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

Sunday, December 31, 2006

What a year for a new year

I've been shoveling snow all afternoon and holy moley -- it is tough. Gratifying and good hard work, but I have an oozing blister on my thumb and I think my arms and legs may actually fall off. We're going out for (several) margaritas after my hours of no-joking slave labor, then over to some friends' house to ring in 2007.

Last year I posted up a New Year's mix, and I was listening to it while assembling some Trader Joe's brownies (imported in the luggage from California, since Colorado is TJs-forsaken) for the fiesta this evening. One of my favorite songs from that mix is "Up All Night," which seemed appropriate to belt this afternoon, perhaps because of the victorious refrain "When the roads are clear, we'll head on outta here," a nod to my savage clearing of the 3 foot drifts in the driveway. Plus, you know, there's the 'up all night' business:

Up All Night - Counting Crows

And a few others for your end-of-the-year enjoyment:

Next Year, Baby - Jamie Cullum

This Could Be My Moment - The Verve

Start Again - Teenage Fanclub

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Run Lola Run: I wish I was a heartbeat / that never comes to rest

Who are we?
Where do we come from?
Where are we going?
How do we know what we believe to know?

Why do we believe anything at all?

Innumerable questions looking for an answer, an answer which will raise the next question and the following answer will raise a following question and so on and so forth.

But in the end, isn't it always the same question and always the same answer?

Those existential ruminations form both the thematic foundation and the opening montage of one of the best art-house films I've seen in the last decade. If you've never seen the kinetic 1999 movie Run Lola Run (German title: Lola rennt), you absolutely must. This visceral and immediate story traces how one decision can alter the path that our immediate future takes, and how all of our lives are interconnected in ways we can't see.

Essentially one dramatic moment played out with three different possible endings, the film folows Lola (Franka Potente) -- a badass German punk with hair dyed flaming red (I wonder if the Alias creators saw this first) who gets an emergency call from her boyfriend Manni. He has lost a large sum of money not belonging to him. Together they have 20 minutes to get 100,000 Deutschmarks, or Manni is pretty much a goner.

So she sets off running.

As Lola makes split-second decisions on where to turn, who to talk to, and how to get the money that Manni needs, three different stories reveal themselves. The viewer is left with questions of the immutability of fate & death, and how all those small decisions (which don't feel at all monumental at the time) can effect what happens next and, indeed, our whole future.

Images and spiraling storylines flash at the viewer a mile-a-minute (or, I guess a kilometer-a-minute: filmed in Germany). As Lola brushes past someone on the street or throws an offhand remark to another passerby, the movie shows us the next series of events in that person's life with a series of rapidly flashing vignettes, some comic, some tragic. Oh, that we could see those things in real life - it's an absolutely fascinating concept. How many times have you seen someone pass and wondered their story? Wouldn't it be fantastic (and a bit terrifying) to see the next 10 years of their life played out for you in ten seconds of shotgunned images?

I love films that deal with alternate possibilities of reality (like this one, or how about Sliding Doors or Frequency?) and the ways that our lives interconnect without us realizing it. One split-second decision can change everything. Our life consists of the decisions we make, and director Tom Tykwer explores Lola's choices and their ultimate effects on her reality. God love the German philosopher within the director. The movie is intelligent and urgent; you should have some friends over, pour some lagers, and have yourself an impassioned post-film discussion.

The electronic soundtrack is pulsating and relentless, making the whole movie seem to pass in a few minutes. The viewer is drawn in through the triple-punch of the action, the camera work (which seems as caffeinated and agitated as Lola herself), and the music. Together they live and breathe, and breathe hard. Check out two of these tracks. I'm no club kid, but there are irresistible within the atmpsophere and context of the film:

Introduction (Tykwer/Klimek/Heil)

Believe (Franka Potente)

Now you know what to listen to for your next run, if you want to be as kick-ass as Lola.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

I know, I know. Christmas is over. Trees are dropping their needles at an alarming rate, I've made a clean sweep of several bags of wrapping paper, and I'm thinkin' about taking the Christmas kitsch down.

My Christmas was fulfilling and, surprisingly, largely music-gift free -- unless you count the singing frog toy (from an elderly relative) that squawks that "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" song when you squeeze its foot. Other than that . . .

As I sit bloated in excess, and enjoying the extra bit of cash I have now lining my pocket, one thing that always deeply touches me every year is to sit down and read the World Vision Gift Catalog. I see what a difference I could make in a very, very real and immediate way in someone's life with just a little bit of the resources that I am so blessed with. There are some really cool ideas contained within these pages. So yes, allow me to get a little Sally Struthers on you for a minute, and use this blog for a bit of good - here are some ideas of worthy final resting places for your end-of-the-year largesse:

Provide a goat
The early-morning bleating of a dairy goat is a happy sound for children in countries like Haiti and Kenya. They know it’s ready to be milked! A goat nourishes a family with fresh milk, cheese, and yogurt, and can offer a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market. It even provides fertilizer that can dramatically increase crop yields. A perennial favorite, both to give and receive!
[$75 - give]

Change a child's life through music education
Music instruction can be life-changing for a child — cultivating his or her ability to learn, fostering emotional development, and allowing an expression of inborn creativity. For children with troubled backgrounds or impoverished living conditions, it is especially beneficial. Your gift provides training and musical instruments such as guitars, xylophones, and keyboards to benefit children in need in countries like Indonesia, El Salvador, and Mozambique.
[$20 - give]

Warm woolen blanket
Even in warm-weather climates, nights can be chilly, especially at higher elevations. Show your love by wrapping a child, expectant mother, AIDS patient, or elderly person in a clean, durable wool blanket for a cozy night’s sleep.
[$30 - give]

Small business loan for an impoverished woman
Put strength in the hands of an impoverished woman with a small loan she can use to start or expand a business — the income from which can help feed, clothe, and educate her children. As loans are repaid to World Vision’s WILFund (Women’s International Loan Fund), the funds are used to provide new loans to others. Your gift today can be recycled to literally hundreds of women in years to come!
[$100 - give]

Help pay for a much-needed eye surgery
Imagine being kept out of school, or shunned by your peers, for having crossed eyes — or trying to care for young children without being able to see well. Your gift, in partnership with a nonprofit eye clinic in Azerbaijan, can provide surgery for children suffering from seriously impaired vision. Or, it can resolve common yet debilitating vision problems for a Zimbabwean grandparent caring for children who have lost parents to AIDS.
[$20 - give]

The gift of play: Soccer balls
Playtime is an essential part of childhood, but many impoverished children have never even seen a real toy. Your gift of a soccer ball will replace rounded wads of trash and banana leaf balls for an energetic boy or girl. And with a generous match from Baden Sports, your gift gives two brand-new balls instead of just one!
[$16 - give]


Wait for it . . .

We Are The World - U.S.A. For Africa
(man alive, that brings back some serious mid-'80s memories for me! You know it makes you want to sway back and forth with one hand over your ear -like holding a headphone- and wail like Tina Turner)


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Guest blogger redux: Chris from England

Around this time last year, I featured a "guest blogger" post by my pal/faithful reader Chris in England, who regularly takes the time to make me fabulous and varied mix CDs which arrive in the mail at random intervals and never fail to brighten my day. I am a firm believer in the power of good music in your mailbox when you least expect it to make any day immeasurably better.

Chris and I have remarkably similar musical tastes (meaning his are also superb, obviously). In addition to the old-goodies he throws in, his mixes also serve as a much-appreciated barometer of what is new and interesting over in the UK and the Manchester area (often before it fully hits over here). It's really one of the best things going in my mailbox.

Chris always sends along commentary with his mixes; he is a closet music blogger dying to get out. It would be criminal not to share all this goodness with you folks, so enjoy.

his comments in italics

Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis
I am in love with the glorious stick-in-your-head nature of this song. I'd listened to The Fratellis before and wanted to write something, but nothing sums them up better than what Chris writes: "Watch out for the track from The Fratellis - a bit like Supergrass playing '70s glam rock." That is exactly spot-on what I hear when I listen to this -the most apt description I've heard yet for these boys from Glasgow- but could never articulate it so perfectly. So I'm just gonna let him introduce you to this infectiously fab tune.

No Matter What - Badfinger
"A very old song (one of the first songs I bought as a very very young child), Badfinger was signed by Paul McCartney to Apple and responsible for one of the saddest stories in rock history (two members of the group killed themselves in later life, etc). Anyway I think the song was 'power pop' well ahead of its time. You can feel the Beatles influence in the production."

Silent Sigh - Badly Drawn Boy
Part of the three-song sequence of Manchester artists, Chris calls this "a wonderful singalong -- the best Badly Drawn Boy song ever." I find it surprisingly Prince-like (not a bad thing).

Emily - Stephen Fretwell
"Scarborough-born Fretwell: name-checked by Ryan Adams and a bit like Damien Rice." Lovely and wistful and wonderful.

Dear readers, Chris and his services are available for rental if you need a great long-distance musical correspondent. Oh wait, actually he's not -- but I'll pass along the goodness if he keeps sending me the goods.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Before They Were Blogged: Band of Horses demo tape

Seattle's Band of Horses turned up at the top of many "Best-Of" lists this year with their full-length debut Everything All The Time (Sub Pop), a jangly, shimmering album that is mandatorily compared to The Shins, My Morning Jacket, and Neil Young in every album review ever written (oh, and sometimes Flaming Lips).

Yep, you can hear all those influences, but I think they are doing so well because --beyond the comparisons-- they have an eminently fresh & enjoyable sound that is uniquely their own.

Before they hit the blog buzz this year, they released several versions of demo tapes (under the simplified moniker "Horses") that are worth taking a listen to. This is the stuff that caught the ears of Sub Pop:

DEMO 1: "Horses"
Snow Song [aka The Snow Fall]
Bass Song (early version of Our Swords)
Ghost Song [aka For Wicked Gil]
Part 2 Song
(Biding Time Is A) Boat To Row

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Awwww, man! James Brown dead at 73

Not to be a downer on this fine, fantastic Christmas morning, but James Brown died early today. He was unparalleled, an absolute legend who contributed in massive ways to the sounds of soul and funk, and will be missed in a huge way.

Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto - James Brown

That's Life - James Brown

. . . And the granddaddy of them all, with that teasing, sublime guitar lick:

Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine - James Brown
(If you are able to sit still while you listen to this, let me know how you do it)

From the NY Times
ATLANTA (AP) -- James Brown, the dynamic, pompadoured ''Godfather of Soul,'' whose rasping vocals and revolutionary rhythms made him a founder of rap, funk and disco as well, died early Monday, his agent said. He was 73.

Brown was hospitalized with pneumonia at Emory Crawford Long Hospital on Sunday and died around 1:45 a.m. Monday, said his agent, Frank Copsidas of Intrigue Music. Longtime friend Charles Bobbit was by his side, he said.

Copsidas said the cause of death was uncertain. ''We really don't know at this point what he died of,'' he said.

Along with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and a handful of others, Brown was one of the major musical influences of the past 50 years. At least one generation idolized him, and sometimes openly copied him. His rapid-footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson among others. Songs such as David Bowie's ''Fame,'' Prince's ''Kiss,'' George Clinton's ''Atomic Dog'' and Sly and the Family Stone's ''Sing a Simple Song'' were clearly based on Brown's rhythms and vocal style.

If Brown's claim to the invention of soul can be challenged by fans of Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, then his rights to the genres of rap, disco and funk are beyond question. He was to rhythm and dance music what Dylan was to lyrics: the unchallenged popular innovator.

''James presented obviously the best grooves,'' rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy once told The Associated Press. ''To this day, there has been no one near as funky. No one's coming even close.''

His hit singles include such classics as ''Out of Sight,'' ''(Get Up I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,'' ''I Got You (I Feel Good)'' and ''Say It Loud -- I'm Black and I'm Proud,'' a landmark 1968 statement of racial pride.

''I clearly remember we were calling ourselves colored, and after the song, we were calling ourselves black,'' Brown said in a 2003 Associated Press interview. ''The song showed even people to that day that lyrics and music and a song can change society.''

He won a Grammy award for lifetime achievement in 1992, as well as Grammys in 1965 for ''Papa's Got a Brand New Bag'' (best R&B recording) and for ''Living In America'' in 1987 (best R&B vocal performance, male.) He was one of the initial artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, along with Presley, Chuck Berry and other founding fathers.

He triumphed despite an often unhappy personal life. Brown, who lived in Beech Island near the Georgia line, spent more than two years in a South Carolina prison for aggravated assault and failing to stop for a police officer. After his release on in 1991, Brown said he wanted to ''try to straighten out'' rock music.

From the 1950s, when Brown had his first R&B hit, ''Please, Please, Please'' in 1956, through the mid-1970s, Brown went on a frenzy of cross-country tours, concerts and new songs. He earned the nickname ''The Hardest Working Man in Show Business'' and often tried to prove it to his fans, said Jay Ross, his lawyer of 15 years.

Brown would routinely lose two or three pounds each time he performed and kept his furious concert schedule in his later years even as he fought prostate cancer, Ross said.

''He'd always give it his all to give his fans the type of show they expected,'' he said.

With his tight pants, shimmering feet, eye makeup and outrageous hair, Brown set the stage for younger stars such as Michael Jackson and Prince.

In 1986, he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And rap stars of recent years overwhelmingly have borrowed his lyrics with a digital technique called sampling.

Brown's work has been replayed by the Fat Boys, Ice-T, Public Enemy and a host of other rappers. ''The music out there is only as good as my last record,'' Brown joked in a 1989 interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

''Disco is James Brown, hip-hop is James Brown, rap is James Brown; you know what I'm saying? You hear all the rappers, 90 percent of their music is me,'' he told the AP in 2003.

Born in poverty in Barnwell, S.C., in 1933, he was abandoned as a 4-year-old to the care of relatives and friends and grew up on the streets of Augusta, Ga., in an ''ill-repute area,'' as he once called it. There he learned to wheel and deal.

''I wanted to be somebody,'' Brown said.

By the eighth grade in 1949, Brown had served 3 1/2 years in Alto Reform School near Toccoa, Ga., for breaking into cars.

While there, he met Bobby Byrd, whose family took Brown into their home. Byrd also took Brown into his group, the Gospel Starlighters. Soon they changed their name to the Famous Flames and their style to hard R&B.

In January 1956, King Records of Cincinnati signed the group, and four months later ''Please, Please, Please'' was in the R&B Top Ten.

Pete Allman, a radio personality in Las Vegas who had been friends with Brown for 15 years, credited Brown with jump-starting his career and motivating him personally and professionally.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

He will be missed. Get on up!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My heart's beatin' rhythm and my soul keeps on singin' the blues: Rolling Stones Outtakes

How about finding a whole disc full of Rolling Stones gems and studio outtakes from throughout their career that you may not have heard before? Would that warm up your December? Yeah, me too. Hot dang, these are great.

The good folks over at alt.rocknroll.stones put together this ace collection -- and since it's chosen by the uberfans, you know it's the best of the best outtakes. From the recognizable opening riff of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" and other covers, into the loose-bluesy groove and straight-up Rolling Stones sound you love, this collection got me very excited.

Don't miss the sad and sweet vibe of "Stuck Out All Alone" or the electric groove of "Memo From Turner." Lots of studio banter on several of these, joking around and musical experimentation. The instrumental "Ivy League" is very appealing, and dig the screams that start off "Livin' In A Harder Love."

This is a rough and fun collection, vital listening.

The tracklist for these Stones goodies is:

Roll Over Beethoven (1964, Chuck Berry cover)
Crackin' Up (1964, Bo Diddley cover)
Beautiful Delilah (1964, Chuck Berry cover)
And Mr. Spector and Mr. Pitney Came Too (1965 - instrumental version of Andrews Blues)
Lookin' Tired (1966 outtake)
Stuck Out All Alone / Hamburger To Go (1968)
Memo From Turner (1968)
Ain't Gonna Lie (1970)
Good Time Woman (1971)
Livin' In A Harder Love (1974)
Yellow Cab (Do You Think I Care?) (1978)
My First Plea (1978, Jimmy Reed cover)
Claudine (Long version, 1979)
No Spare Parts (1978 outtake)
Strictly Memphis (Step On It) (1985)
Ivy League (mostly instrumental, 1994)
Zip Mouth Angel (1994)
Middle Of The Sea (1994)
Cocaine Blues (1994, trad/Bob Dylan cover)

I found these over at my friend Rich's fine blog, which is also currently hosting some rad Beatles "Revolution" bootleg material, and always unearthing great music. I also got a lot of background info on these version at this fine site for the very thorough.


Pete Yorn feels good again

So good, in fact, that his minions put together this enjoyable little recap of the recent "You & Me Acoustic" tour with footage from his in-store stops and shows around the country and abroad (San Diego, Alexandria, Australia, Berkeley, Seattle, etc. but no Colorado - boo). Set to the musical accompaniment of Yorn's cover of the Junior Kimbrough tune "I Feel Good Again":

Pete's a touring maniac, and he's off again this Spring '07:

Feb 6 - Big Easy, Boise, ID
Feb 8 - Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
Feb 9 - Roseland, Portland, OR
Feb 10 - Showbox, Seattle, WA
Feb 12 - Empire, Sacramento, CA
Feb 15 - House of Blues, Las Vegas, NV
Feb 16 - The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA
Feb 17 - House of Blues, Anaheim, CA
Feb 19 - House of Blues, San Diego, CA
Feb 20 - Marquee Theater, Tempe, AZ
Feb 22 - Suede, Park City, UT
Feb 23 - Ogden Theater, Denver, CO
Feb 26 - Granada, Lawrence, KS
Feb 27 - Pageant Theatre, St. Louis, MO
Feb 28 - Music Mill, Indianapolis, IN
Mar 2 - First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
Mar 7 - Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH
Mar 9 - House of Blues, Cleveland, OH
Mar 16 - Roseland Ballroom, New York
Mar 19 - Avalon, Boston, MA
Mar 20 - 9:30 Club, Washington DC
Mar 25 - Amos' Southend, Charlotte, NC
Mar 31 - House of Blues, New Orleans, LA


Friday, December 22, 2006

Okay a few more Christmas songs. I'll stop soon, I promise.

I just took this picture in my backyard -- it's of the hill of the junior high school right behind my house. These three kids have been out there snowboarding for hours, now that the snow has stopped and it's a gorgeous sunny day (28 degrees, but gorgeous). I love Colorado. Backyard snowboarding.

I keep amassing new Christmas tuneage to share, or else discovering something I had forgotten, buried in the depths of my iTunes. I figure I'll spill 'em now because it's my last chance for about 11 months.

Merry Christmas Eve - Better Than Ezra

Merry Christmas (Slade cover) - Noel Gallagher

Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney
(ha haa! Yes, it's awful. Check the link.)

I Wanna Be Santa Claus - Ringo Starr

Cool Yule - Louis Armstrong (1953)

We're Not So Bad - Michael Stipe
(loosely Christmas related; more of a novelty than anything else. It's from the funny Matt Groening-produced Christmas movie Olive, The Other Reindeer -say it out loud, get it?- which was playing in the background the other day and this little animated dude starts talking and I stopped whatever I was doing and poked my head around the corner in time to hear Michael Stipe perform this with that unmistakable voice. Drew Barrymore stars as Olive, and there is enough "adult" humor and inside jokes in this to make Pixar jealous).

Interesting album news: America and Joni Mitchell

They've been through the desert on a horse with no name (ooh, sorry for getting that stuck in your head) and America has a new double album Here & Now coming out in a few weeks on Burgundy Records; notable because it was produced by Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne and James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins.

It also features contributions from Ryan Adams, Ben Kweller, Matthew Caws and Ira Elliot (Nada Surf), Jim James and Patrick Hallahan (My Morning Jacket),and Stephen Bishop and Mark Rozzo (Maplewood). It's unclear at press time (and by that I mean clicking the orange "Publish Post" button) what, exactly, each of these fine young men contribute to the disc, but count me interested.

Also, there is a new Joni Mitchell tribute album coming out on Nonesuch Records with Prince, Bjork, and Sufjan contributing their versions of Joni tracks. This should be good:

Free Man in Paris - Sufjan Stevens
Boho Dance - Bjork
Dreamland - Caetano Veloso
Don't Interrupt the Sorrow - Brad Mehldau
For the Roses - Cassandra Wilson
A Case of U - Prince
Blue - Sarah McLachlan
Ladies of the Canyon - Annie Lennox
Magdalena Laundries - Emmylou Harris
Edith and the Kingpin - Elvis Costello
Help Me - k.d. lang
River - James Taylor

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Trainwreck Riders: ROCKIN' the satin Forty-Niners jacket

I wanted to post up this video and song for several reasons:
1) It's a non-traditional Christmas song and apparently that's the theme around here lately
2) It's filmed rad Super-8 style in San Francisco at several places I recognize

but mostly

3) dude's rockin' the same stylish satin Forty-Niners jacket that my dad sported in the '80s (and possibly my little brother too):

Nothing says "Christmas" like some harmonica. I like the rolling, melancholy feeling of that song and the rambling walk-through-town feel of the video. The Trainwreck Riders are from San Francisco and have an interesting sound: a blend of old-time Americana, blues, and (on some songs) some good old Bay Area punk rock. Interesting trivia: They are pals with another San Francisco band I've been listening to more lately, Two Gallants. Here's the mp3:

Christmas Time Blues - Trainwreck Riders

I'll have a blue Christmas without you, Chris

Maybe it's the huge blizzard that has (this time seriously) immobilized my city, but I am feeling all holly and jolly. I think that my favorite Christmas album that I am playing the most 'round the house this yuletide season is Chris Isaak's 2004 Christmas CD.

In addition to rockin' retro covers of several old standards, there are five originals and duets with Stevie Nicks as well. It's got such a nice cozy feel to it, with a hint of the surf/jangle/crooner vibe that makes me love Chris. I do recommend buying the whole thing for your Christmas enjoyment -- it's one I look forward to taking out each year. Some people have an aversion to Isaak, but not me. There is nothing but love in my heart for that man.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Chris Isaak
(duet with Stevie Nicks)

Pretty Paper - Chris Isaak

(for good measure:)
Pretty Paper - Roy Orbison

Gotta Be Good - Chris Isaak
(check the fun & naughty innuendo)

And this song's not on the album, but I have categorized it in my iTunes as a bonus track for the CD. The shimmering cymbal roll at the beginning of the track is reminiscent of the sound of the waves - just me and Chris 'round a fire on Ocean Beach singing the season.

I'll Be Home For Christmas (bonus track) - Chris Isaak

And, here's one thing that I had completely forgotten about that made me smile when I opened the CD this year:

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gift book idea for the cool kid on your list: Every Day Is Saturday

Here's something my coffee table lacks this Christmas: A new book of photography by San Francisco's Peter Ellenby called Every Day is Saturday, documenting the meteorical rise and rocking shows of many artists within the "indie rock scene." Considering it is accompanied by a mix CD (with folks like Grandaddy, Death Cab for Cutie, American Music Club, Rogue Wave, The Wedding Present, and many of the other bands featured in the book) it's available for a mere pittance at $17.

I mentioned Ellenby a few months ago because of his fine photographic coverage of the Rogue Wave benefit concert in SF that you may remember me talking up, and I like what I've seen of his work -- his eye for a good shot. I love rock photography, and how could I personally not adore a rock photographer who says that "his favorite places in the world are the top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco"?

Some of the folks he's photographed that appear in this book are: Beastie Boys, Bob Mould, Bright Eyes, The Donnas, Earlimart, The Fastbacks, The Flaming Lips, The Foo Fighters, Ivy, John Lee Hooker, John Vanderslice (bottom), Les Claypool, Matt Nathanson, Mike Watt (left), Modest Mouse, Nada Surf, Neko Case, Red House Painters, Sebadoh and more . . .

Also contributing to the book were John Doe (from the band X) and Tim Scanlin (remember Addicted To Noise?), and a fine SF writer named Christopher Slater. When I first read it I thought it said Christian Slater and I was gonna get excited and go all Pump Up The Volume on you. But it's actually not him. Worthy nonetheless.



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That was fast

Referencing this, donshaknow.

From the folks at Busted Tees - I actually have some of their shirts and love 'em because they make me laugh (and make random strangers also laugh at me).


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Former Cotton Mather frontman Robert Harrison's new gig: Future Clouds & Radar

Austin-based power pop band Cotton Mather made a splash on the scene during the '90s with their album Kontiki, which has some truly lovely tracks on it - infectiously good '60s flavored pop with sublime harmonies that hit that perfect spot in my soul. Per esempio:

Spin My Wheels - Cotton Mather

My Before And After - Cotton Mather

Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Good stuff. The band was named after an especially foxy-looking 17th century Puritan minister, which makes them dang hard to Google, but NME once called them "almost the most exciting new guitar pop band since Supergrass," and after releasing three albums they disbanded in 2003.

Now former Cotton Mather frontman Robert Harrison is back with his new band Future Clouds & Radar, who will release a self-titled double album of "polychromatic psychedelic art-pop" on the Star Apple Kingdom label (March 6). While similarly pleasing, this new stuff is completely unlike his days with Cotton Mather (who sound more like The Beatles/Knack/Oasis).

Listen to two other new tunes from Future Clouds & Radar on their MySpace, I especially like "Egyptian Cravat." Oh, and this one here has ukulele, and is fantastic.

Drugstore Bust - Future Clouds & Radar

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Yabba dabba doo

Joe Barbera, half of the famous animation duo Hanna-Barbera, died yesterday at the age of 95 from natural causes at his home in California. Just the name Hanna-Barbera makes me smile, and remember how it would always flash across the screen at the beginning of the best cartoons from the Saturday mornings of my youth.

Alongside recollections of watching questionable shows like The Gummy Bears or Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers (I can still sing the songs for both, wanna hear it? Didn't think so), as well as better ones like He-Man and The Smurfs, I spent lots of weekend mornings with The Jetsons and The Flintstones. The duo also created Yogi Bear and Scooby-Doo.

Their strengths melded perfectly, critic Leonard Maltin wrote in his book Of Mice And Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. Barbera brought the comic gags and skilled drawing, while Hanna brought warmth and a keen sense of timing.

Hanna, who died in 2001, once said he was never a good artist, but that Barbera could "capture mood and expression in a quick sketch better than anyone I've ever known."

Yay for the both of them, for all the joy the've added into countless kids' artificially-sweetened-cereal fueled Saturday mornings.

Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah (Means I Love You)
[from The Jetsons] - Violent Femmes

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? - Matthew Sweet

Open Up Your Heart And Let The Sunshine In
[from The Flintstones] - Frente!

(I just remembered that I totally had the original version of this song on vinyl record)


Sugar, Sugar [from The Archie Show]
Mary Lou Lord & Semisonic

The Tra-La-La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)
[from The Banana Splits] - Liz Phair & Material Issue

[Parts of this post are lifted from the AP article, and the songs are from the excellent mid-'90s snapshot of nostalgia Saturday Morning Cartoons' Greatest Hits, which has more great tracks from the likes of The Ramones, Sublime, Reverend Horton Heat, and Juliana Hatfield/Tanya Donelly]

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

In the my continuing quest to find the perfect t-shirt, I've got another contender - just obscure enough to really fire me up. Worn Free replicates tees sported by your musical icons in random snapshots throughout history. Check their site to get the same shirt that Lennon wore in December 1971, or the yellow tank that Deborah Harry wore in concert circa '77. Only you and a select few musical literati will know just how cool you really are under that corduroy jacket.

So, there's sort of a theme time for the tunes this week - all are really upbeat and perhaps may lead you to dance this Monday morning. It seemed to me as if we might need it.

All The Time
IV Thieves
Aside from the vocal chants that I find entirely too reminiscent of "Walk Like An Egyptian" (you know, the one that all the cops in the donut shop say?) this is a sawing bluesy romp off the IV Thieves' new album If We Can't Escape My Pretty. Formerly known as the superb Nic Armstrong and The Thieves, now known as simply the IV Thieves - from Nottingham and worth paying attention to.

Mr. Tough
Yo La Tengo
There is so much music always coming out that I admit I had not had time to listen to the new Yo La Tengo album this year, even though I personally thought the name was hilarious (I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass). Well, color me surprised, but this funk falsetto song is absolutely a million miles from what I expected to hear from Yo La Tengo, and it is completely fantastic. Love it, love it, love it.

The Zutons
Here's one more that I didn't particularly expect, based on The Zutons' past Scouse-rock sounds. This is a definite dance-in-the-shower Motown/funk tune with "ooh-ooh" backing vocals (a la "Sympathy For The Devil") and more than a hint of Elton John, if you can imagine that. It's from their 2006 release Tired Of Hanging Around (Red Ink Records).

Plus, there's a lyric that says, "And I miss your ginger hair and the way you used to dress." Which makes me suspect this is really an incognito song about Ginger Spice.

Gotta Get Out
The Bicycles
Bruce hooked my interest by saying this track from Toronto's The Bicycles makes you "think early Kinks meets the Bubblegum Explosion." A mere two minutes long, this song is admittedly borderline hokey in a charming '60s sense, but for me hokey '60s pop = love, so we're golden here. From their really preciously-titled (blech) album The Good, The Band, and The Cuddly, more free tunes here.

Heaven Knows
Taylor Hicks
This one's for my dear mama, but you may find yourself liking it too. Her birthday was this weekend and my sister and I collaborated on a joint Taylor Hicks-related present, with me providing an autographed picture (spoils of my rich and famous blogger lifestyle) while my sister bought her the Taylor Hicks debut album (which I hear is selling like hotcakes). I smiled to hear this song, with it's opening notes that you could mistake for Ray Charles' "What'd I Say?" and other elements of Motown all over it. Yeah, he won American Idol. But don't hold that against him, take a listen to this -- I think it's pretty good.

Please don't put your life in the hands / of a rock 'n' roll band / who'll throw it all away

I have to admit that I had waaaay more fun judging this Oasis contest than I ever thought I would.

I was psychoanalyzing the roots of my longstanding distaste of Oasis (to be totally honest here), and I think it springs from the fact that when they first hit the scene, they were such the antithesis of the musicians I was fondest of at the time, namely Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain. Whereas I was passionately in love with music from these bands fronted by the strong, silent (sullen) types who were full of rage, here came these cocky brothers who thought they were the best thing since Lennon himself, and my first impression was just "no thank you" and I went on from there, not really reconsidering.

Slowly I've been giving them a chance, and completely admitting that they've got some great songs that have a place in my musical library. There's room in the world of music for all types, and I guess the Gallagher brothers fill a special little niche that is all their swaggering own. The reason I enjoyed judging this contest is because I actually sought out all the moments that you guys referenced, the specific live versions where possible, and tried to understand those feelings you all so fervently and eloquently referenced. And it really did the music-lover in me good. So thanks for each and every entry, they were truly fantastic.

Picking an actual winner was hard, as always. I tried to extract from your answers not only who cited the best "moment," but also who seemed to me like they would enjoy the prize the most. Pretty abstract, huh? But throughout all the judging, I kept coming back to one of the earliest entries (Brian's, on the ending of "Champagne Supernova" -- which was nicely bookended by Tommy's later comment on the start of that same song, and Kristina's well-spoken dissertation). Brian wrote a weighty tome that not only read like finely crafted liner-notes, or some momentous Hall-of-Fame induction speech, but also showed a pretty obsessive level of knowledge of the band (down to the color & model of Noel's guitar). The clincher was probably the use of vocabulary like epochal, nostalgic soundscape and sonic signpost. I'm a vocab nerd at heart. So congrats Brian! I think you'll enjoy the print.

There were several very close runners up that I wanted to comment on, and post a few related songs for your enjoyment. Start with this one that was so random I just loved it:

۞ dom said...
-->feint cheering of crowd
-->undecipherable liam utterance
-->feedback kicking in


-->crashing guitars, more feedback

'wassup.....dunt matter if it's outta choon.

doesn't matter if it's out of choon.....cos yoor kewl'

-->guitar intro to one of the best cover versions ever recorded - I Am The Walrus.

I Am The Walrus (Live at Cathouse, June 1994) - Oasis

۞ Then this deliriously grand piece that made me all kinds of happy (mentioning three of my favorite things - In'N'Out, air drumming, and road trips - in the same story):

I'M JUST SAYIN said...
I don't need thirty seconds of an Oasis song.

I don't even need fifteen.

All I need is about three.

Seriously. Three.

Imagine yourself on a sunny Friday afternoon driving a banged up Jeep with top down north up the 15 from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. As you drive past Barstow, and the In-N -Out begins to settle, the road clears for miles. Your mix has already thrown on Wiser Time, One Big Holiday and MFC, and as you take a moment to exhale and enjoy the beauty around you, the sound of a guitar being plugged in blares through your speakers.

Now you're thinking, ok, this guy's moment is the opening riff of "Cigarettes and Alcohol," right? Nope. It ain't about the riff baby.

It's all about the drum fill!

My moment is that stops my clock every time is that "clacky clack" drum fill that follows the opening riff of one epic road song that Hunter S. Thompson himself would approve of.

I challenge you to listen to it in your car and not attempt to air drum that fill! Go on try it! I dare you. It's physically impossible. Scientists should be doing a study on it.

(You have to air drum that fill, it follows that same musical law that states by just mentioning the song "Tainted Love," it automatically get stuck in your head for the day.)

Report back to me if you used "air sticks" or just pounded your hands right on the damn steering wheel! Also, let me know if you sang out at the top of your lungs the opening line "Is it my imagination, or have I finally found something worth living for?" complete with British accent or not. If you didn't do any sort of these acts, you are inhuman and have no soul.

I'm just sayin.

Cigarettes & Alcohol - Oasis

۞ Christopher said...
Heather....this is an easy one..from their live, double-disc album, "Familiar to Millions"......there is a few seconds towards the end of "Don't Look Back in Anger" when you can actually feel the crowd ready to chant...


...it feels like you're at a european soccer game and the entire arena believes in one team...except at this moment, Wembley Hall believes in Oasis...and maybe more so Rock and Roll.

Don't Look Back In Anger (live at Wembley) - Oasis

۞ Krista wrote a lovely and personally meaningful entry about how "Don't Go Away" was especially important to her during a rough patch with her dad, and I wanted to share with her (and you all too) my favorite version of that song, a live acoustic version that roughly sounds reminiscent of the concert she wrote about:

Don't Go Away (live acoustic) - Oasis

۞ Then Ian pointed out a nice little b-side, and provided the tune:

Ian said...
Hands down, the whistle-solo at 3:12 on "Flashbax" -- okay ... it's actually 41 seconds long, but hey, c'mon...

It's not just the whistling though, it's the way every single instrument interplays with each other during that spot of the song. It is absolutely positively amazing... and it's a side of Oasis we don't really get to see often.

If you haven't heard the song (and just about every Oasis fan I've ever met never even knew it existed), you'll either need to get your hands on the All Around the World single, or .... [here he links to the mp3]. In my opinion, it's the best Oasis B-Side ever recorded... and it has a WHISTLING SOLO!!!

Flashbax (b-side) - Oasis

۞ Finally, Eric said...
Not "a" moment per se, but I love the way Liam, in "Cigarettes & Alcohol," seems to pronounce the word "alcohol" as "alkeehawl".

Yeah Eric, that's exactly why I love hearing the line, "Maybayyyy, I don't really wanna knaaaow how your gaaaaaaahden grows . . ." Never fails to make me smile.

What a great contest -- my favorite so far. Goshdarn it if you guys didn't almost make an Oasis convert out of me.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmastime is here again

Well, it finally happened.

I was finally subjected to my first live performance of the season of "Feliz Navidad," which ne'er fails to make me want to gouge my eardrums out with a knitting needle. I also was at a fancy office Christmas party on Friday night and the soul cover band kept throwing in trombone lines from Joy To The World and Sleigh Ride, etc etc etc.

It brought to my attention the fact that this post is long overdue. I've got a pretty sizeable collection of "Christmas Music That Won't Drive You To Drink Unless You Want To" -- which just got a shot in the arm this year thanks to a rockin' 3-CD compilation I received from Philly friend Brian (yay Brian!).

There's a lot of schmaltzy crap out there this season, kids. Stay safe. Here's a haven of good stuff for your seasonal mixmastery:

We Four Kings - The Blue Hawaiians (surf music!)
Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas - Eels
Do They Know It's Christmas - Pete Yorn
Work on Christmas - Harvey Danger
God Is Real (Jesus Is Alive) - John Davis (of Superdrag)
Angel In The Snow (unreleased version) - Elliott Smith
Washington Square - Chris Isaak
I'd Like You For Christmas - Julie London
Donna and Blitzen - Badly Drawn Boy
You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch - Luce
That Was The Worst Christmas Ever! - Sufjan Stevens
Back Door Santa - The Black Crowes
Baby, It's Cold Outside - Leon Redbone & Zooey Deschanel (Elf)
Winter Wonderland - Liz Phair
The Gift of Grace - Denison Witmer
Christmas Eve - Teenage Fanclub
Silent Night - Ben Harper & The Blind Boys of Alabama
When I Get Home For Christmas - Snow Patrol
Listening To Otis Redding At Home During Christmas - Okkervil River
Xmas Curtain - My Morning Jacket
Fairytale of New York - Stars
The Rebel Jesus - Jackson Browne
Maybe This Christmas - Ron Sexsmith
What A Year For A New Year - Dan Wilson (of Semisonic)
Merry Christmas Everybody - Rooney
The Winter Song - Eisley
White Christmas - Mark Kozelek
Christmas - Leona Naess
Christmastime is Here - Snowden
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Hem
Holy, Holy, Holy - Sufjan Stevens
Silent Night - Brian Wilson

**HO HO HO, The file as a ZIP**

That helps to slightly ease the sting of briefly having -- and then cruelly LOSING -- the vinyl Christmas With Elvis record last night at a houseparty with a white elephant gift exchange.

It was mine. I was so excited. But now the doe-eyed Elvis (with those dewy lips, good heavens) is gone from my Christmas celebration, stolen by another gal, sending me home with a plastic candy cane full of little bottles of flavored Stoli instead.

I'm still in mourning.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Jeff Buckley sings over the phone: Dylan's "I Shall Be Released"

An author has contacted me to contribute to a book he is writing which indirectly is related to Jeff Buckley, and I am working on giving some initial answers to questions for him about my "relationship" with Jeff Buckley and his music, my perspectives and feelings.

I love talking about that kind of stuff, as you know, but it's also kind of a hard exercise. I stopped and just kind of sat there when I came to question #5:

Did you ever see him play live, or meet him/speak to him? If not, do you wish you had?

(The answer is no, but more than anything I'd love to answer the first part of that question in the affirmative). I've been listening to Jeff Buckley a lot today, and am especially excited about this amazing version of Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" that Buckley performed over the phone for some guys from WMFU Radio some years ago.

Jeff's bluesy take on this song from Sin-é has long been a favorite of mine, but there's something about the impromptu scratchy gorgeousness of this version. It's absolutely arresting; I don't know how something over the phone could induce chills, but it does. When I read Dream Brother, one common thread throughout Jeff's life was that he loved to share little bits of himself through his music in random ways with friends and those whom he felt could appreciate it -- so his music crops up in all kinds of unexpected forms.

The singing starts at about 4:15.

[removed] I Shall Be Released - Jeff Buckley
over the phone with WMFU Radio

[NOW ON CD: please see this post to buy it for a good cause!]

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Friday, December 15, 2006

12 x 12: Your favorite bloggers pick their favorite albums

Welcome to 12 X 12: The First Annual Some Velvet/I Am Fuel 2006 Year-In-Music Blogger Poll. It's the obviously logical combination of music and accounting.

Bruce from Some Velvet Blog rocks all sorts of goodness on a regular basis over on his site and at his radio station. We had so much fun working on our massive Girl Talk post together that we once again decided to pool our creative energies to come up with our first meta-music poll (not to be confused with a Metamucil poll) for the year 2006.

Together we brainstormed a list of our blogging dream team, inviting some of the music blog world's most respected folks to submit their favorite albums of the year. The following brave souls accepted:

Bruce from Some Velvet Blog
Chris from Gorilla vs. Bear
Duke of The Late Greats
Philabuster from Badminton Stamps
Dodge from My Old Kentucky Blog
Jennings from rbally
Chad from Everybody Cares, Everybody Understand
Eric from Can You See The Sunset From The Southside?
Cara from Scatter o' Light
Jeff from Jefitoblog
and last but certainly not least, no poll would be complete without the spiritual guidance and participation from Jesus himself from What Would Jesus Blog?

Here's how it worked: We asked everyone to submit their top 20 lists, assigning points to weight their votes with everyone's #1 top-choice album getting 20 points; number two album getting 19 votes, etc.

We hired the same accounting firm that the Car Talk guys use - Dewey, Cheathem and Howe - to tally all the votes. And (drumroll please) . . . here is what we came up with.

Scientific? Sort of.
Meaningful? Surely.

Fun? You betcha.

The Top 12x12 (12 albums from 12 bloggers) of 2006

#1 -The Animal Years - Josh Ritter - 77 points
Thin Blue Flame - Josh Ritter

#2 - Post-War - M Ward - 69 points
To Go Home -M Ward

#3 - Everything All The Time - Band of Horses - 61 points
Funeral - Band Of Horses

#4 - The Warning - Hot Chip - 58 points
Just Like We (Breakdown) - Hot Chip

#5 - The Trials Of Van Occupanther - Midlake - 56 points
Many folks dig the song "Roscoe"

#6 - Hell Hath No Fury - Clipse - 52 points
Dirty Money - Clipse

#7 - Rabbit Fur Coat - Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins - 49 points
Handle With Care - Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins (and help from Conor Oberst, M Ward and Ben Gibbard)

#8 - (tie) 45 points each
Boys And Girls In America - The Hold Steady
First Night - The Hold Steady

Nine Times That Same Song - Love Is All
Talk Talk Talk Talk - Love Is All

#9 - Fishscale - Ghostface Killah - 44 points
The Champ - Ghostface Killah

#10 - Ys - Joanna Newsom - 43 points
many tunes here @ the Hype

#11 - The Crane Wife - The Decemberists - 42 points
O Valencia - The Decemberists live from the Riviera Theatre, Chicago Nov 11, 2006

#12 - American V: A Hundred Highways - Johnny Cash - 38 points
God's Gonna Cut You Down - Johnny Cash

If you are curious to see the full ginormous list of albums that were tossed into the pot for consideration by all of us, and then lovingly labelled and categorized on a giant spreadsheet by Bruce I mean our accounting firm, then here you go:

9 - Damien Rice
Alright, Still - Lily Allen
American Myth - Jackie Green
American V: A Hundred Highways - Johnny Cash
And Now That I'm In Your Shadow - Damien Jurado
Animal Years - Josh Ritter
Anti Anti - Snowden
Antidepressant - Lloyd Cole
As Daylight Dies - Killswitch Engine
Be Your Own Pet - Be Your Own Pet
Beach House - Beach House
Bedroom Classics, Vol. 2 EP - Josh Rouse
Begin To Hope - Regina Spektor
Ben Kweller - Ben Kweller
Best of the IRS Years - REM
Big Iron World - Old Crow Medicine Show
Bishop Allen - EP's
Black Holes And Revelations - Muse
Boys And Girls In America - The Hold Steady
Breathe - Dan Berne
Broken Boy Soldiers - The Racounteurs
Canavas - Silversun Pickups
Cansei De Ser Sexy - CSS
Catastrophe Keeps Us Together - Rainer Maria
Chemical City - Sam Roberts
Comfort Of Strangers - Beth Orton
Corinne Bailey Rae - Corinne Bailey Rae
Crashing The Ether - Tommy Keene
Dog Problems - The Format
Donuts - J Dilla
Down Beside Your Beauty - Favourite Sons
Dreams Don't Count - Jules Shear
Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly of A Mountain - Sparklehorse
Dying To Say This To You - The Sounds
Eingya - Helios
Everything All The Time - Band of Horses
Field of Crows - Darden Smith
First Impressions Of Earth - The Strokes
Fishscales - Ghostface Killer
Flying Canyon - Flying Canyon
Food & Liquor - Lupe Fiasco
Fort Recovery - Centro-matic
Fox Confessor - Neko Case
Fox Confessor Brings The Flood - Neko Case
Funnel Cloud - HEM
Future Sex/Love Sounds - Justin Timberlake
Game Theory - The Roots
Give Me A Wall - Forward, Russia
Gnarls Barkley - Gnarls Barkley
Gulag Orkestar - Beirut
Half Perfect World - Madeleine Peyroux
Hell Hath No Fury - Clipse
Hell Under The Skullbones - Grahm Linsey
Hello Love - The Be Good Tanyas
Homecoming - Griffin House
How We Operate - Gomez
I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass - Yo La Tengo
I'm Your Man: Motion Picture Soundtrack - Leonard Cohen
Imaginary Kingdom - Tim Finn
Inside In/Inside Out - The Kooks
It's Never Been Like That - Phoenix
Just Like The Family Cat - Grandaddy
Keep Your Heart - The Loved Ones
King - T.I.
Let Me Introduce My Friends - I'm From Barcelona
Lightness - Peter and the Wolf
Living With War - Neil Young
Look At Who You're Talking To - Human Television
Love Travels At Illegal Speeds - Graham Coxon
Lullabies In A & C - Bel Auburn
Makers - Rocky Votolato
Minor Works - J. Tillman
Mockingbird - Derek Webb
Modern Romance - Sasah Dobson
Modern Times - Bob Dylan
Mr. Lemons - Glen Phillips
Night Ripper - Girl Talk
Nine Times That Same Song - Love Is All
No Midnight - Birdmonster
Nothing But The Water - Grace Potter And The Nocturnals
October Language - Belong
Offshore - Early Day Miners
Oh! Calcutta! - The Lawrence Arms
Open Season: Remixes And Collaborations - Feist
Orphans - Tom Waits
Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam
People Gonna Talk - James Hunter
Pieces Of The People We Love - The Rapture
Post-War - M Ward
Put Your Ghost To Rest - Kevin Devine
Puzzles Like You - Mojave 3
Rabbit Fur Coat - Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins
Rather Ripped - Sonic Youth
Rebels, Rogues And Sworn Brothers - Lucero
Reiter In - Chris Whitley
Return To Cookie Mountain - TV On The Radio
Return To The Sea - Islands
Say I Am You - The Weepies
Show Your Bones - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Shut Up I Am Dreaming - Sunset Rubdown
Silent Shout - The Knife
Slow New York - Richard Julian
Snow Angels - Over The Rhine
So Much More - Brett Dennen
So This Is Goodbye - Junior Boys
Some Echoes - Aloha
Songs That You Might Not Like - Boat
Soulwax - Nite Versions
Stay Afraid - Parts & Labor
Sun, Sun, Sun - The Elected
Suppy And Demand - Amos Lee
Tangerine - Dave Mead
The Black Parade - My Chemical Romance
The Body, The Blood, The Machine - The Thermals
The Californian - Bob Schneider
The Crane Wife - The Decmberists
The Dividing Island - Lansing-Drieden
The Dust of Retreat - Margot & The Nuclear So and So's
The Eraser - Thom Yorke
The Evening Call - Greg Brown
The Good, The Bad, and The Cuddly - The Bicycles
The Greatest - Cat Power
The Information - Beck
The Lemonheads - The Lemonheads
The Loon - Tapes 'n' Tapes
The Seeger Sessions - Bruce Springsteen
The Shining - J Dilla
The Trials Of Van Occupanther - Midlake
The Warning - Hot Chip
The Way To The Bitter Lake - Spider
These Four Walls - Shawn Colvin
Through The Windowpane - Guillemots
Till The Sun Turns Black - Ray Lamontagne
Time Being - Ron Sexsmith
Tired Of Hanging Around - The Zutons
Today Is Tonight - The Changes
Tower Of Love - Jim Noir
Under The Skin - Lindsey Buckingham
Unicornography - The Falcon
Ways Not To Lose - The Wood Brothers
We Are The Pipettes - The Pipettes
We Are The Vehicles - Maritime
We Shall Overcome - Bruce Springsteen
We The Vehicles - Maritime
Westerns EP - Pete Yorn
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - Arctic Monkeys
What's Going On - Dirty Dozen Brass Band
What's Mine Is Your - Elliot Morris
Where Is The Glow? - Kite Flying Society
Wolfmother - Wolfmother
World Waits - Jeremy Enigk
Writer's Block - Peter Bjorn and John
Yellow House - Grizzly Bear
Young Machetes - The Blood Brothers
Ys - Joanna Newsom

Whew! So now you have some ideas for your Christmas list. But you don't have to take my word for it.


We're gettin' The Band back together, dude

Via Stereogum, news of a forthcoming tribute album to The Band called Endless Highway (Jan 2007) that I've been streaming all morning over at the 429 Records site, enjoying tunes like:

Ophelia - ALO
Look Out Cleveland - Jackie Greene
Rocking Chair - Death Cab For Cutie
Whispering Pines - Jakob Dylan
Life Is A Carnival - Trevor Hall

And you'll get a version of this one with MMJ (but the album version ain't got no Vedder)

It Makes No Difference - My Morning Jacket with Ed Vedder
(live in Pistoia, Italy - 9/20/06)

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Can't listen to that song anymore? Neither can I.

Hands down one of the best music-related sites on the web is Ruined Music.com; I'd say it's possibly my favorite read.

The concept is simple, and one that most of us can relate to if we have a beating & sentient heart (and truly love music): Sometimes certain songs just get ruined for us. It's often due to love interests / crushes / convoluted relationships and resulting cry sessions or moping around with headphones on, or a variety of other situations from childhood on up, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes you just gotta fumble for that off-button with great urgency when you hear that tune.

On Ruined Music, "civilians" write in with their fantastically descriptive stories of what the specific song is that they can no longer enjoy properly, ranging from serious to funny -- ruined forever. Here are some samples of the current crop, there is an endless archive that you can waste hours on (and I recommend that you do, just don't let the bossman see):


I’ve been broken up and busted up since
Gold by Ryan Adams
by Jamie S.

Or, “How Ryan Adams Wasn’t Ruined By Bad Habits, But By A Girl I Dated.” That’s not entirely correct. Actually, I’m fairly sure she hasn’t ruined him, but she did ruin my experience of his music. Pretty much irreparably. And not the record you’re thinking, either. So, no, not Heartbreaker - wonderful record though it is. This is a different story.

I’m back home for the first time in two years. It’s Christmas and I’m lonely, I’m out every night . . . [full read]


You want to be down with the down and in
"Losing a Whole Year" by Third Eye Blind
by Emily Hartwell Howorth

It all started with a mix tape. Sure, Buck and I had been courting each other for a while: joining each other in late night stumbles home from the campus bar, calling into each other’s radio shows to turn up the heat with increasingly obscure requests. He even learned how to play a Jen Sbragia song on his guitar for me. But the mix tape, ah, the mix tape was the signal that things were getting serious. I took the tape out of the case (with its cover-so-filled-with-strange-and-exciting-boy-handwriting) and put it in my stereo. I pushed aside the Norton Anthologies and spiral notebooks on my bed so I could fully appreciate the mix as only a collegiate girl with a crush can. And that’s when it came, somewhere at the end of Side A, between the Wedding Present and the Velvet Underground: Third Eye Blind . . . [full read]


We’re the answer that came before the goal
False Cathedrals by Elliott
by Colin Smith

Maybe this story should be about that mega-hit by Jimmy Eat World, “The Middle.” It all started there - the trail of music that will remain stained with memories and regret. When we met in college, she wasn’t really into music. I lived it, breathed it. Music is, was, always has been and will be my oxygen tank. . . [full read]


When darkness comes and pain is all around
"Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel
by Jennifer Blessman

Last week I attended a meeting held on the 38th floor of a nameless, faceless midtown skyscraper. On my way up, the elevator serenaded me with “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Muzak-style. Like most people, I can’t stand Muzak, but I absolutely cannot stomach “Bridge.” Not even in my folky college phase did I want to be in the same room with the album. The first few notes would send me screaming from the dorm, begging anyone on the quad to take me back to their lairs to listen to Public Enemy or Milli Vanilli. I don’t mean any disrespect to Messieurs Simon and Garfunkel. The album is seminal, not to mention a triumphant farewell for the artists. I get it. The problem stems from three seemingly unrelated factors coming together like the Bermuda Triangle: that song, my birth month, and the people who lived in the apartment below my parents . . . [full read]

I find it completely and wonderfully voyeuristic, like overhearing a conversation at a bar -- and refreshing that so many random people in this world feel music in a way I can relate to. In every story I find some line that resonates personally (and I just found one story from someone I know -- that feels a bit too personal!). You can subscribe to be emailed every time it is updated (and you should), or take the plunge and submit one of your own sordid tales.

It's a wonderful idea, and all the passionate discourse reaffirms my faith in music. Not that I ever doubted.

Sad Songs & Waltzes - Cake
Don't Listen To The Radio - The Vines

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