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