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