Thursday, December 27, 2007

spots. NEW YEARS EVE. speakeasy

spots new years eve promo video

this event you will not want to miss.  

last public show for several months.

after the new year, the spots go into studio hibernation.  

speakeasy. 10pm till.  new years eve.

see you there.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

hired photographer

I have had a number of requests to do photos for people.  mostly for friends, for people who know that photography is something I am somewhat obsessed with (and that my camera is almost always with me).  I am slow to call myself a photographer, and even slower to be willing to charge for my services.  I guess part of me feels like so many people buy a nice camera and then WHAM! start a photography business, and to be honest, so often people who start photography businesses, their photography is just sort of okay.  I'm not saying that to be mean, I'm just saying that I have been, and am, really hesitant to turn this hobby that I really love - and artistic outlet that I really need - into some sort of business.  and also, I like that my photographs are for me.  it kind of changes things when it has to be for someone else.

maybe that doesn't make any sense.

anyway, this weekend I broke down, and I had a lot of fun doing it.  on saturday, I was hired as an assistant photographer by local wedding photographer mark parker, with marks brides.  and then on sunday, I shot some couple shots for a friend, korliss.  some of the shots turned out pretty well. some samples from the weekend.  

Friday, December 21, 2007

top records from 2007

So, for the 2nd year in a row, I have asked a few of my music loving friends to give me their top 10 records for the year. the only rule (which many of them broke) was that the record had to be released in 2007. I'd link to the 2006 lists, but that got deleted in the greatblogpurgeofearly2007.

this is going to be an uncharacteristically long post, but it is a post that I will reference, and you are welcome to reference, as you search for music. simply put, there is way too much great music out there, and 2007 has been a fantastic year for music (anybody who tells you otherwise probably doesn't actually like music very much).

two notes: I'd love to add hyperlinks for you, but I don't have time, and you have google, so there. also, feel free to add commentary, or your own lists in the comments section.

my list first, then my friends (notice I am quick and to the point):

Brian T. Murphy
wilco - sky blue sky
josh ritter - historical conquests of josh ritter
josh rouse - country mouse
travis - the boy with no name
iron and wine - shepherds dog
radiohead - in rainbows
the national - boxer
ryan adams - easy tiger
sea wolf - leaves in the river
small sails - similar anniversaries

sorry, patty griffin.

Brian Barrett
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Patty Griffin - Children Running Through
Greg Summerlin - All Done in Good Time
Led Zeppelin - Mothership (okay it is 100% material released before 1983 but I'm on a LZ kick right now).
RMM - This Breaks My Heart of Stone

disappointment of the year:
U2- The Joshua Tree (remastered). TJT has always suffered from poor mastering - maybe they were rushed as I recall this was the first album released (to my delight) in cd/lp/cassette format on the same day (up until then cds followed lp/c by as much as 2 months). I wanted the re-issue to blow me away but I have a hard time hearing differences btwn original disk and this one.

Jon Black
1. Patty Griffin - Children Running Through
2. Emotionalism - The Avett Brothers
3. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
4. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga (All emo jokes aside, this album is incredible and his live show is great too)
5. Josh Ritter - Historical Conquests
6. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (Best live show I caught this year)
7. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away (I'm surprised at how much I like this band)
8. Icky Thump - The White Stripes
9. Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger (Even after his fit, I still like this album)
10. Iron & Wine - Shepherd Dog

Honorable Mentions:
Tim O'Regan - Self-Titled (drummer from the Jayhawks... well crafted american music)
Son Volt - The Search
Lyle Lovett - It's Not Big, It's Large (if you don't like Lyle then you either hate Country or you're not American)
Ryan Shaw - This Is Ryan Shaw (the closest this era is going to get to Motown without actually listening to old motown records)
Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
This Breaks My Heart of Stone - RMC... amazing.

Albums from this year I haven't gotten around to checking out:
1. The National - I saw them with Arcade Fire and I wasn't blown away. I still want to hear their album since everyone is going crazy about it.
2. Band of Horses - Cease to Being
3. Springsteen – Magic

Evander Munger
Patty Griffin - Children Running Through
Travis - The Boy With No Name
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Charlotte Gainsbourg - 5:55
Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
Menomena - Friend and Foe
Great Northern - Trading Twilight for Daylight
Clare Burson - Thieves
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
The National – Boxer

Shawn Avery
1. nine inch nails - year zero
2. through the sparks - lazarus beach
3. st. vincent - marry me
4. clutchy hopkins - the life of clutchy hopkins
5. greg gillis aka girl talk - miscellaneous bootleg cds
6. aa bondy - american heart
7. nine inch nails - year zero remixed (a totally different animal)
8. the rosebuds - night of the furies
9. the shins - wincing the night away (mainly listened to sea legs)
10... honorable mentions...

travis - the boy with no name
the damnwells - air stereo
midlake - the trials of van occupanther
the fire theft (old, but i'm just now going nuts over it)

if i had to recommend some 2007 albums to you guys as no brainers... i would suggest:

3. st. vincent - marry me
4. clutchy hopkins - the life of clutchy hopkins
6. aa bondy - american heart

T.Scott Carlisle
The National - Boxer
Menomena - Friend and Foe
Josh Rouse - Country Mouse City House
Feist - Reminder (even though it was "cool" and over exposed)
Beirut - Pompeii + Long Island+Elephant Gun EP's (Together they equal one album and sound like a gypsy funeral band exploded.)
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky (I like Volkswagens)
The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
Iron and Wine - Shepherds Dog
Radiohead - In Rainbows
A few random cuts: The Kings of Leon "Knocked Up", Modest Mouse "Dashboard" (the rest kind of gives me a headache), Arcade Fire "Intervention"

For the rest, I was still catching up on 2006 which had a lot of good stuff I slowly discovered over this year, not to mention all the other suff I heard for the first this year that was older then that, like Band of Bees "Sunshine Hit Me" from 2003, some Ben Folds stuff, Sun Kil Moon, etc. There's just too much good stuff out there.

Chris Copeland
Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
Patty Griffin, Children Running Through
Josh Ritter, Historical Conquests
The National, Boxer
Feist, The Reminder
Radiohead, In Rainbows
Joseph Arthur, Let's Just Be
William Fitzsimmons, Goodnight (Thanks for this one Murph)

Number 9 & 10 are albums only partially listened to but have me full of anticipation:

Band of Horses, Cease to Begin
Marc Cohn, Join the Parade

Clint Wells
katherine mcphee - katheryn mcphee
fall out boy - infinity on high
toby mac - portable sounds
relient k - five score and seven years ago
korn - mtv unplugged:korn
dokken - from conception live '81
third day - chronology volume one
the dogg pound - dogg chit
W.A.S.P. - dominator
toby keith - big dog daddy

e* (official winner of the 2007 verbose awards)
Ok, here we go (no particular order at first, some order later):

Easy Tiger - Ryan Adams.
- I should've been a huge Ryan Adams fan years ago, but I resisted for some reason. This album effectively ended that resistance and made me atone for my years of neglecting him. "I taught myself how to grow old" has been playing in my head constantly since the first time I heard it.

All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone - Explosions In The Sky
- This is the kind of music I would make if I could make music. This is what they make 6 foot tall amps for. This is what I hope they play at my funeral.

Zeitgeist - Smashing Pumpkins
- It would be easy to assume that the Pumpkins are done, that their time was the 90s and we should accept that and move on. This album is a thundering, snarling, riveting, gripping rebuttal to that viewpoint. This album makes me feel like I'm in the middle of the movie Bladerunner, wearing black leather and a cape, leaping from rooftops at night in the rain, punching through walls.

In Rainbows - Some band
- Yeah. Some band sort of lost me about 10 years ago. I need rhythm, I need verse-chorus-verse. I gave up. They were too hard, to inaccessible for my cheap ears. Then this. Then "All I Need" on repeat for 12 hours straight. Then "Videotape" in the dark teatime of my soul. I still don't get all of it. But there is depth and weight to this album, and these songs in particular, that is breathtaking.

Boxer - The National
- I still like their last one better, but this is still easily in the top 10. "Start A War" punches me in the gut every time I hear it.

An End Has A Start - The Editors
- This is an album filled to its entirety with achingly sad, shiveringly cold songs. I loved every one. "Smokers Outside the Hospital Door" and "Escape the Nest" kill me.

Friend and Foe - Menomena
- I'm not a drummer, but I bet a lot of drummers kick themselves a little bit when they hear this record. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm. Creative, creepy songwriting.

3 Icky Thump - White Stripes
- I saw them at Sloss this year. It should be pretty obvious that I like guitar from my list. Jack doesn't play guitar. He plays whatever instrument it is that Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton played. The sounds he makes, and the audible savagery that his guitar and Meg's tribal, primal, off-balance drumming create, are collectively one of the most forceful things I've ever heard.

2 The Story - Brandi Carlile
- She has the best female-folk-alt-country-rock voice in the world. I saw her twice this year and once last year, and I think that any of those shows could go down as one of the finest complete-band performances I've ever seen. She is the only person in the world that can cover Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, Radiohead's Creep, Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, Counting Crows' Raining in Baltimore, and CCR's Fortunate Son, and sincerely do right by all of them. (I know you don't believe me, but I've heard them all firsthand, and you're wrong.) She's talented enough to sell millions of records on her own, but with Gibb Droll on guitar and the Hanselroth brothers on bass / rhythm, her band could play by itself and I'd pay to see them. Her songs are relatively simple, kind of like 50,000 pounds of high explosive and a lit fuse are relatively simple.

1 Because of the Times - Kings of Leon
- This one came out of nowhere for me. I've never been a KoL fan, but the first song on this album -- Knocked Up -- grabbed me deep in the wanderlust-open road-redneck-pregnant teenage girlfriend part of my soul and has not let go. The whole album appeals to me like Exile on Main Street appeals to me. It's visceral and dirty and authentic and volcanic. I saw them at the Tabernacle and I had some sincere concerns that they were going to tear the place down. I still kind of wish they had. "On Call" is captivating

Barely missing the list:

Cease to Begin - Band of Horses. If I were perfectly honest, I'd say this was a little disappointing, if only because their first album was one of my favorites of the last 5 years. Still pretty damn good though.
Kala - M.I.A. "Paper Planes" alone is enough to put it very high on any list.
Neon Bible - Some Canadian Band. "Intervention" alone is enough to put it very high on any list. I got a little tired of the Jesus-band posturing this year, but let's face it -- they're making incredibly good music. The pipe organ intro to Intervention means that it will probably be the song that gets me kicked out of my condo.
The Meaning of 8 - Cloud Cult. Can't decide if they're an art exhibit or rock band, but great music nonetheless. Very disappointed I haven't seen them yet. Will fix that this year.
Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem. "All My Friends" is basically a perfect song. I wonder what it feels like to make a perfect song?

EPs that I really dug that promise great things:

-The Blakes EP. The Blakes are touring the country, burning places to the ground. They will be famous if they live long enough. (Big if.)
-Dead Confederate - Dead Confederate. Athens strikes again. Watch out for them. Really.
-Fameseeker and the Mono - Arizona
-Is Is - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
-Pela. Their "Anytown Graffiti" would've been in the top 3 of my 2006 list if I had known about them then. They're recording a new album right now.
-Arthur & Yu
-Ha Ha Tonka
-Le Loup

Finally, a list of trendy bands that I don't believe are good / just can't get into no matter how much the blogosphere gushes about them, and which I am happy to see that none of you are including on your lists:
- Of Montreal
- Panda Bear
- Animal Collective

I will probably put excerpts of some of my faves on ye olde blog for your listening pleasure.

Jeff Irwin
my top ten is a top 3:

wilco - sky blue sky
radiohead - in rainbows
tori amos - american doll posse

honorable mentions:
thad cockrell - to be loved
the silver seas - high society

FURTHERMORE, i'm with mr avery, i'm going to have to get easy tiger now. also, like mr tubbs, i have perhaps.. put off this ryan adams guy too long. what the hell, pretension is so 2007.

Hunter Barrow
Here are my favs of 2007 (in no particular order):
1. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (These guys continue to get better and better and this album is people’s exhibit F in the case against the badassness of Britt Daniels and crew. His voice makes me want to be reborn as a Marlbro Light.)
2. The National – Boxer (What can I say about this one? It’s right as rain. “Do you really think you can just put it in a safe behind a painting, lock it up and leave?....” Hell no, I don’t. One of the best albums put out this year.)
3. Iron & Wine – Shepard’s Dog (I hated this up until I heard the first chorus of Flightless Bird, American Mouth. I started the cd over and fell in love. It’s pretty and bucolic, like Eva Green. And plus, you all love it, so it HAS to be good.)
4. Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha (“This joker can whistle” was my first thought when I heard this record. “I think I’m in 1920’s Kansas” was my next. This is one of those albums that just takes you to other places.)
5. Editors – An End Has a Start (For the second straight year, the Birmingham kids are in my list. Brilliant album of death, decay and broken hearted hope.)
6. Kings of Leon – Because of the Times (I love the Followill boys. What can I say. I too saw them at the Tabernacle and after they finished only skulls and ashes remained. They still give better shows than pretty much anyone else in music.)
7. Rogue Wave – Asleep at Heaven’s Gate (One word. Solid. Front to back, it’s a great album. It stayed in my stereo for about 2 months straight.)
8. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova– Once (OK OK...yes, this is a soundtrack, BUT it is beautifully brilliant. You NEED to see this film. You will then understand why I chose this and why it’s not actually a “soundtrack”)
9. Blonde Redhead – 23 (Creepy as always, but in a more adult-themed Halloween party kind of way. Like your mom in a french maid costume drinking a Tab.)
10. Laura Veirs – Saltbreakers (OK, so yeah, it’s sweet and quirky, but this girl can craft a melody. Sometimes, when I want to feel girly without having to listen to the Garden State soundtrack....this album becomes my elixir.)
11. Richard Swift – Dressed Up for the Letdown (Yeah, I gave 11....who wants to make something out of it? He’s like Rufus Wainwright with the gay turned way down. He’s one hell of an American songwriter. Plus, anyone who can sing “I wish I was dead most of the time, but I don’t really mean it...” gets my vote.)

Benj Pocta
1. Beruit - both of their releases this year ("Lon Gisland" EP and "The Flying Cup Club")
One of the reasons I bought a ukulele last month. Great sense of melody, kind of exotic/balkan feel.

2. St. Vincent - "Marry Me"
Reasons to be in love with this girl: a) She has worked with The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan and they both like her, b) she is a guitar goddess, c) her album title is partically a reference to "Arrested Development" (I read this in an interview). Also, her music is great.

3. Phosphorescent - "Pride"
This might be my album of the year. The track "Wolves" is easily my favorite song this year and the other reason I bought a ukulele. This guy sort of does similar things to Sam Beam and Will Oldham with a flair for the Southern Gothic.

4. Iron and Wine - "The Shepherd's Dog"
I saw him last week and he was simply perfect, even with his cold.

5. Feist - "The Reminder"
What really sold me on her was a performance she gave on Jimmy Kimmel (sp?) Live while on a bus. After I saw that I bought this album.

6. Spoon - "Ga Ga, etc."
They sort of evolved a bit on this album. I've always like Spoon.

7. Bowerbirds - "Hymns for a Dark Horse"
I love this band. I went to a Vanderslice show just to see them as the openers. Maybe the best concert of my concert year. They have a bass drum, a nylon-stringed guitar, an accordian, a violin, and an knack for interesting harmonies. Check these guys out if you haven't yet.

8. Wilco - "Sky Blue Sky"
It is Wilco and it is good.

9. The Avett Brothers - "Emotionalism"
Really like these guys. I saw them last month, and though their set/songs seemed a bit formulaic at times, I came away really impressed by how well they do what they do.

10. Menomena - "Friend or Foe"
I had a week or two this year with this being the only album I listened to.

Fred O. (owner of lasers edge)
Nick Lowe - At My Age
Lewis Taylor - The Lost Album
Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
Vulture Whale - Vulture Whale
Laura Veirs - Saltbreakers
Daniel Lanois - Here Is What Is
Ry Cooder - My Name Is Buddy
The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism
Band Of Horses - Cease To Begin
I'm Not There - soundtrack

Nick Fiedler
1. The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter - Josh Ritter
2. The Shepherds Dog - Iron and Wine
3. Cassadaga - Bright Eyes
4. Live in Dublin - Bruce Springstein
5. In Rainbows - Radiohead
6. Cease to Begin - Band of Horses [ht to Josh for letting me know this was out]
7. Ga ga ga - Spoon
8. The Boxer - The National
9. Drums and Guns - Low
10. Oh Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer - Of Montreal

Monday, December 17, 2007


brooke and I went to savannah this past weekend.  this is because we have now been married for six years and there is a rule somewhere that says you must travel every time you have been married for six years.

the town is pretty cool, if you are into old trees with moss all over them, and old squares full of monuments to dead people, and also, if you are into old houses, brimming with victorian clutter.  if you are into these three things I suggest you visit savannah.  you will not be disappointed.

I was glad that brooke didn't care about the old victorian things so much.  we walked around the town, and went to the beach on a cold windy day, and chilled out for a few days.  it was a nice break.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

this breaks my heart of stone

the new record from red mountain is now available.  needless to say, I think it is our best yet.  it sounds fuller, even with some very sparse musical moments.  we tried some loops, clint played with a slide (and killed it), we worked again with people all over the country, and a texan wrote all the songs with us. I really think you might like this one.

thanks to everyone who has supported our music.  it seriously means more than you know to be able to share these songs with you.  we've put a lot of time into this one...

for more info, click here:

Monday, December 10, 2007

spots, tomorrow night, lasers edge

we're one of the many local bands playing free in-store concerts down at lasers edge to help say good-bye to our friend fred, and his most excellent music store.

so if you haven't already been down, or if you want to come again, pop in anytime tomorrow night between 7-9pm. we'll be filling up the store with some abient spots sounds, and in the meantime, you can help fred clear out his discounted inventory. just in time for the holidays...

poster designed by shawn avery

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

baby jack

my good friends, evan and kelley, have adopted a beautiful boy. he arrived ten weeks early, and tonight, I went to meet little jack at the intensive care unit at st. vincent's hospital. jack's story is only beginning; and it's already been a wild ride. suffice it to say that jack is not supposed to be here. jack is not supposed to be alive. jack is not supposed to have parents like evan and kelley.

and yet, apparently, jack is exactly where is supposed to be.

I was talking to a friend a few days ago and he said "you know brian, I'm just ready for the tragedy to take a break, I'm ready for people's lives who I care about to stop being so hard. I know I can't expect good things, but maybe I can hope for things to just be steady for a little while?"

seems like all around me all I see is death. relationships broken. people who can't get along. friends carrying secrets and pain that their eyes can't lie about. deep sadness. my pattern of sitting silently with my friends never seems to find an end.

and yet there are these small moments of hope. they sneak up on me. I think they sneak up on all of us. there are moments like tonight, when I am totally caught off guard, standing in a hospital looking at a baby that isn't supposed to be alive.

it's nice to have a little hope.

Monday, December 3, 2007

mafia photo shoot

so I have some friends who like to mix it up a little for their christmas cards, and this year I was recruited to help out. I didn't do much more than recruit some lovely ladies and help with some lighting and a fog machine. but I did of course have my camera there to document the occasion. the photos that I am in were taken by my friend t.scott - for more of his excellent work click here and here.