Thursday, October 11, 2012

We Get Out - Wallflowers, Sixpence None the Richer, Easy Star All-Stars

Since we last met on here at CPF HQ, I’ve been out and about, enjoying live music. C’mon along!

First, The Wallflowers, launched their fine new album, “Glad All Over,” with a cozy show at the Black Cat. I summarized that show with a photo gallery for, and you can see it here.

The soundboard guy was nice enough to give me his set list, so there are a few new pages around that, plus a shout back to a rare show theband did at Alcatraz prison, at Whatcha Gonna

The weekend after, I was at my lovely little local, Jammin Java, to see Sixpence None the Richer, best known, of course, for the sweet little ditty, “Kiss Me.” Singer Leigh Nash’s voice is the touchstone for that band, so it was a bit alarming when the first part of the performance showed her having vocal problems. If she had been an “American Idol” contestant, it would have been a case of “you’re a bit pitchy, dawg.”

Luckily, she was able to pull it together by the time, late in the set, when “Kiss Me” came up and so, the night ended on an up note. 
Perhaps Nash's issues wouldn’t have been so noticeable if it weren’t for the fact that the opener, Elenowen, had such beautiful harmonies in a short set that drew from two EPs and included a cover of Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.”

And then, to complete a trio of nights out, Hubby and I went to the impeccably restored Howard Theatre for our first visit to see a night of reggae with The Easy Star All-Stars. (I had mentioned the show in a preview piece for
Openers The Aggrolites (see them below) did an enjoyable set, including a bouncy cover of The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down.” (God bless the Fabs, they sound good in so many different styles.) Trouble was, the group started late and seemed to run long and it became apparent that, for whatever reason, the All-Stars were slow in getting to the club. (Hubby said he saw one of them walk across the back of the stage near the end of the Aggrolites’ set, as if to say, “Okay, you can wrap it up now.”)

And so, much as we enjoyed the All-Stars’ take on songs by Michael Jackson (“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” was an early burner), Pink Floyd and Radiohead (I’m particularly taken by their version of “Karma Police”), we were burned out before the end of the show and didn’t hear what I imagine would be a rousing late-set performance of “Thrillah.” We left about an hour into the set, during a version of "Beat It" which, to my mind, suffers from being slowed down to a reggae riddim.

 Still, a good night out - and proof that we ain’t dead yet.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

More Amanda

Just a quick update. I set up the set list page for Amanda Palmer.
and wrote a review, with photos of her DC show for

Told you I'd tell you when they were ready.
They are and I did.

Here comes Monday - have a great week.

Friday, September 14, 2012

We Get Out - Amanda Palmer at 9:30 Club

I have, as usual, some catching up to do.
For those of you who might care to see some of the recent "pro" work (considering what I'm paid, that's hard to type without a fit of laughter), here are the last two concert preview pieces for
Last week, with Sondre Lerche, Bob Mould, Mission of Burma, etc.
This week, with Richard Thompson, Amanda Palmer and DeVotchKa

Alas, I didn't get out to any of last week's shows, but was able to catch two this week.
The first, on Wednesday night, was Amanda Palmer whom I've seen before but who exceeded my expectations with some thrilling bits of stage craft and a crackin' band.

I'm preparing an examiner review and photo gallery for that show, as well as a WhatchaGonnaPlay page, thanks to the lovely female roadie/assistant who passed me AFP's own set list. Those will go up as soon as I've prepared the photos and written the text, but here's a teaser...

The other show I saw was last night - DeVotchKa, plus Clare and the Reasons at Sixth & I Synagogue. I was invited to attend by Clare's people and knew I probably wouldn't be able to see the headliner's full set since I needed to meet up with Hubby in the 9-to-10 hour.

 I didn't have the SLR with me, so I popped off some shots with my point-and-shoot, a task made difficult by the shadow-heavy mood lighting for Clare and the Reasons' set. The band had a nice sound for the sacred space - lots of harmony oohs and ahhhs and gentle, mid-tempo rhythms. There wasn't as much variety to the sound as I would have liked and the pretty sometime bordered on precious. At one point, the keyboard player hit a riff that had some distortion to it and I thought, "ah, that's better" and then, a few moments later, at the same point in the verse, it was gone and I realized the riff was a technical glitch. The band could have used more of that frisson.

As for DeVotchKa, I would have liked to have heard more than the half dozen songs I was able to catch. Band leader Nick Urata is obviously an ambitious musical thinker, taking the stage with a full string section and, occasionally, a sousaphone (I thought it was a tuba, but was corrected by a smart friend).
 Urata cuts a cool, romantic figure on stage, looking a bit like a mid-European George Clooney, and was in full emotive voice.
One thing was missing for me, however,  at least in the portion of the show I saw. The last time I saw DeVotchKa perform, three summers ago, the band opened for David Byrne and was more of a band, with a bit of a rag-tag spirit as the members jumped around and traded instruments with a gypsy punk spirit. Here, tethered to his string charts, Urata worked on some big dramatic moments, but that anything-might-happen element was gone.
 (when I popped into the stairwell to check on Hubby, I was in the storage space for instruments)
                (like cowbell, you can't have too much sousaphone, so here's another angle)
So, having to leave at a point that I'm guessing was less than halfway through the show (I snapped the above photo on the way out), I'd like to think that there was a point where Urata thanked the fine string section and sent them on their way so that he could get down and playful with the band.

Excuse me now, I need to get back to those Amanda Palmer photos. I got some that I'm very happy with, so please check into the set list site over the weekend. Hope it's a happy one!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mid-Atlantic Band Battle VII recap

This is Nate Ihara, singer/songwriter of We Were Kings, and host for last Friday's Band Battle, held at Jammin Java.
During the show, where I served as a judge, Nate mentioned a number of times that I would be posting pics from the show here at the blog. If that's why you've bothered to stop by, thanks!

Rather than post the pics here, I used them to create a review for my column about DC concerts. You can see it here. So, if you'd like to see pics of Lightspeed Rescue, Western Affairs, Flux180 and/or Dale and the ZDubs, that's the place to go.

More anon.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back into Battle (of the Bands)

Tonight will be the final of the Jammin Java Mid-Atlantic Band Battle VII and I will, once again, be at the judges table to help pick the winner. It's always fun, a great chance to hear new music and a challenge to pick one winner when the talent is generally at a very high mark.

The club posted info about the event on its web site, and made me sound kinda cool, which is a little embarrassing but also most appreciated. Not adverse to reciprocal back-scratching, especially if it gives me a chance to promote local music, I mentioned the show in "This Weekend in DC concerts," the preview column I write for

The event is hosted, as ever, by local musician and charmer Nate Ihara, frontman for We Were Kings, who directs people to this blog for pictures and comments on the event. So, if that's how you got here, welcome and thanks for dropping by. The photos will go up ASAP.

In the meantime, here's a fun little video to kick off Friday night...
Have a great weekend!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Night Video

Tom Waits has been teasing the folks on his mailing list with odd photos and the simple text message "Coming August 7." The day came (I was on vacation) and he released a new video, "Hell Broke Luce," which is, as is his wont, quite an artistic endeavor. The man doesn't mess around.

Funny, just the other night, I was listening to his 1973 debut album "Closing Time," (purchased digitally for $2.99, to take advantage of an $2 credit deal) and marveling at how traditionally - but for his voice - SoCal singer/songwriterly it was. One of those artists whose exponential growth is a reminder of what a good musical career can be.

That's all.

Monday, August 06, 2012

All The Places You Can Go

Lately, the links to the right have gone all caddywumpus (I've been waiting to use that word!) so, while I dive once again into the mysteries of HTML to try and fix the problem, I'd like to remind y'all to visit some of my other online activities:

I'm wasting - No, I mean spending! - much of my free music-oriented fun time working to beef up the Set List Site, . New additions include recent shows by Rufus Wainwright and Ingrid Michaelson (great double bill) and the always wonderful Wilco. Please spread the word!

At examiner, the concert photos and reviews column has expanded to include upcoming show previews (although not this week, as I'm taking a vacation).

My other examiner column, on digital music, has been quiet lately, but I'm working on some new stories for soon-come publication.

I have - finally! - added some new acquisitions to the O/CD Tally.

And, for the quick hits, visual and textual, you can follow me on Twitter @mariannemeyer or see whassup on my Tumblr.

Hope you're having a fab/gear/groovy summer!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Shameless Plugs

Most mornings, I feed my political jones by watching the morning pundits on MSNBC, starting with some of "Morning Joe" and easing into "The Daily Rundown" with Chuck Todd. Todd ends the show by asking each member of the pundit panel for a shameless plug, wherein they promote a book, a birthday, whatever. In a similar spirit, I'll mention my friend and former producer Darrell, a very funny, often bawdy, television writer who is also a major music fan.

Sample conversation between his wife and child, as he drives them home after a stop at some record fair or music store:
Child: Mommy, why did daddy buy two copies of the same record?
Mother: Because they didn't have three.
(Darrell likes to be covered in case any precious album gets damaged.)

Darrell's Los Angeles guest house has no room for guests as it's a floor-to-ceiling repository for his massive collection of vinyl, CDs and recording gear, since he also works with a local band. Or two.
And, when he's not writing funny for money, he loves to share what he loves musically with his Facebook friends and in a fairly exclusive daily emailing of news and notes (and shhhh.....downloads) which he calls Radio Vickers. (Let me know if you're interested and I'll see if I can get you an invite.)

So that's a shameless plug for him. And he gave me one, too, by inviting me to become a "Guest DJ" in his email missive after he saw that I liked a performance by the L.A. band Everest (via this story here).

He asked me to write a little something on the band for him, too. And so I did. And it went like this...
(Darrell's words - including deliciously embarrassing, kind words for me - in italics)

From: Radio Vickers (Guest DJ!!) plus Offspring plus Six Organs of Admittance
Date:     July 3, 2012 6:34:45 PM

Hey everyone, it's Tuesday and we're off to a great holiday week. We have a Guest DJ:- a professional music writer (not to mention Television and books!)  And wait till you hear about her Website!

The Featured album today is Offspring's new offering "Days Go By" - Boy do they!.  It's a lot like their last 6 offerings.  These guys are nothing, if not consistent. 

My "Limited Interest" Cd is Six Organs of Admittance.  This guys place some very tasty acoustic guitar.  My writing partner turned me on to him.  The guitar players out there might want to give him an especially close ear.


Marianne Meyer is going to handle the honors of talking about Everest - a very cool L.A. band.  But first, I just want to let everyone know about an extremely amazing blog that she has.  Music lovers will go gaga over this.  Having been a music reviewer for years and scooping up setlists of innumerable stages, she decided to put out this great blog/collection of setlists.  These are small bands and huge bands.  The dates, the places, the songs they sang or planned on singing at the beginning of the night.  There's pics of the concert (From Arcade Fire all the way up to Wilco) - it's fucking great.  The Url is below - check this out.  Tons of great music trivia.

Here is how she introduces the site.

[the following are my words, taken from Whatcha Gonna Play site home page]

We’re the people who linger at the front of the stage when the show is over, or who try to make friends with the sound guy before the show begins. We’re the music fans looking to score a set list from the show. And, to judge from the jostling I’ve seen at recent shows, our numbers are growing.

A set list is a great memento of a night’s music. Here’s where the band decides what songs they’re going to play. Not all bands use ‘em, not all acts follow them slavishly - and that’s part of the fun. To see which songs made the first cut and which ones got heard.

Collecting them is fun, but sharing them is better....

AND NOW EVEREST!! (by Marianne)
[back to my words]

My first exposure to the L.A.-based band called Everest was this photo:
Clearly, not a Boy Band aiming for the teen market. And, despite the group being four albums in on a career that’s included plenty of positive press and opening for My Morning Jacket and Neil Young, I was woefully ignorant of the music being made. My loss.

Thankfully, the photo arrived with an invitation to see Everest celebrate the release of Album Number 4, “Ownerless,” with an intimate (<100 guests) concert at a new DC joint, 918 F Street.

 Yes, please. Guest list confirmed and off to the (legal!) download sites and a publicist’s stream to catch up with music I’d missed. Solidly entwined with the City of Angels music scene, the four members of Everest have played with a variety of well-regarded artists - Earlimart, Sebadoh, the Folk Implosion, Great Northern, John Vanderslice, and the Watson Twins – and all four write songs.

 As both players and tunesmiths, the quartet show abiding respect and skill for classic guitar-fueled rock, with a tinge of country here, sweet harmonies there, a range of great influences/kindred souls – Wilco, Tom Petty, Kings of Leon, the aforementioned Mr. Young and MMJ - plenty of late 70’s SoCal sheen, even a touch of psychedelia. All in all, the studio work is a pleasing cross-section of styles at the sweet spot of classic and alternative rock.

None of which prepares you for the band in concert. You can see a full report of the show at 918 F Street here (*), but suffice to say that Everest live has high-voltage riffage to spare. The scruffy gentlemen you see above, plus a touring drummer who’s worth his (somewhat scrawny) weight in gold, found the hard-beating heart of even their quieter songs and used them as the basis for satisfying guitar forays that jammed hard, never noodled and made it perfectly clear why Neil Young himself picked them for this fall’s tour with Crazy Horse. If you can catch them on a current summer tour in smaller spots with blues-rockers Alberta Cross, you’ll have bragging rights later.


So, that was my Guest DJ spot on Radio Vickers. Go visit and sign up. Shameless plug!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

How I Got Here (sort of)

It was a busy, busy week gone by, starting with the fun. show that launched the previous weekend (May 4), and for which I did a slideshow review for On Wednesday and Friday, I saw excellent concerts by Feist and Avett Brothers, respectively, and reports on those shall follow shortly.

In the meantime, here's an odd little something else I wrote...

Earlier this week, I received an email from a lovely young woman I know from the local music community (we've judged together at the Jammin Java Mid-Atlantic Band Battles), asking if I'd answer some questions for a 6th grader who wanted to know about being a "music critic" for a school project. It's always nice to be asked, if a bit disconcerting. Who am I to give career advice when what I do is barely a job, let alone a career?

Anyway, I played it straight. (When she asked, "What advise (sic) would you have for someone like me who is considering becoming a critic?" I was tempted to answer, "Don't," but that wouldn't be nice, would it?) And here's what I said, FWIW.  Remember, I was writing for a 6th grader, so hold the snark.

Hey Allyson
Thanks for your interest.

1. What made you interested in being a critic?  It wasn't so much that I wanted to be a critic. The word "criticize" sounds mean, anyway. I like to think that I share enthusiasm for the things I love and explain why I don't love other things. I have always loved music, but don't play an instrument. Writing about music gives me the opportunity (or the excuse!) to learn about and write about something that means a lot to me.

2. In one word how you would describe a typical day at work?

3. Where do you spend most of the day at work? When I'm not at a concert, I usually work at home.

4. What kind of training does your job require? There isn't really formal training, but you have to be able to write, so I'm grateful to my English teachers. Because I work for myself, I have to pay attention to basic business stuff like accounting and invoicing, to be sure I get paid!

5. Do you like your job?  There are few things more exciting to me than getting to talk to a musician I admire, or being in the photo pit, taking pictures at a concert. I'm not sure I'd call it a job; I call it my "paying hobby." Unless you're on the staff of a major magazine or a news outlet with a music section, the money isn't much. I have other writing jobs for other types of clients that pay more, but I write about music because I love to do it.

6. What is the best part of your job? Sometimes I'll discover a band or a singer early in his/her/their career and write a review or a feature that helps to expose them to a wider audience. It's gratifying to play even a small part in helping a talented person succeed.

7. Have you had any funny experiences while working?  I laughed at the end of an interview with a tough-talking, party-loving, girl-chasing metal musician when he asked quietly, "can I get a copy of this article to show my mom?" At a festival show, the manager of a band I was writing about (Sugarcult) invited me onstage - with a bunch of other people - to sing along on "I Wanna Be Sedated." And I had a band from Chicago (called Troubled Hubble) live in my basement for a week while they were recording an album in a local studio.

8. What advise would you have for someone like me who is considering becoming a critic? Don't expect to make a lot of money. If that happens, it's a bonus. Do it because you enjoy it. Write down your thoughts about the music you listen to, and the concerts you go to (take pictures if you're into it and the club allows it)...maybe start a blog. When you write something you really like, pass it around so that people can see it. Show it to the band via their web site or twitter account, send it a music web site you enjoy reading. You may have to write "on spec" (for free) at first but you can get paying jobs once you've gotten published a few times.

P.S. use spell check and proof read. Your question has the word "advise" but you meant to say "advice."     ;-) 

9. When did you become a critic?  I was in college when I went to my first punk rock concert. I was so overwhelmed by the energy - and volume! - of the music, that I went home and wrote about it. I sent that story to a local paper and they liked it. It was too long after the show for them to print it as a review, but they asked me to do other reviews for them and that was the beginning.

10. What is your favorite type of show or performance to review?
  I like all kinds of music, but my favorite styles are alternative rock - Death Cab for Cutie, fun., Elbow, Spoon, Avett Brothers - and singer/songwriters like Elvis Costello, Feist,'s hard to pick just a few. I used to enjoy writing about big arena festivals (if I could get up close in the press area) but now I really like going to small clubs where you are naturally up close to the music.

I wasn't emailing directly to the student (the emails went through my music biz friend) but I referred Allyson to this web site and for further info. So, Allyson, if you wander over here and read this, I hope the project went well!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Having a fun. Weekend

This is Nate Ruess, lead singer of fun. (The band's name, BTW, is not specifically intended to drive copy editors crazy, with its lowercase beginning and unnecessary punctuation. I read just today that it's that way to differentiate them from a Swedish metal band.)

The band played a triumphant set at The 9:30 Club on Friday, the second of two sold-out nights, coming about two and a half years after I saw them play the much smaller Jammin Java. (You can see pics and a set list from the J2 show here, she said, shamelessly plugging her other web site.) A longer discussion of the show, along with more pics, will go up at my examiner Concert Photography column tomorrow (if I'm good), but I just wanted to let you CPF pals know that I'm not dead.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

He Shall Be Levon

One summer when I was close to finishing grammar school, I bought my first stereo - a cheap plastic model, with speakers that folded out from the middle. The salesman at Sears showed me how it worked by playing The Band album, the one with the brown cover. I said it sounded cool - the music and the player - and he gave me the album to take home. Fell in love with that album. Still a favorite. RIP, Levon.
"Across the great divide. Just grab your hat and take that ride..."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Free Pixies music to make it all up to you.

CPF, you've been a good little blog and I've been very bad to ignore you.
So, to make amends in this brief moment, I offer to any and all followers a free 4-track download from the Pixies, recorded at their 2004 Coachella performance.

And if you're sad not to be out in the desert this weekend, here's a reminder of what you're missing (he he):

Friday, February 10, 2012

Groovin' with the DJ-in-Chief

Barack Obama (and his campaign team, of course) posted the Prezzez top musical picks on Spotify today. Naturally, Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" made the list. (I want to make Obama's version of that my ringtone.)  The other musical choices are mighty fine, too. The only bit I have trouble with is two (two!) Darius Rucker tunes. Still, Dude gets my vote. Musically and politically.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Battles, Sex and Death

As I write this, I’m listening to the BeeGees’ “Trafalgar” (on vinyl), inspired by a viewing last night of “That Hamilton Woman,” a 1941 film starring then-newlyweds Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh as, respectively, Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton, who carried on a long-term affair while both were married to others and Nelson was keeping England safe in perpetual naval battle with Napoleon.
It was a big, grand, old-fashioned movie, part manly action flick (the sea battle was quite impressive for its time) and soapy chick weepie. Watching old movies, especially ones with torrid love affairs, shown in chaste 1940’s style, where passionate kisses are strictly lips smushed together (no tongues, please!), makes me wonder how the great screen couples of that period – Leigh and Olivier, Hepburn and Tracy, Gable and Lombard – would have handled the Nearly Anything Goes style of today’s sexy films. How would these great screen icons have played tonsil-hockey?

Olivier has a death scene, too, as Nelson is killed in battle at Trafalgar (hence, the inspiration for today’s musical selection and accompanying visual). I know I’m watching way too much MSNBC when, in the middle of our tragic hero's death throes, I’m thinking to myself that he kinda looks like pundit David Corn, of Mother Jones magazine…And then there’s the moment when Leigh/Lady Hamilton gets news of Nelson's demise and goes into a immobile stare before collapsing to the ground. Cinephiles tend to talk about so-and-so’s death scene, but I’m actually more fascinated by actors who need to portray the intense emotion of hearing that a beloved one has died. On the whole, Vivien Leigh did a pretty good job.
Anyway, that’s the sex and death part. As for battles of the non-naval type, I was asked to judge again this past week at Jammin Java’s6th Mid-Atlantic Band Battle. I was there for two nights; seven bands competed on each night for top honors and the right to return for the finals in February. Fourteen acts in two's still a bit of a blur.

Local musician Nate Ihara, of We Were Kings, hosted again and he always does a good job of pimping this here blog when he introduces me in the Meet the Judges moments, promising photos, videos and scandalous backstage stories. Sorry to say there’s no scandal here, but I did post a story and photo slideshow of Wednesday night’s event at So, please visit there and you can get a full(er) report.

In that article (part two, covering Thursday night, will follow soon), I gave background on the competition and tried to give each band at least one photo; most got two. Needing to stay put at the judges’ table, I wasn’t able to get up close, and some bands were just easier than others to shoot from a distance. I have a few random shots that didn’t run in the examiner story as they would have looked redundant. Here, then, are some outtakes for y’all:
The Dirty Jacks won the night, although there was some stiff competition.
Grand Rivival opened the show. Turns out, I had seen them at a previous MABB (put their name in the search and you'll see). With a new drummer, the band has really tightened its sound since then.
Grand Revival again (note shirtless guitarist on left).
Here's Groove 8, whom I would definitely try to catch again.
The Later Sun brought some nice folk-rock harmonies to the evening.
Finally, the "dreamy" (he likes me to say that) Nate Ihara, opening the envelope that contains the name of the winning band.
As I said, a second story will go up soon. My twitter account (@mariannemeyer) will announce it right away, or you can watch this space. 

Hey, it's Saturday night -  go out, have fun, be safe!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Heavy Metal Ha-Ha (first of 2012!)

Some of the best music writing out there - or at least the most entertaining -  comes to me in the form of press releases about heavy metal (or super hard rock, grindcore, etc. It's a pretty wide field...of blood!).  From the names of the bands to the album and song titles to the descriptions of music that wants to rip your face off, it's a thesaurus of aggressive fun. Here then, my first HMHH entry of the new year, with two bands featured. (Both are excerpts, with my emphasis added.)

1. Following their first ever trek through Brazil with Aborted, California goregrind ministers EXHUMED will spray their blood overseas next month on the Grind Over Europe Tour 2012.
EXHUMED will be touring in support of All Guts, No Glory, issued earlier this year via Relapse Records. The band's first new record in almost eight years offers up 11 slaughter-filled tracts of soul-raping, grind-infused death metal that toppled an array of Year End lists including Decibel, Pitchfork,, MetalSucks and Skulls N Bones.
[CPF NOTE: yes, you read that right – NPR. The socialist propaganda outfit covered Exhumed's show at Maryland Deathfest 2011.]

“… fans of dripping blood, gaping autopsies, and ravenous zombies will absolutely adore this record.” — Revolver 

EXHUMED has aged like corpse putrefaction: that is indeed the highest compliment you can pay to one of 2011’s best records.” — Brave Words
And here’s a little something about another band, Toxic Holocaust:

"If The Exploited and Nuclear Assault had a kid, TOXIC HOLOCAUST would take its lunch money and toss it in the dumpster." -- Hails & Horns
….sweetly redolent of thrash, d-beat, and raw sewage, the album simmers with tar-thick riffage, staggering breakdowns, and a corroded dose of self-loathing. — The Onion’s A.V. Club
Throw your devil horns, people!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Singular Sensations? Not So Much.

OK, so I had every intention of posting, as mentioned last time, my top singles of the year, as submitted to the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll, but now I can't find my original list nor can I access the site to see the titles. Why can't I just name them, you ask? For the same reason I couldn't get past number 7 in the final list - individual songs just didn't have the same visceral impact on me in 2011 that I felt in years past. There was Adele, of course. You couldn't escape "Rolling in the Deep," be it at a middle age dinner party, grabbing a drink at Starbucks, stealing cake at a tween neighbor's birthday party or eavesdropping on a drunken night of twentysomethings. Luckily, the song was so good and so rife with pure talent, that you didn't mind hearing it yet one more time. 

And for me more personally, there was Fleet Foxes' "Helplessness Blues," a song so rich in gorgeous harmonies and heartfelt emotion that I bought it immediately upon hearing it and played it over and over in that manner one used to do with actual physical singles that you feared you might wear down the vinyl. The album is lovely in a general overall sense, but no other track comes close to that one shining beacon of musical beauty.

After that...not so many new classics. I had "No Light, No Light," from the new Florence + The Machine album on the list; not even sure if it's a real single (by which I guess I mean featured track), but it's the only song on that much-anticipated new album that stands out to me and even then, only after an SNL appearance gave it a boost.

When I attempted to boost my list-making memory, I pulled up a few Great Songs of The Past Year articles from the usual suspects - Spin, Rolling Stone, Paste, etc. - and will admit that, for every compilation of 100 supposedly great songs, I literally didn't know dozens of them and couldn't quote you lyrics or hum you the melody of many that I sort-of-had-heard-of. It's such a fractured market out, with so many niche styles and I rarely listen to any commercial radio. So, I'm content with my album choices and there are many wonderful songs to be heard therein.

Anyway, I've had two beers tonight and that's just enough to fog my faculties so that I cannot recall the other four songs that made the cut. Another day, then. Sleep tight (as I will), friends.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Looking Back to Good Albums and Forward to More

I'm actually pretty optimistic about the year ahead, but this illustration, from yesterday's New York Times, was too good not to share:
Anyhoo, as 2011 was drawing to a close, I got my reminder from the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll to list my ten favorite albums and singles of the year. I had a hard time whittling the album list down to ten, but here's the final list as submitted to the poll, which will be published in the January 18th edition of the esteemed alternative weekly:

Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys! (Downtown/Cooperative Music)
Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What (Hear Music)
Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto (Capitol)
Wilco - The Whole Love (dBpm/ANTI)
James Blake - James Blake (Universal Republic)
Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones (Epitaph)
Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal - Chamber Music (Six Degrees)
Scattered Trees - Sympathy (Musebox)
M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Mute)
Radiohead - The King of Limbs (Ticker Tape)

As for the singles, in sharp contrast, I had a hard time coming up with ten songs that reached out and grabbed me in the way that a great single is supposed to do. What made the list? I'll get to that tomorrow.  (I'm really gunning to blog every day, if possible, so I need to pace myself!)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Keep On Rockin' In The New Year

Greetings, Close Personal Friends, and a most happy new new to all!  For a change, the hubby and decided to get out of the house on New Year's Eve and drove off to my favorite local venue, Jammin Java, for a "Big Ol' Super Classy Throwdown" celebration with Native Run (formerly known as Big River) and other local musicians who've helped make the club a hub of great area talent. It was an all around wonderful night, with dancing, laughter, kisses and a champagne toast for all at midnight.  A nattily-dressed Nate Ihara opened the show.

Native Run's Bryan Dawley joined Nate for a few songs, adding beautiful mandolin accents to "3000 Miles."

Among the added guests, the Miller sisters, Justina and Marie, whose harmonies worked very well on two covers, "Moon River" and "Kiss Me" (the Sixpence None the Richer track)

Luke Brindley's solo set showed off what a fine songwriter he is, with "You Are Not Alone" and "We Go Together" as standouts, again with support from Bryan.
Brindley Brother Daniel came onstage to add his musical support...

...alas, I didn't get a good shot of Daniel playing what appeared to be tabla drum as he accompanied Luke on the always show-stopping instrumental, "Dervish."

I grabbed a shot of Nate, his lovely girlfriend Aleksandra and producer/musician Mark Williams as they posed for someone else.

This was actually the first time that The Band Formerly Known as Big River performed as Native Run.

A peek inside, from outside.

You lookin' at me?

Native Run has energy to spare, always an invigorating show, and a great way to welcome in 2012.