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

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Let us go then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky

Saturday afternoons are good for reading and thinking and other literary pursuits.

To my delight I recently unearthed a slightly crumpled handout from tenth grade with this poem on it; I was entranced by it from the first time I slid into this world and let the words rush over me (plus it was my first exposure that I can recall to the mellifluous language that would become a great love in my life, trying to decode the Italian opening lines from Dante's Inferno). There are passages here that never fail to make chills run up my spine in their eviscerating perfection.

This poem resonates with razor-sharp imagery, beautiful self-doubt, and uneasy melancholy. It makes me ache inside and feel a sense of deep beauty all at once, so vivid I can almost taste and smell it. Good poems are like good lyrics and vice versa -- it's amazing what can be done with words in the hands of a true master. If I were a musician and could write a single lyric half as good as this poem, I would hang up my guitar and die a happy woman.

If you've never really read it, you must.

The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock - read by T.S. Eliot
from Prufrock and Other Observations. 1917
by T.S. Eliot (1888–1965)

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Let's go and get tangled in (acoustic) chains of golden days

Thanks to a warm and prompt response to an email plea to Mr. Damnwell himself, Alex Dezen, I wanted to share this acoustic version of the undisputably wonderful song "Golden Days" with you guys.

This is the incarnation of the song that's used in the trailer for their movie of the same name (opening in a few short weeks at the Phoenix Film Festival). Alex writes, "I've always been kind of partial to this version too. P.S. Feel free burn, post and disseminate anyway you like. This music belongs to everyone."

Now that's a refreshing sentiment not heard nearly enough.

From the rich slowburn opening that takes its time easing in, this version stuns (but I still adore the original, in fact, the whole album):

Golden Days (acoustic) - The Damnwells


Leona Naess: Album update

Finally SOME news on that forthcoming Leona Naess album that we've been hearing rumblings of for months and months -
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

record update..
i am sure any of you who have been coming here to check out what the hell is going on, must be thinking 'what the hell is going on?' I have been promising the/a new record for over a year and i can honestly say i was not lying to you, but things change, and things have changed, and i am adjusting to all those changes i guess.

what i mean is, that with all the delays, the record that was ready is no longer ready. basically, i started work after a very traumatic time blah blah blah, and now much more time has passed, and new things have happened and i want to add those on to the record.

i am going into the studio in April to add some songs and also, some songs that need a full band on them will be getting just that. i did this record with sam and his a lap top. not very conducive to a big band songs. hopefully i will finish this record once and for all. i bore myself with all this crap, so i understand if you are like 'am i bothered'. just wanted to give you a heads up on why this, and why that . . . till the next time i pluck up the courage...


I am still looking forward to it. I say: take all the time she needs to make it perfect. After all, it is her artistic statement. This track is my favorite new unreleased tune from Ms. Naess that has surfaced thus far (I've posted it before):

Unnamed - Leona Naess


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Easy, tiger

Lookee - album art from Ryan Adams' forthcoming album Easy Tiger, due June 5 on Lost Highway:

Ryan's just announced a show on May 16th at the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston, New York. Presale for the in-crowd starts tomorrow and you can get more info here. He's also doing a show 5/15 at the WXPN Mountain Stage Live fest in Glenside, PA and Stonehenge (yes, that one) on the day the album drops, June 5. Not even sure what to categorize that move as, but what a freaking venue.

As for the album art, I was kind of hoping for something more along these lines, but I suppose that handsome and effortlessly charming photo above will have to do. I wonder if that fatty computer watch is what he uses to record all that electronic website music and update his site, with the help of the witches. That timepiece is bitchin', circa 1985.


Win the new Modest Mouse

New contest for you kids, this time to win one of five copies that I've got of the new Modest Mouse album We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. The big news for Isaac Brock and Co. this week is that his little band's new album (their 5th full-length) debuted at #1 on the charts, selling 129K copies in the first week. It must have been propelled by that good review in Teen People.

THE CONTEST: One thing I find fascinating about Modest Mouse is how different each of their songs sounds. Sure, you've got that jangly, slightly off-kilter feel and the disorienting warble of Brock's vocals, but beyond that there is huge and pleasing variety in the tunes.

To enter to win, leave me a comment with your favorite Modest Mouse song thus far (including new and/or unreleased songs is okay) and why. I want to take a listen. My wonderful student assistant Kathy once made me a Modest Mouse sampler with a great variety of tunes (rare/live/album) and I'll admit I want to add any overlooked tunes to that. We'll run it a week, ending next Thursday April 5th, and winners will be randomly selected.

I think my favorite MM tune is "Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes" -- it has a narcotic-like effect on me in that I just can't get enough of it. The first time I heard it, I just wanted to shake my moneymaker and I still feel that way every single time it comes on. Big fat delicious bassline, the trademark droning blend of two-octave vocals, and I love the lyrics, "I'm gonna get dressed up in plastic, gonna shake hands with the masses oh yeah . . ." Sounds a little OCD to me, but I love it.

Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes - Modest Mouse

NEW: Missed The Boat - Modest Mouse

Brock has been busy parlaying his past A&R experience at Sub Pop into a successful record label of his own with the development of the Epic subsidiary Glacial Pace Records. His first signing was singer-songwriter-cool dude Mason Jennings and the 2006 release Boneclouds was the premiere for the hatchling label. No word yet on other releases.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sometime I wanna get you low: Cracker in Colorado Springs

Cracker don't get no respect.

These guys are legend in my book, true godfathers of the alternative rock scene, and the show last night was only half-full at best. Given it was a Tuesday night, and given that this is Colorado Springs which is not exactly known for its swingin nightlife (that's why we have Denver, and Boulder) -- but they sounded fantastic, and gave it their all.

Criminally underappreciated, they easily were better than over half the bands I've seen at the Black Sheep, still sounding tight and unabashedly rocking, and the venue should have been full (if the kids knew what was good for them). Cracker is and always has been unique in the pantheon of alt-rock bands from the '90s. They combine absolutely solid rock (as Lowery said between songs, "Hello. We're Cracker. We make rock music.") with an attitude of punk, and tones of country, Americana, and even folk. Plus they've definitely got some of the most delightfully tongue-in-cheek, intelligent lyrics of many of their contemporaries.

I walked up (late) to the club to hear the bitingly sarcastic lyrics of "Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)" pounding through the glass-block windows (we are classssssy here) and that kicked the set off in fine style. Highlights of the show included the Camper Van Beethoven polka-punk classic "Take The Skinheads Bowling," which is so much fun to sing along to. Camper Van Beethoven were a sort of legend in the area I grew up in (they are from Santa Cruz), and trivia fact: I just found out that David Immergluck from Counting Crows was a founding member.

VIDEO: Take The Skinheads Bowling

Bonus Camper Van Beethoven cover:
Take The Skinheads Bowling - Teenage Fanclub (re-upped)

As drummer Frank Funaro started cracking his sticks together in a slower, deliberate rhythm, within two beats I recognized "Low" - a truly fantastic song from the '90s. Maybe because I am older and jaded now, but I never realized how suggestively nuanced some of the lyrics are:

Sometimes I wanna take you down
Sometime I wanna get you low
Brush the hair back from your eyes
Take you down
let the river flow
. . .
A million poppies gonna make me sleep
But just one rosie knows your name
The fruit is rusting on the vine
The fruit is calling from the trees

I particularly love those last two lines. The imagery is so vivid (fruit rusting? genius), and in my mind it reminds me of another video from the '90s with fruit withering in fast-motion or falling off trees - was it a Nirvana video? Does anyone else know what I am thinking of? Maybe...NIN? Too many agricultural themes for me to keep straight (which really aren't about agriculture at all).

Low - Cracker

Even though Lowery's been singin that tune for the better part of 15 years, he puts his heart and soul into it, even though his eyes stay closed for most of the set. He occasionally would take a glance down at the crowd, coolly, inquisitively. He still looks the rocker part, with his skinny jeans (before they were cool again), his Sauconys, and his three-day bronze stubble -- as he goes to town on the guitar with all he's got. Still the same wonderfully gravelly voice, a distinct great in rock music.

Cracker co-founder/guitarist Johnny Hickman has recently relocated to Colorado, so I saw him in August 2005 with Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers up at the Gothic. He still reminds me of a Mellencamp/Springsteen hybrid, and still shreds the guitar with finesse and joy.

I stood there feeling remarkably and deeply happy during the whole set, dancing to the relentless rhythms (drummer is great, even though he looks like he just escaped San Quentin) and singing along where I could.

I couldn't resist dashing off a text message during "Euro-Trash Girl" to my friend Shannon in California, who attended that first show ever with me 13 years ago next month at the San Jose State Event Center (Cracker & Counting Crows) asking "wanna crowd-surf?" All 8 minutes of that hidden track, going from folksy travelogue to downright rocker, still make for a great anthem for living the wild life in Europe. Maybe I should have used that in promotional efforts for study abroad back when I was working at Santa Clara U. Selling plasma in Amsterdam, sleeping in fountains in Athens, getting tattoos in Berlin on the palm of your hand. Right on.

Euro-Trash Girl - Cracker (fixed)
(My video here. Worth watching just for the drunk mime emoting of the lady on screen-right every time the lyric, "Yeah, I'll search the world over" came up)

Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now) - Cracker

Mr. Wrong (live) - Cracker
(just listen to these lyrics, brash and wonderful)

The materials from their new album Greenland (2006, Cooking Vinyl) seamlessly melded alongside the old, sounding great. Some of it is a bit more wistful than previous tunes (although they did play "Take Me Down To The Infirmary" from Kerosene Hat and I forgot about the slow goodness in that).

They didn't do this one last night, but it's the leadoff track from the new album and I heartily enjoy it:

Where Have Those Days Gone (new) - Cracker
(wonderful California place references, clearly a native)

3/28 - Vail, CO - 8150
3/29 - Denver, CO - Twist & Shout in-store
3/29 - Denver, CO - Soiled Dove
3/30 - Denver, CO - Soiled Dove
3/31 - Ft. Collin's - Hodi's Half Note
4/25 - Hoboken, NJ - Maxwell's (acoustic)
4/26 - Fall River, MA - Narrows PAC (acoustic)
4/27 - Hartford, CT - Webster Underground (acoustic)
4/28 - Allston, MA - Harper's Ferry (acoustic)
5/4 - Birmingham, AL - Crawfish Boil
5/5 - Pensacola, FL - Flounder's
5/17 - Robinsville, MS - Horseshoe Tunica Casino
5/20 - San Francisco, CA - Golden Gate Park (!!)
5/27 - Beverungen, Germany - OBS Festival
5/29 - Zurich, Switzerland - El Lokal
5/30 - Karlsruhe, Germany - Tollhause
5/31 - Vienna, Austria - Chelsea
6/8 - Chattanooga, TN - Riverbend Festival
6/21 - Albany, NY - Empire State Building
9/6 - Pioneertown, CA - Pappy & Harriet's
9/7 - Pioneertown, CA - Pappy & Harriet's
9/8 - Pioneertown, CA - Pappy & Harriet's
9/15 - Deadwood, SD - Deadwood Jam

BONUS: Check a good live show from last summer in Madison, with some more tunes from their new album.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Look ma! I'm a rock photographer!

If I could go back to my high school days and do one of those job shadow days again, instead of choosing a doctor or lawyer I'd pick to shadow a rock photographer. BUT WAIT. I recently got a glimpse of that good life, courtesy of Peter Ellenby, Noise Pop photographer extraordinaire, as you may recall.

Peter just sent me the results, and here are a few of the shots that I took with my own unsure hands. I think it's the coolest thing ever and love the way they turned out.

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Black Crowes: Something old, something new

The Black Crowes have been haunting studios on both coasts recording new material for their first studio album in six years (since 2001's Lions, which gave us the ace single "Soul Singing," one of my favorites lately). Scheduled for a 2007 release, the deliciously swaggering Southern-rock band has not yet decided whether to go major label or independent for this release.

Chris and Rich Robinson are playing two acoustic shows next week (as part of their Brothers Of A Feather series) in Atlanta, and have one lone show on the schedule currently for 2007 -- at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass festival in June. Roadtrip?

Here are two previously-posted new songs from the Robinsons which we may be hearing a studio treatment of soon:

I Got The Late Nights Again (live 4/14/06)

Cut From The Shadow (live 4/14/06)

And this is something I have highly enjoyed listening to -- a richly fantastic full-band set from the SF Fillmore in August of 2005 (captured on the live DVD Freak N Roll Into The Fog). This audio is an amalgamation of the best from their five-night stand with the San Franciscans. According to SF Chronicle writer Joel Selvin, "The Black Crowes never sounded better than they did Saturday at the Fillmore Auditorium, the peak performance of a sold-out five-night run...(the band) definitely staked a claim in these Fillmore shows as one of the last of the classic rock bands” (8/8/05).

I did find it funny when Chris Robinson botches the lyrics to "Hard To Handle" -- how many times have they sang that bit about ten cent lovin'? Ah well, it's the Fillmore. I forget the words sometimes when I'm at the Fillmore too.


3/28: I just took these files down because I found out that the set is commercially available in its entirety. I thought it was just a live boot. So I have another great Black Crowes show that is going to go up in its place, I am prepping that now. Check back!

An announcement of 2007 tour dates are expected from the Black Crowes in support of their new album. I don't think I've seen them live before (although I wouldn't rule it out in my blurred summer-festival-heydays of the '90s) and would love to.

Speaking of shows, I am heading out to see Cracker tonight at the sticky-floored Black Sheep here in town, really the only good live music venue in the city. I can't convince anyone to shirk their adult responsibilities with me and come out on a Tuesday night, but I wouldn't miss it.

I've mentioned before that Cracker was probably the first true rock and roll show I saw, along with the Counting Crows, back in 1994. Tonight will probably be different in that I am not planning to crowd-surf during "Euro-Trash Girl."


Monday, March 26, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Language changes its meaning over the years, and things that were completely kosher 50 years ago now make me drop my head into my arm and laugh silently. The website YesButNoButYes has has collected the "Top 15 Unintentionally Funny Comic Book Panels" with some choice examples. Whether it's Robin "exposing himself" to Batman or wives being kissed and not heard, take a look and have a good chuckle. [thx Yeti!]

While you're over there, check out their list of Top Ten Female Streakers, which uses words like "dangly bits" and chastens one 19 year-old streaker for "breaking the two cardinal rules of female stripping - 1) trim well, and 2) never cartwheel." Oh, heavens.

Edge Of The Night
The Redwalls
I was a bit saddened yesterday to read that rad-retro Chicago band The Redwalls (previous rave) have broken up with Capitol Records. Even after parting ways, The Redwalls call their former label "honorable" because "the record which we wrote in the early months of 2006 and recorded in 42 days in a small town in Sweden, is now solely in the possession of the band (If you don't understand the significance of this than you'll have to trust us). A record is a statement that stands permanent, it is the culmination of where a bands been and where they are at . . . Look forward to the new record and to an EP that will precede it, as we look forward to sharing it with all of you."

This looks to be a sample of the sounds recorded last year, and me gusta mucho. It reflects a fuller and more mature sound from these guys, with some interesting experimentation (maracas?) that still captures that '60s pop harmony goodness. Kind of a 'Beatles Take Paraguay' vibe. Also check the big U2 sounding track called "Song 1" on their MySpace. I hope they are snatched up quickly by a label with a good ear for talent, because these brothers have it.

Yeah Alright
The Richmond Sluts
Yell-out-loud dirty '70s rock with a double punk/surf edge from San Francisco band the Richmond Sluts, who now appear to be defunct (but you try Googling richmond sluts for information on the band, without getting links to bendy women from Virginia). This delightfully crunchy song screams of driving too fast, playing music too loud, and maybe even dancing too close to leave room for the Holy Spirit. It's off their self-titled 2001 album, and the Bono-riffic album cover has a girl that can stand alongside the Superdrag chick from Head Trip In Every Key in badass rocker chick irresistibility.

Screen Door

This kind of reminds me of the stomp of The 22-20s and the zip of that great Benjy Ferree track I posted recently, all rolled up into something fresh. New from paradoxically-Pennsylvanian band Illinois, from their EP What The Hell Do I Know? (out now). Clocking in at only 2 minutes long, this will nonetheless definitely get you tapping your toes and rolling down the windows, singing along with the sympathetic-for-the-devil "whoo-whoo" bits.

Hot Girls In Good Moods
Butch Walker & The Let's Go Out Tonites
This song is an explosively soaring glam-rock party in a box. Butch Walker (chameleon-like musician/producer) checks T. Rex, echoes David Bowie, and wraps up all that swagger into a package that's just plain fun. Even if you think you don't like stuff like this, it's kind of like the Eagles of Death Metal effect -- I just can't help myself. Check the lyric about music-geek love at its finest: "Straddles me lovely while she's scratchin my back, while she's singin all the words to my hidden track..." Absolutely calls for being the leadoff track on your next "going out" mix, from the aptly titled The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and The Lets-Go-Out-Tonites (2006).

Music (featuring Lauryn Hill)
Joss Stone
I've not previously been swayed by Joss Stone's rowly yowly charms, but this is one fine track off her newest effort, which pal Bruce is raving about as "so damn funky it's like one of those classic Chaka Khan or Rufus records and has the velvetspeakers on full blast." I always take his word for things, and you should too. From the new (oddly titled) Introducing Joss Stone. Anything that gets Lauryn out of hiding is a-okay in my book.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

I'm on my way . . . I don't where I'm goin'

Do you ever hear a song and realize that you've missed it without even knowing it?

Watching The Royal Tenenbaums again last night, I was thoroughly digging the usage of 'Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard' and realizing how some days just need a little Paul Simon to feel right. This song is on the soundtrack alongside a stellar lineup that just underscores the unstoppable combination of Wes Anderson and Mark Mothersbaugh. From the opening 'Hey Jude' instrumental, to the Dylan, Stones, Ramones, obligatory depressing scene with Elliott Smith, Velvet Underground, Van Morrison, and even some fantastic Nick Drake -- it's just top notch, eh?

Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard - Paul Simon


This also reminds me of the fun cover that those hot whistling Swedes, Peter Bjorn & John, recorded on KCRW a bit back. By the way, didja know that the female vocals in that infectiously poppy 'Young Folks' tune is Victoria Bergsman (formerly) of The Concretes? I thought she sounded familiar.

Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard - Peter, Bjorn & John

One of those versions is going onto my running playlist and I am heading out in today's glorious sunshine. I got finally new running shoes (you mean they don't last 3 years?) and I am ridiculously excited.

It was raining yesterday so their christening run was on the treadmill and I went farther than I thought I could go without someone chasing me. I am invincible, like Wonder Woman. Except it is a heck of a lot harder for her to run in those thigh-high boots.

It's not easy, I tell ya.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Jeff Buckley & Aimee Mann

One of my favorite and very first posts (anyone with me that long?) was the first time I wrote about Jeff Buckley, told the story of "our relationship" if you will, and posted up songs inspired by his life, his art, and his untimely death.

(pretty sure that chill-inducing photo above is Jeff in front of the Wolf River, taken by Merri Cyr).

Since so many of you have been asking, I've revisited that post and re-upped all the links to the Jeff tribute songs. I've added a bunch of tracks to the original post from 2005, and this one had a special story to go along with it . . .

Just Like Anyone - Aimee Mann

Aimee said:
This is a song I wrote when Jeff Buckley died...I hadn't known Jeff extremely well, but we kept bumping into each other here and there.

One night we met for a drink at a pub in NYC, and started writing messages to each other on a paper placemat that was there, instead of talking, because the music in the bar was really loud or something. An interesting effect of that was that we found ourselves writing things that we would never would dare to say to each other out loud. I remember thinking that he seemed to be sort of lost and sad although he outwardly was very funny and lively and confident, and wrote something about that, among another things.

I didn't talk to him for a long time after that -- I went to England to live for a while and we talked once or twice and then nothing for over a year.

Then one night I got a voice mail message from him that said, "I just realized what you were trying to tell me that night". I tried to call him back but the number I had for him was old, and then I got his new number but I was out of town again and it was difficult to call, and then I heard that he was missing, and presumed dead. . .

[via reader mickeyitaliano]


Yes, it's depressing. But I love that image of two people sitting in a loud bar, scribbling their most honest thoughts on a placemat instead of talking. I suppose the modern equivalent would be text messaging across a crowded room. I like that idea, it's like talking in secret code and no one around you knows. Something about the medium makes it easier to be honest and say what you are truly thinking.

This song is just a wisp, under 2 minutes, heartfelt and regretful.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

And now, a cover that is vastly better than the original

I'd go on a limb and say that on most days my favorite David Gray song is "Say Hello Wave Goodbye," the beautiful, winding, 9-minute behemoth from White Ladder. It's not catchy, no chorus that sticks in your head; it reminds me more of a confessional poem of a complicated relationship. I have a hard time articulating exactly why I love it so much, but from those opening notes (do it, click the blue arrow) it just seems to encapsulate some ephemeral longing and an intangible sadness.

Say Hello Wave Goodbye - David Gray

The nine minutes give the lyrics time to unfold and breathe --it is long enough to tell an intricate, sad story with the brutal refrain of "Take your hands off me, hey. I don't belong to you, you say. Take a look at my face for the last time. I never knew you, you never knew me. Say hello, goodbye . . ."

To me, it's about a mismatched pair that nonetheless feels that inexorable pull: "We tried to make it work, you in a cocktail skirt and me in a suit, but it just wasn't me. You're used to wearing less, and now you're life's a mess, so insecure you see." And perhaps I like the line about how he claims to want "a nice little housewife who'll give me the steady life, and not keep going off the rails" -- but the subtext of the song tells me that he really wants her and not that at all.

My jaw dropped to the floor when I learned that this is originally a Soft Cell song (yes, they of the Tainted Love fame), and it is horrific, clunky, and synthy. In retrospect, perhaps I should have known, though -- do songs get any more '80s than one that starts with the lyric, "Standing in the door of the Pink Flamingo crying in the rain"?

I had that recent post about cover songs that are awful, this is one cover that actually redeems the original.

Say Hello Wave Goodbye - Soft Cell

Gray also adds his own outro to the original lyrics, and it always gets to me:

We were born before the wind, who are we to understand?

We were born before the wind . . .
Say goodbye
Through the rain, hail, sleet and snow
Say goodbye
Get on the train, the train, the train and
Say goodbye
Say goodbye
Say goodbye

In the wind and the rain my darling . . .
Say goodbye

In the wind and the rain my darling . . .

And with that, as you listen you can almost picture the train start moving on the tracks and pulling away from the station. It's cinematic.

And just since the mood kind of fits, here is one other interesting cover, from Embrace's Ashes CD single (the b-side):

How Come - Embrace

How Come - D12 and Eminem
(the original - ha!)

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Malin mesmerizes at Bowery

Jesse Malin's excellent new album Glitter In The Gutter came out on Tuesday and he ushered it in with a "record release party" at the Bowery in NYC . . .


Jesse Malin - the former D-Generation punk mastermind - is poetic in the way he makes a few words explode with meaning.

His melodies range from ballads to Bo Diddley beat rockers, but what made him so compelling at his Bowery Ballroom gig Monday was his quintessential New York cool.

Malin is the successor to Lou Reed's crown as the lord of the City's underground. In his songs like "Riding on a Subway," "Brooklyn," "Hotel Columbia" and material from his latest solo record "Glitter in the Gutter," Malin captures the vibe of the city with sharp, in-your-face city attitude. He mixes sarcasm, humor and enough innocence to make even his lies sound true.

In his between songs he pokes fun at the Williamsburg hipsters who cross the bridge nightly to invade the Lower East Side, and he likes his obscure film references - quoting "King of Comedy" character Rupert Pupkin, "It's better to be the king for a night than a schmuck all your life." Malin even asked the "Marathon Man" question a half a dozen times "Is it safe?"

Without the dental work, the answer was yes.

Malin was in his element, even when he left the stage to sing from the center of the dance floor. Before he started, he convinced everyone to sit on the hardwood strewn with beer cups for what he called the concert's U2 moment.

If there was a single disappointment at this show, it was that everyone at the Bowery was buzzing about how Bruce Springsteen was going to show up to help Malin reprise their duet of the song "Broken Radio" off of the "Glitter" album. The Boss stayed home, but Malin delivered the song with a vehemence that said the Bruce assist wasn't essential to the number's goodness.

Malin is an underrated, old school player who is finally getting recognized as one of New York's great hometown voices.

Broken Radio - Jesse Malin with Springsteen

BUY: Glitter In The Gutter


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Odds & ends

It's been a long time since I compiled one of these odds and ends posts, but there were several little things today that caught my eye:

۞ Brian Deck is on board to produce the new Counting Crows record, according to Adam:

March 16, 2007 12:53am
Berkeley, CA

Rehearsals have been going really well the past few days. I'm pretty excited about the 2nd half of this record. I really dig the producer we've chosen. His name's Brian Deck. He produced "The Moon and Antarctica" for Modest Mouse, "Our Endless Numbered Days" for Iron and Wine, "The Animal Years" for Josh Ritter, and this album I love by the Fruit Bats called "Mouthfuls". We're getting really cool weird twisted folksy sounds.

۞ Paul McCartney is set to release a new album this summer, the inaugural release for new Starbucks label.

I drink Starbucks. I love McCartney. But why does this just feel so dirty and somehow depressing?

۞ Mason Jennings has a new blog post that starts with the sentence, "Did you ever just get so high that you wrote on your arm never to smoke weed again? Me neither." It goes on to discuss music he likes and life in general lately for him, but opening sentences don't get much more engaging than that one.

۞ I truly love the new Hold Steady video for "Stuck Between Stations." That is a dang fine song, and since I haven't caught them live yet, I've never seen it performed, seen the way they jolt out their music.

Incidentally, I think their piano player may actually be Oliver, Kat's husband from Miami Ink. Rock the 'stache, dude.

۞ SPIN tries to deconstruct the method behind Ryan Adams' crazy, internet-facilitated, musical-diarrhea madness.

۞ Pete Yorn's cousin/merch man/video whiz Maxx updates Pete's MySpace friends with setlists and excellent pictures from the road. The most recent post has a haiku to match each photograph, and is a must-read. I laughed out loud at a few:

sid is funnier
when he's not wearing his clothes
but someone else's

simon is undead
he will eat your flesh
even from the stage

۞ SXSW. Most of the SXSW coverage from my fellow bloggers seems like drinking out of a firehose, and I am not able to fully absorb all of it yet (although I am trying). This, however, was one show that I had read about and found video for -- very cool. Pete Townshend was at the fest to speak at a panel and joined British buzz band The Fratellis for a cool little cover of The Who's "The Seeker":

And the best picture that I've seen so far from SXSW was taken by my friend Brian H., who has been regularly updating me with more pics and details than you can shake a stick at (thanks!). I don't know the story behind this shot, but I thought it was cool how it speaks to the environment of total musical domination in Austin these past few days:

Rock 'n roll.

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New tour documentary from Stereophonics: Rewind

The Stereophonics have completed a new 2-disc DVD, Rewind, with some cool features:

Disc One is a documentary featuring conversations with some of these guys: Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, the Bono, Jools Holland, Roger Daltrey, the Black Crowes and Tom Jones, as well as band interviews and a preview of album #6 which the boys are just putting the finishing touches on (the follow-up to 2005's Language. Sex. Violence. Other?).

Regarding the new album, their recent blog post says, "We've been spending the last few weeks at Spike Stent's studio mixing it, as Kelly would say: 'is sounding fuckin' mega', haha. We are very pleased with the results so far, just a few tweaks here and there, and then to the next thing, mastering it. After that, we'll start working on the artwork, photos, and all that jazz. We'll let you know how things are going."

Disc Two is a live performance DVD which includes some old and rare footage, including home movies of their very first gigs as early incarnations Zephyr and Tragic Love Company. They had a bunch of screenings of Rewind in the UK, and they say if you want the film to be shown near you, then get at least 20 people together and email: info@vistavega.com with the subject line: 'Phonics Cinemas'. Now there's a unique party idea for the music fan.

The Rewind DVD comes out April 2nd.

Also of note: Kelly Jones' eighty-eight lines about forty-four women is in stores now (Only The Names Have Been Changed), and drummer Javier Weyler also has a Spanish electronica side-project going now too.


Stab it down, one way needle

This is a dual purpose post. One, to tell any of my local readers that they should consider giving some blood at the weeklong drive at the Air Force Academy/Fort Carson. There's a shortage of blood among our troops and one of the benefits of living in a military town is that they are airlifting all of the blood units donated immediately to Iraq. My blood from yesterday's session is literally somewhere on its way to the Middle East right now. That's pretty cool. So lay an arm and donate a pint! Plus you get charming medical attendants in uniform all week long at absolutely no added charge:

I had posted a Basketball-Diaries-esque picture here of the needle running into my arm (the nurse Mr. Christian snapped it for me of his own volition) but I took it down because it even made ME shudder and it was MY arm. Even though I do always watch the needle go in, and ask a lot of medical questions. It's really just in case I ever run into Dr. John Carter/Dr. Doug Ross on an elevator and need to sound knowledgable.

And then the other purpose of this, of course, is to post up the soundtrack that was running through my head the entire time. You knew this was coming:

Blood (live in San Francisco, 7/16/06) - Pearl Jam
I love that wah-wah...and the scream

PS - I have that aforementioned "Blood Mix" I compiled on cassette back in the day, snippets of all their lyrics (at the time) referencing blood. I don't know why I did it. However, does anyone have the technology to rip a cassette tape to mp3? If you do, and can help me, then we can listen to my masterwork.

And here are two more kitschy theme-time radio hour contributions:

Positive Bleeding - Urge Overkill (ohhhh, I forgot how fantastic this song is)

It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) - Bob Dylan, live from BBC London, June 1965

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I remember when I was 14 and Vedder jumped on stage with me and my band, too. No, wait.

From Page Six, NY Post
March 13, 2007 -- When your parents are Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, you get first dibs on the jam sessions with Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Saturday night, the celeb couple's son, Miles Robbins, 14, played with his band, The Tangents, at Bar East, on First Avenue and 90th Street. Vedder came as a guest of Sarandon and Robbins, and "Eddie jumped onstage and joined the band for a couple of songs, including a hot cover of 'Watchtower,' " said our spy. "Tim was directing traffic, and the place was full of teenagers who were invited by the Robbins family."

In all, Vedder provided vocals for three songs: Blitzkreig Bop (Ramones), Rockin In The Free World (Neil Young) and All Along The Watchtower (Dylan). And the band themselves, The Tangents, are pretty good -- check the MySpace link above. Frickin how do you top an experience like that at 14? That never happened in my freshman-year world. Unfortunately.

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Foo Fighters take Hyde Park by brute force

You know those lame free channels that you get on DirectTV that never have anything good on them? Well last night I was completely blown away by an airing of the absolutely kickass Foo Fighters show last summer to a sold out Hyde Park crowd of 85,000 blokes and birds. A friend once told me that the best show he ever attended (ever) was a Foo Fighters show back in the day, and I remember receiving this news with a bit of incredulity at the time ("You mean, as in EVER?").

After watching this set, I understand that possibility now. It has all become clear.
Hot dang.

FOO FIGHTERS (all good and plugged-in)
Hyde Park, London
DVD Audio Rip
June 17, 2006

In Your Honor
All My Life
Best of You
Times Like These
Learn To Fly
Shake Your Blood (with Lemmy from Motorhead)
Stacked Actors
My Hero
Monkey Wrench
Tie Your Mother Down (with Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen, Taylor on vox)


This performance was released as a second bonus DVD disc for the UK version of the recent live concert DVD Skin and Bones. The main disc is acoustic (as was the set I saw from them just a few months after this was taped); the Hyde Park show is definitely not. Cathartic and fervently intense, I am absolutely loving this and wish I could have been there. Fancy that.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I was enjoying Japanese food a few nights ago with some good people, and yummy as it was, midway through my udon and sake I had a sudden void open up within my soul for some Wagamama.
See -- it makes you happy just to say it. It hit me like a bolt from the blue and I've been missing it ever since.

Wagamama is the name of a series of Japanese restaurants started in London, tasty - tasty - tasty. I first became acquainted with the Covent Garden one and have eaten at Wagamama each time I've been in London since -- and I always have a good time. I read that they are opening their first US location in Boston on April 23. Go! Wasting time on the Wagamama website is also a poor substitute for the vittles, but fun -- like a carnival. They have a Passion-O-Meter (I am, apparently, Hot Stuff) and Mystic Noodles fortune-telling (Saturn and Mars are making a mess of my noodle aura).

Mostly it just makes me hungry.

The Words You Used To Say
Dean & Britta
Former frontman of Luna combines with the voice of the most truly, truly, truly outrageous punk rocker of Saturday mornings in the '80s, Jem (real name is Britta Phillips but if I were her I think I'd just change my name to Jem). This is from Dean & Britta's delightfully subtle new album Back Numbers, out now on Zoe/Rounder. These two also scored The Squid and The Whale, aka the most stunningly depressing movie I've seen in recent years - but hey, it sounded good.

This is an atmospheric new song today from San Francisco band Luce, off the soundtrack of a spooky hospital movie Sublime, featuring that guy from Ed. The song itself is not spooky at all, but rather a wistful, melodic latin-tinged affair. Luce is currently working on a new album (follow-up to the wonderful 2005 album Never Ending) and have announced a series of shows for the lucky California folks, including a special summer festival up with the North Bay hippies co-starring bluesy rocker Jackie Greene.

You Are The Best Thing (new)
Ray LaMontagne
This is such a naked, vulnerable song -- and I've always much preferred the raw earnest Ray to the slickly produced Ray. I am pretty sure this is a brand new tune, several of you have written to me about LaMontagne performing it lately; this version's from 12/16/06 at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. The mp3 is not stellar, admittedly, but the song certainly is. [photo credit]

Ballad of Humankindness
The Dears
A good friend breathlessly told me that I had to check out this song and my, how she knows me. I did indeed enjoy the song from the moment those opening beats started. I am a sucker for beats like this, the blending of the acoustic with the thumping danceable rhythm that just gets better as the song progresses. The tune, from Montreal's The Dears' 2006 album Gang Of Losers (Arts & Crafts), builds into something fantastic ---- even if the semi-preachy tones about all of us learning forgiveness and not judging the homeless are a bit heavy-handed.

Salala (featuring Peter Gabriel)
Angélique Kidjo
I have written before about the wonderful West African songstress Angélique Kidjo, and I always get into the Africa world-beat fusion of her music. She has a new album out May 1 called Djin Djin and it features a whole host of A-listers like Amadou & Miriam, Ziggy Marley, Joss Stone, Carlos Santana, Alicia Keys and this guy. Every time I hear Peter Gabriel's gruff, velvety voice I say to myself, "I forgot how much I love Peter Gabriel." The whole album is very good global listening.

One last PS, I enjoyed listening to this new OK Go remix (UK Surf version) from iTunes of "Here It Goes Again." It's got a very interesting, relaxed vibe that many of their other songs forego in favor of the stuff that makes you jump around. But I really like this; OK Go always makes me happy.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Country feedback

I went on a girls' weekend in the gorgeous mountains of Colorado (some of them; we have many) and I was happily tasked with being the mixmaster for the affair. It was an event rife with some possibly questionable choices in the name of fun on my part (Journey), but I wouldn't have it any other way.

But that was in the car and for the going out. This stunning gem was just mine, from a moment of solitude. Very early Saturday morning I couldn't sleep for some horrid reason, so I got up and went out on the porch of the lodge for some sitting and music-listening and looking, a favorite hobby of mine when I have time for it. As the sun rose over the mountains, this perfect song (one of my favorites) came on and it was a near ten minutes of flawless, bittersweet perfection:

Country Feedback (live) - R.E.M.
(with Neil Young on second guitar, at Bridge School Benefit 1998, also released as fan club single)

Admittedly I have been on something of an R.E.M. kick lately, but this one just popped up on my iPod on random out of the 11,000. Michael Stipe says at the beginning that (out of all the fine offerings from their 20+ year career), this is his "particular favorite R.E.M. song" -- it's easy here to see why. Gorgeous. I love the opportunity that solitude affords to really *listen* to a song, and I couldn't help but think as this one played (a few times on loop) how a song like this is a perfection example of Stipe's cryptic lyricism; the juxtaposition of the seemingly meaningless alongside the profound.

This flower's scorched
This film is on
On a maddening loop
These clothes,
These clothes don't fit us right and I'm to blame
It's all the same, it's all the same

You come to me with a bone in your hand
You come to me with your hair curled tight
You come to me with positions
You come to me with excuses
Ducked out in a row
You wear me out, you wear me out

We've been through fake-a-breakdown
Self hurt, Plastics, collections
Self help, self pain,
EST, psychics, fuck all

I was central, I had control
I lost my head
I need this, I need this

A paper weight, junk garage
Winter rain, a honey pot
Crazy, all the lovers have been tagged

A hotline, wanted ad
It's crazy what you could've had
It's crazy what you could've had
It's crazy what you could've had
I need this
I need this

Even the times when I don't exactly know what Stipe is saying, I kind of know what he means.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

U2: "Took you down a dead end street / Mixing the bitter with the sweet"

I spent at least a good hour+ last night watching Zoo TV tour footage on YouTube from U2, and then I open my email this morning to find that Cara has fantastically read my mind with this little outtake snippet gem from that era, off an obscure promo cd:

Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad (Airplane Version) - Bono

I missed the Zoo TV tour (look at this opener! Music starts at 4:15 after the video sensory overload, and what a song, with those grinding, excoriating guitar licks) . . .

. . . But I caught the PopMart one in '97, a tour that which usually started each show with the insanely awesome song 'Mofo', and the effortlessly cool 4 strutting their way in through cadres of adoring fans in fine swaggering fashion. I do find myself loving the excess of that whole 5-year era:


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mystery Train, next stop Memphis

If you have the patience to watch and enjoy as a rich noir-influenced story unfolds with diverse characters, three loosely interrelated plots, and an absolutely top-notch soundtrack, then Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train is one you should definitely dig up at the rental place.

I never saw this when it came out in 1989 because although I have always liked this kind of music, I was preoccupied with NKOTB at the time and probably wouldn't have been allowed to see it anyways because there are boobies. I was more about the Hangin' Tough Live Concert video than moody atmospheric musical travelogues through rock history's footprints. But now that I have grown, man alive did I enjoy this one.

Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers, Coffee & Cigarettes, Year of the Horse) clearly loves music, and there is nary a city in America where music is more firmly enmeshed in the pulse of the community than Memphis, Tennessee. It's a story that takes its sweet time unravelling, with long pauses to breathe. The cinematography is vignette driven, almost like a series of postcards with lingering shots of the city of Memphis -- the dirty, gritty, ambling back alleys and monuments to Elvis and references to Graceland.

And Elvis is indeed everywhere (even if our young Japanese protagonist keeps insisting that Carl Perkins was better); inescapable and as much of a living character in the film as anyone else. The black velvet portrait over the bed of the skeevy motel even pictures the gentle doe-eyed Elvis who smiles down on the rapid-fire consummation (okay, it's the 11th time) of young teenage love.

The film starts with that teenage Japanese couple pulling into the train station for a firsthand pilgrimage of American rock and roll history. He sports a pompadour and the ever-present cigarette behind the ear, while she rocks the combat boots, a leather jacket, and a bright enthusiasm for anything related to American rock and roll. They don't really know where they're going, on several levels, but that's okay with them.

After their story is mostly told (but left unfinished), the night rewinds and we meet a young Italian widow also in town to bring home the body of her husband to Rome. Played by the lovely Nicoletta Braschi (La Vita è Bella), hers is a wide-eyed and gentle respite between the other two tales. It was during her story that I found myself unable to resist belting out a bit of Marc Cohn: "Saw the ghost of Elvis down on Union Avenue. . ." even though most days I could do without that song. Rare the film that melds American rock history with the sonorous sounds of the Italian language, and I loved that segment.

Finally the triple-action view of the evening is wrapped up with a glance into the activities of three wayward punks (one of which is, oh, Joe Strummer, another a very young Steve Buscemi) and their drunken crimes. Although concrete connections between the three parallel storylines become apparent throughout the course of the night, the tales never directly intersect. Characters who know each other find themselves down the hall from one another, hearing the same sound, but never knowing of the intersection. Ultimately, it's just a glimpse, and the film feels unfinished -- but agreeably so.

For the music nerd, the film does journey through several immortalized locations, including a fast-talking tour of Sun Studios and some of the last footage ever shot of the original legendary Stax Records (by the way, if you like that soul sound, check out the Stax 50th Anniversary box set just released this week).

The melancholy soundtrack throughout is of the finest quality and simply cannot be beat for the atmosphere it creates, reminding me of the David Lynch scoring in Blue Velvet. Most of the tunes used in the soundtrack were actually recorded at Sun Studios back in the heyday, and the film resurrects them in almost-eerie fashion.

PS -- the richly honeyed voice on the radio with the 2am intro to 'Blue Moon' in each of the three vignettes is none other than Tom Waits. Come on.

Mystery Train - Elvis Presley
Mystery Train - Junior Parker
Blue Moon - Elvis Presley
Domino - Roy Orbison
Soul Finger - The Bar-Kays
Pain In My Heart - Otis Redding
The Memphis Train - Rufus Thomas
(I was so excited when Joe Strummer's character selects this last tune on the bar jukebox -- I just "found" it recently on the What It Is! compilation, and it has been an essential and beloved addition to my favorite new mix CD. Great song - and watch for the cameo in the Memphis train station by ole' Rufus himself).

An absolute must-see, a very cool movie.

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