Archive for December, 2008

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Cruisin’ with the Mountain Goats

December 31, 2008

Norwegian Jewel

Go on a cruise with the Mountain Goats, the Weakerthans, Sloan, and many more. The Barenaked Ladies have organized a six-day trip, Ships & Dip V, on the Norwegian Jewel [pictured], with you and whole slew of artists. It’s the first week of February, starting from Miami and going to Cozumel and the Grand Stirrup Cay. Part of me thinks, “Ooh, a week  with John Darnielle and John K. Samson” and then the rest of my higher brain functions kick in and remind me that it’s a cruise, and not even a cool cruise.

However, if it sounds like a fun- and music-filled vacation to you, you can find full details here. Book fast – there are only a hundred cabins left (of course, it’s also just a month away).

MP3: The Weakerthans – Left and Leaving

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Upcoming: microDecibel Festival

December 30, 2008

Alex Smoke

The Decibel Festival is hosting a two-night end-of-year blowout at Neumo’s in Seattle. Night one, on Tuesday, December 30th, is “Best of Bass,” with variants of house, in the persons of Jesse Rose and Kilowatts, at the top of the bill. Night two, the 31st, is “Dirty Dancing: NYE” and focuses on techno, with live performances from John Tejada, Alex Smoke [pictured above], and more. I saw Alex Smoke in late 2007, and he was phenomenal – definitely one of the best performances that I saw that year.

Full details on udB can be found at the Decibel Festival Myspace page, and a Stranger article is here.

Image: Alex Smoke by Flickr user couchetard, reposted here with permission.

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Upcoming: Anarchy Evolution

December 29, 2008


[embedded YouTube video; if you can't watch it, click here]

Bad Religion frontman and UCLA biology professor Greg Graffin is working on a book, Anarchy Evolution, that’s scheduled for release on Harper Books in 2010. It’s supposed to be about naturalism and atheism as well as (one presumes) anarchy and evolution. Graffin (looking extremely professorial in the video) describes it as a personal narrative about ‘how to be a more interesting atheist than has been [cough] advertised by popular books of the last three years, by calling yourself a naturalist instead.’ [my links, of course]

No Amazon pre-order link yet – stay tuned.

MP3: Bad Religion – Sorrow [amazon]

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Video: Goldblade, “City of Christmas Ghosts”

December 26, 2008

[embedded YouTube video; if you can't watch it, click here]

Rounding out our week of alternatives to traditional Christmas music, we have this new song by British punk band Goldblade, featuring the legendary vocalist Poly Styrene. As befits a punk Christmas, it’s an elegy for lost friends coupled with distinctly anti-consumerist sentiment.

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Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime

December 25, 2008

chiron-beta-prime[Image credit : Len from the Jawbone Radio Show]

As you may have gathered from an earlier post, I’m not so much about holiday music (hey, it’s a secular democracy, deal with it). So it’s perhaps unsurprising that “Chiron Beta Prime” by Jonathan Coulton is one of the very few Christmas songs that I like. This live version features zed equals zee’s very own guest blogger Scott in a cameo as the robot voice.

MP3: Jonathon Coulton (and Scott) – Chiron Beta Prime (live)

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Working on Christmas

December 24, 2008

work-on-christmas

It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m in my office, even though I probably shouldn’t be, so I can use my printer and my big monitor. I actually find it kind of amusing to send out letters time-stamped on Christmas Eve – doing my bit to remind people that our culture is pluralistic, not a monolith. But I know that working on Christmas, for many people, is not voluntary. I’m streaming KEXP and they just played this  Seattle-centric song by Harvey Danger. Even for an occasionally snarky non-Christmas celebrant, it captures some of the melancholy of working on the holiday.

This song is for my friends Erich, Scott and Ken, none of whom could go home to see their families because they had to work around Christmas.

MP3: Harvey Danger – Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas [amazon]

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Threesome: alternative holiday songs

December 24, 2008

lolcat-xmas-tree

In response to my ‘Christmas songs for non-Christmas people,’ guest blogger Scott offered up three finds. The first is “Father Christmas,” by the Kinks, which I immediately recognized as a staple of my local alt-rock station. It’s a heartwarming holiday song about getting a job as a department store Santa Claus and being mugged by a gang of kids. Rilo Kiley‘s ‘Xmas Cake’ and Jenny Owen Youngs‘s  “Things We Don’t Need Anymore” are both about how depressing Christmas can be if you don’t feel like your life is going very well. The former is mostly just sad (crying in the eponymous cake) and the latter song is heavily leavened with anger (‘Here’s to wishes that’ll never come true.’)

Scott also sent me a song called “I’m Going to Spend My Christmas With a Dalek,” off an album of Doctor Who related songs, Who Is Dr Who. I got 56 seconds in (1:32 to go) before I had to shut it off. It managed to offend me musically, as a fan of Doctor Who (since when do Daleks have left toes?) and, well, as a human (the faux-childish lisp of the singers – yeesh). I think it would be rather fitting if its perpetrators really do get to spend Christmas with a Dalek, since they are pretty low on the holiday spirit and big on the ‘EX-TER-MIN-ATE!’

I can’t actually bring myself to propagate the song further, sorry. There’s enough horrifying stuff on the Internet without my adding to it.

MP3: The Kinks – Father Christmas [amazon]

MP3: Rilo Kiley – Xmas Cake [buy]

MP3: Jenny Owen Youngs – Things We Don’t Need Anymore

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