...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Saturday, December 31, 2005

She's dressed in yellow. She says hello.

If you mentally recited, "Come sit next to me, you fine fellow" after you read today's subject header, then THIS POST IS FOR YOU.

Okay (why do I do this to myself?). I want to talk tonight about Bust A Move and Young MC. Yes, seriously. You know you need a show-stopper to play at your New Year's Eve party tonight.

This song came up on my iPod shuffle mix recently and I impressed my cohorts with my fresh rapping skills (just call me Left Eye), and the fact that I knew ALL the lyrics (including the moaning part after we "Break it down for me fellas"). This is due to the fact that I owned the cassette single.

I thought that you might enjoy it too, some of you (the rest of you have already left to click off somewhere more erudite).

You know you want to download it, bob your chin forward and back, make some embarrasing rapper hand gestures while you try to recall all the lyrics.

"Bust A Move" - Young MC

Here is a bonus trivia question, and I will find something cool to send to the first person who can leave me a comment answering it: What is Young MC's real name, as revealed in the groundbreaking work, Principal's Office? Hint: he tells it to that girl he is passing notes to in class.

Oh, man. I might regret this post in the morning. Happy New Year. And no, I haven't been drinking yet.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Ray LaMontagne non-album tracks

Ray LaMontagne was one of my favorite artists discovered in 2004. I assume many of you have heard of him, being of the excellent-musical-taste variety that you obviously are, but if you haven't - his debut album Trouble is superb from the first track (Trouble) to the last (the gorgeously sad All The Wild Horses).

Trouble is a standout debut album from one of the most promising new voices in music lately. The album was produced by Ethan Johns, who has also worked with Ryan Adams, Leona Naess, Brendan Benson, Kings of Leon and The Jayhawks. Johns also plays drum, bass, and piano on the release. It is a folk-soul masterpiece.

Even more exceptional than the album, however, is seeing him perform live. I saw him at The Fillmore in San Francisco on April 6, 2005 and was completely, jaw-droppingly blown away. This skinny guy comes walking out on stage, looking as uncomfortable as all get out. Big beard. Quiet voice. Hiding behind his guitar. I almost thought he was going to bolt.

But then he opens his mouth and begins to play.

He has this vulnerable, raspy, velvety, pure voice. He absolutely pours his soul into his music, which is always the most inspiring things you can see in a live show. He feels each word and resonates with each chord.

Here are two non-album tracks that I remember vividly from the show I was at. Both of the recordings are on the quiet side (but not unlistenable by any means), so you may have to turn up the old headphones to maximum. I guarantee it is worth it.

Still Can't Feel The Gin
I love the lyric, "The jukebox was jumpin' all over those rhythm and blues. She lets down her hair, just as I'm kickin' off my shoes." The way he sang this song, you felt the longing.

Can I Stay?
He ended with this song. The venue went still, as if we were all transfixed in the moment, like you could almost feel the song hanging there above our heads. The spotlight shone on him, with the dust motes swirling in the heavy air. Absolutely beautiful song. I almost felt like I couldn't breathe.

[update: these links are dead but you can find these songs and many more here]

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Another reason why I love aurgasm

Aurgasm recently posted some slinky new tunes from Shrift, which contains 1/2 (vocalist Nina Miranda) of the Brighton-based duo Smoke City (1997's Underwater Love). The new album Lost in a Moment will be released on February 7, 2006. Here is a sample track, laid back and slightly tropical sounding with Miranda's gorgeous vocals floating above the calypso drum beat. Chill.

"As Far As I Can See" - Shrift (right click, save target as)

This ground my gears

Does anyone else get weary of mainstream popular culture journalists writing about "trends for the new year"?

Does it really matter what will be "cool"? How about what will be good?
The newspaper article in question which stuck in my craw this morning was a generic Associated Press byline, and contained the following gems of wisdom:
  • Got the latest "Death Cab for Cutie" tune on your iPod phone? That's so 2005.
    With the new year about to begin, it's time to upgrade your electronics, reprogram your TiVo, juice up your music collection, restyle your wardrobe and mark your calendar with all the most-anticipated movies.

(Oh, okay)

  • MUSIC: "The parched desert that was 2005 makes for an interesting 2006," says Craig Marks, editor in chief of Blender magazine.
(2005 was a parched desert?)
  • Expect to hear more from R&B songbird Christina Milian and 16-year-old singer-songwriter Teddy Geiger, whom Marks describes as "a Teen People John Mayer."
(Dear God, just what we need! As if Kevin Federline's musical release in 2005 wasn't bad enough.)

Maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed (with a crick in my shoulder, in fact), but the whole concept of changing your listening habits because some AP article says it will be hip in 2006 just grinds my gears. Is it necessary to even write an article like that? Maybe it was just supposed to be funny or somehow enlightening to the masses, but I can't prefer this fluff over any sort of substance.

Listen to what you like.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Make me a mix tape, and make it good

Tiny Mix Tapes has an Automatic Mixtape Generator where you can submit a theme/event/topic and their "robots" will generate a mix for you. Oh my gosh, so much fun I can't even begin to explain (remember, we already established that I am geek in this general arena).

"Songs to listen to after your girlfriend blows you off on valentine's day for a monster truck rally with your cousin."
Bright Eyes - "Lover I Don't Have to Love" (Lifted...)
Ben Folds - "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" (Super D [Bootleg] -EP)
The Undertones - "My Perfect Cousin" (Hypnotised)

"Songs I can bump in my car that will make everyone turn their heads and say, 'Man, that guy is a douche.'"
Dan Hill - "Sometimes When We Touch" (Longer Fuse)
Gerardo - "Rico Suave" (Mo' Ritmo)
Clay Aiken - "Touch" (Measure of a Man)
Natasha Bedingfield - "These Words (I Love You I Love You)" (Unwritten)

Check it out at http://www.tinymixtapes.com/amg/ and make sure to peruse the archive in red along the right side of the page. Archived mixes include topics like, "Two of my best friends are moving to England and need to know what British music is cool so they don't get laughed at," and "Songs for when you accidently super glued your ring finger into a half full bottle of scotch during your bachelor party and have to postpone the wedding for a day." Splendid.


To: Elliott, From: Portland

Musicians from the great city of Portland, Oregon (where I have never been, despite being a California native - shameful!) are teaming up to release an album of Elliott Smith covers. From the Sweet Adeline fansite:

"To: Elliott From: Portland, a tribute to the late Elliott Smith, will be released February 7, 2006 on Portland-based independent label Expunged Records . . . The compilation features notable Portland bands The Decemberists ("Clementine"), Helio Sequence ("Satellite"), The Thermals ("Ballad of Big Nothing"), Swords ("I Didn't Understand"), Dolorean ("The Biggest Lie"), and Sean Croghan ("Hard Times"). "Hard Times", the song chosen by Croghan, a close friend and former roommate of Smith's, is previously unreleased."

For you, one very pretty track from the album; the Clementine cover. Now I am not yet all fawny over the Decemberists like it seems the rest of the blogosphere is, but I have to admit that this track is quite good. There is a wonderfully warm "crackle and pop" sound, and some melancholy harmonica throughout, which *always* gets me (you want to get me, write me a song with harmonica and/or strings. Easy.).

"Clementine" - The Decemberists

Lots of good stuff coming out February 7th!


Monday, December 26, 2005

Monday Music Roundup (is it Monday already? )

Good gluttonous morning. I think I have eaten about a thousand Christmas cookies and other equally sweet items in the last 24 hours - ugh! Christmas was splendid overall, filled with family and friends and thoughtful gifts (new Dr. Martens!) and, my favorite: lame, loud board games with lots of yelling about rules. As good as it gets. I hope yours was equally nice.

Here are five songs for your listening pleasure. Please let me know what you think, I am very excited about several of these tunes lately.

When U Find Someone
Ken Stringfellow
Wait a sec, am I listening to The Beach Boys? The gorgeous layered vocal harmonies on the chorus of this song from ex-Posies frontman Ken Stringfellow have the timbre of the Wilsons all over it, a successful homage. This is a sunny, shimmering piece - you've got to smile when the chorus breaks. Check out Stringfellow's 2004 album Soft Commands.

Over My Head (Cable Car)
The Fray
A local band straight outta Denver, The Fray has been getting a lot of airplay over at KFOG in San Francisco (say it with me again, "KFOG is possibly the best radio station in the world"). This is an understated song from 2005's How To Save a Life which has been really growing on me. Piano crashes into a driving drum beat, while the vocals by Isaac Slade draw obvious comparison to Coldplay, but are distinct. Rolling Stone cites this as "elegantly wasted twentysomething angst."

Your Love
The Butchies
North Carolina's The Butchies completely reinvent the glitzy, cheesy, synth-laced ‘80s power ballad “Your Love” (originally by British band The Outfield), turning it in to something sultry and lolling. Singer/guitarist Kaia Wilson breathes the sad lyrics of longing over a simple, slowdancing beat. The final cut on 2004’s Make Yr Life.

Elizabeth, You Were Born To Play That Part
Ryan Adams
This song absolutely rips me in two. I listened to this for this first time last night in the dark. Starting with the opening two words - Adams them lays out with what I perceive as stunning beauty, and I can't explain why. Something about the fragility of the way he floats the words, "For you..." and the drop in the melody.

The local newspaper today reviewed 29 and said this song is about a romantic interest, but Adams has said in concert that it is about a friend who experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, and that's the interpretation that resonates and gouges. One of the many lushly gorgeous tracks from Adams' new album 29.

Break The Night with Colour
Richard Ashcroft
Ashcroft (former lead singer of The Verve, for those of you playing along at home) has a new album called Keys To The World, coming out stateside on February 7, and this is the first single. Ashcroft was recently called "the best singer in the world" by Chris Martin during his high-profile appearance with Coldplay at Live 8, and this track shows off his distinctive and heartfelt sound. It will be interesting to see what 2006 holds for Ashcroft, with some tour dates coming, both solo and opening for Coldplay. BONUS: You can listen to some new interviews with Ashcroft on his website.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

"Wakin' up the reindeer, makin' little kids cheer"

For my *final* seasonal post, a little '60s punk rock cover:

"Don't Believe in Christmas"
Pearl Jam

(right click, save target as)

This was one of the two songs on the Pearl Jam 2002 Christmas Single vinyl (ask me sometime to show you all of them; I've got the whole set and look for any excuse to bust 'em out).

It is a cover of a song by The Sonics, a '60s-era Tacoma, Washington punk band. This is a live version from the second night of Pearl Jam's epic 2002 club shows at The Showbox in Seattle.

So jump around by the stockings and make a little mistletoe romance with this good-time tune.

Merry Christmas, guys. May we all remember how blessed we are.

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A Christmas present for Ryan Adams fans

From the XM Radio Website:
"As far as we’re concerned, Ryan Adams is our Sonic Santa of 2005 with three new albums this year alone. Grab a grande eggnog and join us as we examine all three of Ryan’s 2005 releases (Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Nights, and 29) as well as his ever-expanding back catalog plus his now legendary Loft Session in this three-hour holiday extravaganza."

Airs Christmas Day (12/25) at 6pm, Monday (12/26) at 7pm, and Tuesday (12/27) at 12am, all times Eastern.

Listen online: http://theloft.xmradio.com


Friday, December 23, 2005

Like the Musée d'Orsay come to life

Visually, this video clip is amazingly beautiful. It reminds me of some impressionistic painting come to life on the wonderful streets of my home 'hood San Francisco. You can discount the fact that it is a Sony ad if that makes it easier to appreciate the art, but watch how incredible this is. It makes me happy. Featuring the lovely musical stylings of José González, with "Heartbeats."

Watch the video (other options for viewing it are here)

(Thanks to Jerry for finding the link)


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Mason Jennings tour

Just got an email from the Mason Jennings crew announcing some limited tour dates in February (with Chad VanGaalen opening!). Unfortunately nothing so far in Denver, but I was thinking of coming to Cali in February anyway...so maybe I can catch him in San Fran. Rad.

Mason just signed to the new Glacial Pace label, which is the project of Modest Mouse singer/guitarist Isaac Brock. Mason has a new album coming out in 2006, so this tour will be in support of that.

To see the tour dates, see the shows section of his site.

If you aren't familiar with him, listen to one of my favorite Mason Jennings songs - I really, truly, cannot get enough of it. AND I cannot stay seated while it is playing. I've tried.

"Butterfly" - Mason Jennings (mp3)


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's actually called a weblog

My dad just called to ask how "writing for the webknob" was going.

That is awesome.

Soundtrack for a monkey

Saw the preview for the new Curious George movie last night. Will Ferrell does the voice of the Man With The Yellow Hat, which means I will see it because Ferrell could make me crack up while reading the back of my cereal box.

Anyway, Jack Johnson is writing some songs for the flick, which seems like a nice pairing. Jack Johnson is a fairly new dad so I think he will have a unique viewpoint on non-sucky kids music. Here is a link to a video clip previewing some songs (you have to click play on the video once the page opens). The soundtrack will be released February 7, 2006.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Let's talk about Ryan Adams again because it is *his* day today

The new Ryan Adams album "29" is released today, officially! Oh, it is KILLING ME, but I feel obligated to WAIT UNTIL AFTER CHRISTMAS to buy this for myself. Dang December 20 releases!

REASONING: I put it out there on my Froogle wishlist, and if, for instance, my mom has already bought it for me, I can't very well go and buy it for myself five days before Christmas, can I?

ALTERNATE PLAN: I could go down to the Independent Records downtown this very day and covertly buy myself a copy and not tell anyone (except you). That's an idea. I may not be able to wait until after Christmas. I have already waited longer than like 2/3 of the Ryan Adams fans in this world who have the whole leaked record in advance. Aargh!

Anyways, here is some non-rambling content. This is a great review of 29 over at Cokemachineglow. Rare the music review that is actually interesting to read. I felt that this one really gave me a sense of what to expect. His album is getting excellent reviews from every reviewer I have read or talked to. Can't wait.

Here is Nightbirds, which is the third track on 29.

"Nightbirds" - Ryan Adams (mp3)

This live version is from the 2004 tour, and shows him getting back into the beautiful piano-based sound of Love is Hell. Very lovely. If you are not constrained by Christmas wishlists, as I am, head out to your local music store today and pick it up.

PS - Anyone up for a trip to the UK in February with me? You think I'd learn.


Mad Hot Ballroom

Following hot on the heels of 2002's Spellbound (a documentary about kids competing in the National Spelling Bee) comes Mad Hot Ballroom, the most enjoyable movie I have seen this year.

This is an ebullient look at fifth graders in the New York City public school system learning ballroom dancing for a city-wide competition. Imagine yourself in the fifth grade. Now imagine yourself having to touch (and look in the eyes of! and smile!) someone from your class of the opposite sex for a ten-week session. It brought back so many memories of what that age was like, and it was just a really good-hearted film. So go Netflix it.

You'll also find that it has a swinging soundtrack, too. Salsa, swing, merengue, tango, and jazz. You'll be humming all night. Here is one of the best tracks:

"Fever" - Peggy Lee (mp3)

BONUS LAUGH: I saw this cross-posted on some other blogs and just tried to read it while drinking my coffee and almost sprayed coffee on my computer, I laughed so hard.
http://www.zug.com/pranks/credit/. My favorite is the heiroglyphics.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Matt Nathanson

I stumbled upon local San Francisco-based artist Matt Nathanson as a happy accident when he opened for G. Love and Special Sauce last Spring. It was an interesting bill to be sharing since his music is nothing like G. Love's (god bless G's Booty Call soul). But Nathanson gave an excellent, hilarious performance (he is like half stand-up comedian, half guitar-wielding troubador).

You may have heard his cover of the James song Laid, but his original work far outshines it. After the show I bought his album Beneath These Fireworks, which is his major label debut with Universal (he has a string of indie releases over the years as well - building steam).

Beneath These Fireworks has a killer line-up of musicians playing with Nathanson. Matt Chamberlain drums (Pearl Jam's first drummer), David Garza plays guitar, Matt Fish does cello (who's played with Mark Eitzel and Alejandro Escovedo) and Glen Phillips (Toad The Wet Sprocket, love them) does backing vocals on two tracks. But I learned all that after I got and loved the CD. So it's just icing on the cake.

Here are two album tracks:

"Angel" (from Beneath These Fireworks)
"Sad Songs" (from Beneath These Fireworks)

...And an absolutely awesome live Prince cover from the Spring tour. He covered this also at the show I was at, so I was all over the singalong action. I am not too cool for that.

"Starfish and Coffee" (live Prince cover - right click, save target as)

Many other live tracks can be found on the Live Music Archive site if you like his sound. But buy the album, it is great. And then go see him live. He toured a ton in 2005, and no new 2006 dates are posted to the website, but surely he will head out again as I hear he is one of the most relentless travelling songsmiths in the business.

P.S. - He has also been known to cover Journey's "Any Way You Want It" in concert, but don't hold that against him. I also have been known to pull that one out of my back pocket in karaoke, but you all still love me anyways. So it goes both ways.


Monday Music Roundup

Time for the weekly fix. Here is some new music for you to enjoy. Let me know what you think. If something really tickles your eardrums I'd love to hear about it.

"For The Turnstiles"
Josh Rouse

This is another great track emailed to me by Adam, my new musical drug dealer. It is a beautiful cover of the Neil Young song, performed live on KCRW 2. It is a lovely rendition. I am digging Josh Rouse more and more of late.

"You Only Live Once"
The Strokes
I know that the new Strokes album First Impressions of Earth has been leaked and posted on practically every possible place on the internet, and that they have been on every magazine cover possible in recent days (exhibit A to right) but if perchance you HAVE NOT heard this song, I am posting it here because YOU MUST. This is one of my favorite tracks of the year, period. I love drummer Fabrizio Moretti, and on this track you can see why. Oh, to be like him someday. His loose and laid-back improvisations blow my mind all over this track. He's just havin fun, doing his own thing, meandering back to the regular beat when he feels like it. Very fresh and compelling and infectious.

"On My Mind"
Upon first listening to this, Kalai sounds like James Taylor or Ben Harper. This is a simple, agreeable little song that always makes me happy, and I love to sing along cuz it is right in my perfect range. It was released on Kalai's 2001 album Acoustacism. Kalai is only in his late-twenties, born in Hawaii and raised in Alaska. He has an excellent grasp of the new-folk genre and has quite a fine little album here. His dad is Danson, a Hawaiian music legend. In addition to making good music, Kalai is also an expert fly-fisherman and enjoys the simple life. Wow, that sounded like a personal ad. Anyway, check out his website at http://www.kalai.cc.

"Nothing Compares 2 U"
Well, Sinead O'Rebellion. This is a cover of another song that distinctly reminds me of my elementary past, this one of the fifth grade and my best friend Britt. We would sit around and listen to Sinead belt it over and over. (Wait, did you hear that? That was the sound of my street cred dissipating.) Anyway, this gruff cover by the Stereophonics is irreverent and surprisingly heartfelt. I heard this on KEPC, a local community college radio station which plays a superb selection of music. Yay KEPC!

"Which One Of The Two Of Us Is Gonna Burn This House Down?"
The Star Spangles
Gritty garage rock, baby. The Star Spangles are out of New York City and in the vein of the NY Dolls and the Ramones, with some Stooges thrown in. It is clear who their influences are, not that that makes this cut any less enjoyable. I also find the vocals distinctly reminiscent of Paul Westerberg. This is off 2003's Bazooka!!.

Speaking of The Replacements/Westerberg, I have been blessed with a largesse of rare tracks from them (2 CDs worth!) from a kind musical e-pal named Jerry, and I will be posting all the tracks here in the next few days, once I get time to upload the zip files! So if you are a Westerberg fan, stay tuned.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday morning...I'm coming home today

Hello dear readers. I am back from Phoenix, the land of sun and golf and old people and really cute new baby nephews. Here are a few odds and ends:

  • I replenished the links for the videos from the Ryan Adams post from the November concert (special request from Justin). It includes Hard Way To Fall, I See Monsters, Please Do Not Let Me Go, and Rescue Blues. See the original post (link above) for the videos.
  • I also refreshed the links to the first Monday Music Round-up (because Layne from London emailed to ask me to). There are some really good tracks on there, so I hope you get em and like em.

See, your wish is my command (within reason, eh?)


Here is a bonus laugh track, a cover of The Divinyls "I Touch Myself" live by The Bens (Folds, Lee and Kweller). Hey you know, that's actually a dirty little song, ain't it?

"I Touch Myself" - The Bens

Stay tuned for the Monday Music Roundup, some good stuff on the table.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A love child between the Beasties and the Beatles

This is a song for rocking your stripey socks this weekend.

I am off to Phoenix for a few days, so may not post, but until then enjoy getting your groove on to this mash-up (thanks to Said The Gramophone).

"Pass The Word"
Beastie Boys vs. The Beatles

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Matthew Sweet Coverville

Matthew Sweet is The Man. He has the perfect golden, dulcet voice and writes radiant songs. I spent a good part of 1995 listening to Matthew Sweet (100% Fun is a gem in my collection), so here are two fine covers of his music that I have come across in the last few weeks and been duly pleased.

"Girlfriend" - Benjamin Wagner (thanks to stereogum)

"Sick of Myself" - Death Cab for Cutie (thanks to Yeti Don't Dance)

...And how about to round things out, a nice cover done by Sweet himself?

"Let Me Be The One" - Matthew Sweet (Carpenters cover)


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bruuuuce live, and R.E.M. cover Chris Isaak

Hello dear readers. Two quick hits for you today:

1. "The Arms of God, Vol. 2." Zip file mix of Bruce Springsteen, solo acoustic from 1995. Twelve tracks of music and an interview. Thanks to Renee for uploading this gem. Details about the setlist (and even cover art!) here.

2. R.E.M. does a moody cover of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game live. I love Michael Stipe's voice, he can do this one justice.

"Wicked Game" - R.E.M. (live)

I have also heard that Giant Drag does a distorted cover of this song as well, but have had no luck finding it. Anyone out there have it? Annie from the band emailed me back and she doesn't have a live recording, but maybe some uberfan out there?

Be good, kids.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Monday Music Roundup

Well a new week brings new music for y'all. Here are five tracks that I found listen-worthy this week. Let me know what you think! Here's a secret about all bloggers: we crave your comments, so leave a little note if you feel the urge.

Proclaim Your Joy - Mark Eitzel
(right click, save target as)
Jangly music and feel-good lyrics in this little ditty (who doesn't need a little uplifting on Mondays?). Also tongue-in-cheek funny. Mark Eitzel (American Music Club) has a voice which reminds me of Evan Dando's, so I like it by default. I thought this song had interesting musical footprints to it - it mixes what sounds like banjo with some little electronic touches. Different.

White Daisy Passing - Rocky Votolato
(right click, save target as)
Here is a new artist I just kinda found on the internet and I really like. Texas-born/Pacific-Northwest-resident Votolato has a new album coming out in 2006 called "Makers," and this is the first cut off that album. This track has a dreamy feel to it, and if you like it you can download more music from his website. His last two releases, Suicide Medicine and Light and Sound EP, were produced by Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie, who also plays various instruments on the albums.

Creep - Damien Rice
My first instinct is to like this cover because I like both Damien Rice and Radiohead, but I am kind of mixed on it as a cover effort because it hasn't changed much from the original. This song, no matter who is singing it, reminds me of being angst-ridden my freshman year of high school. Oh the drama and alienation inherent in being 14.

Consequence - The Notwist (link expired)
I haven't heard much other music from these guys, but I very much dig the hazy, lo-fi, laid-back vibe to this track. From their album Neon Golden, which made it onto several reviewers' lists of best indie albums of 2003/04. I would link you to their site to learn more about them, but lord almighty it is the most confusing thing I've seen since I got out of calculus. But don't hold it against their music.

Blue Suede Shoes (live) - Carl Perkins
(right click, save target as)
This is so awesome. A fabulous song by an American icon, done live. Can't sit still. "Goodness gracious alive." I think I like this original better than Elvis' better-known rendition. According to Perkins, he wrote this song after a show in Arkansas when he was touring with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash (um, would have loved to see a show on *that* tour!). "Blue Suede Shoes" was recorded December, 1955, and released January 1, 1956 on the Sun label. It is still Perkins best-known contribution to the world of rockabilly music.

ALSO: I have added a new song to my Jeff Buckley Tribute Songs post, thanks to 'Splean,' who was very kind to send me the mp3 of the PJ Harvey song "Memphis" about Jeff. Thank you very much and please check it out!

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Previously unreleased studio version of Elliott Smith song

So this song surfaced on the internet a few days ago. It's called Stickman, and until this point it has only been around as a live version, not studio. It's quite pretty with a definite Beatles-esque feeling to it.

It is one of apparently several unreleased studio cuts from his sessions to record From A Basement On The Hill. Let's hope that whoever released this out there will give up a few more.

Elliott Smith - "Stickman" (studio)


Saturday, December 10, 2005

I miss mix tapes

So I have been recently moving my belongings to a non-wet location and I have come across all of my absolutely fabulous mix tapes from my teen years. They are varied. They are marvelous.

I really liked (and miss) the physical process of making mix tapes...pressing play on one deck and record on the other, it felt more like a craft than just dragging, dropping, and burning. I'd pull songs off the radio sometimes so there was like "KSJO...BALL-BUSTING ROCK 'N' RO-" at the end before I managed to hit "stop." It was great. Plus, I liked the artistic license contained in Side 1/Side 2. You could do two totally different things musically and yet have them under the banner of one mix tape.

Am I a geek? I think so.


"Singing In My Sleep," Semisonic (mp3)
A pop song about a mix tape, and listening to it over and over, even while you sleep. My revelation when I figured out what this song was about was wonderful. I thought to myself, "That is the best item ever to include on a mix for someone."

"Mix Tape = Love," The Tah Dahs (mp3)
Another cutesy song about the process of mixing for those you love (slash lust over) containing the hilarious line, "This song doesn't fit but I want to use it - I'll show you I am well-rounded."

Art Of The Mix (website)
For other dorks in search of TPM (the perfect mix), this is a giant catalogue where you can post what you've done and why, and see what other songsters are stitching together. Not cassette tape-specific, it is all-inclusive to CDs and iPod playlists and probably even 8-tracks (what?).

Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture (book)
(MLA format is italicize book titles? underline? dangit.)
And finally, Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth has edited a new book about cassettes which looks to be right up my alley. It is on my Froogle wishlist for this year.


I became a thin blue flame

So, one of the very cool things about running a music blog, I am learning, is that it can be like Christmas every day when I check my email! People from all over have sent me music I need to hear. This is an indescribably wonderful thing.

A few days ago a kind and enthusiastic soul named Adam emailed me the new Josh Ritter track, Thin Blue Flame. It is from Ritter's new album, "The Animal Years," due out in Spring 2006. Josh Ritter is a new name for me. Other than seeing his work on a Putumayo American Folk compilation CD (You Don't Make It Easy Babe), I had not heard him before, so this was a treat.

Josh Ritter is a singer-songwriter from Idaho who has been steadily building acclaim for his quality releases over the past few years. Critics have compared his work to the “sparse elegance of Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, the gritty passion of Neil Young’s Harvest, and the melodic charm of Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman.” I recently read an interview with Cameron Crowe that said Ritter was favored to be on the Elizabethtown soundtrack (along with many other excellent artists, as Crowe is best for), but unfortunately ended up being left off. Ritter is signed with V2 Records (the White Stripes, Grandaddy).

If you like Damien Rice and David Gray, you will probably like this song. The length and the story-telling aspct of it also reminds me a bit of Dylan. Ritter's new album is produced by Brian Deck, who has recently worked with Iron & Wine and Modest Mouse. Deck's production on this song includes background chatter and glasses clinking, which adds to the sense of immediacy, as if this song is being performed live for you in a small coffee shop or dark bar. It clocks in at almost ten minutes, and I personally enjoyed listening to it on repeat while drifting off to sleep. It starts slow and builds several times and then fades, and it contains some stunning lyrics that create beautiful mental images (complete lyrics here):

The old hometown and the streets I knew
wrapped up in a royal blue
I heard my friends laughing out across the fields . . .
the raw smell of horses and the warm smell of hay
Cicadas electric in the heat of the day . . .
The lake was a diamond in the valley's hand.

"Thin Blue Flame," Josh Ritter


Friday, December 09, 2005

Let them see Cake

Cake fans, the band is going on tour in early 2006! Starting in Massachusetts, loping across the country (through Denver, yay!) and on into California for several shows, this will be a fun one.

For tour dates, go to http://cakemusic.com/tour.html. Tickets go on sale for many shows tomorrow, Saturday the 10th (or some California shows on Sunday).

I won tickets to see Cake live once (from KFOG, possibly the best radio station in the world) at Yoshi's in Oakland for a private concert. It was *so* grand. In addition to can't-stay-in-your-seat music, clever lyrics, and all forms of percussion known to man (cowbell? got it. little vibrating thing? got it too.), we got to sing along to "Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell." It was like summer camp without the bugbites and hot guy counselors named Flash.

Here is a Cake track off the new Stubbs the Zombie soundtrack, which is full of fun retro cover songs. It is a hokey version of Strangers In The Night (exchanging glaaaances).


Good times

Hey, remember that time that a water line in the attic froze and burst and sending 200 gallons of cascading, gushing water through my house from the attic to the basement? Oh, wait, that was yesterday, and that wasn't fun. Even as I am temporarily displaced from home, I wil try to maintain posting because, well, I have a lot to say and you have a lot to listen to. So great is my commitment to you, the reader.

Oh, and this made me chuckle, one of the funniest blog posts I've read in a while, from So Much Silence.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The years have passed so quickly

Today marks 25 years since John Lennon was killed outside his New York apartment building by a deranged sicko Mark Chapman on December 8, 1980. I wanted to post some news from NME.com about a live tribute and covers project that will take place in the Abbey Road Studios in London, which you can listen to online. Awesome lineup:

From Abbey Road, London:
Jamie Cullum - Jealous Guy
The Delays - Give Peace A Chance, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)
Katie Melua - Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Cry Baby Cry
Paul Weller - Love
Badly Drawn Boy - Happy Xmas, Look At Me
Lulu - Money, Rock N Roll Music
Gomez - Hey Bulldog, Instant Karma
Stereo MCs - Walrus, Tomorrow Never Knows
Sugababes - Come Together
Stephen Fretwell - Help!, And Your Bird Can Sing
Trashcan Sinatras - Woman, Free As A Bird

From SIRIUS, New York:
Dave Matthews - Watching the Wheels, Good Morning, Good Morning
Dr. John - Revolution
Daryl Hall - Julia, All You Need is Love
Teddy Thompson - You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, I'm Only Sleeping
Joseph Arthur - Imagine, Across the Universe

You should be able to listen to the Lennon Tribute today here, through the BBC Radio 2 streaming audio Thursday, December 8, from 2 pm ET to 6 pm ET (on SIRIUS Satellite Radio channel 18, The Spectrum and BBC Radio 2).

It seems that we will also be able to download some new Lennon cover tracks from the Amnesty International site for $0.99 each.

The San Jose Mercury News also featured a nice tribute piece here. Well written and insightful, plus it quotes a friend of mine, so it is worth a read. Rolling Stone also has a good story on Lennon, which I found interesting reading for the way it set the scene and filled in details of his life and the night he died which I didn't know.

I Know (demo version), John Lennon

This song was released on Lennon's 1973 album "Mind Games," but I much prefer this earlier stripped down demo version. I think it is a gorgeous song, simple perfection. Enjoy.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I really can't stay (but baby you'll freeze out there)

Current Weather for Colorado Springs, CO (80920)

-12°F (yes, that says negative)

Wed Forecast: High 7°/Low -4°


So here is a bit more on OK Go, who I mentioned in my "Let's spread the clap" post. No, OK Go does not have the clap (well, they might but that is really their business. I hope they don't because they are all quite cute), but the title was a reference to the use of handclaps in their music, which is intelligent, catchy, and hip-shakin fun.

Some of you may have seen their genius backyard-dance video for the song A Million Ways, which I can only liken to a synchronized-swimming routine done on land, with the bass player doing the lip-syncing to the words. They also usually end their live shows with it. It is a thing of riotous beauty. (If the above link doesn't work on your computer, you can select a different player at their homepage www.okgo.net).

Damian Kulash, lead singer of OK Go, wrote an interesting article in the New York Times yesterday morning (12/6/05), so I guess that means he is muy importante now. From the OK Go email update:

[Damian's] article is about DRM, or Digital Rights Management, which is industry shorthand for "the reason your computer stopped working after you bought the new CD by The Coral," and shouldn't be confused with IHY, or It Hates You, industry shorthand for "the reason your computer stopped working after you bought the new CD by Celine Dion."

Damian's article is called "Buy, Play, Trade, Repeat." You'll find it here, unless you're one of those hip retro-ironists who insist on reading the actual paper, in which case you'll find it on the Op-Ed page (industry shorthand for "opposite the editorial page") next to an article by some boob named Wesley Clark, blah-blah-blahing about the Middle-something-East.

OK Go is playing a free show in Los Angeles on 12/14, and unfree shows in Columbus and Albany. For details check their website at www.okgo.net. If you live in one of these cities, definitely go check them out.

**Photo credit David Goldman, shot for Alternative Press at the Hotel 17 in NY


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

No Country For Old Men

Very late last night I finished reading No Country For Old Men, the newest novel by one of my favorite authors Cormac McCarthy, and I highly recommend it. Like all of his novels, this is stark and elegaic writing at its best. McCarthy writes about the desolate borderlands of southern Texas with a restraint and a beauty that I would have never imagined I would be drawn to, but I am.

As an author, McCarthy is stripped down to the essentials, using limited punctuation and only necessary words as he crafts his terse and heart-wrenching prose. Listen to this excerpt:

“He stood there looking out across the desert. So quiet. Low hum of the wind in the wires. High bloodweeds along the road. Wiregrass and sacahuista. Beyond in the stone arroyos the tracks of dragons. The raw rock mountains shadowed in the late sun and to the east the shimmering abscissa of the desert plains under a sky where raincurtains hung dark as soot all along the quadrant. That god lives in silence who has scoured the following land with salt and ash. He walked back to the cruiser and got in and pulled away.”

The action revolves around a drug war (with its ensuing stolen money, panicked fleeing and motel shootouts), and its effects on the lives of several people involved in the small border towns the war traverses. This book is thematically kind of like Traffic (the movie) minus the soundtrack.

Reading McCarthy's books is like slipping away into a world that you can viscerally feel as you delve into the dusty roads of his characters and plotlines. This one is pretty bloody, actually, full of evil men and evil deeds, but the human development and dialogue for me is more compelling and drew me in. It is a fascinating glimpse into a part of our land (the country between Texas and Mexico) that I wouldn't otherwise think twice about - maybe just drive through on a roadtrip, looking for the next rest-stop. As a character in the book reflects, "It just seemed to me that this country has got a strange kind of history and a damned bloody one too."

McCarthy writes poetry in the form of novels. I first had to read All The Pretty Horses in Mr. Hanford's sophomore English class in high school, and it has stuck with me and grown on me as one of my favorites. If you've never read any of his works, take some time to sit down and lose yourself in one of his novels. They transport you to the rhythms and cadences of another lifestyle, another lifetime, soaked in barren beauty.


Mates of State

Mates of State signed yesterday to Barsuk Records, home of Nada Surf, Rilo Kiley, They Might Be Giants, and Death Cab For Cutie.

I saw Mates of State perform last Spring and I liked them, although the venue I saw them in sucked, so their sound kind of got drowned out. The band is a husband/wife duo, Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel, and they are now out of San Francisco (transplants from the Midwest). Their music is very simple and infectiously happy-sounding, with just mainly an organ/keyboard and drums, with their vocal harmonies supplying the rest.

Since the Barsuk Records website mp3 section doesn't have any Mates of State tracks (although they have lots of good other ones from their roster of bands), here is one from my collection:

Goods, Mates of State (from the "All Day" EP, 2004)

Mates of State will release their first album with Barsuk, Bring It Back, on March 21, 2006. I recommend going to see them live if you get a chance. It is a good-time vibe, especially if you can see them in a more intimate venue. As one local (Denver) reviewer wrote after their show at the Bluebird, "You can't help but love these two and want to kidnap them so they can be your children." They are pretty dang cute, but more than that, they are also good musicians with an original sound. Check them out.


Bonus joke, free of charge

Today is your lucky day, you get a bonus joke at no charge. Now, this is really better suited to be told over a meal, in person, perhaps in a dimly lit restaurant with some wine (thanks Bob!). But we will see how it flies over the internet. I think it is hilarious.
So this guy from New York City, this banker, decides he has had enough of the city life and moves out to rural Wyoming to start afresh.

As he is unloading boxes into his new cabin, a rusty old pickup truck comes over the hill in a cloud of dust, coming from the direction of his nearest neighbor's house, which is about a mile away. The truck rattles to a stop and a gruff old man gets out.

"Howdy," the old man says. "I am your neighbor and I wanted to invite you over for a little party this evening at my house."

The man is glad that the locals are so friendly here and agrees to come by that night.

"Uh, before I go, I gotta warn you that, this party I am having," the old man says, "Well, there may be some drinking."

The man shrugs, "You know, coming from New York, I went to a lot of cocktail parties and bars...I have no problem with that. Sounds like fun, actually."

The old man pauses, and then says, "Well, and there may be some fighting too."

"Well, I grew up in the Bronx and have experience with that," says the man. "I can hold my own. Thanks for the warning."

Old man is quiet for a minute.

"And, uh, well...there may be some sex."

"Umm, okaaay. You know, I've walked through Times Square, seen prostitutes, not gonna bother me," says the New Yorker. "So I guess I'll see you this evening, then. By the way, I haven't unpacked everything yet - what should I wear?"

Old man turns as he is getting into his truck. "Wear whatever you like. It's just gonna be you and me."


Monday, December 05, 2005

Pearl Jam Mix as a zip file

Photo of PJ in Sudamerica on recent tour from a Brazilian blog page

Some of you were asking for the Pearl Jam Live Anniversary Mix that I put together as a zip file so you could get all ten songs at once.

Ask and ye shall receive.

To read my original post with the reasons why I picked these songs, go here. Glad to see there are still so many Pearl Jam fans in this beautiful world.


Monday Music Round-up

Happy Monday once again. It is 7 degrees in Colorado Springs as I write this. Yeah, uh huh.

Here are five new diverse tracks for your musical sampling pleasure.

Riot Radio
The Dead '60s
I just saw these guys open for Social Distortion a few weeks back and was really impressed. I was talking to their very nice guitar tech before the show and he likened them to The Clash or The Specials, which I can definitely hear, but I was surprised at how young these 4 blokes from Liverpool were. Probably early twenties. A good fun sound to them, solid start. Ignore the fact that I heard this song in a commercial, I forget which one. Let's not let bad TV corrupt good music.

Blow It Out
The Features
I came across this back in the Spring, and it possesses some great lyrics with a nice, simplistic pop sound (complete with backing doo-doo-doos). "If you're happy and you know it, turn the volume up and blow it out." Theme song for a music lover such as myself. Try listening to it extremely loud in the car. From 2004's Exhibit A.

Something To Believe In
So this may be a bit too twangy for some of you but I love the Americana/alt-country sound. These guys are out of Austin and have a nice (but slick) sound to them. They are billed as "roots rockers" and they definitely have a Texas influence. Their live shows are apparently a lot of fun. Thanks to songs:illinois for this band mention.

Plus, their band name sounds like it could be a term of endearment for me, so I am all over that action.

Iko Iko
The Dixie Cups
I remember jammin to this song in the '80s on the dodgeball court at John Muir Elementary School with my pink walkman, albeit it was the 1989 cover version by The Belle Stars. See, I never knew its storied history (because I was 10) but it is pretty cool. The Dixie Cups are the same gals who sang the Chapel of Love song, but one day in the studio after the other musicians had gone home, the women were doing some overdubbing and started singing "Iko Iko" among themselves, using only a chair, drumstick, Coke bottle, ashtray, and drums as accompaniment. And look what came out! I still have no idea what the words to the song mean, but thanks again to Aurgasm for this original stripped-down version and the historical info.

Toxic Girl
Kings of Convenience
Norwegian indie-pop, light and melodic. Something a little different, although it reminds me of Belle & Sebastian if you like them. Or even if you don't, you should still check this out. It is from their 2001 album Quiet Is The New Loud, and it fits nicely on my Spring/Summer mix playlists. Any music to remind me of warmer days!

**Update 12/6/05: Sorry, I had accidentally posted a protected version of the song which required a password. I have updated the link now, so you should be able to play it no problem. Sorry!

See, I promised no more Christmas music. I could have, but I didn't. That's how much I love you all.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A few more Christmas tracks

Okay, here are a few more good Christmas tracks I discovered on the Something Old, Something New blog. I promise this will be my last holiday post for a while, I will try to restrain myself.

Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas, Eels
The Christmas Song, Weezer
Just Like Christmas, Low
1963 Fanclub Christmas Album, The Beatles
(not really listenable as music, but a nice trifle of memorabilia)

One more random thought I have recently had while being assailed by Christmas music. Can we talk for a second about that line in Walking In A Winter Wonderland where they sing, "He'll say are you married? We'll say no man, but you can do the job when you're in town." (?!?) That has always seemed a little racy to me.


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