Wednesday, November 28, 2007

So Many Ways to Buy Music…

A Genuine Record Store!

Last week, when I drove into DC to pick up College Girl for the Turkey Day Visit (ours was great; hope the same for you and yours), I left early, thinking I’d kill time in the Dupont Circle area and get a taste of city life.
And there, lo and behold, was a real record store! Melody Record Shop is a small space but crammed into every nook and cranny is a bigger and better selection than anything you’d find in a Best Buy. I was overwhelmed at first, not even sure what to look at/for, so I just wandered, past the classical and showtunes, letting the familiar and unfamiliar names wash over me. Then I hit the rock/pop section and began to focus.
There were reminders of many CDs I have at home and need to sample or revisit, along with new names that I’d heard something about. Now I could indulge my curiosity with visual cues. Yeah, it’s old skool to bother with cover art and liner notes, but it helps zero me in on what I might want to explore further.
The prices were higher than I’m used to - $15 and $16 for most titles – but some of the new releases weren’t much more than sale price at Barnes & Noble, who’ve gotten a lot of my money in the past year. There was a new Sigor Ros (but I think I want the DVD…) and a Jimmy Eat World that High School Girl might like for Christmas…
I picked up a Jamie Cullum compilation CD I’d not seen before (“The Mind of…”) and showed the back cover – full of titles and artists I recognized – whether it was an album of Jamie doing cover tunes, or a collection of songs he liked. The guy knew exactly what I was talking about (try that at Best Buy!) – it was the latter. “He has good taste,” I said, then added, “It’s so nice to be in a real record store again.” The guy gave me a bright, surprised smile. “Thanks!” he said.

How could I not buy?! I had to support the cause! I decided on these:
1. STARS – In Our Bedroom After the War (Arts & Crafts)
Not only a good price ($13) but a bonus DVD, too, and a real album package, with a set of 12 art cards with lyrics (a puzzle, actually, of the cover) and a very short story by Daniel Handler (a.k.a Lemony Snicket) - the whole nine yards (as hubby likes to say). It also earned me some street cred with college girl, who asked to listen to it on the ride home.
2. RYAN ADAMS & the CARDINALS – Follow the Lights (Lost Highway)
A 7-song EP for $6, so we beat the iTunes $1/song price point. Adams is prolific to a fault – who can keep up with all his releases? With downloads stealing the thunder of most full-length discs, CD singles and EPs seem to be evern closer to extinction, so I love getting them as a geek toy/possible investment for their inherent collector’s status. Listening to the songs as I type, this is the quiet, introspective Adams, not the trip-wire rocker.

And then, in that charming way that only independent music stores have, I saw the stack of freebies – not the corporate sponsored Shrek-commercials-on-disc that the big box stores hand out, but odds n’ sods that the store has lying around and offers to share. I passed on the foam-core mounted Magic Numbers poster, but besides the red plastic fold-out pocket mirror that will convince few people to buy the new Backstreet Boys “Unbreakable,” I scored:
3. KLAXONS – Magick (Polydor)
A 3-track CD single, apparently a British import. The UK press goes all soft like banana pudding when talking about this band, which took the Mercury Prize for its 2007 CD, touted as the future of recorded sound. While I have no argument with the appeal of heavy bass dance rock – especially at this price – I just don’t think it’s all that groundbreaking, and I happen to think The Rapture do it just as well, maybe better.
4. AC/DC – Plug Me In bonus CD (Columbia)
A two-track sampler tied to the box set of live tracks. “Dog Eat Dog” and “Back in Black,” the latter making it to my iTunes for my token metal moment and tribute to Lewis Black, whose “Daily Show” segments have forever lodged the tune in my brain.
5. JAVON JACKSON – Where is the Love (Palmetto)
I got confused, thought this one-track radio edit was a version of that inspiring Black Peas song, but it’s the old R&B soul hit, done in a totally lame “quiet storm” arrangement that reminds me of another great benefit to freebies – they can warn you away from stuff you need not pursue further.

At Eastern Market
This past weekend, taking College Girl back to the city so she could catch a train, hubby and I took a swing through Eastern Market which, despite losing use of its beautiful old building due to fire, still offers lots of cool tabletop merchants. The guy selling seemingly promo copies of books and one small box of CDs didn’t want to make the deal I proposed (4 discs for $22) but I got 3 for $20, two of them total WTF purchases, based solely on cool graphics, fun song titles and a good local rep:
6. URSULA 1000 – Kinda’ Kinky (Eighteenth Street Lounge Music)
Retro lounge music with titles like “Beatbox Cha Cha” and “Riviera Rendezvous” – plays as funny chill as it sounds.
7. URSULA 1000 – Ursadelica (Eighteenth Street Lounge Music)
A mix collection. The only artist that I recognize is Kraak en Smaak. But hey, I can learn.
8. STEPHEN STILLS – Just Roll Tape – April 26th, 1968 (Rhino)
A 2007 release, dug up from the Rhino files. Looks like an advance copy, in generic jewel case, with a nonetheless cool graphic on the cover – a simulated old, coffee- and tape residue-stained tape box. Some song titles I don’t recognize (anyone want to guess what “Dreaming of Snakes” is about?) and a few classics – “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Wooden Ships,” “Helplessly Hoping”…
And, as the Ryan Adams CD winds down, I realize that this particular disc fits very comfortably in the C,S,N&Y mode. Cosmic.

Back to the Big Boxes:
I do occasionally run into things I didn’t know I wanted at the retail giants, things like:
9. PAUL OAKENFELD – Greatest Hits & Remixes (Ultra/Perfecto)
An 80-minute seamless trip through some recognizable tunes (Radiohead, U2, Happy Mondays, Justin Timberlake and more) plus some things that are new to me, all with an energizing dance beat providing a dance floor bottom.
And stuff I knew I had to have:
10. FEIST – The Reminder (Cherrytree/Interscope)
It wasn’t just the endless catchy drumbeat of the iPod commercials, but that was the tipping point for finally breaking down and buying the full CD – even after High School Girl’s friend put that key song, and another good one, on a mix. And, in a rare bow to more HS sentiment, I bought my first round of ringtones, including “1,2,3,4” – which was ever-so-appropriate to hear when HSG calls me.
11. JOSE GONZALES – In Our Nature (Imperial/Muse)
It hasn’t caught on with the wildfire intensity of the brilliant first album, but the man knows how to croon, so I’m sure it will grow on us.
12. FLIGHT of the CONCORDS – The Complete First Season (HBO DVD)
My one beef with this collection – and I do so love being able to listen to/watch “Business Time” any time I want – is that there are no special features. Considering that there’s an HBO stand-up (actually, they sit and play) special of the guys, and a whole series of iTunes podcasts that take you behind the scenes and into the warped mind of Mel, not including a few extra tidbits seems a real shame. Spit roast?

Sometimes in places you’d never expect:
While exploring the strange new world of the Five Below store (like a Dollar store, but everything is priced…), I saw a rack of $5 DVDs, among which was a favorite music movie I muchly enjoyed on VHS and wanted to replace:
13. BACKBEAT (Universal DVD)
Iain Softley’s lovely and gritty evocation of the Beatles in their Hamburg days, with a stunning depiction of John Lennon by Ian Hart. Great music, too, by a band featuring the likes of Dave Grohl, David Pirner and Mike Mills. And interview and deleted scenes, as special editions should be!

Used, Cheap and Sometimes Unusual:
Way back in October, during my NYC/CMJ visit, I had a few minutes to explore a music shop in the East Village. My best buys were actually a stylishly frightening pastel green Clash shirt and an unfamiliar alien logo T-shirt for HSG, but I found a few bargains in the used CD bins:
14. TRACY CHAPMAN – Telling Stories (Elektra?)
$1.00, by request from HSG, who has developed a retro thing for the singer/songwriter.
15. The PIPETTES – We Are the Pipettes (Cherrytree/Interscope)
At $1.50, a cheap way to learn about a group I’d merelyheard of. Nice stuff, too – a ballsy modern take on the old girl-group sound.
And collected on the last two visits to my old favorite, the CD Cellar:
16. OKKERVIL RIVER – The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)
Sure to wind up on a lot of Year’s Best lists and, while I’m not ready to commit to that just yet, the opening song, “Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe,” will be making an appearance on my Best of 2007 tracks mix. Glad to finally hear what all the buzz is about (for $8) but I just noticed that the disc is marked “Special Radio Edit Version. FCC Clean.” What am I missing?
17. TODD SNIDER – Live at Grimey’s ( )
A 7-song concert CD ($8) recorded 10.20.06. Not sure if this is an official release or a promo? Wanted to hear if there was an anti-Bush intro/rant to go with the wonderful “You Got Away With It (A Tale of Two Fraternity Brothers)” but alas, no.
18. TINY MASTERS OF TODAY – Bang Bang Boom Cake (Great Society/World’s Fair)
It’s a bare-bones advance copy but the helpful clerks have added a sticker on the front that says the CD features Fred Schneider, Karen O, Gibby Haynes and Kimya Dawson (I don’t know that last name). Missed the band’s showcase at CMJ, so glad to catch up at the discount price of $4. Upon listening, I heard a sloppy but happy vibe, and then discovered that the players are actually two brothers, aged 13 and 11. That explains it, though I’m guessing it’s much more engaging live.
Purchase inspired by my cousin Brian, recently retired from the Navy (at the ripe old age of 47!) and the thrower of one bitchin’ party. (Tequila shots, anyone?) I may listen once, may even burn a disc for those rare occasions when I don’t feel my sweet country is going to hell in the proverbial handbasket, and then I’ll send it to him as a (gag?) gift.
20. WILCO – Kicking Television (Nonesuch)
We bought, and played the hell out of this album, for the last six months or so, but then Terry had his CD holder – filled with about 15 of his favorite discs – stolen out of his luggage when he was traveling. So I’ve been slowly replacing each album as I find it on sale. Since we still have the original jewel boxes, I buy the replacement, make a copy of the CD, keep the copy and sell back the original – guilt free because I paid for the original before it was lifted.
Practically stolen from the Buck Bin:
21. CRAIG NUTTYCOMBE & PIPER HEISIG – Two Buck Chuck (self-released?)
I wasn’t paying attention and thought is was a full CD in a cardboard sleeve, but it’s really just the one song. Luckily, it’s a funny one – about, as you might guess, cheap wine.
22. The AUTOMATIC – Not Accepted Anywhere (B. Unique/Columbia)
Ooops. A duplicate. Looking back in the records, I see that this was the first ”A” album to be tallied in the 2007 blog, grouped with the stuff that I purchased in England. HSG had fallen fort he band based on a photo in a British mag and I picked it up for her at the supermarket (surprisingly good selection) when we were shopping for dinner. This copy is in a cardboard advance sleeve that will save space when I trade in the other one.
23. MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNER – S/T (self-released)
Nice local boys who make pleasing indie rock. And who also make a point of sending me their new releases, sometimes in batches, as if I had some real power to distribute to tastemakers (I know one editor that I actually meet and eat with!). It seemed only right to buy this nicely designed neon-color-line-drawing cardboard sleeve copy, even if I turn out to have some/all of the songs elsewhere.
24. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Mainstream Radio July 05 (Promo Only)
Looks like it originally went out in copies of HITS magazine. 19 tracks that start off badly (Jessica Simpson’s massacre of “These Boots…”) and provides a time capsule of songs from two summers ago, a few of which (Gwen Stefani’s “Cool”) I may listen to again. Basically, a gift for the High School Girl, in case she missed ‘em on the iTunes.
A visit to the Thrift Store:
Looks like someone with a nice collection of well-kept pop standard CDs gave them away (or, gasp, passed on). From a bigger grouping, I pulled these for $1.50 each, thinking they’ll make nice stocking stuffers for the 70+ year-old ladies on my holiday list.
25. BING CROSBY - & Friends (Academy Sound and Vision)
Actually, this one I may keep for myself. Whatever his failings as a dad, Der Bingle Bingle could swing when he wanted to, as heard here on tracks with Johnny Mercer, Connie Boswell, Fred Astaire, Duke Ellington and others. Where else would I get to hear “The Waiter and the Porter and The Upstairs Maid”?
26. PERRY COMO – Forever and Ever (Rajon)
Two-disc compilation and yet, no appearance of the song I know him best for – “See the USA in Your Chevrolet.” But there is “Dig You Later (A Hubba-Hubba-Hubba)”
27. The HAROLD ARLEN SONGBOOK –Various Artists (BMG)
Digitally remastered and released by a major label, more reassuring than the previous two releases, that seem to come from Sketchy Discount Label Land. A sterling roster of older talent, like Rosemary Clooney, Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, and some schlocky stuff, too.

They Came with the Magazine:
I’ve fallen behind listening to the CDs I get with my monthly subscriptions and newsstand purchases, let alone reading all the printed matter! I may have to do a shred-and-purge/recycle on the paper products, but I will keep and enjoy all the following:
“15 tracks celebrating the pleasures of drinking and smoking.” Who could ask for anything more, except perhaps a bottle of Kahlua and a box of Camel Lights?
29. STONED (Mojo)
Songs made famous by the Stones – either original version of tunes they covered or songs that Mick and Keith wrote, reinterpreted by other artists (Nancy Sinatra’s take on “As Tears Go By,” Billy Bragg doing “She Smiled Sweetly”).
30 – 35. PASTE No. 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38 samplers
My problem with the magazine is that the print is too tiny for old folks like me who forget to bring our reading glasses into the bathroom. But the CDs are wonderful, like custom-made radio that you can keep and revisit.

By mail order:
36. KEITH URBAN – Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing (Capitol)
My mother came to visit and left behind a People magazine with a cover story about Mr. Kidman, saying that Nicole saved his life. Maybe I’ll listen to this while I read, and imagine how beautiful their children would be.
37. SPRING AWAKENING – Original Broadway Cast (Decca)
Another selection. College Girl once summed up this show thusly: “If I were still in high school, I would SO be into writing the lyrics all over my notebooks.” With titles like “The B**** of Living” and “Totally F******” you know she’s right. My glory days of attending Broadway musicals are far behind me, but props to Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater for bringing some real life teen sexual angst to the Great White Way.
38. VH-1 STORYTELLERS – Various Artists (Interscope)
Damn. When I noted this in my queue, I didn’t see tha cover, or I would have known I already have it (I think…it sure looks familiar. Damn, I have too many CDs when I can’t even be sure….)
Anyway, a reminder that I’d better update my listings on the site, or pull the plug on my subscription.
39. HERNDON HIGH SCHOOL CHOIR – Fall Sampler Concert (RonArt Associates)
Hey, I ordered it for $12 at HSG’s performance last month, so of course it counts in the tally! And a copy will make a nice stocking stuffer for grandma.

At the Show:
40. A NIGHT OF PHIDELITY – Various Artists (Phidelity Records)
Purchased at the Marah show last month at Jammin Java. 16 tracks from the label, including the Marah boys, Christine Smith (who recently joined the band) and others.

And lastly, Ye Olde Digital Downlodes:
I have so many files – purchased and sent to me – that haven’t been tallied, but until I get around to it, let’s just pay tribute to the Grandaddy of Them All:
41.RADIOHEAD – In Rainbows (self-released)
I figure $8 is a fair price. That’s what Best Buy charges for a hot new release on its best sale days, and Thom and Co, don’t have to share it with label weasels.

YTD O/CD Tally: 848

Monday, November 19, 2007

ISP Troubles Persist; So Does CPF

So, it turns out that in "improving" its service, Comcast created compatability problems. This has led to an inability to view personal web pages with some web browsers, including Safari, which I, as a proud Mac user, prefer.
&^%$ 'em.
Guess it's time to check out Firefox, but I'm ticked every time I ask someone to check out my site and they come back to tell me there's nothing there. The wind is out of my proverbial sails, but there's a backlog of stuff to get to, so let's get...

As television becomes the new radio, Indie artist Ingrid Michaelson won plum position on the Hot Playlist - a new song of hers debuted over the final scene of the "Grey's Anatomy" season finale in May - her fourth track to be featured on the show. I don't watch "Grey's" myself - I was tossed out of the TV room by my daughters when I dared to laugh at Izzie's crazy plan to temporarily kill her hospitalizd boyfriend - and she got to keep her job, too! Hogwash, I say.

When Michaelson's CD arrived earlier this year, I paid little mind. But then that Old Navy commercial came along and I couldn't get "but I-I-I lo-o-ove the way you call me baby," out of my mind. Thought it was another Feist tune, actually, but when I learned the truth, I went back to Michaelson's "Girls and Boys" and found a new friend.

She played at Jammin Java this past Saturday night - a sold-old "late" show (that's 9:30 in the suburbs, and I'm fine with it!) and the crowd was 100% behind her. She paid back with a thoroughly charming set, as much fun for her rambling, totally spontaneous monologs as for her classically trained piano, cute ukelele moments (the Hawaiian Christmas song) and lovely voice.

I hung out afterward to say hello and for those of you care about my small Zelig moments, here's yours truly with Ingrid and her fine accompaniast, whose name I didn't ctach, but he's in a Brooklyn-based band called Fireflies...
(pic by the nice guy behind me on the merch line)

As we roll into the merry holiday season and obligatory Year-End-Best list, the question does not appear to be IF the CPF O/CD Tally will cross the 1K mark, but rather WHEN it will happen and WHETHER I get around to listing all the discs. (And, as my mom always says, let that be the biggest problem you have to deal with.)

I truly intend to listen and respond to everything that comes in (there are probably some publicists out there calling me names) but time, trouble, trivia and that frickin' ISP unhinge my best intentions.

So, let's blow off a few right now, with a a minimum of chat...

I'm still wading through the many samplers I picked up at CMJ (at this point, my Festival Summary will appear as some kind of Year in Review item!), such as these Various Artists collections:
1. Best of OurStage, Vol. 1 (
2. CMJ Presents Phase Five NZ Music – Guitar cover (NZ On Air)
3. CMJ Presents Phase Five NZ Music – Piano Cover (NZ On Air)
4. CMJ Presents Phase Five NZ Music – Kiwi Cover (NZ On Air)
5. AMP 6 Packs, Volume 28
6. Copenhagen Jazz Festival (Copenhagen Jazz Festival)
7. FILTER MAGAZINE – Subway Series (FilterMMM)
This one scores points for including genuine exclusives, like a preview (“Cowboys”) from the upcoming Counting Crows release, due this month, and the soundtrack to the Joy Division film.
8. Eyeball Awareness, Volume 1 (Eyeball)
9. CMJ 07 sampler (CMJ)
10. Severe Records Sampler (Severe)

And here's a bunch of recent promos that didn't make the Keeping Cut:
11. BLONDIE – No Exit (Eleven Seven)
Don’t get me wrong, Blondie was an important band, and Debbie Harry is a true rock icon, but this 1999 release, the first the band released in 16 years, has to be one of the group’s worst efforts, Some of it is just downright laughable (“Happy Dog”), and the overall feeling is of grasping at stylistic straws. I ripped the cover tune “Out in the Streets” for its retro girl-group lyrics, but there’s little else here to spark a revisit.

I don’t bang my head much anymore, so I don’t need:
12. The AUTUMN OFFERING – Fear Will Cast No Shadow (Victory)
13. ARISE and RUIN – The Final Dawn (Victory)
Can you match the band with its PR hype?
“The new kings of metal have arrived with a full keg of metal goodness.”
“Your favorite white trash sons of Southern-fried metal have returned!”

And from the Kids Corner:
14. DAVID GROVER and the BIG BEAR BAND – Listen to the Music Band (KOCH)
“singing songs…about loving to sing songs (about songs)”
I listened in the car and feared that, should there be an accident, someone would think I listened to this for fun, and not research, Pretty cloying stuff.
15. BARBIE – As The Island Princess (KOCH)
I admit, I was curious about “Love is for Peasants.” And “The Rat Song.” But it's basically second-rate would-be Broadway Kidz, clever and cute for the tykes but not much for the parents stuck in the car with them.

But just when I think I should send a note to the publicist and say that there’s not much sense in sending me the kids’ music, I get something like…
16. FRAGGLE ROCK – Fraggle Rockin': A Collection (KOCH)
A 3-CD in luxe fold-out package. Who knew the Fraggles and Doozers did 3 discs worth of music? It's not just a set of all those Other Land Down Under favorites, but surely must be every note ever sung on the show. Weighty, perhaps, but a treasure trove of memories come flooding back and I am giggly with the joy of my "job." Some days are like Christmas, weeks early.
I shook Jim Henson's hand once. But that's another story...

Who'd A Thunk It?I
The most obnoxious music ad in recent memory comes from a classical company. In promoting a performance of the Academy of Choral Art and Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Washington Performing Arts Society ran an ad in the Post Weekend section, touting baritone Dmitri Hvorotstovsky with this quote from The Financial Times:
“Sexual heat that burns up every female on stage.”
Really? Do we need fire-retardant opera singers now?
At least they didn’t use the word “literally” which a Post reviewer did recently, saying that a show was packed “literally to the rafters.” Where’s the Fire Marshall when you need him/her?

YTD O/CD Tally: 807

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"I Hate My Frickin' ISP"

Todd Rundgren sang the lyric, but I'm living the tale, since Comcast hasn't yet fixed whatever's keeping my web site from appearing when you type the URL.
I'm thisclose to switching to Verizon FIOS.
Gonna hold back on the CMJ report and instead shout into the void with a list of CDs that are collecting dust. It's not because I don't like 'em (many I haven't heard yet) but I'm falling behind in the tally so let's blow 'em off and pretend something got accomplished.

1.VOODOO GLOW SKULLS – Southern California Street Music (Victory)
2. CASSIUS – 15 Again (Astralwerks)
3. INFORMATION SOCIETY – Synthesizer (Dancing Ferret Discs)
4. ROBERT PLANT and ALISON KRAUSS – Raising Sand (Rounder)
5. BIIRDIE – Catherine Avenue (Drive-Thru)
6. The GOLDEN DOGS – Big Eye Little Eye (Yep Roc)
7. MAGNET – The Simple Life (Filter)
8. JOHN RALSTON – Sorry Vampire (Vagrant)
Is the art designer here the same guy who did the cover for Hellogoodbye's "Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!" 'cause they look similar - and they're both cool.
9. OS MUTANTES – Live (Luaka Bop)
10. CIRCA SURVIVE – On Letting Go (Equal Vision Records)
11. DROPKICK MURPHYS – The Meanest of Times (Born & Bred Records)
I went to a wedding this past summer, and the bride and groom walked out of the service to the sound of Dropkick Murphys, who also got lots of airplay at the reception. Cool.
12. The DIMES – The Silent Generation (Pet Marmoset Records)
13. SHAGGY – Intoxication (Big Yard/VP Records)
Out November 13th.
14. RUTHIE FOSTER – The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster (Blue Corn Music)
15. The YARROWS – Plum (Empyrean Records)
16. JOHNETTE NAPOLITANO – Scarred (Hybrid Recordings)
Includes cool cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist."
17. VHS OR BETA – Bring Out the Comets (Astralwerks)
18. The GOURDS – Noble Creatures (Yep Roc)
19. SUZY BOGGUSS – Sweet Danger (Loyal Dutchess Records)
20. DEAD ROCK WEST – Honey and Salt (Populuxe Records)

YTD O/CD Total: 791

Friday, November 02, 2007

Damn You, Uber-Overlords of Information Dissemination!

I've been having a lot of internet problems lately. Photos not posting to the blog, CPF site unavailable for viewing and updating. If a blog falls in the forest, does anyone hear? Sigh....

Whenever you can see this, it's a bunch of random hits:

Breaking News Department
Sorry to hear that the Decemberists have cancelled their DC shows later this month.
An offical statment from the band, as sent by a Capitol records publicist, reads:

"With much regret The Decemberists have cancelled the remainder of "The
Long and Short of It" tour.

One of our band members has been ill for a while but we thought all
would be well in time for these tour dates. After a couple shows,
though, it has become clear that the illness is much worse than we had
initially realized. We need to return home so our friend can mend.

It saddens us to disappoint our fans. We hope everybody understands it
is only because of an extreme situation that we had to cancel a tour
we've all been excited about doing since the idea was originally

Of course, the main concern here is that the band member, whoever he/she is, gets well soon. This a act, one whose music I return to again and again and I'm looking forward to seeing them play again soon.

In other concert news, since we're playing newshound this time, hometown heroes Army of Me have a headlining date coming up in January at the 930 Club. I don't think the club has announced it yet, but I ran into the band's sweet lead singer, Vince Scheueman, at Jammin Java when he was hanging out with his new friends, Australian duo The Kin, and local singer Chelsea Lee. Army of Me had played a "festival" (Vince joked there were about 3 people in the crowd) to celebrate the opening of an...apartment complex, I think he said!? And the female teenage singer, a regular at J2, was a new Kin-dred soul who appeared onstage with the group to sing one of their songs. In Billboard magazine, shmooze photography fashion, here's (L to R) The Kin's Isaac Koren with Chelsea and Vince, doing the backstage hang:

Coincientally, The Kin were (was?) recently on tour with Pat McGee and Josh Kelley for 3 weeks, and that touring twosome was previewed in my latest
Post piece.
The other new preview is soul survivor Bettye LaVette, whom I would have loved to have seen (what tense is that?!) but for the fact that she played on Halloween night, which is a revered holiday in our house.

Anyway, back to The Kin, a very impressive new act, comprised of brothers Isaac and Thorry Koren. The former sings and plays keyboards and didgeridoo and looks like a young rocking Aaron Eckharrt...

while the latter sings and plays guitar and hides his good looks under his hat...

The pair's new CD (see the O/CD tally, below) came out the same day as the J2 show. Inviting comparisons to a more muscular Coldplay or a folkier U2, the brothers' press shots and photo-free album graphics play down the handsome. And it's only live that you get the warm and gently humorous aspect of their talents. You also miss out on touring drummer "Shakerleg"

who plays without sticks, but doesn't let that stop him from pounding away. Even with his fingers taped like a fighter's, that's gotta hurt!

Moving on to New Acquisitions:
1. The KIN - Rise and Fall (Aletheia)
2. BETTYE LAVETTE - The Scene of the Crime (ANTI-)
3. LEVON HELM - Dirt Farmer (Vanguard)
How nice to hear this distinctive voice again, especially when it had been literally silenced by illness and feared gone for good. Helm's a class act and a genuine icon from his days with The Band (look it up, kids!) and on first listen, I felt as if I were reconnecting with an old friend. Welcome back!
4. CATHY PONTON KING - Undertow (Long Gone)
Longtime local musician playing Bonnie Raitt-like rocking electric blues. Next week's Post preview, playing the Meadowark Botancial Gardens Atrium in Vienna on Saurday, the 10th. Sounds like a gorgeous place to see a show, and she's an area stalwart with a graceful touch and talented friends.
5. The STAPLE SINGERS - The 25th Day of December (Riverside)
Not just a potenial source of gold for the annual Cool Yule compilation, but one of those rare holiday CDs that you can put on all by itself and enjoy from first track to last. An early gift from the Conqueroo crew.
6. WEEN - La Cucaracha (Chocodog/Rounder)
Much as I love music with a sense of humor, me and the Ween-ers have had our artistic differences in the past. I find some of their humor juvenile in that annoying, but prevalent, frat-boys-with-guitars way. But there have been positive reviews from respected voices on this new one, so I'm curious to try it out. After all, if the Beastie Boys can grow up...
7. CHUCK PROPHET - Soap and Water (Yep Roc)
Another CD getting excellent advance buzz, and I don't fear the Prophet motive (sorry, couldn't resist). Coming to IOTA later thus month.
8. STREETLIGHT MANIFESTO - Somewhere In the Between (Victory Records)
Gracie really likes one of this band's previous albums and doesn't care for another. Something about a major personnel change taking place. And I don't know whether the pro or con team is in charge here. In stores 11.13
9. SONS OF WILLIAM - What Hides Inside (Red Lick)
Opened one of the aforementioned Pat McGee Band/Josh Kelley dates at the Birchmere.
10. HERBIE HANCOCK - River:The Joni Letters (Verve)
Between this and the excellent various artists Tribute to...CD, Joni Mitchell's star is on the ascent again. And my house hardly gets through a week without revisiting one of her classics, like Blue or Court and Spark. And yet, as much as we've enjoyed these homages, I can't get around to buying the new CD by Joni herself. It, and she, sound too strident in the press I've read so far. There's just so much cash on hand, and I spent it on things like...

11. BARENAKED LADIES - Extended Versions (Sony/BMG)
No, not disco mixes, but a live set of 10 songs, which I am suspicious about. It's a generic release that smacks of repackaging. Didn't they already do a live album? But I don't have that if there is one, and this was only $5 at Target.

YTD O/CD Total:771
and that's without the CMJ SWag Tally, soon to come!