Thursday, January 26, 2012

Six Song Six-Pack - Billy Bragg's Best One-Liners

Billy Bragg's songs inhabit a world of their own. Sure it's not too different from the actual world that he wrote them in (by and large, Thatcherite England) only it's somehow sharper. Everything's more packed with meaning and purpose (be it good or bad). Oh, and everyone's a lot wittier. 

Given that he started out playing pubs with just his voice and a guitar, it's not surprising that Bragg is a wordsmith of the highest order. Whether shouting blunt political barbs, making wounded romantic observations or treading the murky waters where those two realities intersect, Bragg manages to fill his songs with lively joi de vivre, snarling cynicism, genuine love and wry humor, often all at the same time. It's writing that consistently sticks in your head, first for the melody, then for the laugh and ultimately for the message - a bar most songwriters aspire to reach even once.

His is a talent that can't ever be fully described and must be experienced, so with that in mind, On Warmer Music is proud to present the Bard of Barking's six best musical one-liners. (Fair warning, I've just finished a marvelous book in the defense of puns, so I might be a bit bullish, use these at your own discretion).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Album Review: The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy - Nada Surf

"If I'm waiting for nothing then what am I doing?" So wondered Nada Surf on its 1996 Karmic EP. Now, some sixteen years down the line, lead singer Matthew Caws is still complaining that "it always feels like I'm waiting for something". The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh? Given that Nada Surf have been focused on aging, their place in the world and the passage of time since that first EP, it's no surprise that these themes hang heavily over their seventh studio album. Matthew Caws says that the title The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy was a saying pinched from his astronomer father but it's also an incredibly fitting description of the band's consistent focus on these universal themes that has shifted focus or matured but never really changed over their nearly two decade long career.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Six Song Six-Pack - Albums To Get You Through Your Twenties


Until at least the middle of the twentieth century there would be no need for "music to get you through your twenties". Once most people graduated high school, or (for those lucky few) college, they would marry, get a job (or, if you were female, quite your job) start having kids and work till retirement. It was a straightforward life with perhaps less self-discovery but also less self-exploration and its attendant self-recrimination.

For a lot modern Americans however, the twenties are an increasingly complex period containing a slow and erratic shift from adolescence to mature adulthood. If you're in your twenties with a college education odds are you're spending that post-grad decade trying different jobs, cities, mates, ideas and attitudes on for size before taking the big plunge. It's a life of late nights AND early meetings. Paying bills AND playing in bands. You're not quite ready to give up the ghost and "settle down" but you're also working your ass off to make a career and define a place for yourself in the world. It's not as bad as being a teenager but, like pretty much every stage in life, once you're there you find that it's nowhere as easy as you thought it'd be.

If there ever were a medium that would understand the feeling of being an overgrown teenager (or immature adult?) it's rock n' roll. Here are six of best records that will help get you through your third decade alive.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Concert Review - Robbie Fulks at Fitzgerald's, December 29th, 2011

Didn't 2011 suck? I mean, beyond whatever personal setbacks I might have, it just seemed like every time you opened a paper or turned on the radio, something else was going wrong. Whether it was dangerously violent weather, a new Daley, the rotating clown college of offensive Republican candidates or the fact that our government's single achievement was choosing not to destroy our own credit rating, there just wasn't much succor to be found this year. (And don't even get me started on Adam Dunn or the Cutler injury.)

So what does one do at the end of a year as monumentally soul-depleting as 2011? The same thing we do every year, go see Robbie Fulks.

You see, every year, Robbie, his band, his wife and few other friends put on a "Year In Review" show at Fitzgerald's, a friendly suburban restaurant/performance bar in Berwyn. It's a full band country rock concert interspersed with audience trivia games, humorous skits and musical numbers based on the year's events and any other tomfoolery the band might feel like engaging in. It's a glorious institution - fun, informal, raucous and incredibly well-executed.