Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Snowin' in the Wind

Excuse the third person: Jeff is very excited! Two of my favorite things are coming together…

Bob Dylan will release a brand new album (his 47th!) of holiday songs, Christmas In The Heart, on Tuesday, October 13. All Dylan’s royalties will be donated to various charities.

According to bobdylan.com, the track list will include “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “Must Be Santa.” Other rumored songs include “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

This is particularly good news for those of us who love copious amounts of harmonica and accordion with our Christmas fare.

There are only 120 shopping days left. I am pumped.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Music Review: HUMBUG by Arctic Monkeys

Way back in 2006, during my San Diego years, I feel under the spell of the Arctic Monkeys’ fast, high-energy rock. The Sheffield, UK quartet have been amongst my favorite bands ever since I got my first earful of “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.”

I’ve played their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, ragged – three of my top 10 most played tracks on iTunes are from this stellar debut. I’ve downloaded all their EPs. Their cover of “Baby I’m Yours” was prominently featured at my wedding last month.

After their follow up album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, I again tried to force it down all my friends’ throats. And when lead singer/guitarist Alex Turner put the Monkeys’ future on hold to toy with The Last Shadow Puppets last year, I supported that too – with slightly less enthusiasm.

Today, the band released their much anticipated third album, Humbug, and I’m already on my seventh listen.

Now I’ll readily admit that I get a false sense of coolness out of embracing a UK band with limited US appeal (akin to the feeling Zach probably gets when he wears one of his European soccer scarves). That said, I have another very elitist thing to say: “I like Arctic Monkeys old stuff better.”

To paraphrase Stuff Hipsters Hate: Irrespective of how good the new album is, hipsters have been listening to these guys for years, and they like their old stuff better.

With that very long-winded preface out of the way, let’s finally dive in… another installment of Jeff’s Music Review: Hipster Edition.

I got my first taste of Humbug more than a month ago with the release of the album’s first single, “Crying Lightning.” It was a start departure from Favourite Worst Nightmare’s debut single “Brianstorm.” Gone were the fast, high energy rockers. “Crying Lightning,” though I enjoyed it, lacked thunder.

It appeared Turner had embraced a new “tormented relationship” phase. Borrowing from Pitchfork: the Monkeys’ delivered “a jargon-y single about a candy-coated Veruca Salt-style ice queen and a guy looking for something a bit sweeter.”

“Crying Lighting” was a sign of things to come. Humbug is decidedly more of a whispering psychedelic trip than blitzkrieg rock. It’s melancholic. Their trademark riffs and rhythms are still front and center but are coming from a much darker (more mature?) place.

Key tracks:Crying Lightning,” “My Propeller,” and the Morrissey-esque “Cornerstone.”

Don’t get me wrong, I still thoroughly enjoyed the album and who knows, maybe one rainy day I’m not feeling my jolly, happy self Humbug will be more resonant. But I don’t think any of these tracks are going to shoot to the top of my Play Counter and I definitely don’t think that this is the album that will break the Monkeys on this side of the pond.

Maybe I should be relieved; I can still carry that sense of superiority.

Verdict: B-



I would be remised if I didn’t mention that as a B-side to “Crying Lightning,” the Arctic Monkeys covered Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand,” which I have previously posted here. Check it out.

As far as their covers go, I prefer “Love Machine” and “Baby I’m Yours.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Schaible Wedding/Honeymoon - A Six-Part Narrative (Part One)

Okay… I am back. After taking a fair bit of time to digest (both figuratively and literally) I believe I am now ready to blog about my first wedding (I kid, of course).

There’s a lot to discuss. So I’ll start at the beginning: all the Pre-Wedding sh-tuff.

Friday, July 24th
First thing on the official agenda was the rehearsal. Everyone met up at the venue (Newport, RI’s Easton Beach) at 1:00pm. By “everyone,” I mean: my guys (best man Steve, second-best man Zach, “Duke” LaDuke – the high school best friend and Emily’s brother, Mike), her ladies (maid-of-honor Katie, college roomie Meg and cousin Sarah), the parents and our eccentric, gap-toothed pastor.

It was a bit chaotic and very rushed. There was barely enough time for Steve to injure a bridesmaid. We were dismissed with no greater understanding of how exactly this was going to work but whatever, there were more important things to do: the ladies had to get their nails done.

That evening was our rehearsal dinner which I will say was a resounding success. We invited all of our out-of-town guests. The food was good and drinks were plentiful. A special shout out to my parents – Mr. and Mrs. Schaible of Rotterdam, NY – who picked up the check. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Anyways, it was a great time. Over-stimulated, I excitedly bounced from group to group (largely ignoring the wife-to-be) loudly reminiscing and introducing folks. There were many highlights: LaDuke showing off his new lip tattoo, a surprise “groom’s cake,” visitors from as far away as Georgia and Hawaii, a late arrival by the enigmatic Mike Grimala, and Zach quietly brooding over a plate of humus.

It was a great night… too great maybe. I lost my voice (more on that later). Emily and I parted ways and I spent my last night as a bachelor in the honeymoon suite with Grimey. I slept soundly.

Saturday, July 25th
The day had arrived at last. Exactly 14 months after I popped the question, it was time to seal the deal, tie the knot, take the plunge, grab the bull by the horns …

But first, we golfed. As my groomsman gift, I treated the dudes – the four previously mentioned groomsman, my father and Grimey (who was filling the role of Emily’s father who went on the DL with a knee) – to a round of golf.

There was a hiccup. We arrived at the golf course, I walked in and said, “seven rounds please.”

“Not today you ain’t.”

The golf course, which I had spoken to three times over the previous month, said they had a tournament today and there were no open tee times. After a little swearing, a little pouting and on patented “Schaible-face,” we found another course nearby. Crisis averted.

It was an adventure. My father was probably the only one of us that belonged on a golf course – with all due respect to Grimey, who looked like a golfer in his borrowed robes, and the Mohonasen HS golf team, which thought enough of me to add its ranks as a senior. It was pretty ugly.

My foursome lost interest in keeping score about halfway through (shortly I knocked down a 20-foot put for the day’s only birdie). Between the seven of us, I think we lost 20 or so balls. We also dropped a significant amount of water weight (it was hot).

Zach and Steve finished up last. Their epic confrontation decided by just one stroke. Zach was relieved but we wrapped up knowing we were all losers.

I went back to the hotel and prepped… it takes all of 20 minutes to shower, shave and dress. So the waiting game begun. The guys were exiled to my parents’ room so the ladies could have more space. We sat around for more than an hour and I could feel all the “why exactly did we have to get here so early?” tension.

On our way over to the venue, Steve was almost doused in bird shit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he didn’t but had he, it would have made a classic Steve story.

And with that, I leave you now. To be continued…