Saturday, December 31, 2005

So Close, and Yet So Far

Will she break the 1000 CD mark? I know they're in the house, but I can't type fast enough.
Here's (hopefully) Part One of the the list that puts us over...

Worthwhile stuff that slipped through the cracks:
1. CITIZEN COPE- The Clarence Greenwood Recordings (RCA)
2. TOM VEK – We Have Sound (Star Time International)
3. BURN PROPER – demo
The son of a friend’s band. Not only is it not bad to my ears, but the group recently signed a deal with Geffen.

Attack of the freebie cardboard samplers:
4. BARBRA STREISAND – Stranger in a Strange Land (Columbia)
Just the one track, hardly worth counting (but I will).
6. BOB DYLAN – Live at Carnegie Hall 1963 (Columbia/Legacy)
6 songs, what a deal!
7. HANNA McEUEN – Music from the Album (Dreamworks)
8. TRISTAN PRETTYMAN – Love Love Love (Virgin)
9. VA - Tooth & Nail vs. Solid State: The Videos DVD

My own cash money:
10. RELIENT K – mmhmm (Capitol)
11. RELIENT K – Apathetic EP (Capitol)
Bought the pair online as a present for Grace. She had the full-length, but the EP, when ordered through the fan club, came with an autographed booklet. Happy Christmas!

More from the CD (trade-in) Cellar:
12. VARIOUS ARTISTS – New Wave for the Next Generation (Sire)
I had a version of this Back In The Day on two vinyl discs. That seems more appropriate, but this is for convenience.
13. VA – WORD of MOUTH – free with magazine
More here that I don’t know (Keren Ann, Mr. Scruff, Mitch Benn and the Distractions) than I do (John Hiatt, Saint Etienne).
14, VA – Essential Drive, Q magazine compilation
I may already have this, but I couldn’t risk it!
15. SUM 41 – World of Steve DVD
Generic promo picked up in clearance – watched it and it was a bloody video of two guys roughing it up on the basketball court and heading for some kind of gross butchery to be continued on the web. Was going to be part of an ebay set for sale, but I tossed it instead. Don’t want to contribute to this kind of ickery.
16. BLUR – Music is My Radar (EMI)
3-track import single.
17. KEOKI – Kill the DJ (Hypnotic Records)
“A non-stop mash-up mix” – sometimes I like to pretend I know what all this rave stuff is about.
18. VA – Your Sanctuary Awaits
A mix of material from the Sanctuary Records Group, like New York Dolls, Blue Nile, Tegan and Sara and people I don’t know.

Why, Lord, Why?
19. DUKES of HAZZARD – Music from the Motion Picture (Columbia)
Anything worth listening to here (Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet), you should already have on any Southern Rock compilation. Stop Jessica Simpson. Now.
20. CRAZY FROG – Presents Crazy Hits (Next Plateau/Universal)
This adapted ringtone beat Coldplay in the British charts. That’s kinda funny, actually.

Still haven’t broke the shrink wrap:
21. The CORAL – The Invisible Invasion (Deltasonic/Columbia)
22.OUR LADY PEACE – Healthy in Paranoid Times (Columbia)
23. REVELATION THEORY – Truth is Currency (Another Century/Element Records)

And don’t know these either…
24. The LOVELY FEATHERS – 3 song sampler (NA)
Debut coming in 2006.
25. TOM PRINCIPATO – Guitar Gumbo (Powerhouse)
Local bluesman.
26. The FIRE ENGINES – Codex Teenage Premonition (Domino)


"Just imagine the tortured screams of a thousand angels at the hands of the most twisted demons in the blackest pits of hell and you just might have an idea of Dark Funeral's ordeal..."
- Metal Manaics

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Clock is Ticking….

No time for niceties. Gonna list all the loose ends, and get it done!
1. UMIXIT–U-Sing-It (Webster Hall)
2. The CAPES – Hello (Hard Soul Records)
Out on February 28.
3. LISTING SHIP – Time to Dream (True Classical)
Good first impression. Out January 17.
4. The WEATHER MACHINES – The Sounds of Pseudoscience (Tigers Against Crime!)
Love the label name. Out on January 24.
5. MOONLIGHT TOWERS – Like You Were Never There (Spinster)
Beautiful packaging.
6. UB40 – Who You Fighting For? (Rhino)
7. HAM 1 – eponymous
Press blurb: “dusty Morricone-meets-Silver Jews stuff from Athens, GA featuring members of Olivia Tremor Control, the Rock*A*Teens, and Japancakes.”
Out in late January or early February.
9. KT TUNSTALL – Eye to the Telescope (Virgin)
Out March 7.
10. BALKAN BEAT BOX – eponymous (JDub Records)
Art noise NYC klezmer world music funk. The kind of CD I put on in the car and Gracie gives me strange looks.
11. ANTI-SOCIAL MUSIC - Sings the Great American Songbook (Peacock Recordings)

12. VA – Tommy Boy Hip Hop Essentials (Tommy Boy)
A hip-hop album for people who are still cautious about the genre (and yes, that includes me). Includes goodies like “Hey Ladies” (Beastie Boys), “Rapper’s Delight” (Sugar Hill Gang) and “Scorpio” (Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five). Also, I love the list that came with it:
1. There's no biting in Hip Hop.
2. You must have a DJ and sometimes he is leader of your crew!
3. Everything can be turned into Hip Hop if you sample it right.
4. Rap is just one element of the culture not the whole culture!
5. Being experimental and unique is best.
6. Dancers provide good hype and don't have to be strippers.
7. It's OK to have a message, be educational and/or take a stand.

13. DIANA KRALL - Christmas Songs (Verve Records)
Why, oh why, did she not record “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with hubby Elvis Costello? That would have been a great holiday gift to rabid EC fans like me. Alas, he doesn’t appear anywhere on the CD.
14. The IRVING FIELDS TRIO – Bagels and Bongos (Reboot Stereophonic)
Exactly the kind of weird stuff I wouldn’t buy on my own, but love getting as promo. Jewish beatnick music.

Found a document with a list of CDs I picked up during the summer visits north:
15. ANTONY and the JOHNSONS – I am a Bird Now (Secretly Canadian)
Took some castaways to Last Vestige, the cool Saratoga CD trade-in store, and casually cruised the racks for something to bring home with my $10 credit. Here’s a guy I’ve been reading about. I’m not bowled over but I am intrigued.
16. SHOUT OUT LOUDS – Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (Capitol)
Terry heard a song he really liked while driving north to meet me. The way he described it – a bit of Arcade Fire, some new wave accents – I thought he was talking about these guys. He wasn’t, but it was still a nice discovery.
17. SUPERCHUNK – The Question is How Fast (City Slang/Merge)
One of two ‘chunk singles that were in the clearance section for 49 cents each.
18. SUPERCHUNK – Mower (City Slang/Merge)

Other leftovers, sent in conjunction with the CMJ visit:
19. VAUX – Beyond Virtue, Beyond Vice (Lava Records)
20. FIVE O’CLOCK HEROES – Head Games (Glaze Records) 21. DIRTY ON PURPOSE – Sleep Late for a Better Tomorrow (North Street Records)
22. HOPEWELL and the BIRDS of APPETITE – Calcutta (Tee Pee Records)

More misc:
23. SUICIDE GIRLS – Black Heart Retrospective (Epitaph)
Goth goodies.
24. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Mavi Jeans Music CD
Picked up fore free at a pricey girls’ clothing store on Cape May during the summer. Released in conjunction with Vice magazine.
25. RAUL MIDON – free DVD sampler (Manhattan)
26. The CARTER ADMINISTRATION – Air Guitar Force One (Theory 8 Records)
I want to revisit this one. It left a good impression way back in summer, when it first arrived.
27. VARIOUS ARTISTS – 2005 Southern Music CD – free with Oxford American magazine
28. CHARLIE SEXTON – Cruel and Gentle Things (Back Porch Records)
29. The TIMEOUT DRAWER – (The Consumer Research and Development Label) 25. 10 YEARS – The Autumn Effect (Republic Universal)
Much as I love David, these live versions of his Dolls and early solo album material add little to the originals.

YTD: 928

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Another Round for the Holidays

Look what Santa brought us:
1.WILCO – Kicking Television (Nonesuch)
Terry was hesitant. He’s a big fan of the band, but not of live albums. Still, he put on this two-CD set which I gave him for Christmas and was quickly into his “I love this band!” reverie. A shame, in a way, that it came out so close to the end of the year. It coulda been a contender for the year’s best, but I haven’t had enough time to live with it.
2. Various Artists – Holiday Audio Collection (Harper Audio)
Gift from a neighbor. Includes “A Christmas Carol” read by Sir Ralph Richardson, “The Gift of the Magi” performed by Julie Harris and an Ogden Nash story read by the author.
3. VA – Happy Holidays from the Vickers Family (no label)
My old TV producer sends out a double CD set every year, filled with great music he’s loved over the course of year. Not all new stuff, but a mix that runs a gamut from sensitive female singers (Aimee Mann, Lucinda Williams),and fun old stuff (Cheap Trick, the Fabulous Poodles) to straight-ahead rock (Old 97s, the Exies) and goofy bits (actual commercial segments from the Budweiser Real American Heroes series). Always something fun going on here.

Things I bought with my very own money:
4. VA – Best of 2005 – free with Q magazine
5. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Born to Run 30th Anniversary Edition (Columbia)
Bought when I was in a bad mood and needed instant transport to a happy time, A must–have not just for the remastered version of a classic album (ask the kids about my karaoke version of “Jungleland”) but especially for the footage of prime E Street Band concert nirvana. This is the Bruce that I was in love with for a long, long time.
6. SPIKE JONES – Cocktails for Two (United Audio Entertainment)
On sale at my supermarket, for $4.99. How could I resist?

7. MERCY CREEK – Bonfire of Vanities (self-released)
8. MERCY CREEK – The Name of This Record is Mercy Creek (self-released)
Sent in connection with a Post preview story. click here

Many thanks to the publicity people who sent these by request:
9. BARENAKED LADIES – Barenaked Holidays (Nettwerk)
It was hard to choose just one song from this CD to include in the annual Cool Yule collection, so I cheated and took two – the duet with Sarah McLachlan on “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings” and a Hanukkah song that goes with my Secular Humanist Plot to Kill Christmas.
10. GARRISON STARR – The Sound of You and Me (Vanguard)
11. NEIL YOUNG – Prairie Wind (Reprise)
I don’t always love what he does, but I respect his efforts. Too bad the one song I caught on SNL, “He Was the King,” leaves me cold. Gotta give this one my full attention soon.
12. FRANZ FERDINAND – 2 DVD (Domino)
Cute + Talented = Good video.
13. VA – Now That Sounds Kosher (Shout!)
Since I was writing a preview about “What I Like About Jew,” which has a track on this compilation, I requested it from the publicist, actually to make a new contact with a label that does interesting reissues in the Rhino Records manner.
14. BOB MARLEY and the WAILERS – Africa Unite: The Singles Collection (Island)
Universal has started a great service for press and industry people whereby, with the help of a unique bit of software, you can stream and/or download just about anything in their catalog. But (and like me, this is a big But), it’s not yet available for Mac users (but we are the superior system!) So, I requested this bit of reggae heaven.

Sent without prompting:
15. HEROS SEVERUM – Plague Dogs (Two Sheds Music)
I haven’t had time to listen yet, but I like the press kit description: “Heros Severum's sound is a mix of brash guitars, booming low-end percussion, and melodic intertwining vocals. The sound created is unique, and has more in common with early 80's no wave bands like Mission of Burma and the Minutemen than with any of the band's rock and punk contemporaries.”

From the fabulous CD trade-in store:
16. The LIBERTINES – Up the Bracket (Rough Trade)
Finally, I can hear what the fuss is (was) about.
17. VA – The Greatest Voices & Unforgettable Evergreens
While I was waiting to pay for my purchases, this 10-CD set (it looks smaller since each disc in a simple cardboard sleeve) caught my eye. 200 songs by original artists, including many that I don’t have in any other format – songs by Julie London, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Vicki Carr (“It Must be Him” is a camp classic). The whole shebang was $25, which – if I’m using my calculator correctly, means they’re just 12 and a half cents per song. Beat that, iTunes!
18. GAVIN BRYARS with TOM WAITS – Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (Point Music)
I already have this CD, but couldn’t bear to see it cast off in the $1.99 clearance section, When I find my original copy, buried in the back office, I will pass this one on to a friend who needs a meditative break. And when I brought it to the counter, I got into a nice conversation with one of the clerks about great obscure music in a similar vein.
19. SUZZY and MAGGIE ROCHE – Why the Long Face? (Red House Records)
After being quite the fan of the Roches work as a trio, I was glad to reconnect with them after time away. As one would expect, their sisterly harmonies sound great on a cover of Brian Wilson’s “A Day in the Life of a Tree.”
20. HANSON – Underneath Acoustic DVD,
If Taylor’s ever looking for an older woman groupie, give him my number.

YTD: 898

Nearing the Finish Line

And so far behind on the tally! I can see 2006 coming at me mighty fast, and though I'm sure I'm past the magic number (1000) in CDs actually acquired, I wonder if I can fit them all in this list. Only if I keep my mouth mostly shut and just get on with it.
Let's start with some prepared notes from before the holiday madness began:

Monday, December 12:
1. PHISH - NEW YEAR'S EVE 1995 (Rhino/Jemp)
Second, official copy of a previously mentioned set.
2. RACHEL SAGE – The Blistering Sun (Mpress Records)
Coming to town. Nice press package - color folder with two pieces of candy stamped with the singer's name (the old days of big swag are gone, so these little moments stand out.
3.TROIS ENTERREMENTS – Soundtrack (Eurocorp)
Tommy Lee Jones’s new movie. This is an advance, printed in Spanish.

Saturday, December 10:
4. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Suite Life, Volume 1 (Sugo Music)
Hubby and I stayed at the Hotel George earlier this month. Lovely place, with a CD player in the room and a CD library available for the lending through the front desk. While I never took advantage of that past benefit, the room had a CD to listen to and buy, which I did. Nice selection of songs - Nat King Cole ("Route 66" always sounds good), Bob Marley, Ivy and a few new things.

Within the last month or so:
5. MARTIN SEXTON – Camp Holiday (Kitchen Table Records)
Laid-back carols in the Jack Johnson mode, though Sexton far predates the surfer rock dude. He even makes “The Little Drummer Boy” tolerable. One half of a Post preview. click here.
6. LINDSAY LOHAN – A Little More Personal (Raw) (Universal)
She does “Edge of Seventeen.” I'm worried. My two teenage daughters have put Lohan on the Persona Non Grata list. Too bad; she started out strong and then went full-tilt pop tart.

7. NUBIAN BLUE (Blue Note)
Putt your two cents in, literally, when you buy at Borders (the day I got the Talking Heads Brick) and you can score the extra promo discs. This one has jazz for the dinner hour – Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Al Green and such.

8. BOB MOULD – Body of Song (Yep Roc)
I actually got away with the phrase “doing the Du” (as in Husker) when I wrote Mould up for the Post. click here l would have liked to see that show - with Kirsten Hersh at the Birchmere – but there was family in town for Thanksgiving and it would have been rude to run off on them. Since he’s local, maybe I’ll have another chance sometime.
9. SPEEDY TOLLIVER – Now & Then (Arlington Cultural Affairs)
Another Post preview click here , this time for a Virginian 87-year-old country/bluegrass fiddler who’s only just releasing his first solo CD, recorded by a local arts group. That kind of music is just downright kinder to its players, allowing them to grow in age and talent without forcing the Forever Young (or Die) rock model.
10. DOWNTOWN SINGAPORE – Don’t Let Your Guard Down (DCide records)
Yeah, I know I mentioned it in my last round-up, but I found a second copy that was sent earlier, so it counts in the count.

Sometimes things just slip through the cracks (will Lewis Black be there to catch them?) and that’s the case with these MIA CDs, some of which date back to summertime:
11. SWITCHFOOT – Nothing is Sound (Columbia)
I love the lead singer’s voice and some of the lyrics are quite good, optimistic and reassuring without pushing the Jesus thing too strongly. Not every song’s a winner, but those that work (like the single “Stars”) work very well indeed. Grace and I are looking forward to them coming to town sometime soon, tho’ nothing has been announced.
12. The PIXIES – Sell Out DVD (Rhino)
At the risk of being burned at the stake as a rock-crit heretic, I will admit that I don’t love all the Pixies’ stuff, and there are times when I’m not in the mood for the band’s sonic mood swings. But there are other times when nothing feels better than shouting along with “Monkey Gone to Heaven.” And when I wear my vintage black T-shirt with the logo on front and the eyeballs on the back, bought at a show Back in the Day, I feel like the coolest middle-aged rock mom on the planet.
13. SIX FEET UNDER – Soundtrack (Astralwerks)
Now this is what *I* call music - Nina Simone, Jem, Phoenix (the track included here, “Everything is Everything” has turned Grace on the band), Radiohead, Interpol, Death Cab for Cutie, Arcade Fire…and a classy package design, too. Could be a Top 10, now that I think of it.
14. DEADMAN – Our Eternal Ghosts (One Little Indian)
I previewed this country-noir duo when they came to town to open for the Proclaimers and, for reasons that still escape me, the publicist sent two copies of the disc – one generic advance, one official version. I had the pair sign the latter, and keep the advance in the car.

From the long-neglected bag of freebies collected in September at the annual schmooze fest known as CMJ:
15. REMEDY FOR RUIN – Scrape the Sky (I Love Records, LLC)
Encouraged by the stylish graphics – a foldout landscape of flat, muted color – I put this one on in the first round of listening, thinking it looked rather Shins-ian. Sadly, it veered to the more generic emo rock that seems to be everywhere these days. Even I didn’t like the cover so much, it’d be gone now, but I’m gonna give it another chance in hopes that the music (if it can grow in repeated listening) as well as the visuals will merit its inclusion in the permanent collection.
16. SAM ASHWORTH – Gonna Get It Wrong Before I Get it Right (Runway Records)
Definitely a keeper. I had seen an ad for this guy in Paste or Harp, and thought he radiated a low-key charm in the picture, and with the sweet cartoon turtle on the CD cover. Glad to say the music holds true to that image – gentle singer/songwriter with a lovely voice, in the spirit of Paul McCartney’s non-syrupy ballads and my dear David Mead.
17. SAM ASHWORTH – Look Back (Runway)
This 2-track CD includes one song from the above album, plus a cover of Hall & Oates’ “Maneater.”
18. CHARLIE PEACOCK – Love Express Ex-Curio (Runway)
Gonna give this one a chance based on song titles like “Be Well Johnny Cash,” “Frank the Marxist Memorial Gong Blues” and “Bucketachicken.”
Peacock, Ashworth, Arkitekt, Andy Davis and Astronaut Pushers.
20. TOOTHFAIRY – The CMJ Demo (
Give these guys credit for trying. There was a copy of this CD put in every attendee’s goodie bag to promote a CD out in October with the catchy title “Does Not Work Well with Reality.” The inside booklet asks you to pass the CD around and burn copies for friends. (How do you like that, RIAA?)
Twelve tracks from bands of UK (possibly all Irish?) origins, festooned with logos from the Sunday Herald, BBC Radio and other sponsors. The chatty guys at the table where these were given out had lovely Across the Pond accents and knew the band Bell X-1, which I had happily encountered some years back on a trip to Ireland. As with any compilation, not everything works for me, but there are some good unsigned acts here, god help ‘em.

YTD: 878

And now, a brief moment from a new, ongoing series, in which I repeat descriptive phrases from hardcore and death metal press releases, and which will hereforth be known as
"There’s something diseased about their sound; the tracks have a morbid sickness to them, and the gut reaction of good, decent folk is to stay the hell away." -

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Bumbles Bounce! and other happy thoughts

Here at the CPF holiday workshop (turn left at Whoville, but don't go so far west as the Island of Misfit Toys), it wouldn't be the holiday season without a viewing of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," preferably performed simultaneously in front of the screen, Rocky Horror syle, with the complete set of stuffed toys from CVS drug stores. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" (don't snicker; it's got Broadway-quality songs) are also on the Must-See list, with Charlie Brown and Alistair Sim's version of "A Christmas Carol" always welcome, too.

The recent past has been a great one for new music - and I say that as a consumer who pays cash money as well as a lucky duck who gets nice freebies in the mail. Monday's mail offered a nice pile of a half-dozen puffy envelopes, plus my official ballot for the Village Voice Jazz and Pop poll, which makes me feel like a real tastemaker.

So, to recap:
Friday, December 9:
1. CYPRESS HILL - Greatest Hits from the Bong (Columbia)
Ordinarily, I would put this away in the reference library as I do with most greatest hits collections from bands I haven't really followed, but I doubt I'll hang on to it. Call me an old fart, or blame it on the generally genial holiday vibe, but I just don't have much room in my psyche these days for the likes of "How I Could Just Kill a Man."
2. WHAT I LIKE ABOUT JEW - sampler from the forthcoming "Unorthodox" (self-released)
Rob Tannenbaum (rock writer/editor) and Sean Altman's ultra-ethnic project, coming to the Birchmere just after Christmas, and being pitched for a Live! preview. Favorite song, just by its title: "They Tried to Kill Us (We Survived, Let's Eat)." Could be just the way to come down from the holidays, and to do my part for the Secular Progressives' Plot to Kill Christmas.

Thursday, December 8:
3. MARAH - presents A Christmas Kind of Town (Yep Roc)
I'm not gonna get all Nick Hornby on you, but this band really does deserve more attention. Saw them play some weeks ago at Jammin Java and they rocked the house in a loosey-gooesy, booze and blues-fueled way (probably the first time at that former Christian youth spot, current folky listening room that someone smoked - and put their cigarette out - on the genteel stage). Requested from the publicist (thanks, Angie!) and, on initial listenings, a new holiday favorite. The album plays out like a radio broadcast, with a cast of varying voices, little skits and a sloppy, let's-make-our-own-show vibe. Contagiously good. Destined to be on this year's Cool Yule compilation: "New York is a Christmas Kind of Town."
4. PHISH - New Year's Eve 1995 - Live at Madison Square Garden (Rhino/Jemp)
This show was named one of Rolling Stone magazine's "17 Greatest Concerts of the '90s" which strikes me as ironic since I was offered the assignment way back when to review that show, but begged off, saying I wasn't all that familiar with/fond of the band. The editor who mentioned the assignment agreed, adding an insult about how boring he thought Phish were. But someone from the magazine must have been there and had a faboo time.
This 3-disc set will mark the beginning of a deal with Rhino to release a whole bunch of Phish concerts. There was another such series awhile back - I bought a 3-disc live set which included a performance of Taking Heads' "Remain in Light" in its entirety. After listening to the whole thing, I burned a copy of that encore disc (labeled it "Phish Heads" of course) and sold off the set. It's just so much noodling to me.

Monday, December 5:
5. The JULIANA THEORY - Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat (Abacus Recordings)
A second copy (in cardboard cover), probably a reminder for these days of compiling year-end Best Ofs.
6. DOWNTOWN SINGAPORE - Don't Let Your Guard Down (DCide Records)
Another duplicate from the same publicist. The local buzz for these Maryland boys is on, as they've played with All-American Rejects, hellogoodbye and others and have a rep for a great live act. Out February 21.

A trio of packages from the nice boys of Team Clermont. (Captain Planet would be sad to see three packages from the same return address, but it just means more bubble wrap for me to pop!)
7. MEREDITH BRAGG and the TERMINALS - The Departures EP (The Kora Records)
Another local hero, with a gentle, Elliot Smith-type vibe, in another beautifully designed package - a letterpress cardboard envelope. Out January 17th.
8. (The SOUNDS of) KALEIDOSCOPE (Hackshop Records)
9. STONE JACK JONES - Bluefolk (Ficticious Records)
A coal mine town childhood and a musical apprenticeship under Patty Griffin - bodes well.
10. The BOGGS - 4 track sampler
Paper label CD-R "from the forthcoming LP" (as in long-player, not vinyl, I presume) called Forts. Played it in the car a few times and find it to be an energizing ride. In my book, you hardly ever go wrong sounding like the Clash, and adding in a bit of streetwise chant, kinda like The Go! Team, adds to the punch.
11. The BRIAN SETZER ORCHESTRA - Dig That Crazy Christmas (Surf Dog)
By request (thanks, Shore Fire!), and destined to make an appearance on the annual Cool Yule compilation. One minor note: the cartoon version of Brian on the cover is way too young...let's be realistic, folks. Setzer is very talented and certainly has the stamina of a young guy on stage, but he ain't no spring chicken.

Last week was an exciting one for reissues.
12. PATTI SMITH - Horses (Colulumbia Legacy)
Not to sound too jaded, but most of the unsolicited press packages I get are from un- or barely-known acts looking to get some initial response. They're fun to get, but don't make me go "Oh boy!" when I open the package. But this...ah, this was like getting an early Christmas gift (even if I was hoping that the Columbia packaging meant I was getting a copy of the new, deluxe Born to Run reissue). This beautiful reissue of Smith's classic/seminal/your-gushing-adjective-here debut is a classy design and offers a bonus live disc of the entire album performed earlier this year in England. The studio album still has its nearly-unhinged power, and what I've heard of the live CD so far shows that Patti's lost none of her punch and just maybe has gotten even better as she's matured from hotheaded punk girl to world-wise punk mom.
13. TALKING HEADS - Brick (Rhino)
Yes, I have all the previous Heads albums, including the two-disc greatest hits and last year's box set, so my first reaction to the release of this set of eight catalog studio albums was 'why do I need it?' Terry was against the purchase and, as I tracked it on ebay and amazon, trying to get one for less than $100, I was starting to agree with him. Then mom handed me $50 and said 'buy yourself something nice for Christmas and Borders sent me a 30% off coupon, and I couldn't resist (also calculating the fact that I can trade in most of the older CDs - but not the vinyl!) And lo, we've been thoroughly enjoying the adventure of exploring the added tracks and primitive early performance videos, and just holding the tactile object d'art. So yeah, it's a good thing.
14. JUST SAY SIRE: The Sire Records Story (Sire/Rhino)
While hunting for above Brick I was on and found this 3-CD, 1 DVD set at a great price ($30) so I snatched it up. This was my Happy Time in NYC, and this was my happy soundtrack. The stuff I know (Heads, Yaz, Tin Tin, Aztec Camera) is stuff I love, some of which I previously had only on vinyl, and what I don't know is of a school I was proud to attend. There was a time when Sire was like Motown; it almost didn't matter if you didn't recognize tha artist's name 'cause the yin/yang label promised fun. And the DVD is a hoot - every bit as a cheesy as those VH1 specials hint at, but here you get to see the whole awkward growth in full-length. One video that deserves to be in a future time capsule - The Replacements's "Bastards of Young," in which you watch a speaker throb with only a glimpse of the kid listening, and then the record skips (yes, the sound of the video does, too) and he kicks it. Awesome!

A few other recent acquistions:
15. MARJORIE FARM - Self Help Serenade (Capitol)
A few weeks ago, I was in My Happy Place, wandering the aisles at Tower Records and checking out the import clearance racks when I heard an intriguing sound on the in-store system. It was a bit indie rock, a bit British folk, even a touch of the new prog rock. As I checked out with my goodies, I asked the cashier what had been playing and he showed me this CD. Did I buy it then and there? No, but I asked politely in a subsequent email to a friendly contact at the label and they sent it along. It may not make it to this year's Top Ten, but I have a feeling I'll be playing it well into 2006.
16. DRAMARAMA - Everybody Dies (33rd Street/Bayside Records)
In a plot twist not dissimilar to that which revived INXS, Dramarama, which had fallen apart after some fine but overlooked albums in the early alt-rock era, came back together for a VH1 Bands Reunited show, and got a new lease on life. Alas, there's even a touch of tragedy to their story, too - the new CD is a tribute to a dear and recently departed friend. The band may be best-known - and justifiably so - for a terrific song called "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" and had some other fine material, like "Last Cigarette." Even before hearing this CD, I'm won over by the Tim Burton-esque smiley face skeleton which appears not just on the cover but on an booklet collage parodying classic album covers (T. Rex, Some Girls, Yesterday and Today, Kinks).

I planned on blowing off a whole bag of left-overs, too, but I have an editing assignment to polish off, and that's paying some bills, so maybe tomorrow....

YTD total:857

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Who's a Turkey?

Maybe I am. As November draws to a close, and year-end Best-Of's beckon, I can see the dawn of Blog Year Two and I'm thinking of how to proceed differently. Expect changes in January. But for now, I'm gonna play this game out to the end as it was set up in the beginning of Blog Year One by continuing the list of CDs coming into the manse. Besides, I may be the only one, but I want to see that CD-ometer spin past the 1000 mark.

First, we'll pick up with some real stuff from the past that I never got around to acknowledging.

Things that I bought with my own money, and I'm glad I did:
1. SHOUT OUT LOUDS - Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (Capitol)
2. KAISER CHIEFS - Employment (Universal)
3. BOB DYLAN - No Direction Home: The Soundtrack (Columbia/Legacy)
4. MOJO - Dylan Covered - with magazine
5. UNCUT - Highway 61 Revisited Revisited - with magazine
6. UNCUT - Michael Stipe Presents
7. Q Magazine - Here Comes the Sun: The Ultimate Summer Playlist
8. SIGUR ROS - Tak (Geffen)
Saw this band (for the second time) on 9-11 of this year, at the gorgeous new Strathmore Hall. Can't think of a better way to spend that sad anniversary. I loved the often quiet, sometimes discordant musings and meditative video, even if this show didn't have the sense of discovery of the first time. The opening act - a group of willowy women playing off-kilter music on toy and experimental instruments - had it, which reminds me I need to look up their name and CD availability.

Things that I bought with my own money, and then discovered I already owned. Yes, it happens, especially when I see good things in the clearance bin when I'm away from home and just want to have good music.
9. The ROLLING STONES - Rewind (Rolling Stones)
10. XTC - Apple Venus (TVT)

A bunch of stuff that came in as promotional material and isn't rocking my socks:
11.FREDDY STEADY 5 - Freddy Steady Go
12. COLD - A Different Kind of Pain (Lava)
Official copy of an album previously sent as an advance.
13. MARY MARY - Self-titled (Sony Urban)
14. CARLY SIMON - Monnlight Seranade (Columbia)
Another boomer idol jumps on the standards bandwagon and almost gets crushed under the wheels. Terrible versions of great songs. She can try, but she can't ruin "Where Or When" - though she comes close.
15. The MATTOID - Eternifinity

A bunch of stuff that came in as promotional material and I haven't had a chance to develop an informed opinion:
16. DAR WILLIAMS - My Better Self (Razor & Tie)
17. The TAH-DAHS - Le Fun (Undeniable Records)
18. AVETT BROTHERS - Mignonette (Ramseur Records)
19. CINDY BULLENS - Dream #29 (Blue Lobster)
20. CAKE - Pressure Chief (Columbia)
21. DIRTY ON PURPOSE - Sleep Late for a Better Tomorrow (North Street Records)
22. ROOFTOP SUICIDE CLUB - Always Like This (Stop, Pop and Roll)
23. CHARLIE SEXTON - Cruel and Gentle Things (Back Porch Records)

YTD Total: 841

Friday, November 04, 2005

Well, Do Ya? Do Ya, Do Ya Wanna?

Yes, I do. I do, I do wanna talk about all the wonderful music that's come my way lately. There's been a flurry of good stuff in the mail (early Christmas?!) and I've bought a bunch, too. So, without further a-scooby-do...

Saturday, November 4:
Stopped for Thai food at the shopping center on Route 7, where the siren call of Tower Records would not be denied. After considering the new live double CD set by Old 97's, the debut of Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah (whoa! the song just came up on my random iTunes!), and the dual-disc version of Fiona Apple, all of which were on sale, I opted instead to buy a big, fun batch of clearance sale CD singles, all of which were 75% off, bringing them down to about $1.35 each. The booty:
1. TRAVIS - Re-Offender (Epic)
Available in two versions - four tracks for a dollar more, or just three. I got the four ('cause it's really only a quarter more with the discount). On first listen, I like "The Sea," and perhaps "Enemy" more than the actual hit (?) single.
When I get my ebay act together, I'm pulling together a half dozen Travis CD singles and selling off the discs.
2. TRAVIS - The Beautiful Occupation (Epic)
Two extra tracks - "Distraction" and "Back in the Day."
BTW, the Travis songs come up in my iTunes listing as folk!
3. GOOD CHARLOTTE - Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" (Epic)
Also includes "Cemetary" and "The Click," plus a video of the title track. If my girls, once huge GC fans, don't want this one, I'll group it with a few other GC items for another ebay lot.
4. ELBOW - Fallen Angel (V2)
I heard Christmas carols in the mall today, and I have, not as reluctantly as I would have thought, made an unspoken pact with the commercial devils. I have begun squirreling away holiday presents. Like this stocking stuffer for Terry. Elbow is one of our favorite cult bands, and this single has an unreleased tune from the criminally overlooked Cast of Thousands CD, plus a remix of the title track.
5. BLUR - Crazy Beat (EMI)
Another for Terry. He's become a big fan of late period Blur thanks to last year's Think Tank, and the current Gorillaz CD, still in the running as one of the Top Five albums of the year in our house. This single, like Elbow's, includes a video of the title track and a title ("Don't Be") I don't recognize from the album.
6. The ATARIS - In This Diary (Columbia)
An extra track ("A Beautiful Mistake"), plus a live and video version of the title track. For Emma, or Grace's stocking.
7. The ATARIS - The Boys of Summer (Columbia)
Two extra live songs ("Take Offs and Landings," another "In This Diary" that may be the same as above) and a video of the title song. For Grace, or Emma's stocking.
8. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE - Cry Me a River (Jive)
Comes up in my iTunes listing as electronica because there are three dance mixes here - the Johnny Fiasco vocal of the title track, and two of "Like I Love You" - Basement Jaxx, and Deep Dish. Catchy at first, but gets a little numbing after a bit.
9. GRANDADDY - Now It's On (V2)
Much as I like Grandaddy, I was on the fence to buy another (even at these ridiculous prices?) but the third track got me: "Hey Cowboy, the Phone's For You." Alas, as is often the case, the song here isn't as cool as the one I imagined in my head. But the other two are pretty good, so what the hey...

10. HUEY LEWIS and the NEWS - The Only One (Disky)
This full-length (14 tracks) was in the 75% off bin, but didn't have the proper color sticker, so the cashier charged me $5.00. Given all the other bargains, I didn't argue. At first I thought it was a greatest hits, but no, it's just some random collection slapped together by an overseas marketer. I jumped through all the tracks to see if I recognized any of them but it was slim pickings. I really only bought it for one song - "I Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do," a relatively obscure track from the first LP (we had vinyl then, children) which I've always loved as a simple, sweet love song. Sadly, Huey's News is woefully out of date now, and not even the nostalgia element moved me to burn any other tracks but one - "Working for a Living" - and even then, less because I like the song than because I might want it for a Congrats on Your New Job (or Retirement) mix.
11. TIM DELUXE - The Little Ginger Club Kid (Underwater Records)
Another full-length at a slightly higher price (40% off brought it in just under $10), it's a 2001 CD that I'm always been curious about after reading a favorable review and seeing the cute cover in a British dance music magazine. The CD comes in a cardboard booklet, spiral bound like a small scrapbook and the little dude pictured on the front looks like Danny Bonaduce way before the Partridges, drugs and breakdowns. On first listen, it lives up to my predisposed fondness - a bright, upbeat mix. Better late than never, I say.

And Gracie bought herself a 2006 Green Day calendar, which she ceremoniously unwrapped and oogled in the car as we played American Idiot tracks on shuffle.

Arriving in the press packs this past week:
12. KATE BUSH - Aerial (Columbia)
I admit, if you needed me to sing (or even name) a single Kate Bush song, it would be "Running Up the Hill," and I know little else, but I'm excited to get this double-disc 'cause:
a) double discs give more (tho,' I'm seeing that disc one has only 7 songs and runs about 35 minutes
b) know her or not, you gotta give Kate Bush props. She was our leading strange woman singer/songwriter before Tori Amos was even born.
13. ROLLING STONES - Rarities 1971-2003 (Virgin)
Sure, it's great to have a few of these odds n' sods pulled together on a CD, like "Harlem Shuffle" (NY mix), the dance version of "Miss You," and a bunch of early blues numbers done live. And the packaging is slick in that Starbucks display-ready kind of way. But let's not fool ourselves. This is the Stones, milking the crowd for yet another round of chateau repairs by recycling the past, including some tracks that are 34 years old! It's good, but it's evil, so I made sure it was #13.
14. NEIL DIAMOND - 12 Songs (Columbia)
Produced by Rick Rubin, who certainly helped revive Johnny Cash's career a while back. But that was Johnny Cash, who always held on to a certain credibility that Diamond hasn't.
"I am I said, to no one there. And no one answered at all, not even the chair." I rest my case.
Not knowing that there is a Nickelodeon show of this same name, I saw the neo-anime space girl on the cover and thought it was a hip pop band. And maybe that's what featured artist Tajja Isen is hoping to emulate. I love the characters in the booklet, and the picture of this Isen babe shows that she isn't - she's a normal looking older teen/early 20something who seems to be of middle eastern descent and modest temperment. Even if she is, "The toughest chick in the alien world." Looks like fun for those who didn't think Josie and the Pussycat's movie soundtrack was half bad (it wasn't).
16. BETTY - Snowbiz (Stereo Society)
This Betty *is* a band, a humorous female trio in fact, and I suspect this holiday offering will provide a few possibilities for the 2005 seasonal mix. By title alone, my money's on "Dreidle Jingle Fiasco."
17. ANIMAL LIBERATION ORCHESTRA - Fly Between Falls (Brushfire Records)
Blame it on PETA, but the name of this group, along with the giant insect pictured on the cover, led me to believe that it was some kind of hardcore Skinny Puppy-esque activist band. But if I had only turned to the back and seen that one track features Jack Johnson, king of mellow, I would have known better. This jazzy jamming is in that same 'laid-back to the point of almost falling over' groove. Somehow, Jack J pulls it off without sounding totally stoned. These guys don't do quite so well. A lot of wood-grained lyrics and acoustic guitar strums that are pleasant without planting roots, although "Waiting for Jaden," an upbeat song about real labor (the baby delivery kind) has sweet spunk.
18. deSOL - S/T (Curb)
This Latin rock septet will be the coming week's Post pick and, as I said in the story, filed yesterday, local station WHFS would have done us a favor if the switch from alternative rock to Spanish language format had featured more of this bilingual band with Santana chops. This is a sound that unites rather than divides, and the lead singer, whom I interviewed for the story, went to a high school just down the road from mine. Nice guy, good music.
19. BOB SCHNEIDER - I'm Good Now (Vanguard)
Schnieder's coming to town this week (Thursday at the State Theatre), and I tucked him into this week's Post preview, just after deSol, 'cause I liked his second solo CD, "Lonelyland" so much.

A few more that I don't have much to say about:
20. STEVE REYNOLDS - Exile (429 Records)
Coming to town, PR pitched.
21. PETER BRADLEY ADAMS - EP (self-released?)
I mentioned this former eastmountainsouth member in a Post preview during the summer, but he's coming back around to town. Personally, I miss the harmonies of his former partner in EMS.
22. The SUBDUDES - Behind the Levee (Back Porch)
Of course the title brings up the ghosts of New Orleans, but this CD isn't due out until end of January, 2006, so maybe it won't sting so much then. Produced by Keb' Mo' and featuring the Dirty Dozen Brass Band horns.
23. ARIEL APARICIO - Frolic & F*** (Bully Records)
The astericks are there on the disc, but there's no song with that title, so it's just controversy-baiting. I hate that. I'll listen to two songs - "Punk Rock Girl" and "Brenda Lee" - before I decide how far, or not, to take this.

Saturday, Oct. 29
Bought at a concert at Jammin' Java:
24. DAVID MEAD - Wherever You Are (Eleven Thirty Records)
25, 26. TIM BLANE - In the Meantime (Provo-Spain Records)
Two copies. The publicist gave me one and I bought one for Emma, since I thought she, who's into Matt Nathanson, John Mayer and (to a lesser degree) Jason Mraz would like this guy, who gave a fine short set opening for Mead, a longtime favorite with gentle manner, sweet voice and quiet humor.

free samplers, given out at the club:
27. SHAUNA BURNS - selections from Every Thought (Red Rock Music)
28. MARILYN SCOTT - CD sampler (Prana Entertainment)
Five tracks, taken from four different albums.
29. ONE MAN ARMY - CD sampler (Dark Night Records)
30. TIM BLANE - Songs from the debut album, In the Meantime (

Friday, Oct. 28
31. JOHN FOGARTY - The Long Road Home (Fantasy Records)
Creedence Clearwater Revival is one of the bands that released some good singles, sure, but never really connected with me. I think it's one of those Guy Critic things, like Kiss. Still, this is a swell collection for the research library, finally pulling together CCR hits and Fogarty's solo work. Since he's one of the artists who actively points out that Boy Emperor George is wearing no clothes, it may be time for me to reconsider his stature.

Thursday, Oct. 27
32. FRANZ FERDINAND - You Could Have It So Much Better (Epic)
I had to buy this album. Had to. Couldn't wait anymore to have the new Franz Ferdinand in my hand so I could listen to "Do You Want To." And I have done so, over and over and over, to the point that both husband and child have commented on my new obsession.
Unlike Fiona Apple's "Extraodinary Machine," where I wasn't sure about the rest of the album (so I bought the one track on iTunes), I knew that I would eventually need to hear all that the FF boys were up to, esp. after the SNL performance. And it was only $10 at Best Buy, tho' the sale price didn't apply to the DualDisc version. (I know, I tried)
BTW - Look here, record companies. We know that making these discs are cheap. Slapping some videos and enhanced music on the other side of the disc doesn't add much to cost, while tracking two slightly different versions of the same title must give everyone involved a headache. So just settle the compatibility issues ASAP and get the one Dual version into the stores at sale prices. Just do it!
33. VARIOUS ARTISTS - This Bird Has Flown (Razor & Tie)
And a note here to - give buyers an easy-to-print song list option!
Bought and burned this set from my emusic subscription, and thoroughly enjoyed it during dinner as my husband, a major Beatles fan, and I heard the interesting reconstructions (a reggae "Michelle," a happily deranged "I'm Looking Through You") and faithful recreations (the Donna's "Drive My Car," Rhett Miller's "Girl") of an album that time has been very kind to. Like many of the great pleasures in life, the Beatles sare ometimes easy to take for granted. A good tribute CD like this is a reminder of just how much we owe the lads. BTW, Terry found himself humming a song from Paul's new CD this morning and, as he put it, "When was the last time that happened?" It's a positively Fab Four revival.

34. The MAGIC NUMBERS - S/T (Heavenly/EMI)
Me likee! Two guys, two girls, a sound that mixes up some Kings of Leon muscular melody with Mamas & Papas harmonies.
The first track, "Mornings Eleven," ("you're in denial") is an instant put-it-on-the-new-mix classic.
35. A DAY In Black & White - Notes (Lumberjack/Mordam)
36. TREY ANASTASIO - Shine (Columbia)
37. BURT BACHARACH - At This Time (Columbia)
Me - I heard he gets political on this one. Takes a few swipes at the administration."
Terry - "Which one? FDR?"
38. The SHARPSHOOTERS - S/T (self-released)
Got a short mention in last week's Post preview.

And from distant past visits to my favorite CD trade-in store (one receipt, tucked into a disc, read 02/26/2005) :
39. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Hear Music, Volume 6 (Hear Music)
The Shins, Joe Henry, Old 97's, even Charles Mingus. As you've heard me whine before, if Starbucks sold these at a reduced price, I'd buy 'em all, but not at the store for $12 or more a pop. After all, they're samplers, which we all know can (and perhaps always should) come in cardboard jackets - for FREE!
40. CARBON LEAF - Indian Summer (Vanguard)
They're really quite good live, but I haven't quite gotten into this one yet. Maybe it's the cheap cardboard advance envelope.
41. AZTEC CAMERA - The Crying Scene (Sire/Reprise)
4-tracks, including Roddy Frame's take on "True Colors" and a live version of "I Threw It All Away."
42. GRAVITATION - soundtrack (Ever Anime)
Grace's choice. An import of thumping instrumental electronica - not that there's anything wrong with that. Love the bad English on the cover - "Never resign yourself to fate. Even if cry and anger. It's so powerful that you can't resist. Unfair but be feel top pleasure. The law of 'love.'" A bit like the spam poetry I get in my email. ("Be Fill My Hairless Cleanliness" - that's how to sell a Rolex!)
43. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Mary Had a Little Amp (Epic)
"We Walk" from R.E.M. (not "Stand," or "Shiny Happy People," oh no; they really have cut those loose), The Dixie Chicks doing a personal favorite, "The Rainbow Connection" (on the list to play at my funeral, making the children sob), "Gentle Breeze" by Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson (still my vote for one of the oddest couples in music), Bonnie Raitt's (with Was Not Was) lovely "Baby Mine" and assorted other classy kids stuff.
44. THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS - Indestructible Object (Barsuk)
Five tracks, the highlight of which is a who'd-a-thunk-it? tender take on "Caroline, No" which is a rare case of the Giants avoiding any and all attempts to be clever and showing just how seriously good they can be.
45. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Will & Grace: Let the Music Out! (BMG)
Another selection by Grace. But not for me. What is it about this show that makes me want to slap the cast silly, if only to wipe the smug "we made sitcoms safe for a gay lead" smile off their faces? The gay guy barely gets to kiss his potential dates, while the secondary couple - stereotypical flamer and rich bitch - go further and further out on the slapstick branch. A safe selection of the usual suspects - Cher, Elton John, Gloria Gaynor (is there a law that you can't have a "gay" compilation without including "I Will Survive"?) and one of the few new sops is a horrible remix of Dido's "White Flag" which strips the song of all its grace.
46. The WAITRESSES - Best of/The Millenium Collection (Polydor)
This band was a revelation to me Back in the Day. I adored the sassy frontwoman and the herky-jerky new wave talk-song melodies and especially the smart ass lyrics about life as a single hip chick in the big bad city. When, after seeing them live, buying the discs and learning all the words, I got the chance to get to know songmeister Chris Butler (the power behind the sound), it was the rare thrill of bceoming friends with someone I truly admired - a great guy. We even did a few minor fun projects together and have kept in touch, albeit erratically, in the intervening years. One of the things I still miss about not living in NYC is the chance to hang with such smart, talented people. This CD is a reminder of a brief but glorious time. And you *will* be hearing "Christmas Wrapping" any time now.

YTD Total: 818

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Podcasts Rock!

While I write, I’m catching up on my archived podcasts. The two main events for me, so far, are the weekly submissions from NPR’s “All Songs Considered,” where I hear good new stuff, and Rhino Records’ “Rhinocasts,” which fill me in on the great archival company’s lovingly constructed reissues. (Lusting over that new Talking Heads Brick box and, if I can’t get an assignment to write about it, I may have to shell out that 100 bucks.) For now, this is better than any radio station I can pull in from the DC area.

Friday, October 21, 2005
1. The NADAS – Listen Through the Static (Authentic Records)
Next week’s Post pick, coming to our sweet local venue, Jammin’ Java. Funny that these guys – a solid but somewhat predictable roots rock band – get the headline spot, since I find the next act the real stars…
2. The CLUMSY LOVERS – Smart Kid (Nettwerk)
You’ll hear this story again in the Post preview next week, but the first time I saw this Celtic bluegrass rock band perform - at Jammin Java, chief songwriter and vocalist Chris Jonat couldn’t make it to the show, which meant that MVP Andrea Lewis took center stage with her fiddle, charmingly girlish voice and great Fluevog boots (I asked her after the show who made ‘em), The band gave out free copies of their “After the Flood” CD to make up for not having Jonat around, but they were great nonetheless. The new CD rocks, too, and I’m looking forward to the show.
Also in the mail, a two-disc set of the Matt Nathanson show Grace and I saw last week. I offered to trade digital photos with one of the pro-gear tapers who was set up in the back of the venue and he made good immediately. What a cool souvenir.

Tonight I stopped to visit with neighborhood friends, eager to make sure that their 2-year-old daughter, whom I babysat for when they went to the U2 show last night, was okay and still talking to me. She’s an adorable, extremely active kid and while I was reading her a bedtime book, she jumped up and smacked her head on the windowsill near the head of the bed, creating an ugly swelling near her thickly-lashed eyes. I was horrified, she cried for a half hour, and it was only after we both calmed down and realized that there was no need for an emergency room visit that she fell asleep. When the ‘rents came in, she was sleeping – like a baby – with the damaged side of her face down on the pillow. But I copped to it, and they forgave me.

Not only did they forgive me, but today they gave me a super cool bonus – a four-pack of vintage U2 picture sleeve 45’s, for “Boomerang,” “Out of Control,” “A Celebration” and “Fire,” as well as an R.E.M. (“Fall On Me”) and Julian Cope (“World Shut Your Mouth”) for my pic sleeve collection. Not to be counted, but priceless nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 19
A nice little package from Columbia Records, four out of four keepers.
4. DESTINY’S CHILD - #1’s (Sony Urban Music)
Twelve #1 hits, a couple of new things, and a great excuse to trade in those other albums with a track or two each that I care about.
5. AEROSMITH – Rockin’ the Joint (Columbia)
Live at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. For some reason, despite all the silliness of the scarves and the underage chick-baiting and the wailing guitar – all the elements that usually make me laugh at old guys doing hard rock – I can’t dislike Aerosmith. At least Steve Tyler has a sense of humor about it all, he and Joe Perry know how to write real hooks and I don’t get that ‘we need money, so let’s hit the road’ vibe from them the way I do from the Stones. Coincidentally, I got an ebay package today, filled with about 20 different Aerosmith set lists. The band is coming to DC in a few weeks. I’d love to shoot them for the book.
6. IL DIVO – The Christmas Collection (Syco Music/Columbia)
Will I like this album? Doubt it. Looks like an Italian boy band, filled with Michael Bolton and Buble wannabes. But it’s nearly time to pull together the 2005 Cool Yule mix, and a good over-the-top holiday pop tune may lie within, so I’m glad to check it out.
7. BETTE MIDLER – Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook (Columbia)
Who doesn’t love the Divine Miss M? Sometimes she moves toward the dark side, as in the blindingly light sentimental sap of “Wind Beneath My Wings” and such, but she creates an energy field that cannot be denied. I suspect that, like the Rosemary Clooney tribute of a year or two ago, this one will wind up in my mom’s collection. But I’m looking forward to hearing Bette do “Is That All There Is?” and “Fever.”

And a nice triple-play from the Anti-people, associated with the hard-rocking Epitaph label, but stretching out into all sorts of coolness.
Speaking of Anti-, I saw a news report on my local CBS affiliate about the European Smurf cartoon where the happy little village gets bombed. The on-screen news desk graphic read “Anit-War Ad.” I love when the big guys make typos!
8.DANIEL LANOIS – Belladonna (Anti-)
An all-instrumental album from the sometime great producer. Always looking for new music for the cooking-and-eating segment of the day and this one, on first listen, has a great mellow vibe.
9. TIM FITE – (Anti-) Gone Ain’t Gone (Anti-)
Saw this guy perform just a few songs on the CMJ day stage (a tough place to make a mark, with its big bright windows and large empty space), and that was enough to make me wish I’d seen more. He’s a crazy man, doing some bizarre rap/funk/rock/spoken word cranky folk thing, with only a goofy-looking (in a good way) accompanist sitting at a toy-sized keyboard. Weird and possibly wonderful. Glad to check it out.
10. BETTYE LAVETTE – I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise (Anti-)
As I was compiling this group of CDs, NPR was doing a short feature about the CD, which was produced by Joe Henry and features songs by Fiona Apple and Sinead O’Connor. Which could sound like a sell-out sop to the marketplace, but you can’t begrudge LaVette any chance she might take to reach new audiences. She’s one of those woman to whom you simply bow down and You go, girl! Thanks for keepin’ on.

Monday, October 17
11. MXPX – Panic (Side One Dummy)
Gonna see them next week with Relient K at the 930 Club. My problem with these guys is that I keep confusing them with the dirty boys of NOFX, who really creeped me out years ago with a CD cover that showed a guy getting way too personal with a sheep. Sticker says "Includes 'Heard That Sound' and 'Wrecking Hotel Rooms' which is handy to let me know where to turn first.
12. TAYLOR HOLLINGSWORTH – Tragic City (Brash)
Described as “the latest progeny from a long line of guitar driven, deep South rock & roll DNA,” and compared, with his band, to the Stooges and the MC5, The Only Ones and The Heartbreakers. I haven't heard a successful stab at that style in a while. The CD doesn’t come out until January 2006, so it could be a chance to pitch one of the national magazines with a longer lead time.

And so on, and so on. More from the collected collection…
13. CHRIS BOTTI – To Love Again (Columbia)
The last time I saw Sting in concert, and I swore it would be the last time, he was touring for his Brand New Day CD, and was firmly stuck in his ersatz jazz mode for aging yuppies. Every other song broke for an oh-so-tasteful trumpet solo from Chris Botti and, by the end of the show, I lived in fear of the hunky blond putting that instrument to his lips since I knew we’d be subjected to another sappy solo. Now the Kenny G of the horn section has released another solo album, this one offering a number of duets. There’s Sting, hitting a new low with one of the worst ballads ever penned, “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” (north and east and south and west of your life…), and his equal in all things mainstreamingly dull, Michael Buble. But Gladys Knight makes her moment count on an affecting “Lover Man” and the wonderful Paul Buchanan, of the criminally underrated Blue Nile, puts his beautifully wounded voice to work on a melancholy (but of course!) version of Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” I still can’t decide whether Steven Tyler’s restrained version of “Smile” is a novety or something I’ll add, with Knight and Buchanan, to the iPod. But on the whole, we need to stop Botti Right Now, and, while we’re at it, tell producer Bobby Columby to be more careful with his Blood, Sweat and Tears rolayites so he won’t get pulled into stuff like this.
14. HINDER – Extreme Behavior (Universal)
More generic attitude rock, makes me think of bands like Nickelback, who talk tough but take no real risks. Funny dumb lyric: “I really miss your hair in my face/and the way your innocence tastes.” Stupid dumb lyric: “Let’s go home and get stoned/’cause the sex is so much better when you’re mad at me.”
15. HI-5 - It’s a Hi-5 Christmas (KOCH Records)
Who are these people? Should I know them? Must ask the local parents of preschool kids. Looks like a neutered copy of S Club 7.
16. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE –Music for Dress Up Days (KOCH)
I shouldn’t care, and don’t really. But I have a 19-year-old who waxes nostalgic (no one likes a dusty nostalgic) about Care Bears and Rainbow Brite, so I’ll pass this along. If she wasn’t around, I wound attack the pink plastic case and refit for another album.
17. DANNY BARNES - Get Myself Together (Terminus Records)
Previewed, along with Adrienne Young and Tim O'Brien for the Post. click hereBarnes does a cooly understated version of the "Sympathy for the Devil" and a hoot of an original called "Rat's Ass" as in I don't give a...
18. ADRIENNE YOUNG - The Art of Virtue (AddieBelle Music)
Her smile, the title, the tiny booklet reprinting Ben Franklin's original philosophical words...This woman just radiates lovely feelings. Watch out Alison Krauss.
19. SKAGGS FAMILY – A Skaggs Family Christmas (Skaggs Family Records)
Another holiday album I would never have sought out on my own, but will be happy to pinch from for the Cool Yule mix. I can even imagine liking some of these old-timey classics, with the family holds to simple acoustic instrumentation and doesn’t get all god-fearin’ and flag-wavin’ on me. The booklet pictures are a little scary, tho’ – the lighting is a bit harsh, giving everyone a kind of Children of the Corn look…
20. The BAD FEATHERS – Angels in the Chamber (Rosemary Records)
I’ll give these guys credit for one thing (and one thing only) – in the midst of the dozens of acts trying to attract attention at Warped tour, they succeeded. Two of the guys, dressed in loincloths and Native American headdresses, barged into the press room and handed out copies of their CD and an invitation to come see their set. They knew where to find the media and made an impression. Too bad the CD – an alt-rock R&B funk mishmash - sux. I liked the title “Rage Against the Vending Machine,” but there’s nothing in the song that elicits the same smile. And as for “The Titty Fuck Song”…well, you can judge a book by its cover. Or such. We’ve already got one Red Hot Chili Peppers. And that’s more than enough for me.
21. The HAPPY BULLETS – The Vice and Virtue Ministry (Undeniable Records)
The sticker on the CD says “RIYD: The Shins, The Decemberists, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.” I confess, I don’t know the Gorky’s gang, but those first two comparisons are pretty heady stuff. The Bullets don’t quite meet that gold standard, but there’s plenty of smart, melodic stuff happening here; worth a listen.
22. DAMIAN “JR. GONG” MARLEY – Welcome to Jamrock (Universal)
Opened for U2 in D.C. Sorry, but I was glad I got to see Keane again at the New York show.
23. The PERSUASIONS – Sing U2 (Chesky Records)
Speaking of Bono and the boys, it’s remarkable how well many of their songs adapt easily to the soulful a capella sound of the Persuasions. Best tracks are the ones that have a bit of gospel fever to begin with, like “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” The ballads, like “One,” don’t make the transition quite so well.

Sorry, but I just have to blow these off to keep from being swamped. (Good to have such problems, eh?)
24. JULIET – Random Order (Virgin)
Okay, so this chick wants us to write her name with an upside down 7 for the L and a backwards 3 for the E. To which I say...No.
25. The JULIANA THEORY – Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat (Abacus Recordings)
26. STELLASTARR* - Harmonies for the Haunted (RCA)
27. The EVIL QUEENS – First It Boils, Then It Spills (Addison Records)
28. NINJA HIGH SCHOOL – Young Adults Against Suicide (Tomlab)
29. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Trustkill Takeover (Trustkill Records)
30. WE ARE SCIENTISTS – With Love and Squalor (Virgin)
Indolence and Affection. It means something to me, But my lips are sealed.

YTD Total:772

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Half Man Half Biscuit?!

Slowly getting back into the groove. Even gonna track a few by the actual days they arrived!

Tuesday, October 11th:
1. PROGRAM THE DEAD – S/T (Low Attitude/Universal)
The poster that came in the package is less scary than the band’s name would indicate – 3 alt. rock looking characters, and one stylish dance punk. Featuring the single, “Point the Finger.” Sent by a publicity group that deals in heavy rock and reggae/hip-hop. Chances are, not my bag.

A cool triple bill from a fairly new PR contact:
2. SINEAD O’CONNOR – Throw Down Your Arms (That’s Why There’s Chocolate and Vanilla)
Ah, Sinead. I didn’t abandon you when you ripped up that picture of the Pope. I haven’t let the other…assertive things you’ve done get in the way of appreciating your lovely voice or your amazing first few CDs. But I admit I have lost touch with your most recent works, and I may ask for some current character references before letting you baby-sit. But, on first listen, this reggae album sounds like a keeper. Recorded in Kingston, Jamaica with Sly and Robbie no less producing, featuring songs by the likes of Marley, Tosh, Perry and Burning Spear, and some of the musicians from the original versions. Cool.
3. SONS AND DAUGHTERS – The Repulsion Box (Domino)
Another new sensation from Scotland. Thanks to the nice publicist’s intervention, I was able to attend the band’s sold-out gig as openers for the Decemberists. It was a great show all around. I missed some of S&D’s set due to my own inability to navigate a new route in DC, and the dark-haired firebrand female was having trouble with her keyboards. But that just freed her up to cavort menacingly on stage with the ultra-chill male lead singer. I never had the pleasure of seeing X perform live, but I got a sense of that dangerous lover vibe, and it was good.
4. NADA SURF – The Weight is a Gift (Barsuk)
I still have my oversized (even for me) white T-shirt with “Popular” emblazoned on the front, from way back in the day when Nada Surf had a hit of the same name and a deal with a major label (Elektra) which, I presume, screwed them when they failed to follow-up with another hit. I just read that Death Cab for Cutie was skeptical of Elektra’s advances for that very reason.

5. JAMIE CULLUM – Catching Tales (Verve/-Forecast/Universal)
Been listening to the advance in the car (this is the official release) and it seems to suffer from the same problems as the debut – a Manilow-ish mainstream sound on the new pop tunes, a slightly treacly slow take on the standards. And yet, having seen the invigorating live DVD, I’m still psyched to catch Jamie in concert. And then we’ll really know where we (or at least I) stand. BTW, I’m getting a bit miffed at the way iTunes offers bonus tracks and videos to those people who buy online. And it’s not just ‘cause I’m getting the lesser freebies. Call me old skool, but I still think that real fans like to buy the package, not just the songs. And if you’re being really greedy and counting on them to shell out for both versions, that’s just mean.

6. CIGAR STORE INDIANS – Built of Stone (Overall Records)
Indie band coming to town twice in the next few months. I didn’t get this in time for the gig coming up this weekend, but can consider it for a date in November.

Monday, October 10th:
A visit to my favorite CD trade-in store:
7. LAURA VEIRS – Year of Meteors (Nonesuch)
She’s all the rage in the British press, and I meant to catch her live during the CMJ fest, but other things got in the way. Nonesuch is such a great label, I can buy on blind faith and know that, even if I’m not always bowled over, I won’t have my intelligence insulted.
8. BE BOP DELUXE – Postcards from the Future…Introducing Be Bop Deluxe (Caroline)
‘Cause I just had a hankering to hear “Modern Music” and “Blazing Apostles” and some other songs I probably love but won’t remember until I hear them again.
9. PAUL McCARTNEY – Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (Capitol)
A request from the hubby. Rumor has it it’s Paul’s best work in years, but that’s such a cliché when he comes out with a new CD, I’m hesitant to repeat it. However, we did give a listen while Terry made dinner and there was only one song that made me recoil at the sloppy sentimental lyrics. As Terry said, “I’m not afraid to listen to this again,” which is true praise for Macca’s later works.
From the $1.99 clearance section:
10. PET SHOP BOYS – Nightlife (EMI)
Although I have this CD already, this stylish limited digipak edition – all slick photos and glossy papers and a simulated floppy-disc casing – was too good to pass up. And it’s got a couple of good songs, too.
11. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING – soundtrack (Epic Soundtraxx)
A little something for the college girl, studying Shakespeare at NYU. Music to study by, perhaps?

Sunday, October 9th:
When the nice young PR woman called on Friday morning to offer me passes to the Kathleen Edwards gig opening for MMJ, it tipped me off the fence to go and get the new MMJ album (I have both of Edwards’ CDs already) as concert prep, It killed me, tho’, that I hadn’t gotten around to buying it when it was on release week super sale ($7.99) and I was now paying $5 more!
But worth it. The concert was a fine one, with Edwards being every bit the smart, sexy (but not cheap) chick with guitar I’d hoped she’d be, and the Jacket shredding the joint with a mix of Neil Young guitar work, Kings of Leon hair-tossing, Allman Brothers southern soul and even a pinch of Pink Floyd in a great sax solo. Much more intense live than I’d imagined, tho’ for home listening, I like the more understated studio vibe.
13. WORD OF MOUTH – free with issue of W. of M. magazine
Names I know - Sigur Ros, Echo & the Bunnymen, Laura Veirs – and some more I don’t – Sylvie Lewis, Half Man Half Biscuit (gotta love that name!), and Kate Rusby.

And the ongoing catch up with the Lost Summer collection:
14, 15. BOZ SCAGGS – Into the Light (Virgin)
Two copies of the same cardboard envelope advance – sent in the same envelope!
16. DEEP RIVER BAND – Virginia Sessions (Bowman Records)
Sent as prep for a Post preview. I’m not a big bluegrass fan, but my editors want me to vary the fare, and rightfully so. Also, I received the nicest emails from the promoter and a few fans of the sound, which reinforced that the press can have an impact on encouraging people to get out and hear what I’m talking about – always a good feeling. click here

17, 18. The LIVING BLUE – Fire, Blood, Water (Minty Fresh)
Saw and liked this band when I stumbled across them at CMJ, and the guy working with them gave me a copy of the CD. Some time after returning home, I got another copy in the mail from the PR team. As enjoyable as I remembered them – straightforward, muscular, catchy rock. Not surprisingly, they've opened for the Strokes, and New York Dolls.
They've actually been around for a while, started under the name the Bloody Knuckles, playing Chicago area colleges and clubs. In 2004, the Knuckles recorded a full-length, made a deal with Chicago's Minty Fresh Records (Cardigans/Tahiti 80) and changed their name. Now officially called The Living Blue, their Minty Fresh debut makes me think of early Jam, American new wave and classic blues rock.

And two from the Terry collection:
19. LALI PUNA – I Thought I Was Over That (Morr Music)
A German quartet that Terry discovered on a northward drive while listening to one of those great NPR stations that actually plays new music (why don’t we have one in DC?!)/ He remembered the title, tracked it down on the Internet, and now plays it incessantly. Good stuff, too – the remixes of the band’s electro-pop sound are actually more interesting than the band’s original works, which I discovered when I bought T one of the initial CD releases on a New York City visit.
20. LALI PUNA – Scary World Theory (Morr Music)

YTD total: 742

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cruise Your Daddy (!?)

Even as a headline (New York Daily News) with a photo of TomKat ( gossip rag name for this horrible match made in PR-hell), it’s creepy. But I couldn’t resist. On to another round of recent acquisitions and the eternal catching up…

New this week:
1. The FRAMES - Burn the Maps (Anti)
Coming to town next week, with the wonderful Josh Ritter. My Post editor agreed to let me preview it, so meet me back here next week for the full here In preliminary listening for story research, I am pleasantly surprised by the range and depth of these Irish lads. And on “Set List,” the live recording, the rapport between the band and its audience is loud and palpable.
2. ANITA BAKER - Christmas Fantasy (Blue Note)
OMG! It's the first holiday CD of the season (wait, there may have been a children's CD a week or so ago). Can it really be time to begin the CPF "Cool Yule" collection for 2005? I always wait too long and, last year I was down to Christmas eve, meaning only people I saw in person got their holiday fix one time. So yeah, Anita, thanks for the wake-up call. Don't be a diva at Christmas - hey, that would be a good song title!
3. ZILLA - Egg (Zillmusic)
Jammy band type guys, also coming to town in the future (November, I think) and so, a Live! possibility.
4. GOMEZ - Out West (ATO/Sony/BMG)
Like the Beta Band (below), only in baggy stoner duds, these guys make music that is perfectly enjoyable while it's on and then hard to describe or even remember when the CD stops. I think it may be an ADD thing.
5. PILOTDRIFT - Water Sphere (Good Records)
Intersesting stuff. Put it on with headphones last night as I was drifting off to sleep. There’s a bit of unusual orchestration, some not-quite-cheesy MOR pop sounds and a general feeling that they’re trying to nudge the envelope a bit. All good signs for repeat visits.

Last week:
6. The BETA BAND - The Best of the Beta Band (Astralwerks)
In "High Fidelity," John Cusak's record-store owner says, "Watch me sell three copies of the Beta Band CD" and puts it on the in-store system. Sure enough, people come up and ask what's playing so they can buy it, and I found myself looking for the promo copy of the "Three EPs" that was lost in my basement. Every time I put the BB on, I find myself tapping my feet and bouncing along, but I can barely remember a lyric or melody a half hour later. Still, I smiled broadly to see this set in the puffy envelope, and more so when I popped it into the player and listened. If I can't tell you any song titles to seek out and enjoy, maybe it's my fault and not theirs. Oh yeah, and they remind me of the Moody Blues, without the orchestral pretentions.
7. BECK - Guero (Geffen)
This week’s Post preview for the Fairfax section,click here I already own the deluxe package (CD, DVD and hardcover book) of this album, but I asked for a press kit in case there was new info, or a nice color shot of Beck (I’ve always thought he looked like he could play Harrison Ford’s alt.rock son), but there wasn’t anything of great import in the package. This second copy of the CD may be of some trade-in value which makes up only slightly for the sting of not being able to score press tix to the show.

Things that have come in the recent past:
8. EMMA ROBERTS – Unfabulous and More (Columbia/Nick Records)
She’s some kind of Nickelodeon kid star, isn’t she? Even Grace didn’t recognize her name.
9. ELIZABETH COOK – This Side of the Moon (Hog County Production)
10. BOZ SCAGGS – Fade Into Light (Virgin)
Fully loaded DualDisc version of the album I got as advances some weeks ago. I put the video side in and must say I was very impressed with...the beautiful, clear picture on my laptop's big screen! (Still luxuriating in the new computer). As for Boz, he looked and sounded quite well as well. While I'll never again watch the handful of live performances offered on this disc, it was good to learn that Boz is alive and well and still has that smooth, mellow R&B thing down saran-wrap tight. And even at his now advanced age, he can sing "We're All Alone" and make it seductive rather than the icky entreaties of a smarmy old man. Wish the audio disc included "Lido," though. That was a favorite.

11. The KING of FRANCE – S/T
Coming to IOTA this weekend, and a Post preview as well. click here
I was once a panelist at a CMJ event with Michael Azzerad, the King's drummer who’s respected music journalist, and smart, sweet guy. If I wasn't going to see the Decemberists the same night, I would have checked out this show.
12. ROBBERS ON HIGH STREET – City Trees (New Line Records)
Headlining the show with the King of France, and the Post preview as well.

13. BLUE RODEO – Are You Ready (Warner Music Canada)
Same again (Rounder)
Two copies of the same CD, separated by only a few days. The first was the import from Canada, the second the official American release. Blue Rodeo is one of those bands whose albums are okay, but you need to see them live to appreciate how good they are.

14. JERRY DOUGLAS – The Best Kept Secret (KOCH)
Douglas is a champion sideman, who has supposedly played on over 1500 albums (!) but we all know that doesn't necessarily mean a compelling album when he takes the lead. Despite the contributions of friends and collaborators like Bill Frisell, Derek Trucks, Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck and John Fogerty, none of the songs made an impression on me.

15. THE GO! TEAM - Thunder, Lightning, Strike (Columbia/Memphis Industries)
My husband hates the word “unique” and since he’s an editor, he’d cut it out my text right now, but this is my blog (MINE!) so I will call this sound unique, unless of course you’ve heard Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” and who hasn’t? But this, at least to my knowledge, is the first full album of double dutch chants mixed with pop sounds. According to the press pack, this edition differs from the overseas release with two bonus tracks and new vocals on “Bottle Rocket.” The same document also cites comparisons to Sonic Youth (eh), the Jackson Five (yeah) and the Avalanches (sure). It’s catchy and clever and fun.

16. JAMIE CULLUM - Catching Tales (Verve Forecast)
I wasn't a fan of Cullum’s first CD - until I saw the “Live at Blenheim Palace” DVD and saw what all the fuss is about. He's adorable! So I'm looking forward to this new one, albeit more because it means he'll be touring again soon and I might be able to see him in person. Out October 11th.

17. AMY RIGBY – Little Fugitive (Signature Sounds)
In many ways, Amy has been an inspiration, not just as a rocking older woman but as part model for the lead female character in a screenplay I wrote some years ago. Her new CD has a lovely, wistful song, "Dancing with Joey Ramone."

18. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Music from the Motion Picture Elizabethtown (RCA)
Cameron Crowe has the life I’d love to have – ace music journalist, respected screenwriter and director, does a fabulous job of working music into his films, even married a rock start. Damn him.

19. The ROLLING STONES – A Bigger Bang (Virgin)
Why do I suspect that the Stones recorded "My Sweet Neocon" not because they wanted to make a bold political statement but because Mick thought making a seemingly bold political statement would be good for some publicity on a yet another "need to pay the mortgage on the chateau, so let's throw together a tour" tie-in CD? Yes, it sounds like good old Stones music again, but I have over a dozen good old Stones albums on the shelf already and when I play them, I don't picture a lecherous senior citizen cavorting with girls barely older than my teenage daughter.

Bought at a Saturday afternoon visit to TOWER Records:
20. DEEP DISH – George Is On (Thrive Records)
Proof that the listening towers work. Was inspired by good feelings generated when I heard tha the DC based duo hosted a benefit for Hurricane Katrina Relief at The MCCXXIII Nightclub – all proceeds to be matched and donated to the American Red Cross. Ali "Dubfire" Shirazinia and Sharam Tayebi, are the DJ/Producers, 2002 Grammy Award winners (“Best Remixed Recording” for Dido’s “Thank You”), and knob-twiddlers for the likes of the Rolling Stones, P. Diddy, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. I plugged in at the listening station and was pulled in by the single “Say Hello,” and the mash-up, “Deep Dish Vs. Dire Straits ‘Flashing for Money." Icing on the cake was the inclusion of a bonus disc of remixes and video.

Tower isn’t much of a bargain for its new releases, but there are often some cool clearance items. In the import section, under $3.oo each:
21. SHERYL CROW – The First Cut is the Deepest CD single (A&M)
I have a bunch of Crow’s CD singles, all with rare and live B-sides, so I keep collecting them when I see them on sale. (It’s that OCD thing again). One day, I’ll burn them all onto a double disc set and sell the original lot on ebay.
22. The LIBERTINES – Don’t Look Back Into the Sun CD single (Rough Trade)
Britain’s favorite musical train wreck. I’m still trying to learn what all the fuss is about.

YTD total: 721

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Give me some time and a few stiff drinks...

...and I'll tell you about the summer just past and how/why the blog was cast aside for bigger issues and more pressing efforts. But here we are again, old (close personal) friend and there is a coffee table downstairs that groans with the weight of dozens of CDs that were bought, burned, bartered or sent in the time since we last met here. So, let's dive in and try to lighten that load.

First off, in making the move from my old laptop (saying goodbye was like putting a faithful but suffering pet to sleep) to my shiny new powerbook, I found a posting which was begun during my lost summer, but never finished. So, I'll knock that off as a kickstart...

Tuesday, August 16
In July, the f.y.e. store at the Glens Falls mall snagged me with one of those deals where, if you spend $30, you get a coupon worth $10 toward a future purchase in a limited period (a couple of weeks in August). So here I am with my coupon…
Tempted by a used copy of Gwen Stefani’s Love Angel Music Baby that comes with a nifty artsy CD cased, but even used it’s nearly $30, so I cruise the cutouts and find a 2-disc set called
1. DIVAS – 32 Tracks from the World’s Most Divine Female Voices (X-Media)
I’m familiar with about half the tracks and, of those, there’s a good split between those I may have elsewhere but would like to hear again soon (Cher’s “Shoop Shoop Song,” Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner,” but I wouldn’t exactly call Vega a diva), and others that I probably don’t and would like (“Ain’t Nothing Going On But the Rent,” by Gwen Guthrie, “Looking for a New Love” by Jody Watley). Of the ones I don’t know, there may be some worthwhile discoveries. On first listen, I’m already glad to find “Get Here” by Oleta Adams and “Private Life” by Grace Jones.
All used CDs priced at $2.99 or less are now 49 cents. I can (almost) always find something at that price.
2. The CONNELLS – Weird Food & Devastation (TVT)
A name I’ve heard so often but never heard, so gotta try at this price.
3. ASH – Nu-Clear Sounds (DreamWorks)
I have a different CD of theirs, and enjoyed the band when it was an early opener on the Area 2 tour, and at a Tower records in-store a few days later. Always a little sad to see a band of merit on the slag pile like this, and the young woman who rings me up remarks that she saw Ash once at a Saratoga club and liked them, too. We both send our positive vibes to the unfairly cheapened members of Ash.
At full price, but only $2.99 for a CD single:
4. R.E.M. – Bad Day (Warner Bros. Import)
Is this the last good R.E.M. single? I am still ever so disappointed with the "Around the Sun" album. This was the last song by my former favorites to offer catchy melody and non-predictable lyrics, and even so, it seems a reworking of “It’s The End of the World as We Know It.” Come back, boys. Drag Bill Berry kicking and screaming if you have to.

And, here’s the best part. As I san the racks, looking for something I want, or something I didn’t know I wanted until I saw it on sale, I flip through the Kinks section, wondering if they have (and how much) is the deluxe 3-disc set of "Village Green Preservation Society." They don’t have it in stock, but there’s a bunch of promotional discs for a f.y.e. exclusive Kinks collection.
5. The KINKS 40th Anniversay SACD Sampler (KOCH)
There’s no price on it, probably a free-with-Kinks-purchase deal, but I bring it to the counter and the cashier slides it right on through. Fourteen high-quality Kinks tracks – not the usual greatest hits I already have (tho’ I could listen to “Waterloo Sunset” every day for the rest of my life), but a mix of bits from the later years. Free Kinks! That alone was worth the price of admission. Which was low anyway. With my $10 coupon (not good on sale items, a fact that never came up in the original purchase – shame on them), and the addition of a 99 cent disc cleaning cloth, my grand outlay comes to $4.23. Sweeeet.

August 2:
6. SKINDRED – Babylon (Lava)
Sent in advance of the upcoming Warped Tour preview, to appear in this week’s Post.
7. The CLICK FIVE – Greetings from Imrie House (Lava)
The same publicist who sent the above tossed this one in “for your girls.” Grace was hoping for an official release, but this was another cardboard advance. She’s already a fan of the band, who’ve been getting MTV play and now that I see some songs are co-written by A. Schlesinger (I’m betting that’s Adam, from Fountains of Wayne), I’m going back for another listen myself. These guys are opening for Backstreet Boys, and I’d certainly give a shout for tix to see that show, but I’ll be out of town.
8. TEN IN TEXAS compilation (Icehouse)
Though I’m not much of a country girl, there are people hear I respect, like Willie Nelson, Terri Hendrix and Asleep at the Wheel. Since moving to Virginia 12 (gulp!) years ago, I've gotten a bit more tolerant of country, just not that Big Hat, Rah-Rah America school, which is mostly from the Nashville song factories anyways. These are the real dealers.

July 29:
9. BRIAN SETZER – Rockabilly Riot (Surfdog)

July 25:
10. ZONA JONES – Harleys & Horses (D Records)
Zona is a guy’s name, a cowboy-hatted dude making a “traditional style of country,” which generally holds little interest for me. I do like the song title “House of Negotiable Affections,” though.
11. KATHY MATTEA – Right Out of Nowhere (Narada)
I never would have pegged Mattea for the Narada label, which has done a lot of new agey stuff in the past. Due out on September 27, though the bio says she performed on a 2-hour summer special of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Not knowing the show, I ask, how did they squeeze music into that? Her take on the Stones' "Gimme Shelter" ain't half bad, but a cover of Creedence's "Down on the Corner" is a teeth-clencher, and the stuff in between is too gooey by half.

July 22:
12. DAY OF CONTEMPT – The Will to Live (Epitaph)
There are four guys in the picture, three of whom show off arms covered, wrist to shoulder, in tattoos. The fourth guy’s arms are obscured, but I’m guessing he’s got major ink, too. The bio says that, “Thirty seconds into ‘The Will to Live’ the hammer comes down and clobbers unsuspecting listeners with a brutal hardcore blitz.” Honestly, I don’t prejudge, but what are the chances that I will like this?
13. BARNEY the DINOSAUR – The Land of Make Believe (KOCH)
This was the first package I opened upon my return, and I took it as a bad omen. Beyond the cutesy-wootsey-pootsey quality of Barney, which sets my teeth on edge, I have a personal vendetta against the big purple guy. Many moons ago, in my writing TV scripts for children phase, the Barney producers approached me about doing some work for them and then treated me badly before I even had a chance to voice my reservations. So screw you, Barney.

July 21:
14. OK GO – Oh No (Capitol)
I’m a little disappointed that the publicist didn’t include press kits, but at lease I’m familiar with OK Go from their appearance on a They Might Be Giants tour and the debut album with the catchy “Get Over It.” Since I signed up for the band’s mailing list, I’ve become fond of the guy named Jorge who writes their funny news items.
15. The REDWALLS – De Nova (Capitol)
Damn, if the cover shot on this advance copy doesn’t look like the Small Faces posing for a Traffic album whose title escapes me. The publicist previously made a Kinks comparison on these guys, so they have a nice set of references.
16. HOPE PARTLOW – Who We Are (Virgin)
17. HOPE PARTLOW – Who We Are single (Virgin)
Why did they send a copy of the single with the album? There’s nothing new here. And I already got a deluxe press kit with a fake twee teenage girl’s diary. Overselling a new artist can backlash, so back off, Virgin.

July 19:
18. ELIZA GILKYSON – Paradise Hotel (Red House Records)
Her fourth album for the label, and it’s about time I checked her out, as her name keeps coming up as a touring musician who plays the local clubs I cover for the Post.
19. FRANK BLACK – Honeycomb (Back Porch/EMI)
The former Black Francis, Pixie-man supreme, recorded this in Nashville with a band including the likes of Steve Cropper, Buddy Miller, Anton Fig and Spooner Oldham. If anyone can kick some new life into country, Black can.
20. CAROLE KING – The Living Room Tour (Rockingale/Concord)
Nostalgia makes me nervous. One the ride from Lake George, one of the CDs I listened to was a live recording of Janis Ian that my brother had passed on to me. Even the songs that I remembered playing to death in my melodramtic adolscence (hell, especially those songs!) sounded terribly dated, the lyrics overwrought and the arrangements full of ersatz jazz that no doubt made me feel quite sophisticated back then. I remember so many of King’s songs fondly; that’s precisely way I’m afraid to revisit them, and a gushy baby boomer audience will only compound the problem.

July 18:
21. SON VOLT – Okemah and the Melody of Riot (Transmit Sound/Legacy)
Ooooh, goodie. Any band whose members date back to sharing studio time with Jeff Tweedy come with a recommendation to take seriously. Call it the Wilco Effect.

Dates unknown:

22. AM – S/T (self-release)
23. AM – Mainstay Remix EP (self-release)
My kind of good-looking guy – casually cool in a Peter Krause (“Six Feet Under”) little-bit-of-stubble way. Considering his background – Oklahoma to New Orleans to L.A. – adoption by the venerable Nik Harcourt of KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” and willingness to have his pop/rock/folk be toyed with by the folks associated with the Green Galactic label, this could be a musical match made in heaven. Sometimes musical discoveries are like Internet dating – you take your clues where you can find ‘em and hope to fall in love. On first listen, I'm happy to report that he may be in for a long-term relationship.

24. AMESTORY – S/T (Portia Records)
From the lovely guys at Team Clermont. Out October 4th.

25. FALL OUT BOY – From Under the Cork Tree (Island)
26. THRICE – If We Could Only See Us Now (Island)
Sent in preparation for this week’s Post preview of the Warped Tour. click here I bought the FOB CD for Grace a while back, but Thrice is something I can listen to before the show.

YTD total: 699

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

On the Road Again

I’m heading back upstate, and I’m feeling less than optimistic about what awaits there. So, this is just a way to keep busy, tidy up the desk and act like the world goes on…

Monday, July 18
The FOO FIGHTERS – In Your Honor (RCA)
Been looking for this on sale since I gave the one I bought during release week to my cousin. (I met him unexpectedly in a bar the night he graduated from nursing school and, since I had no present to offer, I grabbed my copy out of the car.) Refused to pay $17 at Target the next day, but as soon as I saw it on sale again at Best Buy, it was mine. Won’t count this one in my YTD total.
Grace bought (and I count ‘em, ‘cause it’s allowance that makes it happen!)
Since they’re coming to the Warped tour, and I have an assignment to cover it, I tell Grace to get the older album, with the cheaper price and bonus disc (punky covers of Christmas songs!) since I’m waiting on a press kit. And since this one has the song she first fell in love with, cool by her.
This was on sale for $7 or $8 during its first week of release, and some other store has it for less than $13, I’m sure. But, like Veruca Salt, she wants it NOW, and we’re traveling soon, so there’s no time to argue.

3. The BONAPARTES – S/T (self-released)
Coming to the IOTA on July 25th as part of a triple bill of young area bands.
4. HOOTIE and the BLOWFISH – Looking for Lucky (Sneaky Long/Vanguard)
From the start, way before Darius “Hootie” got involved with those bizarrely hideous Burger King commercials (between them and the Paris Hilton, I may have to give up the occasional BK fix), I have found H & BF annoying. Can’t imagine what would change my opinion now.

Saturday, July 16:
The CD Cellar trade-in booty:
5. MY MORNING JACKET – Chocolate and Ice EP (Badman)
Beautiful stuff, perfect for late-night blog writing. To those who are reading and are not big followers of contemporary rock, let’s use the old “if you like…” equation. If you like Harvest-era Neil Young, this is the band for you. Includes one of those inexplicable tracks offering a rambling phone machine message. It arrives as track 4 of this 6-track EP, like an annoying commercial break.
6. FOO FIGHTERS – One By One (RCA)
I was actually looking for a used copy of the latest, the one I gave to my cousin, but it wasn’t in stock. Meanwhile, since I’m in a Foo mood, seeing this one on sale for $7 in the “slightly scratched” bin (I haven’t bought a bum one yet) – and it was the deluxe, 2 CD set no less!, I had to have it. Previously I had only a gift-burned copy.
For Grace, who monitors the music channels on our digital cable TV, waiting to squeal and jump along with “Sugar, We’re Going Down.”
And two “why not?” presents for the birthday boy:
8. JONI MITCHELL – Woman of Heart and Mind DVD
9. KINGS OF LEON – DVD press kit

10. RODNEY CROWELL – The Outsider (Columbia)
Advance 2 CD set with bonus disc. Includes a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm.”
Coming to the Birchmere on Out August 16th.
11. MARTY STUART and the FABULOUS SUPERLATIVES – Souls’ Chapel (Superlatone/Universal South)
Though I’m not a big one for “Jesus Music” – another thing the right wing has destroyed for the rest of us, there’s something affecting when you hear sincere, loving praise. Stuart, a country (and alt-country) stalwart for ages, doesn’t appear to be

Wednesday, July 13:
12. The WHITE STRIPES – Get Behind Me Satan (V2)
Thought it was on sale for $11.99, but it rang up as $9.99. Sweeet. Got tix to see the - with the Shins opening! - at Merriweather Post in September.
13. JOHN STEVENS – selections from Red free sampler (Maverick)
14. MOJO magzine with U2 compilation
15. GREENLAND – S/T (self-released)
Coming to IOTA on July 25th.

I’ve lost track of what came when, so here’s a catch-all of recent acquisitions:
16. PEASALL SISTERS – Home to You (Dualtone)
Maybe I’ve lived in the south too long, but this former New Yorker is getting quite fond of that quiet, Appalachian porch sound, especially when sung with such lovely female harmonies.
17. BILLY F. OTIS – Sowing Wild Oats (Wild Oats)
Local singer-songwriter that persistently nags me to write about him. That’s fine, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease and all, but his stuff doesn’t bowl me over, so it gets awkward.
18. MARS ARIZONA – All Over the Road
19. LISA BELL – It’s All About Love (Hapi Skratch Records)
20. The HACKENSAW BOYS – Love What You Do (Nettwerk)
Coming to the 930 Club on August 9th.

21. The BEL AIRS – Got Love (Hightone Records)
22.The DOMINO KINGS – Some Kind of Sign (Hightone)
23. The MORELLS – Think About It (Hightone)
24.BRIAN CAPPS - Walk Through Walls (Hightone)
All from the same label, these four acts are coming to the IOTA on August 16th as the “big Noise from Springfield Missouri” tour.

25. MIKKI JAMES – Guess What… (Xemu Records)
It says RIYD (recommended if you like): The Strokes, The Dead 60s, The Vines, White Stripes. That’s quite an ambitious bunch. Worth a listen, but there’s a clear danger of the publicists overselling.
26.GRACE POTTER and the NOCTURNALS – Nothing But the Water (self-released)
Classy package for a self-released CD. The band will be playing on July 29th at the Birchmere, opening for hometown heroes (and damn nice guys) Last Train Home. If I weren’t going to be out of town, I’d definitely try to check it out.
27. DABY TOURE – DIAM (Real World)
Coming to the Kennedy Center this Thursday (July 21), so it’s out of my “domain.” I don’t get a lot of world music, and it’s also a pleasure to hear the sounds of other places/
28. JANN KLOSE – Black Box EP (self-released)
29.BOTTOM of the HUDSON - Holiday Machine (Absolutely Kosher)
YTD total: 573

Be thankful every day for the love in your life.