Geek Radio

Music fan, music geek. You say potato, I say Tater Tot. This is for anyone interested in listening to new music. Some songs you may have already heard on the radio and some may not fit in with the current radio culture. Listen to my player while you go about your business. I will give information on one of the artists every week or so. If I’ve seen them live I‘ll add video and pictures, otherwise I’ll just give a brief defense as to why I included them on my playlist. Feel free to tell me which bands you like, and which ones you don’t. And even a music geek knows that Tater Tots are superior.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

# 11 Passenger

Alright, I've been a little absent. I blame the intoxicating combination of Facebook and Scrabble. I've been Scrabble (actually it's Lexulous) obsessed, but I'm starting to get a handle on it. So here I am with some new blog-love. I wish I had some brilliant insights after such a long hiatus, but it's going to be my usual ramblings.

Right now I'm not so crazy about the new songs by Jason Mraz. That probably seems like it's coming from out of nowhere, but stick with me on this one. He's got the super-sweet "I'm Yours," and then the love-fest "Lucky" (with Colbie Caillat). Don't get me wrong, I'm a Jason Mraz fan and I'm sure I'll like future stuff by him. I've seen him live twice and I think he's got a tremendous voice, a nice vibe about him, and a great sense of humor. I'm not trying to put him down. It's just that the songs are a bit too precious for me, like the musical equivalent to an imaginary tea party. Lots of air and cuteness, but no substance to quench my thirst.


Passenger, on the other hand, writes a pop song about stalking and I'm drinking it in. That might be more of a statement on me than on Jason Mraz. It's not his fault I'm slightly warped. There's nothing sweet about Passenger's music, except the up-tempo beat. The lyrics are ugly and twisted, and funny. "Night Vision Binoculars" is about as creepy as you can get, and I really love it. For the record, I'm not really a fan of stalking or harassing anyone. Does that really need to be said? It's a crazy world. Also check out "Wicked Man's Rest." Mesmerizing lyrics = good stuff. Now back to Lexulous.


Passenger's website: http://www.passengerofficial.com/

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/passengerofficial

Friday, November 14, 2008

#10 Brett Dennen


I've guessed wrong before. In fact, it's kind of hereditary. Years ago my parents decided they should invest in the stock market to create a little retirement nest egg. They debated between two little known companies. The first was Munsingware, an underwear brand, and the other was Microsoft, you know, the computer giant. No offense to Munsingware but you can guess, with the benefit of hindsight, which of the two would've been the more lucrative choice. You can also guess which one my parents went with. Their logic was sound. Not everyone needs a computer but everyone needs underwear. Hereditary.

So I say this with that caveat out in the open: If I had to guess which musician on my little online radio player was going to be on multiple radio stations simultaneously, I'd vote for Brett Dennen.

He's got a very distinct voice, which works in his favor. His music fits comfortably across a bunch of music genres, from folk to alternative to general pop. I'm surprised no one has pressured him to write a country song just to try and cross over into that market too. His lyrics have substance. They speak of the need for positive change, which I think is a sentiment echoed by a lot of us observing the state of the world.

Of course, I probably would've bought stock in the underwear company too. Those newfangled computers will never really catch on.

Just take a moment to listen to "Ain't No Reason". Or watch it here from songchecklive:




His website: http://brettdennen.net/
His MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/brettdennen

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

# 9 Okkervil River

There's a dumb video game I like to play. By "like to play" I mean I've spent countless hours glued to the computer screen when I could've been doing something useful like solving world hunger. It's a major time-sink, so I'm slightly hesitant to share it, but it seems rude not to give you a link. It's like when someone specifically tells you they have a secret and then refuses to spill. Why bring it up? So, here it is: http://chainfactor.com/.

I only do the basic mode in an attempt to not further the addiction. It's my way of pretending I'm in control. I do have a problem. By the way, if you beat 281,222 don't tell me. I don't want to know. (378,343 now. I'm improving.)

What the hell does that have to do with Okkervil River? Well, I can't just play the game in silence, so I'll pick a random band's MySpace page and play that in the background while I'm giving in to my addiction. Over the past few months I've read all sorts of buzz about Okkervil River, but I hadn't heard anything other than "Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe." It was time to expand my horizons.

I started chain factoring away and listening to "Plus Ones" and "Unless It's Kicks." Here's when you know the music is good: I stopped my game and went to Okkervil River's website to learn more about them. It's pitiful, I'm aware, but it's a real compliment to the band. And an insult to me. I watched them via webcast during the Austin City Limits Festival, instead of playing my little video game. I'm writing about them right now, instead of trying obsessively to beat my high score.

They haven't cured me to the point that I'm ready to solve world hunger. Maybe once I reach 300,000.

From the comfort of my office I could see they rocked ACL fest.

Here's a video from justinsvs:



Their MySpace page is: http://www.myspace.com/okkervilriver.
Their website is: http://www.okkervilriver.com/.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

# 8 Great Lake Swimmers

Apparently I update my entries monthly. I was going to babble about Gomez and put up a video and picture from when I saw them at Bonnaroo in 2006, but then I changed my mind and decided to focus on something a bit more recent. Ok, here's one Gomez picture, and then I'll move on to Great Lake Swimmers.
I choose Canada's Great Lake Swimmers because I'm attracted to music that makes me feel something. My little music-loving senses just crave this stuff. It's easy to get numb to the world, and I'm always struck when a song can convey an emotion so clearly that it effortlessly passes from the musicians to the listener. It's like a musical slap in the face, breaking through our self-imposed anesthetization. Click on "Moving Pictures, Silent Films" on my player and you'll see what I mean. I feel sadness, and I'm bringing you all down with me. I haven't seen Great Lake Swimmers live, so I don't have any pictures or video. You can download this song, as well as a bunch of others, for free on their website: http://www.greatlakeswimmers.com/

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

#7 Mason Jennings

Ok, I have been a little blogging remiss. Number seven (on my random list of musicians people should listen to at least one time) is Mason Jennings.

Sometimes I get in a happy musical rut, where I want to hear a particular song at least one time every day. I'm like a toddler who wants to have the same book read to me every night before I go to bed. Yes, Green Eggs and Ham again. That's how I've been lately with Mason Jenning's "If You Need a Reason."

This song is poetry. The lyrics flow in a stream of rhyming consciousness that capture his search for someone who will say to him, "If you need a reason as to why you're here, you don't need to look farther than me."

Any men in the Geek Radio audience take note. If you want to let a woman know you're interested in her play this song. "All that's missing, all that's lost. Every hope at any cost. Every dream too good to come true, floods my heart when I'm with you. And if you need a reason as to why you're here, you don't need to look farther than me." Let her know that you think of her when you hear those lyrics. Maybe not until at least the second date though...

Here is another Mason Jennings song, "Be Here Now" captured by reinarama:



His website: http://www.masonjennings.com/

His MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/masonjennings

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

#6 The Decemberists

I'm not the most graceful person. Stop being shocked, it's true. I've been known to trip for no apparent reason, aggressively smack my innocent hand against a wide door frame, and one time I came close to giving myself a concussion brushing my teeth. It involved a mouth full of toothpaste foam and a poorly timed sneeze. I don't think you need any more details. Let's just say what most people see as a simple task can be harrowing for me.

So I can identify with a song about making an ass of yourself in front of a bunch of people. The first time I heard The Decemberist's "The Sporting Life" it immediately caught my attention. It's a peppy proclamation of klutziness. In other words, it's a song after my own heart. In concert, front man Colin Meloy described it as semi-autobiographical, from his childhood YMCA days. The song starts with, "I fell on the playing field. The work of an errant heel." The Decemberists paint a picture of a poor kid sprawled on a field, embarrassing his coach, girlfriend, and father. "And father had had such hopes. For a son who would take the ropes. And fulfill all his old athletic aspirations. But apparently now there's some complications."

Here's a short clip from Austin City Limits Festival (2007)

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Then there is "I was Meant for the Stage." I love the contrasting aptitude between the two songs. This one is about mastery and being born destined for greatness. The clumsy boy has picked himself off the ground and rebounded quite nicely. It's about knowing what you are capable of achieving and ignoring those who say you won't make it. All along he know he was going to be a star. "Was there ever any doubt?"

video

The Decemberists website: http://www.decemberists.com/

Friday, April 4, 2008

# 5 Cold War Kids

"That accident left everyone a little shook up."

Cold War Kids were a last minute add to the Austin City Limits festival lineup last year (2007), jumping in when some of the scheduled artists backed out. I was familiar with the name, but didn't think too much of the addition.

Texas is hot. Even in September, it was sweltering. This is a random guy trying to create shade using some fans.

We were wandering around somewhat aimlessly, slightly delirious from the sun, and found a patch of grass to collapse on. It was really dumb luck that it was within earshot of the Cold War Kids. Here is a short recording of St. John at the Austin City Limits Festival:

video


They are from California and, according to Wikipedia, the band consists of Nathan Willett, Jonnie Russell, Matt Maust, and Matt Aveir. If Wikipedia says so, it must be true.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but St. John and We Used To Vacation are now two of my favorite songs. I love the use of percussion on St. John, the changing tempo, and the piano riff at the end.

For We Used To Vacation, I love the line that started this post, and how it's never completely explained.

Here is a video from http://www.youtube.com/user/v2italy



10/17/08 A little editing update: I saw them again on 10/14/08 at The Paradise in Boston, MA. They are energetic and entertaining live. I was impressed with how they performed Robbers. They sang with the stage dark and the band shined flashlights out onto the audience. You know, like they were robbers. The other highlight, was St. John.



Cold War Kids MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/coldwarkids
Their website: http://www.coldwarkids.com/

Monday, March 17, 2008

#4 Luce

I can't attest to them as a live band, since I've never seen them perform, but there's a little place in my music-lovin' heart for Luce. They are a San Francisco-based band, and they are listed as "Alternative/Pop/Rock" on their MySpace page. I would say they are maybe a little Crowded House or Guster-esque, with songs that are lighthearted (like "Buy a Dog" or "In the Middle There") and others that are darker and more poetic (like "Electric Chair" and "Sunniest of Weekends").

Here is "Buy a Dog" from their YouTube site, LUCEvideos. It is a little song that makes me want to run out to the SPCA, adopt a puppy, buy a picket fence, and sip lemonade on the porch swing while I hold hands with the hubby. It's really that sweet.




Luce is fronted by Tom Luce, with Larry Riggs on bass, Dylan Brock on guitar, percussionist Brian Zalewski, and Adam Rossi as keyboardist and Producer.

As far as I'm concerned, Luce can do no wrong. It's solely due to "Sunniest of Weekends." I love the song enough that Luce has a free music pass, and I would still call myself a fan, even if they never put out one more palatable note. I wish I could be handy enough to stick the song right here for anyone who happens upon this site's listening pleasure, or find it floating on the web so I could include it in my playlist. Unfortunately, I am inept.

So, instead I will give you the lyrics: (according to this site: http://www.tsrocks.com/)

Sunniest of Weekends by Luce-

I’ve covered myself
Forgave all my sins
Jump in the pool
And float around, around the deep end
Like I’m up on a wire, without a net
But I’m without a circus, without a tent
I want you to understand
That I’m just saving myself
I’m blooming like daffodils
On the sunniest of weekends
On the sunniest of weekends
I’ve resurrected myself
Back from the dead
Fountain of youth sprang
Oh, I sprung again
I’m my own hero in a superman suit
That I wear with my brand new pair, brand new pair of converse shoes
Everyone understands
That I’m just shedding my skin
Blooming like daffodils
On the sunniest of weekends
On the sunniest of weekends
Standing on the surface of the sun
Well I reach out my hands
For you to come
Flying all around us
With heaven dust above
I’m looking off to say
I’ve resurrected myself
What I now reap is all that I’ve sown
Pull out the weeds
Stand back and I watch myself grow
Higher and higher
Into the sky
Into my own galaxy
Where I reach the sacred site
Everyone understands
Yeah-ah, we’re all saving ourselves
Blooming like daffodils
On the sunniest of weekends
On the sunniest of weekends
Ye-e-ah-ah Ye-e-ah-ah Ye-e-ah-ah
Sunniest of weekends
Ye-e-ah-ah Ye-e-ah-ah Ye-e-ah-ah
Sunniest of Weekends

Their website is: http://www.luceband.com/

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

#3 Ryan Montbleau Band

If I could buy stock in a band, I would purchase shares of the Ryan Montbleau Band. That's how strongly I believe this group from Boston has the potential to be huge. Of course, that got me and Mr. Fan talking about what the music business might be like if people could buy musician stock. A band is a small business, so it seems possible to make a certain percentage of shares available to their fans, and then the fans reap that percentage of the reward. You could change the whole music industry, and have it be more music-lover driven instead of being controlled by a big business. If you bought stock in a band and then didn't like the direction they were going, you could just sell your shares, because maybe someone else would have become a fan. It would be the "Stock and Roll" index. Brings a whole new meaning to the term, "Music Broker."

Anyway, I can be a bit tangential at times. Back to the Ryan Montbleau Band. They are difficult to classify, which is part of why I love them so. They are kind of jazzy, with some swing music, add a little soul, some folksiness, but in the end it is mixed together in an alternative rock, funky kind of way. Did you get all that?

They are lead by, as you could probably guess, Ryan Montbleau, who has an amazing voice that has been compared to Martin Sexton and Stevie Wonder, at least according to their website. He sits on a stool with his guitar and belts out songs about love, growth, and eggs.

Ryan is rounded out by drummer James Cohen, percussionist Yahuba Garcia, keyboardist Jason Cohen, Matt Gainarros on bass, and Larry Scudder on viola.

Here is a clip of "Maybe Today" recorded at The Stone Church in Newmarket, NH:

video


And here is a clip of the fans at Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH getting into "Inspired by No One":

video

Their website is: http://www.ryanmontbleauband.com/

Friday, February 29, 2008

#2 Ingrid Michaelson



I have a confession. I really didn't go to the Ingrid Michaelson concert to see Ingrid. I was all about David Ford (see previous post). Don't get me wrong, I was happy that she was playing too. When I am working, I create channels on Rhapsody so that there is always music floating around the studio. Rhapsody lets me pick up to ten bands/musicians, plays the musicians on the list, and then takes some liberties in playing similar artists. Ingrid was on my most recent list, even before I knew David Ford was touring with her. For anyone that might possibly care, or more for my own recollection, my most recent list is:

Rilo Kiley, The Bird And The Bee, Rogue Wave, Ingrid Michaelson, A Band of Bees, I'm From Barcelona, Manchester Orchestra, The Acorn, The Raconteurs, and Vampire Weekend.


For the most part I've been happy with the variety.


Anyway, back to Ingrid Michaelson. I am a fan of performers who interact with the audience. I want to feel like I am experiencing something different by seeing someone live, instead of listening to their CD. Ingrid is the queen of chatting in between, and even during, songs. The tone of her singing voice is very demur and subdued, so it was a nice mix when she joked around with the crowd, showing a flirtatious, easily amused, naughty side.


Here is Ingrid trying to encourage audience participation, and channeling Fiddy's In Da Club:



video


I was also impressed with just how good her voice sounded live. With fancy computers that can alter any sound, it seems like almost any cute girl chewing bubble gum can record an album. Even the bubble gum itself could probably lay down at least one track. Ingrid doesn't need any computer enhancement. I would see her again, even without David Ford.


The Way I Am:
video


Die Alone:
video

Ingrid Michaelson's website: http://www.ingridmichaelson.com/

Her MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/ingridmichaelson


There was one more act that weekend, who opened for David Ford and Ingrid Michaelson, and that was Matthew Perryman Jones. I am assuming MPJ for those who say his name a lot. It was a great night of music, because MPJ was more impressive than most opening acts. He instantly reminded me, and Mr. Fan, of Matt Costa, so if you like this clip of Save You, you may want to Google Matt Costa too.



video

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

#1 David Ford

Tap tap tap. This thing on? Excellent. I will now commence to talk to myself.

So, I know some people who are not quite as obsessed with music as I am. For those people, I want to use the element of surprise, throw a burlap sack over them, tie them up and deposit them at a David Ford concert. No people would be harmed with this experiment. My theory is once they see him live, they will be converted.


Even if my hostage chooses to ignore David's intelligent lyrics, his fancy foot pedals, and his fantastic voice, they would immediately be impressed with his intensity. David Ford practically rips out his heart as he is singing, laying it out for the audience to see. David Ford is not harmed during his performances either. See for yourself what I'm talking about:

This is State of the Union:

video

And this one is a brand new song, which I assume is called To Hell with the World, but I am kind of partial to Honour in Choosing Defeat:

video

I have had the opportunity to see him in concert four times, and he is always phenomenal. I have spoken to him twice, for a total of approximately a half a second (that's practically bff, right?), and both times he was extremely gracious. The night I took these videos, when I asked if he minded if I recorded him, he pleasantly replied, "Not at all."

He'll be back in Boston in April at The Paradise Rock Club.

His website is: http://www.davidford.mu/