B-Sides in the Bins #43 – Record Store Day 4/18/2009

Record Store Day Crawl #1 for Record Store Day 2009 went mostly without a hitch and certainly I look forward to next year! My friends Erik and Alex were my companions for the trip which made for a pretty great day.

The plan was to hit the two record stores in Dubuque and the one in Iowa City since those were the closest to Cedar Rapids. I had originally hoped to hit Zzz Records in Des Moines, but that would have made for a very long day. I had called the three stores last week to see which of the special release items they were planning to get. Only Mike at Moondog Music was able to give the the full list as he had gotten most of his ordered inventoried already, the other two stores hadn’t gotten theirs, yet. Based on the reported opening times of the stores, I decided to hit CD’s 4 Change in Dubuque first since they were going to open at 10AM, followed by Moondog Music at 11AM and then we’d beat it to Iowa City to hit Real Records and hopefully be wrapped up before 4PM.

I got up early and picked up Erik and Alex. We hit Croissant du Jour to get coffees and French pastries for the road. We made it to CD’s 4 Change at 9:30AM and hung around for a bit to see if they’d open. 10AM rolled around and no sign of anyone opening. So, we walked over to Uncle Ike’s Music which was kitty-corner from the record store. When I lived in Dubuque in the 90’s I spent a lot of time at Uncle Ike’s when they were downtown. The store was pretty busy for early on Saturday morning and they had a very impressive collection of guitars at great prices. Erik picked up some patch cables and Alex bought a neat Oscar Schmidt OU2 ukulele while we waited. Ike’s had a pretty interesting collection of used Stratocasters including A white ’85 MIJ with black head and locking nut for $369, and this pristine ’94 40th Anniversary for $899, complete with 40th badging.

We headed back over to CD’s 4 Change and at that time someone pulled up and opened the store. I asked about the special orders for today, and they had a very small collection of items. The owner stated that he didn’t order any of the major label releases and didn’t order any of the Sub Pop either. He didn’t get any of the Thrill Jockey Records Toreism 12″s. He had the Pavement Live LP as well as the Touch and Go Jesus Lizard Inch 7″ box set, and had both of the Sonic Youth split singles. Not a great showing of those releases, but he was having a $2-off of all new vinyl, which was great, and Erik bought a slug of records as they have an impressive new vinyl release selection. Erik was able to pick up The Sea and Cake Everybody album, which was cool as it has been out-of-print for a couple of years. I would have picked up the SY singles, but I knew that Mike at Moondog had them for $1 cheaper.

Flipping through the new and used LP’s I found a bunch of interesting pieces, and if I wasn’t trying to stay under a budget that needed to include the exclusive releases I would have picked up some of these: a still sealed Ventures Walk Don’t Run on United Artists! ($50, even with the $2 off, it was a bit too pricey for me), R.E.M. Reckoning and Life’s Rich Pageant for $8 and $10. I don’t have these on vinyl today, but I’m holding out for ones with better covers, The Moody Blues Days of Future Past for $2– Minty cover and LP with plastic inner sleeve. It’s a later pressing under PolyGram. I just about bought it, but do I need a fourth copy of this? They also had the Beastie Boys 2 LP reissue of Check Your Head, which I’d like to pick up at some point. They also had Pink Floyd The Wall and The Final Cut for over $10 apiece. I have neither of these, and would have snagged The Wall if it weren’t for the scratch on one of the LP’s. I had briefly considered picking up some Ryan Adams vinyl– they had Demolition and Gold which would have been $10.99 during their sale.
Moondog Music
We departed for Moondog Music while the sky started spitting. We never did get the real rain that was predicted– just enough to piss you off and make it muggy. We stopped in around 11:30ish and although Mike wasn’t in yet, he had a bag prepared with “MIKE (CEDAR RAPIDS)” written on it with all of the pieces that we discussed on the phone as well as a bunch of really cool freebies! Talk about service! We flipped through the used and new vinyl in the store, Moondog has a great selection of new vinyl as well. I’m beginning to think I need to make some runs to Dubuque just to go record shopping. In the bins: The new crazy reissue of Beck’s Odelay in a box set with 4 LP’s for $99. I’d love to have this piece in my collection but it didn’t fit in my budget. Here is what I picked up at Moondog Music:

Various Artists – Records Toreism (12″, Thrill Jockey 12.30, 2009) ($12.99) Gorgeous hand-screened cover, four tracks from TJ artists old and new. Brand new Tortoise track “High Class Slim Came Floatin’ In” from the upcoming Beacons of Ancestorship album, “Window” by Mountains is unreleased as well as the Double Dagger track “Stagger Lee” and the Trans Am track “Wounded Monkey.” This is the first Thrill Jockey appearance of recent signings White Hills with “Eye to Eye” which was previously on a tour-only CD-R called Abstractions and Mutations. Included in the sleeve with the record are two photocopied booklets. The first little booklet is a manifesto of sorts called “Recordstoreism” on visiting your record store frequently and is apparently an anti-iPod perspective as well with iPod-and-crossbones logos and “..knock down to the Pod Peddlers!! Zombies tethered to headphones. Wandering Wastrels whose auditory corridors are clogged with wax.” The second booklet called “Whatisinstore” is emblazoned with a bunch of indie record store names inside of which are essays by artists and store workers alike about record stores. I think I found most of the stores I’ve been to: Jazz Record Mart, Cheapo’s, Electric Fetus, Moondog Records (s.i.c.),  Hard Boiled, Laurie’s Planet of Sound, Reckless Records, The Record Collector, Mad City Music Exchange, Treehouse Records, Zzz Records, Newbury Comics… They included Rolling Stones, but I didn’t see any Thrill Jockey at their store when I was there last month. I didn’t see Real or CD’s 4 Change on there. Maybe you can special order TJ there. A very cool piece very much in the spirit of the day.

Tom Waits – Live Glitter & Doom Tour 2008 (7″, Anti- Records 87018-7, 2009) ($5.98) I don’t really collect Tom Waits, but this was a pretty neat release. “Lucinda / Ain’t Going Down To The Well” from Atlanta, backed by “Bottom of the World” from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Bob Dylan – “Dreamin’ Of You” / “Down Along the Cove” (7″ Columbia 8697-50225-7, 2009)($6.98) “Dreamin’ of You” is from last year’s great Tell-Tale Signs – Bootleg Series Volume 8 release. It was the lead off track that was sort of a single. Produced by Lanois as part of the Time Out of Mind sessions. “Down Along the Cove” is a John Wesley Harding track that Dylan did for his 2004 Bonnaroo appearance. This track previously appeared on the Bonnaroo 2004 compilation CD. Includes a photo of Dylan.

Whiskeytown – “San Antone” / “The Great Divide” (7″ Geffen B00128170-21, 2009)($5.98) “Limited Edition Produced Exclusively for Record Store Day 2009” – two unreleased tracks from Ryan Adams’s pre-solo, pre-Cardinals band Whiskeytown. These are two tracks from the Baseball Park sessions that would make up Whiskeytown’s first album Faithless Street in 1995. When Faithless Street was reissued in 1998 by Outpost, it included Baseball Park tracks which were produced by Chris Stamey (from the dB’s). These two tracks were not part of those. Really nice hard sleeve that reproduces the Faithless Street cover photograph taken by Ryan.

The Sonik Youth / Beck – “Pay No Mind” / “Green Light” (7″ Matador OLE 865-7, 2009)($5.98) Limited edition (2500) split single. Sonic Youth covers “Pay No Mind” from Beck’s Mellow Gold, and Beck covers “Green Light” from Sonic Youth’s EVOL album.

Iron & Wine – Norfolk 6/20/05 (CD, Sub Pop SPCD 839, 2009)($7.99) Super-cute CD made to look like a mini-Sub Pop singles club release. Iron & Wine live during their 2005 tour after the release of Woman King EP. A sticker on the wrap mentions the upcoming release Around the Well, which will be a compilation of B-Sides and Rarities due out May 19th and will be followed by a tour. The cover art also mentions playedlastnight.com which is a place where you can purchase shows by Iron & Wine as well as The Swell Season.

The Jesus Lizard – INCH (8 x 7″, Touch and Go tg347, 2009)($29.99) Limited, numbered edition (256 / 2000) I will admit that I haven’t been a big fan of The Jesus Lizard, but will readily admit their influence on a lot of bands that I’ve listened to. Touch and Go records created this amazing “box set” of all of the singles release during The Jesus Lizard’s time on Touch and Go. All of the singles have been out-of-print for over six years, apparently. The singles have been remastered by Bob Westin and include reproductions of the original sleeves and are included in this really great clear plastic package that houses them, or could be used to display them as it has metal eyelets at the top. Gorgeous, if bittersweet release from Touch and Go as this will be one of the last new releases from the label until economic times improve. They are hoping to do reissues of the Jesus Lizard LP catalog in August, too.

In addition to the releases I purchased, Moondog included a recycled bag from WEA made of 60% post industrial and consumer recycled content full of freebies which included:

Various Artists – Happy Birthday to Me – SP20 – Terminal Sales Vol 3 (CD, SubPop SPCD 779, 2008) ($0) Super-cool CD celebrating 20 years of Sub Pop Records. Comes in a neat gatefold sleeve. 18 tracks of Sub Pop artists including Mudhoney, Wolf Parade, No Age, Blitzen Trapper, Flight of the Conchords, as well as a birthday card we are supposed to fill out and mail to Sub Pop and an SP20 sticker taboot!

Various Artists – Bloodshot Catalog Sampler (CD, Bloodshot Records, 2008)($0) Compilation of artists on Bloodshot Records. Bloodshot is the home of Jay Farrar of Son Volt, Sally Timms, Kelly Hogan, Split Lip Rayfield and Andre Williams among others. Bloodshot is also handling the vinyl reissue of  Ryan Adams’s Heartbreaker. Reissued as a 2 LP gatefold! Home of Dexter Romweber Duo and Ha Ha Tonka, too.

Various Artists – Live Your Life with Verve (CD, Verve Music Group VERR01591-2, 2008)($0) A compilation of artists on the Verve label(s). Includes the Diplo remix of Mariena Shaw’s “California Soul” which was on the Verve Remixed 4 compilation. “California Soul” was included in Brainfreeze by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, too.

Beat Union – Disconnected (CD, Science Records 426428-2, 2008)($0) Pop-Punk outfit from the UK. Disconnected is their debut release under the band’s new moniker as Beat Union. They used to be called Shortcut to Newark. This release was produced by Goldfinger frontman John Feldman. I haven’t listened to this, yet. If it rocks, I’ll review it.

“You Think You Really Know Me – The Gary Wilson Story” (DVD + CD, Plexifilm 032, 2008)($0) Wow, this is a pretty cool freebie. In 1977 Gary Wilson recorded a crazy outsider-art experimental album and effectively dropped off the face of the recording industry. A bunch of noted artists including Beck start talking about him and the renewed interest in him causes folks to look for him. This is the documentary about his return to recording and includes the seminal You Think You Really Know Me album. He apparently recorded an album for Stones Throw in 2004 as well.

Other goodies in the bag included a Touch and Go Records sticker, a Bloodshot Records Sticker, a drink coaster promoting the Oasis album Dig Out Your Soul, a sticker promoting the Hank III record Damn Right, Rebel Proud, a rolled poster for Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky album, a folded poster for Mogwai’s The Hawk Is Howling album, and a temporary tattoo that says “Jesus Loves Scott H. Biram” with praying hands that is a Bloodshot Records promo for Scott H. Biram. Also got the Dec ’08/Dec ’09 Paste Magazine.

What a very cool collection of freebies! Thanks Moondog Music!

From there we headed to Kennedy Mall to get burgers and beers at the Mining Company. Still the great burgers and fries I remembered from the 90’s. Our hunger sated, we made the hour-and-a-half drive to Iowa City for the Real Records stop. We listened to the Iron & Wine CD on the way there.

Real! CD's and Records

I hadn’t been to Real since it’s coming back in business. Real! originally opened in 1986, and I remember frequenting it along with The Record Collector and BJ’s back then. Sadly, BJ’s is gone, and Real! was gone for a while, too. It’s been back for three years (I think) under new management by Craig Kessler, who is also a DJ on the Jazz station KCCK-FM.

Real is now abutted with a book store, which is pretty cool. When we stopped there I didn’t spend any time in the book store, but certainly will next time I’m in town. The store itself is jam-packed with product, but has a laid-back cozy kind of feel. Lots of new and used vinyl and CDs. Craig still had some of the Record Store day exclusives in although he said a lot of it was already bought. He had the Talking Heads 77 180g vinyl as well as the Jane’s Addiction vinyl reissues of Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual (which aren’t really exclusive, but were released Saturday), and had the Columbia 7″es for Dylan and Springsteen as well as the Rhino 7″es making this the only place I saw these. Here’s what I picked up:

MC5 – “Kick Out The Jams” / “Motor City Is Burning” (7″, Rhino Entertainment R-21481, 2009) ($5.99) Very cool reissue of the seminal 1969 MC5 single on Elektra for “Kick Out The Jams.” Notable for the use of word “motherf*uckers” in the intro shout. The flipside is a cover of the John Lee Hooker song “Motor City is Burning.” According to the Wikipedia article on the MC5, there was a single for radio that replaced the intro explitive with “brothers and sisters.”

New Order – “Temptation” / “Hurt” (7″, Rhino Entertainment R-21479, 2009)($5.99) Another cool reissue from Rhino. This is a repressing of New Order’s 1982 Factory Records single for “Temptation” and “Hurt” (aka Fac63) This represents the first time this single has been released domestically in the US. The notable fact being that New Order used different mixes for every version of a release, so any version released in the US could be different from the UK versions. I have the original Fac63 12″ which is die stamped, so this is a nice companion to that.

Pieta Brown – Flight Time (CD, T Records, 2008)($11.99) Not a Record Store Day exclusive. Kind of pricey for a 7-track EP, but I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to pick this one up since Pieta’s touring schedule doesn’t seem to mesh with my life schedule. This EP is a really good companion to her last album Remember the Sun. This is self-released. I wonder what this means about future releases? One Little Indian seems to be staying up-to-date on her touring schedule, so that implies a current relationship.

While I was flipping though the bins, I found a copy of the out-of-print Mountains vinyl for $16.99 which I was tempted to pick up. They also had the last Sea & Cake album Car Alarm and the Human Bell LP. So, this is a good place to pick up Thrill Jockey releases. Craig was playing the relatively obscure Miles Davis Big Fun album. I’d never heard of it, but recognized it as Davis. The release had been regarded at it’s 1974 release as being a filler release. The sessions were recorded in 1969, 1970 and 1972. These session included quite a few jazz heavyweights: Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin and Ron Carter amongst the large list of performers. The version he was playing was a Japanese Sony version of the original album. In 2000 it was re-released with other sessions recorded between Bitches Brew and Tribute to Jack Johnson expanding the release to a 2 CD version. So, this particular visit did what a record store visit should do– educate! I’ve already done some looking into Big Fun and will probably at least download it, and keep an eye out for a vinyl version.

So, all-in-all a sucessful day! I’m glad I got to do this run and big thanks to Erik and Alex for coming along and making it much more fun than it would have been by myself. Stay tuned for next year’s Record Store Day Crawl!

B-Sides in the Bins – Record Store Day “Crawl”

Since Cedar Rapids, IA no longer has an Independent Record Retailer, there are no stores here participating in Record Store Day 2009.  Record Store Day has been going on for a couple of years and I haven’t participated in it.

This year, it seems like all of the record labels have made special releases, including one from Thrill Jockey– which is a first for them! Along with my friend Erik and Alex, we are going to do a “Record Store Crawl” by hitting three record stores in two cities in Iowa– two stores in Dubuque and one store in Iowa City. The total trip will be 169 miles accounting for 3 hours of driving!

View Larger Map

I will be doing a live twitter of the events, which will also include pictures. I’ll be doing updates here, too as I can.

Click Here to follow my twitter

New Tortoise on Record Store Day Special Release

Cover by Crosshair

Cover by Posttypography

Cover by Posttypography

In celebration of National Record Store Day, Thrill Jockey is getting in on the action by releasing a very limited edition (900 copies) LP (really more of an EP) called Records Toreism which will be blessed with catalog number Thrill 12.30. [Note: Thrill 12.29 was the Thrill Jockey 15th Anniversary Trey Told ‘Em MegaMix]

Thrill Jockey is using the occasion to showcase some of their newest acts as well as include a new track from Tortoise’s upcoming release (now pushed to June) and a Trans Am track. Here are the tracks as Thrill Jockey calls them:

1. Mountains “Windows”
This is a new song that does not appear any place else. It was recorded with love for the record store.

2. Tortoise “High Class Slim Came Floatin’ In”
This is a new song. It will also appear on their new album in June. Released early with love for the record store.

1. Double Dagger “Stagger Lee”
This is a new song that does not appear any place else. It was recorded with love for the record store.

2. White Hills “Eye to Eye”
“Eye To Eye” was previously released on Abstractions & Mutations, a limited edition CD-R release put together for a tour in September of 2007. Released for the first time on LP with love for the record store.

3. Trans Am Featuring Tim Soete “Wounded Monkey”
This is an unreleased song recorded and mixed March 28, 2005 at MAINZ in Auckland, New Zealand. Tim Soete (from The Fucking Champs) on lead guitar and lead vocals. Released with love for the record store.

The covers (shown above) are meant to portray the alternate possible futures of record stores– one is if we don’t continue to shop the local indie store, and the other is the optimistic future afforded us from spending money not at Best Buy, but at our favorite Indie store. The covers will be handmade, and hand printed by Crosshair.

Of course, yours truly is drooling over this release. The trick is going to be to figure out which stores will carry this. Neither indie store in Iowa City is participating in Record Store Day on April 18th. However, two stores in Dubuque are, so maybe a trip to my old stomping grounds and the store that I spent many a Tuesday over lunch Moondog Records (known as Co-Op Records back then…)

Click Here for Record Store Day Information

Click Here for the post on the Thrill Jockey boards about Records Toreism

Free Download: Phish Live at Hampton 2009

In celebration of Phish’s reunion shows– Phish is generously offering 256Kbps mixed, soundboard recordings of their upcoming three-night run at the legendary Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, VA for free download. From their press release:

In celebration of Phish’s first shows in over four years, we’re thrilled to be able to offer fans free, high-quality downloads of the band’s sold-out March 6th, 7th and 8th concerts at Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia at LivePhish.com.

Each show will be professionally multi-tracked and mixed onsite and within 24 hours, 256kbps MP3s will be made available for free for a limited time at LivePhish.com. Fans who wish to download higher quality versions may purchase FLAC downloads. The shows will also be available on CD. Both are available for pre-order now. Register at LivePhish.com to receive an email when the free MP3s are available.
“We really wanted to show our gratitude to all the Phish fans for their support and the overwhelming response they’ve had to these shows. It’s going to be an amazing celebration and we only wish everybody could be there,” said Trey Anastasio.

Hampton Coliseum is notable in Phish’s history as being the location for the shows on November 20 & 21, 1998 that was the basis for the six-disc box set Hampton Comes Alive. Hampton Coliseum has been a favorite stop for Phish and these upcoming shows on March 6th, 7th, and 8th mark the 13th, 14th, and 15th time Phish will have played there.

These upcoming shows are also where Phish is looking to legally block the sale of bootleg products like unauthorized “lot shirts” and other paraphernalia with Phish tie-ins. An interesting move considering how ingrained in the jamband scene the lot scene sales have become. Certainly Phish is entitled to defend their very valuable trademark and image– especially since the future of the band seems unclear, and licensing of products in addition to the sale of recordings would be the only way the band could continue to profit if they don’t continue to tour.

Update: Apparently Phish is in it for the long haul and have plans to record a new album with a focus on their proggy side!

Click Here to pre-order the three shows in mp3 format.

Mark Olson & Gary Louris Live @ CSPS in Cedar Rapids 2-19-09 (review)

Gary & Mark
Like a lot of people I became a fan of the Jayhawks around the time of the airplay of what was arguably their biggest hit “Waiting for the Sun” off of Hollywood Town Hall in 1992. That album plus the album Short Man’s Room by Joe Henry recorded with the Jayhawks in tow really propelled the obscure Twin Cities band to the fore of my daily soundtrack.

Fast-forward to 1995 and I’m living in Minneapolis– home of Prince, Bob Mould, Soul Asylum, and the Jayhawks. 1995 brought a new album from the Jayhawks– Tomorrow the Green Grass— and what would be the last album to feature the songwriting partnership of Olson and Louris the principle songwriters and shared frontmen for the group. Although the album failed to meet the expectations of success set by Hollywood Town HallTomorrow the Green Grass was the craftwork of extensive touring and the years of Olson and Louris working together. In Minneapolis the album was local-boys-done-good– played on Cities 97 and Rev105 (R.I.P.) all the time and it was as much a soundtrack to my Minneapolis years as Hollywood Town Hall was to my post-college years.

It was the love note of “Miss Williams’ Guitar” on Green Grass that foretold the future departure of Olson from the Jayhawks leaving Louris carrying the mantle of the band through three more albums. By the time the following 1997 album The Sound of Lies came out, I was back in Iowa with my future wife and daughter and concerning myself less with the rootsy sound of Americana bands like the Jayhawks, Wilco,  and Son Volt and more with electronica, triphop and the post rock sounds coming out of Chicago.

Mark Olson

It wasn’t until 2007 when Mark Olson released his first solo album The Salvation Blues and I had a chance to interview him that I started digging back through the Jayhawks catalog. Mark’s show in February 2008 at CSPS was enlightening and the sound of a man turning a page in his life as a musician. By the time I saw him last year, the plans were already underway for Flood— both men having put whatever differences they may have had in the spirit of working together again.

The sessions for Ready for the Flood were produced by Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson which were really a culmination of two “reunion” tours and a desire to work on new material. Robinson provided a very subtle organic sound to the recording leaving most of the sonic shape of the album to be made by the vocals and acoustic guitars. The album was shelved in favor of letting Mark tour in support of his new album, which also provided Gary the opportunity to continue working with Robinson on his first solo album Vagabonds. Vagabonds was one of my favorite albums from 2008 and was released in a wonderful 180g vinyl pressing with gatefold cover. Gary was also generous with bonus material providing an interesting guitar-and-vocals version of a handful of songs in the form of the Acoustic Vagabonds EP, as well as iTunes and Amazon exclusive B-Sides.

Gary Louris

A label switch in the fall of last year from Mark’s label Hacktone over to New West delayed the record release to late January but gained it a couple of bonus tracks.

When the CSPS show was announced as part of a February mini-run for the East and Midwest, I felt we were pretty lucky to have this stop considering the size of the other cities on the tour– in fact Cedar Rapids sticks out as an irregularity in a tour that includes stops in New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago and Minneapolis! But, part of the appeal of Cedar Rapids is its close proximity to I-35 and I-80 making it sort of a tour nexus. I waited until almost the last possible minute to work out my tickets– the show sold out soon after I got my ticket! I know on occasion that CSPS has sold out a show, but I’ve never been to one, and John Herbert made a comment about this in his introduction of the band saying that typical attendence for shows like Tuvan throat singers are around 40! The pre-sale of 175 was sold out and there was a waiting list of another 20-25 who showed up at the show that night hoping to get in.

I was a bit shocked when I got to the venue– at 7:15 most of the prime parking spots on 3rd Avenue were already taken and people were already in seats by that time. Gary and Mark were put up on the big stage as opposed to the typical risers on the floor and the candlelit tables on the floor were replaced with rows of folding chairs. John Herbert was carrying out extra folding chairs to provide an ad-hoc front row for the last-minute hopefuls. I’m pretty sure they got them all in, which was cool. The crowd was a mix of ages, which Mark commented on during the show. Quite a bit of the crowd were 40-somethings like myself, but there were quite a few kids and a noticeable number of seniors which, I guess is a testament to the wide appeal of well-crafted songs.

Gary & Mark

The show started roughly around 8:15 after a nice introduction from John Herbert where he told the crowd that while normally there would be a set break, there wouldn’t be one for this and suggested that if people needed to get up for a break they should, but hurry back to their seat.  Mark and Gary ran quickly through the first three songs from Flood. They appeared to be very comfortable with the material and it looked to me like they had assumed familiar roles with each other. I hadn’t had the opportunity to see the Jayhawks in their heyday so I can only assume it seemed like this show. The two were joking around with each other dishing out good natured jibes. Olson seemed to ham it up a bit on stage while Louris played a bit of a straightman. Mark seemed to have developed thin blood since moving to Joshua Tree and was sporting not one, but two vests to combat the cold Iowa night and Gary commented that it was all about oneupmanship and he was planning to wear three vests the next night!

The show was recorded by Tim “Cyfan” who recorded Mark’s show last year as well as some other notable shows I’ve been to in the last five or so years (Cracker Acoustic Duo at the Mill, Richard Buckner at the Picador) and he does a top-notch job. It will be interesting to hear how this translates to audio.

Gary Louris

Mark Olson

Frankly, the acoustic setting of this show really presented an accurate picture of the Flood album, in my opinion, and even the most uptempo track on the album “Chamerlain, SD” with its “Kansas City” rhythm translated well to this twin acoustic attack.  A few of the songs enjoyed an extended workout. A notable one was the ominous “When the Wind Comes Up” which got a really nice guitar solo in the middle. That’s a song on the album I wish had been longer, so it was great to hear what they can do with the song in a live setting.

Of course the crowd really responded to the familiar Jayhawks catalog and certainly songs like “Waiting for the Sun,” “Two Angels,” and “Blue” paid appropriate tribute to their shared past.

In a surprising and generous gesture Mark announced that they would be donating the proceeds from their CD’s that night to help CSPS in its recovery from last year’s flood damage. Additionally, they would hang around afterwords and sign every copy! These sales donated $750 to the Iowa Artist Relief Fund. A very touching gesture, indeed!

It is notable how the new Flood songs fit so well with the established Jayhawks catalog and even after having the new album on my iPhone for a while quite a few of the songs were instantly familiar to me thanks to the well-crafted hooks they use. Songs like “Bicycle” with it’s repeated “hallelujah” followed by dirty guitar run and slide guitar and “Saturday Morning on Sunday Street” that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Simon and Garfunkel album are just as strong as “Blue” and “Two Angels” in my opinion. We are lucky to have these guys back together again.

After the show was over, a line quickly grew at the merch table as people queued up to have their CD’s signed. A congregation formed in the lobby area participating in the bubbly afterglow of a genuinely great show. I hesitated leaving for a minute fearing the Iowa winter would dash it away.

Click Here for the flickr photoset of the pictures I took at the show.

Happy New Year – A Look Back at 2008 for Playbsides.com

Last year at this time, I provided a year-end wrap up which included a breakdown of the statistics for playbsides.com. I’m fairly certain that I’m the only one who really is interested in this information, but still I want to capture it for posterity, if nothing else.

February 21st will be the third year for playbsides.com which is a feat in of itself I think.  Most of the “big” music blogs have been around for this long or longer, so that is pretty cool. I’m not sure how many people are regular readers– I have a handful that follow my site via RSS feed, but most folks come here via search engine by a large margin. Considering how many articles I’ve amassed here, it stands to reason that this will continue to be the norm.

2008 was a pretty big year for the website it seems. In 2007 we had 9,469 unique hits. We seemed to gain some very dramatic growth as we had 18,964  visits, with 16,651 of them being absolute unique visits accounting for 27,663 pageviews. The average visitor looked at 1.46 pages while they stopped by. I’d say this is supported by the fact that most of my traffic (66.42%) comes from search engines, so the average visitor would only be interested in the one article that was pertinent to the search result.

Speaking of search engines, google.com is still the top driver of traffic at 11,611 visits accounting for 61% of my overall traffic. My top keywords are “fender baritone” which is up from last year’s #2 position. Apparently people are very interested in that rather obscure guitar. At #2  is “Lindsey Buckingham Gift of Screws” amusingly enough. I have a handful of articles I’ve written over the last couple of years while Lindsey prepared that album and the prior Under the Skin which had a shared history in an unreleased album. Down to the #3 position from last year’s #1 is “play b.” Interestingly (and I say that understanding that you’ve bothered to read this far) the next five keywords were all variations on searching for the Fender Baritone guitars.

The top articles for 2008 were:

The homepage got 4,629 pageviews with 3,932 unique views. These stats are very similar to last year.

The second highest read article is not surprisingly the article on the Fender Baritone Jaguar at 2,429 unique pageviews– up from last year’s 1,754. The funny thing about this is that I seriously considered not selling this guitar last year just because of how popular this article is.

At number three is the article about the discontinued Fender Stratocaster Hard Tail at 2,156 unique page views.

At number four is the article I kept up-to-date providing the links to the freely-downloadable tracks for the new Pretenders album Break Up The Concrete at 1,414 unique page views. The popularity of this page is a testament of the power of mp3 crawlers like elbo.ws.  These mp3’s were “unveiled” once a week until the release of the album. The reason this article was popular was that no one else was keeping track of the prior-week’s downloads. A comment I would make is that most of the “internet PR” people don’t really understand how the Internet is used related to finding information and a lot of the neat opportunities for promotion are missed based on short-sighted planning like this.

In the third year of this blog I think I learned a lot about what kind of content is the stuff that people are interested in reading, and certainly what content is read most. As I look back on the year there were a lot of really interesting developments in the music industry and in some respects 2008 was sort of a turning point for the industry where it was taught some lessons– if not learned them. With news of the RIAA changing its tactics in prosecuting copyright violators one would hope that the approach to the music consumers would be one where the music industry would be more about getting the music to the fans in a format that they want than it is about holding on to old practices and ideas surrounding ownership. 2009 brings a US President that is a first in many important respects, but is also a President I think that represents the population more accurately when it comes to technology use– he was an avid Blackberry user, apparently he has a Zune (for whatever that means). His campaign was grassroots, but arguably won via a successful Internet campaign that he seemed to be very involved in orchestrating. Whether or not you agree with his positions on the political topics, he certainly is more like the people reading blogs like mine than the competing candidate was in my opinion. What this means for the country is anyone’s guess at this point, but I’m hopeful that we see more reasonable legislation when it comes to matters of intellectual property, copyrights and patents and social parity when it comes to availbility of technology and information.

What does 2009 mean to playbsides.com? Well, it probably means a site update. In a couple of weeks (or sooner) I’ll be introducing a new logo for the site– replacing or re-engineering the long-standing 45s picture above. I’ll continue to try to bring reviews of decent music– most of it will continue to be the somewhat obscure music I listen to– this is largely a factor of the major labels and now, large independent labels ignoring my very important, taste influencing, insanely great site– but really how many Radiohead and Death Cab reviews does the Internet need? 2009 will bring more of my “B-Sides in the Bins” articles, of course, as I plot my course to certain LP storage failure…

As always, thanks for stopping by and support your independent record retailer.