Song of the Day - God Bless Your Soul by Grace Vonderkuhn

From this moment on I'll be swamped with lo-fi submissions, and I'm fine with that. I'm a fan of lo-fi, and have been since Paul Westerberg started recording first takes, shrink wrapping and shipping them back in 2002. Back then, I just called it demo quality, and left it at that because I knew Paul could get into a studio and polish it up. I was just ecstatic that the former Replacements' front-man was actually making music. And even though I knew he could do go into a proper studio and lord over every track and smooth them over, I was fascinated with the rough cuts, seemingly peeking in on his creative process and learning how a song was crafted. With that being said, I secretly hoped some of the better songs would get the treatment somewhere down the road, but they never did, looking back, I am happy for that.          

This Song of the Day entry isn't about Paul, it's about a musician out of Wilmington, DE named Grace Vonderkuhn. She submitted two lo-fi home recordings (EP coming in December), and they need sharing because they show great promise. In her email, Grace says she recorded both tracks at home on an 8-track in which she wrote, sang, and played all instruments. The two songs are polar opposites, one a fuzzy garage rocker, the other soft and heartfelt, give them a spin or three below. I like them both, but can't seem to decide which one should be the Song of the Day. So, for the sake of folks reading at work, I'll save you the indignity of clicking on a link with "Fucked" in it, 'God Bless Your Soul' is my Song of the Day.        

For more information on Grace Vonderkuhn:

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Bass Drum of Death photos

I've spent the better part of today sorting, editing and uploading photos from the Bass Drum of Death show Friday night.  It was my second show at The Bottletree Cafe in Birmingham (Angel Olsen being the first), but it was first time to photograph there.  While the venue was lit well, and the stage slightly elevated, I still didn't take any chances and nabbed a spot right on the stage.  I thought with such a good position, my 24-70 f2.8 lens would suffice, but, it wasn't long enough for a few shots, and there were many moments I longed for my 70-200 f4 lens.  

Before the show, I talked to a few guys at the stage about vaping.  They were puffing away, and it seriously smelled fruity and one even smelled a bit like pecan pie.  As we talked about photography and bands, the Secret Stages Festival was brought up, and it turns out, one of the guys was in a band that played Secret Stages, David from the band Kyle. I missed them, but will definitely give them a longer look now. 

There were supposed to be two opening bands -- Drew Price's Bermuda Triangle and Eleven Year Old -- but only Drew Price's band showed.  At 9:30, Price took the stage solo for 3 songs, and then his band joined him for a handful more.  The band was energetic, melodic, and had some fun pop songs.  I'll check them out a bit more later.

Bass Drum of Death took the stage at 11:00, whipping through 14-15 songs in about an hour.  The first few songs sounded off sound-wise, maybe not enough vocals, but musically, they ripped it up.  As the show progressed, the sound got tighter, and the crowd started to get into it, many danced or bounced along to the beat as the temperature increased in the tiny club.  

Around the middle of the set, I moved back to the bar to finish a beer I'd started about 9:15, and listen to the remainder of the set.  The new material was incredible -- melodic and catchy, and felt far superior to their earlier work.  A better balance, bigger sound, and vocals not shrouded in fuzz will do that.  I can't wait to hear the rest of the album, due out in October.  Here are a few of the photos I took at the show.

In the next photo, lead singer John Barrett looks a lot like a young Paul Westerberg.  At least I think so from comparing to this photo of Paul. Maybe it's just the white t-shirt and mop of hair, but I immediately remembered that photo of Paul.

The remainder of the photos I took can be found on my Flickr page. Bass Drum of Death's set ended near midnight, and we exited as they said their thank you's and started breaking down their equipment.    

Song of the Day - Blitzkrieg Bop

One of the biggest blindspots in my musical education is the Ramones.  Sure, have listened to the "hits", but don't know the deep cuts, and all of the curious information about the of the band.  Yesterday, the band lost the last original member of the band, Tommy Erdelyi.  Tommy played drums and grew tired of the touring life, leaving the band in the late 70's, but still hanging around to help in the studio and to manage things.  In the 80's, he produced quite possibly the finest work the Replacements and Paul Westerberg would ever create, Tim.  So, for today, a smile, a nod, and gentle goodbye to Tommy.  Today's Song of the Day is from the Ramones, possibly their most notable song, Blitzkrieg Bop.    

Lydia Loveless on NPR

If you hang out around here long enough, you'll know I'm a fan of Lydia Loveless' style of music.  I reviewed her latest LP, Somewhere Else, even worked in a Paul Westerberg reference for good measure.  Lydia's style is part country, part blues and heaps of rock and roll attitude.  She's passing through the area in September, and if I can swing it, I'm going to try to see her show.  For now, this 3 song performance on NPR's Tiny Desk will have to suffice.  The audio is downloadable as well.