One more dispatch from the moving/unpacking process:

I mentioned in my Tommy James post that it was fun filing away records I hadn’t seen in a while. This is one I’m not sure I’d even heard yet, so I gave it a spin. Feist covering Mastodon. Mastodon covering Feist. A tidy and memorable portmanteau serving as the title.

As you might have guessed, given the quirky pairing, this was a Record Store Day release. 2012, to be exact, which seems like ages ago, until you consider that Feist’s most recent LP, Metals, came out a year before that. Even crazier is the fact that The Reminder came out four years before Metals, which puts us all the way back in 2007. The irony here is that she’s a near-daily part of my life, thanks to my daughter, whose love of “1234” hasn’t wavered since I posted about it last August. It’s astonishing how well The Reminder holds up. I don’t know what I would have said if you’d told me in 2007 that, ten years later, I’d still be listening to this album regularly and that Donald Trump would be president. I probably would have just stared at you blankly.

Speaking of Donald Trump, here are a few lyrics from “Black Tongue,” the Mastodon song Feist covers on this 7-inch:

You own the darkness
Have taken my sight
You buried the stars underground
You’ve stolen the night

You can run to the sea
You can run to the forest
You can hide
But you’ll never escape

Really the whole thing can be read as a clairvoyant rendering of Trump’s media omnipresence and anti-Democratic tendencies. Except for the line later on in the song about running out of lies. He seems to draw from a bottomless well there.

What we were talking about? Oh yeah — unpacking records is fun! (And yay for new Feist at the end of April!)

Feist — “Black Tongue” (Mastodon cover) [YouTube]

Stockholm Syndrone


Officially putting CD Monday on hold in favor of the new morning commute paradigm, which I’m calling Stockholm Syndrone. These are the songs Toddler YHT  hears, likes, and then asks for repeatedly, giving me a sanity-irrespective glimpse into their deepest depths.

In all seriousness, I’ve been meaning to keep track of what she likes, like a vicarious version of my That’s My Jam Spotify playlist. Would be fun if she just took it over one day.

I’ve mentioned “Video Killed The Radio Star” a few times, but the first Stockholm Syndrone arrived via Leslie Feist’s appearance on Sesame Street. Mrs. YHT and I managed to gradually replace the audio from that skit with the version from The Reminder a few months back, but it still kills. Consistently generates encore (“Again!”) requests and even the occasional “Good idea, Daddy.”

The Reminder was actually a recent CD Monday pick, I’m still in awe of how well it holds up, and how much bigger a song like “1234′ is than the sum of its parts. It’s fun trying to guess at what my daughter sees in the songs she latches onto, and while Sesame Street was definitely the catalyst here, I’d guess something more universal is at work here. Remember how huge this song got? It turned into a genuine pop hit — commercials, chart success, the works. Reminds me of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Both make good on the promise that, as stacked as the deck may be in favor of a small group of already-famous artists, music still functions as a meritocracy in its best moments.

Maybe it’s the exuberance “1234” builds, or the bright, positive feeling you get when listening to it, despite the fact that some of the lyrics are dark. Who knows. This I do know: It’s the original Stockholm Syndrone.

Feist — “1234” [Spotify/iTunes]

Record Store Day Superlatives

Record Store Day is quickly fading in the rear view mirror, and now that we’ve had a couple days to strip off the shrink wrap, listen to the loot and digest the day’s events, I wanted to share a few reactions and a few songs. In lieu of a list of acquisitions (I’m a little scared to a provide the complete inventory, as my better half reads this blog, and I may or may not have some financial splainin’ to do), I thought I’d keep the superlatives theme from earlier this month rollin’ by handing out a few RSD Superlatives. Off we go…

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POP QUIZ! Where were you the last time you sang out loud? Doesn’t matter what song, doesn’t matter what volume… 3… 2… 1… PENCILS DOWN! I willing to guess a sizable percentage of you gave one of two answers — shower or car. There’s something about these two personal spaces that makes breaking out into song so tempting. And while the shower offers an excellent private sound stage with fantastic acoustics for belting out, you know, whatever, the car takes it to a whole ‘nuther level. You still have privacy, but you also have car stereo accompaniment, a volume knob for crankin’ when the spirit moves you, and a steering wheel for tapping or drumming or you know, whatever. In that sense, the car itself is like an instrument, and I have never in my entire life seen anyone “play the car” better than Leslie Feist did in her recent Black Cab Session. For some time, I’ve enjoyed how these automotive musical vignettes force artists into stripped-down versions of songs, giving a fresh perspective on the track’s basic structure and composition. Feist turns the tables on this idea, using voice, guitar, feet, the floor and even the ceiling to stage a truly fierce performance of “Undiscovered First” from her new album Metals. And as incredible as it is to watch her stomp her feet and slam the ceiling alongside her band mates, it’s just as gripping when you absorb the whole sonic landscape with your eyes closed. My immediate reaction after listening this way was that there has to be some sort of Grammy category that this session could dominate, like “Best Recording Made in a Moving Vehicle” or maybe “Best Use of Spontaneous Percussion.” While I’m busy petitioning the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, I recommend you watch the session once, listen once, and soak in the fierceness. Oh, and if you’re so inclined, listen to the album version of “Undiscovered First” below and buy Metals from iTunes here.

Feist — “Undiscovered First

Doug Paisley

Constant Companion

I’ve been good about merch lately. No shirts, no commemorative tote bags (What? It’s a joke. I’ve never gotten one of tho… OK FINE, but just that once), just a few records here and there. My most recent merch purchase, or merchase if you’re into that kinda thing, happened more “there” than “here,” in that it was made when I was in Portland, OR at the Doug Fir Lounge on October 6, just as Megafaun was getting ready to take the stage. Doug Paisley had just performed an arresting opening set, one that rendered an entire basement lounge of drinking twenty-somethings silent and holding their breath. With a left-handed guitar, his voice barely above a whisper, and the audience hanging on his every word, Paisley delicately navigated through a series of soulful and tender country songs about heartache, redemption, and love. At one point I closed my eyes and it seemed like Paisley’s words, delivered almost apologetically, were more like thoughts that had accidentally escaped from someone’s head (Maybe Sam Elliot’s. Paisley’s got some seriously gruff gravitas chops, or graffichops, if you’re into that kinda thing). It was stunning. Check out “City Lights” to see what I mean.

Doug Paisley — “City Lights

The trance was broken only by eager applause between songs and a single admonishing “SHHHHHHHH” during one of his later tunes, when a few people standing near the back were talking too loud and someone in the crowd stepped up to set them straight (To the guy/gal who did the shushing, you’re my hero). As soon as his set was finished, I picked up a vinyl copy of his newest album, Constant Companion, the symbolism of which name being impossible to overlook [just made the connection almost two weeks later], as I had to carry the record by hand back to the hotel, then to the Portland airport, then all the way back to Richmond, VA. In case you were wondering, records don’t count against your two carry-on quota and fit nicely next to the puke bag in that sub-tray-table magazine pouch. Thankfully, my copy of Constant Companion passed the travel test with flying colors and found its way to my record player, where it’ll be spending a great deal of time. As I listen in my living room, I can hear the same intensity that froze the air of the Doug Fir Lounge on October 6, plus we’re treated to some goosebumps-inducing guest spots by fellow Canadians Leslie Feist and legendary organist for The Band, Garth Hudson. Speaking of guest spots, Megafaun summoned Paisley to the stage at the end of their set for a full-band version of his song “What I Saw.” Check out that performance and the album version below, “City” Lights” above, and grab Constant Companion here.

Doug Paisley (with Megafaun) — “What I Saw

Doug Paisley — “What I Saw