...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, June 30, 2007

The turntable chronicles

My contest #1 (for the Black Lips/YACHT 7") from last week garnered six entries, but each was a wonderful story of a record player. You guys are fine, fine storytellers and it was hard to decide -- reading those comments made my day. I would encourage all you guys to read them too if you hold a special warmth in your heart for vinyl.

My winner is gonna be Miguel with this fantastic tale -- how could I deny someone whose very first vinyl ever was of the Black Lips, and who owns the entire Smiths catalog (singles included) on vinyl as a gift from what I would have to call the best girlfriend ever? He writes:

I was in posession of only one vinyl record, which, strangely enough, was the Black Lips first 45 ep that they had given me for letting them stay on my couch in Brooklyn while on their first tour. I desperately wanted to listen to it, but throwing down a wad of cash for a record player so I could listen to a solitary 7 inch seemed a bit frivolous.

One Christmas, my (ex)girlfriend took pity me and my solitary record. Underneath the tree I found a shiny new Technics and the entire Smiths catalogue, singles included. (I bought her a watch. So tactless.)

Since then the collection has grown hundreds fold, but that first 45 with Ain't Comin' Back and the signature firecrackers solo will always be my favorite.

That's fantastic, Miguel. Thanks to all for sharing; I hope to have a few more cool 7" contests in this series. The Ryan Adams contest will end sometime tomorrow, and with over 70 heartfelt entries already, how in the world am I ever gonna choose?


Friday, June 29, 2007

Two new songs from Matt Nathanson: Car Crash & All We Are

Matt Nathanson is hard at work on the road promoting the release of his upcoming album Some Mad Hope (pictured above, LA skyscape, gorgeous) which is due out August 14th on Vanguard Records. He is rewarding his internet fanbase in an innovative way, sending exclusive content each Monday related to the songs on the new album. So far the last two Mondays we've gotten video showing off some new tunes in all their glory, and I thought to share them since I liked them both.

The first is a live acoustic version of Car Crash --a brutal song about wanting to feel the car crash, wanting to feel the bomb drop, "because I'm dying on the inside." This was taped recently at The Living Room in New York City.

Car Crash

Then we have a performance of the final song on the album, "All We Are," straight from Matt's ordinary San Francisco living room." He writes: "the album version has a full band playing on it...kind of three in-the-morning, norah jones meets PJ harvey vibe. this version has sort of an in-my-house, monday morning being video'd vibe."

I always enjoy Matt's smartass banter, and even at home early on a Monday morning, there's no exception: "Luckily we had some equipment here from the 'movie shoot' we had this weekend, and we were able to get the farm animals out and stuff, and wash the walls down . . . we're clothed now . . . so I thought it would be cool to use the equipment while it was still rented." Note the barely suppressed smile. This is a lovely wisp of a song, perfect for a closing track.

All We Are

You can preorder Some Mad Hope now and get a fancy package deal that includes an autographed booklet, a sticker, and a bonus EP featuring in-studio, solo acoustic versions of three of the new songs. Go for it.


Mason Jennings: Frick fight and a cover by Kweller

I came across this hilarious bit of storytelling on Mason Jennings' MySpace blog page yesterday.

Frickin' awesome:

So, there I was, walking through an herb garden at a lovely spa/retreat in New Mexico. We had the good fortune of staying there on our last tour. I was walking the grounds thinking about how beautiful the day was. I was walking around a grove of trees when, bam, I walked smack into my first Frick Fight.

I don't know if I saw them or heard them first but, the scene was this: One man was sitting in a golf cart, he had a mustache, he worked at the spa and I would have to say he was the employer. The other man was standing, he didn't have a mustache, his hair was pomaded down flat, he was younger and he was definitely the employee. Neither was the top dog. I would guess "weekend manager" and "caterer". Both were dressed in colorful buttoned down shirts that were tucked into khaki pants. Anyways...

Mustache: What the frick were you thinking?
Pomade: I frickin told you, I didn't frickin do it...
Mustache: Yes, you frickin did. Don't frickin say you didn't.
Pomade: I frickin didn't.

Mustache: If you frickin do that one more time, I'll frickin..
Pomade: I frickin said, I frickin didn't do it.
Mustache: Don't frickin lie to me. I have frickin had it.

Can you imagine my joy? My unbounded sense of being at the right place at the right time? In the lovely land of desert and sky, I had stumbled across one of the truly rare natural wonders of the world. An isolated employee-employer microcosm in which both were suddenly suspended in the space between between employment and profanity. It sort of reminded me of when you are playing a video game and you suddenly figure out how to run your little guy somewhere where he shouldn't be able to go. Like through the air or into the stands.

They didn't see me. Mustache stared down Pomade and then vroom-vroomed his little golf cart huffily away. Pomade stormed off.

Thank you, thank you, thank you God.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Also, I had missed that Ben Kweller covered Mason's song "Sorry Signs on Cash Machines" last year on the Sundress EP, but am enjoying it now. When I hear different versions of Mason's songs, I'm always struck by just how visceral and evocative a songwriter he is:

Sorry Signs on Cash Machines - Ben Kweller

Sorry Signs on Cash Machines - Mason Jennings

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

The best song ever about salmon spawning. Maybe the only one.

Does anyone remember that song about roly-poly fishheads from the early '90s? "Fishheads are never seen drinking cappuccinos in Italian restaurants with Oriental women." Yeah, I have no idea what it was about, but we used to play it on my friend's college radio show at KSCU (from the damp basement of Swig Hall).

This song from the new Chemical Brothers album is similarly piscine in scope, and reminds me some of Fishheads, so maybe it's not surprising that some twisted pleasure-center of my brain likes it. A salmon dance? This features Fatlip (previously of The Pharcyde) and urges the listener to "shake your body like a salmon floating upstream" and talks about dancing like a fish while doin' The Snap. It could be this year's shake it like a polaroid picture. Yes, it's kitschy and ridiculous, but if you can resist liking this even a little bit, you are a better person than I.

I know, I know.

The Salmon Dance (feat Fatlip) - The Chemical Brothers

The new Chemical Brothers album We Are The Night is due July 17 on Astralwerks, and also features widely-varied collaborations with The Klaxons, Midlake, and Willy Mason. (thanks Max)

On a related note, I just recently figured out how big and ugly salmon are, thanks to my very favorite dirty jobber Mike Rowe. I guess I kind of pictured them like shiny pink trout. Just goes to demonstrate that no, I have never gone fishing. I need to fix that.


New Redwalls tour dates, independent EP released

When I saw The Redwalls with OK Go at the Bluebird Theatre in 2005, it was an awesome, power-pop-filled evening. The Redwalls are a foursome out of Chicago, fronted by a pair of brothers, with finely-aged sound that far exceeds their 20-something years of living. They were signed with Capitol, but recently parted ways with the label following the completion of recording some new material. Capitol let them keep those demos, which have just been released as an independent EP: The Wall to Wall Sessions. They also just announced some tour dates (following their string of shows opening for Oasis last year) -- I definitely recommend catching them live if you can. I wrote last year:

When I first heard "It's Love You're On" by The Redwalls, I absolutely thought they were some forgotten '60s band I'd never heard before - pleasing vocal harmonies, catchy hooks, a fantastic crunchy sound. This Chicago quartet (vocalist/guitarist Logan Baren, vocalist/bassist Justin Baren, vocalist/guitarist Andrew Langer, and drummer Ben Greeno) ranges in dewy-fresh age from 20 to 22 years old, but sound much more mature to me musically.

I was blown away seeing them live. Four young guys, shaggy dark hair, tight pants, pointed boots - straight-up British Invasion brought back to life (oh wait, did it ever die?). They looked so young; I remember telling my friend Heidi that I felt like we were at a high school talent show (albeit one of very high caliber). These kids have stage presence and swagger galore -- although, really, who at 22 opening for all these great bands wouldn't swagger just a tad?

Go see them live (dates below) and enjoy this sample off the new EP, which is available to purchase here. An interesting song --much bigger than the catchy little songs of their earlier efforts-- sounding kind of like the Beatles fronting Joshua-Tree-era U2?

Song #1 - The Redwalls

Jun 27 - Southgate House Newport, KY
Jun 28 - Magic Stick Detroit, MI
Jun 29 - Lime Spider Akron, OH
Jun 30 - Southpaw Brooklyn, NY
Jul 2 - Johnny Brenda's Philadelphia, PA
Jul 3 - T.T. the Bear's Cambridge, MA
Jul 4 - Maxwell's Hoboken, NJ
Jul 5 - Iota Club and Cafe Arlington, VA
Jul 6 - Beachland Ballroom, Tavern Cleveland, OH
Jul 7 - The Basement Columbus, OH
Jul 12 - Mirimar Theatre Milwaukee, WI
Jul 13 - Triple Rock Social Club Minneapolis, MN
Jul 14 - High Noon Saloon Madison, WI
Jul 15 - Copper Rock Coffee Company Appleton, WI
Jul 21 - Sheffield Garden Walk Chicago, IL
Aug 2 - Sticky Fingerz Chicken Shack Little Rock, AR
Aug 5 - Lucky Devils El Paso, TX
Aug 9 - The Roxy Theatre Hollywood, CA
Aug 10 - Cafe Du Nord San Francisco, CA
Aug 11 - Mt Tabor Legacy Portland, OR
Aug 15 - Hi Dive Denver, CO
Aug 16 - Grand Emporium Kansas City, MO
Aug 17 - Off Broadway St. Louis, MO


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pearl Jam unleashes their cover of "Love Reign O'er Me" in concert for the first time

Pearl Jam played Copenhagen (wonderful Copenhagen) last night, their first return to Denmark since the tragic deaths of 9 fans during their set at the 2000 Roskilde Festival. By all accounts it was an emotional night yesterday for the fans and the band. Ed gave a small and heartfelt speech near the end of the set "somewhere along the lines [of] all of us walking the road/path of life, and tonight all our personal paths crossed. In other words, he sort of celebrated life by saying that we had to look forward and just follow that path wherever it may take us." (from a fan who was there)

Thanks to Billyblog (Bill's a fellow fan as obsessive as I am), we've got a fresh mp3, just hours old. Ed introduces it as being the first time they've ever played this song live, and that first piano chord always gives me chills.

UPDATE: Video of the Vedder solo pre-set performance of Hunters & Collectors' "Throw Your Arms Around Me," from what looks like about a 2nd row vantage point. The taper is audibly excited by Vedder's choice of songs. GREAT tune.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New contest #2: Easy, tiger (Ryan Adams lithograph and new album)

And here's the second contest of today, this one to celebrate the official release of Ryan Adams' ninth studio album Easy Tiger (out today on Lost Highway):

That snarly, wild piece of wall art is a limited edition Ryan Adams lithograph, hand-numbered out of 100, that I have to give away. It would fit nicely if you live in Alaska, or maybe have one of those urban-wolf decoration schemes. It also showcases (assumedly) Ryan's hand quite nicely, and . . . it's cool.

The contest also includes a copy of the Easy Tiger album, which I have been enjoying quite often these last few weeks. Although it has not risen to "absolute gem" status for me yet, I definitely think that it is a familiar step into a very good direction for Ryan. There is, as you have likely read in any of a dozen other reviews, a greater focus from Ryan here and a tighter feel to the album.

It is still Ryan, though, so it wanders some (though not unpleasantly) and feels a little bit jarring to me in places. But all nine of his albums have always varied wildly in their style and mood from one to the next. From burnished alt-country, to gorgeously sad rock ballads, to humid Southern jams, to squealing punk, Ryan doesn't stay the same and I do appreciate that creativity. I hope Easy Tiger does very good things for him; combined with a newfound sobriety, I also hope that he delivers a string of focused live shows to reinforce that talent and convert a new round of folks to his musically-winning ways.

TO WIN THE PACKAGE: Since I've been in a pensive lyric mood lately, I would like to discuss your favorite lyric ever penned by Mr. Ryan Adams. I will pick a winner this weekend, make sure to give me a way to contact you.

26 - New York, NY - Hiro Ballroom
28 - Philadelphia, PA - The Fillmore
29 - Boston, MA - Somerville Theater

10 - Charlottesville, VA - Paramount Theatre
11 - Louisville, KY - Brown Theatre
12 - Germantown, TN - Germantown Performing Arts Center
14 - Austin, TX - Paramount Theatre
19 - Los Angeles, CA - Wilshire Ebell
21 - Santa Cruz, CA - Catalyst
23 - San Francisco, CA - Herbst Theatre
24 - Berkeley, CA - Berkeley Community Theater
26 - Portland, OR - Aladdin Theatre
27 - Seattle, WA - Moore Theatre
28 - Vancouver, BC - Orpheum Theatre
31 - Salt Lake City, UT - Red Butte Garden

2 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theatre (AAA Records & Radio conf)
3 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Two - Ryan Adams
Everybody Knows - Ryan Adams

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New contest #1: Black Lips/Yacht 7" from the Fader folks

Okay kids, today is a Two Contest Day. This first one is my favorite kind because it involves vinyl (the record kind, not, like . . . the outfit kind or anything).

As previously mentioned, Fader Magazine is pairing up with the favorite comfort of the South to offer this limited 7" club featuring up-and-coming artists. The last one featured the remix of "Magic Trick" with M. Ward and Jim James (b-side Ladyhawk), and this time around one lucky reader will win him or herself a limited edition 7" containing the following:

Side A: Wild Man - The Black Lips
(cover of The Tamrons' 1967 garage rock tune from Atlanta "flower punk" band)

Side B: No Favors Policy - YACHT
(funky electronica from one-man band project of Jona Bechtolt, formerly half of The Blow)

To win this fine treat, please tell me the story of your record player. In other words, how will you enjoy this prize? I think you should have a record player to win it, but I guess anyone can enter. Your comment won't hold the same oomph though, will it? I will pick a winner on Friday (be sure to leave a way to contact you).

Also, in conjunction with the contest, FADER's gone ahead and put their whole latest issue in pdf for you to peruse. Check it here.

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Sweet symphony: The Verve reunite

The Verve just announced some big news today -- they are reuniting after eight years apart for a new album at the end of the summer and several shows this fall. Even though they've all slagged off on each other with vitriol in the intervening years, saying that a complete Beatles reunion was more likely than a Verve one, the statement released today says that they are "getting back together for the joy of the music." Isn't that sweet.

Richard Ashcroft, Nick McCabe, Simon Jones, and Pete Salisbury were back in the recording studio in London last week, and tickets to a handful of UK shows go on sale July 6th. Here's to hoping there's some amazing music waiting to come out from their reunion. In related listening, these are the demos from the Urban Hymns sessions at West London's Olympic Studios in 1996 & 1997. The information that came with these when I sleuthed them out on a dare reads:

These are the legendary Urban Hymns demos recorded by Richard Ashcroft during 1996. They are from an analog source, but the quality is very listenable, all the instruments and vocals are present and clear. Verve drummer Peter Salisbury plays drums on most tracks, and most likely Simon Tong plays as well although no one is sure of the lineup other than Ashcroft and Salisbury. There are 3 songs from Urban Hymns, two b-sides from that album, 3 tracks that a few years later would appear on Ashcroft's debut solo album, and eight unreleased tracks. Obviously, the absence of Nick McCabe from the proceedings is a negative, but the unreleased tracks and early versions of other songs make a nice addition to the Verve catalog.

OCT 13, 1996 - AUG 4, 1997
Space and Time
Song For The Lovers
One Before Dinner
Misty Morning June
Lord I've Been Trying
The Drugs Don't Work
C'mon People
A Little Bit Of Love
Lord, I Guess I'll Never Know
Monte Carlo
Oh Sister
New York (Siren mix)
One More For The Lovers
It Takes Two


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Internet radio day of silence

Today marks a voluntary day of silence for internet radio stations to raise awareness of the recent royalty rate hikes affected by the Copyright Royalty Board. These hikes are not only retroactive for 17 months and due July 15th, but greatly increase the amounts of royalties that thousands of internet radio stations will have to pay to SoundExchange (the long arm of the royalty collecting law). This means everyone from the corporate giants (AOL, Yahoo -- who can afford it) to the little guys and gals at home running their own music-lovers'-paradises streaming over the web (who can't) will be hit with a massive bill. It also makes no differentiation between commercial and public radio.

There is an interesting article in the new July '07 Paste Magazine about online radio with this quote from John Simson, executive director of SoundExchange, which literally made me laugh out loud -- mostly from indignation. He very grandly stated to the Washington Post that, "The attitude that really has to change is that the people playing this music on the web are somehow doing artists a favor."

Seriously? Does Mr. Simson have any idea how many fledgling bands out there are making really good music and would love to have that music heard by any means possible? This drinking-from-a-firehose era of digital music means pretty much exactly that: getting airplay exposure (or, by extension, blog coverage as well) isn't exactly doing a favor for a band --because they've earned it-- but it is a dang good thing which shouldn't penalize those spreading the word. Most internet radio stations make a fraction of what these royalites will cost, and the hikes represent a sort of death knell to a huge source of vibrant, free-form creativity for new listeners.

They are going about this in completely the wrong way. You might consider visiting the Save Net Radio site if you think so too, or signing the petition that the good folks over at WXPN have going. I worry about the future of music discovery in all its forms.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Oh, I was so lucky to get to spend Friday night seeing Feist. She is a completely charming and talented performer (not just a musician, as my friend Leora noted --"Are you gonna quote me on your blog?"-- after the show). Feist really knows how to engage and enchant the crowd, but she also wields that guitar fearlessly, gets her vocal loops going, dances around in bliss to the crashing drums, and manages to be fashionable all at the same time (brown mini dress, hot pink tights).

The new songs from The Reminder sounded great live (especially "My Moon, My Man" -- hot dang that's fantastically thumping in concert) under the twinkling drapery of Christmas lights. The same imaginative, surreal qualitities that Feist brings memorably into her music videos (flying toast in Mushaboom, everyone deciding to dance in unison on 1234) seeps into her live shows too, through the morphing of her busy hands during the songs into butterflies dancing, waves rolling, or little legs walking down the front of the mike stand.

Despite having sung the song "like 4,000 times," Feist forgot the middle verse to Mushaboom. She asked the crowd if someone who knew it would come up and fill in. An absolutely elated girl hopped up on stage, grabbed the mike as the music played, and effortlessly jumped in at exactly the right moment: "I got a man to stick it out..." It was one of those great moments of geeky fandom that just makes you happy to witness.

A very few other pictures (and the story of the snarly security guard that almost threw me out of the show) are included in this album. Remaining Feist tour dates here. I would totally love to be Feist for a week, that's my new rockstar dream.

Here's your new tuneage for this week's enjoyment:

Dress Blues
Jason Isbell
A kind reader recommended this track from former Drive-By-Trucker Jason Isbell's forthcoming solo album Sirens Of The Ditch (July 10, New West Records), saying that it was "hard to get this song out of my head." I absolutely agree, I've listened to it on repeat: a honeyed slowburner that feels like prophecy.

Can't Get It Out Of My Head (ELO cover)
Velvet Revolver
Taking the cake for the band that the STP/G'n'F'n'R hybrid was least likely to cover, Velvet Revolver takes on an ELO cover on their newest one, Libertad, dropping July 3rd. And you know what? It's actually pretty good and I find myself liking it a lot. Although I sometimes question Weiland's jaunty/naughty sailor look in concert, Slash takes away the guitar solo here in sizzling fashion. Speaking of Slash, I've been pondering the plotline of the November Rain video lately. Have you seen this? I don't know why I think about such things.

This Town
Frank Sinatra, on the Ocean's 13 Soundtrack
Obviously a movie about swinging crime in Vegas perpetrated by fashionably-dressed men must, by law, include a Frank Sinatra tune. This one is also excellent for adding to your very own mixtape for midnight desert runs to Sin City. The soundtrack to Ocean's 13 (which I haven't seen yet but probably will because George & Brad told me to) is another atmospheric-cool collection by David Holmes, who also scored Fuel-favorite Out of Sight (among others). Niiice.

When Did Your Heart Go Missing?
I've been curious about hearing this song since Rolling Stone likened it to a lost Wham! track, and yes, I hear the similarities here; it does kind of make me want to wake you up before I go go. But then I read how it is also in the new Nancy Drew movie, and in a totally geeky move I will confess to reading many Nancy Drew books in my youth. I will not see the new Nancy Drew flick (because it would probably be a similar audience to the time I saw Crossroads on opening night and I don't want to talk about it) but I can picture this song also as a theme to daring teenage intrigue, old mine shafts, and moss-covered mansions. From Rooney's new album Calling The World (out July 17). Tour dates here.

Love (unreleased promo track)
The Cure
This song was, for some reason, dropped off the double disc extravaganza of Lennon covers to save Darfur, Instant Karma (a project of Amnesty International, out now). I could have recommended a few other tracks that could have gotten the boot instead of The Cure, whom I love, even though I can never apply eyeliner as deftly as Robert Smith. Thank God I'm better at the lipstick than he is, though.

Speaking of love and Lennon, today marks 40 years since the first public performance of "All You Need Is Love" on a massive world broadcast. Check out this fascinating post/video. Watching the way Lennon sings makes me really happy here; he just seems . . . pure.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Choose Your Own Adventure, summer edition

It finally cooled off enough today for me to go out for a run just as it was getting dark tonight (almost 9pm, I love the long summer days). There was a humidity in the air, and as I ran facing west, towards the mountains and Pikes Peak, the sky was flaming orange and lightning was crackling electric all around me. Kinda scary, but also very cool.

I had my iPod on shuffle and three great songs came up in a row that struck me as being perfect for my now-completed summer mix. So now, if there were one or two (or three) songs in there that you didn't care for (be it your Steve Miller Band, your Weezer, etc), you can do some customized drag and drop substitutions. All three of these would fit just fine for your summer listening pleasure.

The Best I Ever Had - Chris Isaak (alternate link)
(forgot how much I love that Isaak b-side)
Time Of The Season - Snowden (alternate link)

A note on that last one: if you can get past their repeated flub of the chorus lyrics (it's "time OF the season FOR loviiiiing..."), the beat is insanely good. And the original song is a cultural watershed in my book for being the first time in popular culture that someone posed the all-important question, "Who's your daddy?" Go Zombies.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

If we can't have a great music festival on Alcatraz, this'll do

The Noise Pop peeps have done it again. In conjunction with Another Planet Entertainment, they've just announced an outdoor fall music festival on Treasure Island, the other mysterious land mass in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. It's been so long since I've been out there, it's just this exit on the Bay Bridge that I always used to speed past. But come September 15 . . .

SEPT 15-16, 2007

Modest Mouse
M. Ward
Thievery Corporation
Gotan Project
DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist
Built To Spill
Ghostland Observatory
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

...and others to be announced. In addition to the above acts, there will also be a second stage featuring up and coming local bands. According to the press release, "It is the first music-based event of this scale and scope to take place on the man-made island that was originally built to house the 1939 World’s Fair."

(I also just found out that parts of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed on Treasure Island, which just ratchets up its rad factor in my book)

There's some stiff competition that weekend on the festival scene: I'll be at the Monolith Festival, and it's also the weekend of Austin City Limits (and somehow Spoon is playing at all three). But how cool is that for all you fans of good music back in my old stomping grounds? Good job on this one, festival organizers.

The acts they've lined up are a refreshing blend of indie rock, international beats, and electronica/hip-hop.

Summer - Modest Mouse
Chinese Translation - M. Ward
Un Simple Historie - Thievery Corporation
Rhthm & Soul - Spoon
Mi Confesión - Gotan Project
Erase You (feat. Chris James) - DJ Shadow
What's The Altitude (feat. Hymnal) - Cut Chemist
The Plan - Built To Spill
Amazon - M.I.A.
Stranger Lover - Ghostland Observatory
Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Feist remix: 1234 (VanShe Technologic remix)

While I prefer the original of this song (one of my two favorite tracks on The Reminder), I do admit that Feist's voice lends itself exceptionally well to remixes since it is so distinctive and always seems to just float over the top of whatever dense beats are laid down.

This is in honor of me seeing the lovely Leslie Feist tomorrow night in Boulder; I am uber-excited.

Out July 23rd in the UK


Break the silence - it's okay to hate that album

I love this idea - The Guardian (UK) asked musicians to write about one album that everyone loves but that they hate. It takes a marvelous bit of bravery to get this off your chest, and even if I disagree with some of these assessments (ooh, and agree with others) I really like hearing different perspectives.

Here are two excerpts:

The Doors, LA Woman
Nominated by Craig Finn of the Hold Steady
In America when you're growing up, you're subjected to the Doors as soon as you start going to parties and smoking weed. People think of Jim Morrison as a brilliant rock'n'roll poet, but to me it's unlistenable. The music meanders, and Morrison was more like a drunk asshole than an intelligent poet. The worst of the worst is the last song, Riders on the Storm: "There's a killer on the road/ His brain is squirming like a toad" - that's surely the worst line in rock'n'roll history. He gave the green light to generations of pseuds. A lot of people told him he was a genius, so he started to believe it. The Velvets did nihilism and darkness so much better - they were so much more understated; what they did had subtlety, whereas the Doors had little or none: they were a caricature of "the dark side". I actually like Los Angeles, but the Doors represent the city at its most fat, bloated and excessive. Morrison's death does give rock some mythic kudos, but that doesn't make me want to listen to the music. In fact, if it comes on the radio, I change the station.

Arcade Fire, The Neon Bible
Nominated by Green Gartside of Scritti Politti

People who enjoy this album may think I'm cloth-eared and unperceptive, and I accept it's the result of my personal shortcomings, but what I hear in Arcade Fire is an agglomeration of mannerisms, cliches and devices. I find it solidly unattractive, texturally nasty, a bit harmonically and melodically dull, bombastic and melodramatic, and the rhythms are pedestrian. It's monotonous in its textures and in the old-fashioned, nasty, clunky 80s rhythms and eighth-note basslines. It isn't, as people are suggesting, richly rewarding and inventive. The melodies stick too closely to the chord changes. Win Butler's voice uses certain stylistic devices - it goes wobbly and shouty, then whispery - and I guess people like wobbly and shouty going to whispery, they think it signifies real feeling. It's some people's idea of unmediated emotion. I can imagine Jeremy Clarkson liking it; it's for people in cars. It's rather flat and unlovely. The album and the response to it represent a bunch of beliefs about expression and truth that I don't share. The battle against unreconstructed rock music continues.

Read the full article here.

So, which albums do you just hate (you heretic)?

Thanks Ben!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summer Mix 2007 :: All I want is an umbrella in my drink

This morning was the Colorado Springs annual street breakfast, which sounds dodgy but means eating good food ("too early for flapjacks?") while sitting on hay bales in the middle of the street downtown. No joke, I actually get up early for this. On this same day last year (always the day before summer officially begins) I posted up my Tanline summer mix, which kept me going all through the hot months. I've been working on this year's mix pretty much since the chills of winter set in (and hung around) as a bit of wishful thinking and longing for these warm days.

Today's high is supposed to be 89. I am so ready.


Ordinary - The Alternate Routes

A sublime opening note to start the summer: "I've been wasting my days good and reckless and true . . ."
Rock 'N Me - Steve Miller Band
I think their Greatest Hits (74-78) could be one of the finest summer albums ever.
Flight of The Conchords theme song
Kokomo - Adam Green & Ben Kweller
The ironic deadpan intonation, but still having fun, makes this a great cover of the Beach Boys classic. I will go to any of these places listed with Ben and Adam.
Hardcore Days & Softcore Nights - Aqueduct
What I wish for each of you. Plus, this beat makes me want to die of happiness.
Assholes - The Damnwells
Man alive, I love this song lately. Dezen's velvety rasp perfectly anchors the steel guitar and makes it all flow together in a wonderful, warm, defiant anthem of youth. Also dig the backing vocals: "Don't catch it! No, don't catch it!"
Ice Cream Man - Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
Who doesn't love the ice cream man? I need a missile pop; preferably barefoot.
Wild Honey - U2
My favorite U2 song on a hot summer day, from those bright opening notes. I'll swing through the trees with you, Bono.
He's On The Beach (b-side) - Lemonheads
A fantastic b-side from the Big Gay Heart single, he's in Australia and he's on the beach, and there's sunshine everywhere. Or so they tell me.
(I Love The Sound Of) Breaking Glass - Nick Lowe
I first heard this sitting on a picnic blanket drinking PBR in Wash Park and I instantly liked this shimmery, dramatic '80s tune, which sounds so lighthearted even though it's about smashing out windows and submission.
If She Wants Me - Belle & Sebastian
This song feels like the way everything sloooows down on a really hot day, all billowy and hazy, with really, really fey harmonies
Beverly Hills - Weezer
Then stomp things back up with Weezer at their Queen-est. Driving around in a crappy car, fashion sense a little whack - sounds like every summer when I was a teenager.
99% - Mooney Suzuki
Kind of a grand '70s rock sound to these guys with "ooo ooo oo"s and "naaa na na naaa"s galore.
I Love The Summer Days - Marbles
The other Schneider from Austin, this is Robert Schneider from Apples in Stereo with a song that sounds like Herman's Hermits meets Cotton Mather. I was surprised to find out this was modern.
Seven Days In The Sun - Feeder
Worth it for that opening drum break which would be fantastic on the steering wheel; plus the song's about vacations in Mallorca and other summery affairs.
Firecracker (Music in High Places - Jamaica version) - Ryan Adams
Ryan spends a few days down in Jamaica jammin' with locals, Toots, and various Maytals and the result is a movie filled with these spontaneous street-jam sessions. Lyrics to epitomize summer ("everybody wants to go on forever, I just want to burn up hard and bright").
The Joker - Steve Miller Band
A quarter if you can tell me what a pompatus is. I LOVE everything about singing along with this song (including vocalizing that guitar catcall after the love your peaches/shake your tree/lovey dovey lyric).
Dance Tonight - Paul McCartney
Summery, stompy, simple and lovely.
Throw Your Arms Around Me (b-side version) - Neil Finn
Pearl Jam's covered this Hunters & Collectors song in concert and called it a "song that felt like summer." I agree wholeheartedly, especially this live version by Neil Finn.
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel
I missed this album until recently somehow, and now I absolutely want to lay on my back listening to this and watch the clouds go past. Perfect.


Happy summering, y'all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The flight of The Conchords, now with dancing robots and smooooth party moves

This made me laugh. Fantastic if you need to waste a half hour at work. Plus the theme song is dang catchy, and the really awful lyricism in the songs is unmatched. Take some cues, all you songwriters, you.
(updated clip)

[actually, that's just a snippet isn't it.
Watch the full first episode here instead]

Their banter on the show just strikes my funny bone the right way (and maybe it's those New Zeeeeland accents too), plus see a tiny pic of their recent Bonnaroo appearance (courtesy of friend Max).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I got to see the fantastic Jesse Malin on Friday night at a criminally under-attended show (perhaps due to the borderline negligent website for the venue/promoter, which didn't even mention the show). After the show I thanked Malin for the sheer joy in the music that comes out through him when he performs. He is a musician full of heart, who knows how to rock. With an engaging stage presence, the new material sounded tight (balanced with his older songs) and he connected well with most of the crowd. The notable exception being the drunkie heckler in the front row with two bendy, feisty, lady-companions who kept interrupting Jesse during a very promising sounding story about moving a bed with a van in NYC and getting a phone call from Barbra Streisand's "people." Jesse utilized his NYC street-skillz with and told 'em to put a cork in it or leave (deservedly), and we never got to hear the rest of the tale.

Jesse hopped off the stage for his campfire moment where we all sat on the ground in a circle and helped him sing "Solitaire" and braid each others hair and make friendship bracelets. Actually, it had the air of effusive spontaneity (even though it was admittedly contrived for the Blender.com cameras that were filming the show) and made me feel happy inside. Especially when he sat down right next to me and we all belted, "I don't need any . . . I don't need any . . . I don't need anyONE!!" Go see him if you can this tour (oh and check the pics here and mini-video I was able to surreptitiously capture here).

Music for this week:

Long Forgotten Song
The Thrills
The two new songs posted on MySpace by Dublin's The Thrills are shimmering and lovely, making me look forward to the new album. Even though they are from Ireland, their songs sound like California. This tune, about "a long-forgotten song but everyone still sings along," sounds somehow like a song you once knew but forgot, and it feels weighty. It'll be on their upcoming album Teenager, due 7/23/07 with great cover art.

Vanilla Sky
Paul McCartney
I finally watched Vanilla Sky this weekend for the first time (thanks Tony!) and shame on me for it taking me so long. I was scared off by the mixed reviews when it first came out (and a general fatigue of Tom Cruise's smile) so I never took the plunge, even though it is a Cameron Crowe film and sweet bejesus I love him. Vanilla Sky blew me away -- it's my favorite kind of intelligent reality-bending/brain-messing movie with a marvelous soundtrack. For those who have seen it all the way through, think about the perfect placement of R.E.M.'s "Sweetness Follows" in light of what happens from that point forward in the film, even though you don't know it at the time. There's also priiiime placement of the eerie, icy, otherworldly sounds of Sigur Ros and some always-appreciated Jeff Buckley. The credits start rolling with this tune, penned by Paul for the film. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Head Like A Hole (NIN cover)
Giant Bear

Not to be confused with either Giant Drag or Grizzly Bear, Giant Bear is a Memphis five-piece that has decided to reinterpret Trent Reznor's seething defining moment as a fiddle-twinged bit of Americana-rock with shared male/female vocals. It's interesting, I'll give them that, and not unlikeable. Off their self-titled debut album due out August 14 on Red Wax music. Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi All-Stars) and Rick Steff (Lucero) also play on the album.

Fujiya & Miyagi

The first time I heard this song by Fujiya & Miyagi, I pictured it as the perfect soundtrack theme song for the movie of my life when I doll up and head out into the sparkling nighttime streets to wreak some sort of imaginary unspecified havoc. It's a pimp song, sleek and funky and absolutely irresistible. I don't know why three guys from Brighton go by Japanese monikers (other than perhaps a partial tribute to Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid?) but I ain't complainin. From their 2006 album Transparent Things, which I definitely need to investigate further.

The Devil Never Sleeps
Iron & Wine

[let's try this new music stream thing? Let me know if it doesn't work]
There are some songs from Iron & Wine that just devastate me in the best way possible; I think Sam Beam is an amazing songwriter. I thought I knew him, kinda had his sound pegged as the perfect soundtrack to activities like moping, looking out a window at the grey clouds, or falling asleep. So get ready for the sounds on the new album Shepherd's Dog (due Sept 25 on Sub Pop) -- the songs are just as wonderful, but with a heck of a lot more spitfire and pluck. This one sounds like something from another time, floating out the window of a neighbor's house into the humid summer night. The devil never sleeps because he went down to Georgia and is dancing to this.

Also, a final P.S. on Father's Day - after an immense father-feteing BBQ at my parents' house, I dozed off on the couch yesterday afternoon while my dad watched sports on TV. The sports channels are rarely on in my house (unless it's the Giants), so I had forgotten how comforting and nice it is to weave in and out of sleep on a full belly listening to my dad comment on the game to no one in particular.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

It was 40 years ago today :: Monterey International Pop Festival

[photo from this great article]

Forty years ago this weekend, the epic Monterey International Pop Festival took place at the fairgrounds in Monterey, California, about an hour from where I grew up. Almost every musically and culturally significant artist of the day played this weekend, two years before Woodstock and the first large-scale rock festival in this new vocabulary of music.

The Monterey Pop Festival marked the first major U.S. performances of Jimi Hendrix (who was booked at the insistence of board member Paul McCartney) and Janis Joplin, and also introduced Otis Redding for the first time to a wider American audience beyond the South. The Beach Boys were supposed to play but cancelled, and in true Sixties form, Donovan was denied an entrance visa due to a 1966 drug bust.

Along with the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band from the Beatles two weeks prior, the festival kicked off what would come to be known as the Summer of Love. More than 200,000 people attended the festival (and I'll bet that crowd smelled really . . . pungent), and the admission fee was a mere $1.

One of my favorite records is something I got a year or two ago from Amoeba Records on Haight in San Francisco during a music dig (a favorite pastime). One shiny black side features Jimi Hendrix's incendiary performance from that watershed festival, the other side Otis Redding's most monumental performance at that point in his career.

From the liner notes on the back of of this 1970 record (scanned above):

Jimi Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell, and Noel Redding were the rage of England in that summer of love and psychedelica but they had yet to play the United States and thus were no more than a rumor to most of the Monterey crowd. Their appearance at the festival was magical: the way they looked, the way they performed, and the way they sounded were light years away from anything anyone had seen before.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience owned the future and the audience knew it in an instant. The banks of amplifiers and speakers wailing and groaning as Hendrix's fingers scurried across the strings of his guitar gave the trio's music as much density as other rock groups were getting out of the studio 8-track tape machines. And, of course, Hendrix is a masterful --though seemingly off-hand-- performer. Pete Townshend of The Who had become famous for destroying his guitar. Hendrix carried the ritual a couple of fantasies farther with lighter fluid and dramatic playing positions in "Wild Thing." When Jimi left the stage he had graduated from rumor to legend.

Killing Floor
Foxy Lady
Like A Rolling Stone
Rock Me Baby
Hey Joe
Can You See Me
The Wind Cries Mary
Purple Haze
Wild Thing

Otis Redding had been performing and recording for five years, but his fame and his following --despite a couple of undeniable hit records-- were largely confined to black rhythm and blues audiences in America and to Europe, where he and the Stax/Volt Revue had a justly fanatic following. The Monterey International Pop Festival was comprised of rock people who were still a year or two away from rediscovering their roots, "the love crowd," as he characterized them.

It's difficult to characterize the extent of his impact Saturday night. He was the last act in a day of music which had left the spectators satiated and pleasantly exhausted. Redding went on around midnight, close to the curfew agreed upon by festival organizers and the local police department and sherrif's office. Booker T. and the MGs and The MarKeys had played a brief instrumental set and played onstage to back Redding. Within moments after Otis Redding hit the stage, the crowd was on its feet, and --for the first and only time in a weekend of five massive concerts-- was impulsively rushing toward the stage to dance in the warmth of his fire.

He rocked and rolled past the curfew with a dazzling performance which no one could think of stopping. That night he gave the Monterey International Pop Festival its high point and he was embraced by the rock crowd as a new-found hero. Six months later he was killed in a place crash, leaving Monterey as perhaps the high point in his performing career.

I've Been Loving You Too Long
Try A Little Tenderness


Festival Introduction - John Phillips
Along Comes Mary - The Association
Love Is A Hurtin Thing - Lou Rawls
San Francisco Nights - Eric Burdon & The Animals
Ball and Chain - Big Brother & The Holding Company
Mystery Train - Butterfield Blues Band
Mercury Blues - Steve Miller Band
So You Wanna Be A Rock N Roll Star - The Byrds
Dhun: Fast Teental - Ravi Shankar
Wake Me, Shake Me - The Blues Project
Somebody To Love - Jefferson Airplane
Summertime Blues - The Who
My Generation - The Who
California Dreamin' - The Mamas and The Papas


In true 2007 fashion, the festival has a blog here, and last night they screened the footage from the festival in downtown Monterey with an interview by documentary producer, the famed D.A. Pennebaker. Some info here is from the wiki, and you can waste several hours watching footage from the festival on YouTube.

What a weekend.

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Father's Day

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I have, perhaps, the best Dad in the world: For reasons like this, and especially like this.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! You have an exquisitely important job.

Heaven - Live
Have A Little Fun With Me - Glen Phillips
Father and Daughter - Paul Simon
Father and Son (Cat Stevens cover) - Johnny Cash & Fiona Apple
Luuuuke, I Am Your Father (from Tommy Boy) - Chris Farley
My Father's House - Bruce Springsteen

My Hero (live in Hyde Park) - Foo Fighters

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ryan Adams :: "Ah, snap - afternoon jams!" on NPR's World Cafe today

Earlier today at the noontime hour, lucky denizens of the city of brotherly love got a treat from Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, sounding fantastic and amiable on NPR's World Cafe. From a friend who was there, the report comes in that "Ryan had on a suit and tie and black sunglasses the whole time, a very John Cusack look." He also is still not playing guitar due to a torn ligament -- but definitely not as bad as that broken wrist from falling off the stage in Liverpool. Check out this fine little setlist, and for those of you who have heard Easy Tiger -- whaddaya think? The album is out June 26th from Lost Highway.

And in related news (via . . . the fact that they're pals, and last time I saw them in concert it was together) - who else is in for Jesse Malin tonight at the Bluebird? He's playing with Acute, who I featured on a previous Monday Music Roundup, and it should be a good show. I keep thinking of this; I'm excited.


Paul McCartney just wants to dance tonight

I've been enjoying this video and this song recently. In case you hadn't seen it yet (it splashed on the scene a few weeks ago, and I'm slacking), it's essentially an inventive short-film story with director Michel Gondry, who also made the excellent Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind:


This is probably my favorite track of the new Macca album (wait, I didn't just say that - I meant off the new Paul McCartney album). All summery and stompy, mandolins and oooh-oooh-ooohs . . . It'll be part of my upcoming summer mix (that is called foreshadowing).

Here are some thoughts from Sir Paul himself on both the video and the new album. He says the album art is supposed to make the album a desirable object that we will want to pick up from off the shelf. For me, an armchair just ain't doin it. It kinda makes me want to knit. Or maybe nap? I think he could have done better. He says:

I actually started this album, Memory Almost Full, before my last album Chaos And Creation In The Backyard (released September 2005). The first recording session was back in the autumn of 2003 at Abbey Road with my touring band and producer David Kahne. I was right in the middle of it when I began talking with Nigel Godrich about a brand new project (which became Chaos And Creation In The Backyard).

When I was just finishing up everything concerned with Chaos and had just got the Grammy nominations (2006) I realised I had this album to go back to and finish off. So I got it out to listen to it again, wondering if I would enjoy it, but actually I really loved it. All I did at first was just listen to a couple of things and then I began to think, `OK, I like that track - now, what is wrong with it?' And it might be something like a drum sound, so then I would re-drum and see where we would get to.

I took it from there and built it up. I went through, track by track, making changes as I went along. I fixed things I wasn't too keen on and it just evolved from there. Without me knowing, or really trying, it started to get its own theme, a sort of thread that holds it all together. So I suppose it's about half new stuff and half old stuff from 2003.

In places it's a very personal record and a lot of it is retrospective, drawing from memory, like memories from being a kid, from Liverpool and from summers gone. The album is evocative, emotional, rocking, but I can't really sum it up in one sentence.

There is a medley of 5 songs towards the end and that was purposefully retrospective. I thought this might be because I'm at this point in my life, but then I think about the times I was writing with John and a lot of that was also looking back. It's like me with `Penny Lane' and `Eleanor Rigby' - I'm still up to the same tricks!

I know people are going to look at some of the songs and interpret them in different ways but this has always been the case. The thing is that I love writing songs, so I just write and write. I never really get to a point where I start thinking I'm going to write about
specific subjects. Inevitably though, what I am thinking is going to find its way into what I'm doing.

The opening track of the album is `Dance Tonight'. I recently got myself a mandolin and I was just playing about with it and came up with the basis of this track. A couple of weeks ago we made the video, which was great fun. It's directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) and stars Natalie Portman and Mackenzie Crook. I'm not going to give the plot away. You'll have to go and watch it for yourself, but we had a good time doing it.

The album title came after I had finished everything. For me, that's when they normally come, with the exception of maybe Sgt. Peppers, otherwise I don't think I have ever made an album with The Beatles, Wings or solo where I have thought of a title and a concept. I was thinking about what would sum the whole thing up and `Memory Almost Full' sprung to mind. It's a phrase that seemed to embrace modern life; in modern life our brains can get a bit overloaded. I realised I had also seen it come up on my phone a few times. When I started bouncing the idea round with some friends they nearly all got different meanings out of it, but they all said they loved it. So the feedback helped solidify the title.

After completing the album I then started thinking about the album artwork and how I'd want it to look. I really wanted to make the CD a desirable object. Something that I know I'd want to pick up from the shelf, something that would make people curious. I hope our final concept has done that. The album sleeve itself includes an etching by a friend of mine, Humphrey Ocean. As with the album lyrics, I'm looking forward to seeing how people might interpret the artwork.

Currently I'm just starting out on the promo trail and beginning to get the first bits of feedback about the album and so far so good! It's interesting now as I'm getting to hear what other people are making of the songs and what their feelings are. I'm also talking about the album myself and I'm really enjoying the discovery process.

I really enjoyed making this album with David Kahne and I'm proud of all the songs. We had a great time. I hope that the fun we had will communicate itself to the people who are going to listen to it.

All the best,

Paul McCartney, April 2007


Do not adjust your sets

Hey guys, the music server seems to be down, has been down all morning. Usually it goes right back up, so keep trying! In the meantime, read my scintillating commentary and just imagine the songs in your head.

UPDATE: I'm good now. The server's back -- go wild.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bob Schneider mixtape :: Demos/live/unreleased

Bob Schneider (former frontman for The Ugly American and The Scabs) is a singer-songwriter from down in Austin, Texas who is quite the funky little mofo. He's got a hard-strumming goodtime acoustic sound, incorporating rootsy beats and funk: he calls this style "frunk" (n.b.: not to be confused with crunk).

I am just getting more into his tunes recently, and to help me with this enjoyable process a pal made up two mix CDs for me with hearty doses of his music, both album stuff and rare/unreleased/bonus tracks. The range is broad, from these achingly doubting, intimate bedroom ballads ("Things My Head Heard" demo) to headliners for your next party mix (the fantastic "Assknocker") and salutes to your workplace as you drive out of the parking lot on a Friday afternoon ("Fuck It").

I've compiled my favorites into this little Bob Schneider mix. I left off songs from his two most popular albums, Lonelyland (2000) and I'm Good Now (2004) except for some bonus tracks, because you can (and should) get those albums. A few tracks from lesser-known albums made it on (the danceable "Mudhouse" and "Boombox" from The Californian, "Candy Man" and playful "Ooey Gooey Chocolate" from the self-released Galaxy Kings, "Drinking Song" and "Over The Rainbow" cover from Songs Sung And Played On The Guitar At The Same Time). The rest are unreleased/demos/live stuff. Overall, the castoffs tend to be a bit more playful and mischievous than the album stuff, so if you just listen to the biggie albums, you might have a slicker adult-alternative impression of him. This mixtape will be awesome for summer.

Get to know Bob Schneider. He's on tour now (always), I hear the live shows are impressive and FUN.

Mudhouse (he ain't got nobody he can call his shorty)
Ooey Gooey Chocolate
Captain Kirk (live)
Things My Head Heard (original demo)
Batman (live on ACL)
Everybody's Doing It (unreleased demo)
Good Thing (live)
Snow Maps
Taking Care Of Business (BTO cover)
Over The Rainbow
King Of The World (bonus track, Texas Edition of Lonelyland)
Broke Dick (unreleased demo)
C'mon Baby (live)
Drinking Song
Piggyback (original demo)
The World Passes You By (bonus track, Texas Ed./Lonelyland)
Flowerparts (live)
The Bridge Builders (live)
Randall's (live)
If I Only Had A Brain
Fuck It (definitely not suitable for work. Unless you work at, say, Bada Bing)



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