new amc and travis morrison mp3s

Two new MP3s of note:
Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s Time, the first new track from this site’s namesake American Music Club in nine years.
Born in ’72, the latest preview from Travis Morrison‘s upcoming album.
I can’t say I’m in love with either of them, but one song leaves me very happy and one grumpy. The Morrison is the grumpster — it shows him falling farther into novelty (as previously feared) and away from the sort of smart college-boy funk-punk he used to produce. I’m fearing the new album more and more.
The AMC track is solid but not great. But it does have two things working in its favor:
1. Jeezumpete, it’s a new American Music Club track! Nine years, people!
2. It actually sounds like the AMC of old. The same jazzy bass, the loose drumming, the airy sound that manages to be loungy but not kitschy. There’s even a verse featuring that most classic of AMC images, the bartender-as-savior (“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time / The bartender is looking you right in the eye / He says someone will replace all that thin blood with my wine / You can live with the truth, you can live with a lie”).
Mark Eitzel’s vocals are a little strained, but then again, he did turn 45 last week — I can excuse the high-register misfires. And George W. Bush isn’t mentioned even once, which I’d feared from Eitzel’s recent statements that the new AMC record would be “political.” All in all, it makes me think the new album, whenever it comes out, might be a return of the ol’ AMC magic. Or at least it might not be the earth-shaking disappointment you’d expect from a former favorite band reforming after a decade.
In other AMC news, they’ll be playing two shows at SXSW next month. Unfortunately, I will have just driven back from Austin three days earlier and been through the traditional pre-SXSW concert gorge.
(Tons of bands headed for SXSW Music play Dallas along the way. In the three nights after I get back from SXSW Interactive, there’ll be Dallas shows by the Decemberists, Calexico, Broken Social Scene, Sonic Youth, Trans Am, John Vanderslice, and NERD. Seriously, it’s just not fair to make a man live through months of concert drought and then make him choose between Calexico and Broken Social Scene on the same night.)
And I no longer have a dependable place to stay in Austin. And there’s the whole wristband/access crap of SXSW Music to deal with. We’ll see if I make it down for AMC or not.

bertolucci’s the dreamers

I was kinda excited to see the new Bernardo Bertolucci “Hey, it’s the ’60s! What’s wrong with a little incest among the children of French poets” movie The Dreamers. (Just seeing the preview made me want to break out some old Hendrix for the first time in years.)
But then I read this review about its NC-17 rating:
This is one of those movies where the lovers show how uninhibited they are by eating the sleep out of each other’s eyes….
Um, eating the sleep out of each other’s eyes? Ewww. Triple ewwwwwwww.

kickball madness

Something you must know about me, according to Kevin Smokler: “It’s worth knowing that Mr. Crabwalk (aka Josh Benton) is the world’s greatest kickball player. You WANT to be on his team.
(This is, of course, in reference to the annual kickball game at the start of SXSW.)
Proof of Kevin’s claim can be found in this rare photo, showing me sacrificing my body to avoid Jason‘s attempted tag and score a key run. Notice Brad (correctly) calling me safe.

2004 travel plan

I know what you’re all thinking. “Josh,” you’re thinking, “when will I get to see you this year and thus make my 2004 complete?”
To assist your life planning, I present a sketchy plan of my travels for the upcoming year:
– March 12-16: SXSW in Austin.
– March 27: Wedding in Austin.
– April 15-17: Education Writers Association meeting in San Francisco.
– Sometime this spring: Seattle.
– Sometime this spring/early summer: The Northern Tier Listening Tour 2004. Like its 2002 precursor (Boston/Cooperstown/Rochester/Toronto/Toledo), the tour will feature me driving a rental car across America’s northeast and visiting you, The Reader. Almost certain to be stops: New York, New Haven, Pittsburgh, Toledo. Could very well be stops, depending on timing etc.: Boston, Toronto, D.C., Illadelphia, Chicago.
– June 27: Half-marathon in Vancouver.
– Summer: Four weeks in Argentina or Mexico.
– August: Congres Mondial Acadien in Nova Scotia.
– Fall: A stretch in Mexico.
Along with the usual assortment of stints in south Louisiana and random work-related travels around Texas. Plan your lives accordingly.