Thursday, April 30, 2009

Some Days Are Like Christmas

I’ve gotten a lot of zip files lately, and will get around to mentioning those albums soon (?), but there’s still something so satisfying about sitting at the table with a pile of new CDs, popping open the shrinkwrap, trying to peel off the identifying stickers and placing them somewhere appropriate on the cover, and otherwise man-handling actual discs!
There were a number of Puffies waiting for me when I got home today - and since I had been to the CD trade-in store, that means even more for me! So much music! So much joy!

So, remember back last Friday when there was trouble at the Patriot Center box office and I missed The Walkmen?
Turns out, the nice guy at Tell All Your Friends PR had tried to warn me that there would be a problem (because the band was bringing in lots of family members), but his email got lost in the ether and didn’t show up in my mailbox until this week. Even before knowing that I went to the show and almost got shut out, he wrote another (delayed) email and said he felt terrible and was going to send me a bunch of CDs. He didn’t need to, and I told him so, but of course I’m glad he did. The booty arrived today, in two nice chubby envelopes.
“Debut Album by the Brooklyn Songwriter feat. members of Grizzly Bear and TV on the Radio.” That sounds promising.
PASSION PIT - Chunk of Change (Frenchkiss)
This is one that made me say “ooh!” Heard a single by these guys on a mix CD that College Girl’s music-loving and well-versed boyfriend made for her and was taken by the sound, wanted to hunt them down. Score! A bit of Go! Team/Black Kids vocal pep crossed with the electronic burblings of Death Cab. This is the band’s debut EP;the full-length, “Manners,” comes out May 18th.
HARLEM SHAKES -Technicolor Health (Gigantic Music)
The Shakes opened for Bell X-1 a few weeks ago, but we missed the set because it was an early show that started even earlier than the web site had mentioned and we were stuck in traffic. Glad to check ‘em out here.
The Pit and The Shakes play a double feature on June 9th at the Black Cat. Sounds like a winner.
The bands have a lot in common, in fact. Both are following EPs with full-lengths recorded with producer Chris Zane (Les Savy Fav, The Walkmen, White Rabbits).
FUJIYA & MIYAGI - Lightbulbs (Deaf, Dumb & Blind Recordings)
Another band I have heard mention of many times before; looking forward to jumping in.
DRAGONS OF ZYNTH - Coronation Thieves (Gigantic Music)
Heard the name before, but no idea what to expect; from the packaging, I’m a little afeared it’s gonna be loud and annoyed, if not annoying.
The WALKMEN - You & Me (Gigantic)
Yeah, I already have the download (actually, I remember I bought a first copy digitally some time ago when Amie Street was having an advance/charity sale; even before the PR guy sent the zip) but this is a spiffy four-panel fold-out digipack. Not a lot of info, but cool, arty photos that speak well of the band’s lofty intentions.
So, many thanks to Tierney - fun to open and, I’m hopeful, fun to get to know.

I didn’t spend as much time as usual browsing the CD trade-in store aisles today, but once I’d found a few goodies in the $1.99 clearance section, I had to go the distance -they drop to 10 for $15.99. And thus I got:
K.D. LANG - Watershed (Nonesuch)
I used to have a (non-sexual) thing for k.d., but lost track of her last few.
RHETT MILLER - S/T (Shout! Factory)
Generic paper envelope sleeve and, without my glasses, I couldn’t see the copyright date. Got it to the car and see it’s 2009. Score again! I have an advance by the darling Skinny Boy Rhett, as he is referred to by me and the friend I dragged along to see him. She didn’t know note of his going in, not even Old 97’s stuff, but she left smitten.
The FIREMAN - Electric Arguments (ATO Records)
Why did I buy another copy of Paul McCartney’s rather cool electronic dabbling with Flood? One word - swaptree (and we’ll get back to this in the days to come.
FINDING NEVERLAND - Soundtrack (Decca)
The whole family loved the flick; if older daughter doesn’t want to keep it for the music, younger will like the pictures of Mr. Depp.
The REAL TUESDAY WELD - The End of the World (?)
Subtitled: TRTW presents The Clerkenwell Kid Live.
I fell in love with one track by this band (it’s basically a one-man show, right?) months ago, “The Day Before You Came,” and since then, have kept grabbing the CDs whenever I see them in the cheap bins. Sooner or later, I have to formulate a real opinion, but I love the die-cut packaging and the band’s cinematic web site .
STEVE REICH - Daniel Variations (Nonesuch)
STEVE REICH - You Are (Variations) (Nonesuch)
Two separate plain cardboard advances. Reich just won the Pulitzer prize for music and is always a reminder of what we miss about NYC.
I broke the habit of buying the magazine ‘cause it’s too damn good to throw away without reading, but I have piles of older issues still waiting. So I just keep it clean(er) and buy the samplers. When I can remember which ones I don’t already own.
Yeah, I had skipped this one. I think.
Were you counting? Where’s CD number 10 you ask? The 10th item was actually a DVD, the film “The Last of the Blonde Bombshells,” staring Judi Dench.
This was actually $3.99, in the “regular” bins, but I picked it up for College Girl’s (afore-mentioned) Boyfriend who has quite sharp musical tastes and is a huge Cave-man (sorry, couldn’t resist). I kinda doubt he knows of its existence and since he rarely buys physical discs anyway.

And then there were a few more in the PEP (Puffy Envelope Promo) SQUAD:
ERIC HUTCHINSON -Sounds Like This (Warner Bros.)
Bright, catchy poppy singer-songwriter whose name I’ve been seeing for ages. Coming to the 930 Club. The easy grooves and slightly soul-tinged vocals of the first two tracks made me think he could be Stevie Wonder’s little white brother. I’d not heard the single, “Rock & Roll” before, but it’s fun; reminds me of Jason Mraz’s easy breezy style.
TIME and DISTANCE - Gravity (NotAlone Records)
Cardboard advance cover says the album will be out on July 14th. The trio’s leader, Greg McGowan, is from West Virginia, so he’s practically local, and there are some amusing song titles - “First Time Caller, Long Time Listener,” and “Horseshoes and Hand Grenades,” so if it lives up to its cute bio notes(I like the part where they did the piano parts on a laptop in a hotel bathroom and used a cigarette pack amp for some guitar parts), could be a winner. One part that I don’t think was meant to be funny: “...this is the album that Time and Distance have been waiting their entire careers to make.” Can a guy who looks about 18 have that much career behind him? Oh, wait, this is their third album. I feel so old...!
Year to Date O/CD Tally: 142

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thank You, Proud Walkmen Parents

As previously mentioned, I wrote a Post preview about the Walkmen and Kings of Leon. The former's PR person said I'd be on the guest list to see the show but, when hubby and I got to the Patriot Center box office, after being stuck in traffic, the band was already onstage and the BO ladies had no record of our tickets. Luckily, I had printed out copies of the online version of the story, and had the PR email to back up my story. While they didn't seem to care about the article, they took my personal story seriously (one benefit of being older and not looking too groupie-like) and made some phone calls.

Through the open door, I could hear the Walkmen playing, and what I heard I liked a lot, which made it all the more frustrating to be stuck just outside the lobby. I heard a fast-tempo song I really like that I am trying to track down as I write, and heard someone onstage "thank the parents for coming." I assumed he meant the parents who had dutifully driven their kids to see the show.

But no. I had forgotten that The Walkmen is made up of guys who grew up in the DC area and formed the band after moving to NYC. (I also forgot that a few of them had been in Jonathan Fire*Eater, too.) After the band's set ended, the BO woman finally called me back to the window and out comes a good looking young guy wearing a "Support Act" laminate and profusely apologizing for the ticket mix-up. I tell him I liked what I heard, and ask how he's associated with the band. "I'm the keyboard player," he answers, and I think he said his name was Peter (as in Bauer? as best as I can tell via Goolge image search, that was he). Oops. Again, I said I liked what I heard, and again he apologized for the ticket mix-up. "Do you still want to see the show?" he asked, and yes, we did. So, he hands us two tickets, which he says are his parents'. I protest that I can't take his parents' tickets, but he says they left right after the band finished their set. And that's when I realized that the band had been thanking their own parents for coming! Such nice boys!

As was Peter, who then walked us past the ticket guards, explaining that he was in the opening act, that we were his guests and, when the guards went to re-zap the tickets, faked them out (since the tickets had already been scanned) by saying we had left without knowing there was a no re-entry policy. So, a Walkman scammed us into the show. That was a new one for me.

The band's family gets pretty good seats, too, in the same section that I have sat in many times before as a press person. This not-so-great shot, still using my daughter's cheapie cast-off camera, shows our position vis-a-vis the stage.

As for the Kings of Leon, after having seen a most amazing, intense show at the 930 Club around the time of "Aha Shake Heartbreak," this larger venue would almost inevitably be a disappointment to us. The band is as sharp as ever, and the songs still prowl/growl with great, pounding rhythms and prickly hooks, but that other time the band seemed practically feral ("They scared me then!" Terry said, with admiration). And that was awesome.

So now was good - the band deserves to play larger venues and does so with cool panache, including restrained/engaging lights and video - but then was better. You're only that lean, mean and hungry once.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cool Off the Presses

It would have been Hot Off the Presses if I had told you earlier, but here are today's two Washington Post previews:
Wes Tucker & the Skillets at the Evening Star Cafe.
Kings of Leon, The Walkmen at the Patriot Center.

Here's an odd bit of editing. The Kings/Walkmen story ends with these lines:
"The Walkmen are well into a career and show no signs of losing the power to surprise, engage and stir up a crowd. And isn't that what classic rock is supposed to mean? "
But I wrote that BOTH band were into careers with no signs of blah blah blah.
Why would the editors change that?

And, just to pretend that I'm still keeping a tally,
The Walkmen - You & Me (Gigantic Music)
A digital download was sent as story prep. (I already had the KOL CD from last year.)
WES TUCKER & the SKILLETS - The Scorpion and the Dove (self-released)

And so,
O/CD Tally YTD: 124

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

If I Lived There, I'd Be There

Meaning that if I were closer to Ashland, VA, I would definitely check out this Thursday night show...

"Audrey Auld is performing in your area this week. We would love a
mention in your cool blog. I understand you have come out to see
Audrey before and we really appreciate it! Her guitar player on this
run is a super talented Australian artist, Anne McCue. Thanks again!"

Since the nice PR person called the blog "cool," I gladly mention it - not just because of the nice adjective, but because this concert is a great double feature by two female singer/songwriters I have seen and enjoyed in the past. And it's only $7 (in advance)/$12 at the door to get in:

100 N. RAILROAD AVE 23005
Thursday, April 23, 8:00 PM

If you go, let me know how you liked it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Good Day Out...

...includes a learning session at the Apple store where the smart, friendly trainer gave me lots of good tips for making movies and storing music. And then I stopped at the CD Cellar to trade in a bag of unwanted discs. They rejected about half of them (times are tight all over) but I left with coffee money in my pocket and a small bag of new acquisitions.
BOB DYLAN - DYLAN (Columbia)
I’m a sucker for packaging. I had enough in-store credit to buy this 3-CD set in the red cloth box with the booklet and collectable postcards, still sealed, $23. Good deal.

The clearance section gets bigger all the time, $1.99 each or 10 discs for $15.99. So, once I’ve picked up four or five discs I’m curious about, I might as well go for the double handful. I wasn’t successful in my search of all the thin cases and cardboard envelopes for advance discs, but found some fun stuff anyway.
TOP of the POP HITS - Various Artists, Disc 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 (Collectables/SONY)
Where is Disc 2? Dunno, but these were al nestled together. A lot of stuff I already have, but some choice nuggets: Oliver’s “Good Morning Sunshine” (it’s a running joke that Hubby sings it in the morning when he wants to drive us mad), “Sugar and Spice” (name that band? The Cryin’ Shames), “Flowers on the Wall” (Statler Brothers), “Laugh Laugh” (Beau Brummels), “Who Put the Bomp?” (Barry Mann) and “1, 2, 3” (Len Barry.
As I rip the collection into mp3s so that I can recycle the discs back to the trade-in store or the thrift shop, I am struck by the wastefulness of these series. Only one disc (number 5) has more than 10 songs on it; Disc 4 has only 9 songs! It would be so easy to condense the whole lot down to three discs, and that’s exactly what I intend to do when I make oldies mixes for my family. The only reason to spread the music out so thinly is to make an excuse to charge more for the series. And it’s not like to money is gonna go to songwriters and artists. Bah.
DONNA REED’S DINNER PARTY - Various Artists (Nick at Nite/550 Music/Sony)
Pretty sure I have this already, but I was smitten by Andy Williams’ “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” (until I saw it was on one of the collections above) and Linda Scott’s “I’ve Told Every Little Star,” the obscure chestnut with which I used to bore the second grade class when I did my impromptu show-off performances. Add Shelley Fabares’ “Johnny Angel” and by the iTunes Rule (if there’s more than two songs you would buy for a buck each, an album for $2 is definitely worth it) and it’s a no-brainer.
BETTE MIDLER - S/T (Atlantic)
Back in the day when the Divine Miss M didn’t sing syrup like “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
TOM WAITS - Real Gone (Anti-)
I may have these songs already from a long-ago downloading, but I couldn’t resist the 4-panel fold-out digi-pack.
ERIN McCARLEY - S/T (Universal/Republic)
Generic plastic envelope advance. She’s opening for Matt Nathanson and Jack’s Mannequin on May 5th in Richmond and, on the off chance that I might be down there for the show/picking up College Girl, I want to know what she’s about.
SPIRITUALIZED - Meltdown Festival, Royal Albert Hall, July 1, 1998 (?)
Black slimline case, paper insert, not quite CD-R, not quite official. There was another live Spiritualized CD in the rack, a 2-disc set, but that one was marked as an audience recording, Grade A- whereas this one was “Quality: FM Broadcast, A.” No track listing.

And, from the freebie table:
TYRONE WELLS - Remain (Universal/Republic)
3-track sampler from the album, including the title track.
ANONYMOUS - The Handout (self-released)
5-tracks, including a cover of “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).”
The band is performing at the State Theatre on May 8th (it says here on the sticker on the back).

YTD O/CD Tally: 122

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Hills Are Alive...

...with the sound of people making art that makes people smile.

Alas, I am not the artist in question, though I volunteer to take part if such an opportunity presents itself.

I am busy working on the next round of previews for the Post - Kings of Leon and The Walkmen at the Patriot Center, plus Wes Tucker and the Skillets at the Evening Star Cafe - so I say a quick hello and offer my favorite new video clip.

I'm not going to spoil the fun by explaining it; just click on and prepare to be reminded that we need this kind of thing more than ever:
Central Station, Antwerp.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Shame is Me

I've been bad. No excuses. Just gonna jump back in, quickly.
First up, a cute picture...

Next, the most recent Post previews, with accompanying new CD acquisitions, where appropriate:
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks at the State Theatre
DAN HICKS and the HOT LICKS - Tangled Tales (Surfdog)
Here’s an odd thing - I previously mentioned finding an advance copy of this CD at the trade-in store, and bought it in anticipation of a possible preview. When I tried to play it, it was a blank CD, even though it had the same printed label as this one I just got. (I used it to make a “sloppy copy” of some soundtrack songs for the car). Was a little nervous when I popped this new copy in, but it played fine. And it’s fine fun to listen to, too, including cool covers of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and a real oldie that I remember fondly from long ago kidtime, “Ragtime Cowboy Joe.”

And I got two copies of the debut CD by the opening act (in separate mailings from different people):
CARAVAN OF THIEVES - Bouquet (self-released)
here's how the band looks in full roll...

Keller Williams at the Birchmere
KELLER WILLIAMS - Live (Sci Fidelity)
I had a nice chat with Williams, who seems like a mellow dude, and I'm pretty proud of how the story turned out, but this kind of musical noodling is not my bag, baby. This double CD, with DVD extra, is not Williams in his solo act, but appearing in a group setting with bassist Keith Moseley (from the String Cheese Incident), Gibb Droll on guitar, and Jeff Sipe on drums.
Crisis in Hollywood, Westbound Train, et al. at Fat Tuesday’s
CRISIS in HOLLYWOOD - Safe and Sound (Financial Records)
I played this one in the car with College Girl as we were driving her back to VCU, but she was unimpressed. Borrows a little too heavily from the play-by-numbers emo songbook. Not bad, but nothing highly original.
EULOGIES - Here Anonymous (Dangerbird)
Last year, the band's publicist sent me the band's ultra-spiffy "VinylDisc" release. One side is a CD, the other has actual vinyl grooves for playing on a turntable. (Don't lose that little adapter!). In prep for the band's appearance at IOTA, I got a zip file download of the new full-length:
Blind Pilot, Eulogies, Middle Distance Runner at the IOTA
BLIND PILOT - 3 Rounds and a Sound (Expunged)
One of my favorite new bands of the not-so-new-anymore year. Lovely sound, recommended to all you Fleet Foxes fans. And here's a sample that I'm allowed to share -“Go On Say It."

Which makes the YTD O/CD Tally: 109
And, finally, the best to all for a happy Easter, Passover and/or Spring!