You know those albums that are just perfect for those warm summer days? Like Bob Marley’s Legend or Sublime’s self-titled masterpiece? They make you feel like laying in the grass with your headphones on or lazily steering a pontoon boat around a calm lake, beer in hand. But what about winter? What do you listen to when it’s 20-below and the thought of going outside literally sends chills down your spine?
Winter is tough around these parts. I go through stages, not unlike the five stages of loss and grief; denial (it won’t be as bad as last year), anger (this sucks), bargaining (if I get through this winter, I’ll plan a vacation next year), depression (I haven’t seen the sun in three weeks), and acceptance (I’m locked in – might as well get used to it). I’ve never become accustomed to winter. I’m tired of it usually right after Christmas. And without a good stock of music, I’d never make it to spring.
So, I thought I’d share my top 10 winter albums – selections that help me cope with the worst Chicago winters. They reflect the stages of loss and grief – some help me get my anger out, while others give me hope for sunnier days. They are all from very talented artists, new and old.
Good luck this season, I hope this helps.
Did we miss your favorite winter album? Leave a comment and help all Sound Citizens get through the doldrums.
10. The Subways, Young for Eternity.
The Subways are a UK product and when they recorded this album they were raw – like the worst winters. It’s full of power and anger, with a punk/power-pop twist. The songs are short (how I like my winters) but furious. This album fits an angry round peg into a square hole.
9. Interpol, Turn on the Bright Lights.
Interpol has a consistent flow in just about all of their songs. That’s what I like about them and that’s exactly what I need during weeks of uninterrupted, brutal cold. Pretentious, maybe, but this album makes me want to put my head down and just keep trudging forward.
8. Metallica, The Black Album.
I think the fact that I always seem to catch Metallica during cold months has something to do with this. The Black Album is dark, but it also gives a “me against the world” feeling, perfect for gearing up to go scrape an inch of ice off your windshield. And if you’re in the acceptance stage of winter, you can’t go wrong with “Sad but True.”
7. Johnny Cash, Live at Folsom Prison.
Maybe I think of this as a winter album because prison is a cold, dark and dreary place. But there is hope in this album. As the album progresses you can almost feel a burden being lifted from the shoulders of hopeless prisoners, even if just for a short time. Kind of like an unusually warm day in early March.
6. Smashing Pumpkins, Pisces Iscariot.
This collection of B-sides and demos is easily one of the Pumpkins’ most overlooked albums. It also fits in nicely with the winter theme, especially Billy Corgan’s cover of “Landslide.” Corgan is all too familiar with Chicago winters and it shows in this album. It’s loaded with angst and sadness, and speckled with hope. The Pumpkins’ Ava Adore could easily be on this list too.
5. Portishead, Dummy.
I don’t know much about Portishead. But I do know that Dummy can knock you out if you listen long enough. It’s not boring; it’s just dark, twisted and very groovy. If you want to zone out and forget about the blizzard outside, put this one on; turn down the lights and pour a stiff drink.
4. Cat Power, The Greatest.
The story of Cat Power (Chan Marshall) is one of redemption, so far. She’s the daughter of musicians, had a nomadic childhood, fell into deep depression and alcoholism and her tours suffered. But her gifts prevailed. Through determination and perseverance, Marshall rose from the cold. The Greatest encompasses both the struggle and revival of Cat Power.
3. Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs.
It goes without saying that Death Cab has a firm grip on melancholy. Just about every one of their albums makes me think of cold, dark winters – especially Narrow Stairs. But for some reason it’s a feeling of warmth in an otherwise cold place. Death Cab is interesting in that the songs can be depressing yet oddly transcending, taking you wherever you want to go.
2. PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.
Polly Jean’s haunting and powerful voice, direct lyrics and straightforward rock riffs make her a classic. But its this album’s gritty feel mixed with PJ’s trademark elegance that makes it so appropriate for winter. It’s like a miserably cold day with a delicate snowfall. Rolling Stone called this album the best of her career. She toured through Chicago on this album on September 13, 2001 – two days after the terror in New York. It remains the most powerful and emotional concert I’ve ever seen. Along with the video below, check out “The Mess We’re In,” featuring Thom Yorke on vocals.
1. Morphine, Cure for Pain.
The title of this album and the band itself are certainly fitting, and so is its mood. Listen to this album loud and it will literally reverberate in your body. It’s the good kind of shivers. Cure for Pain is dark, but remarkably warm.
Rodrigo y Gabriela have struck gold where many other musicians have struck out. Combining musical styles – in this case, metal and classical Spanish-style guitar – and performing entire sets and albums without one single lyric. In doing so, they not only have amassed a following, but a fervent one. Such was evident at their sold-out performance last Friday at Chicago’s Riviera Theater.
Here’s a sign that you’re doing it right: A check on craigslist for tickets weeks prior to the concert showed a massive disproportion. There were dozens of postings from people desperately looking for tickets to the show – just one posting actually selling tickets. Did ticket brokers miss the boat? Possibly. More likely, Rod Gab fans anticipated their arrival very early and made sure they scored tickets. And once they had them, they weren’t letting them go. That’s refreshing.
On to the show. We won’t spend a lot of time here talking about the magic of Rodrigo y Gabriela. If you’re not yet familiar, read this post from our review of a Rodrigo y Gabriela concert in Milwaukee. Besides, all you need to do is watch a little video – you won’t need convincing from me.
The highlight of the night (and one of this year’s best concert moments) came as a stunning surprise. Between songs, Rodrigo teased the audience about a special guest, then introduced Rob Trujillo – bass player for Metallica. It turned into perfect synergy (well, almost perfect – you’ll see) between the two styles of music represented by Rod Gab – their mind-blowing classical chops fused with their metal influences and inspiration while they jam Metallica’s “Orion.” It was the icing on an already sinfully outstanding cake. And the fans … let’s just say you can expect to hear them loud and clear as the music grapevine grows. Check out the crowd reaction at the end of the video “Part 2″ and you’ll understand.
Enjoy the video below. It’s excellent and comes courtesy of TP1134. Below that are two more videos shot by Sound Citizen, if you want more Trujillo. Also, check out TP1134′s account for more of the concert from an excellent vantage point. An outstanding job.
Only three dates remain on their U.S. tour schedule: Oct. 20 in Austin, TX, Oct. 22 in Philadelphia, Oct. 23 in Boston and Oct. 24 in Baltimore. If they’re coming through your area, you’d be an irresponsible Sound Citizen not to go. No excuses. Overseas? Check out more tour dates below the videos.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swiypXOCVFM[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTmSVP9g9zg[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLexVgTphtE[/youtube]
|26-Oct-09||Teatro Metropólitan||México, Mexico|
|11-Nov-09||La Carriere||Nantes, France|
|12-Nov-09||Casino de Paris – SOLD OUT||Paris, France|
|15-Nov-09||Vicar Street||Dublin, Ireland|
|16-Nov-09||Olympia Theatre – Sold Out||Dublin, Ireland|
|18-Nov-09||Les Docks – SOLD OUT||Lausanne, Switzerland|
|20-Nov-09||Ancienne Belgique – SOLD OUT||Brussels, Belgium|
|23-Nov-09||HMV Hammersmith Apollo||London, United Kingdom|
|24-Nov-09||O2 Academy, Birmingham||Birmingham, United Kingdom|
|26-Nov-09||O2 Academy Glasgow||Glasgow, United Kingdom|
|28-Nov-09||Manchester Apollo||Manchester, United Kingdom|
|29-Nov-09||Colston Hall||Bristol, United Kingdom|
|30-Dec-09||Falls Festival Marion Bay||Marion Bay, Australia|
|31-Dec-09||Falls Festival Lorne, VIC||Lorne, Australia|
|3-Jan-10||Enmore Theatre||Sydney, Australia|
|5-Jan-10||Palais Theatre||St. Kilda, Australia|
|6-Jan-10||Sunset Sounds Festival||Brisbane, Australia|
|8-Jan-10||Southbound Festival||Busselton, Australia|
|11-Jan-10||Aotea Center||Auckland, New Zealand|
|15-Jan-10||CLUB Diamond Hall||Nagoya, Japan|
|16-Jan-10||IMP HALL||Osaka, Japan|
|10-Apr-10||Olympia Theatre||Paris, France|
|11-Apr-10||Olympia Theatre||Paris, France|
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction of 2009 is Saturday, April 4. Unfortunately, not everyone can make it out to Cleveland, but you can get interactive with the ceremonies right now, through Rock Immortal. This online exhibit honors this year’s inductees: Jeff Beck, Little Anthony & The Imperials, Metallica, Run D.M.C. and Bobby Womack.
Enter the site and you’re presented with swirling guitar picks, along with another larger pick on the left side. There you find the inductees. Click on one and you’ll get more picks, like the ones shown here for Metallica. And this is where it gets cool.
Each pick contains user-submitted content – comments, photos or videos about the artist. Click on one pick and you might get a video of someone playing their favorite Metallica jam. Click on another and you could see a photo from a show, or just some fans showing their love. One of Run D.M.C.’s has a user’s cover of “Tricky” on the drums – and it’s awesome.
You could get lost in this site. In fact, you should. I’ve yet to see something so focused on the fans and their appreciation for their favorite music. It’s fun, entertaining and there’s real talent out there. Most of all, it gives you a sense of how far-reaching music can be, regardless of race, color, creed or any other factor.
Well done, Rock Hall. You’ve truly created something special.
Below is “Tricky” from JoeyJordisonGirl. To get right into it, skip ahead to the 1:20 mark.
(Video after the jump) As it turns out, my lady has a friend connected to Metallica. And that afforded us a VIP pass to the second of Metallica’s concerts in Chicago, along with a pass to Club Magnetic and near-front row seats. His name is Rob Trujillo, Metallica’s bass player.
So, as the lights went down and the band walked on stage, I was fixated on Trujillo’s performance. And he can play. He plays with his bass down low, plucking fast with his right hand and shuffling frets with his left. It’s a torrid, yet measured pace, and not since the departed Cliff Burton have I felt the bass’ influence on the band.
From the beginning of the show, the set list remained largely the same as Monday. But there were variations, including an early For Whom the Bell Tolls – a song so perfectly Metallica and perfectly suited to get the crowd involved …”the march is on!”
Again, the rocked some classics like One, Sad But True (my personal favorite) and Enter Sandman. This time, being off the floor but close to the stage, we got a better look at some of the pyrotechnics and lighting effects. As you would expect from Metallica, there were plenty of fireballs and some cool multi-colored flamethrower-like effects, especially during One (video below.) Songs played from the new album, Death Magnetic, were mostly the same from Monday, including Cyanide which turned out to be one of the weaker songs on both nights.
Both nights they closed with one of Metallica’s best and widely-known songs, Seek and Destroy, among a barrage of large, black inflatable balls coming from the rafters and thumping unsuspecting fans in the head.
But on Tuesday, during the final song of the night, Trujillo suddenly dropped his bass on the ground – it appeared to be an equipment malfunction. As Trujillo struggled to get a grasp on the fallen instrument, a roadie quickly jumped on stage with a replacement. Suddenly another roadie ran up behind him and shoved a shaving-cream pie in his face. That was followed up by other crew members, friends and even some kids, dousing the victim with more pies and a torrent of silly string, while James Hetfield continued the song, trying desperately to suppress his laughter. Turns out the crew member was celebrating a birthday – Trujillo’s equipment malfunction was all a ruse to get him onstage for the traditional Metallica birthday bashing. Kirk Hammett got the same treatment on his birthday.
After the show, the band stayed on stage throwing guitar picks and drumsticks to the crowd, taking bows, waving and telling Chicago how much they were appreciated. We headed back to Club Magnetic for a drink before being summoned by security into the hall, where Trujillo was waiting. We spoke briefly and met his wonderful wife. They are both seem like great people. He thanked us for coming and hoped we had a good time. A couple of young fans walked up and told him they were fans, one since he was four – which made me feel very old, but happy. “Dude, that was @#*! sweet!” one of them exclaimed while walking away.
Then a father and son walked up. They thanked Trujillo, who said he saw them in the stands and was trying to throw a pick to them. At which point he started patting his pockets, searching for a pick and started to turn away so he could go find one for them. But before he got away, they said they caught one, and Trujillo was relieved. “I hear you’re playing guitar now,” said Trujillo. “Good, keep it up. You have a good teacher in your Pop there.”
Below is some video from the show. Some of it is a little shaky – because I was having a hard time staying still. Don’t forget to click the bottom right of the player after you start the video to view it in high quality.
Sad But True
For Whom the Bell Tolls
(Video and photos after the jump) Metallica has been doing one thing for the past 25 or so years – rocking. And they continued that tradition in Chicago, at Allstate Arena, playing in front of a house packed with dedicated fans. I went to Monday’s show – little did I know that come Tuesday night, I would have a special invitation from a very special person to attend Tuesday as well. More on that later.
Metallica is one of the best metal acts of all time. Their huge talent and soaring popularity also makes their live shows very expensive. If they come near your town but you lack the funds to purchase a ticket you could look into payday loans on the web.
Metallica opened up with That Was Just Your Life, followed with The End of the Line, the first two tracks off the new album, Death Magnetic. They were good. Then Hetfield remarked that what goes good with the new stuff … is the old stuff. It turned out to be Creeping Death – and the crowd exploded with life, applause, metal hand salutes and singing.
From there the show raced on. Singer and guitarist James Hetfield sounded great and Kirk Hammett continues to prove that he’s more than just a thrasher, he’s an extremely talented musician. This was the first time I’ve seen Rob Trujillo on bass in person, and he was equally impressive – matching the intensity of Hetfield and flashing serious skills.
I had seen Metallica twice before this show, and the same thing happened on Monday that happened twice before. They kicked ass. They are powerful. They deliver metal in a way that’s sharp and melodic but still makes you want to mosh (usually a fleeting thought – I was on the floor, and a few moshes broke out, but I only got punched once and never lost my footing, even as an unwilling participant.) And there’s nothing like a crowd that knows just about every word to every song – as such, Hetfield repeatedly stepped back to let the crowd take over and that’s an awesome sound. And here’s the other thing – they were having fun and it showed. Hetfield gave several mentions of Chicago, and tacked a home-made “Chicago Loves Metallica” flag to an amp. And none of it felt gratuitous – that geeked up the crowd even more.
Speaking of the crowd, it was what you might expect and some of what you might not. There’s the guy with nicotine-stained long blonde hair, wearing all black (including the required beat up black leather jacket) who walks up to you and tells you that he got hit by a train on his way over, possibly because of the fifth of vodka he drank, which he shouldn’t have because of the side effects from his anti-psychotic medication. Then there was the young guys and gals who weren’t yet conceived when Metallica started out, but are old enough to drink. There are the lifetime metal heads who look scary but are just plain nice guys. But what really struck me was the abundance of father-son combos. In short, we’ve grown older, and maybe grown up a bit. And so has the band – drummer Lars Ulrich spewed some water out of his mouth onto the crowd. To which, Hetfield remarked, “That’s rude.” So Ulrich retrieved a towel from his drum kit and handed it to the doused fan. A rock star move, followed up by a paternal reaction.
Some personal highlights for me were Master of Puppets and a new track, The Day That Never Comes. Both are included in some partial video below. Make sure to hover your mouse at bottom right of the player after you hit play, and click “HQ” for a higher quality video.
So, about Tuesday – I ended up getting invited by my girl, via someone mentioned in this article. Come back for Tuesday’s review, more video and photos, and the revealing of the mystery man.
Read the review from Tuesday’s Metallica show. More photos and video!
The Day That Never Comes
Master of Puppets
|Sep 14 2009||8:00P||Sommet Center||Nashville, Tennessee|
|Sep 15 2009||8:00P||US Bank Arena||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Sep 17 2009||8:00P||Conseco Fieldhouse||Indianapolis, Indiana|
|Sep 19 2009||8:00P||Bell Centre||Montreal, Quebec|
|Sep 20 2009||8:00P||Bell Centre||Montreal, Quebec|
|Sep 28 2009||8:00P||AT&T Center||San Antonio, Texas|
|Sep 29 2009||8:00P||American Airlines Center||Dallas, Texas|
|Oct 1 2009||8:00P||Bank Atlantic Center||Ft. Lauderdale, Florida|
|Oct 3 2009||8:00P||St. Pete Times Forum||Tampa, Florida|
|Oct 4 2009||8:00P||Philips Arena||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Oct 12 2009||8:00P||MTS Centre||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Oct 13 2009||8:00P||Target Center||Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Oct 15 2009||8:00P||Quicken Loans Arena||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Oct 17 2009||8:00P||JPJ Arena||Charlottesville, Virginia|
|Oct 18 2009||8:00P||Time Warner Cable Arena||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Oct 26 2009||8:00P||Air Canada Centre||Toronto, Ontario|
|Oct 27 2009||8:00P||Air Canada Centre||Toronto, Ontario|
|Oct 31 2009||8:00P||Colisee Pepsi||Quebec City, Quebec|
|Nov 1 2009||8:00P||Colisee Pepsi||Quebec City, Quebec|
|Nov 3 2009||8:00P||Scotiabank Place||Ottawa, Ontario|
|Nov 9 2009||8:00P||Van Andel Arena||Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Nov 10 2009||8:00P||HSBC Arena||Buffalo, New York|
|Nov 12 2009||8:00P||Times Union Center||Albany, New York|
|Nov 14 2009||8:00P||Madison Square Garden||New York, New York|
|Nov 15 2009||8:00P||Madison Square Garden||New York, New York|
|Dec 5 2009||8:00P||Mandalay Bay||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Dec 7 2009||8:00P||Idaho Center||Boise, Idaho|
|Dec 8 2009||8:00P||ARCO Arena||Sacramento, California|
|Dec 10 2009||8:00P||Honda Center||Anaheim, California|
|Dec 12 2009||8:00P||HP Pavilion||San Jose, California|