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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Brandi Carlile covers Ray LaMontagne

In every way that the Kelly Clarkson cover of Ray LaMontagne turned me off, this does the exact opposite. Brandi Carlile has such a wrenching and soulful voice, and when you combine that with some of my favorite lyrics, the result is incredible. It literally gives me shivers and this is the sixth time through that I have listened to it.

"Yes and try to ignore
All this blood on the floor
Just this heart on my sleeve
that's bleeding . . .

So kiss him again
Just to prove to me that you can
I will stand here and burn in my skin
I will stand here and burn in my skin"

"Burn (Ray LaMontagne cover)" - Brandi Carlile

For the rest of her excellent set a few weeks ago on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, head on over to Sweet Oblivion. Can't get enough of this gal.

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A list of factual mistakes in famous songs

This made me chuckle, being the combo music-lover and uber-nerd-of-random-facts that I am.

Factual Mistakes in Famous Songs
originally from The Onion's AV Club

U2, "Pride (In The Name Of Love)"
It's probably difficult to work the assassination of a civil-rights leader into a song––but if anyone can do it, Bono can! Unfortunately, he fudges the facts a bit in the last chorus of this song, when he sings about the killing of Martin Luther King Jr., "Early morning, April 4 / Shot rings out in the Memphis sky." King was actually shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel at 6:01 p.m., which makes Bono off by about 10 hours. But he did get the date and the city right. Oh, and the pride part. Which isn't bad for a Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

Young MC, "Bust A Move"
Though Young MC is completely logical throughout most of this song––he's absolutely right, in most situations, you should bust a move––things get a little confusing in the last verse. He raps: "Your best friend Harry / has a brother Larry / in five days from now he's gonna marry / he's hopin' you can make it there if you can / 'cause in the ceremony you'll be the best man." Now, why would your best friend's brother choose you as best man over his own flesh and blood? Is Harry just going to be a run-of-the-mill usher at his brother's wedding while you're toasting and keeping track of the rings? Also, why would Larry inform you of his family-shaking decision a mere five days before the wedding? It doesn't make sense. Fortunately, Young MC totally compensates for any logical gaps in the next line, when he rhymes "neato" and "libido."

'N Sync, "Digital Get Down"
On the surface, 'N Sync's "Digital Get Down" is just another song about mutual masturbation facilitated by webcams, but there's a geography lesson hidden underneath all the "Baby, we can do more than just talk" talk. Turns out the lesson is that 'N Sync doesn't know anything about geography. In the chorus, they sing, "Digital digital get down just you and me / you may be 20,000 miles away, but I can see ya / and baby baby, you can see me." Really? Twenty thousand miles? Well, since the Earth is round, and its circumference is roughly 24,000 miles, that means that at 20,000 miles away, 'N Sync's digital girlfriend would also be, at most, 4,000 miles away. Unless, of course, she's in space, which would make Lance Bass really, really jealous.

R. Kelly, "Trapped In The Closet (Chapters 1-12)"
When he started to write his ridiculous hip-hopera, R. Kelly probably had no way of knowing that the thing would stretch out to 12 chapters' worth of guns, affairs, leg cramps, well-endowed midgets, and sirens that go "Wooo wooo wooo." Still, he should have kept better track of who was actually telling the story. In Chapters 1-7, Kelly relays the action in the first person ("I pulled out my Beretta," "I'm sweating like hell," "I said 'Baby, get off my leg'"). But around Chapter 8, the "I" turns into "Sylvester," and a narrator is introduced in the form of the all-knowing R. Kelly, who sings keen observations like "Then he continues to rough up the midget / as if the midget was under attack." But in Chapter 11, both R. Kelly/the narrator, and I/Sylvester are telling the story. Simply put, this song is a nightmare for any student of English, just like most R. Kelly fantasies.

Willie Nelson, Michael Jackson, Huey Lewis, Steve Perry, Dan Aykroyd, and others, "We Are The World"
"We Are The World" was a very important song, both to starving Ethiopians and to comedy writers looking for an easy parody. But when the song tries to hammer home the preachiness, it ends up misquoting the Bible. Willie Nelson sings, "As God has shown us by turning stones to bread…" Biblically speaking, that never happened. In Matthew 4, the devil tries to get Jesus to turn some stones into bread, but Jesus refuses, saying, "One does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God." So the bread/stone miracle never happened. Also, in spite of what the song says, we are not the world.

Jennifer Lopez, "Jenny From The Block"
This is one of those rare songs where every other line contradicts the one before it. For example: "I love my life and my public / put God first and can't forget to stay real." Yes, you're right, J. Lo. "Real" people always remember to love their "public." Or: "I stay grounded / as the amounts roll in / I'm real I thought I told ya / I'm real even on Oprah." Translation: "I'm so down to earth. Seriously though, I'm making truckloads of money and getting TV gigs." And, of course: "Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got / I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block." Sure, Jennifer Lopez is just another multimillionaire from the Bronx, just like Gisele Bündchen is just another beautiful model from the slums of Brazil, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is just another huge action star/California governor from a tiny town in Austria. Never mind us, they are the world.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"Monday" Music Roundup, holiday edition

Good morning, champs. Did everyone (in countries where they celebrate Memorial Day, i.e. the U-S-of-A) have a nice long weekend? Sunburns, BBQ-overdose, and hangovers? Check. Plus, Brad and Angelina had their new little girl (name translated means "New Messiah" - sign of the endtimes?) so, you know, I can breathe easier now. And maybe now I can schedule that trip to Namibia without needing written permission from them. Gotta love when rich Western celebrities are allowed to buy off the immigration officials in poor developing nations. It's just so comforting.

Here are five songs that I rocked repeatedly on my recent California trip. By the way, I managed to squeeze in one more In'N'Out meal, bringing the total to two of the world's best burgers in 3 days. Can you hear my arteries screaming?

Pink Steam
Sonic Youth
Nobody sounds exactly like Sonic Youth. They have a unique free-form sound all unto themselves that remains consistent (but fresh) over 25 years and more than a dozen releases. I am really, really liking this song (off their new album Rather Ripped, due June 13) for reasons I can't completely articulate. Something about the volatile combination between the brooding heavy undertones and the harmonic accent notes, the fact that it is mostly instrumental, and the driving drumbeat. It is the perfect accompaniment to driving along a dark and winding California highway, looking at the crescent moon.

Move By Yourself
Donavon Frankenreiter
This is an enjoyable summer tune, a sonic hybrid reminiscent of the Isley Brothers and Jack Johnson getting down together. The opening minute is pretty smokin' and the new album is more of a funk-groove manifesto than the laid-back surf sounds of his first disc. From Frankenreiter's upcoming sophomore release Move By Yourself (out June 6 on Lost Highway Records).

Broader a New Sound
Nobody & Mystic Chords of Memory
My eye was first drawn to this single because of Devendra Banhart's involvement with it (he covers one of their songs called The Seed/La Semilla as a b-side here). But in the process I was introduced to a new artist. Nobody & Mystic Chords of Memory is a L.A.-based trio who has come out with a light and lively combination of toe-tapping trip-hop and summery folk music here, with slightly off-kilter Shins-eqsue vocals. Quirky and radio-friendly.

Where is My Boy?
Faultline (featuring Chris Martin)
c featured this song over at her blog, Scatter O'Light last week and I am loving it, the layered and fuzzy-dark feel. I have decided that for some reason, I apparently like Martin much better on guest vocals than as part of Coldplay. This is like the third guest vocal I've featured by him. He has such an emotive wail. From Faultline's 2004 disc Your Love Means Everything.

Michael Stipe
If I had to pick my three top vocalists EVER, Michael Stipe would be in that top triumvirate. He is unparalleled in sexy velvety smoothness, I could listen to him sing-talk all day ("Belong" is one of my favorite R.E.M. tunes for that reason). And then when he breaks into that naked and vulnerable falsetto, nothing compares. This is a mysterious Serge Gainsbourg tale, from the album of covers Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited, featuring everyone from Stipe to Cat Power to Marianne Faithfull to Jarvis Cocker and more. I love it. Check out that uber-smarmy album cover. If he doesn't give you the Old-Man-Heeby-Jeebies, I don't know what will.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Kid movies with good soundtracks

Not much hard-hitting musical coolness today - instead, let's talk about music the whole family can love. Last night my creative friends had the idea (very late in the evening) to rig a projection of The Incredibles onto the wall on the side of their house in the backyard using the borrowed equipment from the high school where one teaches - and you always WONDERED what your teachers did afterhours! Ha! There were s'mores and my hair still smells campfirey good.

But I was reminded of this post-in-progress that I started last week as I listened. Have you noticed that animated/computer-generated films are focusing more on their soundtracks in recent years? It's a far cry from "Under The Sea" in the Little Mermaid from the days of my elementary school youth (now I am SO gonna have that song stuck in my head all day).

Is it perhaps because all the cool teenagers of the '80s and '90s are growing up, having kids (see the fabulous grups article), and want to sit through obligatory movies-with-their-offspring without wanting to poke the bendy straws through their eardrums?

I heartily enjoy the trend towards decent music (and even a few adult jokes in the subtext) in these animated films. Superb songwriter Randy Newman's continuing involvement with recent animated films has brought newly focused attention to the audio portion of these flicks. Subsequent Pixar (and Dreamworks) movies have capitalized on that trend, from Shrek to Shark Tale to the recent Cars. Even The Incredibles tapped composer Michael Giacchino (Alias theme song - mp3) to do the stealth techno instrumental soundtrack.

So, in borrowing a page from (sm)all ages today, here is some music from recent kid films that doesn't suck. On my next "decide what you want to do with your life/shadow a professional day" (wait, I'm not in high school anymore, dang) I want to learn more about making movie soundtracks. How cool of a job would that be?

"Hallelujah" - Rufus Wainwright
"I'm On My Way" - The Proclaimers

Shrek 2:
"I Need Some Sleep" - Eels
"Ever Fallen in Love" - Pete Yorn

Toy Story 2:
"When She Loved Me" - Sarah McLachlan

Herbie: Fully Loaded:
"Metal Guru" (T. Rex cover) - Rooney
Roll On Down The Highway" (BTO cover) - The Donnas
"First" - Lindsay Lohan
oh, just kidding

Curious George:
"With My Own Two Hands" - Ben Harper & Jack Johnson

Lilo & Stitch:
"Stuck on You" - Elvis Presley

Shark Tale:
"Three Little Birds" - with Sean Paul & Ziggy Marley

And Nathaniel has three from Over The Hedge/Ben Folds:
"Rockin' The Suburbs" (Over The Hedge version) - Ben Folds with good 'ole Bill Shatner
"Lost In The Supermarket"
(Clash cover) - Ben Folds
"Still (Reprise)" - Ben Folds

Visit I Guess I'm Floating for a few more of those. Also, the Cars soundtrack (out June 6) is loading up on the big names in alt, rock & country. I can't find any preview tracks to share with you, but it'll have Sheryl Crow, James Taylor, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, Chuck Berry, and Hank Williams, as well as the obligatory Randy Newman score. None of this will alter your world, but it's pleasant enough to pass the time. Which is, I guess, what kids' movies are looking for.

Although I definitely would argue that all this cool music started back with the Muppets:

"Mahna Mahna" - The Muppet Band

Can't you still picture the little puppets flopping forward and back?


Friday, May 26, 2006

California here I come . . .

. . . Right back where I started from.

I've been in the Golden State for less than 2 hours and I've already gorged myself on In'N'Out (I was trying to explain the phenomenon of In'N'Out to my friend earlier in the week when we were out for a run, and I found it inexplicable, other than to say "It's REALLY GOOD"), and run into some old students from the University where I work(ed) as I was getting into the airport.

I am in my (OG) element, and I am a happy camper. Posting will, obviously, be scanty this weekend, but I have some ready-prepared stuff that I may throw out there. Be good, kids, and thank a veteran this weekend! I am off to go out with some old friends, and I can't tell you how good it feels.

American girls get a bad rap

Now here's an excellent little gem of pop goodness that you may not have heard, discussing the relative merits of everyone's favorite (and seemingly oft-misunderstood) topic: American girls. And no, it has nothing to do with Farah Fawcett, other than that this picture represented the concept quite nicely to a generation of pubescent boys.

This song "American Girls" was written by Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) during his solo show era (97-98), it was eventually recorded for the Meet the Deedles soundtrack, of all things, under the band moniker "Homie".

The Homie supergroup line-up included:
*Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) -- vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, lyrics, and melody
*Yuval Gabay (Soul Coughing) -- drum loops
*Matt Sharp (Weezer) -- co-producer and background vocals
*Sebastian Steinburg (Soul Coughing) -- upright bass
*Pat Wilson (Weezer) -- miscellaneous, drum playing (what got looped)
*Greg Brown (Cake) -- electric guitar (lead and solos)
*Brian Bell (Weezer), Justin Fisher, Adam Orth (both ex-Shufflepuck) and Todd Sullivan (Weezer's A&R guy from Geffen ) -- backing vocals

This song has an supremely chill drumbeat (especially after it really kicks in at about 1:03) and some nice harmonica flourishes with playful electric guitar riffs. It ponders the question, "Why are all American girls so rough?" (which we're not) with golden lines like, "Darlin, I'm afraid to close my eyes when we're going to bed, afraid you'll crack the phone down over my head...." I've never heard it on the radio except for one cosmically odd time just a few weeks after I was introduced to it, in the middle of the afternoon, in a little pub. Like when you are whistling a song and then it comes on the radio, and it makes you smile.

American Girls - Homie

Apparently, Homie has recorded other material, which has only been performed live. Rivers has said that he may release this material some day - maybe as an extra disk in a Weezer discography. If it sounds anything like this tune, that'd be okay with me.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ryan Adams Bedhead, Volumes 4 & 5

I know that I promised the rest of these live Ryan Adams Bedhead compilation recordings a long time ago, and posted Disc One, Disc Two, and Disc Three, but then fell off the wagon. I kind of figured that after the ginormous orgy of Ryan Adams posts following the San Francisco concert that I would just give it a rest for a few weeks.

But now I'm recovered and am going to go ahead and post up these last two batches, there is some really fantastic live stuff on them from the 2005 tour. Check out the scorching, bluesy rendition of "I See Monsters," the stunning piano of "Nightbirds," and darned if you can't help but laugh at the "Summer of '69" (BRYAN Adams cover). That's the spirit, sport.

Also, I was reminded of this vastly entertaining interview with Ryan Adams via Pitchfork last year. Worth a read (or re-read). It's like listening in on a phone conversation or something, very fly-on-the-wall.

Disc IV (Volume 18)
01. Love Is Hell 6/4/05
02. When Will You Come Back Home 5/21/05
03. Dear John 5/4/05
04. Sweet Illusions 5/3/05
05. Dance All Night 6/4/05
06. Madeline (unreleased) 8/9/05
07. Just Like A Whore (unreleased) 6/7/05
08. Why Do They Leave 5/21/05
09. Long Black Veil (orig. by D. Dill & M. Wilkin) 7/26/05
10. 16 Days (Whiskeytown) 6/10/05
11. Dear Chicago 6/17/05
12. Harder Now That It's Over 6/3/05
13. Faithless Street (Whiskeytown) 6/8/05
14. Prison Letter (unreleased) 7/27/05
15. I See Monsters 6/11/05
16. I Still Miss Someone (Johnny Cash cover) 5/9/05


Disc V (Volume 19)
01. The End 5/16/05
02. Call Me On Your Way Back Home 6/10/05
03. Magnolia Mountain 11/18/05
04. Pa 5/3/05
05. Peaceful Valley 5/14/05
06. Nightbirds 6/3/05
07. September 5/16/05
08. My Heart Is Broken (Whiskeytown) 6/8/05
09. Houses On The Hill (Whiskeytown) 6/8/05
10. Willow Jane (Neal Casal cover) 11/18/05
11. Summer of '69 (loose Bryan Adams cover) 7/26/05
12. Sylvia Plath 5/14/05
13. Jacksonville Skyline (Whiskeytown) 5/4/05
14. Now That You're Gone 11/18/05
15. Rescue Blues 6/3/05
16. I Will Learn To Love 5/11/05


*series fin*


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Supergrass: Acoustic on KCRW

When you think of Supergrass, it's probable that you think of ungainly muttonchop sideburns, music videos of them romping through a grassy park, and a lead singer who I find reminiscent of the lead flying monkey in the Wizard of Oz. The playful indie-rock quartet from Oxford stopped by the KCRW studios in September of 2004 to record some nice acoustic versions of songs from I Should Coco (1995), In It For The Money (1997) and Life on Other Planets (2003).

It's a harmonic, bright, and thoroughly enjoyable little set.

01. "Funniest Thing"
02. "Late In The Day"
03. "Seen The Light"
04. "Sun Hits The Sky"
05. "Caught By The Fuzz"
06. "Sitting Up Straight"


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New Scissor Sisters: "I Can't Decide"

Thanks to Fluxblog, here is a live recording of a new track from New York's reigning disco-diva throwback group, Scissor Sisters. This is described by singer Ana Matronic as "a hot little banjo ditty."

"I Can't Decide" - Live at the Mercury Lounge, April 2006 - Scissor Sisters

Their new disc comes out this fall, and features none other than their sonic idol Elton John on the piano keys for one track ("I Don't Feel Like Dancing"). I, personally, am NOT an Elton fan - but some of their stuff is undeniably good fun.

I must say that if I am gonna listen to the Scissor Sisters, I vastly prefer this killer remix of Filthy/Gorgeous, which will make anyone feel sassy. Just listen to that thumping bass drumbeat, and lyrics that make me blush a little bit ("wrap your fuzzy with a big red bow"?!)

"Filthy/Gorgeous (ATOC vs. Superbuddha remix)" - Scissor Sisters

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Live in Concert (or, the fine art of preserving your musical credibility by keeping your shirt on)

I got to see Live in concert on Friday night in Denver, at the Paramount Theatre (which is a very cool venue, but I have to say the Paramount in Oakland will always be my first love!).

My sister and I were saying that we are kind of glad that many folks seem to have forgotten about Live (the venue was rather intimate, at only about 1500 people) because I still think they rock as hard as some of the bigger names from the '90s, like Pearl Jam, with some great quality songs and a unmistakable soaring voice from lead singer Ed Kowalcyzk.

Live has a new CD coming out in June (or already out for you non-USAers), Songs From Black Mountain. They performed several songs off of it, and overall it seems like a strong return to melodic/anthemic form from their albums past (my two favorite are Throwing Copper and The Distance To Here) after forays into the world of rap-rock with albums like V ("Deep Enough" was a debacle I never want to see repeated: "Does he run it deep enough - yeah - to take you there?" Thanks, Ed, for your compassion for my well-being.)

As they worked their way through some of their older songs, I was reminded of how much I love them and how much I listened to them in high school. Here were some of the highlights from the setlist:

Iris (off Throwing Copper, my sister rightly commented that this song is the audio equivalent of a heart attack)

Mirror Song (from Mental Jewelry, their 1991 debut)

Heaven (this is really a great song, the closest you'll get to church at a rock concert, with lyrics that I think are undeniably true. From 2003's Birds of Pray.)

They Stood Up For Love (This was one of the best songs off of The Distance To Here)

Run To The Water (they did NOT play this one, but we kept wishing they would, so I will throw it on here as wishful thinking. Also from The Distance To Here)

And new ones from Songs From Black Mountain:

Mystery (a striking song, which they will apparently be playing on the American Idol finale tomorrow night) and Wings

(to hear "The River," which I love, see this post)

Now about the title of this post. The most disturbing aspect of the show, for me, was lead singer Ed Kowalcyzk's over-the-top sexual posturing, swaggering, crotch-gesturing, and general badass-act. This is a far cry from the wispy, sensitive unibrow man who we first met in 1991. Yes, okay, you're fairly cut and sweaty. That does not mean I want to see your navel as you sing "Show me your love..." I found Ed to be a distraction from the music, ESPECIALLY at the end when he actually removed his fitted tank top and performed the last song and both encores shirtless, often while thrusting his crotch in my general direction.

Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about. My sister made the observation that his nipples were tiny, and looked like they were drawn on with a felt tip marker. So then I just couldn't stop looking at them and it was just all bad. Bad, bad, I tell you.

But the music itself was stellar.

Some pics thanks to Brian and Viki.

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David Gray: "Falling Free"

This is an incandescent bit of poetry masquerading as a love song. The lyrics, oh. The lyrics are saturated with an intense beauty that tightens up my throat a bit -- the feeling of falling and being not in control. The realization that sometimes connections with another person don't make sense. From David Gray's reissued 1994 album Flesh, this version live at KCRW (god bless em).

Falling Free - David Gray (live on KCRW)

All of my senses overthrown
by the might of your skin
and the lamplight on your cheekbones
drawing me further in

No sentence I can speak
for the wonder so unique
breaking like a wave upon the shore

Mercy me
I'm falling free
since you opened up the door

See how the sky is made of sapphire
the colours flowing through our hands
the moon is fire in your hair
a million miles beyond what science understands

Smell that purple heather
I don't remember ever
feeling like this before

Mercy me
I'm falling free
since you opened up the door

And if every window pane should shatter
if every wall should fall apart
well it might hurt a bit
but would it matter
with this diamond in my heart?

And there's no need to nail it to the ground
no need to smother it with sense
just listen to the rhythm of your heart
that pounding
and trust it all to chance

Cos we're standing face to face
with the angel of grace
and don't it just taste so pure

Mercy me I'm falling free
mercy me I'm falling free
mercy me I'm falling free
since you opened up the door


Monday, May 22, 2006

Pete Yorn announces acoustic summer tour

Pete Yorn sent me an email this weekend announcing his summer tour. Yeah, we go way back:

A Note From Pete
I encourage you all to rise up and UNITE this summer and join me as I embark on my first ever nationwide acoustic tour (with friends) as a prelude to the August 15th Columbia release of my new heavy.....NIGHTCRAWLER.... I will be showcasing selections from the new record, as well as plenty of songs from the old catalogue. Stay close.....thx for your patience.

New Tour Dates
Thu-Jun-22 -- Santa Barbara, CA -- SoHo
Fri-Jun-23 -- Long Beach, CA -- The Vault
Sat-Jun-24 -- Sacramento, CA -- Blue Lamp
Tue-Jun-27 -- Dallas, TX -- Gypsy Tea Room
Wed-Jun-28 -- Austin, TX -- The Parish
Fri-Jun-30 -- Lawrence, KS -- The Bottleneck
Sat-Jul-01 -- St. Louis, MO -- Blueberry Hill
Sun-Jul-02 -- Madison, WI -- The Annex
Wed-Jul-05 -- Indianapolis, IN -- Music Mill
Thu-Jul-06 -- Columbus, OH -- The Basement
Fri-Jul-07 -- Louisville, KY -- Phoenix Hill Tavern
Sat-Jul-08 -- Buffalo, NY -- Town Ballroom
Mon-Jul-10 -- Rochester, NY -- Water Street Music Hall
Tue-Jul-11 -- Portland, ME -- The Asylum
Wed-Jul-12 -- Boston, MA -- Paradise Lounge
Thu-Jul-13 -- Baltimore, MD -- Sonar
Sat-Jul-15 -- Raleigh, NC -- Cat's Cradle
Sun-Jul-16 -- Knoxville, TN -- Blue Cats
Mon-Jul-17 -- Nashville, TN -- Exit/Inn
Tue-Jul-18 -- Atlanta, GA -- Smith's Olde Bar
Wed-Jul-19 -- Birmingham, AL -- The Nick
Fri-Jul-21 -- Council Bluffs, IA -- Whiskey Roadhouse
Sat-Jul-22 -- Minneapolis, MN -- Varsity Theatre / Café des Artistes
Mon-Jul-24 -- Denver, CO -- The Walnut Room
Tue-Jul-25 -- Boulder, CO -- Fox Theatre
Wed-Jul-26 -- Salt Lake City, UT -- Club Sound
Fri-Jul-28 -- Seattle, WA -- Crocodile Café
Sat-Jul-29 -- Portland, OR -- Doug Fir Lounge
Mon-Jul-31 -- San Francisco, CA -- Great American Music Hall
Tue-Aug-01 -- San Diego, CA -- The Casbah
Wed-Aug-02 -- Phoenix, AZ -- Martini Ranch
Sun-Aug-06 -- Chicago -- Schubas
Tue-Aug-08 -- Alexandria, VA -- Birchmere
Wed-Aug-09 -- Richmond, VA -- Alley Kats
Fri-Aug-11 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Northstar
Sat-Aug-12 -- Asbury Park, NJ -- Stone Pony

Hey, any idea what tracks might be on the new album?

Stone Roses Day on Torr's site

Torr has graciously reposted up some early/rare Stone Roses demos over on his blog. Visit him to check out these tracks from one of Manchester's finest exports :

Acoustic, 1986
"She Bangs The Drums"
Bredbury, Manchester, 1986
"The Hardest Thing In The World"
Chorlton, Manchester, 12th December 1986
"Elephant Stone"
"The Sun Still Shines"
"Going Down"
"Sugar Spun Sister"
Manchester, Early 1988
"Shoot You Down"
Suite-16 Studios, Manchester, May 1988
"She Bangs The Drums"
"Made Of Stone"
"This Is The One"
Battery Studios, London, January 1989
"Elizabeth My Dear"

So, that's what they were doing in 1986, and it doesn't sound half bad. In 1986, I was an elf in a Christmas play called "Shaping Up Santa," with a ROCKING theme song that I can still sing for you. Also, I was in "50 Nifty United States" where I learned to sing the states in alphabetical order. It comes in handy.


Monday Music Roundup

Do you want to know what the biggest dilemma of my week to come is foreseen to be? Whether or not to vote on American Idol. Seriously, my life is hard (and I'm such a moron sometimes).

But listen: If I vote, then it is a confirmation to all that is good and holy that I have stooped to CARING about REALITY TV. Lord, no. Even though I am having an American Idol party at my house on Wednesday night.

Here are some good things I have added to my iPod rotation recently:

The 99th Floor
Primal Scream
Riot City Blues, the forthcoming release (June 6) from Scottish post-punk/rockers Primal Scream is a rollicking, bluesy, Stones-tinged romp. Just listen to the sick and sloppy slide steel guitar & blues harp on this one. Also download "Country Girl" over on their MySpace page, another excellent new cut from the formidable UK quartet.

She Doesn't Get It (acoustic)
The Format
Thanks to Nathaniel's insistent love for lithe indie-pop group The Format, I've been thoroughly apprised of the upcoming July 11 release of sophomore effort Dog Problems. I was fiercely in love with their perfect pop song "Give It Up" off their 2003 debut Interventions & Lullabies, so hearing that same earnest & warbling voice in this lovely song makes me happy. This is a great acoustic version of a song which will be on their new album -- and if you pre-order it on their website, you get a frisbee. It doesn't get much better than that.

Let Go (solo, piano)
Imogen Heap
As half of the London-based duo/Garden State favorite Frou Frou, the lovely Ms. Imogen Heap recently visited local KBCO up in Boulder, Colorado, and laid down this luminous version of "Let Go," with just her arresting voice and the ivory keys. Thanks to Don't Need Anything for posting this.

Strange Days (Doors remix)
Thievery Corporation
I just realized that I am totally unintentionally featuring two artists off the same Garden State soundtrack, which really, I didn't even love as much as your average 20-something apparently did. However, I am featuring this track, off Thievery Corporation's new release Versions, because it just sounded very very good to have a fresh take on The Doors slide across my musical palette. I have been reading excellent reviews of this disc, which features remixes of songs & collaborations with the likes of Nouvelle Vague, Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones, and Astrud Gilberto. Oh, and I am pretty sure that this song was also featured on Alias recently, accompanying Sydney Bristow on one of her (last few) kickass missions.

Jackson Square
Mason Jennings
Acoustic strummer/sing-shouter Mason Jennings also has a new one out called Boneclouds. I've listened to it a few times through, and there aren't the same standout can't-help-but-stand-up-and-shake-it tracks as some of his previous releases - this one is more consistently mellow and introspective. Mason is a fine storyteller through his songs, and is able to craft tunes through just very simple guitar & drums most of the time. Plus, his voice has a very, very honest quality to it, which I find appealing.

Seacrest. Out.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Roger Clyne Interview: "It's beautiful, and it's life, and there's no incongruity in my mind."

If you've been with this blog since the beginning (all two of you), or else you've clicked through the archives, you might know that Roger Clyne was the first artist I wrote about on I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS (in a charmingly rambling & naive piece), because I had just gone to see him in concert the day before I started this blog. I've also followed up with another, more proper and biographical post about him here.

Why do I like Roger Clyne so much? I've only been listening to him for a year or so. The first time I heard two of his songs on a mix CD, I was drawn to his energy and his great rock sound. I vividly remember driving home along the California freeway, windows down, springtime air, thinking that Clyne was a perfect soundtrack to that moment.

That's why I am pleased to present to y'all an interview with the man himself, my first artist interview for FUEL. This will probably be my longest post of the year (unless I, uh, get that interview with Vedder), but hang with me. Something is encapsulated within Roger -- his passion for making some truly excellent music, the way he articulates everyday beauty in poetic ways, and his good, good heart -- that compels me to encourage you to get turned on to him too. Whether or not you specifically like his work, I think that the things he has to say will appeal and speak to anyone who truly loves music.

Roger Clyne is one of the hardest working artists in rock 'n' roll, and he isn't tired of it yet. The independent model for the operation of his current band Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (previously The Refreshments) is something that countless other independent artists are also living on a daily basis. It is relentless, involving long months of touring, being away from family and home, working to get your music out there and your voice heard. But Roger would rather do this than anything. You see, it's his calling.

I believe that through this kind of passion and urgency - therein may lie the salvation of rock 'n' roll.

I think you are certainly one of the busiest and most active musicians that I have seen in terms of touring and releasing. I wonder is it more work, necessarily, being in an independent rock ‘n’ roll band, versus your time with the Refreshments?

Yeah, touring for a good part of the year is pretty typical -- that’s both a necessity and a blessing in an independent band. We don’t operate with any parent company or tour support. Every dollar that we spend on a bus repair – hallelujah - or recording comes from our relationship to the art and to the audience. So it’s really organic, definitely often very very close to the bottom line, but I enjoy it. It’s a thrill. It’s a thrilling ride.

It’s the ultimate litmus test to see if art can really lead commerce, and quality can lead quantity. And so far so good. I’m . . . I’m proud.

You quoted Paul Westerberg once when he said that rock ‘n’ roll looks a lot easier than it is. You certainly make it look enjoyable, if not easy.

Oh, it’s absolutely enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. There’s another wonderful paradox: it’s an incredibly difficult sport, but once I’m up there, it’s effortless.

All the things that get you to the stage – all the planning and logistics, all the budgeting and spreadsheets and phone calls and Mapquest and reservations and contracts that have to fall into place to make a two-hour show happen – that stuff is far more difficult than when I finally get up there, and I get let out of the chute, and I get to take the stage. Then performance seems to me like . . . the closest thing I can conceptualize what Zen is. I think that the timelessness that the masters talk about in the state of Zen, that all-consumptive one-moment feeling, I think that I am coming close to that feeling sometimes when I am on that stage.

Sometimes I am interrupted by a technical difficulty or who knows what, but there are times when I’ll have a really really effortless show. I may be physically working hard, but it seems to me like nothing has happened between start and stop, two and a half hours have gone by in a state of just total rapture, I love it.

Sometimes in songwriting I’ve had that experience as well. I have an hourglass in my writing room, and typically I require that I turn it over four times when I arrange time for my writing so that I will be there for four hours. There have been times when I will turn the hourglass over and turn to my guitar to mess with the melody or poetry or cadence or whatever part of the song it will be that day, and I’ll look up and the hourglass is empty and I won’t know how long it’s been. And that’s also just a really great feeling.

You mentioned your writing room, and you’ve also got a lyric (in “Feeling”) about writing a song on a front porch… is there a specific place where you like to do your songwriting?

When I am at home, I have a small piece of my garage that was the former owner’s woodshop. Basically I just painted it a lot of bright colors and hung some stuff in it and put a small uncomfortable chair and my guitar in there for writing. Uncomfortable chair because if I get too far into my creative trance, I’ll go into my sleep mode! If I can get away, I can really write anywhere. I find that the best place and time for me to write is where there are no interruptions from routine things at home – like taking the kids to school, checking email, or answering the phone -- I find those things very, very interruptive to my creative process. I used to be a nighttime creator, but now I find that I work better very early in the morning, like 4am, right out of a sleep. I think it’s the pre-clutter clarity.

I read that you wrote “Leaky Little Boat” after waking up from a sleep like that?

I did, it was after a show in Mexico and there were a whole bunch of people crashed at our pad down there. It was weird, I’ve had this happen a couple of times, but it was like you know the song by heart before you’ve even heard it. It was sort of playing out in my head. It was like seeing a picture or looking at a painting and not even seeing the process, I don’t know what the process of creation was, it was just – BOOM, the song was streaming from my head.

So I jumped over whoever was sleeping on the floor there and ran out on the patio and grabbed the guitar and hit ‘go’ on my little Radio Shack cassette recorder and started singing it - kind of whispering it - and playing it, best I could find the key, and made it a song. Somebody said, “Hey, what is that?” and I was like, “Sshh, I don’t know, I don’t know!” But I still have that tape.

That sounds amazing, being a conduit for this music that comes from somewhere, that wants to be heard.

I am still in wonder. There are some artists that create and they just don’t know what the source is, it just comes through them. For the longest time, and this is my ego in a way, but I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about, I thought that some of them were making it up. Until I actually had the experience -- if you allow yourself to be open to it long enough, it comes. And it didn’t come to me in a single flash, it came to me moment by moment. I love that part of the process when you look back on what you did for the day or for the hour, it’s hard to believe that you were part of that creative process – like, I don’t know where I came up with THAT idea. And the more surprising they are, I think the more fun it is.

I would wonder if it is like learning another language, that moment when you realize that you have slipped naturally into speaking it, and thinking in it, and you are no longer struggling over the mechanics of how to express yourself.

Yes, that’s a great, fantastic analogy -- that sounds very, very close to the experience I had. You become fluent in whatever that creative language really is.

I was excited recently to unexpectedly find your new EP Four Unlike Before on iTunes, and I really am enjoying the summertime/ acoustic/beach versions of some of the older songs. Is the opening track Mexicosis a new song?

Mexicosis is a brand-new track, I wrote it this year. As soon as I get stuff written, I always want to share it. There’s a part of me that goes, “Well, you’ve got to record it right, and let it evolve, etc. etc,” and I always have to be reminded of that by my band and management. But this whole Four Unlike Before thing has basically been a way to placate my drive to keep sharing music, and yet at the same time not give the surprise away, so to speak – let the fruit ripen on the vine with the new album.

We put the music together - that’s just us in PH’s bedroom with a whatchamacallit . . . it’s like a computer thing? iTunes? Or, not iTunes, a Mac, or an Apple, no…I don’t know what it’s called, some high-tech digital thing that expedites recording.

I feel that our relationship with the audience is good enough that we don’t have to be perfect in our presentation. I think that if you listen to a lot of recordings today, now not all of them – they’re so homogenized and so perfected it takes some of the spirit away, it takes some of the danger out of it, it takes some of the latitude of the expression away. Cuz sometimes with the mistakes – now, this is old cliché – but sometimes the mistakes are part of the art.

I think your fans appreciate the excitement in seeing your music evolve and take risks - I’d rather see that any day than something that’s candy-coated perfection.

I would too. You know, there’s something to be said for – when you get really good at something, it’s good to somehow keep growing within it. And every song offers that possibility, and so does every performance. If you allow it to become rote, it will be. You have the same relationship with anything for that long, whether it’s a person, or a place, or a performance – It can become mundane, but only if you let it.

Anyways, that’s a big tangent (laughs) – it was Mexicosis. I wanted to put it out and the guys, and Chris over at management, said alright let’s do that, let’s find a way. Releasing it through iTunes, we didn’t have to spend time doing a photo shoot and approving artwork and all sorts of liner notes and credits, etc etc. You’re allowed to get it out really quickly, without all of the physical limitations, I think it’s a cool format.

It must have also been interesting to revisit and rework some of your older songs as well for this EP, and to allow them to evolve in this new context.

Those things happen when sometimes we’ll mess around with songs before a show or rehearsal, warming up, and those are just ideas that stick. For example on "Sleep Like a Baby" if you listen to the rhythm guitar, it’s sort of done in a reggae beat, and the rest of the stuff is just the band’s creativity – we wanted to slow it down and see what the song would feel like with a reggae finish.

That La Playa version of "Counterclockwise" was one we did for a benefit that was actually laying around. I liked it a lot when we did it and it wasn’t widely released. It was for a now-defunct radio station in Phoenix called KZON, and only about 5000 copies were released, and we wanted to get it out there. It actually surprised us how fast it came out, and with little fanfare from us, though I had announced it in a letter. How fast it went through the iTunes channels was just excellent.

Technology is changing the way that many people learn about and listen to new music. You may have heard about the recent litigation against two Ryan Adams fans who are facing up to 11 years in prison for posting some of his songs on a fansite. How do you, as an artist, think that the growing technology of being able to share music online is helpful or harmful? Is it both? From your perspective, what’s it like?

It’s a dangerous genie, but I think ultimately it is going to be helpful. If art is going to have any value, it should be shared. If it’s going to be a conspirator in creating culture, if it’s gonna have any influence with the people then it needs to be shared, and not just from an economic or commercial point of view. The RIAA isn’t interested in culture creation or maintenance or improvement, they’re interested in commerce. Well, maybe that’s the culture they want to create. But it’s a very, very narrow culture, it’s not a humanistic culture.

I think that art needs to be shared. I think I’m involved in some way – I hope, I don’t want to sound self-important – in narrowing the gap, by removing middlemen from the process. I think it creates a healthier relationship between art and artist. I think the middleman in art and artistry is new, and by new I mean it’s only a few hundred years old that people have had to find a patron between art and artist. The way art came about is that it was good illumination, it was good guide, it was good expression, it was good fun. Sometimes the middleman in art can facilitate in a wonderful way, i.e. I think iTunes is a great thing, I think it creates an equitable relationship and you can go straight to an artist. I mean, you do have to pay a dollar, but I think a dollar is reasonable to find a song and learn about an artist.

But I don’t understand . . . it would be difficult for me to side with the RIAA on threatening to put someone in prison, taking 11 years away from a person’s life for posting a song that was meaningful to them on a fansite. It just seems so backwards and short-sighted. I mean, if they were caught bootlegging the entire Ryan Adams catalog and sending it to Taiwan, that’s clearly a different kind of violation. But come on, eleven years? Really, what kind of message are they sending about themselves? They are so involved in chasing down the dollar that they’re willing to say that we are personally going to imprison someone for celebrating what they thought was good about music, and I think that’s backwards.

It’s a tough knot to untie. There may always be a price tag associated with buying music, but not every piece all the time. If we look at the core relationship between art and audience and what that should be, money should play a very small role in the music being good and enduring and helpful in creating a culture whereby human beings begin to understand their relationship with music. The dollar bill is necessary in this society. . . we have to put gas in the bus, and studio time is not cheap. However, to prosecute fans is really a mistake and misguided.

Now, you had mentioned a new album and you’ve said would hopefully be released this year. Is that still on track?

Yes, it is still in the works. I have seventeen songs written for it, that the band and I are trying out and have have been doing them at soundchecks on these last two tours. Our big plan was to get a basic familiarity with them at soundchecks, working them through live, and then go into [guitarist] Steve [Larson]’s little home studio and work up rough drafts so that we could all stand back and listen to what was going on, and simultaneously choose a producer, pick a budget, and a studio to record in.

Anyways, then [drummer] PH [Naffah] broke his collarbone (chuckles) and rehearsals for Mexico next weekend are actually taking precedence because it’s an immediate need. So we’re woodshedding again starting tomorrow morning. We are still planning for a release later this year -- I don’t like to let too much time pass between studio releases. I know that Live at Billy Bob’s came out and we had to do a round of touring for that. But I like to keep the creative spark fanned and so, yeah, I really want to put out this album this year.

Speaking of [drummer/superb photographer] PH, how is he doing?

He’s doing well. I spoke with him this morning. He said he still feels like he got hit by a truck, but it goes away after a while. He’s like the kind of guy who won’t take painkillers. He is going to be able to play in Mexico, and what’s he’s going to do is he’s got a percussionist, kind of a supplemental drummer who will be his left-hand-man, so to speak. He is such a hard-working drummer – it’s pure concentration, yet somehow he’s still so spontaneous. When you see him play you say, “Wow – that’s what that guy was meant to do!”

I know you are a proud father of three kids, I’ve seen their painted handprints on your guitar in concert. Has the process of being a dad informed or changed your musicianship or songwriting at all?

Well, they are obviously such a huge part of my life, being a husband and a father and a provider (aside) – What? Wait, hold on – I’ve got one kid here with an arm full of stuffed animals asking me a question.

(In the background: “What? A bath? . . . Yeah, if you do it OUTSIDE. And don’t use the black tub. Be careful cuz the black tub will rub off and get them dirty. (child talking in the background) - Use a tin tub – Yes, you can, but dry them outside.”)

[Back to interview] . . . Sorry, there is going to be a stuffed animal bath in our backyard. It sounds like fun! Anyway, that is so big that it is hard to answer. I guess I did have a realization at one point, I was on tour and I hung up the phone after saying goodnight to the kids and my wife, and I knew it was going to be a long tour. There was a moment when I kind of let out a sigh to myself and I thought, “Crap, I’d really rather be at home.” And then I thought - Shame on me for saying that. I have this incredible opportunity, this incredible vocation & calling that I mustn’t turn away from.

I actually have a very good balance in my life, although being a musician presents a challenge of how to balance your life and how to answer a call like that, and how to become what you think you should become on all fronts. Because there are a lot of fronts: fatherhood and husbandhood and citizenship and peacemaking and rock ‘n’ roll and then just . . . fun.

But I thought to myself after I let that sigh go, you know what? I’m not going to waste a moment out here in regret. And I am certainly not going to waste a moment out here singing ‘woe is me,’ when I am spending my most valuable currency – time away from my family - or letting that affect in any way my performance here tonight to this audience, who have carved time out of their life to come and see what this band has to say as artists. Wow, but that’s a big question . . . kind of like “How has gravity affected the way you locomote?”

Okay, well, here’s another broad, tough one! Looking back, what is the neatest or best thing that you have gotten to be a part of because of your music?

Well, it may sound corny, but honestly, it’s just become who I am. I couldn’t be who I am speaking to you now without that music, speaking to you now, with my kids outside washing their stuffed animals in an old keg tub from my college days, writing up the setlist for the Mexico shows, none of this great stuff would be here if I hadn’t chosen to follow music. It all started when I just said yes to that scary question: “Are you really gonna do it?”

There was a moment in my life I recall, I was free of college, I had two degrees, I had a stipend waiting at CSU Long Beach, a paid ride to study psychology, and my dad asked me, “Well, what are you gonna do?” I was going to travel in Southeast Asia, I had the backup plan at CSULB, but I said to him, “I think I’m gonna try to be in a band, I think I’m gonna try music.” I remember that he looked at me and said, “Well then you’ve already failed.” And I was shocked, and I said, “Well, what do you mean?”

He replied, “Because you said you’re gonna try. I don’t care what you do, and actually you won’t care what you do, but whatever you do you’d better be the best you can be at it.” He’d always said that my whole life, but it was this big Yoda moment. It almost made me cry, I had to think about it a long time and had to figure it out; all these weights, all these other voices.

So I let the stipend go and burned all those bridges, I re-formed a band AGAIN, straight out of college in my mid-twenties, at a time when a lot of people are starting to settle down and listen to societal calls. You know, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . .and I chose the one less traveled by and it has made all the difference.” The imperative was that simple. For me it was just to answer that call.

My last question is a literary one. In “Green & Dumb” you have a beautiful lyric, “All the pretty horses come running to her.” That is also the title of a novel by one of my favorite authors, Cormac McCarthy, and I was wondering if by chance there was a connection there. I ask because his books are like the literary equivalent of a lot of your songs, that whole part of the borderlands country and some of the wild outlaw beauty . . .

Wow, that’s a huge compliment to me. Yeah, I have read the Border Trilogy, and I don’t know if I was reading All The Pretty Horses at the time I wrote that, but definitely, his book is on my shelf right now. I love the themes, so romantic and adventurous – on the run, and on the road, away from society. And yet with a real mission and purpose and beauty.

I remember in reading his book, my imagination was so wide open because of the figures he uses in his writing. I was hoping that someday I could create or evoke a sense of physical place the way that he did. I still try to work it like that. I hope I can.

Well, you should go and assess the stuffed animal damage.

I know! Isn’t it great? It’s so weird, you know, like - here I am making up a setlist for a rock show, and fishing stuffed animals out of a keg tub. It’s beautiful, and it’s life, and there’s no incongruity in my mind.


MUSIC: There are three tracks for download within the text of the interview, and you should check out their new EP Four Unlike Before, full of harmonica and handclaps. Their 2004 release Americano! is highly recommended 'round these parts as indispensable.

eMusic also has their 2000 disc Honky Tonk Union and their live disc from last year, both excellent.

And don't forget the Live Music Archive - try the recent Cinco de Mayo acoustic show in San Francisco for some good starters. Nothing compares to a live Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers show. Everything Roger talks about in this interview, brought to life, in vivid color.

June 2 – Cheyenne Saloon, Las Vegas, NV
June 3 – Fiesta del Sol (free show!) – Solana Beach, CA
June 8 – Launchpad, Albuquerque, NM
June 9 – Wormy Dog Saloon, Oklahoma City
June 10-11 – Wakarusa Festival, Lawrence, KS
June 13 – Blueberry Hill, St. Louis, MO
June 14 – Jillian’s Lounge Life, Covington, KY
June 15 – Gatsby’s Café & Saloon, Johnson City, TN
June 16 – Freebird Café, Jacksonville Beach, FL
June 17 – Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Jupiter, FL
June 18 – The Social, Orlando, FL
June 20 - The Parish at House of Blues, New Orleans, LA
June 21 – Continental Club, Houston, TX
June 23 – Gypsy Tea Room, Dallas, TX
June 24 – Antone’s, Austin, TX
August 19 – Fort Tuthill County Park Amphitheatre, Flagstaff, AZ
October 14 – Circus Mexicus, Puerto Penasco, Mexico
October 28 – BB Kings, New York, NY
May 19, 2007 - Circus Mexicus, Puerto Penasco, Mexico

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Odds & ends

۞ Starbucks is selling the new Pearl Jam album. No wait, listen. Starbucks. Is selling. The new Pearl Jam, alongside Norah Jones. Let's just ponder that for a little while. I am not sure how I feel about that, but then again, *I* was in Starbucks. And I like Pearl Jam. So that means either I am not as youthful and rebellious as I once thought, or else I am just becoming a yuppie (in denial, but one nonetheless?). Hmmm. Depressing.

۞ Well, that settles that. The Arctic Monkeys have officially beaten Noel Gallagher in a drinking contest after a show at London's Brixton Academy. With tequila nonetheless. It's because the Arctic Monkeys' livers are younger and fresher. Noel says, “Normally when somebody asks if you want one you say ‘no’." Remember that, Heather. Tequila, my nemesis. The article is funny as all get out.

۞ In the wake of the defunction of Grandaddy, you can catch some in-stores with frontman Jason Lytle. He'll be at Easy Street in Seattle tonight, and at Amoeba in San Fran on Saturday performing songs off Just Like the Fambly Cat (V2).

۞ One of my all-time favorite bloggers gets in on the music commentary. Read dooce's "Potentially Shamed By The Shuffle." Another Heather doing the world proud.

۞ FUEL's 100,000th visitor received the Nicolai Dunger promo CD I sent him (see, you didn't even know there was a contest going on! Neither did I!), and as a sort of thanks he posted up a "superb gig" with Jens Lekman over on his blog. Enjoy!

۞ I also just got an email from Ticketbastard: "Heather, Don't Miss Nickelback! We thought we'd let you know about the following events you might enjoy: Nickelback VIP Packages, Coors Amphitheatre, 08/09/06." Tempting. Glad I am somehow on their list for them to let me know about that one.

۞ Death Cab For Cutie will be on the Henry Rollins Show tomorrow night, you can watch it online. The ULTIMATE in scary tattooed manliness meets the gentle emo boys of indie rock.

The person who let me know about this show also told me that the band name of Death Cab comes from the Beatles movie Magical Mystery Tour. Perhaps I am the last person to know that, but I guess it makes the band name seem a percentile cooler and less annoying to know that provenance.

۞ Fascinating article about the hidden rootkits/spyware scandal from Sony BMG Music.

۞ Penn State University of Pennsylvania gets all the best commencement speakers. I think I got the Smothers Brothers. What? I'll take me a rapping Jodie Foster any day. Wait, no, actually that makes me feel mightily uncomfortable. It's like when your dad tries to quote Nas or something.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Happy Hour with Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan has revealed himself to be one cool mofo of a DJ, in addition to all the other things he does so well. On his new show with XM Radio, he does programs based around a theme. In addition to recent hours focused on mothers, cars, and weather, his most recent show was about drinking -- in his own words: "The world of liquid libation, booze, sauce, hooch, white lightin’, firewater, hard stuff, pick-me-up, gin ‘n’ juice, moonshine, canned heat." You get the idea.

Overall, the music he selected for this show has a nice old-timey twangy feel to it: reminiscent of old wooden bars, rubbed smooth by a thousand elbows, facing rows and rows of dusty bottles. You can almost hear the jukebox in the corner.

Bottoms up.

"Ain't Got The Money to Pay for this Drink" - George Zimmerman & The Thrills
"Wine, Wine, Wine" – The Electric Flag
"Don't Come Home A Drinkin' (With Lovin' On Your Mind)" - Loretta Lynn
"Daddy and the Wine" - Porter Wagoner
"I Drink" - Mary Gauthier
"Sloppy Drunk" - Jimmy Rogers
"I Ain't Drunk" - Lonnie The Cat
"It Ain't Far to the Bar" - Johnny Tyler & His Riders of the Rio Grande
"Rum and Coca-Cola" - Andrew Sisters
"One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" - John Lee Hooker
"Bad Bad Whiskey" - Amos Milburn
"Who Will Buy the Wine" - Charlie Walker
"Buddy Stay off the Wine" - Betty Hall Jones
"Whiskey, You're the Devil" - Clancy Bros and Tommy Makem

Plus excellent, informed, interesting, assorted commentary from Dylan (obviously) interspersed.


The whole show is a fun romp - I love themes. Dylan’s show could be one of the best things I’ve heard lately. I will definitely drink to that.


World Music Wednesday

So I had said that when I have some interesting world music to post, Wednesday will be the day for that business. Today "something good" comes in the form of Juana Molina:

If you read other blogs, you may have heard of Juana Molina - and for good reason. Molina is an Argentinian folk chanteuse who sings very muted, intimate guitar songs with a fascinating underpinning of gentle electronica layers. Everyone compares her to Swede folkster José González (check out his cover of The Knife's Heartbeats), again for good reason.

Her new album Son will be released June 6 in the States (on Domino Records) and sounds very promising from what I have heard. Mellow, hypnotic goodness that will also allow you to brush up on your Español whilst you listen.

No Seas Antipática - Juana Molina

Micael - Juana Molina

If you visit her website and click on the tall red flower (I know, tricky) there is a section with 6 free downloads, 2 off each of her previous releases.

She is also on tour with José González in the coming months, check her out!


U2's four-song set from Live 8

Thanks to Cara over at Scatter o' Light, I am cross-posting a nice little set she put up from U2's appearance at the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park (London) last year.

She always digs up the best stuff:

01. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band (w/ now-single Sir Paul)
02. Vertigo
03. Beautiful Day --> Blackbird
04. One --> Unchained Melody



Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ron Sexsmith & Chris Martin

Thanks to Mike over at Sweet Static, I've got this lovely track to share with y'all:

Recently Chris Martin of Coldplay was forbidden again (by his label EMI) to release a track which he has supplied guest vocals on (this time with Nelly Furtado, previously with Mike Skinner & The Streets), after it was previewed for journalists and everything.

But back in 2002, he did supply some really lovely vocals on the closing track of roots/pop artist Ron Sexsmith's album Cobblestone Runway. I was laughing with Mike about how I had never given Sexsmith a listen, perhaps in part due to his last name which sounds a bit Gary Glitter-esque to me. Mike admitted that he had gotten teased a few times for wearing the t-shirt.

I say just tell people that it is your craft. Others may be woodsmiths, or metalsmiths. There's someone out there who can call himself a Sexsmith, and that's nothing to be ashamed of.

"Gold In Them Hills" (original version) - Ron Sexsmith

"Gold In Them Hills" (remix version, featuring Chris Martin) - Ron Sexsmith

Wow, was I missing out not listening to this guy! How gorgeous is that song? Piano, lush strings, and a beautiful melody. He's all over eMusic, I might have to spend some time with that.

BONUS: New song from Ron's upcoming album Time Being, released this week in Europe & Canada, later in the States/Australia -

"All In Good Time" - Ron Sexsmith

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