Mike Knott at The Viper Room

Two things I’ve heard.

You should never meet your heroes in person and The Viper Room is crazy loud. Fortunately, meeting Mike Knott a couple times never once diminished my love for his incredible discography. The Viper Room is ridiculously loud for sure. Unfortunately, I didn’t get there to see Mike Knott with Andy Prickett, Eric Campuzano, Ed Benrock and Robert Meyer. Post-major label letdown with Aunt Bettys and pre-vagabond wandering, this show is pretty slick and controlled because it was a label showcase.

Rather than suck all the guts out, that makes for one of the best bootleg listens I’ve heard in ages. Recorded directly from the soundboard, this is a must for fans of Knott and The Prayer Chain, and everyone else tired of soulless auto-tuned radio drivel.



13 essential millencolin songs

Spanning from the Fall of 2001 to early Spring 2002 I found myself skating through Fullerton, California to work 3 and a half days a week down N Placentia Avenue without any device capable of playing music. My personal funds hadn’t yet allowed for any justifiable purchase and technology hadn’t gotten to a place yet where my phone could double as a music device. Continue reading “13 essential millencolin songs”

The Best Albums of 2016


10. Ra Ra Riot – Need Your Light (Barsuk)

9. the i don’t cares – wild stab (Dry Wood Music)

8. Band of Horses – Why Are You OK (KIDinaKorner/Interscope)

7. Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book

6. David Bazan – Blanco (Barsuk)

5. Operators – Blue Wave (Last Gang)

4. The Hotelier – Goodness (Tiny Engines)

3. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)

2. Bon Iver – 22, A Million (Jagjaguwar)

1. Hammock – Everything And Nothing (Hammock)

With Draw

In the past few months, I have had the chance to see music from Australia, France, and Canada, in addition to the Texas, New York, and LA-based acts that typically come through. That’s been nice.

Gojira were very polite, which stood in contrast to their precise and pulverizing metal. Their French accents were cute. I don’t know if Courtney Barnett spoke or sang or mumbled or what, but whatever it was I couldn’t understand it but totally loved it (as always). Crystal Castles were Canadian, and I also saw Phantogram. Both were about as antiseptic as expected.

Along with Barnett, the Sound on Sound Fest one-day pass also provided close access to a rock legend (Bob Mould) and a local legend (Explosions in the Sky). The latter was the clear highlight of the fall for live music. These guys’ near-telepathic chemistry and their mastery of dynamics was put over the top by the coolest light show I have ever seen (thanks, weather).

Personally, it has been a crushing few months, but discovering new music and seeing old favorites is a helpful tonic. Listen to some of what I have been listening to, if you d/care.

Open Playlist (Google Play)

Best Albums of 2016


Everyone would agree that twenty sixteen was a year that brought upon us newfound self-pity, self-doubt, and self-reflection, all with a loss of how to react or cope with the current state of things. No matter your personal opinions with whether we are in an incline or decline of western civilization we all can come together and agree that we are living in the first days of a new world. How you interpret those first days of the rest of our life is up for interpretation.

Politics provide a framework to divide. Social issues, largely, are defined as being a separating line between us all. The simplest way that I have found to manage my collective frustrations, or celebrations, have been through the art of music. I have not perfected the craft of creating music, so I have, for some time, resorted to finding the music that best speaks to me to interpret the words and feelings that I have inside. Whether it be through the melodies or the words, each of these albums have helped me through this trying year.

The following albums are ones that I have enjoyed and wanted to share with those that care to listen.

First, my five honorable mentions:

The Lumineers | Cleopatra

YG | Still Brazy

Juvenilia | Juvenilia

Cymbals Eat Guitars | Pretty Years

Nice As F*ck | Nice As F*ck

Now, here is the countdown of my favorite records of the year:

20 Ultimate Painting | Dusk


This is a record from some guys from the UK bringing us rock music in tune to the 1960s.  The most enjoyable moments in music are when you can witness someone recreate something old and make it new again, and I like the cover art font choice.

stand outs:  Bills, Monday Morning, Song For Brian Jones


19 Communist Daughter | The Cracks That Built the Wall


The stumbling upon Communist Daughter is solely the responsibility of my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist.  If you are confused by that opening statement then do yourself a favor and Google it.  You can thank me later…and, your welcome.  The melancholy tone to the stripped down emotion within this record is difficult to forget.  The tattered wellbeing of the singer is front and center in the lyrics of the songs on The Cracks That Built the Wall and I hope that future Communist Daughter records start to reflect the positive progress to the mental state of the lead vocalist.

stand outs:  Hold Back, Balboa Bridge, Sunday Morning Again


18 Sioux Falls | Rot Forever


Sioux Falls is for when you want to listen to some classic Modest Mouse or Built to Spill, but with new perspective and fresh blood.  There are several epic 6 to 7 minute tracks on Rot Forever that easily become the soundtrack to the background of your afternoon.  The ambition of this record are admirable and definitely worth checking out.

stand outs:  3fast, Dom, In Case It Gets Lost


17 Milk Teeth | Vile Child


If the XX ditched the DJ and adopted an actual drum set, infatuation for the 80s, and some screamo then you end up with Milk Teeth.  The UK still knows how to breed good punk bands.

stand outs:  Brickwork, Brain Food, Get A Clue


16 The Lowest Pair | Fern Girl & Ice Man and Uncertain As It Is Uneven


Banjo’s, a beard, and that trendy guy/girl dual vocal.  This kind of music reminds me of my late grandfather.  Not because he played a banjo or that he had a beard (he did not), but because his love for music represents to me the foundation of music that this record builds upon.  I used to seek this genre out for the sake of remembrance, but now it has easily become part of my taste in music.  I call it a win-win, and with 2 records released by The Lowest Pair this year it helps solidifying them as one of my favorites.

stand outs:  Sweet Breath, Mason’s Trowel, The River Will


15 Hope Sandoval & the Warm Intentions | Until the Hunter


I should preface this with saying that I wouldn’t have thought to like or listen to Hope Sandoval if it weren’t for my incredible wife.  I tend to dominate the speakers at home with my fairly annoying selections, but sometimes I’ll forfeit control for the sake of a good recommendation.  Thanks, Nicole, this was a good listen.  To summarize, it would benefit to include that with a guest vocal of my favorite singer of 2015 on one of the tracks helps with my liking of this record as well.

stand outs:  Let Me Get There, A Wonderful Seed, Into The Trees


14 Third Eye Blind | We Are Drugs


Personally, it is simple to write about Third Eye Blind.  It is comforting, for some reason, to listen to Stephen Jenkins lispfully sing over tracks that take you back to 1998.  The ironic part here is that there really hasn’t been a good album since Kevin Cadogen left the band in 1999.  With that being said, and with the addition of some new 20somethings to the band’s lineup, 3eb has finally put together a record that is good again.  After listening to it, my first thought is:  “I’d totally purchase a Steph Jenkins rap album!”  Jenkins can’t sing, but he can write a killer pop record.

stand outs:  Cop vs Phone Girl, Company Of Strangers, Isn’t It Pretty


13 Michael Kiwanuka | Love & Hate


I’m super white.  Ask my wife.  My overcompensation this year to be more musically diverse has been very refreshing and has come with a more diverse list of favorites.  The future of music has offered the ability to expand yourself as a music fan as you digitally explore artists similar to those that you already listen to.  Kiwanuka is one of my favorite self-discoveries and this record that brought me to him will remain a personal favorite of mine.

stand outs:  Love & Hate, Black Man In A White World, Father’s Child


12 Saint Motel | saintmotelevision


To represent my absolute whiteness, Saint Motel has become part of the soundtrack of my life in 2016.  “Gotta get up, gotta get up, MOVE!” has become the single lyric to keep me going.  Dancing with my kids to LA2NY in the living room while my wife shakes her head and laughs has given new reason to enjoy indie dance pop music again.

stand outs:  Move, Born Again, Local Long Distance Relationship (LA2NY)


11 Wye Oak | Tween


Tween happens to be that abbreviated record that takes you to a place where you want to be when you are somewhere that you don’t.  The quilted musical atmosphere within Tween will be doubled down as you find yourself instinctually starting the record over when it suddenly ends.

stand outs:  Watching The Waiting, If You Should See, Trigger Finger


10 Starflyer 59 | Slow


Bands from my adolescence always seem to sneak themselves into my current playlists, and it only benefits the playlist when those bands release new music that is good.  I started to lose interest in SF59 for awhile, but came back when I heard Slow.  It’s nostalgic in every sense of the word, and even Jason Martin admits to his enjoyment of losing himself in that euphoric feeling.

stand outs:  Wrongtime, Slow, Retired

9 Future of the Left | The Peace & Truce Of Future of the Left


If you know me at all you are aware that I like to make bizarre comparisons of the up-and-coming to those that have already been; Future Of The Left is basically a hardcore Ted Leo.  Being a fan of the latter I have found it satisfying to listen to post punk versions of Me and Mia with fists pumping.

stand outs:  Back When I Was Brilliant, Miner’s Gruel, The Limits Of Battleships


8 DIIV | Is The Is Are


Getting lost in music happens to be a favorite pastime of mine.  DIIV gives us an overly ambitious effort of a record with Is The Is Are.  As their second release, it feels like they have maintained a permanent position in the corner of the mainstay of post-shoegaze.  I’m pretty certain that the Roman Numeral for how many times this record kicks ass is DIIV.

stand outs:  Dopamine, Under The Sun, Healthy Moon


7 The Lippies | The Lippies


This debut is reminiscent of last year’s Imaginary Life by Worriers; punk rock at it’s least common denominator.  During the latter weeks of 2016 I found myself in a car a lot and the tracks on this record helped the dashed yellow line on my left pass a bit quicker.  Fans of punk rock need to be listening to The Lippies.

stand outs:  302, As We Fall, Fuck The Customer


6 NoFX | First Ditch Effort


NOFX is one of those bands that helped define who I am as a fan of music.  They were one of the first punk bands that I got into and paved the way toward the slippery slope.  Fat Mike, as offbeat and strange as he may be, will always have dibs with a place in the answer of the question “who are your top 3 favorite musicians?”  First Ditch Effort rips off the scabs and exposes the scars and pains that previous records have not.  The passing of another one of my adolescent favorite punk rock vocalist, Tony Sly, has helped contribute to Fat Mike’s introspective nature on I’m So Sorry Tony.  The usual play on words still exist on this NOFX record, but the overall revelation of the importance of expressing the feelings that are inside seem to be calling shotgun in Fat Mike’s joy ride of juvenile delinquency.

stand outs:  Oxy Moronic, Six Years On Dope, I’m So Sorry Tony


5 The Hotelier | Goodness


At this point it doesn’t even matter if a good rock band is emo or not.  Sometimes good music is just that – good.  On the coattails of bands such as Thrice, Brand New, and Jimmy Eat World is seems that being considered relevant beyond the established realm of the genre of emo is a difficult achievement to hold.  The Hotelier, with Goodness, have made the genre relevant again by exposing the bare elements of the music they embody with their music as well as with some revealing cover art that embodies the bare elements of an aging generation.

stand outs:  Goodness Pt. 2, Piano Player, Soft Animal

4 Car Seat Headrest | Teens Of Denial


This year Car Seat Headrest seems to be the critic’s choice for best underground indie pick for their own “best-of” lists.  Turns out that they are correct with this one.  A short Google search will help you find out that this is Car Seat’s 12th album since 2010, and the first one released on a label.  At 23 I was delivering pizza, and this guy is delivering songs written and performed better than his peers and influences are.  There is so much record to get lost in while listening to several of the tracks that feel like what could have been a couple different albums entirely.  Regardless, in the end it feels good to know that there is a bright side to an aging Bright Eyes (refer to a later installment).

stand outs:  Fill In The Blank, (Joe Gets Kicked Out Of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t A Problem), Vincent

3 Conor Oberst | Ruminations


Last year one of my favorite records was from the Desaparecidos led by Conor Oberst fueled by the fire lit beneath his ass.  This year he surprises with a somber return with a collection of intimate songs sung over a single guitar, an occasion piano, and harmonica in a way that only would be suitable for an aging Bright Eye.  As the music industry fades and becomes relatively unnecessary, the indie voices that just missed their opportunity are reaching their middle ages.  Conor Oberst, here, opens up himself with intimate subjects of depression, self-mutilation, and giving up presented on display with quiet renditions of subdued musical arrangements.  This is easily my favorite Oberst album so far.

stand outs:  Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out, Counting Sheep, Tachycardia


2 L.A. Salami | Dancing With Bad Grammar


The vivid storytelling ability within the lyrics of Dancing With Bad Grammar is enough to include this as one of my favorite records.  Salami has a unique way with words that could be given a humble comparison to Elliott Smith and Bob Dylan.  Tracks needing attention due to the exposition of words are Day To Day (For 6 Days A Week) & Loosely On My Mind. While most records nowadays pack a swift punch in just over 30 minutes this one is almost three times that long, but after listening you will understand why it was necessary.  The dense prose that are sung over music so soothing you fail to realize the weight of the topics being sung about.  This is singer-songwriting at it’s finest!

stand outs:  I Wear This Because Life Is War!, The City Nowadays, Day To Day (For 6 Days A Week)

1 Da’ T.R.U.T.H. | It’s Complicated


It’s a hard time to be religious right now.  2016 has surprised me with the complications that it brought.  Questions that I thought were answered have come back at me with second guesses.  Everything from theology, to social issues, and political parameters have drafted the pages that have defined my second guessing.  This record has provided me new hope in the meaning of what it means to be a Christian and what it means to be real.  It reminds me that I am not the only one questioning things wondering if what I believe is what should be.  Judging by the state of the world I doubt that things will get easier, but I stand here with raised hands hoping that with troubled times comes a new awakening.  Not only is my favorite record this year from a Christian artist, but it is also rap.  Each one of the tracks on It’s Complicated speaks so true within me that it was without struggle to decide that this was my favorite of 2016.  May God Bless America and have mercy on us all.

stand outs:  Religion, Judge, Color Purple




I used to write songs. I would sing them alone in my bedroom. Some of them were sad. Some of them were triumphant. Mostly, they were not that good, or else I would not have forgotten them.

I cannot even remember the words, much less the chords. Just little snippets. And the memory of singing them alone in my bedroom. It was cathartic somehow, or therapeutic.

I wish I remembered those songs. Or remembered how to make them up.

Instead, I listen to lots of songs, especially while driving. Last month, I drove a lot. I also went to a few shows. I saw Joanna Newsom in a far-too-stuffy room and I saw an awesome triple-billing of psych-rock while standing in the sweltering late-summer Texas heat. I also saw Crystal Castles and a couple songs from the Old 97s in the famous Studio 1A at KUTX.

So I made a playlist of songs from those artists (accept Joanna Newsome, because Spotify) and some of the songs that are speaking to me right now. I hope you like them. I am seeing Gojira in a couple of days. Maybe I will write a blog post about it, since I have forgotten how to write songs.

Brand New – single and tour

I actually believe that middle-aged angst is more genuine and immediate than the early-life variety that most of us leave behind sometime after college.

Brand New, a band well-versed in the disenchantment of Gen X nihilism, returned last year with a caustic new single “Mene” and dropped an official release of the long-circulated Leaked Demos 2006 earlier this year.

Now, on the verge of a tour with Modest Mouse, Brand New unleash “I Am A Nightmare” on an unsuspecting world busy debating about Donald Trump, Blake Lively and other innocuous entertainment drivel.

3:20 of romantic miscreantry.

“I am a nightmare and you are a miracle.”

“Shake your zen out and give me pure energy.”

Yes! Indeed.


06-01-02 Vancouver, British Columbia – Vogue Theatre
06-04 Edmonton, Alberta – Union Hall
06-05 Calgary, Alberta – Macewan Hall Ballroom
06-06 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – O’Brians Event Centre
06-09-10 Toronto, Ontario- Sound Academy
06-11 Montreal, Quebec – Olympia De Montreal
06-28 Magna, UT – Saltair *
06-29 Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre *
07-01 Bonner Springs, KS – Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre *
07-02 Chicago, IL Firstmerit Bank, Pavilion *
07-03 Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre *
07-05 Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE *
07-06 Cary, NC – Koka Booth Amphitheater *
07-08 Miami, FL – Bayfront Park Amphitheater *
07-09 Tampa, FL – MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre *
07-10 Atlanta, GA – Chastain Park Amphitheater *
07-12 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion *
07-14 New York, NY – Madison Square Garden *
07-15 Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Center *
07-16 Philadelphia, PA – Mann Center for Performing Arts *
07-19 Nashville, TN – Ascend Amphitheater *
07-21 Tulsa, OK – Bok Center *
07-22 Grand Prairie, TX – Verizon Field *
07-23 Del Valle, TX – Austin360 Amphitheater *
07-25 Phoenix, AZ – Comerica Theater *
07-26 Chula Vista, CA – Sleep Train Amphitheatre *
07-27 Inglewood, CA – The Forum *
07-28 Berkeley, CA – Greek Theater *
07-30 Seattle, WA – Keyarena *
07-31 Portland, OR – Moda Center *

Hammock – Everything and Nothing



I stumbled upon the meaning of adult life 9 years ago.

Not that I actually figured out much about what it all means. But my daughter, the one who’s unloading the dishwasher while I write this, was born and I was struck with the sudden epiphany of accountability.

hammock-600-4No excuses.

Lots of regrets.

Relentless pacing and emotional inventory.

Fierce belonging.

Explosive kindness.

Surprising mercy.

Hammock has spent the last 11 years soundtracking those kind of moments for thousands of completely unrelated stories from completely divergent individuals. J Edward Keyes writes “one of the most remarkable things about the Nashville duo Hammock has been their ability to almost uncannily translate the pulse and fiber of human emotion into actual chords and melodies.”

I couldn’t ever hope to improve on that sentence. http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=4067613091/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/

I don’t want to go into the details… The music tells the story. Throughout our body of work, we’ve lived with ghosts, not disembodied spirits, but the ghost-like memories of those who disappeared.  We’ve composed and sung songs to the dearly departed, passed over into oblivion with hymns of finite longing.  All the while inhabiting our own impermanence… in endless distraction from the whole catastrophe… Until it all became too much.  It was time to face life on life’s terms. – Marc Byrd