Thursday, May 31, 2007

Simone White - from THIS side of the pond

Although you would never guess it listening to her voice, Simone White originally hails from Hawaii, and has since been here, there, and everywhere...from California to Seattle to London and lots of places in between.

Along the way she's picked up the guitar and has written some wonderfully delicate and tender songs that make your heart flutter between melancholy and child-like happiness.

The reason why you'd never guess Simone is Hawaiian is evident upon first listen. Within the first 30 seconds of the first track, I was overwhelmed by how much her voice resembles that of Tracyanne Campbell, lead vocalist for Camera Obscura. Honestly I would have sworn she was at least Scottish, maybe even Tracyanne's sister! What makes Simone's album I Am the Man different though is it loses the twee-pop / 60's rock sound that makes Camera Obscura so endearing and replaces it with a mellow, jazzy, folksy feel that is no less enjoyable and even somewhat more intimate.

Her album is slated to be released on June 4th in the UK, but unfortunately a US date has not been given. You can order it as an import via Amazon, although the price is a little steep. Also available (with a few tracks also on the new album) is Sincere Recording Co. Presents Simone White, which is older (2004) but a little more affordable. Either way, enjoy the songs (and videos) below and keep your eyes open for it over here in the States.

The Beep Beep Song is just a charmingly tender song about love - perfect for mix-tapes for significant others.
how many moons are reflected in the lake
can you wait forever
if time is all it takes
despite all the warnings
I landed like a fallen star
in your arms
The American War is a protest song that is amazingly cutting for having such seemingly light lyrics:
Did you ever think this was the greatest country in the world?
With freedom and democracy and SUV's called Liberty
for every boy and girl?
The oyster chokes on it's own pearl

Simone White - The Beep Beep Song : I Am the Man
(watch the video: Windows Media / Real Media)

Simone White - The American War : I Am the Man

Visit her website, her label Honest Jon's Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Additional Videos:

I Am the Man - Windows Media / Real Media

Why I Your Raincoat Always Crying? - Windows Media / Real Media


Camera Obscura - Books Written for Girls (live acoustic) : Sunsets And Silhouettes

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Time to Subscribe

I know he knocks you off your feet
You’re so bitter; you think he’s sweet
Well he’s wrong for you, I swear

Did you forget to read the script?
There was never a role for him
It was always you and me, just me

Popular mechanics for broken hearts could help me now

Oh Beulah, we miss your jingle-jangley sunny indie-pop creations. Why did you have to leave us?

Beulah - Popular Mechanics for Lovers : The Coast Is Never Clear

Monday, May 28, 2007

Web Slinging Songs

I might be the last person on the block not to have seen Spider-Man 3 at this point. Cut me some slack though...I have been listening to the soundtrack, which while not a Tarantino production is a pleasing mix of some newer artists with new songs, as well as a dusty gem right out of the jukebox - The Twist by Chubby Checker. Reviews I've seen for it (the movie) are all over the board. So what's the consensus? Anyone out there got 2 cents to share? Is it worth seeing on the big screen or should I wait to rent it?

Fun-fact about the original comic book Spider-Man: Stan Lee (the creator of Spider-Man) originally intended for Peter Parker to obtain his powers through finding a magical ring, not being bitten by a radio-active spider as we are familiar with.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Sealings : Spider-Man 3 Soundtrack

Simon Dawes - Scared Of Myself : Spider-Man 3 Soundtrack


The Ramones - Spiderman Theme : Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits

Tenacious D - Rock Your Socks / Spiderman : Live 1-22-02 at the Roseland Ballroom (Buy some D)

They Might Be Giants - Spider : Apollo 18

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Some prophecies are self-fulfilling...

Some prophecies are self-fulfilling
But I've had to work for all of mine
Better times will come to me, God willing
Cause I can't leave this world behind

Josh Ritter - Lawrence, KS (Can't Leave This World Behind) : Golden Age of Radio

Friday, May 25, 2007

Welcome to The Airborne Toxic Event

The Airborne Toxic Event - sounds inviting, doesn't it? Thankfully, their sound sounds much more appetizing than their name. The band has received some flack for having a lead singer (Mikel Jolet) that used to write for Filter Magazine. Heaven forbid someone who loves music start a band. Regardless, after only being together for about a year, the band managed to impress Franz Ferdinand’s manager enough for him to start a label and release a 7" by them.

Since then they've been able to play at some swanky spots and I can only assume are in the process of putting together enough studio material to release an album. In the meantime, the band has put out a 3 track EP as a teaser, and here are a few tracks to give you a taste of what they've got cooking. In it, you'll probably hear some Smiths' influences, as well as a sunnier sounding side of the before mentioned Franz Ferdinand. If nothing else, you'll find yourself singing along with the catchy choruses.

If you find yourself on the west coast in the beginning of June, check them out on the 7th in L.A. at the Henry Fonda Theater (with the Kaiser Chiefs) or on the 9th in West Hollywood at The Troubadour.

The Airborne Toxic Event - Does This Mean You're Moving On?

The Airborne Toxic Event - Wishing Well

Become their friend on MySpace.


Head over to Funeral Pudding for a superb Smith's live show from 1984.

The Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby : Yours Truly Angry Mob

Franz Ferdinand - Words So Leisured : Take Me Out (Single)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Peaceful Tennis anyone?

Tennis - a game played between either 1 player (singles) or two teams of two players (doubles) in which players use a stringed racquet to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court.

Mennonites - a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after and influenced by the teachings and tradition of Menno Simons (1496-1561: see painting to the left of him with his favorite racquet). As one of the historic peace churches, Mennonites are committed to nonviolence, nonviolent resistance / reconciliation, and pacifism.

Tennis and the Mennonites - a group of musical pacifists who play a sport which involves racquets, felt covered balls, and short tennis skirts (my personal favorite part of the game), all while belting out tunes.

OK, so maybe I'm making up that last definition and I have no clue where Tennis and the Mennonites got their name, but it sure is one that you could come up with some wacky theories for. And speaking of Wacky, here's a picture of them:

Regardless of name interpretations and Vegas show-girl connections, the band released their first full length release, Quilt Noise, at the end of last year, and I've been jamming to it for the last few weeks. It's an apt title for the album; it contains 18 tracks that were produced using 3 different studios, 3 different producers, and 7 band members. Almost instantly upon listening, comparisons to Bright Eyes came to mind, as Jerstin Crosby's voice bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Conor Oberst's - not to say that sums up the album by any means though. The album primarily relies on an acoustic guitar feel and playfulness that reminds me a lot of the Violent Femmes as well - not to say that THAT sums up the album either! With 18 tracks put down on tape with so many variables, the album really does have a wide range of sounds to it. In fact, it was hard to narrow down which songs to share with you, as no matter which I picked, to really get a solid aural grasp on T & the M, you need to listen to the entire album. That being said, enjoy the following, and then buy the whole scha-bang

Tennis and The Mennonites - Wicked Man : Quilt Noise

Tennis and The Mennonites - Bianca : Quilt Noise

Visit their label Breakfast Mascot Records and become their friend on MySpace.


Violent Femmes - Lies : Add It Up (1981-1993)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

the only truth is music

-Because all summer I've provided myself my own jazz, singing in the yard or in the house at night, whenever I had to hear some music, see which way the Angel pours the bucket, what stairs down she goes, and otay jazz afternoons in the Maurie O'Tay nightclub okay - music - Because all these serious faces'll only drive you mad, the only truth is music - the only meaning is without meaning - Music blends with the heartbeat universe and we forget the brain beat.

Jack Kerouac - Desolation Angels

Jack Kerouac - Charlie Parker : The Jack Kerouac Collection

Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker - Groovin' High : Diz 'n Bird At Carniegie Hall

Amos Lee - Truth : Supply and Demand

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Augie March - from Down Under

Although you wouldn't guess it if you asked the average music listener in the States, Augie March has been around making music for over 10 years in their native Australia, where they've received six ARIA nominations (Australia’s equivalent of the Grammys), taken the #1 spot on the Triple J Hottest 100 year-end listeners poll (Australia’s leading alternative radio outlet) for the single, One Crowded Hour (check it out below), and to top it off, won the prestigious AMP Award (Australian Music Prize, the equivalent of England’s Mercury Prize) for artistic achievement. So one might ask, why have few people in the US ever heard of them? Good question, but that's about to change.

Although it was released last year in Australia, the band's third album, Moo, You Bloody Choir, is set to be released here on August 7th. From the very first listen, what strikes me as one of the greatest strengths of the album are the harmonies that really flow well with the instrumentation. Although I can't quite pin down why, they really evoke the sound of the 50's for me. Glenn Richards' voice really just soothes your ears while you listen. When asked about it, he replies,
“My conception of the singer/songwriter is very much a 70’s conception, which was generally somebody who wrote strong words, with the words no less a part of the song than the melody and the music. They’re all intertwined. That’s what I’ve always tried to do. For me that means having words that will read on their own quite strongly, not necessarily making a terrible amount of sense, but certainly something that every time I sing a line there’s substance to that line. It’s the only way I can sing so many words.”
So if you're not from down under and haven't given Augie a chance, enjoy the songs below and then look for the album on August 7th.

Augie March - One Crowded Hour : Moo, You Bloody Choir

Augie March - There Is No Such Place : Moo, You Bloody Choir

Visit their website, their label Zomba Jive Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Internet Radio Signing Off?

So by now, I'm sure all of you have heard that the Copyright Royalty Board, supposedly in the name of looking out for musical artists everywhere, has decided to put cement overshoes on Internet Radio broadcasters everywhere and dump them in the river. Which means we might as well be going back to listening to radios like the one pictured above.

For us, the listeners of internet radio, it's a matter of losing another avenue of finding new music. Obviously something that we bemoan, but clearly not something that will ruin our lives. But for internet broadcasters and musicians trying to spread their music, the results are more severe. To get an idea of how they are reacting to this, check out the latest issue of Modern Acoustic, an e-zine that is produced in Boston. Rich Kassirer, it's author, has done a fine job of doing some leg work to get their side of the story, with interviews from musicians who willingly share their music on internet radio and with broadcasters who make very little money, but find fullfillment doing what they do.

While you're there, you can also read all of the back-issues which include some well written articles about everything from the loss of liner notes to seeing one of my favorite artists play in Ireland (Josh Ritter).

Want to do something to help save internet radio? Head over to to find out how.

David Gray - Late Night Radio : Sell Sell Sell

The Presidents Of The United States Of America - Video Killed The Radio Star (Buggles cover) : The Wedding Singer Soundtrack

M. Ward - Radio Campaign : Transistor Radio

Regina Spektor - On The Radio : Begin To Hope

Dirty On Purpose - No Radio : Hallelujah Sirens

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Grace Potter - new stuff Live!

Thursday night I was fortunate enough to be able to once again see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals play at the Iron Horse theater. It was a late show, starting at 10 with an opening act, and Grace and company didn't take their places 'till quarter after eleven or so. Highlights of the show? Hmmm...where to start. First off, the group is set to release a new album (titled This Is Somewhere) August 7th (despite what says), and they weren't afraid to play LOTS of material from it. Many of the songs that will be on the new album are ones that the group has been playing live for a while (including Here's to the Meantime, Stop the Bus, Ain't No Time, and Falling or Flying - which incidentally was featured on Grey's Anatomy Thursday night!). There were also a bunch that they hadn't been playing, including Mastermind and Big White Gate. They also played a brand new, new song that is even newer than the new album which hasn't come out yet, titled If I Was From Paris. According to Grace, it was only the second time the band has played the song for the general public (the first was at the Troubadour in LA last week - check out pictures from that show on Shade Control). The show ended with Nothing But the Water (both parts I and II) which included a little jam session in the middle which turned into James Brown's Get Up (Sex Machine) before the band shifted back into finishing up the song.

I'm really looking to the new album coming in August. From what I've heard from my super-secret sources, it is much more reflective of the sound the band has been kicking out in their live shows the last year or two. For those of you who enjoyed Nothing But the Water, the new album has got a lot more oomph behind it, much like Grace's live persona. They've released one song from it so far (Ah Mary), but while we're waiting for the rest, check out some live versions of some of the other songs that will be appearing on it.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - Here's to the Meantime (live) : Live at The Paradise Rock Club 2-18-06 (studio version on This Is Somewhere)

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - Falling or Flying (live) : Live at The Paradise, Boston MA 9-29-06 (studio version on This Is Somewhere)

James Brown - Get Up (Sex Machine) : James Brown - 20 All-Time Greatest Hits!

Visit their website, their label Universal Music Group, and become their friend on MySpace.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Time to SHRED!!!

Strange coincidence or indicator of my prophetic powers? The other day while talking about Hey Lover's self-titled debut album, I mentioned how the catchy hooks made you want to play air guitar...and here we are a couple days later and I get this e-mail about the 2007 US Air Guitar Championships! I think this might be fate giving me a wake-up call. Perhaps I wasn't destined to become a teacher after all! Well, while I'm pondering my reason for being on the planet, consider whether you have the skills to pay the bills and feel like shreding your way to the championships. If you think you have what it takes, regional contests are coming to a major metropolitan area near you:

June 6 • Washington DC • 9:30 Club (All ages)
June 7 • New York NY • Bowery Ballroom (18+) SOLD OUT
June 8 • Boston MA • Harper's Ferry (21+)
June 13 • Cleveland OH • Cambridge Rm @ HOB (All ages)
June 14 • Columbus OH • The Basement (All ages)
June 15 • Chicago IL • Metro - Smart Bar (18+)
June 16 • Minneapolis MN • Varsity Theater (21+)
June 20 • Dallas TX • Cambridge Room @ HOB (21+)
June 21 • Austin TX • The Parish (All ages)
June 22 • Houston TX • Scout Bar (18+)
June 23 • New Orleans LA • The Parish (18+)
June 27 • San Jose CA • The Blank Club (21+)
June 28 • San Francisco CA • The Independent (21+)
June 29 • Los Angeles CA • Key Club (All ages)

In the meantime, here are some songs to listen to while tuning your air guitar:

Ben Lee - My Guitar : Grandpaw Would

Cake - Guitar : Prolonging the Magic

Dick Dale & The Del-Tones - King of the Surf Guitar : Greatest Hits 1961-1976

Radiohead - Anyone Can Play Guitar : Pablo Honey

They Might Be Giants - The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight) : Apollo 18

Thursday, May 17, 2007

It's Spiegeltent!

Although I've never wished to live in New York City (Boston is more my type), looking at pictures of Spiegeltent tempts me to pay the Big Apple a visit this summer. So what is Spiegeltent you might ask? It's a traveling venue originally hailing from Belgium at the turn of the century (20th that is, not 21st!) that's made of teek, beveled glass, mirrors, and velvet all contained guessed it - a tent! Talk about a first date that will guarantee to impress...check out the pictures below and then start planning on who you want to take:


In addition to simply looking magical, swanky, and inviting, Spiegeltent will be housing performances by a multitude of bands, actors, and eye-popping contemporary burlesque acts in its summer home under the Brooklyn Bridge at the Fulton Fish Market. Some of them include:

7/07: Lady Sovereign
7/16: Shout Out Louds
7/17: Weimar NY: The Spiegel Sessions
7/19: Shout Out Louds
7/24: DeVotchka
7/25: DeVotchka
7/31: Ute Lemper: ‘Voyages’
8/07: Lila Downs
8/08: Lila Downs
8/13: Badly Drawn Boy
8/14: Badly Drawn Boy
8/21: José González
8/28: Weimar NY: The Spiegel Sessions
8/26: O’Death
9/05: An Albatross
9/11: Penny Arcade’s “Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!”
9/18: Weimar NY: The Spiegel Sessions
9/22: Dan Zanes and Friends: Sea Music!

Here are some of the acts slated to perform:

Lady Sovereign - Ch Ching
: Vertically Challenged

Shout Out Louds - Tonight I Have to Leave It : Tonight I Have to Leave It EP

Devotchka - How It Ends : How It Ends

Lila Downs - Donde Estas Papa : The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada Soundtrack

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rufus - Still At It

Released yesterday, Rufus Wainwright's newest album, Release the Stars. While I haven't had a chance to pick it up yet, I do have an interview and songs that Rufus performed on KCRW way back in 1998 on Morning Becomes Eclectic as a promo for the release of his self-titled first album. In this day and age of constantly shifting stars and attention spans, it's rather refreshing to still be listening to someone who's been releasing albums for close to 10 years now.

Rufus Wainwright - Intro : Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic 2-20-98

Rufus Wainwright - Foolish Love (live) : Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic 2-20-98 (studio version on Rufus Wainwright)

Rufus Wainwright - Interview : Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic 2-20-98

Rufus Wainwright - In My Arms (live) : Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic 2-20-98 (studio version on Rufus Wainwright)

Rufus Wainwright - Interview : Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic 2-20-98

And just because it's one of my favorite covers...

Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright - Careless Whisper : Live 6.29.04 - Wolf Trap Filene Center; Vienna, Virginia (original Wham! version on Make It Big)

Visit his website, his label Geffen Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hey Lover!...Turn it up LOUD!

Let me start with Hey Lover!'s self written bio on their webpage:

we are superheroes. we were born and now we live.

OK, that about sums it up.
Any questions?

Seriously though... Summer has finally hit in New England. In fact, the temps have been so warm it's felt like Mother Nature decided to skip spring and go right to summer. With the temps going up, you know it's time for the windows to be rolled down. Last week I was searching through the CDs in the car looking for something to play loud and I came up with Thankfully, what should appear in my mailbox on Saturday? That's did you guess? Hey Lover's debut album Hey Lover (self-titled that is).

Hey Lover was appropriately formed by Terah Beth and Justin Vargas coming together to form a band, and then to form a family. From Tara Beth's opening scream in She's In the City (available below...don't forget the ear plugs) right through the end of the album, the band runs on high octane. Speaking of which, it only took the couple 6 days to fly down from Portland (their hometown) and record the album (which was released in March) at Breakfast Mascot Records in North Carolina. You can feel the urgency and energy throughout the album, jam packed with punk-pop songs that hit you quick (most of the 16 tracks are around 2 minutes or less) with catchy hooks that make you want to play air guitar. Simply put, the album is A LOT of fun...the perfect opener for summer.

Hey Lover - She's In the City : Hey Lover

Hey Lover - Hula Girl : Hey Lover

Visit their website, their label Breakfast Mascot Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

More Married Bandmates

Sonny & Cher - I Got You Babe : Look At Us

Mates of State - Fraud In The '80s
: Bring It Back

Monday, May 14, 2007

Arctic Monkeys Live

Be Your Own Pet and The Arctic Monkeys : Live at Avalon in Boston 5-13-07

So I'll start off by saying that I originally had high expectations for this show. Those high expectations then turned to fear that I was hoping for too much and that I would be severely let down. Thankfully, they were actually met and exceeded last night.

I was a little late getting to the Avalon thanks to traffic, but luckily, the bands were even later getting started. It got kicked off with Be Your Own Pet THRASHING through Bunk Trunk Skunk (available below for your thrashing pleasure) and about a half hour of material from their debut album as well as a couple new songs. To be honest, I'm not sure that the crowd knew what to make of the group. There was some muted cheering between songs, but the crowd was about as animated as a corpse. Seriously. Take a listen to Bunk Trunk Skunk and tell me if it is a song that you can listen to while standing still. The crowd was just there. No arms pumping in the air. No bodies jumping up and down. Nothing. Thankfully Jemina Pearl had enough energy to make up for the crowd with no pulse. I was simply amazed at how petite she was while at the same time just getting crazy up on stage. I don't think she stood still for a second. Jemina, accept my apologies from the city of Boston - next time they'll know what to expect and we can feed into what you're pumping onstage.

Be Your Own Pet - Bunk Trunk Skunk : Be Your Own Pet

Be Your Own Pet - Wildcat (live) : Be Your Own Pet (available via iTunes album download)

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

After a reasonably short break, the Arctic Monkeys took the stage. I'll say that the boys sounded just as good live as they do on album, especially for how loud their show was. Vocals were dead on and front and center, while the rest of the band were still getting their groove on. Although the crowd needed to be jump started when BYOP were on the stage, they finally came alive for the Monkeys. I apologize for the fuzzy pictures above (thanks Becca for the much better pictures), but having gotten there late, my spot in the crowd was less than enviable, and it only got worse once people started pushing to get forward once the boys started playing. Their set lasted for a little over an hour, and from as best as I can remember included the following (not in the order listed - if you were there and I missed some (which I'm sure I did), let me know):

From their last album:
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Still Take You Home
Dancing Shoes
Bigger Boys And Stolen Sweethearts
When The Sun Goes Down (Scummy Man)
From The Ritz To The Rubble
Fake Tales Of San Francisco
A Certain Romance
The View From The Afternoon

From their latest album:
If You Found This It's Probably Too Late (off the Brianstorm EP)
Teddy Picker
D is for Dangerous
Fluorescent Adolescent
This House Is A Circus
The Bad Thing
Do Me A Favour
If You Were There, Beware

As you can see, they played quite a collection of crowd favorites from the last album as well as some new ones. At this point I would normally post some songs for you to jam to while reading this post, but I'd rather not anger the Monkeys' management - we all know they can be a little touchy about that sort of thing. Instead I'll tell you to pick up their newest album, Favourite Worst Nightmare (as if you don't have it already!), and catch them live if they haven't already sold you their show near you.

Visit their website, their label Domino Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Again, super special thanks to Becca for taking the time to send me the pictures and add a few songs to the setlist that I missed!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

K'naan - Straight out of Somalia

Originally hailing from Mogadishu, Somalia, K'naan ("traveller" in Somali) fled to Toronto at age 14 to escape the horrifically unstable situation in that country. Upon arrival in Canada, he learned to speak English, as well as his ability to rhyme, through listening to rappers such as Nas and Rakim. Since then, he's used what he's learned to make some incredibly powerful and socially conscious music.

Start out with one part Bob Marley, and another part of Fela Kuti, and mix in some Fugees for good measure and you'll get a sense of what K'naan is bringing. Through all of the blending and melding of sounds though, he keeps hold of his roots and uses his music as a vehicle of protest against his home country being torn apart from the inside.

His debut album, The Dusty Foot Philosopher, is tentatively scheduled to be released in the US in July, but if you can't wait it is already out in Canada (it actually won the 2006 Juno Award for Best Rap Recording) and is available as an import. In the meantime, enjoy the following live songs to get a flavor of his afro-flavored beats.

K'naan - In the Beginning (live)

K'naan - Be Free ( live)

K'naan - Soobox (live) (watch the video)

Catch K’naan at the end of his Mind Control North American Tour:

5/15 Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
5/17 Windsor, ON @ Chrysler Theater
5/18 Atlanta, GA @ The Roxy
5/19 Saint Petersburg, FL @ Jannus Landing
5/20 Orlando, FL @ House of Blues

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.


Bob Marley and the Wailers - No Woman, No Cry : Live!

Fela Kuti - Suffering & Smiling : Music Is The Weapon Of The Future

The Fugees - Vocab (Refugees Hip Hop Remix) : Fugees: Greatest Hits

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Great Northern winner

Just wanted to take a break and congratulate Amanda for winning a signed copy of Great Northern's new album, a pair of tickets to see them in Boston on June 13th, and a t-shirt to wear and get the band to sign for her hopefully. Her answer to the entry question of where north would she like to go was Helsinki, Finland. I have to be honest with you, I don't know a darn thing about Helisinki.

Architecture In Helsinki - Pet Sounds : Do It Again: A Tribute To Pet Sounds

Enjoy the show Amanda and let us know how it goes!

Visit Great Northern's website, their label Eenie Meenie Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Friday, May 11, 2007

6 down, 9 to go

So as I mentioned a few posts ago when talking about The Honored Guests, I have the great honor of being a graduate student. One of the incredibly enjoyable benefits of being one is the end of the semester final paper. The end of the semester 15 page paper. The end of the semester 15 page paper with 7 outside sources. (please note intended sarcastic tone) In this particular case, it's about the environmental writer Barry Lopez and man's connection with nature in this increasingly technological world (for example me writing this blog).

So, with that in mind, please forgive the lack of posts for the last few days, as well as for the next few days. Because I know your ears still need music to listen to, regardless of my higher education requirements, enjoy the following.

Lou Barlow & His Sentridoh - Natural Nature : Lou Barlow And His Sentridoh

Mates Of State - Nature and the Wreck : Bring It Back

Sarah Vaughan - I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter (live) : At Mister Kelly's

Say Hi to Your Mom - They Write Books About This Sort of Thing
: Discosadness

This Mortal Coil - Nature's Way : Blood

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

True Story!

"What is that? A Twisted Sister pin...on your uniform????"

In case you don't know, my real world job (while not moonlighting as a blogging rock star) is as a 7th grade teacher. One of the teachers on my team, we'll call her Ms. R to protect her identity, doesn't have that good of a rapport with the students. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is downright crappy.

Anyway, during the middle of the morning, our students have a 10 minute break to eat a snack, grab the books they need for their next classes, and socialize in general. Sometimes teachers will take away this break and require the students to stay in their room as punishment for various infractions. Ms. R tends to keep the same boys in for 10 minute break fairly regularly.

This is where the story gets good, so stick with me if you've made it this far (I know there is a lot of background info to work up to this). SO, last week, several of the boys who feel that they are being unfairly picked on decide to break out with Twisted Sister's 80's anthem We're Not Gonna Take full volume...refusing to quiet down. Ms. R, not knowing how to deal with the rowdy group and probably fearing for mayhem similar to what happens in the video, ends up calling up the school resource officer (otherwise known as a cop) to break up the crew and take them down to the principal's office.

True story.

Twisted Sister - We're Not Gonna Take It : Still Hungry

Monday, May 07, 2007

Serena Ryder and her roots

From the title of the album, If Your Memory Serves You Well, you can tell that Serena Ryder is taking a look back at the past. That in itself is not such a rare thing for a musician to do. Most will list a handful of artists that inspired them and helped them formulate their own sound when asked. What is rare in this case is that Serena is paying homage to them on her major label debut and some of the songs date back as far as 70 years! In the liner notes, Serena explains:
I've been singing songs seven times my age since I was seven years old. I am a songwriter, but that didn't happen by itself, it happened with the inspiration of great songs, amazing songs, songs that over and over withstand the test of time, these songs, Canadian songs... and a few written by yours truly (tucked at the end to give you a taste of what's coming next to me.)
Don't think that simply makes the album Serena's exercise in Karaoke. She's got a voice that's absolutely dynamite, fiery and full of soul and spunk, and she uses it to approach these songs from some widely different angles. In some she exudes a bluesy dimension, in others she gets a hint of a twang, goes gospel here and there, and at least one point (in Some of These Days, written by Shelton Brooks and recorded by such artists as Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday available below - Serena slows it down and adds a sultry edge compared to Louis' jumping version, although she does start the track with the fuzzy hiss and crackle sound reminiscent of the records Louis would have recorded on!) even displays a huskiness similar to the latest foul-mouthed vixen, Amy Winehouse (minus the expletives and with toned downed innuendo).

Some of the other songs Serena re-imagines include Leonard Cohen's Sisters of Mercy, Bob Dylan's This Wheel's On Fire, and Good Morning Starshine (from the 1967 musical Hair).

The album is rounded out with three of Serena's own songs, and while I won't denounce any of them as unworthy, there is a somewhat different feel to them than the first eleven tracks. I'm not sure if it's their structure or the lyrical development, they're just different...not better, not worse, again - just different. I've included one of them, Just Another Day, below (which includes a snippet of Serena at 7 singing Buddy Holly's That'll Be the Day at the end), as well as one from her first album, Unlikely Emergency, for you to compare.

Serena Ryder - Some of These Days : If Your Memory Serves You Well

Louis Armstrong - Some of These Days
: Hot Fives and Sevens

Serena Ryder - Just Another Day : If Your Memory Serves You Well

and another original from her first album...

Serena Ryder - Daydream : Unlikely Emergency

Visit Serena's website, her label EMI Canada, and become her friend on MySpace.


5/7 Living Room New York, NY
5/9 Mercury Lounge New York, NY
5/11 Tin Angel Philadelphia, PA
5/12 Star Hill Charlottesville, VA
5/13 Jammin’ Java Washington D.C.
5/15 Center for the Arts Univ Buffalo, NY
5/18-20 Non-Comm-vention Louisville, KY
5/22 The Mint Los Angeles, CA
5/23 Hotel Café Los Angeles, CA
(Opening for Xavier Rudd for all the following)
6/16 Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
6/17 Madison Theatre Cincinnati, OH
6/19 Park West Chicago, IL
6/20 First Avenue Minneapolis, MN
6/22 Gothic Theatre Denver, CO
6/25 El Rey Theatre Los Angeles, CA
6/26 House of Blues San Diego, CA
6/29 Roseland Theatre Portland, OR
6/30 The Showbox Seattle, WA

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Swati - birth of a star

In case you're planning on traveling to India anytime soon, here's your Hindi language lesson for the day: swati - birth of a star. Swati is also the name of a talented New York City native who released her debut album, Small Gods, on May 1st.

Amazingly, Swati began her musical pilgrimage with the trombone. Thankfully, she's since switched to a twelve string guitar fitted with only eight. At some points she snarls with estrogen-powered angst a la Ani DiFranco; in others she sings with a delicate voice reminiscent of Jewel's earlier work. At all points she sings with a personal flair.

Have you ever bought a new CD and while listening to it you come across a song that you've never heard before but when you do you keep rewinding it and listening to it over and over? That was what happened to me when I first listened to Blackjack, the first song below. On it's surface, it's about the card game where your goal is to reach 21. Delving deeper reveals a song written about a one night relationship Swati had with a prostitute and her search for a deeper connection with another individual. It really speaks to the inner need in all of us to find that soul in the world with which to share our lives.

i got a prostitute
in an atlantic city bar
she said what would you like to do
you look kinda normal but you still got NYC all over you

just hold my hand when the six card drops
hold my hand when the money runs out
dealer's got blackjack

she said don't you got no friends
i said yes ma'am but today i'm sick of them
well don't you got no lovers
i said no ma'am i'm always chasing the hearts i can never have

so just hold my hand when the six card drops
just hold my hand when the money runs out
dealer's got blackjack

monday i called my summer love
i said please see me i need to talk about stuff
she blamed it on the dopamine weirdy
and gently sent me on my way
tuesday i called my first love i said please see me i need to remember who i was
she said you're definitely not the same person today
i love you anyway
so now here i am sitting with you at the all you can eat buffet
you got your hand resting gently on my knee and i'm pretending that i've found me
an unconditional love from a stranger

at the end of the night
i said i'll drive you home
please say mexico
she said you're driving real fast
i said i'm sorry ma'am am i making you nervous
she said oh no oh no
drive faster faster faster

and hold my hand when the six card drops
hold my hand when the money runs out
just hold my hand when the six card drops
hold my hand cause the money’s run out
baby’s got blackjack.

In addition to Blackjack, check out her cover of Bruce Springsteen's I'm on Fire.

Want to know more about her? Check out this interview with Swati and this one as well.

Swati - Blackjack : Small Gods

Swati - I'm On Fire (Bruce Springsteen cover) : Small Gods

Visit Swati's website, her label Bluhammock Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Speak Hindu? Head over to eMusic recorded in Hindu (at least that's what I believe it is) for a couple of tracks Swati recorded pre-Small Gods.

Other interpretations of I'm On Fire

Tori Amos - I'm On Fire (live) : VH1 Crossroads

Heather Nova - I'm On Fire (live) : Wonderlust