October 30, 2007

Tuesday Music Roundup

New York slayed me in the best possible way. I had only seen a few parts of it before on a trip in 2003 to the Grammy Awards (I saw mostly the tall buildings of the Financial District, the neon Times Square area, and Madison Square Garden) so I missed out on so much of its character before this past weekend. My friend’s boyfriend James is a walking New York history book, like even better than those headsets they give you at Alcatraz. Spurred by a childhood interest in Spiderman and other superheroes from NYC, he soaked up just about as much trivia about the city as anyone I know, so James was the perfect guy to hang around with this weekend as he would spout random historical facts in flawless form. We walked through almost every neighborhood in Manhattan, and some of Queens. We missed out on Brooklyn and Bronx and Staten Island this time around, but I’ll be back.

This week’s belated Monday Music Roundup (after a red-eye home on Sunday night) is a loose collective of the sounds I’ve been hearing and relating to these last couple days. It’s not a “New York Mix” (you already got one of those), it’s “My Weekend, Sonically.” There’s a constant hum and pleasant cacophony in that city and I loved absorbing it all.

MC2 (Theme Realidades)
Willie Colon/DJ Le Spam & The Spam Allstars

Our first night in New York started with a ferocious, sexy bang at the SOB’s (Sounds of Brazil) club in Greenwich Village. My friend Zein recommended meeting there to see a certain DJ Le Spam and The Spam Allstars who were in town from Miami, and remixed old 45s with a live band fronting. It was a Latin/Jamaican/African/funk extravaganza, and I loved it. In addition to the DJ (Le Spam himself, nee Andrew Yeomanson from Montreal), they had a guy on African & steel drums, an electric guitar, 2 saxophones, and a spry flutist. They gave out free CDs too, so this is kind of how it sounded. From the Fania Records: Live 02 From Miami//DJ Le Spam CD.

Positively 4th Street
Bob Dylan

So the next time I go back to NYC I want to take a big fat map and plot on it all the musical references from bands I love, and then do a 100% admit-you’re-a-dork walking tour. I am sure such a guide already exists; I saw this crazy map once about Hold Steady references in the Twin Cities and loved it. I could do the same thing with Bob Dylan and all of his continuous references to streets and avenues. This is the song that was winding its way through my head during the entire meander we made through the lovely Village on a rainy Saturday.

Love Me Or Leave Me
Nina Simone

We were enjoying bibimbap –or “bippitybop” as one of us endearingly called it– at a very dimly-lit Korean place called Dok Suni’s in the East Village (near St. Mark’s) on Saturday night when I happily picked the distinctive piano interlude of this song out over the din. I have long loved the growly sass and smoky perfection that Nina Simone brings to this song. The DJ was mixing it in with present-day dance grooves, and it perfectly held its own among more modern company. Certain sentiments are always in style.

To Hell With Good Intentions
We stumbled into the “bring your laptop and required intelligentsia reading” Think coffee shop near NYU, and this was blasting over the speakers. At the very moment that I was wondering, “Who is this?” the fuzzy guy working the registers yelled to the other bearded/spectacled guy making the espressos, “Hey, who is this?” McLusky was a Welsh band that released this hard, fast, catchy Britpunk album McLusky Do Dallas in 2002 (produced by Steve Albini) and now seem to have kind of vanished. They don’t even have a MySpace, if you can fathom that. But how fantastic is this tune? I just can’t get enough.

Hotel Chelsea Nights
Ryan Adams

My first night in NYC, we had been careening through the dark streets at some ungodly hour and I caught a fleeting glimpse of the Hotel Chelsea around a corner, and then it was gone. We finally made it back into that neighborhood Sunday evening before my flight for a quick pilgrimage to this hotel that has housed a whole lotta musical and literary history. This song perfectly encapsulates the vibe of the neighborhood, and the bohemian feel of the hotel that Ryan called home for a time. I listened to this tune on repeat as I took off from NY over a huge yellow harvest moon rising.


  • Mclusky! awesome. check out Exciting Whistle-Ah. it’ll be stuck in yer head for the next decade. woo-woo!

    Kyle Meredith — October 30, 2007 @ 1:21 pm

  • Dylan’s 4th street is such a great “F#$K you” song! The line about being his my shoes so you would see how it is to be you line still gives me chills…reminds me of my ex!

    Steven — October 30, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

  • McLusky broke up–they could not get along.

    However, they have a best of compilation that is supposed to come out this year. It might have already been released.

    Ekko — October 30, 2007 @ 6:06 pm

  • Today happened to be my birthday and I’m sure its all a coincidence, but I’m going to pretend today’s entry was a birthday gift to me.

    Thanks for writing about one of my favorite cities and for ending your blog with one of my favorite artists and with one of my favorite songs.

    You are a great blogger w/great taste in music. Keep up the great work.

    Yi-Fu — October 30, 2007 @ 9:18 pm

  • Hey Heather are you still in town for Ryan tonight??????

    chris — October 31, 2007 @ 9:10 am

  • chris — i wish! poor planning on my part….

    heather — October 31, 2007 @ 9:28 am

  • I took my first trip to NYC in July this year, and luckily experienced all the charm and character of which you blogged. We thankfully stayed with friends in East Village, had a great resident tour-guide. Between walking distance of some of the best neighborhoods, bars, venues, parks, and restaurants, and the shows we were able to catch while there, it made for one of the best experiences in my life. We also need to get back soon, very soon.

    I echo the sentiments here. Thank you for such a great blog and awesome music ideas and reminders.

    Laurie — October 31, 2007 @ 10:59 am

  • Yes! Another new McLusky fan. The box set is on Amazon–3 discs for 15 bucks–so jump right in.

    TomServo0 — October 31, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

  • Where is your link to “Save the Best for Last?” Vanessa Williams would be so disappointed she didn’t make the cut (you did, after after all, see her eating brunch).

    Kristy — October 31, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

  • Where is your link to “Save the Best for Last?” Vanessa Williams would be so disappointed she didn’t make the cut (you did, after after all, see her eating brunch).

    Kristy — October 31, 2007 @ 2:59 pm

  • I personally believe that Dylan is talking about the 4th street that runs by the University of Minnesota campus. Right by where he lived. The Hold Steady map is great too. Going to their concert tomorrow night. Great blog. Found a lot of good music on here.

    Anonymous — October 31, 2007 @ 4:30 pm

  • I think mcLusky broke up before th whole Myspace phenomenon kicked in, about 2004 or 5, or thereabouts.

    Ed — November 1, 2007 @ 4:59 am

  • future of the left, featuring Mclusky’s Andy Falkous is a pretty satisfying substitute, and they do, in fact, have a MySpace page.

    Jeff — November 1, 2007 @ 11:06 am

  • That McLusky record is so much fun. Sounds like they are about to fall apart any any given moment!

    Eric — November 1, 2007 @ 7:20 pm

  • Heather-
    I’ve been enjoying your blog for a few months now (a huge Counting Crows fan and Ryan Adams fan, as you are too!) I came across this blog today after also wandering past the Chelsea Hotel on my way to the Ryan Adams show last night-I spent most of my morning reading! enjoy (if you don’t know about it already) http://legends.typepad.com/

    Keep up the great blogging and great music!

    Kerri — November 1, 2007 @ 9:59 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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