Tuesday, June 25, 2013

High Heat Stuff

Just a couple updates about what I've been up to lately blogging-wise:
Thanks for caring...assuming you do. I you don't...well, whatever. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Hall of Stats and Last Night's Dodgers-Diamondbacks Brawl

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of the Hall of Stats. So, after noticing all the highly rated players-turned-coaches who were in the middle of last night's Dodgers-Diamondbacks brawl, I tweeted:
Then I added the qualifier:
To which, I received the following response:
Things kind of took off from there, with Nick Pain (@tenlbpain) doing most of the heavy lifting:

I asked Nick if he was just looking at rosters or if he'd identified each guy in the melee, and he assured me it was a combination of both. That is, he used the rosters to refresh his memory, then actually looked for the guys in the scrum. I'm taking him at his word.* 

*UPDATE: I personally confirmed every player listed below, except Valentin.

So, here's the (unofficial) final tally:

Alan Trammell - 143
Mark McGwire - 124
Matt Williams - 89
Don Mattingly - 78
Davey Lopes - 74
Kirk Gibson - 69
Tim Wallach - 65
John Valentin - 64
Charles Nagy - 50
Don Baylor - 41
Rick Honeycutt - 41**
Steve Sax - 37
Chuck Crim - 15
Turner Ward - 7

TOTAL - 897

**UPDATE #2: Thanks to Nick, I was able to personally identify Valentin. I'm also almost 100% certain I recognize Honeycutt, bringing the total to 897.

That's the equivalent of almost nine Hall of Fame careers, which has to be some kind of record.

There may have been more, as Rick Honeycutt, Ken Howell, Manny Mota and Steve Yeager are all uniformed members of the Dodgers' coaching staff. For some reason, the Diamondbacks' list of coaches on their web site is much shorter.

Anyway, if you can confirm involvement of any additional former players, please say so in the comments.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Frequent Spins (2013.3)

Iron & Wine - Ghost on Ghost
Sam Beam will probably never make the album I've been anticipating for all these years, but that's my problem, not his. He just keeps making consistently good music, even if much of it feels a little unsatisfying to me.

Jim James - Regions of Light and Sound of God
Speaking of unsatisfying, it's probably unrealistic to expect an artist to ever recreate the emotions you felt when you first discovered him/her/them. That is, when they're one of those bands who make you want to seek out everything they've ever recorded, as My Morning Jacket was for me about a decade ago.

Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle - Perils from the Sea
A surprising collaboration between Sun Kil Moon's Kozelek and The Album Leaf's LaValle yields very pleasing results. As a bigger fan of the former, this one adds a certain freshness to Kozelek's otherwise fairly predictable formula. I would describe it as Postal Service for the slightly older crowd, although I might be a little off base in saying that.

Local Natives - Hummingbird
This is actually one I've been listening to on and off for a while. There's been a little controversy going on in my mind regarding whether or not I like it, probably because it reminds me of a lot of music I love but falls short of evoking that emotion. Still, it's worth a few listens if for no other reason than it was produced by The National's Aaron Dessner and has drawn comparisons to Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes.

The Men - New Moon
A much mellower affair than their previous albums, New Moon might risk putting off fans of their noise rock sound, but to me this one shows a Replacements-esque versatility. Nothing here is as charmingly sloppy as that band's trademark sound, of course, but what is? Come to think of it, Silkworm is probably a better reference point.

Mogwai - Les Revenants
This album's penultimate song, "What Are They Doing in Heaven," reminds me a bit of Mojave 3 and makes me wonder why this band doesn't add vocals to more of their songs.

Shout Out Louds - Optica
For some strange reason, I like discussing the demographics of the bands I listen to. Because of this, it was a little surprising when, a few years ago, I realized Sweden is my fourth favorite country for music (behind the U.S., Canada and England). In addition to the SOLs, there's Jens Lekman, The Tallest Man on Earth, First Aid Kit...OK, maybe that's it. So, perhaps I should bump Sweden to #5 in favor of Scotland. Teenage Fanclub might be all the reason I need for that. Anyway, this one's probably not borderline top ten material like the SOLs last, but when they're on this melodic indie pop band is seriously on. And they are for at least half this album.

Various Artists - The Music is You: A Tribute to John Denver
Sometimes tribute albums work better when they're paying homage to artists who aren't among your favorites. After all, why would you want to hear lesser versions of songs you love. I'm overly generalizing here, of course, and this isn't intended to be a knock on Denver. It's just that perhaps it took a bunch of other artists to make me realize how good of a songwriter he really was. Take your pick regarding what this album's highlights are, because they're are plenty. My personal favorite is J. Mascis and Sharon Van Etten teaming up on "Prisoners."

Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison - Cheater's Game
A friend of mine was the product manager for Kelly Willis's What I Deserve in 1999. That album may have bridged a gap for me. I was fully ensconced in the more rocking side of the upstart alt-country genre at the time, but had yet to fully embrace its country side. Not coincidentally, Willis is one of only a few artists I've successfully turned my dad onto. This one is her first full-on duet album with her husband, Bruce Robison, and it succeeds much more than previous collaborations between the two. It's not quite Emmylou and Gram, but it's certainly better than the former's recent duet with Rodney Crowell.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Anders & Kendall - Boston Living Room Show

Anders Parker has been doing the living room show circuit for a few years now. The first couple of tours, Centro-Matic's Will Johnson was his co-headliner. This time around, it was in collaboration with Kendall Meade, formerly of Mascott.

The living room tour is an interesting concept. Undertow Music, Anders & Kendall's management company, establishes a schedule of shows in various metropolitan areas and asks for volunteers to open up their homes as hosts. In return, the hosts get several free admissions for their friends and, of course, a pretty unique experience. 

There are also some serious rules in place to prevent these shows from turning chaotic. For one, the exact location is not revealed until you purchase tickets, and tickets have the purchaser's name on them and can't be transferred without advance permission from Undertow.

Typically, shows are scheduled to start at 8pm and end at 9:30, with all guests expected to leave by 10. For last Friday's Boston performance, we were asked to arrive between 7 and 7:30, but admittedly got there closer to 8. The rules on our tickets also stated attendees were allowed to bring a few beers, but there was definitely an emphasis on the fact this was not a party. 

I asked Anders if there had ever been an event that got out of control, to which he said one time the circumstances were less than ideal. Otherwise, hosts and show-goers have generally been friendly, polite and considerate, as was the case this time. 

The show was in Allston and the hosts were extremely welcoming, to the point they made us feel like we were guests at a party. 

As you can imagine, this was perhaps the most intimate performance I've ever attended. We sat on a living room couch while Anders and Kendall played only a few feet away. 

The hour-long set consisted of most, if not all, of the songs from Wild Chorus, their recently released duet album. Highlights included a stirring rendition of "Sleepwalking," confirming to me that it's the best song on the album. We were also treated to an "oldie," which, in fact, was the first song these two ever recorded together: "Keep Me Hangin' On" from Anders' first solo album, Tell it to the Dust; a track from Mascott's Dreamer's Book (which I'm unable to identify); and an excellent cover of The Rolling Stones' "Sway."

After the show, I shared a somewhat nostalgic story with Kendall about a Mascott show at the Middle East in the late '90s. Lee Mazzola was playing drums with Mascott on that tour and inexplicably told her I was a huge fan of her previous band, Juicy. In Lee's defense, I think he just had me mixed up with someone else, but still, I was instructed to go along with the charade should she ask.

Thankfully, she didn't. But, I think she was happy to learn that someone in attendance at last Friday's show had also seen her previous band in concert something like 15 years ago.