Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mike Gordon on soy milk, foam raves, & the story of Thomas the croissant

Today, Mike Gordon and Scott Murawski spent some time on Reddit to field fan questions to promote the release of their new album, Overstep, which dropped today.  The following are a few highlights, including...

the world of Phish:

 Mike on Leo:

soy milk baths:


on creation of something great:

 Thomas the croissant:

the possibility of more Phish to come:


Click here for the full interview.

Peace, love, cuddly, but muscular,


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Overstep: Full Album Review

Mike Gordon is at it again. This prolific songwriter/soundmaker/noisecatcher has recently released his newest album, Overstep, available for free stream on the Rolling Stone website.  The tone of the album follows closely on the heels of The Green Sparrow (2008), sidestepping from the ethereal, spacy tone of Moss (2010) and Inside In (2003).  Lots of upbeat, funky bass and guitar abound, which is captured nicely by the cover art.

The album begins with the slow groove Ether, which seems to ease a listener into the weird world of MG. Featuring interesting chord progressions and trademark inscrutable lyrics, the song lays down a nice foundation of what's to come.

 The second tune, Tiny Little World, is the first time on the album we hear that bomb-droppin' bass that Phish fans know and love.  I really like the counterpoint it provides to the upbeat, sunny melody of the lyrics.  This song is, to me, the catchiest and most danceable one on the album.  The line It's the sauce that makes the dish makes me think that the Soulfood Man had a hand in writing the lyrics for this one.

Jumping is the first time we hear Scott Murawski sing on the album.  The driving acoustic guitar and the duo's vocal harmonies are notable.  Murawski's electrifying guitar solo remains whimsical.

So far so good. 

I'm pleased to report that I was present at Phish's debut of Yarmouth Road at SPAC on 7/5/13.  This song is most likely the most well known among Phish fans who stay current; the band played it eight times in 2013.  The placement of this song is excellent; it's a nice place to slow down, both lyrically and in tempo.  The verses remain characteristically poetic, but the prominence of the chorus makes it seem like a good platform to dive into a ~sweet jam~ ... as Phish began to explore last year.  I can't wait to hear the Mike Gordon Band's take on it.

The following tune, Say Something brings about a background of bouncing guitar and vocal lines.  The subtle dialogue that occurs between the two is engaging and energetic; I predict that this tune, along with the following tune, Face, will launch some serious disco jams this spring.  Breath: baited.

Face features an exposed bass and syncopated guitar line, making it feel spacey sequined funky.  I find myself caught up on this one because the song structure seems unique; I love the stripped down passage At first I heard the bass... it's unexpected and brings a renewed energy to the song... and it's super meta.  We're all about that here in the liberal arts.
A Different World features a guitar riff that's simple yet infectious; I love how independent it is while still interacting with the rest of the music.  It's earnest but still somehow distant... how do they do that?

The soaring solo in Long Black Line, the penultimate song on the album, brings the musical momentum through to the very end.  In this tune, it's the real star.

The album closes with the song Surface, which is saturated with lyrics and some spacey vocal effects sung by Scott Murawski.  The faded quality of the sound serves as a fitting outro to an impressive next album.

I can't wait to see what tricks the dudes in the MGB have up their sleeves for their spring tour.....!  I'll be at the show in North Adams, MA on April 5th.  If you're there too, come say hi!  I'll probably give you a glowstick.

Peace, love, and sequins,


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Valentine's Day Picks

Valentine's Day is a good excuse for a lot of things.  Showering your loved ones with gifts, eating chocolate, shamelessly wearing red with pink... no apologies this week.  To me, I always associate the day with music - my college a cappella group hires itself out to students across campus to serenade their sweeties/friends/nemeses.  The truth is, I live for flashmobs.

So when V-day rolls around, I always feel get in the mood to listen to some themed music; here are my top picks for the day.

I Found You - Alabama Shakes 
Everyone went a little gaga over the band Alabama Shakes last year when they appeared on Saturday Night Live (at least I did, and ended up buying their entire album the week afterward).  This is one of my favorite tracks off of the album, Boys & Girls. 

Evangeline - 7 Walkers
To me, this sweet song evokes the a full moon in a sleepy summer bayou.  I truly feel like I'm swathed in the music with this one (I'm thinking those ubiquitous cymbal rolls are responsible).  The earnestness of the lyrics are reinforced through Papa Mali's distinctive and bluesy Southern drawl.

Skip to the Good Bit - Rizzle Kicks
This British hip hop duo continues to amaze me.  Their rhymes are thoughtful and their beats are catchy and unique.  If you like their sound, check out their *melodic chaotic* song called Earl Grey.  It's super meta.

Love is an Open Door - Frozen
As a female under the age of 25, I felt it was my public duty to turn the newest Disney movie into a raging success, so of course I went to see it in theaters.  Disney does a great job incorporating fun and original music into the plot of this film, and the song "Love is an Open Door" is no exception.  It's catchy and serves as a great plot acceleration.  Get ready to sing along to this one.

Standing on the Moon - Michael Patrick & the Suburban Hillbillies 
I love this Jerry song.  It's one of my favorite love songs, and this rendition steeped with saxophone is especially sweet. 

I Want You Back - Lake Street Dive
What I wouldn't give to sing like this.  Prepare to be amazed by this gutsy blues rendition of the classic MJ tune.

Positively 4th Street - Jerry Garcia Band
If you've been recently jilted, this is the song for you.  Bob Dylan does it well, but I love the way the JGB pulls it off. 

Sweet Emotion - Mike Gordon and Leo Kottke
This is a funny one.  Always the Aerosmith fan, I had to include this classic on the list, mostly because it's a sweet cover by one of my favorite collab teams of all time.

What are you favorite songs of the season?  Share with me. <3 p="">
Peace, love, and everything pink,

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

FUNK EP by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

 Pandas Playing the Polka! Pigs Partying at Parades!  Pigeons Playing Ping Pong!  Alliteration is an oldie-but-goodie, and it still works.  The group Pigeons Playing Ping Pong caught my eye the other day while I traversed through the upcoming schedule for the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA.  A few minutes later I found myself streaming music through their website, and now I'm hooked.

I'm also kinda mad.  Seems like this Baltimore band has been on the touring circuit for a while now, and no one's had the courtesy to let me in on it!  These guys are seriously funky.

Take their FUNK EP, for example.  Within the first thirty seconds of the album (on the track "Landing"), some deep party grooves are put down, and they don't stop for a blessed 35 minutes.  Sweeeet.  From what I can tell, these guys sound like a funky mix of moe. and the McLovins.  I dig, and hope you do too.

Can't wait to see these guys live on Saturday, and get back into my own groove of music review. 

peace, love, and pigeons,


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Why is music important?

Hi sweet friends, 
To commemorate my 100th post here on hippie-espionage (!), I thought I would write a few words about music itself.  I've been thinking a lot about the nature of my relationship with music recently - a solitary experience, a link to the past, its incredible healing powers...

Certain songs or types of music holds a powerful evocation for many of us.  Why is that, and how do we use it to our advantage?  The pathways that link auditory processing and memory in our brains have not been fully elucidated, but I offer a plausible, non-scientific explanation drawn from my own experience.

I've never lived on the West Coast.  I have no ties to midwestern county fairs, and have no cousins who wield a banjo.  So why do I feel as if I deeply reconnect to my roots every time I listen to the  Grateful Dead, the type of music one might hear at the Orgeon County Fair?

It's certainly not a universal phenomenon.  Somehow, my brain has decided that this type of music is extremely comforting, even though others (hi, Mom) may put it last on their list.  My explanation is simple: I feel as if I'm returning to roots because, in a way, I am.  Although I can't recall every specific instance of exposure to the band, my brain evokes feelings of comfort and happiness associated with that music because it was the soundtrack to my happy childhood.

I often wonder how many people connect to music in this way.  As I've made my way through high school and college, I have yet to connect with someone deeply about the music they love.  Then again, sometimes I wonder if everyone feels this kind of visceral connection to a genre of music, and if I just happen to materialize it in my mind more often than others (hey peeps, you out there?).

Because of this, I find that most times, music is a source of solitary enjoyment.  If every person has a complex and incomparable (and often inexplicable) connection with music, then how can anyone connect with another on the topic of music beyond a superficial surface?  We can analyze the heck out of something, but in the end, I truly believe that everyone experiences music differently.

In this, it seems we are uniquely alone.

There are wonderful events in which we congregate to celebrate our love of music.  I have dedicated my blog to chronicling just a few of the many of these experiences.  And while I've always felt a little detached from the rest of the crowd (imagine an 8 year old standing on her seat at a Phil Lesh show), it seems that everyone uses concerts as a venue for something special to them...I'll never forget the artist wearing a miner's helmet who set up a canvas behind me in Hartford during the August 2000 Phil Lesh & Friends show my dad took me to.  He painted to the music; created art from art.  It was a totally different way of experiencing the show, and it was totally beautiful.

So if music has the power to bring back awesome and happy memories, why do we always seek new  material?  My answer to that may not be so informed, but from what I can tell, pop music usually reflects a cultural climate.  (Also, it's a multi-billion dollar industry that America has by the neck, but that's another story).  As a young person, it is exciting to see pop artists produce music that makes a statement about new emerging values and experiences that people of my generation experience.  (And again, it's also most likely directly marked to people like me, so there you have it.) 

Thanks for bearing with me, everybody.  I haven't fully explored everything that's been percolating in my mind yet, so perhaps there will be a second installment to my music and sociology cultural analysis series (can you tell I'm in a liberal arts environment?).  And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Peace, love, and ginger root,