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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Forza Azzurri!


Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Strokes and Eddie Vedder: "Mercy, Mercy Me"

Sweet lord, it's raining duets that I've been wanting to hear. Thanks to Jed, here is the studio version of the Marvin Gaye cover with Vedder along with The Strokes, and Queen of the Stone Age Josh Homme helping out my man Fabrizio on the skins. Verse-swapping goodness, recorded as a b-side for the "You Only Live Once" single.

"Mercy, Mercy Me" - The Strokes, Eddie Vedder and Josh Homme

And a bonus track documenting the continuing saga of the love between Ed and The Strokes:

"Juicebox" (live) - The Strokes and Eddie Vedder
Rolling Stone's 1000th Party, May 2006 - low quality audio, but hey it's worth what you're paying for it.

And folks, I know EZArchive sometimes sucks and I do apologize, but I still haven't found any better file-hosting system. If these links don't work, it's not because I took em down (usually up at least 2 days) - but because EZArchive sucks. Sorry! Try back!

Labels: , , ,

Odds & ends

* DUDE. File under . . . why?!? Why, oh why?

* Contest Alert: If you are into the Tapes 'N Tapes business, Joe from Stage Hymns blog is giving away a signed copy of Tapes 'N Tapes limited edition 7" vinyl single "Insistor." The contest runs til tomorrow, Friday.

* MySpace News:
- Three more new streaming songs on Leona Naess' profile
- New Ryan Adams tour dates

* I recommend reading this interesting article about SF-Bay Area musician/independent filmmaker Chris Brown (not the rapper guy), whose Now That You're Fed CD is one of my top sublime power pop efforts for the year.

* And I know I just posted about Pete Yorn, but I got this email shortly after announcing a bunch of in-stores which have been added. Check it out in the Tour section of his website if you couldn't get tickets to the largely sold-out acoustic shows.

* YOU KNOW that you need a Donkey Kong polo shirt. I used to deliver the smackdown on that game. That and Ms. Pac-Man.

* Hours of endless summer fun: Let's Paint the '90s - a coloring book which includes a set of watercolors and hilarious drawings of Billy Ray Cyrus, Tonya Harding and Elian Gonzalez that beg for color. It hits stores in September and is the brainchild of Jason Rekulak. (Thanks to PopCandy for the info)

New Pete Yorn with Natalie Maines: "The Man" (suuuperb!!)

Easily one of the best songs so far this year for me, ranking up there with my favorite Pete Yorn songs ever, "The Man" is the title track off Pete's appropriately titled "twang-rock" Westerns EP. The six-song limited edition EP is available only at shows on his current acoustic tour, and I highly recommend getting your hands on it however possible.

From an earlier post, here is what Yorn says about the songs on the Westerns EP (crappy picture, I know, but it is the ONLY one I could find of the cover art):

1. "The Man" (featuring dixie chix)
2. "Never My Love" (studio version of association classic featuring FARMER DAVE scher of beachwood sparks fame on pedal steel)
3. "Don't Mean Nothing" (written for nancy sinatra, and recorded by her for her own record...had to do it myself..love the song too much....also featuring natalie from dixiechicks.)
4. "The Good Advice" (a ripper featuring leon russell on piano)
5. "Lions" (yesss)
6. "The Golden Road" (recorded in [the wallflowers'] rami jaffee's trailer in malibu...a vibe so strong i cant even explain)

"The Man" has some lovely lyrics ("Walk me out by the water's edge, oh my brother I'm comin' down. We are young, we are almost there . . .") which combine flawlessly with Natalie's bittersweet & evocative harmonies. How many times in a row can I listen to it? That remains to be seen. It has the sweet nostalgic feel of summers to me, with a nicely syncopated beat that Pete slips into his songs like a gift.

"The Man" - Pete Yorn with Natalie Maines

Yorn says, "I've been in this lonesome cowboy phase for a while. I've been really inspired by guys like Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. ['Westerns'] has a twang to it and is a real departure for me [but] 'Nightcrawler' is most definitely the rock record."

The release date for his new album Nightcrawler has been amended to August 29th instead of the 15th. If you'd like to hear a preview track from the new album ripped from his MySpace page, "Go With It," check out A Spacious Hole In The Ground. And thanks again to Phil Marino for the header photo.

As for me, I'm seein' him in Denver (at the Walnut Room, no less!) in just a few short weeks and looking forward to it.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Is any song better with a little bit of Chris Martin?

It finally broke. I've been looking for this one, a song Martin "conjured out of nowhere" in the studio for Furtado's latest album:

"All Good Things" - Nelly Furtado feat. Chris Martin

History of this blocked release is here. Get it while it's hot.

Labels: ,

Heather takes a field trip to the college radio station

Remember when you were a kid how you got to go on all kinds of neat field trips to see how things worked? Whether it was the bank or the fire station, I loved learning about how the world operates with all the behind-the-scenes goodness.

For that reason, I decided to schedule myself a little field trip to the local college radio station, KEPC. I love listening to their variety (recently in one set I heard: Springsteen's "Pay Me My Money Down," followed by "The Only Lie Worth Telling" by Westerberg, "Playing In The Distance" by Grand National, and rounding it out with "Long Road" by Pearl Jam), and I have long-wondered how radio had changed since the last time I was in a college radio studio, KSCU at Santa Clara University back in the day ('93 or '94 when I was in high school). I wondered how technology has impacted operations, how songs are selected, what's hot, etc. Sharon Hogg was just the gal to help me out.

Sharon is the station manager and one of the main instructors in the radio program at the college. She gets to do the fun work of deciding which songs to add to rotation on a weekly basis, and with the help of an intern, programs the massive system called Simian that runs everything. And like all good music lovers, she has a Beatles poster on her office wall, even though she claimed that there was no Beatles in rotation at the station. The grizzled engineer disagreed, and we found 5 tracks that they do, in fact, play (most from later albums). With a rotation of 57,000 songs it can be easy to get confused. Sharon showed me all around the station, answered my interminable questions, and made me want her job.

To answer my first question, most of what KEPC plays (like most radio stations now) is all pre-programmed. It's not as I may have pictured at one halcyon moment; sitting behind the soundboard, taking requests, stacks of records to my right and left, thinking to myself, "Hmmm, what would go good with this song? What should we throw on next?" No, my friend. It's a hard and fast science nowadays.

All the songs are on .wav files on a massive computer system; no more actual putting CDs or records or anything else in and out of players during the show. And get this - the system is programmed with what is essentially a mathematical system: Sharon tells the system roughly how often to play a song (for instance, that Grand National track --which I love-- is fairly new and hot, so it is scheduled to play once every day-and-a-half). She also dictates the general overall order: One older song, followed by two newer songs, then one brand-new addition, etc. The behemoth brain of the radio station can be programmed to run for weeks with no one even in the station (like during Christmas: 5 weeks of pre-programmed!). Good luck calling in with that request (when there is a DJ in house, they can play one request per hour).

New songs are added into rotation weekly. They get about 20-25 new CDs a week (but she didn't know about music blogs! I filled her in) and the intern compares what they have received with the college radio and AAA charts. Most of the songs they add each week come straight from the charts. She gave me copies of this week's charts from CMJ -

...that's the top 20 from the Radio 200 Chart above.

And those are the top 20 songs from the AAA (Adult Album Alternative) Chart.

There is leniency to add local bands, personal favorites, etc. On a yearly basis the station has to submit playlist information to ASCAP and BMI, which charges them a certain amount in order for them to have the rights to play those songs (I think she said about $700/year). All DJs are students and, obviously, unpaid. The format of the radio station is consistent all the live-long day: No "Electronica Hour" or "Emo-Screamo Saturday Night" shows. She said it just got too crazy and they standardized all their music across the spectrum for consistency.

Some of my impressions: Is radio losing its immediacy and its connection with the individual listener? It all seems to be so mechanized, based on formulas and charts, pre-programmed systems. While there is some freedom and flexibility for sure (especially up at the station manager's end because she can add anything she wants) overall it is pretty structured for the little people, the DJs. The business model is tightened up towards perfection. But perfection doesn't always equal passion, and that's what I think listening to and sharing music should be about - that free-flowing blending of favorite songs, where the DJ's personality can come through. I know that at KEPC the DJs are obviously encouraged to let their personality come through in what they say, but that is rigidly segmented into time slots and station breaks, and if they don't personally like or know anything about the music they are playing, how can they be passionate?

Perhaps the freedom-seekers are shifting more towards mediums such as podcasting, blogging, or satellite radio where everyone from Bob Dylan to blogger Chris from Gorilla vs. Bear can have a show to suit their specific tastes.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts, especially those of you who may work in radio. Is radio just changing to suit the slick production of our times & giving us what we want? And in doing so what is happening to the relationship with the audience? Is traditional radio becoming obsolete, with customizable internet radio stations, satellite radio, iTunes and iPods with the ability to store 10,000 songs and listen to them in any order you choose? Do we still need traditional radio?

All that being said, it was a very cool visit. I loved digging through their new CDs for this week (got me some good ideas) and if they ever call me, I'm definitely ready for my show. Here's the obligatory touristy shot (ha!).

Pump up the volume.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

My heart is still pounding and my hands are shaking from the intensity of the Italy v. Australia match that Italy just won on a penalty kick (during which my ability to breathe momentarily left me). FORZA ITALIA! That was gorgeous.

And as of this very moment I am #1 all by myself in the World Cup Bloggers Pool. That is a feat unto itself, since, as we have discussed, I am no kind of soccer superstar. I just have a way of predicting what glistening, lovely European men will do next.

It's a gift, really.

Diventa Blu
Translated from Italian, this song title means "Become Blue," and is my salute to Gli Azzurri, the beautiful Italian national calcio (soccer) team in their blue jerseys. According to Connor over at iGIF, this band Arizona is going to be huge, but the fact that this song is sung in a breathy, ethereal Italian (almost Radiohead-esque), combined with the layered and interesting low-key electronica is enough to get me to listen. From their debut album Welcome Back Dear Children (coming out in August).

This song, this whole tribute album is amazingly good. As I mentioned before, and as you have probably read on assorted other music sites, the Big Star tribute album (Big Star, Small World) has finally been released, after being recorded and then shelved for several years. Wilco's turn is sad and rich, nostalgic and truly lovely. I've listened to it over and over, but this whole CD is great, with contributions by Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies, Whiskeytown, Juliana Hatfield and more. Highly recommended and available on eMusic.

Dancing On The Highway
Elliott Smith
Chad over at Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands has pointed me in the direction of this unearthed studio recording, a lost "new" song, courtesy of the Elliott Smith fans over at B-Sides And Other Songs. It's a lyrically rich love song, known also as "Still Here" -- a rough mix demo from either the Figure 8 era, or the Basement Sessions. Take a listen. Thanks, Chad!

The Low Millions
I have been meaning to post this for months, but somehow forgot. Fronted by Leonard Cohen's son Adam Cohen (who has released French-language albums in his native Canada), California's Low Millions were named an Artist To Watch by Filter Magazine. This track, which did get some radio play, is yet another upbeat song about a breakup (!) with catchy hooks and a fabulous beat that kicks in at about 20 seconds. From their 2004 debut album Ex-Girlfriends (Manhattan Records).

Notice The Ring
Chris Isaak
This one is in honor of Mr. Chris Isaak's 50th (!!) birthday today. I tell ya, that man does not look a day over handsome to me. For his special day, his hometown of Stockton, CA dedicated today as "Chris Isaak Day." This song celebrates all that is rogue, feisty, and wonderful about Isaak. A retro-rocker from 2002's Always Got Tonight.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Brandi Carlile & The Fray: Denver 6/24/06

My first experience with the CityLights Pavilion last night was a favorable one. True story: I notice the stunning close-up view of the Denver skyline (about a mile from the venue) when I turn around and look out from the stage area. I turn to my friend Andrea and say, "Wow! Look at the view of the city lights- . . . aaaand that must be why they call it CityLights Pavilion." Not the sharpest pencil in the box sometimes.

It was apparently a sold-out show, based largely on the frat-boy and 12-year-old ticket-buying bloc. There were some pretty people there. The Fray is just alright for me. I would like to support them because this was a homecoming concert of sorts for them - several members are from Denver - but they don't DO IT for me. I guess they are pretty melodic and rocking, though, and the Coldplay comparison is definitely unavoidable.

My enjoyment of the show was only slightly marred (actually, perhaps enhanced) by the blonde thirty-something lady in front of us who was apparently auditioning for the Whitesnake! Live! Raw! Loud! concert video (or maybe the music video for a new remix of "Total Eclipse of the Heart"). She pulled out all the stripper dance moves as the concert unfolded. She gyrated. There were pelvic thrusts and slow winds down to the ground and back up (where's a damn pole when you need it). There was the "hand-to-the-forehead" move (like, "I can't believe you just stuck a dollar in my g-string!"), the various wrist flippery (it's all in the wrist). It was a show unto itself. Kind of out of place at what was, essentially, a rock show but at least she seemed to be enjoying herself. And all of us around her enjoyed it too. Some people were even taking pictures.

Stripper dance lesson aside, the highlight of the show for me, by far, was Brandi Carlile, who was the opening act. I came to the show to see her and I was not disappointed. Seeing her in a larger venue rocked. This gal is going places - all she has to do is pick up her guitar and open her mouth and the crowd just stops and listens to the passion and strength in her voice. Brandi played with her full band again this time, including a cellist (which I loved). She rocked through several of the best songs on her album ("What Can I Say," "Throw It All Away"), some original songs which are not on the album ("My Story"), and a few superb covers ("Creep" and "Folsom Prison Blues," as well as her show-stopper finale of "Hallelujah").

I wanted to see more of her. She is playing in Boulder tonight, a headlining show at the Fox, but I can't make it. I hope perhaps you can if you live in the area. I know I talk about her a lot, but she is worth every word that I write in publicity. Buy her album, and check out some of my previous posts about her (here, here, here and here) to download or stream some live performances.

Creep (Radiohead cover) - Brandi Carlile
(from last night's show, poor sound quality, but just for the curious)

Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover) - Brandi Carlile
(from last night's show as well)

Throw It All Away - Brandi Carlile
(an excellent live version of this song, from 12/7/05 in Chicago)

Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen via Jeff Buckley cover) - Brandi Carlile
(also from 12/7/05 Chicago)

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Can't sleep when the bedsheet fights

Here are some live Whiskeytown tracks (Ryan Adams' superb alt-country combo, prior to goin' it solo) from NPR's World Cafe in Philadelphia from 1997. I've also got some extra bonus tracks that I had to add. You'll be glad I did -- soundtrack for a warm summer evening.

August 1997
16 Days (I love this song)
Somebody Remembers The Rose
Too Drunk To Dream
Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight (just noticed it's incomplete, so a bonus one below from 1999)
Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)

April 1998
Sittin' Around
Houses On The Hill

August 1999
Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight


Friday, June 23, 2006

Ray LaMontagne tour & album news

Yippee-ki-yay. The second leg of the Ray LaMontagne tour is FINALLY up on his website. I've only been checking, like, every day:

09/14 - Nokia Theatre, Grand Prairie, TX
09/15 - Austin City Limits Festival, Austin, TX
09/16 - Verizon Wireless Theater, Houston, TX
09/17 - House of Blues, New Orleans, LA
09/19 - Cain's Ballroom, Tulsa, OK
09/20 - The Blue Note, Columbia, MO (free show!)
09/22 - City Market, Kansas City, MO
09/23 - City Lights Pavillion, Denver, CO
09/27 - SDSU Open Air Theatre, San Diego, CA
09/28 - The Wiltern LG, Los Angeles, CA
09/29 - The Wiltern LG, Los Angeles, CA
09/30 - Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA (what a great venue)
10/04 - Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
10/05 - Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA

For the rest of the tour dates in progress, check his website here. If you can catch him live, by all means do. As I enthusiastically said to anyone who would listen to me last April after I saw him in San Fran, it was possibly one of the best, most stirring & heartfelt and stunningly beautiful shows I have ever seen. He looks as uncomfortable on stage as all get out, but man, what music emerges. So (large hint to family) - tickets to the Denver show, that's all I want as a birthday present.

Also, thanks to an absolutely fantastic little birdie, I have a rough copy of the new Ray LaMontagne album, called Till The Sun Turns Black, due out August 29. While there's some really superb material on here, overall it is . . . a lot gentler and less folk-rock than I thought it would be. There are times when I wondered if I was listening to the Princess Bride soundtrack (although, that was by Mark Knopfler, so not entirely a bad thing).

Even though LaMontagne is working with Ethan Johns again as a producer this time, the overall feel is swirling, more fairy-tale-like, and very different to me than Trouble. The prominent immediacy of the percussion from Johns and the out-in-front strumming of Ray's acoustic guitar is largely muted; instead, many songs experiment more with strings, trumpets, even a slightly uncomfortable flute solo. I also feel like Ray's voice is mixed lower and often not as distinctive and soaringly-rough and cracking as it was on the debut. It is still as beautiful as Ray always is, but I miss the barely-caged passion and furious strumming of Trouble.

He does get pretty downright bluesy and funky with a couple of the songs, and there are some lovely, lovely strings that downright devastate me. Here is the tracklisting, and since I can't share any of the album tracks, there are links to some live versions from a previous post:

01. Be Here Now (an interesting choice for opening track, clocking in at over 6 minutes, swirling, building, almost ethereal)

02. Empty (live version from Bonnaroo, album version is more restrained)

03. Barfly (intro melody sounds like a slowed down "Walk On The Wild Side")

04. Three More Days (very bluesy, Memphis horns on the album. Live version here)

05. Can I Stay? (a little too slickly smooth for me on the album, but I love this song, absolutely gorgeous. A live version is here)

06. You Can Bring Me Flowers (another bluesy riff song with Ray's smoky rough vocals cutting through the haze. Great harmonica licks, but an ill-advised flute solo straight out of Anchorman at the end)

07. Gone Away From Me (lyrics of your standard wrenching love lost, very simple verses, folksy structure. Album version has addition of brass backing. Used to be called Life Is Long, live version here)

08. Lesson Learned (Opening instumental similar to Empty, lyrics that recall "Burn" from Trouble, one of the few tracks on the new album where he lets his vocals GO, he wails at the beginning. Live version here)

09. Instrumental (this is the one I can't get - sounds like it belongs on the Princess Bride film score. Maybe I am missing something.)

10. Till The Sun Turns Black (Pretty faithful to the live version, but with the addition of delicate strings. Live version here)

11. Coda (this, for me, is really a standout track on the album. A lovely cadence, layered "la la la" vocals, the feeling of a closing refrain)

I was hoping for the inclusion of a few other GREAT older songs he's been playing live, such as "Still Can't Feel The Gin," "You Should Belong to Me," "I Can Get High (All By Myself)" and the frickin' fantastic "Heaven Is A Honky Tonk," but not this time around. Maybe the next one . . . *sigh*

BONUS: Ray LaMontagne interview from Atlanta's 92.9 here, (with a live performance of three songs, ones from Trouble).


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Those other two Hope Sandoval songs

Just a quickie here - I've gotten several emails from people following my last big post on Mazzy Star, asking for the other two songs I referenced but didn't include. Happy to share, they're excellent:

Cherry Blossom Girl (Hope Sandoval version) - Air

Asleep From Day (with Hope Sandoval) - Chemical Brothers


Gin 'n Juice 'n Taylor Hicks

This could be the most bizarre thing I've seen all week.

As Jerry Yeti says, "Is Taylor Hicks super cool or is Snoop losing his edge?" Either way, bet you've never heard Gin & Juice with harmonica before.

PS - EZArchive is giving me fits, so if you are having trouble downloading something, try back. I won't remove any of the newer files for a few days here.

Don't need a helmet, got a hard, hard head

This made me smile today because it reminds me of something that near happened to me once in Edinburgh (minus the army helmet). Plus, it is a good segue into a few more covers & live tracks from the 2006 Pearl Jam tour thus far that are begging to be shared:

From the expanded Vedder interview in Rolling Stone

Vedder: "I went through this f*cking yearlong period where I wore helmets all the time. It was like army helmets that I'd find, or just like whatever. It was this kind of analogy, like I need a helmet...I felt like...it's just funny looking...sleeping in a f*cking army helmet.

I remember one day after a Lollapalooza gig, I woke up in a hotel in an army helmet and a T-shirt. And, I heard a live band playing. I thought it was a live band. So I went out the door to see if it was live. I had to know -- was that a real stand-up bass? Or were they just playing music in the atrium or whatever? So I pushed the door open, went to look, you know, and I looked back and the door just went [makes a clicking sound].

So I'm standing in the hotel, in this atrium thing and I've got an army helmet on and a T-shirt.

RS: In like your underwear? Nothing?

Vedder: "Nothing; army helmet and a T-shirt. I was thinking, 'Aww, this is really bad.' And so I go down to the maids, but they won't let me in. I don't know anybody else's room number. Everyone's got a pseudonym. I don't know who's what. And, so I take the T-shirt off, wrap it around the back, put the army helmet over the front, go down in this glass elevator, it's Easter Sunday -- this all starts to hit me -- it's Easter Sunday, there's all these people in their Easter [best]. It was somewhere in the Midwest like Milwaukee or something. I had to walk through the people, and parents were hiding their kids from this freaky guy. It must have been like a real apparition. Then -- sorry I got into this story; I'll just finish it -- but the funny thing is that I actually waited in line. There was a line at the front desk. I actually waited in line behind two other people. It was kind of a Tarzan goes to Vietnam look or something. And then of course you get to the lady, tell her your problem, locked out of your room and, of course, she asks for an ID. That's when I lost it."


Beast of Burden - 5/10/06
(Stones cover) Loose like the one from Brixton Academy 7/14/93. Only been played live maybe 3 times.

Save It For Later - 5/17/06
(English Beat cover)

Around The Bend - 5/19/06
Lovely little gem from No Code, rarely played live

Can't Explain - 5/19/06
(The Who cover) This was played live by PJ for the first time at the 11/7/95 San Diego show that I was at. This version is acoustic; the crowd enthusiastically sings along.

Dead Man Walking - 5/19/06
The first PJ song I ever saw performed live, at the pre-show opener, San Jose 11/4/95. The website is wrong, says the first time it was played was 1998 (and that it has only been played 4 times live) - maybe they don't count solo pre-sets with just Vedder.

Hard to Imagine - 5/19/06
A great unreleased song, only been played a few dozen times live.

Kick Out The Jams - 5/22/06
(MC5 cover)

Forever Young - 5/24/06
(Dylan cover for Bob's birthday) First time ever played live.

Labels: ,

"I’m Richard, I’m going to be doing some youth work here."

Good to know that I'm not the only one who can get huggy and emotional after drinking:
Richard Ashcroft Arrested at Youth Club
From The Sun, 6/21/06

RICHARD ASHCROFT was arrested this week after bursting into a youth club and demanding to work with the baffled teens. Witnesses say the former VERVE frontman appeared drunk and looked like a tramp as he began swearing and refusing to leave. Staff called cops and Ashcroft was taken into custody for a couple of hours, then given an £80 fixed penalty fine for disorderly behaviour and released.

One eyewitness told me: “He was very strung out and close to tears at one point. He kept saying he wanted to work with kids, that he wanted to do ‘good things’. “He wasn’t aggressive, in fact he was quite charming and friendly. He kept hugging some staff and kids. But when the police arrived he was almost begging to be arrested. They told him to go quietly but he wouldn’t.”

The singer, famous for songs like The Drugs Don’t Work and who earned the nickname “Mad Richard” during his Verve heyday, entered The Bridge club in Chippenham, Wilts, just before 8pm on Monday. The club is near where his wife Kate’s family live. Around 60 youngsters in their early teens were relaxing and playing games when he arrived.

The witness said: “It was surreal and we couldn’t believe it at first. He looked like a tramp. He was dishevelled and unshaven, with filthy clothes, and there was saliva caked around his mouth. “He was off his head, although he wasn’t slurring his words. One of the staff said, ‘You’re the spitting image of Richard Ashcroft’. And he said, ‘That’s because I am.’ When they asked what he was doing there he said, ‘I’ve just come to see the kids. I want to see what’s going on in the youth club.’”

Ashcroft then announced he would like to work with the youngsters but the woman in charge of the club told him he would have to go through the proper channels.

The insider added: “He kept swearing and saying, ‘I’m Richard, I’m going to be doing some youth work here. You’ll be seeing a lot more of me, this is my first night.’ The woman was getting more and more anxious and rang her boss and I think he told her to call the police.”
Ashcroft then slumped on a sofa and the kids gathered around and asked him: “Are you really a rock star?”

When a lone police officer arrived, the star was seen arguing with him outside. The insider said: “He started getting aggressive towards the policeman and was swearing and asking him what his ‘f***ing problem’ was. The officer called for back-up and a patrol car arrived and took him away.” A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said Ashcroft was arrested for a public order offence and taken into custody. A police source added: “It looked like he was drunk. He was discharged once he had calmed down.”


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sounds like summer

It's the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. My lovely city started the day off right with the annual Street Breakfast. Pancakes, eggs, little boxes of milk and juice -- all prepared & served by soldiers (so do I call it grub? or chow? or something like that). They close off the streets for the hardy souls who get downtown between 6am and 8:30am (guess which end of the spectrum I was closer to? Anyone who knows me will heartily echo "8:30! You got there AFTER 8:30!"). There was live music with a band whose lead singer looked like Bo Bice (a bit unfortunately). It was an excellent way to welcome the summer and enjoy the community spirit.

Here is a little playlist I have been assembling for the last month or so as the weather steadily turns warmer and minds turn to lighter things. This is a blend of old and new; let me tell you why. Summer is not just about you, right here & now in 2006, my friend. Somehow with the advent of June, it's every summer you've ever lived before, and those from before you were born. It's about drive-ins and clam bakes, love-ins and hip shakes. It's about being eight years old and bored out of your mind all summer long, seeing how fast you can ride your bike, and laying on your back looking at clouds for hours. It's about the summer before freshman year when you'd spend hours at the pool hoping to see your summer crush. And it's about whatever fabulous things you will do this year, standing by the grill with friends, laying on the sand nursing a Corona, or dancing your arse off at some humid outdoor concert.

So this is an aptly broad soundtrack of songs that remind me of a bunch of different summers. From the kitschy appeal of Lily Allen to the sunkissed goodness of The Zombies, there's something here for all the faces of summer. If you have the computer space, can I urge you to download the whole mix and listen to it front-to-back several times? It's not supposed to be a pick-and-choose endeavor; there's a flow here, people! A mix tape from me to you, so TRUST ME.

01. "LDN" - Lily Allen
(walkin' round London, narrating - an extremely likeable female version of Mike Skinner)
02. "Good Day" - Luce
(just feel good listening to this, so positive & pleasant)
03. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" - The Monkees
(retro goodness recreating a sunny weekend morning - "the local rock group down the street is tryin' hard to learn their song . . .")
04. "The Compromise" - The Format
(this is a FABULOUS song, from their new CD Dog Problems)
05. "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" - Looking Glass
(I remember singing this with my brother in the summer, listening to the radio)
06. "July! July!" - The Decemberists
(something about crooked French Canadians, but it fits so well)
07. "A Summer Song" - Chad & Jeremy
(could a song SOUND any more like summer?)
08. "Island In The Sun (live)" - Weezer
(where I wish I was, with a riff that distinctly reminds me of Summer 2001)
09. "Summertime" - Josh Rouse
("I remember cigarettes, tube socks, sunburns, and long blonde hair")
10. "
All I'm Thinkin' About" - Bruce Springsteen
(a summer driving song, on a long, winding road)
11. "Plan Of The Man" - The Ms
(hard to believe these Chicago fellows are modern, what with all the wooo wooo wooos)
12. "Harmour Love" - Syreeta
(the infectiously poppy opening/closing song from the movie Junebug)
13. "California Pt. 2" - Mason Jennings
("Where the next nearest neighbor lives miles away, I'll never have to mow the lawn. Right on.")
14. "I Get High" - Fastball
(yes, it's Fastball, but forget "The Way" and listen to this soulful Beatles-esque piano ballad)
15. "Long, Sweet Summer Night" - The Thorns
(Matthew Sweet, Pete Droge, Shawn Mullins - supergroup, superb song)
16. "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" (Beatles cover) - Al Green
(Unh. "Shut up Al Green." Teenage nostalgia never sounded so funky)
17. "I Need Direction" - Teenage Fanclub
(it's like including a Beach Boys song without including one. Perfect)
18. "Paper Scratcher" - Blind Melon
(a completely underrated gem off their self-titled debut album, LOVE the harmonies)
19. "When U Love Somebody" - Fruit Bats
(another modern band that sounds so fantastically retro, this time with handclaps)
20. "Summertime" (demo) - The Zombies
(it is NOT summer without The Zombies. It's just not. This is the classic Gershwin tune.)
21. "This Time Of Year" - Better Than Ezra
(for a newer song, this feels pretty dang nostalgic to me. "There's a feelin' in the air, just like a Friday afternoon . . .")
22. "Sleepwalk" - Santo & Johnny
(no better way to end a summer night than with this tune, an open window, and a breeze)

The way I burn it, it fits on one CD for portable goodness.

Let the summering begin!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Matt Nathanson: At The Point

One of the mini-reviews I submitted to the Westword was a few words about the new Matt Nathanson live album: At The Point (2006, Acrobat Records). Since they didn't run it, lemme tell you what I wrote, since that is our topic for today.

"Until you’ve seen a Matt Nathanson concert, it’s impossible to understand how he could combine his melancholy, wrenching acoustic songs with an acidic sense of humor -- and even the occasional Rick Springfield cover or Prince singalong. This live album captures those moments, and the setlist draws from several of his releases, providing a balanced introduction to this talented (and bitingly funny) young songwriter."

I am getting more and more into him weekly, and find myself putting his music on random while I work every time I am near the computer. Here is a small sampling of tracks off the new album, but all of them are excellent & recommended.

"I Saw" - The line where he sings, "I still wake up burning through everything" always makes my throat tighten a little and my eyes burn -- it took me a bit by surprise to react like that but for some reason the honesty in his voice on this line stings.

"Romeo & Juliet" (Dire Straits cover) - Matt says, "So, I've never played this song live, and I don't know if it's gonna work, but I was at a friend's house last night in NYC and we were talking about great songs -- and this is a great song."

"Answering Machine" - The crowd always heartily sings along with this lovely melodic chorus. The lyrics are so biting for such a pretty song: "I met a new one and she looks just like you / She gives me everything that you didn't want to / And maybe I don't need saving after all / She sticks in my ribs almost better than you did."

"Straight to Hell" (Drivin And Cryin cover) - Nathanson has a great ear for a good song, meaningful lyrics, a beautiful melody and the songs he covers (while sometimes done in jest) are often transformed into something more arresting than the original. I've never cared for Drivin and Cryin, but I do here.

I heartily recommend downloading this entire live album (on eMusic and iTunes) and, even more so, seeing Matt Nathanson when he comes through your town. You will not have more fun at a show this year.

I just noticed on his website that he is playing a free show this Thursday night (June 22) in downtown San Jose as part of the Music In The Other Park summer concert series. Can't go wrong with free + Matt Nathanson. He rocks Cleveland on Saturday, and will be at Austin City Limits in September. (Now come back to Colorado!)


Ahh, if I were in London tonight

. . . In addition to hoisting a pint to calm my nerves after a tense, hard-fought game today pitting England against Sweden (ending in a draw, but how I rooted for a Brit win) - I would be heading to the British Museum. I took a seminar class on Michelangelo when I was studying abroad in Florence, and as such I consider myself fortunate to have seen most of his finished works and many of his drawings and sketches. But this exhibit brings together some that I have not seen. I love the anatomical power and grace of Michelangelo's human forms.

Michelangelo Draws Night Crowd
Associated Press article, 6/8/06

LONDON - The British Museum said Thursday that it will stay open until midnight for the first time to meet the demand for access to its exhibition of the works of Italian master Michelangelo. More than 140,000 people have visited "Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master," since it opened at the end of March.

Now the 247-year-old museum will remain open until midnight every Saturday until the show closes on July 25.

"The exhibition has been such an overwhelming success that we wanted to find a way to let more people see the show before the end of its run," said director Neil MacGregor. "This really is a unique opportunity to spend your Saturday night with a master of the Italian Renaissance." The exhibition is a study of the Renaissance artist's life from his earliest pen drawings to his late, haunting crucifixions.

It reunites material not together since the posthumous dispersal of works from Michelangelo's studio in 1564. The works come from collections in the British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Teyler Museum in Holland.

The museum's first Michelangelo exhibition in 30 years features 90 drawings and a collection of thumbnail sketches and red chalk studies that trace the evolution of the painting of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

The exhibition took a record 11,000 bookings before it even opened, beating the previous record of 3,670 advance bookings set by an exhibition of Persian art.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

We went to the coolest Italian-themed outdoor festival in Denver yesterday afternoon - La Piazza dell'Arte. Chalk drawings on the sidewalk & some authentic gelato in Larimer Square; it doesn't get much better than that.

The artwork ranged from original compositions to copies of some gorgeous masterpieces such as Bouguereau and Jacques Louis David, reproduced large-scale.

The tagline was "Just like the Sistine Chapel, only upside down." I was in heaven.

(Note about the songs: 4 out of the 5 this week are YouSendIt, EZArchive is down again today. I'll fix it when I can, been trying all morning.) 10:57pm - FIXED!

"Magic Blues"
The Ronelles
One might think (as I did) that this is an all-girl R&B doo-wop band, judging from the name. But then you'd be wrong. This is swaggering, pleasing garage rock with a heavy dose of retro sound from up-and-coming Glaswegian quartet The Ronelles. "Magic Blues" is the opening track, a fantastic loose bluesy number that makes me think of early Stones or a playful outtake from Oasis. The recently-released debut album Motel (on Neon Tetra Records) is excellent, full of rough guitar riffs & crunchy harmonies with an edge that pays homage to ole' school folks like Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry. The Ronelles are slowly building a passionate fanbase with opening slots for bands such as Kings of Leon and The Zutons. If I were in a band, this is the kind of music I think I would find most cathartic to make. Buy this CD - 36 minutes of furious goodness.

Yep, seriously. This track makes me jump up and dance in my stripey socks like nobody's business. The ultimate summer party song, droning deep lead vocals, a sick backbeat, teasing electric guitar licks, and a gospel-y chorus. Uh huh. Shake it. This song ROCKS. Oh, and even better -- it was FREE for a short time from eMusic, on the Anti Records sampler. Originally from Blackalicious' 2005 album The Craft.

"String of Blinking Lights"
Paper Moon
I think I found this Paper Moon song over on Chromewaves, and clicked to download because of the description which likened this Canadian band to Ivy or The Cardigans, but with a "denser, meatier sound and lyricism and without the Euro angle." Sounds good to me. Pleasing pop from their new album Broken Hearts Break Faster Every Day (on Endearing Records). Sample some of their other sounds on eMusic on the Intercontinental Pop Exchange No. 2 album.

"Got To Have It"
Soul President
Way back in the beginnings of this blog, I linked up to the Salon Magazine Audiofile page. It definitely pays to check here regularly, as they have a whole string of great, free mp3s from a wide range of styles (this week it's Juana Molina, The Stills, recent songs include Sonic Youth, Ray Davies, and Ane Brun). A few days ago they posted this old-school gem, and it's been rockin' through my earbuds all weekend -- echoey vocals, rat-a-tat opening and some good "unh" and "hah" business all throughout. This is from the newest compilation in the Eccentric Soul series (from Numero Group): The Big Mack Label, which is a fascinating resurrection of some obscure Detroit soul & doo-wop that slipped through the cracks.

"When The Night Turns Cold"
Tobias Fröberg
More Swedes, please. I swear, they are infiltrating! This is a quirky song, yes, from (UK label Poptones' newest signee) Tobias Fröberg. Starts out with fascinating bongo percussion line and sports a sort-of odd singalong chorus, but it's clean and bright and I like it. From Somewhere In The City, coming late this August (on Cheap Lullaby Records in the US, Poptones in the UK).

Oh, and my computer's hard drive got filled this weekend. Yikes. Didn't see that one coming. I have to do some serious spring cleaning in order to keep you livin' in the freewheeling new-music lifestyle to which you have become accustomed from me & this blog.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

...and my Dad rocks too

My dad is the best dad in the world. Just look at how happy I was on his shoulders at Disneyland. And the magic is - he's never stopped being as great of a man as he was in that picture to my five-year-old eyes; although he did shave that beard (when I was 16) and that was an improvement in many ways. But other than that, he rocks on as a fount of perpetual wisdom, a wonderful sense of humor, and a grab-and-shake-me hug whenever I need it.

I love you, Daddy! Happy Father's Day.

Have A Little Fun With Me - Glen Phillips

Father and Daughter - Paul Simon

Father and Son (with Fiona Apple) - Johnny Cash

Will you still need me . . . when I'm 64?

I will, Paul. I will.

(Happy 64th birthday to Paul McCartney - 'tis a day that once seemed so far away)

"When I'm Sixty-Four" - The Beatles

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Straight outta Brighton: The Kooks

Following fast in the relative footsteps of groups like The Coral, whom I quite liked from last summer, The Kooks are 4 young guys from scenic beachtown of Brighton, England. My friend Chris from Manchester included them on a recent mix for me and they caught my ear.

Sportin' that same fancy-pants accent that regularly propels British bands (especially ones whose names start with "The" lately) to moderate success stateside, The Kooks are fun jump-around listening for summer, with a bit more acoustic pop sound than some of the punk/new-wave bands preceding them of late. Pitchfork likens them to "the straightforward dynamism of I Should Coco-era Supergrass," and Drowned in Sound says, "What they do is take girls and seaside and . . . well, that's all you need really isn't it?"

Their debut album Inside In/Inside Out has reached #3 on the UK charts (and doesn't appear to be released yet in the US). Take a listen, I am sure you'll be hearing more from these boys 'round these parts; they're in the news today as the Rolling Stones just tapped them to open their Cardiff show.

Naive - The Kooks

Sofa Song - The Kooks

California - The Kooks (Wow! A Mason Jennings cover! Better than the original? It's a song that wants to rock)

"Crazy" - The Kooks (Gnarls Barkley cover, Live Lounge 3/30/06)

Labels: ,

Free SF Screening: We Jam Econo

Go to 12 Galaxies (a cool little club, as I so recently found out) on June 26th for a free screening of We Jam Econo: The Story of The Minutemen. Mike Watt is cooler than me, and plays the bass like nobody's business. You can read a little history about him on this previous post, and brush up on your early '80s So-Cal punk essentials here.

Corona - Minutemen

Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love (Van Halen cover) - Minutemen


Thoughts during the USA vs. Italy throwdown

As my friend Massi (from San Sepolcro, Italy) texted me during the match, "Vinca il migliore!" - May the best team win.

That'd be a heck of a lot easier to do if the ref wasn't so busy reaching into his breast pocket that he couldn't actually *see* what was happening in the game.

Frickin a, Jorge!

PS - When did Brian Littrell start playing for the US team?


Friday, June 16, 2006

Melodic perfection: "You Are The Everything"

I believe that there are a handful of truly flawless, perfect songs in this world. One of those songs which I love front to back and throughout each note and lyrical turn is R.E.M.'s "You Are The Everything" (from Green, 1988).

I love the feelings and senses that this song conjures up. From the lush sounds of crickets that start the song, you can almost feel the Georgia humidity on your skin. Whereas the song 'Nightswimming' conjures up summer from a teenage crush standpoint for me, 'You Are The Everything' is a collection of pure childhood memories, pristine and sad, confused and filled with hope all at once. I know of no other song that preserves so pitch-perfectly what it feels like to be a kid asleep in the backseat of your parents' car, secure with the "peace in absolutes," watching the stars through the windows (or, in my case, stargazing out the sunroof of the VW bus).

You Are The Everything - R.E.M.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t even sing
I’m very scared for this world
I’m very scared for me
Eviscerate your memory

Here’s a scene
You’re in the back seat laying down
The windows wrap around
To sound of the travel and the engine
All you hear is time stand still in travel
and feel such peace in absolutes
The stillness still that doesn’t end
But slowly drifts into sleep
The stars are the greatest thing you’ve ever seen
And they’re there for you
For you alone you are the everything

I think about this world a lot and I cry
And I’ve seen the films and the eyes
But I’m in this kitchen
Everything is beautiful
And she is so beautiful
She is so young and old
I look at her and I see the beauty
Of the light of music
Voices talking somewhere in the house
Late spring and you’re drifting off to sleep
With your teeth in your mouth
You are here with me
You are here with me
You have been here and you are everything

For you alone you are the everything
For you alone you are the everything

This song contains a few of my favorite lyrics ever, including: "I look at her and I see the beauty of the light of music," and "Voices talking somewhere in the house, late spring and you're drifting off to sleep," as well as the whole aforementioned verse about being in the back seat laying down. Sheer loveliness, lyrical perfection.

Over the years I have heard a few covers of this song, mostly tags in concerts, but just yesterday Fuel reader/fellow chronicler John (http://kingseyeland.livejournal.com/) sent me a copy of this song covered by Redbird. Within the first ten seconds I was blown away - this is an excellent cover. Whereas R.E.M.'s is sublimely sweet & dulcet, this is an aching and honest version with a touch more twang, and a female vocalist (Kris Delmhorst) harmonizing earnestly. I like it, a worthy effort.

You Are The Everything - Redbird

I thought I didn't know Redbird, but in researching them I saw that one of the members is Jeffrey Foucault, whom I recently posted about and whose rich voice I love. This was from Redbird's eponymous 2005 album, which is a folk-Americana songwriter's gem full of acoustic originals as well as a few other good covers. Recommended.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 15, 2006

God bless Dave Eggers

Thanks to Eric over at Marathonpacks for this link to Dave Eggers' (author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) reflections on the World Cup over on Slate:

"It was, by most accounts, 1986 when the residents of the United States became aware of the thing called the World Cup. Isolated reports came from foreign correspondents, and we were frightened by these reports, worried about domino effects, and wondered aloud if the trend was something we could stop by placing a certain number of military advisers in Cologne or Marseilles. Then, in 1990, we realized that the World Cup might happen every four years, with or without us."

Read the whole thing here.

Plus, Eggers assigns one fictional character in his essay the name of Fakey McChumpland, which alone is reason enough to read it. This piece comes from The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, an anthology edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey and published this month. It also includes a piece from Nick Hornby, so you know it's good.

I LOVE Dave Eggers; A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was one of the best books I read last year (and it has gone missing from me, I think I'd best just buy a replacement). I welcome any links that you wish to send me from other Dave Eggers articles on the web that you find funny. The man is comic genius.

By the way, I am still rocking the suburbs on the World Cup bloggers pool, which is surprising even to me. Don't worry guys, I am sure to lose soon! (but in the meantime, call me Prognosticator of Prognosticators)

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Baby I got yo' money

The new Colorado quarter is being released today (finally). I know some of you have had quarters for years, but this is the official unveiling of the Centennial State's kopeck and we are excited. Although for some inexplicable reason, it features Long's Peak (where? what?) instead of Pikes Peak. Maybe I'm just proprietary of my own city's beautiful geographic behemoths.

But doesn't it make you wanna come to Colorful Colorado? C'mon. It's better here.

"Baby I Got Yo' Money" - ODB
(cuz nothing says, "Sexy, sexy" like a shiny quarter)

Out of Sight

One of my favorite "ultimate package" movies --creative camera work, smoking soundtrack, clever script-- is the Stephen Soderbergh-directed Out of Sight (1998), based on the novel by Elmore Leonard. I always enjoy watching this one, with George Clooney's perfectly charming bank robber role, Jennifer Lopez's badass federal marshall chasing him down, and the variety of characters that intersect the hunt (Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn). Mix in a heavy dose of sexual tension, crime sprees, greasy trunk rides, "short little Latin fellas," and magician's assistants, alongside the signature jumpy cinematography, chronology leaps, and quick edits that are typical Soderbergh (Oceans 11, Traffic). You've got a stylish winner.

Coming as a precursor to the retro-influenced high stakes sounds of the Oceans 11 series, here David Holmes has crafted a hot Miami-laced soundtrack that has received more spins on my player than any other soundtrack I own, especially in the summertime. Here are a few samples -- the soundtrack is a feisty blending of old-school soul, funk, and R&B mixed with tension-filled instrumental mood music (and nary a J. Lo song in sight).

I Think You Flooded It - David Holmes

Fight The Power (Pt. 2) - Isley Brothers

The Trunk Scene - David Holmes

I'll leave you with a quote that always gets me: even though it's really just Dr. Doug Ross and Jenny From The Block, the story from Leonard and the direction by Soderbergh captures such a great sense of kismet in the doomed connection between their characters.

Clooney's character says:

"It's something that just happens. It's like seeing a person you never saw before - you could be passing on the street - you look at each other and for a few seconds, there's a kind of recognition. Like you both know something.

But then the next moment the person's gone, and it's too late to do anything about it, but you remember it because it was right there and you let it go, and you think, 'What if I had stopped and said something?' It might happen only a few times in your life."

J-Lo: "Or once."

Clooney: (long pause) "Why don't we get out of here."

Yeah, it's like that.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Check the Bargain Bins: Sweet Relief

Occasionally you open the old CD cabinet (which heart-breakingly gathers dust due to the prominence of your iPod with its sleek digital casing and nyah-nyah ability to hold thousands of CDs) and find an old cracked case containing a gem of a disc.

You can probably find the Sweet Relief benefit CD at any number of used record store bargain bins (or on Amazon for a blessed PENNY) - for reasons unknown to me because this is a GREAT album.

Released in 1993, this was a fundraiser for musician Victoria Williams, stricken with degenerative neurological disorder multiple sclerosis. All of the songs on this album are Victoria's songs. In most cases (may God strike me dead), I prefer the covers to the original because Victoria has a voice that can best be described as unusual (although quite haunting as background atmosphere in "Crazy Mary" with Pearl Jam). But she is a phenomenal songwriter, and this album shows the beauty she is capable of.

There is a lovely alt-country vibe to this disc, featuring Soul Asylum, The Jayhawks, Lou Reed, Pearl Jam, Buffalo Tom, among others - and these two favorites:

Frying Pan - Evan Dando
I love this song dearly, and found myself singing it the other day on a late golden afternoon (which inspired this post). Evan Dando was meant from Day One to sing this song. I love the simple imagery of the opening:
"One laugh in the middle of a struggle
A diamond at the bottom of a puddle
Did you ever stare at the moon 'til you saw double?"

This Moment - Matthew Sweet
Fabulous to have in your pocket for all those goodbyes, all those *moments* that you want to capture, appreciate, and pin down in your memory before they vanish.

By the way, the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund is still doing good works for the ill & struggling.

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 12, 2006

Boyz II Men cover, live Nada Surf, and Jackson Pollock

1) Dodge has a Boyz II Men cover (there should be more of that cooleyhighharmony. Admit it, you love it). How *DO* I say goodbye to yesterday? It's 8th grade graduation all over again, baby.

2) Ryspace has 6 tracks from the 6/6/06 Nada Surf show (them's a lot of 6s. Could it quite possibly be SATAN?).

3) Make like Jackson Pollock here (crazy mad relaxing, and energizing all at once). Release your inner artist right there in your cubicle. No one will know. Click your mouse to change colors.

A thought during the Italy vs. Ghana game

Pimpong could be the best last name ever. Maybe even better than Pujols. Wait, no, if you go to the ESPN site on Pujols, it actually says "Pronounced: POO-holes." DANGIT why is that so funny.


Monday Music Roundup

What a wonderful soccer-filled weekend. I love the simplicity, the urgency, the grace & beauty of the sport. The luck of the Irish (or something!) was with me this weekend because I did (mostly) well on my predictions and am tied for first place with a couple other "music lovin' mofos" in our bloggers' World Cup pool. Woo hoo!

Here is a linguistic/soccer-related question that occured to me this weekend during the Angola vs. Portugal game. Perhaps one of my global readers can enlighten my ignorance. I kept hearing the announcer mention the Portuguese team "Benfica." It caught my ear because it sounds like a bit of racy slang in italiano ('fica' means fig, and is also slang for a, uh, certain part of the female anatomy. Ben, short for bene, meaning good). So what gives with the word "benfica"?! I know it must not mean the same thing in Portuguese, but how widespread was the jesting in Italy when ex-Fiorentina coach Trapattoni became the coach in 2004 of benfica? Anyone?

Or is it just my pathetic Italian-as-a-second-language misunderstanding, and I am embarassing myself? Wouldn't be the first time.

Enough of that nonsense, here's some tunes.

"Cemetery Song"
Jon Auer
This has got to be the peppiest pop-song-about-a-dead-person ever penned. From former Posies member Jon Auer's fine outing Songs From The Year Of Our Demise (available on eMusic), the harmony-laden Beatles-esque sound fits in among 15 tracks Auer wrote for this themed-album, all written about the loss of a friend and the facets of grief. Despite the subject matter, this low-key album is surprisingly not depressing. Check out the free single ("Six Feet Under") on label Pattern 25's website, and buy the album on eMusic.

"So Hard To Find My Way"
Jackie Greene
A fantastic upbeat, retro-sounding tune combining piano, banjo, and Memphis horns. From his new CD American Myth, Jackie is delving into more poppy arrangements than the harmonica-folk of his previous efforts, but it sounds good to me. I really like this chap and think we will be hearing a lot more from him.
(PS - Did you download that Esthero/Sean Lennon duet "Everyday Is A Holiday" a few months back? I swear this song is its musical twin).

"Universal Frequencies"
His Name Is Alive
Wow, it must be the summery weather, but this week's music roundup is shaping up to be a string of '60s pop sound tributes. This lovely offering, as will become apparent in about thirty seconds to whomever listens to it, is a complete and straight-up homage to the Beach Boys (notably, Good Vibrations & the whole Pet Sounds album). His Name Is Alive admits to listening to Pet Sounds incessantly during the writing & recording of their 1996 album Stars on ESP, from which this comes. It's fun and kind of trips you out to hear something that could pass so smoothly for the Beach Boys, but with the addition of a female voice to the layered harmonies. Another eMusic find.

"Wait" (Beatles cover)
Ben Kweller
Let's just keep the momentum going with more Beatles. See, all these songs thus far are the perfect accompaniment to some strollin' in the sunshine. No better music for that kind of business than the Fab Four, eh? Ben Kweller was born to sing retro pop confections, and this is a feel-good cover from the Razor & Tie 40th anniversary tribute album to Rubber Soul (This Bird Has Flown, 2005). If you don't have the album, buy it on eMusic -- it's also got some sweet tracks by Ben Harper, Ben Lee (it's a Ben bonanza!) The Donnas, Ted Leo, and Sufjan Stevens.

"Into Oblivion"
Lisa Germano

And here's the exception to the blissfully happy lineup of songs so far this week. I've heard of Lisa Germano in connection with Eels, but over the years she has also worked with David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Johnny Marr, U2, Sheryl Crow, and John Mellencamp. From her latest solo effort In The Maybe World (July 18, Young God Records), this song is tailor-made for a sleep mix. Lisa's lushly rich vocals fronting the best song Sigur Ros never wrote. Close your eyes and picture; a piano underwater, laying on your back floating on an iceberg, walking through a dark forest at 3am. Sonic bliss.

Off to catch some of the Italy v. Ghana game. Forza azzurri!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Stats tracked by StatCounter