Author Archives: Phil

“All these poor men in rich men’s clothes”

Gloria in exclesis deo

Gloria in exclesis deo

Zookeeper – “Snow In Berllin” from Becoming All Things [2007]
Zookeeper – “On Madison Way” from Becoming All Things [2007]

Chris Simpson was the primary songwriter for the bands Mineral and The Gloria Record and has been recording under the Zookeeper moniker for the last year or so.

I love Chris Simpson.  I love him forever.  His words are put together just perfect for old Phil Johnson.  And I’ll follow him wherever he may go.

It’s snowing for REAL for the first time here in sunny, sunny Pittsburgh, so here’s a track to celebrate.  Dance.  Dance, my friends, with Chris Simpson and his merry band of horns, harmonicas, massive drums, and squealing guitars.

Buy it. Buy it all.

Posted by Phil


Filed under 2000s, Folk, Rock, Singer-Songwriter

“The U.S.A. be on their way/prosperity bound.”

Wilco – “Christ For President” from Mermaid Avenue [1998]

On this election day, the choice is clear.

Contribute to the election fund

Posted by Phil

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“And we’re following the will of the one”

Blind Guardian – “Into the Storm” from Nightfall in Middle Earth [1998]
Blind Guardian – “Mirror Mirror” from Nightfall in Middle Earth [1998]

My coworker and I were singing metal to each other today and I remembered how much ass this album kicks.  I haven’t listened to this album in probably two years, so it was hard for me to pick just one song.  Thus, you get your face melted twice.

Blind Guardian is a German power-metal band.  This album is based on Tolkein’s The Silmarillion.  What else do you need to know?

Buy Blind Guardian/Melt your face

Posted by Phil


Filed under 1990s, Prog Rock, Rock

“And the feeling remains”

Ester Drang – “How Good Is Good Enough” from Goldenwest [2001]

The funny thing about Oklahoma’s Ester Drang is that they get progressively less interesting and ambitious with every release.  This, however, is a standout track from their standout album, a shoegaze/space-rock inferno.  One of my favorites, good for weird weather days, great for summer driving, best for giant gray clouds.

Even if you want to, some days you can’t start over.  I listen to this song on these days.

Buy Ester Drang’s spacerock

Posted by Phil

Leave a comment

Filed under 2000s, Rock, Space rock

Harriet Beecher Stowe – The May EP

Jeff always played sideways.

Harriet Beecher Stowe – “Waltz” from The May EP [2004]
Harriet Beecher Stowe – “Firebird One” from The May EP [2004]
Harriet Beecher Stowe – “Oceansandsky” from The May EP [2004]

Under the advisement of other SWR personnel, I am making available to the world the unreleased three-song EP by Harriet Beecher Stowe, my band from college.  Featuring the inimitable Jeff Wheeler on the Bass git-box, the irrepressible Mike Kopchick on the drum boxes, and the incontovertible myself on the git-fiddle, these songs are a decent representation of where the band might have gone if we hadn’t split up to do whatever people do after college.  Many thanks due to Ryan Wert for being awesome at putting sounds onto computers.

“Firebird One” also contains the most lyrics HBS ever had in a song, sung through a telephone.

Hope you enjoy.

It’s free you don’t have to buy it.

Posted by Phil


Filed under 2000s, Instrumental, Post-rock, Rock

Favorite Song to Play, Part II

Emmylou Harris – “Goin’ Back to Harlan” from Wrecking Ball [1995]

Wrecking Ball is a perfect album.  There is no other to compare it to.  Combine the production of Lanois with the additional production sensibilities of like-minded Malcolm Burn (one of my favorite producers), bring them to Emmylou Harris and you get a genre-bending masterpiece.

This song was penned by Anna McGarrigle, whose debut album I have yet to obtain, although I plan to sometime in the very near future.  I like to play this song most often on an electric guitar and a Shure SM-57, looping some vocal beats and finger-picking the rest out.  It’s a damn good time, and spooky as sin.

I go crazy in the head when I hear this song.

Tabs for those who need them

I can’t believe you don’t own this album.  Honestly.  Buy it yesterday.

Posted by Phil


Filed under 1990s, Americana, Country

“Once again in the world of 1200 feelings”

Good flick.

Will Oldham – “All These Vicious Dogs” from All the Real Girls(Soundtrack) [2003]

I really like this movie – I have for a long time.  And this is probably one of the better soundtracks I’ve ever heard; David Gordon Green knows how to put a soundtrack movie together; check his stuff out if you haven’t yet.

I don’t know if you’ve heard the version of this song Oldham does on Master and Everyone, but this version kicks that version’s ass back to school.  I’ve been holed up in my car listening to this song for an hour and a half, left the car and had the song stuck in my head for the rest of the night.  And not the kind where you can’t get it out of your head, it’s more the kind that bores into whatever part of your brain is active on any given night.  That’s the kind of shit this song is.

If you listen real close, you can hear the little rhythm track in the background.  Good stuff, kids.  Good stuff.

I told you it was a really good soundtrack so buy it already

Also you should buy the movie

Posted by Phil


Filed under 2000s, Folk, Soundtrack