March 19, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I was enjoying Japanese food a few nights ago with some good people, and yummy as it was, midway through my udon and sake I had a sudden void open up within my soul for some Wagamama.
See — it makes you happy just to say it. It hit me like a bolt from the blue and I’ve been missing it ever since.

Wagamama is the name of a series of Japanese restaurants started in London, tasty – tasty – tasty. I first became acquainted with the Covent Garden one and have eaten at Wagamama each time I’ve been in London since — and I always have a good time. I read that they are opening their first US location in Boston on April 23. Go! Wasting time on the Wagamama website is also a poor substitute for the vittles, but fun — like a carnival. They have a Passion-O-Meter (I am, apparently, Hot Stuff) and Mystic Noodles fortune-telling (Saturn and Mars are making a mess of my noodle aura).

Mostly it just makes me hungry.

The Words You Used To Say
Dean & Britta
Former frontman of Luna combines with the voice of the most truly, truly, truly outrageous punk rocker of Saturday mornings in the ’80s, Jem (real name is Britta Phillips but if I were her I think I’d just change my name to Jem). This is from Dean & Britta‘s delightfully subtle new album Back Numbers, out now on Zoe/Rounder. These two also scored The Squid and The Whale, aka the most stunningly depressing movie I’ve seen in recent years – but hey, it sounded good.

This is an atmospheric new song today from San Francisco band Luce, off the soundtrack of a spooky hospital movie Sublime, featuring that guy from Ed. The song itself is not spooky at all, but rather a wistful, melodic latin-tinged affair. Luce is currently working on a new album (follow-up to the wonderful 2005 album Never Ending) and have announced a series of shows for the lucky California folks, including a special summer festival up with the North Bay hippies co-starring bluesy rocker Jackie Greene.

You Are The Best Thing (new)
Ray LaMontagne
This is such a naked, vulnerable song — and I’ve always much preferred the raw earnest Ray to the slickly produced Ray. I am pretty sure this is a brand new tune, several of you have written to me about LaMontagne performing it lately; this version’s from 12/16/06 at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. The mp3 is not stellar, admittedly, but the song certainly is. [photo credit]

Ballad of Humankindness
The Dears
A good friend breathlessly told me that I had to check out this song and my, how she knows me. I did indeed enjoy the song from the moment those opening beats started. I am a sucker for beats like this, the blending of the acoustic with the thumping danceable rhythm that just gets better as the song progresses. The tune, from Montreal’s The Dears‘ 2006 album Gang Of Losers (Arts & Crafts), builds into something fantastic —- even if the semi-preachy tones about all of us learning forgiveness and not judging the homeless are a bit heavy-handed.

Salala (featuring Peter Gabriel)
Angélique Kidjo
I have written before about the wonderful West African songstress Angélique Kidjo, and I always get into the Africa world-beat fusion of her music. She has a new album out May 1 called Djin Djin and it features a whole host of A-listers like Amadou & Miriam, Ziggy Marley, Joss Stone, Carlos Santana, Alicia Keys and this guy. Every time I hear Peter Gabriel’s gruff, velvety voice I say to myself, “I forgot how much I love Peter Gabriel.” The whole album is very good global listening.

One last PS, I enjoyed listening to this new OK Go remix (UK Surf version) from iTunes of “Here It Goes Again.” It’s got a very interesting, relaxed vibe that many of their other songs forego in favor of the stuff that makes you jump around. But I really like this; OK Go always makes me happy.
September 29, 2006

Unreleased & live from Tom Luce

Luce is an excellent band out of San Francisco that writes melodic, well-crafted tunes, and whose two albums (self-titled and Never Ending) I have listened to a lot lately. I wrote a few weeks ago about how all the band’s equipment was stolen this summer while they were on tour, and then for a double-whammy, a fire gutted the apartment of lead singer Tom Luce (who is truly one of the nicest & sincerest guys you’ll meet).

They are appearing at a benefit concert tomorrow night, which I am pleased to report is sold out. Tom Luce appeared on the KFOG Morning Show on Monday and the response to their upcoming show has been phenomenal.

Here’s a track from that acoustic performance, this is one of my favorite songs from their first album, and this performance is just devastatingly gorgeous. If you haven’t heeded my call to listen to them in the past, start with this wistful little gem that’s going on repeat for me today:

After Tomorrow – Tom Luce
Live on the KFOG Morning Show, 9/25/06

If you live in NorCal and don’t already have your tix to the Luce show tomorrow, but want to support the band, there is also a cool eBay auction with a few neat items up for bids, including a Blue Sage Poets CD (the original name of Luce) and a backstage/hang-out-with-the-guys pass for the show. If you did get tickets, there’s a silent auction at the event as well, with additional swag like 3 private guitar lessons with Tom Luce and a demo CD of never-released songs from him.

Tom was kind enough to send me one of those unreleased demo solo songs from the CD that is being auctioned (silently). He wrote it with Charlie Colin — former guitarist/bassist from the band Train, who has collaborated on both Luce albums. Check out this lovely track — it’s got a nice solid beat and a catchy anthemic chorus. Tom says it may be re-done or rewritten, he’s not sure, but for now, I like it a lot:

Liars – Tom Luce (with Charlie Colin from Train)

Nice pic. Aye-aye, captain.
They’re even more fun in real life (but I haven’t gone sailing with ‘em).

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September 5, 2006

Luce: “Eleanor Rigby” video (Beatles cover)

Last month I was fortunate to get to see San Francisco band Luce here in Colorado Springs, and was completely blown away by their entire show, but especially thrilled at this Beatles cover. As good of a show as I’ve seen in many moons, their set was melodic, catchy, tight, and fun.

There are three or four moments of loud/scratchy audio on this video (sorry!) but it is worth watching. The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” becomes unrecognizable as a loose, atmospheric, rocking jam — in the best possible way. Oh, and I’ll bet you SO didn’t know that Air Force cadets crowdsurfed:

(direct link in case the embedded video doesn’t work)

I shared a few beers with guys from Luce after their show and their whole story as an independent band is fascinating: their struggles, their joys, their pure passion for music. I am looking to do a longer feature/interview with them in October, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out either their self-titled debut CD (winner of the “Outstanding Debut Album” at the 2003 California Music Awards) or 2005′s Never Ending, which has been getting constant rotation in my car this summer.

Also, if you are a Western U.S. (CA/NV) type, you have a few good opportunities to see them in the coming weeks:

Sept 22 & 23 – Great Basin Brewing Co., Reno, NV

Sept 30 – Little Fox Theatre, Redwood City, CA: This is a “Band Together” benefit/feel-good-vibes event for Luce, who has faced a string of crappy luck lately, with all their musical equipment stolen on the road & a fire that gutted frontman Tom Luce’s SF home. The event will feature some great Bay Area musicians as well as the Luce fellas.

Nov 2, 3 & 4 – The Sweetwater Saloon, Mill Valley, CA (again, a SWEET venue, great band, how can you go wrong?)

Interlude One (Open Your Heart) – Luce

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March 31, 2006

Still feelin’ nice and Luce

You may remember Luce, who I raved about earlier this year. It is in your best interest to take note that they’ve got a slew of tour dates beginning tomorrow night, thoroughly entertaining my California friends and then going all summer long across the country until they end up in my neck of the woods. Yay! If you get a chance, go see these guys live. Really great music out of San Francisco (represent!). As I wrote before, Luce makes catchy, clean, sharp, melodic guitar rock, with just the right blend of ebullient brass & harmony. Luce cites Lennon & McCartney as influences, and it’s hard to feel blue while you listen to this stuff.

I think my favorite track on their 2005 release Neverending is “The Sweetest Smile,” which I have been listening to in the sunshine when I go running lately (because it is an outdoor, sunny type of song, even though I think he sings about aliens). I am stoked to see that eMusic has both of their releases for purchase here, because now you have no excuse (oh no! why did eMusic classify them as “emo”? What does that even mean?! Disregard.). Definitely one to look into.

4/1/06 Great Basin Brewing Co., Reno, NV.
4/5/06 The Attic, Santa Cruz, CA
4/7/06 University Of Alaska, Anchorage, AK
4/14/06 The Mystic Theatre, Petaluma, CA
4/21/06 Little Fox, Redwood City, CA
4/22/06 Little Fox, Redwood City, CA
4/29/06 Sweetwater Saloon, Mill Valley, CA
5/5/06 The Bottleneck, Lawrence, KS
5/6/06 Off Broadway, St. Louis, MO
5/8/06 Underground City Tavern, Springfield, IL
5/11/06 Majestic Theater, Madison, WI
5/13/06 Ten Bells, Grand Rapids, MI
5/14/06 Mickey Finn’s Pub, Toledo, OH
5/16/06 Wilbert’s, Cleveland, OH
5/17/06 Club Cafe, Pittsburgh, PA
5/18/06 Dogwood Festival, Phoenixville, PA
5/20/06 Harper’s Ferry, Boston, MA
5/23/06 Tin Angel, Philadelphia, PA
5/24/06 Jammin’ Java, Vienna, VA
6/27/06 Mitchell Park Bowl, Palo Alto, CA
6/30/06 Dutch Flat Hotel, Dutch Flat, CA
7/14/06 Concerts In The Park, Greensburg, PA
7/19/06 New Town After Hours, Williamsburg. VA
8/5/06 Quixote’s True Blue, Denver, CO
8/9/06 Steve’s Guitars, Carbondale, CO
8/11/06 Arnold Hall Ballroom, Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO
9/8/06 Downtown, Pullman, WA

And here is a lovely little song from their Media Vault on their website:

Good Day (acoustic) – Luce

What a great song to stroll into the weekend with. And if you are an Air Force cadet and go to the show in Colorado Springs, come say hi to me, I might be working the merch booth!

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January 15, 2006

Let’s get Luce

I nearly just fell out of my chair when I stopped by the Luce website. Their sole tour date currently scheduled is a free show next month at the Air Force Academy, here in beautiful (but quiet) Colorado Springs. How’d I get so lucky? I am by now well-versed in the drive up to Denver or Boulder for shows. Now all you northerners can come down here!

Luce is the band of indepedent singer/songwriter Tom Luce, homegrown in the soil of local San Francisco radio station KFOG. Luce once said that he would feel successful if someday he could hear one of his songs on the radio while he was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. He’s there. Luce songs “Buy A Dog” and “Good Day” have been getting quite a bit of airplay on radio stations across the country, and for good reason. They’ve also been featured on The O.C., which I guess, you know, means that they’ve like totally *arrived* (or something like that).

Luce makes catchy, clean, sharp, melodic guitar rock, with just the right blend of ebullient brass & harmony. Luce cites Lennon & McCartney as influences, and it’s hard to feel blue while you listen to this stuff. Luce has two albums out, their self-titled 2003 debut album, and their 2005 sophomore effort Neverending.

- “Amsterdam
- “
The Sweetest Smile
- “
Good Day” (acoustic)
- “
In The Middle There” live at Slim’s in SF, 6/5/02

Check them out. And come to Colorado Springs next month, we’ll all dance with the Air Force cadets to the sweet grooves.

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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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