Saturday, May 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, Grace! ("she was just 17...")

New in the Post:
1. ELLIOTT YAMIN – S/T (Sony/ATV Hickory)
Post preview appearing at the Birchmere on May 17th.
I admit – I did this Post previewagainst my will. I had no desire to talk to an American Idol also-ran, and didn’t think any of his ilk needed my boost to get attention (I had my eye on the Todd Snider/Dan Bern show that week), but my editor is a fan and wanted a story. Yamin gave me a perfunctory interview and I wrote the story with a sense of obligation, not enthusiasm. And then the show sold out before the preview appeared anyway (I was afraid that would happen), and I got an email from a reader whining about it. So, a loss all around.
And then there was this problematic preview .
Good music, glad to be a part in promoting it, but I got the %$#&ing date wrong! Don’t ask how; it was just sheer distracted stupidity on my part, and I hung my head and begged forgiveness from the editor, who accepted my apology and didn’t rub it in. Curious note: before I realized what I’d done, I’d forwarded the link to one of the act’s publicist, who wrote back a gushing thank you. So she didn’t catch the problem either – or was too kind to mention it. I like to think that maybe people read the story and called for tickets, learned of the error and went anyway. But I still felt like a jerk. The acts who deserved better:
2. BRETT DENNEN – So Much More (DualTone)
When I got a copy of this awhile back, it was in a jewel case, but now it’s a digi-pack.
3. ALO – Roses & Clover (Brushfire Records)
In the world of Dead-inspired jam bands (are there any other kind?), this group stands out for having a gentle lilt and a total lack of self-indulgence (at least from what I hear on the CD).
4. LUCAS REYNOLDS – The Space Between the Lines (self-released)
Reynolds is in the band Blue Merle, and his solo EP is a pleasant affair, though he stumbles on“100 Different Directions.” It’s a sweet acoustic number, but he sings “100 different erections” repeatedly in the chorus and the joke is over the second time he does it.
5. MAGGIE SANSONE – Mystic Dance (Maggie’s Music)
Sent in connection with her appearance – and Post preview - at a free outdoor arts series.
And finally, the second annual Throwdown local music festival.

So far, far behind in the O/CD tally, so here’s a slew of recent acquisitions:
My Own Cash Money:
6. BJORK – Volta (Elektra)
Still crazy after all these years, god bless her.
7. RUFUS WAINWRIGHT – Release the Stars (Geffen)
Still gay and grandiose, god bless him.
8. WILCO – Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)
When Terry gets stuck on an album, we hear it at least once a day. God help me, I hope I like this one, too, ‘cause it’s day one and it’s on its third go-round. Relieved to say that, so far, I do like it.
9. Elton John (Island)
10. Tumbleweed Connection (Island)
11. Madman Across the Water (Island)

Three discs for $12.oo? How could I resist? Costco strikes again. “Tumbleweed” is one of my all-time EJ classics.
12. BRAZILIAN GIRLS – Talk to La Bomb (Verve Forecast)
This month’s your music $6.99 automatic shipment.
13. WONKAVISION Magazine Presents the T-4 Project
A beautifully designed and generally well=written magazine covering artists I know next-to-nothing about.

Fun finds at the thrift store for $1.50 each:
14. VARIOUS ARTISTS – From Gdansk to Krakow: Songs and Dances of Poland (EPM Musique)
I married a Pollock.
15. ELIZABETHTOWN – Music from the Motion Picture, Vol, 2 (RCA/Vinyl)
The movie was a mess, but the second volume of songs – with Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, Pinback, The Concretes and more – proves again how much care Cameron Crowe puts into his soundtracks.
16. NUSRAT FATAH ALI KAHN – The Day, The Night, The Dawn, The Dusk (Shanachie)
Ages ago, I interviewed the late Jeff Buckley and, when I asked him about musical influences, he mentioned Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn. I though he was being pompous, having never heard the name (and this was way before Eddie Vedder, “Dead Men Walking,” etc.). I owe them both an apology, and later (because of Eddie Vedder and “Dead Man Walking”) realized who and what Buckley was talking about. Terry and I even went to see the great (and big) man in concert and it was surreal and wonderful – Indian families dressed to the nines, men having near-possessed dance fits in the aisles, people throwing dollar bills at the stage. Yeah, we love Nusrat in our house.

Coming to Town:
17. GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS – Ongiara (Nettwerk)
Glad to make this band my pick for the next Post preview. A lovely, plaintive album that’s reminiscent of “After the Gold Rush”-era Neil Young and a touch of My Morning Jacket. Coming to the IOTA on June 7th at which show the opening act will be:
18. ELENI MANDELL – Miracle of Five (Zedtone Records)
Because I was too lazy to get up and find the CD for the correct label info, I did a quick Google search and discovered the she has nine (!) CDs to her credit. And here I thought she was a new artist.
19. The INNOCENCE MISSION – We Walked in Song (Badman)
They were supposed to play Jammin Java tonight, but had to reschedule. I hope all works out with whatever the problem is, but I’m selfishly glad ‘cause I couldn’t go tonight and I really want to see them, This is a lovely, restive CD, and reminds me of a band I miss a lot – remember the Sundays?
20. The NIGHTWATCHMAN – One Man Revolution (Epic)
Jammin Java on June 23rd
21. ARI HEST – The Break-In (Columbia)
The Birchmere on May 30th
22. PINK MARTINI – Hey Eugene! (Heinz Records)
These guys have been bubbling under like tasty bargain champagne for years now and this summer they’ll headline at Wolf Trap Filene Center on June 18th.
23. BEBEL GILBERTO – Momento (Ziriguiboom/Six Degrees)
This is perfect Sunday brunch music and you can hear it yourself at Merriweather Post on June 23rd with Thievery Corporation and Manu Chao.
24. ADRIENNE YOUNG – Room to Grow (Addiebelle Music)
Young was green before green sounded good, and she’ll be at IOTA Club and CafĂ© in mid-June.

Kids Korner:
25. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE – World of Friends (KOCH)

Good First Impressions:
26.LUKE BRINDLEY – S/T (self-released)
Local guy makes good (music). Co-owner of the lovely Jammin’ Java venue and frequent collaborator with his brother Daniel in the Brindley Brothers band, Luke creates salt-of-the-earth pop rock with a slight alt. country tinge.
27. OF GOD and SCIENCE – S/T (detach records)
The PR compares them to Elbow, Spoon and Doves, mighty high standards indeed. I haven’t put them in that echelon just yet, but I’ll be back to listen again.

28.TIGER ARMY – Music from Regions Beyond (Hellcat)
June 5th
29. JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN – Real Life (Cheap Lullaby Records)
Glad to see this in the mail – the buzz from Britain has been strong - and it comes with a second disc of B-sides.
June 12th
30. BOTTOM OF THE HUDSON – Fantastic Hawk (Absolutely Kosher)
June 19th
31. TENDERHOOKS – Vidalia (Rock Snob Records)
PR compares them to Wilco, Gram Parsons, Big Star.
June 26th
32. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Oxblood Records First Blood (Oxblood Records)
June 26th
33.MUSTANGS and MADRAS – La Lechuza (Latest Flame)
Too much random noise for my taste. Out July 10th
34. RAUL MALO – After Hours (Universal)
At first, I thought this was a bit of a novelty number – cover versions of country chestnuts like “Welcome to My World,” Buck Owens’ “Crying Time,” Roger Miller’s “Husbands and Wives.” But about halfway through, my sniggering gave way to a feeling that hey, these are good songs!
Out July 17th
35. The MASONS – Let You Down Easy (75orless Records)
July 24th

Come and Gone (in concert)
36. BRIAN VANDER ARK – Angel, Put Your Face On (self-released)
37. JAKE ARMERDING – Walking on the World (self-released?)
38. COLIN HAY – Are You Lookin’ At Me? (Compass Records)
39. RICHARD SWIFT – Dressed Up for the Lowdown Secretly Canadian)
40. MATT MAYS & EL TORPEDO – S/T (00:02:59)
41. SONS of WILLIAM – S/T (self-released)
42. CHRIS TRAPPER – Hey, You (Starlit Records)
43. WILLY MASON – If the Ocean Gets Rough (Astralwerks)
Pleasant but Teflon singer/songwriter – as in nothing stuck for me.

And just a big ole list of recent mailings…
44. BETWEEN The TREES – The Story and the Song (Bonded Records)
45. ECCODEK – Voices Have Eyes (White Swan)
46. CORNELIUS – Sensuous (Everloving Records)
47. BRITTANY SHANE – S/T (self-released)
48. The PIERCES – Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge (Lizard King Records)
49. The CLIENTELE – God Save the Clientele (Merge)
50. 1997 – …A Better View of the Rising Moon (Victory Records)
51. RODDY HART – Bookmarks (Compass Records)
52. MARIA McKEE – Late December (Viewfinder/Cooking Vinyl)
I like the carnival notices on the inside packaging: “See what the belly dancer does on her day off”
53. SHAKES – Sister Self Doubt EP (IamSound Records)
54. ALL OUT WAR – Assassins in the House of God (Victory)
55. LEIANA – No Going Back (Page Records)
56. VULTURE WHALE – S/T (d’Elegante)
57. LOU RHODES – Beloved One (Cooking Vinyl)
58. PARIS BENNETT – Princess P (TVT)
Another American Idol also-ran!
59. MAVIS STAPLES – We’ll Never Turn Back (Anti-)

By Request:
60. (Yoko) ONO – Open Your Box (Astralwerks)
16 remixes of classic Ono – three of “Walking on Thin Ice” alone.
61. (Yoko) ONO – Yes, I’m a Witch (Astralwekrs)
17 tracks, all of them collaborations with a who’s who of the Current Cool Kid Scene – Cat Power, Peaches, Le Tigre, Polyphonic Spree, Flaming Lips and more.
The most telling thing about Yoko these days is how NOT strange she sounds. In a world of Bjorks and such, it is apparent how she broke down the barrier so that women with unconventional voices can take their rightful place in the CD bins. You Go, Yoko!

62. LISA GERRARD – Sanctuary DVD
Director/producer/stalker Clive Collier does a disservice to this revered artist by presenting her in a humorless, hagiographic documentary, full of ponderous statements and slow-motion worship. He as much as says so in one of the DVD extras, admitting that he didn’t want to use clips of her laughing or showing her great sense of humor since he though it would disrupt the flow. So instead, he are left with thinking that Gerrard is a sourpuss who takes herself entirely too seriously. Interviews with Brendan Perry (only a little though he’s there in concert and documentary footage) and Russsell Crowe and others are part of the coronation. Collier should have let the music do the talking, as the concert pieces and moments from “The Insider,” “Gladiator” and “Whale Rider” show that she is a talent worth heading.

Here’s one Gerrard quote that left me scratching my head:
“Brendan and I have had conflicts from the beginning because we’ve both had an equilibrium of passionate synchronicity whether it be in unison or in diversity or division of [thought?]”

For contrast, palette cleansing and going out on a happy note, I give you a quote from KT Tunstall, in Q Magazine after winning Best Track at the Q Awards for “Black Horse and Cherry Tree”:
“Getting an award for making music is like having a job eating cake and then getting an award for eating more cake than anyone else.”

Who would you rather hang out with?

YTD 213

Thanks for hanging in there. Here’s a reward, like staying until the very end of the credits at the movie (do it at the new “Pirates” movie and you get an extra scene!)

Download "High Times" from "New Moon"
by Elliott Smith
Kill Rock Stars

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Third Time's a Charm

Between the back-and-forth with Best Buy, seeking an external hard drive that didn't have a broken firewire port (finally did it on the 4th try) and losing track of the Blog because of Blogger's new deal with Google, it was a time of computer anxiety, but I think I've finally got it going on again...

We (by which I mean I) Get Out
Saw Todd Rungren at the State Theatre. Been a fan since I met some of the members of Nazz in a Pittsburgh airport and became an early adapter of their music, earning me cool swag (autographed pics and such) in exchange for my fan letter and promise to tell 16 magazine they were fab. Todd is, as the album title goes, a Wizard, a True Star, and the audience was filled with boomers who still like to watch guitars being shredded. Me, I'm a sucker for the Runt/Ballad of Todd Rundgren stuff myself, and the only thing he sang that was anywhere near that period was "I Saw the Light." Still, it was fun to see him again. Alas, my camera is acting strange, so I was very disappointed in the shots I got. Here's one of the few OK ones...

As for the woefully behind O/CD tally, here are some of the latest...
1. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Anchored In Love: A Tribute To June Carter Cash (DualTone)
Produced by JCC's son, John Carter Cash
I was hoping Elvis Costello’s version of “Ring of Fire” would have an anxious, “Pump It Up” vibe, but he’s into his slower emotional thing here. Still, an impressive outing of performers - Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow & Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Patty Loveless & Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash, Ralph Stanley, et al. If I can’t stop picturing scenes from “Walk the Line,” is that so wrong? It was a great crash course in how important Johnny and June were to us.
Out June 5th.
2. ROCKY VOTOLATO – The Brag & Cuss (Barsuk Records)
Out June 19th.
3. NICK LOWE – At My Age (Yep Roc)
Lowe is about to be 58 and has a 2-year-old son. I could be his slightly younger wife (I've always thought he was sexy) but I wouldn’t want to be chasing a toddler around. Nick is on his mellow side here, too, and he’s got a nicely burnished voice for crooning. Still, couldn’t he put in a few more rockers, just to prove that there’s feisty after fifty?
Out June 26th.

Spending My Own Cash Money:
4. MOJO - Sgt. Pepper…with a Little Help from his Friends
Another one of those "all-star" (not really) collections that revisits a classic album in its entirety, with varying results.
5. GRETCHEN WILSON – Here for the Party (Epic)
Picked it up at the CD trade-in store, cheap (I think it was $3.99) - long-box sized cardboard with DVD/EPK and CD.

Good First Impressions:
6. CARY BROTHERS – Who You Are (bluhammock music)
BTW, it’s a him, not a them.
7. PROTEST HILL – The City Echoes Our Hearts (Latest Flame)

Heavy Rotation:
8. The FORMAT – Dog Problems (
First discovered by a single song on a mix CD a friend made for Grace, and now a HR Favorite. Pop rock with smarts and wryly funny lyrics.
9. TRACY THORN – Out of the Woods (Astralwerks)
If she had never done anything but that Massive Attack song, “Protection,” she’s sill be a classic voice, Deceptively gripping in her quiet power.

Not My Bag, Baby:
10. The AUTUMN DEFENSE – S/T (Broadmore Records)
They’re being pushed as a Wilco-offshoot, but this band sounds like CS&N wannabes. The harmonies are beautiful, but the lyrics are lame and the arrangements have a hippy dippy vibe that seems to blow patchouli out of the speakers with the music. By the end of the album – if you can hang on that long – your teeth hurt.

I’m Getting Too Old for This…
11. SKULL TIME – S/T (Latest Flame)
Billed as “classic rock lovers whose music requires the throwing of devil horns,” it was just too noisy for me.

Burnt Offertings:
12. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Crush on You (Hear Music)
How many times do I have to say that Starbucks samplers are overpriced? I had no qualms in copying this disc that a friend brought over to share during dinner. Some great stuff here, but I either already have it, or will explore it at length on my own dime in full-lengths.
13. Dylan Hears a Who
Oh, no! This extremely well-done parody - Dr. Seuss rhymes as sung by a spot-on Dylan imitator - has been removed from the web, citing Seuss Enterprises as having made the request. The power of the Google, however, will take you to other places where you can hear this great effort. I feel lucky, indeed, that I was able to get it all when I did, including the make-it-yourself jewelbox art which mimics vintage Columbia releases down to a slightly cock-eyed logo.

Why I Pay Emusic $9.99 every month:
14. The KAMINSKY EXPERIENCE, INC. – The Power of Suggestion (ESL/18th Street Lounge)
Heard a track on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” and loved the hokey spoken word-over-electronica beats - so I bounced right over to to see if it was available. Yay. Same thing happened last week with...
15. BEN KWELLER – S/T (ATO Records)
He performed "Penny on the Train Track" on Letterman and his contagious energy and rousing pop vibe won me over right away. So, laptop on lap, tappity tap, I had the entire CD downloaded almost by the time he finished the song. That's entertainment!
16. JARVIS COCKER – Jarvis (Rough Trade/World's Fair)
While I was at the emusic site, I searched for this one, too, since his Letterman spot - "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time" - was good, too. The label has also released a free download of "(C--Ts are Still) Running the World" and, while I never liked that word (the English can only barely get away with it, but I hate hearing it in the US), I can't disagree with the sentiment, so I
share it with you.
17. The MYSTERY JETS – Diamonds in the Dark (Dim Mak Records)
Discovered this band was I was in England in January, and it seems like they may finally get an American release and tour later this year. Likeable rock with shades of pop and psychedelia.
18. OF MONTREAL – The Gay Parade
Burned this one off as research for the Post preview I did in March. And that's a good excuse to throw in another live photo, from a night when my camera and I were getting along...

And speaking of downloads, I have been accepted into a groovy service that lets bloggers share mp3s with readers. I'm going to do a but of musical browsing and bring back some cool stuff, but this one grabbed me right off the bat. A trip back in time to a great One-Hit-Wonder of the Punky/New Wave Life. I give you

"88 Lines About 44 Women" (mp3)
from "Corpus Christi"
by The Nails
Safe House

YTD: 151