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Best New Music 'Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Edition

If you live in the Chicago area you are aware that autumn seems to be starting early this year. I remember two years ago that the Chicago Marathon was run in 90 degree temps. It felt like Summer, at one point having to have it cut short because of the dangerous temperatures. This year, you can smell the crisp cool air as a prelude to the winter months.

The Minus 5 - Butcher Covered

What are you talking about?
The Minus 5 came out with another new album this year?
Well actually they did, sorta. For those that are going to the Baseball Project/Minus 5/Steve Wynn IV shows, there is a cover CD that is being sold at the concession area containing 17 covers done by the Minus 5. This CD according to Scott is not going to be sold in stores, over the internet, at your local grocery store, etc., so unless you are at a show you will NOT be able to acquire this.
‘Butcher Covered’ feels equal parts ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’ and ‘In Rock’;  an eclectic mix of a few hits such as a deconstructed version of Lynyrd Skynrd’s ‘That Smell’, and some Minus 5 favorites including The Modern Lover’s ‘Government Center’. The CD offers a glimpse into some of the bands that have inspired Scott McCaughey and I would imagine Peter Buck over the years, a wide array of talents stretching all the way from the 60s till today.
As I write this brief review, one of the challenges has been to attempt to figure out what songs are actually on the CD. Due to a grand total of 0 liner notes, the song titles, performers, etc. are in many cases left up to the imagination of the listener. In some respects that is a good thing because the songs feel more than just a cover version but rather a Minus 5 original.

The Baseball Project / Minus 5 / Steve Wynn IV at Martyr's Chicago (Review)

Steve Wynn and Scott McCaughey are not just two musicians who I appreciate for their talents on the stage but for their wealth of knowledge in America ’s Pastime; that being baseball. If you listen to the album, the ‘Baseball Project’ it is not filled with the familiar faces of baseball but offers a Ken Burn’s soundtrack into some of the stories and moments that make baseball such as rich part of our culture.
They are richly observant of the faces and names of baseballs past. I can imagine that someone probably threw away their baseball card collections at some point, and can tell the stories about how they owned a Mantle or Mays. One of the big concerns whenever you write an entire album about a sport is that it could turn out to be hokey. In some cases, the stories aren’t exactly happy, i.e. the story of Curt Flood or Mark McGwire were not stories that would seemingly be put on my lists of songs that bring joy and happiness to my life, but they also represent characters who are underappreciated, (see Flood and his role in Free Agency) and tarnished (see McGwire) and steroids.
Thus, Baseball is not the happy-go-lucky sport, but one filled with romance, with loss with pain and exhuberance. It is a sport that is not set by a clock but by outs, so you cannot be a pussy and run out the clock. Currently, teams bring in, a "Closer" for those pressure moments at the end of the game with the game on the line. Maybe this speaks to why I have always loved it, and yet at the same time get the butterflies going through my heart knowing that game is never over until the fat lady is singing.
Luckily there were no fat ladies singing on Friday evening.

R.E.M. 'Reckoning – Songs From The Olympia' 4 Song EP Review

Lately, I am consumed by the fact that R.E.M. has been doing something right. Their Deluxe Editions have come out in style, received some notoriety, and even a perfect score, from the Pitchfork Crew and now they are giving us a “Tasting Menu” of some of the songs that are on the horizon.

To give all you novices, a quick Cliffs Notes version of these shows, R.E.M. decided to switch things up before the release of their last album ‘Accelerate’ and put together a set of rehearsal shows in Dublin, Ireland, while working in the studio. They picked 5 nights in the summer of 2007, to play these shows and the purpose was mainly to perform these songs in front of a live audience both for their reaction to the songs as well as the bands reaction to them.

The hope was that by “Beta Testing” these songs in front of a crowd they could figure out what worked and what didn’t. On top of performing new songs, the band also pulled out a host of older of songs they had not performed live in years. What this EP has provided however, is a more modern impression of these songs that are 25 years or even older giving depth of the offering of two guitars being played live than just one on the earlier tunes.

Ironicly, if there was a big brother to the album, “Accelerate” in the R.E.M. repertoire, ‘Reckoning’ would have to be chosen, if not for the spirit of the album as it relates to ‘Accelerate’. So it’s perfect to accelerate to ‘Reckoning’ with 4 strong songs of their own.

Possible songs on Olympia 2 Disc Live Album

While Facebooking about how much I was appreciating the new EP and talking to Chuck, I figured I would gather the songs together once again.
Here is a listing of the songs that R.E.M. played in their 5 night stay in Dublin Ireland (6/30/07 - 07/05/07).
There were talks that the band would be including "Over 30" songs on this release. The band played 39 unique songs while performing in Dublin.
By Album
Chronic Town (EP)
Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars)
Gardening At Night
Wolves, Lower
Sitting Still
West of the Fields
Letter Never Sent
Little America
Pretty Persuasion
Second Guessing
So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)
Fables of the Reconstruction
Auctioneer (Another Engine)
Driver 8
Feeling Gravitys Pull
Maps and Legends
Lifes Rich Pageant
These Days
Disturbance at The Heron House
Welcome to the Occupation
Automatic For The People
Circus Envy
New Adventures In Hi Fi
New Test Leper
I've Been High
Around The Sun
The Worst Joke Ever

Reckoning Deluxe Edition Review

R.E.M’s Reckoning was the second full length and third major release by R.E.M. In terms of their earlier material it was a much more direct album, not relying on the studio to create an atmospheric record but rather incorporate more of the band’s live sound rather than their studio talents on Murmur and Chronic Town.

As I have written before, it was the first of their albums that I had significantly appreciated and made me yearn for more.

That being said, reissues often have the task of trying to exemplify a purpose for the release. For example, is the reissue out of print or severely needing of remastering for it to limits of technology from years prior?

In the case of these deluxe editions, the point has always been to bring a sense to the world that R.E.M. existed 25 years ago. Reckoning, and it’s predecessor ‘Murmur’ were two of the most important contributions to the decade of the 80’s slowly changing Rock music from being defined by synths and to a guitar/bass/drums genre. Along the way, R.E.M. led the way for other acts, especially from America, inspired by the Punk Movement and using the tools it provided to provide a much more free reign atmosphere for what was allowed.

R.E.M. understood Rock and Roll. They knew what worked and what was cliché. The promotion for Reckoning was unique in itself. 1984, was during the heyday of the music video. We had just seen Michael Jackson moonwalk his way into history and at the same time it was R.E.M. despising the music format and expanding on the video realm.

Keeping With The Theme of 'Reckoning' and My Site

I thought that as I was designing the information and forms for the Articles Archive, that I pull this juicy article from the past. This was written by Elizabeth Phillip for the Summer Northwestern. She interviewed the band the same date of the Aragon Ballroom show that will be included on the second disc of the Reckoning Deluxe Edition.
A great interview for some of the extra curricular happenings backstage regarding Buck's confrontation with Cynthia Plaster Caster.
I have posted another Article from the past that is also included, in the articles archive from 1984.

Seven Chinese Brothers Swallowing the Ocean

This is the first of what I hope will be a series of essays written on behalf of the album, Reckoning which will be rereleased to celebrate it's 25th Anniversary on June 23rd.

It started with an innocent enough phrase (or maybe not so much now that you think about it) in a pop song and turned my life into something completely different.  Looking back at that moment it was not entirely special or spectacular. I did not see the an apparition of the Virgin Mary nor did I know of it at that time that 20 plus years later I would be writing this here.

The Five Chinese Brothers written by Claire Huchet Bishop

But the song had resonated with me deeply as a prepubescent teenager.  This was a challenge when dealing with early R.E.M., as anyone who was listening before Al Gore invented the Internet can attest to. Michael Stipe was not competing at the  “Enunciating” World Championships because if that was the case, the East German judge would have quit on the spot in disgust.

The only reference I had to the song was the fact that 'The Five Chinese Brothers’ was a familiar fable that I had read/been read in my early youth about boys that each had a supernatural power.

Realize at this time I was just a silly suburban kid with bad acne and was not at this point involved with investigating the deeper meanings of songs. For example, there might be literary criticism existing somewhere of Van Halen’s “Jump”, however, at the time these types of songs were clearly more vested for me in terms of watching music videos or hearing them on the radio. My music world contained songs that didn't derive much more than what was on the surface.

Songkick Has Some Nice Features . . . .But

As an R.E.M.-Centric shareholder in REMChronicle, the idea of Songkick is fascinating as it's use of data-driven methods attempt to find for you concerts that you would enjoy. If you are like me and wrap a couple of headphones around your ears and allow to do its thing, you will be provided with a slew of concert events as well as create an official site for every possible concert event in the history of music.
As if that is it's primary goal, Songkick has a long way to go, whether they will try to be the "Wiki" of concert data; if fans decide to flock in droves in order to do just that. My couple of moments were reviewing the concert data for R.E.M. It would seem that of course the busy workers at Songkick visited the Chronicle as well as remtimeline to acquire the full-fledged concert history of R.E.M., missing of course the most vital component, the songs! I could imagine that such an endeavor would take a long time, considering how much time I spent data-entering this information-most likely sitting in my boxers listening to music as I dutifully spent that time making sure that every setlist was entered.
I have to look at this from two different perspectives. As a music fan I find it fascinating. If the site gathers enough fans that find it's pages attractive then I would surely deem it as a source.

Some More Testing

Testing this function in REMRing.
At this point, it would seem that we are functional to the point of being able to add news items/spreading the word of Stipe but obviously much more functionality is necessary before I feel compelled to state accurately that this site is once again up. For that reason you might see a story or ten here looking at some of the various methods at which are going to be necessary in order to see how things are looking, plus looking at menu design, etc.
To give you a quick update as to why the site was down, I was getting tired of Joomla, my content management system as it had reached an apex of frustration on top of being attacked every week or so by this or that person.
The site had run it's course in my head when trying to migrate to a new version of Joomla proved more frustrating than ever as it seemed some of the comments were going to be lost.
Once I figured out that Joomla had run it's course I started looking for alternatives and thus chose Drupal instead. Lately, inbetween living the hectic life and trying to plan a wedding I have been reading up on all the functionality of Drupal, essentially doing a little homework before the site came into existence. 

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