I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Holy leaked Pearl Jam demos, Batman!

Recently a cool little Pearl Jam promotional CD which circulated during the production of Lost Dogs made its way to my ears, and I am beyond excited. It's a loose assemblage of demo versions and rough mixes of Pearl Jam songs from over the years, with the occasional live cut tossed in. A couple of these songs have never been heard before by John & Susie Q. Superfan (including me), while others were tunes that I have on various cassette tapes (like this KISW performance of Bee Girl, the alternate version of Alone, or Just A Girl) but haven't dug out or heard in years.

When something is a great find, my innards shake a little while I am downloading them. This was an innard-shaker.

Anything In Between (unreleased, Binaural outtake, 1999)
In The Moonlight (rough mix, Binaural outtake, 1999)
Fatal (rough mix, Binaural outtake, 1999)
Sad (a.k.a. Letter to the Dead, rough mix, Binaural outtake, 2000)
Wishing Well (live) (written by The Free, Mookie Blaylock, 1990)
Hitchhikers (rough mix, Binaural outtake, 1999)
Puzzle And Game (unreleased, vastly different demo of "Light Years", Binaural outtake, 2000)
Education (rough mix, Binaural outtake, 1999)
Sweet Lew (rough mix, Yield outtake, 1997)
Sunburn (unreleased, w/ Stone on vocals, No Code outtake, 1995)
Hold On (rough mix, Ten outtake, 1991)
(Just A) Girl (rough mix, Ten outtake, 1990)
Alone (rough mix, lyrics differ from Lost Dogs version, Ten outtake, 1991)
Brother (rough mix w/ different vocals, Ten outtake, 1990)
Don't Gimme No Lip (rough mix, No Code outtake, 1996)
Bee Girl (on Rockline, KISW FM, Seattle, 10/18/1993)
Against The '70s (From Mike Watt album 'Ball-Hog or Tugboat?', 1995)
"New" Jeremy (live version from Red Rocks, CO, 06/20/1995)

ZIP UP THE PEARL JAM DELICIOUSNESS

Also, for those baseball fans out there (I can't talk about the Giants this year, it's too painful) Ed's gonna be singing at the Cubbies game this Friday. Now that's my kind of seventh inning stretch.

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Yorn joins the Swedish Invasion

I find this cover toe-tappingly good ("Everyone keeps asking me if this is my song, so I decided that I have to play it," Yorn says) -- and coincidental, considering that the first time I remember enjoying the original song was at an intermission before Pete Yorn took the stage in Denver. Thanks to Stereogum for the cover from two nights ago, and to You Ain't No Picasso for digging up the video:

Young Folks (Peter, Bjorn, and John cover) - Pete Yorn
Live at the Bottle & Cork, Dewey Beach, DE 7/29/07



Now if only we frickin knew who is duetting with him on "Shampoo", I'd be one completely satisfied girl.

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Summer reading: Best Music Writing series (Da Capo Press)

I have an admittedly short attention span on planes. Usually I zone out with music, taking advantage of the silent hours to explore the inevitable backlog of new tunes on my iPod. If I do read, it's often the guilty indulgence of People magazine that I only buy in airport bookshops or --even better-- Reader's Digest. On this latest trip, I found something much better.

Da Capo Music Press is one of the finest purveyors of music books out there. They asked me if there was anything in their (superb) current catalog that I'd be interested in checking out, and the first book I've cracked of the box they sent is the anthology Da Capo Best Music Writing 2006. The seventh year in the series, I found a lot to love here from a variety of sources last year ranging from traditional print media, online journals, and even (yay!) music blogs. The commentary varies from straight up album/song reviews to artist profiles and in-depth theoretical pieces on serious topics loosely related to music as a foundation.

The introduction by editor Mary Gaitskill explains the vibe of the anthology: "I put these pieces together like a mix tape of sounds a person might hear in life -- get up in the morning, put on an old T. Rex song, go outside, hear "Gold Digger" coming out of somebody's car, nameless electronica coming out of someone else's. A guy walks through the parking lot whistling an aria from Bizet's Carmen; something high and haunting leaks out of a passing boy's iPod. Go into a store and there's a faux cowgirl on the sound system singing some artifically sweetened blues. All day songs fly past; some get lost in traffic noise, some enter your imagination and take strange dream-shapes that get inside your thoughts and feelings and make them different."

I loved that because she expresses exactly how the world sounds to me. People will ask me "where do you get all your ideas for posting?" And my answer is this: Once you start paying attention to the music around you, you hear it everywhere. There's no shortage of things to listen to, experience, and write about. It's why I love writing this blog, and it's why I enjoy reading collections like this one.

Here are three snippets from the book to give you an idea of why you should pick it up for some good summer readin'. Guaranteed to enrich your brain 437% more than People.

CRAZY IS AS CRAZY DOES
by Ann Powers

What I've noticed about "crazy" rock musicians is that ones whose music offers the most insight into the turmoil of emotion tend to be women, and that these crazies tend to receive less hero worship than their male counterparts. . . [t]heir inner demons are in constant dialogue with a world that already demonizes anything less than neat that emanates from the feminine realm. A male artist getting crazy can come off as threatening, but he's also often greeted as a prophet or, conversely, an endearing holy fool. A woman artist getting crazy is a different kind of mess--one that raises the general discomfort level by raising the specter of uncontrolled sexuality, irresponsible motherhood, violence done to or by the secred "gentler sex" -- all elements of our common consciousness that have haunted us since Medea's time and have never been resolved.

Your Ghost - Kristin Hersh (featuring Michael Stipe)
The rest of this interesting piece looks at those who have struggled with demons, like Hersh, Daniel Johnston, Lisa Germano, Nick Drake, or Mary Margaret O'Hara.


THE BEATLES--"Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine"
(Reached No. 1 on 20th August 1966)
by Tom Ewing
Part of a series to write on all UK #1 hit singles
The brisk orchestral arrangement of "Eleanor Rigby" is tense and fussy, with something of Eleanor's spinsterish neatness: the strings bring to mind sewing, or sweeping the steps, one of those little daily things you do unthinkingly, or instead of thinking. They also sound a little like a horror film soundtrack, and Eleanor Rigby is cinematic, and it is about horror. It's Paul McCartney taking one of pop's smooth-rubbed words --"lonely"-- thinking it through and recoiling.

"Eleanor Rigby" remains neat to its end, so neat you might forget that this question of the lonely people hasn't remotely been answered. For that you need the other side of the single, "Yellow Submarine."

Intentionally or not, "Eleanor Rigby" and "Yellow Submarine" make a perfect pair. Crushing isolation as the flip of a song that values limitless community -- "And my friends are all aboard / Many more of them live next door." The one set in a drably recognizable town, the other in a fantasy utopia. Recital and singalong.

Eleanor Rigby - The Beatles
Yellow Submarine - The Beatles



A VERY SPECIAL CONCERT:
The Enduring Bond Between Huey Lewis and the Developmentally Disabled
by Katy St. Clair
. . . The band recently celebrated its 25th anniversary by performing at this year's Marin County Fair on a cool summer night a few weeks back. This was Huey Lewis & the News' stomping ground, where they began two decades earlier, playing around San Rafael and Mill Valley. Suffice it to say, this show was something all my clients were looking forward to.

There are a lot of stereotypes about retarded people and most of them are false . . . [t]here is however one stereotype about retarded people that is true, one broad brushstroke that one can make about them all: Good gosh a'mighty, retarded people love them some Huey Lewis. Part of the reason is that Huey is apparently a sweetheart who does a lot of volunteer work with people who have developmental disabilities. But another big part is the music.

A bunch of people from a group home had set up camp on the opposite side of the stage, laying out blankets and picnic food. Bobbi recognized some of her friends and waved. "Huuuuueyyyy!" they all yelled back. It was just like people who yell "Bruuuce!" at a Springsteen concert, only more retarded. In fact, Huey Lewis is a retarded version of Bruce Springsteen. Think about it.

[Please read the full and wonderful article here]
Back In Time - Huey Lewis

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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
Supergrass

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.

Rumors
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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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rosewood Thieves: Folk Music In The Back Room

My friend Dr. Mooney has been instrumental in turning me on to the fine burnished sounds of New York's Rosewood Thieves [initial post], and keeping me informed on their musical progression. I'd like to thank him for this most recent bonanza: A complete live set from their residency at Pianos, showcasing material both new and old. These kids have two EPs out now: From The Decker House (V2) and their latest independent EP release, Lonesome (just out June 6 but I can't find it anywhere yet). They are in the final stages of mixing their full-length album expected out sometime later this year. Watch the live performance video here and snag the mp3s below. I really like the rich retro sounds coming from these guys (plus gal).


[video direct link]

ROSEWOOD THIEVES LIVE
Folk Music In The Back Room
June 13, 2007 @ Pianos
Untitled #2
Murder Ballad In G Minor
Demo Film #1 (I think this goes with a video short on their MySpace)
Back Home To Harlem
Untitled #3
California Moon
Mad Man

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Memorable Moments in Music: Dylan leaves the folkies dumbfounded, plugs in at Newport

In an age of Marilyn Manson and Gwar, it seems almost laughable that something as small as using an electric guitar was, at one time, a revolutionary act of heresy to hear some tell it. But there was a time in 1965 when a folksy Bob Dylan took a risk, plugged in, withstood the booing, and helped to usher in the beginnings of a whole new sound of electric sin in popular music.


The Newport Folk Festival was an annual convergence of the Hootenanny crowd in Rhode Island begun in 1959. Dylan had been a hit at both of his previous performances in 1963 and 1964. But as July '65 came around, Dylan was beginning to experiment with a new sound, evidenced clearly on his song "Like A Rolling Stone," which had just been released as a single to radio four days prior.

From the 1986 Shelton book No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan, a play-by-play of his set that night that stuck in the craw of the crowd:

At the festival, Al Kooper, whose session work had already impressed Dylan, was strolling about when Albert said Bob was looking for him. Dylan told Kooper he wanted to bring the "Rolling Stone" sound on-stage. Three members of the Butterfield Band were recruited: guitarist Mike Bloomfield, drummer Sam Lay, and bassist Jerome Arnold. At a party in Newport, Dylan completed his band with pianist Barry Goldberg. In a Newport mansion, Dylan rehearsed this instant group until dawn. They kept their plan secret until they walked onstage, Dylan, in a matador-outlaw orange shirt and black leather, carrying an electric guitar.

From the moment the group swung into a rocking electric version of "Maggie's Farm," the Newport audience registered hostility. As the group finished "Farm," there was some reserved applause and a flurry of boos. Someone shouted: "Bring back Cousin Emmy!" The microphones and speakers were all out of balance, and the sound was poor and lopsided. For even the most ardent fan of the new music, the performance was unpersuasive.


As Dylan led his band into "Rolling Stone," the audience grew shriller: "Play folk music! ... Sell out! ... This is a folk festival! ... Get rid of that band!" Dylan began "It Takes a Train to Cry," and the applause diminished as the heckling increased. Dylan and the group disappeared offstage, and there was a long, clumsy silence. Peter Yarrow urged Bob to return and gave him his acoustic guitar. As Bob returned on the stage alone, he discovered he didn't have the right harmonica. "What are you doing to me?" Dylan demanded of Yarrow. To shouts for "Tambourine Man," Dylan said: "OK, I'll do that one for you." The older song had a palliative effect and won strong applause. Then Dylan did "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," singing adieu to Newport, good-bye to the folk-purist audience.


It's fitting as I write this on the night of July 25th, a hard-to-believe 42 years to the day of this performance. There is certainly controversy about why people were booing that night - revisionist history rages, with some saying that the booing was due solely to the poor sound quality and not the music itself. Folk music patriarch Pete Seeger has been widely quoted as saying that if he had an axe, he would have chopped the cable that night, even though he's given varying reasons for that statement in the following years.

Hearing these performances and seeing the footage in the Scorsese documentary No Direction Home, I can lean towards feeling that there was a crackle of discontent in the air that night that I don't think was just a PA issue. I think there's definitely a strong argument that Dylan's performance was an important splinter in the genres of folk and rock music that had profound and immediate implications for both. The "This Land Is Your Land" crowd went one way with the idealism and the acoustic guitars, and the rock barrelled off in another direction best summarized by Dylan himself the following year in response to the infamous heckler at the Manchester show: "Play fucking loud!"

DYLAN @ NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL
July 25, 1965


Maggie's Farm
Like A Rolling Stone
It Takes A Lot To Laugh ("Phantom Engineer")
Mr. Tambourine Man
It's All Over Now Baby Blue


ZIP: DYLAN AT NEWPORT


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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ryan Adams in Berkeley: Yeah, I can't even pretend to be cool about this

I'll try and be nonchalant, but that's pretty much the best picture I've gotten to be in this year. Maybe ever. I got to meet Ryan after the Berkeley show last night, and we talked about some interesting stuff. He seems somehow smaller in real life, with very penetrating eyes. Keep readin', keep readin'. . .

The show itself was absolutely fantastic, and that surprised me because the venue is all seats (which I thought equaled sedate; I was wrong). Plus I thought I'd already gotten the very best from the Santa Cruz show (again; wrong). The Berkeley Community Theatre is a high school auditorium and had the distinctive feel of such, down to the drinking fountains and some undefinable quality to the bathrooms - I was almost expecting pink powdered handsoap. The difference between my own high school and this one, though, is that my high school never hosted Jimi Hendrix, The Clash or Ryan Adams.

As I was walking into the auditorium from the lobby, the usher was checking my ticket, and the guy standing right in front of me in a very anticlimactic way was Ryan Adams, setlist and Sharpie in hand. He was relaxed and amiable, wearing some sort of death metal t-shirt, a black hoodie with a denim jacket over it, and a pair of tighter jeans than any I own. He was walking around the hall conducting a "First Annual Audience Poll" for the setlist. This, compared to what I had heard about his virtual refusal to speak a single word to the crowd in San Francisco the night before was pretty astounding, and boded well for an engaging evening.

As I stood there with him in the lobby, on such short notice the first thing I could think of that I'd love to hear was the b-side "Halloween." He looked up at me with an encouraging smile and said excitedly, "No, think big. Think full band electric, me and the Cardinals!" I couldn't think deeply on such short notice, standing next to Ryan, so the moment passed and he went on to the girl next to me who asked for "Come Pick Me Up." I spent the next two hours thinking off and on of what I should have said. There are so many of his songs that I'd love to hear them incorporate into the Cardinals' current sound. Very nice idea from Ryan.

From where I was sitting (with a camera with no flash) the sound was excellent, and Ryan and The Cardinals took the stage close to 9pm with massive amounts of energy. They played over two hours with a quick intermission --so Ryan could go drink some juice, he said-- and no encore. He was definitely the most chatty and entertaining between songs as I've heard in a long time. From singing an impromptu custom birthday song to a girl a few rows up from us named Summer Rae Brown (it'll be the smash hit of her summer for sure) to making up poems about his love for Cheez-Its (me too, Ryan, me too) it was hilarious.

Someone in the front said something to him and in a stage whisper he replied, "Dude, I totally can't talk right now, I'm WORKING." He also joked about having a camera in his tie and being on "lady patrol," with the priceless aside of "I would never trust a woman who would tolerate my shit." But the best part was -- he kept the banter strictly between songs instead of right in the middle of them like he kept doing at the acoustic show last year at the Palace of Fine Arts. This was very good.

The energy and cohesiveness of the band was a force that kept me glued to the show even though I was seated. The three personal highlights of the setlist were an unexpected & searing electric version of "When The Stars Go Blue," a gorgeous performance of "Elizabeth, You Were Born To Play That Part," which may have hit me like a fist to the gut and made me cry (maybe, just hypothetically), and an absolutely electrify-me-down-to-my-toes closer of "I See Monsters," which was even better than the one we got in Santa Cruz. Ryan writhed and pulled every note of that song out of his guitar like he was battling a demon, or wrestling with an angel. I felt it too. I left that show completely sated.

Full setlist:

A Kiss Before I Go
Please Do Not Let Me Go (smolders)
Goodnight Rose
Peaceful Valley
Two
Easy Plateau
Beautiful Sorta
Mockingbird
Happy Birthday Summer Rae Brown
When The Stars Go Blue
I Taught Myself How To Grow Old
Everybody Knows
Let it Ride

*break*

Blue Hotel
Elizabeth, You Were Born To Play That Part
Dear Chicago
Wildflowers
What Sin Replaces Love
band intros
Cold Roses
Shakedown on 9th Street
I See Monsters
(the seamless combination of Shakedown directly into I See Monsters was astoundingly awesome)

My friend Sharif and I decided to hang around a little bit nonchalantly on the sidewalk behind the venue, just because we like doing that and you never know who you'll run into. In this case, for instance, we saw Ryan in the park right across the street from the high school, walking alone in the empty fountain and balancing on walls. He crossed back over to the venue side of the street and was sitting, leaning against the wall in the shadow of an enormous bouncer when we stopped to chat for a few minutes.

The box set of unreleased material is definitely happening, he tells me, and all next week they are working on finishing up the artwork. It's up to seven discs now, and he assures me that it's a lot of stuff that even us crazy fans have not heard. For instance, he said that the Suicide Handbook material that we have (and love) is leaked from the studio and only contains his acoustic guitar and vocals, but that we've never heard it as we soon will -- with a 16 piece string section, among other things. Also, I asked him if the lusted-after Elizabethtown Sessions will be included on there and he said he thought so, that that "album" is actually called Darkbreaker.

The logjam in my brain also finally had cleared during the show when it hit me that an awesome addition to his current setlist would be "Hotel Chelsea Nights" from the Love Is Hell album. It could fit nicely into the intense electric vibe, and add some swagger and cool class. I suggested it and his face lit up. He told me that they had actually been working that very song out recently to start playing in their Cardinals shows and that he was excited about it. Maybe we'll get it in Boulder?

I really couldn't ask for more. It was an excellent show and I drove home with an indelible smile on my face that won't go away.

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Pearl Jam to play pre-Lolla, fanclub only show at Chicago's Vic Theatre

Hot off the heels of another mindblowing show from Ryan Adams last night (more on that later), my email tells me of another show I should perhaps consider sacrificing a kidney to be at:

Pearl Jam will be in Chicago next week to headline Lollapalooza on August 5th. They announced yesterday that they will be playing a fanclub-only show at Chicago's historic, cozy, Vic Theatre on the night of August 2nd. The Vic only holds 1300, and being at a fanclub-only show would be just fantastic (hopefully that would mean no one hollering "Jeremy! Play Jeremyyyyyyyyyy!" and fewer cries of "Marry me Eddie!" -- oh wait, that might have been me).

Tix go on-sale tomorrow at http://www.pearljam.com/goods for the stab-you-in-your-gut price of $150 a pair.

Looking out for their ubernerd fans like this is one more reason why I love them (although . . . maybe they love their wealthy ubernerd fans more?). Should be an amazing show, I wish I could be there.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Guest post: George Harrison demos

Since I'm on vacation, it's a fine time to let someone else take the wheel for a bit, as one of you recently commented. So today we've got a special treat to the Fuel/Friends blog with a guest blog on a nice little set of demos from Beatle George Harrison. I'd been entirely unfamiliar with any of Harrison's solo work before I was recently tasked to try and unearth this set of demos from Harrison's All Things Must Pass album (1970). I was surprised at the gentle and warm acoustic loveliness, not being at all familiar with Harrison's work aside from The Beatles.

This particular pal (I call him MasterCairo) is responsible for introducing me to a massive amount of good music, and possesses an encyclopedic library of musical minutae in his head. Not kidding, it's like world-record material. This is his first attempt at blogging: for years now he's just had to try and unload his vast musical knowledge on disinterested friends and poor passersby. Finally, he has a willing audience. He writes:

"Not only are these sessions amazingly historic, but they're just beautiful -- like the George Harrison cafe sessions! Art of Dying was written in 1966 and fuck me does it sound like it totally could have been on Revolver -- which it would have been considered for?! But I think it probably sounded too much like Eleanor Rigby, and since it was Paul vs. George...ta da.

George sat down on solo guitar with Phil Spector in Abbey Road Studio 2, and ran through the cache of songs he had built up over the repressive last years of the Beatles. Sit back, get a coffee, put on a turtleneck if you feel pretentious enough, make like it's the end of the '60s, and let George play you some of the tunes he's been collecting over the past few years."


GEORGE HARRISON DEMOS
w/ Phil Spector ("Beware of ABKCO" sessions)
1970




Note: the title of this boot comes from a changed lyric on the song "Beware of Darkness" to "Beware of ABKCO" (Allan B Klein Company).

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Temporarily out of service

I feel a little nagging urge today because it's MONDAY and I've not posted any sort of music round-up (except portions which I've written and posted in my head). I am on vacation in California this week, just enjoying listening to amazing music on the beach and thinking of ways to better please you all when I have time to write. I've got some good stuff in the works (always) and I'll try to get it together soon.

I also have developed a wordlessly awesome one-sided sunburn today after falling asleep on the sand. To quote another favorite Heather of mine, you just go right ahead and try to comprehend how hot that is.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ryan Adams melts the collective face of Santa Cruz

Ryan Adams was back in fine form last night in Santa Cruz, playing a relentless three-hour electric set and rocking the plaid pants and a Celtic Frost t-shirt. The show at the Catalyst Club was general admission, so I was most excited about this show (the other ones to come this week are all seats); my favorite kind of show energy comes from a packed-in standing audience.

I knew it was going to be a good night when we ducked into the club bar hours before doors to use the restroom. Thanks to our fearless reconaissance, we got back into the stage section and were able to see part of the soundcheck before a member of our contingent got the willies about being caught and we scampered out -- we saw mostly noodling and some of Cold Roses. But it was clear even from what we saw that Ryan was loose and happy and in fine form and we were stoked for the show.

The show was so long and my company so lovely that I am having some trouble remembering the setlist, but highlights for me included an absolutely scorching, riveting, insane version of "I See Monsters" (if I need one mp3 from this whole show, it's gotta be that one), "Dear Chicago," "Please Do Not Let Me Go,"and I think "Let It Ride" all the way at the end (to the point, well-done, never get tired of that song). I couldn't hear the banter, but according to someone else he "played a 5 second song about Teen Wolf (why are you so sad?), joked about Neil's fancy pants and cracked a few Matlock jokes (always on time)."

A picture of the setlist had some awesome titles included like Ming Dynasty, Egyptology, Beautiful Sorta Mellow Yellow, and Frozen By The Naked Witches (I am so not making this up) but the set we actually got sounded like this:


Ryan Adams and The Cardinals
2007-07-21 The Catalyst
Santa Cruz, CA

On our way over the hill to the show, we were discussing what era Ryan was our favorite, and what kind of show we wish we could have seen in incarnations of years past. The three of us in the car were apparently all rockers at heart, and the consensus went back and forth between Love Is Hell, Rock N Roll and Demolition if we had to pick just one era to see live.

On the way home my muddled mind was going over the show as I watched the yellow divider lines on the highway flick past, and I felt satisfied with the set because it was kinda the rocker Ryan coming back out in the jam-country he's favoring lately, if that makes sense. He was on it, in his element. Playing that electric guitar with reverence and fire. Even though there were some prolonged jams, which (last night at least) I lack the attention span for, he took the rocker vibe, blended it heavy in with the Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights material, and just let it ride all night long.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger alternate versions

Look at Ryan. He's all wiped out from just recording some excellent alternate renditions of songs from Easy Tiger back in March. These performances were videotaped in front of a curtain of white lights and some of them were released on a bonus DVD. Now, thanks to the magic of audio-ripping, you can listen to them on your iPod even if it's not a fancy video one.

These tunes are my salute to Mr. Adams as we both head towards California in the coming days. He's been kind enough to arrange a roll through the SF Bay Area during the same time I'll be there for my cousin's wedding, and he is going to rock me in several different cities. I am looking forward to it, wahoo! I'll take 62% less ramble/38% more music this time around por favor.

RYAN ADAMS
EASY TIGER ALTERNATE VERSIONS
Goodnight Rose
Everybody Knows
Two
Tears of Gold
Pearls On A String
Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.
These Girls


ZIP UP THE ALTERNATE LIFESTYLE GOODNESS

Late addition:
Off Broadway (not in zip file)

And since we're talking about alternate versions of things, this performance was taped on Letterman, but they aired "Two" instead (which was also lovely and caused me to go to bed singing that melody):

I TAUGHT MYSELF HOW TO GROW OLD (on Letterman)

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Janet Reno dance party

When I read this:
Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno is curating a compilation CD called Song of America, a 3-CD set of songs highlighting America & its history, and featuring artists such as The Black Crowes, Devendra Banhart, Andrew Bird, Ben Taylor, Matthew Ryan, John Mellencamp, Bettye LaVette, Marah and Blind Boys of Alabama...

All I could think of is this:


"My throwing stars and numchucks will make you the mayor of pain."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Memorable Moment in Music: Bruce Springsteen becomes rock and roll future

For the next six Wednesdays I've been asked to contribute my thoughts to the WXPN 885 Memorable Moments In Music series. Along with their listeners, they are working on creating a massive list of moments that we remember from music. A list of 885 means a lot of variety, so there will be plenty of room for all the possibilities that this daunting list implies. Here's where I feel like starting today.

I wasn't alive when this article below was written, and for most of my life I edged away from what I saw as the bombastic jangle of Springsteen until my eyes were recently opened a few years back; I've seen the light of his gorgeous songwriting and performance skill (even if I still don't care for the bandanna-as-sweatband look). This article is one of the best pieces on music that I've ever read, by a Jon Landau at my age, feeling old, listening to his records, going to shows to feel that fire in his soul kindle again. This article was pounded out late at night (when the rawest and most honest missives are penned) after seeing rock and roll's future in a fresh-faced guy from Jersey trying to carve out a name for himself.

Growing Young With Rock and Roll
by Jon Landau
May 22, 1974

It's four in the morning and raining. I'm 27 today, feeling old, listening to my records, and remembering that things were diffferent a decade ago. In 1964, I was a freshman at Brandeis University, playing guitar and banjo five hours a day, listening to records most of the rest of the time, jamming with friends during the late-night hours, working out the harmonies to Beach Boys' and Beatles' songs.

Real Paper soul writer Russell Gersten was my best friend and we would run through the 45s everyday: Dionne Warwick's "Walk On By" and "Anyone Who Had A Heart," the Drifters' "Up On the Roof," Jackie Ross' "Selfish One," the Marvellettes' "Too Many Fish in the Sea," and the one that no one ever forgets, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas' "Heat Wave." Later that year a special woman named Tamar turned me onto Wilson Pickett's "Midnight Hour" and Otis Redding's "Respect," and then came the soul. Meanwhile, I still went to bed to the sounds of the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man" and later "Younger than Yesterday," still one of my favorite good-night albums. I woke up to Having a Rave-Up with the Yardbirds instead of coffee. And for a change of pace, there was always bluegrass: The Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, and Jimmy Martin.

Through college, I consumed sound as if it were the staff of life. Others enjoyed drugs, school, travel, adventure. I just liked music: listening to it, playing it, talking about it. If some followed the inspiration of acid, or Zen, or dropping out, I followed the spirit of rock'n'roll.

Individual songs often achieved the status of sacraments. One September, I was driving through Waltham looking for a new apartment when the sound on the car radio stunned me. I pulled over to the side of the road, turned it up, demanded silence of my friends and two minutes and fifty-six second later knew that God had spoken to me through the Four Tops' "Reach Out, I'll Be There," a record that I will cherish for as long as [I] live.

During those often lonely years, music was my constant companion and the search for the new record was like a search for a new friend and new revelation. "Mystic Eyes" open mine to whole new vistas in white rock and roll and there were days when I couldn't go to sleep without hearing it a dozen times.

Whether it was a neurotic and manic approach to music, or just a religious one, or both, I don't really care. I only know that, then, as now, I'm grateful to the artists who gave the experience to me and hope that I can always respond to them.

The records were, of course, only part of it. In '65 and '66 I played in a band, the Jellyroll, that never made it. At the time I concluded that I was too much of a perfectionist to work with the other band members; in the end I realized I was too much of an autocrat, unable to relate to other people enough to share music with them.

Realizing that I wasn't destined to play in a band, I gravitated to rock criticism. Starting with a few wretched pieces in Broadside and then some amateurish but convincing reviews in the earliest Crawdaddy, I at least found a substitute outlet for my desire to express myself about rock: If I couldn't cope with playing, I may have done better writing about it.

But in those days, I didn't see myself as a critic -- the writing was just another extension of an all-encompassing obsession. It carried over to my love for live music, which I cared for even more than the records. I went to the Club 47 three times a week and then hunted down the rock shows -- which weren't so easy to find because they weren't all conveniently located at downtown theatres. I flipped for the Animals' two-hour show at Rindge Tech; the Rolling Stones, not just at Boston Garden, where they did the best half hour rock'n'roll set I had ever seen, but at Lynn Football Stadium, where they started a riot; Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels overcoming the worst of performing conditions at Watpole Skating Rink; and the Beatles at Suffolk Down, plainly audible, beautiful to look at, and confirmation that we -- and I -- existed as a special body of people who understood the power and the glory of rock'n'roll.

I lived those days with a sense of anticipation. I worked in Briggs & Briggs a few summers and would know when the next albums were coming. The disappointment when the new Stones was a day late, the exhilaration when Another Side of Bob Dylan showed up a week early. The thrill of turning on WBZ and hearing some strange sound, both beautiful and horrible, but that demanded to be heard again; it turned out to be "You've Lost That Loving Feeling," a record that stands just behind "Reach Out I'll Be There" as means of musical catharsis.

My temperament being what it is, I often enjoyed hating as much as loving. That San Francisco shit corrupted the purity of the rock that I loved and I could have led a crusade against it. The Moby Grape moved me, but those songs about White Rabbits and hippie love made me laugh when they didn't make me sick. I found more rock'n'roll in the dubbed-in hysteria on the Rolling Stones Got Live if You Want It than on most San Francisco albums combined.

For every moment I remember there are a dozen I've forgotten, but I feel like they are with me on a night like this, a permanent part of my consciousness, a feeling lost on my mind but never on my soul. And then there are those individual experiences so transcendent that I can remember them as if they happened yesterday: Sam and Dave at the Soul Together at Madison Square Garden in 1967: every gesture, every movement, the order of the songs. I would give anything to hear them sing "When Something's Wrong with My Baby" just the way they did it that night.

The obsessions with Otis Redding, Jerry Butler, and B.B. King came a little bit later; each occupied six months of my time, while I digested every nuance of every album. Like the Byrds, I turn to them today and still find, when I least expect it, something new, something deeply felt, something that speaks to me.

As I left college in 1969 and went into record production I started exhausting my seemingly insatiable appetite. I felt no less intensely than before about certain artists; I just felt that way about fewer of them. I not only became more discriminating but more indifferent. I found it especially hard to listen to new faces. I had accumulated enough musical experience to fall back on when I needed its companionship but during this period in my life I found I needed music less and people, whom I spend too much of my life ignoring, much more.

Today I listen to music with a certain measure of detachment. I'm a professional and I make my living commenting on it. There are months when I hate it, going through the routine just as a shoe salesman goes through his. I follow films with the passion that music once held for me. But in my own moments of greatest need, I never give up the search for sounds that can answer every impulse, consume all emotion, cleanse and purify -- all things that we have no right to expect from even the greatest works of art but which we can occasionally derive from them.

Still, today, if I hear a record I like it is no longer a signal for me to seek out every other that the artist has made. I take them as they come, love them, and leave them. Some have stuck -- a few that come quickly to mind are Neil Young's After the Goldrush, Stevie Wonder's Innervisions, Van Morrison's Tupelo Honey, James Taylor's records, Valerie Simpson's Exposed, Randy Newman's Sail Away, Exile on Main Street, Ry Cooder's records, and, very specially, the last three albums of Joni Mitchell -- but many more slip through the mind, making much fainter impressions than their counterparts of a decade ago.

But tonight there is someone I can write of the way I used to write, without reservations of any kind. Last Thursday, at the Harvard Square theatre, I saw my rock'n'roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.

When his two-hour set ended I could only think, can anyone really be this good; can anyone say this much to me, can rock'n'roll still speak with this kind of power and glory? And then I felt the sores on my thighs where I had been pounding my hands in time for the entire concert and knew that the answer was yes.

Springsteen does it all. He is a rock'n'roll punk, a Latin street poet, a ballet dancer, an actor, a joker, bar band leader, hot-shit rhythm guitar player, extraordinary singer, and a truly great rock'n'roll composer. He leads a band like he has been doing it forever. I racked my brains but simply can't think of a white artist who does so many things so superbly. There is no one I would rather watch on a stage today. He opened with his fabulous party record "The E Street Shuffle" -- but he slowed it down so graphically that it seemed a new song and it worked as well as the old. He took his overpowering story of a suicide, "For You," and sang it with just piano accompaniment and a voice that rang out to the very last row of the Harvard Square theatre. He did three new songs, all of them street trash rockers, one even with a "Telstar" guitar introduction and an Eddie Cochran rhythm pattern. We missed hearing his "Four Winds Blow," done to a fare-thee-well at his sensational week-long gig at Charley's but "Rosalita" never sounded better and "Kitty's Back," one of the great contemporary shuffles, rocked me out of my chair, as I personally led the crowd to its feet and kept them there.

Bruce Springsteen is a wonder to look at. Skinny, dressed like a reject from Sha Na Na, he parades in front of his all-star rhythm band like a cross between Chuck Berry, early Bob Dylan, and Marlon Brando. Every gesture, every syllable adds something to his ultimate goal -- to liberate our spirit while he liberates his by baring his soul through his music. Many try, few succeed, none more than he today.

It's five o'clock now -- I write columns like this as fast as I can for fear I'll chicken out -- and I'm listening to "Kitty's Back." I do feel old but the record and my memory of the concert has made me feel a little younger. I still feel the spirit and it still moves me.

I bought a new home this week and upstairs in the bedroom is a sleeping beauty who understands only too well what I try to do with my records and typewriter. About rock'n'roll, the Lovin' Spoonful once sang, "I'll tell you about the magic that will free your soul/But it's like trying to tell a stranger about rock'n'roll." Last Thursday, I remembered that the magic still exists and as long as I write about rock, my mission is to tell a stranger about it -- just as long as I remember that I'm the stranger I'm writing for.



from The Real Paper, "Loose Ends" column
****************************************

There's no boot of the actual show that Landau attended, according to some ubergeek Springsteen pals (who I love), but this show from a few months later at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania captures that bright rebel fire of a young and hungry Springsteen in what some have called "one of the most compelling performances of Springsteen's entire career."

This show marks the very first known performance of Thunder Road (with in-progress lyrics and a different title) and a whiz-bang version of Chuck Berry's "Back in the U.S.A." I've been really deeply enjoying this version of Dylan's "I Want You" for a while now without realizing it was from this show. Everything that is droll and straightforward in Dylan's delivery on the original is wrenched and wrung of every bit of longing in Springsteen's rendition, with instrumentation that sounds like a waltz or a carnival. Also, many consider this to be one of the definitive versions of "Incident on 57th Street." Enjoy. Grow young.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
THE MAIN POINT, 2/5/75
Incident on 57th Street
Mountain of Love
Born To Run
Intro to E Street Shuffle
E Street Shuffle
"Wings For Wheels" (Thunder Road, first performance)
I Want You (Dylan cover)
Spirit In The Night
She's The One
Growin' Up
Saint In The City
Jungleland
Kitty's Back
New York City Serenade
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)
A Love So Fine
For You
Back In The U.S.A. (Chuck Berry cover)


MAIN POINT ZIP
(skipping mp3s fixed throughout)

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bulls on Parade: Tibetan Freedom in SF, 1996

When I was watching Tom Morello on Sunday night I remembered that the last time I saw him live was probably here:

After the show Morello and I chatted about that day and he said he remembered it being an insane show and -- it was. I was somewhere in that churning crowd, practically dying, and completely loving it.

I didn't know that a pro-shot video existed, so watching it again today after 11 years makes me happy.

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Ike Reilly on the patio, Neil Diamond on the dancefloor

A large part of the reason that I go to live music performances is because I am looking for some element of connection. I can sit at home in front of my stereo, listen to sterile studio recordings made in a far-away state that have been remastered and flawlessly captured. Sure, I hear a lot of good stuff that way . . . but I also feel a need for a visceral connection, an elemental thread of immediacy tying creator to listener in the same physical space. It's why I prefer smaller venues - not from snobbery, or so I can tell you that I saw them way back when they were still playing the [insert tiny club name here]. It's so I can see their eyes and feel their words, with flaws and all. I find myself feeling less than satisfied when I see a show at a huge venue on massive Jumbotron screens. The performers are tiny little ants a million miles away, and most of the action comes from the folks dancing around me. That's fun, and I'll do it, but that's not the connection I really want with my music.

On Sunday night in Denver at the Larimer Lounge, I got to enjoy this awesome moment of connection with a musician that was just pure and simple sharing of the music with no pretense. I know I sound cheesy and that's fine; if you were there, you probably would have felt the same way and still be smiling about it just like me. Ike Reilly is a musician that I've written about several times since discovering him on the recommendation of a friend just a few months ago (even though he's been around for years, making great albums).

He's a fierce and pointed lyricist with unstoppable tunes that have a rough punk-rock edge mixed with a bit of 1950s rebelliousness. He kind of reminds me of the hellion-rebel character in all the high school movies ever made -- the one hanging out behind the bowling alley trying to swindle the guys and fondle the women.

Ike was taking a break from touring with his full band, The Ike Reilly Assassination (back in the fall, though) to open for Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello. Tom is currently travelling with a new solo-folk-troubadour one man act where he dubs himself The Nightwatchman and brings a political message.

The show was sold out (even for a "school night," as Tom kept saying) and the crowd was absolutely on fire, pressing themselves against the low stage, the air crackling with anticipation. Ike found himself playing to a friendly audience who often sang along heartily to his every word (he asked at one point, "Who could possibly know this?"). This was the second song he played:

IKE REILLY, "GARBAGE DAY" (ACOUSTIC)


He also came out and joined Tom Morello (they both grew up in the same Illinois town of Libertyville) for a fiery cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son":

TOM MORELLO & IKE REILLY: "FORTUNATE SON"
(listen to the Rage-worthy ending here - I almost expected us all to start yelling "I won't do what you tell me!")


The most delightful moment, though, came long after the show after most folks had gone home. The Larimer Lounge has a little beer garden behind the venue, draped with white globe lights with green plants everywhere. Before the show I had a beer with Ike on the patio and he commented what a perfect night it was - the air was still and cool and summery. Long after midnight, after the show, I heard guitar strumming coming from a small group of about six folks out in the corner and I walked over to check it out.

Ike had pulled out his well-battered guitar at the request of a kid who said he "just had to" hear Heroin, a song Ike hadn't done earlier in his set. He went on to play 6 or 7 tunes for a crowd that slowly grew into about 30 of the folks who were still hanging around, taking requests. We had been talking about "Charcoal Days and Sterling Nights" earlier in the evening (it's based on an episode of COPS, love it) so he played this one for me:

IKE REILLY: "CHARCOAL DAYS AND STERLING NIGHTS"
(patio-tastic version that's really dark, maybe you can adjust the brightness on your monitor?)


Once Tom Morello came out and sat on a nearby picnic table, they started laughing at each other and the set kinda tapered off. But it was pretty dang cool, not at all as hambone as it potentially sounds. Thanks Ike.

Ike has a handful of shows left with Tom down the West Coast: Portland tonight, Seattle on Wednesday. They'll be in San Francisco on Friday night (read this excellent article from the San Jose Metro that just ran to draw attention to that fact) and closing out in LA on Saturday.

You can now listen to their recent World Cafe performance on NPR (featuring four songs and nice stage banter), and they're also playing at the Austin City Limits Festival on Sept 13, with a full-band tour slated for the fall.

NOW PLAYING:
We Belong To The Staggering Evening
(Rock Ridge Music, 2007)

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New concert video & interview from Jesse Malin at Denver's Bluebird

I've been checking Blender.com regularly to see when they were going to post the video that they shot at the Denver Jesse Malin show a few weeks ago. Finally, it's up, and for all the filming (they shot the entire show) there's about 45 seconds of actual concert footage - the rest is a very interesting interview where he talks about his performance ethic, his songwriting, and how he found himself singing with Springsteen. I'd love to see the rest of the footage they got, but bah. It's still really good.

No embedding available, so watch it here: http://www.blender.com/JesseMalinInterview/video/2099.aspx

Jesse is also the top feature story in Crawdaddy Magazine this month, and you can read that story here.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Sono distrutta this morning - a bit destroyed (it comes out in Italian, I don't know why). But happily so, the after-effects of seeing a fantastic show last night with Ike Reilly and Tom Morello. More on that later, but portions were near magical. I will try to gather my Monday thoughts coherently on all of your lovely behalfs because there are some great new tunes this week.

Into The Colors [video]
Ben Harper
Soulful songman/insanely good Weissenborner Ben Harper is back with a hotly anticipated album Lifeline (due August 28th) and already garnering positive advance reviews. I find myself heartily enjoying this song from the opening notes -- playful and smooth, possibly his catchiest tune since "Steal My Kisses." For the love of all things holy, go see the man in concert if you can (a few festivals left this summer, and hopefully a fall tour in support of the new album). He fairly ignites in spontaneous combustion flames from the fervor of his virtuosity in playing, and I love it.

The Storm
Patrick Watson

Remember our good pal Jake Troth with the impressive potential? He recommended that I take a listen to this next artist and since I like Jake's music, I promptly heeded his advice -- and I'm really impressed. Patrick Watson is a musician out of Montreal, Canada whose 2006 album Close To Paradise slipped past me somehow. Man alive; close to paradise indeed. This is otherwordly stuff, haunting and melodic -- like being trapped in Labyrinth, without David Bowie in spandex. And I'm not gonna solidify the most obvious comparison, but listen to those vocals; they bore an eerie resemblance to someone else I deeply love, pure and soaring and wrenching.

New Dark Ages
Bad Religion
Truthfully, I probably first heard So-Cal literate punk band Bad Religion at the implied behest of Eddie Vedder - in '93 he loaned guest backing vocals to two songs on their Recipe For Hate album. And since '94 I've really liked their single "Infected" (even with that whole rant in the middle about crucifixtion and other violent desires; it's got an unbeatable riff). Bad Religion has been together since 1980, and their fourteenth studio album finds them still alienated and politically aware, but fiercely melodic and intense as always. Frontman Greg Graffin has one of the most distinctive voices in punk rock: it kind of reminds me of standing over an active volcano. New Maps Of Hell is out now on Epitaph, and was produced by Joe Barresi (Tool, QOTSA).

White Dove
John Vanderslice
This is a punchy cut off the fresh release from San Francisco's John Vanderslice, in which he impresses me by (among other things) using the word veranda right off the bat and making it sound so lovely. I would like a veranda that overlooks the ocean. And maybe I've just got Ike Reilly on the brain, but the beginning is almost identical to "When Irish Eyes Are Burning," although it morphs into something completely unique by the time the lyrics kick in. Emerald City was recorded mostly at Vanderslice's all-analog studio Tiny Telephone (a dying breed) in the Mission District of SF, and is out July 24th on Barsuk.

Cigarettes & Gasoline
Emerson Hart
The former frontman of Tonic goes solo with this new release on EMI/Blue Note Records. Cigarettes & Gasoline is an intimate and well-crafted album from Emerson Hart which is loosely gathered around personal themes of his father's unsolved murder and Emerson's childhood associations with the man (cigarettes, gasoline). There's a quality in his voice that draws out something from me -- like sucking venom out of a rattlesnake wound. History: I'm undereducated on Tonic, but I remember not liking "If You Could Only See," Tonic's biggest hit, and also loving their song "Sugar," which still makes me think of summers and all kinds of borderline nefarious activities. Hart's new album is out tomorrow.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Spoon plays very nice, offers full EP of bonus tunes

The rhythmic & fabulous Austin band Spoon released their 6th album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (count how many Gas to put here) on Merge last week, and just because they're nice they also included a full EP of bonus material called Get Nice!. Before I dash out the door tonight, I wanted to put up three tunes off that bonus collection which have been rocking my earbuds nonstop lately -- especially this first one, can't get enough of it:


Buy Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga at your local independent retailer and you just might find they have some of those delightful bonus bundles left.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Guilt By Association: Some will win, some will lose (some are born to sing the blues)

No need to hide -- there's a new compilation CD coming out August 28 from Engine Room Recordings called Guilt By Association, which nobly is working to "bridge the gap between TRL and Pitchfork." It's a shrewd concept album which realizes that for each of us, maybe behind those thick black spectacles, chunky haircut, and Strokes t-shirt, is a soul screaming along the words to Mariah Carey on our car stereos.

A project of Engine Room Recording’s co-founder Peter Block, working with music supervisors Randall Poster and Jim Dunbar (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The School of Rock and my second-favorite TV show Lost), the album asks the indie stars of today to reinterpret their favorite guilty pleasure songs for our auditory enjoyment. There are hits and misses (and I boldly do not feel guilty about liking some of these originals), but check the tracklist --

GUILT BY ASSOCIATION
1. Petra Haden: ”Don't Stop Believin’” (Journey)
2. Devendra Banhart: “Don't Look Back In Anger” (Oasis)
3. Mark Mulcahy: “From This Moment On” (Shania Twain)
4. Luna: “Straight Up” (Paula Abdul)
5. The Concretes: “Back For Good” (Take That)
6. Jim O'Rourke: “Viva Forever” (Spice Girls)
7. Goat: “Sugar We're Going Down” (Fall Out Boy)
8. Will Oldham/Bonnie 'Prince' Billy” “Can't Take That Away” (Mariah Carey)
9. Woody Jackson Orchestra featuring Money Mark: Love's Theme (Love Unlimited Orchestra)
10. Porter Block: ”Breaking Free” (High School Musical)
11. Mooney Suzuki: ”Just Like Jesse James” (Cher)
12. Geoff Farina: “Two Tickets To Paradise” (Eddie Money)
13. Casey Shea: “Chop Suey” (System of a Down)
14. Superchunk: “Say My Name” (Destiny's Child)
15. Mike Watt: “Burning For You” (Blue Oyster Cult)

The arguably crazy Devendra Banhart has been called "one of our favorite freaky people" by The Black Crowes, and here he takes on Oasis with his trademark warbly folk meandering. If you prefer fragile delicacy over confident generational anthems, this is just for you:

Don't Look Back In Anger (Oasis cover) - Devendra Banhart
(link removed)


Will Oldham (who also goes by Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and I can't exactly tell you why) busts out the aforementioned Mariah Carey. Well, not exactly busts out. More like lets the slow jam ebb out. It's playful and surprisingly enjoyable.

Can't Take That Away (Mariah Carey cover) - Will Oldham/Bonnie "Prince" Billy
(link removed)

Go to the MySpace page to hear Petra Haden tip her hat to my boys in Journey with a sunny acapella-harmony-deelite version of "Don't Stop Believin'" with some Wilson Phillips tossed in at the end just to really drive that guilty pleasure idea home. I think that the last time I did karaoke I tried my hand at covering the same song; pretty sure it didn't sound as bubblegum delectable. The crowd may have, in fact, stopped believing, despite my exhortations to the contrary.

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