Saturday, November 22, 2008

They've got it all, but they ain't got emotion

A few weeks ago my brother and I were talking about how 2008 has been the best year for new music. After discussing new releases and concerts by Weezer, Neil Diamond, Sigur Ros and more, Matt and I decided that the only thing 2008 was missing was something new from Jeremy Enigk. As fate would have it, a week or two later I got a text from a friend telling me a short tour would be bringing him through SLC the weekend before Thanksgiving. Well, one show just wasn't enough because when I checked his tour schedule I discovered another show scheduled the night before in Pocatello, Idaho, of all places. Attending only one wasn't an option.

Now, Jeremy Enigk isn't your typical singer-songwriter. In the 1990s, Jeremy sang for a band called Sunny Day Real Estate, the Nirvana of the indie/emo genre. (Strangely, SDRE is tied many ways to Nirvana; they too were from Seattle and SDRE's drummer and bassist were founding members of Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters.) I don't think it's a stretch to say that Sunny Day Real Estate influenced, directly or indirectly, around 60-70% of the post-1994 indie/hipster-neo-folk/alternative music you listen to.

I invited all my friends who I thought would be interested in seeing him, but sadly and understandably no one could come to the Pocatello show with me. No big deal. He didn't bring a band with him, it was just him and a friend who backed him up on guitar. The set was interesting. He played four songs from his first album, which I don't get into as much, but it was cool to hear him play those old songs and it's cool that he still plays them. He played three songs from World Waits, his second album, two of which were piano songs rearranged for guitar; "Canons" sounded especially awesome with the new arrangement.

Jeremy in Pocatello

After about ten songs, his guitarist left the stage and I thought the show was over. But at this point the show was just reaching its climax (that's what she said). I never had a chance to see Sunny Day Real Estate live, but what ensued was the next best thing I could hope for. Jeremy began strumming a familiar chord progression, though it wasn't easily distinguished because it was missing the accompanying lead guitar. But when he started singing I immediately recognized the tune: "In Circles", a SDRE jam from their first album. The next song was much easier to recognize, since it's one of my all-time favorite SDRE songs: "Guitar and Video Games". With a smile on my face and chills down my spine I sang along unabashedly as Jeremy belted out, "Never again my dear / should we come dancing here / we'll play guitar and video games".

With Jeremy and Caden

The SLC show was more or less the same but with three times as many people and equal proportions of cigarette smoke and beer. I had mixed feelings about the SLC show being packed; it's awesome that Jeremy is getting the support he deserves but I'd rather not have to endure his set being elbowed by drunk girls that smell bad. I guess that's what happens when the venue is a bar.

Jeremy in SLC

I talked to Jeremy in SLC about his new songs. He's planning on releasing a new album in February. This video is my favorite of the new songs he played. It's choppy in the middle but it was the best I could find as far as sound quality goes. It's called "Same Side Imaginary".

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm having a love affair with this ice cream sandwich!

So about a year ago I wrote a song. I was too lazy to write a second verse at the time so I've been singing the first verse twice. Sunny Day Real Estate did all the time so I thought I'd try it. I couldn't pull it off as well as they did so a week or two ago I sat down to write a second verse. Anyway, in order to say what I wanted to say, I wrote twice as much as I had planned; I'll probably end up rewriting the rest of the song because the new verse doesn't work well with what I had written. But I thought I'd post the new verse anyway because I think it stands well on its own.

I don't know what to name this song so I've been calling it "Then Why Don't You Marry An Ice Cream Sandwich!" -- a gratuitous shout-out to Arrested Development. Let me know if you come up with something that fits the lyrics.

Your soul is numb, can't feel the ache
Jaded, spent, the same mistake
You've made before, you'll make again
Nothing's changed

(You'd rather) turn your back than feel the pain
Than help the ones that praise your name
'Cause caring means they'd let you down
You'd feel their shame

But you said you wanna feel alive
And leave behind your life contrived
Sacrifice your apathy
That numbs the ache

'Cause feeling means you loved, you cried
Heartbreak means you cared, you tried
Living doesn't mean success
Living means you gave your best

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Have you ever received a gift so great that you didn't feel you deserved it? Just such a thing happened to me this very morning. Just before 11:30 I arrived at my accounting information systems class. I sat at the same computer I always do, logged on, and checked my email, as I do every other day. Nothing new in my inbox but I had one new spam message. I'm pretty OCD when it comes to my spam folder; even though its contents will be eventually deleted automatically, I always delete spam messages immediately anyway. I decided to get the better of my compulsions and let it be. But as seconds ticked by my compulsions got the better of me and I opened the spam folder. The message was from Stateside Presents, a booking agency from home that periodically announces shows and tickets sales happening in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. I almost deleted the email without opening it when I saw the words "Jimmy Eat World" at the end of the subject line. I was semi-curious -- they are one of my favorite bands -- so I opened the email. I scrolled down and read this:

Clarity x 10 Tour
Playing the 1999 album in its entirety
March 7 @ Marquee Theatre

At first I didn't understand. I read it again. My second reaction was disbelief. My heard started to race. Let me explain: Jimmy Eat World and I have quite a history, which I won't delve into. Anyway, in 1999 Jimmy Eat World released an album called Clarity. Commercially, the record didn't do well; it wasn't until their follow up album originally titled Bleed American that they "hit it big" so to speak. Nonetheless, when it comes to hardcore fans like myself, Clarity is often our favorite JEW album. And it's cool because they still play three or four songs from Clarity at their shows today. But to hear them play this album in its entirety? Start to finish, all 64 minutes, hopefully all 18 minutes of Goodbye Sky Harbor? Attending this show is not optional.

I decided to investigate further. The band's website confirmed as much; starting in February the band will embark on 10 show tour in celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the release of Clarity. The tour starts in NY and finishes in the band's home state of Arizona. Beneath the list of tour dates I noticed the following:

Reuben's Accomplice will support Feb. 23-Mar. 4.

"Oh awesome, I love Reuben's Accomplice," I said to myself. I read on:

No Knife will support Mar. 5-7.

My heart stopped. Now, there are few of you readers who realize the gravity of that simple sentence (the one about No Knife, not the one about heart stopping). Few of you know who No Knife is, which is cool, they never really made it out of the underground classic emo/indie genre. I never had a chance to see them because they broke up at the beginning of the decade. But apparently Jimmy Eat World playing the entire Clarity album was reason enough to get back together.

So on this evening of evenings I praise and honor the gods of music who have bestowed this invaluable gift that I am unfit to receive. I don't know what I did to find myself so highly in their favor.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Heart Songs

Last week Zach was kind enough to share some of his favorite Ryan Adams jams with us. His kindness inspired me to do the same thing with my favorite Weezer tunes. All of my friends back home and my brothers and I are huge Weezer fans. If their tours skipped Phoenix it wasn't a question of whether or not we would drive to California to see them, the question was in which city in California we would see them. Nothing to do on a Friday night? Never, not when we had acoustic guitars, vocal chords, and every lyric and melody from Weezer's first two albums wedged snuggly in the creases of our brains. It's hard to truly assess the impact that my extreme Weezer fandom has had on my life (my first kiss, for example, was a girl from Seattle that I met at a Weezer concert in San Francisco).

So, when I came to Rexburg and made friends with so many people with great taste in music (like my friends from home) I was somewhat surprised that some weren't really into Weezer. Why wouldn't they be? My hypothesis: there's a lot of good music out there so maybe they just haven't made their rounds to Weezer yet. My remedy: I've created and uploaded a mix my favorite Weezer songs. If a song made it on this list, it's because it has either had, in one way or another, a huge impact on my life, or it's simply an awesome song.

Here's the list and why I love these songs:

"My Name is Jonas" -- My older brother Spencer brought home the Blue Album when I was in 7th grade. Either this or "Buddy Holly" was the first Weezer song I heard, I can't remember. It's hard to describe the feeling I had when I first the acoustic guitar intro and pounding distorted guitar that followed. It was similar to nostalgia, but what I was nostalgic for I have no idea. Whatever that longing feeling was, it quickly translated into a longing to hear more Weezer. Thanks Spencer.

"Say it Ain't So" -- I remember listening to this song on my discman at the tender, impressionable age of 14 while driving in a rental car in Utah with my mom and brother. As Rivers and Brian ended the soaring guitar solo that led back into the last chorus I came to an important conclusion with what I wanted to do with my life: "I wanna rock!"

"Only in Dreams" -- In high school I was in a band called The Manhattan Project. This band disbanded in December 2001 when I left to serve a mission. The last song we ever played together at our last show was this one. People cried.

"Susanne" -- In high school we had this great friend named Suz, which is short for Susanne. About every Sunday night my junior and senior years we had waffle night at her place. Our first Weezer sing-along took place in her basement at her birthday party. Oh, and this song is awesome too.

"Jamie (Live Acoustic)" -- Please do not confuse this with Dashboard Confessional's painfully inferior cover of this song; "it hurts me so much" when people do that. I especially enjoy Rivers' vocal treatment of the bridge compared to the original rock version.

"Tired of Sex" -- The first track from possibly the greatest album of all time, making it Weezer's best album, Pinkerton. I chose this song because it represents almost everything I love about Pinkerton: it's raw, rowdy, and it rocks, complete with shredding solo and buzzsaw guitars. The other thing I love about Pinkerton is that is incredibly easy to relate to; while I find the subject matter of this song quite unrelateable, I do enjoy the line "Oh, why can't I be making love come true?"

"Across the Sea" -- Wow. This might be Weezer's most emotionally evocative song ever. "As if I could live on words and dreams and a million screams, oh, how I need a hand in mine to feel!" I think we've all felt like that at one time or another. I dare you, no, defy you, to listen to this song at full volume and not get the chills. What a song.

"The Good Life" -- I don't know what Weezer did when they recorded Pinkerton but somehow they managed to capture the energy and excitement that's only really present during a live performance. "The Good Life" is a great example of that.

"El Scorcho" -- I listened to this song almost every day before school in 8th grade. Listen for Matt Sharp's falsettos ("How cool is that?!") and killer screams right before the bridge and in the middle of the last chorus; I miss that guy (he quit in order to devote more time to his band The Rentals). It's impossible not to sing along with this one. Great music video too.

"You Gave Your Love to Me Softly" -- A b-side from the "El Scorcho" single. This is possibly my favorite Weezer song. Ever. From the start of the pick scrape at 0:04 to the last cymbal crash 1:54 later, this song never lets up. Go ahead and listen to it twice. I usually do.

"Waiting on You" -- B-side from "The Good Life" single, also called the "Oz EP". I really love the guitar intro/interlude, and when Rivers sings to the same melody ("I asked you had a good heart / You answered, yes, I'll never do you harm"), backed by Matt's complementary falsetto, it just doesn't get any better.

"Crab" -- I don't care that much for the Green Album. In fact, I have a hard time listening to more than two consecutive Green Album songs. But this song is good. I have no idea what it's about though.

"I Do" -- This one is a b-side on the "Hash Pipe" single and the eleventh track on the UK import of the Green Album. They opened with this song when I saw them in San Francisco on March 17, 2001 (possibly the greatest concert of my life), and I've loved it since.

"Keep Fishin'" -- I first time I heard this song was at Subway in Ottawa, Ontario, while I was on my mission. Other than that I don't have much to say about this one. Another great video.

"Perfect Situation" -- Weezer's best song (at this point) since Pinkerton. And the story of my life.

"The Greatest Man That Ever Lived" -- I don't have much to say about these last few songs, mostly because they're pretty new and I haven't had the chance to associate very many memories with them yet. But let's be honest, there's probably two of you who read it this far so it doesn't matter. This song is just plain cool.

"Pork & Beans" -- It took me a while to warm up to this song. What eventually got me were the Pinkerton-esque guitars on the chorus and the overall message of the song.

"The Angel and the One" -- It's been 12 years since Weezer has been this emo. I really dig the soaring guitar at the end that matches Rivers' vocal.

"Longtime Sunshine" -- This isn't technically a Weezer song but I include it because it could've been. It's from an album that Rivers released last year containing demos he recorded by his lonesome over the years (In Michael Cera's opinion, "The greatest thing to happen to music since 1996 [the year Pinkerton was released]"). I like it because evokes that same nostalgic feeling I experienced when I first heard "My Name is Jonas".

"Lover in the Snow" -- Good song. That's all.

Kudos to you if you've read this far. Here's your reward, download and enjoy:

Myke's Ultimate Weezer Mix

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bound by hope and love

So a weekend or two ago we were singing Weezer and Neil Diamond at Leah's and somehow we ended up deciding to write a song for Music Outlet. Rather than trying to describe this life changing experience, I'll let our song speak for itself: