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Happy 40th Birthday, Jack Johnson!

Happy 40th Birthday, Jack Johnson!

Best wishes to the king of anti-road rage awesome groovy tunes today, his 40th birthday!


Jack Johnson – Taylor

This one has the album version for the title track, and then some live versions of other stuff: Gone, live with Ben Harper on lovely (almost Hawaiian-sounding, on the solo) guitar, the soul-inflected Girl I Wanna Lay You Down, live with Zach Gill on accordion, and a harmonica-fuelled Mudfootball, live with G. Love. A funky single, indeed.

Jack Johnson – Good People

Here we get the title album track, and an acoustic version of No Other Way. Next is a track called Butternut, which I already have on the Sprout film soundtrack, and then a live concert video (from Kokua ’05) for Good People too, which shows pretty much how I pictured a JJ concert to go – appearing relaxed (while still working hard). If you’re at all obsessive about collecting Johnson’s discography, this one’s a bit redundant. But it’s still a cool find.

Jack Johnson – Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

This single for the popular title track is also a promo for other Brushfire artists. The bouncy and infectious Free is from Donavon Frankenreiter’s debut record, and the reggae-driven Give It To You is from G. Love’s The Hustle. Sure, Johnson appears on both tracks, which just adds to the fun. There’s also the video for Taylor tacked onto the end of this, the one with Ben Stiller in it.

Jack Johnson – To The Sea

This tribute to his late father was chosen as the clear winner of my Best of 2010 list. Each track is thoughtfully constructed, and the man sure has a knack with a catchy, funky riff. He’s added some energy to some of the tracks, but there’s a sombre edge on the whole affair, the lyrical themes reminding us why we’re here. Sure, it’s a typical Johnson record but, then again, it’s also so much more. Beautiful.

Jack Johnson – Wasting Time

I snagged this Jack Johnson promo CD single without really looking at it, largely because when I am in a record store and I see a CD that I don’t recognize by an artist that I enjoy, and the price tag says $2.95, I don’t ask questions, I just bring it home and check it out after the dust settles. Sometimes this works out to my pleasure, and sometimes (like this time), I paid three bucks for a CD that has one song on it. An album track, no less. It’s a great song, don’t get me wrong. It’s very tuneful. You know it already, surely, since it’s off an album that was released in 2003. Anyway, now it’s here in my house, duplicating the track on my copy of the record. Suppose this single might be collectible to some hardcore fan, someday, at any rate.

A Trip To The Big Smoke

Back from a fairly successful trip to Toronto this past Saturday. Hadn’t been down to the city for a couple of years, so I was suitably overwhelmed by the ridiculously packed 401 and Yorkdale, and the cacophony of cultures, sights, sounds and smells in the downtown area. Been in the sticks too long, I guess. But it was also good to get the city under our feet again, see what was new.

Hit Sonic Boom, of course, and scored some gems there, and got a couple of cool discs in the basement at BMV. Made a trip along College to Soundscapes, a shop which was new to me (oops, there goes my street cred!). It’s lovely. They’ve got a great selection, very tasteful and completist. I’d go back there especially when there was something harder to find I wanted, chances are they’d have it.

And my musics haul from this trip? Here’s a list (reviews forthcoming for some of them)…

Rollins Band – Nice (advance promo cd with epk footage)
Jack Johnson – Wasting Time (promo single)
Paddy Casey – Addicted To Company Pt. 1 (remember him?!)
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Acme Plus
Lee Ranaldo with Dave Dyment – New Life After Fire (for Tom Thompson)
Pavement – Quarantine The Past (hits collection)
Tribute – Everything Is Ending Here – A Tribute To Pavement
Tribute – Borrowed Tunes – A Tribute To Neil Young

I also have the new Gord Downie (The Grand Bounce), so I think I might do a series like I did for the Hip, listen to all 3 of his solo efforts in sequence…

Get ready, more is coming shortly!

Fuck Your Pain Away, The Visit, Jowi Taylor, Reinhard Kleist, and Jack Johnson

Yeah, so it’s been a while. Again.

Fuck Your Pain Away

Our buddy Brian is the King of Mixes. He has a long history, going right back to the mix tapes of years and years ago. He spends hours on them, getting the mix just right. He always picks just enough bands I’ve heard of (but not always the usual tracks), and tons of bands I’ve never known existed. Where he finds all this stuff, I’ll never know. These days, the internet must be helpful, but back in the day it must’ve been more difficult. Brian just attracts good music to him, somehow. And now he has computer technologies so he can even fade one song into the next, like a radio station, and he photoshops fancy covers to go with it all. It’s very High Fidelity, and it’s awesome because every so often I am privileged to receive a new mix from him.

During their recent visit here from the States, Brian brought several new mixes with him. Hooray! This first one is called Fuck Your Pain Away, after the first line of the first song, and it’s a great mix. Rockin’ indie-sounding mayhem that shifts into smooth reggae bliss and then back again. Loved it.

Track List:

Clicks – Complicated
Olympus Mons – Being God
Gossip – Fire With Fire
Against Me! – Don’t Lose Touch
Eagles Of Death Metal – I Want You So Hard (Bad Boy News)
Magenta Lane – Daggers Out!
Tapes N’ Tapes – Insistor
Kings Of Leon – Charmer
White Stripes – Little Cream Soda
Silver Sun Pickups – Lazy Eye
Clicks – Oh Yeah
Johnstones – No Time For The Moment
Zerolene – All Good
Aggrolites – Work It
Delroy Wilson – This Life Makes Me Wonder
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – Hold Tight
Detroit Cobras – Shout Bama Lama
Immaculate Machine – Jarhand
You Say Party! We Say Die! – You Dit It
Flogging Molly – If I Ever Leave This World Alive
Plain White T’s – Hey There Delilah
Clicks – Cry Me A River
Noisettes – Don’t Give Up
Chris Ligon – Crazy Daisy

That was awesome.

The Visit

Another mix from Brian, this one is very soulful, with tons of great tracks that groove and slide and gently hold your hand as it smoothly goes from song to song. Nice one in the car.

Track List:

Ray LaMontagne – You’re The Best Thing
Rapheal Saddiq – Sure Hope You Meant It
John Legend – Slow Dance
Al Green – Take Your Time (f. Corinne Bailey Rae)
Emiliana Torrini – Heartstopper
Adele – First Love
Rocco DeLuca – Open Pages
Alexi Murdoch – Orange Sky
Brett Dennen – Desert Sunrise
Coco Rosie – Noah’s Ark
Nizlopi – Helen
Vampire Weekend – Oxford Comma
Ben Folds – You Don’t Know Me (f. Regina Spektor)
Kooks – Naive
Pretenders – Breakin’ The Concrete
Jill Sobule – Palm Springs
Decemberists – The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid
Loretta Lynn – Portland, Oregon (f. Jack White)
Andrew Bird – Fake Palindromes
Bob Dylan – One More Cup Of Coffee
Madeline – I Left The Light on


Jowi Taylor – Six String Nation

Charting the adventures of a guitar named Voyageur, which was made from many chunks of our collective nation, this book is fascinating. It has warmth, humour, intelligence and creativity – just like us. Well done, and recommended.

Reinhard Kleist – Johnny Cash: I See A Darkness

I was quite impressed by this graphic novel. The artwork is stark yet full, and the choice of black and white is fitting. The story is the one we all know already, with a bonus bit that you might not know about, told by a prisoner at Fulsom. We all love Cash. Bet he’d love that someone made him into a comic book.

Jack Johnson – En Concert

I have this thing about Jack Johnson’s music. Although there’s a fundamental punker part of me that resists it on some level, ultimately I always get into the groove pretty easily. This live record is beautifully recorded and the track-to-track mixing (each track recorded in a different place on tour) is seamless. It’s a showcase of the talented musicians on stage, pure and simple, and a love-fest with Johnson’s ardent fans. I will play this many, many times.

Robert Pollard, Echobrain, Tracy Chapman, Metallica and Jack Johnson

Robert Pollard – Town Of Mirrors

Open the cover of this coffee table collection of EAT-style collage and lyrics, and re-introduce yourself to the restless mind of a genius.

Echobrain – Echobrain

Jason Newstead’s side-project was no threat to Metallica in any way, shape or form, but it still sounds as good as any other mid-90’s pop-rock you enjoyed at the time (despite this being from 2002).

Tracy Chapman – Our Bright Future

This is gentle, back-porch music at its best, and the songs are whip-smart, as always. Yummy.

Metallica – Some Kind Of Monster

Just watched this again and my opinion holds true: they should have gotten past this horseshit privately. We didn’t need to see it, but we did. Ugh. And Lars? Spit out that gum and shut up, man. Please.

Jack Johnson And Friends – Sing-A-Longs And Lullabies For The Film Curious George

This guy writing songs for a kids’ movie is a natural. Chock full of the gentle, now-classic Johnson groove, with some help from great friends like Ben Harper, G. Love and Matt Costa. Sweetness, indeed.

Jack Johnson – Sleep Through The Static

Let’s be honest: Master Mellow Man Jack Johnson’s newest record (to date) sounds like more of the same as everything else he has ever done. And you might think that that’s really boring, even give up on him for being unoriginal. But you’d be completely missing the point.

Yes, there is a ‘sound’ to what he does, and it’s becoming ubiquitous and, as a result, instantly recognizable. But he’s got a lot to say, and if you really listen to him, damn it all if you don’t feel yourself relaxing and agreeing with the man.

He’s just what this culture needs, with his cries for peace, common sense, environmental responsibility and generally changing our society’s (as well as our personal) ways for the better. Hell, I haven’t heard this much social commentary since the last time I binged on Bob Marley… which really wasn’t all that long ago.

It’s also worth noting that he seems to be trying to back up what he says with his own actions, with the album packaging made from recycled materials, part of the proceeds donated to 1% For The Planet, and the entire album recorded using 100% solar energy. Very sensible, and very cool. And he’s not pushy or obnoxious about it, like so many other people are. I like that.

Best out of all of it, there’s a great groove here, and the songs are well-crafted, completely listenable and highly enjoyable. If everyone had this stuff in their car stereos, there might never be road rage ever again.

It would be impossible to lose one’s balance in life while listening to this record.

Track Listing:
01 All At Once
02 Sleep Through The Static
03 Hope
04 Angel
05 Enemy
06 If I Had Eyes
07 Same Girl
08 What You Thought You Need
09 Adrift
10 Go On
11 They Do, They Don’t
12 While We Wait
13 Monsoon
14 Losing Keys

Jack Johnson – Brushfire Fairytales

Jack Johnson makes very relaxing records. I’ve written in these pages before about how I always seem to come away from his tunes with a mellow frame of mind. Hell, even the first track here entreats “Slow down everyone, you’re moving too fast.” It seems to be his manifesto.

And like they said in the one and only Seinfeld episode I have ever seen in my life, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Seriously, I like punk and metal and any rock that Rawks as much as anyone, but there’s a time and a place for that, just as there’s a time and a place for this music. This is lower-key bliss, great for house parties and hanging at the beach.

Heck, even Ben Harper who, himself, has been known to enjoy the more relaxed moments in life (be they substance-induced or not), appears here. Yup, that’s him playing slide guitar on Flake. Cool.

These are well-written songs by an artist very sure of himself and his place in this world, and that’s way more than most of us can say on any given day, if ever.

Track Listing:
01 Inaudible Melodies
02 Middle Man
03 Posters
04 Sexy Plexi
05 Flake
06 Bubble Toes
07 Fortunate Fool
08 The News
09 Drink The Water
10 Mudfootball (For Moe Lerner)
11 F-Stop Blues
12 Losing Hope
13 It’s All Understood

Jack Johnson – On And On

My lovely wife likes Jack Johnson’s music. Granted, until recently she didn’t know his name, but she liked it when his songs came on the radio. So when we were out and about last night and saw a couple of his discs on special, she decided they should come home with us.

Well, having only ever heard a single song here or there, up until now, let me say that an entire album of Jack Johnson had the same effect on me that listening to Bob Marley does – it made me pretty frickin’ relaxed (while giving me a whole bunch to think about). Excellent.

I could totally get into the surfer mindset, man. Seriously. I think somewhere near the surface inside of me lurks a laid-back dude who just wants everyone to get along and not fuck up our planet. Of course, this is in total conflict with my inner punk, who wants to break shit and give all idiots the middle finger… but we’ll leave my (many) multiple personalities out of this discussion.

So. Jack Johnson. Hip and cool surfer dude-turned recording star. Capable now, surely, of shipping crateloads of records to Bora Bora (and there’d probably be some good surfing there, too). On the surface, his songs sound pretty simple. The arrangements, the music, it all sounds like it could have been written at nightly campfire sessions on the beach. And it wouldn’t surprise me if it had.

But listen more closely. The man has something to say, and he says it with enough eloquence to be impressive. There’s thought going into his words, and I like that. A lot of people sound preachy when conveying these messages, but Johnson (for the most part) just sounds like he cares and hopes you do too. And when you listen more closely, even the music has some brilliantly subtle complications that are pleasing to the ear. It’s far from simple, indeed.

I liked this record. A lot. We played it through while having a glass of wine and cooking dinner last night. By the time the food was ready, we were pretty mellow indeed, and it wasn’t all because of the wine. I do believe this guy’s music will get some serious stereo time in our house. But I now know that I’ve had fair warning about the chill-out effect his music has on me.


Track Listing:
01 times like these
02 the horizon has been defeated
03 traffic in the sky
04 taylor
05 gone
06 cupid
07 wasting time
08 holes to heaven
09 dreams be dreams
10 tomorrow morning
11 fall line
12 cookie jar
13 rodeo clowns
14 cocoon
15 mediocre bad guys
16 symbol in my driveway

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