Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Completely Conspicuous 178: Look Back in Anger

This week on the podcast, I've got part 1 of my conversation with special guest Ric Dube as we dissect 1990s movies. Listen to the show below or download it directly (right click and "save as").



The show notes:

- Check out Ric's great podcast, More Lost Time

- Indie film emerged as viable entity in the '90s

- Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino

- Still in the age of VHS and fewer cable options for viewers

- Internet was in its infancy at start of decade, text-based

- Reinventing brands, like Coke did with Diet Coke

- Ric's million-dollar idea

- Studios started experimenting with quality projects

- Ric: Huge trend of "Adjective Noun" movies

- Revisiting "The Cable Guy"

- Jay: The end of the bankable star

- Every star had huge bombs

- Eddie Murphy had the biggest decline from '80s to '90s

- Ric feels the same way about R.E.M. after the first few albums

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

Centro-matic - Only in My Double Mind

Roadside Graves -Love Me More

Bon Iver - Calgary

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service with 900 locations. Go to Budget.com/CompCon and save 10% off any reservation or $30 off a weekly rental.

The Centro-matic song is on the forthcoming album Candidate Waltz on Undertow Music. Download the song for free at the band's site.

The Roadside Graves song is on the forthcoming album We Can Take Care of Ourselves on Autumn Tone. Download the song for free at Stereogum.

The Bon Iver song is on album Bon Iver on Jagjaguwar Records. Download the song for free (in exchange for your email address) at the band's site.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian; check out his new site PodGeek.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Friday, May 27, 2011

One to Grow On

Remember when all our important life lessons were doled out by TV shows? Nancy Reagan showed up on "Diff'rent Strokes" to remind Gary Coleman and crew to "Just Say No" to drugs (and by extrapolation, everything). It was the epitome of the Very Special Episode. The same show also warned kids about bullies, racism, and a Very Creepy Episode, Gordon Jump (Mr. Carlson from WKRP) played a child molester. Similar tropes played out on numerous other family-themed shows of the '70s, '80s and '90s, including "The Cosby Show," "Webster," "Blossom" and "Full House."

The mack daddy of the life lesson show was the ABC Afterschool Special, which ran from 1972 to 1996 and covered every social issue imaginable, from teen drinking to pregnancy to hitchhiking to child abuse.

But my favorite font of wisdom was the shows that dared showed the dark side of rock n' roll. "Quincy" was a great show, anyway, because it featured cranky Jack Klugman of "Odd Couple" fame as a coroner who solved crimes and any other social menaces that presented themselves. The Quincy Punk Episode is legendary for its warning to parents of this new threat to social order:



It inspired a great Spoon song many years later:



Punk also made an appearance on the Don Rickles sitcom "CPO Sharkey," featuring the Dickies:



The California motorcycle cop show "CHiPs" featured a memorable episode with punks, including the band "Pain" wreaking havoc:



But my all-time favorite was the CHiPs episode featuring an Alice Cooper/King Diamond (albeit several years before he burst on the metal scene) clone named Moloch, played by the immortal Donny Most (Ralph Malph from "Happy Days"):



See, folks, rock can have a dangerous effect on your kids unless you monitor them closely. Stick with the disco, kids:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Completely Conspicuous 177: Doomsday Scenario

This week on the podcast, I take a look at why we’re so fascinated with the end of the world. Listen to the show below or download it directly (right click and "save as").



The show notes...

- Saturday, May 21 was supposed to be the Rapture

- Harold Camping financed ad campaign proclaiming the end of the world

- Nothing happened

- Many others have predicted doomsday in the past

- In 1954, Dorothy Martin predicted world would end via flood

- In 1800s, Mariana Andrada made similar predictions

- Some take warnings seriously

- California woman tried to kill her daughters and herself last week to avoid the end of the world

- Next up: Mayans predicted doom in 2012

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

Joel Plaskett - When I Go

Ty Segall - You Make the Sun Fry

The Smashing Pumpkins - Quiet (live)

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com. Use the following codes to get athletic gear from Nike, Adidas, Asics and more. AFCOMP15 will get you 10% off any order of $50 at Eastbay.com, AFCOMP20 will get you 15% off any order of $75 at Eastbay.com and AFCOMPFL will get you 10% off any order of $50 or more at Footlocker.com.

The Joel Plaskett song is on the album Emergencys, false alarms, shipwrecks, castaways, fragile creatures, special features, demons and demonstrations on New Scotland Records. Download the song for free at Pigeon Row.

The Ty Segall song is on the album Goodbye Bread on Drag City Records, where you can download the song for free.

The Smashing Pumpkins song was recorded live at BBC Studios on Sept. 12, 1993. Download the song for free at Archive.org.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian; check out his new site PodGeek.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Last Night on Earth

The old adage "Live each day like it was your last" has taken on special meaning this weekend for a certain group of religious zealots in California who believe that the end of the world will arrive tomorrow, Saturday, May 21. The prediction was made by Harold Camping, who runs something called Family Radio, and has bought up billboard space across the country proclaiming tomorrow as the coming of the Rapture, in which God's chosen people will ascend to heaven while the rest of us burn for eternity. The billboards really are everywhere; there's one about a half-mile from my house. It doesn't stop at billboards, though; Camping's crew has used radio and TV ads, missionaries and RVs driving across the country.

Of course, most folks are treating this as a joke and having fun with it by throwing "Rapture parties" and planning post-Rapture looting sprees. Camping actually predicted the end of the world in 1994, but now he says it's really gonna happen with a big earthquake. And he's not the only one who has predicted doomsday over the years. The Mayans predicted it'll come next year, but they're not around to find out whether it'll happen.

The interesting thing will be to see how Camping's followers react on Sunday when they wake up and the world hasn't gone boom. Hey, there's always next year.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Completely Conspicuous 176: Put the Message in the Box

Part 2 of my podcast conversation with special guest Jim Corrigan as we discuss social media. Listen to the show below or download it directly (right click and "save as").



The show notes:

- Jim is a Twitter newbie (@JimCorrigan2011), Jay has been on for two years (@koomdogg)

- Jim's already Tweeted more than 1,300 times

- Previously, he was a blogger about politics

- Lots of pressure to write cogent posts

- Resisted Twitter for a long time, but now loves it

- Jay: Follow comedians, bands

- Corrigan fell for Twitter spam

- Stay off Facebook at work, but easier to tweet throughout the day

- Great source of immediate news

- Jay: Heard about Bin Laden's death on Twitter more than hour before Obama announced it

- Good way to hype new eps of CompCon, columns, occasional blog post

- Jim: Twitter offers less feedback than Facebook; no "like" button

- Spam bots galore on Twitter

- Jay: Like to post interesting links, retweets

- FYI: Jim would rather be clubbed than tased

- Jay: Steer clear of political stuff on Twitter

- Jim works a solitary job, so social media offers sense of community

- Facebook's good for keeping up with friends

- Social media didn't cause governmental overthrow in Egypt and Libya

- Differences of musical opinion on Facebook

- Ranking favorite songs is tough

- Jay: Use Google Reader to follow blogs

- Charlie Sheen situation was played out in a matter of days

- Twitter memes fly by fast and furiously

- Jim's mom is on Facebook

- There are things you can say on Twitter that you can't on FB

- Reconnecting with people via social media is cool, but can be awkward

- Blocking friends on Facebook

- Annoying social media habits: Trolling for opinions, retweets

- If you really want privacy, don't go on Facebook

- Don't post anything that you don't want getting out there

- Jim: As a means of expression, Twitter is better

- Facebook's better for more personal stuff

- Some people just use social media to complain about their lives

- If you need social media for friends, you've got bigger problems

- Spoiler alerts

- Social networks involved actual human interaction when we were kids

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

F***ed Up - Queen of Hearts

The National - About Today

The Sam Roberts Band - Longitude

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service with 900 locations. Go to Budget.com/CompCon and save 10% off any reservation or $30 off a weekly rental.

The F***ed Up song is on the album David Comes to Life on Matador Records, where you can download the song for free.

The National song is on the re-released 2004 EP Cherry Tree on Brassland. Download the song for free (in exchange for your email address) at Bandcamp.

The Sam Roberts Band song is on the album Collider on Rounder Records. Find out more at and download the song for free at Rounder (right click and "save as").

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian; check out his new site PodGeek.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Another Look: Diver Down

Another Look is a new recurring feature in which I re-examine albums from back in the so-called day.

Van Halen--Diver Down (1982)

Diver Down was the first Van Halen album I ever owned. I'll freely admit I was late to the party with VH. I had heard a few of their songs over the previous four years, but they never really clicked with me. I really started to dig them when 1981's Fair Warning came out; it coincided with my immersion into hard rock and metal and the band's darker sound on songs like "Mean Streets" and "Unchained" really appealed to me. But for some reason, I never bought the album until a few years later.

So in early 1982, I was living in Richland, Washington, when VH's cover of Roy Orbison's "(Oh) Pretty Woman" hit the radio airwaves. I dug it, although I was disappointed there was no Eddie VH guitar solo. Later, the band's cover of Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Streets" was a hit. It was quite a departure from the hard rock classic that was Fair Warning. True metalheads were disappointed at this danceable sound. And so it was that my buddy Andy, who had purchased the cassette of Diver Down, was so disgusted with it that he gave it to me. I only bought vinyl back in those days, but I wasn't about to turn down a free Van Halen album.



As it turns out, the band had recorded the Orbison cover as a one-off and released it to fill the time between albums. When the song shot up to #12 on the top 40 chart, VH rushed into the studio to rush an album together in 12 days. Unlike the previous four albums, Diver Down sounds like it was slapped together. In all, there's five covers, including a good take on the Kinks' "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?", the jazzy "Big Bad Bill is Sweet William Now" (featuring Eddie and Alex's dad Jan on clarinet) and the album closer "Happy Trails." And there's three instrumentals, which leaves four original songs: "Hang 'Em High," "Secrets," "Little Guitars" and "The Full Bug." All of this is packed into 31 minutes, which fit with the early Van Halen ethos of keeping albums short.

According Ian Christe's VH bio "Everybody Wants Some," a rift between David Lee Roth and the Van Halen brothers had been growing for a while by the time Diver Down was recorded. Eddie had married Valerie Bertinelli the year before, while Dave was living it up with an entourage and groupies galore. "Hang 'Em High" was a reworked version of an old song the band did in the '70s and between that and all the covers, it was pretty clear there wasn't a whole lot of songwriting going on.

Still, for a quick production, Diver Down is pretty entertaining. The instrumentals actually work well with the songs they're paired with: The dark, squealing "Intruder" (written by Roth, believe it or not, but featuring some great Eddie skronking and riffing) segues into "(Oh) Pretty Woman"; they were originally paired because the video Roth directed for the song was longer than the song itself.



"Cathedral," with its ethereal volume-knob twiddlings, floats right into "Secrets," which is the best song on the album. "Secrets" is another example of Roth's ability to write good midtempo songs; others include "I'll Wait," "Hear About It Later" and "Women in Love," as "Ladies' Night in Buffalo" from his first solo album.



The intro to "Little Guitars" features Eddie playing some pretty flamenco guitar before launching into the song itself, which starts with him riffing the hell out before it moves into a fairly sensitive love song to a senorita, featuring chiming guitar and Dave's plaintive vocals. All played on, yep, a little version of a Les Paul that a fan gave Eddie at a show.



There's still some of the old rip-roaring VH sound in "Hang 'Em High" and "The Full Bug," which almost make up for all the covers. Almost. Ultimately, Diver Down doesn't come close to the kickasstastic thunder of the band's first four albums, but it serves as a bridge to 1984, which went to number 2 and featured the band's first number one single in the synth-laden "Jump." And which was the last VH album to feature David Lee Roth...at least until the album the band is working on now comes out. Whether that new release will compare favorably to the early VH catalog remains to be seen. All I know is even though Diver Down was disappointing, I'm still glad Andy gave me the tape.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Still Fighting It

As the third round of the NHL playoffs get underway tonight with the Bruins taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning, the hockey world is reeling from the news yesterday that NY Rangers forward Derek Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment. He was only 28, and no cause of death has been released by the authorities. Boogaard was the pre-eminent enforcer in the league, a 6' 8" beast of a man whose main role in the NHL was to fight. From all accounts, Boogaard was beloved by teammates and friends off the ice, but on the ice, he was feared.

For non-hockey fans, the whole concept of an enforcer, also referred to as a "goon," is alien. Indeed, the fact that hockey players are allowed to fight each other at all is problematic for many. For hockey purists, fighting's been a part of the game as long as skating or shooting the puck has. The role of the hockey enforcer has traditionally been to protect the more skilled players on the team. A player like Wayne Gretzky, arguably the best player in hockey history, almost always had an enforcer like Dave Semenko or Marty McSorley on the ice at the same time in case an opponent had the audacity to lay a nasty hit on him.

In addition, a player might initiate a fight to fire his team up. You might see this happen if a team falls behind by a couple of goals; a fight might serve to motivate the team to skate harder and if it's a home game, might get the fans roaring again. In the playoffs, fighting rarely occurs. Unless the game is a blowout, teams don't want to risk a major penalty (players receive 5 minutes for fighting as opposed to 2 minutes for a minor infraction like tripping or hooking) in a close game. So unless a player can contribute in other ways than fighting, you're not going to see him on the ice much or at all in a playoff game.

The image of hockey fighting is very overblown these days. There are some folks who think that it constitutes the majority of action in a game, but there is very little fighting compared to the past. In the 1980s, there was an average of more than 1.0 hockey fights per NHL game; in the 2009-2010 season, that figure had dropped to .58 per game. One reason is the game's faster than ever before. Having so-called thugs on the ice can hurt more than help teams.

Fighting's been in the NHL since the beginning, but things really took on a Wild West atmosphere in the 1970s, when the Philadelphia Flyers used a violent brawling style to win their way to two consecutive Stanley Cups. The teams had plenty of skilled players like Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Reggie Leach and goalie Bernie Parent, but it was the rough play of Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, Bob "Hound Dog" Kelly, Andre "Moose" Dupont and others that set the tone for the Flyers' dominance. As a young Toronto Maple Leafs fan, I watched a couple of bloody playoff series between the Leafs and the Flyers, full of bench-clearing brawls and other ridiculousness. It was no coincidence that in 1977, the NHL instituted rules banning the third man in (meaning anyone who tried to join a fight already in progress) and anyone leaving the bench to join a fight. And of course, the great movie "Slap Shot" chronicled the brawling antics of a minor league hockey team (and based on actual events, sort of).

Former NHL coach and current commentator Don Cherry has been an outspoken proponent of fighting, including it in his popular "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em" series of highlight tapes and featuring fights on his "Coach's Corner" segment on Hockey Night in Canada. Sites like HockeyFights.com feature video clips of every NHL fight and rate them; and YouTube is chock full of old footage of hockey fights. Opponents of fighting point to the success of international events like the Olympic hockey tournament and college hockey, which both eject anyone who fights. And of course, the 2009 death of junior hockey player Don Sanderson after his head hit the ice during a fight renewed the debate over fighting again.

I've been watching hockey for nearly 40 years now and I'll admit that I enjoy watching a good scrap every now and then. In the heat of a game, when a fight spontaneously breaks out, it can be fun to watch. But when two meatheads just decide to drop the gloves for no reason, it's pretty pointless. I don't miss the days of the bench-clearing brawl.

Still, the tale of the hockey enforcer is an interesting one, and Hollywood's paying attention. A full 36 years after "Slap Shot," there are two movies in the works about hockey fighters: the Kevin Smith-penned and directed "Hit Somebody" (based on the Warren Zevon song) and "Goon," written by Jay Baruchel of "Undeclared" and "Tropic Thunder" fame.

So do guys like Derek Boogaard have a place in the game? Right now, I'd say yes, but I also enjoy the aforementioned Olympic and college games when it's all about speed and skating and hard hits as well. It seems as though enforcers have a smaller role. And if fighting does end up being legislated out of the game, I won't be heartbroken but I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't miss it.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Completely Conspicuous 175: Politics as Usual

Part 1 of my podcast conversation with special guest Jim Corrigan as we talk politics. Listen to the show below or download it directly (right click and "save as").



The show notes...

- Corrigan's a lifelong but "not typical" Democrat

- Mixing up Obama and Osama

- Debate over releasing Bin Laden photos

- OBL was "hiding" in plain sight for years

- Kumar: Very jaded about politics

- Making sense of Ron Paul

- Is Obama more liberal than Bill Clinton?

- Jim's brother worked for Mike Dukakis campaign

- Kumar: Two-party system sucks

- Gitmo's still open despite Obama's promise to close it

- Jim first encountered Clinton in Arkansas in '88

- Four years later, he came out of nowhere to win Dem nomination

- Politicians getting in trouble with sex scandals (John Edwards, Gary Hart)

- Republicans in the 2012 presidential race face tough odds

- Trump is a joke

- Jim: Not fired up about Obama, but committed

- Jim's brother "made" Obama

- Key to campaigning now is canvassing

- Gotta get out and shake hands

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

Thurston Moore - Circulation

Joel Plaskett and Shotgun Jimmie - Jimmie's Still Jimmie

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears - Livin' in the Jungle

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com. Use the following codes to get athletic gear from Nike, Adidas, Asics and more. AFCOMP15 will get you 10% off any order of $50 at Eastbay.com, AFCOMP20 will get you 15% off any order of $75 at Eastbay.com and AFCOMPFL will get you 10% off any order of $50 or more at Footlocker.com.

The Thurston Moore song is on the album Demolished Thoughts on Matador Records, where you can download the song for free.

The Joel Plaskett and Shotgun Jimmie song is on the 7-inch Jimmie's Still Jimmie on New Scotland Records. Download the song for free at Pigeon Row.

The Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears song is from the album Scandalous on Lost Highway Records. Download the song for free at Amazon.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian; check out his new site PodGeek.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Beer Can

Don't look now, but the beer can's making a comeback. Obviously, not with the general public, because it never went away for drinkers of the big mainstream beers like Bud, Miller, Coors, etc. But suddenly, it's becoming cool for craft brewers to offer their beers in cans as well as (or instead of) bottles.

The trend's been around for a few years, but I first noticed it a few summers ago when I was down in New Jersey at my brother-in-law Matt's place and found a few cans of Dale's Pale Ale in his fridge. Now Matt's more of a Michelob Ultra kind of guy, but some buddies had left some Dale's at his house and it looked intriguing, so I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Brewed by Oskar Blues of Colorado, Dale's made its debut in 2002 and was the first of several can-only brews produced by the brewery.

Oskar Blues asserts that using aluminum cans keeps beer fresher than bottles by protecting it from light and oxygen. I've always preferred drinking beer out of bottles than from cans or out of a tap, but I have to admit Dale's is pretty damn tasty. Last year, Harpoon announced it was releasing limited canned versions of its IPA and Summer beers in cans for the summer. And Magic Hat is releasing its popular #9 beer in cans as well. The CraftCans.com database currently features 303 beers from 115 breweriers.

One argument for canned beers is they're allowed in more places than bottles. For example, when we're down in Ringwood, NJ, at Matt's, we go down to the lake to hang out and you're allowed to bring alcoholic beverages, but not in bottles. Which made Dale's super convenient, because you could drink a beer in a can without having it be something super watery.

Does that mean I'm switching to canned beer entirely? Certainly not. But it's nice to have the option. And after all, variety is the spice of life.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Completely Conspicuous 174: Long Time Running

This week on the podcast, I take a look at my complicated relationship with running. Listen to the show below or download it directly (right click and "save as").



The show notes:

- Never saw the point of running

- Played sports but never ran for running's sake

- After college, started working out again

- Watched Boston Marathon every year but never thought I could do it

- Started running in late '90s because of my girlfriend (now wife)

- Ran a 5K, then kept increasing distance

- In 2002, ran Boston Marathon for the first time

- No marathon this spring because of burnout

- Enjoying shorter distances and just running in general

- Ran in the Poco Loco in Boston last weekend

- Social running event with no pressure for time or speed

- Similar events in the works for St. Louis, London

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

The Twilight Singers - Don't Call

The Church - Under the Milky Way

Sebadoh - Rebound

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service with 900 locations. Go to Budget.com/CompCon and save 10% off any reservation or $30 off a weekly rental.

The Twilight Singers song is a B-side from the band's album Dynamite Steps on Sub Pop Records. Find out more and download the song for free (in exchange for your email address) at the band's website.

The Church song is on the 1988 album Starfish on Arista Records. Download the song for free at Amazon.

The Sebadoh song is on the upcoming re-release of the 1994 album Bakesale on Sub Pop Records. Download the song for free at Sub Pop.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian; check out his site PodGeek.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Brighton Rock

I had never been to the club once known as Harper's Ferry in Allston, but in the last week I saw two shows at the venue now called Brighton Music Hall. Last Saturday, it was to see the sold-out double bill of Jason Isbell and Hayes Carll; I knew the former from both his stint in the Drive-By Truckers and his subsequent solo work, but I was unfamiliar with the latter other than to know that his star is rising.


Isbell and Carll had been trading off headlining status, and this last show of the tour found Carll in the top spot. After a rousing set from Shovels & Rope, Isbell and his band the 400 Unit launched into an hourlong set sprinkled with selections from their new album Here We Rest and old DBT favorites. The newer material leans more toward introspective country on songs like "Alabama Pines" and "Codeine," but Isbell and crew showed they could still bring the rock with DBT's hard-driving "Never Gonna Change," which included a chunk of Hendrix's "Stone Free," and "Goddamn Lonely Love." A highlight was "Outfit," an Isbell-penned classic from DBT's "Decoration Day" album. It was all-too-short but potent performance.


Carll was only a minute into his first song when a loud cheer arose from both ends of the bar, where patrons saw the Bruins beat Montreal in double OT. That distraction out of the way, Carll and his band went on to play two hours of folk-country that leaned heavily on boozy honky tonk. A Houston native, he noted that as a child, he watched the Celtics beat the Rockets in the 1985-86 NBA finals. He had wanted to be a sportswriter, but said he couldn't handle the emotional distress involved, so he became a songwriter instead. With songs like "My Baby Left Me for Jesus," "Bottle in My Hand" and "Another Like You," a duet with Shovels & Rope singer Cary Ann Hearst, it's clear Carll made the right decision.


Four days later, I trekked into Allston again to see Ted Leo and Buffalo Tom's Bill Janovitz play solo at BMH. The show had originally been scheduled for January, but Leo postponed because of a family emergency or something. As with the show a few days earlier, the Bruins were once again engaged in an overtime battle with Montreal, this one being game 7 of the series. The OT began about 10 minutes before Janovitz took the stage and I was so engrossed in it, I continued watching from the front room while he was playing. He was about two songs in, playing Buffalo Tom's "Porchlight," when Nathan Horton scored the series winner (he also scored Saturday night's OT winner). A huge cheer erupted and Janovitz congratulated the B's before continuing on. Armed with an acoustic guitar and harmonica, Janovitz played an eclectic collection of Buffalo Tom and solo songs and covers including a spot-on rendition of Elvis Costello's "Man Out of Time."


Ted Leo opted to play the majority of the show with an electric guitar, churning out a frenetic 22 songs in 100 minutes or so. He noted that his voice was a bit shot from a recent upper respiratory ailment that required hospitalization, but you wouldn't know it from his typically chatty between-song banter and his passionate high-register vocals. As he is wont to do during solo shows and radio appearances, Leo played several covers, including Husker Du's "Could You Be the One?," The Waterboys' "Fisherman's Blues," Nick Lowe's "And So It Goes," and the evening's closer "Do Anything You Want to Do" by Eddie and the Hot Rods. He played a new song that he said he's still working on called "The Little Smug Supper Club" and many old favorites including "Bridges and Squares" (written when he lived in the Boston area), "Timorous Me," "Me and Mia," and "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" He broke out an acoustic guitar and stood at the edge of the stage to lead a singalong of "Bottled in Cork," which turned into a bit of a round. But the highlight of the set was when he played a cover of Buffalo Tom's "Reason Why" and was joined by Bill Janovitz and opener Drew O'Doherty for the choruses; Janovitz kept running off stage and back on to sing. Leo said he and his old band Chisel listened to a lot of Buffalo Tom when they were touring in the early '90s and they covered this song. When Leo announced before the last two songs that he'd be wrapping up soon because his voice was shot, someone groaned and he joked about the injustice of a 20+ song set.


Indeed, it was a value-packed evening by two veterans of the alt-rock world. I'd say everybody got their $12 worth.



Reason Why: