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