O Light. She was taking a break from her Bono-spotting in NYC to come to Denver for work. It was a blogger bacchanalia.

Thursday brought more good live performances, first a luncheon with Robbers on High Street (more from them on Monday) and melodic and wistful Australian rockers Augie March. I mentioned Augie March this past Monday, and they were excellent live – nuanced and passionate and inventive. Their song “One Crowded Hour” fairly takes flight in live performance, and I absolutely adored it and the feelings it evoked in me. I think that song could be huge this summer (it was incidentally re-recorded for the U.S. release at the same studios in San Francisco that Creedence used to work at).

After the show Glenn Richards from Augie March used my cell phone to call my little brother at work in San Diego, as he’s a huge fan. “Hello Brian? This is Glenn, from Augie March.” Officially consider me the world’s best big sister now.

More pics from that luncheon and the conference here.

And finally, why not a third Ryan Adams show in two weeks? Why not. This one was shortened, acoustic, and OPENING FOR PAULA COLE. How did that happen? Maybe the artist with the most underarm hair got the top billing. Or something.

Ryan and The Cardinals delivered a very musically solid, professional, enjoyable set which is exactly what I think he needed to show these folks. Although the concert was open to the public, probably at least half the audience were records and radio folks, many of whom saw Ryan last in Louisville at another convention where he was apparently Silent Ryan again, not speaking, wearing a hoodie and allegedly a shower cap for the whole performance in the almost-complete darkness. So I was really glad that he demonstrated (again) for the doubters how good he can be. The setlist (thanks Mandy!) was:

Let It Ride kicked in the gorgeous slow way and I didn’t start recording fast enough, but look how well the band gels together for the rest of it:

RYAN ADAMS: Let It Ride (live 8/2/07)

The setlist was many of the same songs he’s been playing lately, none of The Big Hits. There was no face melting, no extended jams, but we did get some wonderfully self-effacing banter — this clip picks up with Ryan talking about some of the traits that have been associated with him over the years: “Professionalism, happiness….”:

RYAN ADAMS: Blue Hotel (live 8/2/07)

[direct link]

I ripped an mp3 of that video, it looked and sounded gorgeous:
Blue Hotel (live in Boulder) – Ryan Adams

UPDATE: The whole Thursday night show is now streaming at

I was bone-crunchingly exhausted after the event was over, partly from the many shows and partly from just the constant talking to interesting people, but I am recovered now. Let’s do it next year.

June 29, 2007

Two new songs from Matt Nathanson: Car Crash & All We Are

Matt Nathanson is hard at work on the road promoting the release of his upcoming album Some Mad Hope (pictured above, LA skyscape, gorgeous) which is due out August 14th on Vanguard Records. He is rewarding his internet fanbase in an innovative way, sending exclusive content each Monday related to the songs on the new album. So far the last two Mondays we’ve gotten video showing off some new tunes in all their glory, and I thought to share them since I liked them both.

The first is a live acoustic version of Car Crash –a brutal song about wanting to feel the car crash, wanting to feel the bomb drop, “because I’m dying on the inside.” This was taped recently at The Living Room in New York City.

Car Crash

Then we have a performance of the final song on the album, “All We Are,” straight from Matt’s ordinary San Francisco living room.” He writes: “the album version has a full band playing on it…kind of three in-the-morning, norah jones meets PJ harvey vibe. this version has sort of an in-my-house, monday morning being video’d vibe.”

I always enjoy Matt’s smartass banter, and even at home early on a Monday morning, there’s no exception: “Luckily we had some equipment here from the ‘movie shoot’ we had this weekend, and we were able to get the farm animals out and stuff, and wash the walls down . . . we’re clothed now . . . so I thought it would be cool to use the equipment while it was still rented.” Note the barely suppressed smile. This is a lovely wisp of a song, perfect for a closing track.

All We Are

You can preorder Some Mad Hope now and get a fancy package deal that includes an autographed booklet, a sticker, and a bonus EP featuring in-studio, solo acoustic versions of three of the new songs. Go for it.

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June 6, 2007

News of the day

Ûž San Francisco musician/funny guy Matt Nathanson has a new song streaming over at his MySpace. Check out “Gone” in all its Goo-Goo-glory, a wrenching new song with a strong melody.

Matt writes some background on the song: “this song was tracked all at once, live… and this was the 3rd or 4th pass through. i vividly remember looking out into the tracking room while i was singing this, and seeing everyone completely in it. hunched over their instruments, eyes closed…entrenched in the words and the motion of the song. riding it like a wave. just absolutely KILLING it!… i hadn’t really experienced that kind of connection, that kind of communication, in the studio before… 6 people working like one. and the yearning and the desperation of the lyric totally came through them. through us…”

The deeply good new album Some Mad Hope will be out August 14th on Vanguard Records.

Ûž I am featured again on the newest Contrast Podcast #62: Seas, Oceans, and All Things Marine. My contribution was that fantastic song by Colorado artist Gregory Alan Isakov, “The Salt and The Sea.” It’s his love song to the Pacific Ocean, and mine.

Ûž The Format, who are one of the best bands I’ve seen live, have just announced a new headlining tour. It concludes in Colorado Sept 7th. Dates are on their MySpace, and you should absolutely go.

Ûž Finally, just one album a year for Ryan Adams is never enough (even though that’s A-OK with me). Lost Highway announced yesterday that there is a chance they will put out a Ryan Adams box set, with unreleased materials from the 48 Hours and Suicide Handbook “albums,” live songs from the Bedheads, and cuts from the Easy Tiger sessions.

If you preorder the (very strong) Easy Tiger album now, you get a bonus CD containing a live version of the song “These Girls,” which I got to hear on the album the other day. The most exciting news for me is that the song These Girls is actually a re-working of forgotten cast-off tune “Hey There Mrs. Lovely” from the ’99/2000 era, a song that I have long adored. The lyrics are different, and I am not sure if I like them as much as the original, but it is still a great-sounding song. The first 100 preorders also get a signed 7″:

October 11, 2006

Matt Nathanson *can* get to what I need

Recently I had the pleasure of sharing some Japanese food with San Francisco singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson before his show in Boulder, catching up with him about his current tour, the music he loves, and new album coming in 2007. You’ve heard me talk about him before; a bonus discovery for me when he opened for G. Love and Special Sauce, of all people. He’s currently co-headlining a tour with Carbon Leaf, and has played with folks as varied as Fiona Apple, Toad The Wet Sprocket, O.A.R., and Train.

Matt is a compelling songwriter with a biting edge and a fiercely humorous energy. No moon-faced mopey songwriting here, he’d rather strike with a sharply incisive lyric or a driving melody. Even his acoustic shows rock pretty hard, and this current tour is with a full band, so it is exciting to see that side of his music as well. As Matt said once in concert, “Tonight is going to rock, I guarantee you. You are going to run home tonight, naked, and possibly on fire.”

How could you resist? I hear nothing but good things in the future for this fellow.


Let’s start with a hard-hitting and serious journalistic question: If you were a white rapper, what would your street name be?

(no hesitation) MC Bitch Tits.

I first saw you as an opening act last March in San Francisco, and the crowd was happy but not always, shall we say, attentive. What have you learned from being an opening act that you now use in your headlining shows? I imagine it must be quite an acrobatic stunt trying to hold the attention of some of these crowds.

Sometimes it’s a better fit opening for certain bands vs. others. When I opened for Tori Amos it was fantastic because the crowd was really ready to listen. G. Love can be a little bit more of a tough crowd. But I’d say I like being the opening act better, actually, than headlining. I like being the underdog and being underestimated and kind of trying to win my way. It’s much better than being in a position of, “Put on a great show. I came here to see you.” Much cooler. I mean, both are good shows, but I think opening is just fun in general. I like it.

It seems as if you are a total cover whore, which I can appreciate because I am too. Some are serious and gorgeous, like Romeo & Juliet, or Springsteen, but others are not so much (White Snake, Rick Springfield). How do you decide what covers to do, and what do you bring to it that makes it worthwhile?

People don’t always appreciate the Boss, but every crowd appreciates White Snake. For us as a band, it’s fun to do covers that are stupid, like last night for fun we did “Dancing With Myself,” didn’t really rehearse it. So it’s usually just like you’re in middle of a song and something makes you think of something, you follow the train of thought and all of a sudden you’re at “Crazy Train.” Occasionally, tags on the end of songs or at the beginning just pop into my head, like “Anna Begins” (or “Such Great Heights”) with “Bent,” or “Pictures of You” with “I Saw.”

Are there any covers you want to do that you haven’t tried yet?

Ohhhh . . . I want to do “Dreaming” by Blondie. I think that’s a great song. Ah, I love that song. But I don’t think we’ll ever do it.

Dual pronged question about music, take your pick:
-What do you find yourself listening to most often now?
-Top 5 Desert Island Discs

Oh, I buy records all the time, I go every Tuesday to the record store. It depends which one — Best Buy is cheap, but I go to Amoeba first . . . great. And Tower on Columbus, before Tower went belly up, they were great. My top albums? Man, how about…

U2 – Achtung Baby
Def Leppard – Hysteria
R.E.M. – Life’s Rich Pageant
Lou Reed – New York
Jane’s Addiction – Nothing Shocking

aaand . . . maybe Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (Black Crowes) if I can take six onto this island.

Music that’s blowing my mind; John Darnielle / The Mountain Goats. I’ve known him for a really long time, since college and he’s just soooo good (see A Violently Perfect Song). The first song on the new Ani DiFranco record blew my mind. I was really excited about that new Black Crowes double record thing that came out. I bought the My Morning Jacket live record, and last week I bought ummmm . . . Fergie (yeah), and Luna’s greatest hits. It just piles on, stacks and stacks of CDs, and eventually I get there and find time to listen to it all.

Are there any songs that you ever don’t feel like performing because they are so wrenching and, well, a lot of the situations are pretty crappy? Like, Ryan Adams wrote:
“there are just some songs that are too painful, not in an emo-core way or whatev, but in a personal way, that i see in a way that makes me uneasy and unable to translate from the frame of mind i am in now . . . and that song [Come Pick Me Up] doesnt speak to me. it isnt what i would say if i were being myself . . . i respect the song enough not to sing it and lie.”

Can you relate to that at all with any of your songs?

There may be songs that I don’t sing, just ones that don’t translate anymore . . .But that stuff’s all still in there, inside me. It hasn’t been solved. You know, it’s all kind of still — you can get to it pretty easy. It just sort of sits in a corner and waits for you to sort of be like, “Heyyyy!”

I don’t think I’ve had any trouble relating still to my songs. That’s probably not a good sign for my development as a human, but I can still pretty much relate to everything in there, all the ones I play.

In the past 11 years that you’ve lived in San Francisco, are you finding any specific influences from the city in the music you’ve written? Is there a sense of place that comes from songs written in different locales?

Unh-unh. Songs may be about different places, that happens. Like this song’s kind of a New York song or that one is somewhere else, based on the characters in it or whoever I wrote about. But most of my songs are just really specific about events, they’re mostly letters to people.

Like, a record from me will be, like, 12 letters to the same person. They’re not hybrids of different situations in the same song — I try not to do that because I want to communicate something to that person that the song is written about, that’s usually how it works. Almost to a fault, I feel that I really adhere to that concept, like trying to explain this situation in a song, what’s really going on in my life.

As far as San Francisco goes, as a songwriter I haven’t really written any songs that for me feel like San Francisco. I tour a lot. I try but — in songwriting I am working on kind of expanding the palette a little bit, so things get a little more dynamic, a little more soundscapey, you know?

I was talking to my friend today and I feel like I do a lot of, like, “Here’s a song. Here it’s delivered, here it is.” And it’s time to stop doing that, it’s time to start delivering them in a little bit more of a — Like making greatness, or trying to make greatness. It’s like when you have a record like the first Sheryl Crow record, that’s pretty much a singer-songwriter record, but like “Strong Enough” is just amazing because they totally went left field with how they made it, like what kind of guitar they used, and rhythm.

Once you’re confident in the songs, I think the next step (and I’ve never been able to do this) is to sort of step outside the confines of the song and see what it can be. There’s a couple on the new record that feel like they’re closer to that.

What do you think it would look like to reach that elusive quality of “greatness” in a song that you spoke of?

Ohhh, I don’t know. Like . . . Springsteen. Springsteen has moments. Springsteen is actually an example of someone who does the opposite of that concept. He adheres to strongly to the traditional structure — they sound like a rock band, but the lyrics, that’s where he gets away with it. “Born To Run” makes you feel like you’re on the Jersey shore, but it’s not because of the music, I don’t think. It’s more about his lyrics. Or like with U2, you hear “Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World” and, holy shit, it’s like it’s 6am on some street corner somewhere, like you are actually there.

When can we expect a follow-up to Beneath These Fireworks?

It’s almost done, actually. There are 11 songs done, and we’ll record another 4. We’re recording it in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and it’ll probably be out in April of 2007. I’ve got a couple of titles floating around; it can be hard to name the album but eventually it just comes to you. I was thinking The Knife-Thrower’s Wife, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen now. I don’t actually know what it will be called right now.

Here are some unreleased songs you’ve done live that we’re curious about. Can you tell me which of these might be on the new album?

(Looks at paper)

*Prove to Me — “that’s never gonna make a record”
*So Long — “that’s so long gone”
*Car Crash — “that’s new, yep”
*Bulletproof Weeks
*I Can’t Get to What You Need
*Winter Dress — “that’s called Wedding Dress now”
*Detroit Waves
*Come On Get Higher
*This Heartbreak World

So, yeah, pretty much all of those except “Prove to Me” and “So Long”.

You’ve worked with some awesome musicians on your last album: Matt Chamberlain, Glen Phillips, David Garza. Who would be on your dream team of collaborators for the future?

A couple of records ago I had Charlie [Gillingham] from the Counting Crows come in and play piano and he is just great. I loved working with Matt [Chamberlain], who was in Pearl Jam for like three weeks. I just totally just saw Pearl Jam in Irving Plaza, it was a fucking incredible show.

David Garza is amazing, just constantly creating. Our bass player John played with his band for a while around the time of This Euphoria.

And Glen Phillips sang some backup for me, and that was great. I’ve known Glen for a really long time, I just played a bunch of shows with Toad and we had a great time. He and I have known each other for like 14 years, and we had a fucking good hang, it was great.

There’s not many guests on the new album — my friend Susie sings backup on a couple songs, she was on that show Rockstar. I’ve never seen the show but she just has a great voice.

The new one, it’s kind of a mix of electric and acoustic. We’ve been debuting some of the songs at shows recently, we’ll play a bunch of them tonight.

Last question. I love your “Starfish & Coffee” Prince cover, it is an inspired flash of glory. So . . . what’s the best Prince song ever, and why?

“Never Take The Place of Your Man” live from Sign ‘o’ the Times the movie. Now that’s a great song. Prince is just great.


Matt and his band did indeed rock Boulder that night with a crowd that was extremely attentive and tuned in to the vibe of the show. It was a pretty powerful aura of connection with the audience that evening, and the band seemed to be completely jelling together and really hitting their stride.

Matt played a mix of old and new songs, as well as a nice Violent Femmes cover and their cover of “Laid” by James. Of the new material, “Detroit Waves” was absolutely scorching, and I really liked the maturity and honest incisiveness of “I Can’t Get To What You Need.” Check it out, I think it’s great:

Here’s “Sad Songs,” one of my favorite songs of his off Beneath These Fireworks:

Finally, here’s a bit of his performance of “Bare,” another great song:

As a completely irrelevant postscript, I have to say that one of the funniest parts of the conversation we shared (and my personal favorite quote of the night because I am a total dog person): A golden retriever puppy comes up to our outside table. Matt asks the dog, very enthusiastically, “What are you doing?! Why are you perfect? Oh my god, you’re awesome. You’re so soft. What happened?!”

Come on, fuzzy puppies and good music. How could that not make for an excellent evening? Definitely go see Matt on tour if you can, and I am looking forward to hearing all of his new album next year. The strength of his lyricism and the goodness of the melodies make Nathanson one that I plan to keep an eye on.

TUNES: A few new ones from the Live Music Archive

Car Crash

Detroit Waves
(I think Matt said this was about being in an airplane over Detroit and not able to text message someone who you couldn’t control anymore)

Bulletproof Weeks
(Matt said this was about sleeping with someone that you really shouldn’t be sleeping with, and how it gets bad)

Come On Get Higher
(such a pretty, simple song)

August 30, 2006

Matt Nathanson announces Fall tour: I think you should go

I am a big fan of Matt Nathanson, as I have amply chronicled here, here and here. I ‘ve only seen him live once, which sparked my fandom. So I’ve been checking for tour dates on and off over the last year, but nothing in my neck of the woods . . . until now! Matt has just announced a fall tour, co-headlining with Carbon Leaf (who I know nothing about except for that they have that tune “Life Less Ordinary,” and their brogue reminds me of drinking songs to sing heartily after a few pints).

The good tour news is: three stops in Colorado. And likely your hood too.

Matt Nathanson gets my highest recommendation as an artist you should check out live if you can. As I have said before, not only does he write stirring, incisive songs, he’s also one of the funniest mofos you will ever see live. It’s like getting a stand-up comedy routine thrown in for free along with your concert.

You will go home with your sides aching (and if you don’t, then your humor thingie is broken and I don’t want to talk to you).

Sep 15 – Austin, TX Austin City Limits Festival
Sep 20 – Mill Valley, CA The Sweetwater Saloon (RAD venue!)
Sep 21 – Los Angeles, CA The Roxy Theatre
Sep 22 – San Juan Capistrano, CA The Coach House
Sep 25 – Tempe, AZ The Clubhouse
Sep 26 – Tucson, AZ Club Congress
Sep 28 – Park City, UT Suede
Sep 29 – Denver, CO Bluebird Theatre
Sep 30 – Ft. Collins, CO The Aggie Theatre
Oct 1 – Boulder, CO Fox Theatre
Oct 2 – Lawrence, KS The Bottleneck
Oct 3 – N. Minneapolis, MN Fine Line Music Cafe
Oct 4 – Madison, WI Palace Music Club
Oct 5 – Chicago, IL House of Blues
Oct 6 – St. Louis, MO Mississippi Nights
Oct 7 – Louisville, KY Headliners Music Hall
Oct 9 – Nashville, TN The Exit/In
Oct 10 – Cincinnati, OH 20th Century Theatre
Oct 11 – Cleveland, OH Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
Oct 13 – Indianapolis, IN The Music Mill
Oct 14 – Detroit, MI St. Andrew’s Hall
Oct 15 – Toronto, Ontario El Mocambo
Oct 17 – Philadelphia, PA Theatre of Living Arts
Oct 18 – Pittsburgh, PA Rex Theatre
Oct 19 – Baltimore, MD Rams Head Live
Oct 20 – Washington, DC 9:30 Club
Oct 23 – Burlington, VT Higher Ground
Oct 25 – Providence, RI Lupo’s at the Strand
Oct 27 – New York, NY Irving Plaza

SONGS: There’s a new recent live set from Matt a few weeks ago in Seattle (on the Live Music Archive) when he opened for my boys Toad The Wet Sprocket. There is this cool Flash plug-in thing at the top where you can stream all the tracks and then decide if you want to download it or not. Tres cool.

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June 20, 2006

Matt Nathanson: At The Point

One of the mini-reviews I submitted to the Westword was a few words about the new Matt Nathanson live album: At The Point (2006, Acrobat Records). Since they didn’t run it, lemme tell you what I wrote, since that is our topic for today.

“Until you’ve seen a Matt Nathanson concert, it’s impossible to understand how he could combine his melancholy, wrenching acoustic songs with an acidic sense of humor — and even the occasional Rick Springfield cover or Prince singalong. This live album captures those moments, and the setlist draws from several of his releases, providing a balanced introduction to this talented (and bitingly funny) young songwriter.”

I am getting more and more into him weekly, and find myself putting his music on random while I work every time I am near the computer. Here is a small sampling of tracks off the new album, but all of them are excellent & recommended.

I Saw – The line where he sings, “I still wake up burning through everything” always makes my throat tighten a little and my eyes burn — it took me a bit by surprise to react like that but for some reason the honesty in his voice on this line stings.

Romeo & Juliet (Dire Straits cover) – Matt says, “So, I’ve never played this song live, and I don’t know if it’s gonna work, but I was at a friend’s house last night in NYC and we were talking about great songs — and this is a great song.”

Answering Machine – The crowd always heartily sings along with this lovely melodic chorus. The lyrics are so biting for such a pretty song: “I met a new one and she looks just like you / She gives me everything that you didn’t want to / And maybe I don’t need saving after all / She sticks in my ribs almost better than you did.”

Straight to Hell (Drivin And Cryin cover) – Nathanson has a great ear for a good song, meaningful lyrics, a beautiful melody and the songs he covers (while sometimes done in jest) are often transformed into something more arresting than the original. I’ve never cared for Drivin and Cryin, but I do here.

I heartily recommend downloading this entire live album (on eMusic and iTunes) and, even more so, seeing Matt Nathanson when he comes through your town. You will not have more fun at a show this year.

I just noticed on his website that he is playing a free show this Thursday night (June 22) in downtown San Jose as part of the Music In The Other Park summer concert series. Can’t go wrong with free + Matt Nathanson. He rocks Cleveland on Saturday, and will be at Austin City Limits in September. (Now come back to Colorado!)

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April 1, 2006

Splashing around in the Live Music Archive

Ahhh, it is so much fun (and so time-consuming!) to just browse around and see what kind of good stuff there is for the listening in the Live Music Archive. It really is a phenomenal resource for music lovers. Late one night recently I spent some time immersed in the archives and I wanted to share with you what I sauntered away with, happily. Oh, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s like the Smithsonian, which I once got lost in during the class trip to Washington D.C. in junior high. It’s easy to wander off.

All kinds of great KFOG in-studio sessions (Matt Nathanson, Jack Johnson, Cracker, Cowboy Junkies, etc)

Lots of KCRW stuff (Ben Lee, David Gray, My Morning Jacket)

A bunch of Amoeba Records in-stores (Rogue Wave, Michael Franti & Spearhead, etc.)

10/10/04, Moonshine Festival in Laguna Beach
See You On Rooftops
(and note that the cringe-inducing hissing at the beginning stops shortly after the song starts)
**He was also featured on the surf-movie soundtrack Sprout that I posted about a while back

(formerly of Soul Coughing)
June 22, 2002 at the Aladdin Theatre, Portland OR
Grey Ghost (partly because it is a good song, and also because it is written about Jeff Buckley)

Recently added: February 26, 2000, The Empty Bottle in Chicago

Bent > Anna Begins
(one of his great original songs segueing into -!!!- a Counting Crows cover. Really lovely.)
(From his 10/29/04 show at the 9:30 Club, Washington DC).

FM Broadcast (= great quality) of the show at The Palace Theater in Louisville on November 23, 2005.
Off The Record

My favorite show of theirs to listen to from the Live Music Archive is still the August 19 show at the Gothic Theatre last year: It was my birthday, and my first inauguration to the sweaty, rockin’ goodness that is a Roger Clyne show. Plus, Clyne kissed my hand after the show for a birthday present. The whole show is top notch, and I love how it captures all the audience participation as well.

Loving Cup (Rolling Stones cover)
From their New Year’s Eve 2005 show, Mountain House, Santa Barbara

A great show from last month: 2/2/06, La Zona Rosa, Austin, TX
I Turn My Camera On

Recent show: February 15, 2006 at the Carling Academy in Glasgow
(excellent setlist & show quality!):
Dear Chicago, an absolutely heartwrenching version of Please Do Not Let Me Go, and Ryan’s banter about receiving text messages from his mom.

Some goodness from his January 18, 2006 show at the Belly-Up Tavern in Solana Beach, CA:
Cold Beverage > Gold Digger (Cold Beverage is a guilty pleasure of mine. Hidden talent: I can rap ALL the lyrics, stemming from the same SPIN Magazine cassette sampler in 1994 that introduced me to Jeff Buckley, oddly enough)
The Times They Are A Changin’ (yes, a Bob Dylan cover, since Garrett knows how to play the harmonica)
– And, why not: a little Booty Call action

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing (with a little Just What I Needed thrown in) From August 5, 2005, Dodge Theatre, Phoenix

Soon Forget (Pearl Jam ukulele song)
From June 11, 2005 at the Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, TN

Free (with Donovan Frankenreiter)
From May 10, 2005, Palladium, Cologne, Germany

Three Is A Magic Number/3 Rs (a little Schoolhouse Rock love)
From the August 10, 2005 show at the Santa Barbara County Bowl
(Tip: don’t make drunken concertgoers chant counting answers!
Jack: “And the eighteenth letter of the alphabet is . . . “
(no response – crickets from the crowd) -
“Well, that’s kind of a hard one, it’s actually hard…”)

Plus, they have the whole Jack Johnson show at Santa Clara University (my alma mater) from Feb 10, 2002. I thought that was pretty cool, an excellent sound-quality recording.

It’s in the .shn format (like a lot of the stuff on the Live Music Archive), but there are some free converters that you can use to change it into .wav, then mp3 (I use FreeRip).

That should keep you well-stocked for the weekend, muchachos, wherever it takes you! Be good.

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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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