Holiday Sampler, December 13

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A year ago yesterday, I saw Sleater-Kinney perform for the first time at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, NY. It was a magical evening, complete with Carrie Brownstein jumping over onto the odd orchestral barrier between general admission and the stage and singing down to a group of us crazy fans wearing “Carrie’s Coven” t-shirts. I’d been to hundreds and hundreds of concerts, but none quite so melt-your-face-off amazing. And then they melted my face off even MORE the next night at Terminal 5.

During that first show, though, the band played a cover of the Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight),” and in honor of that concert anniversary, here’s that fun cover.

December 13: Sleater-Kinney (live), “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)”

The Friday Five – June 3, 2016

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To be perfectly honest, all I’ve been listening to this week is the Tragically Hip. I was one of the few lucky bastards to snag tickets to their final tour (technically I’ll be at their final show), so I’ve been listening to Now For Plan A most days, along with some of my other favorite Hip tracks. But as the excitement grows around my upcoming vacation to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve had some travel tunes stuck in my head too. Songs about the West Coast, songs about the places I’ll be visiting. Songs about quitting my job, because you know the last few weeks before vacation are always the most difficult at work. So I thought I’d assemble a list of some of those songs for the Friday Five.

1.  Wimps – “Quit Your Job”

I’m counting down the seconds until I can ditch my place of employment for 10 days of freedom. You know how it is — they know that you’re getting some time off, so they do their best to work you to death before you leave. You know, just so you start your vacation stressed and exhausted. It happens every time. And as I grind my teeth through the frustration, I always have this song in my head.

Staring down the clock / Oh no, they don’t pay you enough

2.  Sleater-Kinney – “Light Rail Coyote”

Portland is where we’ll be spending the majority of our time, though our travels will also take us to Seattle, Olympia, Astoria and beyond. And I can’t think of Portland without getting Sleater-Kinney’s homage to their city in my head. It has some of my favorite Brownstein riffs, and is one of the best S-K tracks, in my opinion.

Burnside will be our street / where the kids and the hookers meet / diners and strip club junk / bookstores and punk rock clubs

3.  Angus & Julia Stone – “Big Jet Plane”

I have no beef with John Denver, but I like this as an alternative to “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

Gonna hold ya, gonna kiss ya in my arms / Gonna take ya away from harm / Gonna take her for a ride on a big jet plane

4.  Bright Eyes – “June on the West Coast”

I’m always drawn to songs about traveling from place to place, seeking out a space that feels like home, asking a city to claim us. I suppose I’m a bit of a wanderer, still unclaimed, trying to find a place to permanently call home. Until then, I’ll keep traveling with my love, and someday we’ll finally land. [Technically I have found that place, but it requires moving to another country, and that’s not as easy as they make it seem in the movies.]

I visited my brother on the outskirts of Olympia / where the forest and the water become one

5.  Indigo Girls – “Hey Kind Friend”

This one’s a bit of a sad tune, but beautiful and simple. I’ve always loved the geographical references and the images they conjure when I listen to the song. Makes me feel like I’m right there too, watching that sunset in Washington.

I was too late for Spokane, so I caught a ride through the Cascade range / I saw the sun die in Olympia, running down on Capitol Lake

Hysterical for Sleater-Kinney (and colored vinyl)

Okay, so, if you follow my blog and videos, then you know I’m a total geek for Sleater-Kinney. I’m always on the lookout for those harder-to-find S-K pressings, and I’m pretty much always over the moon when I manage to snag one. I’ve been to their shows, and I’ve gained a huge group of friends through this fandom — wonderful people I wouldn’t have met had it not been for our mutual love of this band.

So it seemed kind of ridiculous that I still hadn’t gotten my hands on a Start Together box set. Back when the band members started teasing photos of that gorgeous colored vinyl, I was drooling, and I hadn’t even fully immersed myself in their glory yet. It seemed like a big investment to make in a band I didn’t know all that well, so I let the opportunity slide on by. But soon after, I started listening in earnest, and then I was beating myself up for not having gotten the colored vinyl box set. Sure, I could have easily gotten a set with the black vinyl, but I’d already started buying up the single Sub Pop reissues, so it didn’t make much sense to go that route. Instead, I scoured online resources, considering cost and condition each time one of the colored vinyl sets popped up. I wanted it to be as close to mint as possible, and I so wanted the bonus 7″ to be a signed copy (500 were randomly inserted into the 3000 sets made). Nothing ever worked out just right, and then there was the cost. People wanted 2 or 3 times the original price, and that’s a big chunk of change to drop all at once. So I waited, and right when I got a bonus at work, two box sets showed up online for the same price. One was sealed, and one was opened, played once, and had the coveted signed 7″ record. I went back and forth, trying to decide what I wanted more. And in the end, I decided that I wanted to be sure I would get the signed 7″ and went with the already-opened NM set. Then I promptly told a good friend about the sealed one, and she snatched it up.

It’s a thing of beauty. It’s probably one of my most treasured pieces (behind that sealed Weeping Tile record and my signed Wild Flag). And because I already have all the albums on other pressings, I’ll probably keep this one as more of a collector’s piece instead of spinning it. Or maybe I’ll spin it once, just to see that gorgeous colored vinyl in action.

If you want to see the beautiful vinyl in this lovely box set, or you just want to watch me gush over it, check out the unboxing below.