Bogs Boots Best in Snow

Test

The last thing I ever anticipated listing among “My Favorites” was footwear but holy cow, do I love these boots. And pretty much the last person I ever anticipated getting shoe ideas from was a three year old, but I have JD to thank for bringing Bogs into my life. Two weeks ago, I’d never heard of them.

Neither have a lot of people, judging from the many, many comments I get whenever I wear them. I’ve worn them a lot in the past two weeks, testing them in just about every situation they’re designed for. So far, I’d give them a solid-A. I bought them on the eve of our first snow storm and since then I’ve worn them in snow, slush, rain, ice, and sub-zero wind chill. They pass with flying colors.

My feet stayed warm and dry tromping through the snow, gripped the icy sidewalk, and were comfortable for long walks. Because they’re high, I can tuck my pants in and when I get to my destination, my pants aren’t wet around the ankles. They’re lightweight, so they’re good for walking. Best off all, because they’re so flexible, they’re comfortable for driving, something my other pair of hiking-style snow boots are not well suited for. And, I love the design.

Greg Laswell in Concert

NaBloPoMo, Day 13

I’m probably one of the few people not to have discovered Greg Laswell’s music through TV or the movies. (He’s obviously a favorite of Hollywood music directors.) I discovered him through KCRW’s song of the day podcast. (A great source of new music–and free songs–by the way.)

Since I first caught Laswell’s song “How the Day Sounds” last year, it’s been in frequent rotation on my iPod and the entire album, Three Flights from Alto Nido, has been one I come back to again and again.

Completely by chance, I learned on Monday that he would be in town for an acoustic performance last night at a venue so close to me I could walk there. And am I ever glad I did! I’d never been to Space (the venue attached to the Union pizza place in Evanston) and this was a great first experience. The space was intimate and Laswell, who turned out to be a pretty funny guy and extremely personable in between songs, had an easy rapport with the audience. It was low key and almost had the feeling that we were all just hanging out in the basement (a really cool basement, mind you) listening to a friend play guitar and sing.

And sing he did. I really like Laswell’s voice, his musicality and the stories he tells with his songs. It was just him up there with a guitar and piano, and he held everyone rapt for the hour and a half he was on stage. He performed old and new songs, including a number of tunes off his just-released Covers album (including a great “In Spite of Me” and one of my favorite Kate Bush songs, “This Woman’s Work”.)

Laswell was fantastic and he seemed to be having as good a time as the two-hundred-some fans in the audience. He expressed an interest in coming back again, this time with his band in tow, and you know I’ll be there.

Taken By Trees East of Eden on Repeat

Over the weekend, I downloaded the most recent album by Taken By Trees, singer Victoria Bergsman’s new band, and I’ve been listening to it pretty much non-stop ever since. I’d heard a couple of tracks on XMRadio, and then found her featured on NPR’s music site while trolling for new music. Hearing her cover of Animal Collective’s My Girls sealed it for me.

You may recognize Bergsman’s voice from her part on the hit song Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John. Her voice has been an acquired taste for me while the melodies and hypnotic rhythms of her songs had an immediate appeal that’s only increased with repeated listens. The album was recorded in Pakistan and melds Swedish pop with Pakistani musical elements for a truly eclectic collection of songs. Watch the Waves, My Boys, To Lose Someone, Greyest Love of All and Summer Sigh are my particular favorites, but then I’ve listed half the album, so you get the idea.

Blind Pilot: 3 Rounds and a Sound

I’m finally initiating a new feature on this blog that I’ve had in mind for a while. For lack of a better name, I’m calling it My Favorites. Whatever of the moment is striking my fancy and carrying me away—music, TV, web site, restaurant, snack food, whatever—I’ll make a point of sharing it on the blog. So, here’s my first installment of a rave on a fave.

Two months ago, I made a mad dash to find new music. Really new, as in never heard of the artist before “new.” I scoured the usual places, sifted through my own reminder lists of songs heard here and there, sampled them on Amazon, and made some purchases. All of them were winners but the album 3 Rounds and a Sound by Blind Pilot was (and still is) my favorite by far.

Prior to this, I’d never heard of them before and now I can’t imagine not having this album in my music library. It’s good to know that no matter how old I am, when I get a new album that I love, that for whatever reason strikes me as perfect and perfect for that time, I will listen to it over and over and over again, just like I did when I was 15. I’m sure I’m wearing a groove in my digital library where the Blind Pilot songs reside.

3 Rounds and a Sound, the debut from this duo out of Portland, Oregon, continues to be my go-to choice of music. It never fails to raise my spirits. I put it on frequently when I’m cooking and in no time I’m bouncing around the kitchen. Dangerous when knives are involved.

Blind Pilot is primarily acoustic guitar, drums and harmonizing vocals accented with trumpets, strings, banjo, and xylophone in orchestrations that are simple but layered. I loved their sound from the first but it was the songwriting, the unusual melodies and the lyrics that really hooked me.

There’s not a song on 3 Rounds that I don’t like but my particular favorites include, “Paint or Pollen,” “Go On Say It” “Poor Boy,” “The Story I Heard,” and “One Red Thread.” The latter two have terrific locomotive rhythms, songs made for road tripping, flying down the highway, singing at the top of your lungs.

The slow brushed drum rhythm on “The Bitter End” and the album’s title track get me head-bobbing and harmonizing every time. The latter tune, which wraps up the album, introduces two halves of the song and ends by perfectly blending them both together, one voice under the other.

Plus, these guys tour (when possible) by bicycle!