...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, September 29, 2006

Unreleased & live from Tom Luce

Luce is an excellent band out of San Francisco that writes melodic, well-crafted tunes, and whose two albums (self-titled and Never Ending) I have listened to a lot lately. I wrote a few weeks ago about how all the band's equipment was stolen this summer while they were on tour, and then for a double-whammy, a fire gutted the apartment of lead singer Tom Luce (who is truly one of the nicest & sincerest guys you'll meet).

They are appearing at a benefit concert tomorrow night, which I am pleased to report is sold out. Tom Luce appeared on the KFOG Morning Show on Monday and the response to their upcoming show has been phenomenal.

Here's a track from that acoustic performance, this is one of my favorite songs from their first album, and this performance is just devastatingly gorgeous. If you haven't heeded my call to listen to them in the past, start with this wistful little gem that's going on repeat for me today:

After Tomorrow - Tom Luce
Live on the KFOG Morning Show, 9/25/06

If you live in NorCal and don't already have your tix to the Luce show tomorrow, but want to support the band, there is also a cool eBay auction with a few neat items up for bids, including a Blue Sage Poets CD (the original name of Luce) and a backstage/hang-out-with-the-guys pass for the show. If you did get tickets, there's a silent auction at the event as well, with additional swag like 3 private guitar lessons with Tom Luce and a demo CD of never-released songs from him.

Tom was kind enough to send me one of those unreleased demo solo songs from the CD that is being auctioned (silently). He wrote it with Charlie Colin -- former guitarist/bassist from the band Train, who has collaborated on both Luce albums. Check out this lovely track -- it's got a nice solid beat and a catchy anthemic chorus. Tom says it may be re-done or rewritten, he's not sure, but for now, I like it a lot:

Liars - Tom Luce (with Charlie Colin from Train)

Nice pic. Aye-aye, captain.
They're even more fun in real life (but I haven't gone sailing with 'em).


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mixmasters please report to the dance floor

You love it? You hate it? Pitchfork says it is a blatant publicity stunt (but hey, they can't spell "blatant" so I don't know if I trust them), Rolling Stone calls Adams a freestyle rap prodigy, and Stereogum just wants Ryan to come back and leave some rambling comments on their site.

Check out the new rap that's streaming on the recently redone Tron-tastic Ryan-Adams.com. I absolutely enjoyed the laugh it gave me, and think it shows a brilliant sense of self-effacing humor. Come on people, lighten up!

Look Who Got A Website - MC Ryan McFresh (aka Ryan Adams)

Ryan recently wrote on a fan message board about his time in the studio & his recently achieved sobriety, and ends with this note:

"i also am stoked that at least one or two songs a record have some rap.
i am really bad at rap.
its awesome."

Update 9/29: Rap II
Drunk Santa - Funky Ryan DeeLyte
(oh, and he rapped in Manchester last night. Live. At least he knows he's bad at it!)


M. Ward: Scene From #12 EP

Now THIS makes me feel nice and happy today. As you may recall, I've fallen hopelessly in love with M. Ward's latest release, Post-War, and have been on a spirited jaunt to seek out his earlier material. I love the warmth of his songs and the way so many of them just envelop you with a sense of immediacy.

One of his earliest solo releases, the Scene From #12 EP (2000, 62 TV Records) is currently not commercially available, but it's a seamless little collection of four songs that make me contentedly smile. I think you'll be happy if you enjoy these along with me today:

01. Scene From #12
02. Wild Minds
03. Carolina
04. Going Away


Buy Post-War if you haven't already.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Rogue Wave is Sirius tonight

Thanks to all of you guys who have participated in my little promo offer related to the Rogue Wave Benefit fund. You guys are absolutely wonderful and generous; the response has been better than I could have expected. I have a few more good CDs left if you still want to take part, and there's still time to bid on the rbally iPod deluxxxe.

Chris from gorillavsbear also turned out in fine style to support this worthy & noble cause after I emailed him about the need. He's having all the guys from Rogue Wave tonight as guests on his SIRIUS show. They'll pick some songs with Chris and his peeps and talk shop. Click here for more info and tune in tonight. Thanks, Chris!

The Hold Steady: new song "First Night," album & tour news

Huh. I think maybe I misunderestimated* The Hold Steady.

Perhaps subconsciously it's because Craig Finn's voice sounds exactly like the scruffy, leather-clad, black-dyed-spiky-haired lead singer for the house band in the movie Empire Records ("Gotta have it, really need it, Sugar High . . ."), but here I was pegging them as solely a raucous rock/punk band -- when in reality the Brooklyn-based group has more depth than perhaps I gave them credit for.

The cuts I've heard from their critically acclaimed Separation Sunday (2005, French Kiss Records) were dirty and rusty, riff-heavy, with a pointed, wry spoken drawl to the lyrics (Exhibit A: "Banging Camp," Exhibit B: "Your Little Hoodrat Friend"). I missed what some call the Springstonian threads in their tunes, hearing only some dirty Replacements-style rock 'n' roll (Finn's previous band Lifter Puller was from MPLS). And it was good raw fun.

So when AOL Indie (wait . . . what?) offered up a free download of the second song I've heard off their upcoming Boys And Girls In America album (Oct 3, Vagrant), I was shocked to hear this melodic, wistful song with a rambling piano and strings:

"The First Night" - The Hold Steady

Some reviewers who have their advance copies are pegging Boys And Girls In America as one of their top albums of 2006 (the album is named after a line from Kerouac's On The Road, so clearly this isn't bathroom wall scrawl christening here). I also just learned that it is produced by John Agnello (Breeders, Drive-By Truckers, the new Sonic Youth, Son Volt).

Interesting. I stand enlightened and now am really interested in hearing their new album with open ears.

Their tour starts this Saturday, Masonic Temple Connecticut style.

The Hold Steady 2006 Tour
Sept 30 - Hamden, CT - Masonic Temple
Oct 1 - New York, NY - Irving Plaza
Oct 2 - Baltimore, MD - Ottobar
Oct 4 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl
Oct 5 - Birmingham, AL - Bottle Tree
Oct 6 - Memphis, TN - Hi-Tone Cafe
Oct 7 - Denton, TX - Hailey' s
Oct 8 - Austin, TX - Emo's
Oct 9 - Houston, TX - Walter's on Washington
Oct 12 - Tucson, AZ - Club Congress
Oct 13 - San Diego, CA - Brick By Brick
Oct 14 - Costa Mesa, CA - Detroit Bar
Oct 16 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
Oct 17 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall
Oct 19 - Portland, OR - Lola's
Oct 20 - Vancouver, BC - The Plaza Club
Oct 21 - Seattle, WA - Crocodile Cafe
Oct 24 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
Oct 25 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
Oct 26 - Chicago, IL - Metro
Oct 27 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick
Oct 28 - Toronto, ON - Horseshoe Tavern
Oct 29 - Ottowa, ON - Zaphods Beeblebrox
Oct 30 - Boston, MA - Middle East

Oh, and Stereogum's got the news of the new Hold Steady podcast (which, really, has little to do with music from the actual band, but is a good excuse to listen to some Replacements and Bad Brains).

*that word's just for you, Chad.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The impossibly good-looking stoner with perfect bone structure

Yippee-ki-yay, the new Lemonheads is out today. And eMusic's got it, which makes me a happy camper-and-a-half.

Eric over at Marathonpacks has penned exactly what I feel about Evan Dando and the Lemonheads. He captures it so perfectly that no one ever needs to try and encapsulate them in writing ever again; just link to him.

He muses:

"Dando was the pop-culture exemplar of the guy that each high school and dorm floor had one or two of---the impossibly good-looking stoner with perfect bone structure, but also the guy who would manage three or four 'girlfriends' at once and write impossible-to-ignore moody pop-rock songs about longing and nostalgia and memory and probably those girls too. The guy who everyone tried to hate, but could never actually hate because he was essentially harmless and would screw himself over consistently with the fervor of a religious ascetic, and would finally put that on record."

Read the rest here. I love how he says the new record has "guitars that still sound like late '80s Boston, lyrics sung from a bedroom floor, trying with all of their sleepy might to end a relationship without sounding like a complete dick." Yes. Exactly, my man.

Here is one of my current favorites off the new disc, I recommend you get the rest (there's also one more free track for download on the MySpace page):

Become The Enemy - The Lemonheads
(This song is ridiculously catchy & I am in love with it)

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Brandi Carlile update from the studio

News from Fuel favorite Brandi Carlile:

Sep 8, 2006 9:12 AM
Subject: In the Studio

As I sit in a dark control room and listen to the music we've been recording, I look at T Bone Burnett sitting at an old Neve console holding an 80 year old guitar and wearing sunglasses and it strikes me that if the twins and I weren't wearing Chuck Taylors we could be anywhere in the world and at any point in time over the last 100 years...

We've been in the studio for over a week and things are going amazing -- the twins and I have been on the road for so long that we have become a live band so it's been intimidating and exciting to be put under a microscope... it's a scary thing to know how you really sound. It's such a thrill to get these songs off my chest after a couple of years of playing them on the road...we recorded "The Story" and my voice cracked before the big loud scream and we kept it because it sounded raw and real. Sometimes it's hard for me to accept imperfection but I'm learning everyday. T Bone has taken us to church.


"The Story" - Brandi Carlile
Live on KCRW in 2005. The cracking wails are my favorite part of this song, very Janis-Joplinesque, in an urgent and passionate way.

Buy her first album here (highly recommended)


Update: Stream all the new songs from Westerberg/Open Season

Lost Highway has put up clips from all of the songs on the new Open Season soundtrack -- those sung by Paul Westerberg as well as Pete Yorn & Sacramento indie rockers Deathray.

You can take a listen here. The CD comes out today on Lost Highway.

They're also sponsoring a contest to win the CD and a trip to New York. I usually have really good luck with these things, so perhaps I'll win. But maybe I've milked my NYC luck already by winning that trip to the 2003 Grammys (seriously, it was cool, except I couldn't stop saying over and over again, "Holy crap! That's Tony Bennett!" (x5) when I realized he was standing right behind me, like touching elbows).

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

So I woke up Sunday morning to a thick dusting of snow on Pikes Peak and surrounding mountains. Breathtakingly beautiful, yes. But I really do not know if I am ready for winter again. I kind of like my flipflops.

Well, the bright side of the picture as we are now into Fall and cruising towards shorter days and longer nights: more downtime to listen to music? Here's a few to start your week off in style.

Kings Horses
The melodic influences of the Beatles (and their latter-day disciples Oasis) are brushed in wide, vivid strokes all over the new forthcoming album (Shine On, due Oct 3) from Aussie rockers Jet. Where before you probably knew them best for the tambourine-shaking, fatty bass line, Lust-For-Life ripoff "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" (which was used once in Alias where Sydney was dressed up like a kickass punk rocker with a mohawk, Docs, and a short plaid skirt, so she's always the "girl" I think of when I hear that song), their newest effort is a lot prettier, with harmonies, woo-woo-woo backing vocals, strings, and expansive guitar lines. First single "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" carries the torch of previous rowdier songs, but there is a lot more depth this time around. Sounds pretty good to me, I've been listening to it all weekend.

Howie Beck, featuring Matthew Caws of Nada Surf
Toronto singer/songwriter Howie Beck was someone I hadn't heard of until recently, and I admit I took a listen because of the people he has worked with: Feist, Josh Rouse, Jason Collett (Broken Social Scene), and Matthew Caws (Nada Surf). Those are all positive associations to my ears, but as I listen to more of Howie, I hear that he is a talented and polished musician in his own right. The shimmering, sure guitar melodies on this track, blended with the honest lyrics, make for an enjoyable introduction. His self-titled album was re-released last week in the US on Ever Records, a follow-up to his 1999 album Hollow, which was highly acclaimed by the British press following its release on Easy!Tiger in the UK.

Sweet Lady
What Made Milwaukee Famous
So these guys are completely NOT out of Milwaukee, rather their name is a nod to a lyric from Jerry Lee Lewis, which is all good in my hood. What Made Milwaukee Famous are from Austin, Texas, and have a bright, fun, singalong pop feel to their music (rather than the grey and snowy Schlitz-drinking soundtrack I had expected). Toe-tapping and fantastic, this song really wants to be the first track on your next mixtape. From the Barsuk Records re-release of their Trying To Never Catch Up album (August 2006, recommended).

She Moves In Secret Ways
Polly Paulusma
Thank you again to the free music from Facebook. I doubt I would have otherwise ever stumbled across Polly Paulusma, a British singer-songwriter with both smarts (Cambridge, Ph.D program) and vocal cords to love. Her charming folksy sound and earnest timbre reminds me a bit of Aussie Missy Higgins. This song has a rich, melodic, catchy, coffeehouse-show feel, lovely for the first chills of autumn. Also listen and tell me if parts of the melody and humming voices aren't completely reminiscent of the best parts of "Trapeze Swinger" (Iron & Wine). This is off her self-produced 2004 album Scissors In My Pocket.

Supernatural Car Lover
Robert Pollard
I've joked here before about Bob Pollard's prolific songwriting (sometimes right up there with Ryan Adams in terms of quantity), as well as his wildy varying quality. You kind of never know what you are going to get. Following the eclectic From A Compound Eye, which he just released earlier this year, his new album Normal Happiness seems to exude a more upbeat, accessible, "normal happy" vibe. Most of the tunes on this album clock in at somewhere around 2 minutes, and they pack a fast and tuneful punch. This particular cut has the ability to stick in your head for days at a time. Normal Happiness is due Oct 10 on Merge Records.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Oh, do a good deed. We'll make it fun!

I wrote a few days ago about the benefit concert this Saturday in San Francisco for Rogue Wave drummer Pat Spurgeon (on the left, above) -- for which tickets are still available. I sent the notice around to a few friends on the blogs to see if anyone else wanted to write up a little something about this money being raised for a good cause (his only kidney failed, consequent medical expenses mounting).

Several generous blogger friends have cross-posted this information (thanks!), and superstar Jennings over at rbally.net just did something *very* cool. He is auctioning his like-new 4gb iPod Nano (plus fancy leather case) on eBay and donating all the proceeds to the Pat Spurgeon fund.

But wait, there's more.

He'll also load up the iPod with a custom blend of music (you tell him what you like, he'll hook you up with his own patented blend of concert tracks, rare stuff, etc.) before he sends it on its merry way to you, the new owner.

Now THAT is a pretty sweet side benefit that the folks at the Apple Store will ne'er be able to hold a candle to.

I cannot top Jennings (the only "extra" iPod 'round these parts makes a sad face when you turn it on. I'm thinking that can't be good), but I can offer a little side perk for those of you who would donate something to this fund.

I've got a huge stack of some excellent recent releases, and somehow I have ended up with double copies of a lot of really great CDs, either through a promo copy being sent to me of an album I already bought, or occasionally a record company accidentally sending me two of the same CD.

If you donate $10 or more to the Rogue Wave/Pat Spurgeon Kidney Transplant Fund, and forward me some sort of confirmation, I will email you the list and let you pick one from my stash. There's some goodies here, fine albums that I have mentioned or reviewed recently. Perhaps you can find something new.

So, why do I care? Not to sound sappy, but musicians give up a certain modicum of security when they choose to follow their passion and gift us all with the tunes they create. They don't (generally) have the 401k, the corner office, the dental insurance, and the basic medical benefits that a regular job would offer. So when they are in need, if there is any way that we the listeners can somehow help, I am all for it.

One step closer towards calling it even for what music gives to me.

"Everyday" (Buddy Holly cover) - Rogue Wave

"10:1" - Rogue Wave

(listen to Pat crash and bash on this excellent track from 2005's Descended Like Vultures)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Rocky Votolato: "Tinfoil Hats"

If you are worried about aliens reading your mind (and really, who isn't?), Rocky Votolato has a song just for you. Actually, despite the extraterrestial theme, I really like this song that Barsuk Records just posted up on his section of their website for public enjoyment. I recommend his entire Makers album (2006), from which this track hails. It's got a bit more of a beat than many of the other lush and dreamy acoustic plucking tunes on that album, and some wheezy harmonica. Check it out:

"Tinfoil Hats" - Rocky Votolato

Rocky is going on tour with Lucero and William Elliott Whitmore, which is going to be a great evening of music. They swing through these parts in late October and I don't think I'll be in town, unfortunately. But if I were, I'd be there with bells on.

Makers (via Barsuk) or other Rocky Votolato music (via eMusic). His last two releases, Suicide Medicine and Light and Sound EP, were produced by Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie, who also plays various instruments on the albums.

P.S. Baseball update: The Rockies won, and I did indeed freeze my butt (and toes) off. But it was great fun.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Take me out to the ballgame (but I wish it were the Giants)

Just a quick note as I dash out the door on this (rainy) Friday afternoon to go potentially freeze my butt off at a Rockies game up in Denver with my sister tonight. I've been looking for a reason to post up this mp3 of Eddie Vedder singing the old baseball classic, and jumped for joy when I realized today was the day:

"Take Me Out To The Ballgame" - Eddie Vedder
From 5-14-06
with a special Mother's Day dedication for the mamas
(Link updated 9-26)

I really want to root, root, root for the home team now that I have relocated to Colorado, but I secretly miss the San Francisco Giants like nobody's business. Whether it was the old cheapie bleacher seats my family used to regularly occupy when they played at Candlestick Park, or the beautiful sunny days spent at the new Pac Bell Park with some garlic fries, a cold beer, and the view of the Bay, all is well in my world when I am rooting for *my* home team.



Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ben Kweller's new one: In the running for my Top Ten of 2006

Ben Kweller is all grown up, and with this new album of his (self-titled, ATO Records, just came out Tuesday) he is poised to be spending a lot more time spinning in my CD player. His new album is an engaging and well-crafted pop gem that sounds best played loud in the open air. There's a lyric that goes, "He is in the yard just washing his car, thinking 'bout his pretty wife, making lemonade with the KitchenAid, making him a perfect life." For me, that pretty much sums up the feel of this album. Lemonade, outside, perfect life.

The songs consistently have these great builds and breaks that make me want to dance around and airdrum on things. There's also that effect where I found myself somehow singing along on the choruses the very first time I listened to it. It's got a recognizable quality even if you've never heard him before, but it's eminently fresh.

While I have enjoyed the playful pop of his previous two releases, the thing that struck me about this new effort is the maturity of his lyrics. Ben got married to longtime girlfriend Lizzie in 2003 and together they just welcomed a little baby boy earlier this summer, so it's not surprising that his songs nowadays dredge deeper relational questions and struggles than before. Whereas we used to best know Ben for the lyric "She is a slut but X thinks it's sexy, Sex reminds her of eating spaghetti, I am wasted but I'm ready," now he throws out lyrics that catch my ear and that I can relate to, about the everyday challenges and joys of real relationships, and of loving someone so different from yourself.

He muses to his gal on "Sundress": "I wanna start going on a mornin' walk, What about the days when we used to talk?" -- and it just resonated as being such a simple and honest sentiment. Kweller relates tales of "passionate make outs and passionate freak outs" in the winding piano ballad "Thirteen", and the stupidity of arguing late at night ("Lights on through the night just to get it right, A battleground at my feet, an unwinnable fight") amidst the warm autumn harmonies of the lovely "Nothing Happening."

But the album is also a touching and real collection of sweet, straight-up love songs ("She'll never be in second place. I see it in her, I hear it in her, I feel it in her, I know it's in her. She's magic") and old-fashioned desire ("Skin to skin in the salty river, made love in the shadows").

As we've discussed before, Ben Kweller plays all of the instruments on this album and wrote all of the songs. That's pretty impressive once you hear the variety of instruments he uses, and to such competent effect. One of the best tracks on the album, "I Gotta Move" sounds like something that The Beach Boys or The Monkees would be proud to claim, although Ben's take is a bit more electric but still with that same deep goodness radiating throughout. "I Don't Know Why" has just a slight edge to it that actually reminds me of Tom Petty (oh! it channels the melody of "Won't Back Down," that's it), and there is a fun White Stripes vibe to the garage punk closer "This Is War." There are triangles chiming, xylophones blomping, piano melodies and sublime vocal counter-melodies blending together, and maybe even a little cowbell. It's a pop symphony.

So let allow me stop talking, and go take my advice: buy his new album at eMusic. I plan on heartily enjoying it. (OH and I also plan on watching Ben on Conan O'Brien tonight as well).

Run - Ben Kweller
(opening track, great thrumming song -- and do I hear a hint of Springsteen in those opening jangles?)

My favorite song on the album is still probably "Penny On The Train Track," and Matt has that one up over on You Ain't No Picasso if you want to preview it before you go out and buy the album.

And this one is just for fun, because you know I can't resist when it comes to covers:

Lollipop - Ben Kweller
Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolly-lollipop
(From the Stubbs The Zombie soundtrack, not new)


Album news from Damien Rice: "9" due out in November

Several of my fantastic eagle-eye readers wrote me in the middle of the night to let me know that Damien Rice has announced his new, long-awaited follow-up album to 2003's "O".

In keeping with the pattern of succinct album titles, the new one will be called "9," and will come out in November in Ireland on Rice's own Heffa label. I hear that Rice produced & recorded the album himself, as well as designed all the artwork. So he multitasks.

You can listen to a stream of the first single from the album, "9 Crimes" on the 14th Floor Records site.

Also, here's a live version of that same song from my beloved KFOG studios on 2/10/2003:

"9 Crimes" - Damien Rice [mp3]

1. 9 Crimes
2. The Animals Were Gone
3. Elephant
4. Rootless Tree
5. Dogs
6. Coconut Skins
7. Me, My Yoke And I
8. Grey Room
9. Accidental Babies
10. Sleep Don't Weep

Rice recently played a two-song set in New York City (and he didn't invite c) for the ONE (Make Poverty History) campaign, which means, of course, that Bono was there. The U2 frontman introduced Damien, and had some pretty serious words of praise for the Irish songwriter.

Bono said, "What you're about to hear and see is like being at a Bob Dylan gig in the early Sixties or a Cat Stevens gig in the early Seventies or James Taylor, or something extraordinary. Damien Rice is able to still and distill the storms into quiet reflection. He's really a remarkable talent, I can't quite believe that he's here. I'm very humbled and very honoured and I would ask New York to give him the kind of welcome only New York, only Manhattan can, and then give him the silence he deserves because this is something very special."

Then the best part is that Bono repeatedly demanded silence from the audience; among the stars who watched his performance were models Helena Christensen and Christy Turlington and actors Heather Graham and Ed Burns. An exact quote of Bono's words were: "Take your f*cking finger food and f*ck off!"

That entertains me to no end.
I want to take Bono around to concerts with me.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

You can either a) attend this show or b) donate a kidney to Rogue Wave

You liked their Descended Like Vultures CD last year? Yeah, me too. Well now you can give a little something back to the band that gave you such good listening last year. Kudos to these guys for organizing this and for all the caring (and really good) musicians who are contributing their chops for this show. Wish I could make it.

Rogue Wave Benefit Show

On Saturday September 30th 2006, San Francisco band Rogue Wave will host a benefit concert at The Independent to raise money for their drummer Pat Spurgeon, who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant.

The benefit concert will feature performances by Rogue Wave, Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), Ryan Miller (Guster), John Vanderslice, and other special guests. Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snickett) will MC the event.

Pat was born with one kidney and it failed. He had his first transplant in 1993, which served him well until now. After 13 years, it has started to deteriorate. He has been on dialysis since April and is hoping desperately to find a donor. Some of their friends have gotten tested to see if they are a match, but Pat has yet to hear good news.

Provided he finds a donor, there will be an enormous amount of costs that both Pat and his donor will incur. In a logical world, medical insurance would cover his donor's and his expenses after the procedure, but it does not; so he and his family must carry the financial burden. The expenses can be huge. We are trying to raise money for costs like: donor's travel, care, bills, lost work wages, etc., as well as Pat's expenses, care, bills, etc. while he is in recovery.

If you cannot attend the show, we encourage you to donate whatever you can by visiting www.roguewavemusic.com.
(Note from Heather: I just gave a little bit and wow! I feel like a better person)

Thank you for your love and continued support,
Rogue Wave
(Zach, Pat, Gram, Evan)

9/30/06 The Independent
628 Divisadero St., San Francisco, CA 94117
Doors: 8:30pm; Show: 9:00pm
Tickets available now on www.ticketweb.com

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It's Contrast Podcast time again: Some handclapping tunes

It's Wednesday. It's the middle of the week, hump day, booooring. You're stranded on a little island right in the center of the workweek, equidistant from either weekend, and there's nothing you can do about it.

How about improving your blah mood with a podcast dedicated entirely to songs which use that feel-good manual form of percussion, the handclap? I am a complete sucker for songs which effectively utilize this, the oldest form of percussion (other than, like, woolly mammoth foot thuds or something), and I have contributed a track and a scintillating spoken intro in the middle of the hour, right after the 'Mats song. I had so many great songs to choose from, but I went with the one that was the most infectiously catchy, a favorite of mine.

To stream the dealio, head over to the Contrast Podcast site and click the neat little button. Seamless and my preferred method.

If you must have something to download and savor, you can get the mp3 of the podcast here:

Contrast Podcast #25: Handclapping (mp3)

The Ventures - Let’s Go
Tim from the face of today

(02:55) They Might Be Giants - Clap Your Hands
Clea and Tuesday from ((sm))all ages

(04:35) Imperial Teen - Baby
Matt from Earfarm

(08:15) The Residents - Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Teeth)
ZB from So The Wind Won’t Blow It All Away

(12:33) The Meters - The Handclapping Song
Andy from Circles of Concrete

(15:48) Super XX Man - Coulee City
Murf from False45th

(20:45) Tilly and the Wall - Fell Down The Stairs
SAS Radio

(23:34) Mary Timony - I Fire Myself
Victoria from Muruch

(26:45) The Afghan Whigs - Debonair
Bethanne from CTASLS

(31:28) Hood - The Negatives
Chip from Donewaiting.com

(35:20) The Replacements - Alex Chilton
Natalie from Mini-Obs

(38:54) OK Go - You’re So Damn Hot

(42:03) The Auteurs - Bailed Out
Jamie from The Run Out Groove

(46:20) Eskiimo - Patience
Jamie from Squirrelfood.net

(50:20) Boat - Holding All The Globes
Rachel from Untitled

(52:17) Ndidi Onukwulu - May Be The Last Time, I Don’t Know
FiL from Pogoagogo

It is practically so much fun that I feel it should somehow be illegal. There are some great & varied selections this week (and that Meters song was the one used in the closing credits dance scene from Hitch -- come on, it was funny!).

Take some time and spin this podcast, you will be happy that you did.

(image shamelessly swiped from the fab Girlpants.org music blog)


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oh, it's so bad. I can't watch.

My eyes are on the verge of bleeding. I don't know what's worse, the side ponytail or the fact that they've just stripped all the sly humor out of this glorious dance. Ice dancing to OK Go's "A Million Ways": it's almost like a Craig and Arianna skit gone wrong.

There are 18 positive, glowing comments on the YouTube page for this video, and nary a dissenter. Am I just missing something? Holy lord.

Pearly whites

I went to the dentist this afternoon, a new guy. He actually called me "Sally SuperTeeth" after he checked out my pearly whites, and continued to do so for the entire appointment. Like the upward of eight times or so. It was awesome.

The little third grader in me felt like I got a gold star. I almost raided the toy chest on my way out.

"Smile Like You Mean It" (Killers cover) - David Gray

National Talk Like A Pirate Day

In honor of National Talk Like A Pirate Day today, I am going to share my favorite pirate joke. It sounds best spoken, but this will have to do:

"A pirate walks into a bar. He's got this giant wooden steering wheel coming right out of the crotch of his pants.

Everyone tries to be polite, but finally the barkeep has to ask: "What IS that thing, man?"

Pirate looks down and says, "Arrgh. I donno matey, but it's drivin' me nuts."

And how perfect is it that there was a whole blessed CD of pirate songs that just came out?

"A Dying Sailor To His Shipmates" - Bono

Pirate shirt design courtesy of Busted Tees.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

The coolest news around these parts this weekend is my newfound ability to bring music to any room in my house with the new iSphere that my folks got me as a belated birthday present! I love hearing the bass, cranking it loud directly from my iPod, and being able to cruise through my playlists whatever I am doing. It vastly improves upon my previous system of bringing my laptop wherever I wanted to listen to tunes, or being reclusive and putting in the earbuds. Yay! I think you should get one, definitely the coolest electronic toy I've had in several years.
(Thanks Mom & Dad!)

Here are some of the songs that have been gracing said iSphere in recent hours.

The Whigs
You must give The Whigs a listen right now, and buy their new album, the pugilisticly-titled Give Em All A Big Fat Lip, when it's re-released tomorrow on ATO Records (home of Ben Kweller, Mike Doughty and My Morning Jacket, among others). From the opening beatbox breaths of this Strokes-like melodic rocker, I was hooked. The album is varied and driving from start to end. Rolling Stone called the three-piece from Athens, Georgia "One To Watch," raving about their "Ninieties indie rock with Sixties pop craftsmanship and Southern-rock twang . . . the best unsigned band in America." Good thing ATO snapped them up; I foresee good things from these guys.

"I'll Walk You Out"
Corinna Repp

When Mark Kozelek (muted frontman of the Red House Painters/cover-loving experimenter of Sun Kil Moon) couldn't find someone to distribute his collection of hushed Modest Mouse reinventions, he created his own label, Caldo Verde. Although he says he wasn't looking to add artists to the roster, now he has signed the fantastic Ms. Corinna Repp - and check out this crackly, lo-fi, atmospheric gem from the Portland native. Her debut album The Absent And The Distant comes out tomorrow on Caldo Verde, and she will be touring with her benefactor Kozelek for a handful of shows in October, starting in Indianapolis. Other music from Repp can be found on eMusic, including her contribution to the terrific sampler The Sound The Hare Heard.

"Let's Turn The Record Over"
Elliott Smith
My blogger pal Chad was the first of my regular-reads to draw attention to the four new demo songs from Elliott Smith that were posted last week over on Elliott Smith B-Sides (because Chad has Elliott radar built in like a bat). I think this one is my favorite because of the strong harmonic vocals with just a hint of desperation, and the short length which leaves you wanting more. You should also check out "True Love," a beautiful track which is rumored to have been produced by the masterful Jon Brion. As Chad says, all this posthumous material is setting Elliott up to be the Tupac of the singer-songwriter world. Aw yeeeah.

"The First Five Times (Russian Futurists remix)"
Thanks to Dodge's weekend record store hunts, we get to hear this sample track from the forthcoming Stars remix album, Do You Trust Your Friends (due this fall on Arts & Crafts). The original version of this song, with it's rhapsodic orchestration that falls in like an assault and its clean, feisty percussion, is one of my favorites on their superb 2004 release Set Yourself On Fire. But this version is starting to grow on me as well, with its dirty electric guitar grooves and fat pauses between the thumping beats. A remix album sounds like an interesting idea since Stars make richly layered music that can be reimagined in a variety of ways. Thanks Dodge!

"Pile of Gold"
The Blow
Finally something that should make you get up and shake it a little bit, if everything is functioning correctly with your rhythm-thing. There is a slightly sleazy '80s-cocaine sheen to this track from The Blow, which a friend of mine christened the "Hey Ya" of the indie rocker world when he first heard it. The lead singer Khaela Maricich sounds reminiscent of Karen O. from Yeah Yeah Yeahs in her snarly drone with a sexy little edge to it, and the comparisons to the simple male-female duo sound of Mates of State is pleasantly unavoidable. The Blow is from Portland, and this track is off their new album Paper Television (Oct 26, K Records).

Finally, I'll leave you with something that made me laugh recently. I was watching some episode of Saturday Night Live (I think a re-run because I no longer sit at home to watch SNL on Saturday nights -- because, well, I am not a high schooler with no car anymore) and something actually made me laugh (!!). They were doing a spoof of NBC's fall lineup and one of their new "shows" was billed this way: "This fall, watch straight men receive fashion advice from a gay guy who may or may not be looking at you in 'Queer Guy With A Lazy Eye'!"

Sounds like a winner to me.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Before They Were Beatles: The Quarrymen

I've been looking for a relevant reason to post up some demos and rehearsals from the earliest incarnation of what would become The Beatles: The Quarrymen. John Lennon put together the earliest forms of this band in March 1957 with several friends. Paul McCartney joined in October of that year, followed by George Harrison in early 1958. And ever-shifting lineup ensued throughout those years with The Quarrymen playing gigs all around their native Liverpool, changing their name several times, among them The Blackjacks, Johnny and The Moondogs (in late 1959), and The Silver Beetles (in 1960), finally settling on The Beatles in late 1960. And so it goes.

A friend forwarded me an article this weekend with the subject line, Mad cool Beatles history. Reading below, I would have to agree.

Tunes from The Quarrymen are at the end.

Beatles club gains protected status
Fri Sep 15, 4:06 PM ET

LIVERPOOL, England - A suburban basement where The Beatles played some of their earliest gigs was given protected heritage status by the British government Friday. The Casbah Coffee Club, created in the home of original Beatles drummer Pete Best, was given Grade II Listed status on the recommendation of conservation body English Heritage. The designation means the venue, which still contains original artwork and musical equipment, is of "special architectural or historic interest" and cannot be demolished.

Best's mother, Mona, created the club in the basement and coal cellar of her Victorian house on the edge of Liverpool after reading about the "beat" clubs popular with teenagers in London.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison — then billed as The Quarrymen — played at the club's opening in April 1959 as a last-minute replacement for scheduled headliners, the Les Stewart Quartet.

Best later joined the band, renamed The Silver Beatles and then The Beatles. The band played the Casbah many times until the club closed in 1962. The same year, Best was replaced as drummer by Ringo Starr and The Beatles released their first single, "Love Me Do."

The building, still owned by the Best family, features murals and paintings by members of the band and by Lennon's first wife, Cynthia.

Bob Hawkins of English Heritage said the club was "in a remarkably well-preserved condition ... with wall and ceiling paintings of spiders, dragons, rainbows and stars by original band members along with 1960s musical equipment, amplifiers and original chairs."

"We know of no other survival like it in Liverpool or indeed anywhere else," he said.

LISTEN: Earliest known recording: Puttin' On The Style (1957)

(From Wiki) On 6 July 1957 the band played at St. Peter's Church garden fête. In the afternoon they played on a temporary stage in a field behind the church. After the set, Ivan Vaughan, an occasional tea chest bass player with the band, introduced Paul McCartney to John Lennon while the band was setting up in the church hall for the second set. McCartney showed the band how to tune a guitar and sang Eddie Cochran's "Twenty Flight Rock" and Gene Vincent's "Be-Bop-A-Lula" to his own guitar accompaniment. The evening show started at 8 p.m. and cost two shillings admission. Audience member Bob Molyneux recorded part of the evening performance on a Grundig portable reel-to-reel tape recorder.

In 1994, Molyneux, then a retired policeman, rediscovered the recordings that he had made of the concert in 1957. The scratchy recordings included covers of Lonnie Donegan's "Puttin' On The Style" and Elvis Presley's "Baby, Let's Play House". On 15 September 1994 Molyneux put his tape up for auction at Sotheby's. The tape sold to EMI for £78,500, making it the most expensive recording ever sold at auction, but the recording quality was too poor to issue and the tape remains in the EMI archives.

REHEARSALS & DEMOS, circa 1960
01. That'll Be The Day (Buddy Holly cover)
02. Well Darling
03. Matchbox (Carl Perkins cover)
04. One After 909
05. Cayenne (instumental)
06. Hello Little Girl
07. That's When Your Heartaches Begin
08. Wildcat (Gene Vincent cover)
09. I'll Always Be In Love With You
10. Some Days
11. Hallelujah I Love Her So
12. You'll Be Mine
13. The World Is Waiting For Sunrise
14. I'll Follow The Sun
15. You Must Write Everyday
16. Movin' And Groovin



New(ish) video from Cat Power: "Lived in Bars"

There is a certain guilty pleasure that I derive from watching videos where everyone starts dancing together simultaneously, and seemingly in spontaneous joy. Exhibit A: Hit Me Baby One More Time (seriously, how can you not like it when all those Catholic schoolgirls start snapping their way down the hall towards you?), and Exhibit B: Feist - Mushaboom (again, irresistible dancing in the streets).

Cat Power is sexy but borderline weird (in a strangely good way). Here is her newish video for the song "Lived In Bars" off her wonderful album The Greatest - which is being reissued by Matador with three different covers. She completely rocks the hot little white dress in this video (although I would dissent on the backwards baseball cap) and gets the whole strange bar crowd dancing:

There's a nice, tiny little sly reference to her album ("The Greatest") with the sweatshirt she covers up with at the end of the video when she lays on the couch. If you look closely, it says Cassius.

Sneaky Cat Power.



New songs (!!!) from The Who off of Endless Wire (Oct 31), their first studio album in 24 years, streaming here. The songs are called "It's Not Enough" and "Tea & Theatre." At first listen these tracks sound anthemic and dramatic (especially the first one), and concert-ready.

And if you are going to be following their upcoming tour in support of the album, here's some good news:

Starting September 21st, WHO fans can keep up with the band's every move on a 24/7 Sirius Satellite Radio station. They'll broadcast nightly performances from the North American tour, as well as previously unreleased live shows, interviews and backstage reports from guitarist Pete Townshend and his partner, singer/songwriter Rachel Fuller.

"This is the most exciting thing I can imagine . . . our own radio channel, straight to our fans," Townshend said in a statement via Sirius. "I'm completely revved about this."

Apparently, Roger Daltrey wasn't as enthusiastic about the webcasts portion, which the band reportedly curtailed at his suggestion.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Brand spankin' new from Paul Westerberg: Open Season Soundtrack

Paul Westerberg's re-entry into the world of film soundtracks is greeted 'round these parts with open arms and happy ears. Following his stellar contributions to the Singles soundtrack (Cameron Crowe's 1992 film about the music scene and dating life in the Emerald City of Seattle, and one of my favorite soundtracks ever) Westerberg has dusted off his movie-musicmaker and done pretty much the whole soundtrack for the new Sony Pictures animated film Open Season.

I've read (possibly exaggerated) accounts that for the movie Singles, Westerberg locked himself in a hotel room and emerged twenty minutes later with the classic track "Dyslexic Heart." Open Season by comparison took quite a bit longer. Westerberg says, "Singles took about two weeks [total], while Cameron Crowe sat there and sorta encouraged me along . . . This project took two-and-a-half years."

Thanks to the music elves, I've got the new song for ya. I can't think of a better way to kick off a Friday.

I find the new track very enjoyable - the opening is fantastic vintage Westerberg, with a similar feel to tunes like "Be Bad For Me" or the recent 'Mats track "Message To The Boys." The lyrics are admittedly a bit simplistic, but I don't listen to him to discern the meaning of the universe or anything, so this will do just fine. 'Mats bassist Tommy Stinson adds background vocals and wields the thunderstick for this song, as well as one other track called "Right To Arm Bears" (ha ha).

Love You In The Fall - Paul Westerberg
(Savefile link, open in a new window)

The soundtrack is out on Lost Highway on Sept 26th, and their website has streaming audio for two other tracks: "Meet Me In The Meadow" and "I Belong" (which Pete Yorn also covers as a reprise on the soundtrack). Also, they actually have a MySpace (hey, who doesn't these days?) where you can stream these tunes as well as the danceable track "I Wanna Lose Control (Uh Oh)," an original composition by the Sacramento (Calif.) band Deathray. The film also includes the Talking Heads song "Wild, Wild Life" -- a tune that I've found somehow everyone can sing, despite not really knowing what David Byrne is going on about.

Westerberg worked with a variety of old friends and new ones on this project, recording demos of the songs in his home basement studio, as well as in New Hampshire, Los Angeles, and finally finishing up back in Minneapolis. "So you get a little bit of everything on this one," he says, "The old band feel but we've also got the new buddy feel. And the best part is it all sounds like it came out of the same garage.” The tracks were produced by Westerberg friend & collaborator Kevin Bowe, who has the following to say about the experience: "I hesitate to use the word 'produce' because you don't produce this guy. You press record, duck and pray."


A Beatle in your mailbox

(n.b. - I am hoping that maybe one of my fantastic British readers will take the time in January to send me a postcard with one of these bad boys affixed to the right corner, and subsequently make my day?

You guys get the best stamps. I bought some which artfully illustrated vegetables yesterday.)

From the news reels:

September 13, 2006
LONDON -- The Royal Mail is saluting the Beatles in January by releasing six commemorative stamps illustrated with memorable album covers.

The set includes ran image of "With the Beatles," released in 1963, which was the group's second album. In the United States, it was the first Beatles album to be released and was titled "Meet the Beatles!"

Others in the series include "Help!" (1965), "Revolver" (1966), "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1967), "Abbey Road" (1969) and "Let It Be" (1970).

(Waaaiiiit for it . . . )

"Please Mister Postman (alternate take)" - The Beatles

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pete Yorn Nightcrawler: Bonus tracks

Pete Yorn put out a slew of bonus tracks with various retailer versions of his new disc Nightcrawler (which is growing on me quite nicely, thank you). According to a recent interview on Brooklyn Vegan with the Yornster, here is the logic behind such a move:

"These days, in order to boost get good placement in stores, you usually throw in a bonus track exclusive, which at first I was hesitant to do because I thought it was just going to piss off my fans—you know, making them buy the record again to get a track. But we did the exclusives and then I just started encouraging the fans to download the extra tracks for free on my website. For people who’ve never heard of me before, then the better store placement means they’ll see my record and maybe get turned on to my stuff. " --Pete

Eh, well, because most of you are not going to scurry about town to your your various retailers (or scour the web other than stopping here at your friendly PY source) to find these extra tracks, Bryce and I are conspiring to make it easy on you and bring you all the goods.

He gave me first dibs on which tracks of the seven I wanted to post, and these two are my favorites:

"Old Boy" - Pete Yorn
(from the Circuit City version of Nightcrawler)
I love the bass line in this one, just all over the place in a great way.

"Baby, I'm Gone" - Pete Yorn
(from the Best Buy version of Nightcrawler)
I had heard earlier live versions of this song and hoped that it would be a real rocker. The studio version ended up being much more restrained, with a classy synth-percussion throughout. It's still a great song.

To get the other 5 bonus tracks ["Shallow (Friends)", "Go With It", "The Party", "Top Of The World", and "Can't Hear Anyone"], visit Bryce's blog. He's also got some Keane, Coldplay, and Red Hot Chili Peppers b-sides, if that's your groove.

I've also added links to an older post with the other two podcasts that are now available regarding the making of Nightcrawler. I find it very interesting to hear Pete talk about the creative process behind his music.

Finally, here is one more bonus track that I really liked off Yorn's last album Day I Forgot (the Japanese import version) - Thanks to Kraig's blog:

"Drive Away" - Pete Yorn
Just over two-minutes, a fast and furious driving song. Head out on the highway.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Great Facebook Freakout of 2006 (but hey, it's giving me good free music)

So all you college kids (or slightly-out-of-college kids who worked at a university, like me, and thus have access) who are on Facebook, perhaps you've seen the Apple Students Group that gives you a 25-song sampler free each Monday? The first week I saw was electronica, most of which was drivel, but last week's ("alternative") and this week's ("rock") have some decent free tracks in them. I don't know if there is a hidden catch somewhere, but if you join up (assuming you are already part of the Facebook cult) you can get free songs like:

"Another One Goes By" -
The Walkmen
(from A Hundred Miles Off)

"Crawl" - Pistol Star
(from the album of the same name)

"The Man Who Came To Stay" - Babyshambles
(even though Pete Doherty is disintegrating before our eyes, and is a total disaster, some of his music still strikes me the right way) (b-side from Down in Albion)

"Fall At Your Feet" - Magnet
(from The Tourniquet)

"Letters (Acoustic)" - Stroke 9
(from Cafe Cuts: A Collection of Acoustic Favorites)

"Devil" - Stereophonics
(from the Live From Dakota album)

There are also great free tracks from Fuel favorites Brandi Carlile, The Black Keys, Rocky Votolato, Pete Yorn, and The Format.

I thought it was actually really, really funny last week how Facebook singlehandedly caused more political action among college students than the last three election years combined: If you read the articles (or blog articles), Facebook decided to incorporate a new "news feed" into each users homepage and a "mini-feed" into each users individual profile which shows EVERYTHING you've done on Facebook since mid-August (unless you manually remove it).

Within a day or two, over 40,000 (!!) college students had joined the official petition to Facebook to remove the data or to give students greater controls over what information was released, as well as hundreds of smaller protest groups. The one I chose was "DAMN Imma need 4 Facebook to Stay out My Business!! Mini-Feed My Ass," because a) it made me laugh and b) the one I wanted to start was actually too long of a title for Facebook.

It was going to be called, "To Your Face I'm Totally All 'The New Facebook Mini-Feed Sucks!' But Secretly I Have Been Checking Facebook Even More Than Ever, Dammit." If you're honest, you would have joined it too.

Also, definitely check out the "New-Facebook-Is-Creepy Mix" because, as Taylor says, stalking is only fun when you have to work for it.

Jesse Malin's new album to feature Springsteen, Ryan Adams & a Replacements cover

From today's news:

Boss and More Guest on Jesse Malin CD

"Jesse Malin has just finished recording his third record titled Glitter In The Gutter, to be released in early 2007 on Adeline Records/East West. This album follows his two previous critically acclaimed releases: 2004's The Heat, and 2002's The Fine Art of Self Destruction. Glitter In The Gutter was recorded in various studios over the summer in Millbrook, New York; North Hollywood, CA; and in Jesse's native borough of Queens, New York.

Guests on the album include a special vocal performance by Bruce Springsteen, Chris Shifflett of the Foo Fighters, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, long time pal Ryan Adams as well as members of Jesse's own touring and recording band "The Heat." Many of the songs on the new album were written on electric guitar in Jesse's basement rehearsal studio in New York City over the past year.

After working up demos of the songs, Jesse chose to work with producers Rob Caggiano and Eddie Wohl of Scrap 60. The album will include an intimate acoustic version of The Replacements' classic 'Bastards of Young.' CD will hit stores in early 2007."

I love that title, Glitter in the Gutter. Can't wait to hear it. He's got a handful of shows coming up, mostly East Coast. Tomorrow night (9/13) he headlines one final show at The Continental in NYC, on 9/19 at the Barnes & Noble (!!) in Union Square, 10/1 in Ringwood NJ, 10/12 at the Tin Angel in Philly, 10/14 at the Club Cafe in Pittsburgh, and 10/18 at Schuba's in Chicago.

Here's the original 'Mats track that he covers on the new album, if you don't have it:

Bastards of Young - The Replacements

And I wrote about some demos from the new album (the fabulous "Black Haired Girl" and "Don't Let 'Em Take You Down") in this post.

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