Sunday, October 12, 2008

blogging about music

I saw some great live shows in Los Angeles this year. But I hate writing music reviews. But I'm also bored on this Sunday morning and I don't want to clean my apartment and I have decided to put on the internet for posterity a record of a few of the good things that happened to me this year.

- Elbow at the Avalon in May. A great show. I'm not the biggest fan of their most recent album, but it's more than decent and all their stuff sounds amazing live. After I missed them in 2006, I was really looking forward to catching them this time 'round. Even with high expectations put on them, they did not disappoint.

- Robert Plant and Alison Krauss at The Greek in June. I don't have much to say aside from that it was really enjoyable and I never thought I'd ever see either of those musicians perform live and/or together. But you know that old saying "when you see a fork in the road, take it"? I might say the same thing about opportunities that present themselves to you at random. -- take them.

- Radiohead at the Bowl in August. This evening made the short-list of the 5 best things about being alive in 2008.

- My Bloody Valentine at the Santa Monica Civic Center. I knew relatively nothing about this band other than that Gary had an extra ticket and I knew he loved them. And I can trust Gary's judgment about music at least 95% of the time.

The memory of this show will stick with me FOREVER. I'm too lazy to write my own review, so click here to read about why

- And, this wasn't in Los Angeles, but it must be mentioned. I saw The Smothers Brothers perform in Maryland in April. They are two of my childhood heroes and I got to shake their hands and this experience is also on my short list of top 5 best things.

The end.

Dear Phil, I suck at posting stuff on music blogs. Please accept my resignation.



Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A mess of newish songs to smooth over my spotty posting...

Radiohead - "House of Cards"
I just think this is the prettiest song Radiohead has ever made. From "In Rainbows"

Andrew Bird - "A Nervous Tick Motion of the Head to the Left"
Brilliant. From "The Mysterious Production of Eggs"

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Down Boy"
I don't think I'll ever be a huge YYYs fan, but they always, always pull out awesome tracks like this one. From their EP last year.

The Ravonettes - "Dead Sound" This song has officially turned me on to the Raveonettes.

Bettye LaVette - "Streets of Philadelphia" Easily the best Bruce Springsteen cover I've ever heard.

Dr. Dog - "Ain't it Strange"
This song is so damned fun!!! From "Takers and Leavers" EP.

Vampire Weekend - "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
I want to hate VW and this song, but I don't. Also, Paul Simon wants his song back.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Free Atmosphere Album!!!

While I haven't listened to the record yet, even a bad Atmoshphere album is still a god hip hop album, so download "Strictly Leakage" for free and thank me later!

P.S. The Tunnel has been very busy with his "real" job lately and apologizes for the skimpy posts, but hopes to be back into the swing of things come the new year... even if his "staff" doesn't write a damn thing!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Christmas Gift For You: A Very Hipster Christmas, Too!

Our first "A Very Hipster Christmas" was so popular we thought we'd add some of our other favorite hipster holiday tunes in a little something we call "The Ultimate Hipster Christmas B-Sides!"

Bird and the Bee – “Carol of the Bells”
Flaming Lips – “A Change at Christmas”
Mogwai – “Christmas Song””
Belle and Sebastian - “O Come O Come Emmanuel”
Clem Snide – “Joy To The World”
Yo La Tengo – “It’s Christmas Time”
Feist – “Lo, Ho a Rose E’re Blooming”
Galaxie 500 – “Listen, the Snow is Falling”

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Christmas Gift For You: A Very Hipster Christmas

We here at Chinese Ending have worked long and hard to create The Ultimate Hipster Christmas Album. Below is a list of The Chimp’s favorite indie Christmas rock/pop/folk/whatever songs in a carefully selected playlist order. Play these tunes and try in vain to impress your “too-cool-for-Christmas” friends!

Vashti Bunyan – “Winter is Blue”
Sufjan Stevens – “I Saw Three Ships”
Eisley – “The Winter Song”
Kate Bush – “December Will Be Magic Again”
The Raveonettes – “The Christmas Song”
The Smashing Pumpkins – “Christmastime”
Jimmy Eat World – “12.23.95”
The Cocteau Twins – “Winter Wonderland”
Rufus Wainwright – “Spotlight on Christmas”
Tom Waits – “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis”
Badly Drawn Boy – “Donna and Blitzen”
Jack White – “Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over”
My Morning Jacket – “Christmastime is Here Again”
Death Cab For Cutie – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

A Christmas Gift For You: Classic Rock

Well, basically these are just the usual suspects, but they have their charms.

The Band – “Christmas Must Be Tonight”
Few rockers want to actually sing about Jesus. The Band did and made it sound honest and beautiful… never cheesy.

The Pretenders – “2000 Miles”
Another Christmas rock song rarity… it's actually pretty good.

Bruce Springsteen – “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town”
I affectionately dub this “The ‘Freebird’ of Christmas Rock.” It’s ALWAYS on the radio, but the thing is, I always enjoy it.

Queen – “Thank God It’s Christmas”
The zenith of cheesy Christmastime rock.

John Lennon – “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” Little known fact: Lennon was actually singing about The War of 1812. He was a very confused man.

Tomorrow: "A Very Hipster Christmas!"

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Christmas Gift For You: Jazz

In the spirit of the holidays, we here at Chinese Ending will be bringing you lists of our favorite Christmas tunes beginning with The Tunnel’s favorite jazzy Christmas tracks. Enjoy!

Vince Guaraldi - Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Let’s all just address the elephant in the room: Guaraldi’s album rightly deserves every bit of the attention it gets. So very few artists could or can fulfill the task of creating new memorable Christmas music. Guaraldi made an entire album of new Christmas songs (and retooled old ones) that weren’t just memorable, they are unforgettable.

Case in Point: “Skating”

Duke Ellington – 3 Suites, Nutcracker Suite (1960)

Sir Duke makes Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker swing! This is a brilliant work by a brilliant arranger.

My personal favorite track: “Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy)”

Listen: “Toot Toot Tootie Toot (Dance of the Reed-Pipes)”

Chet Baker – Chet Baker Quartet & Russ Freeman “Winter Wonderland (78 Take)” (1953)

How could a man who sang so slow play trumpet so fast? This amazing rendition of Winter Wonderland takes off from the get-go and never even thinks about landing. Delightful. Buy it!

Sarah Vaughan – “Favorite Things” (1962) foolishly calls this song “lightweight.” They are dead wrong. It is bare bones… in the best way. It is simple, but achingly beautiful. No one could sing like Sarah. No one. Buy it!

Jimmy Smith – “Jingle Bells” (1964)

The album “Christmas Cookin’” that this track comes from is ok, but in this case, too much of Jimmy’s organ is too much of a good thing. However, pop this track into a Christmas mix and it’ll add just the right dash of holiday cool. Buy it!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Levon Helm: Grammy Nominee

Congratulations to my hero Levon on his Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Folk Album. Here's to him winning!

"Poor Old Dirt Farmer"


My Favorite B-Side/Demo of the Year

The National - "Santa Clara"

As good as anything on Boxer. Just beautiful.

My Favorite Unreleased Track of the Year

Buck 65/Bike For Three - "All There Is To Say About Love"

Hopefully to be released on Bike For Three's first album due (likely) in 2008.

It's also one of the most odd and delightful performances I've seen in a while.

Friday, November 30, 2007

In a Turkish Town

This song is simply beautiful. Most people just listen to "La Bamba," "Come Go With Me" and "Diana," but Richie Valens was also capable of such quiet beauty:

In a Turkish Town

The perfect kiss is the kiss of death.

Sometime during the summer of 1999 I was taking a drunken late night cab ride home through the streets of East Boston. Most of my memories of that are long forgotten but the one fact of that night that remains is that my cab driver was a huge New Order fan.

He was at least fifteen years older than me and had a thick Boston accent. That I remember. What I don’t recall is how the subject of New Order came about. Perhaps “Bizarre Love Triangle” was on the radio in the cab. I don’t know. I just remember him saying, “New Order was great. You ever hear ‘Perfect Kiss’? It’s soooooo good.”

I had, of course, known about New Order since 1993. I even had Republic. I loved “Regret” but probably didn’t listen to anything else off of that record. I had also seen the videos for “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “True Faith” by then, too. I really liked those songs but it just never occurred to me to seek out more by this band.

Enter the East Boston cab driver.

The following day I picked up Substance at Newbury Comics and the rest is history. “Perfect Kiss” is, in fact, “soooooo good.”

The video was directed by Jonathan Demme!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Death of Super-Heroic Theme Music

note: there is nothing cool about this post, nor am I talking about music of any real depth… I’m aware. Deal with it.

Have you noticed that theme songs on TV and in the movies are basically non-existent these days? They’ve been replaced by pop tunes or nothing at all. I’m not sure which is worse. I just know that I miss them.

Most of all, I miss Super-Heroic theme music. Superhero themes have also been replaced with pop music or generic soundtrack music. Some you don’t want to remember (ahem, Smallville). Others are totally forgettable. Can you remember any of the music in Batman Begins, the X-Men or Spider-man movies? I can’t. And these films were seen by MILLIONS and MILLIONS of people.

But, can you remember the music to the Christopher Reeve Superman movies or the Michael Keaton Batman films? Of course you can.

These theme songs were as powerful and inspiring as the heroes themselves, yet completely and wonderfully tied to those characters. They ran as leitmotifs throughout the films and played whenever your hero entered the screen. Your heart raced and you couldn’t help but smile and feel powerful and heroic too.

Perhaps we are going through a period in which it is not cool to have theme music. It’s as if producers and directors are saying, “Audiences are too hip for cheesy theme music.” What a colossal load of crap. We crave theme music. We love theme music. We need theme music.

Or maybe the real problem is that composers don’t know how to make great theme music anymore. The only recent theme music in a comic book film that I can remember is Superman Returns and that film basically just reused John Williams’ original Superman score. And all that really did was make me want to re-watch Christopher Reeve’s Superman: The Movie and Superman II.

The tagline for the first Reeve movie was “You’ll believe a man can fly.”

And when you heard that theme music, you believed it. It was magic. It wasn’t matter-of-fact like today’s heroes. That music was a thing of marvel and joy. It gave you chills and you were thankful for it.

There has been a wonderful pedigree of superhero themes since comic book heroes have taken to the screen, starting with Max and Dave Fleischer’s “Superman” in 1941 (just a few short years after the genre was even invented).

The short list of great themes from both the big and small screen is pretty obvious to most, but I love lists so I’m going to run through it anyway (in chronological order):

Superman – Sammy Timberg (1941)

Timberg started it all with the Fleischer’s brilliantly animated Superman shorts including “The Mechanical Monsters,” one of my personal favorites. For a while, this was THE superhero theme song – and rightfully so. I can only imagine the wonder children in the early 1940’s movie houses must have felt watching these elaborate shorts for the first time.

The Adventures of Superman – Leon Klatzin (1952)

Superman flew right into people's homes with this unforgettable opening. George Reeves WAS Superman to millions of children in the 50’s and this music played a huge part.

Batman – Neil Hefti (1966)

Call it campy, but don’t call it bad. This cheesy classic stays with you. Nana nana nana nana, nana nana nana nana LEADER!, er, BATMAN!

Spiderman – Paul Francis Webster (1967)

Another classic sixties theme. For most people, this is the only Spiderman theme.

Wonder Woman – (1975)

Ok, this one is kind of crappy, but you remember it, don’t you?

The Incredible Hulk (The Lonely Man Theme) (1978)

The opening theme to Bill Bixby’s 70’s Hulk show took a back seat to this great anti-theme closing credit number. It’s also the saddest song ever written for television credits. Fast forward 'til there only 1:00 left of the clip and sob.

Superman – John Williams (1978)

Wiliams’ score stands as the single greatest Superhero theme ever written. You will believe man can fly.

Batman – Danny Elfman (1989)

Elfman’s Batman theme gave Williams’ Superman theme a serious run for its money. Unforgettable and undeniably Batman. It is arguably the last great superhero theme.

Lastly, I’ve saved for you MY FAVORITE TV SUPERERO THEME SONG EVER! - Johnny Douglas (1981)

I’m completely serious about this. This show had non-stop music cues including this awesome theme song. It’s like crack to me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

LACMA's "Sundays Live"

Is a wonderful FREE live classical music concert every Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


Be there about 30 mins early for a good seat (although there isn't a bad one)

-Editor In Chimp

wakeywakeyman's Favorite Records of the Year

11. Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity

"The Perfect Me" Download

10. Idlewild - Make Another World

"No Emotion" Download

9. PJ Harvey - White Chalk

"When Under Ether" Download

8. The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

"My Body Is A Cage"

7. The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters

"Last Year's Rain Didn't Fall Quite So Hard"

6. A Place To Bury Strangers - A Place To Bury Strangers

"To Fix The Gash In Your Head" Download

5. Gravenhurst - The Western Lands

"Trust" Download

4. Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala

"Sipping On The Sweet Nectar" Download

3. The Clientele - God Save The Clientele

"Bookshop Cassanova" Download

2. Radiohead - In Rainbows

"Jigsaw Falling Into Place" Download

1. The National - Boxer

"Mistaken For Strangers" Download

The Tunnel's Favorite Records of the Year

2007 was a great year for music. As we close in on Thanksgiving I'd like to give thanks to those songs that brought me great joy this year.

Where I can, I have provided FREE DOWNLOADS and/or videos of these songs. But please, after listening, buy the albums/songs if you like them. Support these artists!

"Die Die Die" – Avett Brothers
This may be the single most fun three minutes of the year. The Avett brothers are becoming masters of raucous modern-yet-old-timey country. I simply DARE YOU not to sing along to this song. Wonderful harmonies. Their album "Emotionalism" is also a great time. Download

"What's a Girl to Do?" – Bat For Lashes
There are several wonderful tracks on Bat's new album "Fur and Gold" (DON'T MISS: "Prescilla"), but "What's a Girl to Do" beats out Amy Winehouse for the best Ronettes impersonation/interpretation of the year. Oh, and it's a hauntingly beautiful song and probably the best video of the year. Download

"Fake Empire" – The National
I just cannot say enough about "Boxer." Right now, I'd call it the album of the year - hands down. There just is not a bad song on this album. I just picked "Fake Empire" because it was a single and completely wonderful. BUY THIS ALBUM!!! Also, DON'T MISS: "Squalor Victoria." Download

"Leyendecker" – Battles
Or is it THE Battles? I can't remember. What I do remember is freakin' loving the hell out of this very odd, but surprisingly beautiful music. Do yourself a favor and find this track. It kicks ass without saying (or singing) a word.Download

"Little Birds" – Levon Helm
This year, a lot was made of new albums by aging rockers including Neil Young, John Fogerty, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, and The Eagles. But somewhere in there Levon Helm came out with this unassuming album called "Dirt Farmer" - his first proper album in 25 years. Simply put, it is a miracle. The former drummer, singer, mandolin player, etc for THE Band recovered from a decade-long battle with throat cancer which threatened to end his singing and his life to make this lovely, lovely country album. It reminds me of the joy I felt when Loretta Lynn came out with "Van Lear Rose" and showed everyone that she could make a better and more relevant country album than any one else. I'm not sure if "Dirt Farmer" is quite that good, but it certainly is just that genuine and heartbreakingly honest. So few will hear this album, but for those who do it will be the treat of the year. Download

"Sunshine" - Atmosphere
Simply put: fluff hip-hop at its absolute best. It's just such a damned happy and catchy song. I DARE YOU not to smile when listening to this track. Find this song, roll the windows down, and play it as you roll down the street. Off the EP "Sad Clown Bad Summer Number 9." Download

"Indestructible Sam" – Buck 65
This is a cheat. Buck actually self released this song in 2006, but I didn't know about it until 2007 (and it's better than anything on his 2007 release "Situation.") What other hip-hop artists can rap about a civil war era gravedigger over banjo music? WHO? No one else, that's who! There's only one Buck 65. Download

"House of Cards" – Radiohead
"In Rainbows" is the first Radiohead album I've truly enjoyed since Kid A. Makes me feel bad that I didn't give them any money for it. And "House of Cards" is my favorite track. Download the whole damn thing

"So Far to Go" - Common/J Dilla feat. D'Angelo
This is another cheat and another treat.
Why it's a cheat: Technically this song came out in 2006 on J Dilla's last album before he died called "The Shining." That was quite possibly the best album of 2006. Anyway, Common raps on this track and put it on his new album "Finding Forever." There's a few solid tunes on that album especially the very fun "Drivin' Me Wild" produced by Kanye West and featuring lovely vocals by Lily Allen.
Why it's a treat: For one, it has a rare appearance by train wreck D'Angelo whose singing is once again soulful and achingly beautiful. Also, as much fun as Kanye West is, he'll never match the subtle and bottomless deep soul of J Dilla. I eagerly await more posthumous releases.

"1234" - Feist
I know it's become another ipod jingle, but what a wonderful jingle! So pretty.
Ironically, it's just 89 Cents and DRM free on

Honorable Mentions:

"Stars" – Au Revoir Simone
Dreamy, adorable and infectious. This song is a joy.

"Hit That" – M.I.A.
This unannounced track is better than her hit "Paper Planes" from her much hyped but hard to label album Kala. Hard to find, but worth it.

"Can I Get Get Get" – Junior Senior
Great dance record.

"None Shall Pass" – Aesop Rock
Great underground white guy hip hop.

"You Know I'm No Good" Amy Winehouse ft. Ghostface Killah
As much fun as mainstream pop gets.