Wednesday, February 28, 2007

American Idol - Melinda Doolittle, I Would Buy It Tonight

Melinda Doolittle's performance of My Funny Valentine, an all-time favorite song, was phenomenal.

I would buy that single tonight.

New Beirut!

I just signed up for eMusic in order to get Pompeii, the new two song EP from Beirut.

The same Beirut whose Lon Gisland EP I bought immediately upon release from Amazon within the past five weeks.

You can hear the samples on eMusic here.

Thanks to Rewritable Content for pointing me (and other readers of I Guess I'm Floating)in the right direction.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Blog Round-Up - Aloe Blacc, Beirut, Field Music, the bird and the bee

Here are a few links from around the web today that I will definitely be checking out:

Analog Giant posted a new song by DJ Day featuring Aloe Blacc and a new Stacey Epps song from Stones Throw Records.

Brooklyn Vegan has "I.C.E." -- a new Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra song. (Fans of TV on the Radio should definitely check it out.)

Covert Curiosity posted Arizona and My Party from the new Kings of Leon album Because of the Times, which is scheduled for an April 3rd release. Mr. Curiosity says it's decent, but not great. That fits pretty well with the early critiques I have heard. Still, I am looking forward to hearing more of it, and looking forward to seeing the On Call video # worked on a few weeks ago.

Free iTunes Downloads has a link to the new k-os single "The Rain." k-os is a hip-hop artist from Ontario.

Idolator posted a couple of Los Lobos songs from The Town and The City. I really like Los Lobos. I saw them live at ACL fest a few years ago, and they were really great.

I Guess I'm Floating has a Beirut demo, entitled "Interior of a Dutch House." As you all know, I am a huge Beirut fan, so it's great to hear something earlier than Gulag Orkestar. Check out my earlier Beirut posts here.

Instrumental Analysis has three Jeff Buckley songs from Grace. Because I listened to Tim Buckley a lot as a kid, I have always loved Jeff Buckley.

Lifehacker posted 12 iTunes scripts I am excited to use. The scripts do everything from removing dead tracks (the ones with little exclamation point) to automating adding lyrics (without using Sing That iTunes on the dashboard).

Noise for Toasters has three songs from Field Music's Tones of the Town, one of my favorite albums of the year so far, and the video for She Can Do What She Wants.

So Much Silence has a review of the bird and the bee. I have really enjoyed them lately, and I will get around to posting about them at some point.

Austin Sound has a track from Austin band The Carrots, who I originally heard via The Voxtrot Kid.

American Idol - Blake Lewis Covers Jamiroquai

Typically, I watch AI reasonably live, paying very little attention, and then again with A when he gets home.

Tonight has been a weird night with a dvr glitch, so I only watched between calls and then, not carefully.

What I did hear was Blake Lewis's cover of Virtual Insanity and, I think, Randy's remark that Americans would not be familiar with it.

Wrong, of course.

The song is familiar and it has a wickedly famous music video from 1997, back in the days when MTV used to play music videos.

Below is the original and the video.

Enjoy.




Jamiroquai, Virtual Insanity.

Buy Travelling Without Moving on Amazon or iTunes.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Big Choices

This evening, I had a glass of wine or two with two friends I have had for more than 10 years.

We are in our 30s. We are all reasonably successful and connected. (Some are better compensated than others.) What we share in common is that we are all making choices about our careers. Big choices.

From the outside, you might never know the turmoil. And there is plenty of turmoil.

I have been pondering for a while which path to take. It all comes down to which life I want to live.

I love being in my 30s because I have wisdom I could have never conceived when I was in my 20s. These are my two truths:

1. No matter what, you cannot irrevocably fuck up your life. You can make big mistakes, but as long as you're breathing, you have a chance to make it better.

2. This is it. We have one life, so being happy is all that matters.

So, we're pondering our career changes, and who we want to be.


DMX, Who We Be.

Amos Lee, Supply and Demand.

Lauryn Hill, Lost Ones

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gym Class Heroes - the New York Times Review

Way, way, way back at the beginning of February, I wrote that Gym Class Heroes should be "your new favorite hip-hop group."

I had found them randomly on cdfuse and loved them.

Today, I was taking a palate-cleansing stroll through the Times Arts Section, when I saw Kelefa Sanneh's music review of Gym Class Heroes: Rap Meets Rock Again, Looking for the Emo Generation.

Check them out on cdfuse, which is offering three free Gym Class Heroes downloads and buy the album while you're over there.

Arcade Fire Cover Yeah Yeah Yeah and Talking Heads

In honor of all the Arcade Fire buzz in anticipation of the release of Neon Bible on March 6th, I present two files I have had in my cover collection for years.

The first is Arcade Fire's live cover of Talking Heads, Naive Melody performed on CBC Radio 3 in 2004.

The second is a live cover of Yeah Yeah Yeah's Maps live in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge from 2005.

They are both entertaining. You can hear them below.

Tonight, Arcade Fire performed on SNL. I missed it (because it's SNL), but you can download the performance of Intervention and Keep the Car Running on The Smudge of Ashen Fluff.

Arcade Fire, Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeah cover).

Arcade Fire, Naive Melody (Talking Heads cover).

Pre-order Neon Bible now.

SXSW Complete Download 1 Available at HearYa

HearYa is hosting the complete first release of mp3s for SXSW 2007. That's over 700 songs. Free.

If you do not want to torrent it, click over to HearYa to get all of the songs in one click (assuming you have firefox's downloadthemall extension installed).
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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Black History Month - Oh Word

Oh Word is way more ambitious and comprehensive than I could ever hope to be.

Today's t.w.i.b has all the Black History Month goodness you could ever want.

Black History Month - And It Don't Stop

VH1 is taking a break from reruns of the Hulk Hogan show to re-air the documentary And It Don't Stop.

A is sick, and I am editing so basically, we're all in bed watching it. Again.

If you've never seen it, what the hell is wrong with you?!!! it's fairly comprehensive, and it has great interviews with artists and with cultural historians like Nelson George, and Kelefa Sanneh, the music reviewer for the Times.

When I started scribbling this down, we were back in the midst of East Coast-West Coast and the murders of Tupac and Biggie. Because we're in our 30s, we remember vividly Tupac's murder, the days he languished in the hospital before succumbing to his injuries. I know, now, it must seem as relevant as my mother describing when Kennedy was assissinated, but it is a moment that is so present.

Now, the episode has moved on to the rise of regional rap with the Geto Boys, OutKast, etc.

Hearing the artists in their own words now and in the past is really powerful.

Watch it.

Kaiser Chiefs Dominate the Blogs (Plus Covers)




Kaiser Chiefs' new album Yours Truly, Angry Mob is currently bouncing around the blogs this week, in advance of its release on Tuesday.

I heard some tracks via noise for toasters and I really loved them. Their sound is a little lighter than on Employment. I haven't heard the whole album yet, obviously, but I am very excited to get it.

Go read noise for toasters and hear the tracks and then pre-order it on Amazon.

Here are a few covers by or of the Kaiser Chiefs:

Kaiser Chiefs, What Time is Love (KLF cover from the Live Lounge).

Lily Allen, Oh My God (Kaiser Chiefs cover).

McFly, I Predict A Riot (Kaiser Chiefs cover from the Live Lounge).

Buy Yours Truly, Angry Mob on Amazon.

Cadence Weapon to World: "Stop Biting"



In Sharks, Cadence Weapon throws down the gauntlet and lives up to his name.

The track is minimal and bleep-y. His rhymes are clever and unhurried, spliting words from one bar to the next with surgical precision. The overall sound is underground and grimy.

Hailing from Edmonton, Cadence Weapon released this album back in 2005 and it got love and nominations in 2006. It is being released in the US on Epitaph March 13th and you need to buy it.

Cadence Weapon is performing at sxsw in a couple of weeks, so check him out.

You can stream it below and buy it in a couple of weeks.

Friday, February 23, 2007

New Hip Hop - Ohene

I listen to a ton of new hip hop. Finding a fresh new voice that I want to keep on loop is extremely rare.

That's Ohene, who I found on cdfuse.com. He was their top download, so I figured I would give him a listen.

Stupid Minded is my favorite track. The track opens with what sounds like an old soul vinyl record, complete with needle hiss and scratches. His flow reminds me a bit of Jay-Z (though I hate playing that game). His flow is playful dancing across the music. The track has a tinkly piano, a drum beat, and a horn section interspersed with the hissy soul sample.

cdfuse.com has two other free downloads available for 3rd Bar Invention and Hello Stranger.

Buy it on cdfuse.com or iTunes.

The Week That Was

SXSW is getting close so there are lots of deals to close and announce before everything kicks off.

Everyone loves to wait until the last possible moment. I had someone in film call me at 4:15 this (Friday) afternoon to tell me he needed a contract by Monday. Bwahahahahaha. (Actually, the joke is on me, since I am working all weekend on other deals, which have to be closed in the next two weeks.)

I had to book and then cancel a show today (which breaks my hard, AL, more than you know).

I have been listening to more hip hop this week, mostly independent hip hop.

My songs of the week are:

Of Montreal, Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse, which I originally heard on Music for Kids Who Can't Read Good.

Annuals, Complete or Completing, which I originally heard on I Guess I'm Floating, and about which I have written here before.

Obamamania Hits Austin


Video available here.


20,000 people gathered in the rain today at Auditorium Shores to hear Sen. Barack Obama.

News 8 is rerunning his speech from this afternoon. You can watch it online here. The Austin American-Statesman has a great slideshow of the day. The AP has a story outlining his comments entitled Obama ridicules Cheney's Iraq comments.

Honestly, I cannot imagine that he could win.

But, wow, if he could . . .

A: "Wouldn't it be great if the United States was like Austin?"

www.barackobama.com

Photo from www.barackobama.com
.

Free SXSW Show - Public Enemy at Auditorium Shores - March 16

Well, that pretty much says it all.

I saw PE perform in 1995(?) on the weirdest bill ever along with:

Black Sheep
Tom Tom Club
Toad the Wet Sprocket

I highly recommend seeing them. We'll definitely be there.

There is more information in the Statesman.

Bandwagon - Firmly On It

Bandwagon was released today, and so far, it's living up to my expectations.

The program runs in the background, slowly backing up all of my iTunes. That's almost 30 gb of music, tv shows, podcasts, and audiobooks.

I have it set to flash an alert for each song it backs up, so I can see the progress.

The idea is that you do a full back up once (unlimited space is available) and then any additions or changes are backed up in the background as soon as you make the change in iTunes.

Simple.

But here's the best part:

Their tech support/customer service is phenomenal.

This morning, I did something wrong and then compounded my error. (Shocking, I know.) I posted on the google group they set up for tech support and the company co-founder got in touch with me asap.

I am impressed with the service itself, and even more impressed with the support.

I will keep posting on the program as I use it to let you know if I finally found the solution to my hard drive problems.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

CSS - Live on BBC Radio 1

Gorilla vs Bear posted a couple of great tracks yesterday from CSS from a BBC Radio 1 show this month.

Check out Gorilla vs Bear for more information.

Click here to hear CSS's Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above.

Bandwagon - New iTunes Backup



I have been looking for a great online backup for my iTunes for a long time.

With my last macbook pro, I lost my collection and rebuilt the newer parts of my collection several times from October to now. Though I have external backups, I add so much new music and I travel without my external backups, so it's hard to keep everything backed up (now that I have exceeded my 30gb iPod).

I just read on podblog about Bandwagon, a new service I am excited to try. It's built on Amazon's S3, which I have been wanting to try for a long time.

The introductory price is $69/year, and the renewal price is $99/year. Given all of the aggravation, I can attest that a great backup solution is well worth the price. It's not a price I will be paying this year, though, because they decided to comp music bloggers to check it out.

Visit Bandwagon for more information.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

American Idol - The Ladies

Sabrina Sloan took on one of my favorite Aretha songs, and did a good job.

It's exciting to hear some great singers so far.

Nicole Tranquillo took on Chaka Khan (and Erykah Badu). She has a lovely voice, but she suffers from deafness, as A calls it, just the inability to hear.

Surprisingly, A said he's looking forward to hearing her recording so they could correct the sharp problems. (Sharp is always better than flat.)

Below is Erykah Badu's cover of the song, which you can buy on iTunes here.

Melinda Doolittle was fabulous.

And then LaKisha Jones ... wow! I mean really, wow!

American Idol - Stephanie Edwards Sings Prince

I thought Stephanie Edwards started the show very, very well.

A recognized the song immediately as How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore, a Prince song, which we have covered by Alicia Keys.

On iTunes, you can hear and buy Prince's version here and Alicia Keys' here.

dead prez - March 1st at Emo's

I sent an email out to my friends today letting them know that dead prez, one of my favorite rap groups, would be playing in Austin next Thursday.

Surprisingly, I received this response from C, who typically shares my love of hip hop (and soul, funk, and jazz): "who's that?"

C, you disappoint me.

dead prez is only the most awesome hip hop group of the past 7 years.

Okay, maybe that's an overstatement, but not by much.

According to A, "they're black, they're angry, they're socially conscious."

Here, I wrote that:

dead prez is far from mainstream. Any music this angry and militant can never be mainstream. The group has gone to great lengths to maintain their separation from the cd-buying, iTunes downloading, LimeWire stealing white audiences that embrace most of hip hop. My favorite song is still Hip Hop and it's one of the only two ringtones I have ever had on my phone. (The other: Miles Davis, So What.)
We own two of their albums. I only realized we missed one when I checked their wikipedia.

You can buy Hip Hop on iTunes and their albums on Amazon.


Stream it here:

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

American Idol - The Butchering of Brian McKnight

I love watching AI with A.

He's angry, he actually knows about singing, and he hates rock and modern r&b.

He was also friends with Brian McKnight when they were in college (and Brian was recording his first album).

So, every year, some kid takes on a really crappy Brian McKnight song. And it just destroys the kid.

What people always misunderstand about Brian McKnight is that he's an actual musician. His arrangements are tricky and his voice is excellent.

A great example is Is The Feeling Gone, with his brother Claude and the rest of Take 6 singing background. It's one of our favorite songs.

You can hear it streaming below and buy the album Brian McKnight on iTunes and on Amazon.

American Idol - Blake Lewis Wins My Heart*

Yes, it's dorky, but I love Keane, and I don't care if you know it.

Blake Lewis did a lovely job singing a song from this decade.

Here is a live version of Somewhere Only We Know from BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge:

Mp3: Keane, Somewhere Only We Know (live lounge).mp3.

*Okay, not really, but I enjoyed hearing a decent performance of a song I love.

Austin Buzz - Peel (The Band) - Now Buzzier

On February 8th, I noticed that Austin band Peel was featured on Idolator, with mp3s of "In the City" and "Oxford."

Yesterday, Peel was featured on gorilla vs bear, with an enthusiastic write-up and mp3s of "In the City" and "Oxford," along with a radio version of Oxford.

Today, Peel got another blog on the bandwagon, Music for Kids Who Can't Read Good.

Of course, they had already been getting plenty of Austin love on Austinist since 2005 and on Austin Sound.

The only thing awaiting them is meta-coverage about the the blog coverage.

Like this.

Congratulations, Peel. You're officially buzzy.

Peel plays the Beauty Bar on Thursday.

Buy their debut album from the band here on their website.

Stolen Austin Black History Guitar, Not Really Stolen




Gibson guitars has put up these cool guitar statues all over town, decorated by artists.

This morning, M (hi, M!) sent me the link to a story that the one commemorating Austin Black history was missing and presumed stolen.

We had all sorts of theories about what could have happened, to that one especially.

Fortunately, it has been located. It had been taken down because the base was broken.

The picture above is from the Statesman.

Another Great PTW Headline

I read Paper Thin Walls routinely in my rss and their bullhorn headlines are always on point.

Here is one from today:

"Bring the toys: Public Enemy action figures debut. Does the Chuck D figure shake his head in shame while the Flav one shits all over the legacy?"

Shuffle Discovery - Voxtrot

Well, this is embarrassing:

I live in Austin.
I go to shows in Austin.
I talk about music with musicians and other industry people in Austin.

Still, I had to find out about Voxtrot, an Austin band, from the blogosphere!

(Hit replay on our regular rant about the true lack of a scene, "infrastructure," and anything that would enable us to have a vibrant music industry here. Moving on . . .)

Finding out about them, it still took a random shuffle in the middle of the night for me to listen to them. I awoke on a recent Sunday morning just so I could hit replay when I heard Mothers, Daughters, Sisters & Wives.

Hear it streaming on Last.fm and buy the EP from iTunes or Amazon. It's an excellent EP and well worth buying.

Also, check out The Voxtrot Kid, for more Voxtrot goodness, straight from the source.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rebuilding iTunes

My iTunes had been crashing since Saturday.

Sunday and today, it crashed every 50 seconds.

I spent 90 minutes on the phone with apple care and they had me move my library to my desktop, restart the machine and then reimport everything using "add to library."

It took a while, but it worked. The key was to move my old library file into the new file so I preserved my ratings, playcounts, etc. (At least the ones iPodRip gave me back from the iPod).

When I had originally imported my files from my backup, some of the music was corrupted and it affected my new library.

First time I have ever encountered this particular problem, and I am glad it was so easily fixed.

SXSW Releases MP3 Torrent 1

SXSW created a 3.1 gb torrent of mp3s by many of the performing acts, which you can download here.

You'll need a bittorrent application like azureus to grab all the free music.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Peel - A Reconsideration

The Peel software I wrote about last week here has been updated.

It's much faster and less buggy than the previous iteration I'd been using for a couple of weeks.

Definitely check it out here, if you have a Mac.

Covers - Acoustic Hip-Hop Covers

When singers cover hip-hop songs, it's usually a little intentionally goofy, like, hey look how cool I am. Which makes it extremely uncool.

The most notorious of these was Unholy Trio's cover of Bring the Noise. Someone sent it to me years ago, thinking I would like it. I've kept it because it annoys me so much.

Here are a few better ones:

Tali, 21 Questions (50 cent cover).

I hate 50 cent and the rest of the G-Unit. They are terrible rappers, their lyrics are awful, and I don't like their tracks. However, after catching this live performance of 21 Questions, I admit I kinda like the song . . . as long as it's being performed by Tali with piano accompanyment.

Buy the song on iTunes here.

Ben Folds, Bitches Ain't Shit (Dr. Dre cover).

I am not a big Ben Folds fans, but I do love the song "There's Always Someone Cooler Than You," which is like my personal theme song. This is straight-forward studio cover.

You can buy this song on iTunes here.

Willy Mason, The Message (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five cover).

Willy Mason is a 19 year old artist with a couple of albums out, but this song is my first exposure to him. His performance of the song gives, well, the message an immediacy and makes it very contemporary. It appears to have been recorded live on a radio show, but I think it's been misidentified as BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge.

Buy Willy Mason on iTunes here.

Toni Braxton at the NBA All-Star Game

Toni Braxton is performing at half-time of the NBA All-Star game.

Given the cheese factor of the whole Las Vegas weekend, not a huge surprise.

Except for this fact:

Toni Braxton was notoriously the reason the Dallas Mavericks franchise imploded in the 90s when Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson were, delicately, vying for her attention.

(According to an agent friend of mine, she was quite an all-star on the NBA circuit. Allegedly.)

Bravo NBA for at least providing a couple of moments of entertainment during half-time.

Here is an espn story about the episode and resulting feud: "I Hate You LIke a Brother".

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Lost Ones - Sweet T / The Boom

I try to tag my unsolicited songs carefully, so I know their provenance.

Occasionally, a song slips through and I have no idea who gave it to me or why.

This morning, two good songs of unknown origin popped up in iTunes. I've had them since 2004 (at least) and they've been good enough to survive my iTunes purges.

Mp3: Sweet T, The Edge.

Mp3: The Boom, Honey on a Biscuit.

If you know anything about these bands or how I got them (i.e., you sent them), shoot me an email or comment below.

Unsolicited Music

I have a lot of unopened cds or mp3s people have given me because their sister's friend's cousin is in this really great band.

There are only two reasons I listen to an unsolicited cd or mp3 -- an existing client or business associate asks for "an honest evaluation" and/or it's sent to me by someone whose taste I trust.

(An exception: friends who send me "hey, could you listen to this and tell me what you think because I told this kid I knew someone who could give him 'an honest evaluation'." If the expectation is that I will give him a favorable "honest evaluation," but there are no strings attached, that's cool. Well, not exactly cool, but I will do it. Even if you own and listen to Korn cds. Love you, B!)

There is no such thing as "an honest evaluation." My opinion differs depending on what you expect me to do with it.

If you really, really want me to work with an artist, don't give me a cd, email an mp3, or, the kiss of death, send me a myspace link. Bring me to a show, buy me liquor, and introduce me before they go on.

I have this crazy rule about only working with people I genuinely like. If I am going to spend countless hours with you or worrying about you or helping you live your dream, you better be someone I actually like as a human being.

The Week That Was

This week, I spent more time talking about music than listening to music.

I was without my new MBP for a couple of days, and then had to rebuild some of my iTunes library again (because I am an idiot who only backed up the failing hard drive as it failed), but I think I only lost a hundred songs and nothing that's jumping out at me. I lost all of my playcounts, ratings, and date addeds, which is far more annoying than you'd think. ipodrip helped me retrieve most of that data from my ipod, but it's still missing for about a thousand songs.

Things feel like they are on an upswing.

A and I had a really nice Valentine's, despite having been sick all week.

My song of the week has been the acoustic demo I've been listening to for a couple of months. It's a top 20 favorite song. I heard the live performance recently, and I am excited to hear the final recorded version in a month or so. JE gave me their new limited edition disc last Saturday, so I have it in lossless, which is higher quality than the mp3 S emailed me in December.

This weekend, my plans are to chill, wander aimlessly through the park listening to music, and watch a lot of hoops.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hip Hop Goodness from Oh Word

Hip Hop blog Oh Word has been posting mp3s zip style all week in their "50 Incredible Rap Songs You Need To Hear . . . Right Now" series.

Today, they posted a complete 50 song zip, with a 20 song bonus.

Check out Oh Word and enjoy the tasty goodness.

Hearing a well-curated mix is the best way to find new music.

I still treasure the mix cd my friend DC sent me a few years ago hipping me to all the great NY stuff from the mid 90s that he felt had escaped my attention. He was right.

A last year made a mix cd for friends at Home Slice entitled A's History of Hip Hop, which started with "The Message" and took the listener on a sonic journey through time and place (east coast, west coast, dirty dirty, Texas, etc.).

Here are a few gems from A's mix:

Mp3: DJ DMD f. Lil' Keke & Fat Pat, 25 Lighters.
Buy it here on iTunes.

Mp3: Goodie Mob f. OutKast, Cell Therapy.
Buy it here on iTunes.

Mp3: The Pharcyde, Passin' Me By.
Buy it here on iTunes.

Mike Jones Mike Jones Mike Jones Mike Jones

Paper Thin Walls Bullhorn posted this headline this morning:

VIDEO: "Mr. Jones" is the long-awaited return of Mike Jones. Our comments board hopefully is not the long-dreaded return of insufferable indie-rock douches making fun of how often he says his name.

Rarely does anything in my reader make me laugh, but I could not help but remember sitting in the studio when he was recording in 2002(?) and how no one could go 15 minutes without saying "Mike Jones Mike Jones Mike Jones Mike Jones."

His stuff was catchy, but I never thought it would catch on nationally the way it did. I was later shocked when I heard the song on the radio and he rapped his real phone number.

Mike Jones Mike Jones Mike Jones Mike Jones, indeed.

(I was going to post a link to "Welcome to Texas" but it's not in my rebuilt library.)

Kings of Leon - New Track - Ragoo

My Old Kentucky Blog just posted Ragoo from the new album.

Kings of Leon - New Video for "On Call"

The new Kings of Leon album Because of the Times is scheduled to be released on April 3rd.

The first single "On Call" has been released and you can buy it on iTunes.

# worked on the "On Call" video on Wednesday, so we should be seeing it soon.

Peel - The Software, Not The Band

I have been using a beta program called "Peel" for a week or so.

Mac-only, it's designed to let you read "mp3 blogs" in a separate browser and stream their mp3s without downloading them.

It works pretty well. It's a little slow to load, and it's missing some of my favorite rss features (like, all of them). Still it saves a lot of time and effort and I am using it with the blogs I don't read as often.

Click here for more information about Peel.

White Stripes News and Live Tracks at Covert Curiosity

Excellent Austin blogger Covert Curiosity has a great post about The White Stripes along with tracks from a 2000 radio performance.

Read it here: Covert Curiosity.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New Feist Album - The Reminder - Out May 1

I have written about Feist here before. I love her 2004 album Let It Die, which I only discovered in 2006. I have heard her live shows, thanks to the dearly departed ryball.net.

She has a new album coming out May 1 and Dallas blog Gorilla vs Bear has a new track and other information here.

Shows I've Left Early

My mother, famously, walked out on a show by The Doors at some LI country club because Jim Morrison was so disgusting. (She also skipped Woodstock because it was on a farm.) My mother is like the anti-Forrest Gump, just missing historic moments.

Then again, were I her, I would have done the same. If ACL weren't in my neighborhood, I doubt I would go: it's hot, dusty, and annoying, and most of the bands are people who would make me change the radio station. (The glory days of having something other than indie or alt-country or whatever big band is touring play are long over. Al Green, Solomon Burke, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Charlie Hunter, Soulive, The Roots, Rebrith Brass Band, why have they foresaken you.)

Here is a non-comprehensive list of shows I've left early:

1. The Roots

I walked out on a show by The Roots at Gregory Gym at UT because I was only there to see the opening act as a favor to a friend. I like The Roots (I even own a few of their albums). The show just didn't grab me, so after I finished my business, I rolled.

I saw them again at ACL a couple of years ago, and they were the best show I saw that year.

2. John Mayer

A and I went to see his opening act at the Austin Music Hall in early 2002, who we'd only heard on Charlie Hunter's Songs from the Analog Playground covering Roxy Music's More than This. Yep, Norah Jones. She'd gotten some huge buzz from SX a few weeks before and we hated that we missed her 1230 am show at some restaurant.

Two things stand out from that night: John Mayer hadn't hit yet, so all the kids at the show were real fans who told us all about him and explained things we should look for. They were adorable. We were the oldest people there by at least 8 years and we stood out a bit in the crowd. The kids standing around us had been at his Houston show the night before and were going to the Dallas show, too.

The other thing that stands out is that John Mayer came on stage before Norah Jones to say that the best thing about headlining his own tour was he got to pick his opening act. He said everyone should be quiet and listen to her. She was great.

We walked after "Your Body is a Wonderland," which has always been a really, really crappy song.

I went to Waterloo the next day to buy both discs. From such a tiny show, who knew they would become pop culture behemoths that year?

3. Spoon

I immediately dismissed them as a "Violet Femmes" cover band.

4. Vallejo

They were playing at a charity benefit. The first four songs were good, but then everything just sounded the same.

5. Los Lonely Boys

The first time I heard them perform was in a tent at ACL with a couple hundred people. They were mesmerizing. They had gotten lots of Austin love, but I'd never heard them before then.

A year later, I was in a crowd of tens of thousands at ACL, and heard the same show, with less feeling. We bouced two songs in.

6. Franz Ferdinand

Walked in, heard annoying guitar riffs, walked out.

I like them, but not so much live.

7. Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Really bad live. A brass band should not have so many electric guitars.

8. Pussycat Dolls

Before I started this list, I had forgotten I had seen them perform at an Austin dance club. We didn't have to pay cover or wait in the line, so we figured, eh, how bad could it be?

Really, really bad.

All the expensive liquor in the joint couldn't keep me there more than two songs.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day and Love Songs

There have been posts all over the blogosphere about love songs for the past couple of weeks:

Gorilla vs Bear linked to Stone's Throw Records Valentine's Mixtape.

I Guess I'm Floating did an appropriately indie, bitter playlist, featuring songs from The Mountain Goats and Ohia.

Rather than celebrate Valentine's on the 14th, A and I celebrate on the 15th.

It's a random tradition, begun years ago when my work caused us to miss our Castle Hill dinner reservation for our second valentine's day. Ever since, we've declared the 15th our day.

So, in honor of A & J's Valentine's Day, here are my favorite love songs:

Jill Scott, A Long Walk (Touch of Jazz remix).

This is a jazzier version of the original, which sounds to me like falling in love.

Buy the original here on iTunes.

Alicia Keys, If I Ain't Got You.

This is a modern, romantic song. This is a live version from the Grammy's. Buy the original here on iTunes.

Stevie Wonder, As.

It's just lovely. Buy it here on iTunes.

Best and Worst Shows

Last night, I was at 219 discussing the future of music and how much SX sucks for Austin bands with my favorite music guys.

Toward the end of the night, we started talking about the best and worst shows we'd seen. It's safe to say we had all been to more than our fair share of truly awful shows and a few transcendent ones.

The difference between a good show and a bad show is that, at a good show, I forget the two girls yelling into their cell phones next to me about where they're going after. At a great show, I am just buzzing for days afterwards.

A's best show is something I am still jealous about:

Miles Davis, Branford Marsalis, and the Yellowjackets at the Hollywood Bowl.

His worst: Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock at One World Theater.

My best is probably U2 on their Joshua Tree tour 20 years ago at Tampa Stadium. It was the first concert I attended without my parents and, though I had the worst seats I've ever had, it was overwhelming. The coolest show I've ever attended was Black Sheep/Tom Tom Club/Public Enemy and I think Toad the Wet Sprocket in the O Dome in Gainesville.

Worst show: Dave Matthews Band at the Erwin Center in Austin. Now, before you start blowing up my email, I went to see Me'shell Ndegéocello, who was opening and left after two songs of DMB's set. A distant second is Brad Mehldau at One World because I couldn't get a handle on what he was doing for about 90 minutes.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Another MacBook Pro, Another Failed Hard Drive

Posting will be intermittent this week because my new MBP's hard drive failed.

It's being replaced by the Geniuses, and I am using A's MB until I get it back.

This, of course, follows the hard drive and logic board failure on my first MBP, which was replaced by a brand new MBP from the Apple Store in December.

I am so glad I bought myself such a great machine. A's machine, from the cheaper MB line, has been flawless. He tells me this every few days with pride.

Winner: clearly, A.

Black History Month - Bastards of the Party

A was up super late last night and watched Bastards of the Party, a documentary on HBO about the evolution of LA street gang culture.

He said it's so good that, were he a teacher, he would get it on dvd and show it to the kids all the time.

The first gangs started as defense against a white gang known as the Spook Hunters in the 1940s. From there, it shows the intersection of issues of race, politics, and economics as gangs developed and spread.

You should watch it. It's playing all month, and it's on HBO On Demand under documentaries.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

These Musings

I started writing this in December as a way to keep track of the music to which I was listening.

I had a lemony MBP with hard drive and logic board problems that forced me to rebuild my collection a couple of times over a couple of months, so I was much more engaged in my collection. I had a full back up from 3 months before, and then I was able to do rebuild the remaining collection pretty easily because I was emailing my favorite songs to my mother, to A, and to S. Different songs, of course, because they have very different tastes. From among the three, I was able to reconstruct all the new stuff from my gmail.

Even with gmail, emailing one or two songs could be laborious depending on the file size, so I figured that if I posted it here, they could all get them without too much trouble.

My whole purpose in writing, was to tell my mom, A, and S, what I am listening to and what they should be listening to. Because he is my boyfriend, A rarely reads this. S knows I write but I've never volunteered the address. My mother checks it out every week or so. For them, I still send emails with new music I think they'll like. A gets the jazz/soul/funk. S gets the indie and britpop. Mom gets the the funk/soul/r&b.

I have kept the site on the dl. I haven't told any of my clients or business associates what it is. A couple of them know I write, but they don't know where or about what. I also don't write about them, generally.

All of this is to say I am amazed that people read it. Some of my friends mention ever so casually that they first heard a song "on musette."

Thanks so much for checking it out.

The Grammys - Ugh.

I hate the Grammys. They are boring, and as awards, the wrong people get nominated and win.

Still, I usually have it on, because there are sometimes wonderful moments.

Tonight, the sound has been just awful. Frankly, nothing irritates me more than bad sound. (Aside from people talking during a show, but don't get me started on that.)

My favorite moment was during the R&B "medley" when those two children jumped on stage and danced during Chris Brown's performance. And then jumped right back off.

The "My Grammy moment" was actually cuter than I would have expected because JT and TI seeemed so charmed.

"Support Live Music"

That was the phrase of the night, along with "this is so fucking cool."

Last night, I went to see my favorite local band play an absolutely killer show at the CDFuse showcase at Red Eyed Fly. The crowd was jumping up and down and dancing and singing and the energy was amazing.

Red Eyed Fly is a great venue because it has basically three separate parts - an indoor bar, an covered outdoor stage area, and an outdoor patio. The patio was "backstage." It was a chilly night, and I was stationed, as always, far from the madding crowd (i.e., up a couple of steps from the main floor) with B, who was visiting, and A, who never ever goes with me to non-jazz shows.

There were hundreds of people there to see all of the bands.

We got there about 10 minutes before Say Hello to the Angels went on. Early enough to talk to Dustin and Sal, who was sitting in on bass, before they went on stage. It's the first time I've gotten to see Sal perform, and he was excellent. I never got to see Ritalin Kids/Riddlin' Kids or Rubberhed perform, but from the crowd's reaction, it was clear I was very alone. It was a great set, and I am looking forward to seeing them again.

Austin bills itself as "the live music capital of the world." As a pr slogan, it works.

The reality is that there are so many bands here and so many venues that it's really hard to build a sustainable audience.

So, when I can go out and hear great bands with a completely engaged crowd, it's just thrilling.

The passion of the audience, the energy of the band, the sound pounding through your chest, your friends jumping around . . . it's an experience you can't replicate on an iPod.

So, take the bands' charge and support live music, where ever you happen to be.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Austin Buzz - Peel

Austin band Peel was featured in a "Listening Station" post on Idolator today, along with two songs available for download: Oxford and In the City.

Prince - An Appreciation and Superbowl Songs

When I was a kid, I heard "Delirious" playing on the radio. I didn't have a radio of my own, so I was in my parents' room listening to their clock radio. The song so captivated me that I demanded (and received) my own stereo.

Instrumental Analysis has an excellent Prince post today with a ton of mp3s.

I Guess I'm Floating has the songs Prince performed at the Superbowl.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

American Idol - Shai, If I Ever Fall In Love

A describes R&B music from the early 90s as the time when "these people thought a casio keyboard and whining was music."

He's not wrong, but we were both young then, so I still love those songs by Shai, Jodeci, etc.

So, tonight, I was delighted to hear Shai's If I Ever Fall in Love on tonight's American Idol, sung really, really well.

Listen to it here: Shai, If I Ever Fall in Love.

Buy it here on Amazon and iTunes.

Quit Your Day Job - Stereogum Interviews Girl Talk

Stereogum launched an interesting new column today entitled Quit Your Day Job with an interview with Girl Talk about working while being a musician.

The dream for all musicians is to be able to make enough money to be musicians full-time. Most of my music clients have day jobs - some are fortunate to work as music producers or songwriters, others wait tables.

I look forward to reading more installments.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Beirut, Lon Gisland EP

I just received my newly purchased Lon Gisland cd, which was released last week.

It's excellent.

I had only heard Elephant Gun from this EP, but I bought it because I loved Gulag Orkestar and Postcards from Italywas one of my favorite songs of 2006.

Lon Gisland feels like a secret revealed.

Download: Beirut, Elephant Gun.

Buy Gulag Orkestar and Lon Gisland.

Insomnia and Annuals

It's 4 am and we're all awake.

The re-air of the Pistons-Cavs game is on mute, A is reading a novel, and the cat cannot figure out why all the lights are still on.

Thanks to Complete or Completing by Annuals, which is currently on repeat, I think sleep will be far, far away.

It's a great song (a new favorite), and it's musically interesting. This is not a standard indie pop song. Usually, a clever lyric or a nice voice can seduce me. Here, the instrumentation and arrangement fascinate me.

I need to be sure this appears on none of our myriad "night" playlists because the overall effect of the song makes my nerves tingle. Like I can't wait to keep unraveling its layers with listen after listen.

Obviously, I really need some sleep. Still, I love this song.

Annuals, Complete or Completing.

Buy the album on iTunes or Amazon.

Monday, February 5, 2007

White Rapper Show - the Video Shoot and Snitching

I prefer the emphasis on writing over style, but tonight was an interesting episode.

Sullee broke my heart. He thought he was doing the right thing. Serch was right, though, and he was wrong for withdrawing. The snitching thing is tough. Again, Serch was right. It's not snitching when you offer critiques or battle rhymes!

Of anyone on the show, I can easily see Sullee making records and performing. He has that elusive "it." Charisma, definable personailty, and skill. He has that Lyricist Lounge thing, which will never be a double or triple platinum seller, but he could have a career - buy a house, put his kids through college, etc.

The most marketable might be Shamrock. He seems real about the Southern rap thing, rather than a caricature. His instincts draw him to create club songs. Club songs sell huge - singles, ringtones, etc. If he can buy a hot track with a top producer, he could have a legitimate hit.

About the losing video, what a piece of garbage. They did every single thing wrong. First the song was terrible. Second, the video was like a parody of Uncut videos. Without the parody. Heck, Uncut vidoes are a heck of a lot more fun that that. (if you've never watched BET's Uncut in the middle of the night after coming home from a club, well, it's incredibly amusing. The production value of the videos is maybe 25% higher than the ones on tonight's episode.

A said it was as if our neighbors got drunk with a video camera and some hookers. That feels about right.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Prince at the Superbowl

Well, that was all kinds of awesome.

He sounded great, he looked great, and he did a good mélange of songs. Plus, he brought the FAMU band out, and that always is awesome.

I had low expectations for the performance because, seriously, these things always suck.

Prince delivered and it was visually interesting.

I am waiting for A to get home from work to watch the game, so I may be watching it again in an hour or so.

My mother has called me every 30 minutes or so to find out if I am caught up (I'm not!). She's watching at the Loews in South Beach with some men who sold their tickets last night for $2500 each.

Sounds like a smart move.

HAWK - It's a Small World After All

HAWK was murdered in Houston last May.

That is still a terribly hard sentence to type.

HAWK was a giant in Houston. An original member of the Screwed Up Click, he was largely responsible for ensuring the continuation of the group after DJ Screw's death in 2000.

HAWK's murder devastated his friends and peers completely. When it happened, our friends went on the radio to try to cope with their grief and devastation, and frankly, they have not yet fully recovered.

Months later, I was with some Houston rappers watching music dvds. Between the videos, dogfights, and bumfights, etc., each artist, no matter who they were with, took time to express disbelief and grief.

Thanks to a google alert, I noticed that Polish blog strasznachoroba posted Cold in the Game today. (Originally posted on HoustonSoReal.)

So, they listen to HAWK in Poland?

CDFuse.com Showcase - February 10th

Paying Cover

I happily pay cover to see bands for the same reason I buy their cds. It's a demonstration of support. Sometimes I pay cover even when I am on the list.

I will absolutely not pay:

if I am bringing "People" to your show
if I see every single show you play in Austin
if I am going to see your friend's band play at your request (i.e., when I am the "People")

In those cases, I expect you to put me on the list, without my request to be on it.

This is how the exchange should happen:
me: "hey, i am really looking forward to your show at Stubb's"
you: "great! i'll put you on the list. how many?"

A note to my friends:

When I shoot you an email saying that Band X is playing and the cover is $5/10/15, that means you're not on the list. Don't ask.

I think we often forget that the bands we see do this for their job and paying cover demonstrates that we support what they are doing. If everyone is comped, why would the venue rebook them?

One more note to my friends:

If you are on the list or, more likely, I paid your cover whether you know it or not, I expect you to order lots and lots of expensive drinks so the venue will rebook them.

One final note to my friends:

Next Saturday's show is a showcase, so you're paying your own damn cover. Support live music. Damn.

Why I Buy Music

I have an absurd amount of music at my fingertips and all the technology to track down anything I could reasonably or unreasonably want.

Still I make a point of buying albums upon their release (and pre-release).

Why?

The same reason I pay a cover for (some of) the bands* I see play and make sure everyone I am with is drinking . . . a show of support for the artist.

I own albums I hate by artists I love. Though I never listen to them, I support their quest to keep making music. I know that, at some point, they may again scale those creative heights.

I also make a point of buying cds from new artists I think show potential. Hell, I also buy them at small Stubb's inside shows or shows at Red Eyed Fly or anywhere else I see a lonely merch table. In Houston, I make a point of buying the $5 rap cds people hawk outside of stores.

Every once in a while, there's something really surprising in there. But that's not the point. What's $5 or $10 to me as compared to what it is to a new band. Not the money, the vote of confidence that people will buy their music and the hope that they can keep doing it.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Tumult and Turmoil Playlist

As my friend's heart has been batted around by his SO/ex-SO for the past couple of weeks since she decided she didn't want to date him anymore, then changed her mind, then changed it back, ad infinitum ad nauseam, I have been struggling with ways to help him.

We've taken long walks in the rain, spent hours on the phone and on im, and he hung out out our place every evening for a week.

Because I am a music geek, I thought I'd put together a playlist for him. It's better than I mixtape, since he has one of our old iPods we update for him from time to time. Loading a new playlist is pretty automatic, but the question of what to include . . . well, that took some thinking.

I don't think I got it completely right, but I gave it a valiant effort.



Here are a few sample songs:

Steve Wedemeyer, I'm So Low.

This has been a favorite song for years, but the album is filled with gems.

Buy Steve's album Disclose here.

The Rifles, Inbetween Days (The Cure cover).

I love The Rifles and this is a great cover of a great song.

Buy The Rifles here.

Jamie Cullum, Lover, You Should Have Come Over (Jeff Buckley cover).

The pathos is palpable.

Buy Jamie Cullum here.

Fool of Me, Me'shell Ndegéocello.

This is an all-time favorite song. It's terribly sad.

Buy the album here.

The Week That Was

This was an interesting week. Lots of work and a stomach virus kept me from posting much.

Tonight seemed excellent. I got repeated, adorable calls from my mother who was in Miami as I made up a playlist for my two dearest friends who are each going through break-ups (the master list is about 61 songs long, so I am arranging and editing before I can post it).

As I began this post, I got the panicked phone call and jumped in my car to rescue my friend. So, overall, an improvement in my life and strife in theirs.

I spent a lot of time this week listening to:

  1. Break-up/sad/hopeful songs for the Playlist/Mixtape.
  2. Andrew Bird. Wow, what songs. I love love love Heretic. It's just extraordinary.
  3. The Rifles. I love the live cover of Inbetween Days from Radio 1, in addition to
  4. Aloe Blacc. I am awaiting my cd from Amazon, while I play the hell out of Gente Ordinaria.
  5. Instrumental versions and covers of Am I the Same Girl.

When Romance Goes Terribly Wrong . . .

Here's a hint:

if you are attacked by your SO or ex-SO, call 911 immediately. If the attacker rips the phone jacks out of the fall and steals your cell, then call as soon as possible.

Otherwise, the report goes into the system and you still can't get back into your house.

I just spent hours dealing with a friend involved in a situation. Because the victim was finally able to flee the situation and get to a place of safety before reporting it (we're talking within 1-2 hours), the police are not going to arrest the aggressor in a timely fashion. Nor can the victim get an emergency protective order.

Long story short: we have a house guest.

In our guest's honor: Kristen Vigard, God Give Me Strength.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Mom at the Superbowl

Last year, I went to Pittsburgh for a couple of meetings before the Superbowl. It was so crowded and weird, and security was so awful, I could not wait to leave. After arriving from Toronto in the afternoon, I flew home on the first flight out of town at 5 am the next morning.

This year, my mother is in Miami with her sister E (my godmother). She also has no plans to attend the game. She and E are instead hitting a bunch of the vip parties, including tonight's beach party.

They are both beautiful, confident women, who are used to being the life of the party, so it's always a riot when they are together. (I have a clear memory of a lipsynching of Ain't No Mountain High Enough in the middle of their brother's wedding reception in Indiana ...)

Tonight, she called me to say "I am standing 5 feet from Reggie Bush. I need to get my picture with him." About 10 minutes later, she called to say, "I just spoke to LaDanian Tomlinson, and I asked him a question about his favorite play this year, and the whole room hushed as he spoke. He's such a nice man."

Then she called to say: "I just met Howie Long!"

Honestly, she was still a bit giddy.

I cannot wait to hear the full tales tomorrow.

Gym Class Heroes - Your New Favorite Hip Hop Group

I get turned on to a lot of music by my friend Sal Silva at cdfuse.com. (My only gift back to him was Beirut, but that's a fine gift.)

Some of it I will tell you about here; some of it I am going to keep close to my vest for now.

Sal and his business partner Erik run cdfuse.com, which is a distributor of independent music (through cds and iTunes) and merchandise. They run a great business and they have great taste in music.

Sal had suggested I check out some samples of a new Austin band in which he was interested. As usual, it's a great freaking band no one is talking about. Yet.

Then I just started trolling around the site and I found Gym Class Heroes. Wow, what a great group.

I like all of their songs, which I have been listening to for the past few weeks. Apparently, I am not alone since they are currently the top download on cdfuse.

Get it. Now.

Link: Gym Class Heroes

Field Music - Rave Reviews In

I love Field Music.

As I mentioned before, they are an excellent band, reminiscent of early Beatles and early Oasis, who make buoyant Britpop (and British Pop).

They are getting rave reviews for their new album Tones of the Town. The metacritic score is an 85, which is "universal acclaim."

Buy it on iTunes here and on Amazon here.

Download Tones of the Town, Working to Work.

Shocking Political News From Texas - A Public Health Victory

Texas just became the first state in the Union to require that all schoolgirls receive the cervical cancer vaccine.

Of course, our governor, who made the order, is in bed allegedly with the vaccine manufacturer, but still, this is good news for the future women of Texas.

I have known many people affected by cervical cancer. The fear has always been that the "std" tag would prevent families from choosing to do this for their daughters.

Love Songs and At Last

It's February, so everyone is starting to get focused on hearts and chocolates and lingerie or whatever it is people do these days.

(We celebrate every year on the 15th, thanks to a rapper client and a missed Castle Hill dinner reservation on an early Valentine's Day.)

Last summer, I realized I had hundreds of love songs, but they were not all equal.

There are basically four categories of love songs:

  1. Songs about falling in love.
  2. Songs about being in love.
  3. Songs about being in love with someone not in love with you.
  4. Songs about being out of love.
Each category appears to be further divided into happy, melancholy, and sad. (No, really.)

I am often surprised by how few people apparently listen to the lyrics, the performance, and the musical arrangements of love songs. If you were, say, picking your wedding song, would you listen carefully to the lyrics before selecting? And if so, why would you ever pick "At Last" by Etta James?!!!

Does it sounds happy? No. It's a lovely song about the end of spinsterhood. With an extremely sad arrangement. The strings are funereal. Plus, it's not exactly joyful and uplifting to hear her audible relief that "my lonely nights are over . . . "

My favorite is attending a youthful wedding, where this is "their song." Really? Really?

Etta James, At Last.

Buy it on Amazon here.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Band (and My Mom Is Always Right)

When I was a child, my father had an amazing stereo system and record collection we were not allowed to touch.

Ever.

That means we were forced to listen to whatever he decided to play -- mostly bluesy, funky, folky bands (Poco, Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, John Prine, the Doobie Brothers, etc.). After all, this was the 70s and early 80s (heck, my favorite album was No Nukes).

We whined and complained. Of course.

But my mother told me something that stuck with me: she said, someday, you're going to go off to college, and you're going to meet a boy, and he's going to say 'Have you ever heard The Band?' and you'll say 'why, yes, I've been listening to them for years.'"

She was right . . . it happened exactly like that when I was a First Year.

The Band was always great, and it's sad that they seem slightly lost to the sands of time, despite being in one of the best concert films ever The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorcese. I even sang a few bars (badly) of Acadian Driftwood to A recently, a song he'd never heard.

I thought about all of this I heard a cover of "Rocking Chair" by Death Cab for Cutie this week. It is a surprisingly faithful cover.

Here are both songs:

Rocking Chair, Death Cab for Cutie.

Rocking Chair, The Band.

Buy it on Amazon here.