You have to hand it to Zach Condon (Beirut). Last year at only 22 years old and with two critically claimed albums under his belt, he cancelled his European tour and set out for Oaxaca, Mexico, to score a Mexican film, because... well, why not? There he found a 19-piece funeral marching band to back the songs he was writing, and when the film fell through, he loved what he was hearing too much to stop, so they carried on recording, resulting in the EP March of the Zapotec. And while it's not likely that the band (the Jiminez Group) will make it up from their village of Teotitlan del Valle to play Letterman on Friday night, the ensemble that Beirut will field will still do a song like "La Llorona" justice.
After mining Europe for his first two releases (Gulag Orkestar - Eastern Europe, The Flying Club Cup - France,) it's almost as if Condon is using Beirut to stamp his passport. March is doubled with another EP of decidedly different sounds, called Realpeople: Holland, which is five songs of bedroom recorded synth pop, the style of recording Condon did prior to Beirut, under the name Realpeople. It's less worldly, but considering the birth place of electronica, it still might get a stamp from Germany.
Meanwhile, the Grammy Awards are traditionally an event that I pretty much avoid, which says a lot being that I'm a(n obsessive) music fan. But the appearance this year of an act like Radiohead, makes it a far more intriguing affair, and not just for the enjoyment of seeing them perform live. They, along with other performers Lil' Wayne and Paul McCartney, are examples for using non-traditional distribution methods to sell their product, something the ailing record industry has hopefully taken notice of. Lil' Wayne gave away unauthorized 'mixtapes' of his work, Macca signed with Starbucks, and Radiohead did it themselves, with a pay-what-you-want approach. All did it with surprising results that had to have the industry both paying attention and (possibly) shaking in their boots.
Besides those three, another recently added act to the lineup to look out for is the wonderful collaboration between LedZep-frontman Robert Plant and alt-country chaunteuse Alison Krauss, as they're release Raising Sand is up for album of the year.
UPDATE: TV on the Radio was announced this morning as this week's musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Praise be!
Playlist: Picks for the week
Monday, February 2
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Steve Martin
FUEL: The Daily Habit: The Heartaches
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: Tom Freund featuring Ben Harper (REPEAT)
Tuesday, February 3
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: The Bird and the Bee
IFC: The Henry Rollins Show: Ryan Adams (REPEAT)
SYNDICATION: The Ellen Degeneres Show: Butch Walker
Wednesday, February 4
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Theresa Andersson
SUNDANCE: Spectacle: Elvis Costello With...: Elvis Costello, Herbie Hancock
Thursday, February 5
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Morrissey
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Mark Olson and Gary Louris
FUEL: The Daily Habit: The Walkmen
Friday, February 6
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Beirut
CBS: Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: Franz Ferdinand
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Death Cab For Cutie (REPEAT)
Saturday, February 7
Saturday Night Live: TV on the Radio
PBS: Austin City Limits: Drive-By Truckers, Ryan Bingham
Sunday, February 8
CBS: The 51st Annual Grammy Awards: Radiohead, U2, Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, T.I., Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Katy Perry, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss