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Random Shuffle – Bright Eyes, Mellowdramatic Wallflowers, and Jewel

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“Tourist Trap” – Bright Eyes
From NPR's World Cafe

I woke up this morning to find several messages in my inbox about the Copyright Royalty Board’s decision to deny NPR’s appeal over the increased royalty fees for Internet radio. I am not a political writer, and this isn’t a political piece so I’ll let the discussion of that decision go on elsewhere. What I will say is that the thought of losing such great stations as Radioparadise, and Pandora saddens and angers me a great deal.

Real world radio for the most part sucks. When I travel the 600 odd miles to my parents' house and hear the exact same songs played by DJs who sound exactly alike with the same jokes then I know radio ain't got no soul no more. To be able to click my mouse and hear great, interesting, and unique music for free is a great pleasure. It will surely be missed.

In protest of the decision I have been listening to NPR most of the day. After getting my fill of the tragedy at Virginia Tech I turned to their vast selection of music, and found this recent in-studio concert by Bright Eyes. I’ve not gotten around to buying their new album, but after hearing their songs played on Internet radio, I think I’ll have to go out tonight and do just that.

“Rhetoric” – Mellowdramatic Wallflowers
From Continental Breakfast

Growing up in small town Oklahoma, and not exactly being the hippest cat around, my scorecard with the ladies wasn’t all aces in those early years. About junior year a lovely lass named Ashley started attending the same church as the family and me. She was a sprite little pixie, with gorgeous eyes, and a smile that made a gymnast of my internal organs. And unlike all the other cute girls I knew at the time, she was friendly, kind, and willing to give me the time of day.

I meticulously planned ways of asking her out. I couldn’t just ask her to dinner, no she was much too perfect for that. I needed something wonderful, something romantic and fun and unusual. When I learned that local band Mellowdramatic Wallflowers were playing a free set at the annual Mayfest in Tulsa, I knew this was the thing to bring true love.

Biting my lip for courage, I made the call and asked her to come. I stressed that it was the Wallflowers playing as it was my cool card for indie credit. To my surprise she said yes, but was more excited over the entire festival and not just that silly band. I was in, a date – romance, love, and maybe a little something something. Okay, so technically it wasn't a real date as we were friends and there had been no implications of romance, but still a geeky guy can dream and if the romantic mood strikes, he can make a move.

Then came my sister.

My sister was (or I suppose she still is) two years younger than me, and at the time she was quite the opposite from myself. She was outgoing and stylish and popular at school. She used to tramp around the entire house looking for me when she got a phone call just to throw it in my face that she got a phone call. She also asked if she could go to Mayfest with Ashley and me.

This was a challenge. Of course I didn’t want her to go, but I wasn’t sure how to keep her out of it. I was way too shy to tell her my romantic plans, and if I said no outright she would only run to mom and mom would say she could go. I couldn’t think of any way to explain to my sister (or my mom) that I didn’t want her to go so that I could be with this girl alone. If I said it was a date, mom would embarrass me and the sister might let that bit of info slip to Ashley and then I might face the dreaded “we’re just friends” speech.

So, I let her go. We had a fun time, and I thought I saw the slightest tinge of regret when Ashley saw my sister, but I never got to find out what might have been for Ashley moved away not long after that event.

The Mellowdramatic Wallflowers changed their name to the Admiral Twin after Bob Dylan’s son made a splash with his band, the Wallflowers, and then they fizzled out. But I still have their CD and periodically play it and remember the girl who might have been, had it not been for my sister.

"Adrian" – Jewel
From Pieces of You

It’s true that music can conjure up all sorts of memories and feelings. If Random Shuffle is about anything it’s about just that – the ability of music to transport oneself to specific times and places and even to various states of mind.

This little sad folk number from Jewel’s first album, and really the entire album itself, reminds me of sitting on top of my bedroom desk, looking out the window during one lovely Sunday afternoon in my senior year of college. Beyond listening to these lyrics of love and hope and loss, my mind was also drifting into my future. Graduation and “real life” was coming up. I had some plans but the uncertainty was overwhelming.

Out that window I could see my neighbors and friends walk past. Sometimes they would see me and wave hello, but mostly they were lost in their own worlds as I was lost in mind. I remember wondering where our lives would take us, and if I’d ever see them again, after we moved on. And now, looking back, I see that I have no idea where most of them are, and how they are doing.

I’m not sure that Jewel helped out much, in fact I’d probably say her sentimental sadness did nothing but help me dig deeper into self-pity. I don’t really listen to Jewel much anymore, but she’s forever more tied to that Sunday afternoon, sitting there in the windowsill, watching the world pass by.

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About Mat Brewster

  • jerry

    I tried to give Bright Eyes a try but when he came down to Texas and bagged on us from a concert stage, all credibility went out the window. I can actually say that I despise Conor Oberst and wouldn’t support anything he puts out.

    On the flipside, that Jewel track is a good one. Quite sad but good nonetheless.

  • Mat Brewster

    Out of curiosity, what did he say?

  • jerry

    he did a show at the Ridglea Theater in Ft Worth, TX and started to bash Bush from onstage..fine, you want to throw your opinion out like that, go ahead but then he stated that everyone in Texas except the people at the show were a bunch of redneck indian-killers and wondered how we can ever live in a state as bad as Texas.

    For those who don’t know, you aren’t going to find a more prideful state than Texas and when you have some pencil-neck songwriter from Nebraska come and talk shit to people who paid for a good show, that will obviously will not sit right. He doesn’t exactly look like the type who can defend himself if someone called him for something he says from stage.

  • http://midnightcafe.wordpress.com Mat Brewster

    I grew up in Oklahoma and am quite aware of Texas pride. Even if he didn’t know, that’s a pretty ridiculous thing to do.

    I wonder if he’ll say something similar when I see him in Nashville in a few weeks.

  • Mark Saleski

    hmmm, i have heard that brewster is a rednecked indian-killer.

  • http://midnightcafe.wordpress.com Mat Brewster

    You’ve been talking to my mother again, haven’t you?

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    “Random” as opposed to linear shuffle? .. And exactly how many ways can you shuffle three songs? What does “Rhetoric” sound like? The Melodramatic Wallflowers are a band most haven’t heard.

  • Mat Brewster

    Ah yes, the Temple Stark incisive critique…

    I thought “Random Shuffle” was a cute name. Perhaps a little redundant as most shuffles are designed to be random, but cute none-the-less.

    The shuffling is actually of the thousands of songs on my hard drive. The three are then the songs “dealt” so to speak.

    I probably should say more about the songs themselves, but Random Shuffle has turned into more of a how music makes me feel, and what it makes me remember than a real critique of the songs.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    “What does “Rhetoric” sound like?”

    I was actually curious. I haven’t heard it before. The song, not the argument style before you get any cuter. ;-)

  • Mat Brewster

    Don’t worry, this is as cute as I get :)

    I was going to include what they sound like in my last comment, but it’s pretty dern hard to explain. (maybe that’s why I stick to telling stories about music instead of actually talking about it!)

    It was a bit of light indie-rock with a flute. A little bit hippy dippy, but fairly interesting.

    Before you get too curious though, realize they were very much a local band who put out two records on a very independent label and fizzled out about a decade ago. So chances of being able to find any of their records is pretty slim.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    That – “flute, hippy dippy” made me think of The Spin Doctors.

    I found Dancing in the Sun by the MeDr Wallflowers at CDBaby, which was calypso coupled with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The calypso was no doubt because of the subject. It was released on an Immutable Records compilation.

    Then, I found this site, Hometown Hereos Tulsa which had MeDr Wallflowers’ “Bridges That Cross Dry Land” in a February podcast. Downloaded that, skipped through all the overtalk. (Song Starts: 49:41) Blind Melon, then Violent Femmes came to mind. This song had accordion, Spanish guitar briefly, and understated twin-vocals.

    I liked ‘em a lot. Like the different styles (as evidenced by two songs anyway)

    So, you’re in a band / I’m sure that must be / nice for you / Moravian men / to tell us what
    / we all should do”

  • Mat Brewster

    Newsflash: After being amazed that Temple found some Mellowdramatic Wallflower music, I dug a little deeper. They did change their name to Admiral Twin, but they did not fizzle out. In fact they are about to release a new album.

    Before I wrote this piece I googled the old name, but only found really old Geocities websites and figured the band must have went out with a whimper. A search for Admiral Twin pulled up their official site, and their myspace page.

  • Linda

    Right your are, sir. Admiral Twin is alive and well in Tulsa. Since they happen to be my favorite band of all time I could rave about them for hours, but I’ll spare you the speech. It is your blog, after all.

    btw, as much as I enjoy the line “Moravian men”, the actual line was “more angry young men, to tell us what we all should do.”

    Admiral Twin, following their foundations in The Mellowdramatic Wallflowers, feature intelligent lyrics, layered harmonies, variations in styles, often off the beaten path instrumentation and sounds, and plenty of diversity as they have three strong singer/songwriters in the group. You can find their debut CD Unlucky (Phone Call #27, Down, But I’m Dying are my favorites)and their latest CD “Creatures of Bread and Wine” (Stay The Course, Wait For The Bang) on iTunes. Their major label CD “Mock Heroic” can be found at used outlets everywhere. Their label (Mojo) folded about a week after it was released, and with no support it sadly got critical acclaim, but no airplay or promo.

    The new CD, “Center of the Universe” is due out September 19th.

    You can also find them and listen on myspace: Admiral Twin

    Sorry about you losing the girl, but you should listen to the AT song from Unlucky, “There” about a guy who met a girl in a park, who later disappeared… Ah, nostalgia.

    Linda
    P.S. I grew up in Omaha…back then we knew better than to tick off Texans.

  • Mat Brewster

    Thanks, Linda. I feel like I’m finding an old friend. I’m in Indiana now which is a long ways from their stomping ground, but maybe I’ll catch them sometime when I go see my family.

    Their stuff on myspace sounds pretty good. I think I’ll have to search out their other albums.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Damn, I was thrilled with Moravian men. :-) I haven’t heard the song – couldn’t find that one – just took the lyrics off the web.

    I’m here to help push past “cute.”

    – Temple
    PS – Professional journalists don’t die, they just have superior digging skills ;-) /jk.

  • http://www.myspace.com/lindautter Linda

    I doubt if you can find Continental Breakfast or Daffadowndilly anywhere online, and I believe the band is even out of copies. If you want to send me a message through my myspace site I can try to figure a way for you to hear Rhetoric.

    I’m in SE Michigan. Mat, if you are in the right part of Indiana you might be interested in the Admiral Twin shows next weekend in Chicago. Friday night as part of the International Pop Overthrow, and Saturday night at Lunar Brewing Company. I’ll be there… I’d buy you a beer. The band still does “Splelunking Through The Chaos”, an old Mellowdramatic Wallflowers song, from time to time…
    AT later did a version of “Dancing On The Sun” for their second album, but it turned out to be a little “out there” for their label (it had saxaphone for petes sake and that whole latin calypso thing) so it ended up on their Odds and Ends album with the demos and rarities. It’s available through their website, but I don’t know of anyplace else.

    Temple, if you are a lyrics fan you might like one of my favorite songs from Unlucky, “But I’m Dying”.

    “I’m tired of living in your constellation
    Most of your friends, they still don’t know my name
    I’ve never been good at orbiting
    And everything you say is Greek to me
    So why don’t I blow the lid off this can of worms?
    I think there might be a prize at the bottom
    It’s a Cracker Jack deal
    I’ll be free and you’ll be rid of me
    Everything’s gold on the surface of the moment
    But I take my coffee much blacker than you ever will
    And when my day comes crashing down
    At 3 a.m., without a sound
    You’re fast asleep…but I’m dying.”

    Linda

  • Mat Brewster

    I’m closer to Louisville than Chicago unfortunately. And we’re actually seeing Patty Griffin that weekend, but thanks for the info.

    I just joined their myspace, and added you as a friend, so maybe I’ll catch them sometime later.