Thursday, September 22, 2005

What's in BeckEye's Ear...and the New Musical Discoveries Just Keep Comin'

The whole what's-in-my-ear thing was supposed to be a recurring post too, much like "Eye Boogers". However, it seems that I've dropped the ball on this one because I haven't done it in a few months. I shall now pick that ball up and lob it over to you, my lovely readers. I love listing the songs that I'm digging, because I always hope that someone, somewhere will trust my taste enough to go look up something that they may have never heard and end up loving it. There's nothing better than discovering a band or artist whose existence had previously been a mystery. And before I get into what my favorite songs are this month, I have to comment on a new musical discovery I made just last night.

I heard that Glen Phillips was coming to town, and being a fan of Toad the Wet Sprocket, decided he might be worth checking out. I had been hearing some of his new tunes on THE radio station, WYEP, and thought they were pretty good. Therefore, I happily plunked down the $20 to see him. First off, the venue was very cool. It threw me for a bit of a loop that I have lived in Pittsburgh all my life and didn't even know this place existed. They've created a little section of downtown called "the cultural district", filled with smaller music venues and performing arts theaters. Since I no longer work downtown, I really don't keep abreast of happenings there. I guess I should!

I had expected Glen and his band to be the headliners, and since I heard that he was touring with Kim Richey assumed that she would be the opening act. Instead, the small stage was just set up with three chairs. It was an all acoustic show performed by Phillips, Richey and the aforementioned discovery - Griffin House. Each took turns singing songs and for one of the encores performed a cover of The Band's "The Weight" together. Before I get into "the discovery", let me just say that this was one of the better shows I've seen in recent memory. It was very relaxed and sort of off-the-cuff. I felt like I was watching a concert in my own living room. They explained that it was only their 2nd show of this particular tour and hadn't really gotten it together yet. They were all quite entertaining, cracking wise and playing to the rather vocal crowd, when not stunning us into silence with their undeniable talents. They all seemed to really enjoy being there, with each other and with us, as evidenced by their nearly 3-hour long set. Yes, it was a show length of Springsteenian proportions.

Being that I went to see Glen Phillips, I never expected to come out of there such a fan of a guy I had never heard of. However, Griffin House won me over from the minute he opened his mouth. His very thoughtful, colorful, sometimes amusing lyrics are brought to life by a smooth, yet slightly rough-hewn voice. He clearly loves music and seemed to be having a great time onstage, no doubt aware that he was winning over many others in the crowd. I suggest everyone go check this guy out. I should've bought his CD, Lost and Found, at the merchandise table, but it was a bit crowded. However, I'm definitely getting my hands on a copy, as well as the new CD when it's released.

Oh, did I mention he was kind of cute? Hey, I'm a red-blooded American woman. I can be a real music lover and still notice these things. That's not why I'm now a fan, but it certainly doesn't hurt. He's cute in an unconventional kind of way though. Imagine a cross between Breckin Meyer and Bono. I know it may be difficult to picture, but I found him attractive. And he had messy hair. I love guys with messy hair. It's just a weird thing with me. I think he became more good looking to me as the night went on. No, it had nothing to do with beer. I only had one. It's just that the more I enjoyed his music the more intriguing he became. Ok, so I'm a sucker for a man with a guitar. I've always been.

And now without further ado, here are the songs that are presently stuck in my head:

1. Waterfall, Griffin House - Well, of course! Did you think I would yammer on about the guy and then not put him on the list? His sound is a mix of rock and folk with sprinkles of alt-country thrown in. I liked every song he played, but this one really stood out for some reason. His voice sounds particularly sexy and soulful on this one, a song that seems to be based on that old adage, "If you love something, set it free, blah blah blah". Griffin puts it much more succinctly in the chorus with "If you hold on to your love, it might not be coming back". But then he gets rid of the "if", which changes the whole meaning. So I'm confused. Ah, who cares, it's a great song either way. You can check it out here.

2. Thankful, Glen Phillips - This song has been getting a lot of play on WYEP, and rightfully so. It's a rather bouncy but still rockin' track. Glen's voice is still as sweet and crisp as it was back in the Toad days. And I have to say, he's a pretty funny guy in a live setting. You can hear this song and others here.

3. Hello Old Friend, Kim Richey - I have never really heard any of Kim's songs. I just knew of her because she sang harmony on local favorite, Bill Deasy's, "So It Goes". She has a voice similar to that of Patty Griffin's, but with more of a country flavor. This was my favorite of the tunes she performed last night. She explained that it was about a guy she used to know who made the drunken 2 am call to her one night when she was feeling particularly low. Ah, drinking and dialing. I'm sure everyone has experienced that at some point. What fun.

4. So It Goes, Bill Deasy - Since seeing Kim Richey made me think of this song again, it's been in my head all day. This was from Deasy's first solo record after The Gathering Field split up. If you're not from Pittsburgh you probably have no idea what I'm talking about right now. Well, you're missing out. I've heard some folks say that Bill doesn't have much of a vocal range, and while that may seem to be true, he's got such a sultry, rich voice that it really makes no difference how many octaves he can go. Look at Mariah Carey. She has a range that goes from "Barry White" to "dog whistle", but she still has no soul. I like singers who really believe in what they're singing. And Deasy fits the "bill". (Sorry for the lame joke.) You can hear a sample of this song at CD Baby,and for more of Bill's music check him out on MySpace.

5. Dancing With Joey Ramone, Amy Rigby - This is one of the coolest, cutest, catchiest songs I've heard in a while. It's got a great '50s rock beat, highlighted by hand claps. There are certain elements that, I feel, will make any song immediately better and hand-clapping is one of them. The song is very bouncy, and really does sound like something The Ramones would've come up with. Fitting, as the song is about Amy going to a party and dancing with Joey. I had never heard of this singer before now, but she's apparently been around for a while. Thanks again, WYEP.

6. Soul Meets Body, Death Cab For Cutie - I was never a huge fan of this band, but this song really caught my ear. It's very reminiscent of '70s-era Fleetwood Mac with all the jingling and jangling and great harmonies.

7. Let Her Dance, Los Super Seven - Like Bill Deasy, this band made one of my previous lists. The other was a song with Lyle Lovett on vocals, while this one features Joe Ely. There aren't really a lot of lyrics to this song, basically they keep repeating the same ones which usually bothers me, but it seems to work here. It's just a rollicking mix of mariachi and rockabilly. Kind of makes me want to make a run for the border. The real one, not Taco Bell.

8. Shootout At The Candy Shop, Jess Klein - I've actually been a fan of this song for several months now, but never mentioned it before. Jess is another singer I was introduced to through my dear radio station. I have no idea what the title of this song means, even after listening to it countless times. I imagine it's an analogy of some sort but I don't get it. If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them! I understand the rest of the song though, and it a folky sort of way.

9. Fine Line, Paul McCartney - Wow, when I first heard this song I really thought it might be a lost Beatles track! But no, it's just Sir Paul in all his glory. I've always thought his solo career was a bit uneven, but his new record is getting a lot of critical acclaim. Critical acclaim often adds up to a big pile of nothing, but Paul's new stuff is also generating a lot of buzz among music fans.

10. They Can't Buy The Sunshine, Turin Brakes - These guys have such a dreamy sound, like some type of new-age, psychedelic rock. I first heard of them a while back when I accidentally discovered their song, "Pain Killer", which remains a favorite of mine. This tune's happy, carefree melody matches the lyrics. I've interpreted them as being about an increasingly greedy society or quite possibly how the music industry favors cash cows over quality artists. Yet no matter how much money the richies have, "they can't buy the sunshine". Sweet. Now this song will always remind me of that episode of The Simpsons, where Mr. Burns tried to block out the sun because it gave people "free light" and he wanted to jack up their electric bills. Wouldn't it be funny if that episode was also the inspiration for this song? I may have to write a letter to Turin Brakes to find out for sure.


Lee Ann said...

I am intrigued, will have to check out Glen Phillips!

Brooks said...

BeckEye you're new frame is smokin; -- how the hell did you do that?

I heard Glen Phillips was also playing some of those dates with Garrison Starr. She is fantastic if you haven't heard her. I am glad you have reinstated this music column. I am going to check some of these guys and girls out. I am especially interested to her the new Paul McC and Turin Brakes.

The Zombie Lama said...

I used to love going to live music all the time in Seattle. St Louis just doesn't have much going on anymore. Then again, I'm trying to move to New Mexico, and I don't see much going on out there.

Bar Bar A said...

I'll check some of these out, I really need to broaden my musical horizons.

(I linked you at my site, not Layla's Classic Rock, no links on that one..."Ramble On" if this is not okay with you shoot me an email)

Teri said...

I love concert venues like that! That sounds like a great show.

An80sNut said...

I'm a very huge fan of Toad's and miss them greatly. Glen's first solo album was good but some of the energy was missing. I'll have to hear the new album sometime but you have intrigued me with your "discovery." B)

As for McCartney's "Fine Line", from the moment I heard the song, I knew I'd be hunting it down for just one reason... to find out if Jeff Lynne produced it because it sounds a whole lot like ELO. hahaha

pia said...

My ex-husband was in music. Always says that Joey Ramone was the nicest person he ever me--except for me, of course--and you had to feel great around Joey since he was one of the least physically attractive people but just so darn nice

Masha said...

I LOVE your new layout!

BadGod said...

What about 'Pissin' Razors'?

Hispanic metal. No shit.

xinlg, baby!

John Bryson said...

Hispanic metal? Where do I sign up for that?

bill said...

hey... was at the show at the cabaret, too. i've seen glen zillions of times (you should check out his msg. board at if you're into that kind of thing -- a very vibrant and congenial community)... i'd also seen kim do an electric set down at mountain stage... but, i agree, the biggest surprise was griffin. i bought both of his cd's that night and have had "tell me a lie" stuck in my head ever since. just a gorgeous song. both discs are fantastic (although there are several repeats between the discs, as one was an indie release and the next was his major label debut). glad to see that glen is getting some new fans -- he's hands down the best singer/songwriter out there. check out the recordings by chris berryman on the live music archive for some great concerts!

The Nude Chef said...

im always fascinated about blowjobs. all i have is porn about women sucking cock.
sometimes i want to give head just to know what it feels like, but that's as far as it would go. the idea of even kissing a guy is nasty.
so far ive been shaving everything off my body to feel sexy, i practice sucking objects while im on my knees. one day i will suck cock..but im afraid it'll kill my fantasy.

BeckEye said...

I'm usually too lazy to do these recaps, but I'm at work on a Saturday, so it's not like I feel like doing anything productive.

Lee ann - Yes, Glen is cool. But check out Griffin too!

Echeevo - Ah, it was a painstaking process. Actually, I got the basic template from a fella named Richa, who is linked near the bottom of my sidebar. I made changes to the header in my graphics program. Then I had to fiddle around with the HTML a little bit to get it just so, which was annoying, but i like it much better. Never heard of Garrison Starr, so I'll have to check her out. Thanks!

Zombie - Live music in Seattle. Oh, to have been there for the birth of Pearl Jam. Oh, to give birth to a junior Vedder.

Layla - Let me know what you think of those new horizons. And you can link me anywhere, anytime! :)

Teri - Yes, the intimate settings rock.

80s Nut - I didn't hear too much ELO in that song. There weren't enough "la la"s to make me think of Jeff Lynne! But you had me curious, so I looked it up. He wasn't involved with that record. And now I forget who actually did produce it.

Pia - I'm sure all of the Ramones were/are quite interesting fellows.

Masha - Thanks!

Bad God - You can't quit me, baby.

Mad Hatter - Japanese metal is funnier.

Bill - Were you one of the rowdy guys in the back? ;)
I may get both Griffin CDs, even with the repeats. I dug that Volkswagon song...though it may have been enhanced by Glen Phillips' miming of the chorus.

Cute Little Box - Well....good luck with all that. And thanks to your phallic non sequitir, I'm sure my keyword search in upcoming weeks will be very interesting.

The Everglades said...

I'm with you on Death Cab for Cutie. They represent the first band I bought based on bandwagon/critical acclaim hearsay. I will never forgive myself for giving into the masses on that one. I like some of there songs, including the one that you referred to here. But If ever I was on a deserted island and didn't have a frisbee, I'd pick their disc to become said faux frisbee. Actually, I think I don't like them at all now.


gekke mum said...

OMGosh - i had to comment on the comment you left at Everglades about kenny G. Happy Birthday Jesus, i hope you like crap. That was one of the funniest things Norm did on SNL and I forgot all about it. Thanks for the great laugh for today.

Melanie said...

The Cabaret has only existed since last November...god knows most people I end up selling tickets to don't have a clue where it is or how it's set up. I agree that it's a cool venue...can't wait for the Granati Brothers to play it...

I've been trying to get more into the local music scene, thanks for these suggestions!!

quirk said...

A great place for finding other new acts is It's the place I interned a few summers ago... they always have the new bands before they get big. Check their booking roster.

bill said...

just a follow up... check out the recording of the phoenixville show (the night after our pittsburgh show) here:

it was taped by chris berryman and sounds fantastic. oh, and no, i was on the floor, just right of center in the back row of tables...

Jason said...

to an80snut, who mentioned the energy lacking from Glen's first solo album, that was intentional, he wanted it to be a very sparse, live-in-the-studio album, which it was. at that time he was very angry and dssilisioned by the indistry and wanted to make a very personal, un-readio friendly album.

the new album essentially has more of that mid 90's Califrnian Pop feel to it, with a little alt/country sneaking in

go to and listen to "Cleareyed", pure magic, that song


Who Does This Broad Think She Is?

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I am a winsome muse who was sent to Earth to inspire an artist to turn a vacant building into the world's coolest disco roller rink. We fell in love along the way, and I foolishly gave up my immortality. When the disco craze ended and all the roller rinks were shut down, that lazy bum wouldn't get a job. We broke up and I was stuck on Earth with nothing to do and no one to inspire. So, now I write a blog.

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