Thursday, June 22, 2006

A $1200 Glass of Wine

A word of warning – don’t drink and compute. The white wine I was drinking on Saturday night, while working on this blog, found its way to my keyboard, making it the single most expensive drink I have ever had and – God willing – ever will.

So now, with a new, smaller albeit faster, laptop, I will pick up where I left off.
RIP, shiny silver Mac powerbook. You were a good pal…

So, it’s been a month since I've written. That doesn’t seem very bloggy, does it? Sigh. Will try harder in future but, for now, must catch up with all the good stuff that came in BEFORE the trip to LA, which will be its own entry next. For now, enjoy a pic of the “House of Davids,” one of those only-in-LA architectural wonders that prove again that money is wasted on the tasteless.

Monday, June 5:
1. BIRDMONSTER – No Midnight (self-released)
A classy package from the indie band (I’m a sucker for letterpress. Were at Black Cat on June 13th.
2. CURT KIRKWOOD – Snow (Little Dog Records)
Former meat puppet, also coming to town in July, with the Handsome Family, at IOTA.
3. A.J. CROCE – Cantos (Seedling/Redeye)
Son of the late Jim Croce, but (thankfully) a different style altogether, more of a Paul McCartney pop vibe, at least on this CD.

4. CASSANDRA WILSON – Glamoured (Blue Note)
Ooops. Bought this one for hubby via the YourMusic monthly queue and it turns out he already has it. I should have bought “Thunderbird.”

Saturday, June 3:
5. DAVID MEAD – Tangerine (Tallulah )

A favorite in our kitchen, and on the concert stage, as he was at Jammin Java on this night. He played solo, on the (off-pitch) piano at the club (gorgeous cover of “God Only Knows”), and on guitar and mandolin. I willingly paid $15 to but his latest at the show because I got in for free, and the guy needs to be encouraged.

Friday, June 2:
What a fun day for puffy envelopes!
6. DEVENDRA BANHART – Cripple Crow (XL)
The “freakfolk” hero was going to be part of this weeks Post preview, but I had to cut out the mention when it was announced that he’s canceling the tour (but will play Bonaroo) since the Magic Numbers had to bow out of the opening spot on his tour.
7. PAUL SIMON – Surprise (Warner Bros.)
Requested from the publicist and arrived just as I was despairing he forgot. As a longtime Eno fan, I am, or course, intrigued to hear how/if his production style meshes with Simon. Frankly, I was somewhat disappointed by the SNL performance. At first, the new songs sounded intriguing, but as they morphed and meandered, I wanted Simon, a frequently great songwriter, to make up his mind and stick with a tempo and a melody. Jury’s still out on this one,
although Terry has latched onto it as a new dinnertime favorite. The cover’s real cute, though.
BTW, who bribed who to get Simon mentioned in the recent Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in entertainment? That may have been true at one point, but I can’t see it now. Sorry, Paul.
8. The FRAUDS – self-titled (High Wire Music)
9. ARMA SECRETA – A Century’s Remains (Smith7 Records)
Out August 29.
10. COLLECTIVE SOUL – Home (El Music)
A Post preview, in conjunction with their appearance at the Celebrate Fairfax! Festival last weekend. This is a greatest hits live show, recorded with the Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra. That could be dangerous. And do I really want to hear “Shine” again?

Thursday, June 1:
11. HURRA TORPEDO – Kollossus of Makedonia (Duplex Records)
You could think of these guys as crazy Norwegian cousins to The Blue Man Group. Three dudes in royal blue tracksuits who play – and simultaneously destroy – kitchen appliances while singing songs in their native tongue, or cheesy covers like “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Pitched for the Post, since they were coming to the State Theatre, but my editor went for the aforementioned festival instead.
12. The SCOURGE OF THE SEA – Make Me Armored (Alias)
One of those albums that sounds better if you don’t listen too closely to the lyrics. Lovely, gentle melodies, but the words fall short.

Monday, May 29, 2006
Purchased (Circuit City was offering all CDs for $9.99. Too bad their selection sucks and their inventory is totally random):
13. NEIL YOUNG – Living with War (Reprise)
Of course, I am 100% behind the sentiment here. Neil is pissed and I will join him in baying at the moon against the current administration’s madness. But oh, how I wish that “Let’s Impeach the President” was a better song. Like most of the tracks here, it sounds slapped together in a rage, without the full attention needed to raise a tune above a chant. “When the President Talks to God…” now that’s a protest song! When I saw Bright Eyes at Constitution Hall, and Oberst sang that snotty wonder, I was ready to burn something down!
14. The STROKES – First Impressions of Earth (RCA)
The music is okay, maybe sometimes even really good, but I am getting sick of these boys. Emma and Grace saw them at HFStival and were less than knocked out. They said the band barely acknowledged the audience and tossed the songs off as if they had somewhere else more important to be. Some people mistake rude for cool. Add in the annoying video for “Juicebox,” and you’ve got a band that’s starting to reek of desperation.

Thursday, May 25
15. DAVY ROTHBERT – This American Life (This American Life & 21 Balloons Productions)
At the PostSecret/FOUND Magazine event, which I had previewed for the Post
I spoke with both of the featured artists beforehand. I’d met Frank Warren before, but chatting even briefly with Davy Rothbert was like reconnecting with an old pal. I handed him a copy of the article (he had heard about it, but hadn’t seen it) and was so pleased, he told me to go to the merch booth and tell brother Peter to give me a CD. Which I did. And then, after the show, which was as poignant and hilarious as I hoped it might be, I went back and got…
Songs inspired by stuff the guys found (natch), like “The Booty Don’t Stop” and “Bus or Beer?” Singalong goofball fun.

Saturday, May 20
17. EAGLES OF DEATH METAL – Death by Sexy (Downtown Music)
Another cheap purchase (at $7.99 I can take a chance; it’s a price point thing). Saw the band perform “I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)” on Letterman and developed an earworm that had to be sated. Happy to say that the rest of the CD has the same playful hard rock sound, more like T. Rex, Weezer, or Cheap Trick than actual bone-head metal dudes.

Other purchases:
18. The RACONTEURS – Broken Boy Soldiers (Third Man/V2)

I was hoping to score a press ticket for the show last week at the Henry Fonda Theatre (what would Henry say?), but that didn’t happen. Instead, I finangled my way into the free-instore show at Amoeba Records and got a great half-hour (the CD isn’t much longer than that) and some good concert pics. And now I’m hooked on “Steady as She Goes.”
BTW, when I first heard the band, I didn’t realize the Jack White/Brendan Benson pedigree. I reacted to the music and liked it lots ( has some nice live footage available). So it ain’t just about the hype, folks.
And it's nice to see that Jack White really does seem to have fun when he's playing.

19. WOLF PARADE – Apologies to the Queen Mary
At first listen, I thought it was a new Arcade Fire album. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Now let’s see if repeat exposure can open up some new doors and give the Parade its own divine spark.
20. UNCUT – The Playlist June 2006
A particularly good example of the magazine freebie, with tracks by Siouxie and the Bansheees, The Waterboys, Fiery Furnaces and some new friends.
21, 22. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (KCRW)
I gave my money to KCRW ‘cause I frequently listen to “Morning Becomes Eclectic” and I thought the Fringe Benefits card would come in handy on my trip to LA (and it did). And they sent me two separate copies of my bonus premium. An old-world Hollywood all-star cast – Malcolm McDowell, Elliott Gould, Michael York - with narration by Harry Shearer, - retells the classic kids' (??) story.

And lots of other acquisitions via the mails:
23.VELVET – The Juggernaut (Double Decker Bus Records)
24. BROOKVILLE – Life in the Shade (Unfiltered Records)
There’s something quietly engaging about this CD, at least on first listen. I’ll be back.
25. DIXIE CHICKS – Taking the Long Way (Open Wide/Columbia)
As with Neil Young, I admire the sentiment, but the Chicks are perhaps taking themselves a little too seriously – but that’s easy for me to say, since I’ve never received a death threat. Still, I miss the sassy fun of a track like “Goodbye Earl,” which made some heavy points in a light-hearted way (and talk about your death threats!) This album has a beautiful “Lullabye” but there are only a few other songs I transferred to the iPod and even those I’m not sure will wear well.
26. RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS – To the Confusion of Our Enemies (Volcom Entertainment)
These guys tore the place up at last year’s Warped Tour, and I had the radar up to find out when and where the intensity would break through to a label deal. Coming to DC later this summer with the Rollins Band and X. The roof will be on fire!
27. PLAIN WHITE T’S – Hey There Delilah (Fearless/EastWest)
28. BLUE DOGS – Live at Workplay
29. 1986 – Nihilism is Nothing to Worry About (Palentine Records)
30. INDIGENOUS – Chasing the Sun (Vanguard)
The guy’s obviously a fine blues guitar player and, if I was a fan of that style of music, I’d probably be ga-ga over this. But I’m not, so I’m not.
31. ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO - The Boxing Mirror (Back

No Depression magazine’s Artist of the Decade and, though I can’t say I’m all that over the moon, there’s a lot here that’s caught my ear. After personal difficulties and health scares, Escovedo is touring with an 8-piece orchestra, including Matt Nathanson’s stalwart musical companion, Matt Fish on cello. This new CD was produced by the Velvet Underground’s John Cale, Coming to the 930 Club this Saturday in an the odd but intriguing pairing with those scruffy Philly rockers, Marah.
32.The MESMERS – DVD press kit
They got me before I even opened the box, since it came with two finger-puppet sized Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robot toys. The days of sharp press swag are over, but these little local indie boys bring back the magic. Mentioned briefly as part of a Post preview on an arts and crafts fair, the retro-hipster trio is playing soon at a DC Gay Pride event, so more points for them.
33. JEAN – On (Norte/Columbia)
34. RADIO 4 - Enemies Like This (Astralwerks)
Nice bio writing: “They’ve streamlined and stretched their sound, cut the fat, trimmed the filler, and focused on the meat that makes the music, not the spices that can bury it. “
35. P.F. SLOAN – Sailover (HighTone Records)
Anyone remember the Jimmy Webb song, “P.F. Sloan”? After many chart hits in the 60's (including "Eve of Destruction"), the folk rocker/street poet walked away from the music business 30 years ago. Willing to revisit, given the pedigree of the guests hereon (Lucinda Williams, Frank Black, Felix Cavaliere and Buddy Miller), but the first impression was bad – overwrought lyrics that made me cry “ouch” (like I said, he wrote ”Eve of Destruction.”) Out August 22nd.
36. MESSER FUR FRAU MULLER - Triangle, Dot & Devil (AeroCCCP Recordings)
Formed in St. Petersburg, Russia, the band’s name translates to “Knife for Mrs. Muller” in German. Whatever they’re singing, it’s hysterical, some of the best fun I’ve had listening to music all year.
The band samples 50’s and 60’s-era pop-culture, citing influences from music styles as varied as surf, twist, and mondo – echoing lounge masters like Esquival, Martin Denny, Les Baxter, Ennio Morricone on his trippier days. Added bonus - features the talents Theremin player, Lydia Kavina, grand-niece of Leon Theremin, who invented the instrument. Wicked, wacky and wonderful.
Out August 1st
37. ELEFANT – The Black Magic Show
Frontman Diego Garcia, described as walking “a tightrope between David Bowie and Morrissey while simultaneously mocking the pretty boy image he has acquired.” Also: "Garcia has the weary heartbreak of a Bryan Ferry fronting a well-oiled, guitar driven machine.”
Reminds me why I need more hours in the day, just to catch up on my listening!

YTD Total:339