I really do know where Amsterdam is

It's kind of an inside joke, but trust me, it's funny.

Let's say you're a Dutch band with a love of Queensryche style guitar solos and you're kicking off your first "tour" of America in Cincinnati. What would you do to mark your arrival in the states? If you're RoryMi, you buy a pack of Lucky Strikes and throw rocks in the river.

Maybe they just failed to tape the part later where they did a bunch of heroin and slept with groupies.

One show down, billions to go

Well, maybe not billions, but my next couple weeks look to be chock full 'o concerts.

Last night I went to see The National (again) and ended up standing next to one of the old-lady relatives of the band who was scandalized by the shirtless guy near us. Scandalized!

Wednesday it's Bloc Party then Thursday is my volunteer stint at MidPoint Music Festival where I am oddly excited about seeing the Belgian band Staircase. Maybe I can ask them about the possibility of their country breaking up. Or maybe I'll just tell them I love Belgium - Amsterdam is awesome!

Friday and Saturday I am free to rock out at MidPoint, including my now legendary fourth annual Saturday night bar hop. I'm still finalizing the schedule, but I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing the Chicago band Otter Petter if only because their name mentions otters.

But it's not over there folks! The following Wednesday I've got a ticket to see Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem in Louisville as the kickoff to my great Texarkana road trip. You see my friend Summer is getting married in Texarkana and rather than driving to Indy for cheap plane fair then renting a car and driving three hours to Dallas, I just decided to take Sir Ranulph for a drive. Besides, I like to drive.

So it's Wednesday night in Louisville then Thursday night in Memphis where I'll get up early Friday to go see Graceland. I'm not really an Elvis (well, Presley) fan but Graceland is the Wrigley Field of music. If you're a fan of music, you must see the jungle room. It's the law.

Friday afternoon it's on down to the city so great it takes up two states and Saturday is the wedding. Whew, I'm getting worn out just thinking about it, but worn out in a good way. I'm planning on bringing my laptop and a camera so hopefully I'll have some photos to post along the way. I'm sure I'll have at least a few from MidPoint!


Now and again it seems worse than it is, but mostly the view is accurate

Josh and I can't stop talking about the new Rilo Kiley album, Under the Blacklight. It's seriously good. Not just, this is fun to listen to good, but this could be an all-time great album good. You really must check it out.

If all you know about Rilo Kiley is "Portions for Foxes" you might be a little surprised. There is more of a Southern California '70s pop feel to this album. There are actual disco beats if you listen closely. You'll be like, "This song is great!" Then you'll be like, "Wait, this sort of sounds like ABBA." You won't care, though. You'll love it anyway.

Speaking of ABBA, I'm also enjoying Our Ill Wills by my favorite Swedish band, the Shout Out Louds. It's a more mellow follow up to Howl, Howl, Gaff, Gaff but I think the lyrics are better. I've got tickets to see them in Columbus in October and I can't wait. They're on tour in the U.S. right now and it's worth checking them out.


Declan's next album today is Fevers and Mirrors by Bright Eyes. While I was listening to it, I kept thinking this had to be a debut album. It's pretty wide-eyed yet pretentious. It sounds like music from someone who's still sure they're going to change the world.

A little Googling, though, told me that's it's actually Bright Eyes' third album (released in 2000). I found that surprising considering the second from last song, "An Attempt to Tip the Scales" is not actually a song but an excerpt from a radio interview in which a crazy (or very high) Conor Oberst tells the radio guy how very sad he is. It's really, really terrible and did I mention pretentious?

That said, the album as a whole isn't terrible. "The Calendar Hung Itself" and "Something Vague" are classic Bright Eyes tunes and remind me why I love Conor so. That radio interview at the end brings everything to a grinding halt and leaves abad taste in my mouth. At least Bright Eyes is down to just having talking during the first songs on albums. I'm getting used to that, even though it's still pretentious. I love Conor anyway.

More Sir Ranulph

Here's one more photo.


Pray to Sony my soul to keep

It looks like I wasn't the only person who was a little disappointed with the new iPod announcements this week. I love the idea of the touch screen but there's no way I could operate with just 16 gigs of space for music. I love the giant hard drive on the 160 gig iPod Classic, but I really want it with a touch screen. I have a feeling that combo's a couple of years away and I fear Declan won't last that long, so I've started saving my pennies for a 160 gig Declan 2.0. Hopefully, I won't need a new one any time soon, though.


And now I want to tell you a little story about today's album...

For 90% of the world, Semisonic is a classic one-hit wonder band. "Closing Time" was all over the radio in the spring and summer of '98 and they were never heard from again. For me, "Closing Time" was the beginning of the end of a years long love of the band. Let me explain.

I can't remember the first time I saw Semisonic, but I know I was working at The Blue Note at the time so it was probably 1996 or so. They must have been opening for another band I liked, because I can't imagine going to the show otherwise. Either way I left that night with their first album, Great Divide. As the months progressed, I continued to force that album on my friends, insisting they listen to my favorite tracks or including them in mix tapes (yes, back then it was really tapes).

In January of 1998, I headed out for a semester in London, where I was left with the stack of CDs I brought and the little radio I picked up for a few dollars at a Radio Shack. I came back home in May with a deep knowledge of Natalie Imbruglia and Spacehog but no idea that while I was gone the band I loved had become a household name. Semisonic had released Feeling Strangely Fine and their single was on the radio every five minutes. I was used to always explaining who Semisonic was to everyone and now they were those "Closing Time" guys.

That summer I caught their Summerfest show in Milwaukee and had to put up with one of those terrible crowds that is only there to hear the hit single. It made me sad. Suddenly, there were people everywhere at their shows, but they only wanted to hear one song.

Most people don't know Feeling Strangely Fine is a great album. I can't say I listen to it much these days, but when I dusted it off for this listen, I still loved it. "This Will Be My Year" still makes me feel positive about my life and "California" stands out in that crowded group of songs about the state.

In March, 2001 when the band finally got around to releasing All About Chemistry, it had been too long between albums, and no one seemed to remember who they were. Chemistry wasn't their best work either, and I'm sure their label had high expectations. I can't say I know what happened, but now the band is no more. Lead singer Dan Wilson did win a Grammy last year for writing "I'm Not Ready To Make Nice" with the Dixie Chicks, so maybe a few other people will go back and check out the band they wrote off as a one-hit wonder.