I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

You think you are badass. But you aren't, compared to the man himself, Chuck Norris. Somehow the man has achieved massive cult status (apparently he deserves it? Don't hurt me, Chuck!).

Here are just a few of the suppositions from www.chucknorrisfacts.com that made me do that silent laugh thing:

- Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

- There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.

- Crop circles are Chuck Norris' way of telling the world that sometimes corn needs to lie down.

- Contrary to popular belief, Chuck Norris, not the box jellyfish of northern Australia, is the most venomous creature on earth. Within 3 minutes of being bitten, a human being experiences the following symptoms: fever, blurred vision, beard rash, tightness of the jeans, and the feeling of being repeatedly kicked through a car windshield.

- Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.

- If you ask Chuck Norris what time it is, he always says, "Two seconds 'til." After you ask, "Two seconds 'til what?" he roundhouse kicks you in the face.

- Chuck Norris once ate three 72 oz. steaks in one hour. He spent the first 45 minutes having sex with his waitress.

- If you spell Chuck Norris in Scrabble, you win. Forever.


Oh, my sides. Aidez moi. It hurts.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

Well, I am safely back from my work trip/junket to sunny California with a touch of a sunburn and a smile on my face.
My flight home was canceled once we had already boarded the plane Friday night, so we all unwedged ourselves from our tiny seats, waited in an immense line for rebooking and our $400 travel voucher, and then proceeded to heartily make the best of it with some cool fellow young-'un passengers and the help of a cheesy bar at the hotel they put us all up at. It was like LOST, minus the crashing part, the black thing in the jungle that eats people, and all the freaky "coincidences." But we had the camaraderie. And I apparently have brought back a slice of Cali with me because it is pushing 70 in Colorado today, and that is something to pause and enjoy. Life is good, kids.

Black Sweat
Prince
Oh yeah, I just posted Prince on my blog. Truth be told, the Great Tiny Sexy One kind of scares me (in the same vein as David Bowie in the underrated '80s classic Labyrinth), but this song is funky and sexy and should make you stand up in your cubicle and kind of grind a little bit. Feel it. Just make sure the boss isn't looking. From his upcoming album '3121', out on March 21.

I Need Someone
John Davis (formerly of Superdrag)
Okay, now stop gyrating your pelvis from the Prince bizness immediately because John Davis has found God and cleaned up his act. And he has been making some pretty dang sweet music since then. This is a live track from Maxwell's on 4/8/05, right after the release of his self-titled album John Davis, which is just laden with harmonies, lovely piano, and some intelligent and introspective lyrics.

Sugar Blue Too
Jeff Finlin
This one comes courtesy of wonder-fan Vangelis who sends me good stuff from the scenic shores of Greece. Jeff Finlin was featured on the Elizabethtown soundtrack (I still have not seen that movie! Argh!) - and I like Finlin's folksy Dylanesque-ballad Americana sound with the piano backing. The lyrics talks about 'walking the streets so dark,' and that is exactly what this song makes me think of. From his 2005 CD Somewhere South of Wonder. Thanks for everything, Vangelis.

Better Way
Ben Harper
This is the new one from Ben Harper, off his upcoming new album Both Sides of the Gun, due March 21. Ben Harper is one of my first and deepest musical loves, ever since he sang me a song for my 16th birthday. Yeah, we go way back. This song has a slightly middle-eastern feel to it, and listen to Ben crank it out towards the end. Check him out on tour, he is always amazing in his passion and his virtuosity with that Weissenborn.

Ghost
Ryan Adams
from the Technical Cowboy Services Sessions
I think I love Ryan Adams the most when his voice cracks because he is not worried about perfection, he is worried about expressing his emotion. And that is a beautiful thing (and exactly what is wrong with most of the contestants on American Idol - the exception being Taylor Hicks - but that is an embarrassing sidenote best kept to myself, eh?). Thanks to Jennings for unearthing and posting the Cowboy Technical Services (mini) Session with Ryan Adams, containing this and two other great songs.

Now, doesn't all that make the upcoming week seem a little bit brighter, tiger?

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

New Pearl Jam (snippet): Worldwide Suicide

Now this is a mixed bag because the 15 seconds of this song is really nothing more than a teaser, and I can't even say what I think at this point, other than that this song has a pretty solid, catchy riff. Kind of reminds me of Do The Evolution in the caged energy and making me want to jump around. You can download 15 seconds of the song here if you want to hear it for now. Your trusty blogger here will try her best to seek out a full-length mp3 as soon as possible.

New album still slated for May 2 on the J Records label. Vedder has said of the new album, during a Brazilian radio interview, "It's easily the best stuff we've done but also some of the hardest stuff. It's very aggressive, because again, it's kind of a product of what it's like to be an American these days. It's pretty aggressive, especially when you turn it loud."

The album is currently untitled, but Vedder says he was kicking around titles which play off of one of the best albums from the '90s, Soundgarden's Superunknown: "I was thinking of the word 'un-owned' -- not owned by anybody," he said. "The sky is un-owned. The moon is un-owned. We're un-owned. We want to remain un-owned. The title was 'Superun-owned."

And I think that is rad.

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Happy birthday Johnny Cash

Today is Johnny Cash's birthday and the man deserves a nod. This has basically been 'The Year of Johnny Cash,' what with the Walk The Line movie and all the pursuant renewed interest in The Man In Black.

So I won't dwell too much on his history, but just throw a few songs up there that we can all appreciate in his honor today.

First, the simple percussion and gritty epitomization of Cash's unique style and who he was all comes together to make this a gem of a song. I guess he succeeds in his exhortations to get rhythm because I have to tap my toes when I hear this:

"Get Rhythm" - Johnny Cash

Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash did a whole session in Nashville in 1969 of great tunes together. Here is one of my favorites:

"Matchbox" (Carl Perkins cover!) - Johnny Cash & Bob Dylan

And this one I am putting up just because it *always* makes me smile to hear the standard, famous introduction to the Live at Folsom Prison recording, probably one of my favorite Cash CDs: "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash." Just something about the way he says it encapsulates who he was.

"Folsom Prison Blues" (Live at Folsom Prison) - Johnny Cash

Also, I am currently reading an interesting biopic on the man, called "The Man Comes Around: The Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash," which is a fascinating look at his messy, honest, and at times broken faith and path to redemption. This title track from the 2002 CD of the same name was a late discovery for me (just recently), and I really like the whole dusty spoken-word apocalyptic feel to it.

"The Man Comes Around" - Johnny Cash

"Every man knows he is, basically, a complete sissy
compared to Johnny Cash."
— Bono

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Nine GLORIOUS seconds

I am in such a *ridiculously* good mood today. The sun is shining, the honeysuckle is blooming at Santa Clara, I had a nice lunch with my grandpa, who tells elaborate stories which include sentences (in his Georgia drawl) like, "I surely would like a nice hot dog." And I have been sauntering around campus with my iPod and listening over and over to one of my favorite songs EVER, one that I could listen to and NEVER get tired of it: Over The Hills and Far Away by Led Zeppelin.

Let me tell you why I love this amazing, unbelievable song. It builds from a lovely little simple bluesy riff at the start, the vocals gently start in, then at 1:15 (on the version I have) there is a little bridge, and you know, you KNOW that the burst is coming, the song breaks into glorious, insane, fabulous rock. I myself always get this enormous goofy smile of anticipation during those 9 glorious seconds between 1:15 and 1:24. I defy you to listen to it and not rawk out and FEEL IT deep inside your soul.

And then after all the beautiful sonic madness, wicked guitar solos, thundering drums, it deconstructs back down to the same perfect little riff, and you're done. It is ABSOLUTELY one of THE best songs to listen to on a day like today. It almost makes me want to explode in its perfection.

"Over The Hills And Far Away" - Led Zeppelin

From the How The West Was Won live CD (recorded in 1972)

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Odds & ends

Chad has a link to a very interesting article entitled, "Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands: Finding a Use for Elliott Smith," a cover story from the L.A. City Beat. As Chad says, "A whole lot of journalists/writers miss the boat entirely when writing on Elliott, but thankfully, Ron Garmon gets its right." Check it out.

Aquarium Drunkard has recently posted up two extensive and amazing collections of Ryan Adams music, and he shows no signs of abating. The man is on a roll. Let's all just stand back and let him do his thing (and hope he doesn't swallow his tongue). Check out the 48 Hours Sessions and Ryan Adams & The Cardinals complete Loft Sessions from XM Radio, and love Aquarium Drunkard as much as I do!

Why do you visit music blogs? A grad student from Florida is doing his thesis on this topic and wants to give you a chance to get fifty smackers in the form of an iTunes gift card to one lucky respondant. It takes about 5 minutes. Help a brother out.

I found these on eMusic and the bickering reminded me fondly of fighting with my own siblings:
Oasis: Wibbling Rivalry
Noel's Track (mp3) and
Liam's Track (mp3)

As the mother of a two-year-old, I have spent more time watching Blue's Clues than I really care to ("You've just figured out Blue's Clues, 'cuz you are very smart!"). I found it quite amusing when Nathaniel posted on the former host Steve, and the music he is making now. Who knew?! There is life after childrens' television!

Matthew Sweet takes his dulcet voice and teams up with Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles (who were my first cassette tape ever in the fifth grade, which I still occasionally like to rock to when I feel the need to Walk Like An Egyptian) to release an album of '60s covers! What a splendid idea. You can stream three songs on their MySpace page: And Your Bird Can Sing (originally by The Beatles), Run To Me (Bee Gees), and Sunday Morning (Velvet Underground). Other songs covered on the album include tracks by the Beach Boys, Dylan, Neil Young, The Who, and Fuel friends The Zombies.

Overheard at the wharf yesterday between a English boy and his dad:
"Dad! The seals are so cool! I want to be a SEAL."
"Oh, well actually you are. I was going to wait until you were sixteen to tell you.
I found you on the beach, rehabilitated you. I think you've adjusted quite well."

File under COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY: Matt's got new Guns'N'Roses. Oh yes, you read me right. That was a name I personally never wanted to hear again. I thought Axl died. No? Apparently not. Huh.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Zombies, Live at the BBC 1965-1968

They've been covered by everyone from Elliott Smith to The Fastbacks to Santana to The Posies. Influential musicians on a number of levels, their sound was pure 1960s British Invasion pop heaven with a slightly sophisticated edge.

The Zombies were a British band during the mid-60s, whose greatest successes came only after the band had broken up. Best known for their hits "Time of the Season," "She's Not There," and "Tell Her No," The Zombies' music was notable in part because of their use of minor key changes, keyboards, and lovely melodic harmonies. Overall, it's a nice little package.

As Stephen Dunstan says, The Zombies picked the "worst, least appropriate name for a music group ever. Visions of stiff-limbed, raggedy faced Woody Strode-a-likes. They should have just called themselves The Charming English Boys Who Sing Like Angels And Play Like Demons. That name would not have fit onto a record." It wouldn't have fit on a record, but it is catchy and accurate.

That's why I found this collection of tracks to be absolutely charming, an insight into the burgeoning (then floundering) career of the British quintet, during a time when the world was a bit more innocent, and the music perhaps a bit more pure. I think you should listen to this entire set as a whole, as it is collection of snippets across 4 years of live Top of the Pops performance in England for the radio show (there is another first section of the set as well, which I am not posting but you can purchase the whole shebang on Amazon).

Interspersed with great live music from The Zombies (and lots of covers) is fascinating interview dialogue. As the interview introduction says, "Even more popular in America than they are on this side of the pond . . . THE ZOMBIES!" (insert crazed shrieking here):


(With me, you have options: Do things individually, or download all these songs as a zip file at the end of the post)
"I Must Move" (1965)
"
Just Out of Reach" (1965)
"
Whenever You're Ready" (1965) - this was one I really enjoyed, hadn't heard before.
*Interview dialogue here talks about how they are enjoying their second tour of America, and what their take is on the "new rock folk protest bit." Interesting social climate. They also read some fan mail, including an endearingly simple letter from "Francis & Marilyn," requesting a song for their "youth club."
"It's All Right" (1965) - swingin' Curtis Mayfield cover
More conversation about how wild the American fans are, how we all have cars and how two girls followed them for hundreds of miles, to their bewilderment.
"Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (1965) - Carole King cover
"When The Lovelight Starts Shining In Her Eyes" (1965)
"
Just A Little Bit" (1965)
"
Sitting in The Park" (1966) - this is a *great* song. It is an example of perfect songwriting: the song makes you FEEL like it SOUNDS, and the lyrical content dovetails perfectly off the mood that is set. It's almost as if the song could be a soundtrack to the story it tells, if that makes sense.
"Gotta Get Out of Myself" (1966)
"
Goin' Out of My Head" (1966) - Little Anthony & The Imperials cover
"This Old Heart of Mine" (1966) - also done by Isley Brothers, among others
"Friends of Mine" (1967) - there is something sublime about listening to this loud, and just getting lost in the layered harmonies. It makes my soul happy. Life just seems a bit simpler, better, and happier when you are listening to something like this.
"The Look of Love" (1967) - Burt Bacharach
"Final Interview Snippets /Jingle" (1968) - The band talks about how they have broken up after "slogging away for 3 1/2 years," and also how they have just finished a new LP coming out later that month. They are asked in the interview, "well, wouldn't it be better to wait until the LP is maybe a huge success and then see if it is a go?" but they dismiss the possibility - and the song that cues up, from their new album (Odessey and Oracle, their best seller, their masterpiece), is "Time of the Season," their biggest hit.

Isn't it ironic? (sorry, a little Alanis, I KNOW)

DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE SET AS A ZIP FILE

BONUS, because I love you all: The ever-fabulous KCRW featured The Zombies on a broadcast in 2004 which you can stream on their website, following the reunion in 2003 of the group and new album they released, entitled As Far As I Can See.

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Stay tuned

Hey kids, just a quick note to say that there is no World Music Wednesday this week on account of me travelling and having no time to construct something worthwhile. Kim Nalley was amazing yesterday, though. Man, alive, I love her. Anyway, I am having trouble getting reliable internet access here at the University. Apparently it is a highly guarded secret to actually tap into the network (I'm working from a computer lab now just like a good little student would - been a long time!), but by this afternoon I hope to post up something rad that I am really excited about. So stay tuned! I am off to the beach whilst I wait for information technology to come by my suite and hook me up with the internet goods. Yay!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The incomparable Kim Nalley

It requires all of the discipline within me to come in out of the sunshine of Santa Clara (sweet beard of Zeus, it is a gorgeous day here) to post up what I had in mind for today. Well, actually, I have a meeting in 20 minutes so I had to come inside. That and the sunburn I was starting to get. My lilly-white skin is not used to these climes anymore.

Anyways, a lovely perk of my visit here is that the cosmic timetables were smiling upon me and I coincidentally picked the same week to come visit that the incomparable Kim Nalley is performing at the free Music at Noon series at SCU (tomorrow, Wed the 22nd, at noon in the Music & Dance building). If you are in the area, she gets my strongest recommendation of someone that you should see live at all costs. I guarantee you will be entertained &/or impressed &/or tap your toes. It is not my normal style of music, but she converted me into a fan within about 30 seconds of seeing her live.

Kim Nalley sings jazz & blues like nobody’s business, strongly reminiscent of legends like Billie Holliday, Nina Simone and Dinah Washington. Her voice is strong and distinctive, and she really knows her stuff. Plus she scats. Who does scatting anymore? Seriously. It is a lost art.

In addition to being a regular performer at SCU’s Music at Noon (lucky us!), Kim has performed on both a national and international level at many of the world's major jazz and blues festivals including the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, and the Du Maurier JazzFest in Vancouver and Jazz Festivals in British Columbia, Victoria and Edmunton.

Kim Nalley has just completed a tribute album to Nina Simone, called She Put A Spell On Me. It is getting some good reviews. You can read more about it on CDBaby, preview the tracks, and possibly decide to order it. The record release party festivities are Feb 22-25 at Nalley’s nightclub in San Francisco, Jazz At Pearl’s. Should be a fabulous series of shows. Read what this San Francisco guy thought after seeing Kim live.

Here are two great tracks from her 2003 album Need My Sugar. The title track makes me blush, because, you know, ladies don't sing about those kinds of things, do they? Ha. She sings like an angel, but she gets down and racy. See what you think.

Need My Sugar” – Kim Nalley

I Was Telling Him About You” – Kim Nalley

(aforementioned scatting)


"Nalley sounds a little like Billie Holiday and a little like Dinah Washington, but ultimately she sounds like no one but herself, and she is spectacular." -Eric Fidler, Associated Press

“A trip to San Francisco is often said not be complete without hearing Kim Nalley perform. Glamorous, garrulous and dramatic like a diva of the 1950’s, Kim evokes an era when women were classy and brash.”
-CDBaby

"God, this woman can sing!"
-Blues Access Magazine

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Something is just a little wrong here

Random sidenote:
I laughed out loud (that's mean! I know!) at Steve Perry’s Celebrity Playlist. Something about the enthusiasm of the first paragraph reminded me of this guy’s website. They sort of look alike too. Anyways, the list (well, actually just the narrative) makes me cringe a little. But who knew that the Journey frontman also liked Eels? As Steve-o says, “E is real Ball-Z.”

Uh, okay. Just don’t stop believin’ and we’ll all be chill.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A little California love

"Others may know where you've been, but honey I know where you're from......you're from California. . ." -- Mason Jennings

While wasting time browsing other music blogs when I should have been sleeping (or something like that), I stumbled across this excellent little musical tribute piece to my old stomping ground, my Golden State, my roots, over on Trees Lounge blog. There are a whole bunch of songs about California (beyond the usual fare) that you can download and almost feel the sun and the surf. He says:

"Oh California, you glutton for publicity. You bastion of public relations and sunshine. The golden rays always cast you in a favorable light. You are honey-colored in perpetuem on every map ever made. Until you make that great swan dive into the Pacific you will remain the west of which there is no wester. You are always the destination, never the departed. You can shake people, suffocate them, burn them, leave them in the dark, and yet you are still at the top of every kid's wish list."

I LOVE it. Featuring tracks by folks like Led Zep, Dead Kennedys, Kings of Leon, Roy Orbison, Ryan Adams, Bad Religion, Elliott Smith, Neko Case, Arctic Monkeys, and even a little 2Pac and Dre. Zip on over.

So that is the perfect low-maintenance post for this afternoon. I was already thinking of posting Mason Jennings' "California, Part 2" in honor of my trip out to that great state this very afternoon, but Robert spared me the uploading because he's got it on his post. This week I am *so* going to find my way up over Highway 17, into Santa Cruz or thereabouts, and onto the beach. I WILL put my feet in the ocean (in addition to work-related feats that need to be accomplished). Get rid of these land-locked blues. Off to the airport!

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Monday Music Roundup

Hey kids, happy start-o-the-week to you:

"Nothing I Can Do"
Ben Taylor

I am love, love, loving the warm and good way that this song by Ben Taylor makes me feel. All the warm-fuzzies that accompany listening to James Taylor hold true for his son as well. I highly recommend this song from the 2005 CD Another Run Around the Sun. Ben Taylor is on tour right now (including SXSW). As for the Rocky Mountain stops, do I want to drive up to a major city? Or would I be as happy dancing around to this song at my house on the hardwood floors with the sun streaming through the windows? Ah, yes, I think so.

"Sleep Song"
Rooney
The thing about this song that first caught my ear about this new Rooney song is the drumbeat, which I do think I will have to learn. It's not complex but pleasant (and if you expect complex drumming from me, you shall be disappointed). This song has a hypnotic and loping feel to it. It dates back from before the quintet signed with Geffen, and was featured on the soundtrack of the 2005 film The Chumscrubber. The Los Angeles-based Rooney is releasing their sophomore album on March 21.

"Shocker in Gloomtown"
(Guided by Voices cover)
The Breeders

Ah, The Breeders. They make me feel 15 again, yearning to be in a kick-ass girl band. Between The Breeders, The Pixies, Throwing Muses and Belly, I spent a lot of time in high school listening to Kim & Kelley Deal and Tanya Donelly. Here they cover all fast-and-furious 1:17 of a Guided by Voices song, with their trademark clean and thick riffs. From the 1994 Head to Toe EP. Thanks Jennings! Also see Ten Cool Breeders Songs That Aren't Cannonball.

"I've Been Thinking"
Handsome Boy Modeling School,
feat. Cat Power

To put it straight, this is one of the sexiest things ever laid down on record. It skitters and lolls, like a twisting flame, with teasing guitar licks. Love it, listen to it on repeat. From 2004's White People. Thanks B.

"Speed Of The Sound of Loneliness"
Amos Lee

The beautiful, pure voice of this beautiful man shines here on a stripped-down cover of a John Prine tune. While nothing extraordinary, it is lovely in its simplicity and sadness. I hunted this down after I saw Amos Lee perform it live last fall in Boulder (well, in between trying to prevent my drunk-on-Jager sister from TOUCHING PEOPLE'S HAIR.)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

There's always room for a few U2 remixes

Completely gratuitous bathtub photography (but, oh...).
A filthy & lascivious excuse to post some ace remixes:

Vertigo (Trent Reznor Remix) - U2

Numb (The Perfecto Mix - Paul Oakenfold) - U2

Mysterious Ways (Massive Attack Remix) - U2


Thank to the always-entertaining uberfan "c" for at least some of this fodder.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Black Crowes want to put something in your stocking for ya

Oh, I am SO out of season. What the heck, Heather? Well, compare this post to your half-off after-Christmas sale. You can get really good things after the holidays are over.

I was a little slow on the uptake finding this new Black Crowes cover of an old R&B/Blues song, and didn't find it until after Christmas (like January), and then I forgot to post it. But take a listen, it is so good, so swaggering, so Southern-moonlight that I had to post it.

Back Door Santa - Black Crowes

Chris and Rich Robinson are heading out on an acoustic tour in April, just the two of them. That will be insane - just look at the intimate and rad venues in San Francisco alone! Tix onsale next week:

ACOUSTIC TOUR DATES
4/13 - Brooklyn - Warsaw (on sale: Fri 2/24 @ Noon)
4/14 - New York - Frederick P. Rose Hall (on sale: Fri 2/24 @ Noon)
4/15 - New York - Town Hall (on sale: Fri 2/24 @ Noon)
4/17 - Austin - Cactus Café (on sale: Fri 2/17 @ Noon)
4/18 - Austin - Cactus Café (on sale: Fri 2/17 @ Noon)
4/20 - San Francisco - Café Du Nord (on sale: Fri 2/24 @ Noon)
4/21 - San Francisco - The Fillmore (on sale: Sun 2/26 @10:00 AM)
4/22 - San Francisco - Bimbo’s 365 (on sale: Fri 2/24 @10:00 AM)
4/24 - Los Angeles - The Roxy (on sale: Fri 2/24 @ 11:00 AM)
4/25 - Los Angeles - The Roxy (on sale: Fri 2/24 @ 11:00 AM)

There is a live DVD coming out from the Crowes in March, titled Freak 'N' Roll into the Fog, recorded at the Fillmore in San Francisco in 2005. There's also a new album alleged in 2006 from these guys, but nothing concrete. Let's hope.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

So . . . can you get all 36?

Jason Forrest has designed a sonic assult of samples from, well, 36 of his favorite punk songs, all squeezed into 2 minutes and 21 seconds of madness. Listening to this was like being on a really fast train (like Willy Wonka in that tunnel, original version of the movie), trying to pick up on something, but before your synapses could process it, it's gone, and something else is competing for your attention.

So, how many can you pick out? I am only at like 6 that I am relatively sure of. If anyone gets over, say, 20 (without Googling for a list of the answers), I will write you a limerick and you will have my undying admiration. And that's something, champ.

"My 36 Favorite Punk Songs" - Jason Forrest

From his 2005 album Shamelessly Exciting (and it is, isn't it?).

Thursday, February 16, 2006

World Music ...Thursday

I was lucky when I was at Santa Clara University to get to work with the Cuba Study Abroad Program. Even though I was never clever enough to secure a site visit to the program (which taught Cuban music, percussion, dance, and culture), I did learn a lot about the Cubans over the years, and developed a greater interest in the country and the musical culture.

The professor who championed and led the Cuba program also coordinates the free-to-the-community Music at Noon series at the University, and he regularly brings Cuban artist Omar Sosa (now S.F.-based) for lunchtime concerts. Sosa is classically trained in piano and also studied at Cuba's Escuela Nacional de Musica and Instituto Superior de Arte in percussion. Both beautifully permeate his music.

I only saw him once, but I was totally blown away by his absolute joy in the music and the beautiful sounds that flowed from the small stage. The time I saw Omar Sosa, he performed on the piano with the only accompaniment being drummer Gustavo Ovalles, from Venezuela. The two of them made eye contact for most of the show, almost daring each other back and forth with musical challenges, laughing, appreciating the sounds coming from the other. Sosa made the piano into a beat-driven, funky, gorgeous, moving instrument unlike anyone else I have ever seen. Look at the picture above. That's what it was like.

He has released a dozen albums, and all are different, ranging from jazz, to Afro-Cuban funk, to North-African inspired melodies, to remixes and piano-based instrumentals. So I profess to be nothing close to an expert here. But I have selected a few tracks that I could find which reminded me of the hour I spent listening to him and the images that the music drew in my head. He also released an album of intricate remixes in 2005 of his Mulatos album (Mulatos Remix) which was nominated for a Grammy and is really good.

Africa Madre Viva and Toridanzon - Omar Sosa & Gustavo Ovalles, Live at Ayaguna 6/25/02. Here is where you can hear the playful exploration of these songs that I got to see at their concert. Savage percussion, and the piano just leaps to life.

El Tresero (Plush Vocal Mix) - Omar Sosa, from the Mulatos Remix album (Mmmm hmmmm, listen to that bass line)

BONUS: Redemption Song - Omar Sosa & Richard Bona, reinvented with African influences and Cuban percussion.

Give him a listen, and especially go see him live if you get a chance. He is in Australia right now, then heads to Europe, and then back to the States, with 4 dates at the amazing Yoshi's in Oakland in April. It's always a treat to see someone this in love with music.

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New One From The Streets

I am liking the beat on this advance single from The Streets. And I've got a small penchant for accents, esp of the English/Irish/Scottish variety (maybe that's why I could watch So I Married An Axe Murderer over and over and over again?), hence I like to listen to Mike Skinner ramble on. He's got a sense of humor (humour) and this track is good times. And, you know, in-depth, thought-provoking lyrics that really make you think, like "when you're a famous boy, it gets really easy to get girls...it's oh so easy..."

"When You Wasn't Famous" - The Streets

The single will be released March 27, and the new album 'The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living' is due April 10. Thanks to Zombies blog for tracking this one down.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pete Yorn (mini) Live Set, Roxy 2001

Hey, a million thanks to Kevin for posting this up. Here are a few songs from a superb live set with Pete Yorn from the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles on June 14, 2001.

Just four little tunes, with two great covers thrown in the mix. Cheers & enjoy!








Dancing in the Dark (Springsteen)/Murray - Pete Yorn

For Nancy ('Cos It Already Is) - Pete Yorn

Strange Condition - Pete Yorn

Panic (Smiths)/Life On A Chain - Pete Yorn


World music coming a bit later....

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Mike Watt: Ball-Hog or Tugboat?

I rocked this album probably hundreds of times in high school. All I knew is that it featured some of my favorite artists, which truthfully is why I bought it. I didn't really know at the time the imitable punk-rock legend that Mike Watt (of the Minutemen and fIREHOSE) actually is. But it was a great introduction.

Released in 1995, Ball-Hog or Tugboat? wins for the most eclectic & confounding title in my collection. 17 tracks, Watt plays thud-staff (bass) on all of them and wrote 14 of the tracks. His steady, bumping presence is complemented by Ed Vedder, Evan Dando, Dave Pirner, Frank Black, Adam Horovitz, Mike D., Flea, Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic, Joe Baiza, J Mascis, Thurston Moore, Henry Rollins, Mark Lanegan . . . it's just madness is what it is.

The thing that I like best about this album is its diversity. You have every type of song on here from classic pleasing (rocking) pop songs to hardcore rock, and punk, and jazzy funk, and Henry Rollins (angry! angry!). There are also great stories told throughout the songs, such as "Drove Up From Pedro," which tells of Watt discovering punk at a Germs show in Los Angeles.

Here are three of my favorite cuts, but you gotta just buy the album because there are so many great tracks I didn't post. I somehow got the big massively tall version (above) of the CD case, but it also comes in a nice square blue cover as well. Which would be easier to file in the ole IKEA CD cabinet.

Piss-Bottle Man - Evan Dando on vocals (golden)

Chinese Firedrill - Frank Black on vocals (*gorgeous* acoustic guitar )

E-Ticket Ride - with Mike D. and Flea (and the baby of Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore & Kim Gordon providing, uh, background vocals)

Other songs I like that I left off here are "Big Train" (little double entendre lyrical content with Dave Grohl, Ed Vedder, and J Mascis), "Against the '70s" (with Ed Vedder, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl - and didn't that track get some radio play too?), "Sidemouse Advice" (swingin jazz with Carla Bozulich and Flea), and the title "Intense Song for Madonna to Sing" (and indeed it would be) always makes me laugh.

Mike Watt was instrumental in the Southern California post-punk movement of the '80s, along with his band the Minutemen, and later fIREHOSE. He began playing music in his early teens, along with friend D. Boon, who would be a co-founder of the Minutemen. From his innocent beginnings ("I didn't know what the bass was," Watt says. "In arenas you couldn't really hear it. But we saw on album covers that every band had a bass player, except the Doors and the Seeds. So we knew it was a big part of the band. In the pictures it looked like a guitar that had four strings. I didn't know they were bigger. I didn't know it was lower.") Watt grew into a kickass & well-respected bassist.

Watt and Boon were in on the very beginnings of the Southern California punk scene, and the way it slowly began to change the face of music. Watt was there as bass became more of a crucial element in the music that he loved to make. "Before punk, bass was kind of where you put your retarded friend," Watt theorizes. "Left field. It was a real inferiority complex dumped on me because of the bass guitar. But with punk, you had everyone lame, so all of a sudden the bass player was elevated and everybody was brought down. It was a lot more equal, and the bass drove the songs more. They were all learning, they were all beginning."

The Minutemen released 5 albums before D. Boon's death in 1985 in a car crash. Watt then went on with fIREHOSE to release more music (Watt says that he got the name fIREHOSE "from watching a film short of Bob Dylan doing Subterranean Homesick Blues using cue cards for the lyrics. I thought that it was funny when he held up the card that said 'firehose'." So there you have it.). Watt has jammed both solo and as a temporary member of bands such as Porno for Pyros, J. Mascis' band Fog, and, most recently Iggy Pop & The Stooges. Not too shabby.

Turns out this is also a timely post because there is a wonderful documentary out about the Minutemen and their influence on the punk-rock movement. Titled "We Jam Econo -- The Story of the Minutemen," the film premiered last year in San Pedro, California, and is still making the rounds to cool venues across the U.S.

Tomorrow night (the 15th) it is playing at the Art Institute in San Francisco, and there are about a dozen other screenings worldwide in the next few months. Watt is on tour this Spring both solo and with Iggy Pop. Check out something of a punk-rock legend if he comes to your town.

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Jeff Buckley: Please Send Me Someone To Love

Happy Valentine's Day. Although I really don't subscribe to the theory that you need to be sent someone to love today more than any other day, this does kind of fit the occasion. Here is a little bit of Jeff Buckley love, sent to me by wonderful reader Lisa, along with the absolutely amazing picture above.

Jeff Buckley, WFMU Music Faucet, 10/92
[expired] Please Send Me Someone to Love, original by Percy Mayfield

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V-Day poetry, better than your greeting card drivel

Khalil Gibran -
excerpt from
The Prophet, 1923

And a youth said, "Speak to us of friendship."

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving
And he is your board and your fireside.

For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay".
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.

And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth:
and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.

For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter,
and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.


Beautiful sculpture by Gianlorenzo Bernini, Pluto and Persephone, 1622. Currently in the Galleria Borghese, Roma - I highly recommend a visit: one of THE best museums in Rome.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

Still recovering from the weekend, hence the dearth of posts lately...But it is Monday. Let's buck up and dive in.

"If You Want Me To Stay"
Sly and the Family Stone
Okay, wtf was up with the Grammy performance from Sly? As rad as the platinum mohawk was (that's what I want to have the courage to sport at 61), and the enormous belt buckle that says "SLY," the man has obviously completely FRIED his brain with some hard substances. He wandered off the stage before the song was even done, and as far as I can tell, he didn't do much while he was on-stage (just kind of massaged the keys and moaned into the mike). That is unfortunate because he is partly responsible for this, one of THE funkiest, smoothest, grooviest songs ever recorded, with a bass line that could strip paint (and that's a good thing). Add The Essentials to your collection.

"Buckets of Rain" (Dylan cover)
David Gray
I love David Gray so much and am stoked to be seeing him next month. His voice just gets me, something about the honesty and the incisive tenor of it, just lays right into the core of emotions. And this is one of my favorite Dylan songs ever for the simple longing and the lyrical beauty of it. The desire expressed in this song is sexy, sexy. Thanks for unearthing it, Chad.

"You Won't Be Leaving"
Herman's Hermits
I've admittedly been on a total retro '60s pop kick lately, listening to The Turtles, The Zombies, Herman's Hermits, and the Beatnix (which recorded a whole album's worth of non-released Beatles songs) etc. The harmonies, the time-capsule sound of a simpler era, just make me happy and it is good good for the ears. Here, with all the "it's too cold/I'm too tired" excuse-making of what is essentially a 1960s booty call (in the vein of other songs like "Baby It's Cold Outside" and "Wake Up Little Suzie"), Herman's Hermits sing about the "lovelight" shining in her eyes (or some kind of light, right?). Fabulous little ditty.

"The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song"
Flaming Lips
My friend Matthew said, "About halfway through this song I got up from my computer chair and spontaneously went into half dance/half spasms." I find the first thirty seconds almost unlistenable, so let's forgive that and skip right into the meat. You can't deny the catchy pop sensibilities and the handclapping goodness on this one. From their upcoming album At War With The Mystics, due April 3 in the UK and April 4 in the U.S.

"The Bar Is A Beautiful Place"
(live NYC 5/23/01)

Ryan Adams
Similar to how Josh Ritter recorded "Thin Blue Flame" with ambient bar noise which added to the immediacy of the feeling, this is an actual live version (as opposed to Ritter's studio-with-added-noise recording) of this song with bar chatter and clinking glasses to heighten the gorgeous overall effect. This song is an lesser-known Ryan Adams gem, originally from the Gold bonus CD, and absolutely one of my favorites by him. I love this live version, off the Bedhead 10 collection, because the bar is a beautiful place and this puts you right there on the barstool, being depressed, singing along, "Sha na... Sha na naaaa naaa" with the simple and rousing piano accompaniment. I love the fragility of his voice on the line, "Would you take an old drunk as is, if he was sweet to you?"

Friday, February 10, 2006

Junebug

So, I finally Netflixed Junebug (I just decided that "Netflixed" can be a verb), a film whose preview I saw a few months ago at Kimball's, the coolest downtown artsy theater in Colorado because it serves up pints from the local brewery a few streets over, fresh Colorado goodness in a plastic cup.

That's totally beside the point, but if you are ever in town and looking for a good ale, now you know.

Anyways. I really liked Junebug. As wholeheartedly as I support the concept, independent/artsy films are sometimes a mixed bag. You'll go, dole out your bucks, and get something like Dancer in the Dark or Broken Flowers, both of which I distinctly did not like. But sometimes you get a quirky little gem like Junebug. It was a small film, nothing earth-shattering, but simple in its fleshed-out portrayals of interesting characters, and affecting in quiet ways.

One of the things I found most moving about the movie was actually the silences. Several times during the film the directors just showed a silent, ordinary room in the suburban house (where most of the movie takes place) for several long seconds. They're not afraid to have a prolonged, silent view of the everyday ephemera, almost as if the house was waiting for the next scene, waiting for someone to come in and end the awkward silence. I loved it as an effect. The quiet rooms in the house were almost aching to be heard, the silence was deafening - which paralleled so many of the characters in the film; almost everyone seemed to have so much more to say than what they actually said.

Junebug also offers some superb acting performances. Amy Adams was a gem in this film, playing a pregnant and oft-ignored very young housewife, bright and overly-talkative, masking a consuming and desperate need to be heard and loved. She deserves the Oscar nomination she received for bringing depth to a character that could have just been played as a shallow and comic/tragic ditz.

Alessandro Nivola (love the way that name rolls off your tongue) is steadfast and kind in his role of older brother/husband/rescuer/good guy. He is kind of the glue that holds everyone together when he returns home to North Carolina from the Big City (Chicago) with his new wife. He convincingly shows the different layers to growing up and leaving your roots, but also keeping them as part of you. I was also surprised by his clear singing voice and the good job he did performing a hymn for the role at a church social.

It also features Benjamin McKenzie, best known for his sullen and brooding role as Ryan on The O.C. (so I've heard. I've never watched the show. Not even that one time). This role is not that much of a departure for him in terms of angst, but he rednecks-it up so that it took me about 20 minutes to recognize him. He convincingly plays a guy drowning inside, not sure how to reach out and be heard and understood by those who are supposed to be closest to him.

Little things in this movie spoke volumes for me. Amy Adams' character loves meerkats (favorite animal, darkly comic moment as she explains this). She is married in the movie to Johnny (McKenzie). Watching his panicked and frustrated attempts to tape something for her that suddently comes on the TV about meerkats was surprisingly poignant. He doesn't know how else to show her how he feels, he certainly doesn't tell her. Also, the passionate sex between Nivola and his new wife on the air mattress while the rest of the house sleeps on the other side of very thin walls was also affecting in incising just how unhappy the others were. It is a bit hard to explain in writing, because these are such small and insignificant things, but it is masterful, quiet, and evocative on the screen.

The movie features an original score by Yo La Tengo, which I enjoyed, and revives a light-hearted '70s pop song for its opening and closing credits. If you've seen the movie (or even if you haven't), you might enjoy hearing this again:

"Harmour Love" - Syreeta

It would be good for a mixtape to listen to while you are practicing your backwards roller-skating at the roller rink. Sweatbands and legwarmers are, as always, completely optional.

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Roger Clyne can make peace with me A-N-Y-time

Just dancing around to a little Roger Clyne and I thought to make a post. Clyne was one of the first artists I posted about, and he is still worth a listen for those listeners just tuning in at home. One reviewer says, "Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers is the best live band in America...It's a band with no radio play, no marketing, and yet fans from all over the world flock to sweaty, unbridled and kinetic 120-minute-plus shows." (My edit: my brother heard Roger Clyne on the radio in San Diego, so some radio play, somewhere!). But having seen Clyne twice now in the past 6 months (he is from neighboring Arizona, so he comes through these parts with some blessed regularity), I can offer a hearty "amen" to that sentiment.

Roger Clyne used to front The Refreshments, and you may be familiar with their guitar stylings from King of The Hill's theme song. Clyne has been steadily churning out great independent rock and roll with his new band The Peacemakers since The Refreshments disbanded, and puts on one of the best live shows I have ever seen. From the Live Music Archive, here are some highlights from the November 19, 2005 show that I attended in Boulder, Colorado:

"Counterclockwise" - Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

"Banditos" - Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (Refreshments song)

"Mexican Moonshine" - Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

"Leaky Little Boat" - Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

"European Swallow/Kiss Off" (Violent Femmes tag) - Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (Refreshments song)

"I Don't Need Another Thrill" - Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

"Baba O'Reilly" (Who cover) - Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (I went a bit nuts for this one, I think if I had sung along any louder I may have ruptured my spleen or something)


Their excellent 2004 album ¡Americano! is definitely worth adding to your collection. Allmusicguide.com says the following about the CD, and I think it is the perfect description:

"¡Americano! is one fine album; it should be played at earsplitting volume in pool halls, bowling alleys and backyard bashes and on college radio stations. It should blare from the CD players of fast cars roaring down empty highways under the stars and just before dawn. Indeed, it should be savored and celebrated by those swaggering street denizens known as the rock & roll faithful as proof that the good stuff never disappears."

And Thom Jurek says in Paste Magazine, "Rock 'n' roll is still out there...¡Americano! is proof that the crazy, reckless, restless, swaggering soul of American rock is still burning a hole in the night sky...guitars blaze, quake and quiver, drums slip, thud and thunder with killer melodies and hooks and the occasional reggae or mariachi rhythm laced through the middle to keep it all honest and interesting."

Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers are on tour now, please check them out if they come to your neck of the woods. And if they are not coming near you, consider attending the twice-yearly Mexico beach bash that they throw. I would love to go, as I need a vacation.

03.10.06 & 03.11.06, Marquee Theatre, Tempe, AZ
03.17.06, Aggie Theatre, Ft. Collins, CO
03.18.06, Gothic Theatre, Englewood, CO
03.20.06, Skinner's Pub, Brookings, SD
3.21.06, Knickerbockers, Lincoln, NE
03.22.06, The Reverb, Cedar Falls, IA
03.23.06, Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis, MN
03.24.06 &03.25.06, Martyr's, Chicago, IL
03.26.06, Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
03.28.06, Lee's Palace, Toronto, Ontario CANADA
03.29.06, Harper's Ferry, Allston, MA
03.30.06, Grape Street Pub, Philadelphia, PA
03.31.06, The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ
04.01.06, Rocks Off Boat Cruise, A cruise around NY Harbor and a headline RCPM concert!World Yacht Marina, New York, NY
04.02.06, State Theatre, Falls Church, VA
04.04.06, Smith's Olde Bar, Atlanta, GA
04.05.06, Exit/In, Nashville, TN
05.06.06, The Roxy, West Hollywood, CA
05.20.06 (Saturday) RCPM Circus Mexicus
Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), MEXICO
WHERE: A concert space next to the Sunset Cantina in Rocky Point, Mexico. Doors 5pm, Mariachis 6-6:45pm, Openers David Lowery & Johnny Hickman of Cracker at 7pm, Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers headline show at 8pm.
06.10.06 &06.11.06, Wakarusa. RCPM will play two days of this great music & camping festival featuring 70+ bands over four days. Lawrence, KS

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Also, a little bit of news that I found amusing, and one more reason for me to consider attending one of Clyne's twice-yearly Mexican beach bashes:

"Realizing a long-time dream, Roger Clyne introduces Mexican Moonshine, a 100% Blue Agave tequila created in limited supply with two Rocky Point cantina owners. Distilled in Tequila, Mexico, the full-bodied spirit is only available south of the border. Check out Mexican Moonshine here!"

Ha! Roger Clyne is The Man. He definitely loves his tequila, drinks it like a fish during his shows and share shots with the audience. My relationship with the stuff is a bit more contentious.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Odds & ends

Here are some interesting and/or alarming things that I have found noteworthy of late, brought to you in an easy-to-follow outline style, which makes me SO glad that I am no longer in school writing papers (ha ha suckers).

a) From Buddy to Sufjan - 50 Years of Music Chain - This is just about the coolest thing I have ever seen, coming from she who LOVES covers with an unabashed passion, and also loves creativity and history. And it has a scientific-looking chart! Beauty!

b) THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE in so many ways that I can't even begin to describe it. It must have been her stellar debut CD that won him over. AbsoLUtely not OK.

c) You can stream the new single from Embrace, the British band best known for the 2004 song "Gravity" (and their Coldplay connection). It's called Nature's Law and it comes from the album This New Day, out March 27.

d) I thought this was extremely funny for all you facebookers who may have been affected by the long arm of the law in the past. The "cake stand" is awesome.

e) Aquarium Drunkard has a lovely little Josh Rouse live set for download from the White Sessions in France 2005. I have really been enjoying "Quiet Town," which I posted on Monday. Listening to it on repeat (along with that stu-pen-dous Otis Redding version of Cupid...absolutely LOVE it).

f) Gwen Stefani is uber-cute. Bono can kiss my belly anytime (although mine is definitively not like hers at the moment).

g) Nada Surf will be interviewed and perform on Air America this Friday, February 10 (tomorrow). They are currently on tour with Rogue Wave.

h) Download the new one from Swedish band The Concretes here: "On The Radio" (thanks to Cindy). Sunny day pop music with some lovely harmonies. New album In Colour due March 28, produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes/Rilo Kiley/Cursive).

i) Finally, I think that Jesus is the best interviewer ever and I am so glad he has decided to join the blog world. I know my day is regularly better for it. Wait, he kind of invented interviewing, didn't he?

    (Gratuitous Singles content not related to post; just because I love the movie. Wait, can I put a picture containing the word "dick" immediately after an item referencing Jesus?)

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Make iTunes give *you* something for a change

    So, if you are anything like me, iTunes has bled you dry in $0.99 increments for quite some time now. Love it, hate it, that's how it has been. And LOTS of us have been doing the download thing, so iTunes is getting ready to celebrate its billionth download. You can enter to win by buying songs, HOWEVER, you can also enter to win tons of free schwag up to 25 times a day by going here:

    http://www.apple.com/itunes/1billion/entryform/

    Prizes to covet:
    A black 4GB iPod nano, $100 iTunes Music Card, 20-inch iMac, 10 60GB iPods, and a $10,000 iTunes Music Card to jumpstart your digital music collection.

    Yes, $10,000. That's just crazy talk.

    Maybe I will win me the 60GB iPod. I remember when I first decided that I indeed had to have an iPod last year, I was scouring the internet for ways to get a free one and entering all kinds of lame contests. I didn't win, I bought one the old-fashioned way (and now it is full), but I still hold out hope that my big winner day will come.

    I supposedly have this (long dormant, actually) luck that makes me win things. Come on, big money.

    Let's go surfin now (everybody's learnin how)

    With all this winter nonsense abounding, sometimes a gal just needs to relax and remember warmer days. Although I do not (and probably never will) surf, the soundtrack to the surfing movie Sprout is one of the best chillout soundtracks in my collection. Out on Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records label (check out Thicker Than Water & The September Sessions too), this laid-back collection features Calexico, Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions (who I blogged about recently), Superwolf (Bonnie Prince Billy & Matt Sweeney), The Shins, Sam Prekop, and others. These are two of my favorite tracks:

    Two Stones In My Pocket - Neil Halstead (this song is only on the iTunes version of the album, as far as I can tell)

    Got My Sunshine - Mojave 3 (also with Halstead, if you think the voice sounds slightly familiar)

    You can also see the video for one of the best instrumental tracks on the album here, which completely makes me want to get a little sunburned:
    Butternut video - Sprout House Band

    So check out the album, eh? Feels warmer already.

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    World Music Wednesday

    I am a huuuuge Alias dork. I do in fact believe that Sydney Bristow is one of the coolest women in the world, and I thank JJ Abrams for creating her (in his godlike fashion) from nothing, to entertain me on Wednesday evenings at 8pm, 7 Central (and Colorado).

    One of the best things about the show is the fabulous use of music to accentuate the daring international spy missions. As lame as it may be to actually admit, I picked this track for World Music Wednesday today because when I first heard it, my honest first thought was that it would be killer music to accompany Sydney on a mission to, like, assassinate an evil sheik in Saudi Arabia or something. Plus, it's just a cool song and it expands my horizons, so it qualifies.

    "Moi Et Toi" - Abdel Ali Slimani

    This is from the fun Putumayo CD Arabic Groove, and the artist Abdel Ali Slimani is an Algerian by birth who now lives in London via Paris. He has collaborated with world music/electronica guru Jah Wobble, as well as Sinead O'Connor and Peter Gabriel.


    It is a bit outside my normal musical styles, but that is of course what Wednesdays are all about. I like the beat and the catchy vocals which have stuck in my head. Ever wanna hear me try and sing in Arabic? Yeah.

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    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

    Okay, for someone who has worked for five years in international education, this "Create a map of where you have been in the world" is a little bit depressing. Makes me want to buy a plane ticket to a grey area ASAP and see something new. The Europe area is quite heavily travelled, although this map doesn't show the detail. And we've got some El Salvador action, as well as the Caribbean & Mexico. Man, I wish I had more red!

    If I could pick some places today to visit next, I think I'd like to spend some time in Argentina, then Australia & New Zealand with a Fiji stopover. Plus Greece for the amazing archaeology and art, and maybe South Africa. I'd better start saving my kopecks.



    You can also create your own visited countries map.
    (I'd be interested in seeing how you represent, each map is a story) -

    The United States map is a little bit more thorough, although I've certainly got a lot more to see. As I visit different states in the US, I am always amazed at the diversity in each location and all the wonderful things to see. I love my country, and all the things there are to see within its borders.



    Glaring grey omissions are Oregon, which I plan to maybe finally visit this August for a wedding (and then I can stay at the schoolhouse hotel that always looked rad to me, but then again I loved being in school). And then maybe I need to go to Louisiana to visit my friend Jenn, and Boston is a place I have always wanted to visit but never have. I think it is reminiscent of multiple readings of Make Way For Ducklings when I was a kid. It just instilled this glimmer of interest in me in Boston which remains unfulfilled. No, seriously (she says with a self-directed laugh). Oh, man.

    Try it out: create your own visited states map.

    A little fun way to waste some time at work today.

    Ashton Allen

    Okay, so his name sounds like he should be a handsome, tortured billionaire (maybe with amnesia or a secret love child) on a daytime soap opera (and wait, he kind of looks like it too!), but Ashton Allen actually makes some good alternative indie folk. While musicians must tire of comparisons, in order to give you a sense of his sound, it is heavily influenced by first & foremost Elliott Smith, and The Beatles. Hea-vi-ly. And you've got the ghosts of Paul & Art traipsing around in the background as well (you can also say Simon & Garfunkel, but we are on a first name basis, so...ya know).

    KFOG tipped me to this fine chap, saying "Atlanta singer/songwriter Ashton Allen adds even more melody [than Nick Drake and Iron & Wine], a little more pace, Beatle-esque horns, clean and honest strings, crisp percussion and flawless production on his debut solo album . . . Irresistible."

    I very much like the entire Dewdrops album (2005), with its minor melodies, double-tracked vocals and rich/varied instrumentation. I have listened to it more often than any other new album I have gotten in the last few months. However, I'll raise this point for discussion: If I were a HUGE Elliott Smith fan, instead of the fairly new & moderate one that I am, I might have a hard time not dwelling on just how *much* he sounds like Mr. Smith (especially pronounced on tracks like "Drive" and "World's Fair").

    I liken it to the way that I cannot ever under ANY circumstances listen to Creed, just because the first time I heard them they made me turn up the radio to see if it was a new Pearl Jam song I was hearing. I've never forgiven them for that. So, Elliott fans I think you will like Ashton, but I'd be curious to know.

    It is really good stuff (and I am not, godforbid, comparing him with Creed - *shudder*). My only minor qualm would be that some of the lyrics are rather unimaginative and pedestrian, but I do like the music and I would recommend the album.

    "Dewdrops" - Ashton Allen (finger-picking melody, lonely shoe-tapping percussion).

    "If You Leave" - Ashton Allen (crack out the piano, on this, the most Beatlesesque tune on the disc)

    "Starting Over" - Ashton Allen (a bit more upbeat, with some mandolin I think)

    He's on eMusic, for those of you looking for a worthy cause to spend your 50 free downloads on. In addition to Ashton Allen, some Otis Redding, and The Turtles, I buckled and bought some me some Tone Loc. Funky cold medina indeed.


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