October 3, 2008

like a warm drink it seeps into my soul

Today I’ve been listening a lot to this ace version of “All At Sea” by British skateboarder-punk-turned-pianist Jamie Cullum. I forgot how much I enjoy this marvelous song; I just stumbled across a live version of it from the KFOG studios there in San Francisco. It’s the kind of song that’s always made me feel like the fog and the sea, SF or Seattle.

Cullum is talented, and extremely fun to watch live; I saw him once at the KFOG Concert for Kids, there at Davies Symphony Hall in SF. Between the flying kicks and jumps off the piano bench, he looked like the hyperactive kid in music class 6th period that can’t wait to get out on his skateboard in the empty halls of school after class is over for the day. You wouldn’t really know it from this melancholy tune, though.

All At Sea (live on KFOG) – Jamie Cullum

In music news, I’m out the door to the listening party/Twist & Shout in-store with Everything Absent Or Distorted tonight. Their new record is pretty incredible.

And wait, for my San Fran friends — did I read right that MC Hammer is playing Hardly Strictly Bluegrass this weekend? I knew he blogged, but bluegrass? Um . . . wow.


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July 9, 2008

The Lovecats (covered) :: Go and throw all the songs we know into the sea

I do not love cats by any means. Kittens, sure, and I’ve met a few decent cats but their overall redeeming qualities were their dog-like traits. The musical Cats also is something I never ever need to see.

This is my own personal seventh circle of burning hell.

However recently I was listening to the fine new Luke Doucet album (loved the last one) and found myself enjoying the twangy creativity of his cover of the 1983 Cure song “The Lovecats.” It is a challenging song to cover, because it’s so weird that really only Robert Smith and his eyelinerness can pull it off. I shuffled around to the sexy OK Go version of it (noble effort), then Googled out a few others. So now you can hear the lines, “We should have each other to tea, we should have each other with cream” through a variety of different lenses. Including (?!) Paul Anka, as much as that makes your skin crawl.

The Lovecats – Luke Doucet
The Lovecats – OK Go
The Lovecats – Paul Anka
The Lovecats – Jamie Cullum & Katie Melua
The Lovecats – Tricky

The original: The Lovecats – The Cure

April 9, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

One of the big important early steps in starting a band is that all-important decision of what to call yourselves. Has to be something that will entice people to take a listen, but with just the right edge to it. If there is some hip in-joke connotation that could work too.

So here’s your first stop: the massive Wikipedia page devoted to Fictional Band Names in popular culture. From Hey That’s My Bike to Sonic Death Monkey to yes, even Fingerbang, they’re all here, waiting to be loved, discussed and revived. I found it immensely amusing.

Here’s what I am listening to this week:

Brandi Carlile
The new sophomore full-length album from Brandi Carlile is out now on Columbia, and I like the direction she is heading. Her work with T Bone Burnett (Counting Crows, Roy Orbison, Gillian Welch) is so flawlessly treated that I can almost forgive him for his cut-of-meat moniker. The Story was recorded live, directly to 2″ tape in eleven days, and possesses a very immediate, raw, timeless, soulful quality – four words that pretty much sum up Brandi for me. This song is completely charming from the opening notes, and finds a nice experiment with piano, which I always love. ALSO: Obligatory Pearl Jam connection, if you can believe it — drummer for this album is Matt Chamberlain, early drummer for Pearl Jam, appears in the video for Alive. I was thrilled to hear that. Although Ten this ain’t, she does bring the rock on tunes like the wailing-howl of a title track.

The Neptunes (Pharrell feat. Jay-Z)
You think you love your Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z for gettin’ your party on, but also laughed at Jamie Cullum’s frank and swingin’ treatment of this tune from Pharrell and Co. — then you need the original. I’d been meaning to seek this one out and finally did, off 2003′s The Neptunes Present . . . Clones. I’m reminded of how great the synthy, sexy, throwback sound of this hit single from Summer ’03 is, and I’m a step ahead because I already know all the lyrics thanks to Jamie. Well, except for maybe the bridge: “…like you were just another shorty I put the naughty on.” I’m workin’ on it.

Someday Soon
Gin Blossoms
My recent mention of the Empire Records movie (another one I know all too well, as in whole segments of dialogue, front-to-back) reminded me of the lead-off track from the fab soundtrack with the Gin Blossoms. Did you even catch that those guys released a new album last year after ten years? Called Major Lodge Victory, it sounds exactly like, well, circa-1995 Gin Blossoms. But they picked one sound and do it well, and I am finding myself loving this song for driving and harmonizing along. It’s got great “whoooooooos,” soaring guitar bits, and even a litle foray into the Cher-tastic world of Vocoder effects.

Fly Paper
This is my second mention of Trinidad-Canadian artist k-os (“chaos”), but I just got the full album Atlantis: Hymns for Disco (which is finally available stateside) and the eclectic blend of old-school beats, fresh hip hop, authentic island vibes is making it one hell of a party album that you really can’t sit still for. It’s thoroughly enjoyable all the way through. The only weakness is some fairly simplistic aphorisms-masquerading-as-lyrics (“I’m caught between a rock and a hard place” / “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it“), but I’m definitively not in it for the lyrics. As the song begins, the voice of an old-time radio announcer inquires, “Feeling stuck? Self-loathing? Shoegazing? – Try new supersonic Fly Paper . . .it’s catchy!” And indeed, this could be the perfect cure for the common indie kid feeling too mopey to shake it.

Free Love Freeway
David Brent/Ricky Gervais with Noel Gallagher
I was reminded of this little smarmy gem from a recent gorge on British Office courtesy of the library DVD I snagged. I was watching Season One (and I know this is anathema, but not feelin’ it as much as the American version, probably because the British version just lacks Jim Halpert. And Dwight. And Michael.) and this is a classic from the most painful staff meeting you never had to attend. Dig the priceless lyrics like “Free love on the freelove freeway, the love is free and the freeway’s long. I got some hot love on the hot love highway . . .” Now, exactly how Noel Gallagher got involved in the studio version of this is an enigma to me, but this pokes some mighty good fun at bad music.

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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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