Songs, guitars, vocals – Howie Howard and Cory Kibler
Vocals – Doug Dodson, Mary Howard, Cari Ann Kreienhop, Brendan Scott, Tara Varney
Flute – Tim Gillespie
Bass, drums, synth, organ – Howie Howard
Cover photoKevin Walsh, under this CC license
Casting – Jill Gillespie

“Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine” is not licensed under the Creative Commons license that covers the other parts of this album.

FURIOUS INSTANCE / Mr. Furious Records

DOWNLOAD ALL via .zip from

85- Khan’s Awesome SongKhan! The Musical, 2010 December 26
86- Blame It On The Beer – Arturo Got The Shaft, 2009 January 31
87- Cooky – Sally Ride, 2008 October 18
88- Lost – Sally Ride, 2008 October 18
89- Buttons on a Track Girl’s Boy Shorts – Robot, Creep Closer! from “She Beeps,” 2006 August 12
90- Disagree (live on KDNE) – Iris Avenue, 2006 May 5
91- Coast & Plains – echoes, from the “Tonight the Lone Wolf Rides… Alone” sessions, 2006 March 29
92- Pretending To Break Strings – Cory Kibler from the “We Have Uh-Oh” sessions, 2006 March 29
93- Tweaky (live) – Sally Ride, 2006 January 2
94- Consticulated Juncture – Iris Avenue, 2005 October 30
95- Try Harder Or Not At All – Cory Kibler, 2005 July 20
96- There’s Something More To Be Said – Cory Kibler, 2005 July 20
97- I Don’t Even Know How Right This Sounds (live) – echoes, 2005 April 25
98- Was I In Bon Jovi For A Second There? – howie&scott from “b.sides” EP, 2005 March 19
99- Lunch By Yourself – Gilby, 2005 February 7

(Formerly: 88- Built For It – The Sleepover from “When Bands Have Attractive And/Or Cool-Looking Members, People Care More Than They Would Otherwise, All Things Being Equal” EP, 2008 May 3)

Best Records We Heard In 2010

20. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire – The highs are so high – “We Used To Wait,” “City With No Children,” and the unstoppable “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” – it doesn’t matter that the album as a whole sprawls like its subject.  What could have been a predictable polemic on the inner and outer rings many of us occupy is, instead, a diverse set of snapshots that resist quick judgments.  Arcade Fire is now three-for-three, and practically indie rock perennials at this point; let’s not under-appreciate them (as that other band you can set your watch by, Spoon, seems to have been this year).

19. This Is Happening – LCD Soundsystem – If James Murphy & Co. end their run here as reported, it caps an impeccable 3-album streak. The bangers (“Dance Yrself Clean,” “One Touch,” “Home”) groove as hard as anything in their catalog. LCD Soundsystem’s penchant for breaking the fourth wall also reaches its peak here; from the breezily self-referential “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House,” we’ve come all the way to “You Wanted A Hit,” where self-awareness upstages the song itself.  In a few songs like that, Murphy’s lyrics have become the main course instead of a spice, and they aren’t enough to hang the weight of a whole track on, keeping this record out of my top 5. -h

18. Age of Adz – Sufjan Stevens – I don’t understand this record yet. It’s overwhelming, it’s occasionally frustrating, and it sweeps me off to some other headspace. Seems like I’m always doing something weird when I decide to listen to it, or maybe it’s that it makes whatever I’m doing feel a bit weird. I would say it’s one of those that everyone should hear once, exceptonce simply can’t do right by it. “Adz’s” spot on the list is because, whatever else it is or becomes for me, it’s a capital-A musical Accomplishment. -h

17. History of Forgotten Things – Jed Whedon & the Willing – I can’t add much to my MR|review, except that it continues to hold a place in my regular rotation. -h

16. Maximum Balloon – Maximum Balloon – Critical consensus was that Dave Sitek’s solo-plus-guest-vocalists work as Maximum Balloon was TV on the Radio Lite. I think that reflects a shallow listen; this album is poppier and cleaner than his full-time band, but equally creative and an outstanding listen.  Opener “Groove Me,” in particular, has been in heavy rotation for me, but Maximum Balloon is one sexy chunk of smart pop from top to bottom. -h

15. Together – The New Pornographers – After the exuberance of “Electric Version,” which I picked up earlier this year, “Together” was a grower, but after living with it for a few months it has fully flowered as a complex, but still immediate, pop record. -h

14. Body Talk – Robyn – Along with the rest of the hipster nation, I nominate Robyn for the place in mass culture currently occupied by half a hundred interchangable electro-pop songstresses. This record can be our Madonna, our U2, and our Michael Jackson all in one for 2011. -h

13. Lisbon – The Walkmen – I’ve been a casual Walkmen fan until this year, but I’ve become an evangelist for this record.  Perfectly sparse, hauntingly melodic, it’s a union of craft and small moments writ with wide emotion that was unequaled in 2010. -h

12. Astral Weeks – Van Morrison – Like I’m going to say about another record coming up, this one has been reviewed almost to death.  But I always liked Van Morrison, and figured I should pick up the album he made that everyone considers his 100% essential classic can’t-live-without record.

I am not sure what I expected; maybe I thought it would be racked with songs like “Domino” or “Brown Eyed Girl.” But this record isn’t really a pop record at all, almost. It’s more of a long jam session with lots of improvisation and mournful melodies. It’s a gorgeous record, and all the tracks seem to sort of blend in together with each other. But it’s inspiring, and it’s heartbreaking, and more than anything, it shows off what an absolutely amazing vocalist and lyricist Van Morrison is/was. I still can’t quite get over how unique his voice sounds on this meandering soul-folk record, especially on songs like “Madame George,” which I think is my favorite.

I am not sure if this record is as essential as everyone says it is, because I’m not sure if everyone would (or should) like it. But I think I get it. -Cory

11. Survival Story – Flobots – Cory’s been on me about Flobots for a while (full disclosure; he knows and hangs out with some band members semi-regularly), but after seeing them –kill– at a free all-ages warm-up show in KC this year, I got it.  It took a room full of kids responding to this band and vice versa in a way that is honest, precious, and too rare, but I got it.  “Survival Story” plays to Flobots’ strengths: aggressive live-band hip-hop jams, progressive rhymes, passion born of conviction coupled with openness to others and our ideas, and an intangible sort of “we’re all in this together” community spirit.  A couple standout tracks, “If I” and “Whip$ and Chain$,” push in a soul-influenced direction that I hope they’ll continue to explore.  It’s not a perfect record; I always skip “Superhero,” and the hook on “Good Soldier” has two extraneous notes (“…again”) that drive me nuts.  But consider this an invitation; see them before you form an opinion, and see if they don’t draw you in.  -h

10. What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood – Mynabirds –  The Mynabirds are an Omaha band by way of DC, and the main songwriter, Laura Burhenn, writes songs that are at once totally new and interesting and original but also instantly nostalgic. This record’s production is fucking rad and perfect for this kind of music; you want to say you’ve heard these songs before, because the tactics used on this record (the guitar sounds, the bled-together-sounding soul techniques, the soulful vocals, the falsetto background vocals) are familiar, but they aren’t really used anymore. On top of that, she’s written a bunch of amazingly unique songs that, if recorded differently, could have sounded like a hundred other indie releases this year.

This record works perfectly because it’s an epic blend of honest-to-goodness genuine soul music and lovely pop music. “L.A. Rain” sort of sounds like a song that’s been in played in movies and at wedding receptions for 40 years, and could easily be amongst classic soul songs without any disruption. I think the challenge for her will be to switch it up on the record to keep her aesthetic fresh. I’m thinking she could make a big riff-record. Possibly with dance-synths. And 100 backup dancers on each song (you can really hear the dancing). -Cory

9. High Violet – The National – Reviews of High Violet tended to stress its continuity with The National’s previous records, “Alligator” and “Boxer,” but I heard it as a subtle, but giant, leap ahead. Those records are fantastic indie rock music. The first time I heard “High Violet,” it sounded like just music, unbounded by genre or instrumentation or history. It was raw and pure, and as each song built and ended I didn’t know what I would hear next.  Even though I try not to be too jaded in general, exhilaration is a rare emotion for me to have with a record.  I found it here.  -h

8. Everything In Between – No Age – I kind of thought No Age would gradually get poppier and a little tighter and more produced, since that’s just sort of what bands do, especially as they have more access to gear and studios and engineers and stuff. Plus I think No Age has a third member now, helping them flesh shit out.

What I was pleasantly surprised at was how well it suits them; I always figured that a big part of their appeal for me was the fact that their albums sounded like live recordings, or even one-mic basement recordings. I thought better production make them lose some of their charm. But with this record, I feel like they’ve found the perfect balance between their brand of fuzz-weirdo-punk and their minimal recording aesthetic.

Everything I liked about their music before is still there (the really weird and beautiful effects; the really weird and beautiful vocals; the really weird and beautiful guitar solos and drum sounds); they’ve just clarified it a bit for us. I think if they kept getting less scuzzy an more glossy, they might eventually become less exciting, but I could also see them somehow having a hit single that played on “True Blood” or some shit. They could be the band that shocks/pleases their old fans while completely blowing the minds of their new ones. They could be the band that brings this kind of music into the mainstream arena. I’d be just fine with that. -Cory

7. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy / G.O.O.D. Fridays – Kanye West – Everyone has already said just about everything one could possibly say about this record; it was highly anticipated for artistic and sociological reasons (this is Kanye’s return to hip-hop from “808s and Heartbreaks;” this is first record since his total meltdown; his personal tragedies; etc.). Everyone was waiting to see if his arrogance and creative genius would continue to produce instant-classic albums. If there ever was a record whose reception was based on and wholly intermingled with everyone’s expectations of it, I think this is it.

Despite everyone’s astute observation that this album is really weird and creative and fun and lyrically schizophrenic, and despite that fact that I DO enjoy the record quite a bit, I feel like the most honest thing I can say about it is that it’s a really, really good hip-hop record. A lot of critics are calling this the most important record ever, giving it a 156% out of 100%, and letting the record sleep with their girlfriend. What I think they’re missing is that this wasn’t even the best hip-hop record to come out this year. Howie’s gonna cover this, but I think Big Boi, for example, knocked it out of the park even harder and with less flaws.

Some of the weird shit on Kanye’s record that everyone is praising, I think comes across as cheesy/sloppy. I don’t know who sings the “Oh oh oh”s on the first track, but it’s too much: it sounds like someone’s doing a cartoon voice. Nicki Minaj has a great verse on “Monster,” but she (even more so than Lady GaGa) seems to epitomize the “Being weird is really big right now so I am going to be really weird all the time and see how far that gets me” approach. And she’s obviously a good rapper; I am not sure why she has to go all over the place with her vocal affectations. And can I say that I’m not a big fan of fake British accents?

Finally, for the list of guest stars Kanye’s got on this record, I think they’re underutilized. I think he could have made a better record by making the songs shorter and taking out the vocorder solos (????) and letting his buddies shine a little more. That all being said, it’s on this list for a reason. Kanye West is one of the best rappers/producers out there, and this album is just as fun to listen to as Graduation or Late Registration; I think selfishly, I just want him to dial it back a little bit and make another College Dropout.  -Cory

A “really, really good hip-hop record” and an “instant classic” are the last things I’d call “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” which suggests a reason for all the ink spilled over it; it’s a Rorschach test.  Between “…Fantasy” and the free releases on the “G.O.O.D. Fridays” series, Kanye’s had as productive a year as anyone else in the game, and it’s the struggle to grasp his music in 2010, rather than its ultimate cultural status or aesthetic quality, that earns it a place on my list.  No one has challenged me more this year, precisely because I’m not sure yet whether this album is at all classic or really good.

Kanye’s ego gets most of the attention, but it’s his uninhibited expression of id that raise questions for me.  Do I identify with this?  If so, what does that mean?  If not, does it suggest I’m afraid of something in myself it’s hard to see expressed?  This has always been a part of Kanye’s music, but it’s never been this raw, with fewer of those classic hip-hop signifiers running interference, allowing me to enjoy records like “Late Registration” without being too disquieted.  Together, “…Fantasy” and “…Fridays” are an amazing body of work by a man who is both pop star and artist, and I’ll be wrestling with it long after the year-end lists and blogs have moved on. -h

6. Sir Lucious Left Foot… The Son of Chico Dusty – Big Boi – This one caught me by surprise; I expected a solid record, but I hadn’t bargained for the schizo-bounce, the neutron star-density of the rhymes, or the out-sized hooks. Whether you kick back, lace up, or buckle in, enjoy. -h

5. Transference – Spoon – Simultaneously deconstructing their indie-iconic sound and hitting all their marks on “Transference,” Spoon make it seem easy.  But it isn’t. -h

4. The Fame – Lady GaGa – As opposed to my #2 pick this year, this record is immaculate pop music produced with a top-40 gloss in mind. What sets Lady GaGa’s record apart from a ton of other big pop acts is that she clearly cares a LOT about ingenuity and progress.

I think a lot of people like her because her music sounds like the other really fun dance music that’s out, and they’re just hearing the big beats and wacky synths. That’s a big part of why I like her music, but I also hear immensely well-written songs! I feel like when/if these songs are performed acoustically, the beauty and the originality is still there; it’s not just a mediocre album dressed up with party beats and autotuned vocals; it’s 10 amazing pop songs that also happen to be fun as shit to listen to and perfect for pants-off-dance-offs.

Part of me gets a little peeved when she’s obviously just being weird for the sake of being weird. I feel like that detracts from her songwriting sometimes, as if she’s trying to make up for a lack of talent. But when I hear songs like “Paparazzi” and “Starstruck,” I am impressed every time with her sense of melody and transition. And my pants are usually danced all the way off.   -Cory

3. How I Got Over – The Roots – The increasingly desperate and hungry emotional arc from “Game Theory” (2006) and “Rising Down” (2008) reaches the breaking point on “Now or Never,” almost midway through this record.  The next song, “How I Got Over,” points ways forward both for the implicit narrative of the albums, and for The Roots themselves, as they write their way out of the dark corner they’d painted themselves into.  The rest of the album sounds like a band of kids exploring sound and following whatever catches their ears, but with the experience and chops of true pros. I love this record on its own terms, but the way the band wrote themselves out of the situation they were in prior to it makes it amazing. -h

2. Astrocoast – Surfer Blood – It was awesome when Pitchfork still had their agreement with InSound: if you read a review of an album or a track and you thought it sounded cool, you could just scroll to the right and click “play,” and listen to it as much as you wanted. I remember reading the review for this record and thinking that I would love it, solely based off of the review. It said something like, “This is a great guitar album like Weezer’s The Blue Album,” and I figured if it was anything like that record, I’d probably be pretty stoked.

When I clicked “play” and heard the first few bars of “Floating Vibes,” it was love at first peep. I understand why people compare this band to Weezer and Pavement: they play riff-driven rock music with big melodies and guitar solos (where have they gone, anyhow?). On paper, I supposed they’re very similar. But things that drew me in were more universal, and less specific to a small group of bands.

Simply, the melodies are amazing. They’re the type of melodies you can instantly sing along to, but that aren’t contrived or predictable or obvious. This is my favorite type of melody, and this is my favorite part of listening to music. Also, the production was another huge factor. They self-recorded this record as bands are often wont to do, and they caught the absolute perfect mix of scuzz, reverb, low-end, lo-fi surf garage-pop-rock awesomeness. More and more, I find myself most impressed with pop music that’s produced as if it weren’t pop music at all. Surfer Blood embodies that sentiment for me. They’re not pop-punk; they’re punk-pop.  -Cory

1. Contra – Vampire Weekend – Cory suggested I write about our top pick, since I was a late convert to the charms of 2008’s self-titled record.  The band doubled down on their aesthetic this year, turning the “Catchy melody,” “Weirdo sound,” and “Universal emotion via detailed snapshots” knobs each up a few notches.

What excites me most about Vampire Weekend is that these guys seem to have a rock-solid sense of themselves as a group.  “Contra” is an album made by men who are following their hearts and ears, regardless of what anyone is saying or expects or thinks they should do.  Not only has that made for our top record of the year, it’s a hopeful sign that they may have more in store for us.

Old school – I’ve been building my Beatles and Stones LPs up over the past two years, really, so 2010 I’ll designate the Year of David.  Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World,” “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars,” “Aladdin Sane,” and “Low” all made their way into my life this year, and I’m grateful to the artist, his band members over the years, and whatever gods of used vinyl have been smiling on me.  These should be on the list next to Cory’s “Astral Weeks,” but I just couldn’t find the right place; it felt like apples and oranges.  -h

Best Records We Heard In 2009 | 2008 | 2007

Best Music Drew Heard In 2009

Communion Soup

Even though I substitute black beans for the original recipe’s “lean beef stew meat (1 lb.)” in this soup, I keep the name because it’s part of this soup’s story. Communion soup comes from the ladies at the Goehner, NE United Church of Christ (1), where the Ghana Partnership Committee I’ve been a part of has met, and it’s how they use up the leftover communion wine. Smart. And delicious.

As with any soup, you can vary the ratios to taste.

[] 2 T extra virgin olive oil
[] 2 medium or large red onions, chopped
[] 8 cloves fresh or 1 T jarred minced garlic
[] veg broth (I use water as-needed and 2 cubes)
[] 2 cans corn
[] 2-3 cans black beans, rinsed & drained
[] 1 pkg. (12 oz.) white mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
[] 1 jar (15 1/2 oz.) spaghetti sauce
[] 1 cup red wine (or a little more… one for me, one for the soup)
[] salt to taste (or seasoned salt, such as Krazy Jane’s) (1 tsp.)
[] black pepper to taste (1 tsp.)
[] sugar to taste (1 tsp.)
[] soy sauce to taste (2 T)
[] fresh or dried parsley to taste (1 tsp. fresh, 1/2 tsp. dried)
[] nutmeg to taste (1/4 tsp.)
[] oregano to taste (1/2 tsp.)

Heat 2 T extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of your BAP (2) over medium heat. Add the onion; sautee. (I like to leave a little crunch in them.) When the onion is almost done, clear a hot spot in the bottom of the pan by pushing the onion to the edge, and add the garlic; sautee for a minute
or two, until fragrant.

Add corn, beans, spaghetti sauce, wine, veg broth (as much liquid as you like, when the other ingredients are in) and spices (everything but the mushrooms) (3). Heat through and simmer for at least 10 minutes; when you’re almost ready to eat, add mushrooms and let them cook for a few minutes; serve. This soup is great to pair with bread & cheese.

(1) Who got it from Joan Moss at Rowan Church, who got it from the Iowa State Fair, where Betty Dreyer of Indianola won first place in a slow cooker contest with it as “Beef & Corn Soup.”

(2) Big Ass Pot.

(3) Careful adding the first liquid to the hot pot. If you’re worried, you can turn of the heat for a bit before adding those ingredients.

Non-specific positive wishes for your winter non-denominational snow time

  • Finished mixing/mastering the original cast soundtrack recording for “Khan! The Musical” the other night, so that’s off my list.  We’ll be featuring one tune here as part of Furious Instance right after Dec. 25.
  • You Have To Wear The Boots – I’m still aiming for a 2010 release.
  • Am planning to release the first tracks from [band name officially TBD, formerly Fifty Bears in a Fight / Exploder Mode] before the spring semester starts.  We have six tracks basically done, and seven more in various stages of vocal recording / mixing.  I want to finish vocals on those before the semester, too.
  • Cory and I will have our Best We Heard in 2010 list up next week, to be followed at some point by Drew’s anti-list.  I hope you’re looking forward to that as much as I am.
  • Love.

Jimmy Eat World at the Midland Theater

Night one of The Buzz‘s holiday shows went off smoothly in the beautiful Midland Theater last night, dampened only by the disappointing absence of Sleigh Bells (1).  I love on-time sets and reasonable stage changes.

Jimmy Eat World pulled their set from their whole six-album catalog, smartly bookending it with hits from “Bleed American” and playing a track each from “Static Prevails” and “Clarity.”  (I would have voted for a couple more “Clarity” cuts, myself, but no complaints!)  We cheered for up-tempo hits from “Futures” and “Chase the Light,” and the crowd even seemed to know and respond to several tunes from this year’s “Invented.”  The band was looser than I expected – this being my first Jimmy show, I’d imagined them as a seamless pop production – and it worked well for them, demonstrating some personality that the airless back half of their discography lacks.

These guys are still have a sense of semi-awkward seventeen-year-old-ness about them: Jim kicking around stage and swinging his head around, Tom stoically strumming away at his SG (downstroke 8th notes are their stock in trade, almost to a fault, if they weren’t so influential), Zach’s short-sleeved plaid.  It was very humanizing; I like them more, having felt that.  An extra garage-y take on “Authority Song,” “by request” according to Jim, added to the impression; it looked like it had been a long time since the band played it, not really finding their way until the second verse, and it was fun to see for precisely that.

The show has left me listening to “Clarity” last night and “Bleed American” this morning, which I always think is one of the best things a concert can do.

Openers Free Energy, who I came in inclined to like, were much more classic guitar rock than their James Murphy-produced dance-rock record ever indicates.  They had heart, though, and seemed to be having a good time.  (The kick/bass mix was a problem all night; giant, thunderous kick drum drowning out the bass.  Unfortunately, all four bands’ bassists might as well have stayed home.  The Midland should address that immediately.)

Sleigh Bell-replacements Cage the Elephant were much better 20 years ago, when it was called the Pixies.  CA (2) pointed out the singer performed an amazing feat of balance, standing on the crowd’s upstretched hands during the last tune, to which I replied that when that’s the best thing about a band, it’s time to write some songs..  Dirty Head was fascinating as an argument for the perenniality of the stoned white guy reggae/rap thing, which I’d assumed peaked about 1995 with 311 (3); my mistake is no credit to their jams, though.

(1) Due to health issues.  Get well!

(2) Happy birthday!

(3) UPDATE: I’m afraid 311 came off much worse than I meant here. My point was that 311 hit on something cool in 1995, and it’s weird to me that what they did, which is very much of that particular time and place for me, is still resonating among the kids these days (4).

(4) This still doesn’t make Dirty Head any better, though.