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