April 5, 2007

Warm sun pours over me :: Badly Drawn Boy live in San Francisco, 3/23/07

Today I am very excited about this fantastic show from Damon Gough, aka the perpetually stocking-capped Badly Drawn Boy, at the Great American Music Hall (love it) in San Francisco from a few weeks ago. I was actually supposed to see BDB a few days prior to this show up in Boulder and I totally goofed it and went out of town that weekend instead. I felt like an absolute dolt when I remembered ex post facto, and after hearing this I am kicking myself anew.

This is a trademark extra-long, gorgeous set from a talented and multifaceted musician. If you haven’t become familiar with Badly Drawn Boy (who has this kind of childishly-odd emo moniker, but you can ignore that and just call him Damon if it makes it easier for you to give him the props he deserves) — this is your chance.

BDB music is complex and literate; finely-woven pop songs that incorporate acoustic guitar, piano, strings, harmonica, even some attempts at whistling. You may also remember that Gough also scored the film adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel About A Boy, and he includes three songs from that album in this set (including the wonderful “Silent Sigh”).

He has an impeccable ear for unforgettable melodies that get under my skin and etch themselves in my memory. They are the sort of dense, truthful songs that I could see soundtracking my life if I could play them on a loop to overlay my quotidian activities. I would feel much more meaningful with this stuff scoring my day. But as Damon sings in the bittersweet You Were Right, “songs are never quite the answer, just a soundtrack to a life that is over all too soon.”

As likely to insert a snippet of Springsteen (“Thunder Road” at the beginning of the lovely “Walk You Home Tonight”) as he is to check Journey (a perfect choice of a closing tune once the bar has closed and everyone really just wants to sing along), Gough’s musical influences traverse a wide and rich landscape.

This set is stuffed with gems and engaging conversation with Damon and the audience. Damon says that “this whole tour’s been one of the best tours I’ve ever been involved in,” and that he is dedicating his shows lately to his grandfather who passed away in March, as a celebration of his life. A celebration indeed, this is one of the loveliest shows I’ve listened to in a long time and it makes me wish I could keep my concert dates straight and not be so daft. Grrr.

Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, March 23, 2007

Time of Times
Journey from A to B
Degrees of Separation
Born in the UK (title track from his new album)
Further I Slide
Nothing’s Gonna Change Your Mind
Welcome to the Overground (instrumental)
A Minor Incident
The Shining
Once Around the Block
Don’t Ask Me, I’m Only the President
This is That New Song
Above You, Below Me
What is it Now
The Way Things Used to Be
I Love You All
All Possibilities
Without A Kiss
Walk You Home Tonight
Like a Virgin -> Silent Sigh
You Were Right
One Last Dance


I Want You Back (Jackson 5 cover)
Donna and Blitzen
Don’t Stop Believing (Journey cover)


Damon heads next to Carnegie Hall to play the upcoming Springsteen tribute, a benefit show which just keeps getting more interesting.

Top pic by Anders Jacobsen

February 8, 2007

Springsteen tribute show planned at Carnegie Hall

Bruce Springsteen is set to get the tribute treatment from the musical community on April 5 at Carnegie Hall in New York. If you were lucky enough to click on the ticket sale website on January 31, then you may have already snagged yourself a pair of tickets (in what concert producer Michael Dorf is calling a “premature leak.” Those are always a bit embarassing). Tickets legitimately went on sale Monday (and seem to be sold out) with the proceeds benefitting the Music For Youth program, as with previous tributes to Dylan & Joni Mitchell.

The benefit show will feature appearances from Badly Drawn Boy, Pete Yorn, Steve Earle, Chris Isaak and Josh Ritter, among others. I can’t find any recordings of Isaak ever covering Springsteen (some fan correct me if I am wrong), and same for Ritter (although there is plenty of press likening him to Springsteen’s songwriting). But here’s some hints of what the night may sound like . . .

Thunder Road – Badly Drawn Boy

Dancing In The Dark –> Murray (live) – Pete Yorn

State Trooper (live) – Steve Earle

And if I may, how awesome would it be to see these humble suggestions added to the lineup?

Hungry Heart – Jesse Malin

For You – The Format

No Surrender (live 9/30/05) – Eddie Vedder
(yeah, I’ve posted this before, but it’s one of my absolute favorites)

December 27, 2006

Guest blogger redux: Chris from England

Around this time last year, I featured a “guest blogger” post by my pal/faithful reader Chris in England, who regularly takes the time to make me fabulous and varied mix CDs which arrive in the mail at random intervals and never fail to brighten my day. I am a firm believer in the power of good music in your mailbox when you least expect it to make any day immeasurably better.

Chris and I have remarkably similar musical tastes (meaning his are also superb, obviously). In addition to the old-goodies he throws in, his mixes also serve as a much-appreciated barometer of what is new and interesting over in the UK and the Manchester area (often before it fully hits over here). It’s really one of the best things going in my mailbox.

Chris always sends along commentary with his mixes; he is a closet music blogger dying to get out. It would be criminal not to share all this goodness with you folks, so enjoy.

his comments in italics

Chelsea Dagger – The Fratellis
I am in love with the glorious stick-in-your-head nature of this song. I’d listened to The Fratellis before and wanted to write something, but nothing sums them up better than what Chris writes: “Watch out for the track from The Fratellis – a bit like Supergrass playing ’70s glam rock.” That is exactly spot-on what I hear when I listen to this -the most apt description I’ve heard yet for these boys from Glasgow- but could never articulate it so perfectly. So I’m just gonna let him introduce you to this infectiously fab tune.

No Matter What – Badfinger
A very old song (one of the first songs I bought as a very very young child), Badfinger was signed by Paul McCartney to Apple and responsible for one of the saddest stories in rock history (two members of the group killed themselves in later life, etc). Anyway I think the song was ‘power pop’ well ahead of its time. You can feel the Beatles influence in the production.”

Silent Sigh – Badly Drawn Boy
Part of the three-song sequence of Manchester artists, Chris calls this “a wonderful singalong — the best Badly Drawn Boy song ever.” I find it surprisingly Prince-like (not a bad thing).

Emily – Stephen Fretwell
Scarborough-born Fretwell: name-checked by Ryan Adams and a bit like Damien Rice.” Lovely and wistful and wonderful.

Dear readers, Chris and his services are available for rental if you need a great long-distance musical correspondent. Oh wait, actually he’s not — but I’ll pass along the goodness if he keeps sending me the goods.

March 20, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

So, back from a long snow weekend with the gals, I am wishing you all a Happy First Day of Spring! Unfortunately, Colorado did not get the memo, and this is what I awoke to this morning:

As gorgeous as the falling snow is, I think I am ready for the ice to be gone. Over the weekend I was sitting in the hot tub with my friends (looking at the beautiful and dramatic mountains in the moonlight) and as I tried to run back into the lodge barefoot (it was freezing once you get out of the water! and I was wet!) I did an elaborately choreographed (and almost comical) fall down a few steps after I slipped on the copious ice. So I am all scraped and bruised on the skin that was bare. No more ice! Bring on the Spring, says me! Egad, if I keep pulling these slip & fall deals, what will happen to your musical consumption? For the love of all things holy, I think I need to be more careful. Ghastly bruises.

And, sorry, we are temporarily goin’ ole school today with uploads to Savefile (right click, open in new window for most links) since EZArchive bastards seem to be taking the morning off. 3pm: It’s fixed now, they are direct links.

Crack The Whip
The Spinto Band
Pitchfork’s description of this song, by current Arctic Monkeys tour opener The Spinto Band, caught my attention: “Four-on-the-floor ‘Crack the Whip’ lashes the make-up alternapop zeitgeist, whippin’ the Killers at their own neu-dance-wave game before ascending to a gates-of-heaven Beach Boys chorus like this was the Biblical, non-DFA Rapture.” That is one of the best-written music review sentences I have read in a while, and I am digging the song in a big way. These guys just rocked SXSW from what I hear. Check out their 2005 release Nice and Nicely Done.

Skinny Boy
Amy Millan
The female-vocals half of fabulously harmonic & smooth Canadian pop band Stars, Amy Millan is releasing a solo album May 30 called Honey From The Tombs. Any album title with the word honey in it is apt for Ms. Millan, since that is usually the word that comes to mind when I hear her lush voice. This song treads familiar Stars ground, with a bit more acoustic touch. I like the way she wraps her voice around the lyric “You’ve got lips I could spend the day with.”

Zero 7 Featuring José González
The layered electronica sound of Garden-State-darlings Zero 7 (“In The Waiting Line”) meet the breathy vocals and gently plucking guitar of Argentinian folkster José González in this pleasing track off the vinyl 7″ and 12″ limited-run single. The song is from the upcoming Zero 7 release The Garden. Thanks to Connor for tracking this one down, I really like it. Downtime bliss.

The Shining (Capitol K Mix)
Badly Drawn Boy
Funny, I just accidentally typed “Badly Drawn Boi” instead of Boy. No, that would be Avril, who we don’t support here (sorry grrrls). I wonder if I hate the word “boi” or “grrrl” more. Tough call. ANYWAY, so this is a sonic assault best listened to on headphones as the remix takes you through dark layers of this song, a thousand miles from the relaxing orchestration of the original. Fascinating. It sounds like the soundtrack to a jerky David Lynch-type film vignette meets Sigur Ros-type atmosphere. From the 2000 remix EP Once Around The Block, Pt. 1.

Always On My Mind
Iron & Wine with Calexico
So, I just “found” this on my iPod, although I’ve had it for a few months (from their excellent appearance on NPR’s All Songs Considered). I somehow hadn’t listened to it yet. So I was quite excited to hear this lapping-ocean-tide reinterpretation of the classic made popular by Elvis and Willie Nelson. A touch of slide guitar, Sam Beam’s soft and relaxing vocals, and it’s an earnestly-sung treat. I think I originally got this off the excellent So Much Silence blog, which, paradoxically, is always giving me good gems to fill the silence.

And you, lucky reader, you get THREE bonuses this morning. First off a kind reader ripped me this mp3 of Brandi Carlile singing Hallelujah from that KCRW stream. So now you can have it on mp3. I got a great response to my posts about her, seems like many of you have been as blown away as I was by this talented gal.

Also, Chad has a simply lovely cover of Norah Jones singing Patsy Cline (with a hot bass line addition), and Aquarium Drunkard has a hilarious post with a little love advice for the non-slick (and a stomach-turning tounge-kiss photo of everyone’s favorite ex-VP).

Have fun, champs.

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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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