Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday Soul - Ben E. King

From my jukebox to yours...

Ben E. King - Spanish Harlem : Spanish Harlem 7"

Ben E. King - First Taste of Love : Spanish Harlem 7"

Disco Not Disco

Thanks to John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever, the above image will forever by seared into our culture's collective conscience and will resurface whenever the term Disco is ever brought up or the 70's as a decade looked back upon. Which is unfortunate, because there was a lot of other artistic endeavors going on in music besides the Gibb brothers. Honest!

Strut records has done the dirty work here of sifting through music long past its hey-day in an effort to bring it back to life. They've picked out fourteen tracks ranging from reactionary 70's post punk to left field disco, dusted them off, and packaged them here for your trip into a decade that many argue should be forgotten. After hearing these tracks (two of which you can listen to below), you might disagree.

Head to the album's official site to stream more tracks as well as for a chance to win a copy of the album (which comes out January 15th).

You can stream two tracks below (track info taken from the liner notes)

Delta 5 - Mind Your Own Business
An all-female trio that formed for a laugh back in '79 before becoming a fixture on the Leeds post-punk scene, Delta 5 became active figures in the Rock Against Racism movement. This three minute gem was covered by Chicks On Speed among others. Bassist Bethan Peters recorded with Fun Boy Three in later years (read more about them here).
Liaisons Dangereuses - Los Ninos Del Parque (12' mix)
A big one for Derrick May, Carl Craig, DJ Hell and more, this groundbreaking, much sampled piece of stomping, unsettling electronics from '81 was the mysterious brainchild of D.A.F.'s Chrislo Haas and Beate Bartel from Mania D. Singer Krishna Goineau is behind the mournful vocals, singing in German, French, Spanish and broken English on the band's only recorded album (read more about it here).

Visit Strut Records and the compilation's official site.


Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive : Saturday Night Fever

Saturday, December 29, 2007

the Worldly Flavor of Rue Melo

Some albums you listen to just lack a straight edge for you to follow. You listen to it and try to find its shape so you can fit it through the opening in the box of musical genres, but come up short. Rue Melo's self-titled debut album is like that. I've been listening to it; I've been loving it; I've been trying to think how I can encompass it in a nice tidy package (to no avail).

Rue herself is something of a cultural smorgasbord. Born in Paris to a French dancer and a father who was a guitarist and singer from Uruguay, Rue later was transplanted to California. It's easy to see this amalgamation of cultures in her work. Of instant obviousness are the lyrics in English, French, and Spanish (listen to Enamorada below, which artfully blends all three languages together into one musical statement). The music on the album ranges from club music one could imagine hailing out of Miami (check out Check It, below), to latin tinged melodies, to R&B flavored numbers. Trust me, this is like nothing else that's in your iMusicplayer right now.

The downside of the album: my inability to follow all three languages. Damn my Americanness.

Visit her website, her label Fighter Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Terrordactyls fly in

I'm going to keep this short and sweet, just like the tunes on The Terrordactyls' self titled long play debut which came out at the beginning of this month. They've packed fourteen tracks into a little under thirty-seven minutes. We're not talking about a Ramones album here though - these little ditties are cute, quirky, and offbeat. Besides lyrics that are straight out of left-field (yet still make perfect sense), the duo of Michael Cadiz and Tyrel Stendahl playfully add complementary instrumentation such as toy pianos and kazoos. Additionally, Kimya Dawson (former Moldy Peaches member) makes a guest appearance on one of the tracks, Devices (which you can listen to below). The short and sweet of it - a perfect CD to just enjoy beginning with the very first listen.

The Terrordactyls - Fall : The Terrordactyls

The Terrordactyls - Devices (with Kimya Dawson) : The Terrordactyls

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.


Kimya Dawson - My Mom
: Remember That I Love You

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Please (don't) Quiet Ourselves

There have been some comparisons made between veteran odd-balls Modest Mouse and the new Berkeley, CA group Please Quite Ourselves. While there are some textual and constructive similarities between the two, I would argue that the pair are quite far apart. Don't get me wrong here, I'm a huge fan of the Mouse, but with their music, the off-kilter approach (in terms of lyrics, in terms of notes, in terms of who knows what's gonna come next...) has begun to feel expected at this point. It's almost a fabricated clumsiness. One that you still enjoy, you just know that it's coming.

Although there are some hints of that on Please Quiet Ourselves self-titled debut, with them that awkwardness feels more believable. Maybe it's because they're still in high school, or maybe not. They just convey that feeling you had standing on one side of the gym at the school dance staring at the girls on the other side: you know what you want, you're just a little ungainly getting it. They've got that semi-hip / semi-nerdy factor that just pulls you in to see which way they're going to zing next.

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Out with the old...

...and it's GONE! Alright folks, the Christmas rush is DONE! Only a few more days to a new year. A chance to forget old mistakes (and maybe start making new ones). An opportunity to move on. That being said, I've made it my personal goal to write a little something about some of the albums that were released in 2007 and have been sitting on my desk waiting for some love. And maybe...just maybe...I might get a chance to put together some sort of list for 2007 of music that made me happy.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The soul of Guy Sebastian

There are some things you just don't mess with. Memphis soul music from the 60's and 70's is one of them. There was a certain set of conditions, personalities, and influences that came together to make something perfect that can never be replicated. Sure, you can try to cover a classic song from the period and pay homage to artists who shaped the development of music in the United States. But to put together a complete album? You better have eaten all of your Wheaties.

A young Australian singer, Guy Sebastian, has taken on that Herculean task with his fourth album, The Memphis Album. I know what you're thinking: A whole album of covers? Can't he write some material of his own? How can you improve upon or even equal music of such historic weight? Well, to start, to help him with the task are several men who were instrumental in originating the sound when it first got cut on vinyl, including Donald "Duck" Dunn and Steve Cropper (who I recently mentioned here), two original members of Booker T. and the MG's (and of the Blues Brothers' band). Steve was not only a member of the monumentally important house band of Stax Records, but was also clutch in producing much of the music that other groups put out under the Stax name. Consequently, he also was responsible for producing Guy's album. That says a lot about Guy's artistic prowess when the original musicians come along for the ride.

All of the songs on the album are ones that you're familiar with if you've listened to any soul music from the period. They've got the signature Stax organ sound behind them, the tight horn section making themselves heard, with a new voice in front, one that's noticeably different from the originals. Although his vocals are of a different tone, it's clear that Guy has taken much of his style from the period's artists, and he does a very fine job of filling some very large shoes. I'm not going to lie to you, there are a couple of interpretations that don't quite stack up to their predecessors, but as a whole, the album really is a wonderful tribute to some classic music.

It very much reminds me of Marc Broussard's album from earlier this year, S.O.S.: Save Our Soul, albeit with much more well known songs and a somewhat updated feel to it (whereas Broussard feels closer to the original). Right now it's only available as an import from Australia, but hopefully it will get a release here in the States. While you're waiting for it, enjoy the following:

Guy Sebastian - Knock On Wood (Eddie Floyd cover)
: The Memphis Album

Eddie Floyd - Knock On Wood : The Complete Stax/Volt Singles: 1959-1968 (Disc 6)

Buddy Guy - Knock On Wood (Eddie Floyd cover)
: Vanguard Visionaries

Guy Sebastian - Respect Yourself (The Staple Singers cover) : The Memphis Album

The Staple Singers - Respect Yourself
: The Best Of The Staple Singers

Marc Broussard - Respect Yourself (The Staple Singers cover) : S.O.S.: Save Our Soul

Visit his website, his label Sony/BMG Australia, and become his friend on MySpace.


The Blues Brothers - Rubber Biscuit : Briefcase Full of Blues

Nicky Click - New old School

The Nicky Click is made up of many characters and people. Some are: Nicky Click, Petunia Pie, Penelope Parinoid, Plum Precious, and you. When Nicky Click writes in her diary it is Petunia Pie talking. She makes their words and feelings into these songs you hear. This is the new wave of girls making up the words in their bedrooms which will save the world. Nicky Click is a paperdoll unfolding in front of you, so many girls exposed, each so unique. The paperdoll unravels into many, yet all stay connected and fall back into one. May you listen to this in your own bedroom and feel something. May you find your own beat, may you discover all those dolls inside you. Don't give up, your soul will see light and joy again. Beathe and remind yourself you exist and it is just life.

-from the liner notes to Nicky Click's album
I'm On My Cell Phone

It's usually pretty easy to figure out who an artist is a derivative of, but you just can't say that about Nicky Click. She's certainly a renaissance woman: producer, video artist, singer, dance queen, feminist, queer femme, etc... Her sophomore album, I'm On My Cell Phone, came out last month and is just as hard to define as the artist who produced it. Think Peaches meets Gravy Train!!!! and you'll be in the right city, but then take it back old school - I'm talking 80's hip-hop flash back circa Krush Groove - and you'll be closer to what you'll hear here.

Nicky Click - Don't Gotta Pay For Love : I'm On My Cell Phone

Nicky Click - It's Complicated : I'm On My Cell Phone

Visit her website, her label Crunks Not Dead, and become her friend on MySpace.


Peaches - Give 'Er : Impeach My Bush

Gravy Train!!!! - Solo J/O : All the Sweet Stuff

Fat Boys - All You Can Eat
: Krush Groove Soundtrack

LL Cool J - I Can't Live Without My Radio : All World - Greatest Hits

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday Spotlight - Dawn Kinnard

Welcome to the third installment of the Sunday Spotlight. Today, you'll have a chance to meet Dawn Kinnard. Dawn grew up in Pennsylvania in a church run by her Baptist preacher father (Tori Amos anyone?). When she turned sixteen, she became obsessed with Elvis and swore that the King was the only man for her to marry. Her original plans included attending art school. When she couldn't raise enough money to enroll, she trained to work as a hairdresser (maybe cutting Elvis doo's for Vegas preachers?). In her early twenties she was riding her beloved Harley-Davidson cross-country until she sold it to finance the recording of her first eight tracker in a makeshift studio she set up in her dad’s church. From there she headed south to Nashville and was discovered by her manager singing in a bar.

From Nashville she traveled across the ocean to London and showed enough grit and skill to be the first signing to new label Kensaltown Recordings. And the rest, as they say, is history. She's poised to release her debut 7" on January 21st, and here's the A-side from it, titled Devil's Flame. All text below in red is Dawn talking about the song. Read, listen, enjoy.

Dawn Kinnard - Devil's Flame : The Courtesy Fall
It's an invitation to the lonely, or people who feel as though they have been "brushed beneath the rug". Or people who demand answers and feel impatient. It's a song with open arms but requests responsibility for one's state of mind in contrast.

This is a tough one because it is quite a personal song and I want people to be able to take from it what they like. So, that being said, I hesitate to say too much. but here is one or two more thoughts...

Lyric from Devil's Flame:
"I've cut you some slack
I've done you a favor
I've tied your mind
and denied you a savior"
...This could be taken in two ways in my mind...I as the writer may not be trustworthy. And the song is about trust...


To be denied of a savior could feel good. (because) No one to check in with. No one to confess to. No accountability. An impossible nirvana? possibly, but you might be in danger of the Devil's Flame.


As stated previously, the song is the A-side of her debut 7" that will be coming out next month, with Fortune Teller (also from the upcoming album) on the flip side. The two tracks make a very diametric pair. Devil's Flame begins with an almost bombastic opening that's tight, tough, confrontational, and in your face. Fortune Teller is none of those things. It's smooth and luxuriously silky (and perhaps my favorite track from the album) and feels like it could be coming from Dawn's lips while she seductively drapes herself over a piano in a dark, smoky lounge.

Listening to Dawn's voice brings to mind small comparisons and connections to lots of other strong female vocalists, but her sound and style are very much her own. Her vocals are somewhat distinctive with her smoky yet smooth delivery that, at various points in the album, reminded me of such diverse artists as Janis Joplin (with her gravelly voice) and Billie Holiday (refer to Fortune Teller above). It almost feels as if Dawn's testing her limits, pushing boundaries to see which direction she wants to take her music. It's not just her voice that stands out here though; the music itself seems to span across genres. Listen to the both of these tracks to get a taste of the range, then keep your eyes open for the single and the entire album (titled The Courtesy Fall), which will be coming out in February.

Dawn Kinnard - Devil's Flame : The Courtesy Fall

Dawn Kinnard - Clear the Way : The Courtesy Fall

Visit her label Kensaltown Records and become her friend on MySpace.


Previous Sunday Spotlights : Marco Mahler and The Motion Sick

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Outlaw Music from Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

Perhaps no other name is as instantly recognizable in the American west folklore as that of the outlaw Jesse James. His name is the stuff of legends and is sure to survive as long as the image of the wild west cowboy. Numerous films have been made to secure his place in our cultural memory, the latest being The Assassination Of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

The film was directed by Andrew Dominik (who also directed the cult classic Chopper in 2000) and stars Brad Pitt as the celebrated outlaw. And although I have not seen the film yet myself, I have seen reviews that suggest this is the best role of his career. The screenplay is based on the Ron Hansen novel of the same title and illustrates the demise of James at the hands of one of his gang members, Robert Ford. Besides starring Pitt, also present are Sam Shepard, Robert Duvall, Sam Rockwell and Mary-Louise Parker.

One might anticipate that the soundtrack for such a distinctly western film might be a Hi-yo twangy affair (unless Ennio Morricone's name was mentioned), but the producers have made a choice almost as good: Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. The pair have put together an instrumental album to accompany the film that avoids any stereotypical western flair and instead offers a dark, brooding, atmospheric album that seems perfectly suited for its subject matter. It's available now digitally, and will be able to purchase physically February 5th of next year (on which date the film was also be available on DVD).

stream Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Moving On (Real Audio / Windows Audio) : The Assassination Of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

stream Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Cowgirl (Real Audio / Windows Audio) : The Assassination Of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Visit the film's official website and watch the trailer.


John Lee Hooker - I'm Bad Like Jesse James
: The Ultimate Collection 1948-1990 (Disc 2)

Ennio Morricone - The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (Main Title) : A Fistful Of Film Music [Disc 1]

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Smalltown Boy

And as hard as they would try
They'd hurt to make you cry
But you never cried to them
Just to your soul
No you never cried to them
Just to your soul

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia Spinnin' It Up

House and Techno music, while good at getting you to move your body, often lacks a humanistic touch that connects with anything deeper than your sweat glands. Mlle Caro and Franck Garcia are here to combat that stereotype with their semi-soon pushed back (March 4) to be released collaboration album titled Pain Disappears.

Since 1996, Mlle Caro (Caroline Laher) has been spinning records in Paris and is currently the resident DJ at the Rex club and Requiem45 parties. Last year, she teamed up with fellow Parisian Franck Garcia (a producer and composer, as well as fellow DJ) on the Crosstown Rebels label for the Far Away single (watch the sensual video for the song here). Having decided that their chemistry deserved more than a single to manifest itself in, the pair moved on to Buzzin' Fly Records, where they have conceived an album's worth of material to deliver to the world.

What really most intrigues me about this album is its make up and in the way it expresses itself. Starting with the first track, Always You, the first half of the album is a continuous question - an unsteady balance going back and forth between the humane and the artificial. Between the drum machine and the complementary vocals of Caro and Garcia. The parts that work best for me are the ones that serve his voice delivering the lyrics, with hers just below the surface - almost making you question if you hear her at all. It offers a sensuous that seduces the listener but eludes you as quickly as it comes.

Tracks 7 (Lost) and 8 (No Name - an apt title for these mechanical expressions) exhibit a loss of the soul - replaced by a complete electronic identity - an impersonal driving that eventually turns into track 9 (No One) - which returns the person, but changed - more mechanical. Although the album technically ends with a remix of the opening track by Ewan Pearson, the real conclusion to me feels to be in track 10, Reason To Stay, which is decidedly human and light, and offers a refreshingly different taste, yet a satisfying conclusion to the duality of the album.

The album is unfortunately not due out until March 4th, but if you head over to Buzzin' Fly Records (go to the downloads section of the store), you can pick up the single for the lead off track Always You, along with two remixes by Ewan Pearson, and Lost (mentioned above), another track from the LP.

Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia - Dead Souls (Ben Watt Radio Edit) : Original Version on Pain Disappears

Monday, December 17, 2007

Chairs In the Arno

Band members Jeff Excell, Jeff Knight, and Ryan Fly tossed their plastic chairs into the Arno river in a fit of drunken exuberance while studying abroad in Italy. While celebrating their noble deed, they came up with a name for their band: Chairs In the Arno. Definitely a Kodak moment. After returning to their homeland, the trio recruited Becca Hsu to share vocal duties as well as tickling the keys of a moog synthesizer. In this final form, the band put together their debut album, titled File Folder, which came out in October.

Although short (eight tracks and only twenty-seven minutes long), the album is a lot of fun. It's clear the foursome approached the project with a lot of energy. The primary palette of sounds here is unabashedly electronic from beginning to end. It really reminds me of another album I enjoyed earlier this year: Au Revoir Simone's The Bird of Music, although with male and female vocals adding a human element to all the bleeps, bloops, and synth-sounds that energetically flit by. Consider it youthful digitized quirkiness to brighten up your day!

Chairs In the Arno - I Never Loved You Anyways : File Folder

Chairs In the Arno - Suit Pressed : File Folder

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


Au Revoir Simone - A Violent Yet Flammable World : Live at the 9:30 Club 4-30-07 (Studio version on The Bird of Music

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday Spotlight - The Motion Sick

Welcome to the second post in my new Sunday Spotlight series. Last week, we took a peek into Marco Mahler's mind as he revealed the inner trappings of his song Fields. In case you weren't around for it, the purpose of the series is to pry open artists mind to see what makes them really tick. I'll be asking artists whose music I'm particularly enjoying to open up about a track from their latest effort.

This week, the kind lads from The Motion Sick have agreed to bandy together to talk about a track from their latest album, The Truth Will Catch You, Just Wait..., which is scheduled to be released at the turn of next year (January 1st). And because I haven't gotten you anything yet, accept these tracks as my gifts to you. Enjoy them while reading the absolutely, positively true story behind 30 Lives, the second track from the album, a love song that could be straight from a nerd's heart (or Michael Epstein's). Text in red is from the band, text in black is mine.


Michael Epstein (Vocals/Guitar):

30 Lives came together quite differently from a lot of other songs that we've worked on. I wanted to write a love song for my wife for a long time, but I find it really difficult to write songs without all of the characters contorting and twisting into something at least mildly grotesque. So one day, when I was painting our bedroom pomegranate red, it dawned on me that I do enjoy some very light-hearted music, but that most of that music was made in the '50s. That was the trick, I'd write a '50s love song for her.

I was a little worried still about coming up with a concept for the song. It seemed like most of the basic "love" ideas have been done to death. I love you, you're beautiful, you make me happy, angels sing when you walk by, etc. I don't know why I was simultaneously thinking about video games. Maybe I am always simultaneously thinking about video games. Either way, it came to me that in video games, you get multiple lives. I couldn't think of any songs at all about reincarnation, except maybe Pet Sematary by The Ramones, but that is a very negative discourse. So, maybe a song about reincarnation to relive love together was original enough and suitable to keep the lovely lady happy.

The Ramones - Pet Sematary : Weird Tales of the Ramones

Of course, those video games kept sneaking in and I realized that this was a perfect opportunity to intertwine love and video games. The Konami Code (or sometimes the Contra Code) - Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A - is probably the most famous video game cheat and it gives you thirty lives. Note that Select-Start, although not truly part of the code, sets the game on two player mode and begins.

My wife complains that the song is really about video games more than it is about her, but it will probably be a while before I squeeze out another love song, so she'll have to live with this for now. In her defense, we have sometimes introduced the song live as a love song about two men who set off into the jungle together to fight a rebel army controlled by an alien race determined to take over the planet.

The music video is kind of a tribute to the '70s and '80s tributes to the '50s. I guess it's post-post-ironic anachronism or something. It was a ton of work making the video, but we really had a great time and met a lot of awesome people. It really reminded me that although you see list of 4 guys in this band, we really only exist and accomplish anything at all via the generosity and support of dozens, if not hundreds, of talented friends and acquaintances.

Matthew Girard (Bass):

I heard a quote once about the band, saying that listening to us is like putting on a Mix Tape. I've always found that both flattering and frustrating... While the listener is hopefully pleasantly surprised by the variety, I also wonder if they are left with a disconnect; wondering how this band could possibly make a cohesive collection of songs. Take 30 Lives for example. On its own, its a slightly quirky ode to the '80s that also has roots in the '50s. To me; it is in essence a love song, with (stealing a common phrase from Dick Clark's American Bandstand) a good beat and you can dance to it. I suppose if I was to think a little more; potentially I could come up with some more significant personal or fatalistic meaning to a lyrics like: "as my mood ring turns dark blue", but maybe we as listeners and critics over think music. However, within the context of a rather lyrically deep collection of songs maybe we need that three and a half minute mental break and just think about the girl/boy of our dreams..

Travis Richter (Drums):

I enjoyed the recording process of 30 Lives. It was pretty rad to see the song develop from its conception, to the final product. Tracking drums for the song was a huge amount of fun (mostly because I did it in a few takes), I love the sound of the toms and the overall feel. It was really cool to hear all of the guitar, bass, horns and keys bringing the song to life. It's a fun song and I think we convey that in the recording.

I was also able to ask Michael a few questions:

1.) So when she first heard the song 30 Lives, was your wife flattered or did she toss your game system out the window?
She actually doesn't like the song very much. She thinks it's too silly and she always says that it's really about video games and not about her. She is a tough one.
2.) Your album, as well as seeming musical outlook, and the third track on the album specifically for example (Walk On Water) instantly made me think of the Violent Femmes (and their track Jesus Walking On the Water). Any influence there?
I am a fan of the Violent Femmes and we do get that comparison a lot. Interestingly, I've never thought of them as an influence and never directly attempted to do the kind of thing they are doing, but it seems that it's just naturally turned out that way a bit. I also never really connected the two water-walking songs. "Walk On Water" actually used to be a totally different song with different chorus, but I rearranged it and wrote a new chorus, which recontextualized all of the content and meaning. It was the case of a slow, mopey histrionic number transforming into a bouncy alt-countryish tune.
3.) You've been asked to write a brand new score for a video game (new or old). Which one would it be?
The greatest video game of all time, which also happens to have the greatest game theme song of all time, is M.U.L.E. If they ever make a new version of the game (I used to play it on the Commodore 64), I'd kill, or at least cut a line, to have a chance to update the theme music for the hipster kids of today. (I COMPLETELY remember both the Commodore 64 and this game and LOVED it as much as it sounds like Mike did!)


The track is easily my favorite on the album. Give it a listen and you'll see why. As Michael points out, there are so many love cliches that you can fall into - but not with this song. Looking for some off-kilter music that doesn't take itself too seriously? Look no further than The Motion Sick. It's witty without being pretentious. Entertaining without being inane. For another taste of what they're dishing out, try Losing Altitude below. It's another love song (call me a sap) with a slightly different take on the whole thing.

The Motion Sick - 30 Lives : The Truth Will Catch You, Just Wait...
(watch the video)

The Motion Sick - Losing Altitude : The Truth Will Catch You, Just Wait...

and one from their debut:

The Motion Sick - Dead-Letter Officer : Her Brilliant Fifteen

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Farewell to Ike

By no means will I suggest that he was a perfect man. Few of us are. His musical legacy is one that will not be forgotten though.

Ike & Tina Turner - Proud Mary (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)
: Proud Mary 7"

Ike & Tina Turner - Funkier Than A Mosquita's Tweeter : Proud Mary 7" B-side

Ike & Tina Turner - I Want to Take You Higher : I Want to Take You Higher 7"

Ike & Tina Turner - Contact High : I Want to Take You Higher 7" B-side

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jon Foreman - A man for all Seasons

Jon Foreman, lead singer of the uber-selling band Switchfoot, has revealed plans to release a series of four solo EP's over the coming year, aptly titled according to their release schedule as Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Having decided that major label is not the way to go with the band deciding to move to their own label, Jon has taken the retreat from the spotlight one step farther with these EPs, which offer a personal release for him. “Because of the autobiographical nature of these songs, they became a self portrait that was far too personal for a band to release,” says Foreman. “Tim, Chad and the rest of the band have been pushing me to get these types of songs out there for years. So I decided to let them go.”

Fall, the first EP, which is available now, starts with somewhat of a melancholy morbidity to it to match the season with The Cure For Pain (listen below). Its acoustics feel mournful, Foreman's voice pulled out from deep within him.

The feelings continue with the second track, Southbound Train. Like the leaves falling from the trees, there's a sense of fading here: fading love, fading beauty, fading memories. The remainder of the EP's tempo picks up, but the sense of weariness in Jon's voice remains. The EP closes with a sense of loss realized; "My love goes free..."

Here is a brief timeline of the upcoming EP releases…
  • November 27, 2007: The Fall EP will be available digitally and at his website
  • January 15, 2008: The Winter EP will be available digitally and at his website
  • January 15, 2008: A two disc collection featuring both the Fall and Winter EPs will be available at all physical music retailers and at his website
  • Note: Spring and Summer EPs will be release within the first half of 2008 (exact street release dates TBD)

Jon Foreman - The Cure for Pain : Fall EP

Visit his website, his label Credential Recordings, and become his friend on MySpace.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

On my ears

Having a three and a half year old daughter requires a lot of headphone listening at night. Yesterday I got an early Christmas present - a sick pair of Skullcandy headphones (pictured above). Not only are they pimped out to the max (way beyond my hip-o-meter), they are a huge improvement over my previous headphones. My only complaint - I do look a little like Princess Leia (and not with the metal bikini from Return of the Jedi) with them on. Otherwise, Perfect-O!

Girl In A Coma

You know you have to be doing something right when the original hard rock grrrrl Joan Jett is impressed enough when she sees you play once and signs you to her label (aptly titled Blackheart Records) on the spot. If that's not enough evidence, then how about when your idol (in this case Morrissey) invites you along to open for him, and you've only put out one album. Cha-ching! So is the case with San Antonio trio Girl In A Coma.

Looking at the girls should tell you that they've got a lot of spunk, and it certainly comes through on the album. Think Joan Jett meets Karen O: more traditional rocking out sound meets new style turn the amp to 11 eardrum-jarring snarls. That being said, of course there are some tracks, such as Road to Home below, with some comparatively easier elements to them (in the vein of Maps - and not the acoustic version - to continue my YYYs analogy), but for the most part the girls keep up the grrl power from start to finish here.

For any fans of the TV show LA Ink, the girls stopped in while playing in LA at the beginning of this month and were taped for one of the episodes. Nina Diaz, the group's lead vocalist supposedly got a tat (not sure what of) - check out the show to get the low-down. In the meantime, enjoy the following tracks, then check out the album (which has been out for a while).

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


Joan Jett and The Blackhearts - Crimson and Clover (Tommy James and the Shondells cover) : I Love Rock N' Roll

Tour Dates
12/13 - Houston, TX - Fitzgerald's w/The Cliks
12/14 - San Antonio, TX - Ruta Maya Riverwalk w/The Cliks & Kick It
12/15 - Dallas, TX - The Cavern w/The Cliks
12/18 - Corpus Christi, TX - The Pavillion w/The Toadies
12/19 - San Antonio, TX - White Rabbit w/The Toadies

01/16 - Clermont-Ferrand, France - La Cooperative de Mai w/Morrissey
01/18 - Strasbourg, France - La Laiterie w/Morrissey
01/19 - Lille, France - Aeronef w/Morrissey
01/21 - London, England - London Roundhouse w/Morrissey
01/22 - London, England - London Roundhouse w/Morrissey
01/23 - London, England - London Roundhouse w/Morrissey
01/25 - London, England - London Roundhouse w/Morrissey
01/26 - London, England - London Roundhouse w/Morrissey
01/27 - London, England - London Roundhouse w/Morrissey
01/30 - Doncaster, England - Doncaster Dome w/Morrissey

02/01 - Sunderland, England - Empire w/Morrissey
02/02 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Edinburgh Playhouse w/Morrissey
02/04 - Paris, France - Olympia w/Morrissey

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Booker T. & The MG's - House Band Extraordinaire

Bring up the name Booker T. & The MG's, and the majority of people will connect it with the instrumental Green Onions (only the second track the members recorded - and actually first intended as the B-side!). What most people don't realize is that the group was the house band for legendary Southern soul label Stax Records. What that means is that if you listen to almost any track recorded by the label in the 60's, whether it's Sam & Dave, Wilson Picket, The Staple Singers, or countless other Stax artists, you're also listening to Booker T. & The MG's.

Notable members of the band included Isaac Hayes (of Theme From Shaft fame - who sometimes played keyboard), Donald "Duck" Dunn, and Steve Cropper (who both can be seen in the 1980 classic The Blues Brothers as members of "The Band"). And while their names have settled into relative obscurity, their influence on Rock & Roll was monumental. Besides being the session musicians that helped their label-mates sound so good, their style of playing (The MG's stood for Memphis Group, and their Memphis sound was what helped defined Southern soul music) was appreciated by many, including The Beatles (John Lennon was a huge Stax fan).

What brings Booker T. to mind is the current revival of soul and funk courtesy of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (The Dap-Kings being the house band of Daptone Records). Besides putting out some quality material of their own, various members of the group worked as session musicians on Amy Winehouse's Back To Black and performed as the backing band on its supporting tour. Thankfully, it seems that they're getting the credit they deserve and not being left in Amy's drug dependency hazed shadow.

Booker T. & The MG's - Green Onions : The Complete Stax/Volt Singles: 1959-1968 (disc 2)

Booker T. & The MG's - Time Is Tight : Time Is Tight 7"

Booker T. & The MG's - Johnny, I Love You : Time Is Tight 7" B-side


The Blues Brothers - Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
: The Blues Brothers Soundtrack

The Clash - Time Is Tight (Booker T. & The MG's cover) : Super Black Market Clash


Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Ain't It Hard : Dap-Dippin with Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Amy Winehouse - Monkey Man (Toots & The Maytals cover) : You Know I'm No Good Single

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Adam Franklin Live / Swervedriver Reunion!

Going to be kicking around the house Wednesday evening? Tune into internet site JamNow for former Swervedriver frontman (and future with the announcement of a reunion tour in 2008) Adam Franklin. Having released his latest solo outing Bolts Of Melody earlier this year (under his own name even), Adam will be conducting a live audio interview and performance during which he'll discuss the album as well as the news about the band getting back together next year. The webcast will take place at 3:00pm ET on Wednesday. Can't make it? Fear not - it will be available on-demand the following day at the same link.

Adam Franklin - Sundown : Bolts of Melody

Toshack Highway - Cannery Row : Magnetic Morning / Aspirin Age

Visit his website, his label Hi-Speed Soul Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

Morning Recordings Contest

You might remember me writing about the the sophomore release The Welcome Kinetic by Pramod Tummala's band Morning Recordings in October. If not, travel back in time and read about it now. Don't have the time? Here's what I said about it then: "Going deeper into the album will reveal pieces that focus as much on the instrumental aspects of the music as much as the lyrical / vocal content. You'll feel as if you're sleepwalking through a melancholy etherealness that washes over you with the lightest of ambient strokes." The album is theoretically divided up into ten tracks, but in reality, they feel like they all piece together to form one large musical tapestry.

If you haven't picked it up yet (or even if you have), here's your chance to win a super-deluxe holiday gift set which will include a copy of The Welcome Kinetic CD and poster, a Music For Places CD (the band's first release) and poster, and a CD-R of the digital-only Let’s Love EP. (the EP the band released between the two full length albums). Talk about holiday cheer - you won't need any mistletoe if you give this prize pack to a significant other! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment (or e-mail me) with your name and e-mail address and you'll be in the running. I'll pick a lucky winner next Tuesdayish and notify them faster than you can say "I got coal in my stocking!"

Morning Recordings - We Loved the City Years : The Welcome Kinetic

Morning Recordings - Just Be Still
: Let's Love EP

Morning Recordings - Can't Help Fading Away : Music For Places

Visit their website, their label Loose Thread Recordings, and become their friend on MySpace.