Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Soul - Let's Do It Again

Do it again, do it (Do it)
Let's do it again (Do it)
Mmm (Do it again, do it again)
Gonna do it again (Do it)
Do it, do it
Let's do it again (Do it)
Do it again

Sometimes the rain
Groovin' when I hear the sound
Like you and me, baby
Gettin' down with the sounds around
Oh, the smell of the mornin' flower
As we pass away the hour

I wanna do it again, do it again
Do it (Do it)

Let's do it in the mornin'
Sweet breeze in the summer time
Feeling your sweet face
All laid up next to mine
Sweet love in the midnight
Good sleep, come mornin' light
No worries 'bout nothin'
Just gettin' good, just gettin' good
Just gettin' good love

Do it, do it again
Do it again (Do it)
Do it

The Staple Singers - Let's Do It Again
: Let's Do It Again 7"

The Staple Singers - After Sex
: Let's Do It Again 7" B-side

Get them both on Let's Do It Again.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Great Outdoors and Summer

The Great Outdoors have returned with the second in their seasonal series of EPs. While it might be nearing the end of this second release's seasonal namesake, there's no reason why we can't still enjoy its music. Unlike the first in the series which seemed laid back and easy come-easy go, the Summer EP jams a little harder than its folksey predecessor.

Visit their label DDG Records and become their friend on MySpace.

Friday, August 29, 2008

While there's still time...

With the passing of Isaac Hayes a few weeks ago, I've been thinking that time is short to see some classic artists perform in person, and not just on retrospectively released videos. While we know that The Rolling Stones have sold their souls to the devil and will be touring well into the next millennium, other artists aren't so fortunate. That being said, I checked out the list of R & B Concerts on RazorGator to see who's alive and kicking AND on the road. A few names jumped out at me: Al Green, Aretha Franklin, and Erykah Badu (admittedly not so classic, but worthwhile never the less). There are a bunch of Motown acts still running the circuit, but Motown isn't completely my thing.

The first of the three is the one that tops my list at the moment. With a new album on the shelves earlier this year that's got some great reviews, Al Green is not fading away any time soon. Lay It Down features not only Green's trademark vocals, but also the help of Anthony Hamilton, Corinne Bailey Rae, and John Legend, as well as some members of the Dap-tones providing instrumental support. Add all these elements up under co-producers James Poyser and the Roots' Ahmir '?uestlove' Thompson and you've got an album that feels classic yet fresh at the same time.

It doesn't hurt that Al's actually playing near me in November either. Check out his website for a full concert listing and then try to get tickets, as I'm sure they'll be hard to come by. If you want to splurge for some killer seats, try

Visit Al Green's website, his label Blue Note Records, and become his friend on MySpace.
Get Al Green tickets on

Juliana Hatfield

I've been meaning to write about this forever but for whatever reason it's escaped me until now. So... earlier this month Boston indie darling Juliana Hatfield published her latest album, How To Walk Away. There, I finally got it out.

It's Hatfield's tenth solo album, with her last new material coming out over two years ago. For her fans, the ten tracks on this tenth album will feel comfortably familiar, and therefor enjoyable. She sticks with what she's always done best: staying away from the happy lyrics and singing about more melancholy subjects. That being said, she doesn't necessarily stretch her boundaries much this time around, although after after over twenty years perhaps she deserves to enjoy the style that she's developed that's been enjoyed by her fans. And by all means, this album is enjoyable.

The album will be followed up by the release of her memoirs, titled When I Grow Up, out on September 29th, a book about her long (over twenty years) and storied career as a solo artist as well as a member of Blake Babies, her initial foray into the music world. I haven't had a chance to crack open the cover but I'm sure there will be some interesting stories and perhaps some juicy tidbits about Evan Dando.

Here's a few tracks from the album for your enjoyment, and you can pre-order her memoir over at if you need some reading material while you're listening to the album!

Visit her website, her blog An Arm and a Leg, her label Ye Olde Records, and become her friend on MySpace.


Upcoming Tour Dates

9/9 Washington, DC IOTA
9/10 Philadelphia, PA World Café Live w/special guest Hayden
9/12 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom "
9/13 Boston, MA Brattle Theater "
9/23 Seattle, WA Triple Door
9/24 Portland, OR Aladdin
9/25 San Francisco, CA Café Du Nord
9/27 Los Angeles, CA Largo
10/10 London, England Queen Elizabeth Hall
10/23 New York, NY Housing Works Bookstore Café

Thursday, August 28, 2008

the underage Sonya Kitchell

So with all the hoopla in the Olympics about the underage gymnasts, I'm calling into question the age of Sonya Kitchell, who is claimed to be only 19 (and released her first EP at 16). Kitchell's second album, This Storm, comes out September 2nd, and is exhibit A in my book contesting her supposed age. Nineteen year olds should be singing in mall tours (anyone remember Tiffany?) or on American Idol, not singing the tracks on this album. Seriously, it's really good stuff.

I just can't come to terms with the fact that her voice is that of an nineteen year old. It's got a smokey smoothness and cadence that almost instantly reminded me of Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) with the accompanying bluesy background. Clearly I'm not the only one impressed with her voice. Kitchell has had the opportunity to partner with jazz great Herbie Hancock both on tour and on his 2007 Joni Mitchell tribute The Joni Letters (read about it here). Almost as shocking as her voice is the revelation that she grew up about 20 minutes away from where I live and this is my first time catching her sound.

With a voice and talent this developed at eighteen, the future seems bright from Kitchell. She's playing live near me next month and I hope to check out her live show to see how it measures up. In the meantime, enjoy these two cuts from the record.

Sonya Kitchell - For Every Drop : This Storm

Sonya Kitchell - Here to There : This Storm

Visit her website, her label Velour Recordings, and become her friend on MySpace.


Cat Power - It's Alright To Fail : The Hottest State Soundtrack

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

You say Yeti, I say Bigfoot!

While slogging around the internet I stumbled across an amazing anniversary that deserves attention. Fifty years ago today a man by the name of Gerald Crew stumbled across tracks of giant footprints while operating some heavy equipment at a lumber site in Bluff Creek, California. Read about the amazing story on Cryptomundo. Crew would take plaster casts of the prints, the first such casts which help to prove the existence of the creature, first named at this event as Bigfoot!

Tenacious D - Sasquatch : The Complete Masterworks (DVD)

Robert Parker - Barefootin' : Barefootin' 7" (Get it on Barefootin')

Xavier Rudd - Footprint : White Moth

The Fiery Furnaces - Two Fat Feet : Gallowsbird's Bark

the Zoos of Berlin

Zoos of Berlin first popped up on my radar screen when they appeared on Life Beyond Mars - Bowie Covered, an album I wrote about back here. Since then I've acquired the Detroit band's self titled debut three track EP which is also available now. Unsurprisingly, it's very Bowie-esque in itself, which makes me less surprised that a band with no released albums was signed on to cover a Bowie track. Although perhaps not as eccentric as Bowie's music often attained, the three tracks here certainly hold the same pacing and vocal nuances typical of much of Bowie's work. Try out Speak Well Of Manderlay, the middle track on the EP.

Become their friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Diggin' for Black Gold

Just a quick track from another newly formed duo: Black Gold. The group is a collaboration between Eric Ronick (Panic at the Disco, Ambulance Ltd.) and Than Luu (M. Ward, Rachel Yamagata, shushshush). The pair met on tour and decided to come together back in 2006 to work on some new material. And now, their ready to release it to the rest of the world. Here's the first single from the two, with an album slated to soon be released.

Become their friend on MySpace.

Obi Better, Obi Best

For those readers who've visited often, and even for those who haven't, over the last year and half or so, I've consistently enjoyed the products of the bird and the bee (read about them here and here). So when Obi Best's album came my way, I listened with anticipation. The group is fronted by Alex Lilly, a back-up singer for the retro-pop bird and the bee, and therefor I expected to be similarly pleased with her new band.

There certainly are some similarities between her own band and her previous back-up engagement, and I can make some similar comparisons between Obi Best and other bands as well. Lilly brings with her the cute quirkiness and delicately light electronic flavor that brings Au Revoir Simone to mind as well as a very gentle instrumental touch in general. Distinguishing this latest effort though is an absence of that retro sound which the bird and the bee tend to drift towards. It will be interesting to see if Lilly's future work will tend to parallel her previous work with them or change direction on her own course.

The album came out digitally yesterday, and you can pick it up at their label's site,, and iTunes.

Visit label Social Science Recordings and become their friend on MySpace.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Counting with James Summerfield

Singing / songwriting / guitar playing blokes seem to be about a dime a dozen, which makes finding one worth their guitar strings all that more exciting. James Summerfield falls into that category. Although newly discovered by me, James is already on his third solo album, titled Count To 10 & Start Again, which is out now.

It's distinguished by a nice smooth folksy polish to it with nary a sharp edge. In a few instances I thought of a lighter Matthew Sweet, but a more apt comparison would be Glen Hansard. Think of a half way point between his work with The Frames and his most recent collaboration with Markéta Irglová as The Swell Season and in the movie Once.

Enjoy the album opener, Another Day With You's Like Torture, below. Also for your listening pleasure is Jelly Bones, an instrumental track that is thoroughly enojoyable and reminds me of the soundtrack for an older movie, The Brothers McMullen (an album of mostly instrumentals which is incredible). This album is all about well crafted melodies, and these two tracks will show that.

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


Séamus Egan - Slip Jigs : The Brothers McMullen Soundtrack

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Soul - Soul Brother Number One

When I mentioned that I had some exciting stuff I was sitting on that arrived while I was on vacation, this 3 DVD set was at the top of the list I was thinking of. It's titled I Got The Feelin': James Brown in the 60's, and quite simply, it's dynamite! The Hardest Working Man in Show Business, the Godfather of Soul, the King of Funk, Sex Machine, or Soul Brother Number One, call him what you will, but it's impossible to deny James Brown's influence on not just soul music but the world around him as well. And to help prove the latter half of that statement, this DVD set is just what the doctor ordered.

The first disc is titled The Night James Brown Saved Boston, and includes a documentary that focuses in on a particularly difficult time in American history, 1968, and specifically the beginning of April during which Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. All over the country violent unrest spread throughout cities as a result of the death of King, a man that carried the dream of a new country for so many people. James Brown was scheduled to perform a concert in Boston the night after this tragic event, a concert which was viewed as potentially dangerous by various government figures in Boston as a consequence of all the rioting in cities across the country.

Needless to say, the concert did go ahead as planned, and was taped by local television station WGBH to broadcast for free throughout that night. Many attribute the fact that Boston was spared the violent rioting other cities faced to Brown's concert that evening.

The documentary starts with a very brief synopsis of Brown's childhood and then moves forward to the shaky times of the 60's with the Civil Rights Movement and the war in Vietnam challenging a struggling nation. While much of the video focuses in on this particular concert, it also does a good job placing it in the larger context. Included are interviews with members of the band, music historians, politicians, and others who were around to understand the real problems people were facing.

Now, forty years later, we can see what television viewers saw that night on disc two, the actual recording of the concert, Live at the Boston Garden. While the audio portion of the recording leaves much to be desired (particularly for Brown's vocals, the instruments sound good though - the recording crew admits on the first disc that they were use to recording the Boston Pops, and were completely inexperienced with recording Brown's electrifying style of music), it's absolutely incredible to be able to watch JB move on the stage. He's always moving and you can see the man's energy that never wavers. Of particular interest is the last song, during which people start to clamber onstage and James Brown asks the police to leave them alone and deals with the potentially dangerous situation which could have erupted into violence.

The final disc is titled Live at the Apollo '68, and includes live footage (in color!) of James Brown performing at the famed Apollo Theater in NYC the month before Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, two tracks from L'Olympia in Paris (one from '67 and one from '68), and the legendary version of Out of Sight from The T.A.M.I. Show in 1964. While much of the set list is the same as the show at the Garden, it's still a blistering performance that's only enhanced by the color recording, and is interspersed with film of him walking through Harlem and Watts commenting on the state of Black America and the hurdles they needed to overcome.

Put all three of these discs together and you've got an unbeatable package. There's a few full audio cuts below for you to experience, but please take my word for it: the real magic is in seeing James Brown shake, jump, split, gyrate, jive, step, control the crowd like they're on strings, and give them a show that only reinforced that he was in fact the hardest working man in show business.

Visit the Shout! Factory website.

Sunday Spotlight - Jay Brannan

This week's spotlight is on an album that I've been really diggin' for a couple of months now. It's titled Goddamned, it came out last month, and it's the debut album from Jay Brannan. Jay's been touring in support of it, so I had to patiently wait until he got off the road so he could take some time to tell me about the lead off song from the album, Can't Have It All.

If I've been really diggin' the album since I got it, I've been REALLY really loving this song. Honestly, since the first time I played it, the song's been in heavy rotation. For those of you following MISB for a while, you know that the Sunday Spotlight has been around for about nine months now. Up until now, I've always invited artists to pick a song from the album themselves that they wanted to talk about. This album was the first time that I specifically requested the song for an artist to talk about. So yea, please check out this track at the minimum, if not the entire album. As always, text in red is Jay's and questions in red are mine.

Jay Brannan - Can't Have It All : Goddamned


Can't Have It All is the only song on my album that had never been heard by my audience in some form or another until the album was actually released (whether live or recorded or on youtube, etc.). I started writing it from my home in New York City and finished writing it in Los Angeles after we had already begun recording the album.

I haven't dated anyone in 6 years. Like a lot of other people, I find it nearly impossible to find someone who you can connect with on physical as well as emotional, intellectual, and spiritual levels. I always feel like people I'm sexually attracted to are either a.) boring, or b.) completely selfish and flakey and unreliable.

Whenever I complain about how difficult it is to find someone to be with, people often come back with the response that it is especially difficult in cities like Los Angeles and New York (the last two cities in which I have lived) because there is so much going on, and people are always looking for the next best thing that might be around the corner (as opposed to what's right in front of them), and so many people are overwhelmed by their careers, or nightlife, or whatever.

In my experience, people are pretty much the same everywhere you go...doesn't matter if you're in New York or Tel Aviv or Toronto, or Smalltown, Ohio.

But maybe I'm wrong. And that's kind of where the inspiration for "Can't Have It All" came from. Is everyone else right? Do people like myself have to choose between being in a relationship or following your own aspirations? Do I have to stay in Smalltown, Texas in order to have a relationship...just because that's what people do there, and there may not be as many distractions? Or do I go somewhere like New York or L.A. where I can pursue my creative and professional goals, at the expense of finding someone interested in "settling down"?

I don't have the answer. So I just wrote the song instead. haha

And three more questions for Jay:

1.) So your album is really relationshiply depressing, and then you get to Housewife (the 6th track on the album). And I'm like, YES! There's still hope for true love outside of a Disney Princess movie! And then you get to the end of the song and it's like your feet are taken out right from under you. Honestly, the song kills me every time I listen to it even though I know how it's going to end now. You mentioned you haven't dated anyone in six years - are you still hopeful or is the glass half empty and quickly draining for you?

I'm pretty sure someone broke my glass haha. Ummm...I guess there's a little bit of both. The realistic part of me looks at the facts...we all like to believe there's a soulmate for everyone, but -- if you look around you, it's just not true. Particularly for someone like me, who is kind of a disaster and a very specific person who requires a very specific match. In all my attempts, it seems kind of hopeless. But I guess there is this closet optimist in me that holds onto the idea of finding someone to be with someday. I'm trying to kill it, but I suppose it's just one of those unkillable human nature things. :)

2.) The album's title track is a pretty strong attack on religion, even going so far as to compare it to ancient Greek mythology. While much of the rest of the album lives and breaths on a much more intimate and personal level, this song seems much larger. What prompted you to write it and title the album after it?

That song was inspired by a half-day trip I took to the old city of Jerusalem. It was just so surreal and strange to actually see this physical place from where so much controversy has stemmed -- controversy that has ripped apart individuals and nations for thousands of years -- and to see how man-made it all was. The city has been re-built so many times, most of the original architecture is way below ground. Parts of it look like Disneyland the way the architecture is very recent but fashioned to look old. The streets are lined with souvenir shops, Nike t-shirts, and Coca-Cola banners. People line up to revere ancient relics that aren't even there. Most of what is there is some sort of replica of what something might have looked like in the place it possibly could have's set up like a museum and people put so much magic in all these estimations of what could have happened there. The song really isn't about whether or not there is a god, or that any of these things happened. It's about how people (and mostly government) have devised these very specific doctrines & mythologies, and consequently decided that anyone else is wrong and heretical and should...more or less...suffer pain, torture, and death (whether by human hands or supernatural forces in the afterlife). It's amazing to see how violent and evil people become when their belief systems are shaken, no matter how outlandish those beliefs may be in the first place.

3.) One of my favorite lines on the album (and I have many) comes from Bowlegged & Starving: "I've got my laptop for pleasure / and my guitar for pain." Clearly a lot of the album is about expressing that pain and getting it out. Imagine that you find that guy in Housewife and things are going great - do you still see yourself making music? What would is sound like?

I don't think I'm capable of pure and actual happiness haha. Even if I found a "perfect" relationship (which may or may not exist), it won't change who I am. I am a sad and angry and frustrated person. There's a lot of things in this world that make me feel that way. Some tangible, and some not (like emotional disorders perhaps). Read the answer I wrote to the previous question. I mean, there is so much pain in this world, and I truly walk around feeling that pain every day. People ask me why I'm sad or angry or depressed -- why I'm crying sometimes -- and I just want to shake them and scream "look around you!! why AREN'T you crying?? can't you see??" There will always be material for me. I don't think a relationship lifts the burdens of life, my hope is that it just helps you carry them.


As you might have guessed from what Jay had to say above, the album is incredibly intimate. I know that that term is bandied around a lot in regard to music, but in this case, it's absolutely true. You truly get the feel that Jay is sitting in front of you with his guitar on his lap telling you about what's been happening in his life recently. This is surely where the charm of the album lies - in the simple, unassuming warmth radiated throughout. I really can't recommend this album any more. Listen to the following two tracks, my favorite out of an album of excellent music, and then pick up the album for yourself.

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Don - Don Rimini

From the nation that gave us the smooth spinning skills of DJ Dimitri From Paris comes someone completely different: Don Rimini. Unlike the throw-back sounds of Dimitri, Don Rimini pumps out music that is all about booty shaking, bass thumping, house dancing insistence. Rimini made some waves earlier this year with his remix of Young MC's old skool hit Bust A Move. Now he's back to prove that he isn't just a remix master, he can make make music of his own. With that in mind, he released his Kick N' Run EP earlier this month, a seven track affair that is made for some big systems. Check out Nervous Breakdown below, the fourth track, now.

Visit his website, his label Delicious Vinyl, and become his friend on MySpace.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fumbling Towards Sarah McLachlan

I first came across Sarah McLahlan indirectly. One of her songs, Hold On, was on an early 90's alternative rock compilation titled No Alternative (a benefit album produced to raise money for the Red Hot Organization in its fight against AIDs - long time readers of MISB probably recognize is as there are A LOT of really great tracks on it from some really great bands, some of which I've posted before). I absolutely loved Sarah's song, and it was my favorite track from a great line-up of tracks. Because of it I went out and purchased the album which it came from, Fumbling Towards Ecstacy.

That album was incredible. I listened to it over and over again. Hold On remained my favorite track, but others came close to being just as good. It was so incredibly sensual, but in a completely wholesome and fulfilling way. There was just such a pure beauty to it that shone threw and bedazzled me.

Well now, fifteen years later, Nettwerk Records has released a Legacy Edition of the album which contains not just the original disc, but a total of three discs: the original album with an additional piano version of one of the songs (Possession), a second disc which was originally released separately as The Freedom Sessions (a collection of acoustic versions of songs from Fumbling), and a third DVD disc containing live footage of Sarah performing the songs from the album in concert.

There's really nothing completely new here, and longtime fans of Sarah probably have everything as pieces, but as a package, it's a killer deal. Personally, I've enjoyed much of her music since this album, but nothing I've fallen in love with like this one. This is a perfect chance to rediscover a wonderful album.

Visit her website, her label Nettwerk, and become her friend on MySpace.


Sarah McLachlan - Drawn To The Rhythm
: Solace

Sarah McLachlan - I Will Remember You
: The Brothers McMullen Soundtrack

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Plushgun (non-lethal)

Plushgun has been sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks now. Staring at me. Asking me to play it. I finally did, and now I can't stop. It's only four songs, which makes it easy to put on repeat, but it hasn't grown stale for me yet.

Plushgun, the band, originally consisted of one man, Daniel Ingala, who posted one song, Just Impolite, on his MySpace page (at which time he didn't even have the band name Plushgun). From there he's just gathered steam and momentum like a runaway snowball careening wildly down a slope. He's just released the before mentioned self-titled four track EP digitally and has plans for a full length hitting shelves in January of next year.

All four tracks on the EP are gleefully poppy synth-driven tracks that are simply infectious. Check out the opener below, then check out some other cuts on Daniel's MySpace page.

Visit his label Tommy Boy and become his friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Amie Miriello

Just a quick post tonight about an artist who not only has a sparkling smile (see above), but does a pretty good job countryfying a cover of Smashing Pumpkins' Disarm. Not sure who I'm talking about? Her name's Amie Miriello and she's set to release her debut album I Came Around on September 2nd.

Before the term countryfying scares you off though, stick with me for a minute. Amie has a crystal clear voice that soars with wisdom that belies her age which reminds me at points of Tori Amos meets Ani DiFranco, and it's there that you'll find a little Nashville (even though she originally hails from Connecticut). For the most part, the musical elements behind her though steer clear of the country twang, and do a nice job of blending guitar (both acoustic and electric) with piano.

You can listen to the title track below, an upbeat guitar driven song that leads the album off. It doesn't feature any of the piano elements I mentioned above, and which you'll find mixed in on other tracks, and sometimes simply standing alone (Snow is a perfect example of Amie's voice and piano). Also below you can check out the Smashing Pumpkins' cover. Amie has taken out some of the dramatic highs of the song and leveled it out a bit, sticking just with an acoustic guitar and her own voice.

Visit her website, her label Jive / Zomba, and become her friend on MySpace.


Smashing Pumpkins - Disarm : BBC London 12/09/93 (studio version on Siamese Dreams)

R&B Stylings of Kirsten Price

One look at the picture above of Kirsten Price should tell you that the woman's got some serious spunk. She uses the spunk to full effect on her debut album Guts & Garbage, an album full of soulful possibilities running the gamut from the very modern R&B stylings of the opening cut Magic Tree to the retro-sounding songs such as Bring Me Back (listen to both below) with all sorts of shades in between. She can go to a rootsy approach that pays respect to the blues and then shift gears on the next track for a contemporary feel that brings you back to the present day.

The album's been out since July, so you should have no problem finding a copy to call your own. In the meantime, enjoy the following:

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lykke Li

WAY back in April I wrote about a four track EP titled Little Bit from the latest Swedish sensation Lykke Li. At that time I mentioned that her debut album was out in her home country but we here in the States had to settle for the EP. Well on August 19th, we'll have to wait no longer to hear what those Swedes have been listening to for a while now: Youth Novels.

Three of the tracks from that earlier EP come from the album, and the remaining eleven tracks continue on in a similar vein, but go artistically further. Everything I said earlier still holds true: airy and delicate sounds beneath delicate and distinct vocals. The album starts out with Melodies & Desires, a track that feels like it comes from a new age workshop in a Buddhist monastery. Lykke does a wonderful job of using less to achieve more. On many tracks you'll feel like the instrumentation comes from objects found lying around the house mixed with a drum machine and Lykke's elfin voice. Put it all together and you get a simple, playful, innocence that's enchanting.

Lykke Li - Dance Dance Dance : Youth Novels

Lykke Li - Little Bit : Youth Novels
(watch the video)

(Both songs removed upon request)

Lykke Li - Little Bit (Loving Hand Remix)

(But this one's completely legal!)

Upcoming Tour Dates

08.25.08 - Los Angeles, CA - Hotel Café (SOLD OUT)
08.28.08 - New York, NY - Le Poisson Rouge
10.19.08 - Washington, DC - Black Cat
10.23.08 - Boston, MA - Paradise
10.24.08 - Toronto, ON - Mod Club
10.25.08 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
10.28.08 - Vancouver, BC - Richards on Richards
10.29.08 - Seattle, WA - Neumo's
10.30.08 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir
11.01.08 - San Francisco, CA - Independent
11.03.08 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey

Monday, August 18, 2008

The 50 Sexiest Music Videos

Although in the traditional sense they're going the way of 8-tracks, cassettes, and now CDs, music videos still have got some life in them thanks to sites like YouTube. The folks over at nerve have spent countless hours culling through the piles of videos that have been accumulating since the birth of MTV (and some even earlier) to assemble a list of the 50 Sexiest Music Videos of All Time.

But instead of just giving you a boring list to read, they've actually collected all of the videos for you to watch! Obviously you're not going to get through all 50 videos in one sitting, so check out the site, bookmark it, and visit it when you're supposed to be doing work on the computer.

To give you a tempting taste of what you'll find, I've included some of the songs from the list below for you to listen to. Besides each song, I've listed the number where they slot in at on the list so you can find the video for it if so inclined. I won't give away what the #1 video was, but I will admit that I don't necessarily agree with it. Anywho, check out the list and the videos for yourself over at nerve HERE.

#49 = Rilo Kiley - The Frug : Initial Friend EP

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Soul - Isaac Hayes

Don't look so sad
I know it's over, yeah
but life goes on
this old world will keep on turning
Let's be glad that we had some good times together
and there's no need
to watch the bridges that we're burning

Another great one gone.

Isaac Hayes was not only an incredibly talented performer in his own right, but was also HUGELY instrumental in the success of Stax Records. As half of a song-writing team with David Porter, Hayes was responsible for writing and producing some of the label's biggest hits for almost their entire roster of artists, and in doing so, helped create the Stax sound and the birth of soul music.

We'll miss you Black Moses.

Sunday Spotlight - Brooke Fraser

For today's spotlight, we're heading down under to New Zealand (I wonder if all the little dust particles you see in the light of the spotlight would swirl the other way, too?) to meet Brooke Fraser who released her sophomore album, Albertine, earlier this year in the States (it's been out since 2006 down under). She toured the states earlier this summer in June, and recently took some time to explain the origins of the album's title track, an extremely moving number which becomes even more powerful once you read about its birth. As always, text in red is Brooke's and questions in black are mine.

Brooke Fraser - Albertine : Albertine


Over the short space of 100 days in 1994, one million Rwandans were massacred by their friends, neighbors, teachers and pastors in a genocide that was brutal, pre-meditated, preventable evil. The West stood by and twiddled their thumbs. I was ten years old.

Eleven years passed and in that time I discovered a passion for women and children in the developing world, became a World Vision artist associate, went to the field in Cambodia, meanwhile signing with a major label and beginning the album making/promoting/touring cycle. In 2005, Rwanda came onto my radar as an adult and pulled at me for months before I realized I needed to go.

I got my vaccinations, booked my flights, and flew into the middle of Central-East Africa to turn up on World Vision's doorstep and hoped that the good Lord would guide me from there. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing there, and on the first night whilst staying at a dodgy guesthouse with a gash in my finger and no clean water to wash it with, I had my first experience of feeling out of my depth (I gave in to the pleas of my rational friends to move to a hotel).

I spent two and a half weeks with a World Vision staffer named Joel Nsengiyumva, who showed me as much as he could of this beautiful country quite similar to my own country in terms of the landscape. I watched his ease with people - whether they were the mayor of a township or a sick child, heard his voice choke up when speaking about the lack of clean water in the communities we were visiting and its devastating effects, felt his love for the people he was serving and his personal pain for their suffering. I couldn't help but wonder about this man's past - I knew he had completed post-graduate studies in Geneva before returning to Rwanda and I couldn't tell how old he was - was he even in the country when the genocide occurred? If not, he must have had many family and friends who were. I kept my mouth shut.

On my final day I found myself in a small schoolroom in a village in Kabuga. Joel had brought me to a school to see the children, the future leaders of Rwanda, the hope of the nation. We exchanged songs and dances (I enjoyed a stirring rendition of Michael Jackson's "Beat It") for an hour or so, then the children left for home and Joel turned to me. “This is not on our itinerary, but there is an orphan I would like you to meet…”

So here we were in this classroom. Joel, our Ugandan translator Christine, myself, and a girl in the school uniform.

Joel began telling me that he “very much likes” to be a humble man so that God will get all the praise, and that what he was about to tell me not even many of his colleagues at World Vision knew.

“I could not save very many lives in the genocide. But I could save one. I will now speak in my native language so that I can talk freely, but before I do, I need to tell you that you must go back to your people and tell them about us here in Rwanda. You must write a song. And I will tell you what the name of the song is going to be. This is Albertine.”

He then gestured to the girl who had walked into the classroom with us and began speaking of the horror of the genocide, during which Joel, a Hutu, was able to save Albertine, a Tutsi, risking everything to do so.

I have never been the same since this day. I have been back to Rwanda twice more and visited my friends Joel and Christine and the communities in which they live and serve. I have seen Albertine, too, and given her her own copy of the CD that bears her name. I don’t know if she quite understands what it means, but I tell her that I have been able to share her story with tens of thousands of people, many of whom have responded by deciding to help, to give.

And now a few more questions for Brooke:

1.) That has to be one of the most moving song dedications I've read. Wow. I can't imagine the pressure you must have felt to make it perfect while writing it. How long did it take you to get the song just the way you wanted it? Was it an immense relief when it finally came together?

It was pretty overwhelming to be given such a weighty commission. I knew I couldn't do it, and there was a kind of freedom in that. I've never been able to just sit down, decide to write a song and pull a gem out of my ass. It just isn't the way songs come to me. So I did the only thing I really knew to do... pray. On the whole journey home from Africa, I journalled. I think a lot of the things I saw in that first trip were too much for me to cope with while I was actually experiencing them, so it wasn't until Nairobi airport that I felt able to pull out my notebook and begin to pour it all out and deal with this new pain/love/responsibility. I was still in that "processing" mode when I reached home in Sydney, and I think it was a few days later that I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom, I picked up my guitar and started playing that opening riff, and the whole song came in about 20 minutes (this is not normal).

2.) In your liner notes you cite Ephesians 3:8 (Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ) at the end of your "Gratitude" panel, suggesting that you're trying to spread the word through your music. Before taking a closer look at the notes I really didn't pick up on that message, but after taking the time to read the lyrics, I see subtle references everywhere that could be interpreted in many ways. Were you doing this intentionally so listeners could take their own meanings from the songs, Christian or otherwise?

The references aren't conscious. But I am never surprised when they pop up. I think songs are like feces. Whatever you feed yourself will come out. So as a songwriter, my worldview, my passions, my convictions, those things which have affected me at a core level will inevitably spill out... Everything I write will come through the "filter" of my personhood.

3.) Last month you played at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Did you get to actually meet and talk with any legends that you particularly admire?

We were at the designated "musicians" hotel, and every elevator ride you were surrounded by cats, with their beat up cases and hard living in their wrinkles. A few times I felt like I should probably get out on the next floor because I didn't have the right to ride with these guys! Very humbling. Also, I had the great honour of supporting Daniel Lanois and then getting to sit side of stage and soak up his show. Completely inspiring. Especially his gradual stripping down to his undies - a garment removed for every child sponsored. I asked my husband if I could incorporate that into my shows now... He's thinking about it.


The rest of the album is just as moving, and at points much more uplifting. Brooke has put together an album of deep and mature lyrics (surprising based on her age, but not so much based on her experiences) and well produced instrumentation. Enjoy the following tracks to hear for yourself.

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Jazzy Sunshine from Sunfold

I'm still trying to wade through the piles of accumulated music around me, so another bite sized bit today for you. Hopefully by next week I'll have gotten my feet under me again and will be ready to share some of the great music that I'm sitting on right now (some of which I'm really excited about).

In the meantime, here's a band, an album, and a song that I picked up on before vacation. The band's named Sunfold, the album's titled Toy Tugboats, and the song you get to listen to is called Sara the American Writer. The whole shebang is the side-project of Kenny Florence, but includes members of North Carolinian band the Annuals (of which Kenny is a member as well). It's got a sun drenched southern guitar driven sound to it that feels quite appropriate to listen to before the summer ends. Florence also manages to sneak in some shades of jazz as well (the ninth track Osk jumps to mind but you'll find others as well) to keep the album from getting stale over its thirty six minutes. Anyway, check out Sara the American Writer, and then you can get the rest of the album as it's already out.

Visit their label Terpsikhore Music and become their friend on MySpace.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Uh Huh Her

If you've noticed how quiet it's been around MISB the last week, it's because I was on vaca. As I'm sure most of you know, vacations typically just mean a whole pile of work once you get off of them, and this one was no exception. I came home with 300+ e-mails waiting for me and 20+ CD's piled up for me to listen to. Needless to say, I'm still trying to working my way through them.

That being said, today I've just got a quick post to tell you about Uh Huh Her's debut full length Common Reaction. You might remember me talking about their first EP I See Red back in May, and then I went and saw them later in the month. The album finally hits shelves next week, and if you enjoyed the EP, the album will be right up your alley. It's jam packed with 80's synth-sunshine melded with upbeat electronic beats and the paired harmonies of the two women at the core of the band. If you're not familiar with the band, it includes Leisha Hailey (who played Alice Pieszecki on The L Word as well as played musically in the Murmers) and Camila Grey (from Mellowdrone).

Check out the first two tracks from the album below and then look to pick up the rest on the 19th.

Visit their website, their label Nettwerk, and become their friend on MySpace.