Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I only want to hear you laughing at the Purple Prose

The Yankees are currently letting me down, so I turn to a press release I received today for amusement. First off, there's the name of the CD - "Verbal Penetration." Sounds like something you'd make up for a B-movie about a hapless metal band.

But not, it's the "long awaited" project by guitarist Jesse Johnson, formerly of Prince's cohorts and rivals, The Time. The two CD-set of original material – "produced, performed, recorded and directed by Johnson – is the kind of benchmark work that redefines careers..." while his "adventurous amalgamation of soul, funk, rock and jazz finds him at the apex of his recorded creativity, ambitiously going where few artists dare venture in these days of fast food funk and freeze-dried passion." Johnson co-wrote two of The Time's biggest hits - “Jungle Love” and “The Bird" and now he's penned an "anthemic title track [that is] is a call to cerebral arms, an impassioned plea for us to open up our minds, mouths and our hearts and communicate with one another." In summation, "The work is lofty, yet sexy; introspective, yet in-your-face. It’s where all artists end up if they are brave enough to take the chance. Jesse Johnson has taken that leap."

Now if only the Yankees could get on the scoreboard.

I'll field a few pop hits myself with a quick dip into the O/CD Tally, this one being a recap of a visit some time ago to the CD trade-in store, where I feasted at the clearance bin, 10 CDs for $15.99:
JASON LYTLE – Yours Truly, The Commuter (Anti-)
Cardboard advance, with full color cover and bio info on back. So, do I replace the generic, no cover jewel case version I bought last time?
There’s a Target logo on this, so I guess it was some kind of store promotion. Six tracks, three each from J & C and though I’m mostly here for the JT remixes (from his first solo album), I may get behind the club mix of CA’s “Beautiful.” ($2.00, in the singles section, but the cashier counted it in the clearance bundle).
CIAO MY SHINING STAR – Various Artists (Shout Factory)
Subtitled “The Songs of Mark Mulcahy,” he’s the front man of the late, great Miracle Legion and this is a benefit for his wife. Performances by Thom Yorke, The National, Michael Stipe and a host of other (mostly lesser known) artists.
GREEN RIVER ORDINANCE – Out of My Hands (Virgin)
Released in February, though this a cardboard cover advance. At the time I bought this, they were coming to town, but that's all in the past now, like the chance of the Yankees pulling this game out of the toilet.
GOSSIP – Music for Men (Columbia)
This generic cardboard advance is marked as having “a unique identification number that can be used to trace unauthorized use” and has the woman’s name stamped on the disc (MG, you naughty girl!). Glad to have the chance to hear whassup with this band, which I've heard so highly touted in the British press.
The APPLESEED CAST – Low Level Owl: Volume II (Deep Elm Records)
I’ve heard the name before, the cover is intriguing and I needed a few more discs to hit the 10.
U2 – War (Island)
Wow. I know there’s a new, remastered version of this album, but I see dozens of the original on sale at amazon for less than a buck. I don’t mind paying less than two for 10 fine songs.
THIS IS MUSIC – Various Artists (Uncut)
15 “new & classic tracks” – Marah, Paul Westerberg, The Go! Team, Blue Nile, and a Clash demo of “Rudie Don’t Fail.” And maybe I have it already, but…
The GABE DIXON BAND – S/T (Fantasy)
Advance copy, in full jewel case with band info on back and, though I have it already, I can't let these favorites sit forlornly in the clearance bin. I shall give it to my friend Sally, who’s been to see the band with me twice, including when they opened for Loggins & Messina (and Gabe played keyboards in the L&M band).
KEVIN HEARN and THINBUCKLE – Havana Winter (Celery Music/Warner Music Canada)
One of the Barenaked Ladies.
YTD O/CD Tally: 295

Jim Messina, Kenny Loggins, bandmate, Gabe Dixon.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Things You Might Have Missed

As usual, it feels like I’m playing catch up, with lots of new music coming, concerts seen, concerts to come and links to other stuff I want you to see. So, in the interest of creating bite-size (or is that fun-size?) posts that don’t overwhelm you as a reader and me as a writer, I’ll start with a recap of everything you missed if you don’t already subscribe to my examiner column (c’mon, it’s free, and I need the hits!), where I point the way to (mostly) free downloads and other digital music news.

* Oh, Pookie! An appreciation of Soupy Sales .
* Band From TV is a charity band featuring Hugh Laurie and other familiar faces from TV dramas (which I generally don’t watch).
* Tom Waits is giving away eight free live songs and launches an action-packed web site. What’s not to love?
* Sherwood is a nice new group that opened last week for Hanson and Hellogoodbye (more on that later).
* Noah and the Whale is a big hit in our house; Grad Girl turned me on to them and you can grab some sample songs for free.
* Portland Cello Project makes alt. rock with one of my favorite instruments.
* Making slideshows for the web is fun, as I discovered creating this overview of the MTV Video Music Awards show
* Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is about to release a live CD, and offers a free remix.
* One of the best songs of the year comes from White Rabbits . Check out the video here.
* Hope Sandoval offers a free track as she starts a new tour.
* offers oodles of free downloads, including these world music samplers .

Friday, October 09, 2009

The End of My Era

Today, the Post published two Live! stories. And they are my last.
Last week, I got a note from my (fairly new) editor, telling me that the paper is reorganizing (again!), that there would be no more Extra sections, and that they wouldn’t need my column. Can’t say I’m totally surprised, can’t pretend I’m not disappointed. It was a great outlet and gave me some cachet with publicists.

I hope I might be able to contribute to other sections of the paper as a freelancer, but I doubt I’ll ever have as much freedom as I had with the column to choose and write about artists that I personally care about. In the past year, I pretty much chose preview subjects at will, with minimal editor veto. The examiner column gives me that freedom but at lesser rates of exposure and pay. But it’ll do, pig, it’ll do. (It will have to, for now.)

So, let’s wrap it up with a summation of the last few months in my Post history and, where relevant, the O/CD tally of the music sent with ‘em:

The last columns:
Andrew McKnight at the Athenaeum
Lloyd Dobler, Maia Sharp at Jammin’ Java
MAIA SHARP – Echo (Crooked Crown)
Fine new discovery; looking forward to seeing the show next Wednesday.
15 tracks that she wrote, as performed by the stars who recorded them, people like Bonnie Raitt, Cher and Dixie Checks.

And the ones that came before that:
Andrew Belle and Ten Out of Tenn
I love this guy’s stuff and went to the show basically to see him. It turned out to be one of the best live shows I’ve seen all year. So much talent in these ten musicians and so much joy as they played together, swapping instruments, harmonizing and generally having a blast.
The group offered a sweet deal at the merch table – the complete set of albums or EPs from each of the players (minus terrific guitarist Jedd Hughes, alas, as they’d run out), plus the TOT compilation; all 10 CDs for $45. I haven’t had this much fun buying cheap, good music since the clearance days before Tower Records went under. (I still miss that yellow and orange music fan’s hangout.)
I haven’t gotten into all of them yet, but so far none of them has disappointed. Seriously, these are all extremely talented folks:
TEN Out of TENN, Vol. 3 – Various Artists (Ready Set Records)
K.S. RHOADS – Dead Language (Alex the Great Recordings)
JOY WILLIAMS – Songs from This/Songs From That (Sensibility Music)
Two CDs, each with six tracks, in a simple but charming design. Two songs of note: “I Hate It When We Fight,” a duet with David Mead, and “Charmed,” a track was used on the “Grey’s Anatomy” finale (like I care).
KYLE ANDREWS – Real Blasty (Elephant Lady Records)
The above are full-length albums; those below are EPs:
SARAH SUSKIND – Say It Louder (Red Request Records)
MIKKY EKKO – Strange Fruit (self-released)
This guy has an incredible voice, and in concert he has the intensity of the late Jeff Buckley. He’s giving away all five songs from this EP through his web site, but I’ll sent you to get it through my examiner story .
TRENT DABBS – Your Side Now Lights (self-released)
Eight tracks; is that still an EP, or have we entered album territory?
ANDREW BELLE – All Those Pretty Lights (self-released)
MADI DIAZ – Ten Gun Salute (self-released)
ASHLEY MONROE – S/T (self-released)
Five songs, three performed with Trent Dabbs.

And back to those Post-ings:
Brian Stokes Mitchell at GMU Center for the Arts
Rusted Root and the Kin at State Theatre
RUSTED ROOT - Stereo Rodeo (Touchy Pegg/DKE Records)
The KIN – The UPside
Holly Cole and others at the Rosslyn Jazz fest
Living Colour at the Birchmere
Wolf’s Blues Jam at Bangkok Blues
Eddie Jobson at Jammin’ Java
UKZ – Radiation (Globe Media Arts)
Prog-rock fans know Eddie Jobson for his keyboard/synth and violin work with Roxy Music, Jethro Tull, UK - and UKZ - and such. His limited solo tour started in the DC area. I can appreciate prog to a degree – Yes, some ELP and what the Decemberists are up to - but this one isn’t my cuppa.
Caravan of Thieves at the IOTA

adding in the two CDs I picked up last night, we now have the YTD O/CD Tally: 285

Thursday, October 08, 2009

We Get Out - We Shot the Moon

In an effort to get back into the blog groove, even if it's just a quick hit, I'll tell you that I just got back from a show at Jammin' Java, my favorite local joint, where I saw We Shot The Moon, a new band featuring Jonathan Jones, keyboard player and singer/songwriter who used to front a nice band called Waking Ashland.

I took my time getting there and thus saw only a few songs from opener Lights Resolve, a trio from New York that plays tight (great drummer), high energy rock with a touch of Police-like harmonies and do-do-do type singalong moments, and worked a good shot of The Clash's "Lost in the Supermarket" into one track. Lead singer Matthew Reich rocks some heavy eye shadow and knows how to engage a crowd, but I could have done without the song that was heavy on the "melon farmer" (as my daughter told me is the polite way to replace an expletive that has the same syllables and initial letters).
The band was selling its three-track EP for a buck so, of course, I picked one up.
LIGHTS RESOLVE - S/T (self-released)

It was a small crowd - probably just 30 people in the entire club, including staff - and I felt bad for We Shot the Moon, a band based out of San Diego that is now on a long tour for a newly released CD. They previewed the CD online with some free downloads; I wrote that up for the Examiner column. Recommended for fans of melodic, piano-driven pop/rock in the Jack's Mannequin/Ben Folds (sans sarcasm) mode, click the link and grab 'em now.

Perhaps discouraged by the small turnout, WSTM did a pretty short set, about eight songs. They put their all into it (I actually thought the drummer might overwhelm Jones' vocals) and made "happy to be here" comments, but I felt bad for them and wanted to show my support. So I hit the merch table and bought the new CD. It was only $10 and the nice merch table girl loaded me up with a handful of stickers and one of each of the band's three posters.
WE SHOT The MOON - A Silver Lining (Afternoon Records)
I also chatted briefly with Jones, who didn't sound all that discouraged after all; he's hoping to come back around in the new year after the album gets out and about.

My camera's in the shop and I couldn't find one to borrow as I was headed out the door so, in the interest of adding some visuals, here's my favorite of the three posters:

In grabbing that from the band's site, I just noticed that the digital release date for the album is listed as next week (October 13) and physical date is November 17, which contradicts what my examiner article said. So I'd better get back in touch with the PR guy who gave me that info and see what's what.

Tomorrow, new Post previews go up. And some breaking, not-so-good news. But why spoil the fun now? Good night/morning!