#97: “Tells His Story” by Brian Dewan

It might not be the conventional opinion, but there is nothing cooler than a man in a white shirt and dark tie playing with an electric zither whilst standing behind a podium. This is how I was introduced to Brian Dewan, the musician-artist-engineer-auteur, when he opened for They Might Be Giants in the late ’90s. He is an man who really defies any rational explanation for his existence and instead you just need to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Although he does have a penchant for recording old political rally songs, his first album, Brian Dewan Tells His Story, actually features such important topics as dead cowboys, cop killing (and cop zombies), drinking birds, alien invasions, haircuts and household fires. Now, if you don’t think that sparsely arranged songs that are dominated by Brian Dewan’s intense vocals and zithering, then maybe this isn’t for you, but if it is, you will be rewarded justly.  “Cowboy Outlaw” might be one of the downright creepiest songs put to tape, as Dewan spins a yarn about a dead cowboy whose body gets handed down through the years, while “The Letter” describes the myriad of fates of people who did and didn’t keep the chain letter moving. This is nerd rock at its finest, a real gem for those of you looking for the opposite of rock and roll.

Excellent tracks: “99 Cops”, “The Cowboy Outlaw”, “The Letter”, “The Creatures”, “Feel the Brain”

EG100 Score: 77.77

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#98: ‘The Good Son’ by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

I suppose that to an extent, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds are an acquired taste. Not to say they aren’t good. Heck, they’re beyond good, they are great. However, I know very few people who liked Nick Cave from the very first listen. This is not to say that I hated the band, but I really didn’t have the sort of appreciation of the band and their sound that I do now. Which brings me to my point: is a band great if you feel you need to use the phrase “appreciate” rather than “love” when describing the experience of listening to their music. I remember reading somewhere once that some people are born to love classical music, the rest of us can just learn to appreciate it (I fall in the latter category). This just might be the case for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and whether it means that you have to be a true music aficionado to wade into their oeuvre without getting overwhelmed, or maybe they’re just overrated by a bunch of music nerds. The Good Son doesn’t tend to be the album most Nick Cave gravitate towards when they think of the band’s career, but to me, it is my second favorite. The trio of “song” songs – “The Hammer Song”, “The Ship Song” and “The Weeping Song” are some of the deepest and most richly textured songs that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have put on a single record, where Nick’s voice is as smooth as it had been to that point, mixing lushly with the arrangements, yet it is was still as dark and macabre as you would want from the Aussie band. You might not automatically get drawn towards it, but if you give Nick Cave a solid chance, you’ll find them as fascinating as I do.

Excellent Tracks: “The Weeping Song”, “The Ship Song”, “The Hammer Song”, “The Good Son”

EG100 Score: 77.62

The Manny-Bay trade

 

Most people/sources really hate the bay deal, well, at least a lot of the loudmouth fans and talk radio idiots. They say the Red Sox gave up their “best hitter” for magic beans and the Yankees are laughing their way to the playoffs now because they don’t have to face Manny anymore. They say Theo Epstein is an evil overlord who wanted to run Manny out on a rail, that Theo and the front office just want to destroy players they don’t like, like Manny, Pedro, Damon, etc. The hatred being spewed is astounding, and it really makes me wonder if any of these so-called “fans” actually like the Red Sox in the first place.

You know, I can’t really imagine changing my team affiliation from the sox, not realistically, but after reading the sorts of responses that folks on SOSH had to this whole thing, I realized that I can’t stand most Red Sox fans these days… they seem to have no joy in their hearts about the team, that it is all anger and second guessing. They say things like that Theo caved to manny by trading him – that theo should have taken the options to spite Manny – that Theo hates blacks and thats why he traded Manny – that the red sox spread rumors and did a hatchet job on manny to convince people that the trade was needed. It is ridiculous the level of paranoid/idiotic/downright depressing stuff was being tossed around and if you had a reasonable thing to say about the trade, you were labeled a patsy or fanboy. Theo’s hand was forced and made possibly the best deal imaginable for Manny – no, we weren’t going to get Hanley or Kemp or all those pie-in-the-sky names people were wishing for all day. Yet, somehow, people started asking, after the trade, if Theo wa done and should be fired. What? The Red Sox won the World Series LAST YEAR. It made me want to trade in my Sox paraphernalia for the Rays or the ‘Ners. heck, I posted on the Sons of Sam Horn for the first time ever to more or less say that I was deleting my bookmark for the site because of this madness. I mean, what is the point of being a “fan” of the team when its obvious you hate them?

Anyway, I’m trying to get over that. The Red Sox did not trade “in his prime” Manny. They traded 36-going-on-37 Manny and got, well, a really good player in return. Jason Bay has 19 Win Shares so far in 2008, putting him in at 10th in all of baseball, between Grady Sizemore and Chase Utley. Manny has 15, the same level as Johnny Damon, Corey Hart and Ryan Ludwick. Heck, over the last three years, here are they season win shares: Manny –  29/15/15; Bay – 24/13/19. Sure, Bay might be have the so-called fear factor that Manny has, but he’s been playing in Pittsburgh! You could be Ted Williams 2.0, but if you played for the Pirates, you wouldn’t get anyone’s attention anyway. Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss were both throw away pieces – look at it this way: if the Yankees had traded Jason Giambi, Edwar Ramirez and Brett Gardner for Bay, people would be in the streets claiming what a steal it was for the Yankees. Red Sox fans (and fans in general) tend to overvalue their own players (I know I do with my fantasy teams), but now with the press-induced hysteria over Manny, it has been amplified a thousand-fold. By claiming that Bay is not “Manny in his prime” like I have heard some people say, it is like taking your 1995 Corvette to the dealer and demanding they trade you a brand new Corvette for it – straight up! This is madness, and I am ready for it to be over. I’m ready to watch the Sox play baseball and not get lost in these soap operas. I’m ready to stop paying attention to the Red Sox Nation, where many fans have bought into their own stereotype. I’m ready to see if the Sox can keep up with the Rays and Yankees from here on in. And I’m more than ready to watch Jason Bay patrol left field at Fenway for 2008 and 2009.