Sunday, May 16, 2010

Writer’s Jukebox – One Musketeer Short Edition

Athos, Porthos, and…who’s the last one? 

Like the Three Tenors, Dumas’ Musketeers adhere to a common rule of trios: there’s always a guy you can’t remember (it’s Aramis, by the way). 

On the other hand, maybe I made that rule up.  Maybe it’s just that Athos and Porthos are more fun to pronounce.

What’s the point of this trio-focused rambling?  Well, this week’s Jukebox features only two members of our illustrious staff.  Yadda yadda yadda scheduling problems (some mine) prevented me from finding a suitable replacement on short notice.

So you get Boivin, who continues to play up his Minnesota pride for all it’s worth, and Steph, who stumbled into 1998 and found her ears trapped in the sonic embrace of one Jakob Dylan. 

Again, I’m sorry we couldn’t bring you a full three entries this week.  Be happy, however, I didn’t pull a Time magazine.

Stephanie – Car Albums from Twelve Years Past

I recently made a new friend who’s been sharing some of his favorite albums with me. In his enthusiasm, he’s given me so many that I can hardly hope to get through them all in less than a year. Being a very systematic person, I developed the following strategy: starting from A and working down in alphabetical order, I would listen to each artist a single time, just to get a feel. At the same time, I would make CDs for the artists at the end of the alphabet to listen to in my car, becoming more familiar with them during my commute.

My first car-album has been Bringing Down the Horse by the Wallflowers. I feel like everyone in the world has already listened to this album, being that it is fourteen years old and Jakob Dylan won a couple of Grammys for “One Headlight” in 1998. This song resonated from somewhere deep in my buried memories of adolescence -- I was twelve and not paying much attention to popular music on account of my overwhelming nerdiness. But I liked the song quite a bit more as a 23-year old, and it was clearly the standout track of the album. The others, by comparison, were generic and chorus-heavy. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy them, or the album as a whole, but I had extracted most of what was there within four or five listens. My next few favorites were “6th Avenue Heartache” featuring Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, “The Difference”, “Invisible City”, and “Laughing Out Loud.”

As a band, it’s unlikely that I’ll pursue the Wallflowers beyond this album, though that’s mostly because there isn’t much to the band besides Jakob Dylan. However I will certainly add Bringing Down the Horse to my skinny little music collection, and listen to it again at some point in the future.

Boivin – The Land of 10,000 Lakes and Hüsker Dü

As a Minnesotan, I am heir to a beautiful musical tradition stretching all the way back to Prince, the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, and countless others. This past Saturday was my beloved state's 158th birthday and through sheer coincidence I've also spent the bulk of the past few weeks listening to the Land of 10,000 Lakes' most recent local boys made good: the Hold Steady.

The Hold Steady recently parted ways with their keyboardist and perhaps that's the reason their most recent album, Heaven Is Whenever, is less anthemic than their previous ones. Now, I love anthem rock, just check the my iPod's play count for Cheap Trick, but I still like Craig Finn and friends' newest stuff quite a bit. It's full of the usual Minnesota name drops ("Sweet Part of the City") and story songs about the Hold Steady-verse's cast of usual characters (Holly, Charlemagne, Gideon) but without the fist-pumping energy of older songs such as "Massive Nights" or the like. That's not to say it's a bad thing, my fist gets as tired as the next guy's after a vigorous afternoon of pumping.

"Hurricane J" the lead-off single on this album probably remains my favorite. It's real good.