Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Honorable Mentions for Favorite Albums of 2008

So after what, 3 years of having this blog, I’ve finally figured out how to write and format it so it actually comes out the right way. The following will be my “Honorable Mention” albums of 2008 and tomorrow will be my Top 10’s….but just 6-10. Awaaaaay we gooo…


These are all albums I loved and had an affect on me throughout the year. I have silly reasons why I loved them and even sillier reasons why they didn’t make my top 10. But, I did love these albums and bands so yeah. Also, they’re in no order

I hate weed, but I love a lot of reggae. Like, real earthy reggae that isn’t just pot smoking music. Most people forget that reggae was the background music to revolution! I also love Michael Franti and think he’s one of the best, bravest and most sincere musical artists of our time. This album is all reggae and I love it. More importantly, my one year old daughter loves it and the album will always have a place in my mind as one of the first ones she danced to. And sang to. “Ah whoa whoa whoa whoa oh…” Ah, already I’m sentimental. Check out one of my favorite songs of ’08 below…and if you have a kid, play this song for them and dance your asses off:

TODD SNIDER “Peace Queer”
I really like this album and lord knows I LOVE Todd, but it’s just too….quick and dirty for my tastes. It’s a really sly protest album and it was recorded (apparently) in 24 hours by Todd with producer Don Was. And…it sounds like it was recorded in 24 hours. There’s some GREAT songs on here and I like it…but it’s just kind of “meh” overall.

DR. DOG “Fate”
I loves me some Dr. Dog and this is their most accomplished record yet. The band songs like 60’s era Beach Boys with Daniel Johnson singing only better and I think with less crazy. Their last 2 albums were really, really great because to me, they sounded kinda messy and screwy and fun. “Fate” is a really solid, well produced album. In fact, if my crappy descriptions have intrigued you about this band. I think “Fate” is a good place to hear them fresh.

KANYE WEST “808’s and Heartbreaks”
I frigging hate it when people do their year end music picks and throw in some arbitrary and token hip hop album. So, I debated about doing this entry. But I gotta say…”808’s and Heartbreaks” is on par with “Rubber Soul” or “Pet Sounds” or even Wilco’s “Being There.” Kanye can do whatever the hell he wants and rather than hire the latest R&B cat to chime in, what he’s done is something that’s a complete 180 from anything he’s done before. This album sounds like spacier Bjork or something. It's fucking odd. Throughout the album Kanye sings through one of those obnoxious voice modulators that always keeps you in key, but he uses that like an instrument in that it doesn’t always sound perfect. He kind of…jams with the modulator. This is just a weird album that I find myself going back to and listening to on “random” and enjoying it. Well, I enjoy the fact he stepped up as an “artist” and went against the grain. Here's a good example of what I'm talking about in regards to him mixing things up:
(you cannot embed this clip for whatever reason)

OLD 97’S “ “Blame it on Gravity”
One of my all-time favorite bands has gone back to their original sound and made a killer Old 97’s album. But, I kind of misplaced it for a while and then found it and forgot about it. Everytime I play it, I love it…but somethings missing for me. I dunno what it is. I love this album and it’s as good an Old 97’s album as you’ll find, but it just didn’t grab me. Odd and sad, but true.

Okkervil River is one of those bands that have been buzzed about, but I’ve always been resistant to for whatever reason. Yet, I grabbed their new one because a fellow filmmaker loves them and is doing a doc on them and damn, if Okkervil River isn’t a fine, insightful, mellow, witty, folky outfit. That being said, the only time I really listen to this album is when I’m on a flight somewhere. And as much as that happened lately, they just don’t seem to have any hold on me when I’m on the ground. Weird, huh? A great record though. Very soothing and interesting. I feel bad for not including them in my top 10. Sorry Okkervil River!

WEEZER “The Red Album”
As much as I loved this album for a solid month after it came out, it definitely wore out it’s welcome. It’s a great record and a fine Weezer album but as soon as the rock veneer wore off, I found myself constantly listening to the first two songs and the fast-forwarding to the cover song of The Bands “The Load” and then moving on. Although…best album cover of 2008 by far!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

As promised...

The first annual Petaluma Films Best Of List’s “Hey, This Album is Awesome…and Then I Never Listened to it Again!” Award goes to…

GUNS N ROSES Chinese Democracy

I’m a fairly big GnR fan but I’m no Axl apologist. Plenty of fucked up rockers (Ryan Adams, Paul Westerberg, Shane McGowan, Lily Allen, Michael McDonald (kidding)) manage to put out albums more often than Axl did. But admittedly, I was excited to hear the 14 years in the hopper “Chinese Democracy.” And, it doesn’t disappoint…if you like Guns n Roses at all. In fact, the album is epic and rocking and has a real….cinemagraphic feel to it. Sure, some of it sounds outdated and like early 90’s Nine Inch Nails, but overall….great album.

When I procured the album I listened to it for like, 2 days in a row and admired it. It’s too long, but still really good. Buckethead on guitar is pretty awesome in what I though would be a tough situation in that he can’t just crank out long solos upon long solos upon “Hey! Look! That guys got a KFC bucket on his head and he shreds!” solos. He plays nice with Tommy Stinson on bass and Axl. But after a good 2 days of digging “Chinese Democracy” I took it out of the CD player and really, it never came back. I never missed it. I see it in my CD stack and think of it like it was a drunk chick I made out with once at a bar. “Ohhh yeah. You. That was fun but never again.”

The winner of the first annual "Hey, This Album is Awesome…and Then I Never Listened to it Again!” Award can best be understood by watching this clip below from the 1:09 point (although the whole thing is funny).

Runner up goes to REM, “Accelerate”

Monday, December 29, 2008


Greetings Petaluma Films blog readers….all 4 of you! Because it was boring the hell out of me, I decided to stop the blogging about my extended trips. Instead…

It’s that time again where I go through my media mashed mind to dig up all the music, TV and movies I’ve digested this year to make my annual top ten list! This is always harder for me than it should be. The reason is, I want to be fair to myself as well as the artists by ranking my true favorites even though none of them will even see this list. I scrutinize my lists in my mind. While driving, before bed and even then I have a heckuva time. But I have finally beat my own mind in it’s silly little game and here’s how it’s going to work this year.

Since I’m still a teeny bit behind on my movies (not all the “biggies” come out here until like, now…and I can’t just drop everything and see 5 movies now, can I?) I’ll start off with music, then some TV stuff and then onto my favorite films of 2008. There’s also some new additions to my lists. For instance…this one:


Normally this spot is reserved for “My Morning Jacket” who, try as I might and know I should like, I just don’t get. However their new album “Evil Urges” is actually pretty cool but, I just liked other stuff better both in my top 10 and honorable mentions. Sorry MMJ! I know you’re upset, but at least I’m starting to get you.

The winner of the first annual Petaluma Films blog album everyone is shitting bricks about this year that I got and just don’t get is...

TV ON THE RADIO, “Dear Science”

Everyone who knows me and even those who don’t but read my blog know I love music. I try to listen to everything even though my tastes tend to steer towards singer-songwriters, Americana and “Pop Experimental.” I read a few music blogs and some magazines and when they all jump on board with a band or album, I try to give it a listen. This year, “Dear, Science” by TV on the Radio was voted critics fave in both Rolling Stone and Spin. Countless blogs have lauded the album as well. So, I got it and…it’s o.k. It’s different and has some cool stuff but overall …I just don’t get it.

The album is listenable but the intentionally low-fi production leaves me cold and I feel like if the band got a producer who would, you know, allow us to hear what’s going on, that would make me warm up to this band more. It’s like eating a really yummy pizza with crazy, diverse ingredients but someone’s smoking a cig across from you and blowing smoke in your face (only, the album isn’t gross). I also had their last album “Return to Cookie Mountain” which, aside from being the best album title of the last 10 or so years, did nothing for me at all.

They even make kick ass music videos but still, I don't get why everyone's flipping out about the music.

Not liking TV on the Radio is a frustrating thing for me too. It’s like everyone’s going to this cool club or show and I’m left out. I even think lead singerTunde Adebimpe is awesome and was in one of my all-time favorite indie films “Jump Tomorrow”. But still…TV on the Radio…I don’t get it. At least I’m not being a contrarian because I have tried, repeatedly, to get into this album. But yeah…no dice.

Runner up goes to Kings of Leon, “Only by the Night”

Tomorrow (or the next day) another new feature entitled “Hey, This Album is Awesome…and Then I Never Listened to it Again!” as well as my honorable mentions. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

San Francisco.

So the trip home was, you guessed it, uneventful. My ass hurt from sitting and we all kind of dozed in and out of sleep on the bus. However I think this is a good time to let folks know why I do what I do with the band on things like these sorts of trips. I’m not “needed,” that’s for damn sure.

I’ve “managed” five a.m. for jeez, like 10 years. I’ve seen them go through so many changes and so many times where I (and they) thought it was all over only to see something keep them going. I’m not the greatest manager. My expertise lies in the Sonoma County region and somewhat beyond. I also am not good because I take rejection very personally when it comes to them. Be it a club that blows us off or a band talking shit, I don’t let it roll off my back. I file it away and await the day for retribution. Those days of payback rarely come.

Managing-or booking more like- a band is an exercise in frustration as well. The first band I managed was an 11 piece funk and soul outfit so that was a real trial by fire. Trying to get 11 free spirits together for a show is nucking futs. Five a.m. are much easier to corral and I think they’ve missed like, one gig in 10+ years which is amazing. No, the tough part of managing them is trying to kick down these doors only to have them be locked solid or slammed back in my face. I’ve seen more bands and clubs come and go in this area than most readers of this blog can name thriving bands and clubs. But we keep on persevering and there’s something to be said for that. I believe five a.m. is a great band and that the guys should be able to make a living playing music. Damn it.

My point that I’m getting to is that when the band gets a great gig or a big break that I had a hand in, I like to be there to see the fruits of my labor (or whatever) come to fruition. Such was the case with the Sister Hazel tour. I’m always scouring newspapers and the internet for bigger bands that are touring through so I can try and get five a.m. on the bill. There’s several classes of clubs here and probably everywhere and you would think that after 10 years in an area, the A-list clubs might cut the band a break but that’s never the case. The big, A-list clubs won’t book you unless you have a big draw. But the other clubs that will book you don’t really draw anybody because everyone seeing live music goes to the big clubs. For instance…if you have the choice to pay $8 to see 4 bands you’ve never heard of (and 3 of the 4 are guaranteed to suck) in a dingy bar or nightclub OR pay say $12 to see a big touring act with a hit song you might have heard…which would you take?

To me it feels like this scene in “Boogie Nights” where Dirk and Reed Rothchild are trying to get their demo’s back from the studio (only we aren’t coked out)

If these clubs would just give us a chance to play in front of a crowd that paid to see music, these people would like us and we could build a draw. Instead, we get relegated to meat markets and shitholes that will be closed within the year and thus mean nothing to an A-venue booking agent.

So again, back to my point. I’ve been trying to book five a.m. at The Independent for like, 4 years. Finally we got on tour with a band headlining there, so we got our chance. Oh, that’s the other thing. Most big bands that tour bring an opening band so local bands get squeezed out Nation-wide. It’s a fun business I tell ya.

The show in San Francisco was outstanding and we all saw a lot of familiar faces. I got drunk and then got home, slept 4 hours and woke up to be with my daughter. Very nice, but very weird feeling. Next stop, L.A.!

Friday, December 05, 2008


So slightly buzzed and already road-weary, I headed to Portland, Oregon with the band at about 11:00 p.m. It was a short trip that ended up at some friend of some band members wife’s friends mansion. Yeah, a mansion. I slept on some big ass couch next to a clock that made a charming jingle every hour. I felt how Desmond on “Lost” must have felt when he got awakened every few hours. The other thing was, I’m a really poor sleeper (drunk or not) and after being awakened 4-5 hours in a row by some music box thing, I came to the realization….I had no idea where I was.

I knew the place was nice and was in the mountains, but it you asked me to find it again on my own, I’d have better luck finding D.B. Cooper in the Oregon hills. I’ve come to realize recently that I am really pretty anal about a lot of things and sleeping at a strangers house is one of them. I mean, jeez. What if they have some crazy teenage son who wasn’t expecting us and found me in the living room? What if the man of the house sleepwalks or hears me snoring and beats me with a 9-iron? What if the lady of the house sleeps naked and comes in to shut off that annoying clock? The list goes on and on in my head (and gets much darker as well) and pretty soon, I’m totally awake.

So after lying around terrified for 4-5 hours, the rest of the band got up. Turns out the people were at work and we were alone. Plus, they left us like 5 pounds of bacon! I looked at how much that bacon must have cost and it was like, $6.00!! Holy shit! Oregon’s lack of a tax kicks ass!

So after eating bacon and eggs, we sat around. Dum de dum. It was boring. I like to see new towns, the guys like to sit around. Which is fine, they need to be rested and focused for the show. But I get antsy and I love new places. So around 2:00 or so, we headed into town to find the Aladdin Theater where the show was to take place.

The theater was cool! Apparently it’s claim to fame is that “Deep Throat” showed there for like, 15 years straight! When told of this I said “sooo….you’re saying don’t sit in the chairs?” My old Petaluma buddy Brennan came down and had some beers and food then pretty soon, the show was on. The band was great but I think this was the low point of the tour.

The place was all seated for one and for two we were just in and out. Seattle was fun because we could catch our breath and see the Sister Hazel show. Portland was set-up, eat dinner, play, load-up hit the road. Between that and the day spent lounging around, it was almost like Portland didn’t happen. Plus we discovered that the problem with leaving right after an opening set is, you don’t sell merchandise or CD’s for shit. Ah well. We had a long drive to Yreka (again) and then another 6-7 hours drive to San Francisco. We loaded up and left Portland, vowing to come back soon.

Monday, December 01, 2008


My adventures started off in Seattle, WA. Well, technically they started in Santa Rosa where we drove 5 hours to Yreka, CA and passed out at Trent’s dads house. We awoke the next day and drove a good 10 hours to Seattle, but not before semi-breaking down just before Ashland, OR which was a convenient place for a breakdown for two reasons. One, Trent’s brother lives there so we quickly pulled off the road into his family’s driveway. Nothing like a big fattie 20 passenger airporter van arriving unannounced, huh? It was his nieces birthday party too so we hoped the problem wasn’t major because otherwise, Jed (our drummer) would eat all the cake.

The other convenient thing was, our new bass player Jason is a crackerjack auto mechanic. We recently got the brakes did and they were smelling funny and making a weird noise so Jason yanked off the tires and had a look-see. Turns out there was some grated metal crap rubbing and stinking. Basically, it was nothing so off we went.

As I mentioned in one of the other blogs, traveling with a band is remarkably similar to the Bon Jovi song “Dead or Alive.” We just frigging drove all day. It was uneventful and boring. We got into Seattle around midnight and desperately wanted some food and adult beverages. Who knew Seattle shut-down on Monday nights around midnight? We finally found this amazing singles night Mexican food place that had the best appetizers I’ve ever had. Fancy crap too but it was ½ off after midnight. Score! After eating and sucking down some drinks we went back to the hotel and conked out. I had to share a room with Jed because we both snore. Fine by me because last time I shared a room with other band members I woke up refreshed but covered in pillows and shoes that had been thrown at me throughout the night.

The next day me and Steve (our roadie) got out a little early and wandered around. We went to the base of the Space Needle then headed out to lunch. From there a bunch of us bummed around together and watched Jason get his head shaved by a nice Asian lady in a hair salon. Then we found this terrific guitar shop called Emerald City Guitars. Although I don’t play, I’m a total sucker for awesome guitars and this place was chock full of awesome. Our guitarist hammer even got to play a $250,000+ Fender Strat! Dude. Unbelieveable. If you look at the site you can see the store owner Jay holding them up. Neat.

From there we headed over to The Showbox for our first night opening for Sister Hazel. It’s no secret I love beer and they had 16 oz Pabst Blue Ribbons in cans. Plus, I was antsy to cut loose after being cooped up in the bus all day. I think we all were so we got a little buzzed. The guys played an awesome show and the crowd ate it up. I was really proud of them and proud to be a part of it. We also stayed and watched Sister Hazel who, aside from that monster hit (that I will refrain from talking about lest it re-enter my head for a month straight), I didn’t know much about. They were really, really good and put on a tight show. Plus, their fans are freeking rabid. They love them some Sister Hazel. After the show we loaded up and made the short drive to Portland, OR where we drove up in the hills and stayed at some huge ass mansion!

Here's five a.m. playing a brand new song at The Showbox