Friday, May 19, 2006

Two things that pissed me off

There were (at least) two things that happened yesterday that really pissed me off...Both of which were products of my own doing. I can't remember what the first thing was. Oh wait, just remembered it. You know how dreams are usually shrouded in mystery and you're not exactly quite sure what they mean, or if you're brain is trying to tell you something, or if the seemingly random series of events that take place in your dreams are, in fact, simply random? Yeah, and it's cool to sort of revel in that mystery, maybe even try to decode them or tell friends about the ones that involve them in some way. But recently I've had two dreams that were so obviously based upon events and thoughts that happened in recent reality that there was nothing to be mystery unsolved. I don't really know why it pisses me off. I guess I want myself to challenge myself to think a bit more. I won't go into the details of dreams because they probably don't involve you (which means that no matter how interested you might pretend to be in them, you really aren't) and because they were rather uneventful.

The other thing that pissed me off probably shouldn't have pissed me off. Last night, I woke up from a nap at about 9pm, still a bit tired from playing a rock show with friends Candy Bars and The Winter Sounds the night before. Before getting into the shower, I put on Scott Solter's One River and turned it up loud enough to cut through the water droplets hitting the pool of water that would surely accumulate in my clogged tub. It's become an unofficial ritual of mine, putting on Scott Solter's album and getting ready in the dark. I work about 60 hours a week and I'm usually stressed and tired. Solter's album is relaxing enough to remind me to breathe deeply and chill for a sec and at the same time engaging enough to keep me interested. There is at least one element that runs throughout this collection of ambient guitar work--the pieces all present this sense of importance. I realize that such a statement is pretty vague considering that "importance" is a really subjective word and it's tough to conceptualize auditory "importance."

I don't know if it's the way that this album continually but briefly harkens back to previous themes while continuing to move along (the album is reportedly intended to reflect the movement of water) or if it's simply the tremendous production value and magnetic guitar tones found on this instrumental album that screams "importance," but it certainly feels as though Solter is miles ahead of the ambient curve in terms of his ability to maintain some sort of structure and thematic presence without the use of loops and whatnot. It sounds as though he's actually "saying" something important...quite a feat considering that 98% of people making music today are saying nothing at all (even/especially the ones that use words....most of them shouldn't bother if they're not going to put an ounce of thought into the words that they choose to throw together). It's rare to find someone making ambient music that retains some semblance of structure and thematic presence without the use of loops and whatnot. I don't know how he found the patience...but maybe I'm just stressed.

Oh, right. So then I got pissed off. Because during the third track of One River my alarm clock went off and began playing some relatively recent and terrible Don Henley song. I don't remember exactly which one it was, I just know that it didn't meld well with Solter. Crappy stuff and amazing stuff don't mix I suppose. It was my fault. The alarm clock, that is. I had mistakenly set my alarm for 9:05pm instead of 9:05am. Then it all made sense. That's why I woke up without the help of my alarm clock that morning. I thought my clock was just screwy. But it turns out it was just the few cape cods from the night before that caused me to mix up my A.M. and P.M.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Condoleeza Rice's Top Ten

Download: #8 himself, Sir Elton John, 'Rocket Man'

Bono is guest editing today's edition of The Independent. Along with a variety of pieces focusing on Africa and AIDS, which we expect to see of Bono, today's music column is made up of a top ten list from none other than U.S. Secratary of State, Dr. Condoleeza Rice. You know you're curious...Check it: here.

Say what you want about Bono, I'm starting to come around to him myself. He is dilligent and pragmatic in taking on what he sees as the world's most pressing problems. I'm all about stars using their celebrity in a positive way, even if it is a guy who wears sunglasses everywhere he goes.

Monday, May 15, 2006

PIM News

In what is sure to shape up to be a hammjamm of epic proportions, Scott Solter is currently embarking on a remix of Pattern is Movement's excellent 2005 release, Stowaway. Chris Ward (of iming with the stars fame) was kind enough to provide a window into the process. You can look through that window here.

Closest We Get To Live

For those of you (like us) that weren't able to catch Casiotone for the Painfully Alone on his most recent US jaunt, you can head over to our friends at the Daytrotter for 4 songs he layed down in their studio w/ backing band The Donkeys! Get excited!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Venice is Sinking

Download: Venice is Sinking - 'Pulaski Heights'
Download: Venice is Sinking - 'Undecided'
Download: Venice is Sinking - 'Good Feeling' (live at the Caledonia Lounge)

Some little known facts about Athens GA's own Venice is Sinking, the type of info that you can only get from the knowledgeable hands of The 'Cropper....

Daniel: fears all legumes
Karolyn: is now certified for 'scuba'
Steve: passable free-style rapper
James: is not afraid to eat a pizza with ranch dressing instead of sauce
Lucas: finds Ghostbusters to be the height of humanity's artistic endeavors

Venice is Sinking as a band really likes Velvet Doodles; they like to color them as they cruise the highways of the Southeast doing the 'Baptist Bump'.

Some other little known info regarding Venice is Sinking, they're touring the heck out of these Eastern/Midwestern United States this May. So, check them out at any one (or more) of these fine venue/cities. Why not bring the band a velvet doodle to let'm know that you appreciate them, and, hey, tell them The 'Cropper sent ya!

Venice is Sinking - Tourathon 2006!

5/12 - Tasty World - Athens, GA
5/18 - Wetlands Dancehall - Chapel Hill, NC
5/19 - The Rudyard Kipling - Louisville, KY
5/20 - Big Car - Indianapolis, IN
5/21 - The Melody Inn - Indianapolis, IN
5/22 - Shipwreck Music – Grand Rapids, MI
5/23 - The Heartland CafĂ© – Chicago, IL
5/24 - Brillobox - Pittsburgh, PA
5/25 - Pianos – New York City
5/26 - Kennedy Center—Millenium Stage – Washington, DC
5/27 - The Map Room - Charleston, SC
5/28 - The Art Bar - Columbia, SC

Also, you know the hip blogs these days, well, they're all about a 'contest', and while The 'Cropper can't come up with any schwag from, say, Jenny Lewis or The Streets, but we can certainly hook it up with some Venice is Sinking goodies. Actually, we can get even more specific than that, and swing some 'Lucas Jensen paraphanalia' your way. In keeping with my desire to have an ever more interactive blog, I put it to you dear readers, what should the 'prize' be in our Lucas Jensen contest? C'mon we're talking about the one and only (for now) drummer of Venice is Sinking. Leave your prize suggestions in the comments section. Lucas has already told me that he'll do 'anything'....

*band photo by Courtnie Wolfgang

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Theater Fire

Download: The Theater Fire -- "These Tears Could Rust A Train" (MP3, 192kbps)

The Theater Fire is the hot new act on Undeniable Records, the same label that brought us the Happy Bullets and the Tah-Dahs. The North TX scene (Dallas, Denton, etc.) is pretty hot right now. Midlake, Pilotdrift, the Spree, Centro-matic and affiliated acts...there's a lot going on. Hell, Matt Pence (the outstanding drummer/engineer for Centro-matic) had a hand in Everybody Has A Dark Side and it has that wonderful, airy feel that makes their records such a treat. The Theater Fire has a dusty, Western sound with a dose of darker Appalachia thrown in. Listen to this song for its insistent picked guitar line and placid rhythms and stay for that shuffling bell-driven chorus. I think my favorite moment, though, is when the strings and trumpet kick in right on the titular line in the first verse, giving it just the right pinch of melancholy, and then pow! everything's happy again. Or is it?


Another squeaky saloon door from the folks at Team Clermont.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I didn't hear no bell!

Rocky V, 15 yr. Aniv. Soundtrack

Download: MC Hammer -- "That's What I Said" (MP3, 192kbps)

Now this is something worth celebrating! Not only does this year mark the 15th anniversary of the classic Rocky V, but it also marks the 15th anniversary of that movie's stellar soundtrack, which features such hits as MC Hammer's "That's What I Said" (available above), Snap's "Keep It Up", and Elton John's "Measure of a Man." C'mon, who didn't spend the summer of '91 cruising the mean streets in our LeBarons, tops down, jeans rolled, tunes up, pumping hot jamz like MC Tab's "No Competition" out of our stereos, high on life and high on Rocky V? I thought so. Now it can be that magical summer, all over again. You are just one click away.

Monday, May 08, 2006


I just wanted to go on record here and say that I love MSG and MSG-flavored Chinese food. Chinese food without it is supposedly healthier (though no proof of MSG-related illness exists beyond anecdotal evidence), but tastes way crappier to me. I'm glad to see MSG is making a comeback and is now associated with the fifth taste, Umami, which just might be my favorite of the tastes. Hell, I might even pick up some Ac'cent later!

Scott Solter

Download: Scott Solter - "Antique Brothers"

Scott Solter, known to many as studio wizard/right-hand man at John Vanderslice's studio, Tiny Telephone, will be releasing his second full-length album, One River, on May 30th, via San Francisco's Tell-All Records. Attentive readers of The 'Cropper will know that we've been big fans of Tell-All since they first burst into our lives with their awesome '05 release, May 23, 2007, by The Kallikak Family, and they've done it again with Scott's new record.

Composed primarily with processed guitars, One River, creates a hushed lull of ambience that pacifies without boring. The seven tracks that make up the record flow seamlessly into and out of one another in a way that make sense in light of the record's title.

I, myself, am a big fan of ambient music, and find this to be one of the most interesting ambient records I've heard in a while. However, I'm also dreadful at explaining why I like certain pieces of ambient music and find others terribly boring. All I can say, is that Scott's songs do it for me, and now thanks to the power of the mp3 blog, you won't have to suffer through any further attempts for me to describe what you can hear perfectly well for yourself.

Finally, I'm all about trying to get people to post more comments on this blog, so please do feel free to tell us what you think of the track posted here. We had great response to my last call to arms (6 comments, 4 of them real!), let's keep it up 'croppers. So yeah, what do you think of the track? How do you best evaluate ambient music? We can talk about the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which nobody seems to wanna look at? We're down for whatever.

The Little Ones

Not band-related, but interesting nonetheless.

Download: The Little Ones -- Lovers Who Uncover
Download: The Little Ones -- Cha Cha Cha
Download: The Little Ones -- High on a Hill

One thing we really like around these parts (as has been mentioned many times before) is crystal-clear indie pop. And The Little Ones supply just that. They are this year's Spinto Band, if that means anything. I know that everyone's talking about them, but I just thought I'd throw my hat into the ring and say, "I'm for it!" Plus, their adherence to the much-beloved (around here anyway) EP format gets them a gold star in our book. Who needs a boring old full-length when you can get a nice, juicy EP? Um, don't hold me to this statement.

Anyway, The Little Ones = something we like.

That is all.

More sugary sweetness brought to you by Team Clermont.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Must have been all of the hammjamms...

Someone came to this blog by searching for "Windsor Ontario Pickled Pork." Interesting. If you search for "Windsor Ontario Pickled Pork," The Cropper comes up #1. I wish I knew something about "Windsor Ontario Pickled Pork" for all seekers of information on "Windsor Ontario Pickled Pork," but, alas, I don't know anything about it. And when I search for information about it, well, I get sent back here. So we're trapped here in this positive feedback loop of sorts. I feel sorry for those who want to know about "Windsor Ontario Pickled Pork."

Monday, May 01, 2006

From the Guitar Center in Tampa. Really.

Download: Candy Bars - "Violets"
Download: Candy Bars - "Enough to Choke a Cold Air"

Having grown up in Tampa, FL, it wasn’t until I moved away at the age of 17 that I realized how lacking the entire bay area is/was in terms of relevant or interesting contributions to music, art, or the world in general. I also came to the realization that people in other parts of the country spend their time in ways other than oiling up their “lats” and “delts” in the hopes of one day achieving the perfect bronze. In what seems like a perpetually sprawling stucco metropolis oppressed by heat and humidity 9 months out of the year, it’s rare (if possible) to stumble across a band that possesses depth in songcraft, style, and lyric. Candy Bars are of this rare sort.

On their new album, On Cutting Ti-gers In Half and Understanding Narravation, Candy Bars prove that in today’s shrinking world, “place” has become far less important in determining artistic quality and style. The members have managed to craft a collection of songs that goes well beyond what anyone would expect from a “dark, orchestral pop” act. Unlike many of the unremarkable acts that are slotted into similar genres, Candy Bars demonstrate their ability to capture a sense of delightful desperation and frustrating isolation in songs that feature singable (though sufficiently complex) verses and tasty hooks.

Although certain instruments like harpsichord appear throughout On Cutting Ti-gers, the arrangements on this album always keep the listener guessing and engaged. For a brief instant on “Violets”, you’d swear you’re listening to an unreleased Brian Wilson track—a testament to the fact that the members of Candy Bars are talented enough to pay their respects to the great artists of our time but tasteful enough to avoid mimicry. This album is one that I will return to for years to come.