I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Graham Coxon (formerly of Blur) vinyl contest

He can't look at your skin, 'cos it's doing him in. But as for me, I've got a sweet Graham Coxon double 7" vinyl for the taking.

It's got "I Can't Look At Your Skin" + "What's He Got" on the a-side and "Time For Heroes" and "Outta My League, Dear" on the b-side. Plus, there's fancy-pants packaging with all the artwork done by Graham himself. It's nice with the lightning bolts and all, but it could use a liger or two -- it's pretty much my favorite animal.

To win, leave me a comment telling me what the hell the lyrics are to Song 2. Actually, just kidding. Leave me any comment, one winner will be chosen randomly. We'll run it one week, through Wed, Feb 7.

I Can't Look At Your Skin - Graham Coxon

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"My idea of fun / Is killing everyone" :: This just in, Iggy Pop still angry after 33 years

Iggy Pop is releasing his first new CD with The Stooges in 33 years, and he clearly still has a bone to pick with you. Take a listen to the aggressive new track (we would expect nothing less):

Idea of Fun - The Stooges

The new Stooges album The Weirdness is slated for March 6, and it's got 12 tracks with picturesque titles such as "Greedy Awful People," "End of Christianity," and "Mexican Guy."

My bass hero Mike Watt joins all the other original members, as he's been doing with the Stooges since 2003 (great pic here), and holds down the low notes on the album in relentless form. Sounds good to me.

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I feel Num (too much is not enough)

Thanks to happenin' friend Clea, I've been listening to this free track from Edinburgh artist Num on repeat.

His website has a full EP available for free download, and this song is sunshine and lo-fi harmonies and even some banjo, but don't hold that against it. I've learned that when Clea gives tips, it's best to listen.

Noise - Num


Between this and the oddly infectious synth + children's choir goodness of the "Justice" track (that I will play if I am ever DJing at a European dance club, and those of you who have spent time in one will see exactly what I am talking about) over at Gorilla vs. Bear, my ears are happy at the moment. Maybe a little embarrassed for liking this, but happy.

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What? Can't hear you.

Feeling technical?
Some fascinating reading this morning on the audio science of music, if you will:



Everything Louder Than Everything Else
Have the loudness wars reached their final battle?
By Joe Gross, Austin360.com
10/2/2006

"You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like — static."

— Bob Dylan in Rolling Stone magazine

The ranting of a cranky old man? Perhaps.

One man's opinion? Hardly.

In August, an open letter from a music industry executive on the state of commercial compact disc mastering and manufacturing was sent to an industry tip sheet/e-mail list run by a music pundit named Bob Lefsetz.

The letter was written by Angelo Montrone, a vice president for A&R (the folks who scout and sign music acts) for One Haven Music, a Sony Music company.

"There's something . . . sinister in audio that is causing our listeners fatigue and even pain while trying to enjoy their favorite music. It has been propagated by A&R departments for the last eight years: The complete abuse of compression in mastering (forced on the mastering engineers against their will and better judgment)."

This compression thing has been a topic of discussion among audiophiles and music fans for nearly a decade. But hearing a music industry executive cop to it was pretty unusual. The letter was almost immediately reprinted online in audio discussion forums.

"The mistaken belief that a 'super loud' record will sound better and magically turn a song into a hit has caused most major label releases in the past eight years to be an aural assault on the listener," Montrone's letter continued. "Have you ever heard one of those test tones on TV when the station is off the air? Notice how it becomes painfully annoying in a very short time? That's essentially what you do to a song when you super compress it. You eliminate all dynamics."

For those already confused, Montrone was essentially saying that there are millions of copies of CDs being released that are physically exhausting listeners, most of whom probably don't know why their ears and brains are feeling worn out.


Read the full article here

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Dear lord, this site is the funniest thing I've seen in a loooong time.

I was laughing out loud (like, rest-your-head-on-the-desk, hope-no-one-hears-your-stifled-guffaws laughing). It was a thing of beauty. ThingsMyBoyfriendSays.com was new to me, and exactly what it sounds like, a gal documenting random funny things that her boyfriend says -- no more, no less. Choice cuts:

"I think I'll ask the dentist to install tusks in my face so I can fully embrace my orcish heritage."

or

(When I finally made him shave his damn beard:)
"See, this is why I won't let you have nice things. Because you won't let me grow majestic facial hair."


It's voyeurism perfected in hilarious fashion.
Now for your recommended weekly musical allowance:

Big Chair
Travis
Here's a radio rip from the BBC of the new one from Scottish rockers Travis -- a driving bass line combines with some chattery electronic effects and the smooth vocal delivery of Fran Healy. This'll be on their fifth studio album, Open, due in the Spring. Ben Stiller is rumored to have laid down some cowbell for one of the tracks; if I ever got to do that for a band, I think I'd die happy. Travis is also headed for the scenic Indio desert of Coachella in April, if you're lucky enough to catch that fantastic line-up.


Rhythm & Soul (live)
Spoon
I've been listening a lot to uber-talented Austin indie/punk/rock/etc band Spoon lately, digging the eclectic combo of often-acoustic guitar, thumping beats, and funky confident vocals. I think this new track (performed live this past August at the lovely Greek Theatre in Berkeley) will sound divine with the full studio treatment. Hooray! [thx Matt]


All My Loving (Beatles cover)
The Smithereens
I am still a little unsure as to why this album was actually necessary; it's a complete cover of the seminal Beatles' album Meet The Beatles (1964) by New Jersey rock band The Smithereens. Overall it is interesting to listen to, as the band walks through a series of covers that are largely faithful to the arrangments of the originals but with an edge of their own; The NY Times says, "The album manages to scream Beatles 1964 and Smithereens 2007 all at once." See what you think of this tune -- for all the hype, I don't exactly know why anyone would listen to this when the original is available.


Rocking Chair (The Band cover)
Death Cab For Cutie
DCFC covers familiar ground lyrically ("Oh, to be home again . . .") in their reinterpretation of The Band's
grizzled soulful ballad, from the diverse new album of covers Endless Highway: The Music Of The Band (out mañana) which has some good stuff on it. Jakob Dylan's contribution is interesting to me because The Band first came to prominence in '65-'66 as the backing band for his pops, donchaknow.


Chasing Heather Crazy
Guided by Voices
I make myself a mix CD for the car every month. This is the first song on the next one. Just to entertain myself.

From GBV's Isolation Drills (2001).

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

I want to listen to The Broken West all weekend long, maybe until my eardrums crystallize into sugar

Here's my new auditory love this weekend: The Broken West. Their solid new album I Can't Go On, I'll Go On came out last week on Merge, and the sound is a completely irresistible blend of '60s harmonies, luminous melodies, fuzzy layers of electric guitars, and those handclaps. You'll hear everything from Big Star to The Kinks to Superdrag and more, but there's a uniqueness and a fresh appeal that may make this the best album I've heard so far in this virginal year.

They used to be called The Brokedown but had to surrender the name in a nasty battle of the indie rockers - who had it first? As frontman Ross Flournoy said, "We're a real band, with a real record coming out, so we don't have a lot of time for frivolous lawsuits with wayward Nazi-youth punk bands. So we changed it." They became The Broken West and are still astoundingly good. Definitely, definitely get this album.


So It Goes - The Broken West
The most Teenage Fanclub-like song I've heard in a while, a shimmery and jangly power pop delight.

Down In The Valley - The Broken West
And this is the one I have listened to as if it were aural meth, the one I can't stop singing (even though I haven't figured out what they're saying yet, so it's an interesting effort). I exult in its cohesive and delicious harmonies when it breaks at around 50 seconds in. And handclaps! Love it. A welcome reprise from their 2005 EP Dutchman's Gold.


You can stream their whole album here, or buy it here. Listen to live renditions of two other songs from a recent performance on NPR, or tune in to KEXP.org Friday Feb. 9th at 4pm for their appearance at their studios.


THE BROKEN WEST -- TOUR DATES
01.29.2007 Los Angeles CA - Spaceland
02.05.2007 San Francisco CA - Cafe Du Nord
02.07.2007 Eugene OR - Sam Bond's Garage (w/ Hello Stranger)
02.08.2007 Portland OR - Doug Fir (w/ Quasi & All Smiles)
02.09.2007 Seattle WA - Sunset Tavern
02.10.2007 Government Camp OR - The Ratskeller
02.12.2007 Salt Lake City UT - Kilby Court
02.13.2007 Denver CO - Hi Dive
02.15.2007 Phoenix AZ - Modified (w/ The Autumn Defense)
02.24.2007 Tucson AZ - Plush
02.27.2007 Austin TX - Emo's
02.28.2007 Dallas TX - The Cavern
03.01.2007 Memphis TN - Hi Tone
03.02.2007 Columbia MO - Mojo's
03.03.2007 Iowa City IA - The Picador
03.05.2007 Cleveland Heights OH - Grog Shop
03.07.2007 Cambridge MA - TT the Bear's
03.08.2007 New York NY - Bowery Ballroom

All following dates with The Walkmen and Ferraby Lionheart
03.09.2007 Baltimore MD - Ottobar
03.10.2007 Columbus OH - Little Brothers
03.11.2007 Chicago IL - Schuba's Tavern
03.12.2007 Newport KY - Southgate House
03.13.2007 Louisville KY - Headliners Music Hall
03.18.2007 New Orleans LA - The Parish at House of Blues
03.19.2007 Tallahassee FL - Beta Bar
03.20.2007 Athens GA - 40 Watt Club
03.21.2007 Asheville NC - Grey Eagle
03.22.2007 Chapel Hill NC - Local 506
03.23.2007 Washington DC - Rock and Roll Hotel

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Friday, January 26, 2007

New record label from Adam Duritz

Adam Duritz from Counting Crows has formed a new record label called Tyrannosaurus Records (or T-Recs, har har). He's signed two bands thus far, some high school kids from Chicago who go by the moniker Blacktop Mourning (just added to SXSW), and a rapper named NOTAR. If you'd asked which one I would think I'd like better, it'd be the former, but actually I don't find them exceptional at all. I like me the NOTAR fella more - oddly compelling, in an 8-Mile sort of way. Check out his hustle and flow on his MySpace.

Cal-fan Adam recently also chronicled his musical MySpace browsing in this journal entry:

I closed out my MySpace wanderings with a trip over to the Low Stars page. Their album is done and it's coming out soon. It is the most exquisitely beautiful country rock harmony album since the glory days of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, The Byrds, and The Eagles. It's just amazing.

It features singer/songwriters Jude, Chris Seefried (formerly of Joe90), Dave Gibbs aka "Kid Lightning" (formerly of Gigolo Aunts), and Jeff Russo (formerly of Tonic). It's just amazing record. It was produced by George Drakoulias (The Black Crowes, Tom Petty, Maria McKee, Primal Scream). Immy plays a lot of gtr and pedal steel on it. It's just really cool.

. . . Dave Gibbs co-wrote "Los Angeles", one of the songs for our new CC album, with Ryan Adams and me, by the way.


So there you have it, a few additional recommendations for the day if you feel like clicking over in between important work meetings and IM chatting when you are supposed to be finished that spreadsheet. Counting Crows are currently convened in NYC with Gil Norton finally at work on a new album. It's only been, like, over four years since we had anything new from them? Count me stoked. Here's Ryan Adams' collab with them from that album, Hard Candy:

Butterfly In Reverse - Counting Crows (written with Ryan Adams, Ryan on bgvs)

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

A few days notice: New solo album from Stereophonics' Kelly Jones

According to a blog post on the Stereophonics' site last week, Wales' favorite son Kelly Jones has stealthily recorded a solo album which will be released January 29th.

Kelly writes:

It's been a good Christmas break. Went back to Wales and caught up with the old mob, the place is fucking mental!

I've got a bit of news you may be interested in. In between takes of making the new album I began recording some new songs with just an electric guitar. It began as something very off the cuff then within a couple of days, in the early hours, an album consisting of ten songs was finished. Every song is a girl's name and the album is gonna be called 'Only The Names Have Been Changed.'

It's pretty dark, filmic, story based, very mellow and in no means a reflection on the new Stereophonics album. It's sparse, some songs with string arrangements and the voice is way up front in the mix.

The record will be online under my name from Monday 29th January followed by a very limited hard copy release in March. Not enough copies for charts or reviews, it's purely being released as spontaneously as it was recorded.

I've never wanted to do a solo record or go solo, this is far from a vanity project. I just wanted to do something that would break the cycle of a Stereophonics record and do something that had nothing to do with commercial success, radio playlists, marketing etc etc. Something purely about expressing music and releasing it as quickly as its made..as apposed to waiting a year as usual.


I wanted it out there quickly for fans only with no chance of going anywhere near a chart show. I'm going to do a small tour in March to play the songs live and am very much looking forward to making a completely mellow, filmic stage environment to do so.

So keep ya eyes peeled if ya interested and I will see you on the road!

Love and colours

Kelly x


Updated: The album will be available digitally from Monday 29th January from major online services, with a limited edition hard copy release on the 26th March. The limited edition release will include a bonus DVD of a live studio performance of 5 songs recorded at SARM studios in London.

These songs won't be on there, but go to show that gravel-voiced Jones already has a head start on the subject matter of what sounds like a fascinating concept for an album:

Lolita - Stereophonics

Madame Helga - Stereophonics

Angie (Rolling Stones cover) - Stereophonics


Thanks to my favorite tipster!

[rad photo credit]

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Bargain bin: Trampoline Records Greatest Hits, Volume 1

Next time you are poking around in the bargain bin at your local record store, search hard for this little gem of an anthology: Trampoline Records Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (2002).

Trampoline Records is an acoustic, rootsy power-pop label put together by Pete Yorn, The Wallflowers' Rami Jaffee, and songwriter Marc Dauer. I'll admit I first investigated the album because of the Pete Yorn connection, but it goes far beyond that with an impressive, quality flow to the songs here. Nary a bad tune on it.

In addition to the unreleased song "Hunter Green" by Yorn, there are also contributions from Peter Himmelman, Pete Droge, Gary Jules, Minibar, Minus 5, Jakob Dylan (in the group Rusty Trucks), and Yorn's keyboard man ("Joey! Take me there!") Joe Kennedy in the group Happily Ever After. It is eminently listenable, front to back, and highly recommended.

Only In My Dreams - Mavis
(keyboard player for Semisonic, Soul Asylum, Sheryl Crow and Wallflowers takes a pleasing catchy solo turn)

Trading Mistakes - Ethan Johns
(Producer of albums by Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Counting Crows, Ben Kweller and Leona Naess -among others- here he shows he can hold his own on the other side of the mic. This track was recorded at home by himself.)

BUY IT HERE

More music and photography

Reader Michael sent me this mp3 after reading the last post about rock photography, and I loved it, the soundtrack to a photo shoot:

"I was just checking out your blog about the photo contest and it reminded me of one of my favorite bootleg moments of all time. It's a recording of Paul McCartney playing some songs for Linda McCartney as she's shooting some pictures. You can hear her shutter clicking while she encourages him to keep playing, sometimes singing along sweetly. Paul is game, but he grows increasingly impatient with the process. It's so intimate, I love it . . ."


Photoshoot Medley - Paul McCartney

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Your favorite rock photography

As I was standing in line at the post office yesterday to mail out some goodies, among them the CDs for the Lucinda contest winners, I remembered that I have one other contest in motion that I need to settle up - the Peter Ellenby photography book winner.

The contest asked for you guys to submit a link to your favorite rock photograph. The images you submitted gave me chills, and in fact that was my primary indicator of who should win -- my initial gut reaction. Chills or no chills? This one did it for me:

So, why is Tom is the winner with this picture? I have a theory that sometimes a woman's eye (the photographer here is Alyssa Scheinson) can capture a moment in a unique way. There is a breathless impact to this shot -- the sensual way the light plays off Harvey's skin without seeming sleazy, and the warm glow of the yellow in contrast with her edgy punk look - it just fascinated me visually.

Here were two runners-up that I also really liked:

Slush writes: Billy Bragg, 42nd st, NYC, 1984 -- One of my favorites; Billy Bragg reaching to the masses on 42nd st New York City, oddly enough on 9/11, 1984. This is sort of the opposite of the Springsteen shot. It's music stripped down to it's essential elements; just a bloke, his guitar and something important to say. Obviously love the quizzical looks from the passers by, and the way Billy is looking up at the sky. It takes courage to put yourself out there!

The title of this was "clashfullthrottle.jpg" and as Adam writes: "I think the name of the file says it all."

Indeed.


Even if you didn't win, I still highly recommend this book and bonus CD: Every Day Is Saturday. If you are perchance a New York-type, Ellenby has a gallery opening with images from the book and a special acoustic show with Nada Surf on Thursday, February 1st from 6 – 8 PM at Brooklyn’s Nelson Hancock Gallery. The show will run throughout the month of February and sounds very cool.


I Turn My Camera On (John McEntire remix) - Spoon
From the Sister Jack CD Single

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Whooo, owwww, yeah, and unh

PopMatters has a divine article trying to pin down those varied vocalizations that singers have been throwing in the midst of their songs since time memoriam. Maybe James Brown is the best-known for his off-the-wall hollers, but read about the rest. Here are some snippets from the extremely well-written and entertaining article, as author Zeth Lundy takes you through the different species of yowl -- and you know I had to include a few of the songs in question:


The Columbus (or, the Land Ho!)
The wild-eyed whoop of abandon, emitted early when a song kicks into its full roar and meant, in part, as an alarm for the impending auditory devastation. Consider it rock ‘n’ roll etiquette, not unlike that exhibited on the golf green: heads up, ‘cause this one’s gonna rock you in places you didn’t know existed. Gaz Coombes demonstrates this nicely in Supergrass’s Richard III (1997), letting fly a preparatory yell in concurrence with the landslide entry of the bass and drums. He whoops it up like a man who has a storied history with whooping, one which he would probably recount over a few pints even though he’s a bit tired of doing so. This particular example is compounded by how Coombes sets up the holler with a brief prelude of tritone guitar riffage—ye olde Devil’s interval!—that stokes the song’s start-up with a bit of horned provocation. See also: the Faces’ Stay With Me (1971), at the moment that the double-time intro downshifts to that filthy pub shuffle—as good a time as any for Rod Stewart to launch a Columbus, back when a Rod Stewart Columbus actually meant something.

The Phantom Columbus
Quite possibly the most common and unnoticed improvisatory hoot, this occurs deep in the background of a song’s mix, always at a moment where all other instruments drop out, and usually at the song’s onset. In essence, it’s a Columbus (the hasty shout-out predicting some kind of calamitous rapture), but it’s not necessarily one intended to be heard by the public at-large, since it’s only serendipitously picked up by a microphone that just happens to be dedicated to another instrument. Really listen—put on the noise-isolating headphones, crank up the volume to that decibel the doctor warned you about—and you’ll catch more Phantom Columbuses than you’ll care to count. Two songs in particular sport perceptible examples of this holler:
Superdrag’s Sold You an Alibi (1998) and Mission of Burma’s 2wice (2006). It occurs during the opening of both songs, between the gutsy plunges of the former’s wicked guitar riff and immediately after the latter’s colossal solo drum foundation. See also: the first few seconds of the Rolling Stones’ Can’t You Hear Me Knocking (1971), soon after the drums are introduced to that impeccably slouching guitar.


Read the whole "Hoots, Hollers and Barbaric Yawps" article


I think the most elusive of the vocalizations (and my personal favorite to imitate on road-trips) is hands-down the "shmoa":

Man In The Mirror - Michael Jackson

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Hey! Pat Spurgeon from Rogue Wave got a new kidney last weekend! I received an email from his mom Jane, saying simply that Pat had been the recipient of a kidney on January 13th and that he was recovering at home. Since so many of you wonderful and generous people donated $$ to his medical care fund a few months ago, I thought I'd pass along the good news. We wish you a speedy recovery, Pat, and hope you'll be back to your formidable drumming ways soon.

Part Of Me, Part Of You - Finn Brothers
(couldn't resist) updated with complete file


More tunes for this week:

Look Out SOS!
The Ruby Suns
Ruby seems to be a hot catchphrase in today's musical lexicon, but in this instance, I find that with The Ruby Suns the band name absolutely fits the kind of music you would expect here; it's got a rosy and shimmery glow, like a sunrise, and a slightly psychedelic mid-60s pop feel. This is from their self-titled album on Lil' Chief Records, and thanks iGIF for the tip.

Love Rollercoaster
Ohio Players
You think you know this song because the Chili Peppers covered it, and it was played incessantly on the radio in 1997? Well, no, you best listen to this. One of my favorite opening guitar lines of any song; I love how it darts and has that sassy funk just flirting across the top. It came on the radio this weekend here (on Sunday Night Jams, which is an old-school funkalicious 3 hours to end every weekend) reminding me why I simply must bob my chin like nobody's business whenever I hear it. Great tune, you need this one in your library.


War Pigs (Black Sabbath cover)
Cake
In what seems to be some sort of apocalyptical political statement, Cake has made this Black Sabbath cover available as a free download on their website for a limited time. It's not so much my favorite, but I found it notable since I love me some Cake (both actual cake and the band Cake). I am excited to hear that these Sacramento lads just added into the Noise Pop lineup for a Sunday night show.


I Will Be Free (live on KFOG)
Nil Lara

I came across this fantastic acoustic version of my favorite song from this Cuban-American artist who sings as if his heart is burning, from a live session on San Francisco's KFOG radio. It gives me reason to mention that the reclusive artist (who has kind of been off the grid these days) will be performing on February 1st at the Transit Lounge in Miami. Thanks, anonymous commenter!


Lovely Ones
The Put Outs
I downloaded this somewhere along the line and forgot to ever write about it, but it came up on shuffle and at first I thought it was Superdrag. Close. This demo from Baltimore's The Put-Outs indeed features Sam Powers of Superdrag on harmonies and was produced by Don Coffey Jr. (drummer of Superdrag). I also hear an early Replacements vibe here. Does anyone know whatever happened to these folks? I don't see that this album was ever released, and all internet references to them seem to cease around 2003. Too bad.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

And you can't come because you don't speak French

If you've been reading this blog for a while (or browse the right sidebar) you know that I have an affinity for world music, although lately I've been too lazy to be industrious and seek out new international sounds. So I was pleased when this one landed in my lap (actually, my mailbox) and provided some pleasant Sunday afternoon music.

Malajube are five French-Canadian guys who have a bright, shimmery, eclectic album with Trompe-L'oeil (2006, Dare To Care Records). It was actually makes quite the spunky soundtrack for some serious housecleaning, but they don't put that on the press sheet. And no, I don't know what they're saying.

Étienne D'août - Malajube

Pâte Filo - Malajube


They're on tour with Snowden (including Noise Pop!) and will be at SXSW this March.

02.16 Montreal, QC Café Campus
02.18 New York City, NY Mercury Lounge
02.20 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda's
02.21 Washington, DC The Rock And Roll Hotel
02.23 Chicago, IL The Subterranean
02.28 Seattle, WA Neumo's
03.01 Seattle, WA Dante's
03.02 San Francisco, CA Independent
03.06 Tucson, AZ Plush
03.09 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge
03.10 Kansas City, MT The Record Bar
04.13 Sorel/Tracy, QC Marine Cabaret
04.14 Joliette, QC L' Azile

Friday, January 19, 2007

You do not want Leona Naess as your hotel neighbor

Sometime this year, I hope to see Leona Naess's fourth studio album Thirteens released. She's been talking about it for about a year through her MySpace blogs and website, but still no specific release date. She has such an appealingly open and unique voice -- one of my favorite female artists to sing along with. In my pipe dreams, this is roughly the type of music I would envision myself making if I ever learned to play the guitar.

For some reason, it always sticks in my head how she categorizes her music on MySpace. I appreciate the honesty -- this is essentially what everyone thinks, isn't it?



Here are a couple of unreleased songs which have popped up in recent months from her; I have no idea specifically what will be on Thirteens, but these contenders are my favorites out of the batch I've heard.

This Is Not Love - Leona Naess
I'd heard this streaming before on her website and really liked it -- must have left it on repeat for about 20 rotations. I could have sworn that I posted it before but Google tells me no. Fantastic moody song.

On My Mind - Leona Naess
The lyrics to this song are just so charming and descriptive, in a slightly innocent way but not cheesy or infantile. "Honey, you've been on my mind like Christmas and birthdays when I was five . . . Honey you've been in my head like homework on Sundays when I've been laughing instead." The brass and bells faintly echo a little bit of that Christmas anticipation as a kid that she sings of, without being a "seasonal" song.

I Wait For My Prince - Leona Naess
I love the old-time songbird vibe here, like Leona is a starlet in a smoky piano nightclub. Very evocative, it sounds like it is coming to me from a long way away.


I also enjoyed this recent blog post written by Leona, and could empathize. I vent through blogging too when I am disturbed by loud neighbors in hotels:

Thursday, January 18, 2007
Subject: getting arrested in Ireland


so the tour has started with ray [lamontagne], and so far so good. just played cork and the audience was so quiet i almost cried. thank fucking god. my music seems to get quieter and quieter, and i just can't handle any noise when i play anymore. Dublin was good, but not like tonight in cork.

what i can tell you, is that i caught a cold on my way to Ireland, and after the show last night i had to escape to bed, missing most of Ray's set. I jumped into bed to try to kick the sick i had in my body and head. at midnight a party started next door. students having a laugh i guess after exams. i was that grumpy sick person calling up the front desk about the terrible noise.

after 2 hours of this insane racket , i told the front desk that i was going to call the police. i guess they did in the end, cause little did i know that my only band mate, Scott, had joined the party next door, and when the police arrived he got arrested with the rest of the collage gang.

basically, to cut a long story short, i got my drummer arrested.

oh well, its early days, what will happen next. right before we got on stage tonight the nice woman that works in the opera house in cork said that the audience never come in for the opener, and that it was really frustrating. well i almost wanted to shoot myself then and there. why bother right? after Scott being arrested wearing his hangover like a cross, and me not getting any sleep, still sick and about to walk on the a stage with an audience of 5. well she was wrong, thank god. it was great and it was my favorite show so far. lets see what tomorrow brings.x


One track that hasn't surfaced yet that I am anxious to hear is her reported collaboration with Ryan Adams on the track "Leave Your Boyfriend." Let me add my voice to the chorus hoping for a concrete release date in 2007 from the lovely Ms. Naess.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

M. Ward vinyl rip

Thanks to Kevin, who rocks all sorts of goodness over on his blog So Much Silence, I've added an audio rip of that limited 7" remix from M. Ward and Jim James. Kevin is the master of vinyl ripping, so you get all that snap, crackle, and pop at no added charge. Thanks Kevin!

Head over to the original post for the mp3.

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Wilco: More Like The Moon EP

Wilco has a nice little EP available for free download (with cover art) called More Like The Moon (or Australia EP, or Bridge EP) on the WilcoWorld site.

Thanks to a special correspondent, I was pointed in this direction yesterday and have been particularly enjoying the "Magazine Called Sunset" tune ever since (and that quiet folksy one about Dylan), although the whole EP is first-rate.

This was originally released a bonus disc to the Australian version of 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. According to the ever-helpful Wiki: The EP was comprised of six songs that were recorded but not released during the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sessions. On the one-year anniversary of the release of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco made the EP available through their website. Hurrah! Check out this fine little collection:

Camera
Handshake Drugs
Woodgrain
Magazine Called Sunset (borderline kitschy with that tropical lounge feel, but hot dang, it works!)
Bob Dylan's 49th Beard
More Like The Moon


ZIP: MORE LIKE THE MOON EP

Also, news out of Nashville last night; Jeff Tweedy announced that the title of the new Wilco album will be Sky-Blue Sky (not to be confused with Ryan Adams' song Blue Sky Blues), and will be out May 15.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

An Amoeba Tale of Two Pauls (Weller and . . . Reubens?)

Our friends at the venerable Amoeba Records out in California are hosting two events worth noting in the next few weeks.


First is a chance to win tickets to one of Paul Weller's Hollywood shows. On Monday, February 5th, Weller will close his three-night run at the Avalon Theater with a selection of songs from his years with The Jam, The Style Council, as well as his solo years; a sort of "Best Of Paul Weller" if you will.

You can win tickets here.

Sexy Sadie (Beatles cover) - Paul Weller
The Modern World - The Jam
Walls Come Tumbling Down - The Style Council



And, on a slightly odder note, the Amoeba in San Fran is hosting a meet & greet from Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee Herman. Going down this Saturday, Reubens will be in-store to sign his DVDs. It's 3pm to 5pm at the Amoeba on Haight.

While you wait in what sounds like a long line (they advise arriving early), for your listening pleasure you can enjoy the zany musical stylings of Deejay Panatomic-X. Reubens is in town to be interviewed at Sketchfest on Monday the 22nd, followed by questions from the audience in the Palace of Fine Arts.

I can't even imagine the assortment of fans (and, potentially, costumes) that will turn out for that one. I'd totally be ready to scream real loud. And you? Oh, you know how to dance to this one:

Tequila (The Champs) - Pee Wee's Big Adventure soundtrack


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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fuel For The Open Road: Winners of the Lucinda contest & double driving mix

You guys selected some wonderful songs for my Lucinda Williams CD giveaway contest, which asked for tunes that you like to listen to out on the open road.

I've scouted out the songs I didn't have, listened to every one you listed, and compiled my favorites into a double-disc driving mix. I had a hard time narrowing it down onto two discs - thank you to everyone who suggested something.

There were several that I thought I wouldn't like but did -- your suggestions combine for an unstoppable mix with a distinctly "dusty pick-up truck" feel, apropos for a long roadtrip. Giving in to the seduction of the great West, some of this stuff is quite a bit more twangy than anything else you're ever likely to hear on this site, but the mood grabbed me and I went with it. And it works for the occasion.

FUEL FOR THE OPEN ROAD
. . . pop this baby in, each set fits onto a CD. Literally makes my fingers twitch towards the car keys.

DISC ONE [ZIP FILE]

Life On A Chain - Pete Yorn
Another Travelin' Song - Bright Eyes
On The Hood - Matt Mays and El Torpedo
Life Is A Highway - Tom Cochrane
Fill Me Up - Shawn Colvin
Drown - Son Volt
Let It Ride - Ryan Adams
Misty Mountain Hop - Led Zeppelin
Monster Ballads - Josh Ritter
Beautiful Disaster - Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
Indiana Wants Me - R Dean Taylor
Right in Time - Lucinda Williams
Train To Jackson - Jeffrey Foucault
The Golden Age - Beck
Where There's A Road - Robbie Fulks
Learning To Fly - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Wiser Time - The Black Crowes
Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen


DISC TWO [ZIP FILE]

Where The Streets Have No Name - U2
Blue Canoe - Blue Mountain
Around The Bend - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Highway 101 - Social Distortion
My Winding Wheel - Ryan Adams
Long Vermont Roads - Magnetic Fields
I Want To Be Your Driver (Chuck Berry cover) - Nic Armstrong
Counterclockwise - Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
Finest Worksong - R.E.M.
Golden - My Morning Jacket
Revelator - Gillian Welch
Since I've Been Loving You - Led Zeppelin
Gone Wanderin' - Jackie Greene
Picture Book - The Kinks
Paris, Texas - Ry Cooder
Going Back To Georgia - Nanci Griffith & Adam Duritz
Walking In Memphis - Marc Cohn
Pink Moon - Nick Drake
Midway Park - Whiskeytown
Rearviewmirror - Pearl Jam


Yeah, last one on there is all me. Best driving song ever, in my book. And I threw in a few other old friends into the mix from my archives.

Here are my four randomly-selected winners of that contest, literally drawn from a hat (okay, bowl) by my charming husband, who loved having all that power:

Greg
Dee
Oxypoet
Leo M.

Congrats to the 4 winners! Please email me your address and I'll mail out your copy of the re-released Car Wheels On A Gravel Road once we thaw out here. Y'all should be proud of the mix you guys assembled. Let's all try not to get a speeding ticket.

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Two bits of highly entertaining awesomeness

So, American Idol returns to the small screen tonight (must . . . resist . . .) and it looks like Paula Abdul is already celebrating with some early-morning intoxication:



WOW. She's got that obvious air of "I am trying very hard to sound wise and coherent so that you won't notice I am completely smashed" as she swerves in and off screen. As Paula says here, it is what it is.

Also, Barry Manilow can apparently be quite bitchy. Recently Cristina Black from TimeOut New York got assigned to interview him; she decided to try and make the best of it and came up with some pretty interesting questions. Too bad she only got to use three and then he hung up on her. Read her scathing response to Barry here. Awesome.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Start the week off right with some satire, courtesy of The Onion in their article History of Rock Written By The Losers:

"BOSTON—Fifty years after its inception, rock 'n' roll music remains popular due to the ardor of its fans and the hard work of musicians, producers, and concert promoters. But in the vast universe of popular music, there exists an oft-overlooked group of dedicated individuals who devote their ample free time to collecting, debating, and publishing the minutiae of the rock genre. They are the losers who write rock's rich and storied history." [full article here]

Well come on. Someone has to do it.


Here's some of the music that I am listening to this week, avoiding sunlight, hunched over my laptop (wait, it's currently zero degrees here, so what else am I to do?!):

Goodbye
The Swimmers

A delightful jaunt from this new indie-pop group from Philadelphia, off their upcoming album Fighting Trees. Friend Tom passed this along with the highest recommendation, calling it the first truly important release of 2007. Those rock-nerd trivialists may know singer Steve Yutzy-Burkey's first band One Star Hotel, but this new incarnation in music remains relatively unknown outside Philly and strays (appealingly) from the previous alt-country sound. You can stream the entire album on their minimalistic website, or peruse their MySpace. The album Fighting Trees comes out this Spring - refreshing, lithe, insanely catchy pop.


Headache
Frank Black
I almost did backflips when I listened to this yesterday for the first time since high school. From the cascading opening drumbeats, this is a perfect pop song that I had completely, utterly forgotten until I read Ben Kweller's Celebrity Playlist and suddenly it all came flooding back to me. Playing it loud, I effortlessly sang along from the deep recesses of my memory. From (former Pixie) Frank Black's 1994 album Teenager Of The Year.


Money To Burn
(acoustic on BBC Radio One)
Richard Ashcroft
A great song from Ashcroft's 2000 album Alone With Everybody, I love the urgency and blissful romantic short-sightedness in this song: "You light my fire, I want to burn all night, I want to burn on through. I got one short life, I want to spend it on you. Oh we got one last dance, I want to dance with you -- Come on now." Download the other two songs in this ace mini-set from the BBC on Sweet Oblivion while you can.


Ruby
Kaiser Chiefs
A stomping new one out of Leeds from Kaiser Chiefs, who were basically hailed as the second coming of The Jam or The Clash for awhile there in 2005 when they invaded the States and taught all the indie kids that it's okay to pogo a bit during their ferocious live shows. A fine (if slightly nonsensical) ode to a classy dame named Ruby (like my Grammy was), this is from the upcoming Yours Truly, Angry Mob, due in late February on B-Unique Records.


I Have A Dream
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Not a song, but still an mp3 that'll do you good to listen to. Anyone who has ever taken a public speaking class likely knows the genius of the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. From the cadence and the repetition, to the alliteration, the biblical metaphors . . . dude had it all -- and used it to get under your skin in a (thankfully) unforgettable way. Although he had dozens of superb speeches, this one is his most famous and also the one that still makes the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It's got a lot more to it than the parts you hear quoted most often, and is worth a re-read. This was delivered August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. You can also read and listen to excerpts of other great speeches by MLK Jr here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A splash of Southern Comfort with M. Ward

The freezing walk to the mailbox was all made worth it yesterday afternoon by the discovery of a very cool flat package containing a 7" limited-run vinyl from FADER Magazine/blog in a partnership with Southern Comfort. Part of a new series this whole year to release "up-and-coming" artists on limited edition vinyl, the first in the lineup contains:

Side A: Magic Trick (Kansas City Remix) (Thanks Kevin!!)
M. Ward with Jim James

Side B: Soap
Ladyhawk

Post-War (from whence comes the lovely harmonies of "Magic Trick") is an album that sounds all rich and scratchy and warm --an effect which is doubled on a record player-- and I derived great joy from sitting in front of my stereo listening to this small gem. The remix takes out the drums and remixes the vocals a bit more distinctly so the harmonies don't mesh as seamlessly. It also brings forward the bittersweet harmonica line, giving the overall effect of a Kansas City backporch BBQ. You can win your own copy here. Oh, and check the solo M. Ward shows added. San Francisco gets all the fun. Come to Denver, "M."!

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Jeff Buckley covers Bob Dylan for a musician's village in New Orleans

A few weeks ago I posted a fantastic recording of Jeff Buckley singing Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" over the phone for WMFU radio, with the help of some friends. One of those friends of Jeff's was Michelle Kinney, who sang and played the accordion in the studio that day. Through a series of events, we've been corresponding by email - and she's let me know of a great new project she's working to develop, using a cleaned-up version of that arresting and blissful recording.

Michelle writes, "Being in Jeff's company whether he was singing or not was transcendent (most of the time). You could feel him coming from blocks away." Her husband was also a friend of Jeff's, and played guitar on that recording of "I Shall Be Released" (as well as backing Jeff at the St. Ann's tribute for Tim Buckley in 1991). Michelle has developed an artist's record label called Sugarfoot Music which has received permission from Jeff's estate to officially release that incredible recording on a compilation CD benefitting a musicians' village in New Orleans.

Jeff's song will join 30 other artists on this album to help raise funds to build homes for musicians displaced by the hurricanes in 2005. The idea of a Musicians' Village was conceived by Harry Connick Jr. & Branford Marsalis, and will house musicians and families whose lives were devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. With the support of others, including a $1.5 million challenge grant by musician Dave Matthews, Habitat for Humanity has already begun rebuilding a neighborhood of music players and music lovers.

Among the contributors: Dan Wilson (of Semisonic), Natalie Merchant, Indigo Girls, Marshall Crenshaw, Gary Louris & The Jayhawks, and more. Sugarfoot Music’s benefit CD includes a 36-page booklet featuring a photo and a thought on New Orleans from each artist; I love liner notes that possess thought and depth -- it's like getting a great book along with the CD and adds so much to the experience.

In thinking back to the day that the song with Jeff was recorded, Michelle remembers; "We were all goofing around in a very low-key kind of way, and Jeff was so far from being a star. Aside from the pure joy of playing with Jeff over the phone, no one knew that this would become a special thing. On the CD, we edited out most of the other remarks -- the preference of the show's producer, Nick Hill. It's mostly just the song, with Jeff's comments at the end." When Jeff lets out an ebullient laugh and thanks everyone as the song ends, what sticks with me (and always makes me break into a huge smile) is the refreshed elation in his voice, the untarnished joy of being involved in such a beautiful singalong.

It will be great to have this version in my collection, and to support a worthy cause. You can order the CD on the Sugarfoot Music website. In the short time I've had that amazing song in my collection, it's become my absolute favorite cover that Jeff ever recorded, and is a fitting and affirming addition to the theme of this album.

And as Michelle says, "I know that Jeff would have been down there hammering nails himself."

I Shall Be Released (over the phone, WFMU) - Jeff Buckley and Friends
(the singing starts at 4:15)

Buy the cleaned-up/non radio-rip version for a good cause here.

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