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

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Home again, home again, jiggety jig. I had a fantastic loooong stretch in California this past week-plus. In addition to seeing two unbeatable concerts and witnessing a cousin get married off in a burst of winery festivities, I also got to see lots of old friends, swim in a bonafide swimmin' hole up in the Sierra Nevada mountains, chat up an old neighbor we call Larry Woodstove and find out the haps in the 'hood I grew up in, eat my favorite gelato twice and In 'N' Out three times, discover a little Italian pottery and antique shop, sit burn on the beach in Santa Cruz, and spot this bar sign (I love taking the scenic route):

I found time to duck into Amoeba Records in Berkeley and Streetlight Records in San Jose. I drove many miles of California highway, waited approximately 832 hours for flights, and I'm pretty sure that some of my underthings were swiped from my luggage by a Transportation Security Administration minion. Never pack em in the outside pocket.

It's good to be home. I've got a backlog of blog posts built up in my head, and a bunch of great music to share with you all.

Put It On Me
Ben Harper

Hot dang, the new Ben Harper is an absolute scorcher. I literally kept saying "holy crap!" out loud when I listened to tracks like this one, a funky soulful feisty downright boogie. Dig the Isley Brother guitar riffs, the dirty piano, and the full gospel backing vocals. Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Lifeline is out August 28.

Diamond Hoo-Ha Man

Astute NME readers will note that "Britpop veterans" Supergrass opened for Arctic Monkeys this weekend and played a few new songs, which, of course, sent me out on the hunt to hear them for myself. Supergrass just helped me out in my quest by posting a live mp3 on their site of this new dense White-Stripey-rocker tune. I'm not sure how the protagonist here got access to a diamond hoo-ha, but I'm sure he's not complaining. If you dig this sound like I do, sign up for updates on their site. Supergrass have completed their latest album and are mixing it this summer in L.A.

Let The Music Play
(live with Marc Broussard)
G. Love
and Special Sauce
There's a certain kind of special, laid-back fun that goes along with a G. Love concert. Philadelphia roots-rap-soul-funkster Garrett Dutton (but you can call him G. Love) can wail on the harmonica, lay down the smooth beats, twist a clever lyric, and always, always make me dance. He's got a new live tour documentary A Year and A Night out tomorrow on Brushfire Records (watch the trailer here) and there's a bonus live CD that comes packaged with it. This sizzling live version of "Let The Music Play" (originally on last year's Lemonade album) features tourmate Marc Broussard, whose new album also I keep hearing good things about.

The Honey Month
Augie March

Last time I was out in California my brother and I were heading downtown to the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego and he popped in a mix CD he was currently digging. In addition to lots of Mason Jennings (you're welcome, little bro) most of it was tunes from Australian megagroup Augie March, who are just starting to make a dent in the American market. My brother will be jealous to hear that I plan to check these guys out at a rare U.S. show this week at the Boulder Records & Radio summit, and will report back my findings. Their "new" (to these shores) album Moo, You Bloody Choir (and no, I don't know what the title means) is out August 7. It's a rich and literate album, with this track fairly oozing the figurative honey cited in the title. Pitchfork calls a very apt comparison by likening the work to mid-Nineties Grant Lee Buffalo and yes, amen. A solid and multi-layered album that I look forward to exploring.

Josh Ritter

The new album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter is miles away from 2006's Animal Years, except for the common thread of some of the finest songwriting and lyricism in today's folk/rock world. Similar to how I was surprised by the downright danceable boogie on the forthcoming Iron & Wine (previously offering mostly hushed, go-to-bed-alone music), Josh Ritter gets all Hall & Oates on us with horns, ragtime piano, and beats. I'll be flogged in public for even suggesting this, but call me crazy if the melody on the verses here is a slowed-down echo of Britney Spears' 2004 Mile High Club jam "Toxic." There, I said it.

2007 is shaping up to be an interesting year for releases from artists we thought we knew. Everyone's gettin' all spirited-like, and I love it. Some of the songs on this album are more standard fare from Ritter, such as the shiver-inducing loveliness of "The Temptation of Adam" (which I saw him perform back in February) but overall -- whew. I am impressed with this direction. Ritter just announced a huge string of tour dates and is absolutely worth seeing live, an energetic and masterful performer.

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At July 30, 2007 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

heather.....i love augie march...amazing intelligent beautiful band....all their albums are wonderful...everything....
as with the damnwells a while back heres a link to a very fine augie march site chockfull of live and rare goodies...grab the radio shows for starters they are superb
i saw them live a couple of years back here in london...you are in for a treat
mick d

At July 30, 2007 12:31 PM, Blogger -tom said...

I liked him well enough before this, but that new Josh Ritter album is excellent and has has been on endless repeat for me all weekend.
Great record.

At July 30, 2007 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And still yet no Texas dates for Josh Ritter...

- Neil

At July 30, 2007 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this could be equally blasphemous, but the bass line is strikingly reminiscent of The Knack's "My Sharona."

- Ezra

At July 30, 2007 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

^ let me clarify, the bass line to "Rumours."

At July 30, 2007 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first few notes of the bass line always remind me of Girls Aloud "Love Machine". Yeah. Yeah, they do. More to the point...

...the new Josh Ritter record is much weaker than The Animal Years overall imo (which, let's face it, was a timeless fucking classic!), with the exception of about 5 songs, all being in the first half of the album. I'm convinced that The Temptation of Adam is one of the best things, if not the best, that he's ever written. Incredible.

At July 30, 2007 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rumor has it, that Josh is playing an Austin date, chill, give it time. It's been four years, since Josh dropped by Phoenix.

At July 31, 2007 1:16 AM, Anonymous kappa00073 said...

Off the music topic I got turned on to your blog by accident about a year ago. Now I must check it out for new music about 3-4 times a week. But to learn that your favorite Gelato is Dolce Spazio, was a treat(no pun intended), I go there at least a couple of times a month. Thanks for all the GREAT music.

At July 31, 2007 4:55 AM, Blogger Evi said...

Love Ben Harper's new one, too. The tune you posted sounds very similar to Bruce Springsteen's E Street Shuffle from his second album (1974). That's probably why I can't stop listening to it :-)


At July 31, 2007 6:57 AM, Anonymous Russ! said...

I'm looking forward to Ben Harper performing this new song at the Virgin Festival this weekend! Good fun jam!!
Plus I'll get to see Amy Winehouse and Paulo Nutini for the first time!

At July 31, 2007 9:54 AM, Blogger heather said...

kappa00073, specifically the Espresso. :)

At July 31, 2007 3:07 PM, Blogger David said...


heather, you've outdone yourself!

At August 01, 2007 10:37 AM, Blogger Shaun said...

I was all about Temptation Of Adam, until I realized it's a bastardized hybrid of "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" and "Good Riddance" (Green Day), but with great lyrics. The "W W I I I" part is great.

At August 01, 2007 6:40 PM, Anonymous jojo said...

Love, love, love the new Ben Harper. BTW, Ben also co-wrote, sang and played Wurlitzer on "Let The Music Play" with G. Love and Marc Broussard. It's on the Lemonade album. I love that song! ;)


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