Monday, December 31, 2007

...And I'm Spent!

It’s just after dinner – sending the year out with crab legs, (cheap) caviar, champagne – and time for TCM’s Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers’ “Revel Without a Pause” marathon. So we’re flying (if not Down to Rio) as we head into the final tally…

It came with the magazine:
1.HARP – November issue, Merge Records sampler
2. AMERICAN SONGWRITER – November/December 2007 issue
When did this magazine start giving out music? Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes, Billie Holiday, Josh Ritter, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings! I hope they keep it up.

I bought it at the show:
3.SPOON – The Way We Get By

Misc. Puffy Envelopes:
4. BARCELONA – Absolutes (self-released)
5. GRACE POTTER and the NOCTURNALS – This Is Somewhere (Hollywood)
6. BEN ALLISON & MAN-SIZED SAFE – Little Things Run the World (Palmetto)
Points up front for the band name!
7. BRITTNEY ELIZABETH – Breathe In (self-released)
At first listen, the material didn’t slay me – average girl singer/songwriter stuff – but this Brittney at least writes most of her own stuff and isn’t batshit crazy.
8.LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO – Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu (Heads Up)
9. WINTERPILLS – The Light Divides
I wasn’t knocked out by the band live when I saw them open for The Kin at Jammin Java, but there is something soft and sweet about the CD.

10. FERRABY LIONHEART – Catch the Brass Ring (Nettwerk)
11. BELL X1 – Flock (Yep Roc)
Many moons ago, during a family vacation in Ireland, we were staying in the Temple Bar area and I went to a club just to hear some local rock. Bell X1 were playing and, though I’d never heard of them, they were great. (Now sure if this was before or after Damien Rice left the band.) And I wondered ever since why they hadn’t made it over here. The right will be wronged in January when the band finally releases an album here in the U.S.

12.WISELY – S/T (Oglio)
Official release duplicate of an advance I got earlier.
13.OVER THE RHINE – The Trumpet Child (Red Eye)
Another duplicate, reserviced when the band came back through town.
14.The TEMPTATIONS – Back to Front (New Door/UME)
15.KT Tunstall - Drastic Fantastic (Relentless/Virgin)
I like the way her label becomes Relentless Virgin, a good name for an album. Better than Drastic Fantastic, in fact.
16. ANDY DITZLER –Songs from Yes and No (Frequent Small Meals)
I wrote a longer piece about this CD when I first got it ‘cause I like it so much. Will post it “next year” since I think this is a guy I want to see live and hopefully he’ll be around in ’08.
17. The FRAMES - The Cost (Anti-)
Includes a band version of "Falling Slowly," the hit tune from the "Once" soundtrack. Much as Ive enjoyed this band in the past, this album has a somewhat forced big sound, as if they don't trust the audience to know that they're Making Imporant Music.

3-D – Digital Download Department
Another problem I have with the digital only scene – besides from missing liner notes and such – is that I frequently forget to count them! Here are some of the CDs I got online this year – from (so you RIAA types can leave me be!)

18. GIRL TALK – Unstoppable
19. ELECTRONIC ACOUSTIC – Various Artists (I-label)
Includes Peter, Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks,” a Feist track, American Analog Set and others.
20. The WEEPIES – Say I Am You
College Girl's new obsession. If I counted her iTunes purchases, I'd have a dozen or more releases to add here.
21. ST. VINCENT – Marry Me
22. The APPLE TREE - Original Broadway Cast
An underappreciated set of clever, sometimes very funny, often quite tender, tunes.

23. OKKERVIL RIVER – Golden Opportunities Mix Tape
A lovely holiday gift – available with red/green and blue/white cover pds – from the band to fans, recorded live on tour and available at the group’s web site.

The last CD to come into the house in 2007, arriving in today’s mail:
(drumroll, please…)
24. SCIENCE FOR GIRLS – S/T (self-released)

and still, I see some stragglers - a few discs in scattered corners.
Maybe a dozen or two more musical experiences not to be shared (this time).
Oh, the humanity.
But I have proven my point (whatever that may be).
Run the race.
Crossed the finish line.
I'll be more organized - even more OC/D! - next year.

and so, for year 2007, we come to the

OK, Kid. You can blow that New Year's trumpet Now!

Happy New Year's everybody. Thanks for blogging and slogging through 2007 with me!
Fred, Ginger...let's dance!

And the Hits Just Keep On Coming! (Last Day, Part Two)

Now you know why it’s called the O/CD Tally. I can’t stop myself!
(and I may be a little sloppy on label listings in the rush to finish).

Stories were Told:
These CDs came in relating to Post previews, the latest round of which will be up as links later this week, as Thursday, January 3rd brings a new pair.
1. GOOD For The JEWS – S/T (self-released)
2. BANDAZIAN – In Vacant Fields
3. BRICE WOODALL – Feathery Trigger

More Puffy Envelopes, previously missing in action:
A duplicate copy of the Scandinavian metal parodists, in case I missed “Everybody Loves a Chubby Dude” first time around.
5. BASSNECTAR – Underground Communication (Om Records)
6. The CLIKS – Snakehouse (Tommy Boy)
7. ELI COOK BAND – Electric Firewater (self-released)
Virginia-based kid, not yet 20, has the chops of a much older bluesman.
8. ROMANTICO – America (2024 Records)
RIYD: Wire, Girls Against Boys, Sonic Youth (that’s what they said)
9. The LOW FREQUENCY IN STEREO - The Last Temptation Of... (Gigantic Music)
A replacement copy for the album I was enjoying in the car – until I stepped on and broke. This, the band’s third LP, (its 2004 release was titled “Travelling Ants Who Got Eaten By Mollusks”)
was up for the Norwegian Grammy award - called a Spellemannsprisen - in the category of Best Rock Album of 2006 (it came out in the US last October). Comparisons are being made to the Doors, Joy Division, Can, Stereolab, The Jesus And Mary Chain.
10. LEYODE – Fascinating Tininess (Eastern Development)

Some May Call It Swag:
11. ANGELSPIT – Krankhaus (Dancing Ferret Discs)
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky…and they send swag – a ballpoint pen that looks like a hypodermic needle. Could come in handy for a Halloween costume.
12. The CRUXSHADOWS – DreamCypher (Dancing Ferret Discs)
Florida-based but world traveled outfit, played in China earlier this year. They also sent swag – a red and white pill case that looks like a really big…pill.

Reach Out (I’ll Be There)
13. SECRET ANNEXE – Seven Headed Monster (Ocelot Records)
I purchased a previous CD from this band, based solely on clever song titles and its lonely presence in the clearance section, I mentioned it in the blog, and one of the band members wrote to ask if I’d like to hear the latest release. Yes, please.

14. PET SHOP BOYS – Cubism in Concert (Rhino DVD)
A 27-track concert filmed last year in Mexico City. Good stuff, too.

YTD O/CD Tally: 978
And there’s more to come!

Last Day, Part One (CMJ redux)

My Best Intentions
I wanted to do a full CMJ summary in the days after the event, but got waylaid with other work and life and such. Here, at least, is the music tally from notes taken back then:

On the very first day, a nice pair of young rockers came though the pressroom, handing out CDs and touting their Saturday showcase (which I was going to miss), They gave me:
1.The BOY BATHING – A Fire to Make Preparations
A bit of “Beautiful Dreamer” tossed in, a happier, more nasal Bright Eyes
And much more varied styles – and a big band sound on a few songs, too! - than the indie element would have you believe. And some songs feature a sweet female vocal like a not-obnoxious Jewel.
2.VARIOUS ARTISTS – World’s Fair Fall 2007 Music Sampler (World’s Fair)
Picked up at the World’s Fair Showcase, where British Sea Power where stunningly good.

3.VARIOUS ARTISTS – Live from SF X SXSW – San Francisco Comes to Austin 2007 (Talking House)
Given out at the Talking House showcase, at Ace of Clubs, where Scissors for Lefty were adorable.
4. BLAMMOS – How Do You Know? (Front Burner Music)
Also at the TH show. Didn’t hear the Blammos, but enjoyed chatting with the guys at the long line of merch tables that ran along the side wall of the club. They gave me this collection of songs, in a cleverly-folded (rock origami?!) sheet of standard-sized, hot pink, printed
5.BLAMMOS – 4 Music Videos (Front Burner Music)
also from the same event:
6.MUD – Should’ve Known (Talking Head)
2-Track single
7. MICKEY ZETTS/MICKEY’S ICKIES – Life is a Dream (Superpickle Music Arts)

8. TEAM ROBESPIERRE – Summer 2007 (Impose Records)
Obtained at the Norwegian showcase at Knitting Factory, where Ida Maria won my heart.

Alas, Ida Maria had no music to share, but Team Robespierre had a few samplers on the freebie table. This looks like it’s a hand-painted disc – collectible, perhaps, but the band’s performance – all bratty energy, but little in the way of melody or charm – didn’t work for me.

Foraging at the Puck Building:
11. VARIOUS ARTISTS – CMJ New Music, Issue 151 (CMJ)

The French Music Export Office Booth:
12. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Generation Francaise 6 (Cavilam)
With Emilie Simon. Whom High School Girl caught on a video music channel and was charmed by.
13. VARIOUS ARTISTS – French Essentials III (Aureau Export)
“pop/rock & electronic music produced in France,” including Feist and Justice.
14. VARIOUS ARTISTS – French Essentials IV (Aureau Export)
“world music produced in France”

Various Others:
15.BAND B – Bent (self-released)
Can’t Judge a Book…dept. Simple black graphics and song titles imply something hard and metaled, but the songs are actually more mellow and melodic.
16. SAHARA HOTNIGHTS – Cheek to Cheek (Stand By Your Band)
From the Swedish Booth, a one track single, in cardboard sleeve.
17. VARIOUS ARTISTS – From Sweden with Love (Swedish Institute)
18. FRED – 3-Track Promo (RCM Records)
19. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Subtle Media Group sampler (Subtle Media Group)
On CMJ’s last day, the press room was closed, so I plunked myself into the empty exhibit across the way, where the Internet signal was still strong and a power outlet and writing surface were available. The proprietor of the booth, a lovely, talkative Irish man (is there any other kind?) returned and, instead of shooing me away, delighted me with an hour’s worth of fine conversation, industry gossip, and an introduction to his friend, Living Colour’s Vernon Reid, who dropped by with the Irishman’s wife. The CD includes orchestral, film and television music, my host himself in a singer/songwriter role, and the band Martelo, which was the prime motive for his attendance at the event.

One small label, from Alaska, had its own table (was it worth it?) and gave out what you might call Real Chill Rap:
20. VARIOUS ARTISTS – Arctic Flow Records Sampler (Arctic Flow)
Snippets and full versions.
21. PHONETIC – The Notebook (Ice Box Entertainment)
2006 copyright.
22. AKREAM feat. JOSH BOOTS – I Push You Push (Arctic Flow)
2004 copyright, and yet this 4-track (all same song) single is said to be from the upcoming album “Digital Penetration.”
23. JOSH BOOTS – Possesion with Intent (Arctic Flow)
Front cover spells the word “possession,” side title uses “possetion,” and the first track is “possession…” . copyright 2005.

YTD O/CD Tally: 964

All Bets Are Off!

Less than 24 hours to go, and I’m just going list crazy!

Stuff I liked but didn’t get a chance to write about:
1. LE CONCORDE – Suite E.P. (Fourchette/Le Grand Magistry Records)
Stephen Becker, PhD, isn’t shy about his broken heart – his press bio is fraught with references to his broken marriage. I’ve seen him perform live twice, and both times his voice was disappointing, making me wonder if the beautiful, plaintive vocals here are a studio creation. But hey, if the end result is such lovely melancholy as this (and the beautiful previous release, “Universe and Villa”) so be it. Produced, BTW, by David Garnson of Scritti Politti (in LA) and Ken Stringfellow of Posies (in Paris).
2. QUARTET SAN FRANCISCO – Whirled Chamber Music (ViolinJazz Recordings)
How can you not love a group that records chase music from a classic Looney Tunes cartoon, written by the great Raymond Scott? And that’s only the first track on a fine collection of classical/jazz crossover.
3. 10,000 LAUGHS: The Best of the Boston Comedy Festival (KOCH)
Comedy’s tough. What makes me guffaw may not give you even a chuckle, and vice versa. Some of the comedians did one for me, some the other, some not even a smile. The generic package had no listings, so I can’t tell you who scored and who didn’t, unless I go back to listen to MC introductions (note to publicists – not helpful to potential reviewers).
4. VARIOUS ARTISTS - US VS. UK PUNK (Sanctuary Records)
My pal, Rhoda, a publicist from Back in the Day, wrote the liner notes for this nifty time capsule.
5. BRAZZAVILLE – East L.A. Breeze (Vendlus Records)
Heard a track from this on “Morning Becomes Eclectic” and then was amazed to see it being handled by Earsplit PR, who sends me the best/funniest heavy- and death-metal press releases. I’ve never requested stuff from them before, but I asked for, and got, this one, which is so mellow, it’s hard to know how/why the team got together. Led by singer David Brown, who played sax in Beck’s touring band, it’s actually the band’s sixth studio release! The depth of all the music I’ll never hear is mind-blowing.
6. GRAND NATIONAL – A Drink and A Quick Decision (Recall Records)
June 18th marked the album’s worldwide digital release, but the “deluxe physical CD release (w/ bonus tracks and media)” came out in September.
7. JENS LEKMAN – Night Falls Over Kortedala (Secretly Canadian)
I understand why some people might lose patience with this sweet, heavily orchestrated popmeister with the odd voice, but I think he’s fun.
8. LINDA THOMPSON – Versatile Heart (Rounder)
Originally released on Tom Waits' 2004 release Real Gone, "Day After Tomorrow" is an anti-war ballad written as a soldier's letter home from the Iraq War. Though Thompson suffers from a rare vocal disorder which makes it difficult to sing in public, she chose to record that one track before a live audience. She said this about the song: "Everybody loves the most wonderful Tom Waits, but let's not forget his co-writer Kathleen Brennan. I like the cut of her jib."
Above and beyond her talent – and bravery – here are two reasons I love that comment:
1) she gave credit to the woman behind the man, which is rarely done.
2) she used the phrase “cut of her jib,” which is a Connecticut-ism Hubby uses all the time, and I always tease him about it.

“Life is Short” Section (Stuff I still haven’t listened to yet):
9. M.I.A. – Kala (Interscope)
Embarrassed to admit that I haven’t popped this one in the player yet. She’s all over the Year’s Best lists, but I’ve just lost track.
10. LISA LOEB – The Purple Tape (Furious Rose)
I still have a chance with this one – it comes out January 22nd.
The release will include two discs. One is music - including an early version of “Stay (I Missed You)” - the other an interview with Ms. Loeb.
11. CORINNE WEST – Second Sight (Make Records)
12. RYAN SCOTT – Smoke & Licorice (Velour Music)
13. MAE – Singularity (Capitol)
14. J. HOLIDAY – Back of My Lac’ (Capitol)
A sampler – 3 tracks and 3 “snippets.”
15. MISS DERRINGER – Black Tears (Stay Gold Records)
16. BITTER:SWEET – The Remix Game (Quango)

Stuff I’m still not sure about:
17. JAMIE T. – Panic Prevention (Caroline)

Stuff That Didn’t Do It For Me:
18. PRINZHORN DANCE SCHOOL – S/T (Astralwerks)
19. AIDEN – Conviction (Victory Records)
20. BETWEEN The BURIED and ME – Colors (Victory)

YTD O/CD Tally: 941

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tick...Tick...Tick...(the New Year looms)

The emails keep coming, telling me I have just two days left to make my year-end donations. The same goes for the O/CD Tally, so let’s make a contribution now!

By Request.
I read the press releases that publicists send, and damn, if they don’t make just about everything sound good. I try to ask for only those albums that I think I may like or will get to cover sometime in the future (really) and here’s a few I asked to hear. For the most part, good stuff, too.
1. The HEDRONS – One More Won’t Kill Us (Measured)
I love when chicks rock. And the drummer goes by the name Soup!
2. XAVIER RUDD – White Moth
His first album left a good impression; I need to make time for this one.
3. The WEAKERTHANS – Reunion Tour (Anti-)
4. JOE HENRY – Civilians (Anti-)
Ever reliable, as a performer and as the Go-To Producer for artists who need creative rediscovery.
5. EILEEN IVERS – An Nollaig (Compass Records)
A gentle, but not sleep-inducing holiday album with a Celtic (obviously) slant.
6. THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS – The Else (Idlewild/Zoe/Universal)
Back in the Brooklyn days, the two Johns came to my birthday party, though they didn’t really know me. I still have the party hat they made me. Great guys, fun times.
7. NICK LOWE – Jesus of Cool (Yep Roc)
Deluxe reissue of the Britpop/new wave icon’s U.K. debut, which had its name, track list and sequencing changed for U.S. release. 2007 was a great year for Nick and his fans (like me) – “At My Age” was a fine release, and his Birchmere show in September was a thrill for those of us who got to see him and especially for the lucky few like myself who chatted with him afterwards. I will spare you the shot of me and him, but here’s a stage shot…
Next Saturday, Jan. 5th, the Wolf Trap Barns hosts a tribute to Mr. Lowe with a huge roster of local talent. I was gonna preview the show, but it sold out the day I was set to file the story, so the editor had me switch to another event. Anyhoo, the CD, with all the original material, plus added info and bonus tracks, comes out February 19th.

8. SEBASTIAN BACH – Angel Down (Get Off My Bach)
I’m not usually prone to hard rock, but I’ve had a soft spot for Bach since he started guesting on “Gilmore Girls.” I figure if the creator of that once-superb (until she left) mom-and-daughter dramedy could forgive him for wearing the anti-gay T-shirt that got him in trouble back in the Skid Row days, so can I.

Things that came unannounced:
9. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN – Original Broadway Cast (Decca)
There aren’t many unsolicited puffy envelope surprises that make me say “oh yea!” but this is one of them, as I can quote from the great Mel Brooks comedy at length. College Girl saw and liked the Broadway show (scuttlebutt says the B’way community is not entirely thrilled with the way Brooks and Co. conduct bizniz, but I can say no more) but was more into the performers than the music. Given that one song’s chorus consists almost entirely of the word “tits,” no one will be mistaking this for the latest Sondheim.
10.JANN KLOSE – Reverie (self-released)
11. ROB JUNGKLAS – Gully (Mad Jack Records)

Advances for the New Year:
12. The AUDITION – Champion (Victory)
Out January 22nd.
13. ADAMA – Delicate Dragon (4Dpeople)
Out February 19th.
14. MATT KING – Rube (Montage Music Group)
Out February 5th.
15. The BILLIONAIRES – Really Real For Ever (Too Soon)
Out March 4th.


One More Lap Before Bedtime

All My Own Cash Money Edition!

Last visit to the CD Cellar for 2007:
1. VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Brit Box (Rhino)
Subtitled “U.K. Indie, Shoegaze, And Brit-Pop Gems Of The Last Millennium,” this 4-CD set offers 78 tracks that chart the rise of “Cool Britannia.” Featuring the likes of The Smiths, Jesus And Mary Chain, The Stone Roses, Teenage Fanclub, Blur, Oasis, Pulp, and a whole bunch that I don’t recognize. Usually, these boxes don’t offers lot of surprises, but there’s a lot here I’ve never heard. Found it at the used CD store for about $35 and, since it was trade-in credit and not real cash, that made it a steal. Alas, the Rhino Art Department, which usually makes the greatest fetishist packages on the planet, fell off a bit on this. The box is designed like a British phone booth, but the flashing lights are a cheap gimmick. The four discs are packaged in two double packs and, while the accompanying booklet is full of nice pics and info, there’s a lot of wasted space.
From the $1.00 Clearance racks:
2. VARIOUS ARTISTS –Only Rock ‘n Roll: 1960-1964 (Warner Special Products)
20 tracks, opening with Little Eva’s “Locomotion” and ending with the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ U.S.A.” As usual with these collections, I have many of the songs already (one day, I need to make a massive mix of all the 60s, 70s and 80s’ collections; it will probably create a full shelf of free space in the archives once I cull all the duplications) but there’s a few choice newbies: “I Like It Like That” (name the artist? Chris Kenner), “Tossin’ and Turnin’” (Bobby Lewis) and “Hey! Baby” (Gene Chandler) that I’m pretty sure I’ve been missing.
3. VARIOUS ARTISTS - ‘60s Pop Numbers 1’s (UME)
20 tracks, opening with Little Eva’s “Locomotion” (deja entendu!) and ending with Zager & Evans’ “In the Year 2525” (the very definition of both one-hit wonder and novelty tune). The choice newbies here: Len Barry’s “1-2-3,” Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints,” and the Lemon Pipers’ “Green Tambourine.” Groovy packaging, too – die-cut cover that reveals the bright green disc within, nestled in some kind of cushy Styrofoam.
4. DAN WILSON – Free Life (American/Red Ink/Columbia)
Advance generic cover solo CD from the former Semisonic leader. This one’s watermarked, a trade-in risk I never take. “Free Life,” the track I heard on KCRW, is way catchy but I keep sticking on this bad couplet in the chorus: “And in the air the questions hang/Will we get to do something?” That rhyme needs to rhyme. But it doesn’t.
5. BOWERBIRDS – Hymns for a Dark Horse (Burly Time Records)
Generic advance cardboard CD-R with taped, typed song listings. A three-piece act with a quiet, pleasing sound so close to that of Sondre Lerche that my husband asked if it was a new disc from him. Saw the band do a few songs at CMJ day stage and remembered them fondly. And I have a photo…

6. SPARKY’S FLAW – S/T EP (Smash)
A freebie, grabbed (in duplicate, one for High School Girl) from a pro-looking display case on the giveaway table, which is usually stocked with stickers and postcards and the occasional CD-R. The two-color cardboard case, with band member photos, offers five tracks from the Charlottesville, VA band, which I discovered through HSG, who got some tracks (not, BTW, the ones here) from a friend on a mix tape. This band is quite good, in a Jack’s Mannequin/The Format kind of way. In fact, I mentioned them in a Post preview and would have written more about them, but they never answered my press inquiry. (Tsk, tsk.) They played Jammin Java the night of our big holiday open house, so we missed seeing the show. Rumor has it they will play the place again in January and we will be there, cheering.
7.TIEWEB – 3 track EP (self-released)
Speaking of freebie CD-Rs from local bands, here’s one.
8. JUBEUS – Samples from “Natural Mood” (self-released)
And here’s another. Four tracks, dating back to the band’s summertime CD release party, an invite to which is printed on the disc label.
9. BRADDIGAN & FRIENDS – promo sampler (Third Surfer Music)
This is a freebie that I think came from a recent visit to Jammin Java, also promoting a show, in October, by a guy from the local band Dispatch. Includes pre-release tracks from his CD “The Captive” plus original music from a film (“Walking on Water”) and even a trailer for same.
10. SHANE HINES – See Us Live! (self-released)
I use that title ‘cause it’s written in big type on the label, also a mention of a J2 show in December. Four tracks from a guy whose name I’ve heard a zillion times on the local scene. Now I can finally hear what’s up. It takes awhile, but these things work. And it’s in a nice slim-line CD case, which shows an extra touch of class.

A last visit to the Thrift store for 2007:
At $1.50 each, who can resist?
11. Highlights from MISS SAIGON (Geffen)
I am not a fan of this musical or its Glitz Above Content producers, but I am a big fan of actor Jonathan Pryce, whose performance of “The American Dream” gave this onetime Broadway Baby a guilty tingle when he performed it on the Tony Awards many, many years ago.
12. NO DOUBT – The Singles 1992-2003 (Interscope)
It’s missing the CD booklet, but all I need are the 13 songs, a reference library must-have. Gwen Stefani has more talent and class in her left foot than Madonna has in her entire body.
13. BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL – S/T (Playbill/Legacy)
Actually gave this CD to my mom as a Christmas present last year, but I didn’t break the shrink-wrap to copy it first. Didn’t know the guy except by reputation and it turns out he has a showstopper’s voice and a way with Broadway chestnuts like “Something’s Coming” that helps you hear the songs with fresh ears. Good choices, too: “The Best is Yet to Come,” “How Long Has This Been Going On” and such.

Also on the Broadway/Hollywood tip:
14. STEPHEN SONDHEIM – Sondheim Sings, Vol. 1 1962-72 (PS Classics)
HSG and I went to Borders with an “Any single CD for $10.99” coupon, searching for the “Juno” soundtrack before we realized that it was only (at that time) available as a digital release. When we couldn’t find that, I searched the soundtrack racks (only the big hits ever go on sale) for “Babel” (out of stock, tho’ my dear one found it for me for Christmas) and discovered this collection by my favorite composer. I didn’t even know he’d released these early demos. Not only does he do such favorites as “Losing My Mind” and “Send in the Clowns,” but also a song called “No, Mary Ann.” (I will forgive the spelling). No, he doesn’t have a strong voice, but I love hearing him present the tunes as the proud creator, complete with the occasional expositional aside.
15. THE DARJEELING LIMITED – Original Film Soundtrack (ABKCO)
Wes Anderson always takes such great care with his films’ music. This one leans heavily on East Indian soundtrack excerpts, along with a few tracks from my dear Kinks. Confession: was gonna give it to College Girl for Christmas but, after hearing it, I didn’t think she’d dig the Indian stuff so much, so I’m keeping it. (If she reads this and wants me to honor my initial intent, so be it.)

Bought Many Moons Ago, But Somehow Missed the Tally:
16. CHUCK KLOSTERMAN – IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas (Simon & Schuster Audio)
There aren’t many rock journalists who have a true Voice, or can make me laugh out loud. My one true star in this matter is Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield, who also wrote the heart-achingly tender “Love is a Mix Tape.” I don’t think Klosterman has quite the same reserves of sentiment, but I bet he makes me chuckle.

A few more samplers, MIA:
17. HARP magazine – Vanguard/Sugar Hill New Music Sampler
Eight acts, one or two tracks each, starting with our darling Matt Nathanson and wrapping up with the Infamous Stringdusters.
18. MOJO magazine – Best of 2007
True to its name, there’s a track here that made it to my Top Ten Songs ballot for the upcoming Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll (more on that next week/next year) – Cold War Kids’ “We Used to Vacation.” And while there’s a lot of other good material from bands I know and like – Shins, Decemberists, Sigur Ros, Interpol – there’s a nice sampling of Brits I’ve heard much less about – Hard-Fi, Cherry Ghost, Jamie T – so it’s nice to know what the Brits are rabbiting on about.

And we’ll end on an Old Skool note.
19. DECAYDANCE (Fueled by Ramen)
On a visit to Hot Topic with HSG some time ago, I found this set of five genuine 7” vinyl singles – The Academy Is…, Cobra Starship, Cute Is What We Aim For, Gym Class Heroes and Paramore – in the clearance section for about $5. Seemed like a must-have for my picture sleeve collection, though I was disappointed upon opening it to see that all of the records were in plain white sleeves. Will play ‘em when I get a moment with the turntable and/or put ‘em up on ebay someday.

So, where does that leave us?
YTD O/CD Tally: 906

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Race Continues

Gotta keep hammering...
Let’s start with a round-up of all the new Christmas Booty:

1. The NEW AMSTERDAMS – At the Feet of My Rival (Elmar/Curb Appeal)
Bought by me for College Girl, who requested that she get some actual CDs! Seems that even the hip youngsters like the feel of old skool jewel cases to go with their downloads.
2. SWEENEY TODD – Original Broadway Cast (LuPone, Cerveris) (Nonesuch)
3. SWEENEY TODD – Original Film Soundtrack (Depp, Bonham Carter)(Nonesuch)
College Girl gave me both versions of the score since she knows I’m a huge Sondheim fan, have the original Broadway run in both CD and LP (signed by Lansbury and Cariou) form. The film version is a store-bought, and she burned a copy of the revival from her iTunes purchases. So much music, so much blood!
4. BABEL – Original Film Soundtrack (Concord)
High School Girl, god bless ‘er, remembered that I’ve been looking for this soundtrack ever since being knocked out by the film. I was surprised to see that it is, actually, a double CD, spanning the globe with great sounds. There is one theme in particular that breaks my heart, just as the film did.
5. DAVID BYRNE – The Knee Plays (Nonesuch)
From me to Hubby, a callback to a great time in our young married lives, and a piece of music that still sounds great.
6. RUFUS WAINWRIGHT – Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall (Geffen)
From HSG to dad, although we’re all psyched to her it.

7. The BEATLES – Help! (Capitol/Apple)
Picked it up for $18 at the Costco, as a gift for the whole house. Still not sure why that “deluxe” box is worth over $100. Seems like a (not)cheap way to milk Beatles fans.
8. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE – Futuresex/Loveshow (JIVE/Zomba)
From Hubby to me, with a tag marked “for your fantasies.” OK.
9. ONCE – (20th Century Fox)
Also from Hubby to me. A film I’ve wanted to see since I heard it was a) a musical b) set in Dublin.

Oh, yeah. And I forgot to add that 10. GrandVist boxed Christmas set - and bonus disc - a copy of which is still up for grabs to the first reader who leaves a Grinch reference in the comments section.

YTD O/CD Tally: 887

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Race is On!

With just three days left in the year, I feel compelled to address, once and for all and in however brief a manner, all the discs that have piled up for the OC/D tally. Will the list crack 1,000? I think it can, but only if I stop wondering and start typing!
Here's a random batch pulled from the red plastic Tower records (R.I.P.) shopping basket:

1.The GUNSHY – There’s No Love in This War (Latest Flame)
Back in the days when he was touring with the late, great Troubled Hubble , Matt Arbogast, a.k.a. The Gunshy, crashed with them in my basement after a Galaxy Hut show, so naturally, I’m inclined to want to hear what he’s up to. This CD is a sweet departure from his usually highly introspective songs – a collection of letters sent by his grandfather to his grandmother during WWII, set to Guthrie-esque arrangements. Andrew Lanthrum of the Hubble gang guests on bass.
2. The DIG – Good Luck and Games EP (self-released)
There’s a song on this 6-track EP called “Marianne.” It’s a love song that opens with nice strings, and the titular (why does that always sound dirty?) character is a sympathetic object of desire, so I’m happy.
3. DADA – A Friend of Pat Robertson (self-released)
An undervalued trio that keeps putting out good records and playing fine live shows to a happy audience that knows it can rely on them. This 5-track EP is no exception. The title track mixes good politics with taut rock guitar lines.
4. COLBIE CAILLAT – Coco (Universal Republic)
The 21-year-old College Girl loves “Bubbly;” the 17-year-old High School Girl hates it. I don’t feel like it makes a big splash either way. But that reminds me…
5. JUNO – Original soundtrack (Rhino)
We all agree that we adore the film and the music from it, which HSG just purchased with her Christmas iTunes gift card. The simple songs never fall fully over into twee, probably because we are all smitten with the sweet sentiments left over from seeing the movie. We laughed, we cried, we sang along!
6. CAKE – B-Sides and Rarities (Upbeat Records)
I’m not sure anyone but a real completist needs this take on “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” but I always love hearing “Short Skirt, Long Jacket.”
7. AUSTIN LOUNGE LIZARDS – The Drugs I Need (Blue Corn Music)
Comedy country or smartasses who play banjos? The CD includes five songs the band was commissioned to write last year - three for the Consumers Union (the Consumer Reports people) and two for special-interest lobbies. They also address media consolidation ("The Tower"), consumer-preying charge-card companies ("Xmastime for Visa") and global warming ("Toast the Earth with ExxonMobil"). Vocalist/bassist Boo Resnick calls the album closer, "We've been Through Some Crappy Times Before” - "an uplifting rallying cry for poor, downhearted liberals who live in a little blue island in a big red state.” Thanks, I need all the help I can get. As my Bush Countdown Calendar tells me, there’s still 388 days left in this nightmare.

MOSTLY NO COMMENT (that’s not a dis’; I just don’t have much to say)
8. CRUXSHADOWS – Birthday (Dancing Ferret Discs)
9. CHAMPION KICKBOXER – Perforations (54 40 or Fight)
10. ERIC BACHMAN – To The Races (Saddle Creek)
11. HOOTS & HELLMOUTH – S/T (MAD Dragon)
Duplicate; reserviced when the band swung through town again.
12. JOHN FOGARTY – Revival (Concord)
13. FALU – S/T (Monsoon Records)
14. MARCEL KHALIFE – Tagasim (Connecting Cultures)
Not sure where it came from, but intriguing package, a CD in a small book, with liner notes in English, French, Spanish and Arabic – looks like new age touchy-feely, which could go either way.
15. LO-FI SUICIDE – Last Trip to the Golden Gate (self-released)
Intense bald dude with creepy eyes, but a way with song titles – “God Doesn’t Play Fair,” “Alien Tourist,” “Blacking Out is Part of the Fun.”
16. JAVAUGHN – Superstar (Tuff Gong)
Executive producers: Stephen and Damien Marley.
17. JOSHUA JAMES – The Sun is Always Brighter (Intelligent Noise)
“Come on love/Come on drugs/I need the help/Pick me up.” The lyrics to “Tell My Pa” are scrawled on the inside cover and I had to put the song on. It’s soft and sad, and now I’m curious to hear the rest.
18. KATE McGARRY – The Target (Palmetto)
19. MURDER MYSTERY – Are You Ready for the Heartache Cause Here It Comes (self-released)
“Indie rock sockhoppers” Out: January 29th.
20. MOTHER and the ADDICTS – Science Fiction Illustrated (Chemikal Underground Records)
Haven’t had a chance to listen, but PR says it appeals to fans of Jarvis Cocker and Roxy Music (good), The Fall and P.I.L. (not so encouraging).

21. JUNIPER LANE – Wake From Yourself (DJ Boy Records)
Quartet with foxy female lead singer.
22. CAROL GAYLOR & BRUCE KATSU – Feels Like Home (self-released)
Acoustic new age folk.
23. The INFLUENCE – S/T (self-released)
2006 debut.
24.The INFLUENCE – Pig Radio (self-released)
Stylishly package in a digi-pack with 12 square art cards featuring the pig radio mascot in various settings.

25., 26., MARAH – Angels of Destruction (Yep Roc)
Two copies, actually. An advance some weeks ago, and the finished version more recently.
Sixth release from the live favorites and first to feature new female keyboard player.
27. TURBONEGRO – Retox (Cooking Vinyl)
Second copy of the “faux-mo-erotic” Norwegian metal band.
28. SISTER HAZEL – Santa’s Playlist (Rock Ridge)
Pleasant enough, but nothing that rocked my socks for this year’s Cool Yule collection.

29. The RAMONES – It’s Alive! 1974-1996 (Rhino)
Gabba Gabba Hey! That's all for today!

O/CD YTD Tally: 877

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

And so this is Christmas...

There’s a fire in the fireplace, a pile of fun presents (popcorn maker, learn to play harmonica kit (!), music to be tallied later, etc.) under the tree and we just finished watching the best 22 minutes of animated Christmas sentiment ever - “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” - after a delicious dinner. I hope you had as lovely a holiday as we did here at the CPF HQ, and I wish you all the best for a great ’08.

While sorting through some older December email this afternoon, I found a charming musical ecard from the folks at World's Fair, home to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, British Sea Power and other breakout acts of 2007. It's a sweet holiday tune, “The Morning of Christmas” by Eric Pulido of Midlake.

That's something for all to enjoy, and there's an extra little giftie that, alas, I can share with just one of you...

The first (and not, we hope, last) CPF Readers Giveway!
Nashville, Tenn-based GrandVista Music gave CPF an extra copy of its 3-cd box set “How Sweet The Sound” ("As Seen on TV!" it says here) to use as a giveaway for blog readers. It just arrived in the mail on Friday, so consider this a prize you can pack up with the ornaments and you'll be set to jump for Holiday Season '08.

The boxed set combines smooth jazz and orchestral arrangements of classic Christmas hymns in a gentle musical wash that works well as pleasant background during the endless dinner parties and (if you’re lucky) present-opening sessions that come with the season. A fourth, bonus disc, adds a children’s choir into the mix, but in a subtle fashion – as accent, not prime focus. (Let's face it - even at Christmas time, a little children’s chorus goes a long way.)

The members of the orchestra are pulled from Nashville’s local talent pool; collectively, the musicians and arrangers have worked with the likes of Michael McDonald, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Tony Bennett, Diana Krall and Alison Krauss. The liner notes, by Robert J. Morgan (author, minister, hymns musicologist) outlines the origin and history behind the hymns.

It’s not the kind of music that generally rocks this house, but it works for a mellow Sunday/holiday morning and would make a faboo gift for an older relative – Aunt Muriel, perhaps?

I'll personally mail it - with a copy of this year's highly-coveted (by CPFs everywhere) "Cool Yule '07" compilation to the first CPF reader to post a "Grinch" reference in the comments section.

Happy holidays, everybody. God bless us, every one (Tiny Tim made no exceptions)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

CPF @ DNC - crashing the (political) party

We interrrupt the usual musical blather for an (un)paid political announcement, i.e. my day chillin' with the Big Dawgs of the 08 "Cluster&^%! for the White House" (come back, Jon Stewart! We need you more than ever!)

Got an email from the John Edwards campiagn last week, asking if I'd like to attend a speech he'd be giving at a Tyson's Corner hotel. Since I don't get out of the house often enough, and the hotel is only about 20 minutes away, I thought that sounded like a good idea. I RSVP'd and headed out on Friday morning to the Sheraton.

Was suprised when I got there to see all the Hillary signs - guessed her people just wanted to make their presence felt at the Edwards' event. But then I discovered - after finding the parking lots full and a crowd at the hotel door - that this was not simply an Edwards event. This was the whole dang dog and pony show, with practically all of the show horses due to make an appearance.

Camera crews and scads of volunteers, tables full of pins, bumper stickers and T-shirts...and a line for general audience admission that snaked through the building and out the door. I'm not good with lines. Besides, I doubted there was a ballroom big enough for all these people AND the state DNC reps as well. If I was goingt o put put in an overflow room, I might as well go home and watch CNN. Time for Plan B. I went searching for the Edwards crew, thinking maybe my RSVP was worth somehing. Found these two sweet college boys who were manning (boy-ing?) the table, anxious to give me a T-shirt and thank me for coming.

Alas, they said, even with an RSVP I needed to go the end of that horrible line. So I pulled out my massive digital SLR camera with the big telephoto lens (it's heavy, but makes an impression) and went into freelance reporter mode. I never once mentioned the Washington Post connection, since
a) I am not on staff,
b) I don't do politics for them and
c) they would snap me in two if I dared to even think it.
Instead, I stressed my blog ("cultural affairs" I pegged it) and showed off that telephoto lens. My "good luck charm" fellows told me they'd point out the campaign manager when she came by, and that alone emboldened me to walk across the hallway to the press credentials area. Again, I dropped no important names, just mentioned the blog and cradled my camera. The kindly young wonk said she'd see what she could do, walked off and came back moments later - with a "BLOGGERS" pass.

I never had of those before! And so, I strolled merrily into the ballroom...

My Edwards pals had gotten a seat in the small GA section in the back, while I parked my bag at a seat in the MEDIA section, also in the back. Wormed my way along the wall towards the front, where I was able to watch the color guard, pledge of allegiance (yes, we leftist commie pinkos do that) and the opening remarks by Howard Dean, who is a handsome man in a white-haired, Steve Martin kind of way, though I doubt he and I share the same sense of humor.

A grumpy guy with a clipboard saw my pass and told me to go back behind the red rope to the media section, so I had to catch the rest of the session with my telephoto. The first presidential hopeful to speak was Bill Richardson, whom I've touted in past discussions with friends as a guy to watch. He was lucky he went first, since his speech was adequate, but nowhere near as stirring as those that followed. I'll say now that he'd make a fine VP contender, but doesn't have the "It" factor to top the ticket.

And then my "inviter" Edwards appeared. Threw me a curve ball by walking in the side door and walking right past me. The best I might have done with my telephoto was get a nose-hair shot, so I waited while he gave a good, fiery speech about tearing down the wall around government that's been built by the Republicans and their Big Bizniz cronies.

But, betting on the fact that Edwards would leave the way he came, I got him on the return trip.

Obama was due next, so I cooled my heels at my seat, and observed the press types around me. Saw The Post's Dana Milbank, whom I recognized thanks to his appearances on Keith Obermann's Countdown. On the whole, the press was cool to all the activity going on around them...

But I was getting a kick out of seeing these movers and shakers in the flesh. I did see a guy carrying a FOX News camera and wearing a Hillary sticker (is that allowed at Fox Noise?) And there was a buzz when Barack Obama appeared, with a thunderous ovation from the overflow room, whose chanting and stomping could be heard - and felt - even as the quieter crowd in the main room waited for him to start his speech.

Like Edwards, he got the crowd riled up, but I was a bit dispppointed to hear him go negative, never mentioning Hillary by name, but obviously calling her to task for telling people what the polls indicate they want to hear rather than what she truly thinks. I agree, but it still felt like the wrong target.

I couldn't stay for the afternoon session, when Hillary, Kucinich and Biden were scheduled to speak, but that was fine with me. As it was, Hillary cancelled due to the hostage situation at her campaign HQ in a small New Hampshire town, so this is as close as any of us got...

all in all, a fun trip to the sausage factory to see how our tasty democracy is made.

Back again soon with music and CD tallies.
Happy Hanukkah!