Sunday, May 08, 2011

All You Need Is Hops Episode 39: Spaghetti Westerns


The near year long hiatus is over. Time for a new Hopscast!

Episode 39: Spaghetti Westerns is an exploration of the music from spaghetti western movies. This cinematic episode is heavily inspired by Ennio Morricone and is perfect for a night of heavy drinking. Pair with tequila.

Download the show by right clicking here or use the links on the side of the screen. View the set list on the Hopscasts page.

All You Need Is Hops Episode 39: Spaghetti Westerns by Hops

The Hiatus Is Over!

Ladies and Gentlemden. All You Need Is Hops is BACK!

Friday, August 06, 2010

All You Need Is Hops Episode 38: Sun / Burnt




Episode 38: Sun / Burnt is a chill episode inspired by the 100 degree weather we're having this summer.
Instructions for listening:
1) Go to beach or pool
2) Drink booze
3) Start listening to episode
4) Take a nap

Alternate Title: Sun King Acid Trip.

Download the show by right clicking here or use the links on the side of the screen. View the set list on the Hopscasts page though I always prefer you listen first.

Monday, April 05, 2010

All You Need Is Hops Episode 37: The Breakup


Episode 37: The Breakup aka the 2010 anti-Valentine's Day show is a bit late... but still appropriate I'm sure. Instead of angry songs the episode focus on (mostly) songs of regret, heartache and country breakup songs.

Download the show by right clicking here or use the links on the side of the screen. View the set list on the Hopscasts page though I always prefer you listen first

PS this episode has nothing to do with Mrs. Hops!!!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Best of the Decade: Other List

Best Songs:
"Fake Empire" by The National off of Boxer
"One Big Holiday" by My Morning Jacket off of It Still Moves
"Reckoner" by Radiohead off of In Rainbows

Best Live Shows:
Nine Inch Nails - Many to choose from but I'd pick the show at the House Of Blues in Atlantic City
Radiohead - Any Radiohead show is amazing, but my first in August 2001 at Liberty State Park in NJ was special. With the Statue of Liberty behind the stage and the World Trade Center and NYC skyline to the left.
The National - At the Black Cat in DC
Arcade Fire - At the 9:30 club in DC
Audioslave -Seriously. They destroyed the 9:30 club. Go ahead and judge.

Most Underrated Artist:
Matthew Ryan

Best Year:
2007: In Rainbows, Boxer, Neon Bible, Cassadaga, Year Zero etc.

Favorite Album Cover:
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco

Hops' Top 5 Albums of 2010

Best Albums of 2010

1) "Veckatimest" by Grizzly Bear


















2) "Salvation Is A Deep Dark Well " by The Builders & The Butchers


















3) "Hopsice" by The Antlers


















#4) "Dear Lover" by Matthew Ryan


















#5) "Street Sweeper Social CLub" by Street Sweeper Social Club

The Best Of The Decade: Hops' Top 30 Albums of the 2000's


30) “The Moon & Antarctica” by Modest Mouse (2000)

29) “Turn On The Bright Lights” by Interpol (2001)

28) “Cassadaga” by Bright Eyes (2007)

27) “Builders & The Butchers” by The Builders & The Butchers (2007)

26) “@#%&*! Smilers” by Aimee Mann (2008)

25) “Concussion” by Matthew Ryan (2001)

24) “The Clarence Greenwood Recordings” by Citizen Cope (2004)

23) “Ghosts I-IV” by Nine Inch Nails (2008)

22) “At Dawn” by My Morning Jacket (2001)

21) “Veckatimist” by Gizzly Bear (2009): 2009’s best album is a fantastical journey. Lots of layers of sound, lots to hear. It’s not for everyone but it is a great album for those who like to really lose themselves in an album

20) “The Forgotten Arm” by Aimee Mann (2005): I love any music that tells stories and Aimee Mann is the master of that. A fully conceptual album “The Forgotten Arm” tells the story of a hard-on-his-luck Vietnam vet and boxer from Virginia and his dysfunctional relationship with the love of his life.

19) “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning” by Bright Eyes (2005): Though I love Cassadega (2007) almost equally this album really shot Bright Eyes up to the top of the indie-folk ladder. Songs like “Lua”, “Road To Joy” and “Landlocked Blues” still sound poignant and important 5 years after its release.

18) “Sea Change” by Beck (2002): Beck took all his hipster moves and threw them away in this album. It’s a stripped down melancholy album dealing with a breakup. It made me realize how good of an artist he really is.

17) “From A Basement On A Hill” by Elliott Smith (2004): Released posthumously after his suicide this album can almost be difficult to listen to given his tragic death. The songs hit right to the bone and come from a man dealing with some serious demons. Still, I can’t ever stop listening to it. It’s the “Virgin Suicides” of music. Most will point to “Figure 8” as his best work of the decade, but this album has always hit me on a more emotional level

16) “It Still Moves” by My Morning Jacket (2003): While I have some issues with the sequencing on this album it really shows everything MMJ can be as a band. Soaring highs from “One Big Holiday” (one of the best songs of the decade) to brilliant moments of introspection “Golden”.

15) “The Mirror Conspiracy” by Thievery Corporation (2000): Taking elements from electronic, trip-hop and bassanova Thievery made an album that completely creates a fantastic mood. I can’t tell you how often I hear their music at restaurants, lounges and in movies. For me, they completely awoke my ears to entire genre of music I previously had ignored.

14) “Is This It?” by The Strokes (2001): Rock and Roll! Tracks like "Hard to Explain", "Last Nite", and "Someday" still sound good almost 10 years later.

13) “Year Zero” by Nine Inch Nails (2007): A conceptual album deal with the government and freedom. While Radiohead scored all their press for their business innovation they aren’t even in the same league as NIN who launched an entire alternative reality to promote the record. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in music.

12) “American IV: The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash (2002): This album introduced an entire generation of hipsters (and me) to the brilliance and honesty of Johnny Cash. Most famous for the cover of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt” it also boast several other outstanding tracks. RIP Johnny.

11) “Heartbreaker” by Ryan Adams (2000): His first post-Whiskeytown album is still my favorite. Its filled with honesty and emotion and paints fantastic scnese of youth and lost love. "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)" and "Come Pick Me Up" are epic tracks. Some will point to 2001’s follow up album (Gold) but for me this is tops.

10) “Give Up” by The Postal Service (2003): Side project from Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab For Cutie) this album mixes new wave beats and Gibbard’s unique storytelling. Some may hate it, but I love it. It takes me to a wonderful time and place every time I listen to it…and I still do listen to it quite a bit.

9) “Return To Cookie Mountain” by TV On The Radio (2006): There are so many layers of rock, electronic, hip-hop and funk on this album its hard to know where to begin. It has tons of sonic depth but still makes you think. In the oddest of ways I can only compare them to Pink Floyd, despite the fact they have almost no musical overlap.

8) “Neon Bible” by Arcade Fire (2007): After such an amazing debut it was hard to really top themselves. They didn’t quite do that with this album but it was stunner. Eveyrthing from their debut was there: soaring harmonies, dark themes and amazing weirdness. Amazing stuff.

7) “In Rainbows” by Radiohead (2007): Too much attention was paid to the fact this album was digitally released and not enough was focused on the brilliance of the songs. When it came out I thought it might get better over time. Indeed it has. I still find pockets of eupohoria and pain in these songs I never heard. They’re the best band on the planet for a reason people.

6) “Alligator” (2005) by The National: This exploded onto my radar in 2005. It sounded immense. Not from a volume or wall of sound perspective, just from a thematic one. Songs talking about the boss stopping you in the hallway to tell you they’ve been hearing good things, standing tall with high beams shining on your back to the secret meeting in the basement of my brain. I have daydreams of writing a screenplay which would be completely sound tracked by this album.

5) “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” by Wilco (2001): Ah where to begin. This album helped me a lot after 9/11. It introduced me to the concept of noise as a form of art. The pinnacle of everything that Wilco is and was as a band. Pretty close to perfection.

4) “Z” by My Morning Jacket (2005): This was the apex of a fantastic run of three straight dynamite albums (At Dawn and It Still Moves being the others). It saw MMJ take their sound to another level, add in a layer that was mysterious and dark without losing any of the things that made them so much fun to listen to in the first place. There are many layers to this album and all of them are wonderful.

3) “Boxer” (2007) by The National: I went back and forth and back and forth on this one. I had Alligator at 3 and boxer at 6. For me Alligator meant a bit more since it came out first. But after insistence by Mrs. Hops and my buddy Jordan “Hung Like A” Haas I realized that in fact Boxer is the better album. Both are amazing, but Boxer in particular speaks to my generation and my life more directly. I can only compare it to the way Bruce Springsteen (used to) speak to the working class. In addition to crafting a perfect album, they crafted the perfect song on that album. “Fake Empire”. Brilliant.

2) “Funeral” (2004) by Arcade Fire: I said on the very first Hopscast that one day I’d brag to my kids (or someone else’s) that I got to see this band when they were just coming out. The harmonies, wall of sound and general darkness of their music is both uplifting and sad at the same time. Emotional without any touch of sappiness or cheesiness. I don’t understand how anyone can listen to it an not be moved.

1) “Kid A” (2000) by Radiohead: Radiohead are creeping up to Beatles category for me as far as all-time bands are concerned. Yes, I understand the gravity of such a statement and feel absolutely no sense of shame saying it. They are simply amazing. True artists. Kid A was an album I didn’t immediately accept. It was difficult for me to understand what they were trying to achieve and how the music was meant to be digested. Then one day it clicked. The album whacked me on the upside of the head and reconfigured the way I hear music. No other album in my life, with the exceptions of “Sgt. Pepper’s” has ever really done that for me. I’ve loved others more perhaps and treasure them more, but Kid A had a lasting impact on me that still is there a decade later. It’s the standard by which all other albums in the last 10 years have to be judged, and that is why it’s an easy choice for #1.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All You Need Is Hops Episode 36: Costume Party '09 (The Unbroken Chain)


Episode 36: Costume Party ’09 (The Unbroken Chain) aka the 2009 covers show is my most ambitious episode yet. There is only one set, no set breaks at all. The format is an unbroken chain of covers where Artist A covers Artist B. Then Artist B Covers Artist c, and C cover D and so on and so on. The episode ends with the last artist covering the first one to complete the chain!


Download the show by right clicking here or use the links on the side of the screen. View the set list on the Hopscasts page though I always prefer you listen first.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

All You Need Is Hops Episode 35: Vampires


Episode 35 of All You Need Is Hops is the first of the annual two-part Halloween shows. There really isn't much mystery as to the theme, its about Vampires, which are oh so trendy these days.

Download the show by right clicking here or use the links on the side of the screen. View the set list on the Hopscasts page though I always prefer you listen first.

Friday, August 07, 2009

All You Need Is Hops Episode 34: Road Trip


Episode 34 of All You Need Is Hops is the perfect companion for your road trip. If there was ever a time to listen to a Hopscast a road trip is the time to do it. An hour of solid rock music, starting off with lots of classic rock and then moving onto new tracks. This episode will get you where you're going....or at least an hour closer.

Download the show by right clicking here or use the links on the side of the screen. View the set list on the Hopscasts page though I always prefer you listen first.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NIN 2009 Part 6 - Merriweather

Well all of you Hopsfans...this is Mrs Hops' sixth and final post. So unless Trent Reznor changes his mind and decides this tour isn't his last, I don't expect to be posting again here any time soon. I hope you all have been entertained!

If you haven't already, please check out parts 1-5 below for our backstage experience at Camden and our terrific show at Holmdel - Hops' home town amphitheater.

After the Holmdel show we hit the beach. As most of you know, we Hops folks are pale and fragile, so needless to say every inch of my body that wasn't covered in SPF 1000 was burned afterwards. Very, badly burned (like Will Ferrell in Austin Powers style).

Monday night we took a night off from NIN to go see TV on the
Radio at the 9:30 Club. This is by far our favorite venue in DC and an awesome spot to catch show. While we waited in line to get into the venue, we saw Clarence Greenwood, aka Citizen Cope getting into his car. He is a local celebrity and musician we love. So the night was off to a good start. We watched the show with a couple we are close friends with, which is always fun. Afterwards, we hit the iconic DC restaurant Ben's Chili Bowl for a snack. And you thought Taco Bell was a bad idea before bed!

On Tuesday evening we headed up to Maryland for the final NIN show for us this
tour, and since this is NIN's last tour, my final show ever! Again we had presale tickets. As we left for the show the sun was shining and all was well. However, as we approached the venue the skies suddenly darkened. As we parked in the lot we could hear NIN doing their soundcheck in the venue - they were playing Metal. As the skies quickly grew darker Hops joked that Trent Reznor had angered the weather gods. So we decided to wait out the weather in the car. It was a wise choice, as about a half an hour of major rain, lightening, hail and storms followed. In the pictures you can see the clouds rolling in, the rain through the skylight in the car (that lamppost had a "The Fray" flag attached to it, which we thought was hilarious), and Hops not looking to happy about the situation.

So once the rains rolled past, we decided to head to pick up our tickets and quickly got into the venue, skipping the normal line again and going through the presale line. Merriweather is a nice venue in a park-like setting. The whole design of the amphitheater is meant to assimilate with the surrounding natural scenery. The venue was actually designed back in the 60s by Frank Gehry who is better known now for his sculptural titanium facades (Rock and Roll Museum in Seattle, Bilbao Guggenheim to name a couple). Anyway, if you ever go there to see a show it is worth a walk around. There are several interesting sculptures throughout the grounds and most of the food and beer is way above typical amphitheater fare. In fact, I was able to find one vendor selling Stout! I attribute this to the fact that the venue is managed by a local company rather than Live Nation. In fact the management company is the same as the one that runs the 9:30 Club, where we saw TVOTR the night before. We learned this during the backstsage tour we had back in Camden, as they said it would be a different crew doing the Merriweather show since it isn't a Live Nation venue. We even saw our favorite pierced and inked 9:30 club stage guard working at the front of the pit, who we affectionately nicknamed "Mr. Brownstone" (a nickname he earned when we saw Velvet Revolver at the 9:30 Club a few years back). As we went to our seats I was very excited because we were in the first row, dead center, behind the pit. When standing, our feet were about at the same level of the shoulders of the people standing in the pit, which was about 20 feet deep. It was almost as if we were at the same level of the stage standing 20 feet away with no one in between us and the microphone. To pass the time before SSSC took the stage, Hops texted a message to some number that posts your texts on the big screens at the venue. It had something for Trent and something for me. Does this mean we get to have another wedding???













So SSSC took the stage and rocked it out as expected. This time we got a great video clip of their song Somewhere in the World Its Midnight. I would actually consider this to be one of their tamer songs. Unfortunately the audio is
horrible, but you get the idea. Be sure to watch the end where Boots talks to the crowd. He is awesome. Have I mentioned before that you really must check them out?



After yet another great SSSC opener, we were ready for
the main event. Which in my mind was NIN. Don't get me wrong, Jane's was great and I'm glad we watched their whole show in Holmdel, but we had already concluded that we would watch NIN tonight and leave afterwards. There were a couple of reasons for this: 1) I really wanted the last thing I saw at my last NIN show to be NIN, and 2) we both had work the next day. So needless to say from where we were sitting it really felt like a small, small club show. I often felt Trent was singing directly at me just because we were the first people in the row directly across from him above the pit (don't worry - I'm not delusional and don't actually think he was singing to me). It was just very cool to have such a unique perspective directly in front of and on the same level as the band. Plus Hops and I were dancing and jumping around like crazy people and not everyone in the front row was as animated as us. So I know they must have at least noticed us! Trent was very intense during the show - there was no talking and no band intro. It was a great mix of hard and slow songs and both some of mine and Hops' favorites were included. The highlight for me was seeing The Becoming live. Trent hadn't been playing this since the 90s before this tour and it was my first and only time getting to hear it live.



























Here is a partial video of The Becoming. Yes, that is me screaming at the first note (Hops says that I am to NIN what his buddy Boaz is to Phish). And Hops was kind enough to pan over to me towards the end so you can see what I call "dancing" to NIN's music looks like. Unfortunately the camera was zoomed out at this point and it looks a lot further away than it actually was - the SSSC video and pictures are a little more accurate in that regard.



After the show, we were exhausted from the 5 day concert trek. But how can you pass up late night chili? We finished the night off with some jalapeno poppers and chili mac at Hard Times down the street from our house in Old Town before calling it a night.

Overall it was a great experience. Hops was a great sport to go to all the shows with me and I'm fortunate to get to see my favorite band several times on their last big tour - not to mention having gotten to meet them and go backstage. Thanks to all of you for reading these posts and sharing the experience with us!

Mrs - Hops - out.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

NIN 2009 Part 5 - Holmdel

See the below posts for Parts 1-4 of this NIN series, which detail our amazing backstage experience at the show in Camden.

But now for the promised and I'm sure eagerly anticipated summation of our night in Holmdel NJ. But first, I must provide some road trip background.


After crashing at a hotel in Philly after the Camden show on Friday night, we wo
ke early to drive out to Holmdel, which was about a 2 hour drive. We were exhausted from the prior night, but ready to enjoy the show from the front as pure spectators. Plus Hops was excited about returning to a venue that he frequented for shows when he was in highschool. Our only tactical error here was that we failed to reserve a hotel room in the Holmdel area until just a few days before the show. We ended up at a Best Western about 20 minutes south of the venue. In retrospect it was probably not as bad as we thought it was - it was fairly clean, convenient and inexpensive. However, we were both a little disturbed to find that the shower/whirlpool was located in the bedroom rather than the bath. Needless to say, we wore flipflops when we showered.

So once we checked into the hotel, we embarked upon the search for a liquor
store to buy some beer. Two funny things about Jersey: 1) they won't let you pump your own gas & 2) you have to go to a liquor store to buy beer. So after driving around for about a half hour and with a little help from Hop's Google app on his BlackBerry we located a store and snagged some nice local microbrews for the lot from a brewery called River Horse - a stout for me and a wit for Hops. Then it was off to the venue. Upon arriving we had no problems parking and picking up our presale tickets. Unlike in Camden, the weather was gorgeous so we set up a couple of camper chairs in the shade under some trees by our car and ate some sandwiches we had picked up before leaving Philly that morning (from DeBruno bros. specialty foods market - which you should check out next time you are in Philly if you like good food). The venue is unique because its a very park-like setting and was a perfect spot to enjoy a few cold ones before the show. The crowd was an interesting mix - most were blasting NIN, with a few Jane's and, not shockingly given we were in NJ, some Bruce. Hops was happy. Around 6:30 we decided to go into the venue. The picture to the right best describes the luxury that is being a presale ticket holder - you get to go in a separate entrance without the big line. The picture is from inside the venue looking back at all of the non-presale people waiting to get in. Ha-ha (simpson's style).


So once inside we checked out the merch again. I got a T-shirt, patch and a sticker. Then we headed for the seats.
Holmdel is a nice venue for us because they have permanent seats where the pit would normally be. Since we are way too old and rickety to go into the pit, this is just about as close to the stage as we can get these days. With our presale tickets were were in the fourth row, on Justin's side. The other cool part about Holmdel is that the the actual structure is really sculptural. You can see this from the picture, it is looking back towards the lawn from our seats as the crowd is starting to roll in. Also pictured is Hops himself, doing some pose that apparently all his friends from his NJ days will get and find hilarious...

So SSSC was first up, and boy are they amazing. I mean really people, if you like Tom Morello's guitar (and how
could you not?) then you really, really must check these guys out. That means you Phoofy! We struggled to get a good picture of these guys because Boots is always running around and Morello never stops moving. This is the best we could muster. This is a picture of me after their set - that is how good they are!



Next up was NIN. All I can say was that it was an amazing set. Probably the best of the three we saw this tour, although all have their highlights. I liked this set because it was pretty hard, very little slowing down. I actually got a stitch in my side from jumping around and dancing so much (I know, I'm old and out of shape!). But seriously, by the end of the set I was soaked with sweat and completely exhausted. I was particularly happy because we were on Justin's side and after meeting him the day before and being behind him backstage it was really nice to get to admire his showmanship. As much as I enjoyed Jeordie when he was touring with NIN, I just don't think he holds a candle to Justin. Justin is animated and really into the show - he is also great at feeding off the crowd's energy and giving it right back. Its nice when you feel like the guys on the stage can see how much you are enjoying the show and can give that back to you. I mean, we are working hard out there! Unfortunately we don't have many great pics of Justin, but I must say that he was a big highlight for me at this show. We do, however, have some really great pics of Trent. This one is one of my favorites from during Reptile, but you can find some of the other best ones at the link to the Flickr pics at the end of the post.

Here is a video that Hops took during the song Echoplex.



The other highlight of this show was catching Trent'
s water bottle. For those of you who haven't been to a NIN show, throughout the show the guys will throw plastic water bottles out to people in the pit area. Usually these are open so that the crowd gets sprayed with the water as it flys through the air. Aside from catching Trent's tambourine, getting a water bottle is a pretty cool souvenir. So when I saw Trent was getting ready to throw one I was jumping up and down. I must have looked exhausted (I was!) and he sent it our way. It was still half full and I proceeded to drink every last drop! Here is a picture of me with the bottle after the show. Hops keeps saying he might accidentally throw it away, which I keep explaining would clearly be grounds for divorce (no worries - I have it safely hidden away).

Jane's was up next. Although I'm not a huge fan, I really enjoyed the show. Perry Farrell is a great front man - very
charismatic. And watching Dave Nevarro pick out which nasty chicks from the audience was pretty funny. Seriously, these girls would fight their way up to the front of the aisle to our left and start dancing and doing other things that I will not mention here because this blog is PG, all in efforts to get Dave's attention. He would point and nod at the ones he liked. Towards the end of the show when Perry went to introduce the rest of the band, Dave was almost too busy consulting with his guitar tech on which girls he liked to actually do his wave to the rest of the crowd when his name was called out. It was hilarious. After the show, all those girls stayed at the front of our section waiting for that guitar tech to come back out and let them know which ones were getting backstage. I felt bad for the guitar tech. The following is a picture of the look that Dave gives the lucky ladies in the running to be selected. Please do me a personal favor and double click on this one so you can really see it up close and personal. its priceless.

After the show we hit Taco Bell (why does tha
t always sound like such a good idea after midnight?) and crashed at the hotel after showering in flip flops. The next morning we headed east to the beach for a few hours of R&R and a quick lunch before hitting the road for the 4 hour drive back to DC. I wore my new shirt from the tour:



Next post -the last show of the tour. We almost get washed away in a ugly storm
preshow, then get to have the best seats in the house....

Link to other pictures from this show on
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39240928@N08/sets/72157619736842436/