will phalenSo yes, instead of listening to U2’s new free download, we’ve been listening to these fine CD’s (Shelled out cold hard cash for the tangible thing!) played on a really excellent, high-end, stereo system… all highly recommended…

1. Sun Kil Moon – “Benji” – extraordinary…made me cry and laugh… powerful art and a nylon string guitar – I think it’s probably one of the greatest records I’ve ever heard. Really!

2. Mavis Staples – “One True Vine” – produced by Jeff Tweedy… beautiful, soulful… hushed, just great!

3. Chrissie Hynde – “Stockholm” – thanks to Terry Flamm for the recommendation! Neil Young sits in on a song with his great Les Paul guitar!

4. Jim James – “Regions of Light and Sound of God” – so good, weird, and cool, love the saxophone!

5. Jenny Lewis – “The Voyager” – Ryan Adams and Beck contribute… the record builds and the title track is my favorite song of the moment!

6.  Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – “100 Days, 100 Nights” – killer soul, great voice, great band!

7. Will Phalen – “The Dirt, the Air and the Grass”  – beautifully realized. Will does it all, love that Rickenbacker guitar… he’s a really cool guy too… and excellent band! Ringing guitars and haunting lyrics.

8. Nate Currin – “You and I Are Ghosts”  – A great singer-songwriter, writes extraordinary songs, excellent production… I close my eyes and am reminded of the best of Ryan Adams… but Nate has his own voice… on a national tour in a motorhome… we were on a bill with him at Uncommon Ground.  He just knocked us out…a cool guy too.

9. Parquet Courts – “Sunbathing Animal” – Noisy, funny, raucous. You just know these guys love Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, and Television and Dylan too.  Two voices, classic garage band vibe.  But these guys are super-smart and articulate… funny, did I say funny? Love it.

10. The Handsome Family – “Singing Bones” – It was “True Detective” that compelled us to buy this one.  The title song of the great HBO series is “Far from Any Road.”  Beautiful and haunting. Brett Sparks owns the low tones. Gothic Country? Rennie Sparks writes beautiful lyrics… love this record! Dark. In a good way.

11. The Beatles – “Please Please Me,” – OK it was “Tune In” that made me purchase a copy of the Beatles first record.  Recorded in about 16 hours. The Beatles are raw and exuberant. There are some great originals but it’s the cover songs that really knocked me out this time.  I think I overlooked this one for years, thinking it was their later work that was the best. This is the Beatles as a really tight, joyous, raucous r&r band. All the elements of their later success are here. Fresh!

12. Fairport Convention – “Liege & Lief” and “What We Did On Our Holidays” – lots of people who have come out to see our band whitewolfsonicprincess have compared us to Fairport Convention. Which is just the greatest compliment! I went back to these early records. They are just amazing. Sandy Denny’s voice is one of the great instruments, and Richard Thompson is an extraordinary guitarist.  We do some originals using non-standard tunings, with some Celtic, Gypsy type vibe, and I think it’s these tunes that conjure up the Fairport Convention mojo.  So glad I traveled back to discover and enjoy these early discs… totally inspiring!



Picture 2This morning, on the radio, I hear that Lou Reed has died. I first heard Lou Reed on the radio in the early seventies. I remember being a snot-nosed kid, listening to the FM radio station alone in my room, and the Velvet’s “Rock & Roll” came on the radio. I had never heard anything like it. It sounded so “New York,” smart, edgy, raw, kind of funny, sort of trashy, a little bit dangerous too. So Un-Beatles.

I remembered this first glimpse as an important moment! It was a song that opened my eyes and ears. There was a big world outside of my little, sheltered world, and the Velvets and Lou Reed came from another side of the planet.

Lou Reed was never a role model when it came to life-style. He was a self-titled “rock & roll animal.” You wouldn’t really want to do drugs like he did drugs. You probably wouldn’t want to have sex with the people he had sex with. You definitely didn’t want to live inside his head.

But the music, the lyrics, the voice, the dedication to making rock & roll songs that mattered, yes, that kind of artistic integrity was over-powering, admirable, and inspiring. In that respect he certainly was a role model. Lou Reed was a major force in r&r and a major voice in my life. And his music still means a lot to me. I will miss Lou Reed. – Jammer

I just don’t have the rock and roll lifestyle thing worked out. We played a show last night at a classic Chicago neighborhood bar. It was another thrilling performance for our band whitewolfsonicprincess. It’s funny we thought we were a tight, committed band, but the last shows have shown that there are levels to tightness and commitment. We have entered a new phase, where the tightness, the connectedness have opened to a new looseness and confidence. Exhilarating and satisfying. And the hardcore drinkers at the bar stopped, listened, applauded, bended our ears to tell us how much the enjoyed the show and bought CDs too… definitely some kind of endorsement.

But anyway, up late and up early too. If I was totally rock and roll I’d sleep to noon for sure. But it seems no matter how late I stay up, I’m up early, brewing my coffee, checking out the internet, (this Hula Cam from Burning Man 2012 is amazing)… and listening to music too.

This morning I’m listening to Lou Reed and John Cale’s tribute to Andy Warhol, “Songs For Drella.” It was released in 1987.  I have no clue why it took me so long to finally buy it and listen to it. Maybe I read a bad review or something. New resolution – never fucking listen to a reviewer! The disc is just so beautiful, touching, amazing. I picked it up yesterday at the used CD store, and I’m so glad I grabbed it. I’m listening to it now, second time through this morning… it’s just such great, thrilling work. Love it. Sad too. Funny too. A great, great set of music… and oh yeah, I’m such an admirer of Andy Warhol… one of the greatest artists ever… so inspiring… I miss him too Lou! “All that matters is work.” – Andy Warhol – Jammer