Monday, January 25, 2010

Digital Deliveries - with some for you, too

It’s been a frenzy of downloading here at the CPF HQ – some sent to me via zip, some purchased, some that I can share with you. So let’s have at it!

I paid for the full album of songs HOPE FOR HAITI NOW – Various Artists (iTunes) that was made available the day after the big telethon. You’ll get all 20 tracks (the Jay-Z, Bono, The Edge and Rihanna collaboration comes in both live and studio versions) for just $7.99 – a steal of a deal. But if you want for some reason to get only one song, the Justin Timberlake version of “Hallelujah” is as good as I remembered.

There’s another way to get lots of fine music at low cost and fee good, too. My pal Mark (check out his local news/political satire blog) turned me on the fact that the wonderboys of Wilco are pitching in to help raise money for Haitian earthquake relief. The band has posted recordings of two live shows (including one from last July that included live collaborations with Feist, Yo La Tengo, and Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste) at its web site.
WILCO - Live at Keyspan Park, Brooklyn 7-13-09
WILCO - 11-04-2009, HMV Forum, London
You can download the shows for free, but Wilco is asking that you donate at least $15 to Oxfam or Doctors Without Borders in return.
Bless ‘em. And catch ‘em doing a tune on Craig Ferguson’s show on January 28 (that means Thursday night, right? Even if it’s technically Friday morning the 29?).

Every month, I have 30 downloads to enjoy care of my account, working out to about 50 cents a track (take that, iTunes!) so I decided to catch up with these:
The FLAMING LIPS – Embryonic (

Zip a dee doo da; these were sent to me via zip file:
Really enjoyed this band’s album from last year and like this album cover, so it’s all a good start.

SEASICK STEVE – Man from Another Time
VIA AUDIO – Animalore
NORAH JONES – Chasing Pirates Remix EP (Blue Note)
Love the single so much I named it one of my Top Ten of the year in the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll, but I can’t say that the remixes are adding much to my enjoyment.
CLOUD CULT – Lost Songs from the Lost Years
Put this band’s name in the groovy new search feature above and you’ll get to my rave review of last year's DVD documentary release that traced its history and offered lots of live music. Now the band is releasing a special collection of previously unreleased songs from the past 15 years in hand-numbered CDs that are available only on the group web site (unless the publicist is nice enough to send it digitally). Also from the vaults:
CLOUD CULT - Aurora Borealis/They Live On the Sun
The former was originally released in 2004; the latter in
2003, but now they’re being reissued in a two-fer.
I truly love this outfit; looking forward to diving in.

It’s always a joy to discover good new music and, while casually scanning (is there a audio equivalent of that visually-oriented word?) new material that came in through the promo zips I found two new acts that make me smile:
RADAR BROS. – Auditorium
GOLDSPOT – And the Elephant is Dancing
The Goldspot CD came out last year, but is on its way to becoming one of my faves of this new year. It’s the sophomore release from frontman Siddhartha Khosla who plays under the band name, much like Owl City is really Adam Young and whoever joins him on tour. And, like Owl City, Goldspot has a joyous, sunny pop sound, influenced by Bollywood, the Beach Boys, R.E.M. and the Beatles (especially George). The album title comes up in the delightful love song to a faraway voice, “Call Center Girl,” which is in heavy rotation on my ipod.
OK GO – Of the Blue Colour of the Sky
I’m going to do an story on these guys soon, so I won’t get into it now. But here’s a little oddity – I wanted to include the label name but I don’t have the disc in front on me. And yet, even after a quick scan of emails from the publicist and a visit to the band’s own web site and myspace page (it only says “label: major,” as if embarrassed to go into detail) I didn't see it. So much for how important labels are these days.

Let’s end with a pair of freebies from a Brooklyn-based band that’s on the edge, I think, of big things. They will play DC on February 21 at the 930 Club with the Editors – a show I’m gunning to see – and made a sweet, sad album last year, called “Hospice,” that came thisclose to getting on my aforementioned Top Ten. A visit to the Antlers' site myspace gets you two free EPs (look to the right and scroll down a bit to find them):
The ANTLERS – New York Hospitals
A 2008 release,
The ANTLERS - Cold War
From 2007.

Year-to-date O/CD Tally: 37

Friday, January 22, 2010

A great night of TV

As Conan does his last show (I always watched Letterman, but I think Coco got screwed, big payout or no), I salute the Hollywood/NY liberal media elite for the "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon. Damn fine music.

Once you put aside Madonna (if only we could) who still needs a huge chorus to hide her lame live vocal abilities (remember Live Aid? that was even worse), there wasn't a bad performance in the bunch. Even people I'm not generally crazy about (Kid Rock, Sting) rose to the occasion. And some of it was truly stunning. I thought John Legend's "Motherless Child" was going to be the highlight but then Justin Timberlake appeared, with his protege Matt Morris (and co-producer Charlie Sexton) and started "Hallelujah." I thought it was a brave, maybe foolish choice and then they nailed it! Gorgeous.

And the ladies ruled - Alicia Keys set the bar high with her opening song, Mary J. Blige may be our new Aretha Franklin, Rihanna got me (or maybe I got her?) for the first time, and I was taken by Shakira (it took a while to even realize it was her) for her power and restraint. I'd also praise Christian Aguilera for the same things, but memories of "Dirty" still linger.

I've pre-ordered the music from the show from iTunes. The whole thing for just $7.99? Can you even call it a contribution when you get so much back, including a good feeling?
Same thing applies, if I may, to what Paste magazine is doing, with 200+ downloads being given to anyone who donates. I wrote about it for, if you want to check it out. But it's not about me. Watching the show, eating a lovely meal prepared by my dear husband, with my happy, healthy kids out and about, one of them about to celebrate her birthday, I know how very, very, very lucky I am.

Oh, and one more thing - Brad Pitt, man up and own your beauty. In other words, lose the goat-tee!

Ahhh...Neil Young is singing "Long May You Run" for Conan. A sweet musical ending to this post.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

OMG O/CD Tally run amok

Too early in the year to fall so far behind with the Tally. There's a handful of My Own Cash Money purchases to get to, plus the PEP (Puffy Envelope Promo) Squad, and the always hard to keep track of Digital Deliveries, but I'll start with yesterday's first trip of the new year to the CD Cellar, my go-to swap shop in Falls Church. My bag of cast-offs netted me a couple of new release DVDs and a healthy bunch of musical acquisitions. As usual, I spent much of my time scouring the clearance section, where discs are just $1.99 or 10 for $15.99. Also as usual, once I found more than five or six I wanted, I went for the even 10. And so, I add these:

The BLACK CROWES – Warpaint (Silver Arrow)
Haven’t listened to these guys in a while, and the package design is cool.
ALBERTA CROSS – Broken Side of Time (ATO)
I confess – the first time I heard this band, I thought it was the name of a female singer with a gruff, tough voice. Either way, I liked the one track I heard, so now I can explore the rest.
HEADLESS HEROES – The Silence of Love (World’s Fair)
I got this album last year in digital form and since I’ve been enjoying the music – female-fronted mid-tempo smart rock - and think the cover is beautiful, why not?

OLIVER TWIST – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Sony Music Soundtraxx)
Music by Rachel Portman, who’s done some lovely stuff for the likes of “Emma,” “A Little Princess” and “Chocolat” – yikes, just checked Wikipedia and she’s composed for about 100 films! People like that make me feel sooooo lazy.
LESS THAN JAKE – Greased (No Idea Records)
I like the band OK, but was really taken by the cover – a parody of “Grease,” the totally inappropriate for HS musical theatre production (lesson: girls, give up your own personality and be a tramp and you’ll get the guy). And yes, the band is actually performing songs from the soundtrack so, if you’ve ever wanted to hear “You’re the One That I Want” played in breakneck punk style, here’s your chance.
MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNER – The Sun and the Earth (Engine Room Records)
Simple cardboard cover with a nice insert card from a hard-working local band. Didn’t even know this title existed, even though I was in regular touch with a member of the band for awhile.
MATT MORRIS – When Everything Breaks Open (Tennman)
Just before I left the house, I saw that this guy was coming up on the Ellen Degeneres show (mom was watching) “with Justin Timberlake.” The advance listed JT as a co-producer (with Charlie Sexton of all people!), and one reference from a Google search named MM the JT of Colorado. Hey, RH at “All Things Considered” – I got your watermarked copy here. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
CITY of LIGHT’S CAFÉ PARIS MELODIES - Various Artists (Delta Entertainment/Laserlight)
A 2-CD set of songs sung in French by uncredited vocalists. Risky, but could be amusing dinner music.
BEST TRACKS from The BEST ALBUMS of 2002 – Various Artists (Q Magazine)
For a while, I was buying all the British music mags with CD samplers, so I may well have this one already, but I don’t recognize the cover and the acts included are so good – Doves, Moby, Bowie, Polyphonic Spree, Badly Drawn Boy, U2, Flaming Lips, that it’s like (barely) paying for someone to make me a cool mix CD. I do, however, bristle at the inclusion of Nickelback.

And a few more at "full" price:
DEAN MARTIN – Making Spirits Bright (Capitol)
“The Greatest Holiday Songs” it says here. Maybe, maybe not. But I love Martin’s voice and laid-back, near insouciant (a fancier word than “nonchalant") manner. I hesitated at spending the $5.99, but wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find this again before next year’s Cool Yule.
MAX REBO BAND – Return of the Jedi (LucasFilm/RCA)
This sweet little single, only $1.00, features the alien band that played in the cafe scene in the Star Wars film. It's one of those clear discs with a colorful graphic (of three aliens) that makes it appear to be a die-cut disc. One day it will make a great gift for a SW fan in my life, or I'll find someone willing to make me a profit for it on ebay.

Year-to-Date O/CD Tally: 20

Saturday, January 16, 2010

When I was fab

Some days you feel like it's time for a little ego massage. That's when you Google yourself - and don't tell me you haven't. If self-Googling sounds a tad naughty, I think it may well be. The urge to reinforce one's own existence and/or relive past glories is probably not a healthy one.

But then you discover that there are other people, perhaps even dozens, with your same name. And, as you read what they've done, you may get jealous. Or maybe they haven't done anything particularly interesting and you get protective of your own name, wondering if old boyfriends might mistake that dowdy French author for you.

This philosophical musing is brought to you by the fact that, two days ago, I bought myself a late Christmas gift (it was on my list, but Santa didn't bring it) - the Rolling Stone Cover-to-Cover CD-R collection, which contains every page of every issue (yes, including ads) from its launch in 1967 to May of 2007. Maybe there's a new one coming soon to bring us up to date; this old one, originally priced at $125 is now going for $24.98 in Barnes & Noble clearance (10% off if you're a B&N member and another 15% if you use the coupon emailed last week). So, under the pretense of having a good reference tool and maybe dumping some of my old copies of the magazine (as if), I bought it.

And now I'm looking up the pieces I wrote for the magazine in the period of 1984-1990. That's the first thing that took me by surprise - the smattering of articles I did for them really spanned six years? Here's what the search engine brought up for my name:

This listing doesn't include a few Random Notes bits I contributed from various DC-based events, mostly WHFStival summaries. A handy thing about having these discs is that I need not bother now with finding old magazines and scanning my articles to add them to my online archives. But I do need to figure out how to resize the pages from the database software. For now, the one piece I can screen-grab at legible resolution is a bit forecasting the death of the 7" vinyl single in the mass-marketplace. Here's that blast from the past:

Of course, I just realized that these bits are too small in blogger pic view for anyone to read. But if you click 'em, they pop up to larger, legible size. Eventually, I will convert the full list to post in my archives. If only to say, yes, I once wrote for the illustrious Rolling Stone. So there.

And yet, as if to tease me for being self-referential (in a less pejorative sense of the word?), Fate has played a prank on me in the RS search index. When I clicked on the August 1989 article entitled "Alternative Bands Make Their Stand," which is listed as one of mine (although I didn't recall it), the printed page shows that it was written by a fellow female (oxymoron?) scribe named Moira McCormick.

Hey Moira, if this blog post pops up in some search engine of yours, leave a comment and let's reconnect!

In the meantime, I am reminded that byline fame is, indeed, fleeting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Freebies in lieu of real news.

Greetings, blog people.

I planned to do a real posting, with news and links to new stories and an O/CD tally, but then I started checking email and, while looking for an eddress for the publicist at Merge Records, so I could propose a story on the NPR stream of the new Spoon album (and maybe hit her up for a copy), I realized that she'd sent a bunch of free mp3s that were cool for sharing. So, instead of babbling on, I give you a Merge mini-sampler. I haven't heard all of the songs yet myself, so these are not necessarily recommendations. But hey, at these prices, what do any of us have to lose?

Download “Take It In” from “The Knot,” by Wye Oak.

Grab "Coast of Carolina" from Telekinesis! (I do like them)

From "Goodnight Unknown" by Lou Barlow, here’s "Gravitate."

Enjoy a download of "We are the Men You’ll Grow to Love Soon" from “In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s.” Singer Wesley Patrick Gonzalez describes this song as “Let’s Wrestle’s Barmitzvah from whence they turned from punk pre-teens into men who rock.”

Shout Out Louds’ new CD is called "Work" and due out digitally on February 2. The free MP3 I can share: "Walls.”

From the Radar Brothers’ "The Illustrated Garden", here’s "Horses Warriors.”

An album called "Mister Pop" contains The Clean’s “gorgeously hazy sunset anthem” called “In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul.” and an “Autobahn-referential instrumental moment” called ”Tensile."

And here’s a whole CD’s worth of songs from various artists doing material in the “old lonesome sound.". I think I posted this last year when it was first made available, but it popped up when I was sorting the mail and it's still there to grab, so why not?

And finally, though this blog has no illusions of being a force for world change, think of/pray for/donate to the people of Haiti if you can, and send good karma their way. And remember that, whatever crap we may go through day-to-day, we're damn lucky to sit here playing on our computers and listening to music.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tally Ho!

Since I don’t have much to say about last night’s People’s Choice Awards (suffice to say that I felt sorry for the “Glee” cast having to shill frozen pizza), let’s get the O/CD Tally rolling, with the past two day’s worth of acquisitions.

And since Letterman has Rachel Maddow and Nick Jonas as guests tonight, I can take my time to write ‘em up.

Digital downloads:
PR contacts at EMI have kindly sent some new music via zip file:
First response: mellow and melodic; need time to see if anything sticks.
2010 GRAMMY NOMINEES CD - Various Artists
20 tracks to catch me up with some of the bigger hits of last year that slipped by.
Release date: January 19, so if you need a cram course before the big awards night (usually a much better show that the PCA), it’s there for you, too. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the CD benefit the MusiCares® Foundation and the GRAMMY Foundation® (non-paid commercial announcement).

Freebie Alert!
Last year, I did a story for about this remixer’s freebie reinterpretation of Lily Allen’s “It’s Not Me, It’s You” album. Now the good Doctor is it again, offering a compilation of 10 remixes he did in 2009, including Phoenix, Weezer, Eminem, Lady Gaga (a take on “Poker Face,” the original of which is in the Grammy collection), In the year to come, the DR2 promises some new official remixes like Lady Gaga featuring Beyonce (did you hear it here first?) so it appears his star is on the rise. If you want your own set of tunes, click here. You’re welcome.
I've already forgotten how I heard about this (Senior moment?), but iTunes is offering a free 20-track sampler to anyone who signs up as a fan on Facebook. A lot of it is unfamiliar (kinda the point, I'd say) but there are cool tracks from Metric, Moby and Sting to add star power and the price, as they say, is right. And, since I just went to FB to look at the page and got a second free download code, here it is: XP4FENTTXKH4
One time only use. So let's see who's getting CPF on the RSS!

PEP (Puffy Envelope Promo) Squad:
NUKE THE SOUP - Make Waves Not War
The first official physical promo disc of 2010 is a little-known (by me, at least) Maryland-based band led by a dude named Mark Davidson, formerly of an outfit called Cubic Feet. The album was produced by Pete Solley, who’s done the deed for Oingo Boingo and the Romantics. Given the band’s name and the accompanying sticker (tiny swag is better than none) of a mushroom cloud emerging from the titular (snicker) snack bowl, I was expecting a pop-punk sound suitable for a Warped tour slot. But it’s actually more of a DMB-via surf club vibe, the type of sound they could easily make fun of on SNL’s “The Mellow Show with Jack Johnson.” And – I am not making this up – there’s a song whose title is explained thusly: “apparently, male dolphins excite easily and are known to offer a certain body part to swimmers as a ‘Finger of Friendship.’”
Not the most auspicious beginning.

Thrift Store Finds:
Always fun to trade off a few bags of unwanted clothing and housewares if it gives me a chance to browse the $1.50 CDs and today was no exception, especially since I got the holiday albums at 75% off!
ELECTRO LOUNGE – 3-track sampler
Whoa! I just looked up this disc on to see a date (1999) and see that it’s discontinued, with the price for a used copy starting at $24 bucks. I actually hesitated in buying it ‘cause it was just three songs, but I was intrigued by the combination of Dean Martin and Julie London on a remix of the title track remix (there’s also Martin’s original and a James Brown theme). Guess what’s gonna ripped to hard drive and put up for sale?
BELLY – King (Sire/Reprise)
On the other hand, I bought this, even though I already have a copy (signed by the band at a radio show) ‘cause it was sealed and I thought it might have resale value. No such luck, says amazon; there are scores on sale for less than a buck. So, it’s off to, where I can trade it for something on my wanted list for the cost of postage.
WINTER WONDERLAND – Various Artists (Varese Saradande)
Always on the lookout for new additions to the Cool Yule collection, even if it means buying in advance. This collection has a lot of vintage stuff – “Button Up Your Overcoat” by Dick Haymes, for example – and there’s a lot of stuff here that is winter-themed, but not Christmas specific. So it may get some play before it goes into the bin.
THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL – original soundtrack (Jim Henson Records/BMG)
But this, ah, this was the big score. Grad Girl adores this movie, a regular feature of our family’s December celebrations. She was able to get a few of the songs from a friend who did some Internet magic, but asked me to keep an eye open for the full album. And it wasn’t even in the CD bins; it was left on a shelf in the toy section and just happened to catch my eye as I was waiting to check out. It was fate, I tell you!
And it’s the inordinate joy I get from finding a CD like that in a thrift store – and giving it to my daughter - that makes me, now and forever, a true music geek.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in this new year of 2010, CPF presents the
O/CD Tally: 9

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Let's Get This Party Started!

Yes, I know it's five days into 2010 already and this is only my first post. I wanted to start with something big and dramatic, like the relaunch on a new site, but I'm still looking into Wordpress. I haven't been to any shows yet, and the only disc I've acquired in the new year is a CD-R of cover tunes by my husband's friend's bar band, so the O/CD Tally isn't ready to go, either.

But I have heard some fine new music which I can share, somewhat. The new Vampire Weekend album, Contra, comes out next week, and it's being streamed in its entirety in two locations:
care of
or via the band's web site.

I've listened only once, but I liked what I heard and am eager to revisit. It would appear that the guys, who hubby and I saw in concert last year and enjoyed muchly, have beaten the sophomore slump.

Meanwhile, in ExaminerLand, my first story of the new year turned out to be tour news (with presale code) and a free remix download from Owl City. Again, I was gearing up to do something with a more punchy End of One Year/Beginning of Another vibe, but the details just fell together and it seemed timely in its own way.

So, while this is less than sensational opening salvo for the CPF 2010 Blog, it's got new music and a freebie - and I did play with the settings somewhat (more to come), and that's not a bad beginning, right?

And hey, it would be really great if there were more comments this year. Nudge, nudge, know what I mean?