Archive for hey rosetta!

Sea of Ice

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2016 by sethdellinger

Famous people I know I would be good friends with if we ever got to know each other:

–Werner Herzog
–Kiefer Sutherland
–Anderson Cooper
–Emily Wells
–Dave Eggers
–Joaquin Phoenix
–Rachel Maddow
–Adam Savage

Oh hey, Karla and I were in line at a store last week.  We were next to be rung out.  We were standing kind of arm-in-arm.   We looked at each other and gave each other two or three quick, successive peck kisses.  The man behind the register threw his arms up in the air and bellowed, “FOLKS!  There’s other people here,” at which point he motioned to the other people in line behind us.  Then he said something along the lines of “Stop that” although I can’t remember his exact wording there.  We were flabbergasted!!  We hadn’t even been close to making out or kissing in any excessive way–whatever that would be!  It’s fair to say my anger was intense.  Karla pointedly asked the man behind us, “Were you offended?” and he said “I’m too tired to be offended.”  We were silent while he rang up our items.  As we walked out I said a very mean thing to him, which I do not feel bad about.

Oh hey, watch this video of Kay Ryan reading her poem “The Turtle”.  I mean wow.  “Her only levity is patience,/ the sport of truly chastened things.”


It’s not something you really wanna think about very much, but what songs would you want played at your funeral?  I actually used to think about this a lot, back when I was much more sad all the time, but even now the topic will cross my mind every few months.  Naturally my selections have varied wildly as time goes on and my tastes changed.  For many years I held tightly onto “Light Years” by Pearl Jam being one of the songs played, but that finally slid off the list a few years ago.  And thank goodness–in retrospect I can see that would have been gratuitously sad.  Just way TOO SAD.  Currently I am going with “A Three-Legged Workhorse” by This Will Destroy You, “I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time” by Hey Rosetta!,  and “Brian and Robert” by Phish.  I recommend trying this exercise yourself.  I think you’ll find it is quite revealing, not just about your musical tastes, but about the entirety of your life.

Here is a (partial) list of things I would try to get good at if I had unlimited time on this Earth:

–playing the guitar
–the yo yo
–ice skating

Oh hey, I’m reading a book about the earliest art to depict the polar regions after human exploration had begun there.  It’s a truly intriguing topic and some of this art is just spectacular.  Somewhat realistic based off the descriptions of the men who’d been there but also rather exaggerated and mystical as the place was still one of imagination and perceived danger and death.  Check out “Sea of Ice” by Caspar David Friedrich:




Favorites, 2016

Posted in Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2016 by sethdellinger

Back in the old days of the Notes, I used to write a lot more about music, movies, and books, and I would every so often post updated lists of my absolute favorites of things.  Not due to any pressing interest from the public, of course–mostly just because it’s fun for me, and also because having such a blog post can be quite handy during discussions online; I can just link someone to the entry to aid in a discussion of favorites.

Of course this is not to be confused with my annual “Favorite Music” list, where I detail my favorite music released in the previous calendar year; these lists detail my current all-time favorites, which are (like yours, of course) constantly changing.

Looking back at my entries, it appears as though I haven’t done a big posting of lists since 2012, so I’ll make this one fairly comprehensive.  All of these lists have changed since 2012–some very little, some quite dramatically:

My top ten favorite poets

10.  Jane Kenyon
9.   Robert Creeley
8.  William Carlos Williams
7.   Sylvia Plath
6.  Billy Collins
5.  Denise Levertov
4.  E.E. Cummings
3.  Philip Levine
2.  John Updike
1.  Philip Larkin

My top 10 favorite film directors

10.  Federico Fellini
9.  Sidney Lumet
8.  Alejandro Inarritu
7.  Christopher Nolan
6.  Paul Thomas Anderson
5.  Alfonso Cuaron
4.  Stanley Kubrick
3.  Werner Herzog
2.  Alfred Hitchcock
1.  Terrence Malick

My top ten bands

10. This Will Destroy You
9.  My Morning Jacket
8.  Godspeed You! Black Emperor
7.  Radiohead
6.  Seven Mary Three
5.  Hey Rosetta!
4.   The National
3.  Band of Horses
2.  Modest Mouse
1.  Arcade Fire


My top ten music solo artists

10.  Tracy Chapman
9.  Ray LaMontagne
8.  Father John Misty
7.  Leonard Cohen
6.  Jim James
5.  Nina Simone
4.  Willis Earl Beal
3.  Emily Wells
2.  Paul Simon
1.  Neil Young

My top ten favorite (non-documentary) movies

10.  Citizen Kane
9.  Night of the Hunter
8.  Fitzcarraldo
7.  Magnolia
6.  The Trouble with Harry
5.  Children of Men
4.  Where the Wild Things Are
3.  The Thin Red Line
2.  I’m Still Here
1.  The Tree of Life

My ten favorite novelists

10.  Malcolm Lowry
9.  John Steinbeck
8.  Isaac Asimov
7.  Ernest Hemingway
6. Oscar Wilde
5.  Kurt Vonnegut
4.  Mark Twain
3.  David Mitchell
2.  Don DeLillo
1.  Dave Eggers

My top twenty favorite books (any genre, fiction or nonfiction)

20.  “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole
19.  “Slade House” by David Mitchell
18.  “The Terror” by Dan Simmons
17.  “You Shall Know Our Velocity” by Dave Eggers
16.  “Point Omega” by Don DeLillo
15.  “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell
14.  “Fallen Founder” by Nancy Isenberg
13.  “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde
12.  “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
11.  “Under the Volcano” by Malcolm Lowry
10.  “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers
9.  “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
8.  “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut
7.  “Dubliners” by James Joyce
6.  “Letters From the Earth” by Mark Twain
5.  “White Noise” by Don DeLillo
4.  “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing
3.  “Your Fathers, Where Are They?  And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?” by Dave Eggers
2.  “Into the Wild” by John Krakauer
1.  “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

My top twenty favorite albums

20.  “Funeral” by Arcade Fire
19.  “Nobody Knows” by Willis Earl Beal
18.  “High Violet” by The National
17.  “The Battle of Los Angeles” by Rage Against the Machine
16.  “Swamp Ophelia” by Indigo Girls
15.  “Mirrorball” by Neil Young
14.  “Dis/Location” by Seven Mary Three
13.  “Abbey Road” by The Beatles
12.  “Graceland” by Paul Simon
11.  “Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis
10.  “‘Allelujah!  Don’t Bend!  Ascend!” by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
9.    “Kid A” by Radiohead
8.   “Strangers to Ourselves” by Modest Mouse
7.   “This Will Destroy You” by This Will Destroy You
6.   “Time Out” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
5.   “Secret Samadhi” by LIVE
4.   “Infinite Arms” by Band of Horses
3.   “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire
2.   “RockCrown” by Seven Mary Three
1.  “Into Your Lungs (and Around in Your Heart and On Through Your Blood)” by Hey Rosetta!


My top five composers

5.  Philip Glass
4.  Cliff Martinez
3.  Hans Zimmer
2.  Felix Mendelssohn
1.  Carl Nielsen

My top ten painters

10.  Edgar Degas
9.  George Bellows
8.  Mark Rothko
7.  Johannes Vermeer
6.  Mary Cassatt
5.  Maurice Prendergast
4.  Thomas Eakins
3.  Henri Rousseau
2.  Andrew Wyeth
1.  John Sloan








We’re the Sexiest of All Primates!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2015 by sethdellinger

Like many people, I have many favorite bands that come into and out of prominence over time.  I’m not shy about blasting my opinions about these bands online, so many of you are probably at least slightly tuned into my current obsessions. There are some bands that have what I would call themes; they don’t just write songs, but their entire body of work represents a specific worldview or thought process; others bands just sort of write songs.  I like plenty of both kinds of bands.  For instance, I love My Morning Jacket, and while I could say quite a bit about their musical themes, I’d be hard pressed to make a statement about what the whole of their songs say about a specific worldview.


My favorite band, Hey Rosetta!, has a very distinct worldview that is expressed in nearly every song: they believe in the lifting-up of humanity–of rising above our base and dreadful selves into a state of grace, be it secular or otherwise.  I believe in this worldview and embrace it.  I’m an unashamed atheist and I don’t think this concept is anathema to atheism; joy, redemption, and existential victory are just as (if not more) possible secularly as they are with religion.  As such, the content of the songs of Hey Rosetta! speak to me greatly.


However, there is a flip side, and that side is Modest Mouse.  Modest Mouse also has a worldview, and I believe in theirs, too, despite how different it is from Hey Rosetta!’s.  Modest Mouse’s worldview is that the world is a painful, pointless collection of atoms; we spring into existence and consciousness by accident and then after a short time, we stop existing.  Their music explores what it’s like to be trying to make sense of the damned mess during the brief period that your carbon gains awareness.  I find this worldview to be unassailably true; however, when coupled with Hey Rosetta’s philosophy, it meshes into my own cohesive idea of the world: we’ve sprung from nothing and we end up as nothing, but it can be beautiful and inspiring while you’re here.


Modest Mouse (which nowadays really just means Isaac Brock, the main lyricist and songwriter) have just released an album that I think could not possibly better encapsulate their theme.  The album, Strangers to Ourselves, digs deep into not just the whole “everything is pointless” concept but examines more closely American problems like urban sprawl, screen addiction, gun control, anhedonia, climate change;  the things that serve to separate us from our experiences, rob us of our individuality, and kill us early–in a universe where there are no second chances. The music on the album is completely immersive: huge, sweeping, danceable yet dirty, like Death come to visit for a playdate, or like a syphilitic disco ball.


But the real accomplishment here are the words. Isaac Brock has always written wholly unique lyrics; only a man with such a sideways twist on conventional rock lyrics could successfully tackle the topics he has (I hesitate to say he is the best current rock lyricist; I don’t know who is but their name probably rhymes with Gibbard).  But on Strangers to Ourselves, Brock’s goal has finally become crystalline, his thesis fully formed.  This album is his doctoral dissertation.  And like any great work of art, it is so bold and cunning that the flashes of brilliance are accompanied by other moments that seem daft or even silly.  This is the nature of a rock and roll record that aims, ultimately, to tell us big truths about the entire universe. Here now, a selection of some of my favorite (or more interesting) lyrics from Modest Mouse’s Strangers to Ourselves:


“Well the Earth doesn’t care, and we hardly even matter–we’re just a bit more piss to push out its full bladder.  And as our bodies break down into all their rocky little bits, piled up under mountains of dirt and silt: still the world, it don’t give a shit!”


“How lucky we are, that we are so easy to forget.”


“Well fear makes us really, really run around.”


“Pack up again, head to the next place, where we’ll make the same mistakes.  Burn it up or just chop it down; this one’s done, so where to now?”


“The world’s an inventor and we’re the dirtiest thing it’s thought about, and we really don’t mind.”


“This rock of ours is just some big mistake and we will never know just where we go or where we have came from.  These veins of mine are now some sort of fuse and when they light up and my mind blows up my heart is amused.  So this heart of mine is just some sort of map that doesn’t care at all or worry about where the hell you’re at, but you’re right there.”


“We don’t belong here, we were just born here.”


“We get dressed as ghosts with sheets taken from the bed, inside our socks we hide Traveler’s Checks, we are tourists of the dead.  So let’s pack up, let’s go!


“Pack a lunch, wander ’round, toss the map on the ground, it is inaccurate anyway.  We’ve been getting away (we’ve been getting away), we are strangers to ourselves.  We sneak out, drip-by-drip, through papercuts on our hands.  Day by day, nothing’s quite the same, we are tourists in our own heads.”


“These Western concerns: hold my place in line while I take your turn.


“We all led the charge, till we ran aground in our party barge, and every little gift was just one more part of their grift.  Oh yeah we know it.  The best news that we got was just some dumb hokum we’d all bought.  Let’s go reckless feeling great, we’re the sexist of all primates, let’s let loose with our charms, shake our ass and wave our arms, all going apeshit!”

My Favorite Music of 2014

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2015 by sethdellinger

Here we go again.  This yearly list is one of the last remaining rituals from when this blog was much more focused on reviews of and discussions about current art and media; I used to post frequent movie and music reviews, and slowly over the years it morphed into a much more personal blog.  Early on, I posted multiple year-end “favorite” lists (I avoid calling them “best of” lists, but only because it seems to piss some of you off).  One year I went as far to make a Favorite Poetry, Favorite Television, Favorite Magazines, Favorite Movies, and Favorite Music lists!  The last 3 or so years, I have only made a music list.  I still like to closely follow new-release movies, but I can no longer make a pointed effort to see enough of them in a timely fashion to make a comprehensive yearly list.

If you have any interest, you can see past year’s music lists here (they did go even further back, but they were on MySpace blogs that have unfortunately disappeared):

Favorite Music of 2013

Favorite Music of 2012

Favorite Music of 2011

Favorite Music of 2010

Favorite Music of 2009

As per usual, if you are a person who routinely gets mix discs and other neat stuff from me in the mail, a mix disc featuring a selection from all of this year’s listings is already in the mail on it’s way to you.  If you are not one of these people and want to be, leave a blog comment/ send me a Facebook message/ text me/ call me/ hit me up on Tinder (huh?) and I’ll put you on the list!  Now, the winners:

This was an especially fertile year for music for me; I’d estimate I listened to approximately 80 new-release albums this year, and really loved about half of those.  This was by far the most difficult year I’ve had when it comes to narrowing down my selections!  Some of my favorite artists had no releases this year, so it was easier to not play favorites and just judge what moved me the most.  Here are the top fifteen, in order:

15.  Modest Mouse, “Lampshades on Fire”

This is the first time in the history of my lists that I have included a single song instead of an album, but I didn’t see as I had a choice.  Modest Mouse’s new album doesn’t come out until March 2015, but this lead single, which was released about 3 weeks ago, has been almost the only thing I’ve been listening to since it came out.  An absolute piece of snarling perfection.

14.  Real Estate, Atlas

If you have any idea what “shoegaze” rock is, and you haven’t heard this album, may I suggest you stop being an idiot?

13.  Phish, Fuego

Finally a return to form after a number of disappointing releases, Fuego finds the band weaving tight, crisp jams over sparse but giddy lyrics that start to hint at the pains of being post-middle age, with a little bit of supreme confidence thrown in for good measure.

12.  Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal and Content Nausea

This New York post-punk-post-pop-pre-rockabilly (huh?  Here I am just joking; the music media loves to label Parquet Courts in so many ways it is ludicrous; they just make “rock” music, albeit kinda…punky?  Amateury?) really hit their stride this year, releasing two back-to-back masterpieces (the second, Content Nausea, being released by their alter ego band, Parkay Quarts).  These taut, coiled, short screeds blast at you like beautiful insults; they are loveable songs that you want to run from.

11.  The Orwells, Disgraceland

The Orwells steamrolled onto everybody’s radar this year with this unforgettable performance on Letterman.  That song (called “Who Needs You”) also features some truly daring lyrics: “You better count your blessings/ kiss your ma and pa/ You better burn that flag/ ’cause it aint against the law!/ Listen up forefathers:/ I’m not your son/ You better save the country/ You better pass the flask/ You better join the army/ I said: no thank you, dear old uncle sam!”.  When their full-length album, Disgraceland, was released shortly after the Letterman appearance, it didn’t much matter that it was a disappointing collection of small-talent noise rock: “Who Needs You” was a song debut good enough to buy them a few years of grace period.

10.  The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream


These home-grown Philly boys blew me away with the first track on this album (while not their first album, it’s their first ‘major’ album, and the first I’d heard).  The album is aptly titled, as, if I had to name this genre of rock, I’d call it Dream Rock.  Standout track “Under the Pressure” was my anthem of early summer this year, and provided a soundtrack on repeat for my visit home to Central PA and my friend Michael’s wedding.  I have a clear memory of sitting in my dad’s car after arriving to her wedding, blasting the air conditioning, listening to “Under the Pressure” on repeat, and waiting to get out of the car until I saw someone I knew.

9.  El Ten Eleven, For Emily

One of the more unique “post-rock” outfits in the biz, this duo utilizes looping and custom instruments to create full, intensely emotive sounds.  For Emily is just a 5-song EP, but it is far from a toss-off and there is zero filler.  The production is crisper and cleaner than I’m used to from these guys; I can hear the guitarist’s fingers on the strings, a pleasant departure from the more clinical sound of their earlier (and still amazing) records.

8. Willis Earl Beal, Experiments in Time

The supremely “artsy” blues-psychedlia-R&B crooner of last year’s exquisite Nobody Knows came back right away with a solid follow-up; however, Experiments in Time lacks the urgency and necessity of hisWillis-Earl-Beal-Experiments-In-Time-608x605 previous efforts.  Still, Time succeeds where most artists fail: every moment of this is something that could only have been made by Beal.  Everything he does is unmistakably his, a quality that is more and more rare these days.

7.  Hey Rosetta!, Second Sight

Those of you who have followed my blog for years now may be surprised by this band’s new album ranking seventh on my list this year (they’ve released two albums since I started making lists, each one ranking #1 on their release year).  I continue to maintain Hey Rosetta! as my favorite band (although it keeps being by thinner and thinner margins) and my discovery of them about 6 or 7 years ago remains a defining event of my life; alas, nothing stays perfect forever.  There are lots of moments to like on Second Sight, and a few of these songs would turn up on mix CDs I might make of the band; however, the breathless, emotion-drenched moments I crave from them are a bit too infrequent, and the times the band tries to stretch and evolve often sound too under-developed.  Nonetheless: solid, earnest, and soulful.

6.  Mono, The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness


The premier Japanese post-rock band has finally made their masterpiece in these two simultaneously-released twin albums; Dawn explores the light, uplifting possibilities of this genre, and Darkness its depressing underbelly. Both albums are instant post-rock classics; when listened to back-to-back, it can be a damn-near enlightening experience.

5.  Delta Spirit, Into the Wide

Finally this band, who I have always loved, completely lets loose.  They get big and epic.  These are songs about hearts as big as prairies, unchecked regret, the loss of innocence, and the decay of America.  The tales are told through booming guitar loops and underlying synth structures, long atmospheric intros and cacophonous crescendos.  Singer Matt Vasquez’s voice breaks in just the right places, just the right amount of times, like a pubescent boy finally learning to control the caged beast within.

4.  This Will Destroy You, Another Language

This year, This Will Destroy You entered the small league of BANDS THAT ALWAYS MESS ME UP EMOTIONALLY.  This intense, emotive this willpost-rock group from Texas (where else have we heard of a Texas post-rock band?) started out my year amazingly, as I worked my way through their back catalog and they made my life better.  I was caught off guard late in the year by the release of a new album!  Another Language doesn’t often reach the sublime levels of their early work, but some standout tracks (“Newtopia”, “Dustism”, “Serpent Mound”) can make a comfortable home with their best material.

3. Stars, No One is Lost


This band just keeps on growing on me.  They are wholly unique.  They fuse an indie/alternative vibe with a pop sensibility and then throw in melancholy, defeatist lyrics for a sound and feeling you simply cannot get anywhere else.  No One is Lost absolutely has to be their best album yet.  You leave it dancing your ass off, but with no idea what to feel.  The emotional confusion that Stars provokes is completely intentional and positively riveting.

2.  Warpaint, Warpaint


The album is self-titled, but it isn’t their debut album (it’s their third).  This album slithered under my skin from moment one.  It is sinister, sexy, and deliciously complex.  It is bombastic, mathematical, dynamic, coiled.  It punches, swerves, licks, plays.  The four women in Warpaint refuse to make “chick rock”, but they also do not ignore that they are women; this is rock music made from a woman’s perspective, but for everybody.  It’s not about being a woman, it’s about the experience of life, of living in bodies, the depth of feeling, the smell of smoke, the touch of a raindrop, barely felt.  This album is a sensual gut-punch.

1. Silver Mt. Zion, Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything


This is not music for everybody.  This band–and especially this album by this band–is a pretty unhappy affair.  It does not focus on the good things in life.  It’s about dirt, pain, rot.  It is, at times, about rising above these things, about triumph–but it is about triumph as afterthought, as happenstance.  This is perhaps not a complete and accurate portrait of life: but it is not a perspective without its truth.

This downtrodden thematic perspective is accompanied by the band’s usual lengthy, repetitive, droning postpunk post-everything mess rock, but with a little (a little) more typical song structure than usual.  Like I said: this isn’t for everybody.  But you know who it is for?  Me.  While not a single song on this album could ever come even remotely close to being played on the radio (I think most radio stations would pay money to keep it away) it is, to me, one of those rarest things in modern music: true art, worthy of museum display.



My Second Favorite Song of All-Time

Posted in 100 Favorite Songs with tags , , , on April 8, 2013 by sethdellinger

I worry about life passing me by.  I worry about not noticing the little things, or not knowing enough about the people I care about, or not seizing opportunity, or enjoying a beautiful spring day, or telling a pretty woman how pretty she is. (not that I am always great at these things, but I think about them, see?) I haven’t always worried about these things, but I think regular readers of my blog might understand where this impulse and concern of mine comes from.  I know that I am far from the only person who thinks this way, but this tendency, I think, might be a bit heightened in me.

Like, I think, most people, my younger years were spent in a kind of frivolity.  I’ve always been an introspective type, prone to pondering the meaning of life (if you’ll allow me to be so cliché), but my late teens and early twenties were spent pondering the meaning of my life, often on an extremely localized scale.  I didn’t care about much else.  And while I have grown up into anything but a “selfless” man, I’d like to think, at least, that the roses I stop to smell are now in public gardens, and not my own backyard.

The first time I ever heard the band Hey Rosetta! (the exclamation point is theirs, not mine) I was listening to the XM Radio station The Verge, and their song “I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time” came on.  At first I was caught by the repetitive, rocky riff, and then I saw the song title on my car’s display, and I was hooked by the title alone.

“I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time” talks about a man who spent his whole life not paying attention to the world around him, and by the time he “wakes up”, it’s just too damn late for anything.  Lyricist Tim Baker gives us some very straight-forward material here, as well as some more complicated stuff if you are the pondering type.  He starts us off pretty plainly: “I’ve been asleep for a long, long time. Blonde hair to brown, and brown to white.  My mom is buried beside my dad, but I was asleep for all of that.”

And it’s that line that gets me, still, more than anything: My mom is buried beside my dad, but I was asleep for all of that.

More than anything, this song has made me want to know my parents.  Really know them, like human beings, with histories and quirks and human qualities and not just dismiss them as “my parents”.  Because I’ve been made aware that life is not forever, and someday I won’t have these parents around, and I do not want to be asleep for all of that.

Another line that frazzles me: “The schools that we went to have all been closed, and all of my teachers are dead, I suppose.”  Gives me chills.  The passage of time and all that jazz.

Later, in a fantastic musical breakdown before a stunning crescendo, Tim hits us with some more ponderous material: he makes an analogy comparing “sleeping” people to reeds caught in a rising river tide: “The river’s up, the reeds are caught halfway across what never was.  The river rose, and swept in slow. When the reeds awoke, they were half below.”

Don’t wait until you’re half below to wake up.

I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time
by Hey Rosetta!

I’ve been asleep for a long, long time.
Blond hair to brown and brown to white.
My mom is buried beside my dad,
but I was asleep for all of that.

I shut my eyes for a moment’s rest,
cause I get so tired.
What thing transpired while my body slept
to beset my mind?

The schools that we went to have all been closed,
and all of my teachers are dead, I suppose.
The songs that we sung have all gone quiet.
What happens below as we sleep at night?

The river’s up, the reeds are caught
halfway across what never was.
The water rose and swept in slow.
When the reeds awoke they were half below.


I was lucky enough, shortly after falling head-over-heels for this band, to bring my friend Paul along for the ride, and he is now as big (if not maybe even slightly bigger) fan of the band than I am.  In late 2011, Paul and I (and our friend Chris, as well) trekked to Ithaca, New York, to see our first Hey Rosetta! show (the first of 7 for me, now).  It was in a little shit-shack of a bar.  As we approached to enter, hours before the show, the first thing I heard was the band soundchecking a slow, acoustic version of “I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time”.  It was a moment of amazement for me.  As the three of us entered the bar, we were practically alone inside, and on a tiny stage, there was the band, playing this song that had transformed my life to an empty room.  There are very few moments in life like this one.  Later, when they played it during the show, I taped it, but the video quality is HORRIBLE and my battery ran out halfway through, but here it is anyway:

Me with Tim Baker, lyricist and singer of Hey Rosetta!, at the Ithaca, New York show

Me with Tim Baker, lyricist and singer of Hey Rosetta!, at the Ithaca, New York show



If you’ve got this far in the entry and are actually interested in/ like this song, please watch this, a video of them playing the song live for real for real.  I swear, it can change your life:



My Favorite Music of 2012

Posted in Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2013 by sethdellinger

Well well fair blog readers, it is time once again for my year-end favorite music list.  Unlike in years past, this will be the only year-end list here on Notes From the Fire, as I simply haven’t been paying enough attention to anything else to make a decent list.

If you’d like to go back in time, here are links to previous years’ lists:




There were two years of lists before these, but they were on my MySpace blog, which has mysteriously disappeared.  As usual, a mix disc representative of this blog has been made and will be automatically sent to those of you on my “mailing list”; if you aren’t and you want to be, contact me!

All music on this list was released in calendar year 2012.  The list itself is limited to only full-length albums, but there are some runners-up after the list by artists that either didn’t release full-length albums, or whose album sucked, but since this is literally a list of my “favorite music” released this year, it seemed silly to continue limiting it to only full albums.  Now: the list!

10.  Benjamin Gibbard, “Former Lives”

BGFL_5X5-01Death Cab for Cutie frontman Gibbard unleashed his first solo effort this year, and of course, it sounds and feels a lot like Death Cab, but lyrically, the album sticks solely to relationships (mostly romantic, but occasionally musing on friendship, too) and never veers onto some of the larger topics Death Cab albums often deal with.  A highlight is Gibbard’s duet with Aimee Mann on “Bigger Than Love“.

9.  Delta Spirit, “Delta Spirit”

The California indie rocker’s, on their second album, grow and evolve from the raw, straight-ahead power they used on 2010’s “History From Below” into a band with more textured, layered sublety, while still retaining their ability to outright gut-punch their listeners.

8.  Alabama Shakes, “Boys and Girls”


The Shakes have spearheaded a new movement of indie Americana, and nobody is going to do it better than they do. They’re not writing songs for the radio.  There are no enormous, sweeping, soundtrack-ready singalong choruses (hello there, annoying second chapter of the Mumford and Sons story), just genuine feeling and the ache of living and working in an America that doesn’t notice you.

7.  Neil Young and Crazy Horse, “Psychedelic Pill”

Young and Crazy Horse had quite a year this year, putting out an album of covers, as well as this album, their first new original music together in many, many years.  And it did not disappoint.  A double-disc album, it only has eight songs on it, as these crunchy blasts of feedback perfection keep stretching over the 20 minute mark.  Not to be missed if you’ve ever been a fan of what Young and Crazy Horse do together.

6.  El Ten Eleven, “Transitions”

Practitioners of the dark art of Post-Rock, this duo uses live looping to replicate their large sound in the live setting.  This year’s album, “Transitions”, found them reaching even further toward the epic, big-idea tomes their genre-mates usually turn out, although they still often give their songs goofy titles, like “Thanks Bill“.

5.  Public Enemy, “The Evil Empire of Everything”

Public_Enemy-The_Evil_Empire_of_EverythingI know what you’re saying!  “Rap?!”  Well, yes.  Way back in the day when I was solely into rap (ie, high school) Public Enemy was one of my favorite acts.  Chuck D is an amazing lyricist and they are very hard-hitting musically.  A review in a magazine prompted me to check out this new album, and I was instantly smitten.  Their music is, in fact, closer to “rock” than most hip hop acts, and Chuck’s radical social conscious speaks to my ever-more-liberal than last year ideals.  But warning: this dude is more liberal than you are (whoever you are), and if you have a problem with a black dude still accusing the white establishment of fucking with black folks (which definitely still happens, black president or not) then you should stay away from Public Enemy (and enjoy your Kenny Chesney concert).

4.  Neil Young and Crazy Horse, “Americana”

The first album Young and Crazy Horse put out this year, “Americana” is a collection of classic American folk songs, re-written in gritty, in-your-face grunge style that goes great lengths of changing (or in some cases, re-enforcing) how we view these songs we’ve all heard hundreds of times.  Read more about it and stream the entire album here.

3.  Emily Wells, “Mama”


Emily Wells, a solo artist who utilizes live looping much like El Ten Eleven, writes haunting, unconventional visions of angst and longing, but on this year’s “Mama” she took things a step further by writing flat-out stunning poetry for lyrics.  On previous albums she had always witten very effective, affecting songs, but on “Mama” she gets subtle, roundabout, and mysterious while keeping things just within reach of accesibility.  If she continues to evolve at this rate her next album will cement her status as a cult hero.

2.  Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!”


Aside from perhaps classical and some jazz, there is absolutely nothing more serious in the world of music than Godspeed You! Black Emperor.  Do not approach this band if you are not capable of listening to music to ponder your absolute and complete reason for existence.  And to explore where the line between perfect joy and utter despiar lies.  The godfathers (and godmothers) of post-rock, Godspeed hadn’t released an album in 10 years, and speculation had asserted they probably were not going to.  So when “‘Allelujah” was announced, it sent shockwaves through the post-rock community, with most people assuming no album they could release would possibly be able to live up to expectations.  But they proved everyone wrong.  The album came out to almost universal acclaim.  Most people are actually somewhat baffled by the post-rock perfection that goes on here, and how, after 5 of their own albums and countless (truly, countless) copycat bands, Godspeed is somehow still able to surprise us and find new, truly incredible ways to make this kind of music.  Also, having purchased the album on vinyl, I have a code for a free download of this album that I will pass along to the first person who asks for it.

1.  Band of Horses, “Mirage Rock”


Over the course of the last few years, Band of Horses have come to the forefront of my music-listening life (although I hesitate to crown them my “favorite band”, as other bands might be more at the forefront if they’d been on the same album release and tour schedule as Band of Horses).  The band’s sound, the lyrical content and the overall subject matter of the songs, and even all the albums’ packaging (every album so far has come with a packet of photographs that don’t say anything on them and are just assumed to be a visual accompaniment to the music) steers me to this band.  This year’s “Mirage Rock” only ramped up this enjoyment all the more.  Songs like “Slow Cruel Hands of Time” seem to not only be about my own feelings, but practically a plot-specific memoir of my life.  For the last six months, “Mirage Rock” has been a steady and constant companion, the true soundtrack to my life, and as such, it gets this year’s number one spot!

Runner-up songs:
Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
Bruce Springsteen, “We Take Care of Our Own”
Gary Clark Jr., “When My Train Pulls In”
GROUPLOVE, “Itchin’ on a Photograph”
Silversun Pickups, “Skin Graph”
Grizzly Bear, “Yet Again”
Kaiser Chiefs, “Little Shocks”
Mogwai, “San Pedro”
Hey Rosetta!, “New Year Song”

Philly Journal, 10/30

Posted in Philly Journal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2012 by sethdellinger

Life chugs along here in Philly/ South Jersey.  There are quite literally more things to do than I have time for!  The list of ways I want to spend my time keeps growing and growing and I rarely fully check something off of it.  In addition to tourist areas/ landmarks (which my mother and I tick off a list at the rate of about one a week), there are larger projects I can’t seem to get my feet under me for:  familiarize myself with the local rock music scene, find when and where nationally-renowned poets are reading in the area, figure out the local New Jersey history, take pictures of as many Philadelphia historical markers as I can, become familiar with Philly record stores…and on and on.  Luckily, I like doing things.

There was a hurricane yesterday.  Despite all signs pointing to the fact that we should have been, like, directly in the worst part of the hurricane, close to nothing happened here.  Just a whole lot of rain, and a little bit of wind.  For a moment it looked like there might be a flood danger.  Watch this video I took, once an hour from between 1pm and 5pm:

A few nights ago I went and saw the band El Ten Eleven at Philly’s North Star Bar.  It was interesting to finally see a show at this venue, as about two years ago, when I was living in Erie, I had planned to see the band Hey Rosetta! at this location when I was home on a vacation, but those plans got changed, however, I had stayed on their mailing list and have recieved monthly e-mails from them for two years, detailing the bands playing there.  While there are dozens and dozens of venues in Philly, it just so happened that the North Star Bar would end up being the first place I actually saw a band in Philly after moving here.  It was, essentially, a dump.  But I loved it.

This concert was somewhat unique for me because I attended it WITH SOMEBODY.  I went with my friend Bill Hanna, who doesn’t have a Facebook, so it’s almost like he doesn’t exist. But he does have a Twitter account, and I’m sure he’ll hate the fact that I just linked to it.

El Ten Eleven is post-rock, which I reference all the time but you still don’t know what it is. Damn lazy readers.  Anyway, it’s really serious music for really pretentious bastards like me.  But seeing post-rock live is pretty much the most intense experience I ever go through.  It is life-affirming, gut-wrenching, and sorrowful.  And seeing it live with a friend is even more intense.  Kudos to Bill Hanna for making the trip, as I think he still has just one foot into the genre, not yet sure if he likes the temperature, although he is a certified fan of this post-rock band.

Anyway, the day of the show, I spent wandering around Philly before meeting up with Bill and going to the show.  I made this video of footage from that day, set to El Ten Eleven’s “Lorge”, followed by footage I shot of them opening their show that night with the same song:

Other intense things lately: my mom and I saw a show of some of Winslow Homer’s paintings, including this hum-dinger:

Went to the intriguing Franklin Science Center with the sis, nephews, and mom:

I’ve visited the building Thomas Jefferson was staying in when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, the house where Walt Whitman died, four Phillies games, toured a battelship, taken a million (really good) pictures, eaten way too many cheesesteaks, allowed my mother to teach me that, yes, plants are actually badass, recieved multiple cool owl things from my sister, played a seriously challenging game of hide-and-seek with my nephew Ethan, bought a really sweet new record player, went to the damned zoo,  attended a meeting of our development’s Homeowner’s Association with my mom and Brian (formerly known as Pumpkin Latte on this blog, but that would be too weird considering my recent career change, so to my blog readers: Brian is my sister’s husband and also a registered Shaman in Alaska), went to dinner at a fancy schmancy joint with a visiting Michael, became obsessed with the works of this poet and even found a book of his in, yes, an actual bookstore, visited Newville and had my dad take me on a tour of his childhood, oh and this and also this,  and really almost too much stuff to name.

I took a break from the blog for awhile, just basically finding where it fit into my new life, but things have settled into a nice rhythm now, so expect it to come roaring back, with a vengeance. Also, vote for Obama, you bastards.

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