Thursday, January 31, 2008

Super Sleuths

This week has been full of speculations and as Kate said today, if you're speculating, you're usually right. At this point, I'm going to be disappointed if we don't come up with another realization by the end of the weekend. Thanks to some more speculations, 10 o'clock on Wednesdays will always make me smile. And is it just me or does writing o'clock seem magical for some reason? It made me feel like such a fancy adult when I would write it out as a child.

Much more important than the music today is the season premiere of Lost! I discovered this show on DVD last fall and it might be the most suspenseful drama that I've watched. I'm still thrown off by the flash-forwards, but nothing will beat the realization in the season finale that we were actually watching Kate and Jack in the future off the island. Poor Jack, if only he had gotten her in the end...but maybe he will. (Don't worry friends, Arrested Development is still my favorite show ever and while I have a crush on Michael Bluth, I know that GOB would actually keep me entertained with his eccentricities and magic...okay, I'm not really that into magic, just the type that springs from David Copperfield's tricky hands.)

I was trying to educate Sam about Collective Soul today, but I think I was quickly distracted. Nonetheless, we started talking about Snow Patrol and I figured I'd give them a listen tonight. While I have a bunch of songs from Final Straw (which FBF's buddy Josh Williamson recommended one night as we were driving back to FBF's house) and When It's All Over..., Eyes Open is the only full album that I have, so that's what I went with. (Side note, I thought Velocity Girl would resonate with me in the same way that You Shall Know Our Velocity did when I came to Connecticut for my interview and glanced at it on my bedside table the night before the interview...FBF would agree with me that it was a sign that I had to take the job.)

If there's one thing Zach Braff does well, it is designing a soundtrack. (This is going to get me in trouble with my Scrubs friends.) I was convinced that I had to see Last Kiss simply for its inclusion of Snow Patrol's Chocolate in the trailer. Unfortunately, it just really depressed me when I saw it and makes me afraid that some of my married friends somehow backed themselves into a horrible nightmare.

Snow Patrol always makes me jealous of those people who saw an up and coming opening act on tour with a big band and were able to say they saw them live before they had a major release. If only U2 had brought Snow Patrol to Notre Dame with them, instead of Garbage, I might have actually gone early, rather than spend the time in Alumni Hall. I'm still entertained that Blonde Redhead made it big this year. I'd seen them open for the Chili Peppers in 2000 and have talked ill of them since they were two songs into their set.

(LOST UPDATE! Q and I just had our recap call and it's making me excited for wine-drunk viewing parties when I'm back from Hawaii. There's nothing as fun as speculating with Q about what may be going on with the show and I know we're both counting down to the release of the Doc Jensen article tomorrow!!)

I have a horrible case of ADD tonight. I love the driving pulse behind the lyrics in Hands Open. I find myself turning it on loudly with the windows down in the summer or using it as a wakeup song on a cold winter morning. I'm enjoying Chasing Cars, It's Beginning to Get to Me and You Could be Happy, too. Otherwise, no major associations with this cd. I'll have to thank Josh Williams for his recommendation if I ever run into him again.

It's hard for me to watch music videos lately. They make me feel awkward and embarrassed, like this one for Hands Open does.

Thank god there's good sound on this concert clip. (And above the head clapping from the crowd--love it! And I suddenly want to watch a Zach Braff movie--damn it, Zach Braff!) But just for my own curiosity, I have to see what their actual video is like for this song...fingers crossed that it doesn't ruin the song.

Other than the singer's inability to not blink constantly, I can live with this video. Oh no, I feel an overshare coming. There's a couple doing it in the car in the video (don't worry, you can keep reading, loyal fans) and it made me laugh. Perry always used to command that I do it in the couch that was the backseat of the grama car and call him immediately afterwards. I felt like I let the boy down when I sold grama car without ever giving him the phone call he wanted.

Ooo, here's another thought. This singer makes a lot of references to his tongue in multiple songs. Even Gene Simmons doesn't bring it up this often.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lost Day

The office was a bit overcome with Lost Fever this morning. Q and I are on the Doc Jensen alert list, which sparked a Lost article finding and forwarding initiative after our favorite doctor released a cheat sheet. New York featured an article with the actor who plays Ben and the SF Chronicle kept the excitement building without giving too much away, besides a spoiler-free list of what to look forward to in the first episodes of the season. And my little Kelly's enthusiasm for the season premiere has been building strongly over the last week. While my Lost man-obsessions have teeter-tottered over the seasons, I think I'm come back on the side of my tortured savior doctor.

Got some rough news from Nick-I-Like this afternoon, which might have been the only way to knock me down from my Jack Shephard-induced high. It's so hard to watch him go through everything, knowing that there is little I can do to help. It's going to be hard when it happens and it terrifies me to imagine having to go through it myself someday. I was an emotional wreck after the evening we spent together in the fall and the next morning I kept staring out the window of the plane with no ability to keep it all together. I remember watching the sun rise on a beautiful morning, which made me so appreciative of what I have, while painting the situation in a surreal light.

(If you've never experienced a beautiful sunset or sunrise from the vantage of the sky, it's something to see. On a flight east at sunset, I experienced the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. The sun set into a flat cloud cover, which washed the clouds in a soft, warm hue with a brilliant orange-pink horizon in the distance that kept it lit until the sun had fully dipped below.)

Somehow I chose to listen to Collective Soul's Dosage that morning and kept playing Needs over and over again. There's a pause in the song before the strings kick in for the final minute. It always makes me feel as time stops for a moment in the moment of despair, but then the strings build in a slow crescendo that brings my spirit up again. As I eventually ended up in my room with my music tonight, it seemed like the only choice to close the night. It's a beautiful album and one of my favorites.

Other than the plane ride, this album reminds me of a few things. This will forever be on my mental soundtrack of our trip to Florida junior year, along with some Linkin Park and Pianoman. Dorfburg adored this album; Hammer didn't and when we rejected his CD selection there was hell to pay. Dad took Steve and I to see Collective Soul in Canton a few summers ago and it was a really great evening. Nothing too flashy, they stuck to the way the songs were recorded, but the songs stand on their own and it was my first real introduction to the Youth album. Then, of course, there's FBF who hates Collective Soul. Maybe we never worked out because I told him I wanted to dance to one of their songs at my wedding. (Note to Jody: that last sentence is an utter lie, but still entertaining to me.)

I'm pretty sure that the band went independent and released their album, Youth, on their own a few years ago. So as long as they received all the licensing fees from that commercial (I think it was Special K), I guess I'm okay with it. The band has to make money somehow.

This evening, Kate and I made a trek to Colony for some of the best pizza in Stamford. (I have to put myself on a ban from pizza until I come back from Hawaii, but I told myself the beach runs and swims in the ocean will make up for everything.) After she and I have been on alternating travel schedules, it was enjoyable to catch up with her on everything.

I was really worried that the video for Needs was going to match the 90s theme from yesterday. The singer looks great with the dark hair...why is he blonde now? Jessi is all about the dark haired guys.

And since Nick-I-Like has been on the brain all day, I had to go with November Rain. We skated together to this song in elementary school and it still makes me smile whenever it comes on my iPod. For the entire 8 or 9 minutes, Nick basically storyboarded the music video for me and I always picture rolling around the Louisville Rink with him and picturing Slash's guitar solo in my head. (This is such a small-town Ohio memory.)

Oooo, and since we're on November Rain free association, I have to say that I was 9 or 10 years old and thought that my aunt and uncle were so cool, as they had an outdoor wedding reception just like Axl Rose and Stephanie Seymour in the video. Unfortunately, Slash didn't show up, but Punky's girlfriend threatened to slash my aunt, Susie, if she came near her man!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ryan Adams and His Killers

The office keeps getting quieter as the week goes by and more people leave for the Super Bowl. The next three weeks will have most of us on the road at some point for football, basketball and racing. I'm still in denial that I'll be in Hawaii at this time next week. I've been planning what music, books, tv shows and movies to take with me for the beach and my long flights--thank god for the ipods and computer on the 11 hour trek from Newark to Honolulu.

I started reading Ryan's Smashing Life before Christmas and was excited to find an old Ryan Adams concert from Ann Arbor in 2003. Jody always enjoyed him, but it took me a little longer to grow into him. When I first started listening I fell in love with Come Pick Me Up (the harmonica is enough to break your heart) and This Is It. I continue to return to those two on my Jessi Crankypants days. Our apartment in Athens had a movie quoting obsession with Old School (and Rounders, Swingers, Varsity Blues), which led me to discover To Be Young. I was convinced that it was a Dylan song upon first listen, which didn't help with my googling. The recording has such a vintage sound to it; I feel like I'm listening to a vinyl that's been subtly beaten up by so many listenings.

His latest full album, Easy Tiger, has been on a strong rotation since its release, but I was excited to find more of his music from a few years back. I eagerly downloaded it and put on my three favorite tracks while I was still laying in bed, catching up with Perry. Once I got to work, I was able to listen to the whole concert while continuing our conversation about his marvelously incidental detective work.

I'm on a mission to see Ryan Adams in concert at some point this year and hope that his performance is far better than at Lolla a few years ago. Jody will probably kill me if I see him before her, but I live in NYC (or close enough), so the odds are in my favor.

As iTunes sometimes does when it's anywhere in the alphabet near BNL, it kept playing at an inaudible level, while telling the world of gmail chat that I like Sade, Saliva, Salt N' Pepa, Sam & Dave and Sam Cooke. Since we were already in the Ss and I lacked any inspiration, I scrolled down to Shiny Toy Guns. The first track was promising, but I really didn't pay much attention to the rest of it. I'd guess that two songs made me stop and cringe and I realized that I was listening to it on a few songs. Probably won't return to this album very often.

This post is as boring as my quiet day. I'm still enjoying the fruits of Perry's detective work and can't wait until we're together again to awkwardly ask the question. The JCC was fine, but my swim buddy didn't show up and I can never tell if I'm at a good pace if he isn't there. I do know that I need to bump it up to a mile and a half each day when I get back. Let's just hope I don't have any terrors in Hawaii when I first spot the fish swimming around me in the water. My favorite accountant had a long day and a dead car, so we didn't even catch up after we got home. After a call from Oody, it's time for bed!

My opinion of David Letterman increased significantly after seeing how often he has Ryan Adams & the Cardinals on his show. This performance is Come Pick Me Up.

Why did I never learn about Jools Holland until YouTube. (Okay, metafilter or some other site involving The Hold Steady might have gotten me to his site, but I never found any performances on that site. Here's This Is It.

And since I've still never gotten to Austin, I had to go with a live performance from ACL of To Be Young.

Listening to Ryan Adams makes me want to fall in love as much as the soccer boys wanted to fall in love while watching Notting Hill. Where did I find those soccer boys and why did I lose track of so many of them?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Shhh...iPod & I secretly love Barenaked Ladies.

Kelly and I have had a long-running joke about listening to Barenaked Ladies. I'm not sure when we decided it was uncool, but as soon as we turned that corner, there was no turning back. In my head it began when my co-worker's fiance asked if they could go on the Ships & Dips III (it's so good, they had to skip number three and immediately go to number two) cruise for their honeymoon a week before the wedding. This caused numerous chuckles in our office. Kelly has entered a store and deemed it lame upon hearing BNL on the sound system. Recently, when I stayed over at someone's apartment, I kept hearing Maybe Katie as I drifted in and out of sleep, but was hearing the lyrics Shady Katie. Not sure what the underlying meaning here might be. And when I leave iTunes running at work, I'm terribly embarrassed to return and hear the Everything to Everyone album blaring from my seat, especially if that monkey postcard song is playing. Any sort of BNL incident and I'm immediately on the phone or gmailing with Kelly, confessing that my iPod would be lambasted by the characters of High Fidelity. (Note to self, Jody & Kelly: This has me picturing being yelled at by Jack Black in the record store, so maybe we should back it happen?)

The strange thing is Barenaked Ladies made up a significant portion of my college soundtrack, especially in Stanford (spelled it like my city again) Hall and our dorm room. They were always on my to-see-in concert list when I was younger, although not necessarily on a cruise ship, and I appreciate their quirkiness. But when I left the pool tonight, I had to smile when iPod unleashed one of their songs during its shuffle. (And why does iPod shuffle adore BNL and Ben Harper so much?) So maybe I've come to realize that I really do enjoy them, even if I really shouldn't admit that. (Let's hope Justin isn't emailing this article to our office distribution list.)

After the BNL in the car, I decided I would go all out and listen to Rock n' Roll Spectacle while I cooked dinner at 10:15 (this training is killing my evenings). And since I'm confessing all things mundane this weekend (the good confessions happened in the city with Nicole this weekend), I'll admit that I like every song on this album, there are plenty of four stars and even one five star rating--What a Good Boy gets me everytime and I can still picture someone singing it in Stanford Hall in the same unabashed way the boy in About a Boy sings at school. This album will forever be associated with my freshman year of college, even if it was released 3 years before. (Canada note! This means it was reached when my favorite Canadian was in his first year of university--he's so old! Now that I'm thinking about it, this band has Canada notes galore! The band is from Canada and fellow Canadian, Jason Priestly, directed the band's video for The Old Apartment. That last tidbit never got me excited, I was much more into Luke Perry...and this final thought has helped me connect the dots on this post and my ND life.)

Now if only I could listen to one of their other albums with the same level of enjoyment. This might be a good challenge for the rest of the week or my 11 hour plane ride next week on which all three of my iPods will be put to good use.

The last few days have been good. I finished babysitting on Friday and was promptly stopped around 1 am at a DUI checkpoint. The officer didn't seem to believe that Dressy Jessi with the straight hair would've been coming from a babysitting gig, but thank god for my lameness that night. I headed into the city on Saturday and randomly met up with Nicole and spent a good few hours at Playwrights catching up on the past few months over some beers. Now if only we could both end up in the city this summer. I ventured over to Hoboken for some Rock Band with Kevin, then returned to the city to meet up with more of my fellow Bobcats. Sunday was spent catching up on my sleep, running, swimming, lifting and laying around watching bad tv with Jeremy.

Between the time on the train, roaming the city, and my run along the beach, I had plenty of time to catch up on my music, although there were definitely some repeats with Van Morrison's Moondance, The Raconteurs' Broken Boy Soldier, plus the terrific three song set from the Zane Lowe BBC Sessions, and The Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium. Somehow Live got into my head and I put on the Distance to Here, which takes me back to freshman year of college, Blue Hair, and their concert with Counting Crows the following summer with the best concert rainstorm I've ever experienced, which also led to the naked car ride home.

Now to enjoy my favorite TV boyfriend, Stephen Colbert, as I wait for my favorite accountant to come home.

This video took place in the early 90s when goatees were a necessity and features awkward facial hair and some even crazier I-wish-I-was-an-early-90s-rapper-high-hair. And he's wearing a pink tuxedo shirt. Nevertheless, I love the song and will just have to refrain from ever watching the video again.

My weird 90s video creepiness continues with this number. Again, it's a song that I absolutely love, but the video has always scared me. Throwing Copper was one of the CDs that Mom and Dad confiscated from me for being misogynistic/having bad language when I was in middle school. The kicker was they then let my younger cousin have all those CDs.

And after my second weird 90s video, I knew exactly where I was going with the final part of the trifecta. Jeremy and I were watching Sports Science last night and everytime the narrator mentioned crash test dummies (which happened a lot in the group's testing), I started humming, mmmmm,mmmmmm, mmmmmm, mmmmmmm.

What's with all these strange videos from my middle school days? I now have the feeling that whatever song I think of from that era will have an equally embarrassing video. And now I want to watch the MTV special with my tv boyfriend, Jon Stewart, about the 25 Lamest good!

Woody just sent me this clip of the pilot of 24 from 1994. It's making me giggle and is the official iPod shuffle Bonus clip!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Justin A. is Deadboy & the Elephantmen to Me!

Oh music blog. It's been a few weeks since I've ventured back here, thanks to the rage my formerly (ok, still) beloved seatbuddy incited in me. When Justin returned in early January, I mentioned that he'd made it onto the blog. He immediately put his internet stalking/research skills to work and found me. Then, he continued to speak loudly about the blog and email it to random people in the office throughout the week, causing me to go underground for a few weeks. (Note to self: Tell Jody, the blog's only reader, that we're up and running again) While I haven't been on here, I've continued to delve deeper into my music collection and will probably rehash some of those cds in the future.

I couldn't decide what to listen to this evening after the kids (not mine) went to sleep, so I started looking into what concerts were coming to the area instead and that's when I found my inspiration. My little brother turned me onto Deadboy & the Elephantmen years ago and we made sure to wake up early for his set at Lolla in 06 and were able to meet the band afterwards. No one else that I know even listens to them, although Justin's manager at work had them on her iPod, but she has no idea who they were. The singer/guitarist now performs under his own name, Dax Riggs (not the guy from Punk'd) and is coming to Hoboken the same weekend that I'm seeing The National the night before. Now if I could only get my little brother to come out for a weekend of concerts with me!!

I'm listening to Deadboy's show from June 6th, 2003 on Howlin' Wolf. His bootlegs are always much better than his studio releases, although the boy was struggling to keep his act together at the beginning of each song when we saw him live.

Fake Boyfriend and I always used to argue about which singers have a sexually charged performance. I will always stand by my selection of Dread Zeppelin, yet FBF thinks that Gavin DeGraw's performance of Let's Get It On is the champion. FBF and I saw my second-favorite musically inclined Gavin during grad school and we still laugh about the auditorium full of girls, three couples and 5 random dudes that were at the show with us. There were numerous propositions screamed from the audience, but no panties tossed on stage. Let's be serious, it's OU, people don't wear underwear. (Note to self: how on earth did I just type the p-word?) Anyway, Deadboy would beat Mr. DeGraw any day (Note to self: create ON Deadboy playlist, although it might only work on the guys that Deeds thinks I like.)

I'm surprised by how many songs I really enjoy from this set. The band plays its (then) current music alongside various songs which would later make We Are Night Sky. It's interesting to hear how the music (particularly How Long the Night Was and Blood Music) evolved from this concert in the summer of '03 to when the album was released in February of '06.

I tried getting FBF onto this band, but I think he thought I was seriously depressed after I sent it to him. If only I could get my little brother to start listening to music again; I miss his recommendations, but it seems that I'll just have to wait until he's back in Chicago this summer.

Tomorrow is a busy day in the city of massage, appt, meeting up with Jonathan, then maybe sneaking into Hoboken under the radar of a certain few boys from ND.

Deadboy & the Elephantmen perform Evil Friend at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ during the summer of 2006.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Cheating Slightly

Today was a day with not much to it. I slept in, went for a run, then to the JCC to swim and lift weights, then watched my crazy girls, Claire & Charlotte. Claire was pretty tired by the time she came inside, which meant that she didn't have the energy for any of her usual questions about boys or zany requests for stories about myself.

The nano was misbehaving on my run and didn't play what I wanted, but it did spit out some random goodness along the way from Candlebox (can't say I ever find myself seeking them out on the iPod), Cold War Kids, and Velvet Revolver. And each run makes me thankful that I live in an over-indulgent neighborhood where there are always a few houses renovating or building additions. I'm waiting for the day that someone catches me darting out of the port-a-john at the one mile mark.

While we were watching football last night, I visited and downloaded the White Stripes show at MSG from July, one of Springsteen's show at MSG from October and The National's show that I attended in August. I'm giving that a listen as I get ready for bed. I'd love to see them do Gospel and All the Wine at the show in February; otherwise, I'm pretty happy with this setlist.

The National's Baby We'll Be Fine--repetitive lyrics, violins, it makes me sad and lifts my spirit at the same time

Saturday, January 5, 2008

When We Were Younger

It is now official--Guitar Hero has taken over our lives. I woke up around 8:30 today, but I refused to get out of bed and thought I was dreaming about Foghat, as I drifted in and out of sleep. Then, I realized that Jeremy was up and tearing through the songs downstairs. Fortunately, I slept in later than I have in a very long time and our day revolved around guitar hero, running, my trip to the pool, and the football games tonight. If only the Redskins had won.

This afternoon gave me the chance to catch up with my grad school roommate, Eric, who's living in Dallas, but has been traveling all over the mid-west the last few weeks. I've been known to ruthlessly pick on the boy, but he's always felt like part of my family since our days in the Courtyard. Plus, he's the only boy who's come home to meet the family and managed to keep it together during our high stakes poker games. I adore the fact he treats me like his little sister--each playful jab is countered with the most sincere advice, concern and love for me.

Grad school nostalgia tends to put me in the mood for The Killers. (Although it also leads to me sending illicit texts to Canada and beyond whenever Mr. Brightside starts playing in the bar.) I remember the first time I heard Somebody Told Me, I was on the highway in Athens driving back from State Street and I couldn't turn the song off, but I thought the lyrics were a bit strange and out there. (It all made more sense a few years later when I heard that the band had a pretty big gay following in Vegas, which inspired some of the lyrics.) Rich, married friend and I fell in love with Hot Fuss in a big way during our second year in Athens. I still wish I'd gotten to see the Killers with married friend while he lived in NYC, but I was traveling when they played at MSG. Why are the good bands never playing where I'm traveling for work?

While Mr. Brightside turns me on for reasons that I can't explain (and I've tried), All These Things That I've Done remains my favorite from this album. The I've got soul/But I'm not a soldier refrain is good enough when Brandon Flowers keeps repeating it, but it's like a gift from heaven when the gospel singers kick in shortly thereafter. (Note to self: gospel singing repetition might be better than harmonicas for sheer Jessi excitement.)

Change Your Mind and Smile Like You Mean It are my next favorites from this album. Reasons I fell for this album: 80s synth-pop brilliance with an element of electronica/dance, eye-liner wearing lead singer, the drummer looks like Jason Lee, who the boys of Stanford Hall taught me to love. And when your two closest guy friends insist on playing video games (a recurring element of my life) at least they chose this album as the soundtrack.

And wouldn't you know it, we unlocked When You Were Young on Guitar Hero yesterday.

(Note to Universal Music Group: I wanted to embed the Mr. Brightside video!!)

The Killers cover Romeo & Juliet on Abbey Road. Here's a blast from the past: Jon Smith turned me onto this song in college--he was into an acapella group, the Brown Derbies, and introduced me to their version. I never got a copy their CD from him, but I've loved this song ever since.

Brandon Flowers joins U2 on stage in Vegas for In a Little While

Friday, January 4, 2008

Jack Black or Jack White

When I was a little girl, I never thought I'd want to marry a pudgy, outlandish guy with crazy hair and eyebrows so alive, they seem to have a life of their own. However, School of Rock cemented the fact that Jack Black might be the man for me. His character in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity was too brash and obnoxious for my liking, although I do enjoy his rendition of Let's Get It On. (It's part of my The Cosby's Record Player playlist). But in School of Rock, his performance hit all the right notes (yes! my first music pun, I feel like I should be on some bad celebrity end of the week recap show with that one!). On my 5 hour each way road trip with my client, Andy, we might have enjoyed the musical stylings of Tenacious D, but it's not really an album for the workplace, so I went with the other Jack, Jack White today.

When Icky Thump came out, I was still in the depths of my obsession with The National and didn't give the Stripes album enough attention. I really enjoyed reading about their tour through Canada (yay! Canada!), particularly the secret shows on a bus or at the Y as they covered each of the many (okay, 10) provinces and 3 territories. If only I were in the Great White North...but it's been 10 years since my trip to Niagara Falls & Toronto with Oyster and Nick-I-Like. I caught a lot of concert clips this summer and wish I'd seen them live. I really like the song You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told). I'll have to give the album another listen on an upcoming run. Get Behind Me Satan made for a great running album last year and I just had to listen to My Doorbell and the Denial Twist after Icky Thump finished.

After lunch, I put on the Allman Brothers Band's concert at Blossom (outside Cleveland) from July 23rd, 2000. Dad and I went to their show that summer. Joe Walsh was supposed to open, but canceled. Dad was bummed, but the local band that opened was fabulous. ABB did Jessica, Melissa, a cover of the Grateful Dead's Franklin's Tower, and closed the show with a 30+ minute version of Mountain Jam. Not so known fact: Daddy Lauer named me after the Allman's song, Jessica. I remember as a child pulling out the Brothers and Sisters album with the little blond girl standing in the fallen leaves and telling him that I didn't look anything like her! I was such a literal kid.

Dad is anxiously awaiting news of when and where the Allmans will be playing in New York this spring, so we can get tickets for the show. I had no idea that it'd been almost 8 years since we'd seen them together. This might have been the concert which opened my eyes to the wonderfulness of hippie dancing, a skill that brought Megan Pacini and I together at the Dave show as we danced in the rain, while Jeff and Rich looked at us with bewilderment and fear, then ran to get more beer.

The day at the office ended with the Arcade Fire's Funeral. Thanks to FBF for sending me the song Rebellion (Lies) one night in grad school. I was in Athens' independent record store the next day searching for the album--the little cardboard case made it hard to find, but I loved the concept of funeral program as liner notes, which Rich probably heard me talk enthusiastically about a few too many times.

I came home to play some Guitar Hero then listened to an Arcade Fire show at First Avenue in Minnesota in 2005. The recording quality is fantastic--much better than the bootleg I have from their first church concert in support of Neon Bible. I still need to see this band in concert...if only I'd caught them on the church tour when The National was their opening act.

I'm exhausted and calling it an early night...shhh! Don't tell anyone that we're being super lame on a Friday night, but Jeremy's been in bed for hours now!

A short clip of Jack Black doing Let's Get It On from High Fidelity

The White Stripes Secret Show on a Bus in Winnipeg. I like to picture myself jumping and dancing while they sing The Wheels on the Bus...Kelly would be dancing with me, just like at Farm Aid, but she would then trip and fall into Jack's guitar.

Their video for You Don't Know What Love Is. And if a formerly married couple can tour and make music together for years, a few certain guys in my life need to stop being terrified of Jessi Lauer. If only we could wear all black, white and red like some crazy French couple and make money off our music. But I know how bad my guitar skills are, thank you G chord and Guitar Hero.

There is some classy cowboy fringe in this video, which made me pick it over the clip from their show in NYC last spring.

Arcade Fire close Coachella with Rebellion (Lies)

And since I love Intervention, here's their performance from SNL. Jody don't blink, cause your BF Dwight introduces them.

Finally, I love Vincent Moon and keep waiting for his video surrounding the making of Boxer to come out. This is a video of Arcade Fire that he shot of them playing Neon Bible in an elevator on their way to the stage.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Vote for Change

Today was another quiet day in the office. It was miserably cold this morning when I left the house, but the office was really cozy today. It was still just Sam and I in the row, so we grabbed tea and hot chocolate this morning, everyone was bundled up for the cold and we kept the overhead lights off in our section of the office.

Even with such a mellow morning, I started with the Hold Steady's Boys and Girls in America. I'm finding that I still have a tendency to begin my days with my favorite albums from last year before becoming adventurous. I always skip Same Kooks, but otherwise, I love this album. It was one of my favorite albums to run to this summer and I wished I'd seen them in the city before Thanksgiving, until I listened to their concert at the 9:30 club--I wasn't as impressed as I'd expected, but Kelly and Dommie loved them in Chicago.

After that I switched to Grant Lee Buffalo for some reason. FBF and I used to always argue about them in his car (which seems to be the only place we hung out). They, especially the singer, remind me of Collective Soul, whom he hates and he can't take that.

Then, it was time to follow my agenda for the day! In honor of the Iowa Caucus, I decided to play CDs from artists on the Vote for Change Tour. The Boss's Magic opened my afternoon of politically (4 years ago) charged music. I'm currently loving I'll Work for Your Love, Long Walk Home and Radio Nowhere, which had me from the first listen. Then I skipped down to the The Rising, which always reminds me of my first trip to New York with the soccer team. I was listening to the album as we flew into the city that night. Love Lonesome Day, You're Missing (another one of my repeat offenders) and My City of Ruins. I just found the Asbury Park Christmas benefit concert from 2000. Supposedly it was the first time that Springsteen played My City of Ruins live and the horn intro is haunting melancholy. I can't get enough of the version, until I let the album keep playing and I'm suddenly blasting Christmas songs from my computer. But at least it's the Boss and it's live.

After Springsteen came my favorite Democrats from my second favorite Athens--R.E.M. I had to go for Automatic for the People, since it had been so long since I'd listened to the entire thing. Man on the Moon and Nightswimming will always be my favorite songs, but the video for Everybody Hurts provides a great visual representation of the album as everyone seems so lost and alone while surrounded by each other in the traffic jam. I do have to mention here that I always remember Best Friend's story of driving a woman into the nunnery when I think of this album. I'm not sure if he started listening to it in the depression of losing his lady to the habit or if I'm just inferring things here. Luckily for me, It's the End of the World As We Know It and Stand came on before I could switch to the next artist.

I closed the workday with Pearl Jam's Atlanta concert from 2000. I bought this and the Vegas concert when the bootlegs were released and Vegas is still my favorite. Unfortunately, I think I wore it down too much and it never ended up on my iPod. This does have Crazy Mary (an homage to my Grama), Small Town and Yellow Ledbetter in the encore, as well as the Betterman, Nothingman, Leatherman trilogy in the middle of the concert. I'm always afraid that Dommie will not respect me until I see PJ in concert, so it's going on my list of things to do. (Note to self: Add to Google Document and travel to see them in a fun town.)

I went to Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals' Lifeline for my drive home and to continue the Vote for Change theme. I was glad that my Dad approved of this album when I sent it to him and am pretty happy with it, too.

I skipped the gym tonight and had a good evening at home. Gabe called on my commute to give me the good news that they were expecting (and had beaten Best Friend in the baby wars). I caught up with Perry after that and automatically put on The National's Boxer, which is my favorite album of the last year, followed by some of their live songs that I recorded at their show in August. I cannot wait to see them in Brooklyn in February. They always calm me down and put me in a good place. And I've got a great ON playlist of their music.

To wrap up the political theme, I was happy to see that Obama took the lead in Iowa tonight and am hoping that it made Justin happy for a little bit tonight.

The Hold Steady perform First Night at the Sasquatch Festival (yay Canada!) this summer

From the Vote for Change Tour, Bruce Springsteen & Eddie Vedder do No Surrender in Jersey

My City of Ruins from the Seeger Sessions Tour

R.E.M.'s Nightswimming Live on Jools Holland

Ben Harper performs an acoustic version of Fool for a Lonesome Train in his hotel room

The National's Slow Show from their concert in NYC in August. The sound is great, my hands are shaky and I'm dancing, as usual.

The National's Fake Empire, same details as above

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The End of the Alphabet

Today marked my return to the office after almost two weeks away and both of my seat buddies were still away, so I could keep iTunes playing at a good level throughout the day and not have to worry about the headphones. At least I'm focused on listening to a bunch of different music, even if most of my selections were from the bottom of the alphabet.

I was still in the mood for Van, so Tupelo Honey was quickly selected after finishing a live show from Ryan Adams at KCRW in November that I had started on my drive to work. After that came Ray LaMontagne's Trouble, Radiohead's Ok Computer, The Raconteurs' Broken Boy Solder, U2's Joshua Tree and a live recording from when they played at Notre Dame our junior year, and finally the Wallflowers' Bringing Down the Horse finished the day. Along the way, I threw in some songs from Velvet Underground's concert at Le Bataclan in 1972, the Veils' Black Sessions (I guess I like bands doing concerts in France today) and my favorite mellow song from The Used that might remind me of FBF in a very good way--he'd switch the lyrics around when he would sing it to me in the car and it always made me smile.

It's too late for me to do any sort of shuffle-like analysis of the cds from today or start a new one now, so I'm ending with some thoughts on the music and some of my favorite clips.

Tupelo Honey starts off with Wild Nights and while I love this song, there's one singer-songwriter that I have loved since a very young age and seen in concert a few times--even snuck into one of his shows after hiding in a locker room for an hour and a half--Johnny Cougar!! I can't help but see the video for his version with Me'Shell Ndegéocello and his wife as a cab driver--that Elaine had to steal my man! I've always loved the title track and feel like my sister wanted to dance to it at her wedding (what's with us Lauer girls and Van?), but definitely prefer the feel and lyrics of the Moondance album to Tupelo Honey.

I have to give Jody and Luke from my office credit for turning me onto Ray LaMontagne. I tried to get my Dad into him when we were in Hilton Head this spring, but didn't have any luck. My Dad is very set in his ways about his music. I absolutely adore Trouble, Shelter and Hold You in My Arms (the first three songs on his album), and often find myself replaying these three over and over or I'll try to take a break--by listening to Three More Days from his follow-up, Till the Sun Turns Black. Whenever I listen to these songs, that whole falling for a singer/guitar player fantasy comes back. Although I realize that probably wouldn't work, as I'd just want to lay in bed every day and listen to him play and sing. All my student loan lenders would come after me and throw me into jail, but wait, wouldn't that make a good story line for a song? And that could get us both out of debt...the wheels are spinning.

I will admit that I go through phases with Radiohead and often need to be in the right mood for them--can't say I've ever had the unabashed love for the band that I've seen so much with the release of Rainbows and even throughout my ND years. I do find myself frequently craving Airbag from Ok Computer and end up lost in the songs that follow, until some weird computer voice starts talking to me.

Since I was already in the Rs, I figured I'd jump back to the Raconteurs. My brother has been a fan of the White Stripes since their early days and got me into them pretty quickly. Brenda and I flew to Chicago to attend Lollapalooza with him two summers ago. Each day ended with us horribly dehydrated, sweaty and sunburned, but it was a great weekend together. The Raconteurs performance was in my top five from the weekend. We were probably 7 people back from the stage (although my video might prove that we were further back) and it was a great set. They put Gnarls Barkley to shame with their cover of Crazy and also covered Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang, which was a cool surprise. As they were leaving the stage, Steve snagged one of the drumsticks that was pitched to the crowd. Unfortunately, there were no band members to fall in love with from a distance. None of them were even 'good from far', as my Bobby Clark loved to say during my soccer days. (Note to self: post concert clips from Lolla to youtube.)

I was in the mood for U2 and went straight to the Joshua Tree. I pretty much only have good things to say for this album, but have heard the first three songs so often (I will always love With or Without You, nonetheless) that I tend to gravitate to Running to Stand Still, Red Hill Mining Town and Trip Through Your Wires (might it be the harmonica?). This album always feels like a hot, weekend night in the early fall of my freshman year in 206 Stanford Hall (is that the number?, god it's been so long). When I left the gym tonight, Miracle Drug from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb came on as the iPod was shuffling and I was struck by the opening lyrics. What has happened to rough tough Jessi? (Note to Jody: do something about this.) The live show from ND was a good way to listen to a decent mix of their songs. If only I could've been in the heart for that show, but football forced me up top. Someday I'll see Bono up close and I still think he's much sexier than Dave. (Note to Jody and Perry: why do I picture you two arguing about this more than once? That's almost as bad as arguing over Dave and Led Zeppelin.)

For some reason I went to the Wallflowers next--maybe it was the freshman year mood or maybe it was the proximity in the alphabet. I really should listen to this album more often, although I could definitely do without the counting in Three Marlenas. Whenever I hear something by the Wallflowers, I remember watching the video with my Mom and commenting that I loved Jakob Dylan's eyes. I thought the fact that they were such an interesting blue color spoke for itself, but my mom immediately yelled, "Jessi, those are the eyes of a heavy pot user--is that what you're into?" Ahhh, Kiks. I also think this might have been part of the soundtrack the evening that Kevin was so drunk and practically crying but singing away to me at the top of his lungs anyway in my room freshman year during the USC weekend before fall break. God was thirsty for some beer that day.

I keep trying to convince myself that I like more of the Velvet Underground's catalog. We'll see how that goes later in the year. The Veils' A Birthday Present has been a favorite since I discovered it this fall--the guitar sounds heart-breaking to me and the singer's wailing voice just makes it worse. Those lyrics have been like a swift kick in the ass to me quite a few times over the last few months on my late night walks to the beach.

(Note to Universal Music Group: you should've let me embed the Johnny Cougar video!!)

The official video for Ray LaMontagne's Trouble

The Raconteurs perform Bang Bang at Iowlands

U2's Running to Stand Still from Rattle & Hum

The Veils perform A Birthday Present in Vienna, October 17, 2006

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Van the Man

I couldn't decide which CD would begin the year, but fortunately my dad sent me this concert video of Wavelength by Van Morrison in 1979. (I think the guy on guitar might have been the visual inspiration for Dewey Cox in Walk Hard.)

With that inspiration, I couldn't help but put on Moondance today. A lot of my friends know Van for Brown-Eyed Girl, but my closest friends in college had a bit of an obsession with the title track, and it somehow become Gabe's song, much to his chagrin. I remember going a little nuts when the song came on at his wedding in March and immediately grabbed Perry and was watching for Kevin to reappear. There was probably excited jumping involved, too.

The CD helped release me from the funk that my workouts couldn't cure today. The New Year has made me realize that it's time to make some changes in my life, but the music put me in a good places as it brought back some great memories and I've always loved the soulfulness of the horns and Van's voice. I can never get enough of Caravan, Crazy Love and, of course, Moondance.

1. And It Stoned Me immediately released me from my Jessi CrankyPants mood.

2. Okay, that above part about Moondance might be a lie. I love when it comes on, but find it hard to take seriously throughout the entire song, as I keep picturing Gabe getting angry for our tendency to yell, "Gabe, it's your song!!" whenever it came on for 4 years straight.

3. Crazy Love is a song that I've always loved and I'm still angry with Diet Coke for putting it into a commercial with a married woman doing her less than fancy underwear in the wash. Nonetheless, I've always pictured myself dancing to this at my wedding, except that I think the first dance is a little too cheesy and I'm certainly on no path to marry anytime soon.

4. Caravan could inspire me to pick up the pace on any run and it turns me on at the same time. (Note to self: add to The Pings and Oyster Bar play lists.)

5. Into the Mystic was a song that I immediately recognized, probably thanks to my Dad, but I loved really listening to the lyrics and this album is making me want to be a gypsy.

6. I didn't recognize Come Running when it started, but by the time the chorus kicked in, the song felt like it has always had a place in my life.

7. Do I hear a harmonica, Van? Ooo, and a mention of Canada! These Dreams of You incorporates some of my favorite things: harmonicas, Canada, playing cards and having my back against the wall (as long as I've got a certain someone in front of me). We could get along very well, Mr. Morrison.

8. Uh oh. Brand New Day is making me reconnect with my earlier sad mood. If only I could write amazing records instead of lengthy emails about things. (The thought of me having to record any sort of demo of my lyrics is making me laugh hysterically, as is the thought of any lengthy message from my drafts folder ever being sent.)

9. Such a cheery number that Everyone is. I may be horrible at recognizing instruments in songs, but it makes me see myself playing a harpsichord with my favorite sidekick on flute and there would be skipping, of course, on the video during the chorus.

10. Oooo, I can picture Van doing some good clapping on stage to this one. Glad Tidings is another one that I recognized upon listening.

As much as iTunes wants me to listen to Tupelo Honey, I'll give Van a break for now, although I'll probably go searching for more concert clips later. With that, listen to this clip of Crazy Love from a concert in New York in 2006. There's some chatter in the crowd, but Katie Kisson joins Van on stage and makes the song even sweeter.