Better to Burn Out: A Farewell

Notes on Leaving

  Apparently, this is my 600th post on Now This Sound Is Brave; it’s also my last post as owner. As the song goes, it’s better to burn out than to fade away, but I think I did both. I don’t have the fortitude to recount the whole thing in new words, so I’ll steal from a personal post I made yesterday: “My music blog is set to turn four years old around the end of this month… but I’m thinking about shutting it down. I took an official hiatus from posting when I started my current day job in early 2013, but I’d slowed way down on writing before that. I thought the seasonal layoff from the day job would give me time to get back into the spirit, but the spirit seems not to be there for me anymore. I haven’t even listened to much music in the last few months. And very little in the way of new music (I listened to an old A-ha album a few days ago, and those songs are still bouncing around my head because there’s been nothing in the meantime to replace them). I did go much longer with the blog … Continue reading

Strummer Remembrance Day

Joe Strummer

    Joe Strummer, who we take as our patron saint here at NTSIB, died 11 years ago today. The above song, “Mega Bottle Ride” by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros, ends with the line “And it’s time to be doing something good”, and it seems to me that one of the best ways that anyone can pay tribute to Joe is by doing good in his name.     A lovely example of that ethos is the Tumblr blog “What Would Joe Strummer Do?” A recent post on the blog itself beautifully sums up what’s going on there.   letsagetabita-rockin asked: Hello, Joe. Do you like the idea that there’s someone who lets people ask them rather serious questions on the internet and answers them as if they were you? This blog was started as a fun project, a bit of punk-rock silliness we could share with others. We didn’t expect serious questions, but we got them – and now, those questions are the reason we keep doing this. If people stop asking us questions, we’ll stop answering. In the meantime, there are people out there who have real questions and life-changing problems and no one to talk to … Continue reading

The Mad Caps: Stretch Pants

The Mad Caps

  The Mad Caps have a new (well, new-ish) single out called “Stretch Pants”, and it’s full of dirty, dirty, dirty fuzz, like a deep city back alley at 3 o’clock in the morning where you’re pretty sure touching the pavement would direct-connect you to at least ten communicable diseases. The video for the single seems custom-made for Friday afternoon viewing. WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS SHAKE WEIGHT. Proceed with caution.     The Mad Caps Official Website The Mad Caps @ Twitter The Mad Caps @ Facebook

Fonda: Sequence Dream


  Ever have it happen that you dismiss a band as “not my thing” for a while, then, one day, you hear a song that makes things click? “Oh, I get it now!” you say. I had that moment today with the band Fonda and a new single they released in late November (on Minty Fresh), “Sequence Dream”. There’s something about its sweep of dream pop, the layers of diaphanous vocals and gossamer keys and guitar, that sits perfectly here in the early winter days. It’s music for sitting by a window with a hot cuppa and being self-indulgently melancholy.     The b-side, “Another New Year’s Eve”, is, as you would expect from the title, custom-made for wallowing in holiday heartbreak. Fonda, if you didn’t know, have been recording since the late ’90s, just released their most recent album, Sell Your Memories, last February, and already have a new album in the works.   Fonda Official Website Fonda @ Twitter Fonda @ Facebook

Tony Fitz: Cut Me Up

Tony Fitz - Cut Me Up

  Face front, true believers! I’m back in action! At least for the time being… As I’m on seasonal layoff from my day job through January, I’ll have enough time and brain power to contribute to the blog again, instead of just harassing you all on Twitter. The NTSIB crew (can it be called a crew when there are just two of us?) love taking part in the Couch by Couchwest festivities every year, not least because we always manage together some new friends who also happen to be very talented. This past CXCW got us acquainted with Tony Fitz when he organized a very lovely Irish showcase. Aside from all the behind-the-scenes work Tony does in production, recording, and sound engineering, he also makes music with his band Susie Soho. And in between everything else, he has began recording solo songs, releasing them on an as-ready basis, the first of which is “Cut Me Up”, which includes Ciaran Brady from Heritage Centre on drums, along with Jason Maher and Niall Campion on bass and guitar. Breaking my own rule of never comparing musicians, this song does slot easily beside Tony’s fellow countrymen the Frames in its laying bare the … Continue reading

On Joe Strummer’s Birthday: Reinvention

Joe Strummer

Time to raise a glass to NTSIB patron saint, Mr. Joe Strummer a.k.a. Woody Mellor a.k.a. John Mellor, who would have been 61 years old today. Joe had a nervous energy that never let him settle in one place, one role, one style, one identity for too long, as outlined in a new article from The Atlantic website Joe Strummer and Punk Self-Reinvention. When Joe passed away in 2002, he was in the midst of yet another renaissance with his young group of lads, the Mescaleros. Below is an artifact from that time, a full Mescaleros show filmed at the Roseland Ballroom in New York in 1999.  

A Change Is Gonna Come


First, I want to emphatically state that I love Now This Sound Is Brave, and I love every single person who has ever stopped by to read even a single post we’ve made in the last three years. Love, at the risk of sounding precious, is what NTSIB has always been about, founded on and powered by love. I’ve never made a cent from this gig… though I have reaped all kinds of rewards. I just do this because I love music, and I want to share the music I love. That being said, it has become more difficult to keep up my four-posts-a-week schedule, and now that I’ve started a new day job, it’s become all but impossible. Don’t toll the funeral bells yet, though. This ship will keep sailing, if I may jump metaphors, tethered by my always-reliable superstar co-blogger, Jennifer, but I will be pushing my opinions on you all less often. (Though I plan to keep hanging around Twitter to retweet and harass everyone.) It’s not an end, just a shift. And I hope you will all continue to hang with us because we love hanging with you.   “A Change Is Gonna Come” – Sam … Continue reading

Boxed Wine: Cheap, Fun

Boxed Wine feature

  If you missed CXCW last week, you missed out! (Except you didn’t because you can still see the whole thing on the site.) One of the stand-outs for me (aside from performances from our friend Kroyd of the Wind-up Birds with his project Forgets, our friend Pete David of the Payroll Union taking a solo turn, and our friend Christian D. once again inspiring panty-flinging), was a band out of New Jersey called Boxed Wine, who not only played a great cover of Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks”, but also trotted out an original called “Boomerang”.     Check out their EP Cheap, Fun which includes “Boomerang” as well as two other energetic, catchy songs that will get stuck in your head without making you hate them.   Cheap, Fun EP (FREE if you put '0') by Boxed Wine   Boxed Wine @ Bandcamp Boxed Wine @ Twitter Boxed Wine @ Facebook

Feel Bad for You, March 2013: CXCW Edition

fbfy 3.13

CXCW (Couch by Couchwest) is on! It’s been great fun so far. If you missed the first day, don’t worry: unlike at other festivals, you can always catch performances later (and even previous years’ performances) at the website. For added fun, be sure to join in the chatter on Twitter by following @couchxcouchwest and the #CXCW hashtag. “This month we celebrate Couch By Couchwest ( That’s the alternative music festival that can be enjoyed from the confines of your own home, on your very own luxurious couch! Who needs SxSW? You’ve gotta take time off from work and deal with crowds and drunkards. I don’t know about you, but I’m too broke and lazy to go to the trouble of heading to Austin. Criminy, you can be your own crowd and revel in your own drunkeness! Thanks to AnnieTUFF (@AnnieTUFF) for this month’s artwork. Grab a beer, a shot or… some herb if you live in Colorado or Washington (like me!), kick back and listen to some tunes. Oh! And leave some comments!” Download 1. Title: Aluga-se-Vende Artist: Móveis Coloniais de Acaju (translates as “colonial mahogany wood-made furniture”) Album (year): Idem [2005] Submitted By: hoosier buddy Comments: In the song, … Continue reading

Damion Suomi/Man Man/Murder by Death at the Grog Shop, Cleveland, 2.22.13

Murder by Death-Man Man

Sold out shows at the Grog Shop are kind of a bad deal for short people, as evidenced by the above photo. Sure, the most important aspect of a show is the sound (and this is where the sold out status was a benefit as the bodies absorbed some of the typically enthusiastic Grog Shop sound mixing), but there is a certain disconnect from the energy of a show when you can’t see what’s going on onstage. And you tend to miss some of the fun. Opener Damion Suomi, who accompanied himself on acoustic guitar, set to charming the audience immediately, which can be more than half the battle for an opening act. During the course of one song, the subject of our infamous burning river came up, making Cleveland-virgin Suomi stop and comment a verse later, “I’m sorry: you just cheered your river catching fire.” Yep, welcome to Cleveland. Suomi has a pretty direct, simple American sound that sometimes pulls elements from Irish music. It is not, however, a painted-on Irish atmosphere, some of the elements being used very subtly, and seems to be a part of Suomi’s core as I observed that the character of his voice was … Continue reading