Last Night at the Ventura Underground

Cory and I have been bumming around southern CA for a couple days, and we played last night with Derek at the Ventura underground.  I told Cory as we drove to the gig that I was pretty excited; with the addition of the Ventura songs, I was finally feeling like I had a set of playable echoes music that would sound good acoustic.

It seemed to work, I started the night with almost an hour of songs from nickel, Be A Ska Rat, Ventura, a couple other new things, and Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.”  It felt good, and the crowd seemed to have a good time through it.  I haven’t felt this good about a set since I really wrecked someplace with Scott (I’d have to look at the show archive on to tell you when that was).  Hopefully I’ll make the time to play more, buoyed by last night’s experience.

Cory and I overlapped, playing Sally Ride’s “Headbone,” Shacker’s “Fully OK,” and Ventura‘s “Coast & Plains” together.  He followed it with a solid group of Beach-Puppy/Axeface songs.  Low-heat microphones meant that he was soft, and the audience responded with a consistent hush and increased attendance to songs like “Nature vs. Nurture” and “Where Did I Go Wrong?”

Derek slayed.  A mix of stuff from D-Rockets, The Ashtray Life, and even a Return song (“You’ve grown up like me / between the desert and the sea…”).  I’m the first to say that the Return is a musical force to be reckoned with, but it’s still a shame that Derk probably doesn’t have more time to spend in an acoustic setting.  I was thoroughly in to his set, sitting back and soaking it in.

We’ve made some new friends this weekend, and had a rad night of music and good times.  I’m really happy that MFR can host a night of our music with three different artists and three twisty twists on the acoustic sound.  -h

"A Wind I Can Lean Into" Listening

Today, I’m sure I’ve heard Bike’s new album as much as anyone else in the world, except for Nate.  I love it and I think there are some really interesting things happening with it from an aesthetic point of view, so I will share some of what I hear when I listen to A Wind I Can Lean In To.

1- “Someone’s at my door” – The title makes this a perfect start to a record.  When someone comes to your door, it’s the start of something; a day in the life, a night out, but something both fairly typical and potentially exciting, even life-changing.  Also, the track sounds like chiming doorbells.  If I could, I would re-wire my apartment’s doorbell to play this song, and invite people over just to hear it.

2 – 4- These songs all include a theme of loss: “Separation…”, a “Requiem”, and a child whose mother is gone.  What kind of beginning is this?  But there’s some sense of peace in the middle of the emptiness.  The background synth-slides in “A wind I can lean into” foreshadow “The horror!”.

5- At unpredictable times, in the middle of my day, I sometimes find myself singing “Doo doo doot-doo!” over and over.

6- “My blood, my bones” has become one of my favorite Bike songs.  It’s amazing to me how this song and “Requiem” can both be perfectly Bike, different-sounding as they are, and belong together like they do.  I wonder how this relates to “Song for a motherless child.”

7- Pure turbo-awesomeness.  Triumphant.  Exuberant.

9- Here’s a song where Nate’s acoustic side and synth side dovetail really well.  Lyrically it connects to the album’s theme.

11- Another synthesis, this time between electric guitar and vocals, which we haven’t heard in combination like this before.  I love the sort of circular/cyclical riff, the way its end bleeds back into its beginning an octave higher.

12- “This is where we die” – The title brings everything full circle, from beginning “…at my door” to an ending.  Musically, it’s like nothing else in the Bike catalog, and the warped piano conjures images of a long-lost, glamorous movie past slipping away; aging actress and again reel-to-reel film machine dying together.


Cory Alan wrote a [blog] a few weeks ago about making MFR mix CDs, and I’ve been pondering more seriously since then about what a MFR compilation might aim for.  A good mix should introduce everybody in an order that makes sense musically, and perhaps chronologically.  What if we took a song from every release, in reverse order; beginning with the newest?

(I realize that Lone Wolf, Robot Creep Closer’s EP, and Benjamin Axeface’s EP aren’t out yet… but for the future’s sake, let’s include them for discussion.)

I’ve done my list, and posted it in comments below (with a couple question marks).  The albums in reverse order are listed below, to help jog your memory.  I expect to actually burn a fair number of these mixes, so weigh in with your thoughts and ideas – if you like, you might even use the same (or a similar) list for your friends.

Lone Wolf
A Wind…
Be A Ska Rat
Sally Ride
Lady Luck
Nebraska Verses
Furious Instance
Creepy Eepy
How Is That Possible
The Dimly Lit Room
Knowing Her Best

Website Changes, New Buttons, Other News

A host of updates on different fronts this morning; continues to evolve with the new WordPress system.  Major changes last night include adding the “Last Five Posts” section and making the “MUSIC Category Archive” the front page (instead of the last five posts…  you see the logic here).  Moved the album art to the right side for clarity.  I will still be messing with smaller formatting things this weekend, but step-by-step we are massaging the site into doing what we want.  Thanks to all who have been using the new commenting system!  Slick, eh?!

New music is ready, including echoes’ Tonight The Lone Wolf Rides Alone, Benjamin Axeface’s EP, and Robot, Creep Closer!’s demo EP.  We are awaiting artwork, and will release one of these shortly.

New buttons are in the mail from NOBS – see me for one.  Three new designs, including the Be A Ska Rat cover, and the “MR” logo in mint green and light pink (i.e. the website colors).

The Farewell has our first show as a newly re-memembered five-piece on St. Patrick’s Day in Wichita, KS.  I’ll be rocking Melisabeth Wright’s own personal CASIO onstage!  We sound like… The French Kicks + U2 + Tom Petty.  Is that possible???  The show is with a national band and a popular Wichita band, so I’ve heard it will sell out; if anyone dreams of going, get in touch with me soon: (we’ll be playing in KC very soon).


Good Shows to Hear This Weekend


i was goofing around the Live Music Archive at last night, and found some good shows that you might be interested in streaming or downloading if you’re just hanging out.  there are tons of shows (Mike Doughty’s got 50 or so up!) but these are ones i’ve found are worth multiple listens.

Mike Doughty –
Ted Leo + the Pharmacists –
Elliot Smith –
Death Cab for Cutie – (this may not be their best sounding show on the archive, but the setlist is very close to what they played when i saw them with Jim and Till in December)
The Frames – this was done by the band themselves, and is really great sounding)

you can brows the live music archive yourself at