Against the side of my house, underneath the drainpipe.
That's where I stood, listening to the last drizzle of March drumming on the roof, counting off that natural 4/4.  It was beautiful, that rain falling from bright night skies. 

It was then I realized the tree frogs had returned to Old Maid's Pond.  Every spring they chirp their nightly calls, chanting that off-beat sound I've grown so accustomed to.  Every autumn they fade out, slowly quieting, dying down in a drawn-out diminuendo that finally ends when the first leaf falls.

They sing memories I do not yet have, of people I have yet to meet, and places I have yet to see.
Of laughter, of cold beer, of barbecues, fires, acoustic guitars, and in-depth conversations.

As winter slowly boils down into spring, that froggy din penetrates my windows and my ears as I lie awake, staring out my skylight, reflecting on journeys past.

The distant calls both calm and excite me.  They let me know that everything is going to be okay.

I'll try to be more apparent.


Lukewarm Sunshine

I woke up with a hangover, yet with the additional energy and determination relegated from the notion of getting the fuck out of Myrtle Beach, and also from the cocktails still circulating within me like a reused, worn down, dry record from a singer wearing a bad toupee and a mauve suit singing about lukewarm sunshine for six days now. We spent a short time in the morning loudly singing random lines from songs that reminded me of Asbury Park. We were trying to force the stale air out of our lungs, each person focused on their own progress.

Pseudo-indifferently, we all said goodbye, really saying goodbye to the three fellas who were going back to the University of South Carolina- the guys we wouldn't see back at school or for a while, which made me sincerely sad, and I hoped to see the somewhere along in the future. 

We left in our car, a posh Lexus SUV (which reminded my of a childhood friend's family car). Anyways, we popped some dramamine and got on the road heading north, drugged up and passed out, dreamily flying through mist-like glimpses of the dry and temperate early-spring of the South. 


Crystal Castles

Right now, at least in my huge fucking head,
it's all about the Crystal Castles. 

This first time I heard Crystal Castles was on a Kistune Maison compilation many moons ago. "Knights" blew me away. This 8-bit, hardcore, danceable Nintendo indie glitch-duo garnered much blog and pitchforkian attention from their remixes of Bloc Party, the Klaxons, and Uffie. Their debut self titled LP hits stores today, but an advance leak is floating around the intarweb, as always. Isn't the future awesome? 

"Untrust Us" is truly an amazing track that deserves many spins. 



My Morning Jacket @ SXSW

The show: Featuring eight new songs!! from the forthcoming Evil Urges.

The interview: Jim James talks about his songwriting process, about religion, about getting in the zone. Pretty candid, too.

Running commentary:

"Evil Urges" - Didn't do it for me. Bummer.

"Off the Record" - Does this tune ever get old? Well, as it turns out, yes. The soloing is over-the-top. Mighty song, just not the best version.

"Gideon" - Sounding really good here, as good as it ever was. Sung with more oomph - James makes that microphone cringe - and the dynamics are spot-on.

"Highly Suspicious" - God damn! This sounds like Prince in a parallel universe. I'll buy the album for this alone.

"What a Wonderful Man" - Wonderful song for a wonderful man. (On the side: if Jesus is neither hither or thither for James - his words, not mine - then what to make of this barnburner? A t-bone steak for your thoughts!)

"I'm Amazed" - I'm not. Sounds like James doesn't have this one down yet vocally. He's frequently off-key. The tune will probably knock me senseless when I hear the record, I'm certain they perfected it in the studio, but not yet on the stage...which is fine, this being a preview and all.

"Thank You Too" - Nice. Sweet harmonies, groovy beat. Makes me think of a cross between CSN, The Band and Al Green. But in the end, forget the comparisons, this is quintessential MMJ. A little more off-key singing from James at the end, but I'm sort of being an asshole. The passion's there, after all. (Not as good as "Highly Suspicious", though.)

"Golden" - I remember putting this on mixtapes a lot. Might be my favorite Jim James melody; such a natural, effortless song, even if the lyrics are a little undercooked. Still, a very serene song, and a pretty good performance. (Also: NPR "one of the most valuable resources we have here as human beings on this planet"? James must have been in the zone.)

"Sec Walkin'" - An elegant tune, this one. You know why? Well, it takes a good chunk of its harmony - especially that pretty guitar figure at the end - from "Michelle". If you want elegance, crib from McCartney. It's science.

"Wordless Chorus" - MMJ could stretch this out to an endless, aimless boogie-jam (to borrow from Ben Sisario) and I wouldn't mind one bit. It's that good. That said, the delay on James' voice was a bit much.

"Way He Sings" - This tune's just so warm: Guitars like a Blanket, Drums like a Sweater, Keyboards like a Scarf, Bass like a Brand-New Pair of Long Underwear. And those Voices are The Cake, that Reverb's The Icing! I don't know what I'm saying; basically, I want to wear this song around Portland. (And eat it.)

"Aluminum Park" - Another new one. Not noticing anything distinguishing this from other straight-ahead MMJ rockers, but I can't really resist when James goes "WHOAAAOW!" So, there's that, at least.

"One Big Holiday" - Speaking of straight-ahead rockers, this is still MMJ's best, probably because it's not so straight-ahead. Heavy-hitting, sure, but it knows when to jab and even then it makes you sting. And that opening line - "Waking up, feelin' good and limber" - is pretty damned appropriate, hair-raising as anything you'll hear on a MMJ record.

"Run Thru" - ...or don't. Never really liked this song. This performance didn't changed my mind. Too long, for starters.

"Smokin' From Shootin'" - I like when MMJ is operating in this mode, this mood: more about contemplatin' shit, less about rippin' shit. Then, at the end, they start rippin' shit some, but it feels earned. Lovely.

"Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Part 2" - Nice to hear that drumbeat in this context. Love the keyboards, too. It really don't get more apt than the chorus: "This feeling is wonderful / Don't you ever turn it off." As for the ending...I won't spoil the surprise for you.

Set ends, encore about to start. In the interim, some NPR people start chatting amongst themselves. "I've never seen so many new songs so well-received," one says. (Rad.) When MMJ reclaims the stage, James begins with a cute story about Yo La Tengo and - even cuter - singing part of a YLT song. So precious. Anyway...

"Steam Engine" - Nothing but the hits from here on out, which is kind of a drag, I was digging most of those new tunes. ("HEY! Play 'Highly Suspicious' again!") This tune captures a lot of what MMJ does so well: the soaring, pretty, reverb-laden vocals; the intense dynamic shifts, from scorching loud to barely audible. In a word, EPIC.

"Lay Low" - My favorite rocker from Z, rhythmically one of MMJ's coolest tracks, and maybe the best record-to-stage translation you'll hear in this particular set. The twin-guitar duel at the end almost makes you forget how lame the phrase "twin-guitar duel" is. And then, that fucking Elton John piano comes in! Pure bliss! (Clearly, I'm glad they played this one.)

"Mahgeetah" - I've heard this song too many times. It's great, I just have no reaction to it anymore. Sorry, Jim!

"Anytime" - Kind of a funny song to close with. Notice the hush of the crowd when that keyboard first begins? By the end, I'm left thinking about how great - and how fresh - Z still sounds; and wondering about Evil Urges. I was curious and excited at the start. Eight new songs later, I'm more of the former, maybe a little less of the latter. (Except for "Highly Suspicious"! That shit needs to come out ASAP!) I'm going to buy it, no question. But will it improve upon Z? Time will tell, I guess.


NPR has a lot of great SXSW coverage. Come and get it while it's hot.


write them some protest songs!

I know I post a lot about traveling, about having been in India, and whatever, but I woke up this morning and saw this.  

Thanks to modern technology, you can find live updates complete with trackers, footage, audio reports &c at:

to learn more about Tibet, and how you can help, check out

To anyone and everyone who actually reads this and/or plays an instrument.  Write a protest song about this, email it to me at williamsklein@gmail.com.  I'll post 'em back up.


"While You Wait for the Others" - Grizzly Bear

I'll make this short. I have to get up for a 14 hour road trip in t-minus: 5 hours.

This song makes me remember when I was in middle school, 
and a song hit me, and I would listen to it four times a day for at least 2 weeks.
The song taught me a new emotion; it made me just that much more of a free person.
It reminds me of being in an airplane in the sixties. Or reflecting on that image in the nineties. But in a complex way that can only be recognized acknowledging that it is neither decade, and that is fine with us.
It reminds me of the stories behind a jean jacket. But the stories are what are important, not some piece of worn and frayed denim. 

You're waiting for the others, and they could be drunk, it doesn't matter, you're ahead and you're walking at a moderate pace. 
And you're excited, you're walking down a main avenue in the evening, light is still somehow subtly pervading the air above the buildings but below the sky.
You're excited about breathing in the air, confident all of these possibilities- too vague and important to put into words, let alone to explain to those following behind- will materialize and compress like thunderclouds in the distance, dribbling over the flat terrain, beyond the buildings. Everyone will find shelter soon. The heat will make the rain evaporate gently off of the pavement. 



It’s-a hard to say what will last. Whenever we talk music – or any art, really – we inevitably drift into chatter of timelessness. As if that were something one could perceive! Aren’t there better ways to measure art? It’s really just a gamble, right?

The way I see it, ultimately, it’s up to the broader culture to canonize and maintain; and isn’t that what we’re really talking about when we talk about timelessness – the stuff that makes the cut, the stuff that’ll survive? (I’ve been persuaded, of course, to Dave Hickey’s point of view: that people don’t create art, the culture does.) In these terms, here’s what it boils down to: survival, for a work of art, merely means that the culture forces itself to remember you. And that’s kind of depressing, when you think about.

The real trouble: while it’s not quite an arbitrary process of selection and rejection (though it usually seems to be), there’s plenty of work which has – for lack of a better expression – the potential for timelessness, just not the good fortune. In other words, worthy art falls by the wayside – missing out on the broader recognition it deserves – every single day. That’s probably why we say shit like “she was so ahead of her time.” (Why are we so obsessed with time, anyway? Anybody?)

Somewhat begrudgingly, I’ll submit – or admit, I’m not sure which – that when it comes to Bob Dylan, timelessness is kind of a given. He’s one of the few modern songwriters to, for instance, have his lyrics included in a Norton Anthology – and if that’s not what canonization looks like, then I probably don’t know what I’m talking about. Stop reading now! But you know, there’re times (can’t avoid that word, can I?) when I’ll listen to this guy and feel like people are digging him for all the wrong reasons.

Bob Dylan – “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

This song has everything to do with it. People always get bowled over by those lyrics, lyrics which Allen Ginsberg thought signified a passing of the torch (to paraphrase); what with Dylan’s “skeins of bright images” (Ginsberg again) just bubbling up, up, up. But you know what? I never get around to slowing the song down enough to find out if the words are all that great. Maybe I would if I ever listened to the original version, from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. But I fell for this version, culled from Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, and... well...

... can’t get up, man.

And I’m bowled over not so much by the sermon, but the sermonizing, if you can follow me. Which is more powerful? And who’s got the better approach to the medium: the listener who fawns over the words, or the one who’s obliterated by the sound? Maybe a better question is: does the fire and brimstone, the sheer juggernaut force of this live version, pummel the original?

Well, um, fuck yes it does. End of story.

So – what’s gonna last? You tell me. But I probably won’t hear you, being stuck inside this tornado and all. (In other words: regardless of what will last, THIS TOTALLY SHOULD.)


Post-script: I could have written a much better post, could have said so much more about this song. (That bassline! It doesn’t walk, it kicks! Like a goddamn mule!) Oh well. Live and learn.