Monday, December 17, 2007

One Year Later -- Music is an intensely personal thing you share with millions . . .

I started posting here a year ago today. I was inspired to start writing because I was thinking and talking so much about music when we were developing a couple of new music projects (one that I am still working to implement). I was on the road, writing in my little moleskine notebook, and emailing my thoughts about music back to friends and family.

I am feeling terribly wistful, as I often do at this time of year. I prefer to take time to reflect on the year past and plan for the year ahead. So, here is my first ever post. It's a little ugly and awkward, kinda like the rest of the site.

Music is an intensely personal thing you share with millions . . .

I was bumping around the kitchen this morning, a lazy Sunday, while A was sleeping.

Sunday Bloody Sunday, a live version, perhaps from Under a Blood Red Sky popped up.

I loved U2 with the passion of an adolescent: War, Boy, October, Under a Blood Red Sky. It's hard to believe they are the same band that still fills stadia worldwide. They felt like truthtellers passionately connecting us to the Troubles. We were a world at war.

(A remembers trying to make sense of "two groups of white people killing each other." He felt a kinship with the Irish as an oppressed people, until he read about the Draft Riots. Eh, you can't win them all.)

22 years. That's how old Under a Blood Red Sky is. I had it on LP. I was 14 and I had my own stereo. It was one of the first detachable speaker boomboxes (similar to the aiwa we have in the bedroom) and I had the pinnacle record player: digital tracking. A button on the outside enabled you to move the needle to skip tracks. It was way cool.

I played this album over and over and over and over.

I would listen to the songs on repeat, teasing meaning from repeated listenings. It was all very intense and it felt like my own secret.

When I stopped listening to lps in favor of the far superior cassette tape technology, I moved from U2, though they were my first unaccompanied concert -- Tampa Stadium with Kathleen and tens of thousands of our closest friends. They were the worst seats I've ever had for a show.

I haven't followed them on their journey to being arguably one of the best bands ever. I left them behind for altenative, hip-hop, soul, etc. after craptucular Rattle & Hum. Still, it's nice to hear some Under a Blood Red Sky and Unforgettable Fire and remember being a teenager.

VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s -- I Am So Old

Don't judge me, but I flipped over from watching the game (go Bears!) to make sure I hadn't missed the finale of I Love NY 2. (Again, no judgments.) Instead, I found VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s.

Wow, I am old.

The first thing I see is Montell Jordan's This is How We Do It. Okay, B and I saw him in concert in San Antonio when he opened for co-headliners Mary J. Blige and Boyz II Men, so I accept this was the 90s.

Next up, Austin's own Fastball with "The Way."

Is it really possible this came out in 1998?

It seems so much more recent than that, perhaps because I used to drive past one of their houses every morning on my way to work so they were still on my mind this decade.

More likely, it is because they are still the nightmare story Austin musicians tell each other to warn about quitting the day job too soon.

Listen:

Buy:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Waste of a Conference Call

Tonight, I had a conference call with one of my business partners and his "godson," who wants to have a music career.

The GS is clueless, and knows he's clueless. That's usually half the battle, but the GS kept whining in frustration "I don't have time to figure this industry out!" The kid is in his mid-20s and should stop being such a baby. All I kept thinking is "Shut up ,you ungrateful twerp! I am not even getting paid for this!"

After 90 minutes, we disconnected and I called my partner to say "wtf." My partner agreed that the kid does not have what it takes. If he cannot give decisive answers when talking to us, he'll never be able to make it.

At this point, he's just chum.

Alternate Christmas Plans -- Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas

Next Saturday at noon, Alamo South Lamar is hosting a free show of the best Christmas movie ever: Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas.

If I am still in Austin next weekend, I am going.

If you've never seen this classic Jim Henson movie, you can buy the dvd on Amazon.

Here's Alamo's synopsis:

Christmas is approaching in Frogtown Hollow, and Emmet Otter and his Ma hope to buy gifts for each other. Unfortunately, Emmet doesn't make enough from the odd jobs he does, and Ma doesn't make enough as a laundress. They decide to compete in the Frog Town Hollow Talent Contest in order to win money, but Ma will have to hock Emmet's tool chest to buy a costume, and Emmet will have to put a hole in Ma's washtub for his band! Kermit the Frog hosts this classic Muppet musical Christmas tale, based on the book by Russell and Lillian Hoban, with original songs from master tunesmith Paul Williams.
Best Christmas movie ever.

Christmas Music -- the Sad Songs

During the holidays, my mother often says: "Put on some Christmas music."

Except she doesn't really mean it.

She means put on something festive while we cook, or put on something amusing for the guests, or whatever. She has something specific in mind, even if she doesn't know what it is until she hears what it's not.

This year, I am out-smarting her. I am over-categorizing everything and doing multiple smart playlists so I can accommodate her on the fly. For example, The Pogues' "Fairy Tale of New York" is punk/celtic genre and grouped by both holiday and sad. (Any song beginning: "It was Christmas evening in the drunk tank" is sad.)

So many great Christmas songs are also very sad, or at least melancholy. Many of my favorites are World War II-era:"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," and "White Christmas. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" can be a jaunty tune, but it's very, very sad. It was first performed in 1943, and it is very much a war-time song, aside from singing about our "troubles" in each verse, it also gives us the uplifting: "Through the years/We all will be together/If the Fates allow." "I'll Be Home for Christmas," also from 1943 contans the classic: "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams." Sad.

For Your Listening Pleasure:
The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl, Fairytale of New York
Bing Crosby, I'll Be Home For Christmas
Luther Vandross, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Death Cab for Cute, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Currently listening to:
The dulcet tones of the broadcasters for Green Bay Packers vs St Louis Rams, while I cook a roasted carrot puréed soup.

I Am Legend and Adaptations

A and I went to see I Am Legend last night at Alamo Village (not my favorite theater . . . Alamo South Lamar broke my heart for the second week in a row by failing to show the movie I wanted).

Pre-show included a 70s vintage short film shot by a couple of teenagers called "The Last Omega Man on Earth," scenes from an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and a variety of Will Smith music videos, including "Summertime" and "Parents Just Don't Understand."

We enjoyed the movie, but then we mostly enjoy movies. Our only recent disagreements:
-- No Country For Old Men
, which I thought was a great Coen Brothers movie and A thought was not thrilling enough to be a thriller and not "talky" enough to be a philosophical rumination (I would chalk that up to a difference in expectations).
-- 30 Days of Night, which he thought was an enjoyable vampire movie and I thought sucked. Hard. Mostly because the vampires' backstory was non-existent, so I cared not about them at all.

I Am Legend was not a great movie, but I am glad I saw it and it gave us plenty to talk about. It also cements Will Smith as the greatest movie star alive . . . spoiler-ish: since he carries the entire movie by himself, is crazy, and yet it's impossible to imagine anyone else being as likable.
A.O. Scott, in his NY Times review, concluded: "There is something graceful and effortless about this performance, which not only shows what it might feel like to be the last man on earth, but also demonstrates what it is to be a movie star."

A has seen all of the previous adaptations of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, and he re-read the book recently to prepare. As we drove back, he told me he really liked it, but it was very different from the book. After he described all the differences, including spoilers: the fact that there were actual vampires who remembered who they were and spoke to him instead of "zombie-vampires," mutations, and the development of a vampire society -- terrifying!

The only way they could have done a true adaption of the novel would have been in a six-hour BBC miniseries in order to properly capture all of the elements of the story. Still, that's something I would love to see.

The difficulty in making a movie from a novel is choosing which elements to include and then deciding how to make a coherent story from those few elements. I think they made a terrific movie from I Am Legend, which stands together with an internal logic. That story, though, differs significantly enough from the novel that I will be reading the novel, despite knowing everything that happens.

On its own as a movie, I Am Legend was well worth seeing.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bedouin Soundclash Cover on Live Lounge?

If anyone knows where I can find Jamie T's Bedouin Soundclash cover, please leave a comment below. Thanks.

Radio 1 Live Lounge Covers -- The Greatest Source Ever

If you know me or have ever read this site, you know I collect cover songs -- preferably covers of crappy British pop songs by crappy British artists. I am passionate about my collection, as anyone who has ever sat next to me at a Genius Bar knows (when I lost almost my entire collection last fall in the great Mac Book Pro motherboard failure of 2006 and then had to rebuild it. Three times.)

Many of my favorite covers in my collection come from BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, hosted by Jo Whiley. Bands come in, sing a couple of songs acoustically and then sing a cover or two. The covers are amazing: Charlotte Church covering Mario's "Let Me Love You," Corinne Bailey Rae covering Editor's "Munich," Jamie Cullum covering Pharrell's "Frontin'," Lemar covering The Darkness's "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," Maximo Park covering Proclaimers "500 Miles." Obviously, I could go on and on.

Unofficial Live Lounge has scores of tracks from 2004 until now including the new Alicia Keys cover of How to Save a Life. It also has two songs that I thought I'd lost forever: Willie Mason's cover of Grandmaster Flash's The Message and Franz Ferdinand's cover of Pulp's Mis-Shapes.

Re/Discoveries -- Awesome Cool Dudes

I would like to think that if my brother started a band, he would name it "Awesome Cool Dudes" and release a completely stupid, and yet, entertaining, track called "Clap Clap." Then he and his sidekick/"little brother" would torment women by making them dance to it in dive bars all over the LES.

Alas, the band and song already exist, so you can make the fantasy a reality by adding this to your repertoire :
Awesome Cool Dudes, Clap Clap.

Check out Awesome Cool Dudes at their website , where you can download plenty of free music.

Drunken Holiday Parties

I spent the afternoon with some of my dearest friends (and some close acquaintances)
at our annual holiday luncheon.

Sure, compared to a Christmas party, a holiday luncheon does not sound that impressive, but I just got home at 3:30 pm and I've been drinking champagne for 4 hours. (It's so much better that we do this on a Friday than when we use to have them on Tuesdays.)

My old firm had the best holiday parties. They had two each year: the first for just staff (with drunken skits from newbies), and the second for the executive-types where you could bring a date. Ah, drunken outrageous skits. It's remarkable any of us were still employed afterwards . . .

Currently listening to:
Superwoman, Alicia Keys
Wave of Mutilation, The Pixies
More, Rhymefest feat Kanye West

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Crappy Website

D just sent me the link to his amazingly awesome new website. Seriously, it's very cool and has all these great things from his reel.

That made me check my business site, which I recently updated with a new fax number.

Except it was all wrong. Like completely wrong. I've done something silly with uploading to ftp, but the whole thing looks so awful and wrong. It's an old draft with broken links and I am appalled with my lack of web-fu.

UPDATE: The site works! Oh, miracle of miracles.

Currently playing:
Nothing, but an old Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is on tv. The BBC version is SO much better than the US version that it's not even the same show. Sigh. Kinda like my website.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Internet Memes -- LOLSecretz

I find some lolcats amusing, so I have checked out the mash-up between lolcats and postsecret known as lolsecretz.

No, they're not always amusing, but I enjoyed this one:

The Music Swap

My family celebrates holidays by raiding each others' music collections. (And drinking.)

When I look at iTunes, I can easily remember the holiday by looking at the music. We're junkies, really. Almost of our childhood memories have very specific soundtracks (Poco, Doobie Brothers, Orleans, Bonnie Raitt). My father once told me that our family music education may not have been wide, but it was deep.

Last year, I was completely hooked on collecting British pop music covers by crappy British bands. This year, I took a six month hiatus from new music -- two months listening to only a client's new project while they work recording, and then, my post-break-up moratorium on any music.

Post-moritorium, I bought three cds:
Alicia Keys, As I Am
Kanye West, Graduation
Common, Finding Forever

I highly recommend all three. I listened to the Alicia Keys album non-stop from Austin to Florida and had to keep reminding myself not to sing aloud on the plane. Plus, D worked with Alicia Keys a few weeks ago and had only the best things to say about her after hearing her sing a cappella for 2 or 3 days.

I know that sort of thing shouldn't matter, but it always does when I buy music. Heck, I had emotional and not musical reasons for buying what I bought:

  • I adore Alicia Keys and will buy anything she releases so she can keep making music, mostly in thanks for "If I Ain't Got You," a song I would have danced to at my wedding to A . . . dammit.
  • My friend C highly recommended the Kanye West cd, but I really bought it after he lost his mother out of solidarity for someone with an absurdly close maternal bond.
  • I've bought nearly every Common album for years and years, but it took my friend RH's gentle reminder to make me pick the new one up. Like RH, I make my friends pick up my friends' albums, too. Hell, I make them go to shows at Emo's and Red-Eyed Fly to see bands they hate. (Love you guys!) The Common disc is really great though.
For this year's music swap, I will be picking up some east coast indie stuff from D & S, more covers for my collection from mom, and sending them some of my more obscure indie stuff and some unreleased demos (that I have approval to share with D&S).

Currently playing:
Frosty the Snowman, Fats Domino.
Drums of Death Instrumental, DJ Shadow.
Roll On, Dntel feat. Jenny Lewis.
Angels We Have Heard on High, Duvall.
Orange Moon, Erykah Badu.
Liquid Street, Roy Hargrove.
Molly's Chambers, Kings of Leon (from BBC's Radio 1 Live Lounge).
Le Bien, Le Mal, GURU.
Little Girl Blue, Nina Simone (which repeats the melody from Angels We Have Heard On High).

"Things You Know For Sure"

It is always a bad sign when the first question in a meeting is "okay, tell us all the things you know for sure."

Two hours later, my head pounding, the words "this is not real" flashing before my eyes, I finally asked the party with whom I was consulting: "when's the last time you checked your credit report?"

In this netherworld, no matter how legitimate or illegitimate the potential financier, they all look slightly sketchy. Even the private equity guys I know well, who are investing large money in projects, don't return phone calls, are never in the office, blah, blah, blah.

So, what do we know for sure? Nothing. We never know anything until the wire hits the account. And even then, who knows for sure?

Currently playing:
Heart Full of Pain, The Bishops

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hit the Restart Button

It's been a long time since I've posted here.

In August, my world was rocked when my A ended our relationship after many, many years together. We had valid reasons to split, but it still devastated me (and him for that matter). Sometimes, true love and great friendship is still not enough.

From a music perspective, the break-up meant I could not listen to music for months. I just needed to get through each day by working and NOT allowing my mind to wander, while I tried to figure out how to date again. (Date???? Me???? A and I met the old-fashioned way: at a bar.)

Things are definitely better since the break-up. A and I are still close friends and we see each other frequently. I am feeling happier and more confident and I can finally listen to music again.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Rain and the Lack of Posts

According to local news, it's been raining for 44 days. It's raining right now, as a matter of fact.

Not hard, but still raining.

I am sitting outside as the cat wanders around the balcony. We let her wander each night, which fits with her cat hunting schedule. The only thing she hunts up here are plants, and dogs walking below.

The rain, in addition to closing the Trail, the lakes, the Pool, has brought to Austin the scourge of mosquitos, which will drive me back inside shortly.

I have been writing here, but not posting.

How interesting is it to read "heard the new version of x" "loved it" ad infinitum? For about seven weeks, all I have listened to is the new album as it's been recorded, assembled, mixed, etc. I love the new album, of course. It's better than I expected. It's so good that when I heard the first song for the first time, I actually laughed, applauded, and cried. At least I had the good sense to be embarrassed.

So, that's what I've been doing. Focusing on my business, and building, building, building.

The summer has been flying by. I spent this afternoon in a meeting at our favorite spot, where I will most likely find myself again tomorrow for lunch, and possibly again on Sunday for cocktails. Hard to believe we have less than two months left to get a whole lot done.

No wonder I am working all weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Austin Buzz - Voxtrot's New Album

The Austin Chronicle has an excellent article about the making of Voxtrot and their first LP, set for release next week.

Before reading the article, I was curious about the album and knew I'd buy it. Now, I am excited.

That's the power of music features.

Listen: Voxtrot, Kid Gloves.

Buy: Voxtrot, Voxtrot.

Bloggy Music That Leaves Me Cold - Polyphonic Spree, Wilco

I read a bunch of different blogs, and through them I have found amazing new music. There are times, however, that I am left shaking my head wondering how my taste could so sharply differ from the obvious norm. I am definitely open to reconsidering, but for now, this is the praised music that leaves me cold.

I do not get The Polyphonic Spree and I am okay with that. I've seen them perform and I wanted to kill myself. Usually, I can find something positive in even the most sucktastic show, but I just cannot handle them. It's so artificial and grating -- like forced joy instead of actual joy. Still, gorilla vs bear sings their praises.

Wilco is okay, but it's not the greatest thing ever. Shameless Complacency has a huge post with a bunch of b-side mp3s. I have yet to hear a single song that convinces me they are better than okay.

A New Venture Means a New Name and a New Logo

What we name ourselves is so important to us, and relatively inconsequential to everyone else.

We know this. Still, we torture ourselves coming up with something cool, but not precious. Nothing too "on the nose" but not too completely abstract. Seriously, over the years, I have spent hours, if not days, engaged in these discussions.

I am not creative. By that, I mean that I am not considered creative: I am no artist/writer/musician. I do have strong opinions. I figure, I am a consumer of music (or whatever), and I am not afraid to be uncool. It's kind of my profession.

So, the creative guys do their thing, and then, I get a vote.

We almost flipped names over the past couple of days. I have loved the name we've been using for a few months. It's a great name. It may be profoundly uncool in ways we cannot quite conceive, but I am long past caring.

For now, we're sticking with our name. It's an easy decision: it's who we are.

"A Great F**king Song."

We received the first unmixed song from the band's new album on Monday.

To say that we all lost our minds is an understatement. While listening to it for the first time, at the 1:26 mark, I looked down at my hand and I had somehow dialed my partner's entire phone number, so there I sat, yelling into the phone, before it was even half over. Honestly (and I am so glad the guys do not know I write this) I was completely overcome by emotion.

Why?

Well, we already knew it was "a great f**king song." Still, in the hands of our amazing producer, it was somehow better. Now, I have worked with producers before, and I have sat in studios before. I have heard music be pulled from the ether. But, I have never seen such impressive alchemy.

After I heard the entire song, I called our producer and told him I loved the band, him, the manager, their mothers, and everyone who has ever had anything to do with the project. And I meant it.

Now that we're nearing completion, my work begins in earnest. It's scaring the hell out of me. The secret is that it's good enough that I could completely screw up and it would be okay. But, we should keep that between us.

I know without a doubt that Summer is going to be fascinating.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Time and Time Again - New Business

I get a lot of unsolicited contacts from prospective clients. Normally, I am unresponsive and I rarely take on unsolicted business that's not referred to me.

Tonight, I needed a break from the film and fashion stuff, so I returned an unsolicited music call I got this morning.

I ended up having about an hour-long conversation with a rapper who wanted to know exactly what it is I do and how I could help him. I gave him a lot of information and told him how to do a lot of stuff himself. I also sent him to cdfuse.com, of course. I have no idea whether I will work with him or not. (I'll know once I get his package and review my calendar.)

Honestly, that's the thing I love about music. It's like muscle memory. I was exhausted and burned out from a long, hard month. Somehow, just going through the basics and relaying some old anecdotes completely re-energized me.

I didn't have to really think . . . it's just all there.

It was a perfect break from today's irritations and frustrations.

ACL Fest List Released

The line-up looks good, but I don't know that I am going this year.

I have been averaging about 5 hours over the course of the Fest for the past few years. I skipped it completely last year -- I was supposed to be in LA, so I neglected to buy passes. Then ended up in Austin anyway, but they were sold out and I didn't feel like getting comped.

What makes it completely ridiculous: it's in my neighborhood. The old entrance was a 10 minute walk (downhill) from my front door.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Work Stuff

I've spent the past two days at two restaurants that share a parking lot. I haven't decided yet if that's actually lamer than it sounds. In my defense, it's in my neighborhood and they have excellent free (and secure) wireless access and plenty of outlets.

Last night, I met up with E and S after an event so we could strategize for today's big meeting with F. Except F ended up showing up a couple of hours in. We ended up sitting and talking and drinking for hours.

Then, we met for lunch at 1ish this afternoon. F was extremely late. Almost 2 hours late, I think. After all our substantive discussions, and a fine late lunch, we walked back over to Uncle Billy's for dinner. (Seriously, I love that place.)

I took no notes . . . mainly because I have absolutely no intention of negotiating the deal or actively participating in any discussions.

It feels as though everyone is on the same page. We are definitely all excited to move forward and we'll be making that decision soon.

It's hard to believe how quickly this year is passing. I remember disctinctly conversations I had in November as though they happened last week instead of 7 months ago.

I may have the masters next week, which means the bulk of my work will begin on that project. High stress, but it sounds really great.

At some point, I need a serious vacation: no work, no phone, no email, no talking. I just want to lay on a beach or wander aimlessly around France.

Today on the phone, I entertained a brief fantasy of running away from it all. It could never happen, but it was great to imagine that I would be able to just skedaddle. The place did not matter: anywhere with a beach and strong drinks.

Tomorrow will be a crazy day, but I know we're making progress and I am working with people I really enjoy.

Still, a beach beckons . . .

American Idol - Love You Inside Out

Melinda gave an good performance of Love You Inside Out. As performed by Feist, this is one of my favorite songs.

Listen: Feist, Inside Out.

Buy: Feist, Let It Die.

"As a Blogger, You Suck"

The past three or four weeks have been a complete blur.

I have had clients in town, new projects to launch, and deals to close. It's all insane.

I just got home about 20 minutes ago (1 20 am) after an extremely long day that just kept getting longer and longer. It was great, though, and now, I am too wired to sleep.

I have not been listening to much music (the more I talk about music, the less time I have to listen). Last week, I listened to 30 songs. 30!

All day, I have had one song going through my head:

Big Boi ft Purple Ribbon Allstars, Kryptonite.

This has been a favorite song for a while. It's a great club song -- incredibly catchy. As I drove from meeting to meeting, or walked from parking garage to wherever, Kryptonite kept playing in my head, over and over.

Listen: Big Boi ft Purple Ribbon Allstars, Kryptonite.

Buy: Big Boi Presents ... Got Purp?, Vol. 2.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Music of the Week - Anita O'Day, Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, Feist, The Unmixed Tracks

This week, I have been listening to a blend of new and old. These songs have stuck with me as I have wandered around town making and trying to implement plans.

Anita O'Day, I Didn't Know What Time It Was.

This has long been a favorite song. It's Rodgers & Hart, and though I have heard it dozens if not hundreds of times, the meaning eludes me. Perhaps, because it's reflective, it's quite sad, though the lyrics would suggest happiness.

This is the refrain:

I didn't know what time it was
then I met you.
Oh, what a lovely time it was,
How sublime it was too!
I didn't know what time it was
you held my hand.
Warm like the month of May it was,
and I'll say it was grand.

Grand to be alive, to be young,
to be mad, to be yours alone!
Grand to see your face, feel your touch,
hear your voice say I'm all your own.

I didn't know what time it was
life was no prize.
I wanted love and here it was
shining out of your eyes.
I'm wise,
and I know what time it is now.
Buy Anita O'Day on iTunes.

Arctic Monkeys, You Know I'm No Good.

I actually love Arctic Monkeys, and I am looking forward to buying their new album. Here is there cover of another of my favorite songs, Amy Winehouse's You Know I'm No Good, which has followed me around all week.

Buy Favourite Worst Nightmare.

Feist, Tout Doucement.

I have been humming this all week. It's lovely and lounging.

Buy Let It Die this week and The Reminder next week.

The Unmixed Tracks.


The most exciting thing I have heard this week is an unmixed guitar/bass/drum track from the album. I literally jumped up and down when I heard it. It was as I had imagined it would sound when I first heard the demo. I am tempted to play it again, but getting my heart racing would be extremely foolish when I really should be falling asleep.

The Sign of a Good Meeting

My face actually hurts from smiling so much.

Everything clicked. Mission confirmed. I am slightly giddy.

I wonder how I will be able to sleep since I have been home for only 30 minutes. Long enough to wash my face, call S to deliver the update, and say goodnight to an already sleeping (and mildly irritated) A.

Tomorrow, we reconvene to work out details and I am introducing them to some of my team.

"what good is a blog if you dont write"

Excellent question, M. Thanks for the reminder that posting has been a little sparse of late.

The past few weeks have been crazier than usual as I near the finish line on a bunch of projects.

In a few minutes, I am dashing downtown to meet with my partners on a big project we've been talking about for 6 months. Everyone flew in at the last minute for us to knock out some mission business and reconfirm the foundation as we move forward. I am extremely anxious about the meeting, though the fact that they are here shows a strong level of commitment.

I also have some projects lined up to fall under the big project. If we can pull it off, which I believe we can, we will do something really special.

My nerves are getting to me a bit. It's a good sign actually . . . adrenalin pumping, focus sharpened, etc.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sick.



A is sick. The cat is sick. I am fine.

The vet is closed, because it's Saturday. Emergency care says wait and watch, so that's what we're doing. It's nerve-wracking. She's 11, and she's never been ill.

She's also an incorrigible brat: she talks all the time, she curls up on or next to the keyboard as I type, she thinks she's the boss, and she insists on sleeping under the blankets with her head on a pillow. She sleeps in between us, her small 7 pound body pushing one of us to the edge of the bed (as seen above).

Update: The emergency vet gave us great advice. Her behavior never changed, so we watched her and after about a day, she recovered. We've been slowly giving her bits of food and now she's completely well.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

New D'Angelo!

I have been waiting since 2005 to say that.

Every five years, D'Angelo would emerge from his cave and release something amazing:
1995: Brown Sugar
2000: Voodoo.

In 2005, we waited. And waited. And waited.

Nothing.

That year, John Mayer endearingly wrote an open letter in Esquire, which said, in part:

I'm writing to ask you to put out a follow-up to one of the few records to change my life forever, Voodoo. When Voodoo came out in 2000, I stood in line at Tower Records in Atlanta at midnight to get it . . . I'm no less excited by it today than I was when I played it full blast in my mother's Plymouth Voyager on the way to my bullshit job.
Now, in honor of A's birthday, we have a new D'Angelo song.

Listen:
Download from Idolator.

Buy:
D'Angelo, Brown Sugar
D'Angelo, Voodoo.

Bonus:
From Live at the Jazz Cafe:
D'Angelo, Me and Those Dreamin' Eyes of Mine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blog Round-Up -- The Noisettes, Deerhunter

Guardian Unlimited has "The perfect playlist for the neighbour from hell," featuring Motorhead, House of Love, The Damned, and others.

The Passion of the Weiss has an imagined "Emperor's New Clothes" conversation about Deerhunter.

The New York Times has an interesting post about artists rerecording old tunes for licensing deals, cutting their labels out of that lucrative piece of business. Nice.

Boing Boing has a link to Lookout Records, who are selling digital punk and alternative tracks.

I Am Fuel, You Are Friends links to a track by The Noisettes.

Idolator has a list of the Best and Worst Singles of the 70s.

Don't Stop Believin'

A condition of a recently negotiated deal involved the mastery of "Don't Stop Believin'" in the key of C.

When I mentioned this to my mother as she was awaiting her Aer Lingus flight yesterday, she reminded me that my brother and his crew often fill those random, standing-around, smokin' and jokin' on-set moments singing the same song over their headsets.

Listen:

Of Montreal, Don't Stop Believin' (Journey cover).

Journey, Don't Stop Believin'.

Buy:


Journey, Greatest Hits.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Finally.

They are in the studio, recording the album. After all the pre-production, we're finally underway. Someday soon, we'll have an album.

It's been a lot of work to get here, and we have a lot of work left to do, but, finally, it's all happening.

I believe in celebrating small moments, especially when they are in the middle of a big project.

So, I am exhaling for a moment.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

New Favorite Album - Mark Ronson Version



Yes, really.

Mark Ronson's Version is an absolutely fantastic album. I've been listening to it all afternoon (well, in between Grindhouse and talking on the phone to S about music and H about film).

It hits all of the elements I love: 60s soulful, funky arrangements, British (for the most part) pop songs, British pop singers.

It's like he knew and made the perfect Musette album. In reality, it means I have extremely universal taste. It also means we're on the cusp of a complete motown revival now that our English friends are leading us back to rediscovering our own music. Again.

The album is released on Monday in the UK and can be purchased from Amazon and the complete album is streaming on Mark Ronson's myspace.

Grindhouse - Why Haven't You Seen It Yet?

A and I went to Alamo South to watch Grindhouse this afternoon.

If you haven't seen it yet, go! It works as a double feature much better than as two single films. Alamo had an actual intermission in addition to the faux (or not) trailers, and I assume other theaters would do the same.

A few brief thoughts (spoiler-ish only if you're like me and like to blank-slate everything):

It was really, really excellent. There were moments of horror, and moments of hilarity. They were both clever and well-acted (when they were supposed to be).

Kurt Russell is amazing. I have not thought much about him as an actor in a long time, but he's really amazing.

They really got the tone and style right with the movies. The first one reminded me of cheap horror movies we used to watch on Saturday afternoon tv. The second reminded me of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!-type Roger Corman movies we used to watch in college.
The only problem we had with the movie is that we ordered food during the first movie, directed by Rodriguez. Biiiiig mistake, shared by the rest of the audience.

Overall, it was a great way to spend an afternoon. Everyone we know who has seen it loved it (some making plans to catch it again) and I know we'll be picking up the dvd.

Of Montreal on Conan O'Brien






Of Montreal - Heimdalsgate like a Promethean Curse (live) on Vimeo

Just watch as they recreate the video for one of 2007's best songs. Live.

Originally spotted on Shameless Complacency.

UPDATE: Obviously, vimeo took down the clip. It's too bad, it was quite extraordinary. At some point, NBC needs to work out its clip policy.

Austin Buzz - Matt the Electrician, Golden Bear, Peel

jefitoblog has an eclectic "Friday mixtape" that includes Matt the Electrician, along with Genesis, Kool Moe Dee, Tom Petty, etc.
(Fun Fact: I attended a charity dinner in 2003 just because he was the opening act, after I had heard him live on KUT's Eklektikos.)

Austinist links to am post about Austin band Golden Bear. I find myself painfully unaware of Golden Bear, though they have been getting great reviews. Sometimes, my stunning ignorance surprises even me.

Austin Sound reviews Peel's new album in the context of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. It's an excellent review:

It's in this regard—the club-sandwich vocals, the busy-but-not-too-busy musicianship, the playfulness of the atypical sound effects and distortions—that they are most reminiscent of CYHSY. It takes seamless studio work for both Peel and Clap to make it all happen, for this is ludicrously difficult music to put together. If the puzzle pieces do not click perfectly together then things fall apart quickly. On Peel, the joints never show.

Joanna Newsom - Pretentious and Overrated

Shameless Complacency wonders why Joanna Newsom sucks so bad, and yet is beloved by bloggers with otherwise good taste.

Okay, he doesn't. But I do.

My goodness, people, she's completely overrated with the most grating voice and "vocal delivery" I've heard in years. Plus, she achieves Tori Amos levels of obnoxious pretension.

He says it better than I could:

Part of me can’t help but admire Newsom; she’s clearly a skilled harpist and vocalist, and she’s doing something genuinely different than any other musician currently performing. At the same time, however, I can’t help but think this style has been around for hundreds of years; how can one woman simply follow a set of musical guidelines that have been in place for centuries, and suddenly be hailed as great? It just seems so pretentious to me.
Are we really so inundated with sameness that something that sounds different is embraced as "good"? Step outside your genre once in a while and embrace the actual good. Damn.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Marvin Gaye's Forgotten Here, My Dear

Spinner has an interesting article about Here, My Dear, a Marvin Gaye album with which I was not familiar. According to the article:

As part of a 1976 divorce agreement, Gaye was required to assign royalties from his next project to his estranged wife.

Gaye's initial plans to submit a half-hearted effort were scrapped as the singer immersed himself in some painfully cathartic songwriting. The resulting album, pointedly titled 'Here, My Dear,' frankly and acidly chronicled the marriage, from its blissful beginnings ('I Met a Little Girl') to the bitterness of breakup ('You Can Leave, But It's Going to Cost You') and admissions of extramarital affairs (Gaye eventually married Janis Hunter, daughter of the comic jazzman Slim Gaillard).

Blog Round-Up -- Amy Winehouse, Andrew Bird, Annuals, Bloc Party, The Cinematics, Kaiser Chiefs, Mark Ronson

Culture Bully has 13 live songs from an Amy Winehouse show in February.

Good Weather for Airstrikes has a review of the Annuals/Kaiser Chiefs show in NY. I am a huge fan of Annuals (Complete or Completing is still a favorite) and I also really enjoy Kaiser Chiefs, so it's an interesting read. Plus, mp3s.

Good Weather for Airstrikes also has an mp3 from Bloc Party's appearance on BBC Radio 's Live Lounge: a cover of Nelly Furtado's Say it Right. Plus, more mp3s from my favorite source of wacky covers.

BBC's Collective, which is not technically a blog, has an interview with Mark Ronson about his new covers project.

30 frames confirms why all music videos look the same.

The Music Slut covers Spinner's coverage of The Cinematics covering Jeff Buckley at SX, under the headline "Jeff Buckley's Mother 'Teary Eyed' After Cinematics Cover." An impressive example of great pr at work.

I Guess I'm Floating reviews Andrew Bird's Armchair Apocrypha.

The Week That Was - A Bad Week and a Zombie-pocalypse

I am ill. I've been ill since Tuesday, so I've spent the week on the sofa and in bed.

Right now, we're in bed watching Shaun of the Dead, which is one of our favorites. A is a connoisseur of zombie movies. He has "seen all the ones worth seeing and some not worth seeing." He is describing Night of the Living Dead and freaking me out. (He just noticed I was typing: "You can have vampires and still get by, but not zombies. You don't often get to use the word inexorable, but ...")

I have been listening to demos this week. I was asked to provide "
an honest opinion"
of a business associate's artist. That's always a dodgy proposition. How honest? I gave a bit of criticism about one of the tracks, but overall, it is a good project with a great song. As I was walking around tonight (well, from the sofa to the kitchen to the bed), I realized I had it going through my head after only a handful of listenings.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, RIP

I am sad to see that Kurt Vonnegut has died.

He was an extraordinary American writer, who captured a changing world with a mixture of horror, humor, and fantastic digressions and progressions.

I began reading Vonnegut when I was in high school. My mother had all of his books in paperback, with yellowed red-rimmed pages. I am sure I started with Breakfast of Champions, and then read voraciously everything I could find.

I loved them all.

I saw him speak maybe 15 years ago in a small auditorium in Gainesville. While I can no longer remember the words he spoke or the wisdom he shared, I vividly recall the elation I felt for days thereafter.

Here is a list of reviews of his books from the NY Times.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Wasn't This a Chappelle Sketch?

Okay, not quite the Clayton Bigsby sketch:

The Guardian has an interesting article on a racist American Facist, who was passing.

Lawrence Dennis was, arguably, the brains behind American fascism. He attended the Nuremberg rallies, had a personal audience with Mussolini, and met Nazi leaders; throughout the 1930s he provided the intellectual ballast for America's bourgeoning pro-fascist movement. But though his work was well known and well appreciated by the intelligentsia and political elites on both sides of the Atlantic, there was one crucial fact about him that has never emerged until now: he was black.
Fascinating stuff.

Read the article in The Guardian "The fascist who 'passed' for white."

Live Performances - Live Lounge Non-Covers - Basement Jaxx, Keane

BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge has been long my source for excellent covers. Every artist who comes on performs one original and one, often wacky, genre-busting cover.

But, the Live Lounge also has great live in-studio performances by bands I love.

Here are a few favorites:

Basement Jaxx, Romeo (live).

It's lovely. The singing, the arrangement. I am just adore this song. This version often floats into my head during quiet moments, unbidden, but not unwelcome.

A originally turned me on to Basement Jaxx years ago. How he found them I will never know . . . even he's no longer certain, though he thinks it was a dj at the B-Side (RIP).

Mp3: Basement Jaxx, Romeo (live).

Buy: Basement Jaxx, Romeo EP.

Keane, Somewhere Only We Know.

Another song I love by a band I love. People generally don't think much about Keane. They haven't fallen into Snow Patrol/Fray territory, not popular enough here for a backlash, I assume. Or maybe the backlash is on and my no radio listening self just doesn't know (or care).

Mp3: Keane, Somewhere Only We Know.

Buy: Keane, Hopes and Fears.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Indie Compilations

Entertainment Weekly reported that Vice Records is going to be releasing an indie compilation, similar to NOW That's What I Call Music, to be sold in big box stores in conjunction with MTV2. Matador and Subpop may also release in this series.

The big quote from the article:

''These bands' records sell really well to a particular audience,'' says Adam Shore, the publicist for Vice Records, which aims to release the first volume this July (they're already the American home to high-profile acts Bloc Party, the Streets, and Charlotte Gainsbourg). ''But even though these artists are getting all this media exposure, they're not necessarily crossing over to a very casual record buyer.'' The plan of action? ''We're partnering with MTV2, and the focus is going to be Walmarts, big box stores, red states, and TV advertising — to really go beyond.... We don't really expect indie-rock stores to support this record. It's for the casual fan.''
Honestly, it makes me nervous.

The difficulty is the dance we do in the indie world: how commercial, how common, how Starbucks and Wal-mart, how soccer mom, in short, how big, before the pendulum swings and we lose our audience?

Should I be worried? Yeah. Tastes change, styles change, audiences move on.

Each genre has a core group of listeners who buy and support their artists. When you expand beyond your core, you risk alienating your core. It's different now than when I was young. People 14-24 seem much more willing to forgive sponsorships, "selling out," tv appearances, etc.

If indie labels start reaching beyond, it may hasten the decline of that specific type of indie music and the teenagers may move back to a punkier, more hardcore music to spite their Shins/Decemberists/Arcade Fire compilation-buying and listening parents.

Or not.

Cycling: Paris - Roubaix and Why I Am Not Allowed to Ride



I love watching cycling. Though it's a fringe sport, it is not so weird in Austin, home of Lance and unofficial home of the best US pro team: Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team.

Our favorite one-day Classic is next Sunday. You can catch Paris - Roubaix (aka "The Hell of the North") on VS. It is 260 km over at least 21 separate sections of cobblestones.

Quotes about the race:

"The best I could do would be to describe it like this - they plowed a dirt road, flew over it with a helicopter, and then just dropped a bunch of rocks out of the helicopter! That’s Paris-Roubaix. It’s that bad - it’s ridiculous." - Chris Horner [1].
Bernard Hinault upon winning in 1981: "Paris-Roubaix est une connerie" translating to "Paris-Roubaix is bullshit."
I suffered an ignominious end to my recreational riding - a bad crash and broken arm on the Veloway. It was too early in my riding to bounce back.

In the Spring, I take the bike back out to relearn how to ride without killing myself. Before Summer rolls in, it goes back into the library with A's training and racing bikes and my cycleops trainer.

My clients, friends, and family beg me to leave the bike on the trainer and ride only indoors. I owe it to them, really. I am too skittish and easily distracted. My leg strength always outpaces my steering.

My crash came at an inauspicious time. I was negotiating a deal with a NY rap label and preparing for the most important meeting for what was then my day job -- convincing the president and all his vps that acquiring a multi-million dollar art collection was absolutely essential to our future.

The art meeting was amusing: my vp (who was my boss's boss's boss's boss) had to drive me there and slip a jacket over my swollen, broken, unbending arms, as I sat in the meeting making the only gesture of which I was then capable (spreading my arms several inches from "here" to "here"). After that gesture, the president decreed that all of his employees were banned from cycling.

Listen: Queen, Bicycle Race.
Buy: Queen, Greatest Hits.

Buzz - St. James, Inc.

St. James, Inc. have been one of my favorite Austin bands for a while.

Technically, they are no longer an Austin band. They left Austin for LA last September.

Since then, they have been making huge strides:

They are performing live on 97.1 KLSX FM today @ 6:35 Pacific time.

“Black Light” has been placed in the show “Men In Trees” on ABC.

“Busy” has been placed in the film “Moving McCallister” starring John Heder (“Napoleon Dynamite”) and Milla Kunis (“That ‘70’s Show”).
They are (finally!) returning to Austin to perform at Momo's, Friday April 13th, @ 11:30pm.

Check them out on myspace.

Buy their EP Drifting at CDFuse.com.

Lazy, Lazy, Lazy

It's still cold.

It's bright and blue outside, but it's still cold. Especially for April.

That means, I am still here. On the sofa. Watching really terrible movies on HBO on demand while I read the paper (online), movie reviews (online), music reviews (online), and Interview magazine (on paper?!!!).

We've had a subscription to Interview for a while, but I don't know that I've done more than glance through it. I don't know why (or how) I get it. We have stacks of unread magazines in the coat closet (W, Vogue, Private Clubs, Psychology Today, Vegetarian Times, Domino, Dwell, Marie Claire, Elle, Elle Décor, Saveur, and there may be others). I usually toss magazines in my briefcase when I travel, but I haven't traveled for 3 months.

Anyway, this month's issue has brief feature on Andrew Bird. I actually despise reading features about artists I like. But this one is quite good. It offers brief insights into method, rather than meaning.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Extremely Clever Website

Signal vs Noise directed to one of the coolest websites I have ever seen No One Belongs Here More Than You.


Definitely check it out.

RIAA and MPAA Want Pretexting

I read an interesting article in this morning's LA Times entitled "Recording, movie industries lobby for permission to deceive".

There is a bill working its way through the California Senate to ban pretexting.

"Basically, we want criminals to feel comfortable that who they're dealing with is probably some other criminal and let us in on what's going on," said Brad Buckles, the RIAA's executive vice president for anti-piracy. "We're not talking about trying to go in and get customer information. In no case have we ever tried to do that."

Raining and Freezing!

We have had a glorious Spring. Yesterday was a little chilly, but still gorgeous, and today is downright freezing.

The rumor in the neighborhood is that there could be sleet and a light freeze. Rather than do our usual weekend outdoor activities, we ran errands in the cold. Now, we're happily ensconced on the sofa under a blanket, watching Milan-San Remo from a couple of weeks ago.

Hard to believe it's April.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Week That Was - Hope and Movement

This was actually a pretty good week. Stressful, of course, but we are making progress.

Work: I had a great meeting with half of the team one day, and then the rest the next day. We're all excited about moving forward. I spoke to F today, and he is all of a sudden completely on board. (That may change again, but he was insulted when I told them I had moved on without them.)

Also, my oafp called with a couple of new projects. He's producing an album or two, which sound good. Very catchy club music. He negotiated his own distribution, again. I am not certain how I feel about launching back in, but our last meetings in August were really productive.

Life: A is riding again regularly, so he's feeling great. I am not down with regular exercise yet. It's been about three months since I was working out all the time with my trainer, and I can definitely tell. I will be walking around the lake tomorrow and Sunday, and that will be my exercise for the week. I usually do 1.5-2.5 hours/day, but it's not like when I was doing an hour/day of aerobics and/or my training sessions.

Music: I have been listening to the iPod to fall asleep each night. I plug in, set it up for a playlist, and plug in my "real" Sennheisers (as opposed to my Shure earbuds) and toss and turn while I hear one of my nighttime playlists. This week, it's been all British Soul.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Blog Round-Up -- RIAA (and Nine Inch Nails), Satellite Party, John Vanderslice, 50 Cent vs Cam'ron, Prince, U2

Consumerist has a great post about the RIAA's cease and desist letters to shut down the viral marketing campaign for Nine Inch Nails' new album. The best quote: "These f*cking idiots are going after a campaign that the label signed off on," the source says.

arjanwriteshas a download of "Wishing Upon a Dog Star" and a link to the epk for Perry Farrell's new project Satellite Party. The project sounds very intriguing.

Status Ain't Hood has a list of the top 10 singles for 2007.

Gorilla vs Bear links to an episode of The Merlin Show I have been meaning to link to for a while and provides a transcript. Merlin Mann interviews John Vanderslice about the future of music.

Some Bootlegs has two French concerts: Prince from 1981 and U2 from 1987.

Radar has an amusing feature about "E-Beefs" . . . rappers using the net to wage wack beefs with each other. "Nas vs Jay-Z" they are not.

Recent Purchases - Field Music, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Antibalas

Since I was still underwhelmed by the new releases, I bought 3 albums I have been meaning to buy for a while.

Field Music, Tones of Town.

I love this album. I first heard it on Music for Kids Who Can't Read Good in January. This is what I wrote then:

Field Music is buoyant Britpop (and British Pop), while being more than the sum of its parts. The songs are catchy and I have a sneaking suspicion that this album will be one of my favorites for this year.
I particularly enjoy "Give It Lose It Take It," which reminds me of early Beatles and early Oasis, and "A House Is Not A Home," which Fluxblog says "seems effortless in the way that only the best songs can, and has a way of sneaking into the back of your mind and setting up residence like a welcome, yet uninvited guest."
Buy it on iTunes, Amazon, or eMusic.

Rodrigo y Gabriela, Rodrigo y Gabriela.

I have been loving this song Tamacun since I first downloaded it as a free iTunes download. I heard it again as walked around Town Lake last weekend, and realized I had to get the whole album.

It's defies easy description. It's acoustic, latin, jazzy, and extremely sophisticated. The Amazon review outlines it well:
Rodrigo and Gabriela are two fast-fingered, Dublin-based, Mexicans with a unique sound created on acoustic guitars. Their music is difficult to define, straddling both world and rock, and often imbued with the timeless Hispano classical influences. The fire in it comes from their life-long passion for metal music.
Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?

Buy it on iTunes, Amazon, or eMusic.

Antibalas, Security.

I meant to buy this weeks ago, but just never got around to it. Frankly, I wanted to pick it up on cd, as I do with most of my jazz purchases.

Buy it on iTunes, Amazon, or eMusic.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Voxtrot Kid: Apology and the New Music Business

The Voxtrot Kid has an "Apology" for a previous post about the impact on the internet and leaked music and snapshot criticism.

The previous post, which was really long, included this:

The internet is fickle. Everything is disposable. Everything is fleeting. The internet is a very dark place to be. Everybody's a fucking authority and everybody knows better than everybody else. You (I am now going to use "you" in a general sense, though I realize that it does not necessarily apply to the reader) may think that you deserve to be able to download an album at no cost, store it in your iPod, pass your particular judgement, and then immediately dispose of it or hype it at will, but you actually don't deserve that. Sorry if I sound a bit critical, but I guess that, at this point, I'm not talking so much about Voxtrot specifically as I am about the relationship that every band is forced to maintain with the internet.
Honestly, this is something about which we all worry.

I was in a meeting tonight where we openly acknowledged that the album we are all so concerned about is just a marketing tool, rather than the product itself, in terms of how the band will make money.

The band is striving to make an amazing album, and the work they've done with the producer in pre-production has been wonderful (so I have heard, they are not actually letting me hear the tracks yet, only the acoustic demos).

But, we know that, most likely, the album will be leaked and traded, that people will buy singles rather than the whole disc, and that the album's success will be due in large part to music bloggers who may decide to embrace or disdain, after a few listens, what the band has spent months creating.

I commented a few weeks ago on Idolator that blogs are the new record store -- the place where we go to hear about new music we should buy.

Buying music is part of the social contract. The artists create; we buy.

Blog Round-Up - Diplo, Feist, Live Blogs

Status Ain't Hood has an insightful interview with Diplo. They hit a lot of interesting topics and it's always interesting to read other people's experiences working in independent hip-hop and club music.

Spinner has a short interview with Feist.

Notes from a Different Kitchen links to a Devin the Dude performance on a new web show called Freestyle 101.

Dreams of Horses references a Serge Gainsbourg tribute album entitled Monsieur Gainsbourg:Revisited featuring covers by Cat Power, Feist, Franz Ferdinand, and others.

Surviving the Golden Age has a rundown of this week's underwhelming new releases.

Superb Live links to two other live music blogs: Some Bootleg and All Night Thing.

Boing Boing has a quote from Dick Dale, advising artists to stay away from major labels.

Slashfood has a post on a new web series, Dinner With the Band, which features indie bands and um dinner.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Mashups and Mixtapes in Congress

Radar has an interesting story about Pennsylvannia Congressman Mike Doyle and a speech he gave invoking both DJ Drama and Girl Talk:

The congressman likened Gillis to the Beatles—who famously ripped off a Chuck Berry bass line for "I Saw Her Standing There"—saying that both groups might have stolen, but hey, the world is better for it. Doyle called for a loosening of DRM laws on new music (Steve Jobs has caught on already), arguing that because people are going to sample beats anyway, it should not be illegal to use other's music in the name of one's own art.

Essential New Releases - None

For a second straight week, there are no essential new releases.

The highest profile release may be Timbaland. Yikes.

Idolator has a brief run-down.

Re-Release Therapy

Idolator has a link to a Mashup of Ludacris's Release Therapy with the Jackson 5 by 5G Productions, originally posted on The Rap Up.

American Idol - American Songbook Edition

"Sanjaya singing is like Carl Lewis playing basketball: he's fast, he can jump, he's in shape, but that's not basketball."

Sanjaya has a nice voice, but he can't sing. Vocal training could definitely help.

Melinda is really incredible. There was a moment in her song, when we paused the recording, just amazed at what she had done.

Jordin Sparks did a great job, as did Chris Richardson.

Blake was fine, if unmemorable.

Phil was pretty awful.

LaKisha was great. She can really sell a song, and that's essential in these songs.

Needs to go home: Haley Scarnato. It should be Sanjaya, but she was terrible and trashy. And not in a good way.

Of all the songs we heard tonight, I have "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" stuck in my head, but the Frank Sinatra version.

Reading List - The Intuitionist and Resumés With Monsters

A and I picked up a stack of books on Saturday.

I am reading The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead.

Best line so far:
In describing the effect of integration: ". . . the replacement of sure violence with deferred sure violence."

A is reading Resumés With Monsters by William Browning Spencer.

Best line so far:
In describing the status of employees in corporate America: ". . . a mouse conscripted by cats for feline purposes."

Monday, April 2, 2007

SoMuchSilence: I Used to Love H.E.R. - Low End Theory

I have been really enjoying the So Much Silence series I Used to Love H.E.R.

Today's installment was the drummer from Palomar reflecting on one of my favorite album's A Tribe Called Quest's Low End Theory.

It's Great to Be a Florida Gator



My friends, I wish I could share with you how great it feels to repeat as national champions, while being the reigning football national champion. It is unprecedented. It is glorious.

Surprisingly, I have received no congratulatory calls, emails, texts. When we lose, you're all over it. At least, as far as I remember. It's been a while.

Go Gators!
Image from the NY Times.

"Retro Soul" Primer on Soul-Sides.com

Check out the Retro Soul primer on Soul-Sides.com.

There are links to songs from Amy Winehouse, including a new live version of "He Can Only Hold Her," Sharon Jones, The Poets of Rhythm, Breakestra, and Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators.

Confirmed - EMI to Drop DRM, Offer Higher Quality Downloads

Idolator has all the scoop on EMI's new plan.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Live Performances - Alicia Keys, Ben Harper

A great live performance is transcendent.

Alicia Keys, If I Ain't Got You.

Live at the 2005 Grammy Awards, being ably assisted by Jamie Foxx (in full on Ray Charles mode) and backed by a full orchestra, this is my favorite of the five versions we have of this song.

Listen: Alicia Keys, If I Ain't Got You.
Buy: Alicia Keys, Unplugged

Ben Harper, In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel cover).

It's a beautiful acoustic version of the song. About 4 minutes in, the audience starts singing the "missing part" and he thanks them. It's a lovely, moving cover of a beautiful song.

Listen: Ben Harper, In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel cover).
Buy: Ben Harper, Live From Mars.

Aimless Wandering and New Deletions

Like the rest of Austin, I spent part of Sunday wandering around Town Lake.

There were moments when I was the only person on the trail, I could see and hear no one else around me, even though I was out at 1 in the afternoon on a gorgeous, cloudless April day.

In the couple of hours I walked up and down the south shore, I was able to sort through some of my collection and mark some crap for deletion. I have too much music on my iPod. Shuffling through mediocre crap keeps me from hearing great stuff. So gone are Mates of State, Jenny Owens Young, and about 40 others. Not terrible, not great. Twee-ish, precious indie pop . . . gone.

I try to rank my songs by how much I want to hear them again. A 5 star song is one I will listen to nearly every time it pops up. A 4 star song is one that I look forward to hearing again while I am listening to it. A 3 star song is one I enjoy if it pops up randomly, but I would not search out. 1 and 2 stars are basically marked for deletion. Some of those stay in for completeness -- part of an album, a cover collection, my Austin collection, or a band my friends/clients like so I give them additional opportunities to impress me.

WSJ and Idolator Report: EMI to Drop DRM on iTunes

It is April 1, but the Wall Street Journal and many tech and music sites have been announcing a press conference scheduled for tomorrow between EMI and Apple.

Rather than announce that the Beatles catalogue would be available on iTunes, the rumor is now that EMI will be dropping DRM from its tracks on iTunes.

If true, this would be a major move in the world of digital distribution.

Sources:
Wall Street Journal
Idolator

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Host - Must See Film

A and I went to our neighborhood movie theater to see The Host this afternoon.

It's an absolute must-see.

Yes, it's in Korean. Yes, it's a monster movie. But, it's so much more.

I hate to know anything about movies before I see them, though I will say The Host is horrible and funny and works both as a monster movie and as an allegory. It's filmed beautifully and it deserves all the rave reviews it has received.

MuteMath - Typical Video

MuteMath is growing on me thanks to S and his iPod. There is nothing like talking in the car after a meeting, and thinking, wow, what a good song, and realizing it's freaking MuteMath. Again.

I try not to fall into the cool trap regarding music, but sometimes it's a little hard to overcome. Had my first exposure to them been from S, I would be totally loving this band. Unfortunately, my first exposure was that wack Chris Sligh singing Typical on American Idol.

So far, MuteMath is winning me over. I haven't yet bought their album or any of their songs, but it's only a matter of time.

Check out their clever new video for "Typical":

The Week That Was - Hopes Dashed and Renewed ad infinitum

I am juggling a lot of different things and writing here helps me keep a handle on what's working and what isn't. I have always written, usually in sketchbooks or moleskines. For me, it's the best way to keep perspective as things get really out of control and to figure out when to create distance, or pull the plug, or recommit.

The past two weeks have had extreme emotional swings, day by day, and hour by hour. I am at a project stage when everything is ready and everything is in flux. It sounds impossible, but it's my reality. We put everything together and now it's all floating in orbit, perfectly staged.

I hope.

At the end of last week, I was convinced we'd have complete clarity by the end of this one. Yeah, not so much. We are moving ahead with everything as I am pulling together all the minor details.

Again, I have had another week filled with talking about music, rather than listening to music.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Slept On - Bedouin Soundclash



S gave me the Bedouin Soundclash album Sounding A Mosaic on Monday.

Though it was released in 2005, I had never heard of the band or the album until he played it for me.

It's not reggae per se, but it is reggae-inflected, along with acoustic, funk, and punk elements.

It's a fascinating sonic journey, produced by Darryl Jenifer, the bassist from Bad Brains.

Listen:
Bedouin Soundclash, When The Night Feels My Song

Buy:
Sounding A Mosaic on Amazon or iTunes.

Austin Buzz - Sounds Under Radio

I mentioned Sounds Under Radio in one of my myriad SX posts. Now that the tracklist for the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack is out, the buzz about them is deafening.

Riiiiiight. It's Austin.

My theory is that you can either be famous in Austin or famous from Austin.

Sounds Under Radio is taking the famous from Austin path, as they record their project for major release.

New UGK featuring OutKast

Notes from a Different Kitchen has a new UGK track featuring OutKast "International Players Anthem" from UGK's upcoming Underground Kingz.

Not sure I will be buying this album. I am still holding a bit of a grudge from the drama back in 02 or 03. If it weren't for the presence of Big Boi and André 3000, I wouldn't have played it at all.

The mini-Screw part is odd. I always wonder if people outside this region are familiar enough with Screw to not think something's wrong with the track.

Still it's a good club song, and I have the feeling I am going to be hearing it all summer.

Bon Jour!

Within 12 hours of accepting the end of a project about which I had cared deeply, my partner found a solution and convinced me to save it.

I have been super-stressed about it, because there is a lot riding on my performance.

Today, I made some progress and we're definitely back on track.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Rollercoaster

I have been on a rollercoaster for what feels like an eternity. According to my calendar, it's been like 10 days.

Now, it looks as though we might be back on, a day after I had made peace with letting it go and moving on.

I have a bit of soul-searching to do before I fully recommit. I love the project, I love my team, I hate the external garbage. To a certain extent, we're all still doing the dance of "yeah, I guess" and "if it could happen, it would be great." All the while, we know we are in it.

The industry is changing so rapidly that plans from 12 months ago are no longer relevant. Everyone is trying to figure out the next move. We think we have a great plan and we're refining it all the time. Still, there are no guarantees.

Listen:
Ohio Players, Love Rollercoaster.

Buy:
Ohio Players, 20th Century Masters - The Millenium Collection: The Best of the Ohio Players.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Au Revoir!

I am in the midst of negotiating a bunch of deals and everyone is stressed out. Today, I had a great talk with one group, made significant progress with another, and probably talked my way out of working with the third.

Still, though I have poured my heart and soul into the third group for 8 or 9 months, I am comfortable walking away. We did not achieve our goal with them as of yet, so if they want to go in another direction, I am perfectly comfortable sending them on their way.

I sent my partner an email about the whole thing that said, in part:

"We can't control circumstances or people's expectations. All we can do is our best and hope for the best in return. It doesn't always happen, nor does it happen on the schedule we want, but that doesn't mean we haven't done everything right."

Randomly shuffled as I type:

Lil Scrappy, No Problem.
The Von Bondies, No Regrets.
The New Pornographers, Dreams (live Fleetwood Mac cover).
Modest Mouse, Float On.
RJD2, Just When.
Beyoncé, Irreplaceable.
The Detroit Cobras, Ninety and a Half Won't Do.
Two Tons of Steel, I Wanna Be Sedated (The Ramones cover).
Graham Coxon, Time for Heroes (The Libertines cover).
Todd Rundgren, Can We Still Be Friends.
EPMD, You Gots to Chill.
The Spinners, It's a Shame.
The Pharcyde and Jurassic 5, Hard Times.
Greyboy Allstars, Unwind Your Mind.
(If I weren't so tired, I might link to these, or at least the non-DRM ones.)

Yep, definitely feels like the right thing.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Gawker: Is the US Army the New Pitchfork?

This morning, Gawker has an interesting post ("Is the US Army the New Pitchfork?") about the Defense Department's Armed Forces Entertainment using unknown indie bands (and bar bands, it seems) to entertain the troops in Iraq.

My first impression: I don't like it. It just seems exploitative to take little known bands desperate for attention into a potentially dangerous situation.

Isn't this a job for Hinder or Nickleback?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I'm Number #60,511

I picked the three of the final four correctly in the espn 3 million entry tournament challenge, so I am currently #60,511, which is 97.9%.

My mother is so proud.

Agent Zero Bets Opposing Fans During Game

Gilbert Arenas is my favorite NBA player.

This is just one of the reasons why: NBA scolds Arenas for making $10 bets with fans.

He was playing at Portland and making side bets with fans in the stands. He got their email addresses so he could honor them.

Brass Bands

Off the top of my head, I can think of 4 brass bands whose albums I own and 3 of those I have seen live.

Best Live: Rebirth Brass Band.

Their shows are like going to an amazing party.

Most Disappointing Live: Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

A brass band should not have electric guitars.

Favorite Recordings: Youngblood Brass Band.

I have never seen them perform, but I just bought their album Live. Places. from eMusic. It's the only album we did not have and it's excellent.

I am currently listing to Brooklyn, a song that just makes me happy.

Listen:

Youngblood Brass Band, Brooklyn (London, UK).

Buy:
Youngblood Brass Band, center:level:roar.

Youngblood Brass Band, Live. Places. on eMusic or iTunes.

Youngblood Brass Band, Is That a Riot?.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Week That Was - New Joy, New Stress

My word for the week: argh.

My phrase for the week: "yeah, I know, right?"

I have felt absolutely amazing -- all-powerful, even -- and then absolutely crushed. Then better, then worse. Now, I am just slightly numb from the anxiety, stress, and pressure.

We were given a deadline and, if we meet it, everything's great. If we miss it, we have to kill the project and we've all been working on it for a long time. It's basically up to me to save it, if I can. Our guy got a little flaky and I either need to convince him to do what he committed to do, or I need to find someone else to do it. In 5 days. (This is actually day 2.) (Ack!) It's a hard sell only because it's so last minute. It makes everyone nervous.

Still, when we talk about the project, everyone is incredibly supportive . . .

It's about 50-50 that we'll prevail. Maybe higher. It's late, and my meeting for today was pushed after I sent the narrative, so I am more nervous than I should be. (The two things are most likely not related.)

The good news is that I think my business partnership is far stronger than I would have imagined. We have enjoyed at least having each other to turn to amidst the joy and stress. I have become unguarded, which is slightly unsettling. I usually keep my own counsel and suffer far more alone while only I know all the turmoil.

(A has been dynamite through the whole thing. He's so much more supportive than he thinks he is.)

We committed to moving forward, even if this project fails. Honestly, that had always been part of the plan. We're shockingly still on plan, though it feels a bit like the walls are shaking and the ceiling is dropping plaster all around us. I suppose it feels that way because we don't like plan B, though we know it's for the best. We can't quite convince anyone else that it's for the best, but we know it's what we have to do because it is the right thing. Neither of us could live with a DJ situation.

By this time next week, it will be a whole new world. For better or worse . . .