Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Forecast: New Year's Eve Edition

[Charles] I never really know what to do on new year's, have a party, go out, stay in? Driving on New Year's is scary no doubt about it. So here's some things happening within walking distance of the hood. If you don't live in our hood then I guess your outta luck and will have to catch a cab! Yikes! Cabs dropping people off in our neighborhood? Thought I'd never see that!

First up: Ella's Folk Art Cafe is having a bash and last year it sold out. This year I expect the same so if you haven't got a ticket, you better scramble. Head over to their facebook page and ask around. Ernie, Melissa, and the gang have put together a great set with Dex Romwebber Duo and Roppongi's Ace. The $25 advance ticket includes dinner, music, and a champagne toast. All that and you can stumble home when it's all done. Ella's has such a nice vibe and I always run into more and more friends there so you definitely can't go wrong with this one.
Forecast: 85% chance of a sellout crowd on the porch tonight.

If that's more commitment than you had in mind for tonight, then I would suggest walking down Florida Ave to the Independent Bar. Sounds like for $10 you can get in on a nice buffet of food (pot roast tacos and indian curry anyone?) and get some $4 drafts underway. The beer is always fantastic at the Independent and again, you will always run into people you know or people who want to chat. With the weather cooperating, this should be a really great and chilled out way to spend New Year's Eve .
Forecast: 90% chance of fancy beer sightings at this one.

Last but definitely not least is the Refinery's New Year's Eve. This is for folks that don't want to get locked in to a party but want some awesome traditional New Year's grub. Well not too traditional knowing Chef Greg, but here's the highlights. "Pork Chop with a Malta and Spice glaze, smokey bacon black-eyed peas, chile-candied turnip, and braised turnip greens." That should get your evening started right especially if you are headed out of the hood tonight. If not, then just head on upstairs to the bar and celebrate this beautiful night on the deck. I would expect a crowd...
Forecast: 70% chance you'll actually want to eat these black eyed peas.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Swim, Soak, and Sigh Part 3

Let's keep it rolling - It's day three and tracks 1 through 5 are up. Track 1 is always critical in a mixtape as it really has a lot riding on whether people will stay interested or not. The next few tracks have to keep that momentum and really hook people in. See what you think.

This song got my attention from the first buzz of noise that quickly overlaps with guitar and bells. I couldn't and can't stop listening to it. This is as close to an anthem as I'll probably come to this year. I can think of no better way to express my way of asking myself and others to take risks and try things than to say "Swim until you can't see land. Are you a man or a bag of sand?" Are you going to sink? Eventually we all will sink and pass on, but right now, do we chose to sink now or to swim? This one I can listen to on repeat and I am so embarrassed to say I didn't catch these guys in concert in Gainesville because I didn't want to make the drive on my own. My musical resolution this year is to quit making excuses for missing shows I know will be great and get out there. It's time to quit letting my self feel like a bag of sand and find my long swimming stride again.

I love this kind of lo-fi indie rock that plods along with interesting instruments like xylophones and glockenspiels mixed with guitars and odd percussion. This band has had quite a run - a year ago they were playing subway platforms in NYC and now they are on a European tour. I even heard this song was on some TV shows as well which is no surprise as corporate america continues to mine indie music to make their products seem cooler. I like the idea that the joke is on them as these bands fuel their vans with big cash from these deals but I'm not sure if it always works out perfectly for the band either. If you can get heard and get an audience and get people to the show and over to bandcamp to download your album then I guess it's all worth it. Why does this matter? Because I'd never heard of this band before coming across them on another blog and here they are #2 song on the mixtape.

I'm a sucker for a good electronic beat and world music mix and this song really nails it. To me there is a mix of Asian and Indian flavors in this song and it manages to pull of its 3 plus minutes of beats without getting tired or boring. This is basically instrumental music as even the voice samples are stripped down to just another layer of music but it just continues to drive on and keep you interested until the end. I have a hard time finding electronic music that I can listen to over and over (which is a definite mixtape criteria) but this one never drags.

This song has some of the best singalong harmonies I've heard this year. Just try and not harmonize with this song in the car. You know those songs that you try to kind of make the sound along with the words before you really know what they are saying the first couple of times you listen to it? It's okay, you can admit it to me. I'm not judging. I singalong in my car and people can feel free to make fun of me in traffic and go back to hating their lives immediately after. This is another of the tracks on this list that feels very timeless to me and helps renew my faith in new music. I get so tired of people that whine about never hearing any good new music that miss out on amazing pieces like this. Go ahead singalong, I won't tell anybody..."We'll still be best friends when it all turns to dust."

There's a funny shuffle to this song that refuses to let this just turn into a suicidal dirge. One of my favorite dj's commented "This has to be the most upbeat song about suicide that I've ever heard." I have to agree. It's almost got this comic feel that you just know that he's not gonna really go through with it. Anybody this happy about tossing themselves into a river is more likely to make a turn into the Tavern before they make it to their final destination. After a couple of pints I'm sure Mr. Earle will forget all about his plan to "let the dirty water cover me over". This guy has an interesting take on what is the fine line between alt-country, old country, and rock which is very appealing. I am still kicking myself for missing this show at Crowbar this year and reiterate my plan to catch more shows that I know will be great in the new year.

So that's it. The whole thing. Three days of marathon, type as fast as I can, research, 14 webpages open, lunchbreak hour, blog writing. I hope you like the mix and now if you click on the first track, you should be able to let them all play through the fancy yahoo player that will pop up on your computer. That should let you play them in order as I intended. Let me know what you think and hopefully next year I'll get to add a little more music writing to my Friday Forecast and Maker Monday regular posts. Thanks for all the support this year and please leave a comment if you want, I love those!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Swim, Soak and Sigh Part 2

Photo credit unknown but awesome.
Let's continue the mixtape with the middle five tracks starting off with a local band - The Grecian Urns...

This collection of young musicians from St. Pete comes together during the summers and breaks off into separate colleges during the fall. Catching them in concert becomes a little tricky due to this, but this year they decided to get together and release an album. They played a few shows over at Ella's Folk Art Cafe in my hood too so I've really got no excuse for not catching them live. This song captures a lot of the multi-instrumental joy of this band which is making music as good or better than a lot of "discovered" bands out there - just see Track 8 for similarities. Anyhow, enjoy the track. It's a lot of fun and right after the 3 minute mark it changes over from a simple pop song to a big chorus of whistle-along fun that makes me glad to announce that whistling is definitely back. Thanks Peter Bjorn and John.

Thanks Jordan, good call on this one. My buddy up in Cinci said I should check out this band Horse Feathers and at first listen I thought it was maybe a little too moody and depressing for this mix. That was until I realized that this whole mix is a little moody and depressing. After that, I was all in... and why not? This song is painfully gorgeous. The piano hammers away at your insides sharply and it begins the same way it ends with that sharp piano rapping loudly. It reminds me of taking piano lessons with Ryan Adams and David Gray. After a few listens I'm sure you'll be drawn in.

This band I'd heard a little bit about when I discovered they were playing at the Ritz. My friend Nicole "Elawgrrl" was of course going in her official photographer capacity and was pretty skeptical of the "dirty hippies" we were about to find onstage. They fielded a huge band with two drummers, xylophone, trumpet, guitars, accordion, piano, and a male and female duo trading back and forth on many of the songs. This had to be the nicest group of fans I've ever been packed in with. It was crazy. I even was able to make my way to the front without the typical fistfights and stabbings that usually accompany that sort of thing. This song was featured in a commercial and hopefully that helps pay the gas in these guys monstrous bus because they definitely are worth catching in concert. If they come anywhere near you, definitely get out there and see the spectacle for yourself. When they sing the chorus "We want to heal your janglin souls" you might just find you've joined in and started wishing to be a Magnetic Zero yourself.

This song isn't the typical singalong rocker that Frank Turner is becoming known for in these parts. He toured pretty heavily around his show opening for Social Distortion and Lucero this year and could be seen at many places in Central Florida. This song got stuck in my head and quite honestly fits better with this group of songs than many of his others that I love. Check out "Photosynthesis" on this Irish blog if you're curious. This song is more about the sadness and longing that comes from a life on the road. Nicole heavily recommended Mr. Turner and this song was one of the tracks that stuck out in my mind because of great lines like "And that's how I miss out, on another night. The kind of night where nothing really happens, yeah, but everything goes down" when talking about the difficulty of getting phone calls from friends while being stuck working and out of town. This is great songwriting and even though this album wasn't released in 2010, I'm giving this one a pass because I hadn't heard of it until this year and it is fantastic.

Okay, I'm letting a cover on here. I couldn't get this version out of my head and WMNF played it a few too many times and now I'm stuck with it. I love it though and since Squeeze just celebrated a cool documentary on them recently I felt okay slipping it in here. The Shins are a family favorite anyway so it's nice to hear them making some music again.

The last three will hopefully be up tomorrow!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2010: Swim, Soak, and Sigh Part 1

[Charles] The End of the Year Mixtape is one of my favorite things to do each year. I look forward to putting together a group of songs that can play through together and make the year proud. I've never posted the links before, but I think I've finally got it figured out so please don't ruin it for me.
Disclaimer: The links are up for a limited time and then they'll come down. They are meant to get you hungry for more music and to send you off on your own search for music. This is a jumping off point for an adventure into bands and cd's you may have missed last year. If you want your music taken down, just let me know and I'll pull it.

This list is also personal and completely arbitrary. I don't try to do a "best of" - I like to think of this as a solid bunch of songs that work well as a group. That's why I call it a mixtape.

Let's start with tracks 11-15...
I came late to Arcade Fire as I know I naturally am resistant to bands that get too much hype and all this "yeah the next great indie band" baggage. That being said, I'm sorry, this band is really good and has been good the whole time. I missed out, and I'll do my best to make it up to them. If they'd like to drop by the house, I'd happily set up a grill out or whatever they like and we can patch it up over beers. Seriously though, they also do some really amazing work in Haiti and the money they funnel to other worthy causes. This song builds from something so small and makes me think of the frustration of growing up somewhere that waiting feels like all you can do. Also, I'd like to mention the creativity we've seen from them as this song has an interactive video and the Spike Jonze video of The Suburbs is pretty awesome as well.

The National also fall into that group of bands that get so much hype and play that it is hard to treat them fairly. To get a fair trial, I had to move them away from all of the craziness around their touring and fans. I listened to plenty of their tracks and I liked them okay but I never got that goosebumps sort of feeling that great music can give you. That was until I heard this version of "Terrible Love". All of a sudden, away from the heavy production and drama, there was just this band and this voice, and it was amazing. I listened to it over and over and it was the same song but it wasn't. This band definitely deserves the love they get and I hope they are around for a long long time.

When I first heard this song, I knew it would make this list. Sometimes a song just burrows under the skin and stays inside and that was definitely the effect of Laura Berhenn's voice on me. After many listens I've resigned to the fact that this reminds me of past favorites like Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star and all those rock-soul girls that ever drowned their sorrows in a slow slow electric guitar and forced me to buy their albums and put them on whenever I'm feeling particularly moody. The difference here for me is that there is a hopeful up-turn in this song when she "counts 1 to 10" at about the 1:20 mark and reminds us that "it can be easy, if you let it." I keep thinking about that. Like a little bit of hidden zen master advice, she reminds us all how important it is to just "let it."

I don't know much of anything about the guy that made this. The story I heard was that he got laid off from Apple and headed to Hawaii with his girlfriend and made this. All I can say is, that if that is true, then sometimes getting laid off is the best thing ever because this music is amazing. It is transcendent, beautiful, electronic music that doesn't feel like it needs to pumped from speakers at a million decibels so much as it should be quietly poured over the heads of clubgoers like a baptism in light. I can't remember the last time I wanted to listen to an electronic song on repeat like this. This feels like a new type of lo-fi, ethereal electronic music that has made me look forward to new music again. This is music that needs no translation.

Because this is a mixtape, I feel that order and pacing is important and even more important is the correct ending song. This was one of my favorite albums of the year. I received it on Father's Day and it was the best gift I could hope for. This music reminds me of Amy and Ella and all that is great about being alive. It feels like the hymn book from my church - the church of music where everybody is welcome and all you have to do is sing and be good to each other and go out and try to be good and honest to people in the world. I think of this song as a hymn and a poem and truly something different than most of what is available in music today. This song was overlooked for catchier songs from their album on most lists, but for me, this is exactly what this band is about. It builds and builds and crescendos to a fantastic yell-along finish that feels exactly like the end of a mixtape should.

"Love it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design, an alignment, a cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be."
-From Sigh No More - Mumford and Sons

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Maker Monday: Re-Nest Best Sustainable Bedroom Furniture

Photo from Apartment Therapy Re-Nest
[Charles] When it's cold like this week, I want to go to bed early and sleep late. Lots of blankets and lots of snooze button action seems to define my winter pattern. I would love to get up early and go for a run and feel good about myself but... until then, I'll be dreaming of how to make our room more lovable and less leave-able. Here's a re-post from Apartment Therapy of the best sustainable bedroom furniture of 2010. One piece that stood out to me is the nightstand that looks like we could make a chair-hacked version from some of the broken chair pieces we find. What do you think?

See the chair-like side pieces? The salvaged screen or grate? This one gets me thinking...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Forecast: Legendary Life Market

[Charles] I'm running behind today and it's been a long day to say the least. Here's a couple of quickpicks and then I'm done. I'm sure you've got plenty of "non-voluntary" Christmas parties to make sure you miss stuff you want to do so I'm not gonna try and rub it in. I'm also working on my end of the year mix CD so that takes up a lot of my "research" time. So tonight, get out to see the Legendary JC's at Skipper's - word is they are releasing a cd?! That and the Lee Boys open so definitely they will make the most of the awesome temps tonight under the stars.
Forecast: 85% chance of James Brown's ghost shaking it in the crowd at Skipper's.

On Sunday you've got a double down. First off, head to the Sunday Morning Market to pick up some handmade gifts for your favorite folks over in front of the Hillsborough High School.
Forecast: 90% chance of awesome gift opportunities fo sho!

After that, head over to the Tampa Theatre to get your annual dose of Christmas spirit. It's A Wonderful Life always gets me choked up - okay I said it. Anyhow, it's a beautiful place and it will be awesome to see a classic on the big screen! 3 PM downtown
Forecast: 65% chance you'll need a kleenex for this one!

Have fun out there!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Maker Monday: Screw Screws Here Comes the Swiss

[Charles] I sometimes get obsessed with the idea that furniture doesn't really need screws and nails. Designs turn over and over in my head as the pieces lock together with tabs and holes and the weight of each piece locks the others together. And then every once in a while I see somebody who does it really really well. This popped up this morning on Treehugger - designer Colin Schaelli is building con.temporary furniture that does just that. It does it in beautiful raw wood that is designed around a tatami mat size that fits in a car easily and can be transported for the new mobile gypsies that we have turned out to be. Apparently it's good for sleeping... those silly swiss, they are so artsy? I guess you do what you can to show off the furniture. See what you think - me, I'm in love.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Forecast: Atomic Studio Harvest

Photo of Carved into Wood ring from Nested Yellow on Etsy
[Charles] There are some benefits to not working every weekend during the Christmas season like we have for the last few years, and this weekend brings one of those to the forefront - holiday shows! Tonight we'll kick off the weekend at the West Tampa Center for the Arts over on Armenia with an open studio at Studio 313 and the Bay Area Art Collective Party. This will be your best opportunity to meet Anna from Nested Yellow and see the gorgeous jewelry she has created this season. Her jewelry is so unique and amazing that it eclipsed everything else we sold last year for Christmas. If you are looking for something special for a loved one, you really can't go wrong with her designs. I'm hoping to see in person some of her men's designs as well that I've only seen in photos so far.
Forecast: 95% chance that something will end up under our Christmas tree after this show.

To keep this weekend from turning into one long shop-a-thon, I'd like to put in a shout out here for the Seminole Heights Community Garden and their work on the first ever - Harvest for the Hungry in our neighborhood. At 9 am on Saturday, you can get down to the lot next to Sherry's Yesterdaze and join up with a roving band of fruit pickers that are going to well... pick fruit and deliver it to Metropolitan Ministries. If you have fruit that needs to be picked, we need your help too - let them know where it is and they'll come get it! Email if you want to get involved. Let's make this one a success and a positive event for the neighborhood!
Forecast: 60% chance they'll be having fresh squeezed orange juice and grapefruit for breakfast at Metropolitan Ministries this week - IF we get it together! C'mon neighbors!!!

After that, we'll have to pop up tomorrow afternoon and head south to the Atomic Holiday Bazaar in Sarasota. Unfortunately interesting craft and art shows are few and far between in Florida. Sure there are plenty of country basket/manatee/dachshunds made from old metal shows, but not many fun, edgy, crochet/scrap/recycle/goth/alterna-shows. I work in Florida and don't go to the beach every weekend and sure as hell have no desire to decorate my house with shells and beachery so I'm really looking forward to it. I'm excited to see what unique screenprint art group Clothesline is up to this year in addition to being one of the sponsors. It'll probably have some "strange goth stuff" as my co-workers say, but it'll also definitely have some really cool and beautiful things. This is exactly where I'm happy to do my Christmas shopping and support great artists that are not just local but include people from all over the country.
Forecast: 65% chance that you'll be rubbing elbows with hipsters, youngsters, and goths alike and having a fantastic time!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Maker Monday: Reclaimed Wood Platform Bed - TSM Original Design

[Charles] I've wanted to document the construction of some of our furniture pieces for a while now and this platform bed has been a long time coming. I've been promising to build this one for way too long now and finally the confluence of time, the right sized wood, and inspiration came together a few weeks ago. Hopefully you'll get a kick out of the photos. It's a pretty simple piece but every piece teaches me something to look for the next time. I'm not kidding about the wood either - in Florida, reclaimed wood is hard to come by and often chewed up, bug ridden, too short, or just plain ugly. These wood pieces were cypress wood and they didn't look like much before sanding and oiling but after they were done - these were amazing.

This plan isn't much, but I can't say how important it is to have one. Especially if you are using reclaimed wood or even just need to plan with what you have to avoid making one more
trip to pick up materials. Take a few moments and sketch out something as well as you can.

This is the rough looking wood that I chose, basically based on the size of it and the fact that it was pretty solid. I also know how well this stuff cleans up after using it for a few things. You can also sort of see the large circular saw mill marks in these which can be country in the wrong setting but on this bed will contrast the modern simplicity nicely.

This photo shows the basic idea, as I mocked it up on its side. Basically I'll attach a plymood piece around the inside of the wood sides. This will support a plywood top for the bed. I decided to toss the box spring and just put the mattress on top. This will also have a center rib that spans across the bed which I'll make from leftover plywood pieces glued together.

If there's one thing I've learned with wood working - it's that you can't have too many clamps. It seems like I'm always using almost every stinking clamp in the place for even simple jobs. Wood glue does its job better under pressure so just suck it up and clamp away. This is when I glued the sides to the support pieces. After they were clamped, I countersunk some screws from the inside just for added strength.
Here's the beginning of the assembly in place. Because I think a good bed should be able to be broken down and moved, I made this with the idea of simple disassembly and assembly. I wanted to use hidden brackets, but I wasn't happy with what I had in the shop and just went for countersunk screws at the corners. I think it looks okay because they are really set in far, but I would like to improve this on future models. You can see the holes in the next few shots.

Since plywood comes in 4X8 sheets and beds are 5 feet wide, you get this. This is why the plan is important and I had decided to take advantage of this and actually set the wood to one side and add doors for hideaway storage. Try not to notice the stupid mess of wires behind the bed because this is an old house without a lot of plugs...

These door pieces were made much more awesome by the fact that they were from a painting that Amy did before and wasn't happy with. It had a mixture of tree and stenciled numbers in a bright green which makes for a nice surprise when you open the door. Notice how the doors both sit halfway on the rib across the bed. The larger piece of plywood is screwed down to the sides for added strength. I used simple hinges left over from some furniture I'd salvaged before on the doors and I drilled finger holes to use for pulling them open.

Here's the bed done, but unfortunately not made yet. I didn't want to hide the sides for the photo. Ignore the mattress tag - I'm still afraid to remove it. I shortened the custom floating shelves on the side also. The headboard is now a rusted steel pan that we had planned to make a table with, but it looks amazing on the back and is a great reminder of Amy's amazing talent!

After making this, I would shorten the length a little and do something different to hide the assembly better, but I love the way it looks. Our dog Baci is a fan too. It is about the height of a low bench so she can just hop right up and head to dreamland. Thanks for checking it out, and send me questions in the comments if you'd like more info...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Forecast: Jukebox, Superchunk, and Jobsite

[Charles] Lots to do this weekend folks, and not just Christmas shopping and movies at the mall... This time of year brings bands from the north that are happy to escape the cold weather and soak up the warmth of Florida crowds.

The problem this weekend is that all three of these shows are on the same Saturday night. The good news is that they are all within walking distance of each other in Ybor. How about we make it a little mini fest and get some comfortable shoes for a little rock hopping?

Superchunk came out of the late 90's from Chapel Hill, North Carolina and really trail blazed their own indie label Merge and toured like crazy for years. They don't tour much now even with a new album out but they've been tapped by Skate Park of Tampa to play their anniversary show this Saturday. This show is at Czar just down the street from The Bricks and the SPOT skate shop on 7th. Forecast: 90% chance at $10 this one will sell out and this crowd won't be giving away their tickets to any "Slack Motherf-er" without a fight.

Maybe first you should head over to New World Brewery and check out some of the bands playing in support of Jobsite Theater. This is the combo wrap season party and rock out that they use to raise money for the coolest theater group in Tampa. After working hard all year for a less than supportive *ahem* city as far as theater goes, it's time to let them know that we appreciate what they do. $8 gets you some Famous Monsters of Finland, Vodkanauts, Pale Orchestra, and they have raffles!!! So go ahead and check it out and get some good fuel for the evening. Forecast: 25% chance The Vodkanauts will mashup Neil Diamond and David Bowie.

After the first two shows, or if you are getting to Ybor late, you'll want to head to Crowbar to checkout Jukebox the Ghost. They get a lot of Ben Folds comparisons but after seeing Matt and Kim this year, I think the piano is getting a little more street cred than you might think. This should be a lot of fun and according to Soangelicate's review on Ninebullets, they put on an awesome show. Forecast: 60% chance of somebody getting a keyboard for Christmas after this show.

Have fun out there!

Also congrats to Cigar City Brewery for getting their wet-zoning approved this week! I'll have to remember to head over and pick up a growler and congratulate them in person. If you still haven't tried them... you're missing out!

Double Down Friday - WMNF's All Commercial / Non Commercial Show

Photo from
[Charles] Okay, so I was out this last week and missed a couple of posts, so to make it up to you fine folks, I'm dropping an extra post today. What would drive me to such extremes? Only my favorite show of the season on WMNF - Flee's "All Commercial/Non Commercial" Post Black Friday show on Monday.

I can't help that I find myself looking up music from commercials if a song catches my attention. This is what bands have to do now to get attention and I'm not judging. I knew Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes song "Janglin" before I knew who they were. I got The Heavy's "How You Like Me Now?" stuck in my head after the Super Bowl. I've seen some good bands get grabbed and ruined by overplay as well so I know it's a tricky game. You've got to find something that will help your music advance while not alienating new fans with associating your new jam with an annoying commercial about air fresheners or how friendly banks are. So anyway, Flee knows I love this show and I always send him a list of songs that I get into during the year. It's fun for me and if you've never listened to WMNF on the archives while you're working or cleaning the house, then head over and give it a try.

If you take the link, you can check out the playlist and play the show in your computer's music player. Don't wait though, it's already Friday and the shows only stay up for a week. After next Monday, they'll be on to the next show...