Monday, April 30, 2007

Ear on TV: Week of April 30

Of all the bands reuniting in the past few years, the one that surprised me the most is Dinosaur Jr. Frontman J Mascis' firing of Lou Barlow fueled some of the most inspired vitriol in his songwriting through the 90's with his band Sebadoh, and it seemed like there existed impossible chasm between the two. Tomorrow they release their first album together (Mascis, Barlow and drummer Murph,) in twenty years, (Beyond,) reminding us all that they helped draw up the blueprint for alternative rock of the 90's. When they play Letterman tonight, look for some awkward smiles, furtive glances, and Mascis' long grey mane bobbing as he tears through a solo.

As if that isn't enough excitment on Letterman, Tuesday night sees Modest Mouse making their tv debut with Johnny Marr (The Smiths) on guitar. Elsewhere on Monday night, The Noisettes' performance that I profiled a ways back finally gets aired on Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson after getting bumped from it's original intended airing, and Arctic Monkeys are back again this week (this time on Conan.)

Speaking of back again, if you missed The Stooges last week, I sure hope you have IFC, because they rip it up on The Henry Rollins Show on Friday (here's a video outtake performance of "I'm Fried" to wet your whistle.) All in all, it's a week that doesn't bode well for sleep.

Playlist: Picks of the week
Monday, April 30
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Silversun Pickups (REPEAT)
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Dinosaur Jr.
CBS: Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: The Noisettes
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Kaiser Chiefs
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Arctic Monkeys
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: Silversun Pickups (REPEAT)
Tuesday, May 1
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Kaiser Chiefs
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Modest Mouse
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Patti Smith
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: The Format
Wednesday, May 2
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Ben Kweller
CBS: Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: Fountains of Wayne
SYNDICATION: The Ellen Degeneres Show: Stevie Nicks
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: Teddybears, Alice Cooper
Thursday, May 3
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Macy Gray
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Tori Amos
CBS: Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: Alice Cooper
Friday, May 4
CBS: Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: Ozomatli
IFC: The Henry Rollins Show: The Stooges, Iggy Pop
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Tom Waits, Snoop Dogg
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: The Nightwatchman
SYNDICATION: Live With Regis and Kelly: Tori Amos

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Welcome aboard, Dischord!

Over the past few days, I've been hypnotized by the steady stream of albums on the Dischord Records label making their way into the Rhapsody library. I started compiling a playlist and writing a post, but with each passing day, the picture becomes more complete, until today, where it's near full saturation. So, before I get too far, here's a playlist that documents nearly every Dischord release, starting with #1 (Teen Idles, Minor Disturbance EP [1980]) going to #160 (The Evens, Get Evens [2006].)

Playlist: Dischord Records

The label started with the end of the D.C. band Teen Idles, which was Ian MacKaye, Jeff Nelson, Geordie Grindle and Nathan Strejcek (photo.) They'd played together for less then a year, but were ready to pack it in, so they took their earnings and released an EP to document the band. This release, Dischord Records #1, was released in December, 1980. Inspired by Dangerhouse Records in LA, MacKaye and Nelson were going take any earnings from this first release and use it to put out the growing number of bands in the DC scene. State of Alert (S.O.A.,) which featured former Teen Idles roadie Henry Garfield (Henry Rollins,) wasn't going to wait. Henry put up his own money and released the EP No Policy (Dischord #2.)

At the same time, Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson went on to form the group, Minor Threat. They debuted, along with S.O.A., opening for Bad Brains in December of '80 (a month which also marked the label's debut.) Their 1st 7" release made for Dischord #3, with it's now legendary cover (that Nike recently copied and apologized for.) The song "Straight Edge" became the title of a movement of post-punk bands, describing a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle.

By 1984, the DC punk scene was rife with violence, and Dischord was in financial straits. But they held on, and by 1985, more bands joined the fray, inspired in part by what Dischord was doing, and also with the motive to take back the scene with a non-violence mission. Revolution Summer became the moniker for this 1985 movement, and it saw a move towards a more melodic sound. The most important of these was the band Rites of Spring, who, while only releasing one full-length (End on End, Dischord #16,) were almost single-handedly responsible for what would become emo. (They briefly reformed as Happy Go Picky, and their experimental live sound (utilizing tape loops,) was later documented on Dischord [#109] as well. Ian MacKaye, at this time, was also influencing this new genre with his shortlived band Embrace.

Ian MacKaye then (1987) formed the band Fugazi, which shortly after incorporated former Rites of Spring members Guy Picciotto and Brendan Canty, cementing one of the most principled bands of all time. To many, they hold the same significance as Bob Dylan (on their parents.) Their discography is the picture of artistic consistency, from their beginning to now current (as of 2002) indefinite hiatus. Repeater (Dischord #45) was my introduction, but it was 1991's Steady Diet of Nothing that comes to mind when I think about the band.

In the wake of Nirvana's 91's breakthrough, the label began see an increase in sales, and a couple bands on the roster made the jump to major labels. Jawbox (Atlantic) and Shudder To Think (Epic,) were derided by many ardent Dischord fans, but they remained true to their sound, and with their exposure helped broaden Dischords fanbase in the process, as fans looked for prior releases on Dischord (like STT's Get Your Goat, and Jawbox's Novelty,) and picking up a Lungfish or a Circus Lupus record in the process.

With Dischord's biggest mealticket (Fugazi) now on the sidelines, the label's roster is a lot less visible (and a lot more mellower.) Acts now include Antelope, French Toast, Soccer Team, Channels, Medications, Fugazi's Joe Lally (Dischord's first ever solo release,) and MacKaye's latest project, The Evens.

Of note: Rhapsody has the release dates off by a (fairly) consistent four years... just something to watch out for.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why James Dean died and Paulie lives on

If there's something the first three episodes of this final (half) season have in common, it's the theme of father-son relationships, and the need to have a successor. First it was Bobby, who disappointed Tony by stepping into a Soprano argument. Then it was Christopher, who used his movie Cleaver to skewer Tony. This last one ("Remember When," S6E15,) has a reversal for Tony in that he takes on the role of son. He's still disappointed though, embarrassed that he ever looked up to Paulie as a father-figure.

When Paulie first appears, he's bringing up the paper, which we all know now to be a metaphor for being the 'boss.' When Tony announced he wasn't going to bring up the paper anymore last week ("it's too dangerous,") it gave me goosebumps. First, it serves as a metaphor for more thoughts of stepping down, but it also means we get to see more characters bring up the paper, and metaphorically try on the 'boss' hat. When Tony sees Paulie bringing up the paper, he realizes the tragedy of Paulie. Here's someone that Tony idolized coming up in the mob, and now some twenty odd years later, he's still no closer to being the boss. This, and the road trip they take together, pushes Tony to brink of wacking him. In Tony's mind, though, it would be more euthanasia then murder. David Essex's "Rock On" plays in the car as they drive together, and the references to James Dean are important here. Paulie is a sad anachronysm of style with his white shoes and slicked back hair. James Dean had to die to preserve that image of cool that exists. Paulie lives on, seemingly forever stuck in that moment in time, and can't stop talking about the past (Tony to Paulie - "Remember when is the lowest form of conversation.")

The title of the episode ("Remember When,") says a lot about the music selection. Like "Rock On," all the songs (aside from the Cuban ones, which are more for setting then meaning,) deal with nostalgia. Diana Ross' "Touch Me In the Morning" looks back on a love that's ending, and at the time I was thinking of the series ending, but now it might have also been a subtle foreshadow on Tony's relationship with Paulie. Meanwhile, Gino Vanelli's "I Just Wanna Stop" tries to stop time back to when things were better, and that needs no further explanation. Then there's the theme to Terms of Endearment, which plays while Tony and Paulie talk about the old days with Tony's dad. While the film is ostensibly about the mother-daughter relationship, it's still a dysfunctional parent-to-child reference, so we'll roll with it.

The other father-son metaphor playing through the episode was of Uncle Junior and his prison (therapy center) friend Carter Chong. Junior's getting a taste of some of his old action, by setting up poker games and selling smuggled candy bars and sodas to the other patient/inmates. Chong is helping him, and looking to Junior as a proxy father figure. Little does Junior know, though, that Chong killed his father and when Junior starts to not live up to Chong's expectations of the gangster persona he idolized in him earlier (sound familiar?) then he goes nuts and tries to kill him. Chong broke where Tony was able to hold strong, which begs the question - does Dr Melfi have an opening in her schedule?

Playlist: The Sopranos - Ep 615
1. "Rock On" - David Essex - Tony and Paulie drive into Virginia
2. "Touch Me In The Morning" - Diana Ross - T and P check into a hotel
3. "I Just Wanna Stop" - Gino Vannelli - T and P go to a pub
4. "Terms Of Endearment (Main Theme)" - T and P recall when P and Tony's dad made trips south
5. "El Botellon" - Don Diego y su Orquesta Tropical - T and P meet with Beansie in Miami
6. "Mimi" - Cubanismo! - T and P and Beansie back at the hotel restaurant with lady friends
7. "Sing! Sing! Sing!" - Gene Krupa - Uncle Junior rocks in his chair, dissapointed... through credits

More: Anyone else notice the white shoes running away from the hit on 'Doc', the NY crime boss? Fashion kills. Elsewhere, Tony walking through his tomatoes in his bathrobe delivered more Godfather chills. That's three-for-three on these final episodes with references to the mother of all crime dramas.

Previously: Leave it to Cleaver (Episode 614)

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Now Downloading: New Releases 04.24.07

This week is haunted by what didn't make it into Rhapsody (see below,) but we're still blessed with some sturdy releases from Arctic Monkeys, Dntel and the star-studded Joni Mitchell tribute album.

Playlist: New Releases 04.24.07

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Album: A Tribute to Joni Mitchell

A Tribute to Joni Mitchell While the album leads off with a bang (Sufjan Stevens doing "Free Man In Paris",) it's not until you lick your way to the chocolate center to get to finally hear a studio recording of Prince doing "Case of You." He's been covering that Joni song now for over 20 years (a version of it appears on the rare One Night Alone.) Here he's traded the guitar strums for plaintive piano and give it his own feel. And if that isn't enough (and by my calculations, it is,) there's also the thrill of Caetano Veloso doing "Dreamland," which demonstrates more succintly then any other of his recordings the influence he (and Tropicalia) have had upon the music of David Byrne. Just trust me and skip the unecessary tracks from Sarah McLachlan and Annie Lennox. As much as I believe the sentiment that they share inspiration from the great Mitchell, their contributions (I think you'll find) do not fit in with the rest of the contributions.

Download: "A Case of You" - Prince (Idolator)
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Album: Dntel - Dumb Luck

Dntel - Dumb LuckFive years in the making, Dntel's Dumb Luck is a reaffirmation of the talent that Jimmy Tamborello sprung on the world with his work in Postal Service. Here he's working with Jenny Lewis, Bright Eyes, Grizzly Bear, Mia Doi Todd and others, taking his unique electronica sound and bending it to the idiom of his collaborator. On paper, it's an interesting experiment, and there are quite a few highlights ("To a Fault," featuring Grizzly Bear's Edward Droste and "Rock My Boat" with Todd, to name two) but on the whole, it's too uneven to appreciate as an album. More like a mixtape project, and relative to that, it's a pretty good mix that shows just how well Tamborello can morph his sound to fit his singer.

Free AOL album stream

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Album: Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare

Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst NightmareI wasn't nearly as enamored as most with the Monkeys' debut release, so it comes as a surprise to me that I'm enjoying thier second release as much as I do. Whereas the debut was an exercise in the exuberence of tireless youth, this one pulls back the drapes a bit to see there's more going on there then relentless attack. "Brianstorm," as a first single, delivers the expectations of the debut, but it's "Flourescent Adolescent" that may be the best song on the album. I'm still not bought into all the hype, but with Worst Nightmare, the price tag is certainly looking a little less ridiculous.

Free AOL album stream

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Notable releases that didn't make it into Rhapsody (plus link to free AOL album stream where applicable:)
Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position
Cornelius - Sensuous
The Veils - Nux Vomica
Robert Pollard - Silverfish Trivia (download "Circle Saw Boys Club")
Bill Callahan - Woke On A Whaleheart

More going (or already in) the Sansa
Sa-Ra Creative Partners - The Hollywood Recordings
Mando Diao - Ode To Ochrasy
Patti Smith - Twelve
Future Clouds and Radar - Future Clouds and Radar
Ave Tare and Kria Brekkan - Pullhair Rubeye
Cowboy Junkies - At the End of Paths Taken
Calvin Johnson and the Sons of Soil - Calvin Johnson and the Sons of Soil
Electric Soft Parade - No Need To Be Downhearted
The Blow - Poor Aim: Love Songs

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Ear on TV: Week of April 23

The best thing about the recently reunited Stooges and their latest album is that they're back to peforming live. Frontman Iggy Pop was (and still is) famous for blurring the lines between the performer and the audience. Whether it's pulling the audience on stage, or jumping into the crowd, Pop takes the traditional music performance and forces it into chaos. He's nearly 60 years old but still (mostly) looks and rocks like he's 19, with all the sexuality and urgency missing from peformers far his junior. When they take the Jimmy Kimmel Live stage on Tuesday, the camera will have a hard time pulling off Pop, even if it's to show the great Mike Watt (Minutemen) filling in on bass.

Elsewhere, UK smash successes Arctic Monkeys' try to overcome the sophomore slump with their latest release Favourite Worst Nightmare (out tomorrow [free album stream],) showcasing their single "Brianstorm" on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Wednesday. Also don't miss a packed Friday lineup on the tube, with Jarvis Cocker (Letterman,) Mars Volta (Rollins,) The Cinematics (Kimmel,) and Kings of Leon (Leno.)

Playlist: Picks for the week of April 23
Monday, April 23
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Black Keys (REPEAT)
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: The Thermals (REPEAT)
Tuesday, April 24
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: The Stooges (Iggy Pop)
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Amy Winehouse
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: The Format
Wednesday, April 25
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: The Nightwatchman
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: The Fratellis
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Andrew W.K.
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: Akon
SYNDICATION: The Ellen Degeneres Show: Lindsey Buckingham
Thursday, April 26
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Arctic Monkeys
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Macy Gray w/ Natalie Cole
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Brandi Carlile
SYNDICATION: The Ellen Degeneres Show: Lily Allen (REPEAT)
Friday, April 27
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: The Cinematics
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Jarvis Cocker
IFC: The Henry Rollins Show: Mars Volta
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Kings of Leon
Saturday, April 28
PBS: Austin City Limits: The Raconteurs, Cat Power (REPEAT)

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Caught by the Fuzz

You certainly wouldn't confuse the soundtrack to Hot Fuzz with a buddy cop movie (thank goodness.) Featuring classic Britpop from The Kinks, T Rex, The Troggs and recent indie rock acts like The Fratellis and Jon Spencer (Blues Explosion), the soundtrack instead pays respects to the genre by using pieces of score from these films it looks to for inspiration: Lethal Weapon III, Bad Boys II and that pantheon of buddy cop movies Point Break. Even with those diversions, this soundtrack is a rarity... one that actually follows a narrative without the need of actual dialogue.

After the opening theme (penned by 007 veteran David Arnold,) our first taste of narrative music comes as co-writer Simon Pegg's character, supercop Nicholas Angel, introduces himself to us over the top of Adam Ant's ’80s camp classic "Goody Two Shoes," and the mood is set. Then XTC's "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me") helps further Angel as the bobby who gets things done.

When Angel's exploits makes the big city bobbys look bad (turning the usual buddy cop formula on it's ear,) as punishment he's promoted and sent off to Sandford ("the village of the year,") the place with the lowest crime rate in England. It's here that Angel warns a model citizen "this isn't your village anymore," while we hear songs from The Kink's great album Village Green Preservation Society, which frontman Ray Davies wrote with the idea of feeling nostalgia for a simpler time and place. Director Edgar Wright, feeling nostalgic himself, chose to use the town he grew up in (Wells) for this idylic setting, making for the ultimate (and therapeutic) geek fantasy: turn the town you grew up in into the set of a smash-em-up action movie.

One song that didn't make the soundtrack, to my great disappointment, was The Move's "Night of Fear," which hints that there's more going on this village then meets the eye. The Move is a band still begging for discovery here in the states some 40 years after the fact, and while this release wouldn't break them, it at least would have furthered the cause (and got at least a song from them in the Rhapsody music service.)

It's about this time in the film when, to quote Martin Lawrence's character in Bad Boys II: "This sh*t just got real!" Bits from the scores to both Point Blank and BBII make appearances here, but really it's original music contributed to the film by mutual admiration director Robert Rodriguez that steals the show. Pegg's Angel gets his Desperado on, and Rodriguez's score is the perfect marriage for the scene. The movie's only sticking point with me is that Wright falls in love with the Michael Bayisms a bit too much, and the action goes on a little too long (with about two too many climaxes.)

To finish up the film, I couldn't think of a better song then the great Supergrass classic "Caught by the Fuzz," but that's not the ending. Instead there's another Fuzz song, this time written for the film by indie rock legend Jon Spencer called "Here Come The Fuzz."

The stateside release is a trimmed down affair, but as is my want to do, I've included every song as it appeared in the film (and a couple from the trailers) for my Rssmbld Sndtrck (reassmbled soundtrack) series.

>Playlist: Rssmbld Sndtrck - Hot Fuzz

1. "Souljacker Part 1" - Eels - Used in trailers for the film (note: song is mismarked as 'Part 2' in Rhapsody)
2. "Chelsea Dagger" - The Fratellis - Used in trailers for the film
3. "Goody Two Shoes" - Adam Ant
4. "Sgt. Rock (Is Going To Help Me)" - XTC
5. "The Village Green Preservation Society (Hot Fuzz)" - The Kinks
6. "Down Bond Street" - Tommy McCook and the Supersonics
7. "Baby Fratelli" - The Fratellis
8."Kick Out the Jams" - Tub Thumper
9. "Slippery Rock 70's" - Stavely Makepeace
10. "Lethal Fuzz (Osymyso Remix)" - John Eric Alexander
11. "I Can't Control Myself" - The Troggs
12. "Lovefool" - The Cardigans
13. "Night Of Fear" - The Move (YouTube)
14. "Romeo And Juliet" - Dire Straits
15. "Blockbuster" - Sweet
16. "Solid Gold, Easy Action" - T Rex (Marc Bolan)
17. "Foot Chase (from Point Blank - Mark Ishram (Download)
18. "Hostage Situation" (from Bad Boys II - Trevor Rabin
19. "Fire" - Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (YouTube)
20. "Village Green" - The Kinks (YouTube)
21. "Dance With The Devil" - Cozy Powell (YouTube)
22. "Heston Services" - Robert Rodriguez (Chingon)
23. "Avenging Angel" - Robert Rodriguez (Chingon)
24. "Caught By The Fuzz" - Supergrass
25. "Solid Gold Easy Action" - The Fratellis
26. "Here Come The Fuzz" - Jon Spencer & The Elegant Too
27. "The Hot Fuzz Suite" - David Arnold (score medley)

More: To underscore even more the significance of music in the film, Pegg's character Nicolas Angel is a nod to music supervisor extraordinaire Nick Angel (who also worked with the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg team on Shaun of the Dead.)

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Monster Eyes

A couple nights ago, my Tootie and I attended the last of the Seattle Arts and Lecture series for 2007, Jonathan Lethem talking about 'insteadness', which is the concept of talking about something instead of what's really going on. I interpreted this as an extension of his essay called "The Beards" (from The Disappointment Artist,) which talked about his writing about anything but the elephant in the room (the loss of his mother at a young age.) Lethem confessed as much last night.

Last night? Lethem provided the keynote address at the 2007 Pop Conference, at EMP here in Seattle. Beforehand, I had a chance to ask him about "The Beards" and it's relationship to 'insteadness,' and he admitted that's an extension of that thought. Where "The Beards" is more a personal 'code ring' to reading the earlier works of Lethem, 'insteadnes' is meant to apply to mass media and our propensity to want to be diverted from looking directly at 'the blood.' Instead we get celebrity gossip, who's baby's daddy, Don Imus, Simon Cowell's rolling of the eyes, and now Alec Baldwin's phone message to his daughter.

Anyway, back to last night, Lethem spoke of the inherent charlatanry of Rock, and our need and want to be thrilled by the poses that our favorite artists put forth. Lethem likened his writing to that, saying he likes to jump into things he's certainly no authority on, because what comes forth from walking that tightrope is far more interesting then the comfy nest of what you know, and thus he's sort of 'faking' it. To that point, his latest novel, You Don't Love Me Yet is set in Los Angeles and is about an indie rock band, two things that Lethem felt interested in, but not too knowledgable in. After I told him about my Novel Sndtrck project I did on his book, and the double-cd's I made for my bookclubbers (he also did one,) he handed me a mix cd he made for You Don't Love Me Yet, called "Monster Eyes," (download via The Village Voice) which is the title of the one semi-hit that the fictional band in his book acheived.

Playlist: Monster Eyes (Novel Sndtrck from Lethem's You Don't Love Me Yet

This Novel Sndtrck features tracks from The Vulgar Boatmen (where the book title comes from,) Yo La Tengo, Spoon, Wire and Camper Van Beethoven, so it's another good one.

After the talk, we all went out for dinner down the street, and I found myself across the table from this man I admire very much, sharing similar stories about vivid memories of Pete Townshend's "Let My Love Open the Door." I maintained composure and didn't fall into 'fan boy' mode, but I think he could tell I was at least somewhat in awe of him (I am.)

Previously:
The blog is a beard (Lethem's The Disappointment Artist)
Novel Sndtrck: Lethem's Fortress of Solitude

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Now Downloading: New Releases 04.17.07

While there's nothing truly knocking my socks off this week, there's plenty of releases worth wrapping your ears around for some time. There's latest from Joseph Arthur, the UK trio The Noisettes, The Comas and a compilation of covers from various Portland artists called Bridging the Distance, featuring Spoon's Britt Daniel, The Decemberists, Viva Voce, The Thermals and more.

Playlist: New Releases 04.17.07

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Album: Bridging the Distance: a Portland. OR covers compilation

Bridging the DistanceThe Portland nonprofit p:ear is a group that mentors homeless youth, helping them transition into productive adulthood, bridging the void. Bridging The Distance takes that concept and uses covers of classic rock songs to make a metaphorical transition... bridging the past something current. The album features longtime Portland indies The Decemberists ("Think About Me" [Fleetwood Mac]) The Dandy Warhols ("She Sells Sanctuary" [The Cult]) but the best covers here are reserved for the more obscure. Jagged guitar band The Joggers get the highest score for technical difficulty, pulling off Yes' prog-rock classic "Long Distance Runaround," and they even somehow make it sound fun. Meanwhile, Blitzen Trapper takes "Crazy on You" (Heart) and turn it into a lo-fi electro-dance workout. Other highlights include Viva Voce's take on "Eye in the Sky" (Alan Parsons Project) and Britt Daniel reworking "Bring it On Home to Me" (Sam Cooke.)

Playlist: Bridging the Gap - The Originals

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Album: The Noisettes - What's the Time Mr. Wolf

The Noisettes - What's the Time Mr. WolfAs we watch The Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O transition from punk yel-princess to smooth songstress, we can thank our lucky stars that The Noisettes' lead singer Shingai Shoniwa is here to carry forth that dropped crown. Shoniwa can go from a commanding scream to a seductive whisper in a heartbeat, and commands your attention from the start. What's the Time Mr. Wolf starts with the knockout 1-2 punch of "Don't Give Up" and "Scratch Your Name," and it's hard not to root for this trio after that exercise. This debut is far more diverse then that though - garage, jazz, 70's punk to soul, are all touched upon sometimes in the course of a song (the great "Sister Rosetta.") It's a hard pace to keep up, and there's a bit of a letdown towards the end of the album, but it still a tremendous first outing.

Free AOL album stream

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Album: Joseph Arthur - Let's Just Be

Joseph Arthur's latest has him stretching out in a big rubber band, The Lonely Astronauts. It's a departure in that it's Arthur letting loose and having fun, but for every good turn ("Diamond Ring") there's a WTF studio wankery that follows (the first minute of the following song, "Good Life" is a good example.) A great song like "Chicago" is followed by the leather-pants adorned "Cockteeze" which is followed by the 20-minute exercise in futility that is "Lonely Astronaut." It's a throwaway song that falls apart at 6 minutes and then degenerates into a bad joke without any payoff, and that's perhaps the album's biggest crime.

Free AOL album stream

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More going (or already in) the Sansa
Priestbird - In Your Time
The Comas - Spells
Dolly Varden - The Panic Bell
Superdrag - Changin' the Tires on the Road to Ruin
Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero
Bebel Gilberto - Momento
Richard X Heyman - Actual Sighs

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Leave it to Cleaver

So Christopher Moltisanti's film Cleaver finally sees it's premiere, and the famiglia is all there and mostly impressed. But, even then, as Silvio put so succinctly: "Chrissy's the last person I would have confused with Marty." The film (pitched as Saw meets The Godfather II,) stars Daniel Baldwin (who looks a lot better since his last picture) as the chubby crime boss named 'Sally Boy.' It appears that Cleaver is really a revenge fantasy, as the boss sleeps with the hero's fiance, and in the end, puts his prosthetic blade through Tony's, er... Sally Boy's skull. The sets they used even look the same - the Crazy Horse backroom, Tony's basement... but no Bada Bing. Even Chris knows, you must always respect the bing. (See HBO's 'The Making of Cleaver.)

Tony's disappointed in Chris, to say the least, and it touches on the one thing that ties these first two episodes of The Sopranos' final lap to the finish: the theme of the crime boss grooming his successor - and the faliure of both the New York and the New Jersey family's in that regard. Even as Johnny Sach lies dying in prison, the overqualified orderly (played to perfection by Sidney Pollack) leaves him a dog-eared copy of E.L. Doctorow's Billy Bathgate, which deals with this very subject (along with free will versus fate and moral relativism, both themes touched on throughout The Sopranos run.) Both Phil and Sil had couldn't handle the job (suffered heart and asthma attacks respectively) and the rest have issues, to say the least. Johnny says the job "get's no respect" and Phil muses that "it's a job for the young."

While Phil continues to think about what might have been John Cooper Clarke's spoken word song "Evidently Chicken" comes on and blows away everything that's happened in the show. The UK poet reads his bloody poem over music by The Invisible Girls, and with nearly 80 bloody's in the lyrics, it certainly helps fill the episode's blood quota.

Download: "Evidently Chickentown" - John Cooper Clarke (loudersoft)


Playlist: The Sopranos - Episode 614
Tracklisting

More: Notice the visual references to The Godfather again this episode. The blood splatter while dining, and the ending scene with the christening were classic homages to the 'mother film.'
Previously: The Monopoly Game (Episode 613)
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Ear on TV: Week of April 16

Lily Allen appears to concur with the classic Clash song, "I'm So Bored With the USA." Much to our dismay, it's been reported today that Lily's cancelling the rest of her US tour dates due to being homesick. A couple weeks ago, her blog hinted at some of her malaise: "Is it really important to break America? I'm bored." She appears to be honoring her tv appearances, though, starting with tonight on Leno and Wednesday on Ellen - here's hoping some of Ellen's neverending enthusiasm will rub off on Lily and the UK singer will 'buck up.'

Speaking of UK singers (and a general feeling of malaise,) Morrissey makes a rare talk show appearance, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel's outdoor stage Friday. Moz hasn't been questioned by the FBI in over a year, and his anti-Bush stance far less controversial these days, but I still hold out hope that he'll stir some kind of controversey with the performance. Perhaps seeing that his old bandmate Johnny Marr is part of the number one album in the US will ignite the fire.

Playlist: Picks for the week of April 16
Monday, April 16
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Lily Allen
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Black Keys (REPEAT)
Tuesday, April 17
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Silversun Pickups
Wednesday, April 18
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Son Volt
SYNDICATION: The Ellen Degeneres Show: Lily Allen
Thursday, April 19
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Tokyo Police Club
CBS: Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: Paul Wall (REPEAT)
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: OK Go
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Annuals (REPEAT)
Friday, April 20
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Morrissey
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Regina Spektor
IFC: The Henry Rollins Show: Ryan Adams
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: OK Go
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Paul Weller (REPEAT)
Saturday, April 21
NBC: Saturday Night Live: Björk
PBS: Austin City Limits: John Prine (REPEAT)

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Friday, April 13, 2007

More to me then meat and eyes

If the film Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters isn't for everyone, then that could easily be said about the soundtrack. Some understanding of the hilariously cruel and bizarre world of the Adult Swim series is probably necessary to appreciate a milkshake singing a rock ballad called "Nude Love." But then again, how can you ever really truly understand a plot where the aforementioned milkshake (Master Shake,) a ball of hamburger (Meatwad) and a pack of fries (Frylock) attempt to save the world from a giant exercise machine (Insane-o-flex) built 70,000 years ago by aliens. You're either in or out.... and you can count me as in. Same goes for the soundtrack (Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters Colon the Soundtrack) which was released this week in advance of the film hitting theaters today, it features an eclectic mix of hip-hop, new metal and indie rock that are (once again) not for everyone.

Album: Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters Colon the Soundtrack<

The artists here have a common a similar cult following: (Drake fave) The Hold Steady, Schooly D, Mastodon, Killer Mike, Early Man and Andrew W.K.. Schooly D wrote the theme song to the series, and his theme is remixed here for the movie, upping the metal quotient. Meanwhile, both MC Chris (as MC Pee Pants) and Andrew W.K. have appeared on the series, and songs that appeared in the series ("I Want Candy" and "Party Party Party," respectively) make contributions to the soundtrack here as well. Meanwhile, co-creator/writer Matt Maiellaro is an accomplished guitar shredder himself, and his guitar work is often featured on the program. Other musicians who've appeared on the show include Ted Nugent, Glen Danzig, Zakk Wylde and Geddy Lee of Rush. Speaking of Rush, drummer Neal Peart appears voicing a tiny version of himself in the movie, playing solos to puncuate the pronouncements of a talking tiny piece of watermelon. Of course he is.

Be sure and listen all the way through the last track, "Nude Love (Reprise,)" otherwise you'll miss the hidden tracks featuring Meatwad singing with Superchunk ("Misfits and Mistakes" aka "Putting all the Right Pieces Together") and Master Shake fronting Nashville Pussy ("Face Omlete" as featured in this video:)


Previously: Number one in the hood, g (Danger Doom)

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