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Harry Nilsson is one of the great singer-songwriters of all time. John Lennon and Paul McCartney both acknowledge Nilsson as the greatest living American working the craft. His songs ranged from silly, like the ubiquitous “Coconut,” to deeply personal, like this one, “1941.” And the guy has an absolutely amazing voice.

In this entrancing, semi-autobiographical number Nilsson writes about how his father left when he was a little boy and the disastrous and cyclical consequences the failure of a father has on the children of broken homes. Check it out:

A new video from the fine folks at Crackerfarm Studios of the Avett Brothers singing their tune “Tear Down the House.” Features some nice harmony and fancy banjo pickin’ from Scott that aren’t in the original version. Love it when these guys switch things up!

Radiohead’s latest, In Rainbows, is certainly my favorite since Ok Computer.  It’s got, you know, songs.  Like with melodies, stuff like that, something which their last several albums have been, well, lacking.  After three albums worth of electro-pop avante garde nonsense I’d rather given up on Yorke and Co. producing another record of music.  But, lo and behold, they did.  This record is chock full o’ music.  And it’s pretty damn good.

Which leads me to my complaint, which is not so much with the music as it is with the criticism this record has received.  Many critics (Josh Gibbs not least among them) have noted that this is Radiohead’s most ‘approachable’ album in a while.  That the music will be ‘less demanding’ of the listener than some of their recent fare.

I respectfully disagree.  This album has challenged me as a listener more than Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail to the Thief all rolled into one.  The reason for this is precisely because it’s full of songs.  Those last three records  seemed like Yorke and Co. saying something like:

“Screw you, you can’t understand what we’re trying to say.  It’s so complicated we can’t even say it with traditional song structures.  We’re so complicated and interesting it boggles the mind.  Go ahead, write a ten page review of the record expounding all the themes you think you see, but you didn’t really understand that blip of noise at 2:52 and 20 seconds into National Anthem.  Yeah, I know you think you got it, but you really didn’t.”

All in all, it felt like Piss Christ, it felt like that exhibit where they piled up a bunch of trash in the middle of an art gallery adn called it an exhibit.  It felt like a joke being played on me by the music industry.  And I’m not some scrub unused to complicated music.  I’ve been through my share and found meaning in music that was quite obscure.

But I’m very pleased with In Rainbows.  They’ve given me a bunch of music to listen to and analyze, which is very different for Radiohead these days.  It’s a brave step for them to make songs again and I’m glad they took it.  Someone, I think in Spin, said that they had to go through the experimental days of the last three records to get back to making music again.  I hope that’s true, cause this is a really good record and I hope they’ve got more actual music in them.

I’m optimistic.

Happy BabyI’m not like those people who always say ‘Oh, I can’t believe it’s only been {x-amount of time} since {y-happened}!’ I find I have a pretty accurate set of expectations for the passing of time. It seems entirely appropriate that Ambrose should be a year old, and I’m glad he is. He’s got a lot of new tricks lately, which is fun. A few new words, a lot more real communication. And he knows me a lot better than he used to, which is really nice. The hardest part might be believing that I’m really his dad.

It’s my prayer that he keeps the faith better than me, and learns to be responsible much sooner than me. If he does those two things, his life should turn out alright. Here’s a montage his mom threw together over some Jack Johnson. So even if you don’t want to see my son’s life to date, you get to hear a Jack Johnson song and that’ll brighten up anyone’s day!

The Killers are the only band from the ‘this-band-could-save-rock-and-roll’ crowd who still stand a chance. Their new one, “Sawdust”, a collection of B-sides and unreleased stuff, is tremendous. A couple of duds, but on the whole, almost as good as Hot Fuss though, in this author’s humble opinion, not as good as Sam’s Town. But let’s be fair, it’s not even a proper record. So check it out. Here they are playing one of the songs that was a B-Side from Hot Fuss.