Thursday, April 13, 2006

Death Cab for Franz

Tuesday night, Terry went to D.A.R. Constitution Hall to see a double feature - Death Cab for Cutie (headlining) and Franz Ferdinand. I'd never seen DCFC live and I think their albums are great ("Plans" a bit less than earlier ones) tho' I'd heard their concerts are less than thrilling and the SNL performance was just okay. I listen to F2's albums less often, but I was more psyched to see them, as they rocked the HFSmas show a few years back, and I had a live version of "Do You Want To" to look forward to. I expected Franz Ferdinand to rock and DCFC to be mellow but kinda snoozy.
I was wrong. Over the course of their hour-and-change set, Franz were fun, but that martial beat got rather repetitive, and sometimes the guys sounded ragged. I loved hearing "Do You Want To" and "Take Me Out," but the band played them early in the set, which made the rest of the night kinda anti-climactic, tho' "Burn this City" (right title?) was a good ender.
And Death Cab, Terry's new favorite band (he's a latecomer to the party) showed itself to have great songs AND a good stage presence, and rocked much harder than I expected. The sad songs got me teary - nothing like hearing "who's gonna watch you die?" reverberate in a huge, hushed hall - and the love songs made me happy that the usher never checked our tickets (we had single seats in different sections) so that I could lean on my honey.
The Cribs opened, but we needed to stand on the looooooooong merchandise line (Grace wanted a T-shirt) so I can't say much about them.

New in the Post today:
Melanie Mason at Bangkok Blues
Catfish Honeymoon at Jay's Saloon

I'll have to do some housekeeping soon, to fill in gaps on stuff I know I'm forgetting here, but time's a-wasting and I need to post NOW, so here's the accounts...

Monday, April 10:
1. The 88 – Over and Over (Mootron/EMK Records)
Bright, poppy rock from the west coast quintet that’s been bubbling under the radar for a few years now. This CD is dated 2005.

Saturday, April 8:
2. JASON MRAZ – Mr. A-Z (Elektra)
A Grace request. There’s this new online service - – which offers CDs at $5.99 each with free shipping. The trick is, you sign up and start a music queue, like Netflix. Each month, the service sends the first CD on the list and charges you the fee. And if you don’t have any album listed, they just charge you. So you have to remember to always have at least one (better more) titles lined up and then remember what’s listed so you don’t run off and buy it in the meantime. I just took the moment to visit the site and add two new CDs – the Black Eyed Peas last one, and Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison concert.
3.BUTTERTHIEF – Riding the Radiowaves (self-released)

Friday, April 7:
4. YUNDI LI – Vienna Recital (Deutsche Grammaphon)
George Mason University, flush in the glow of the Patriots' Final Four victory, hosted its annual luncheon to announce the fall season for its Arts Center, and they usually hand out a few CDs of the artists who'll be appearing. There were two CDs at the table I sat at, but one of my luncheon partners grabbed the one by Canadian Brass. That was fine - I was glad to get this classical pianist's work, in solo recital. Terry, especially, loves solo piano, and I played this in the car on the way home, as I was running late and found it very soothing. Confession - on the way out of the luncheon, there was a table with empty plates and a lonely copy of this CD, so I took it. (But I won't count it.)

Monday, April 3:
Saw the adorable Matt Nathanson in concert.

He's funny - wickedly so - and his songs, though they don't always stand out in first (or second or third) listening, grow on you and become old friends. He generates good will, warmth and a music fanatic's contagious enthusiasm for cheesy power ballads and classic rock. I've seen him five times now, and it's always a pleasure.
5. LUCKY DAY – 2 song freebie
A free sampler distributed by the band to promote an upcoming (Saturday, April 15th) show at J2, opening for the Alternate Routes, whom I’ve written about and enjoyed before.
6. 7. MAT KEARNEY – Nothing Left to Lose (Columbia)
Yes, only one ‘T’ for this Mat. I had gotten an EP sampler of this guy previously, and was impressed. The full CD - in generic cardboard sleeve - seals the deal. He’ll be at Jammin’ Java on April 20th.
A second copy of the full release, an official jewelbox version, arrived yesterday, so I'll tag it on here.
8. PLACEBO – Meds (Astralwerks)
Didn’t think I would care for this one, esp. starting with the blurred, naked anorexic girl cover, but the first listen offers potential, due in large part to some catchy rhythms and the fact that the lead singer’s voice reminds me of Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, which predisposes me to think that he’s got something interesting to say. Whether that idea holds up to scrutiny is yet to be determined.

Purchases recently passed:
9. The BAND –A Musical History (Capitol)
Back to the Sam Goody going-out-of-business sale, to see if there are any other bargains. This 5-CD, 1 DVD “booked” (not boxed) set was $45, which isn’t a steal, but felt right as soon as I got in the car and popped in CD #3, which kicked in with a few tracks from the second, eponymous album, which has been my favorite - ever since the nice salesman at Sears threw the vinyl copy in with my purchase of my first detachable speaker plastic stereo. (I was about 12?)
10. The ROLLING STONES – Singles 1965-1967 (Abkco)
More fetish objects for the collector. 11 CDs in cardboard covers that simulate the 45 r.p.m. singles the Stones released in the titular (go ahead; you can giggle at that word) era. It was $30 on sale, not a great deal, but playing – and playing with - these discs is fidgety fun.
11. PASTE – April/May issue with free CD and DVD
12. LOOSE FUR – Born Again in the USA (Drag City)
Terry's purchase (he's a follower), despite perhaps the single most unattractive CD cover so far this year. Not gross, not disturbing, actually, just unappealing. T- loves these guys, says "they're quirky but cool."

Sent in recent times:
13. DEAD HEART BLOOM – S/T (Kei Records)
Hmmm..going by titles alone, we’ve got “There Will Come Soft Rains” (that’s poetic), “Folsom Prison Blues” (interesting choice of cover) and “Sodom” (uh-oh).
And now, for the importance of press releases – It wasn’t until I referred to the notes that I learned that this album was written, recorded and performed by Boris Skalsky, the former singer and songwriter for the wonderful, albeit obscure, DC band Phaser. And thus, it went to the top of the pile of things to listen to promptly. First impression was good, but then, I’m a sucker for people who sing quietly and use cellos.
14. CONNER – Hello Graphic Missile (Sonic Boom)
They Say: recommended if you dig the Stones’ “Miss You,” the Killers, Hot Hot Heat.
I Say: That’s quite the boast. Out June 20.
15. TEA LEAF GREEN – Taught to be Proud (Greenhouse Records)
16. UMPHREY’S McGEE – Safety in Numbers (SCI Fidelity)
Two from Madison House Publicity, home to many of the country’s finest jam bands. While I’m not always a fan of the style (esp. when we enter get the 20 minute noodle jam), I’ve been pleasantly surprised more than once by what the folks there have sent me.
17. JANET ROBIN – After the Flood (Little Sister Records)
Full title (shades of Fiona Apple!) – After the flood I was anti-anxiety and on a mad mission to leave myself a message for some hope and faith from a beautiful freak. And that last sentence includes all the titles for the individual songs, bar the final one, an instrumental. She’s opening for James Hunter later this month, at the IOTA, so this came as a pitch.
18. VARIOUS ARTISTS – L.A.’s Finest (Groove House)
A collection of 8 acts, doing 2 songs each, including a pair by the aforementioned Janet Robin, who tucked this into her press kit. I don’t recognize anyone here, but maybe there’s some discoveries to be made.
19. EDWIN McCAIN – Lost in America (Vanguard)
Damn if I can remember the name of his hit (I Googled him, but I didn’t recognize the titles) but I can remember that I didn’t much like it, or got sick of it mighty fast.
20. The DUKE SPIRIT – Cuts Across the Land (Startime International)
Reminds me of Romeo Void – moody rock darkness and sultry female vocals. RV was and is a favorite in this house, so a new band that echoes the old classic is a welcome one.
21. BLUE OCTOBER – Foiled (Universal)
Don’t know much about these dudes, but they are playing at the new version of the annual WHFS-tival (this year, at Merriweather Post) so I’ll glad I can check ‘em out,
22. BRUCE ROBISON – Eleven Stories (Sustain/Universal)

Form the Post files:
23. LISA MOSCATIELLO – Trouble from the Start (Machine Heart Records)
24. MAD AGNES – Magic Hour (self-released)
These two acts were playing together, and I previewed them for the Post. While I know and like Moscatiello, a stalwart of the local scene, I found the CT-based trio Mad Agnes a bit too sweetly earnest in that cloying way that some folkies have.
25.MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNER – 3-track sampler
26. 27. MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNER – advance of upcoming full-length
Before I wrote about this band for the Post , I received the sampler, but the charmng hand-drawn label on the CD began peeling off when I popped it in my drawer-style CD player, and I had to abandon the effort. Upon hearing this, the band contact sent me two copies of the upcoming full-length (thus, I count both) and this time the writing is directly on the disc, including an inscription just for me.
I was actually most excited to see the opening act, Cinematic Underground, whose leader, Nathan Johnson, I'd met in NYC last year during CMJ. Nathan's a sweet, personable, kinda quiet guy to talk to, but he becomes a rock star on stage, leading a half-dozen players who use garbage cans, bicycle wheels and water-filled glasses in addition to the usual guitars, etc. It was a great show.

YTD Total: 219