Friday, October 26, 2007

Concert Photo Special (CMJ to come)

It usually takes about a week ro recover from CMJ, and the 2007 edition was no exception. I was very lucky in that almost evey act I came across - some by accident, others with schedule in hand - was enjoyable, ranging from just okay to wow! I'm still compiling the photos and text for the CPF CMJ Report, but first I have some catching up to do on other recent concerts.

Tuesday night brought Spoon to the 930 Club. Hubby and I feared chaos - ticketholders to the Shins/Spoon show at Merriweather on Monday night were offered free admission with ticket stub and some kind of special voucher. And this was in addition to those of us who bought tickets for either the Monday (cancelled) or Tuesday 930 Club shows. Admission was first come, first served (though original ticket holders got preference) and subject to capacity. We got there early, fearing a mob scene and what a relief that no such nightmare appeared. The club knows its shit and made things flow smoothly, there was no crowd crush (surprisingly, 'cause this band is poised at the brink of true greatness) and it was a wonderful show. Over two dozen songs in a little more than 90 minutes, deep catalog cuts (they didn't even touch the new album until the second half), a good horn section for "Cherry Bomb" and "The Underdog," spiffy guitar work, and a tight band that's equal parts solid craftsmanship and clever twists.

Right before leaving for CMJ, I got to see Marah play at my favorite little local joint, Jammin Java. I mentioned the show the last time I posted, but was having trouble getting photos to upload. So here's a few of that band...

Monday, October 15, 2007


Time is tight. Taking the Tuesday morning train up to NYC for CMJ, so most of the music playing in the house these days is stuff I’ve pulled from the shelves or requested from PR pals to help me prepare for the four fabulous days, three fun-filled nights (I return home on Friday) that lie ahead.

Among the bands I am listening to and maybe seeing live…
1. WISELY – S/T (Ella/Oglio)
2. SCISSORS FOR LEFTY – Underhanded Romance (Eenie Meenie Records)
3. T.H. WHITE – The Private Spotlight (Sky Council)
4. KAISER CARTEL – Live From Breakthu Radio (self-released)
Lovely little package – letterpress on craft cardboard, numbered 124 of 300.

Alas, though all of these CDs made initial good impressions, the bands are playing after I depart. Maybe they’ll come down DC way.
6. SLARAFFENLAND – Private Cinema (Hometapes)
7. AS TALL AS LIONS – S/T (Triple Crown)
8. OLIVER FUTURE – Pax Futura (Fireproof Recordings)

Not to be tallied (they were already), but worth mentioning if you're gonna be in town...
FUTURE KINGS of NOWHERE – S/T (307 Knox Records)
“10 Simple Murders” has a bit of a Decemberists vibe, and the whole thing is a simple, you’re-right-there-while-the-band-kicks-it-live thing happening. I have a theatre date with College Girl Tuesday night, or I’d try to catch their show.

Alaser, while I’m in NYC, I won’t be in DC to see one of my most favorite live acts:
9. MATT NATHANSON – Some Mad Hope (Vanguard)

And now for music related to recent Post previews:
10. The LASCIVIOUS BIDDIES – Get Lucky (Eastway)
Fun band – four wacky women (the alliteration is too easy!) who combine pop, caberet and a touch of jazz. Lascivious Biddies
11. OZOMATLI – Don’t Mess with the Dragon (Conchord)
12. FOOLS & HORSES – Pop Filter (self-released)
Two bands, one preview.

13. BROTHER SHAMUS – Manifest (self-released)
an older preview and a CD never tallied.

14. DENISON WITMER – Are You Dreamer? (The Militia Group)
I bought this CD, sound unheard, last year when Tower Records (R.I.P.) was having its Everything Must Go sale. It was probably about two bucks, and I was drawn in by the old-fashioned knitted words on the cover. Turned out to be a sweet, lo-fi collection of fine singer/songwriter pop by a guy from Philly. When I saw he was coming to town, I pitched him as a Post preview and had a brief, nice conversation with him. The record label sent me this duplicate of the CD, plus...
15. DENISON WITMER – Safe Away/Are You A Sleeper (The Militia Group)
A 2-disc set consisting of a new album’s worth of tunes, plus an EP of even quieter versions of songs from the afore-mentioned CD, plus live and bonus tracks. I was sorry to miss Witmer’s show, but I was home with the “Rock of Love” flu.
16. MARLA HANSEN – Wedding Day EP (self-released)
She opened for Witmer and I would have liked to have seen her, too. I may still get a half-chance, since she plays with My Brightest Diamond and they hit the IOTA on November 16th.

17. MATT HAIMOVITZ – After Reading Shakespeare (Oxingale)
18. MATT HAIMOVITZ – J.S. Bach: 6 Suites for Cello Solo (Oxingale)
After previewing this show for the Post, I was able to make it out for the night and was smitten by the sound of a single pure instrument put to stunning use. I don’t buy many CDs at shows, but after hearing the gorgeous opening and closing numbers at the IOTA show, both of them Bach pieces that made my heart happy, I splurged for $30 on this 3-disc set. I’d like to devote a rainy afternoon to listening to the whole thing all the way through, but the ones I’ve heard so far are a balm for the soul.

I also got out of the house to see MARAH -
a wild bunch, in the nicest way, reminiscent of young Stones or the Replacements at their boozy best.

Other recent Post previews:
Nick Lowe and Suzanne Vega (different shows)

PEP (Puffy Envelope Promo) Squad:
19. SHINY TOY GUNS – We Are Pilots (Universal/Motown)
A much better, more diverse album than I would have thought from the track featured on the Razr commercial, where an insufferably hip couple use their sharp (get it?) phones to cut each other’s clothing to shreds on a subway platform (violence is not sexy, OK?)
20. PLAIN WHITE T’S – Every Second Counts (Hollywood)
A while back, Grace and I picked up an EP from these guys, drawn to a song called “All That We Needed.” The featured song on the CD was “Hey There Deliah,” which is tagged on to this full-length as a bonus track. It’s the best thing here, a highlight of the summer passed, a sunbeam of a song, shot through with good feeling. The band is coming to town November 11th, opening for Fall Out Boy at the Patriot Center. I bet they steal the show.
21. COUNTING CROWS – August and Everything After DE (Geffen/UME)
UME gives value for your dollar. Resissue a classic album and nclude a second disc with something extra, in this case a concert recorded in France in 1994.

O/CD Project YTD Total: 760

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Struck Dumb by The Rock of Love

I have no moral authority any more to complain when my daughter watches crap TV. While I was fighting a bad head cold last week, I got pulled into VH-1’s “Rock of Love” marathon and spent almost 8 hours watching right through to the end (with some flipping to MSNBC news items and the second episode of “Reaper”). I saw the “Reunion” show, too, but College Girl gave me the wrong time (she saw my facebook posting about RoL and revealed she, too, is a fan) and I saw only the second half.

Still, I’ll always treasure those romantic moments:
“As I was pulling Brandi’s head out of the toilet, she said something that was one of the most touching moments of my life…”
(she told him, “I f*^#ing love you.”)
Bret telling the pole dancer, “It’s insanely awesome that you got my name tattooed on your neck.”

You’re better off without him, Jes.

Back to the O/CD tally. There’s a box of CDs old and new that need (?!) to be cataloged, and so we soldier on…

My Own Cash Money:
A return to Ye Olde CD Shoppe:
1. PETE TOWNSHEND – Empty Glass (Atlantic)
By request from Gracie, who’s smitten with the track “Let My Love Open the Door” as heard on commercials for the new Steve Carrell flick, “Dan in Real Life.” It’s funny, and fun, the way the kids pick up on old classics. Another current favorite – “September,” by Earth, Wind & Fire.
2. DAVE MATTHEWS BAND – Remember Two Things (Bama Rags Records)
I have been searching for a particular live version of “Ants Marching,” and alas, it’s not on this CD, either, but it’s a pretty rare 1993, non-RCA DMB set, so I’ll enjoy it for its historic value.
Which reminds me, I also have, from earlier this summer:
3. DAVE MATTHEWS and TIM REYNOLDS – Live at Radio City
A BG (burn gift) for me from Stacy, the supersweet fan for whom I picked up Craig’s List DMB concert tickets when I happened to be in the Albany area (long story).
4. SIGUR ROS – Von (Smekkleysa)
It appears to be an import, all of the info on the 1997 release being in another language (not the one they made up, I hope!) First listen sounded very instrumental/moody. Is it a film soundtrack?
And these great buys from the one-dollar clearance bin:
5. FRANK SINATRA – Songs for Swingin’ Lovers (Capitol)
Totally classic material from the heydays with the amazing Nelson Riddle. Can’t understand why it was only a buck. A mix of heavy hitters – “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “How About You?”- and amusing obscurities – “It Happened in Monterey,” “ You’re Getting to Be a Habit With Me” (which always reminds me of Allen Sherman singing, “You’re Getting to Be a Rabbit with Me.”)
6. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Motown Remixed
I might have this already, but if I do, it’s a great buy that I can pass on to my sister or brother.
7. JUDITH OWENS – Happy This Way (Courgette)
I know this is a duplicate, but this advance promo of Mrs. Harry Shearer’s latest pop/jazz collection will go to the friend who attended and enjoyed her IOTA show with me earlier this year.
8. BACKSTREET BOYS – Shape of My Heart CD single (Jive)
I can’t help myself! Just a buck for “Loneliness is tragical…” and an a capella version of “All I Have to Give.”
9. MARY SUE TWOHY – Songs to Hang on Stars (Azalea City)
Twohy is one of those hard-working local musicians who doubles as a press agent for other HWLM’s and, while she tirelessly sends me material about her charges, she rarely promotes her own cause. So I’ll give it a listen and maybe I can write about one of her upcoming shows.
10. FLY PAN AM – Sedatif en Frequences et Sillons (Constellation)
Another $1 impulse buy, based solely in the striking package green cardstock CD envelope with letterpressed shocking pink graphic of I-know-not-what and French liner notes.

Other recent purchases:
11. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Across the Universe ST (Interscope)
Best Buy was promoting their 2-disc version as an exclusive, and I’m glad I went for it. The “normal” version doesn’t include
Eddie Izzard doing “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” one of my favorites from the film, which hubby and I saw Monday night. It was, simply put, audacious and delightful. I was (mis)led into thinking that there was next to no dialogue, with the Beatle lyrics covering all the conversation, but it was much more integrated than that. Hubby is particularly wary of Beatles exploitation, as he was a fanatic Back in the Day, but we were both pleased by the sincere, but not slavishly respectful, use of these modern standards. The casting was terrific (high school girl and I are now rivals for the charming Jim Burgess, who plays Jude) – a triple-threat talented group of bright young things. Julie Taymor’s vision is daringly idiosyncratic and yet approachable by anyone who lived through the times. Accept the fact that people are going to break into songs you think are carved in stone, and enjoy the ride.
12. JOSH RITTER – The Historical Conquests Of… (Sony/BMG)
Best Buy offered this with a 4-track bonus CD, so I had to grab it the first week it was out, despite not knowing a song on it. Ritter is a major talent. I’ve seen him live twice and loved him both times (the first time, we chatted afterwards and he hugged me when I told him I’d named “Hello, Starling” one of my Top Ten albums of 2005. He was so cute in his suit and red sneakers!). I’ll confess, no song grabbed me on the first listen, but I need to revisit. I trust him as an artist who’ll make repeated visits worth my time. My local NPR station is broadcasting live from tonight’s 930 Club show. Maybe that will kick start some of these tracks.
13. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Outlaw Country
Just shy of an hour’s worth of Sirius Radio as hosted by Mojo Nixon. Another Best Buy freebie they just had hanging about. The CD trade-in store offered me 25 cents for it.
14. SAINT ETIENNE – Travel Edition 1990-2005 (Sub Pop)
Has this band really had a 15-year run? Except for that lovely rendition of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” I was never particularly smitten with breathy female voice/throbbing rhythmic pulse bit. Seemed a bit One Trick Pony to me. But the library was having a sale, and this seemed like a good $3 way to support the cause. Now that it’s grooving behind me as I type, I can see the trio had more to offer than I gave them credit for. (no, I’m not re-writing to fix that dangler…)
15. LINKIN PARK – Minutes to Midnight (Warner Bros.)
Another, older, CD trade-in, by request of HS girl, who sometimes needs High Angst Music for her teenage lifestyle. When she plays it in the car, I simply hang on, figuring I need to know what’s happening in the HAM world, but I know it’s not made for me. Though I needn’t hear “What I’ve Done” ever again, I admit that “Bleed It Out” is damn catchy, and any major label band that wants to make snarky comments about Bush is OK in my book.

Free Music Time!
So why does the cover of Bruce’s new CD look like a mug shot?
Borders is offering a free stream of "Radio Nowhere"
so you can hear for yourself how much it sounds like Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309 (Jenny)”

YTD O/CD Tally: 739