September 29, 2007

Odds & ends

On this lovely slow Saturday I am making up a big pot of Dill Turkey Chowder (recipe pretty much like this except I use garlic pepper) and the simmering smells are already fantastic. It’s been a week like that — a lot of interesting thoughts simmering in the back of my mind with no real time to write about them or enjoy. So since it’s Saturday, here’s what I’ve been noticing lately:

Ûž Nil Lara. I still get more comments on this guy, on the single post I wrote back for a previous World Music Wednesday, than almost any other ongoing topic. People across the world love this guy, miss his music, and wonder what he’s been up to. He’s been playing a series of monthly shows down in Florida, much to the joy of many fans, but the great news is that the Yanks get 2 doses of him next month!

Nil Lara has just announced two shows in New York City at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, Nov 17th @ 8pm and Nov 19th @ 7:30pm. I’d love to see this guy; I’ll be in NYC a few weeks before that for the last weekend in October to see some best girlfriends, but I’ll miss this show unfortunately.

Ûž There’s a new audio interview with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready from Tacoma, Washington’s News Tribune.

Listen to Mike talk about his reaction to the AT&T censoring of the Lollapalooza webcast, Italian fans and the new DVD, director Danny Clinch, and even some on The Scorpions & Iron Maiden. Rock on.

Ûž The Onion made me laugh with this fantastic “news brief”:

Google Launches ‘The Google’ For Older Adults
September 26, 2007
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—The popular search engine Google announced plans Friday to launch a new site,, to appeal to older adults not able to navigate the original website’s single text field and two clearly marked buttons.

Read the rest

Ûž The new Counting Crows album, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, will be delayed in its release until 2008. According to Adam Duritz’s blog:

Update 9/27/07 – “Town Hall, Old Memories, and New Delays”
Greenwich Village, New York City, 10am

. . . This will frustrate some of you I’m sure, and I apologize for that, but we’ve gone to Geffen and asked to push back the release date of Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings until sometime after the New Year.

It was just a crazy busy summer. Between all the touring and the traveling and the mixing and mastering of the new album and putting the together the package and writing all the essays for the August… reissue, we just let some little things fall through the cracks. The record itself is finished but we just did the photo shoot a few weeks ago, the art and packaging deadlines were last week, and, even putting in 20 hr days, it was just impossible to get it all done. There are videos and singles and so many things to decide on and finish and it’s just not the time in our career to be rushing important decisions. Actually, in my opinion, it’s never the right time to rush important decisions. We really try to make records that last forever. I don’t see the point in putting all the work in to do that and then not having the right cover or picking the wrong single or making the wrong video. They’re small things, I guess, but they matter to me and they’re just a few of many.

It’s a tough pill for our record company to swallow. Especially in this day and age, it’s not easy to ask them to postpone a Counting Crows album that would have been on sale for fall and through the Xmas season. Someone somewhere will not be happy with them. Luckily for us, the people we deal with at our label ARE music people and they know that our partnership with Geffen has been a marathon, not a sprint. We haven’t been around together all these years because we were worried about a few months.

Anyway, that’s THAT bit of news. I know it’s a bit of a disappointment but, like I said to all of you the other day, “Remind me never to put out two albums at the same time again.”

I recommend streaming the song that Adam has posted on his MySpace, called “Bleed.” Best as I can tell, it is a song written by Stew/The Negro Problem, and this is a live collaboration with Adam. The lyrics are pretty rich. I’d post it here, but . . . well, you know.

Ûž Finally, the Ike Reilly Assassination show was as mindblowing as I had hoped on Thursday night at the Larimer Lounge.

I voraciously dig the blistering rock songs with a punkish-retro edge, with some of the finest attention to lyrical detail and “flow” of any modern songwriter today. Johnny Hickman (founding member of Cracker) joined Ike for the gig, as Johnny is a local Coloradan now, and they were clearly enjoying themselves. I was particularly riveted by the performance of “The Mixture” (off 2005′s Junkie Faithful) — an incredible, soulful, brutal, unflinchingly introspective, raw tune that I am listening to on repeat these last two days. It goes deeper each time I hear it.

“Girl don’t like the mixture in me,
the liquid in me, the fiction it frees
the liquor in me, the Mick in me,
the fried-out lies for eyes she sees

…Girl don’t like the distance in me,
the danger in me, the sickness in me
the stranger in me, the quickness in me,
the shiftlessness and shift in me

…Girl don’t like the greed in me,
the speed in me, her need for me
the weed in me, the dealer in me,
the schemer in me, the dreamer in me

…Girl don’t like the fader in me,
the invader in me, the penetrator in me
the not-quite-fade-awayer in me,
the I will see you later in me

But stay with me anyway
I’m a brand new believer
I went to the tomb without you
And they wouldn’t receive me, no no no
And they wouldn’t receive me, no no no
And they wouldn’t receive me…

Where were you when the wheels fell off in Birmingham?
Where were you when I shed my skin in vain?
Where were you when we slid right off the motorway?

Maybe you stepped away, took a vacation day
You said a day with me is a night you’ve wasted

Where were you?”

The Mixture – Ike Reilly Assassination

The picture above is by Denver photographer Doug Beam from his fine set taken at the show. Quite an unforgettable night.

March 9, 2007

The Himalayans: She Likes The Weather (Adam Duritz’s early band)

Adam Duritz of Counting Crows is an artist that I have historically loved deeply over the past 12 years or so (and will always love), but I found myself thinking that lately that the Crows’ output has become kind of, well, boring. I reserve the right to modify that statement at any time –they do have a new record coming out which could be amazing– but lately I am not energized at all by what they are doing, which is the exact same thing they’ve been doing for several years now.

So perhaps just the thing to spark that flame again is some early work from Adam when he was young and hungry.

This year Duritz formed a record label called Tyrannosaurus Records, as we previously discussed, and according to a very interesting MySpace diary post, they will be re-releasing Adam’s work from 1991 with his early Bay Area band called The Himalayans on a 17-track album called She Likes The Weather. It’ll be available April 12.

STREAM: Four songs from The Himalayans at their new MySpace
(including an early demo version of Round Here)

Here’s some history from Adam from the blog:

Dated March 9, 2007
Greenwich Village, NY

Today is a really big day for me. It’s a day I’ve waited years to see.

The best part of being a musician for me has always been the joys of being in a band. I’ve always loved the collaboration. I get off on the unexpected surprises of improvisation and the glorious shattering moments of inspiration that come from playing with other people. Most of all, I always loved the feeling of being part of something bigger than myself. Maybe it comes from growing up and moving around a lot or maybe it just comes from being the kind of person who always spent too much of his life alone. Either way, I never wanted to be a solo artist. Not for one day. Not for one hour. Not ever.

I’ve been lucky too, in my life, because I got to be in some great bands over the course of my life and I finally settled in one that was good enough (and lucky enough) that we’re still here some 18 years after Dave Bryson and Marty Jones (yes, THAT “Jones”) and I first got together to record some demos in Dave’s studio Dancing Dog in the late Spring of 1989. Those demos, recorded just before I left to go backpacking around Europe so I could quit playing music and get on with my life, turned out to be the reason I finally realized I couldn’t ever quit playing music. So I came home from Europe and Marty and Dave and I formed the first incarnation of Counting Crows.

That band recorded some good music but we never played a live show and eventually we all went our separate ways. I sat around for a while, not doing much, in the warehouse Immy and I lived in down by the train tracks on 4th Street in Berkeley until one day Immy came home and handed me a copy of the SF Weekly with an ad circled in the classified section. It was an advertisement for a band looking for a singer.

“Get off your ass and call these guys,” Immy said to me, “The ad’s silly. These guys sound fucking ridiculous. They’re probably the perfect band for you. Anyway, you gotta get of your ass and play some music.”

So I called and they said they’d pretty much already decided on a singer but they invited me to audition the next night anyway. I drove over to San Francisco figuring it was a waste of a trip but, what the hell?

I met the guys and they were all pretty cool. Dave Janusko played bass, Dan Jewett played guitar, and Chris Roldan played drums. They asked if I wanted to try some covers or something but I just said play one of your songs and let’s see how it goes. So they started playing and I started singing.

…..and it was magic. I’d never played music like this before. It was way different from anything I could ever have written. But it was perfect. Words just came out of me. Thankfully they were taping the audition because I think we wrote most of three or four of our first songs right there during the audition. It was like I’d been playing these songs forever. We played for about forty minutes and stopped. And then we all just stood standing there in a circle, sweating and staring at each other in that tiny basement rehearsal space. I don’t exactly remember what happened next but I think someone just said, “…Uhhh…you’re in the band.”

And The Himalayans was born.

It was probably the greatest period of musical productivity of my entire life. I was still occasionally playing open mikes and acoustic shows with Dave Bryson as Counting Crows, and, a little while after that, I also started doing all the harmonies for and playing with Sordid Humor too.

But the center of it all for me was The Himalayans. It was entirely liberating for me because I didn’t have to write any of the music. They just created this insane funky, acidic, psychedelic swirl underneath me and I just sang over the top of it. I wasn’t in charge and I didn’t have any more responsibilities than anybody else did. They just played and I just sang and then we went and ate at Mi Mazatlan, the little Salvadoran restaurant on the corner by our tiny Mission District underground rehearsal space. . .

(read the rest via Adam’s MySpace blog)

January 26, 2007

New record label from Adam Duritz

Adam Duritz from Counting Crows has formed a new record label called Tyrannosaurus Records (or T-Recs, har har). He’s signed two bands thus far, some high school kids from Chicago who go by the moniker Blacktop Mourning (just added to SXSW), and a rapper named NOTAR. If you’d asked which one I would think I’d like better, it’d be the former, but actually I don’t find them exceptional at all. I like me the NOTAR fella more – oddly compelling, in an 8-Mile sort of way. Check out his hustle and flow on his MySpace.

Cal-fan Adam recently also chronicled his musical MySpace browsing in this journal entry:

I closed out my MySpace wanderings with a trip over to the Low Stars page. Their album is done and it’s coming out soon. It is the most exquisitely beautiful country rock harmony album since the glory days of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, The Byrds, and The Eagles. It’s just amazing.

It features singer/songwriters Jude, Chris Seefried (formerly of Joe90), Dave Gibbs aka “Kid Lightning” (formerly of Gigolo Aunts), and Jeff Russo (formerly of Tonic). It’s just amazing record. It was produced by George Drakoulias (The Black Crowes, Tom Petty, Maria McKee, Primal Scream). Immy plays a lot of gtr and pedal steel on it. It’s just really cool.

. . . Dave Gibbs co-wrote “Los Angeles”, one of the songs for our new CC album, with Ryan Adams and me, by the way.

So there you have it, a few additional recommendations for the day if you feel like clicking over in between important work meetings and IM chatting when you are supposed to be finished that spreadsheet. Counting Crows are currently convened in NYC with Gil Norton finally at work on a new album. It’s only been, like, over four years since we had anything new from them? Count me stoked. Here’s Ryan Adams’ collab with them from that album, Hard Candy:

Butterfly In Reverse – Counting Crows (written with Ryan Adams, Ryan on bgvs)

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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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