Mr. Nola Nerd Couple Music Podcast Episode 24: The Afghan Whigs, The Mountain Goats, Singles Soundtrack, and Chris Cornell

I’m finally back with a music podcast! This one gives short impressions of the latest from Kendrick Lamar, Father John Misty, The Afghan Whigs, and the Mountain Goats.  I also talk about how my anticipation of the Singles soundtrack changed with the suicide of Chris Cornell.  Finally, I attempt to sum up why music is important in my life and how it has saved from a few bouts of real anxiety and depression, how I’ve spent more time with people like Chris Cornell or Paul Westerberg than some family members, and how concerts should be safe places.

Show Notes:

Kendrick Lamar Damn (explicit)

Father John Misty  Pure Comedy

The Afghan Whigs In Spades

The Mountain Goats Goths

You can by tickets to The Mountain Goats show at the Republic NOLA here.

Singles Soundtrack (it’s partially on spotify, but the link doesn’t work, so here is the iTunes link.)

 

Mr. Nola Nerd Couple’s Music Podcast Episode 16: The Afghan Whigs and the Jesus and Mary Chain

On December 10, 2016, the Afghan Whigs put on a benefit show for their guitarist, Dave Rosser, who has inoperable colon cancer. All the proceeds of the show, and two more shows in Los Angeles, will go to help fund Mr. Rosser’s medical expenses.  For the show, The Afghan Whigs were playing their 1996 album, Black Love, in its entirety.  Considering that this is my favorite album by them and the great cause that was going along with it, it was a show I could not miss. The next weekend, The Jesus and Mary Chain played in New Orleans. Finally, got to check them off my bucket list.

Show Notes and Pictures:

The Afghan Whigs

Black Love by the Afghan Whigs:

Pictures from the Afghan Whigs Benefit for Dave Rosser:

Dave Rosser’s Go Fund Me

Double Day by the Afghan Whigs

Blame, Etc.

 

The Jesus and Mary Chain

Playlist from the Jesus and Mary Chain Show in Atlanta (which I’m pretty sure is the same one used for New Orleans)

Pictures from the Jesus and Mary Chain

Head On by the Jesus and Mary Chain:

Listening: Best Albums of 2014 – Twenty to Eleven

  1. Thou: Heathen 

I might be a homer for this pick, but I really like this album from the Baton Rouge doom metal band. The music is heavy and unrelenting and the lyrics are intelligent without going over into pretentiousness. The lead signer’s voice takes a little getting used to but it fits the overall mood of the album.

  1. Real Estate: Atlas 

On the other side of the spectrum from Thou is Real Estate. The music on this album is just pretty. They aren’t scared of a good melody. This is a good album to put on in the background. Yet, they are at the core a guitar band.

  1. Cloud Nothings: Here and Nowhere Else 

This is an emotionally raw album with themes of anxiety, growing up, and co-dependence. The album builds into it reaches it’s apex with “Pattern Walks” with it’s devastating refrain of “I don’t feel bored and worried, I just feel strange/Coming up the middle of the thought that I could change.” The last song, “I’m Not Part of Me” sounds as if it was recorded in a different session than the rest of the album, yet this works in this case. The song is about breaking free, if the character can, and the music highlights this need to escape.

  1. Mac DeMarco: Salad Days 

I’ve always thought something was missing from Jack Johnson’s music, and I found all here on Salad Days. Both have that laid back vibe, but Mac adds an emotional intensity that’s missing on most of Johnson’s music. Even though the music is somewhat relaxed and detached, the lyrics are full of self-referential  assertions that it’s time for Mac to grow up, even though he doesn’t really know how. “Chamber of Reflection” is a masterpiece.

  1. Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams

For the first time in a long while (2005 actually with his three great albums of that year), I find myself going back to a his music after a first listen. It’s a great guitar album. Adams is a traditionalist and often sounds like the music he listens to (in this case 80s classic rock), but when he is at his best, as he his here, he often sounds better.

  1. Weezer: Everything Will Be Alright in the End.
Weezer: Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Weezer: Everything Will Be Alright in the End

A few years back when Weezer was playing Voodoo Fest, a girl trying to get in front of us tried to use the excuse “But Weezer is my childhood!” I wanted to tell her that her parents were not cool enough to raise her on Pavement. All jokes aside, the Blue album and Pinkerton are great albums. The rest of the albums, not so much. There are great moments on each one, but as a whole most of the songs are ones that you are just sure Rivers wrote in his sleep. On this album, even those songs (I’m looking at you “I’m Lonely”) are really, really good. The more I listen to this album the more I like it. The three-part suite at the end reminds you that Rivers has plenty of musical ideas, more than most bands.

  1. Behemoth: The Satanist.

This is crushing black metal music that your fundamentalist friends’ parents tried warning you about when you were younger. Luckily, my parents knew those parents were full of shit. The music is powerful, yet when the horns and organs come in, strangely elegant. The lyrics, taken at face value, are exactly what you expect form an album with this title. However, no intelligent person should take them at face value. The themes here are about the dangers of conformity, which is not such an evil thing to preach.

  1. The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream
The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream

The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream

An artist that will appear much higher on this list called this album “beer-commercial shit.” He was right about the first part. This sounds like great beer commercial music if that were an actual genre. The guitars wash over you leading you to new patterns. Yes, it does sound like 80s John Cougar Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, and Dire Straights. I fail to see how that is a bad thing. This is a great driving record, especially on at night on a straight road.

  1. Thee Sliver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra: Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything.

I just listened to this album again, and I fear I have it far too low. Politically driven lyrics (which can be boiled down to “We can do better”) are paired with hypnotic musical passages. The music sounds slightly out of tune, but also perfectly in tune. This is an album that reveals itself more and more over repeated listens.

  1. The Afghan Whigs: Do To the Beast 
The Afghan Whigs: Do To the Beast

The Afghan Whigs: Do To the Beast

Do To the Beast sounds like the Whigs never took a break. The guitar playing is as tight as ever. This is straight rock, but the grooves show that this band as explored lots of soul music over the years. “Dream your sins away/ Sin your dreams away” might be the best lyric of the year. Like Swans To Be Kind, the Whigs prove that it takes a lot longer for some rock bands to fade away.

Concert-ing 2014: The Year in Concerts

While graduate school took up most of my time this year, I decided to go to some concerts this year. Well, I usually decided that every year, but this year I made that decision more often than most years. Um, yeah.

The first show I saw this year was Neutral Milk Hotel. NMH is one of those bands that I discovered long ago, became obsessed, forgot, rediscovered, repeat numerous times. They only have released a handful of items but they are all great especially their masterwork, Into the Areoplane. They have not toured, or recorded, in fifteen years. When tickets went on sale last August, they sold out in 20 minutes. I was able to get one. Then they announced a second show. Being greedy, I was able to get two for that show wanting Cristina to experience them. They did not disappoint. They played at the Civic, which at the time had serious sound issues that they have since addressed, but that did not deter from the show. They used every instrument they could think of including saws to recreate their sound. The crowds loved it on both nights. More importantly, they looked like they were having fun. The setlist worked better on the first night allowing for a better tension between songs. Cristina came the second night. Not really being a fan before hand, she became one after.  When I asked for her impression, she responded “they played saws.”

Setup for Neutral Milk Hotel

Setup for Neutral Milk Hotel.

Setup for Neutral Milk Hotel.

Setup for Neutral Milk Hotel.

The Civic Theater

The Civic Theater

In March, I saw Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks at the Parish. The former Pavement frontman played a great set of his solo stuff. I forgot how good of a guitar player he was. He only played one Pavement song, but it was the magnificent “Stereo.” I know it left some people disappointed. Most were there because of Pavement. However, if an artist has moved on, he has moved on. If he were to play Pavement songs, he probably would be playing bigger venues. He chooses not to. He chooses to give his new songs the spotlight. Which is a good thing, because his last two albums have been great.

Elton John put on amazing set in March. A huge setlist that included practically every hit except “Daniel.” Curiously, the people sitting behind us left because they did not recognize any songs. They said this after “Levon,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Goodbye Yellowbrick Road.” What?

Elton John

Elton John

The Bitch is Back!

The Bitch is Back!

Hogs for the Cause is my favorite festival. I get to eat pork in order to raise money for pediatric brain cancer patients. It’s perfect.  This year they had Hurray for the Riff Raff and the Hold Steady.  The Hold Steady is what I would want my band to sound like if I were in a band.  It was a glorious spring day with great music.

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady

Kurt with Craig Finn of the Hold Steady!

Kurt with Craig Finn of the Hold Steady!

To celebrate the near end of the Spring semester we heading out to the Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Lured by the promise of The Flaming Lips and Outkast, we decided to buy tickets knowing that Sunday would probably be a no go day. Friday started out well with the Queens of the Stone Age and The Black Keys. I’m not a huge fan of the Black Keys (they suffer from is that this song or is it that song since they both kinda sound alike syndrome or aka Foo Fighters syndrome), but they did put on a good show because they are two supremely talented musicians. Queens was better but under appreciated. We also saw Childish Gambino play a few tracks. Saturday was a full day in which we saw Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Modest Mouse, the Flaming Lips and the Killers in a row. That would also be how I would rank them. Trombone Shorty is on the top of the his game, so do yourself a favor and find a way to watch him perform. The Flaming Lips had trouble understanding that the crowd for their early show just wanted to hangout and listen and not be all that excited.  Outkast was the main reason why we bought tickets to the festival, but we decided to be adults and skip them. They were scheduled for nine on Sunday and then it would be a three hour drive back home. Work would come early the next day.

The Flaming Lips from a distance

The Flaming Lips from a distance

We spent two days at Jazz Fest.  The second day we saw Bruce Springsteen.  I have no desire to see such a big act again at the Fest.  You have to get there to early and camp out to be able to see anything.  Jazz Fest should not be a one tent festival.  The other day we did wander from stage to stage until it was time to see Vampire Weekend.  The crowd was drastically younger than Bruce’s.  VW has grown with every album and are another band at the top of their game.  I would love to see them in a more intimate setting though.

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend at Jazz Fest

Vampire Weekend at Jazz Fest

When I asked Cristina to marry me, I did it in a simple fashion. I did it at home with a song by the Old 97’s playing in the background. The song is called “Question” and it’s about asking THAT question. They played in New Orleans on May 28. This was perfect since that is our anniversary. Dancing with my wife, on our anniversary, to that song is a memory we will both always cherish.

The Old 97's

The Old 97’s

This was right before Bayou Country Superfest, yet I wish most people would have realized that on May 28 two of the best country acts were playing at a small rock venue in the Quarter. Opening for the Old 97s was newcomer Lydia Loveless. Short, sassy with a great voice, an ear for melody, and in your face lyrics, she was the best opening act I’ve seen since I saw Radiohead open for REM.

Well, until I went to see Deafheaven. Deafheaven sounds like Robert Smith of the Cure, Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, and The Edge of U2  formed a death metal band with a guy screaming lyrics who could be on the cover of GQ. Their album Sunbather is an instant classic. They played at the same venue as the Old97s albeit to a much different crowd. They killed it, but they had to because the bar was set high by the previous act. Pallbearer, a doom metal band from Arkansas, played an amazing set that overcame some mic difficulties. Their songs are slow but build up a power that just knocks you back when it comes alive. I came away not knowing which band I preferred. Not bad for $20.

Deafheaven

Deafheaven

The only clunker of the year was Peter Murphy. Like the two shows mention above, he performed at One Eyed Jacks. Unlike the two previous shows, the former Bauhaus frontman claimed the sound was bad. He could not hear himself. He cut the show after the first set leaving everyone wanting to hear his biggest hit. The sad part was that he sounded great.  He was the only one who thought so.

The next show was another that I have waited years for: The Afghan Whigs. The album Gentleman is my favorite album of the 90s and it might not even be their best album. They are band that sounds like the Stones and the Replacements who grew up knowing every song of the Stax catalog. Their new album is one of my top twenty albums of the year.   I had high expectations. They, too, did not disappoint. Their lead singer and songwriter, Greg Dulli, spends plenty of time in New Orleans and that energized the band. The setlist was flawless even when Dulli forgot the words to “Algiers.” He stopped the band. Played the next song and came back to it. It was the right amount of “fuck it” attitude a great band needs to have.

The Afghan Whigs

The Afghan Whigs

Another legend put on a titanic show in October. Paul McCartney played three straight hours of songs from each era. The highlight: “Somewhere” played on a ukulele. Simple, beautiful, and moving tribute to his friend.

Paul playing Helter Skelter

Paul playing Helter Skelter

Voodoo Fest came at a bad time for us, yet we saw the bands we wanted to see. Fishbone played a monster set on a stage too small to contain them. “Everyday Sunshine” is a contender for my favorite song of all time. Seriously, watch the video and watch your day get instantly better.   Slayer was awesome (and it was Halloween!)  but they crowd did not want to hear them, they just wanted to dance. That was probably because Outkast played next, in what may be their last show. Andre 3000 might not have put his heart into it, but it was hard to tell. It was a great set and a great way for them to go out. We saw the Foo Fighters on Sunday after skipping Saturday. Best moment was when they brought out Trombone Shorty, and Dave Grohl knew it.

The Foo Fighters at Voodoo

The Foo Fighters at Voodoo. We sat far back so this was the best picture we could take.

My last show of the year was The New Pornographers. I loved telling people I was going see this band to see their reactions to the name. They are just a great pop band. Playing at the Civic with the improved sound, they made a joyous noise. A concert should make you want to go back and listen to a performers music. Since this concert, the New Pornographers, and the members solo efforts, have dominated my turntable and mp3 players.

The New Pornographers at the Civic

The New Pornographers at the Civic

It had been a long time since I went to that many shows. Cristina went to most, but not all. I haven’t been able to convince her of deafheaven’s greatness yet.  She did get to go to 311 on 3/11, plus she saw Bruno Marrs and Justin Timberlake.  She’s not complaining about missing deafheaven.

311 on 3/11

311 on 3/11