To What We Have Been Listening

MS CroppedIt’s summertime. Everyone here in Houston is indoors because it’s too @#$%& hot and humid to go outside unless it’s to immerse yourself in a body of water. I’ve heard a lot of music swirling through the house this week, so let’s go around the horn and find out to what we have been listening.

Reverb Raccoon: Fluffy, I’ve heard some good things coming out from under the bed. To what have you been listening under there?

Fluffy The Idiot Cat: I’ve been listening to the new Neil Young album, Son Volt – A Retrospective: 1995-2000. It’s great! I didn’t know Neil Young had recorded a new album. But this is the best thing he’s done since Harvest Moon!

RR: Uh, wait, you think Son Volt – A Retrospective: 1995-2000 was recorded by Neil Young?

Fluffy The Idiot Cat: Well, yeah, who else would have recorded it? And it’s obviously new because I only listen to new cutting edge stuff. And I have to tell you, Neil Young must have discovered the Catnip Bush of Youth [insert your own Daryl Hannah joke here] because he’s singing better than he has in decades, and he isn’t doing that Grumpy Old Man act like he has for the last ten years.

RR: Fluffy, I don’t even know where to start on this one. But, yeah, Son Volt – A Retrospective: 1995-2000 is a tremendous album. Until recently I hadn’t paid much attention to this branch in the Uncle Tupelo family tree. But this album made me sit up and wonder if Jay Farrar wasn’t the real winner in his Uncle’s divorce. Sorry Jeff Tweedy. Here’s a cut from a long-gone Son Volt appearance on Austin City Limits…

RR: OK, Milkshake, to what have you been listening?

Milkshake: Fluffy, you dumbass, everyone knows Son Volt – A Retrospective: 1995-2000 was recorded by REM. You need to stop chewing on that ball of green yarn before the dye rots your brain. And speaking of Neil Young, Food Guy, I’ve been listening to you and The Food Lady absolutely butcher ‘Helpless’ and ‘Heart of Gold.’ Her bass playing isn’t too bad but you play guitar like Richie Havens on acid and when you get that harmonica thing going it’s like cat claws on a chalkboard. And the worst part is that you’re blocking the best litter box in the house, the good one beside the piano. But, seriously, I’ll bet Neil Young is spinning in his grave right now.

RR: What? You think Neil Young is dead? No, I’m pretty sure he’s still alive.

Milkshake: Are you kidding me? Have you listened to A Letter Home? That was obviously recorded after he died.

RR: Yeah, well, I don’t think my readers are cutting edge enough to get that joke. The only people who read this are The Food Lady’s Facebook friends. And look here, hairball, I don’t think I sound so bad. Listen to this:

Milkshake: Like I said, ol’ Neil’s earthly remains are whirling faster than a pinwheel at the county fair.

RR: Thanks for your support, Milkshake. Good luck opening your cat food can tonight without an opposable thumb. OK, Diann, to what have you been listening?

Diann (The Food Lady): I’m embarrassed to say. Oh well, not many people read your blog [yeah, thanks for reminding me], so I’ll go ahead and share. I’m a fan of disco and funk. I’ve tried to kick it [that’s a terrible pun] with a 12-Step program, but got stuck on Step 2: stop singing ‘Shining Star’ in the shower. When I’m mentally drained and need a boost, I listen to BRICK by Dazz. That usually gives me the kick-in-the-butt that I need. Better than caffeine! It wakes up my motivation, and nudges me to get back to the grindstone. Actually, it’s more than a nudge. It’s a slap on the cheek. “Thanks, I needed that.” And If you got that reference, sorry to say this, but… you’re old.

Milkshake: Hey, Food Lady, he didn’t ask for your life story. What have you been listening to lately, as in This Century?

Diann: Milkshake, don’t you have something else to do, like shedding on The Food Guy’s office chair? Anyway, stress, as you can see, it just part of my job description. Stress follows me on my travels to Chicago, San Francisco, Philly, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, Birmingham, St. Louis, Denver. Well, maybe not Denver. I drop my stress off at the dispensary on Brighton and pick it up on my way back to the airport.

Milkshake: Yeah, I read about your Adventures in Wonderland, ‘Annie.’ The EMTs at Red Rocks are probably still talking about your visit. If anyone out there hasn’t heard about it, you can read about it here. Now can we wrap this up, Tolstoy?

Diann: OK OK. I’ve been listening to Closer to Home, which features Mike Herz and Emily Barnes. Their music is very calming, almost as good as a trip to Denver. It gives me the same great feeling that I had as a kid, walking out of school on the last day of the year. Their lyrics are real; I can relate to them. Stress tries to creep in, but the occasional banjo or harmonica solo guards the door. None shall pass. And if you catch that reference then you are seriously a geek and we should do lunch.

Milkshake: It’s a good thing I have nine lives because I used up at least two of them waiting for that.

RR: Milkshake, I swear to god I’m going to drop you off at the dog pound if you keep this up. Mike and Emily are no strangers to this fine blog. My review of Mike’s first album, Overgrown, from way back in 2013, contained this bit of prophesy:

I asked Mike Herz, “If you could sing a duet with any living singer, who would you choose?” Mike’s first choice was his friend, Emily Barnes. Stevie Nicks was his second choice. And that is what separates Mike Herz from the daydreamers…

I reviewed Mike’s single, ‘Smoke Your Smoke (Drink Your Drink)’ in 2014, and earlier this year The Food La- I mean, Diann, reviewed Closer To Home’s debut album.

Last Sunday we were fortunate to catch Mike and Emily in Austin at Radio Coffee and Beer. Here they are performing one of our favorite songs, ‘Good Days.’

We’re looking forward to hearing Mike’s next album, Acrobat. Be sure visit Mike’s website and Emily’s website for more information about Closer To Home and about their solo projects.

Milkshake: So what kind of litter box clumpings have you been listening to, Food Guy?

RR: Milkshake, I don’t have your refined tastes, but I’ve somehow stumbled onto some good music anyway. I recently discovered Songs: Ohia only three years after singer-songwriter Jason Molina’s death as a result of organ failure brought about by years of alcohol abuse. His classic album, The Magnolia Electric Co. was reissued as a deluxe version, containing bonus tracks and demos, in 2013, eight months after Jason passed away. Here’s my favorite track, ‘Whip Poor Will,’ featuring Jennie Benford on vocals and mandolin.

So that is to what we have been listening. Join us here next week when Milkshake will tell us how many lives she has left after spending a few nights in the dog section of Houston’s BARC Animal Shelter.

Bonus Video 1: Emily Barnes performing ‘Merry Go Round’ at the North East Regional Folk Alliance.

Bonus Video 2: ‘Tear Stained Eye, another great performance by Jay Farrar and Son Volt on Austin City Limits.

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