Saturday, March 28, 2009

Another Country, Another World

Nothing musical to report, but wanted to share my favorite billboard from a walk tonight in Toronto.

We were on our way to Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, and that is not the comedian from MTV.

It was a good day for food. During a most excellent brunch at Frank, the restaurant in the Art Gallery of Ontario, my dear Terry took a picture of me that I really like, so here's me, too.

Back to the USA tomorrow.

Good Sounds from Toronto, eh?

We drove into Toronto yesterday shortly after sunset. The rain and fog made the city seem unworldly, the lake barely visible and some of the buildings shrouded in clouds, unmoored from the earth. It was cool.
After a busy day touring the city, mostly in the college district, we had a great meal at a Portuguese restaurant and then walked right past an HMV store. Well, we didn't walk past it until after we'd gone in and helped the local economy a bit. To wit:
DARK WAS THE NIGHT - Various Artists (4 AD)
A two-disc set (I like how they’re marked “This Disc” and “That Disc”) from the people who do the Red Hot AIDS benefit CDs. This one is jam-packed with new tracks by people I really like - David Byrne with Dirty Projectors, Feist with Ben Gibbard, The Decemberists, Spoon, Arcade Fire..and there are plenty of other artists I may not know as well, but am curious to learn about. I had already pulled a few of the tracks from the emusic site, but wanted the whole thing and, while I could have found it in the US, this will make a great driving music for the looooooong ride home on Sunday. Beautiful letterpress printing, too, although it can be tricky getting the also-classy lyric/art booklet out of the center section of the digipack. I just know I’m gonna rip that sucker someday. ($18 CA = $14.50 US)
TRAGICALLY HIP - Live Between Us (Universal)
As the saying goes, this band is huge in Canada, and can barely get arrested in the US. The group is about to release a new CD and has a big promotional push underway up here, with an entire endcap devoted to them, including a few albums at the unbelievable price of $5 ($4 US). I compared the ones at that point, loved the one with the control board cover, but liked the song titles better here - “Grace, Too” (for obvious reasons), “Nautical Disaster,” and “New Orleans is Sinking” (a song I’ve heard and liked before, in my limited exposure to their catalog). The price sticker obscured the fact that this is a live album, which may make me regret putting the other one back, but it’s a small price to pay to hear these local heroes.
The ANNUAL SPRING 2003 - Various Artists (Ministry of Sound)
Another two-disc set, this one just $4 ($3.20 US) culled by the dance beat label. I barely registered who was on it, blinded by the price (not a Springsteen song). The first track is “Boys of Summer,” as presented by DJ Sammy with a pop princess style vocal. Could be cheesy all the way through, but there’s also Moby, Laylo & Bushwacka, Royksopp and Moloko among the three dozen names I don’t recognize.
The SCRIPT - self-titled (Epic/Phonogenic)
I had a handful of discs that were under $10 and asked one of the store dudes to rate them for me. He wasn’t crazy for the Constantines or Company of Thieves and walked me over to another part of the store to tout the debut CD of the Arkells, whom he swore were the next big band from Canada, having recently conquered SXSW. It’s not that I didn’t believe him, but the disc was $15, and I had to watch the budget. I told him, “I could get these two [other] CDs for the price of that one,” and he said sagely, “You get what you pay for.” I still declined, but I have checked their myspace page and will keep an eye and ear out for them.
During that discussion, however, he saw this Script CD in my hand and said they were pretty good, and another customer, clutching the new Pet Ship Boys, expressed his interest in them as well. THIS IS WHY WE NEED RECORD STORES, PEOPLE! Education. Community. Sales.
In the few songs I’ve heard while typing, I find The Script to be quite to my liking - melodic, thoughtful, pretty but not without edge. A bit Police-like in spots, Coldplay in others, some Maroon 5 vibe, too. I think I will find it a good use of my $9(=$7.25). The sticker says “Includes “We Cry,” “Before the Worst” and “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved,” for what it’s worth. The display said that this trio is from Dublin, so that’s as good an excuse as any to toss in my picture of the Irish pub I saw during our morning walk.

As any Pogues fan will tell you, the band took its name from the Irish slang for “Kiss My Ass,” which is an odd name for a pub...!
WAR CHILD PRESENTS HEROES - Various Artists (Musicor)
Another benefit CD, this one I believe is being distributed in the States by Starbucks, though I haven’t seen it in the shops yet. 16 artists, many from my personal A-list (Beck, Elbow, Franz Ferdinand, Rufus Wainwright) covering songs by classic elders (Dylan, U2, Blondie, Brian Wilson, respectively), all for the good of kids affected by international armed conflicts. More great car listening and only $10 ($8).

And so the (now) International O/CD YTD Tally: 102

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CORRECTION - Previous Entry Posted on Tuesday, March 24

I forgot that Blogger tags a post's date on the day you begin writing it, not on the day you hit the "post now" button.
So, what I said about the White Lies being on Letterman and playing live related to yesterday. not Saturday.
Grrrr....sorry 'bout that.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How Many White Lies? - and Freebies!

Hot Brit trio the White Lies are listed as playing the Black Cat in DC tonight and appearing tonight on Letterman. Yeah, they’re good, but are they spectral spirits who can be two places at one time? I suspect that Dave, perhaps on his honeymoon from his surprise marriage last week (congrats, my favorite 11:30 talk show host!) taped tonight’s episode a day or two ahead.

Anyway, I was lucky to get a copy of
WHITE LIES -To Lose My Life (Geffen/Fiction)
as a zip file last night, and said I would blog, and offer a free mp3, but I couldn’t extricate the sharable title track single from the rest of the album. Sorry.
But there seems little doubt we’ll all get a chance to hear White Lies again soon.   The band already performed at Lollapalooza last August and have headlined Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York as well as festivals across Europe. The buzz from SXSW is at a low roar. You didn’t hear it hear first, but I’ll add to the chorus.

But I can offer some other good freebies.
NPR is offering a free SXSW sampler featuring some fine artists, old and new, people like David Byrne with Dirty Projectors, Thao (good track too: "Bag of Hammers"), Blitzen Trapper, something from the new Decemeberists album, and one of my new favorites, Blind Pilot. It comes via iTunes, so you'll need to have/create an account, but then you also get album art and all, easy peasy.

A nifty bonus, too - the list of artists included on the sampler has many clickable links to shows that the acts played in Austin, and you can listen to them, too. Given that these were SXSW shows, they tend to run on the shorter side - 30 minutes or so - so you get a quick sampling featuring key tunes. A great way to catch some of the other, musical, March Madness. And speaking of the latter, even for someone like me, who isn't a big b-ball follower, watching Obama do his bracket is just too cool! (I had a link ready to go to the video here, but the site pulled it. Sorry. Again.)

Amazon also regularly offers freebies. And today they, too, have a nice SXSW sampler featuring Sub Pop artists like Flight of the Conchords, Fleet Foxes and Iron & Wine.

And while you're at amazon, especially if you have kids, grab Dan Zanes’ 7-track CD, “Smile Smile Smile”.

ALL IN A DAY’S MAIL (yesterday's booty):
CRACKER - Sunshine in The Land of Milk and Honey (429 Records)
I was only a few songs in when hubby arrived home from a long work day and asked if he could have some quiet time, but I liked what I heard, especially “Show Me How This Thing Works.” That title, and others like “Hand Me My Inhaler” show that Dave Lowery is still a smart ass, god bless him. And now’s a good excuse to post some of the pics I took at the band’s January show at the State Theatre.

SARIAH - The Lethal EP (Rock Ridge Music)
Two copies in two envelopes, addressed identically (someone should check with the fulfillment company to make sure they’re not wasting lots of money). Six tracks of generic female-voiced urban dance pop, the kind of stuff that washes over me when I hear it driving on those days when Grace picks the stations. Give props to the girl for making a point of writing her own material, but tis stuff rarely makes an impression on me, even when Beyonce is singing it. And one song is titled, “Let’s Bump Tonight.” Oh dear.
EILEN JEWELL - Sea of Tears (Signature Sounds)
A duplicate of the cardboard advance I bought last week at the trade-in store,sent in conjunction with Jewell’s upcoming IOTA date, Saturday, May 9th.
23 RAINY DAYS - Wonderful Disaster (self-released?)
I requested this when I saw a press release with a Herndon, VA reference. That’s the town right next door, so I want to hear what the local guys are up to. Self-described “post-punk indie dance metal,” the trio has a bit of a Goth-y look and made their live debut debut opening for 10,000 people at a Live on Penn (Ave) show featuring the Violent Femmes. Lead singer/guitarist Ian Kaine MacGregor gripes in the press kit that local bands get some radio play in DC, ” I’ve always felt that good rock music has been ignored by the local printed press.” Well, now that I have some music and a contact, maybe I can prove him wrong.

FRANZ FERDINAND - Tonight (Domino)
It’s all Apple’s fault - again! I kept hearing “No You Girls” on the iPod Touch commercials and had to have the whole song for my own. I can’t say yet that FF is tilling breaking new ground, but they till their trademark angular pop turf with skill. A wildly successful band that doesn’t make you feel stupid when you listen to them.
The WHO - Who’s Next (MCA)
I had no intention of buying music on a visit to the Richmond Rite-Aid during a visit to pick up College Girl, but there we were, picking up a prescription, when I spotted a small racj of CDs marked “Special Sale.” Of course, I had to flick through them. R.E.M.’s “Accelerate” for $5?! There were a few others that I would have grabbed had I not already got them, but this Who classic was a piece of vinyl that could stand replacing. What’s more, it was the version with extra tracks. On the ride home, I popped it into the player and found myself stunned again at some of the amazing moments in this (dare I say it?) seminal set. The slow-burn build of “Baba O’Riley,” the always relevant suspicions of “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” the road-worthiness of “Going Mobile” and the still utter lameness of “Love Ain’t for Keeping,”...all good reminders of what the Who could do when they set their mind to it.
And I was glad to be reminded, having just watched the live DVD that came with “Endless Wire” and finding Daltrey’s performance a sad echo of his former self. He was even wearing a T-shirt and baggy cargo shorts, like he’d just wandered onto the stage from a hackey-sack game. Dude, you’re a member of the Who, not the Dave Matthews Band!

And so, adding up the downloads and promos and purchases, the new O/CD YTD Tally: 97

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More Bad News for Music Store Geeks

Not another one?! I just read a depressing piece of news for those (so few?) of us who like to buy our music in actual record stores. From Salon, here's a nicely done history of, and lament for, Virgin Records which is closing down all of its American stores.

I want to get up to NYC before it goes, both to pay respects and (I'm ashamed to admit, but let's be honest) scour through the racks for bargains.

I think I'm gonna go hug my LPs...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Post-ed and Purchased - And a Giveaway!

Yesterday was the day that my latest regional previews for the Washington Post were published. I was particularly pleased with these, as I interviewed two really nice, really talented guys. And I'll be going to both shows. So here they are and see you there.

Gabe Dixon at Jammin Java, next Wednesday, March 18th.

Clem Snide, Heligoats (that's the one-man band of Chris Otepka, formerly of Troubled Hubble) at IOTA Club and Cafe, TOMORROW NIGHT! (Saturday, March 14th). Which means I'll have to catch the Will Ferrell (Letterman's talking to him as I type) HBO special On Demand.

Today included yet another visit to my favorite CD trade-in store. I don't know if it's a sign of the hard times, or if my collection of cast-offs, which had a bunch of soundtrack CDs and CMJ compilations*, was weaker than usual, but the friendly cashier rejected more than half of the bag, and I got $20 in credit for what they took.

[*Okay readers, here's today's giveaway. Submit a comment, tell me why I should send you the half-dozen or so CMJ compilations that the CD trade-in store didn't want, and I'll send them to you. USA mailing addresses only, please. If there's more than one request in the next 5 days, I pick my favorite, so have fun with it!]

I put back the Wilco live CD, not sure if I had already replaced the copy Terry lost during a road trip, and opted instead to take advantage of the Clearance Section Special - $1.99 each, but 10 for $15.99. I gave in and got this two-fisted count:

1. KAHLUA B-52 ‘70s PARTY MUSIC - Various Artists (Rhino)
Cheesy packaging with alcohol brand name-themed cheesy graphics and cheesy music, too - “Hot Blooded,” “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” (I’ll give you a hint on that last one - BTO). But this is one of those Cheaper Than-iTunes ways for me to cook up a cheesy sampler now that I’ve got a Music Reference Hard Drive that I can load up with music while dumping the actual discs. So, this cheese won’t add weight!

2. ROCKFOUR - Memories of the Never Happened (Anova Records)
I vaguely remember hearing and liking this band do an in-studio set for KCRW way back, so now’s the chance to revisit and review.

3. The RUMBLE STRIPS - Girls and Weather (Gigantic Music)
There’s no copyright date on this plastic envelope release, so I’m hoping it's an advance of the group’s stateside debut. I heard a few tracks one night when I was checking out the UK version of iTunes, trying to snag a UK-only release (by whom? I recall not). I was able to sample the band, and liked what I heard. But that was months ago, and I haven’t heard anything about them since. Time to Google....!
[back from the Googling] Ah, the album was released in the US last fall, and the band did a short tour. Now the band is working on a new CD, with the venerable Mick Ronson producing. Ok, so it's still a fairly current release.

4. NEW RADIANT STORM KING - Drinking in the Moonlight (Darla)
Strange but cool digi-pack design - a naked redhead hanging off a bicycle with birds pushing the pedals (it’s actually classier than it sounds) and the disc looks like a moonscape. And I like the way the title can be interpreted in two ways. And I’ve always liked this band’s name when I’ve heard them referenced in the past, tho’ I know nothing about them. The cover sticker says they’re “Northampton, MA/NYC indie rockers.” All signs point to something I could like so, at $1.60, it's a no-brainer.

5. VERVE REMIXED Vol. 4 - Various Artists (Verve)
Another naughty NPR employee (whose name I will not reveal, but I’ve heard it on-air) is cashing in his watermarked advance discs at the store. Considering it’s in the discount bin, he probably got a buck (credit, not cash) at most for it; I wouldn’t take the chance. But his risk is my gain - 12 tracks of easy listening with a groovy, hipster beat.

6. EILEN JEWELL - Sea of Tears (Signature Sounds)
Her first name rhymes with “feelin’” - so she told me when she and the band came by my mother’s summer house for a part veggie BBQ before a gig in the lake town where she lives (I know the band’s publicist, so it was an easy invite). A lovely lady with a lovely voice and a sure handle on slightly wistful Americana, she’s coming to play at IOTA on May 9 (ooh, when I looked it up, I see the venue web site has her name as “Eileen”...), so I’ll get a taste of the new music in prep for a possible preview, a show, maybe even houseguests!

7. GLENN TILBROOK and the FLUFFERS - Pandemonium Ensues (KOCH)
First, you just gotta love this title. I always check the slimline generic cases - that’s how I scored this advance by the former Squeeze co-leader, who is also coming to town, Saturday, March 21st at the State Theatre. I would be there, but a friend is having a Tiki party. Wait...! the soiree starts at 4pm, so I might be able to do both!

8. ADVANCE WARNING - Various Artists (MTV)
The package caught my eye first - orange and red, in the manner of the titular (snicker) theme. Only seven songs on the disc that I either have (“This Love” is one of the few Maroon 5 songs that helps me overcome my dislike of Adam Levine) or don’t care about. Except for The Format! - a track entitled “The First Single.” And since the fold-out inner sleeve has both a photo and a mini-bio of this beloved duo, whom I know zilch about, I had to have it. And then I saw that there are actually two discs in the package. Is one a DVD? (oh boy, do I get to see the Format?) But no, it’s labeled “Word of Mouth CD” and I guess it’s intended to be shared. Nice idea, but I’d rather see a Format vide).

A generic advance, listing a street date of January 20th just passed. FF is made up of Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek, and that sounds like a recipe for unforced, goodtime music. That’s what I heard on the few tracks playing while I drove home. If those first impressions hold up, I will be kicking myself soon for not catching them when they played town recently.

10. JUDITH OWEN - Lost and Found (Century of Progress Productions)
I’m sure Judith Owen is sick of hearing about how people first encountered her through her husband, Harry Shearer. But he’s a cult hero, a radio favorite of mine (you can stream his weekly “Le Show” through various internet outlets), a Simpsons regular and damn, he’s got good taste in music. So when he plays her songs on his show, there’s not a whiff of nepotism. And that is how I heard her, and that’s why I sought her out at live shows, and when I’ve spoken to her, she’s just a doll. The natural beauty of her voice and the sometimes ponderously slow arrangements she prefers on disc don’t always reveal just what a great sense of humor she has. Her live shows are well worth catching. This is another slimline generic advance, and I kinda wondered if I might have the CD already in another, different form. Don't recognize the cover. But again, we’re talking less than a cup of coffee, and so I rounded out my ten-fer collection.

and that brings the O/CD YTD Tally to 86

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This Day In Blog

Keep an eye/ear out for IDA MARIA. This ultra-cool "Norwegian force of nature" (I don't know who said that) is coming to the US - next week at SXSW, Coachella in April, and here in D.C. at the Black Cat on March 26th.

I saw Ida Maria at a small show two years ago during CMJ. I went in with no knowledge of her whatsoever, and became a fan within the space of just a few songs. Born and raised in Norwegian territory of the Arctic Circle, she's cool in the literal sense of the word and all others. Yeah, you could make some Bjork comparisons in her origins and dark-haired beauty, but she's more of a rocker, and has a more earth-bound attitude. And I loved the way she wrote her set list on her forearm with a sharpie.

Her first single, "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked," has already been a Top 15 hit #13 in the U.K. I've been hearing it/liking it muchly on KCRW. Another track, "Oh My God" is being used in “Gossip Girl” promos this season. (But we'll excuse that.) The album, Fortress Round My Heart, is set for a March 24th digital release in America.

Here are two neat facts pulled from the 24-year old Ida (pronounced ee-dah)'s press pitch:
1) She grew up in Nesna, Norway, a university town of fewer than 2000 people north of the 66th latitude.
2) She has a benign variant of synaesthesia, a rare condition in which perception in one sense mode arouses imagery from another, so that one can see sounds or hear colors, for example.(My dear Emma has that, too, which makes her a monster at Sudoko.)

Audio of "I Like You... and other goodies are available at her myspace site.

I have a few more freebies, courtesy of the nice people at IODA Promonet, who give me permission to share mp3s here on the CPF blog.

BLUE GIANT is a project started by the male/female duo who make up Viva Voce (I saw them open for The Shins and wasn't too impressed; they sounded like White Stripes wannabes) and features members of The Decemberists and Swords. The group’s new EP offers six tracks, one of which is a duet with Sleater Kinney’s Corin Tucker.
Target Heart EPBlue Giant
"Target Heart" (mp3)
"Blue Sunshine" (mp3)

Buy at Amore!Phonics - buy direct from the artist.

And here's a trio of tasty blues tracks from Burnside Records, who released the first Kelly Joe Phelps full length back in 1994 and have offered a few tracks to promote that the new version of the CD adds two previously unreleased songs from the original masters.
Lead Me On
"I've Been Converted"

"Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues" (mp3)

"Lead Me On" (mp3)
Buy at iTunes Music Store

Thanks, and you're welcome!

Friday, March 06, 2009

U2, Take 2 - Yeah, a Beautiful Day!

OK, so we’ve been listening to the new album and tonight the hubby and I had a TiVO replay of the last three nights’ live performances - plus the wonderful Top Ten list (was Edge’s Sting ad-lib his own idea? bravo!) We’re feeling good about it. But then, Terry is a total fan-boy, and when he’s a fan, it’s hard for his heroes to lose their luster. Me? I’m a little tougher. I lost touch with Springsteen during the Tom Joad era, lost patience with R.E.M. for “Around the Sun” (it actually annoys me when Terry plays it) and wasn’t keen on the Costello/Bacharach collaboration (although it did feature some of Elvis’ most compelling vocals).

So, while I’m still not sold on the idea that we need FIVE DIFFERENT VERSIONS of the new album, I’m pleased to see that is offering the mp3 download of the full album for $3.99. That’s a hopeful sign that money isn’t everything. And as I type this, the sit-down interview is rolling along merrily and they’re showing that Irish charm. Oh, and they're playing one of my favorites, "Beautiful Day," so it isn't only about playing the new tunes. Yet, I do want to hear "Boots" tomorrow night, so the album must be taking hold...

In other music news, Terry and I had a great time at the Bird and the Bee show last night at the Barns at Wolf Trap. There was a glitch at the beginning - the label PR guy said he would put me down for tickets, but it didn't appear that he did. (Rule One: always print out the email that confirms you have been approved for press tickets). Luckily the kindly box office staff was nice enough to take my word on the matter (I dropped the name of the guy who does venue PR who knows me pretty well) and they let us in without making me feel foolish. I've had other times when tickets weren't where they were supposed to be and there was no such happy ending.

And I do love me the Bird and the Bee!
Opening act, Obi Best, was a pleasant diversion but the two-woman set-up didn’t allow much diversity in the sound. The opening song of both the album and the show -“Nothing Can Come Between Us” - is also my personal favorite on the disc, but had an inexplicable distortion guitar break live. I love to watch women play guitar, but this came from nowhere for no apparent reason and, alas, I can’t say that the guitarist was the most confident player. Singer Alex Lilly has a good voice and a gracious manner, but the songs tended to plow the same ground over and over.

And then Inara George came bouncing out in her go-go outfit - white micro-mini and tights with a plastic overdress of brightly colored dots - and the evening was totally in her capable hands. The Obi Best ladies came back out, plus another back-up singer, in color-coordinated outfits and added vocals and the occasional extra instruments to round out the very cool keyboard/synth work of Greg Kurstin. The total effect, with just enough choreography to show they’d thought it over, but not so much to make things feel controlled, was poptastic. And “Love Letter to Japan” is still one of the best new songs of the new year!

Today’s PEP (Puffy Envelope Promo) Squad:
DENGUE FEVER - Sleepwalking Through the Mekong (Nail Distribution)
A 2-disc set - one being a DVD of the film, a documentary about the band's visit to the Cambodian homeland, the other being its soundtrack.
The band is coming to town, playing at the State Theatre on Friday, April 17th.
CLEM SNIDE - Hungry Bird (429 Records)
Next week’s Live! preview, along with wonderful musician (and pal) Chris Otepka, of the late, beloved Troubled Hubble, who’s touring in his Heliogats mode.
Here’s a little inside twist - when Clem Snide’s publicist sent a high-res jpg to run with my story, it was a highly colorized photo of three guys. The CD arrived with a color photocopy of the same picture, not as colorized and featuring four guys. Has one of the band members already dropped out?! (By the credits, Pete Fitzpatrick is M.I.A.)
ROCCO DELUCA and the BURDEN - Mercy (Ironworks)
A duplicate; here's the full commercial version following up a generic advance from weeks back. Coming to the State Theatre on Monday, April 6th.

CIRCUIT CITY, R.I.P. (My Own Cash Money)
Another one bites the dust. I certainly won’t mourn Circuit City’s loss the way I did Tower Records. CC had a music department, just not a very good one. But browsing the racks is still browsing the racks, so losing yet another retail outlet makes for a sad sigh.

I actually went into the Sterling store a few days ago looking for a cheap external hard drive and only remembered the music “department” as an afterthought. The pickings were slim - do I want Duran Duran’s “Red Carpet Massacre” even at 70% off? (No.) And why are there so many copies of Janet Jackson’s last CD?
But I came home with three discs:
U2 - The Best of 1990-2000 (Interscope DVD)
Got one already, but this was a freebie sampler (okay, it cost 1 cent) and may come in handy.
SPOTTED - Various Artists
Another one penny sampler but since I can’t find it now, I can’t tell you who’s on it.
COLD WAR KIDS - Loyalty to Loyalty (Downtown)
I liked the first album and we’ve got tickets to see them opening for Death Cab (Ra Ra Riot is on the bill, too!) so this was a no-brainer, considering it was less than $4.

And speaking of Death Cab...when I heard about a presale for the April 8th show at D.A.R. Hall, I jumped online to see what I could do. It was one of those deals where only members of the fan club would get the presale code, so I took the plunge. It was $30 (cheaper than scalping tickets later) and last week, I got the goodie package with a nice T-shirt, sticker, fake concert access pass/membership card and
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE - I’m Going Home/Girl You Want (self-released)
7" vinyl. I won’t know what the one song is ‘til I crank up the turntable, but the flip is a Devo cover, which is cool. BUT, the fan club site said this would be color vinyl, and the color is black. Bummer. Still, we got pretty good seats - orchestra floor, less than half-way back.

Hit another Circuit City Thursday and there was a slightly better selection to pick through. And now they were 80% off!
BRIAN WILSON - That Lucky Old Sun (Capitol)
($13.99 = $2.80) Don’t know a thing about it, but even if I hate it, I can trade it in later...
WHO’S GONNA FILL THEIR SHOES? - Various Artists (Twin Pack Music)
Begins (the title track) and ends (“He Stopped Loving Her Today”) with George Jones, and in-between, there are many tracks I like and have (I think), like “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Take This Job and Shove It” and a few more I think I need (“D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and “Mama Tried”). ($9.99 = $2.00) Like stealing from iTunes!
SIA - Some People Have Real Problems (Monkey Puzzle/Hear Music)
Okay, so this was a stretch, since I bought the mp3s from emusic ages ago. But I came thisclose to buying it at that previous Circuit City; held back by the fact that the package was damaged. And this one is all about the packaging. I hate the cover - Sia drawing on her own face with markers makes her look like she should be riding the special bus, but when you open up the slip case, there’s a set of nine crayon-colored cards with art and info, that makes for a pretty cool thingy. ($13.99 = $2.8). Again,I can always get almost full value back for it at the trade-in store if/when the package loses its appeal.
And I did put back the copy of Beck’s Odeley that I was sorely tempted to buy as a duplicate just for the free album cover iron-on. See? I can be reasonable!
MARY J. BLIGE - & Friends (Geffen)
Blige is one of those artists whom I don’t really know but, whenever she shows up on some tribute show or TV special, I’m thoroughly impressed with her style and voice. The other CC store had dozens of this CD, so I held off, thinking I’d return as the prices dropped again (or forget, which almost happened) and sure enough, this store had a small handful. So I saved $1.00 when the price dropped another 10% ($9.99 = $2.00)

YTD O/CD Tally: 76

Since this is a very price-conscious posting, here's a money-making tip: if you have a copy of the 2000 soundtrack of “What Women Want” on cassette, check out amazon. The asking price for the one that’s available is $295.99. WTF?

Monday, March 02, 2009

STARBUCKS Jumps the Gun On U2 Release Date

Hey, doesn’t the new U2 come out tomorrow, as in Tuesday? I was in my local Starbucks today and there were a stack of them on the counter. The price was actually reasonable ($12.95) and $1 of that was going to the (RED) gobal charity and I have a Gold card which gets me 10% off, so yeah, I bought it.

U2 - No Line on the Horizon (Interscope)
BUT, I have a bone to pick with Bono and the boys.
I’ll accept a regular and a deluxe edition, and OK, a vinyl release. But FIVE DIFFERENT VERSIONS?! When you know you have a loyal following that wants to get all your releases, isn’t just greedy to make them fork out for FIVE DIFFERENT VERSIONS?!
And I bet there’s going to something that you can get only if you buy it on iTunes, too.

I'm gonna watch Letterman all week (which I generally do anyway) and I’ll probably re-up for the fan club since it gets me a good shot at tour tickets, but I want to ask U2 to stop and ask if the art is taking a back seat to the commerce. (Response to the actual music soon).

And speaking of MY OWN CASH MONEY...
Last week, I returned to the CD Cellar with another small bag of cast-offs (it’s becoming a regular weekly date since I’ve been taking Apple training sessions in the area) and had just enough credit to come home with:
JEFF BUCKLEY - Grace (Columbia/Legacy)
Yep, they still had the 2-CD/DVD edition of the album that I mentioned before, so I scooped it up.
And even though it took me a few bucks over my credit, I got a few things from the $1.99 bins:
LOW VS. DIAMOND - (Epic/Red Ink)
Don’t know much about the band, but I’ve heard the name in all the right places, so I’ll check ‘em out.
BELL X-1 - Blue Lights on the Runway (Yep Roc)
Have known and liked these guys for some time. Enough so that, even though I’m pretty confident their PR people will send the CD eventually, I didn’t want to wait. At first listen, I think I’m gonna like this one a lot. There’s an intriguing new quality to the arrangement, with touches of electronics.
SUMMER Of GLACIERS - These Last Days (self-released)
This CD caught my attention because of its lovely packaging - a craft cardboard folder with letterpress printing (I’m a sucker for letterpress printing). There was something homemade and thoughtful about it, an impression confirmed when I opened the folder up to read “Thank you for taking the time to listen.” And yet, I wonder if it hadn’t been a mere $1, would I have taken the chance?
Glad I did. When I played it in the car, I found that this band makes lovely instrumental music, the kind I would use in my independent film if/when I make one. The group’s web site calls it “San Francisco based epic instrumental bummer rock.” Just three tracks, but one runs over 12-minutes long, so I got my money’s worth and then some.

The latest pair of previews from the Washington Post:
David Bromberg, Angel Band at the Birchmere .
The Bird and The Bee at the Barns at Wolf Trap.
Rather than pull up another of my limited concert shots, here’s an official press pic (credit: Autumn DeWIlde)

In preparation for the story, the opening act’s publicist sent me a copy of their CD
OBI BEST - Capades (Social Science Recordings)
Didn't know when I wrote the preview, but the lead singer for this act has also done backup vocals for the Bird and the Bee. The CD is in a very compatible vein, poppy but not pappy. (Counted twice as I received a digital copy a few days before the actual disc.)

Here’s a neat little film - the audio track consists of a short taped interview conducted by a then-14 year-old John Lennon fan when he met his idol...
“I Met the Walrus”

The FORMAT is a band that College Girl turned me onto, and we were both sad to hear they broke up. Now I hear that the band's former singer, Nick Ruess (and he has a disarming, distinctive voice), has joined with singer/keyboardist Andrew Dost from Anathello and Jack Antonoff, still in Steel Train, in a new band called Fun, signed to Nettwerk. The three are working with producer Steven McDonald (Red Kross) and arranger Roger Joseph Manning Jr (Jellyfish) on a debut, hopefully coming this year. You can hear a track, "Benson Hedges," streaming on the band’s MySpace page.


Aw...Dave’s got U2 shoveling snow outside the studio...cute.