More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

Songs I Love: Hope the High Road by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit April 17, 2017

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love — dwhren @ 10:12 am

I’ve been meaning to write about this song since it dropped almost a month ago, but I almost never have the mental energy to write blog posts these days. I’m off work today though, so I have no excuse. Jason Isbell and his band the 400 Unit have a new album, The Nashville Sound, coming out in June so probably expect this to the best the first of several posts about it. I know no one reading this really cares because despite my repeated attempts over the years to turn everyone I know onto Jason Isbell’s music I have failed. But I can’t stop, won’t stop writing about how much I love his music.

Prior to hearing this song I wondered how much I might actually like the music from his new album as all the interviews with him I had seen about indicated that it was not going to be full of sad sack songs like the previous two albums that I loved so much. He said it was going to be much more of a rock and roll album with the full backing of the 400 Unit hence it’s a Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit album and not just a Jason Isbell album. “Super 8 Motel” is the most rock and roll of the songs off Southeastern and decidedly my least favorite, so I wondered if I would still feel the same love for the songs on The Nashville Sound.

If “Hope the High Road” is any indication I have nothing to worry about. I am once again going to love this album. It definitely has much more of a rock and roll vibe to it than most of the music off of Southeastern and Something More than Free, but at its heart it still very much sounds like a Jason Isbell song. The lyrics that cut straight to my heart, the great guitar, Amanda Shires voice echoing in the background. I love everything about it.

The full album is released 2 days before my birthday, and then I get to see him in concert 2 weeks after that so needless to say I’m looking forward to June.

 

Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture April 14, 2017

Filed under: Life — dwhren @ 9:37 am

Last Sunday I went to the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which opened last year. Like the other Smithsonian museums admission is free, but at this point you still need to have a timed admission ticket to get into this museum. They generally release blocks of tickets about three months ahead of time and you have to be on top of it to get them because they go fast. My husband managed to snag four tickets back in January for this past Sunday.

2017-04-09 11.15.38

We met up with some of our friends who live in DC. Our tickets were for entry at 11:45. We were in the museum for almost 6 hours until they kicked us out at their 5:30 closing time and I still didn’t feel like I saw everything. I didn’t stop and watch any of the many films throughout the museum, and the further we went along the less I read because I realized I was running out of time.

I’m not sure what time the museum actually opens, but at least when we got there we were able to head straight into the exhibits without waiting in any lines. When we got back up though there was quite a line of people waiting to get in. The history part of the museum is three floors of exhibits underground. You have to queue up to ride an elevator down to the start. They recommend you to use the bathroom as you exit the elevator and they aren’t kidding. It’s the last time you’re going to see a bathroom for awhile unless you backtrack a lot or rush through the exhibit.

The exhibit starts in the 1500s with the beginning of the slave trade and ends around 2008. It covers all the things you would expect from slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow laws, Civil Rights, and more recent issues of race.

After we spent a few hours winding our way through the history exhibits we stopped at the cafe for a late lunch. Like some of the other newer cultural Smithsonian museums the cafe is an extension of the exhibits with the food representing traditional foods from African-American culture. It’s pricy but it was delicious.

After lunch we headed to the exhibits on the upper levels of the museum. The upper levels are more of the cultural parts of the museum with the African-American experience and influence on American cultural institutions. There are exhibits related to sports, the military, television, theatre, film, food, fashion, music, and art. I definitely ran out of time to give all of these their proper due.

There are also some really nice views of the National Mall from the museum.

It is a really well done museum, and if you get the opportunity I highly recommend checking it out. I definitely want to go back again at some point in the future and spend more time in the areas I gave short shrift to on this visit.

 

Future Islands at the Ottobar April 10, 2017

Filed under: Concerts,Music,Pop Culture — dwhren @ 7:58 am

Saturday night I went to the second of four album release shows Future Islands was doing at the Ottobar in Baltimore for the release of their new album The Far Field. I really appreciate it when bands still honor where they came from even after they make it big. The Ottobar is a tiny dive club in Baltimore, where Future Islands is from, that holds about 400 people. They could certainly sell out much large venues at this point, but they chose to go back to their roots and play the place they grew up in.

For their Baltimore shows they also gave a showcase to other different local bands at each show. We had 83 cutlass as the first opening act. He’s a rap artist, which isn’t really my thing. He was decent, but there was only one song that I would say I actually really liked. It’s not his fault as a performer, it’s more my personal tastes in music. I’m much more a melody person than a lyric person, so unless you’re singing rap that has a strong hook behind it or leans more towards hip hop with a strong musical beat behind it your rap is not going to be my thing.

The second opening band was called Jenny¬†Beseztz. Their synth rock music was much more in line with Future Islands’ music. They’re actually not from Baltimore, but are old friends of Future Islands from North Carolina, which is where Future Islands relocated to Baltimore from. I liked their music well enough. The friends that I was with liked the music behind the songs, but were really not in favor of the singer.

This was the first time I had seen Future Islands live, at least playing music. I’ve seen them hanging out a bbq place in my neighborhood before but I don’t think that counts. I’d like to say that since they’re from Baltimore I knew them when, but I really didn’t. I found out about them pretty much the same time the rest of the world at large did, and thought oh hey cool when I found out that they are from Baltimore. They played at one of the street festivals in my neighborhood a couple of years ago, but of course that was literally the only year I missed it because my friend decided to get married that weekend.

Everything I had heard about Samuel Herring, their lead singer, performing live is true. He is amazingly fun to watch as he dances all around the stage. He’s in constant movement doing everything from just general bouncing around to Russian kick line dancing to sort of sexy stripper undulations. He was apparently dancing vigorously enough that he ripped his pants at the beginning of the show and the rip kept getting worse as the night went on until he eventually left us in the care of the rest of the band while went to change his pants. They played a long set of 25 songs filled with a great mix of old and new stuff.

It was a really fun show, and I’m glad I managed to snag some of the very limited tickets to it. My only complaint, which is a general complaint about shows at the Ottobar, is that it started too late. I am too old and too tired to go to shows where the openers don’t go on until 9 and the main act doesn’t take the stage until 11 when I’m normally in bed. I could barely keep my eyes open by the time they finished around 1 am. Someone really needs to create concerts for old people that start around 6 and end by 10. I’m guessing that’s not actually going to happen though.