Posts Tagged ‘The New Pornographers’

If you’ve been following my blog for at least a couple months you know that I’ve been on a quest to expand my social horizons.  Being married for 14 years and then recently divorced has left me in a gigantic social void that I’ve been attempting to crawl out of by going out and joining new social groups and hosting a party recently.

About  a month ago I wrote a post lamenting that I didn’t have a woman in my life who would go with me to events like the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ festival (…She’d Like Bourbon and BBQ), and was kinda down that I couldn’t even rustle up a friend or two to go with me to what sounded like an awesome event.  A few of you urged me in the comments to go solo because… well, where better place to find a woman who loves bourbon and BBQ than at a bourbon and BBQ festival?  It was a compelling argument… but ultimately the logistics involved and the meager funds available at the time had me choose plan B– bourbon and homemade BBQ at home.  I vow that next year, if I’m still single and still can’t rustle up any friends to go, I’ll go even if I have to fly solo!

Speaking of flying solo, I am going out tomorrow night to see Neko Case perform at The National, a really cool venue in downtown Richmond to see live music.  In my 20s, going to see live music was something I loved doing and did quite frequently, and would even go alone if the band was someone I really wanted to see and no one else was interested.  The National is an old movie theater that’s been refurbished as a live venue and I’ve heard it’s a really cool place to see bands play, so I’m really looking forward to finally checking it out.


Here’s a description of the place from a recent write-up:

The National opened for the first time in 1923 and was the place to go for silent movies, vaudeville acts, and musical acts.  The venue stayed open until 1983, when the last film shown was Hercules, starring Lou Ferrigno.  A cult classic now?  Of course.  Then?  A far cry from Orson Welles and Basil Rathbone.  There was talk of demolishing the site, when in 1986 Richmond’s historical organization saved The National from becoming no more.

Now The National is open, and careful renovation has restored the original friezes of capering nymphs, and even an uncovered nursery mural – used in the original building’s nursery – a service provided in the 1920’s to patrons.  There are cushy balcony seats (with cup holders!), and nice VIP boxes off to the side (but those are reserved for VIP sponsors of the club).  The first floor is all open standing area, although certain acts ask that seating be provided there as well.  In that case, the management sets up folding chairs, but you can still stand off to the side or in the mezzanine area.

There are three downstairs bar, one upstairs bar (not including the VIP bar), and The National serves food…

I’m super-stoked to see Neko Case.  I first came across her when I stumbled across her album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.  Each track I sampled was so gorgeous and haunting that I impulsively downloaded the entire album on iTunes and didn’t regret it one bit.  Every time my iPod randomly shuffles up one of her songs I just lose myself in the mood she creates in each song.

the lovely and talented Neko Case

Seeing her live is going to be an especially nice treat because she’s a gorgeous redhead and old like me.  Below is a link to my favorite song of hers:

After falling for her solo work, I discovered that she also performs occasionally with The New Pornographers, and loved the songs where she was the lead singer.  My favorite is this one:

I dig the harder edge and energy, but I doubt she’ll be performing any of these for her solo show.

Are any of you fans of Neko Case?  Have you seen her live?  Do you ever go see live music solo?

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I know a lot of people who’ve gone through a major breakup recently, or are just not digging being single and unattached, really hate Valentine’s Day.  There are even people who have significant others but find the holiday dumb or trite.

I am not one of those people.  I love Valentine’s Day and always have, but then I’m very much a hopeless romantic and a holiday dedicated to hopeless romanticism is right up my alley.  It’s one of my life’s greatest ironies that I’ve hardly ever been with a partner on Valentine’s Day who appreciated romantic gestures… but yet I still hold out hope.

For me, love is what living is all about.  When it comes to religious belief, I consider myself Agnostic, which I know some people consider a cowardly Atheist– someone too chicken to fully admit that there’s nothing after death.  Me, I’m pretty sure there’s gotta be something there, something spiritual that we don’t understand, something that gives us this spark of life and intelligence that’s more than just the end result of collisions of random molecules over a millennium.   I’ve always believed it, but having experienced the miracle of having children, of seeing them born and watching them grow, I’m convinced that it’s true.  However, I’m also pretty sure that none of the major religions have “got it right” either.  Thus, I’m truly Agnostic.


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[NOTE:  Apologies for the long delay between posts… I recently moved AND I also had to dramatically increase my part-time hours (in addition to my normal full-time hours) in order to pay for the move, so time and energy has been cut drastically.  Things are starting to settle down now…]

I often fantasize about finding a woman who would find my iPod and fall in love with my music– finding that we shared a lot of the same tastes, discovering new favorites, talking about my experiences around the songs …and hopefully providing me with new tracks I can add to the mix and wrap new memories around.

I thought it might be fun to sample the eras here, music that made deep enough marks as to find a home on my iPod…  You can find Part 1 “The Early Years” here and Part 2 “The Awakening” and “First Love” here and Part 3 Expanding Horizons here


Getting married and starting a family certainly changed a lot of the sort of music I ran across since I was no longer going out to parties and being exposed to new music, or going to see as many live shows.  It also marked a period of time of “big events” which often became associated with specific songs…

Paul Simon, Father and Daughter

One thing I was dreading about being a parent was being subjected to awful children’s television.   However, in the 10 years that I’ve been a parent I’ve found a surprisingly large number of shows that are fun for kids to watch (and even sometimes educational) and are also at least mildly entertaining for the parents to watch too.  One of the best of these shows was The Wild Thornberries, and I remember watching a Wild Thornberries movie where this Paul Simon song came on… and just choked me with emotion as I sat there curled up with my daughter.  Such a beautiful song, but if you happen to be the father of a daughter, it’s like Paul Simon is singing just for you.

The Cottars, Hold On

Hold On

When my father-in-law suddenly passed away it was pretty devastating.  One day while the grief was still pretty immediate I was driving to work listening to the Folk Sampler on NPR, and a song called Waterlilly by The Cottars came on.  It’s ethereal beauty weaved into the emotional roller coaster I was on, bringing tears of sadness… and yet the song was just so gorgeous I had to have it.  I went and bought the CD and discovered a new favorite, this cover of a Tom Waits song that is much more fun and upbeat… and just as gorgeous.  Not long after this album was release half of The Cottars left the band, and while the lead singer remains the same, they just don’t feel the same without the cute fiddle player and her lovely backing vocals.

The Duhks, Wagoner’s Lad

Wagoner’s Lad

Speaking of NPR’s Folk Sampler, I also ran across the awesome band The Duhks there, with this beautiful and wistful song.  They also do a great cover of Sting’s “Love is the Seventh Wave” that I actually like better than the original– no offense to Sting, I do like his version as well!

ZZ Top, Le Grange

Back when we had to bathe the kids, we used to turn on the radio to listen to while the kids played in the bath and we attempted to get them clean.  My son was about 3 or so when this song by ZZ Top came on the radio.  He told me he liked it, and called it the “Hawl Hawl Hawl Song,” perfectly mimicking the growly scat the lead singer tossed in between the lyrics.  So yeah– my son’s first favorite song was about a whorehouse!  Heh, he still likes it but still doesn’t yet know what they’re singing about…

Selena Gomez & the Scene, More

The last New Year’s Eve before my ex and I split I spent alone.  I had to work at my part-time job until 11pm, and she took the kids and went to visit her family overnight.  I came home, fixed some snacks and a drink and sat down to watch Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s celebration.  As I was watching it, young pop star Selena Gomez and her band The Scene came out to play.  At first I was impressed that she made sure to include the name of the band and not just relegate them to nameless backing status… and then I was actually impressed by the song “More.”  Yeah, it was pop fluff, but I found it catchy and fun and full of good positive energy, something that I needed bringing in the New Year in the house by myself.  When I downloaded the song I justified it by saying my daughter would like it — and she does.  But I actually do too, in part for helping me through what could have been a rough time.


When my ex and I split up, one of the things I wanted to do was make sure I filled up the empty spaces with good TV, good books, and good music.  I got an iPod and started building my iTunes collection, initially loaded with CDs I owned but then starting to download songs here and there.  The pricing is pretty insidious– that song is only 99 cents, why not get it right now?  Then at the end of the week you’re hit with the bill and all those pennies add up quick.  I made sure to show restraint, and when I heard something I wanted to own I’d put it on a list to buy when I had it in my budget.

The Killers, Smile Like You Mean It

I remember hearing The Killers and scratching my head because they sounded like a band I should have heard before, like a band from the 80s or 90s but no– they were a modern band.  This song is my favorite among several really good hits.

Neko Case, Star Witness

I think I first heard of Neko Case when she was profiled on NPR, and they played a few samples of her new album at the time Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.  I was immediately smitten with her angelic, powerful voice and lyrical storytelling.  Hers was one of the first albums I bought entirely through iTunes and was glad I did, just about every cut is worth listening to.  Star Witness is my favorite, one that I try to share with friends, Hey there, there’s such tender wolves ’round town tonight…

The New Pornographers, Mass Romantic

I mentioned my new found love for Neko Case on Facebook or Livejournal and someone suggested I check out The New Pornographers, a band I’d heard of but because of their name I just assumed they were not something worth listening to.  So I listened to a few samples and wondered who the bland dude was singing and where the heck was Neko Case?  Then I ran across her singing lead on “Mass Romantic” and “Letter from an Occupant” and instantly downloaded those… and wondered– if you had Neko Case available for lead singer duties why would you ever not have her sing?

Tegan and Sara, Walking With a Ghost

For a while a friend of mine who wrote a Magic column would post a list of songs he was listening to currently, and after reading I’d go online and sample them.  Sometimes I’d find them catchy and decide to download it.  I found Walking with a Ghost so catchy and cool I poked around at other songs of theirs and ended up downloading 5 or 6 more songs.

Camera Obscura, The Sweetest Thing

Like most red-blooded American males, I find Zooey Deschanel totally irresistible and was really pleased to find her She & Him album very well done.  I really enjoyed the retro-feel to the songs, and so I was particularly thrilled to run across Camera Obscura which had a similar retro-sound but fuller and more lush production.  This is music to be heavily buzzing to, with headphones on and the volume turned up.  When you’re lucid you’re the sweetest thing…

Ke$ha, Tik Tok

I took the kids to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 in the movie theater, a very cute and entertaining film.  There was a funny scene where the kids were filming one of them lip-synching to “Tik Tok” to upload to YouTube and things go awry… anyway, the kids really liked the snippet of the song and asked that I download it.  I have to admit I found it catchy too… though after listening carefully to the lyrics I wouldn’t necessarily call them “kid friendly”… but not so much that I won’t let them listen to it.  It’s led to me having to explain a few things to the kids about things adults do…

Spinnerette, Baptized by Fire

Here’s another gem I ran across, with a different sort of retro-feel, almost like a throwback to Heart’s rocking days.  I love the galloping beat, harmonies and driving synthesizers.

Girl Talk, Let It Out

I was playing Magic one night and someone was playing the new Girl Talk album, and I’d never heard of that artist or the songs, which are mash-ups of songs that sound totally cool mixed together.  I heard that the album was free to download online so I pulled it into my iTunes and have enjoyed listening to the crazy blended songs.  Let It Out is my favorite, with the underlying General Public song “Tenderness” getting wrapped around a funky R&B/rap tune.  I’m not sure what twirt twirt twirt that ass means but damn it’s fun.

Metric, Black Sheep

A couple months ago I finally got to see Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World on one of my movie channels.  I suspected that I would probably like the film, but I wasn’t so sure of it that I went to see it in the theater.  When I finally watched it I just totally loved it, and have since watched it several times.  The second time through I wondered if that cool song that Envy Adams’s band The Clash At Demonhead sings the first part of was a real song or not, and found out it was called Black Sheep by the band Metric (who I have a couple other songs by).  Unfortunately I couldn’t just download that song, it was an “album only” track, so I ended up getting the whole album.  It’s not bad, but Black Sheep really stands out, such a great song.  Everyone pulls away, ooooooo, from youuuuuuu….

Which brings us pretty current to what I’ve got rocking my iPod!  One day I hope to share it with someone special 🙂

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