Sunday, December 31, 2006

It's the End of the Year As We Know It

Okay, so I've been less than diligent in keeping the blog going this past/last month. The holidays kept me hopping, and the end of Tower Records (so sad to see you go, Red and Yellow Retail Wonder) had me scarfing up music at a rate that would have been hard to track while maintaining a real life. I estimate I bought nearly 200 CDs in the past month, as prices dropped to ridiculous lows. At the bittersweet end, full-length CDs were less than a buck each, and singles were 10 cents. I found stuff I'd been waiting for, made great discoveries, was free to experiment with bands I'd only heard about, and bought CDs just because I liked the covers. It'll take the next few weeks just to test them out, a lovely way to start the year (though I'd gladly have passed it up if it meant keeping the store open).

The CPF blog will be revamped in the new year. I resolve to obesess less and write more, true to the Blog Spirit. More photos, links, and reports from the music field as things happen. Here's to the Clean Slate, the Fresh Approach.

For the final entry of 2006, here's my ballot for the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll, which I sent off today, the final day to submit. (I love deadlines. I like the sound they make as they whoosh by!)

Top Ten Albums of the Year:
Josh Ritter - The Animal Years (V2)
The Decemberists – The Crane Wife (Capitol)
Jose Gonzalez – Veneer (Mute)
Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope (Sire)
Matt Nathanson – At the Point (Acrobat)
The Cat Empire (Velour)
Elbow - Leaders of the Free World (V2)
Teitur – Stay Under the Stars (Equator)
World/Inferno Friendship Society - Red-Eyed Soul (Chunksaah)
The Thermals – The Body the Blood the Machine (SubPop)

The Other Ones That Almost Made It:
Julian Velard – The Movies Without You (Saing)
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever You Say I Am… (Domino)
Scritti Politti – White Bread Black Bear (Nonesuch/Rough Trade)
Silversun Pickups – Carnavas (Dangerbird)
Thom Yorke – The Eraser (XL)

Justin Timberlake – SexyBack (Jive)
Gnarls Barkley – Crazy (Downtown/Atlantic)
Neil Young – Let’s Impeach the President (Reprise)
My Chemical Romance – Welcome to The Black Parade (Reprise)
The Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes (V2)
Editors – Munich (Fader)
Green Day and U2 – The Saints are Coming (Universal/Mercury)
The Rapture – Get Myself Into It (Universal)
Keane – Is It Any Wonder (Island)
OK Go – Here It Goes Again (Capitol)

YTD: >1,000 I lost count, but with the Tower feeding frenzy, I'm sure I topped 1,000 CDs for the year.
Much as I love the jewel box approach, with all the digital downloading I've been doing lately - even labels are sending links to free mp3's rather than hard copies - I'm guessing we won't hit that mark in 2007.
But that's not to say we won't try!

Happy New Year, close personal friends. Peace.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Way to Go, Silversun Pickups!

As I started tap-typing away, the California quartet was tearing it up on Letterman and reminding me that I need to revisit the album. They’ve got a female bass player/support vocalist, and a fiery sound that moves from quiet to raucous in the same song, so the Pixies comparisons hold, but they’ve got their own twist in the mad doctor on the keyboards. Always nice to see a promising young band get a major break – but if they get huge, will I still be able to get into their show next year when they tour with Snow Patrol?

It was a quiet Friday night, so I gave myself a trip out to Tower records yet again, since they’ve now entered the 50% off stage (or more) on everything. I got there only about 40 minutes before closing, so it was a quick hit:
1. BRITISH SEA POWER – The Decline Of…(Rough Trade)
I had my eye on this one the last time I was at Tower, but decided to be frugal. A week later, another 10% off – and it was still there! – so I gave in.
2. BLONDIE – Parallel Lines (Capitol/Chrysalis)
Another one I had my eye on. And, for some lovely reason, after ringing it up for what I thought was the price ($6.50), the nice cashier dude goes back and re-enters it – for $2.50! The original breakthrough album, remastered, plus 4 bonus tracks, including a live take on “Bang a Gong.”
3. CHRISTINA AQUILERA – Ain’t No Other Man (RCA)
Singles are 70% off, so this was all of $1.50. It’s for my girl Gracie, who loves the tune. I think it’s catchy, but I can’t stand the fact that she rhymes “class” with “ass.” That was a joke in a song from the original “Chicago,” but such subtleties are not for the likes of Christina who, BTW, did a terrible job of lip-syncing at the Rockefeller Center tree lighting. And why did she get to sing her single when everyone else did a holiday song? Bah, humbug!
4. GORILLAZ – Kids with Guns (EMI)
I can’t imagine spending $8 for this 3-track single, but for $2.oo, I can surprise Grace, who’ll enjoy the new track (“Stop the Dams”) and the fold-out mini-poster of Noodle.
5. BEBEL GILBERTO – eponymous (Six Degrees)
There are some albums that are so horribly overstocked that the store is desparate to get them going. This album was in a bunch offered for a mere $4 each. She’s got that ultra-chill bossa-nova vibe.
6. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Christmas Remixed (Six Degrees)
The second volume of the world music label’s holiday series, which is becoming a new holiday classic. The label does a type of mash-up, mating vintage crooners with electronica rhythm beds. The results have the comfort of familiarity with the right amount of cool, fresh attitude. Soon to appear on this year’s Cool Yule collection – Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Went to the second-hand store yesterday to drop off a few bags of unwanted clothing, books and other stuff. As per usual, checked out the racks of donated music and found a few nice CDs for $1.50 each. It’s odd and somewhat amusing to recognize some things that I had dropped off last time, and saw that someone had recently given up some nice music in great condition. I took home:
7. LOW MILLIONS – Ex-Girlfriends (Manhattan)
Never actually heard this band before, but when it first came out, I recall listening to a few tracks at the Tower listening station and liking it, so this was a happy find. Listening again on the car ride home, I was taken by the immediately catchy melodies and the singer’s confident voice. Initial lyric scan was cool, too.
8. COWBOY JUNKIES – The Caution Horses (BMG)
I bought this soley for the cover of Neil Young’s “Powderfinger,” a song I’ve always loved. I may actually have it on an old freebie sampler, but I couldn’t remember, so what the hell for this price? I popped it into the car player to hear the Young track and was immediately reminded that Margo Timmins’ voice – and the Junkies’ lethargic tempos – wear very thin very quickly.
9. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Italian Love Songs (K-Tel)
Wow – how long since I’ve heard the name K-Tel?! This 10-song cheapass collection has Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore,” Vic Dana’s “More,” Connie Francis’ “Forget Domani” and a few I don’t quite know. What the ?? is “Non Dimenticar” by Frankie Avalon? Whatever; I thought my Italophile hubby would find it fun.
10. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Happy Valentine’s Day (
Homemade mix CDs don’t have quite the same charm as mix cassettes, but this one caught my eye because someone had gone to the trouble of designing a cover and had the taste to include some old skool funk – “Atomic Dog,” “What is Hip?”- a few K.C. and the Sunshine Band hoot-a-longs, and even some downright silliness (“The Chicken Dance” – seriously). Musical voyeurism is fun.
11. BARRY MANILOW – Swing Street (Arista)
I haven’t forgiven him for getting the EMMY over Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, but if Craig Ferguson can, I guess I should let it go. (Still, it was way more fun to watch Ferguson dancing than listening to Manilow sing when the latter appeared on the former’s show.) I’ll listen to this once to see if there’s anything to crib, but it’s really just a stocking stuffer for Mom.
12. EVANESCENCE – Fallen
I’m not that into it, but it’s for Grace, who is, and saw the band perform some weeks ago with a pal who’s a huge fan. They hung out afterward and Grace got her pocketbook (the only thing she had!) signed by the band.

Also yesterday:
13. RAY CHARLES – A Ray Charles Christmas (Rhino)
Was in Kohl’s, filling up some packages for one of my Christmas Angels, and found this for a mere $5. Who else but Ray could make “The Little Drummer Boy” not merely tolerable but downright righteously good?

My Husband Went to England and All I Got Was This Lousy CD:
14. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Now Hear This, Word magazine, Dec. 2006
It’s not lousy at all, but I liked the headline. Here’s a band called Joan as Police Woman? Lloyd Cole is looking rather scrubby on the cover.

Trade-In Store missing from last time:
15. The DIVINE COMEDY – Absent Friends (Parlaphone)
Studio and live version, plus video, of the title track, plus a live version of “Something for the Weekend.” Bought out of curiosity, but he’s too grand by half for me.
16. JUDY GARLAND – A Star is Born (Columbia)
$2.oo clearance bin stocking stuffer for my olde-time-musicals- lovin’ college girl.

Coming to Town:
17. SISTER HAZEL – Absolutely (Croakin’ Poets Records)
13 songs of roots rock. The first single, “Mandolin Moon,” features guest vocals from band pal Shawn Mullins.
18. TEITUR – Stay Under the Stars (Equator Music)
The una-nominal Scandinavian singer/songwriter will be appearing at Jammin java next Thursday (December 7th) and I am really looking forward to hearing him. Hope he does “I Run the Carousel” – it’s like a bittersweet short story in a song – and his stripped-down, slowed-down version of “Great Balls of Fire.”

More acquisitions from Tower, scattered over a few visits:
More Tower Music, Trip 3:
19. KRAAK & SMAAK – Boogie Angst (Quango)
The double-disc American version was cheaper than the single disc import and, since the former had all the tracks of the latter plus a whole ‘nother side of remixes, that’s a no-brainer. Another discovery I owe to KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” radio show, since I doubt I would have encountered them otherwise, and the name would never have probably made me think they were something totally other. The group, BTW, takes its name from an old Dutch phrase meaning ‘crunchy & tasty.’
20, FEIST – Open Season: Remixes and Collabs (Cherrytree/Interscope)
Just under $7.50.
21. BEACH BOYS – Pet Sounds (Capitol)
Deluxe 2-CD edition in the green fake suede package. A joy to rediscover.
22. BEN FOLDS – Live at Tower Records
Three tracks recorded at the Lincoln Center store in NYC on 4/26/05. “Jesusland” and “Trusted” and “Bastard” and no frills; not even a decent picture of Ben. But it was $2.00 with the 50% off singles pricing. Ripped to iTunes and right into the trade-in bag.
23. CESARIA EVORA – Club Sodade (RCA)
Remixes by the likes of Carl Craig and Senor Coconut.
24. BJORK – Minuscule (One Little Indian DVD)
I thought I was a hardcore Bjork fan when I got the Gling Glo CD as an import, but I gave up being a completist around the time she began releasing multiple versions of singles from the Vespertine CD and I couldn’t keep up with all the variations. She’s the same with DVDs now, with so many promo video compilations and concert videos, I don’t have the time or patience. But this DVD, a backstage look at the 2001 Vespertine world tour, was only about $7.oo after discount, and I thought it would be a good companion to the one music video set I do have.
Nifty packaging, with prismatic glasses that make my head hurt.
26. The MINUS 5 – Down with Wilco (Yep Roc)
Slowly replacing the favorite CDs that some bastard stole out of Terry’s luggage on his (halfway)cross-country trip.
27. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Music Ahead sampler (Verve)
Freebie sampler with Costello & Toussaint, Jamie Cullum, (skinny boy) Rhett Miller and others.
28. The LIBERTINES – Can’t Stand Me Now (Rough Trade)
3-track single for $1.25.

YTD Total: 714

Saturday, November 18, 2006

'Tis (Almost) The Season!

I've broken out the boxes of holiday tunes, much to my husband's chagrin. He doesn't believe in any Christmas music before we finish the Thanksgiving turkey and, while I can see his point, I have the annual Cool Yule collection to think about, so I'm getting my jingle bell groove on while he's out of town.
First out of the box, literally, is "Sounds of the Season," a Target collection that offers a fine set of choices, like the cuurently playing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" by Ray Charles (need I say more?). There's nice rendition of "My Favorite Things" by Rod Stewart, but I'm not sure I can use it - he says "snitzel with noodles"! C'mon Rod, that's "schnitzel,' you fool.

Let's clear the decks of recent purchases....No pics, just picks.

Yet Another Visit to the CD Trade-In Store:
Getting lean – a bag full of a few dozen used CDs nets only $39 in credit, so I wind up owing them $11 when I come home with these:
1. ROSEWOOD THIEVES – From the Decker House (V2)
The band I wrote about in the last entry…
2. The RAPTURE – Pieces of the People We Love (Universal/Motown)
Ditto, in the previous entry. Although, now that I check the label, I think it’s rather funny that these ever-so-white downtown hipsters are on Motown. Anyway, this one’s become a big hit in our house. Still giving “Get Myself Into It” a daily spin, and Grace has stolen the CD for her morning wake-up call.
3. DAMON ALBARN and FRIENDS – Mali Music (Astralwerks/EMI Records)
Is this an import version? Made in Holland sticker, soft cover, like a CD tucked into a small paperback book. I haven’t had a chance to give it a good listen, but I’ve heard it in passing while hubby cooks, and he loves it.
4. B*WITCHED – Jump Down: The Mixes (Sony Music)
Three remixes and a video by the Spice Girl wannabe/also-rans. If I get around to it, I’ll have quite the nice little lot for an eBay offering, including some cure friendship bracelets and stickers the record company sent when they were pushing these not-so-bad babes.
5. ELBOW – Not a Job CD single (V2)
Title track plus alternate video of same, and two more tracks.
6. SECRET ANNEX – What Is it About This Place? (Ocelot Records)
It was 50cents and I liked the title, plus a few of the song titles, too – “Cello Love Song,” “The Fatal Glory of Steamboat Racing,” etc. No big risk.
7. SUZZY and MAGGIE ROCHE – Zero Church (Red House Records)
A lovely surprise – those two siblings with the gorgeous harmonies in a pan-denomination set of church songs, sung with guest stars and the ghosts of 9-11 hovering over it all.
8. DIRTY PRETTY THINGS – Waterloo to Anywhere (Interscope)
It was playing when I walked into the store and caught my ear right away.
9. COUNTING CROWS – New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall (Geffen)
A gift for the college girl, who’s a faithful fan – and I enjoy them, too.

And once more to Tower Records, where it’s up to 30% off most merchandise.
10. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Ones to Watch, Vol. 03/magazine
15 tracks, “choice cuts of your future favourites” and the only name I recognize is Two Gallants. But magazines are 60% off cover price and this glossy British rag, which I’ve never seen before, has Dirty Pretty Things on the cover (it’s a sign!), so I want to check out both print and audio.
11. PRINCE – Te Amo Corazon (NPG/Universal)
Full sized jewel case for 40cents – and hey, there’s a Prince single here, too.
12. U2 – City of Blinding Lights (Island Records)
The song I know as “oh, you are so beautiful,” in a 2-track import, which I will spring $2.50 on to hear the Killahurtz Fly mix.
13. XTC – Apple Box (Idea Records)
British import, 4-CD set, collected both the Wasp and Apple Venus CDs, plus companion discs of demos and alternate versions. Now that the discount takes it under $25, it’s mine, mine, all mine!
14. BUZZCOCKS/VARIOUS ARTISTS – Ever Fallen in Love with Someone You Shouldn’t’ve (EMI)
Two-track import (also $2.50) with the original hit, plus a new version performed by the likes of Futureheads, Elton John, Pete Shelley and Robert Plant, done as tribute to John Peel, with proceeds donated to Amnesty International.

15. MASSIVE ATTACK – Collected (Virgin)
This month’s yourmusic top-of-queue item. $5.99, shipping included. Great stuff. “Protection” with Tracey Thorn, “Karmacoma” with Tricky and stuff I don’t know – yet.

16. KRISTOFFER RAGNSTAM – Do You Want a Piece of Me EP (bluhammock)
17. CUTE IS WHAT WE AIM FOR – The Same Old Blood Rush with a New Touch (Fueled By Ramen)
They opened for Hellogoodbye at Irving Plaza during CMJ, and the publicist asked me to check ‘em out when he heard I was going to the show. I meant well, but got there late, so I asked if he could send a copy. It was waiting for me when I got home. Now that’s what I call service! Grace has asked to hear it, so I know there’s teenage buzz.
18. EL GOODO – S/T (Empyrean Records)

19. ERIN McKEOWN – Sing You Sinners (Nettwerk)
Out in January.
20. CLEMENTE - …Whilst Honey Hums (Moodswing)
Coming January 30th.

21. PARTICLE – Transformations Live: For the People CD and DVD (Shout! Factory)
They appeared at the State Theatre recently, and the publicist sent the collected works in hopes of a preview (but my editor chose a different show). Will I ever watch over 2 hours of video, even with special guests (Blackalicious, Robby Kreiger, Joe Satriani, DJ Logic)? Answer would have been no, but I put the CD on and it was noodle-dancing music in a nice way.

22. GOB IRON – Death Songs for the Living (Transmit Sound/Legacy)
Full release copy, with enhancements, of an advance I got earlier.
23. MEAT LOAF – Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose (Virgin)
Same as above. Speaking of Mr. Loaf (I love when the New York Times calls him that), his record company sent a transcript of a tele-conference the Meat held recently, and it's a great document of inane conversation, opening like this:
"And our first question comes from Brad Topel from
FRED TOPEL: Hi, it’s actually Fred, but that’s okay.
MEATLOAF: Fred? Hi Fred.
FRED TOPEL: But my question is how hard is it to find other writers who can write songs for you like Simon did?"
Simon, who is referenced throughout the dozens of pages, has to be, by reason of deduction, Jim Steinman, co-creator of the whole "Bat Out Of Hell" phenomenon. Why didn't anyone correct this before sending out the transcript?!
Rock journalism is not brain surgery. Thank god. We'd have a lot (more) zombies out there.

YTD Total: 686

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Our House Is a Very, Very, Very Fine House

And our Senate is looking better, too.

As SNL put it last night - in an ironic twist, Iraq has forced regime change in the United States. I live in a purple state, a mix of red and blue that feels like the future. And as the button I now wear on my lapel simply states: Optimism.

Okay, so I need to harken back to the CMJ Marathon, and to the joy of Halloween in New York City…

After a few years of frantically racing uptown and down, from venue to venue, trying to catch as many events as possible, I have developed a lazy person’s approach to the festival - Pick an area and concentrate on all the events within its boundaries instead of ricocheting throughout the city, where even a distance of 10 blocks can take a half hour to traverse. Keep it simple. Go with the flow.

If there’s a Merge party on Ave A and 11th Street that starts at 3 pm, even getting to 14th and Broadway for the Silversun Pickups Puma in-store may be a stretch, especially if you’re surprised by the arrival of a favorite friendly publicist and want to sit and chat. Besides, you might hear the people in the booth behind you announce that there’s another party down the block, and a good showcase happening ninety minutes later around the corner. Bottom line – don’t have unrealistic expectations.

Pick the showcase with the maximum ratio of (possibly) good bands to those unknown and just settle into the club as I did the night I went to Tonic to see The Slip and Oppenheimer. I broke my own rule and left before the Mosquitos went on, in a fools errand to try and catch the Knife at Webster Hall, where I had only a dim hope of being guest-listed. Didn’t get in, but had a pleasant conversation with the music reporter from Newsday, who was also bounced. I know I’m small beans, but when the gate-keepers bar one of the city’s major papers from getting in, you wonder where their priorities are.

Anyhoo, The Slip show was a good discovery. I’d heard them from a distance as they played the Day Stage at Avery Fisher while I checked email in the press room. Though I couldn’t catch the vocals, I liked the strong guitar sound, aggressive without being assaulltive, with surprising bits of melody, like soft marshmallows in the crunchy Lucky Charms. They were playing right before Oppenheimer, one of the few bands I had made a firm promise to see (I had written about them for the Post, liked the album a lot, and told the publicist I would definitely check 'em out) so I made a point of getting there early. Wanted to catch Hotel Lights, too, since I liked that CD – and the pedigree of a former Ben Folds Five member, but got caught up in dinner with College Girl.) Live and up close, The Slip turned out to be a trio making that mighty noise and lived up to the fine first impression.
OPPENHEIMER were great fun. Only two guys – drummer/singer and guitarist/keyboard creating a bright, buoyant pop party that’s reminiscent of Air.

ROSEWOOD THIEVES were another Day Stage revelation – along with the fact that I could sit comfortably in the Mountain Dew lounge and get wireless through the exhibitors’ system (the press room was small and dingy, though I always appreciate the thought). There I sat, happily typing away - except for when someone splashed water out of the freebie cooler (I don’t want another $1200 ruined computer incident) - and listening to the Thieves, who seemed initially downcast by the small audience, but warmed as they earned genuine applause. The singer opened with Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll be Staying Here with You,” which fit both his flawed-yet-expressive voice and the band’s overall slightly-country, smart rock vibe. And the keyboard player looked like the girl who started out on “Freaks and Geeks” and then popped up on “ER.” I gave lead singer a card ‘cause I sincerely hope to see them again if they come down DC Way.

Despite a passing interest in “House of Jealous Lovers,” I hadn’t given much thought to The RAPTURE either way, but when a dinner companion/publicist mentioned how much he was looking forward to their Monday night show, and followed up Tuesday with a glowing report, my CMJ pal Shari and I decided to try the door schmooze. Luckily, the press/photo pass combination (and, I’d like to think, my polite inquiries to the door man) worked, and we got in. It was a rousing good night all ‘round. Dewars hosted, which meant cheap scotch and cool swag (a nice T-shirt and an adorable guitar mini-amplifier) and the Rapture was great! Even if they should be paying royalties to Talking Heads for the “Remain in Light” rhythms and some to Adam Ant for the tribal lyric chants, the combination is killer. And how can you not love a band that dresses in full-body skeleton suits for Halloween?! “Get Myself Into It” is new to the Daily Playlist, so hey Rob, thanks for the lovely meal and fine musical recommendation.

On Monday, while Rob was enjoying The Rapture, I was bouncing to the pop-rocky goodness of HELLOGOODBYE at Irving Plaza, where the SoCal goofballs were starting a two-night stand as headliners.

I’d seen them before, as the lowly opening act on a multi-act bill with The Academy Is… and Panic! At the Disco, and as players on a Warped side stage, so it was quite a shock to see them getting full star response at this show, along with a back-drop and stand-up creatures stage setting. These guys radiate warmth in the manner of my dear, departed Troubled Hubble, and they even gave the crowd a balloon drop during the encore. Another winner!

Speaking of Halloween in New York City, it’s a truly wonderful trip in that sometimes you’re not 100% sure if you’re looking at a person in costume or just another uniquely New York personality. For instance, I leave the Verizon Store and an Arab sheik walks by. I’m guessing Middle Eastern royalty is in town, then notice that there’s an 8-year-old princess in pink by his side. A costume then…probably.

(photo by Shari, from a parallel moving cab)
Other favorite moments during what must rival the Carnivale as the world’s largest street costume party:
*A priest with a teddy bear and inflatable female date
*Zorro on roller skates
*Captain Hook walking east on 8th street, and Peter Pan walking west (I was dispappointed that the didn’t acknowledge each other)
*A dalmation dog (real canine) being walked by a dalmation dog (man in costume)
*Death (long black robe, skull head) hailing a cab
* Four different supermen – all in suits with the logo shirt underneath.
* The ham hock tribute to Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird” that actually looked kinda like a pile of poo, so the poor girl inside had to write “HAM” on the outside.

One trend I could have done without: skimpily-dressed girls in brightly colored wigs. Too easy, in both senses of the word.

With all the free music being handed out (more on that next time), I only purchased one CD while in New York:
1. AMINA – Animamina (Worker’s Institute)
I had previously seen the winsome Scandinavian women open for Sigur Ros last year, at a moving performance that took place, appropriately enough, on 9-11. Hearing that they were appearing at Joe’s Pub, just around the corner from Shari’s place (my home for the festival) was too good a chance as we walked home from the Rapture show. It was late (almost one a.m.) but the group was still onstage, casting their soft spell on a nearly breathlessly quiet audience (two yapping guys at the bar should have been smacked down). I bought the oh-so-quiet CD on the way out. Then discovered it was just an EP - $15?!! (Karmic payback for the missing cocktail glass…)

YTD total: 663

Monday, November 06, 2006

B-4 CPF went 2 NYC 4 CMJ

The CMJ wrap-up will come next - hopefully, after we celebrate good news on the election (or is it really an intervention?) front.
(unless you're Republican; then, feel free to take the day off)

But here's where we were before I split for the Big Apple...

Getting Out and About:
1.The MILES – The Story of Yourself (self-released)
2.The MILES – Making of The Story of Yourself (DVD)
The odd ways in which bands get discovered: I went to Jammin’ Java to see a band named Husky Rescue, which I had previewed for the Post. When I arrived, the opening act was onstage and I liked what I heard, so I signed the band’s mailing list, sitting on a speaker in front of the stage. But then, the band onstage introduced itself and it was NOT the one I signed to receive info about. And I had written in the “notes” section: “Liked your set. I write about music. Get in touch.”
Well, the next week, I get a sweet note from this band I knew nothing about and I had to admit the mistake. But the guy kept in touch, kept me informed about other gigs, and so I felt almost obliged to attend the band’s CD release party.
Happy ending: I liked them! A nice muscular but melodic sound, with hints of U2 anthemic rock and some neat Radiohead-style sonic noodling. Lead singer guy is as cute as his emails were gracious and I intend to keep track of what they do next.

Also on the bill this night:
Chris Trapper, former leader of the PushStars and a straight shooter of the singer/songwriter school, popular in my household for the Irish wake sing-along, “Keg on My Coffin.”

and the opener:
3. JANN KLOSE – Black Box EP
In a brief echo of the Miles’ story, I caught only the last two songs of Klose’s set and, while they didn’t make a strong impression, I snapped off a few shots and send them to his publicist, who had mentioned his appearance previously. She forwards the shots to him and I get an appreciative note asking if he can post two on his site and would I like a copy of the CD. Sure, and now I feel it’s the good karma thing to catch his show in its entirety next time he comes around.

Another Day, Another Show:
This freebie was handed out as we left the Regina Spektor show at the 930 Club – a clear baggie with a prescription pad page listing the bands as if they were medicines to take at prescribed times, promoting a show later that week at a newish club, The Red and The Black.

And Yet Another:
5. YOUNG LOVE - YL (Island)
Two-song sampler from the cute boys who opened for Good Charlotte and the Pink Spiders last month at the 930 Club, given out at the club, along with my new collection passion – 1” pinbacks. Leader Dan Keyes is tall, thin and good-looking in a mop-topped Brit-rock kind of way, and there seems to be a push on to get him the heartthrob vote. Be careful Island- it seems like a nice hook now, but the music I heard sounds better than that which you sell at a discounted cred rate to the TRL crowd.

6. YOUNG LOVE – Too Young to Fight It (Island)
In the weeks before the concert, the publicist reached out to promote YL’s set and I asked if she could send music. I get an overnight delivery (so I know they weren’t skipping on cost) and inside is unlabeled CD, not even in a cardboard or paper sleeve.
7. VARIOUS ARTISTS – State of the Union: DC Benefit Compilation (Dischord)
Good Charlotte may be MTV stars now, but they haven’t forgotten where they came from. They gave over the merch booth to the socially conscious local charity Positive Force, and let the organization’s main man give a little speech before their set. This sampler was among the get smarter swag being given away at the booth.
And, BTW, the Madden boys are looking mighty buff these days. Benji has a stance that even recalls Springsteen at his ripped peak...

Yeah, I Paid Cash Money for Some Stuff, Too
8. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Soul Legends (Motown)
When Mom visits, she likes to check into a local discount chain called Tuesday Morning. I go along and drift through the aisles, and usually wind up with some weird licensed merchandise toy at an absurdly low price. There’s not much in the musical coll
9. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Best of 60s British Beat
Another visit with mom to a discount store, another find (I thought), but Caveat Emptor, music fans. Be sure to read the fine print, which I didn’t do carefully enough. “Big beat stars from pop’s brightest decade interpret their hits as only they know how…great versions of memorable songs…” As in, not the original versions. So I’ve got lame, recent reworkings of “Yeh, Yeh” by Georgie Fame,“Bad to Me” by Billy J. Kramer, “Hello Little Girl” by Foremost and other pale imitations.
10. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Take It Easy: 15 Soft Rock Anthems (Q magazine)
11. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Paste # 26
12. CYNDI LAUPER – The Body Acoustic (Epic/Daylight)
This month’s $5.99 order from Lauper revisits some of her greatest hits in sometimes striking new arrangements. Not all of them work, but it’s nice to hear her stretching out – while making a living.

At the CD trade-in store:
13. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Joni Mitchell Artist’s Choice (Hear Music/Rhino)
As you’d expect, Mitchell’s selection is eclectic and jazz-tinged (two Duke Ellington, Miles Davis) with some classical stuff and classic singer/songwriters (Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen). A few surprises – she includes one of her own songs (“Harlem in Havana”), highlights two tracks from Deep Forest (instead of spreading the love to another obscure band) and ends with a one-hit wonder, New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give.”
14. RHETT MILLER – World CafĂ© Live (DVD)
'Round my house, we call him Skinny boy Rhett” 'cause he looks so lean and cute in his slim black jeans. And he's a great songwriter, too.
15. ELVIS COSTELLO – It’s Time (Warner Bros.)
Three track single with a cover of Springsteen’s “Brilliant Disguise” done as twangy country blues.

Oh, No, Tower Records, Don’t Go:
Music geeks are in despair but we also know a bargain when we hear about one, so the next few weeks will be an ongoing pilgrimage to the beloved retail store, tracking the drop in prices (20% off everything now, due to drop as the weeks go) and calculating how few XTC box sets are on the shelves before we commit. At this first visit, I got:
16. VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Remix FM2 (Virgin EMI)
Two CDs with an odd collection of tunes. $7.50
17. DIANA KRALL – Temptation (Verve)
The tan stickers mean 25% off, which leads to these two tracks costing less than the price of a jewel box. True music geek confession – I think I already have the album, but I have to adopt these orphans (besides, she’s married to Elvis Costello!)
18. PHOENIX – Everything is Everything (Virgin)
Four tracks for under $2 – the catchy title track in audio and video versions, a live take of “Run Run Run” and a medley of early demos, which shows that many of the band’s catchy tunes hold up as songs and don’t need the playful studio production.
19. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Devils & Dust (Columbia)
Another 20-center. Just the single song in a cardboard cover.
20. VARIOUS ARTISTS – I Want My ‘80s! sampler (Universal Music)
Free with purchase. Grand, cheesy anthems.

21. MATTHEW RYAN – From a Late Night High Rise (00:02:59)
Coming to the IOTA on November 6th. The album comes out December 5th.
22. BARENAKED LADIES – Are Me (Desperation Records)
Nothing as directly humorous as on previous CDs (though “Bank Job” takes on an unusual subject for a pop song – a botched heist), but BNL have a way with a melody and a hook. Played the Patriot Center on November 4th.
23. MIKE DOUGHTY – Haughty Melodic (ATO Records)
He opened for BNL on November 4th, which adds to the odds that it was a fine show. The former leader of Soul Coughing sounds much like you imagine it would – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Much as I love the ubiquitous java joint, how could I not also love a song entitled “Busting Up a Starbucks”?

Palpable Hits:
24. The DECEMBERISTS – The Crane Wife (Capitol)
I read one comparison to Jethro Tull and endless repetitions of the term "Prog-folk," but to me it's just more great Decemberists. “The Perfect Crime” has the galloping beat of Talking Heads in their “Life During Wartime” prime.

Double CD with the original soundtrack, a disc of new recordings by the likes of Panic! at the Disco and Fiona Apple, and some of Danny Elfman's demos. All great, 'cept for the She Wants Revenge version of "Kidnap the Sandy Claws," which trades all the charm for a gothy, Human Leaguey rendition.
26. MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE – The Black Parade (Reprise)
When the band preformed the title track on SNL, I knew I had to get the CD right away, just so I could hear it again. Not because I was sure I liked it; more because it was so outrageous, I needed to know if I could believe me ears. It has lived up to the cost and then some.

Fine First Impressions:
27. The BALDWIN BROTHERS – The Return of the Golden Rhodes (TVT)
Why do I keep thinking they should be on Astralwerks? This band has that uber-hip dance feel that the label specializes in, and TVT is known for much raw-er stuff.
28. PAUL MICHEL – Quiet State of Panic
When was he in Army of Me?
29. The KOOKS – Inside In/Inside Out (Astralwerks)
Strokes style, but more fun.
30. CHRISTINE FELLOWS – Paper Anniversary (Six Shooter Records)
Soft-voiced woman with intriguing musical vignettes, reminiscent of other favorites like Jane Siberry.
31. SONNY ROLLINS – Sonny, Please (Doxy)
32. WHITEY – The Light at the End of the Tunnel is a Train (Dim Mak)
33. SIERRA LEONE’S REFUGEE ALL-STARS - Living Like a Refugee (Anti-Records)
34. MICHAEL FRANTI – Yell Fire! (Anti- Records)
He’s pissed, and I share his outrage. Luckily, he also couches the anger in varied, skillful tunes.
and did I mention? DON'T FORGET TO VOTE!!

Jury’s Still Out:
35. KT TUNSTALL – Acoustic Extravaganza (Relentless/Virgin)
An audio CD and a DVD at a single disc price; still, aren't they just cashing in?
36. K-OS – Atlantis:Hymns for Disco (Virgin)
37. AIRPUSHERS – Themes for the Ordinary Strange (Sarathan)
Swag, of sorts: an Airpushers air freshener that you can hang in the car, or a funky closet.
38. The STRAYS – Le Futur Noir (TVT Records)
About to hit the road with The Cult.
39. VERUCA SALT – IV (Sympathy for the Record Industry Records)
Missed the Jaxx show last month.
40. VIVA VOCE – Get Yr Blood Sucked Out (Barsuk Records)
41. RACHEL JACOBS – Friend Overseas
Nice pairing of a 7” vinyl EP and a CD – the same music in two versions.
42. SASHA DOBSON – Modern Romance
“Plangent, almost vibrato-free voice” says the sheet, but the title track is a cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
43. PAPER CRANES – Vidalia (Mother May I Records)
44. The BLUE VAN – Dear Independence (TVT Records)
45. CARL TANNER – Hear the Angle Voices (Timeless)
Big voice/operatic Christmas songs, heavy on the religious carols.
46. The LOW FREQUENCY IN STEREO – The Last Temptation of…(Gigantic)
Uh-oh. I listened once in the car and kinda liked it, so I wanted to go back and hear it again. But, when I opened the digipack, the CD was cracked right through. I fear it was trod upon by the school carpool.
47. BREAKS CO-OP – The Sound Inside (Astralwerks)
48. GOB IRON – Death Songs for the Living (Transmit Sound/Legacy)
Jay Farrar and Anders Parker
49. AS TALL AS LIONS – S/T (Triple Crown/East West)
Says here it's “British influenced contemporary indie rock” and makes comparisons to Sunny Day Real Estate meets Elbow, or Doves meet the Police. Sorry, but I don't hear it.
50. DANGEROUS MUSE – Give Me Danger EP (Cordless Recordings)
Second EP from the Electro-clash band.

Direct from the band:
51. ENVIE – S/T (self-released)

I’m Just Not That Into You:
52. POLLY PANIC – Painkiller (Greyday Records)
Pitched as a PJ Harvey, Siouxie Sioux style artsy tough mama, and I always love the sound of the cello, but this is just a bit too harsh for me. I do like the back cover – a photo of two prescription bottles, with the song titles listed on the labels.
53. ESTEBAN – Best of Esteban (Dreambox Records)
16th studio album from a new age worker on the direct-sales-through-TV beat. Skillful but noncompelling versions of “Fernando” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Runaway” and some Latin-tinged originals.
54. BADLY DRAWN BOY – Born in the U.K. (Astralwerks)
There are times when, much as you like an artist, his (of her) album makes you yawn or, in the case of some of the lyrics here, wince. The press kit says this album came out after tortured fits and starts. It doesn’t sound belabored, it just sounds limp.
55. BRIAN SETZER – Lucky 13 (Surfdog Records)
56. The CARS – Unlocked (Documrama DVD)
Why would I want to watch a DVD of the Cars in concert? When I saw them at Madison Square Garden at the height of their popularity, they were one of the most boring live shows I'd ever seen.
57. LISA PALLESCHI – Released (Lightyear Entertainment)
Here are the kind of lyrics you can play “what’s the rhyme?” with – she starts a couplet with “Maybe I’m a fool for trying” and you know it’s heading for something like “I don’t see the point in lying.” You can play, too:
“After what you put me though/After what you made me…do!” Generic female ballad pop, with strings. The cover of the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” stands out, but only as simple relief that it’s not more of the same.

Kids Stuff:
58. DAVID GROVER – Passin’ It On (KOCH)
subtitled “Pickin’ & Grinnin’ & Singin’ Them Old Time Tunes: American Folk Music from Our Living Room to Yours”
59. DAVID GROVER - There’s a Light in You (KOCH)
A David Grover sampler
60. DAVID GROVER & the BIG BEAR BAND - As Different as We Are (We’re All the Same) (KOCH)
(Koch Records)
The new co-host of the Today show narrates a kids classic. Can there be a picture book far behind?

It’s Mostly a Waste of Time to Send Me Country Music…
62. MARK CHESNUTT – Heard It In a Love Song
I wanted to count how many variations on “Wurth hearing” were inl his press kit, but I got tired.
64. HEARTLAND – I Loved Her First (Lofton Creek Records)
wedding song of the year?

…But Then Again, There’s Stuff I Like:
65. CHRIS SMITHER – Leave the Light On (Signature Sounds)
I first heard “Origin of [the] Species” on NPR and liked the wry take on evolution. The rest of the album is more straightforward Steve Earle-edged country blues rock, and much of it is quite catchy.

YTD: 662

Monday, October 16, 2006

Back on the Horse that Threw Me

To begin, here are the most recent Washington Post (regional) previews:
Friendly folkies.
AMY TAN at Reston Center Stage
Sometimes I write about book events, too.
DEAD MEN’S HOLLOW at Front Porch Fest
Pleasant local band doing bluegrass/folk.

CAT EMPIRE at The State Theatre
The publicity group called the morning the piece ran and asked if I could FedEx (on their dime) a printed version of the paper to go with the online link. No one’s ever cared enough to ask for overnight delivery before. I was flattered then, and moreso (plus surprised) when the PR team sent out a mass emailing a few days later, reprinting the story in full. I'm happy to say that the live show lived up to my recommendation. A way fun band.
Band Camp
This was a different kind of article for me – I went to a show and took a bunch of pictures and talked with the kids who played in a recital for Northern Virginia’s own School of Rock. Alas, despite lots of material and some color photos I was very proud of, the paper ran two small shots in black and white. I thought it was gonna be a fairly large photo essay. Here’s one of the shots they didn’t use…

Which takes us to the start of the CD list, since these were sent in conjunction with the above stories:
1. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Focus 2006-07
This made-for-me mix comes from the local arts group that pitched its new series of shows for Post preview coverage. Susan Greenbaum’s tracks were here. And then the singer herself sent me:
2. SUSAN GREENBAUM – You Are My Holiday (self-released)
3. SUSAN GREENBAUM – Hey! Hey! Hey! (self-released)
4. DEAD MAN’S HOLLOW – Two-Timin’ (Acoustic Americana)
5. The CAT EMPIRE – Two Shoes (Indica Records)
This Canadian-made special edition includes a second disc of live performances and music videos. It was sent when I was working on the preview.

6. The CAT EMPIRE (Velour)
A single CD of six tracks, enhanced with a few videos and footage of the band in the studio.

Purchased/Found at Retail:
7. SCISSOR SISTERS – Ta-Dah (Polydor)
I bought the super deluxe import version with the bonus tracks and tricky-to-open cover when I realized that Best Buy was selling it for an outrageousely low price ($12.99 I think). And I found this to go with it:
8. SCISSOR SISTERS sampler (Universal Motown)
Best Buy exclusive, three-tracks in a cardboard sleeve – two remixes of “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’” and an unreleased studio track, “Ambition,” none of which are on the double-CD version. So that’s 21 tracks total from S2.
9. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Sirius Radio Outlaw Country
Another freebie (what it’s supposed to come free with, I have no idea. I just saw a pile and took one to the cashier, and it rang up for a penny.) Hosted by Mojo Nixon, and including tracks by Todd Snider (so he’s country now?), Loretta Lynn (please don’t sing “Fist City” in San Francisco. See how Scissor Sisters have got me thinking?), Williams-es Lucinda and Hank, Johnny and Willie. Good times.
10. BECK – The Information (Geffen)
The packaging is a trip – a blank grid and a set of stickers (supposedly there are four sets, each designed by a different artist-du-jour) that enables you to make your own cover.
Question #1 - Will I ever bring myself to actually use the stickers?
Question #2 – Why hasn’t the album itself pulled me in?
11. PASTE magazine sampler #25
No DVD this month, alas.
12. CMJ NEW MUSIC magazine with CD sampler
Issue #142 has Catfish Haven on the cover, and only 51 pages, which seems quite slight for this publication. Is it a sign of had times? What does it portend (oooh, that’s an ominous word) for the upcoming CMJ New Music fest, which I hope to attend for the 4th (5th?) straight year. Shmooze-athon!

Good First Impression:
13. FIELDS – Seven from the Village (Black Lab)

14. TIME AGAIN – The Stories are True (Hellcat Records)
Punk newcomers played at the BigHairHardRock haven known as Jaxx earlier this month.

15. STEVE GOODMAN – Live at the Earl of Old Town (Red Pajamas Records)
I was delighted to hear that the Oh Boy! label had found a long-lost concert tape of the endearing, much-missed singer-songwriter. But there's no “The Dutchman” here, alas. Perhaps becuase it's the most heart-breakingly beautiful love song ever and Goodman was having too much fun with his hometown Chicago crowd and didn't want to make them cry.
16. MATES OF STATE – Bring It Back (Barsuk Records)
17. The STARLIGHT MINTS - Drowaton (Barsuk)
I was really excited to hear that the ‘mints were coming to town. I thought their last CD was one of the best of its year. But Terry was called away to an all-day bizniz trip and Grace wasn’t feeling well, so I stayed home and watched the finale of “Project Runway” with here instead of going to the show. Jeffrey’s been a real dick for much of the Runway season, so why was I still happy to see him included in the final four who went to the big fashion show? It’s certainly not the neck tattoo…(shudder)
18. The RANDIES – Saw The Light
Do they wanna be the Dixie Chicks or the Donnas? I can't tell.
19. KASABIAN – Empire (RCA)
Another British band that sounds like it wants to Be Important, with a Big Anthemic Sound. Came with a neat oversized playing card bearing the band’s logo, though.

20. L.E.O. – Alpalcas Orgling (Cheap Lullaby Records)
As the band's name suggests, there's a lot of ELO referencing going on here and a bit of Queen and a smattering of Pink Floyd, too.

Two Albums You Can Play for Your Mom:
21. MADELEINE PEYROUX – Half the Perfect World (Rounder)
A lovely voice and a style reminiscent of Billie Holiday, which is also/always lovely. But I wish she wouldn't slow things down so much. That trick is too often used on cover tunes, as if to say "I'm really taking this song seriously."
22. AMOS LEE – Supply and Demand (Blue Note)
His first album was appealing, so I'll give this a spin some night when I'm drifting off.

And these others:
23. OPPENHEIMER – S/T (Bar None Records)
Tune in next week, when this Irish electronica/pop duo will be the Post preview for its Oct. 28 gig at the Galaxy Hut. Pitched as a cross between Postal Service and Air. I hear more of the latter, and a bit of pop, too.
The publicist also threw in:
24. HOT ONE – S/T (Modern Imperial Records)
Watch out – scary titles ahead. “Get Your Priest On,” “Fuckin’” and “Pistol-Whip Me.” Also “Waiting for the Rapture” and “If God is On My Side.” Someone may be going to hell…
25. BREAKS CO-OP – The Sound Inside (Astralwerks)
26. JESS KLEIN – City Garden (UFO/House of Leo)
Over the course of weeks, I got two copies of this CD. I listened - twice - but I just didn't dig it.

Kid Stuff:
27. The SWEET DREAMS MOVIE – soundtrack (KOCH)
I got a copy of this just a coupla weeks ago.
28. FARMER JASON – A Day at the Farm with…(Kid Rhino)
Had this one from the last time Farmer Jason (a.ka. Jason Ringenberg, once of the mighty Jason and the Scorchers) came to town and crashed in my family room, after doing two shows at local club Jammin Java - a matinee as Farmer Jason and an evening show as his rockin' "evil twin."
29.FARMER JASON – Rockin’ in the Forest with…(Kid Rhino)
Didn't have this one yet. I love the press note: “File Under: Anarchy in the Pre-K”
30.The WIGGLES – Sing Along: Crunchy Munchy Music (KOCH)
31.The WIGGLES – Tinsel Town Tunes
Versions with and without music, so you can sing along to “It’s a Christmas Party on the Good Ship Feathersword”
23. SONGS FROM FAIRYTOPIA – Original Cast Recording (KOCH)
Barbie…you’ll never escape her.

Advance worth Pitching:
34. The INNER BANKS – S/T (DAG! Records)
Seven tracks, sweet female voices, gently pulsing rhythms, interesting instrumentation.
RIYD (it says here): Azure Ray, Japancakes, Air. I also hear a bit of Ivy, too.
Out December 5.

The Jury's Still Out:
35. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Cracker Barrell Presents Songs of the Year
Each song a previous winner of Song of the Year from either the Grammy Awards, Country Music Association or Academy of Country Music. Still not sure who's promoting what and why it was sent to me.
36. DARKEL – S/T (Astralwerks)
37. DEADSY – Phantasmagore (Immortal Records)
38. BEN CONNELLY – Over You (AD/CD)
39. NICOLA – Don’t Take it Personally (Hot Cherry)
“Hot chicks don’t have to lip-sync and buy songs from old men anymore!” Okay, but they also don't have to pose on the album cover with extremely defined cleavage, either.

And finally...
From The Onion , a scary piece of self-recognition:

CHARLESTON, SC-Tourist Alex Pratt decided to "get the feel" of the
historic South Carolina port city of Charleston by making the rounds
of its local used-CD stores Tuesday. "I found a Marshall Crenshaw CD
I didn't have, and really lucked out on The Feelies' The Good Earth-I
haven't seen that in years," said Pratt, who has also shopped for
music in Boston, San Francisco, Gettysburg, PA, and Kansas City. "I
like this place. It's a lot like my regular used-CD shop back in
Chicago." Foregoing a ferry-ride to nearby Fort Sumter, Pratt said he
intended to spend the remainder of the afternoon peeling the
protective plastic off the CD cases and enjoying a sandwich from a
local Subway restaurant.

Ouch! I am the geek! (But I'm female, so there's something exotic about it that may save me yet)

YTD: 597

Monday, September 25, 2006

Happy Birthday, Kay!

My mom turned 80 yesterday. She doesn't share my musical tastes for the most part, but how can I not say hey to Kay on her day!?

1.BOB DYLAN – Modern Times (Columbia)
Uh-oh. I used to get Columbia music on a regular basis. Have I been dropped from another list? So I bought it at Best Buy and this bonus – a nifty CD-sized booklet of all Bobby’s album covers.
There are only 10 tracks in all, but those that are, are choice -positively cheery. One even has a James Taylor arrangement – breezy and charming. And on “Beyond the Horizon” he seems to be – is it possible? – crooning!
2.GNARLS BARKLEY – St. Elsewhere (Downtown/Atlantic)
After hearing only the ubiquitous “Crazy,” I went for it on super sale ($9.99) and am glad I did. One of those albums, like Gorillaz’ “Demon Days,” that makes you feel cool anytime you put it on.
3.JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – SexFuture/LoveSounds (J)
It’s become rather rare that I rush out to buy a CD on release day, but this one was a must – if only to save me from giving in to buying the “Sexyback” single on iTunes, which was just a matter of time, so I might as well have the other songs, too. Too bad that the bonus track from Best Buy is a track featuring Snoop Dogg. I am not a fan.
4.PINK – I’m Not Dead (LaFace)
This month’s selection (only $5.99, including shipping). Getting one is a reminded to go and check the queue, ‘cause they charge you each month whether or not you have an order on file. I added the Massive Attack best-of collection, to go with the Cyndi Lauper acoustic hits collection and a Brian Stokes Mitchell (Broadway vocalist) to give to my mom when the holidays come around.

Another visit to the CD trade-in store:
5.The LONG WINTERS – Putting the Days to Bed (Barsuk)
Saw John Roderick, the lead singer for this band, at the “Revenge of the Bookeaters” benefit last month and was intrigued by his high, keening voice and his impressionistic lyrics. Though I recognize one song from that show, the one I was really hoping to hear again – something about falling from space, a la Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” is not here, as far as I can tell.
6.PHASER – Sway (Emperor Norton)
Always sad to see a good band in the $1.99 clearance. Though I was fairly sure I had this CD already, I didn’t recognize the cover and so took the chance. It turns out this version has a few tracks that weren’t on the one I had, so nothing lost. When I put it on again, I was impressed anew with the band’s slow, cool guitar sound. Wondering what happened to this fine band.
7. CARTEL – Chroma (Epic)
Another Grace selection for her pretty-boys-play-pop/emo collection. I saw the video – bright colors and a myspace romance story – which was quite cute, as was the lead singer.
8. WILCO – A Ghost is Born (Nonesuch)
Terry went on a long car trip this past summer, which began and ended with a plane ride. He took a case of his favorite CDs, which did not make it home with him (we suspect it was taken from his luggage). One of the missing pieces was this longtime favorite, so I replaced it. It took a little of the sting out that I was able to get a copy of the limited edition disc (which we didn’t have) with the extra disc of live and demo tracks.

Free samplers:
And two “snippets.”
10.VARIOUS ARTISTS – Lost Highway
A nice collection, with two each from 4 artists, including some good new sounds from Golden Smog.
11. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Deluxe Edition, Volume 3 (Universal)
Yeah, I have it already, but if Best Buy is gonna give ‘em out, I’m gonna take ‘em and redistribute to the bigger world. Gave a similar sampler to the guy who installed my water heater the other day. He was happy, and I felt good. Musical socialism?

We Get Out:
12. TOBIAS FROBERG – Somewhere in the City (FireEgg Recordings)
This Swedish singer/songwriter’s CD caught my ear immediately with a Simon & Garfunkle-y folkiness on tunes like "God's Highway" and breaks my heart every time I hear his duet with Norweigian star Ane Brun, "Love and Misery." I caught his set at Jammin Java and, though, I prefer the studio versions, he’s one to watch.
13.TEITUR – Stay Under the Stars (Equator Records)
This one-name artist from the Faroe Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean between the UK, Norway and Iceland, was supposed to headline the show that Froberg appeared at, so I was curious about his CD and bought it sound-unheard. I’m so glad I did. He’s got a quiet, organic sound with subtle arrangements, and writes vignettes that echo like short stories, my current favorite being “I Run The Carousel.”
14.STEPHEN KELLOGG and the SIXERS – S/T (Foundations)
Interview feature for the Post.
A lovely man to speak with, especially as he’s a friend of Matt Nathanson’s and we had lots of fun talking about their musical friendship. This album, frankly, doesn’t rock my socks, but the live show – held at the student union of a local commuter college – was filled with thoroughly charming moments. Kellogg spoke with clear pride about his upcoming studio CD, due in February ’07, so I’m going to keep an ear out for that.

Other Covered Artists:
15.NAKED BLUE – Five by Five (self-released)
Local acoustic husband-and-wife pair (with band) played a free show at an outdoor plaza.
16.M. WARD – Post-War (Merge)
Played the Birchmere.

Coming to Town:
17.GAELIC STORM – Bring Yer Wellies (Lost Again Records)
Playing at the Birchmere on October 11th
18.The PRIDS – Until the World is Beautiful (self-released?)
Sorry, I can’t find the release, but they’re coming soon.
19.POWERMAN 5000 – Destroy What You Enjoy (DRT Entertainment)
A JAXX show – act now, ‘cause it’s Wednesday, the 27th.
20.YONDER MOUNTAINSTRING BAND – self-titled (Vanguard)
October 8th at 930 Club. A dupe of a CD I got earlier.

21..JEREMY ENIGK – World Waits (Lewis Hollow)
Former Sunny Day Real Estate player’s solo album.
Out Oct. 17th
22.MEAT LOAF – Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose (Virgin)
Out Oct. 31st.
23.MINDY SMITH – Long Island Shores (Vanguard)
Lovely late night listening. One of those voices that instantly soothes.
Out Oct. 10th
24.JESS KLEIN – City Garden (Vermillion)
Out Oct. 10th.

25.The KLEZMATICS – Wonder Wheel: Lyrics by Woody Guthrie (JMG)
26.IMA ROBOT – Monument to the Masses (Virgin)
Official jewel-box edition of one I got in a cardboard advance. And I finally put it on. And while I can’t say I dislike it, there’s something a little novelty song sounding about the enterprise.

Pleasant Surprises:
I didn’t know I’d be getting these, but was delighted to open the packages.
27.SPARKLEHORSE – Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain (Astrakwerks)
Listened to this one three times the first day I played it.
28.The SCIENCE OF SLEEP – soundtrack/music byJean-Michel Bernard (Astralwerks)
How much does you enjoyment of a film – or happy anticipation of it, as in this case, predisposes you to enjoy the soundtrack? So far, so good.
29.SAM MOORE – Overnight Sensational (Rhino)
30.The KLEZMATICS – Woody Guthrie’s Happy Joyous Hanukkah (JMG)
It’s happened – I got my first Christmas-oriented catalog in the mail and, while it ticks me off for retailers to start talking about the holidays this soon, I’m fine with getting advance holiday music, since it’s never too early to start thinking about this year’s “Cool Yule” compilation.

We’ll See:
31.PROPHET OMEGA – The Natural World (Astralwerks)
I misread the cover and thought it was called Project Omega, which I like better (less attitude).
32.NIOBE – White Hats (Tomlab)
33.STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE – The Sweet Dreams Movie Soundtrack (Koch)
34.LIBBY JOHNSON – Annabella (Wrong Records)
35.TRUST THE MAN (various artists) – Soundtrack (Wrong Records)
More Libby Johnson.
36.The ANTIQUES – Nicknames and Natives (Banter Records)

37.LEMURIA & KIND OF LIKE SPITTING – Your Living Room’s All Over Me (Art of the Underground)
A split-disc from two bands from Buffalo, NY. And the difference between the first 7 tracks (Lemuria) and the last five was obvious – as in, I wanted to turn the CD off during the last five.

Mistaken Delivery:
38.DANGEROUS MUSE – The Rejection Remixes (Cordless Recordings)
Intended for another Post writer (the paper has a no-forwarding policy, which probably hurts me far more than it helps in the occasional extra CD).

YTD Total: 558

And…a new, probably ongoing feature…
Heavy Metal Ha-Ha
or, Why I’d rather read about metal music than listen to it
From a press emailing about ZOROASTER
Subject: “a tumultuous, cerebellum-roasting doom celebration”
“the sound of doom buried in LSD-drenched cotton and imploding like a black hole…the indecipherable vocals become almost percussive weapons, pounding like the battering ram of the music against the gates of your sanity." - Rebel Extravaganza
And this one:
"Like the tentacled leviathan depicted on their debut mini-album's front cover, the music created by Atlanta, GA's Zoroaster rises up from unfathomable depths, propelled by tsunamis of doom, submerged in viscous sludge." - All Music Guide

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Summer Swan Songs

Listing to the car radio with Grace, as she anxiously hit all the presets, looking for something she’d enjoy, I realized how little major label “product” I get in an average month. But I also realized how that didn’t bother me all that much, since most of what I hear on the radio, promoted so heavily by the big bucks hustlers, is drek I wouldn’t want to listen to anyway (though it might fetch better trade-in value…) I’m happy on my little indie island…

1. PORTER BLOCK – Suburban Sprawl (Engine Room Recordings)
Intended for another Post writer, but sent to my address (the paper doesn’t forward material sent to me at the DC office, and my editor told me I need not forward other writers’ packages sent to me. I do, however, attempt to tell the publicists that the material went to the wrong place). Touted as having a Fountains of Wayne vibe, tho' I haven't been gripped in such a manner yet.
2. JONAH SMITH – S/T (Relix)
On first impresssion, he reminded me of a bunch of good people – The Band, Van Morrison, John Hiatt. Now I have to return and see if he’s got his own tales to tell.
3. RAY MONTAGNE – Till The Sun Turns Black (RCA)
4. TONY JOE WHITE – Uncovered (Swamp)
Guest spots with J.J. Cale, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Michael McDonald and Waylon Jennings.
5. MEAT LOAF – It’s All Coming Back to Me Now (Virgin)
He’s back…! And there’s gonna be an (attempt at a) Bat Out of Hell revival, including a concert recorded at Royal Albert Hall, and an NYC stand that hipsters will no doubt fight to get into so they can stand in the back and nod in knowing post-ironic amusement.
6. PETER WALKER – Young Gravity (Dangerbird Music)
7. COLOUR REVOLT – S/T (Foxxe in a Box)
A few of the song titles on this 6-track EP give me pause – “Blood in Your Mouth,” “Our Homes are Graves” - but the PR sticker, from the guys I trust at Team Clermont, compares the band to Modest Mouse and Radiohead, so I have some hope.
8. CONFETTI – original motion picture soundtrack (Sanctuary)
I like the big brassy pop songs – Paul Anka doing “Almost Like Being in Love” – am intrigued by Alison Moyet’s version of the hoary chestnut “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” and Nina Simone song entitled “Marriage is for Old Folks.”
9. SUMMER HYMNS – Backward Masks (Misra)
Compared to Mercury Rev and Yo La Tengo.
10. The SUMMER OBSESSION – This Is Where You Belong (Virgin)
Official release duplicate of a cardboard cover advance I got some weeks ago.

11. VARIOUS ARTISTS – CMJ New Music sampler
I subscribed to the magazine months ago; took a long time to get this issue, though. While CMJ was one of the early mags smart enough to include a CD with each issue, they have been eclipsed, in terms of what I want to hear, by Paste. But CMJ is a bit more fun to read, and keeps me in touch with styles that I wouldn't hear otherwise.
12. OUTKAST – Idlewild (LaFace)
Saw just a snippet of the video, but bought it ‘cause I trust these guys to make it worthwhile. Great lenticular cover, too.
Bought the first CD and liked it OK, then heard a track from this new one on the radio last week (it was either FUV in NYC or XPN in Philly, neither of which counts in my usual ‘radio sucks’ rants) and was reminded that I like ‘em. I haven’t cracked the shrinkwrap yet, and now I see that the Universal promo-only MPE download site is offering all the tracks for free – if I can only figure out how to work the damn thing. Hmmm…but this CD only cost $7.00 and comes with a DVD bonus (damn bonuses!). Whatever will I do?
14. DURAN DURAN – Night Versions (EMI-Capitol)
A throwback from the visit to Cape May in early August, which I forgot to include. Found it at an antiques shop for $6 in great condition, includes the die-cut slip case and even the extra enhanced CD (which you were supposed to use to access material at a web site, probably long dormant, but still…). Eleven pumped-up dance mixes of Duran Duran hits. Retro nirvana!

Local Boys Making Good:
15. EXIT CLOV – Respond Respond (Livewire)
Six tracks from the upcoming EP. The band is led by twin sisters Emily and Susan and sings one song called “Communist BBQ.” Out October 10th.
16. CARBON LEAF – Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat (Vanguard)
Engaging Celtic-tinged rock. The band is soon to be touring with Matt Nathanson – a show well worth checking out.
17. OVER IT – Step Outside of Yourself (Virgin)
Local boys from Alexandria, VA have moved on to the left coast and got a deal with a major.

18. TOM PETTY – Highway Companion (American Recordings)
19. DEM FRANCHIZE BOYS – On Top of Our Game (Virgin)
I generally don’t get, request, or even care about much hardcore hip-hop. Let’s face it – white suburban moms are not the target market. But since the PR made it sound like it had a bit more melody and sense of humor than most, I asked her to send it along. It also came with 50+ pages of photocopied press clips (poor interns!) which gave me a chance to see samples of the music press for an area in which I’m far out of the loop. That’s where I read a review that tells me DFB is like Too Live Crew, but not as clever. Uh-oh…

Here’s a slew I meant to record right after the Warped tour show on August 11th.
20. GREEN DAY – International Superhits! (Reprise)
Grace has almost completed her full GD collection, and I helped with this contribution from the CD trade-in store.
21.YEAH YEAH YEAHS – Show Your Bones (Interscope)
This month’s $5.99 queue from

22. HELLOGOODBYE – Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! (Drive-Thru)
Grace bought her copy online so that she could get the bonus – a color-it-yourself fuzzy poster. Then, I saw it was on sale at Best Buy for $7.99 with a bonus 25-minute DVD. So I bought one, figuring I could trade in the duplicate or have her sell it, cut-rate, to a friend, essentially buying just the video.
I still hate the exclusive bonus idea and lately I have seen a bunch of them. One that burned me – the new Todd Snider CD, with a bonus disc interview conducted by Nanci Griffith, plus Todd and Nanci dueting on some songs. Will I really have to buy the album again for that? If I can find it online, I will feel fully justified in downloading it, and I think Todd would understand.
23. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Drive-Thru Records Sampler
A nice little freebie, tucked inside the HelloGoodbye CD.
24. The ELANORS – Movements (Parosol)
Opened for Husky Rescue at Jammin Java on Wednesday night and I really liked their set.
I wrote a preview for the Post, but concentrated on Husky Rescue 'cause I couldn't find Elanors info. but they have a grand, melodic sound in the Coldplay school. Hope to cover them the next time they come through.

25.MOZELLA – I Will (Maverick)
Touring with Sierra Swan as part of the “Unplugged and Uncorked” tour, with wine-tasting included.
Another Post preview.
26. PATRICK PORTER – Die Wandaland EP (Greyday Records)
Lightwight, bt fun and came with what now passes for swag - a cute button! That’s my new collection obsession – band buttons, preferably the 1-inch size, even better in sets of coordinated styles.
27. BARTON CARROLL – Love &War (Skybucket Records)
RIYD (it says here): Richards Thompson and Buckner, Gillian Welch and Townes Van Zandt.
28. BOB SCHNEIDER – The Californian
He’s coming to Jammin Java in coming months, and I hear he does a great show, so time to get up to speed. I really liked the “Lonelyland” CD.
29. GRADA – Endevour (Compass)
30. PAUL BRILL – Harpooner (Scarlet Shame Records)

31. RONNIE BAKER – S/T (BNT Records)
“Through all the setbacks I just kept on going because I think there has to be a reason that God gave me this talent.” I worry when people claim that God is forcing their hand. That’s how the President operates and we see what kind of mess that’s turned out to be. Tracks named “Urban Cowboy Wanna Be” and “Hard Rockin’ Rebel” do not call to me.
32. TURN OFF THE STARS – S/T (Credential)
PR compares this Toronto quartet to the Verve and Travis, but I didn’t hear anything as dramatic as the former or as charming as the latter.
33. PETER BRADLEY ADAMS – Gather Up (Mouse in the Moon Records)
Was once part of the duo eastmountainsouth, now solo, and I have to admit, I miss that second voice. He was at Jammin Java on September 1st.

34. The SOUNDS – Dying to Say This to You (New Line)
One of the nice things about getting press credentials to the Warped tour is that the press office lets the various labels know who’s attending as press. There was a brief flurry of emails in the days before the show from reps for younger bands, asking if I’d care to check ‘em out. I asked for the Sounds in that context, but missed their show as they had one of the earliest set times, and we arrived about 90 minutes after the day began (still, we were there more than 8 hours!). Now the sexy blonde singer is all over the video channels as a member of the band doing the “Snakes on a Plane” song.
35. EELS – Live at Town Hall (Vagrant)
36. FUTUREHEADS – News and Tributes
The Vagrant merchandise booth was selling some of its new and slightly older releases for a mere $5 each, so I had to get these two. The Eels disc has been on my Watch List for a while, while the Futureheads are a band I haven’t heard but have heard a lot about.
VARIOUS ARTISTS free samplers:
37. Suretown Summer Slam
A nice collection, with new and unreleased tracks from The Cure, Weezer, Pink Spiders and others.
38. Vagrant Summer Tour Sampler
39. Epitaph
Included a Bouncing Souls sticker.
40. Victory Records Presents Catch Twenty Two: Permanent Revolution
Permanent Vacation is featured on the cover, as if the CD is all theirs, but it also includes Aiden, Silverstein and others in the Rock and Mosh categories (as the label tells it).

YTD Total: 520

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Warped Tour, part one - Axes and Asses

So, here's the thing -
I love being in the photo pit, and I took over 500 pictures at the Warped Tour stop at Nissan Pavilion, outside DC. But sometimes I look for a different angle and I've become (just a little bit, honestly!) fascinated with the rear view of the boys onstage.
So here are some butt shots from the show...I'll tell you who's who at the end (so to say!).

The butts in question belong to:
A=Matt Friction, of the Pink Spiders
B = Forrest, of hellogoodbye
C=Jared Leto, of 30 Seconds to Mars

Once I got into the close-up mode, I also became fascinated with the performers' guitars. so here's a few of those shots, too:

These guitars belong to:
A=Joan Jett
B = guitarist in Joan Jett's Blackhearts
C=Forrest, again
D=Jared Leto, again

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Let's Talk About Procrastination....tomorrow

Okay, I've been really bad. And I'm behind. And I need to do a Warped wrap-up - with lots of groovy pictures. So let's laundry list for now and I promise to be better soon.

CD store trade-in:
1. SCRITTI POLITTI – White Bread Black Beer (Nonesuch)
I love Green Gartside’s voice, and have kept in touch with his stuff since back in the glory days of “The Word Girl” and “Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)” and this one seems like a return to those golden days. I hope it lives up to the enjoyment of its first few listens.
A clearance table gift for my mom and brother, both of whom are big fans of Broadway show tunes (I’ve grown less fond of all but the classics and Sondheim in all his efforts).
3. RADIOHEAD – My Iron Lung (Capitol)
I saw this 8-track EP on a new releases list recently, so I was excited to find it at the trade-in store. But the copyright date is a few years old, and it’s clearly an extended single from the past. What gives?
Do I have this already? Couldn’t risk missing out, so I grabbed it.
5. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Q Covered: The Eighties
6. WILLIAM SHATNER – The Transformed Man (Creation)
I’m a victim of the recent commercials for the upcoming Shatner roast, combined my fond (?) memories of his version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
7. WILLIE NELSON – You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker free sampler
MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNER – 3 song free sampler
I’m gonna stop counting this band’s CDs in the YTD countdown ‘cause I keep picking them up whenever I see them in the freebies pile. I like the way this band releases customized promo discs for upcoming gigs. Somebody’s got a talent for marketing.

8.The SLATS – Boom Patrol (Latest Flame)
9. TOWERS OF LONDON – Blood Sweat & Towers (TVT)
10.VARIOUS ARTISTS – Rip This: Rockin The Summer sampler (TVT)
11. BRETT DENNEN – So Much More (Dualtone)
12. The KLEZMATICS – Wonder Wheel: Lyrics by Woody Guthrie (Jewish Music Group)
13. The RECEIVER – Decades (Stunning Models On Display)
14. VIRGINIA COALITION – Live at the 9:30 Club (Bluhammock Music)
15. GRIDDLE- Klimty Favela (Your Permanent Records)

16. STEVIN (sic) McNAMARA – Yogitar (Etherean Music)
Terry brought this home for me from recent travels. The title is silly, the cover worse (a graphic that morphs a man in meditative pose with a huge guitar), but Terry heard it as in-store music and really liked it. Gentle ambient sound.
17. DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE – Directions (DVD)
18. DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE – You Can Play These Songs with Chords (Barsuk Records)
19. DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE – We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes (Barsuk Records)
Terry’s birthday resulted in his getting some background music and a new video collection from one of his favorite (albeit recently discovered) bands.

20. TODD SNIDER – The Devil You Know (New Door)
When the song “You Got Away with It (Tale of Two Frat Brothers)” begins, it sounds like a generic tale of snotty rich boys behaving badly, but subtle references in later verses – to Florida and Camp David – reveal that it’s a slap against our Pretender-in-Chief. Great stuff from a great
21. EXIT CLOV – The “Jolly Roget Sessions”
Local boys on the move.
22. TRACHTENBURG FAMILY SLIDESHOW PLAYERS – Off and On Broadway (Sarathan Records DVD)
23. MONSTERS ARE WAITING – Fascination (?)
24. SILVERSUN PICKUPS – Carnavas (Dangerbird)
Kind of a Pixies vibe. Coming to the IOTA in October. I’m psyched.
25. VIENNA TENG – Dreaming Through the Noise (Zoe/Rounders)
26. MARY LEE’S CORVETTE – Love Loss & Lunacy
Played locally recently.

27. JENNY BOYLE – Life in Mosiac (self-released)
28. ASHTON ALLEN – Dewdrops (Livewire)
Coming to Jammin’ Java September 1st.

29. GOVT. MULE – High & Mighty (ATO)
Out August 22nd.
30. IMA ROBOT – Monument to the Masses (Virgin)
Out September 19th.
31. GRIDDLE – Klimty Favela
32. The SUMMER OBSESSION – This Is Where You Belong (Virgin)
Out August 29th.
33. BRIDGES AND POWERLINES – S/T (self-released)
Out September 26th.
34. LADYFINGER (NE) – Heavy Hands (Saddle Creek)
Out September 26th

YTD Total: 480

Friday, July 28, 2006

Return from the Great Hot North

Was in upstate New York for a little more than a week. Mostly fine weather for laying on the beach, baking and swimming, and enjoying a major unplugged feeling. On a quick visit to Coconuts (fun name for a store; makes me think of the Marx Brothers, of course), I found a sale – buy three used CDs, get the fourth for free. So, four new CDs for $28 - $7 each average. Not bad.
1. JAMIE CULLUM – Catching Tales (Verve/Forecast)
I have this already, but not the deluxe set, with the DVD extra.

2. MILES DAVIS – Porgy and Bess (Columbia)
I’ll pass this off as a present to Terry, but it’s really for me.
3. BLUR – 13 (Virgin)
Another present for Terry; this time for real. I wasn’t fond of the album when I originally got it on cassette, but I’ll give Damon and co. a second chance. Maybe they were ahead of their time.
4. LYLE LOVETT – My Baby Don’t Tolerate (Lost Highwy/Curb)

Picked up at an earlier visit to a Borders store in the lovely little town of Saratoga (horse town):
5. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Uncut magazine sampler for July 2006

6. EASY STAR ALL-STARS – Radiodread (Easy Star Records)
Worth having two – one for the car.
Out: August 22.
7. JOHNNY CASH – American V: A Hundred Highways (Lost Highway/American)
8.THOM YORKE – The Eraser (XL)
Love the graphics. Trouble is, within the first few times of opening it to remove the disc, the cardboard ripped. I bought the official copy right away since we’ve been enjoying the leaked advance so much. Still, I object again to the Target Extra concept - this time, a downloadable interview with Yorke. But the download requires no special code and is stickered on the front cover shrinkwarap anyway, so no big deal. (I’d pass it on, but I lost the sticker).

9. ELI COOK - Miss Blues Child (self-released)
Pitched for the Post, tied to his show at the Birchmere on July 21st.
10. DAVID POE – Live and Solo at the Artists Den (self-released)
Was at Jammin Java Thursday (July 22nd).
11. ANGIE APARAO – El Primero Del Tres (self-released)
Coming to Jammin Java on August 19th.

12. ZERO 7 – The Garden
Downtempo groove stuff, featuring vocals by Jose Gonzalez and Sia.
13.VAROUS ARTISTS – free Best Buy Tour Sampler
Angels and Airwaves, Taking Back Sunday, the Subways and someone I forget.
14. JOHNNY CASH & JUNE CARTER CASH – 16 Biggest Hits (Columbia/Legacy)
I swim weekly with a group of special needs kids, one of whom is a tiny little autistic boy named Jackson, so I had to know all the words to the song that bears his name. And, ever since seeing “Walk the Line,” I’ve wanted more Johnny and June, so this one went to the top of my list at mymusic.
15.VARIOUS ARTISTS – Mojo Magazine Presents Revolver Reloaded
Like “This Bird Has Flown,” which channeled “Rubber Soul,” this CD recreates a classic Beatles album. But all of the contemporary artists here seem to feel that the best way to honor a song is to slow it down, which makes for a very samey, rather boring end result.
16.VARIOUS ARTISTS – New Music Monthly
CMJ was really the magazine to reintroduce the idea of enclosing a CD with each monthly issue – at least here in the U.S., but the selection sometimes veers into hardcore fringes that I don’t care much about. Still, a cheap and easy way to hear some people I wouldn’t otherwise encounter.

17. SANDI THOM – Smile…It Confuses People (RCA/Viking Legacy)
A friend who recently returned from London brought this as a souvenir for us, and we’re getting into it. Thom got tired of driving all over the U.K to play for small audiences, so she set up a webcam and started broadcasting shows from her home, building a fan base that way. Her “hit” is called “I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (with Flowers in My Hair)” which is quite catchy, but really – when was the last time you saw a punk rocker who wore flowers?

18. The MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO. – Hard to Love a Man (Secretly Canadian)
Nice cover of Zevon’s “Werewolves of London,” but the rest is kinda mopey.
19. RICHARD SWIFT – The Richard Swift Collection: Volume One – The Novelist/Walking Without Effort (Secretly Canadian)

Saw Swift open for Josh Ritter in LA and was impressed. Terry said he sounded like a heterosexual Rufus Wainwright, and I heard bits of Randy Newman, and both of those are fine by us.

20. ANDREA BURNS – 100 Stories (Toucan Cove/Universal)
A pretty generic disco-dance tune.
21. GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS – Nineteeneighties ( Zoe)
What sounds like a great idea – acoustic covers of classic tunes originally recorded by R.E.M., Psychedelic Furs, Echo and the Bunnymen, etc. – falls flat, for the same reason that “Revolver” tribute does. Phillips slows every tune down to a snail’s pace and, after about three tracks, it gets very dull indeed.
22. JOLIE HOLLAND – Springtime Can Kill You (ANTI-)
23. SIERRA SWAN – Ladyland (Interscrope)
Planned to see her in LA, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where they host a faboo hipster late night noise and drink party each Saturday night, but our dinner ran late and we got there just after she finished her set. Since the publicist gave us guest list, I feel I owe him a good listen to this one.
24. DENGUE FEVER – Escape from Dragon House (M80)

Another LA adventure, but this one we made it to on time. Early, in fact, since we booked a dinner at the restaurant, Tangiers, which hosts a tiny club room in the back. Great show – sweaty and crowded and filled with friends of the band who shouted along in Cambodian to the band’s exotic yet familiar (80’s new wave dance rhythms) sound. And Terry was immediately smitten with the beautiful lead singer.

25.BARBARA TRENTALANGE – Photo Album of Complex Relationships (Coco Tauro)
Great title, and nice delivery – the CD was mailed in a small cardboard box with cotton lining, as you might use for a piece of jewelry (though I’ll confess that I was hoping there was additional swag content in such a box, and there wasn’t; just a folded bio sheet).
26. The SLEEPY JACKSON – One Was a Spider, One Was a Bird (Astralwerks)
27. DAMON McMAHON - Mansions (Astralwerks)
28. SYSTEM and STATION – Here is Now (Latest Flame)
Out September 12th
29. HO-AG – The Word from Pluto (Hello Sir Records)
30. KULTUR SHOCK – We Came to Take Your Jobs Away (KoolArrow Records)
The cover makes me nervous - tattooed guy with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, sticking a plunger in a toilet – and I don’t wanna know about the red stains on the top of the john. If I saw just the titles – like “God is Busy” and “Gino Loves You” – I’d be more curious.

Older things that I missed along the way:
31.The MILES DAVIS QUINTET – The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions Sampler (Prestige)
32.WAKING ASHLAND – Eponymous (Immortal)
33.VARIOUS ARTISTS – Wonka Vision Everlasting Sampler, Vol. 7
34.VARIOUS ARTISTS – Paste magazine sampler #23

R.I.P. You Crazy Diamond
I’d been wanting to hear “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” ever since I heard about Syd Barrett’s death, and the only CD I found in my collection was a 25th anniversary CD edition version of “Dark Side of the Moon.” Came thisclose to buying “Wish You Were Here” at Best Buy for $14, and then thought ‘hey, how much would these 5 tracks cost on iTunes? Turns out the key tracks were only available with the full album purchase, and then I found my vinyl – WYWH and The Wall. I listened to the former in full, for Syd.
My last full day upstate, I found a used copy of the 2-CD greatest hits set, with “Shine On…” and “Wish You Were Here” (the songs I most wanted) . It was also fun to reconnect with other old favorites (“See Emily Play”) and hear a few from the albums, I’d missed. So this entry ends with:
35.PINK FLOYD – Echoes (Capitol)

YTD: 446

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve

“I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is a disgrace, two is a law firm and three or more is called a Congress…”
Was watching “1776” to finish off a Fourth of July of barbequed steak, apple pie and parking lot fireworks (legal here in Old Virginny) during most of this...

New to the CPF archives:
An interview with Emil de Cou of National Sympony Orchestra
"Barber of Seville" and River Nile Band - separate shows!
Marianne Dissard, Naim Amor at IOTA
Brindley Brothers at Jammin Java

Other People’s Video:
Bruce Springsteen literally laughs off the idea that he shouldn’t be speaking his mind about politics, and says a few sharp things about Bush.
Remember When Sting Was Cool?

Monday, July 3:
1. REGINA SPEKTOR – Begin to Hope (Sire)
A new favorite in our house. Grace discovered her on a mix CD that a friend gave her and fell in love. The same day we bought the previous album, "Soviet Kitsch," Terry heard a story about Regina on NPR and came home asking if we had anything by this cool new voice. Neat marketing idea: came with a cardboard sleeve and disc within, and this note. “Don’t keep regina’s music a secret…Give “begin to hope side 1” to a friend.”
2. ZAC BROWN BAND/WIDEAWAKE – Rock Bus Sampler (corporate sponsor)
Coming to town to play ay Jammin Java on July.21st.
3. SO MANY DYNAMOS – Flashlights (Skrocki)
Out September 5th.

Saturday, July 1:
4. REGINA SPEKTOR – Soviet Kitsch (Sire)
There's one song here that makes me think, "what if Laurie Anderson did Fiddler on the Roof"? And that's a good thing!

Friday, June 30:
5. GEMZ – Live in Concert Summer 2005! (DVD)
6. GEMZ – Blue is for Girls (StreetBeat)
“Is this going to rot my brain?” Grace asked, studying the cover, aghast. It’s one of those “family-friendly” pop acts, consisting of five ‘tween girls, each of whom has a precious stone nickname. They are pictured on the CD cover wearing bright blue wigs, and the press release is riddled with bad grammar and comments about how all your dreams will come true if you just believe…Grace may by right.
7. CULT OF SUE TODD – Kelsey Grammer Loves Us (self-released)

8. LINDA RONSTADT and ANN SAVOY – Adieu False Heart (Vanguard)
They'd like to be called “The Zozo Sisters” but you gotta know the Ronstadt angle will sell this. And the harmonies are truly goregous.
9. CORINNE BAILEY RAE – eponymous (Capitol)
Coming to town, which was a good excuse to request the CD, and she is quite the classy dame. The Norah Jones comparisons are fine, but she's got her own thing happening, too.
10. MIA DYSON – Parking Lots (Black Door)
11. YOUNG DUBLINERS – Real World (Higher Octave/EMI)

Thursday, June 29
12. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Q magazine Mellow Gold
I had to get past the picture of James Blunt on the cover, but the music is worth it.
Wilco, Elliott Smith (I’m not sure I can listen to him sing “A Fond Farewell”…so sad), Death Cab, Big Star...nice.
13. MAD TEA PARTY - Big Top, Soda Pop (LABEL)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
14. NELLY FURTADO – Loose (Geffen)
We’re real worried about Nelly in our house. “Why is she acting like a whore when she’s not a whore?” is how my 16-year-old summed it up. The same sweet Nelly who made so proud with her uplifting, inclusive, multi-cultural look and sound is now getting down and dirty with the “Promiscuous” crowd, and we’re sad to see it. Don’t go there, girlfriend!
15. EASY STAR ALL-STARS – Radiodread (Easy Star)
“Dub Side of the Moon” stayed on the charts for three years. Maybe it's a gimmick to record classic albums in reggae style, but damn if it doesn't work. Perfect summer music while we wait for the RH release.
16. THOM YORKE - The Eraser (XL)
A friend who uses Limewire (I don't) sent me the files for the new CD, out July 11th and it has become a staple of our daily musical diet. Don't fret - we will buy it when it's available. It's a quiet album, which leads Terry to suspect that the new band album will be very loud, but it doesn't matter. This is primo.

A local promoter sent a package filled with carefully home-made CDs (nice photographic insets, printed labels on the discs)
17. The GYPSY SONS – S/T (self-released)
7 tracks with titles like “Back to My Roots,” “Mississippi,” “Roll on Dixie” and “Southern” make it clear where their hearts lie.
18. SOUTHERN FURY – 5 Live Promo (S/T (self-released)
19. SOUTHERN FURY – Loud & Proud (self-released)
20. THOMAS & KING - S/T (self-released)
4 tracks. The tall, blond guy in the duo kinda looks like Keith Urban, and that’s cool by me.

21. The WIGGLES – Splash Splash Big Red Boat (KOCH)
Plus favorite songs from “Wiggle Around the Clock”
22. The WIGGLES – Christmas Classics (KOCH)
OMG! (as my daughter says instead of oh-my-god) it’s a Christmas album! Has it really begun so soon? And, BTW, there are only 10 songs on this release, making it highly suspect at full price, if they dare to charge such.
23.SHUSHYBYE – Sushybye & Goodbye (KOCH)
I'm gonna try to pitch a kids music story since I seem to be getting a lot of them lately. But it'll be a bit of a slog to listen to all of this stuff.

Tuesday, June 27
24. PATENT PENDING – Save Each Other, The Whales are Doing Fine (We Put Out Records/East West)
“Patent Pending is what happens when you eat-pop rocks and drink a bottle of soda in under five minutes…” First met this band at a local multi-act festival, and Grace bought a sweatshirt just 'cause it was cutely designed and the guy was sweet. I told the PR guy about that, and he sent a bunch of cute, cartoony posters for G. (Ahhh...) Maybe we can catch 'em live on the upcoming Warped tour.

Monday, June 26:
25. The HANDSOME FAMILY – Last Days of Wonder (Carrot Top Records)
Coming to the IOTA on July 22, with Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets.
26. DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL – Dusk and Summer (Vagrant)
He is cute, isn't he? Hoping to shoot some photos at the upcoming Constitution Hall date.
27. The WAIFS – A Brief History…Live (Jarrah/Compass Records)
Also coming to town. First listen to this live CD promises that it could be quite a good show. Folky/rocky/funny.
28. EVERY MOVE A PICTURE – Heart=Weapon (V2)

Saturday, June 24:
A visit to the CD Cellar, exchanging that which I don’t want for that which I do.
29. VARIOUS ARTISTS –Now Hear This
Originally given out free with December 2005 issue of The Word magazine, but I paid $2.99 for it.
30. BECK – Guerolito (Interscope)
$9.99, and I chose the digipack versus jewel box version. Beck is a hero, even with the Scientology thing.
31. STREETLIGHT MANIFESTO – Keasbey Nights (Victory Records)
$5.99 Grace got turned on to these guys by a friend, who put one track on a mix CD. She was thrilled when I found this at the store, and to hear that they were coming to town.
32. CASSANDRA WILSON – Thunderbird (Blue Note)
The one I meant to buy for Terry earlier (got “Glamoured” by mistake) $6.99
33. VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Best Bootlegs in the World Ever (NL1)
As soon as first heard about mash-ups, I wanted to hear them, but I had a hard time tracking them down on the Internet. This CD was/is a godsend, collecting all the ones I was curious about and a few I never heard of. My favorites so far are “Smells Like Booty,” which mixes Nirvana and Destiny’s Child, and “Stroke of Genius” which makes “Genie In a Bottle” so much more tolerable by setting it to a Strokes’ rhythm track. What really surprised me is that, when I popped this into the computer to convert to iTunes, the CDDB called up all the track listings! Even as a NL – no label – underground release of illegal samples, it’s been registered. $3.99
34. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Top of the Pop Hits: The 60s (Collectables)
Six discs, 63 tracks for $24. A nice bargain, but I wish they had condensed the set down to 3 discs – they easily could have fit. Planning to make a few sets of these as summertime gifts.
35. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Dimension Mix (Eenie Meenie Records)
Saw this one in a jewel case version, in the collections bin, for $8.99 and passed it by. Then found the cardboard sleeve promo version for $1.99 in the clearance bins, Sweeet. Tracks by Beck, Stereolab, EELS, a whole bunch of people I don’t know and even including my dear boys, Troubled Hubble (R.I.P.)
36. TIEWEB – free demo
These giveaways work. I like the dreamy pop sound and will pay attention if this guy (or band) is playing a show in the area. It would be fun to spring it on him (them) if I can work in a Post preview.

Friday, June 23:
37. The FIERY FURNACES – Bitter Tea (Fat Possum)
This brother and sister team is enigmatic, charismatic and sometimes overdramatic. RIveting in concert, too.
38. KEANE – Under the Iron Sea (Interscope)
I like this band, really I do, despite the fact that the lead singer will forever be known in our house as “Pudding Boy” since Terry saw him on SNL and noted that he had a bit of the British pudge to him (and I still think he’s quite appealing). But as much as I loved the first CD and thought the band was great in concert – better than the Killers for whom they opened once, able to hold their own in front of the manic U2 crowd – this album is not sticking with me. Where are the glorious hooks? It’s all mood and arena sound. As Terry put it, “it’s a more mature sound than they’re ready to grow into.” I will give it a few more listens (more than I might for an act I’m not already fond of) but I fear this is an example of the dread sophomore syndrome. SInce it's already loaded on the iTunes, I would trade it in, but the fold-out cover is just so pretty...

Thursday, June 22, 2006
39. WORLD PARTY – Dumbing Up (Seaview)
Coming to town. Glad to have 'em back.
40. SARAH BORGES – Silver City (Blue Corn Music)
41. JSAN – The Analogue Sons (I Town Records)
42. TALLY HALL – Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum (Quack!)
Fun stuff, a more light-hearted Weezer.
43. JORDAN CHASSAN – East of Bristol, West of Knoxville (Strong Recordings)

And there was a whole bunch of stuff that came in after I got back from LA:
44. JIM NOIR - Tower of Love (Barsuk Records)
This guy is a keeper - upbeat, fun, a piano man with a mischeivous, funky streak, like a cross between Fatboy Slim and Jamie Cullum.
45. ELVIS COSTELLO and ALLEN TOUSSAINT – The River in Reverse (Verve Forecast)
Great show at Wolf Trap last month. The second half (there was no break), which began with "Watching the Detectives," was sheer rock bliss for me and my honey. I was the crazy woman, dancing in place and throwing my fist in the air everytime Elvis yelled "pump it up!" And the New Orleans stuff made me feel joyous and wistful at the same time. The crowd sent a lot of love to Toussaint, hoping he would carry it home with him.
46. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Q Magazine Covered: Best of 86/06
Interesting pairings of contemporary acts and older material, some of which I know (Travis doing “…Baby One More Time,” “Lover You Should Have Come Over” by Jamie Cullum) and others I’m curious to know (Corinne Bailey Rae doing “Venus as a Boy,” and the Flaming Lips’ take on “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”). Q and Uncut do very nice compilations. I buy them for the music, and the magazine is the bonus.
47. HOT CHIP – The Warning (Astralwerks)
48. FATBOY SLIM – The Greatest Hits/Why Try Harder (Astralwerks)
Jolly good fun, The album includes all the hit Fatboy Slim singles, remixes for Cornershop and Groove Armada, plus two new tracks. And you can easily skip over that dreadful track that uses a sample from the Five Man Electrical Band’s “Signs.”
49. SMALL SINS – S/T (Astralwerks)
As the bio tells it, during Christmas 2004, Thomas D’Arcy was in the midst of a “mid-twenties crisis.” So he retreated to the basement of his childhood home and after nearly a year of woodshedding, fulfilled his goal to create a work of "heartfelt electro chamber-pop." Charming on first listen.

50. GREG LASWELL – Through Toledo (Vangaurd)
Touted on the cover sticker as “a Mutations-era Beck,” and I can hear a little of that, and more to make me think there’s potential here.
Out July 11th.
51. The THEATRE FIRE – Everybody Has a Dark Side (Undeniable Records)
52. KAISER CARTEL – Double Standard (self-released)
As swag as it gets these days - came with a three-pack of crayons.
53. MICHAEL ZAPRUDER’S RAIN OF FROGS – New Ways of Letting Go (Howells Transmitter)
54. KATHARINE WHALEN – Dirty Little Secret (M.C. Records)
Coming to Jammin Java on July 12th. Compared to her first solo CD, with the Jazz Squad, which had a sort of watered down Billie Holiday vibe, this one rocks a bit more, with a touch of Debbie Harry solo (“I Want That Man” era) or echoes of Garbage, Cardigan.
55. The FINALS – Plan Your Getaway (Immortal)
Just heard they're opening for Whalen, which is an odd mix, given that they seem to rock much harder than her album does.
Out August 1st.
56. MARK ERELLI – Hope & Other Casualties (Signature Sounds)
57. GREG GRAFFIN – Cold as the Clay (ANTI)
58. FRANK BLACK – Fast Man Raider Man (Back Porch)
Not sure why I got two copies. He covers the Pogues' "Dirty Old Town," which is way cool. A slew of cool guests, too - Levon Helm from The Band, Tom Petersson from Cheap Trick, Al Kooper, P.F. Sloan (again!), and Simon Kirke from Bad Company
and Free.
59. JOHNNY CASH – American V: A Hundred Highways (Lost Highway/American)
He’s sometimes off-key and he sings some songs that you long ago dismissed as schlock (“Love’s Been Good to Me”) but still it works. ‘Cause he’s Johnny Fucking Cash!
60. BILLY JOEL – 12 Gardens Live (Columbia)
What, exactly is the point in another Billy Joel live CD? To prove that the guy, who has had less than flattering press lately, can still function on stage? I put this on in the car and had a ball driving around, singing along to “Only the Good Die Young,” “Goodnight Saigon” and the like, but there is no reason that I would come back to this when I have the greatest hits collection.
61. FRANKIE J – Un Nuevo Dia (Norte/Columbia)
62. JOSHUA RADIN – We Were Here (Columbia)

63. BRINDLEY BROTHERS – Filled with Fire (self-released)
This week’s Post preview
Saw the guys play on June 24 and was duly impressed. Especially fun to see how singer/songwriter Luke Brindley, who is one of the most soft-spoken guys I’ve ever met in his daily life, becomes a kicking, stomping, guitar-shredding rock star on stage.

64. MONTY ARE I – Wall of People (Stolen Transmission)
What I call a “crap shoot band” – could very well be big stars, and could crash and burn without notice, simply because it fits the formula. The first track is propulsive and wordy, like Fall Out Boy, with a touch of ska horns. The second song has classic rock bombast, the third has strings for that power ballad moment. You’ve heard it before. Do you want to hear more of it?
65. FLATTBUSH – Seize the Time! (Koolarrow Records)

66. The JULIET DAGGER – Turn Up the Death (Good Charamel Records)
67. LAST CONSERVATIVE – On to the Next One (Good Charamel Records)
These two acts are touring with Counting Crows and the Goo-Goo Dolls, which wouldn’t seem like a very good match but for the fact that the Dolls’ Robby Takac produces and runs the label.

68. WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY – Red-Eyed Soul (Chunksaah Records)
Another big, multi-instrumental band, a la Arcade Fire, making a big noise, on an Asbury Park, NJ label.
69. MADISON PARK – In The Stars (BasicLUX Records)
Somewhat generic but still quite energizing dance music, pure and simple.
70. JOHNNY CASH – The Man Called Cash (W Publishing Group)
A book on CD, read by Kris Kristofferson. I'm waiting for a long drive to get into this.
American folk icon.
Out July 11st.
72. The RED JUMPSUIT APPARATUS - Don't You Fake It (Virgin)
Loud and fast, Warp-y style young men.
Out July 18th.