If you’re a fan of the Barenaked Ladies, you’re missing out if you’re not reading their blog. The guys are in the studio recording their new album right now, and they’re posting little stories, anecdotes and ramblings about how that’s going on. They’re also uploading cool photos, video clips (have a look at “Ed Robertson, Father of Ragtime Piano”), and instructions on how to fold paper airplanes.

On a separate but related note, something finally makes sense to me: why the Barenaked Ladies had a guy in a chef’s outfit playing shakers on stage with them on the Maroon tour. It’s all to do with their video for “Pinch me”, which I hadn’t seen until today. I’ve just been watching the “Barelaked Nadies” DVD, which my parents brought back for me from their trip to Florida. (I had thought it wasn’t available here in the UK, but that’s because has it misfiled.) It’s a collection of their music videos, and some live footage. It also features the band giving commentary on the videos. Very cool.

The evolution of personal audio

I have fond memories of my first personal stereo. I got it as a present from my parents in about 1985. It was a brick of a machine. I think it was a Sharp. It had a shoulder strap rather than a belt strap, and it was my faithful companion on my Thursday afternoon newspaper round. As I stalked down the streets, green plastic case full of newspapers on one shoulder, the walkman would rhythmically bang up against my other side.

Most of the time I would listen to the radio rather than tapes. From about 4 to 7 o’clock on I’d listen to to the Top 40 on Hilversum 3, followed by “De LP-Show”, which played cool album tracks that otherwise wouldn’t have got much airplay. There are a number of songs that bring back very vivid pictures of Voerendaal whenever I hear them: “Sign O The Times” by Prince, “Dance Little Sister” by Terence Trent D’Arby, “Ship Of Fools” by World Party, “Criticize” by Alexander O’Neal, and almost anything by Luther Vandross.

Wow…nostalgia trip.

Continue reading “The evolution of personal audio”

Find the Colour

My song of the moment: “Find The Colour” by Feeder, from their album Comfort in Sound. The album is a bit of a mixed bag, ranging from the rocking “Come Back Around” to the twee (it tries for melancholy, but misses) “Love Pollution”. “Find The Colour”, though, is outright joyous.

It flows over with positive energy and sends tingles down my arms. The essentially simple lyrics juxtapose darkness and happiness, pain and love, and come to the conclusion that if you’ll open your eyes to the people around you, you’ll let the light back into your heart. The chorus exults:

“Cause now I can see that I love all the things
That you do with each day
And it feels so damn good”

Feeder’s drummer, Jon Lee, committed suicide last year. A lot of this album focuses on coming to terms with that loss. “Find The Colour” shows that grief can, and does eventually give way to happiness.

For my part, I am fortunate not to have suffered such grief in my life for a long time, and I hope that lasts. To me, every time I hear the song I think of Abi and Alex, and how special they make every day. Yesterday evening Abi was tickling Alex into fits of hysterical giggles. Every time I hear him laugh, I’m reminded of how lucky I am, and how much joy every day holds for me.

“Every second that passes me by
With the blink of an eye
It just feels, so damn good”

Toad Dates

A Christmas present has arrived early, in the form of the full set of dates for Toad the Wet Sprocket’s concert tour in February/March of 2003. Yay! And there are dates in convenient places, such as New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit. Flights to these locations in February are very affordable, and we wouldn’t even have to hire a car. On the other hand, choosing someplace like Cincinatti would make for a fun road trip…

Road trip! Road trip!

I’m very excited, as you may be able to tell. I’ve downloaded one of the recordings from their 12 December tour in benefit of the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, and the guys sound amazing. Seeing them live, in person, would be a dream come true.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and may your own dreams come true in 2003.

Toad The Wet Sprocket reunited (temporarily)

Possibly the most exciting piece of news I’ve had this year (okay…maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but only a slight one) was the email from the Glen Phillips mailing list a couple of weeks ago that said that Toad The Wet Sprocket are getting together again to play some gigs.

Big woo!

Toad The Wet Sprocket are one of my favourite bands of all time, and Scott and I were both mightily upset when they split up about four years ago. Now, none of them are saying that they’re going to get back together again permanently, but the fact that they’re playing some shows is just fantastic. From Glen’s site:

“Everyone is happy to be playing together again, but we’re keeping our goals very short term for the time being. It’s fun, and we’ve all surprised ourselves with how good we sound after five years of not playing together.”

Since they split up, Glen has done a solo album, and Todd and Randy have now finished two albums with Lapdog. Glen’s CD, “Abulum”, is a work of sheer beauty. It took me a while to get into some of the songs, but they are some of the finest pieces he has ever written. (I find it hard to even listen to “My Darkest Hour” too closely, because it makes my cry.)

And while Glen has been going all acoustic and mellow, Lapdog has been rocking the house. I don’t have their albums, but they have some mp3 downloads on their web site, and they sound energetic and fresh.

Basically, they’ve all been recharging their batteries, and doing fun new stuff that they enjoy. Bring them back together again as Toad, and the combination might well be pure magic.

Unfortunately, the shows they’re playing in December are all in California. And we’re not going back to CA this year. Damn.

But…. They are talking about a twenty city tour in February. And one of the last newsletters said:

“And for those of you non-west coasters, be patient, the new year could bring good news for you.”

To see Toad play would be utterly fantastic. I have this sneaky little plan brewing in the back of my mind…. In February flights to the East Coast of the US won’t be too expensive. The flights aren’t too long, either. So it might just be feasible to take a couple of days off work, fly out there, see a gig, and fly back. That would just be so cool!