March 19, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I was enjoying Japanese food a few nights ago with some good people, and yummy as it was, midway through my udon and sake I had a sudden void open up within my soul for some Wagamama.
See — it makes you happy just to say it. It hit me like a bolt from the blue and I’ve been missing it ever since.

Wagamama is the name of a series of Japanese restaurants started in London, tasty – tasty – tasty. I first became acquainted with the Covent Garden one and have eaten at Wagamama each time I’ve been in London since — and I always have a good time. I read that they are opening their first US location in Boston on April 23. Go! Wasting time on the Wagamama website is also a poor substitute for the vittles, but fun — like a carnival. They have a Passion-O-Meter (I am, apparently, Hot Stuff) and Mystic Noodles fortune-telling (Saturn and Mars are making a mess of my noodle aura).

Mostly it just makes me hungry.

The Words You Used To Say
Dean & Britta
Former frontman of Luna combines with the voice of the most truly, truly, truly outrageous punk rocker of Saturday mornings in the ’80s, Jem (real name is Britta Phillips but if I were her I think I’d just change my name to Jem). This is from Dean & Britta‘s delightfully subtle new album Back Numbers, out now on Zoe/Rounder. These two also scored The Squid and The Whale, aka the most stunningly depressing movie I’ve seen in recent years – but hey, it sounded good.

This is an atmospheric new song today from San Francisco band Luce, off the soundtrack of a spooky hospital movie Sublime, featuring that guy from Ed. The song itself is not spooky at all, but rather a wistful, melodic latin-tinged affair. Luce is currently working on a new album (follow-up to the wonderful 2005 album Never Ending) and have announced a series of shows for the lucky California folks, including a special summer festival up with the North Bay hippies co-starring bluesy rocker Jackie Greene.

You Are The Best Thing (new)
Ray LaMontagne
This is such a naked, vulnerable song — and I’ve always much preferred the raw earnest Ray to the slickly produced Ray. I am pretty sure this is a brand new tune, several of you have written to me about LaMontagne performing it lately; this version’s from 12/16/06 at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. The mp3 is not stellar, admittedly, but the song certainly is. [photo credit]

Ballad of Humankindness
The Dears
A good friend breathlessly told me that I had to check out this song and my, how she knows me. I did indeed enjoy the song from the moment those opening beats started. I am a sucker for beats like this, the blending of the acoustic with the thumping danceable rhythm that just gets better as the song progresses. The tune, from Montreal’s The Dears‘ 2006 album Gang Of Losers (Arts & Crafts), builds into something fantastic —- even if the semi-preachy tones about all of us learning forgiveness and not judging the homeless are a bit heavy-handed.

Salala (featuring Peter Gabriel)
Angélique Kidjo
I have written before about the wonderful West African songstress Angélique Kidjo, and I always get into the Africa world-beat fusion of her music. She has a new album out May 1 called Djin Djin and it features a whole host of A-listers like Amadou & Miriam, Ziggy Marley, Joss Stone, Carlos Santana, Alicia Keys and this guy. Every time I hear Peter Gabriel’s gruff, velvety voice I say to myself, “I forgot how much I love Peter Gabriel.” The whole album is very good global listening.

One last PS, I enjoyed listening to this new OK Go remix (UK Surf version) from iTunes of “Here It Goes Again.” It’s got a very interesting, relaxed vibe that many of their other songs forego in favor of the stuff that makes you jump around. But I really like this; OK Go always makes me happy.


  • Wagamama rules, that’s for sure. There are two near us here in the UK and if we’re anywhere near ‘em it’s like they have a tractor beam.
    They’ve made us want to go to Japan real bad!

    S.J.Hirons — March 19, 2007 @ 7:48 pm

  • I miss Wagamama (and their chicken ramen) so much! I used to live near the Bloomsbury one in the early 90s. Thanks for tipping me off about the new Boston location – I’ll drive down in April to try it out.

    Robasha — March 19, 2007 @ 8:52 pm

  • The last Dears record was amazing. Probably my favorite album from them from beginning to end.

    As for Japanese food I’ll have to claim ignorance. Never been to adventurous with food. My loss I’m sure

    Mike — March 20, 2007 @ 5:54 am

  • Mike, I have not traditionally been super-adventurous in food (like, raw things, things with little hairy legs, things that crunch and I don’t know why) but there is a lot of really really (really) good Japanese food that is fresh and traceable in terms of content and I highly recommend you take the plunge at least once. You are missing out!

    heather — March 20, 2007 @ 8:14 am

  • Isn’t today the day where the universe implodes: Malin’s Glitter and the song Bad Radio w/ Springsteen & R. Adams, out…

    Greg — March 20, 2007 @ 8:54 am

  • err, Broken Radio. ha, Bad Radio=PJ

    Greg — March 20, 2007 @ 8:57 am

  • I smiled at that too cos I knew what you meant….Broken Radio, fantastic song. YEP it comes out today, the record release show was last night at the Bowery (how was it anyone?) and I am tempted to post that song but not sure if I should.

    heather — March 20, 2007 @ 8:59 am

  • ha, peer pressure at its finest: “doooooo it…”

    just kidding, but the 30-sec itunes snippet made me want it so much more.

    Greg — March 20, 2007 @ 11:12 am

  • Ray played that song in Belfast in January. He said it was called “You are the best thing that ever happened to me”


    Laura — March 20, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

  • Luce is definitely one of my favorite blog-finds, thanks to this place. I like the new song a lot, thanks for posting it.

    I’ll have to see about Wagamama next time I go home. Sounds pretty worthwhile.

    Lauren — March 20, 2007 @ 8:21 pm

  • wagamama isn’t bad, BUT if you want somewhere even better, get down to Colchester, get to The Noodle Bar on North Hill.
    The food is a hundred times better, the service much more pleasant and the place blows Wagamama away.

    Anonymous — March 21, 2007 @ 6:36 am

  • Don’t have to ask me twice….let’s go to the Noodle Bar!!

    heather — March 21, 2007 @ 8:20 am

  • Adam Rossi once threw a maraca at me. No joke. At least I think it was a maraca. I went to a Brad Wolfe concert free at the Apple Store in downtown SF, and I swore he was joking about the audience participation until percussion came my way. Twas fun. Those indie rockers are an odd but good breed. I think I’m going to try to see Luce at Cafe du Nord. :)

    Thanks for posting this!

    Amy — March 21, 2007 @ 3:33 pm

  • i went to the Wagamama’s in Kensington the other day…it’s gone down the tube, i hate to say it.

    Lizzy — March 26, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

  • Awesome blog, happened onto your site after searching for Brandi Carlile. Have you ever checked out “the Weepies?” I’m currently hooked on their music, kind of folky.

    greenthumb — April 8, 2007 @ 9:31 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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