Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Guster and From Bears at the Orange Peel

Last Tuesday was the fourth time I've seen Guster. They played the Orange Peel, a top-ranked venue (with an iconic enormous ceiling fan) in Asheville, NC. A local band, From Bears, from Boone, NC, opened for Guster. It was the second time that I was able to see Guster for free by volunteering with Reverb (, an organization formed by Adam Gardner of Guster, and his wife, Lauren.

From Bears, comprised of Ben Taylor, Matt Nemeth, Doug Little & Trent Mason, was the pleasant surprise of the evening. The two lead vocalists both had great voices, and the songs were a blend of catchy, clever, and cool. Links to my two current favorites From Bears tunes that you should click on immediately lest you be deprived of their awesomeness:

"Noiseless," off their Drone Star EP and "Crunch",a single I found on their Bandcamp site. And heck, while you're clicking on links, you should listen to "Stranger to Mass Confusion" too, which I keep finding myself playing on repeat in my head.

From Bears:

Back to Guster, I had a chance to meet them afterwards (a perk of Reverb volunteering), and chat about sundry topics. They put on a great show and has a set list that really clicked with my personal favorites of theirs. Guster formed in 1991 and hail from my own home stomping grounds of Boston.

I had a chance to snap some photos with individual band members as well:

with Ryan Miller

with Adam Gardner

with Brian Rosenworcel

with Luke Reynolds

My favorite Guster songs, in no particular order, and subject to change:

Song - Album - Year
  1. Manifest Destiny - Ganging Up On the Sun - 2006
  2. Kid Dreams - Evermotion - 2015
  3. Architects & Engineers - Easy Wonderful - 2010
  4. Satellite - Ganging Up On the Sun - 2006
  5. Demons - Goldfly - 1996

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Decemberists at the Fillmore Charlotte - April.9.2015

The first time I listened to the Decemberists I was in a car hurtling up I95 in Maine, heading to Gray-New Gloucester school. It was an inauspicious beginning, as I was underwhelmed. Not surprising—I've been wrong before on a first listen, though never quite so wrong as then.

Being a writer, I'm a lyric man, and singer/songwriter Colin Meloy makes the writing effortless, weaving in such words as ventricle and eidolon into his lyrics in such a way that they seem foundational, as opposed to flowery and show-offy.

The show Thursday night at the Fillmore was phenomenal. I don't recall any other concert that passed quite so quickly through sheer enjoyment.

Meloy, Query & Moen:

 Colin Meloy - The Rake's Song

Jenny Conlee:

The Decemberists @ the Fillmore Charlotte:

The Decemberists are:
  • Colin Meloy – lead singer, songwriter, guitar, bouzouki, harmonica
  • Chris Funk – guitar, mandolin, pedal steel, multi-instrumentalist
  • Jenny Conlee – Hammond organ, accordion, melodica, piano, keyboards, synthesizer
  • Nate Query – bass guitar, double bass, cello
  • John Moen – drums, backing vocals, melodica

The finale was wondrous fun:

My Top Five Decemberists Songs (song - album - year)

  1. Red Right Ankle - Her Majesty (2003)  
  2. The Wrong Year - What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (2015) 
  3. Summersong - The Crane Wife (2006) 
  4. The Rake's Song - The Hazard's of Love (2009) 
  5. 16 Military Wives - Picaresque (2005) 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dogtooth - Movie Review

Umm. Yeah. So I love movies and I've seen a lot of them, and I'm pretty sure that Yorgo Lanthimos' Dogtooth is the weirdest movie I've ever seen. It's seriously fubar.

It's also quite engaging. And it spins on a dime from funny to horrific to seriously bizarre. Do I wish I could get my time back after viewing it? To be honest I'm not really sure. As a piece of social satire, I didn't find it successful. And if that's the case, on what level does it work? I think it succeeds in appealing to our prurient, voyeuristic impulses, however artistic its aims.

If I were to sum up the movie I'd call it ambitiously ambiguous.

Would I recommend Dogtooth? Probably not. Unless the person was really into home-schooling gone seriously wrong, or wacko art-house movies.

Alcohol Pairing: Nyquil/J├Ągermeister

Overall Rating: C-

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - Book Review

So this will just be a short review with a side order of ranting. It's chockablock with spoilers, so if you haven't read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, keep on rollin' past, finish the book, and then come on back.

First of all, Shelley does an impressive job generating empathy for Frankenstein's monster. To the point where I truly, despite all of his crimes, cared for the monster more than any other character. We all love a reformed sinner, and the monster does show remorse at the end, but this isn't why I cared for him so much. He pulled himself up from nothing, was nothing but kind in his heart, and was continuously judged by his appearances by any and all who where in a position to offer him compassion. Including Victor Frankenstein, who creates him and immediately spurns him.

The plot point that really made me angry was when the monster threatens Victor with "I will see you on your wedding night" and Victor thinks the monster is coming for him. Duh! The monster, in three separate instances, killed his friends and loved ones beforehand (William Frankenstein and Henry Clerval, and collaterally, Justine), but, suddenly, the monster is going to shift tactics and come after you? Gah!  So stupid!!! Victor is a shallow, callous, moron. I felt like I was watching a really bad horror movie, but instead of the main character not knowing what was in the dark basement but still going down, the main character actually sees the eight foot tall serial killer with a running chainsaw out on the front lawn and decides to charge, armed with a plastic spoon. And you're really rooting for the killer.

Not surprisingly, I have the least sympathy for Victor, which might be fine, but I don't think this was the intent of the writer. If anything, I think Victor should have manned up and either made a bestie for the monster, or, failing that, thrown himself from a cliff. Because I did feel for all of the people that end up dying for Victor's stupidity. They were blameless.

Is this book deserving of being a classic? Hell, yeah. There were moral quandaries aplenty. You care about the character because of solid writing that does get a bit excessive at time, but isn't out of character for the time period it was written in. And it really makes you consider what responsibilities a deity would have. And Shelley was eighteen (!) when she wrote it. So yeah. Kudos. The book, especially being a slender volume, is well worth the time. Particularly because of the monster's entreaties for humanity from the humans around him.

Beer Pairing: RJ Rocker's Brown-Eyed Squirrel
Movie Paring: District 9
Overall rating: B

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Half Wrong!

I present...The Half Wrong! The winning vote! I'm committed to wearing it until Wednesday. I somehow thought it might start interesting conversations with folks I don't know, but most people just look at me like I might be on drugs, or am a bit deranged. As for my opinion? Kind of fun.

The final results:

Beard Style
# of Votes
The Half Wrong
Super Mario
Franz Jozef
The Zappa
A la Souvarov
Rap Industry Standard
French Fork
The Mighty Insecto
The Half Right
Mutton Chops
Handlebar & Chin Puff
Napoleon III Imperial
Old Dutch

Friday, January 30, 2015

Manuary Beard to Raise Money!

So. The Manuary Beard. aka: The Fundraising Beard! Students cast .50 cents a vote to determine what I will shave this shaggy thing into. Stay tuned for late this weekend or early next week for the winning beard! All proceeds to benefit the science program at my school!