Posts Tagged ‘stephen malkmus’

Joefestapaloozachella 2014



Click here to enjoy the show: Joefestapaloozachella 2014



Very soon thousands of people will trek deep into the desert to regret their poor decision making skills under the hot sun as they trade their life savings for a bottle of water or their first born son for a suck on someone’s CamelBak. I am not a fan of any music festival in general. There are usually only three or four bands I want to see, and usually two of them are playing at the same time. Now host it in the middle of no where and make me stand in the sun all day, and you can imagine how I feel about Coachella. Look, if you’re ok with paying $400 to for a chance to see 4 of your favorite bands play for 30 minutes each, you might as well pay $50 to see each of them play their own show in LA.


This isn’t a blog about how godawful festivals are, though. This is about my great idea to break you free from the clutches of despair by allowing you to enjoy great live music from home. I have found videos of some of my all-time favorite live performances and made a playlist on Youtube for you to enjoy in the safety and luxury of your own home.


I don’t expect anyone to actually sit down and listen to all 3 or 4 hours of this, but you might enjoy listening while you cook or go to work, or drive into the middle of no where to fight over the last centimeter of shade…


So, what if you had a time machine and you could go back and pull some of your favorite artists from their most spot-on performances and add them all to one bill? Sure, there are other great tours that can certainly be added here, but we need to save something for next year, right?


Here’s the line up.


Stephen Malkmus: Acoustic KCRW Session


Joefestapaloozachella opens with a great acoustic performance by Stephen Malkmus in which he performs some of his greatest tracks from Real Emotional Trash. This acoustic session is one of my go-to background noise options, and when I want to see someone really cut loose on the guitar there really isn’t anything better than this. There is a lot to enjoy here.


Eels with Strings: Live at Town Hall


Next up is the Eels. I have seen the Eels about 5 times live now, and you never really know what kind of show you’re going to get. Sometimes they turn it up to 11 and rock out all of their songs, even a lot of their more melodramatic tunes. Other times you are treated to a mellow and touching take on some of the greatest songs in the Eels catalog. The Eels with Strings tour was the best incarnation of the latter, offering a substance to some of the Eels most familiar songs that gives the music a new and fresh texture. The DVD is fantastic, but I could only find a few tracks online to treat you to. I hope you enjoy.


Andy Kaufman

I wanted to add some comedy into the mix. You know, someone to come on stage and entertain you while you stand around waiting for the next band? Andy Kaufman was my no-brainer choice. The guy is a comic genius. I’m sure most of the audience would be high by this point, which would only make his type of “I’m here to screw with you” humor more entertaining.


Thin Lizzy: Live and Dangerous


There are too many people out there don’t know much about Thin Lizzy beyond their hit The Boys are Back In Town. The band is more than just one great song. They walk the line between hard classic rock and metal and they make it sound better than most bands could back then. Their energy on stage and the presence of Phil Lynott makes the Live and Dangerous Tour one of the most entertaining recorded live performances I’ve ever seen. You know you’re in for a treat when a band opens with their most popular song. Usually, by the time a show like this is over you have a list of new favorite songs you can’t wait to check out when you get home. They kill it from start to finish.


David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars


It was hard to push play on this next performance- Thin Lizzy is so too damn good to turn off. But when the next performance up is from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, it makes it easier. From hard, fast, and amazing rock, we tread onward into the spectacle that was Ziggy Stardust. The 70’s were weird.


I have a lot of respect for Bowie because he could have milked that Ziggy Stardust cow for ages, but he decided he was going to leave his uber successful alter-ego in the dust and pursue a conventional solo career. It was a gutsy move that paid off, but looking at footage from the movie made of one of his Stardust shows, you really get to see what he left behind- a giant fan base and one of the most bizarre and enjoyable live shows ever dreamed up.


The Talking Heads “Stop Making Sense”


Amazing music- check.

Suit that’s way too big- check.

Academy Award winning director- check.

An elephant’s weight in cocaine- probably.


As great and timeless as these performances all are, it’s a slam dunk who is headlining this thing- The Talking Heads from their now famous Stop Making Sense video. There isn’t much I can say that you shouldn’t know already and that you couldn’t learn from just watching the video. If you haven’t seen it before, you should watch it right now, and if you have seen it before then you know that you should probably watch it again as soon as possible. If you love the Taking Heads, Stop Making Sense is the best way to revisit the band in all their glory through what is possibly the most momentous performance ever caught on tape by any band. If you don’t love the Talking Heads, you haven’t seen Stop Making Sense yet, so shut your mouth and experience it.







Little Known A+ Albums: #1 Face the Truth by Stephen Malkmus

This time, I finish it…


Face the Truth


I’ve been known to call myself “Sinister Joe” from time to time.  You know why?  Because I heard it on a Stephen Malkmus album, and I liked it.


The album, “Face the Truth” is Stephen Malkmus’ third solo album.  Malkmus, the once lead singer, guitarist, and song writer for the band Pavement, is what I would call a living legend of rock and roll.  Pavement did a lot for rock music and he was one of the main reasons they did.  As a solo artist he moves away from the lo-fi indie garage jam band, and dabbles in a more professional sound.

I went to a Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks concert a few years ago and I was shocked.  I’ve seen concert footage of Pavement and expected the same feel of a low-budget jam band, but it was all business for Malkmus on stage.  He could be one of the best guitarists alive today, quite honestly.  He’s at least one of the best I’ve ever seen (top 3 for sure).  Every song seemed to be at least 5 minutes longer than on the record because of his extended solos.  It was great.


The first solo album was fantastic, and the second actually has one of my favorite songs ever written on it (“Vanessa From Queens”), but as a whole, Face the Truth is the strongest and most well written album of the original three.


Ok, let’s talk turkey.  Face the Truth opens with “Pencil Riot.”  The guitar-work throughout the entire album is phenomenal, and this track introduces you to Malkmus’ style in the best possible way.  The song is louder than most on the album.  The distortion might be a little misleading because the rest of the album is much more mellow.


Thanks to KCRW and their awesomeness, I actually have some videos to post for this album.  They are all acoustic, and as good as they sound now they’re a lot better on the album.


The thing I love about this album is that, like many albums on this list, has a lot of personality.  Stephen Malkmus is great about being creative and trying new things in his music.  His albums come alive with character.  “It Kills” shows off his guitar skills, but it also introduces the listeners to his song writing skills that seem to blend the carefully plotted musical arrangement and the freestyle verse.


“Freeze the Saints” is home to some of the best lyrics I feel Stephen Malkmus has ever written.  The lyrics are surreal and if you listen close enough, it might not speak to you, but if you take a step back, the mood of the song and the images he creates with his words blend into a great experience.  “If you need the pain/then you are, yes you are, so much like me/…nothing lasts for long/ except the earth and the mountains./so, learn to sing along and languish here./ Help me languish here.”


The single off of this album was “Baby C’mon.”  The video is pretty awesome.  It looks like those ads for HP that rocked so hard about 5 years ago.  The song is very guitar driven and very much more energetic than other tracks off the album with the exception of “Pencil Riot.”  I really wish I could find a video for that song, but I couldn’t.  I guess you’ll just have to buy the album.


Stephen Malkmus gets the number one spot for a few reasons.  While Okkervil River is the most emotionally moving album on the list, Face the Truth is an album anyone can pick up and just enjoy for the simple fact that the music is fun, exciting, different, and has such character.  Also, if you look past what the album seems to be, you’ll find great meaningful lyrics and an artist that is just adding to a great line he’s drawn on the landscape of rock music.  To put it simply, this is an album that deserves to be a classic and everyone should listen to it.  You can get this album used for $2.50 on  Do it.  I’ll post the other videos I found from this album now.