December 31, 2009

You saw me standing alone

blue moon

As you may have heard around in the news, tonight is a “blue moon,” a rare occurrence of the second full moon in one month. Steeped in legend, it’s gotta portend good things for 2010.

Driving home last night, the almost-full moon cast an eerie glow over the snowy plains of Colorado, making everything visible as if it was daylight. Tonight will be even brighter.

Happy blue moon, happy New Year’s everyone. Here’s to 2010.

Blue Moon (live) – Chris Isaak
Dream/Blue Moon/Try a Little Tenderness – Cat Power
(live on KCRW)
Blue Moon – My Morning Jacket (from the Louisville is for Lovers compilation)

PS: My friend is trying to convince me to do the Polar Bear Plunge tomorrow in Boulder. I’m considering it.

March 15, 2008

What comes is better than what came before

I (finally) saw Juno last night, and there’s a scene towards the end where Cat Power’s earthy, smoky voice fills the theater with her sublimely saddened version of “Sea of Love,” off her Covers Record.

As I walked out of the movies into the crisp and cold night, I found myself quietly singing another selection from that album, her elegiac version of the Velvet Underground’s “I Found A Reason.” It’s less than two minutes long, and like most of her covers it’s more of a reinvention than a faithful retelling. The lyrics morph; the only ones consistent between the two versions go:

Oh I do believe
you’re all what you perceive (Velvet) /
in all the things you say (Cat)

What comes is better than what came before

. . . and you’d better
come come come come
to me
Better come
come come to me . . .

I Found A Reason – Cat Power
I Found A Reason – The Velvet Underground
I Found A Reason (demo version) – The Velvet Underground

January 21, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

I was talking on the phone Saturday morning when my Dad came into the house, left a small box on the desk, kissed me on top the head, and left. Look! It’s my new iPod in-ear headphones, a really-belated birthday gift.

It gives me three options for in-ear adapters, small, medium, and large. This is something that has never occurred to me, to wonder what size ear holes I have. It’s a whole new level of self-awareness that I had not previously been familiar with. What if I had really tiny ear holes? (I don’t, I’m medium). Or what if large weren’t big enough for my gaping ear caverns and I needed to special-order an extra large pair, or adapt them with cotton balls or something? These are the things that flit through my mind while I explored the tidy streamlined white case. Anyways. I am so happy with the soft and snug fit, and the sound (better than the one-ear buzz in the standard-issue pair I’ve been living with for months now). I am a happy, medium-eared camper.

Tunes for the week:

Xavier Rudd

This in one talented Aussie. I saw Xavier Rudd Saturday night at the Gothic Theatre and he’s a burning one-man-band (although he has added a drummer for this tour). Xavier has an earthy, rootsy, world music vibe to him, with a rock and wail comparable to Ben Harper. His stage set-up is hard to describe, involving lots of percussive instruments, three digeridoos, and a lap slide guitar all clustered within his reach. When he played Jimmy Kimmel a few weeks ago, he had fewer instruments, but definitely watch the video to see how he operates. Impressive. When the intro to this song ended and the mustachioed dude with the aviator sunglasses hit it with the driving beat, the entire crowd seemed to start jumping in unison. I got whapped in the face with some gal’s gnarly dreadlock, it was that kind of crowd. Xavier is currently working on the score for the Summer 2008 film Surfer Dude, and his 4th album White Moth is out now on Anti-.

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

I have this tendency to think of Nick Cave as this very baroque, moody musician with sweetly sweeping songs like Ship Song (okay, fine, it comes to mind because PJ covered it). But then I recall last year’s snarl and blues of side-project Grinderman (“No Pussy Blues”), and the danceable apocalypse of this video makes sense. This song knocked me off my feet; it’s the first tune off his new album of the same name (mixed by Nick Launay – Arcade Fire, new Supergrass, Grinderman). You must also watch this video as well, if only to see the moustache and the completely unselfconscious dancing. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! will be out on April 8th in the U.S. on Anti-

Breathless (Nick Cave cover)
Cat Power

Speaking of the versatility of Nick Cave, I was pleased to find this cover amongst the bonus tracks for the new Cat Power covers album Jukebox, which is out now on Matador. Cat’s version has less meandering on the fife, and more smoldering longing. As is her trademark, she takes a rather peppy little original number and dresses it up like midnight, all reverb and honeyed whispers. It becomes a different song, almost. I love what she does.

Lay Back Down
Eric Lindell

A little bit of lazy, late summertime soul feels nice right around now. Eric Lindell was born in San Mateo, CA and wound up in New Orleans, where he studied the music, garnered respect, and laid down this second studio album at the famed Piety Street Studios. Low On Cash, Rich In Love (out last week on Alligator Records) has the sweet ache of Van Morrison with that blue-eyed soul groove and the lithe vocals, and channels elements of R&B and Memphis brass bands.

Plus, he also looks a little like K-Fed on his album cover, which clearly is all the more reason to buy this one.

Sing Again
Chris Walla

The guitarist/producer for Death Cab For Cutie Chris Walla releases his first solo album Field Manual through Barsuk Records next week. I think everyone was kind of expecting that it wouldn’t stray too far from the DCFC aesthetic but I find it to be a unique and varied album that stands up well on its own. This song is crisp and catchy, the beat gets my toes tapping. There’s also some unexpected squaks of dissonance just to keep things fresh, and a what-just-happened drop off ending. Elegant and interesting.

And yep: It’s on.

October 22, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Oooh, I learned some rugby basics this weekend, moving me exponentially along the spectrum of familiarity from “why are they all locking arms and butting heads?” to “He was robbed of a try! Don’t miss the conversion!” What a crazy, visceral, fantastic sport. Like soccer, gone mad.

British friend Jamie invited me to his viewing party on Saturday to watch the Rugby World Cup which pitted England against South Africa (I know the history of Dutch colonization, but shouldn’t there be more than like two non-white people on that team?). Jamie’s house was festooned with with St. George’s cross flags, his whole family was in matching jersies. He took the time to explain the game to me — in between comically trying to squelch already-half-uttered profanities that wanted to be directed at the ref, under the watchful eye of his wife and two little boys. They even served curry and dark beer. So fun, even though England lost. I gained a miniature rugby education.

Up and Down
Chesterfield Kings
I wrote about these guys last year and they’re back with a fantastic new album that manages to summon the spirit of the Stones and the Ramones simultaneously. New York’s The Chesterfield Kings are enjoying a renaissance of sorts after being together for over a dozen years (I was reminded of their new album by a glowing mention in the newest Rolling Stone). This cut has gypsies screaming and acid rain in the lyrics, harmonicas wailing, and a huge street-strut swagger. Their new album Psychedelic Sunrise is championed by E Street guitarist/radio host/Soprano/”Patriot” songwriter Little Steven Van Zandt, so much so that he’s signed them to his own Wicked Cool label. Lead singer dude is still channeling the unfortunate “I slept on my mohawk/mullet” hairstyle, but I guess that’s just all the more rock ‘n’ roll.

Ramblin Man (Hank Williams)
Cat Power
A wistful version of this 1951 Hank Sr. song will be the third track on Cat Power‘s forthcoming 2nd album of covers, Jukebox (due Jan 22 on Matador). Absolutely every song that this woman touches is transformed into a smoky, sultry resurrection, often bearing little resemblance to the original. She rocks effortlessly and completely and I can’t wait to hear this collection. Plus I dig the Fleetwood-Mactastic cover, in triple-threat Technicolor. This particular recording comes from her grand little eMusic EP.

Selfish Jean

Scottish lads Travis have unleashed a new idea in collaborative viral marketing to promote this tune, about a selfish gal named Jean. The website models itself a bit on Post-Secret, allowing random fans to contribute confessions of bad selfish behavior, pay penance, and view others in the Hall of Shame. Frontman Fran Healy smartly notes that “all confessions will be vetted by a panel of smug, righteous ex-priests.” And because I seriously dig the bright and brassy vibe of this song from their new album The Boy With No Name, and because the website is interesting, I am furthering their viral aspirations. Oh, plus I’m a tad voyeuristic. So it works out well for everyone.

I Want A New Drug (Huey Lewis)
Apostle of Hustle
Suddenly, Huey Lewis is hip again. Stereogum recently featured this inventive, swankily rich cover by Toronto indie musicians Apostle of Hustle to draw some props to the still-labelless compilation effort CD Are You Still With Me?!. I’d love to see Apostle of Hustle live again; check how fascinating they make this song, what with all the dialogue en español, slow-burn guitars, and the layers of fab percussion. The album also includes tunes from unlikely suspects such as Long Winters and Will Johnson of Centro-matic, and since you know that you can still sing the chorus of either “Stuck With You” or “Hip To Be Square,” you should probably get it.

The State of Massachusetts
Dropkick Murphys

You might remember hearing these guys very effectively used in The Departed to convey a textured and nuanced feeling of “I’m Irish and I’m going to kick your ass.” That’s pretty much what I get from this feisty Celtic punk tune by Boston’s Dropkick Murphys. Their new album The Meanest of Times is out now, and I am pretty sure that I heard this song used last night after the Red Sox clinched their spot in the World Series facing the Rockies. I remarked to my husband that it felt funny to be cheering the Red Sox last night, knowing full well that by Wednesday I’d be doing the exact opposite with great vigor. I just think it’s gonna make for an awesome Series.

August 10, 2007

New contest: Win the Hottest State soundtrack, and read the book you lazy summer slacker

I am generally a really upbeat person but I can’t help myself — I truly despise heat coupled with humidity. This is why it is good that I don’t live in, say, Georgia or West Virginia because I would be the most grumpy person you know all through the month of August. Plus my hair would be very frizzy.

I am rambling about hot weather as a seamless tie-in to my newest contest: two lucky winners will win a soundtrack+book prize pack for the upcoming Ethan Hawke film The Hottest State. My first listens have been very enjoyable – it’s a fairly mellow and eclectic collection, and features the superb songwriting of new Fuel-favorite Jesse Harris. When forming the concept for the film adaptation, Hawke and Harris delved into the collection of 80+ songs that Harris had penned over the years, and then enlisted a dream team of folks like M. Ward, Feist, Bright Eyes, Cat Power, Black Keys, Willie Nelson, and Emmylou Harris to record them. You can stream the entire record here and then pop over to see the full tracklisting on their MySpace.

The movie is based on Hawke’s book (I didn’t know he wrote), so the two winners will each get a CD soundtrack plus the book for good end-of-summer reading as you lay by the pool and perfect that tan that will have to sustain you as the last vestiges of summer slip away.

So depressing, I know, stop it.

I’ll pick TWO random winners from all entrants by next Friday August 17th. If you’d like to win, please leave me a way to contact you (or promise to check here to see if you won, and then email me if you do) and answer this question:
What is one of your favorite hot weather/summertime memories? Random, funny, serious, whatever – it just has to effectively include that “hot” business. Godspeed.

From the soundtrack:
If You Ever Slip – The Black Keys
It Will Stay With Us – Jesse Harris

October 31, 2006

AOL, like, totally wants to go to the next Cold War Kids show with you

I am a little confused by the AOL Music Indie Blog. The first time I heard of it, it just sounded like a non-sequitur to me, like a math equation that does not compute. AOL = indie?

They are using their gigantic corporate conglomerate muscle and huge subscriber base to draw these great podcasts from a wide variety of (mostly) smaller independent artists.

I suppose I could just enjoy and keep my mouth shut, but I just have to admit my hesitancy in having AOL be my source for, like, a Josh Rouse interview. Isn’t that what smaller labels and independent radio stations are for? The performances are great so I can’t complain, but I have to admit that the concept kind of rubs me the wrong way.

I know, I know – get over it, and listen to these:

RECENT PODCASTS (the links are to mp3 of podcast) -

M. Ward
(performing Chinese Translation, To Go Home, Paul’s Song)

Cat Power
(performing Love & Communication, John John, Satisfaction, Ramblin’ Man)

Noel Gallagher
(performing It’s Good To Be Free, Whatever, Slide Away)

The Lemonheads
(performing No Backbone, Why Do You Do This To Yourself, My Drug Buddy)

Nada Surf
(performing 8 songs — now that’s just crazy talk: Concrete Bed, What Is Your Secret?, Always Love, Hyperspace, Blizzard of ’77, 80 Windows, Happy Kid, Blankest Year)

José González
(performing Crosses, Deadweight on Velveteen, Lovestain, Heartbeats)

Josh Rouse
(performing Quiet Town and Givin’ It Up)

Jamie Lidell
(performing Game For Fools, What’s The Use, Multiply)

September 17, 2006

New(ish) video from Cat Power: “Lived in Bars”

There is a certain guilty pleasure that I derive from watching videos where everyone starts dancing together simultaneously, and seemingly in spontaneous joy. Exhibit A: Hit Me Baby One More Time (seriously, how can you not like it when all those Catholic schoolgirls start snapping their way down the hall towards you?), and Exhibit B: Feist – Mushaboom (again, irresistible dancing in the streets).

Cat Power is sexy but borderline weird (in a strangely good way). Here is her newish video for the song “Lived In Bars” off her wonderful album The Greatest – which is being reissued by Matador with three different covers. She completely rocks the hot little white dress in this video (although I would dissent on the backwards baseball cap) and gets the whole strange bar crowd dancing:

There’s a nice, tiny little sly reference to her album (“The Greatest”) with the sweatshirt she covers up with at the end of the video when she lays on the couch. If you look closely, it says Cassius.

Sneaky Cat Power.

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April 1, 2006

Cat Power: Queen of Covers

The goodness just keeps on coming from the lovely Chan Marshall.

I had not heard this cover ’til Chad posted it today over at Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands (and I’ll just assume it is his attempt at an April Fool’s joke to post James Blunt covering the Pixies).

The fervor with which I love Cat Power’s aching, smoldering versions of the songs she covers is unmatched. This is a total knockout:

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Dylan cover) – Cat Power

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January 2, 2006

Cat Power touring with Memphis Rhythm Band

The smoky Ms. Chan (pronounced “Shawn”) Marshall (a.k.a. Cat Power) is taking to the road in 2006 for a few shows. If you are lucky enough to live in one of these towns, you might check her out. Sometimes she is amazing live, other times I have heard a bit uneven. But I would take my chances, personally:

Feb 14 – NYC – Town Hall
Feb 18 – Boston – Berklee Performance Center
Feb 20 – Seattle – Moore Theatre
Feb 22- Los Angeles – Wilshire Ebell
Feb 23 – San Francisco- Palace of Fine Arts
Feb 24 – San Francisco- Palace of Fine Arts
Feb 26 – Chicago – The Vic
Mar 04 – London – The Barbican
Mar 08 – Paris – Grand Rex

DOWNLOAD: Here is the title track from her latest CD, The Greatest,” coming out January 24, 2006.

P.S. Am I the only one who didn’t know how hot she was? Just discovered this in trolling for the pic for the post.

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November 28, 2005

Monday Music Round-up

Happy Monday, folks. Okay, time for another collection of musica which I am enjoying this week. Enjoy:

Waiting for Pete Doherty To Die
The Indelicates

Thanks to Revolution In The Head for this track. Try to listen to this (or even read the title) without laughing. If you can, you are a better man than I. A tongue-in-cheek tribute to everyone’s favorite smacked-out junkie (former Libertines frontman, currently in shambles and in Babyshambles). This song deserves a picture – since there are so many great ones of him out there. How about:
How could Kate Moss NOT want a piece of that action?

Cancelling Stamps at the University of Ghana Post Office
Just what the title says, this is absolutely awesome. I love African percussion and this makes me want to work in a post office, or at minimum mail a letter to Ghana. How wonderful to make something so mundane sound so amazing. Big ups to for posting this and other world music tracks. Diversify my ears.

Could We
Cat Power
Swingin’ alt-country turn with an edge from Ms. Power (Chan Marshall), who has got to be one of the most diverse female artists out there that I know of. I have mentioned her before and will mention her again, I am sure. From her new album The Greatest, coming out in January 2006. This track has the trademark slinky vocals (what else would we expect?) and great Memphis horns. Check it out.

I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer
The Cardigans
The Love Fool folks go foxy. I like the spunk and the edge in this song, lead singer Nina Persson gets sassy. Plus, how can you go wrong with a title like that? This is from their new album Super Extra Gravity, produced by Tore Johansson, who also has worked with Franz Ferdinand and OK Go.

Y Control (Faint Remix)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
I am listening to this a lot lately. Very good, trancey licks with stomping backbeats and even what sounds like some handclaps. And I love Karen O from the YYY’s edgy and earthy punk rock voice, although she is a little too full of herself, what with the over-the-top sexual posing. The Faint haven’t changed this song too drastically from the original, just lightened up the hi-hat and electrified the guitar a bit more heavily. I like the overall effect.

And a *bonus laugh* for today comes courtesy of Please read THIS POST, and here is a link to Knoxville Girl, which plays a prominent role in this lovely little story. Man alive, it’s a classic.

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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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