June, 2011 Archives


“Cliffs Along the Sea”–Bryan John Appleby

by Lefort in Music

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Here’s a sweet song by Seattlite, Bryan John Appleby, fittingly and creatively captured in this video by Christian Sorensen Hansen.  Thanks to our Ballard-eer friends for passing along.  Cool scene in Lake Washington near the Arboretum.

Cliffs Along The Sea from Christian Sorensen Hansen on Vimeo.


The Antlers on Leno

by Lefort in Music

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We were prepared to be disappointed, but Peter and the boys acquitted themselves nicely on Leno last week.  It might take seeing them live to sufficiently enliven the songs on their new “Burst Apart” album and help us move beyond the hallowed heights they achieved on their prior album, “Hospice.”  Check out the band’s performance of Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out below.  The boy can indeed sing, and the song finds a groove.


Gillian Welch and David Rawlings on Conan

by Lefort in Music

Last night on Conan, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings performed The Way it Goes off their new album, “The Harrow and the Harvest.”  You can stream the entire album over at NPR.  Check out the duo’s soulmate harmonies and Rawlings’ flawless guitar throughout.


Longing for Home–“Wild Winter Trees” by Amor de Dias

by Lefort in Music

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Amor de Dias (consisting of Alasdair MacLean, front man for The Clientele, and Lupe Núñez-Fernández of indie-pop duo Pipas) has just released its music video for its song, Wild Winter Trees, in support of their first album, “Street of the Love of Days” on Merge Records.  In just 1:37 the video vividly conveys the song’s lyrics, with soft-focus on the family and familiar footing. And brothers and sisters.  And time passing.

Amor de Dí­as – Wild Winter Trees from Merge Records on Vimeo.


Recalling Great Songs–“Broken Hearted Blues” by T.Rex

by Lefort in Music

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When most think of the songs of T.Rex, they think of Bang a Gong (Get it On), Jeepster and many others.  But for us, ever since it was released in 1973 on their stupendous album, “Tanx,” we always think first of Marc Bolan’s big-hearted ballad, Broken Hearted Blues.  And then we hit repeat (in part because the song is too short).   We will admit that we first heard this song on an 8-track in our cousin’s car (thanks to Mike Gridley for having great taste in the summer of 1973, four years before Marc Bolan’s car-crash death), and until very recently only owned it in vinyl.

“This is a song, that I wrote when I was young,
And I called it, the broken hearted blues,
The air on that night, was tempered like a knife,
And the people wore the face masks of a clown,
Dawn it was long, misshapen and forlorn,
And his woman ran away without a smile.

Days of the earth, are unbroken changeless turf,
But the faces of the men are something else.
In the wind, as a boy, was a spacious sexual toy,
But baby, now he’s a toothless baggy man,
When the hills of the sun, make you feel that you are young,

Get good now, and face your face into the wind.

This is a song, that I wrote when I was young,
And I called it the broken hearted blues.”


Said the Gramophone–The Big Ask: 2011 Funding Drive

by Lefort in Music

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We’re frankly not easily impressed by other music blogs since a lot of what’s done in the name of music-love is just re-hashed, cut-and-paste, shuck-and-jive (guilty as charged, your honor).  So when we discovered Said the Gramophone a few years back, we immediately took notice of the calligraphic cant and caliber of the literate writing.  The site’s writers bring new songs to your ears (oft-time legitimate newcomers that even we have not heard of–horrors!), while providing vivid vignettes and imaginative (to say the least) allegories that at least tangentially relate to the proffered songs.

What we also appreciate is that, like us, they refuse to go the way of advertising (though if Apple, let’s say, wanted to run a million dollar ad campaign on The Lefort Report, we’d consider kicking our ethics to the curb–but make it snappy would ya Jobs).  What this backbone necessitates, however, is that once per year (this year from June 13th to July 12th), Said the Gramophone makes “The Big Ask” for donations to enable them to continue to provide their high-caliber content to you, us and the world.  So go to their site at the embedded link provided above to read some of their fine writing and listen to a great song or two you have not heard, and then go HERE to donate to a quality site.  We did.

If you need further motivation to contribute, check out some of their writing excerpted below (found quickly and provided without song context; we’re sure you can find other entries at Said the Gramophone that exceed your needs and desires).

“Please let your guard down for this song. Let it stand in your room, in a beamed-up sun dress with unwashed hands. Let it look at all the stuff on your walls, in your drawers, under your bed and out the door. Let it eat crudités, take texts and smile, let it take showers and wrap gifts and make cards. Let it stay, breathless and grinning, a while.”

“Inside my body there is art waiting to escape. It shows up on the surface of my skin, in ink lines. The marks made on me by people who love me or fuck me over show up like magnet lines, like filings falling into place. As if the very beating of my heart drew patterns of travel and maps for the way back.”

“Teddy was 13 and under the impression that he was much more good-looking than he actually was. He wore his wing-tipped jeans like they didn’t fit like a rotten pear. He walked proudly with his chest sticking out in front, blissfully oblivious to his sinking hunched shoulders and his plunking, swishing gait. He spoke slowly, as if he poshly needed to taste all his syllables, taking no notice of his own condescending whine, nor the splay-toothed spittle that formed at the sides of his mouth. Despite having a voice like a seeping balloon, he enrolled himself in a local youth choir at the Briarcrest Community Center on Thursday nights.

He came into rehearsal for New Voices Youth Choir, always one of the first to arrive. He dropped his droopy satchel bag in the corner near the coat hooks and made his way to a group of three girls, chatting before things got started. “Hello lay-dees,” his voice creeped out of his throat like it were an insect, like it had its own eyes. The girls always dreaded a talk with Teddy, but always seemed to forget that it would happen, the way you only take notice of a leaky shower faucet when you’re actually in the shower; a problem that quickly gets itself forgotten, only to come back every time, with the pall and residue of an untended annoyance. “What-ever are you discussing amongst yourselves? Perhaps the weather?” The girls looked at him like a plate of left-out cheese, a sweaty, sagging, unduly proud pile, edges hardening by the second. “We’re talking about how to get beer this weekend. So…” Two of the girls closed their shoulders together, a gate denying entry, but Teddy stood motionless, his hands perched high up on his waist, pulling his shirt up with his hands placed icky on his bare skin. “Oh. Beer. Myself, I’m more partial to cock-tails.” One of the girls, the oldest, said with eyes firmly rolled, “Oh yeah?” The door opened and the instructor came in, sighed, and Teddy zeroed in on her; he had plenty of suggestions for new songs and special requests for solos. As he left the girls, he spoke without looking at them, “Yes. They certainly do take the edge off the day.” One girl, the tallest, looked lazily at his satchel, sad and dolloped in the corner, and wondered what-ever could be inside.”

“Considering that “When I Paint My Masterpiece” is an ode to all-consuming artistic striving, it’s ironic that my primary ambition in life is simply to listen to it all the time. My parents may worry about my financial security, but when it comes to listening to this song I have a gift, and not to vigorously pursue it would be a gross disservice to me and you. If it’s true that when a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it it doesn’t make a sound, then the very existence of Danko’s astounding bassline, not to mention that of the romantic interplay between Helm’s mandolin and Hudson’s accordion, depends upon a constant listener. I volunteer.”


The Mountain Goats at Soho

by Lefort in Music

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The Mountain Goats came all the way from Durham, North Carolina to Santa Barbara, and despite illness and the ill-conceived absences (without leave) of Santa Barbara’s music fans, the band took over Soho and took us to the musical mountaintop.  But we were also deftly guided by voice (leader John Darnielle‘s) back to the realities of life at sea level (and some depths further below).

The Mountain Goats 0riginally consisted of only John Darnielle, but now have swelled to a whopping three “permanent members” including Peter Hughes on bass and Jon “Funny Man” Wurster on drums (with Yuval Semo added on tour on guitar and piquant piano).  The band has had a cult following for quite some time, but its fan ranks have exponentially expanded since 2002 following album releases such as “Tallahassee,” “The Sunset Tree,” “Get Lonely,” and especially this year’s stellar “All Eternals Deck.” The Mountain Goats have long been universally lauded by rock critics, with the uber-prolific Darnielle (over 600 songs to date) being hailed as one of America’s best lyricists and songwriters.  The New Yorker went so far as to call Darnielle “America’s best non-hip-hop lyricist.”  We agree, but only if the “non-hip hop” qualifier is removed.  In addition to being well-crafted, Darnielle never fails to hit a heartstring or twenty with his lyrics, which oft-times sing of good and bad family members (his abusive step-father falling into the latter category and finding his way into Darnielle’s songs).  And any band Colbert loves is OK by us.

Having never seen the band before, we were a little concerned when they came on at Soho last Friday and Darnielle let us know that he was sick with a fever.  But Darnielle quickly allayed those concerns by slipping into his best “Show Must Go On” guise and giving a particularly strong reading of Liza Forever Minnelli, and continuing to gather momentum and strength thereafter.  Liza Forever Minnelli was a great reminder that Darnielle actually grew up in San Luis Obispo and lived in and attended college in Claremont/Pomona before forming the band and eventually moving to Durham, North Carolina.  In Liza, Darnielle laments his inability to divorce himself from his California upbringing and some of its trappings (“Never get away never get away I am never ever gonna get away from this place”).  And as we have grown so sick of the hoary chestnut, we particularly love the line:  “Anyone here mentions ‘Hotel California’ dies before the first line clears his lips.”  Absolutely agreed.

Throughout their set the Mountain Goats vacillated between feverish verve and slow, rending rounds of sound that were carried by Darnielle’s impassioned vocals and strident strumming on guitar (despite his fever), Jon Wurster’s drilling drumming, and Peter Hughes’ subtle bass and harmonies.   Set highlights included San Bernardino, Southwood Plantation Road, Birth Of Serpents, Damn These Vampires, Up with Wolves and Boxcar (Jawbreaker cover).

But the night was rendered revelatory by a few songs in particular.  Darnielle introduced Tyler Lambert’s Grave by telling the story of a women who had passed away.  Tyler Lambert was her homeless son who in turn left far too soon.  A poignant song and moment that you can listen to below.  Darnielle has said about the song:  “In 1993 or ’94, I wrote a song about Dana Plato, who was then a former child star on a downward slide; her story seemed so sad to me. She died young, a few years later, leaving a son behind. His name was Tyler Lambert, and he took his life last year, and the news stories I read ran a picture of this young man looking like young men often look: full of hope and promise, at the beginning of life. My heart broke for all the pain in that family, and I wrote the song.”  You can read more about the song, and it’s context and meaning at Seattle Weekly’s Reverb blog HERE.  The lyrics follow:

“Steal the last across the country under moonlight soft and wet
And at the dead of night I hear from things you can’t forget
spend daylight in dark tunnels where the demons rave
One day closer everyday to Tyler Lambert’s grave

Shoplift when you have to, keep your visor low
If your hunger shames you never let them know

Feel your sadness lifting, ride it like a wave
That sets you gently down beside Tyler Lambert’s grave

Fall into a pattern, never get unstuck
Anyone who can’t relate should thank God for his love

Young man in a yellow tie, hair gel in his hair
No context for the picture, just kind of standing there
Tyler, step outside the shadow of your great catastrophe
Dream all night of freedom, never wake up free”

Also hard hitting were All Eternal Deck’s best song, Never Quite Free, and the band’s crowd-pleasing “anthems”, This Year and No Children.

But the song that most took us aback was Matthew 25:21.  Darnielle explained that this song described the last time he had been in  Santa Barbara (having flown across country to visit his mother-in-law in her last, cancer-ridden days).   Check out the lyrics and a performance of the song below (in the video Darnielle noticeably cracks at the word “cancer”).  As he sang it at Soho, there was not a dry eye in the place (and particularly not in our 24″ x 24″ floor space).  These are the places where heart and art rarely meet.

“They hook you up
To a fentanyl drip
To mitigate the pain a little bit
I flew in
From Pennsylvania
When I heard the hour was coming fast
And I docked in Santa Barbara
Tried to brace myself
You can’t brace yourself
When the time comes
You just have to roll with the blast
And I’m an eighteen-wheeler headed down the interstate
And my brakes are going to give
And I won’t know till it’s too late
Tires screaming when I lose control
Try not to hurt too many people when I roll

Find the Harbor Freeway
And head south
Real tired
Head kind of light
I found Telegraph Road
I’d only seen the name on envelopes
Found the parking lot
And turned right
I felt all the details
Carving out space in my head
Tropicanas on the walk way
Neon red
Between the pain
And the pills trying to hold it at bay
Stands a traveler going far away
And I’m an airplane tumbling wing over wing
Try to listen to my instruments
They don’t say anything
People screaming when the engines quit
I hope we’re all in crash position when we hit

And at last came to your bedside
And as it turns out
I’m not ready
And then as though
You were speaking through a thick haze
You said hello to me
We all stood there around you
Happy to hear you speak
The last of something bright burning
Still burning
Beyond the cancer and the chemotherapy
And you were a presence full of light upon this earth
And I am a witness to your life and to it’s worth
It’s three days later when I get the call
And there’s nobody around to break my fall”

And of course we would be remiss to not include the passage from the song’s title:

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

We would also be remiss if we didn’t give a little “pep-talk” at this point to Central Coast music lovers. Look people, the Mountain Goats packed the Fillmore in San Francisco and the El Rey in LA just days before they played Santa Barbara.  Where were you SB?  You don’t want to get a reputation as a weak musical place packed with old people (and their parents) that don’t attend great concerts do you?  Let’s go!

Check out some other great examples of the band live below, and the Soho setlist way below.

JOHN DARNIELLE | Autoclave — A Take Away Show from one shot seattle on Vimeo.

Mountain Goats – Woke Up New (Directed by Rian Johnson) from rcjohnso on Vimeo.

Soho Setlist:

Liza Minnelli Forever
Jeff David County Blues
Estate Sale Sign
San Bernardino
Southwood Plantation Road
Birth Of Serpents

Tyler Lambert’s Grave (With Yuval)

Color In Your Cheeks
Going to Cleveland
You Were Cool
Up The Wolves
Matthew 25:21

•Full Band•
Damn These Vampires
Broom People
Age Of Kings
Prowl Great Cain
Never Quite Free
This Year

No Children

Opening for the Mountain Goats were Durham, North Carolina’s Midtown Dickens, who played with alternating composure and frenzied abandon, and whose energy and harmonies tickled the dickens (both the midtown, but also the upper eastside portions) out of us.  Check ’em out below at Soho.


U2 at Glastonbury

by Lefort in Music

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For all you U2 junkies and for those that just came out of 30-year comas and haven’t heard of or seen the band, you can watch U2’s headlining set from last night at Glastonbury, starting with Part 1 below.



John Prine and Iris Dement–In Spite of Themselves

by Lefort in Music

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This is a day-changer.  For the better.  Two of our favorite “Real Country” artists, John Prine and Iris Dement, collaborate and cavort in the performance below of Prine’s hilarious ode to monogamy, In Spite of Our Selves. Check it out.


And the collaboration thankfully continues below.


Recalling Great Songs–“The French Inhaler” by Warren Zevon

by Lefort in Music

We have been mired in Warren-World for over a month and unable to scrape Warren Zevon‘s stunning 1976 major label debut album off of our turntable.  A large reason for our repeat listening is needing to hear The French Inhaler over and over and over (a particular shortcoming of vinyl and turntables if you don’t have the 45 rpm single stylee). We humbly opine that The French Inhaler is one of the finest songs ever recorded.

Lyrically the song is primarily a kiss-off to “Tule” Livingston (Zevon’s ex-wife and mother of his son Jordan), but also about life and lust in the LA music scene.  Evidently, after the breakup of Zevon and Tule, Warren found out that she was sleeping with another musician, and in the liner notes of the reissued album Jordan says that his mother confessed to him before she passed that the song was a “f*** you” to her for sleeping with this other musician.” At the conclusion of the song, Zevon also makes reference to the furor surrounding Norman Mailer’s exploitative Marilyn Monroe biography published in 1973.

Musically, the song is a marvel featuring piano, complex chord changes, strings, and the perfect harmonies of Don Henley and Glenn Frey (a zenith moment they never again approached).  We first hear those harmonies at the 1:00 mark, but thankfully they recur throughout the song.  The album was produced by Zevon’s pal, Jackson Browne, with support from the best of L.A.’s session players at the time.

One of our lasting musical memories is of catching Zevon at the Roxy in 1978 in support of his masterpiece, “Excitable Boy.” Zevon put on a manic show that night, but we all cringed when he repeatedly jumped up and collapsed to his knees (doing nothing in the process to undermine his mantra:  I’ll sleep when I’m dead).  It’s a wonder he survived another 25 years.

Warren Zevon went to sleep permanently on September 7, 2003, aged 56, leaving behind one of the great discographies of all-time and capped off by this great song.  Put it on repeat and marvel.

“How’re you going to make your way in the world
When you weren’t cut out for working
When your fingers are slender and frail
How’re you going to get around
In this sleazy bedroom town
If you don’t put yourself up for sale

Where will you go with your scarves and your miracles
Who’s gonna know who you are
Drugs and wine and flattering light
You must try it again till you get it right
Maybe you’ll end up with someone different every night

All these people with no home to go home to
They’d all like to spend the night with you
Maybe I would, too

But tell me
How’re you going to make your way in the world, woman
When you weren’t cut out for working
And you just can’t concentrate
And you always show up late

You said you were an actress
Yes, I believe you are
I thought you’d be a star
So I drank up all the money,
Yes, I drank up all the money,
With these phonies in this Hollywood bar,
These friends of mine in this Hollywood bar

Loneliness and frustration
We both came down with an acute case
And when the lights came up at two
I caught a glimpse of you
And your face looked like something
Death brought with him in his suitcase

Your pretty face
It looked so wasted
Another pretty face
The French Inhaler
He stamped and mailed her
“So long, Norman”
She said, “So long, Norman””

Written by Warren Zevon 1973 Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Darkroom Music BMI

Check it out below.