Dan Nick Sean Mark Sam Tom

This new Nettles album is probably going to be really good. You should consider pre-ordering it on their Kickstarter, which ends in two days.


There was a time when I didn’t like Spoon. I think about that, and I think, who was I? And what was wrong with me?


"One True Vine" by Mavis Staples (Wilco cover)

I know I’ve already posted about this album, but it’s more beautiful each time I listen to it.

Sean and I were talking about the seeming mixture of genres—mostly gospel songs (or covers of songs that, originally, were nebulously biblical, but in Mavis’ hands become explicitly Christian), but with an apparent love song mixed in. But it’s not actually a love song.

Or not really, anyway. It may be about a lover, but it could easily be a friend. Regardless, she misses that person, feels loss, and hopes to see that person again. Perhaps the key to the song is noting that its title is “Jesus Wept.”

And that it’s followed by "Far Celestial Shore," a joyous anticipation of heaven, then "What Are They Doing There Now?" where Mavis wonders what her friends who have passed on are doing in heaven. Their “hearts were burdened with care,” their bodies full of disease, they were “poor and often despised.” And now they are in a place where “peace abounds like a river.”

So then. When did Jesus weep? When his friend Lazarus died. And even though Jesus had the power to bring his friend back—and shortly would do so—the sting of death struck him. Similarly, Mavis knows her friends are in heaven with Jesus, and she will be too one day, but the pain remains.

It’s beautiful.

As is the whole album. I’ve posted the closer, where she covers Wilco (again, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy produced this and her last album). The Wilco version is gorgeous in its own right, but I’m amazed at how tinny and insubstantial it now sounds to me in comparison. There’s nothing trivial in Mavis.


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In honor of Tom’s graduation, new baby, departure, and move.



Favorite Wailing Guitar Moment: “Myriad Harbor” New Pornographers

Right at 1:38. This was a really hard prompt! Deciding which facet of “wailing” on which to focus took 2 months. Not sure why this one emerged as the favorite. It’s not painstakingly difficult to play or complex in structure…

Sorry about this video. Pretty sure Dan Bejar did the whole thing himself.




"Every Step" by Mavis Staples

I ran into the Staples Singers while looking for some music for our study of the Civil Rights Movement, which reminded me that Mavis released a second album with Jeff Tweedy as producer that I hadn’t heard. It’s called One True Vine, and it’s pretty wonderful—maybe not as memorable or lasting as You Are Not Alone, but still a beautiful little album.

"Every Step" is the most interesting track to me—it’s what it what sound like if Mavis (and her choir) were guest vocalists on a track from A Ghost Is Born or The Whole Love. In a similar vein, check out “I Like the Things About Me,” with it’s moderately blazing guitar work.

My favorite track, though, is probably the beautiful, simple “Far Celestial Shore.”

After that go check out Mavis and Tweedy performing an acoustic version of the single from their first album together, “You Are Not Alone.”


WHY? - Crushed Bones
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"Crushed Bones" by WHY?

"Jolene" by Dolly Parton played at 33 RPM.

My dad sent me this. It’s pretty great.

And it gets even cooler when you play it backwards.


"I Never Learn" by Lykke Li

You can stream her new album over at NPR. I haven’t listened to all of it yet, but I think it’ll be worth your time. She’s pretty great.


PS: I should have added that you can stream the whole album at NPR right now.