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, October 31, 2007

Seriously creep you out

Nevermind the ghosts and goblins and black cats -- our local paper had a freakish feature yesterday in honor of Halloween, listing a whole bunch of real-life things that grown-ups can unabashedly be scared of.

Some of the tamer ones were things like drug-resistant infections in hospitals, mountain lion attacks, political apathy, avalanches, houses built unwittingly on some of Colorado's many miles of old mine shafts.

But these two parasites took the cake on a sliding scale of creepy crawly eeeeeew-gross. For a special Halloween treat [not for the faint of heart]:

GUINEA WORMS
Maybe the scariest parasite of them all, this yard-long, spaghetti thin worm is contracted through untreated water in Africa. It lives in the body for more than a year before erupting from the legs or feet - or even eye sockets - of victims. The worm emerges after squirting acid into the skin to create a blisterlike bubble. Once the head emerges, the only treatment is to pull out the worm a few centimeters a day and wrap it around a small stick. This process usually takes weeks or months. Yikes.

BOTFLIES
You take a relaxing vacation in southern Mexico or Central America, spend quality time on the beach, and when you get home, painful lumps appear on your scalp. In a few weeks they start to move. You can hear them. It's a colony of botfly larvae gorging themselves on your blood. Finally, six to 10 weeks after you first caught them from a mosquito bite, the fat, inch-long grubs bust out of your skin and drop to the ground. You'll be rid of them, but the memory will haunt you forever.


Good lord, I think my head itches.

HALLOWEEN MIXERY
Ghost In You (Psychedelic Furs cover) - Counting Crows
The Halloween Dance - Ike Reilly
Black Cat (unreleased) - Temple of the Dog
Candy (duet with Kate Pierson) - Iggy Pop
Season Of The Witch (Donovan cover) - Luna
Frail and Bedazzled - Smashing Pumpkins
Thriller (Michael Jackson cover) - Ben Gibbard
Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft - Robert Pollard
Some Candy Talking (Jesus & Mary Chain) - Richard Hawley
Halloween (UK bonus track) - Ryan Adams

BONUS:
"How Much More Black Could This Be?" - Spinal Tap

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday Music Roundup

New York slayed me in the best possible way. I had only seen a few parts of it before on a trip in 2003 to the Grammy Awards (I saw mostly the tall buildings of the Financial District, the neon Times Square area, and Madison Square Garden) so I missed out on so much of its character before this past weekend. My friend's boyfriend James is a walking New York history book, like even better than those headsets they give you at Alcatraz. Spurred by a childhood interest in Spiderman and other superheroes from NYC, he soaked up just about as much trivia about the city as anyone I know, so James was the perfect guy to hang around with this weekend as he would spout random historical facts in flawless form. We walked through almost every neighborhood in Manhattan, and some of Queens. We missed out on Brooklyn and Bronx and Staten Island this time around, but I'll be back.

This week's belated Monday Music Roundup (after a red-eye home on Sunday night) is a loose collective of the sounds I've been hearing and relating to these last couple days. It's not a "New York Mix" (you already got one of those), it's "My Weekend, Sonically." There's a constant hum and pleasant cacophony in that city and I loved absorbing it all.

MC2 (Theme Realidades)
Willie Colon/DJ Le Spam & The Spam Allstars

Our first night in New York started with a ferocious, sexy bang at the SOB's (Sounds of Brazil) club in Greenwich Village. My friend Zein recommended meeting there to see a certain DJ Le Spam and The Spam Allstars who were in town from Miami, and remixed old 45s with a live band fronting. It was a Latin/Jamaican/African/funk extravaganza, and I loved it. In addition to the DJ (Le Spam himself, nee Andrew Yeomanson from Montreal), they had a guy on African & steel drums, an electric guitar, 2 saxophones, and a spry flutist. They gave out free CDs too, so this is kind of how it sounded. From the Fania Records: Live 02 From Miami//DJ Le Spam CD.

Positively 4th Street
Bob Dylan

So the next time I go back to NYC I want to take a big fat map and plot on it all the musical references from bands I love, and then do a 100% admit-you're-a-dork walking tour. I am sure such a guide already exists; I saw this crazy map once about Hold Steady references in the Twin Cities and loved it. I could do the same thing with Bob Dylan and all of his continuous references to streets and avenues. This is the song that was winding its way through my head during the entire meander we made through the lovely Village on a rainy Saturday.


Love Me Or Leave Me
Nina Simone

We were enjoying bibimbap --or "bippitybop" as one of us endearingly called it-- at a very dimly-lit Korean place called Dok Suni's in the East Village (near St. Mark's) on Saturday night when I happily picked the distinctive piano interlude of this song out over the din. I have long loved the growly sass and smoky perfection that Nina Simone brings to this song. The DJ was mixing it in with present-day dance grooves, and it perfectly held its own among more modern company. Certain sentiments are always in style.

To Hell With Good Intentions
McLusky
We stumbled into the "bring your laptop and required intelligentsia reading" Think coffee shop near NYU, and this was blasting over the speakers. At the very moment that I was wondering, "Who is this?" the fuzzy guy working the registers yelled to the other bearded/spectacled guy making the espressos, "Hey, who is this?" McLusky was a Welsh band that released this hard, fast, catchy Britpunk album McLusky Do Dallas in 2002 (produced by Steve Albini) and now seem to have kind of vanished. They don't even have a MySpace, if you can fathom that. But how fantastic is this tune? I just can't get enough.

Hotel Chelsea Nights
Ryan Adams

My first night in NYC, we had been careening through the dark streets at some ungodly hour and I caught a fleeting glimpse of the Hotel Chelsea around a corner, and then it was gone. We finally made it back into that neighborhood Sunday evening before my flight for a quick pilgrimage to this hotel that has housed a whole lotta musical and literary history. This song perfectly encapsulates the vibe of the neighborhood, and the bohemian feel of the hotel that Ryan called home for a time. I listened to this tune on repeat as I took off from NY over a huge yellow harvest moon rising.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oasis asks the Lord to please not slow them down, offers you a dandy little vinyl

New contest for the weekend! I am in NYC still this morning, and thankfully the sun finally came out. I think we're going to Central Park and a pass by the Dakota this morning, brunch at "Sarabeth's" and then a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge? I've walked through about 8 or 11 or a million neighborhoods; feet are protesting but I am continuing to have my way with them, regardless of what they want. There's just too much good stuff to see. We also may be on a frozen yogurt quest later since we enjoyed this all-the-rage sour kind yesterday in Greenwich Village and we pretty much just keep talking about it.

My friend's Queens apartment is stocked with many shelves of fabulous books but no turntable, however, I wouldn't mind getting my hands on this sweet 'lil prize pack that I'll put up for today.

CONTEST: I've got two 7" vinyl singles of the new Oasis tune "Lord Don't Slow Me Down" to bestow on someone's collection. The song is from their new forthcoming DVD by the same name, which includes both the feature-length documentary that screened in select theatres last year tracing their 2005 tour (and shenanigans) but also a second disc of straight live concert footage from their epic homecoming show in Manchester.

Listen to the song and watch the little video dealie here:


You can also download the tune on iTunes.

To enter your name to win seven inches of goodness, please leave me a comment, and to amuse me also include a favorite Gallagher brother quote. There's no shortage of obnoxious, ridiculous, hilarious things these boys have said over the years, so you've got lots of options.

As always, make sure I have a way to contact you, and maybe spell out that email addy to avoid spamalot. I'll wrap up this contest sometime after I get back from NYC, so early next week. Lookee what you win:


Oh, and an update: In all this travel excitement, I didn't forget about you guys and that Dylan "I'm Not There" soundtrack CD contest that wrapped Wednesday. There were a total of 97 comments, and I wanted to pick a random pair of winners, so I went up to strangers in the airport and asked them to pick a number between one and 97. Um, a few strange looks later, I got my two numbers, and will be contacting the lucky winners. I will probably do a Dylan covers post at some point in the future, since you guys came up with some amazingly random and interesting-sounding versions.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hell, I still love you New York

This morning I hopped a plane to New York City for a long weekend visiting three of my best friends from the year I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. I am ridiculously excited.

After all those months of spending ridiculous amounts of time together with these gals, seeing mind-boggling beauty and pushing our tenuous edges through hesitant Italian speaking, train rides all over Europe, lots of carbs and gelato and Michelangelo, and questionable Italian dance moves in sweaty clubs, we all went back to our respective lives across the country and the world. The four of us saw each other three years ago in Cleveland (and we rocked that town) but ever since then it's been this b.s. "someday we have to get together!" nonsense. In fitting with my new efforts to seize the day while it's here and fresh and beckoning, I sent out an email in August saying we had to make plans now, and amazingly -- things started to really happen.

In my excitement, I've been working on this mix off and on for a month of songs written in, about, or for New York. It's synced to my iPod for the travels today, and all ready to become your new favorite playlist for New York nights -- or just thinking about all the fun you could have there.

HELL, I STILL LOVE YOU NEW YORK MIX
New York City (home recording) - John Lennon
New York, New York - Ryan Adams
I'm Waiting For The Man - Velvet Underground
NYC (There's No Need to Stop) - The Charlatans
Angel of Harlem - U2
No Sleep Til Brooklyn - Beastie Boys
My Apartment - Ben Kweller
Brooklyn Stars - Matt Pond PA
NY Nights - Jesse Malin
The Only Living Boy In New York - Simon & Garfunkel
53rd and 3rd - The Ramones
Dirty Blvd - Lou Reed
Chelsea Hotel #2 - Leonard Cohen
New York - Richard Ashcroft
She's The New York City Skyline - The Damnwells
Harlem Shuffle - The Rolling Stones
New York - Stephen Fretwell
New York Baby - Leona Naess
Queensboro Bridge - David Mead
New York - Sex Pistols
New Amsterdam - Travis
Olympia WA - Rancid
(paradoxically)
New York City - Mason Jennings
Broadway - Old '97s
New York - U2
The Boy Looked At Johnny - The Libertines
Central Park N West - Ian Hunter
Motorcycle Drive By - Third Eye Blind
New York City Serenade (Springsteen) - Pete Yorn
NYC Improvisation 5/5/06 - Pearl Jam


NEW YORK MIX ZIPPED

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Time for one more drag :: Interview with John Davis of Superdrag

Fuel readers, you guys are lucky today to get an interview conducted by my new special correspondent in the field. It's an on-site, in-depth chat with Superdrag frontman John Davis at the latest reunion show in Chicago. Brian London is a musician friend of mine in the California Bay Area, and he has been a fan of Superdrag for a long and very intense time.

I sent Brian out armed with a tape recorder and his encyclopedic memory, and he turned in a really interesting look at the music of John Davis and reunited Superdrag (together again in the original lineup for the first time in 8 years), with enough arcane contextual history in the questions to make even the jaded chuckle at this enthusiasm. Remember, for the full stereophonic experience, you can click the little blue arrows next to the songs embedded throughout to listen as you read, and make sure to dig the zip file of all the tunes at the end. Enjoy.


INTERVIEW: JOHN DAVIS OF SUPERDRAG
METRO -- CHICAGO
10/13/2007

BL: So the guitars are tuned, amps are humming, Don counts it in for the first rehearsal in eight years -- what was the first song you guys played back together?


JD: Slot Machine into Phaser.

Awesome. Did you just kinda look around and let out a grin?

That’s pretty much exactly what I did. Man, we were so fired up to be doing this. I was talking to someone earlier about this and I was saying that I wasn’t really worried about us pulling the set together. That actually was the least of my worries because while there are some songs in the show that we never played on stage with this lineup, and some songs come from the third album [In The Valley of Dying Stars] which Tom wasn’t even in the band when we recorded, there are songs that we literally played hundreds of time together on stage. It really becomes a very limited process of having to re-learn something like that. It was pretty weird actually how well it jived right off the bat, but it really was just like you described. We were all just so excited to get into it.

The progression from your last solo record (John Davis 2005) and into your new solo effort Arigato! (2007), seems to be a sound and energy that gels really well with the early Superdrag vibe. Would it be fair to say that that sound is where your head is at musically these days?

I think the first solo album I did in retrospect was me trying to push my writing in directions that I had never done before. I think it can be good for a person who produces any kind of art to every once in a while step back from what your default deal is and try to push yourself outside of that.

It sounded like you were starting to push the walls of the Superdrag sound certainly with the 2nd record, and with demos like "Doctors Are Dead."

It is still just rock n roll and pop music. I mean, its not like My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless where there seems to be no precedent set before or since. It was just guys who bought Jazz Masters and learned to bend and hit chords at the same time and loved playing together.

But getting back to the first solo record, there seemed to a more rootsy, piano-led vibe. That record really turned out exactly the way that I had wanted. I would have liked more people to know about it, but it was kind of, on one level, ideologically swimming upstream, and on the flip side stylistically it was swimming upstream in accordance to what prevails in “Christian music.” “Christian” anything really is an irrelevant way to approach the Gospel anyway because it is not mean to be under glass.

The irrelevance of questions like “what does Christian music really sound like?” becomes apparent when referring to a piece of art like your first record because on one hand anyone who likes well-crafted rock n roll can get into it, and on the other someone seeking for a sympathetic voice or a joyful prayer could find that as well.

For me, it was the only honest type of music that I could have recorded at that time. I think the new record is no less bold, but it kind of comes from a different point on the line so to speak. That other record felt like the immediate aftermath after having that kind of revelation I had about even the smallest pinpoint realization about the nature of God is and how you relate to it. It basically smashed me.

Stained Glass Window - John Davis
[note: this is the classiest of chord changes]

I remember reading an interview where you describing how you pulled the car to the side of the road and you felt like you couldn’t even breathe. That happened as you were recording what would become Superdrag’s last album Last Call For Vitriol right?


It basically bisected that session.

Did any songs come after that and make it onto the record?

All the writing was done but I still had to do all the singing that led to me fixing some stuff because [long pause] I guess I was trying to drink myself to death. I don’t remember ever explicitly feeling like I wanted to die, but the life I was leading was not that of a person that wanted to live. It was so radical and blindsided me so much. I’ve met so many people since that have told me that they prayed for me everyday. [long pause] What do you say or do with that beside fall to floor and bust out in tears?

Looking at some of the lyrics and the title Last Call for Vitriol, would it be fair to say that in hindsight they read as cries for help? Lyrics like “What am I trying to prove/Every time I get too fucked to move” and “I don’t know if living's too attractive/I don’t know if God is interactive.

I think there is a weight to it, in light of what happened after that for sure. But long story short, I didn’t even approach writing a song for a solid year after that. And I think the biggest problem I had what that I didn’t know how to express the joy I felt and be taken seriously. Because people have a much easier time taking you seriously if you’re pissed.

It really is easier to call a happy song "cheesy" than it is a sad or angry song.

But God eventually ministered to be, songs began to flow, doors opened and it became clear that I was going to get the chance to make a record and put it out with distribution. I was able to record where I wanted, work with the producer I wanted, and I got to play all the instruments which was so much fun. I think I secretly harbored that desire for a long time, and not because these dudes don’t rip, but because I wanted to try it as a new challenge.

Had you done that in the past with your demos before you brought it to the boys?

Totally. I did that for years.

A friend years ago gave me a disc of your alter-ego Johnny Flame covering loads of Beatles songs to arrangement perfection. Is that all you on those tracks?

Yes sir.

All those harmonies? That’s amazing.

Thanks man. Some of them have good quality, but some of them really don’t sound so good.

But the fun you’re having really comes through even on those rough 4-track recordings.

Doing that was a big part of how I learned to record. Because if I didn’t have a song of my own, I would do a Beatles tune just because I wanted to record. And then if you listen to all of the 4-track records, there is sort of an invisible line from where I started mixing down to a real deal tape deck instead of a jam box and then after that I got a 4-track that improved things by leaps and bounds. Pretty much by 1997 the 4-track starts to sound pretty good.

The demo collection you just put out, Changing Tires On The Road To Ruin, along with the double disc of rarities available here at the show seem to be great examples of the process that went on behind the scenes and how you guys developed as a band.

Well that box on the cover really was just in my cabinet all those years. I just started going through it and I ripped all the music that would possibly ever want to hear. Some stuff I let sleep on those cassettes just because I felt like I never wanted to hear again and I’d just fast forward and see what’s next. But it was a lot of fun.

The double disc is really cool for the fans because when the band went of hiatus in 2003, you had talked about a 100 song box set, a book and a DVD, but when Road To Ruin came out, it seemed like such a small glimpse into such a creative band’s archives.

To be frank, we kind of bided our time initiating any of that until we were completely at liberty to do it the way we wanted to, and most importantly to do it ourselves. There is a projected series of releases that is planned. What we just did basically brings us up speed until the first Elektra record [Regretfully Yours] and we could turn around and do the same thing for every other record.

Is that the stuff from the Bearsville, NY sessions for Head Trip In Every Key and the Knoxville sessions for Valley of Dying Stars?

Exactly.

Because the fans have been treated to songs like “I Wanna Rock N’ Roll” live, which are great.

The demos are proof that we were always hard workers and put in time to write a lot of songs and be prepared to record.

You were definitely a band that could never be cited as underwriting for a record. It never seemed like you would show up with seven and a half songs to the first recording date.

What is amazing to find out is that there are still a good number of people interested in that stuff and want to hear it. Which is humbling and flattering to death.

There are some songs that you guys never recorded in a proper studio, which in my opinion rate as some of the best things you ever did. One of my favorite songs to play when I’m jamming with my friends is "Relocate My Satellites."

Relocate My Satellites - Superdrag

Man that song totally should have gone down. I think we felt it should have been arranged better and so it just kept getting pushed off to the side like ‘oh we’ll get to that later’ and we never got to it. But now with it coming out on the rarities disc, we mastered it up and it feels done. I really enjoyed mastering a lot of that stuff because you can really bring the music to life and compensate and temper some of the bad hiss and keep the good hiss when you want it and rescue whatever low end frequencies might be in there. So Lord willing, there is tons of music we could put out and we hope to make it super reasonable. We’re lucky for the fact that we are not obligated to anyone except the people who like the songs and want to hear more songs. That’s the first time we’ve had that luxury in about 13 years, so it feels really nice.

Going by your band’s extreme productivity in the past, in these latest rehearsals while you getting the set list ready, did you guys kick out any new jams and if you did, any chance of a new release?

I do have a lot of new songs and that’s mainly due to the fact that my new album was finished a year ago. It wasn’t mastered until recently, but it was recorded in the summer of 2006. Actually, the guy that mastered it was the guy who also mastered [Dre’s] The Chronic.

That’s awesome!

Yeah, I was pretty stoked on that. I mean, he’s done a million records, but that’s a record I love and get hung up on every once in a while.

Every time I drive through L.A, that’s one that has to go on.

It’s banging man, even after sixteen years.

I read that you recorded Arigato! at the Foo Fighters' Studio 606 in Los Angeles, and not only did you track the entire album in two weeks, but that your drummer Yogi Watts did all of the drum tracks in two days. Is that really true?

Yeah man, he’s just sick with it. He’s real funny because he doesn’t mind telling you how good he is. He’ll be wearing it out on the kit, playing something like a fast punk rock of the song “Never Changing” and from the neck up he’s not even moving. It was rad. He’d just take off the headphones and sit back say, “Well boys, I could play it again but I don’t really know why you’d want me to. I don’t really know what else you’d want.” And Nick [Raskulinecz, co-producer who has worked with Foo Fighters and produced Superdrag’s In The Valley of Dying Stars and earlier pre-Elektra work] would just lean in and say “Do it again and I want some different fills.” Those dudes got along really well.

Yogi has been playing with me on my solo tours and I just really love his drumming. He plays like Don [Coffey Jr] sometimes, like Bill Stevenson [of The Descendents] sometimes; he really can just play anything. His main gig is playing in a band called Demon Hunter. They are straight up metalcore with a straight up Gospel message. Their new album is called Storm the Gates of Hell and man, it is tough. Check out their Myspace page man, they’re very cool.

You’re the man who would have the answer about a question I’ve had for a while, when Superdrag went on hiatus you and Mic Harrison both put up songs on Superdrag.com that would later appear on solo records, but Sam Powers (Superdrag bassist from 1999-2003) also posted a tune, yet a solo album never appeared. "World Surrounded" is such a great song, are we ever going to get any more from Sam?

World Surrounded - Sam Powers

I love that song. I know for a fact he has more because a while back he gave me a cd with six songs on it and truth be told they’re some of my favorite he’s ever done. I’m such a fan of Sam’s music from when he was in Who Hit John and Everything Tool.

Let’s not forget The Disheverly Brothers.

[laughs] Yeah, The Disheverly Brothers. Yeah, that never really caught fire.

“The Emotional Kind” has always been one of my favorite tunes. I love that line “If I come on agnostic she makes me believe.”

That was meant to be the lead off track on the Disheverly Brothers album.

The Emotional Kind - Superdrag
The Emotional Kind (demo) - Superdrag


I do like the studio version you put out on the split with The Anniversary, there’s something about that demo you put out on the Rock Soldier EP. It sounds just like a lost track from the greatest ‘60s garage band.

Yeah man, that’s truly the 4-track sound. “Her Melancholy Tune” was meant to be on the Disheverly Brothers too. Sammy P and I basically tried to rip off the Beatles as much as possible.

Well, no two men are better equipped for the job or got better results in my opinion.

Yeah, not only Sam’s rock music, but him as an individual, a dad, a husband -- he’s a dude I completely admire to the fullest. The same goes for Mic Harrison. He’s actually going to support on some of these dates with his band The High Score. The fact that those dudes aren’t going to be involved with Superdrag, by no means should that represent a lack of respect or love because they are the shit.

I’m happy because this is the incarnation of the Superdrag experience I’ve never gotten to see. My first show was before Valley came out and Willy T (a temporary guitarist for the tour following the completion of Valley) was rocking the guitar.

[laughs] That’s another cool element about this thing because after the Elektra thing came and went, the second effort of the band began. We sat around and said ‘Wait, we’ve got a van, we know how to book a tour, lets go.’ And as a result of that, we kind of generated a new set of fans that weren’t on board from the beginning. It’s really just a win win win for all of us.

And the fans as well. We all get another chance to go out on a Friday night and rock out to one of our favorite bands. Speaking of your fans and giving them a chance to see you, looking on your message board you guys have fans as far as Israel. I know you took your solo record abroad to places like Amsterdam, any plans to take the Superdrag carnival international?

I would love to. Not just a business or rock level, but on a personal level it is life enriching to go to a place, take Japan for example, that really makes you feel alien. Something like 99% of the population there is native. I think any of us would jump at the chance.

Didn’t Superdrag record the much-coveted Greetings From Tennessee EP over in Japan?

Four songs of it were done over there.

That’s the one piece of Superdrag audio I’ve never been able to come across.

Man, I wish I could help. I don’t really know how the licensing works for that thing because it was licensed through Arena Rock to a Japanese label that I think is done now. But that was a wild thing. This record company in Japan licensed the Valley record and the deal was they would bring us over to play and while there they wanted us to record a 10 song Japanese-exclusive EP. So they booked this recording date the day after the last show and we all thought ‘cool, we’ll go in and treat it like a radio session and just blast through the ten songs live, no overdubs.’

Well we got in there and the room was like a tiny dressing room. And all they had were these little headphone amps, which meant that, even though there was no room for it anyway, there could be no isolation. Don’s crash symbol was right in my face and we were just laughing because there was no way we could sing, much less play, all together and get a decent sounding record. Also the two guys who were working the board were way more conversational in English than we were in Japanese, but needless to say there was still a huge language barrier. So when we said, “Dudes, we’re going to need to overdub” they just stared at us with very stern faces.

So anyway, we ended up only doing four songs instead of ten which was kind of a situation itself because they were afraid we would go home and not send then the other six. But we convinced them that we were honorable and would follow through, which we did in like three days.

And didn’t they mix it themselves, but there was a problem with that so you had to recall like 1,000 copies?

Man, there was some serious Pokemon keyboards on there. Some of the strangest processing I’ve ever heard. And they didn’t use some of the harmony vocals, entire guitar parts we'd recorded; it was just a mess. And they were pressing records before we had a chance to approve anything, so let’s just say that the lines of communication were sub-par and we ended up re-mixing it ourselves. That’s a cool artifact though.

Well, thanks for taking the time John, and I know I’m not alone when I say I’m really excited to see the band rock tonight.

Thanks so much for coming all this way and for the support. It means the world to us.

* * * * * *

And rock that night they did. There was a sticker attached to one of Superdrag’s albums that read, “If you don’t like Rock n Roll, you won’t like this” -- and that pretty much summed up the experience I had that night at the show.

Don Coffey Jr. pounding the drums as ferociously as he ever did, Brandon’s guitar work was airtight, John Davis was, well he’s John Davis, isn’t he….what do you expect. And Tom Pappas, armed with a mirrored pick-guarded bass and leather pants, scissor-kicked his way through a truly blistering show by one of the best bands I’ve ever seen. Three shows left, I can’t say more than this -- go beyond your usual effort to see a show, and this band will do the same for you in return. Head trip in every key indeed.

-BWL

REMAINING SUPERDRAG SHOWS
November 02 - New York, NY @ The "Fillmore"
November 03 - Boston, MA @ Paradise
November 08 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club


LISTEN TO SUPERDRAG
For the uninitiated, these are four songs that absolutely shoulda-would-coulda been #1 on the music charts of anyone with ears:
N.A. Kicker - Superdrag [Regretfully Yours]
I'm Expanding My Mind - Superdrag [Head Trip In Every Key]
Lighting The Way - Superdrag [In The Valley of Dying Stars]
Baby Goes to 11 - Superdrag [Last Call For Vitriol]


UNDER THE COVERS
Radio (Teenage Fanclub) - Superdrag
Bastards of Young (Replacements) - Superdrag
Brand New Love (Sebadoh) - Superdrag
Motor Away (Guided by Voices) - Superdrag
September Gurls (Big Star) - Superdrag
Wave of Mutilation (Pixies cover) - Superdrag
1970 (Iggy Pop) - Superdrag


IN THE VALLEY OF DEMOING STARS
(demo cuts from their third album)
Eventually - Superdrag
While The Rest Of The World Was Busy Changing - Superdrag


JOHN DAVIS SOLO
Tell Me I'm Not Free (live on BFN) - John Davis
I Hear Your Voice (demo) - John Davis

Never-Changing - John Davis [from new Arigato!]


TOM PAPPAS (bass) SIDE PROJECT
Gas Guzzler - WHIP!
[from new solo EP]


ZIP YOURSELF SOME SUPERDRAG!


Labels: , ,

I now walk into the wild

This past weekend, Into The Wild finally trickled down to those of us not located in big glamorous cities. I promise not to wreck it for you if you haven't read the book or seen the movie, these are just a few of my thoughts after having done both this past week.

Components of McCandless' grand Alaskan adventure tug relentlessly and almost perniciously at some loose threads inside me. I suspect that elements of following your passion with such unbridled drive and joy touch many of us on some level, which is why the book sold so well, and why the movie was made. I was glad I had read the book first, shading the characters, the motivations, filling in the missing chunks, but the movie was very faithful to the book.

The movie review in our local paper said that McCandless was "sanctimonious and arrogant," and that sat so wrong with me. I surely didn't know McCandless, and it's easy to forget after the book and the film and a big-name soundtrack that he was actually a real person. But more than anything to me, he seemed sincere, even if the misguided optimism about his odds of success in the wild ended up fatal.

As one interviewee in the book named Sleight said, while relating Chris with another wilderness wanderer who was profiled named Everett Ruess: "Everett was strange, kind of different. But him and and McCandless, at least they tried to follow their dream. That was what was great about them. They tried. Not many do." That, for me, was the core of the story.

I noticed that McCandless seemed to deeply affect everyone whose lives he came into, like a bolt of lightning. Everyone interviewed for the book remembered him well, much better than your standard vagrant who enters your life for a few hours or days, for a meal or a ride. But you know, I found myself empathizing with the people that McCandless left behind at every stop along the way, after he took what he needed from them -- be it conversation, a father figure, travel advice, a laugh, a discussion of literature, the bouncing off of ideas and philosophical concepts. Like a blue-green bolt of ephemeral electricity he lit up their skies for a moment. But very soon, the wanderlust inside him compelled him to travel on. Everyone seemed to feel a gaping void there after Chris left, something you see especially vividly in the movie. Maybe he's one of those shooting stars that you almost wish you'd never crossed paths with at all because everything seems dimmer in their absence, the afterglow they leave behind radiating off the otherwise dull grey walls around you.

How does the music complement the film? Very well, as I suspected. Vedder's scoring is bittersweet and powerful, especially a memorable scene with "The Wolf," where Vedder sounds his barbaric yawp over the roofs of this world (or actually the treeline of the Alaskan wilderness) as McCandless stands with arms outstretched on top of his bus-home, feeling the pull and glory of the wilderness. Vedder's unselfconscious animal cries made the little hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

One specific lyric on the soundtrack that I keep rolling around in my mind is found in the song "Guaranteed." Vedder sings "Circles they grow and they swallow people whole..." I keep thinking of what he may have meant by this line. I come up with more than one circle. Anyone who has ever found a certain idea hard to leave behind knows the exhaustion that comes with continuing to revisit it, as it soaks up the attention and the circle gets stronger in our minds. I wonder if McCandless escaped the beige circles of mediocre daily living, only to find himself pursuing a more savage circle of Alaskan wilderness. Both will swallow you whole.

Which one is worse?

Guaranteed - Eddie Vedder


Now that I am done reading Into the Wild, I have moved on to Cormac McCarthy's The Road and it is currently scaring the absolute bejesus out of me with its incinerated post-apocalyptic vision. More on that later but sheesh.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, October 22, 2007

I am trying to break your heart

I finally watched the Wilco documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart tonight, and quick thought:

So the scene at the beginning where they are drawing a face on Jeff Tweedy's pudgy belly, using his big round bellybutton as the mouth, and making it talk and jiggle and wiggle as he bumbles it around in his hands for the camera? Yeah that kind of sums up and simultaneously nullifies all the hard work that went into 150 years of complex social science research about the biological differences between men and women. Women can do lots of things with our fat; making it talk in a documentary is not one of them.

Labels:

Monday Music Roundup

Oooh, I learned some rugby basics this weekend, moving me exponentially along the spectrum of familiarity from "why are they all locking arms and butting heads?" to "He was robbed of a try! Don't miss the conversion!" What a crazy, visceral, fantastic sport. Like soccer, gone mad.

British friend Jamie invited me to his viewing party on Saturday to watch the Rugby World Cup which pitted England against South Africa (I know the history of Dutch colonization, but shouldn't there be more than like two non-white people on that team?). Jamie's house was festooned with with St. George's cross flags, his whole family was in matching jersies. He took the time to explain the game to me -- in between comically trying to squelch already-half-uttered profanities that wanted to be directed at the ref, under the watchful eye of his wife and two little boys. They even served curry and dark beer. So fun, even though England lost. I gained a miniature rugby education.


Up and Down
Chesterfield Kings
I wrote about these guys last year and they're back with a fantastic new album that manages to summon the spirit of the Stones and the Ramones simultaneously. New York's The Chesterfield Kings are enjoying a renaissance of sorts after being together for over a dozen years (I was reminded of their new album by a glowing mention in the newest Rolling Stone). This cut has gypsies screaming and acid rain in the lyrics, harmonicas wailing, and a huge street-strut swagger. Their new album Psychedelic Sunrise is championed by E Street guitarist/radio host/Soprano/"Patriot" songwriter Little Steven Van Zandt, so much so that he's signed them to his own Wicked Cool label. Lead singer dude is still channeling the unfortunate "I slept on my mohawk/mullet" hairstyle, but I guess that's just all the more rock 'n' roll.

Ramblin Man (Hank Williams)
Cat Power
A wistful version of this 1951 Hank Sr. song will be the third track on Cat Power's forthcoming 2nd album of covers, Jukebox (due Jan 22 on Matador). Absolutely every song that this woman touches is transformed into a smoky, sultry resurrection, often bearing little resemblance to the original. She rocks effortlessly and completely and I can't wait to hear this collection. Plus I dig the Fleetwood-Mactastic cover, in triple-threat Technicolor. This particular recording comes from her grand little eMusic EP.


Selfish Jean
Travis

Scottish lads Travis have unleashed a new idea in collaborative viral marketing to promote this tune, about a selfish gal named Jean. The website www.selfishjean.com models itself a bit on Post-Secret, allowing random fans to contribute confessions of bad selfish behavior, pay penance, and view others in the Hall of Shame. Frontman Fran Healy smartly notes that "all confessions will be vetted by a panel of smug, righteous ex-priests." And because I seriously dig the bright and brassy vibe of this song from their new album The Boy With No Name, and because the website is interesting, I am furthering their viral aspirations. Oh, plus I'm a tad voyeuristic. So it works out well for everyone.

I Want A New Drug (Huey Lewis)
Apostle of Hustle
Suddenly, Huey Lewis is hip again. Stereogum recently featured this inventive, swankily rich cover by Toronto indie musicians Apostle of Hustle to draw some props to the still-labelless compilation effort CD Are You Still With Me?!. I'd love to see Apostle of Hustle live again; check how fascinating they make this song, what with all the dialogue en español, slow-burn guitars, and the layers of fab percussion. The album also includes tunes from unlikely suspects such as Long Winters and Will Johnson of Centro-matic, and since you know that you can still sing the chorus of either "Stuck With You" or "Hip To Be Square," you should probably get it.


The State of Massachusetts
Dropkick Murphys

You might remember hearing these guys very effectively used in The Departed to convey a textured and nuanced feeling of "I'm Irish and I'm going to kick your ass." That's pretty much what I get from this feisty Celtic punk tune by Boston's Dropkick Murphys. Their new album The Meanest of Times is out now, and I am pretty sure that I heard this song used last night after the Red Sox clinched their spot in the World Series facing the Rockies. I remarked to my husband that it felt funny to be cheering the Red Sox last night, knowing full well that by Wednesday I'd be doing the exact opposite with great vigor. I just think it's gonna make for an awesome Series.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Exclusive! Eddie Vedder & The Million Dollar Bashers, "All Along The Watchtower"

The new Dylan biopic I'm Not There takes the interesting, surrealistic angle of illustrating Bob at different stages of his life through the rubric of six distinctively different actors (including a black man and a woman): Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Ben Whishaw, and Christian Bale. I am very curious to see how this works itself out in the film - at least it's a fresh angle (I mean, how many Dylan movies can you make?).

In addition to this creative lens used in the film to examine the man himself, the soundtrack is a double disc jamboree of some pretty cool Dylan covers, including disc 1, track 1 with Eddie Vedder & The Million Dollar Bashers covering "All Along The Watchtower." Fuel/Friends is pleased as punch to get an exclusive stream for you guys to take your first listen of this!

EDDIE VEDDER & THE MILLION DOLLAR BASHERS
"All Along The Watchtower"


Stream FLASH
Stream QUICKTIME
Stream WINDOWS MEDIA



And who are said Million Dollar Bashers? It's Wilco's god-like guitarist Nels Cline, Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley (from Sonic Youth), bass player Tony Garnier, keyboardist John Medeski (from Martin, Medeski and Wood), and guitarist Smokey Hormel (onetime Beck guitarist, Smokey & Miho). I never thought I'd hear musicians from those bands all jam together. The guitar solo (assumedly from Nels?) is pretty blazing, and Vedder's got the seething caged scream goin' on.

Historical tie-in from last summer: there was an absolutely scorching live version of this song that full-band Pearl Jam did in San Francisco (when Sonic Youth opened), climaxing in a very rock n roll moment of Mike McCready giving his guitar the Townshend treatment and then surfing on it across the stage. PJ has played Watchtower 4 times live before, but that was my favorite. If you'd like to hear that one as well, the link over on that old post still surprisingly works.

You can also stream four other full songs from the biopic over on the soundtrack's MySpace (the ones by Sufjan Stevens, Cat Power, Jeff Tweedy, and Jim James with Calexico). Among others, I'm also looking forward to hearing Mason Jennings' two contributions, The Black Keys cover of Wicked Messenger, and The Hold Steady enticing me to climb out my window. The soundtrack is out October 30, and the film opens Thanksgiving weekend.


NEW CONTEST:
Would you like to win one of two copies I have to giveaway of this lovely double disc? Of course you would. Leave me a comment to enter, make sure I have a way to contact you (might wanna spell out that email addy), and if you feel so inclined, please let's talk about your favorite Dylan cover. So I can wrap this up before I head to NYC, this contest ends Wednesday at midnight.


I'M NOT THERE (FULL SOUNDTRACK LISTING)
Disc 1
1. Eddie Vedder & the Million Dollar Bashers: "All Along the Watchtower"
2. Sonic Youth: "I'm Not There"
3. Jim James and Calexico: "Goin' to Acapulco"
4. Richie Havens: "Tombstone Blues"
5. Stephen Malkmus & the Million Dollar Bashers: "Ballad of a Thin Man"
6. Cat Power: "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again"
7. John Doe: "Pressing On"
8. Yo La Tengo: "Fourth Time Around"
9. Iron and Wine and Calexico: "Dark Eyes"
10. Karen O and the Million Dollar Bashers: "Highway 61 Revisited"
11. Roger McGuinn and Calexico: "One More Cup of Coffee"
12. Mason Jennings: "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"
13. Los Lobos: "Billy"
14. Jeff Tweedy: "Simple Twist of Fate"
15. Mark Lanegan: "The Man in the Long Black Coat"
16. Willie Nelson and Calexico: "Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)"

Disc 2
1. Mira Billotte: "As I Went Out One Morning"
2. Stephen Malkmus and Lee Ranaldo: "Can't Leave Her Behind"
3. Sufjan Stevens: "Ring Them Bells"
4. Charlotte Gainsbourg and Calexico: "Just Like a Woman"
5. Jack Johnson: "Mama You've Been on My Mind"
6. Yo La Tengo: "I Wanna Be Your Lover"
7. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere"
8. The Hold Steady: "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window"
9. Ramblin' Jack Elliott: "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"
10. The Black Keys: "Wicked Messenger"
11. Tom Verlaine and the Million Dollar Bashers: "Cold Irons Bound"
12. Mason Jennings: "The Times They Are a-Changin'"
13. Stephen Malkmus and the Million Dollar Bashers: "Maggie's Farm"
14. Marcus Carl Franklin: "When the Ship Comes In"
15. Bob Forrest: "Moonshiner"
16. John Doe: "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine"
17. Antony and the Johnsons: "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
18. Bob Dylan: "I'm Not There"

[Vedder photo credit Kerensa Wight, header image credit Playlist]

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, October 19, 2007

Josh Ritter covers Modest Mouse (!!) and waits for me in vain

I was supposed to see Josh Ritter in Boulder last night but my tire had other opinions about the matter, unfortunately. So I missed what sounds like a fantastic show - a friend who was there just reported back that Ritter covered Modest Mouse's "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes" (!!) -- a tremendous song. Here's a video clip I found from the night before the Colorado show, so I can pretend I was there:

JOSH RITTER: HARRISBURG --> TINY CITIES MADE OF ASHES
(live in Minneapolis, 10/17/07)


Josh Ritter is one of the absolute best performers I have seen, and when I saw him this past August, I was blown away with how good the new material sounded brought to life with a full band.

JOSH RITTER: RUMORS (live 8/1/07)


His very good new album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter is out now, and here is a triple shot of tunes for free lovin'

To The Dogs or Whoever - Josh Ritter (from the new album)
Rumors (live in Berlin) - Josh Ritter
The River (Springsteen cover) - Josh Ritter

REMAINING TOUR DATES
JOSH RITTER WITH FULL BAND
20-Oct-07 Boise, ID - Egyptian Theater
21-Oct-07 Seattle, WA - Showbox
22-Oct-07 Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
24-Oct-07 San Francisco, CA - Bimbo's 365 Club
25-Oct-07 Los Angeles, CA - El Rey
27-Oct-07 Tucson, AZ -Plush
29-Oct-07 Austin, TX - The Parish
31-Oct-07 Birmingham, AL - Workplay Theater
01-Nov-07 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
02-Nov-07 Nashville, TN - Exit/Inn
03-Nov-07 Louisville, KY - Headliners
04-Nov-07 Newport, KY - Southgate House
05-Nov-07 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
07-Nov-07 Philadelphia, PA - World Cafe Live
09-Nov-07 New York, NY - Webster Hall

Labels:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Happiness is a warm E.P.

Happiness is indeed a warm EP, so says reader Russell in his entry (one of 90) on my Ryan Adams contest to win the new EP Follow The Lights. I've randomly drawn 2 winners (I couldn't possibly pick based on the "best" answer for this one) and contacted lucky readers Matt C. and Jon from Dance Hall Hips. Congrats guys, and I absolutely loved reading all the entries.

Wanna hear snippets of the two "new" songs on the Ryan Adams EP?

Follow The Lights (streaming clip)

My Love For You Is Real (streaming clip)




Now onto this "favorite EP" madness from the contest. Guess what, I made you a mix. These are lots of your suggestions, all songs that appeared on great EPs. One listen through this bad boy and you'll see why I celebrate and love and adore the EP format.

"HAPPINESS IS A WARM E.P." MIX
Feeling Better - Sugar [from Beaster EP]
Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars) - R.E.M. [from Chronic Town EP]
Lush and Green - Grandpaboy [from Grandpaboy EP]
Shocker in Gloomtown (GBV cover) - Breeders [Head to Toe EP]
Gimme Shelter - Keith Richards [from Eileen EP]
Twisting By The Pool - Dire Straits [Twisting By The Pool EP]
Michigan - Josh Rouse [from Bedroom Classics Vol 1 EP]
Stull (Part 1) - Urge Overkill [from Stull EP]
Meet Me In The City (Junior Kimbrough) - The Black Keys [from Chulahoma EP]
Stranger Than Fools - Jesse Malin [from The Wendy EP]
Nothing - Pedro The Lion [from Whole EP]
Bad (live) - U2 [from Wide Awake In America EP]
Come See About Me (Supremes cover) - Afghan Whigs
[from Uptown Avondale EP]
Sugar Pill (demo version) - Ambulance LTD [New English EP]
Passenger Side (live) - Wilco [from All Over The Place EP]
Butterfly Nets - Bishop Allen [from May EP]
Panama - Casados [from Passages EP]
I Got Id - Pearl Jam (with Neil Young) [from Merkinball EP]
Cosmopolitan Pap - M. Ward [from To Go Home CDS]
Round Are Way - Oasis [from Wonderwall EP]
Woman King - Iron & Wine [from Woman King EP]
Last Nite (early version) - The Strokes [from Modern Age EP]
Technicolor Girls - Death Cab For Cutie [Forbidden Love EP]
The Man - Pete Yorn [from Westerns EP]
Just A Memory - Elvis Costello [from New Amsterdam EP]
Black Star (live, Radiohead cover) - Gillian Welch
[like the one on Black Star EP]
Born To Run (live, acoustic) - Bruce Springsteen
[from the chill-inducing Chimes of Freedom EP]

WHO SAYS YOU CAN'T ZIP HAPPINESS?
(zip only re-upped)

For a full and robust appreciation of the impact these EPs have had in our own little corner of the music ocean, you gotta read the original comments from the readers who suggested them. And there were enough suggestions for a full second mix - sorry I couldn't fit all of them on here. Maybe someday.

Rock on, in compact 4-to-7 song packages.

Labels: ,

New Rockies World Series anthem, fresh outta Denver

My friend Fecher has composed the hottest (I mean "illest") new rap track to come out of Denver this week, and it's in honor of the red hot awesome Rockies.

He wrote to me, "btw, I made a Rockies World Series Anthem yesterday, I didn't even know that I could rap, let alone be such a def producer. Now that I've mastered this rap game, expect to see me wearing fur coats, hanging with Pam Anderson on PDiddy's yacht very shortly..."

I derived immense enjoyment from this song, and I've really hit the jackpot to have it here as a Fuel/Friends exclusive. I might have to gently squelch Fecher's dreams of becoming a hip hop icon, but the Pam Anderson thing could totally happen. I hear she's, like, not picky at all.

Rockies Ain't Leavin Without The Trophy - Hot To Death

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Thousand Miles Behind :: New live covers album from David Gray

When I saw David Gray last year in Denver, his cover of Tim Buckley's ethereal "Song To The Siren" hit me in the gut and sliced diagonal across my heart. I have the boot of that show, and I still sometimes can't listen to that track; there's a funeral-playable quality to the song itself, and I loved the haunting, circuitous way Gray performed it. He also covered (and endearingly flubbed) Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings" at that show as well, so it's like I got a mini-preview of this concept album back then. I loved his take on both songs.

You can find excellent versions of both those tunes on David Gray's new self-produced live covers album A Thousand Miles Behind, as well as 11 others from varied original artists -- three Dylan, two Springsteen, Will Oldham (devastating), Barry Gibb (surprisingly fantastic), Johnny Cash, and more.

The cover of British songwriter John Martyn's "Go Down Easy" is emotive and amazing and sounds like something Gray could have penned himself. And wow, I just recognized the Randy Newman cover as being sung by Bette Midler on the Beaches soundtrack, of which I just remembered in a horrifying flashback that I used to own on cassette.

One With The Birds (Will Oldham) - David Gray
In The Morning (Barry Gibb) - David Gray

The album is available exclusively through DavidGray.com, as of last week.

While you're on his site, also take a listen to 1 of the two new original songs from his forthcoming Greatest Hits collection (Nov 13) -- "The World To Me" is streaming at the bottom of the main page.

A THOUSAND MILES BEHIND: TRACKLIST
1. Song To The Siren (Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley)
2. To Ramona (Bob Dylan)
3. One With The Birds (Will Oldham)
4. Long Black Veil (Danny Dill, Marijohn Wilkin)
5. One Too Many Mornings (Bob Dylan)
6. I Think It's Going To Rain Today (Randy Newman)
7. Mansion on the Hill (Bruce Springsteen)
8. In The Morning (Barry Gibb)
9. I Tremble For You (John Cash, Lewis Calvin De Witt, Jr.)
10. Buckets of Rain (Bob Dylan)
11. Go Down Easy (John Martyn)
12. Streets of Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen)


And hey! Why not go see him on tour too?

UPCOMING DAVID GRAY TOUR DATES
Nov 6 - Newcastle Carling Academy
Nov 8 - Glasgow Academy
Nov 9 - Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Nov 10 - Manchester Apollo
Nov 12 - London Roundhouse
Nov 13 - London Roundhouse
Nov 14 - London Roundhouse
Nov 17 - Dublin National Stadium
Nov 18 - Killarney INEC
Dec 2 - Toronto, ON Massey Hall (On-sale Oct 19)
Dec 4 - New York, NY Beacon Theatre (On-sale Oct 19)
Dec 5 - Boston, MA Orpheum Theatre (On-sale Oct 20)
Dec 7 - Denver, CO Paramount Theatre (On-sale Oct 20)

Labels:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

The game's on tonight. I love taking three or four hours to watch baseball -- the pace of it, the grace and the subtlety. I am having so much fun watching The Rockies' brand of baseball - it's young and hardworking and fun, and it's all coming together for them into a very very likely World Series run (becoming more likely after that 4th inning tonight)! It's a fun time to live in Colorado. They need to win just one more against the Diamondbacks to go to the Series, and this Giants fan is cheering for them without qualms.


The Feeding Of The 5000
Ian Brown

There's a Matt Nathanson song called "Everything You Say It Sounds Like Gospel," a sentiment that also applies to much of what former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown has been putting out lately. In addition to a storyline here straight out of The Good Book, Brown is drawn to using these dramatic orchestral foundations that make it all seem even more epic and important. But I don't find it pretentious; I get into the way the strings combine with cool electronic flourishes and his effortlessly swank vocals. His new album The World Is Yours is out now in the UK, not in the U.S. yet.

The Hustle
Marah
This came on my shuffle on my iPod at the gym while I was trying to top my personal best at sit-ups (oh, like 33. Something mindblowing), and it gave me an instant rush of energy. This is a Marah tune that has comfortably been living on my iPod for a good two years or so without receiving my full unabashed love -- until now. Without reading the shuffle display, at first I thought this urgent, perfectly ebullient song was maybe Westerberg because of the yowly crack to Dave Bielanko's voice, with delightfully jangly rock guitars. I now love this song, it's my new favorite -- off their 2005 album If You Didn't Laugh You'd Cry. This Philadelphia-based, brother-helmed band has got a lot of cool stuff going on now, including a new EP/10" vinyl this month (Can't Take It With You) and a forthcoming album called Angels of Destruction.


Needles
Lisa Hannigan
I wrote about the Cake Sale compilation last year when the Oxfam benefit album featuring the talents of lots of good folks (Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan, Josh Ritter, Glen Hansard, Gemma Hayes, etc) was released in Ireland. At the time, it was a UK-only release, and for those of us on this side of the pond not hardy enough to weather the pounds-to-dollars conversion, it's finally gained a U.S. release tomorrow on Yep Roc. This particular song (written by Damien Rice) is as haunting and lovely as everything Hannigan loans her vocals to. Allow me to repeat at this point that it's truly a crying shame that things didn't work out musically with her and Damien Rice; I can't get enough of the way she sings.

The Way I Am
Ingrid Michaelson
I've mentioned my love/hate relationship with Old Navy music and also lately their '80s carnival of wide-necked, very long, big-buttoned, "they-think-I-am-11" items. However, this song which they tapped for their latest sweater commercial is a nice home run for deserving songwriter Ingrid Michaelson from Staten Island. Despite her being my MySpace friend for, like, ever -- somehow this infectiously cheery, handclappy sweet ditty slipped my notice. Okay, it's a bit syrupy, but you know when the girl-group harmonies of that chorus hit, you kinda like the sugar rush. Her new album Girls and Boys is out now.


Avril 14th
Aphex Twin
Since we're already talkin' TV, here's one other one on the airwaves lately. I'd never listened to ambient musician Aphex Twin (born Richard David James) until I started seeing articles about the licensing flap about the sampling of this song in the recent hi-larious Samberg digital short on SNL, "I Ran." This original is a lush, gorgeous piano song from the 2001 Aphex Twin album drukqs, and count me as a new fan . . . but I can't really listen to it purely without thinking of lines like, "You ain’t wrong to me, so strong to me, you belong to me . . . like a very hairy Jake Gyllenhaal to me" (which, incidentally, may be one of the best rhymes ever written). If you haven't seen it:

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Stats tracked by StatCounter