Journal Entry #40 - 06/10/08: A Series of Tubes: The Very Best of the Daytrotter…


11 Jun 2008, 0:47

Take a band, any band and wring them through the rigors of a cross-country tour and stop them dead in the middle of it. Pull them out of their van and give them the sparse necessities, borrowed instruments, old recording equipment, and little time to rehearse and see what comes of it. Then send them on their way. What they leave behind is a pile of ashes, sometimes a forgotten stocking hat and some absolutely collectible songs that often impart on whomever listens to them the true intensity that these musicians put into their art, sometimes with more clarity than they do when they have months to tinker with overdubs and experiments. These songs are them as they are on that particular day, on that particular tour – dirty and alive.

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**note: the quotes that follow the track titles are the quotes published along side the songs on the Daytrotter site.**

Menomena - Pelican
The band with the fun-to-say name took up residence on my couch for a few days. That's not true, except if you try and make a metaphor out of it. My couch is small and they are 3 (or 4) grown men. But at least they made it to Illinois to smack down these tracks. Normally they would be carefully "laid" down, but not Menomena. They know their verbs too well. I like to think that the spontanious "woah" made around the 2:40 mark was from the engineer in the booth who was overwhelmed by the rock and accidentally let that out.

The Spinto Band - Ain't That The Truth
Nick Krill wrote this song and sings it from the deepest part of his innards. It’s one of the newer songs the band has been trying to play, and this Daytrotter version might be the first time it has been recorded.
Nick: Sometimes realizations just dawn on you. Ain’t this always the case?

The Spinto Band embodies that enuthiastic indie/pop/rock mold and this track embodies The Spinto Band. Now all I need is a bow...

Cold War Kids - God Make Up Your Mind
God, Make Up Your Mind’ its about a Bobby Fischer-type kid, real smart, sensitive, listening to Nina Simone—he’s way ahead of his years, kind of freakishly ahead of his years. There’s a line ‘100 years of solitude and only 12 years old,’ which is like a way of saying that he’s known so much loneliness, even in his short life he has one of those huge capacities for human experience, his own and other peoples. So here he is on vacation with his mom and his new stepdad and his sister and he’s thinking about how unjust all of this is, the selfishness of adults, forgiveness, wrestling, talking to God about it. There’s a line ‘drew a picture of a cat laying dead in the street,’ which is my favorite, it’s a reference to this J.D. Salinger story ‘Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters,’ where I think Seymour is talking about this proverb that says that the most valuable thing in the world is a dead cat because you can’t put a price on it. So this kid was born out of these Salinger kids, who are notorious for being so smart and young and wise.
Like the flame of a single candle, the Cold War Kids burn alone. They burn in the cold halls that have given passage to liars and crooks. Like fire, they do not pass judgement they simply throw light onto the tired scenes of the dirty belly of humanity. They also will tell stories from time to time. I love the close proximity of this performance. If you listen close you can hear the guitar monitors rattle the high-hats.

Yeasayer - 2080
We wanted the intro to sound like crickets being put into a state of the art woodchipper. The idea of creating a sound that is beautiful but also ominous became an overarching concept for the track. We’d been playing around for a while with a riff that Ira wrote and had turned it into this kind of futurist-spoken word Mapfumo crescendo. We all took turns just singing made up melodies, chants, and making noise over one of the early demo recordings and the song began to take on an otherworldly quality. After adding layers of synths, clarinet, percussion and playing with pitch and speed we came to a sound and concept that was both dystopian and hopeful.
The hook of this song is what gets me everytime. The more people chanting (read: yelling) it, the better it sounds. Sing along, it'll put a grin on your face.
Yeah, yeah, we can all grab at the chance to be handsome farmers\
Yeah, you can have twenty-one sons and be blood when they marry my daughters\
And the pain that we left at the station will stay in a jar behind us\
We can pickle the pain into blue ribbon winners at county contests\

Voxtrot - Soft and Warm
This song was written for the lead character in the book, The Line of Beauty. Always fun to play live… gives me a break from standing up.
Taken from one of their excellent series of EPs, this song has a very typical indie song structure and yet Voxtrot is able to infuse all of their youthful enthusiasm into something honestly fun. New Sincerity all the way.

Vampire Weekend - Bryn
This song was inspired by a friend of ours from college. She’s from LA. This recording sounds pretty different than the version that will be on our album. This was the last day of our tour and we were very excited to try out the different pedals and keyboards. I never use pedals but I was psyched to mess with this phaser-y one. California has always been a mystical place for me.
The reason I chose this song is because of how live and improvised it sounds. Instrumentally, it is very similar to the album version but the sped up tempo is very energizing to the song. Makes me want to jump out of my skin... in a good way.

Tokyo Police Club - Graves
I gave this song to my mom for her birthday (which is a wicked copout from getting a present that songwriters are entitled to). It’s really new and the arrangement will likely change before it’s on the record. I’m really proud of the lyrics though. It has another verse/bridge part to finish it off, but we haven’t arranged it yet. This is the only recorded version of this song that I like so far.
This is TPS in their natural habitat. No extra production added, no computer trickery, just 4 guys doing it for themselves. It takes a special band to sound better on antiquated (antique) recording equipment. I just can't say enough good things about this band. During the time Elephant Shell was being recorded, I suggested on their forum that they record the whole album in the Daytrotter studios, because of how much better they sound in the raw. This version is a far cry from what ended up on the latest album, this version is a lot less morose but I'd have a hard time choosing a favorite.

The Mountain Goats - There Will Be No Divorce
I wrote this one when we lived in Colo, Iowa, which is a town no-one reading this will ever see. 775 people lived there and we were two of them. Our house was tiny and the pipes froze every winter; one winter they burst. We ate a lot of potatoes because they were cheap, and I taught myself to bake bread from scratch. We were young in our love and not yet married and there was a shack behind the house where I’d experiment with my boombox and my guitar to see what different sort of atmospheres I could get on tape. “There Will Be No Divorce” was one of the songs on The Coroner’s Gambit that took a long time to get right, and the final version was recorded in that little shack on a rainy day. Originally it was a much more uptempo song than the one I ended up doing that day; it had a sort of vaguely half-rockabilly feel. It sounded, I mean, more like the one I played at this session.
The Mountain Goats have recorded a couple times for Daytrotter, but I chose this one for its simplicity. It seems to say, the song that is, "take me for what I am."

The Velvet Teen - Caspian Can Wait
The oldest song in this set, it comes from the band’s debut full-length, which was engineered and collaborated on by Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla.
It's an old Velvet Teen song mixed with a new Velvet Teen attitude. It's just intense.

Sunset Rubdown - Winged/Wicked Things
“Yes. This is a new song. You guys have the first recording of it. It’s a song I wrote on guitar, originally.”
So I say it’s the white hair of Poseidon ebbing in the tide, in some dead sea…But the pattern of light is chaotic and blind but it’s right cause chaos is yours and it’s mine and chaos is luck and like love and love blind.

Sunset Rubdown is a regular Daytrotter-er. I would submit that Daytrotter exists only as an outlet for Specer Krug to croon through. It was suggested to me that I should just make this compilation a CD of Sunset Rubdown tracks; there are enough for that. But this track stands out to me from the other material because it is under 5 minutes long and I want to have room for other songs on this disc.

The Jealous Girlfriends - Hieroglyphics
Josh: I always wanted to try my luck at a love song. But I have such a hard time with a totally sincere I love you type of song so this was kind of the best I could do. Alex had this instrumental music that he taught our friend/producer Dan and myself one day in the studio. We worked it out into sort of an arrangement — just bass guitar and drums. I took home a demo recording of the music and tried to figure out a melody or whatever but I was stumped for days. I was in kind of an unhealthy on and off and on and off again relationship at the time….so the inspiration came from that when I was sleeping one night. I woke up in the middle of the night and just wrote the whole thing in like five minutes. If only it could always be that easy.
It was difficult to pick a favorite from this session. I'm a new Jealous Girlfriends fan, and all the tracks have that new sparkle to them. This stood was the stand-out song to me because of the dramatic elements. It reminds me of a play I've yet to see.

Elvis Perkins - All The Night Without Love
[no quote]
Stains are left in places for many reasons but all serve as a reminder for one thing or another. This track stands out from the rest of the Daytrotter archive as a high-water point. Nobody has done this before in just this way at just this (that) time. My tenses shudder with just the thought of what has will be accomplished. Also, harmonicas are great.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Modern Mystery
A dance song for Jamaica Kincaid…to cheer her up!
I took a song from SSLYBY's first session way back in '96. For one, it sounds ascetically similar to the rest of the songs on this compilation and the band has yet to become fully confident in their abilities and it adds a charming edge to the performance.

Tacks, the Boy Disaster - Frozen Feet (SXSW)
I don’t remember specifics of how the take of this song went, but I do remember enjoying playing it in that room. Something about the concrete walls and live sound of the room was really conducive to the sound of the song, and I think it was while playing this one that I really started to relax and have a good time.
This has to be one of the best pop songs written in the past three years. This band is still not very well known, having only release an EP. But this track has left me thirsty for whatever is next.

of Montreal - Lysergic Bliss
It’s a love song with psychedelic drug references. Also inspired by the Bunuel film “The Phantom of Liberty.”
A huge jump aside of Of Montreal's studio albums, Kevin Barnes rolls solo in this session. Of Montreal is known for its gaudy, androgenious stage presence and larger-than-possible instrumentation, which are absent here. Instead, Barns' lyrics are given a bare stage on which to flaunt.

FOG - what gives
I like the words on this one a lot. Pedestrian wrote most of them. Me and Tim sort of wanted to go for a Silver Apples-y thing. The great Phil Elverum came by while he was in Minneapolis on tour, and sang the droney vocal stuff, which we later looped and layered. Fun to play this one live, I got much better at singing it on tour than is reflected on the album recording.
Anticon alum Andrew Broder turned his solo work as Fog (singular) into a full-fledged band under the banner of Fog (plural). If that kind of thing bugs you, you need a hobby. Because Fog has always been Fog, it (he/she) exists outside of one man's psyche or a collection of stage equipment. Deal with it.

Rogue Wave - Desperate
I decided we should do this song first since most of the band had never heard the song before. It’s a song idea I’ve been kicking around for a time now. Thought we’d give it a whirl. The Daytrotter studio is a good place to wing it. I like wings. I also like that weird sounding keyboard that we used. I think it’s from the retro future. I was playing the Wurlitzer, so my back was to Pat while he played drums. Same with Patrick while he played piano. So basically, we all just closed our eyes and listened to Pat softly hit the kick drum.
Wow. This is a different side of Rogue Wave, and a return to their roots of sorts. As far as I know, this track has yet to be recorded for anything else. This is the perfect example of the type of magic can emerge from the humble Daytrotter studios.

Ezra Furman & The Harpoons - Take Off Your Sunglasses
People wear sunglasses to ease their eyes from something that is very, very bright. Also people ignore each others’ bright shiny beautiful hearts, you know? This song is what happens when a relationship falls apart because of blindness — it happens every day. Watch yourself.
What I really like about this song is its lyrical pacing: it is reminiscent of Elton John or Bruce Springsteen. I don't know if what they say about Furman is true; he may or may not be the next Bob Dylan. But every songwriter is passed that title at one time or another. But it seems that it won't go to Ezra' head anytime soon.

Port O'Brien - I Woke Up Today (Noise Pop)
As soon as I learned the Daytrotter crew was coming to our neck of the woods, I immediately had the idea to do “I Woke Up Today” with all of our friends. It would be hard to have our pals go all the way to Rock Island, IL — but this was the perfect way to record a live version of the song. We’ve been touring with a huge box of pots and pans on tour now.. and this was the first time we were able to use them. We made chili in some of them on the way out to SXSW after Noise Pop. This is how the song should sound.. sloppy, loud, slightly off-timing, and with tons of feeling.
(see above quote)

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**Tracks are posted for promotional purposes only.**


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