Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Day Without Music?

Nothing in the mail yesterday of a musical nature. Very boring mail all the way around, in fact. Not even one of those fake checks for mult-thousands of dollars, mine to cash - if I hand over the mortgage.
But it was not totally a day sans musique - I went off to the IOTA club to see Essie Jain (a singer I met in NYC at the last CMJ) and Ed Harcourt, whose new CD, Strangers, is quite good. While Essie was singing and I was ordering a drink, Ed came up to the bar right next to me (the IOTA is such a cozy joint like that), so I complimented him on the CD, which I had been listening to in the car on the ride to the club. He seemed surprised, and pleased.
His set featured fine music and good fun. Alternately charming and prickly, he has a great deadpan accent (reminded me of Elton John when he spoke; sometimes of Tom Waits when he sang) and, among other things, he did a very funny take on the Coldplay/Keane school:
"It's raining..."
keyboard chord
"I'm lonely..."
another chord
"I'm British..."
Listening to the CD again on the ride home, I heard the songs with that new illumination that comes from hearing them in concert. "Black Dress" was particularly good on both counts.
And I scored another set list, although not the one that Ed wiped his face with before asking for a towel. That one, he crumpled into a ball at the end of the show and took with him. So, no DNA samples to sell on ebay...

In today's mail, a Tuesday new release package from Columbia but not, alas, the new Springsteen.

Tuesday, April 26
1. The RAVEONETTES - Pretty in Black (Columbia)
Intriguing song title - "Love in a Trashcan" - and if "My Boyfriend's Back" is a cover of the oldie/goodie, I'm interested, but I don't have high hopes. After the White Stripes and Fiery Furnaces, I don't know if there's room in my life for another boy/girl duo.

Saturday, April 23:
2. Hidden in Plain View - Life in Dreaming (Drive-Thru Records)
One of the bigger bands that will be playing next weekend with over 50 other (!!) acts at a local all-ages show, The Flipside Festival. The CD arrived after I filed the story. One song that I mentioned, "Bleed for You," was described in the advance material as being about "date rape." That phrase wouldn't fly in the Post section I write for, and might turn off the parents who read it - and need to drive the kids to the show - so I called it a "searing indictment of sexual predators."
Tucked in the HIPV CD when I broke open the shrink wrap. A nice suprise, but why wouldn't the record company sticker such a bonus? (Unless it was destined to be a promo copy). Grace and I listened to a bit on the drive to Japanese class (hers). Steel Train stuck out for its sweet acoustic vibe among Angry White Boy Hell.

Bought (from emusic.com)
Finally got around to watching "Dig!" and was totally engrossed in the story of one band's rise and another's implosion. Since I have the recent Dandy Warhols release, it was a pleasure to find this one on my monthly online music grab.
5. VINCE GUARALDI - A Flower is a Lovesome Thing
While looking for BJM, browsed my way to this sweet find. You can't play the Charlie Brown Christmas CD all year 'round, so it's nice to have VG doing some other gentle stuff.

Friday, April 22:
6. FRANK SINATRA - Sinatra Sings Cole Porter (Columbia Legacy)
Aaargh!!! This is the squishy, chorale version of "I Get a Kick Out of You," not the groovy swing one. Should have remembered that the Capitol sessions were so much cooler than the Columbia ones! Not all SInatra is prime Sinatra, even when he's singing Cole Porter. I shoulda seen this coming...bummer.

7. MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK - Commit This To Memory (Epitaph)
Surprisingly melodic for a bunch of young pop-punksters. Even a touch of the young and hungry Police, as I mentioned in my preview of MCS et al. at the Flipside Festival.
8. TIM BOOTH - Bone (Koch Records)
Handled by the same accomodating PR gal as MCS, so I asked for this oldie (2004). As a former James fan (Booth was their lead singer), I was pleased to catch his solo show at Fez (RIP) in NYC two CMJs ago, where he debuted much of this material. He's got a strong rock voice, occasionally Bono-esque lyrics (sometimes in a too-grandiose way), and isn't afraid to go into sometimes difficult listening territory. Was listening to this one in the car Saturday and went more than half-way through before changing discs - that's a compliment when a new, unknown disc is under driver's-ear scrutiny.
9. The GREENCARDS - Weather and Water (Dualtone)

Thursday, April 21:
10. AMERICAN IDOL (Season 4) - When You Tell Me That You Love Me (RCA)
Blame it on my soon-to-be 15-year-old. I've been watching Idol now and then. And now I even have a favorite - Constantine - tho' I didn't see him do his supposedly quite credible version of "Bohemian Rhapsody." And I really want to get that smirking Scott off the show ASAP. Oh. My. God, I'm actually voicing opinions about this stuff. Enough. I bought this CD single for Grace (who likes Anthony best, even tho' she admits Constantine has the better voice). And American Red Cross gets 50cents for each single sold (I paid $2.99), so I can call it charity. But I'm still ashamed.
11. SOUTH PARK: Bigger Longer and Uncut (DVD)
I'm counting this because it was the music that forced me to buy it. Last weekend, after watching Saturday Nigth Live (Tom Brady was surprisingly good and Beck was unsurprising good (since he's just damn intrinsically cool)), I switched to Comedy Central's "Secret Stash" while I finished some front-of-TV puttering. The night's offering was the South Park movie which, not being a huge SP fan, I had never seen. But the opening song - a direct hit on the "my little town" number that begins "Beauty and the Beast" - had me grinning and the next tune, the happily vulgar "Uncle Fucker" was stuck in my head all through Sunday morning. So I gave up and I gave in.

12. LAST TRAIN HOME - Bound Away (Blue Buffalo Records)
Eric Brace is a sweetie. The lead singer and songwriter for this local country/rock outfit has another job - former columnist and current frequent contributor to the Washington Post. A tireless supporter of local music, and a winner of a Washington Area Music Award (WAMMIE) as such, Eric never throws attitude around despite his talent and his "power." (Catch me offline and I'll tell you about another WashPost Editor, the One That's a Big Pain in the Butt.) And the band is damn good, too. Always gonna wish Eric and his boys the best.

Tuesday, April 19:
13. The DEAD 60's - S/T (Epic)
14. TOWERS OF LONDON - On a Noose/I Lose It CD single (TVT Records)

Monday, April 18:
15. WORD magazine with WORD OF MOUTH compilation CD
There's only ten tracks, but most are prime - Everything But the Girl, Magnetic Fields, etc. Was listening in the car while driving the college girl back to the train station. When she asked "who's this?" (it was a Ben Lee track), I knew we had a winner.

16. UNCUT magazine with ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE (Music Inspired by the Band) compilation
Another excellent selection - Wilco, Little Feat, Sparklehorse and The Band itself - from the eponymous LP I loved the best, the one (nostalgia laert!) that I got as a bonus from the Sears salesman when I purchased my first big ticket ($70) plastic record player with the detachable speakers!

TOTAL TO DATE [a new feature!]: 338

Monday, April 18, 2005

Not Quite Brenda Starr...

...but I did my best at the Maroon 5 and Thrills show at Merriweather Post Pavilion, and got some nice Thrills shots for the book project (you'll have to ask; it's high concept). And as soon as I get my HTML act together, I'll be posting such shots for your visual amusement.
Maroon 5 were better than I expected, but I didn''t expect much. First/last time I saw them, opening for John Mayer, Adam seemed totally full of himself, and that was before the Grammy and multi-platinum sales, so I was worried he would be unbearable this time around. But he didn't do much more preening than the situation requires, and the catchy songs are catchy. Still, I think the M-5 sound is a variation on solo Sting's lesser jazz-rock efforts, and when the band did "Highway to Hell" in the climax, I think they were admitting that they, too, find the trademark sound a bit...boring.
Highlight of the evening - besides shooting the Thrills and scoring a signed set list - was meeting the grand poobah of 930 Club and the new, improved M-Post, Seth Hurowitz.
Also, I am thoroughly spoiled by the VIP parking lot. While others were trying to get their cars out of the lot, I was already zipping down Route 29. Sweeet!

In meantime, these just in:

Monday, April 18:
1. PATRICIA VONNE - Guitars & Castanets (CoraZong Records)
2. DIG - the movie on DVD (Palm Pictures) I asked for - and got - a copy last week. I'd better ask if they want me to send this duplicate back...

Saturday, April 16:
4. ANGELS OF LIGHT - The Angels of Light Sing "Other People" (Young God Records)
Sent to preview an IOTA gig in late May. Way too soon to know if I can cover them.
5. AKRON/FAMILY - S/T (Young God)
Paired with above act on the IOTA bill.
6. TSAR - Band-Girls-Money (TVT Records)

and I also got a thank you card from Box, for having written about them last week in the Post. A nice, and much appreciated gesture.

Friday, April 15:
7. The UNSEEN - State of Discontent (Hellcat Records)

Thursday, April 14:
8. SHANNON McNALLY - Geronimo
9. ERIC GRAF - S/T (
10. BOXSTEP - Back Roads (Hobo Music)
Eric is the main man of Boxstep, an indie act I wrote about many moons ago. He's coming back to town in early May, though I fear that will be the "off" week on my current (budget-gutted) biweekly schedule.

11. CAESARS - Paper Tigers (Astralwerks)
Why is David Lindqvist brandishing a big, sharp knife in the press photo? And, almost as scary, why does he have that long. wispy white hair? One of the other guys is holding a metal skull. I generally like the stuff Astralwerks puts out- good label for dance-electronica-rock - but this photo does not bode well.
So, I put it on and OH-MY-GOD-IT'S-THE-iPOD-COMMERCIAL SONG! I do love that tune (simply titled "Jerk"), and have been trying to figure out who did it for ages. Even on the rare times I've caught it on the radio, the DJs didn't say who it was. And why doesn't the iTunes music store highlight these tracks? Music should not be like those snotty restaurants and bars that don't put their names on the door (if you don't know, you're not hip enough to come in).
So glad to finally have this tune, but I'm well aware of Jet Syndrome. That's when the first (iPod-hyped) single is so good, you rush out for the album and find that the one song is the only one worth having. And "Look What You've Done" is such a blatant rip-off of the Beatles' "Sexy Sadie"! How'd they get away with that?

12. DIG - the film DVD (Palm Pictures)
Really looking forward to this one. Asked for it by name.
13. DEVIL DOLL - Queen of Pain (Lucky Bluebird Records)
Playing the IOTA Club on May 9th.

Tuesday, April 12:
A package of 4 new CDs on New Release Tuesday. Columbia is the only major label that stills sends me regular mailings of new releases, god bless 'em.
14. ANNA NALICK - Wreck of the Day (Columbia)
15. IL DIVO - S/T (Syco Music/Columbia)
Yes, they're cute. I was intrigued by the Spanish boy band concept at first look. Now I see them hyped all around me, which I'm not sure makes the album more or less appealing. Still haven't cracked the shrinkwrap yet.
16. KYLE RIABKO - Before I Speak (Aware/Columbia)
17. ELKLAND - Golden (Columbia)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Best Laid Plans...

I thought it was a simple idea - tracking all the new music coming in, making a few comments, plenty of time to write about concerts seen and songs that tickle my eardrums. But how quickly the time flies and the stack of uncataloged CDs mounts! (Yeah, play that tiny violin; we should all have such gripes.)

Quickly, quickly then. Must catch up.

Monday, April 11
1. THE CHRIS STAMEY EXPERIENCE - A Question of Temperature (Yep Roc)
From the late and well-liked dB's. Threw it on just for background sound and found myself pulled in numerous times to ask myself "what's that? That's cool." One track in particular, "McCauley Street (Let's Go Downtown)' made me stop in my tracks, listen, and look up the title for a repeat visit. Features Yo La Tengo, too. Huzzah. Coming to the IOTA on May 12.
2. THE NARRATOR - Such Triumph (Flameshovel Records)

Two from my press-kits-for-imports trading partner:
3. R.E.M. - Acoustic 1991
4. SIOUXZIE and the BANSHEES - Best of (Universal/Polydor)

5. NIKKA COSTA - Can'tNeverDidNothin' (Virgin)
They want the words in the title to run together like that, so don't blame me.
Do you want her body and do you think she's sexy? C'mon now and tell her so.

Thursday, April 7
6. GEORGE JONES - My Very Special Guests (Columbia Legacy)
7. A LOT LIKE LOVE - soundtrack (Sony Music Soundtraxx)
At first, I dismissed this collection as a cheap mix of songs I already have (Third Eye Blind, The Cure, Aqualung) and I'm still suspicious of the carefully calibrated mix of played-to-death radio hits (like a little cousin to the "Now That's..." series) and new artists that need the promo push. But Grace keeps tossing it on the player and it usually - 'cept for "Semi-Charmed Life," which I never have to hear again - sounds real good. For those who don't free music sent (not to rub it in), check it out on iTunes and just buy the ones you don't already own to make your own soundtrack CD. You can live without the pics of Ashton Kutcher, trust me.

Wednesday, April 6
8. Q Magazine with British compilation, RULE BRITANNIA
A sprinkling of music from bands I want to check out - Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs- but mostly a glorious retreat into songs I haven't heard in a while from the Kinks (always welcome), Suede ("The Drowners" may be the only track of theirs I'll ever need), The Jam, Madness, Ian Dury and more. Another nifty sampler from those generous Brit mags.
9. NME magazine with free CD, BEST NEW BRITISH BANDS SHOWCASE 2005
Yet another Kaiser Chiefs song! That makes three in three samplers; who needs to buy the CD? Actually, I'm tempted, if I can't get one from the publicist. "I Predict a Riot" is just that good!

Tuesday, April 5
10. DONNA THE BUFFALO - Life's a Ride (Wildlife/BMG)
Regional jam band heroes. Played it once. Nothing stuck, but nothing offended. One of the many that go on the pile to be given another chance (if time permits) later.

Monday, April 4
11. JASON RINGENBERG - A Day on the Farm with Farmer Jason (Yep Roc)
JASON and the SCORCHERS - Wildfires and Misfires: Two Decades of Outtakes and Rarities (Yep Roc)
Remind me to tell you the tale of having Jason stay in the family room/basement rock and roll B&B when he came to town to play the Jammin Java club. Dang nice guy, even with his evil twin. Some explanation available in my Post preview.

12. IAN TYSON - Songs from the Gravel Road (Vanguard)
13. THE KISSERS - Fire in the Belly (self-released)
Coming soon to a Post preview near you.
14. DEBBY BBONE - Reflections of Rosemary (Concord)
Good thing my mom likes Rosemary Clooney, or this would be a coaster fer sure.

Saturday, April 2
15. STATISTICS - Often Lie (Jade Tree)
16. SO MANY DYNAMOS - When I Explode (Skrocki Records)
from St. Louis, mixed by Jason Caddell at Inner Ear Studios

17. BOX - three song demo
Met two of this female trio's members when I was jockeying for photo position in front of the stage at the Indigo Girls/Great Unknowns show. While I was chatting with one of them, we exchanged names and she yelled, "Oh my god! You're Marianne Meyer?" Luckily, that was a good thing for me to be. Turns out the other woman was in a band I had written about a while back. Now she was in this new band. We exchanged emails next, and then she sent this CD. Rockin' grrrl power with some lesbian lyrics. This week's Post pick.

Friday, April 1
18. JASON RINGENBERG - Empire Builders
iTunes purchase, made so that I could bone up on JR's recent stuff before he arrived to play - and stay at our house.
Post preview (if you missed it the first time)

Collected at the George Mason University Arts Center luncheon, announcing the 2005-2006 season at the the venue:
19. MARK O'CONNOR'S APPALACHIA WALTZ TRIO - Crossing Bridges (Omac Records)
20. JOHN MAYALL & FRIENDS - Along for the Ride (Eagle Records)
22.SING DOWN THE MOON: Appalachian Wonder Tales - cast recording (George Mason University)

Balalaika, balalalaika. I just like saying balalaika!