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.

Bedouin Soundclash, When The Night Feels My Song

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.

Ohio Players, Love Rollercoaster.

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.


Youngblood Brass Band, Brooklyn (London, UK).

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 . . .

Editors on Road to the Final Four

It took me about 3 seconds to look up from my budget analysis (yay! Saturday conference calls! yay!) when I heard the unmistakable opening to Munich on CBS's Road to the Final Four (for the Vanderbilt vs George Washington match-up).

Munich was one of my top 10 of 2006 in both the original and cover versions.


Editors, Munich.
Corinne Bailey Rae, Munich (Editors cover).


Editors, The Back Room

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Professional Remove

When I speak to artists, I dial back my enthusiasm by about 75%. I might tell them, "hey, great show," though inside my heart is doing backflips. (Yes, it happens.)

When I told a couple of the guys that one of their demos for the new album is currently in my top 10 favorite songs, they could not believe it.

It's important to keep them focused on what they are doing and allow us to focus on what we're doing. We're literally high-fiving behind the scenes, but they don't need to know that yet.

SX - FactoryPeople Open Letter "We Love You Austin and SXSW, But You’re Freaking Us Out"

During SX, there were a lot of private parties shut for capacity, permit, or relatively random (and seemingly fascistic) reasons.

The parties are an essential, though non-official, part of the SXSW experience. Frankly, they are the only things many of us do during the week.

The owners of boutique Factory People wrote an eloquent open letter about their party and the future of private parties that was posted on Austinist yesterday.

It would be nice, for once, if the City of Austin have some collective sense about a big event. I would hate to see SX become scrubbed of all of the unofficial gatherings. A week of just conference panels and showcases would be absolutely sucktastic.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Amy WInehouse & the Dap-Kings?

Check out Soul Sides for a great post about Amy Winehouse, her band, and issues of race.

I have been listening to Back to Black (or large parts of it) for months and I never realized she was backed by two of the Dap-Kings.

Of all of the music I have slept on in recent years, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings may be the most egregious. I've only been listening to them for months, instead of years, because I never knew they existed. (How embarrassing is that?)

Mp3: Amy Winehouse, Rehab
Mp3: Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?.


Amy Winehouse, Back to Black on Amazon.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Naturally on Amazon or eMusic.

Beirut Live on KEXP

Brooklyn Vegan has a link to an mp3 of Beirut's live performance on KEXP during SX last week.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Essential New Releases - Andrew Bird, Devin the Dude

Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha.

I have been looking forward to this album for months. The lead single "Heretics" is one of my favorite songs of the year.

Devin the Dude, Waitin' to Inhale.

This may be the album that finally gets him some popular love. What I have heard so far sounds really good.


Andre Bird, Heretics.

Devin the Dude, What a Job Feat. Snoop Dogg & Andre 3000.

The Promise of Monday (and D'Angelo)

When I worked at the label, the joke was always that you should never ever answer the phone on Monday. People had spent all weekend talking and dreaming and on, Monday, they would waste your time with their new plans and projects . . . plans that would never come to fruition, as they would figure out in the cold light of Tuesday.

I am sensitive to the promise of Monday. If you are an entrepreneur or just entrepreneurial, Monday is a day of dreams into action. I usually take Monday as a day to get everything together for the week and not as a day to start new projects.

I've been having this weird, blissful thing happening since the beginning of February. It's like, on the surface, everything is okay, under the surface is the roiling stress of dealing with my business partner who's ill and delayed on everything(!) and all of the problems that's causing, but my gooey center is completely blissed.

It's like every day is a Monday full of promise.

Since I often analogize the start of a new company to falling in love, perhaps it is appropriate that this song is playing as I write:

D'Angelo, Higher.

Because I am feeling incredibly generous today, here is a rare track from D'Angelo's Live at the Jazz Cafe, an import only cd you should buy on Amazon:

D'Angelo, Brown Sugar (Live at the Jazz Cafe, London).
Brown Sugar fun fact: as usual, it took A to explain the song to me. Hey, it sounded like a love song. About a person.

Buy D'Angelo on Amazon.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Week That Was - Excitement and New Beginnings

This has been a reflective week for me. I have been preparing for a while for today. We didn't achieve what I had hoped we would by today, but it was still satisfying.

I am actually very happy, and I have been happy all week. I met some interesting people, I spent time with people about whom I geniunely care, and I saw some great music.

I am sitting outside and I can hear our neighbors' wind chimes. The night is cloudy and fairly warm (60s, it feels like).

I have spent a lot of time working toward some specific goals, but I have realized that despite the stress and anxiety associated with not quite getting there yet, I am really pleased with how far I have come and with who I am. It feels pretty darned good to be me, right now.

(That may change as the grey goose completely catches up with me and I sprawl on the floor for a few hours.)

A is happier than he's been in a long time, too, and we've planned a celebratory dinner for a couple of weeks from now. The fact that he's already planning a celebration is an enormous change. Again, celebrating small victories is really important, so I am glad he suggested a worthy reason to celebrate and a place.

New music this week:

Really, I haven't listened to much. I have a bunch of new things in the queue, but I had to rebuild my library again (my last corrupt hd corrupted some files). I have all my old metadata, but lost my playcounts and ratings.

I bought a lot of new music over the past 7 or 8 days:

Apostle Of Hustle, National Anthem of Nowhere
The Brand New Heavies, Get Used to It
Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
RJD2, The Third Hand
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Naturally

and of course, Amy Winehouse, Back to Black.

Because of SX, I just haven't been listening to much. I have a lot of people to contact over the next few days and a lot of things to push ahead.

Honestly, I don't know exactly where everything is heading. I just know that I am surrounded by great people and we're all working as hard as we can.

Random SX Thoughts

I am now home, drunk, after my only real foray into SX territory.

Yes, it's like 7:30 here, but I have been drinking for a few hours. I don't drink much anymore, but S kept bringing them and who I am I to say no?

I went to the CDF showcase, which was excellent. I caught a few minutes of Sounds Under Radio, a major buzz band . . . about to be signed to WB and featured on the SpiderMan 3 soundtrack (replacing WolfMother, if I am not mistaken). As usual, I have heard no local buzz about them. All the buzz is national.

I spent quality time with our band's producer. He's a tremendous talent and he really supports what they're doing.

The band was awesome, as always. They were all recovering slowly from the flu, so I could tell they were not thrilled with their performances. Musically, they were just as good, if not better, than always. Vocally, they were holding back a bit. Despite the fact they failed to play my favorite song, it was a great set. The audience on the lower level sang along. The audience on the upper level (the industry folks) seemed really into it.

A collected me at 7th and Congress. I thought I walk would do me good. What it did was give me a chance to see all the band dudes in skinny jeans. A note for all the men out there: you look awful in skinny jeans, especially spandex skinny jeans. Look like a man, for goodness sake.

The one piece of advice I gave everyone today is "enjoy each moment." Don't rush through thinking that the next level is where it's at. Right here, right now, this moment is special. Enjoy the good things, and the bad things. Enjoy each stage of this journey for the journey. Focusing too much on the destination will drive you insane.

St. Patrick's Day

My mother comes from a big boisterous Irish family and I have a ton of aunts, uncles, and cousins I love dearly.

St. Pat's has always been a meaningful day, as a result. My mother still calls me every year to be sure I am representing. I try to be more subtle about it -- I am unlikely to be sporting a green shamrocked t-shirt at the showcases today.

St. Pat's has another extremely important connection for me. On this date 8 years ago, a friend enticed me to Houston with talk of a party, but convinced me to help him launch a label. For me, this is a fond memory. I could not have imagined 8 years ago all of the twists and turns and drama and turmoil that would have arisen from that one simple decision.

I was hoping that today we would be making a big announcement, but everything has not quite fallen into place yet. It's still a couple of weeks away, but that does not lessen my enthusiasm for today, for the people I am working with here, and for the future we have been building together.

Friday, March 16, 2007

"The Lakers Are Booty"

Scott Van Pelt announcing the score of tonight's Lakers game on ESPN and said that despite the fact that "Kobe has half a hundy, the Lakers are booty."

"Peace, Togetherness, and Revolution" - Public Enemy at SXSW

Tonight, I went with B to see Public Enemy at Auditorium Shores, an amphitheater on the shore of Town Lake, which is known as the Colorado River elsewhere.

It's a beautiful location with downtown as the backdrop:

There were tens of thousands of people there. I am terrible at estimating crowd size, but it was a remarkable number of people. We were nowhere near the stage and there were 2 or 3 hundred feet worth of people behind us.

The show was decent. Chuck D, Flava Flav, Professor Griff were all there, and they had a live band. The sound was not great. We were over past the speakers, but it just wasn't very loud.

The set didn't last more than 90 minutes. They jumped around a bit, mostly old stuff, a couple of new songs. Everything hung together well. There was a little too much Flava Flav for my taste. It was his birthday, so there were at least three separate mentions of it. There was some great political stuff.

Overall, it wasn't great. It wasn't the group though. It was the audience. The audience sucked. Hard. We have a problem of bad audiences here in town. People go to shows and stand in front of the band and talk. It's incredibly rude and infuriating.

There were plenty of people talking throughout the entire show. Not, "I love this song!" and then shutting up, but "I loved Flavor of Love!" "My camera's not working" "Where are we going when this is done." The whining! I was absolutely appalled.

I wanted to punch them very hard. I moved as far away as I could, but it was dark and packed and there was only so far I could wander from B to get away from the talking.

How people can be so rude is just beyond me. It's disrespectful to the audience and it's disrespectful to everyone around them who are trying to enjoy the show.

Oh Word on Devin the Dude and the "Blogger Kiss of Death"

Oh Word has an great article about Devin the Dude and the impact of bloggers and blog buzz on "creative rappers."

I am excited about Devin the Dude's new album and it should bring him a much larger audience. Of course, I thought that for his last album that was written up in the Times, etc. In support of that album, we saw him perform some afternoon show in a park here in Austin with maybe 100 people in attendance.

He was great, as was that album, but it just went nowhere for him. I hope that this one will be different for him. He's a tremendous talent and appears well-liked in Houston among all the different battling factions.

SX - The Flyer for the Party

This is where I will be tomorrow, supporting my friends (and meeting some people in between sets). Red Eyed Fly is a great venue and I expect it to be packed.

Because I know you will ask, A has been given explicit permission to skip it. Like he needed permission. I am lucky if I can get him to one showcase per year. It's just not his thing. Plus, I think FireKills was just a little too far afield for him the last time (though he did acknowledge they were great musicians).

SX - "At Some Douchey Show"

I have been getting messages from friends and clients braving SX downtown, as we try unsuccessfully to find each other or meet for drinks in between.

This has been my favorite: "X is at some Douchey show, so I can't hear him."

I am very interested in finding out which douchey show.

SX - Lines, Pull, and (Missing) Beirut Live

I missed the Beirut performance on Wednesday. I knew I wouldn't have been able to get in so I didn't even try. S tried and seeing the line of platinum badges cooling their heels outside, knew he wouldn't have made it in either.

What teeny-tiny little pull I have around town vanishes entirely when SX rolls through. None of the bars in which I am a "vip" host SX shows. (Heck, even those places often forget what I actually do for a living. I only have pull there because I know the bartenders/owners/staff and I tip generously. Every once in a while, I mention it after they've seen me with tattooed men with interesting facial hair or young guys with long floppy bangs. Since they all know A, it's always good to say, "hey those cute young guys I was here with last night . . . that was work.")

Years and years ago, I dated a lobbyist, which basically meant he was a professional barfly who dropped massive amounts of cash all over town. He had also been a professional athlete who played here in college, so he was denied access nowhere, nor was I. My father and his friends flew in for sxsw that year and we, without badges, were granted access into every venue we wanted without waiting. To the unabashed delight of my father's friends, Clifford Antone himself escorted us into Antone's for a show.


Pull rocks. Absence of pull . . . keeps me at home rather than face the daunting, madding crowds.

Below are two live mp3s from a Beirut show last August. You can download the whole thing at the Live Music Archives. There is also a show from October.

Mp3: Beirut, Postcards from Italy (live).
Mp3: Beirut, Elephant Gun (live).

Buy Gulag Orkestar and Lon Gisland on Amazon and then get Pompeii, the two song EP exclusively from eMusic.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

SX Thoughts

I have not yet made it to a single showcase so far.

Work is crazy and I had a 3+ hour long hair appointment today.

Tonight, I was hoping to meeting D and S downtown, but I just ran out of time. Instead, they may meet me tomorrow for a pre-PE drink.

Driving through downtown took an extra 30 minutes today. Every third car on Congress was a van with a trailer. People kept walking in front of cars and not paying attention. I am certain that is why I saw Austin EMS every time I made it near 6th street.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Arjan Writes: Review of Amy Winehouse in NYC

Since the London cancellations last week, everyone here in Austin has been wondering whether Amy Winehouse would show, and if so, how she would perform.

Thanks to an excellent review from Arjan Writes, the shows should be on and great.

"Worst Cover Songs In Pop Music History"

Stereogum posted today about's list of worst covers ever:

20. "You Shook Me All Night Long" — Celine Dion and Anastasia
19. "Downtown Train" — Rod Stewart
18. "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" — Guns N Roses
17. "Demolition Man" — Manfred Mann
16. "American Pie" — Madonna
15. "My Generation" — Hilary Duff
14. "It's My Life" — No Doubt
13. "Video Killed The Radio Star" — The Presidents of the United States of America
12. "Walk this Way" — Macy Gray
11. "Another Brick in the Wall" — Korn
10. "I'm A Believer" — Smash Mouth
09. "Satisfaction" — Britney Spears
08. "Sweet Child O Mine" — Sheryl Crow
07. "Big Yellow Taxi" — Counting Crows
06. "911 Is a Joke" — Duran Duran
05. "Anarchy in the UK" — Motley Crue
04. "Behind Blue Eyes" — Limp Bizkit
03. "Feel Like Making Love" — Kid Rock
02. "Dock of the Bay" — Michael Bolton
01. "And It Stoned Me" — Bob Dylan
They left out some of the worst ever:

Polyphonic Spree, Lithium (Nirvana cover).

It's actually nauseating. It's the only cover I've ever intentionally deleted from my collection. The first time I heard it, I had to play the Pixies over and over again to cleanse my palate.

Unholy Trio, Bring the Noise.

As I have written before, I hate cutesy covers of hip hop songs. This is awful. Nina Gordon barely misses this list for "Straight Out of Compton."

Elbow, Independent Women, Pt. 1 (Destiny's Child cover).

Crimes against music: Goofy instrumentation, laughing through the performance, and not taking it seriously. Yes, it's a dumb song, but you chose to cover it, and presenting it straight is a much more effective send-up.

I may add to this list later when I have had some time to think about it. Lou Reed's cover of This Magic Moment is close, since it sounds like a parody of his own singing style.

I am Fuel, You Are Friends has a great list up right now.

The Pharcyde - An Appreciation

Definitely check out The Passion of the Weiss for an excellent appreciation of one of my all-time favorite albums The Pharcyde's Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Recent Purchases - Of Montreal, The Brand New Heavies, Apostle of Hustle, RJD2

In the last week, I bought these albums:

Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

It's a great album. I knew I loved the songs I had heard, but there are only a couple of weak songs out of the whole bunch.

Key track:
mp3: Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse .

Buy it: Amazon, iTunes, or eMusic.

The Brand New Heavies, Get Used To It.

We have all the Brand New Heavies albums. I don't know why it took me so long to buy this one. It's an excellent, funky album.

Key track:
mp3: I Don't Know Why I Love You.

Buy it: Amazon, and iTunes.

It's a great album.

Key track:
mp3: Apostle of Hustle, My Sword Hand's Anger.

Buy it: Amazon, iTunes, and eMusic.

RJD2, The Third Hand.

Key track:
mp3: RJD2, Beyond the Beyond.

Buy it: Amazon, iTunes, and eMusic

American Idol - The Night of Forgotten Words

First, an impression: the songs of Diana Ross do not generally lend themselves to knock-out vocals. She's a performer more than a virtuoso singer.

Second, a comment: the singers this season are top to bottom better than in previous seasons, but because the top two are so strong, the rest sound just awful in comparison.

The best:

Melinda Doolittle -- another spectacular performance. I am not certain that people who listen only to pop music on the radio understand what an extraordinary talent she possesses. (Plus, Paula crying and incoherent -- funny!)

LaKisha Jones -- she's a very strong singer. She has a sense of tempo. She held back and didn't oversing it, which was refreshing. Her voice is not spectacular, but she has great control. Our highest compliment: she should be singing for money right this minute. I am so impressed.

The good:

Chris Richardson -- he's a mall version of JT. I think he can hear really well, he just doesn't have a great instrument. The best guy tonight.

Jordin Sparks -- I just love her, though I don't know why. I love that she only sings songs from animated movies. I also love that she always crouches down to be shorter than Ryan.

The worst:

Chris Sligh -- "arranging" Endless Love by shifting the lyrics to a Coldplay song. That's called a mash-up, not an arrangement. Craaaaaaappy. His take on contemporary is to shift it back 4 or 5 years.

Hayley Scarnato -- for some reason, I typed her name as Nicole Tranquillo. Weird. Diana Ross said some interesting things: "recording studio voice" and "I recorded it after Marvin Gaye's death." Hayley clearly had no idea what she was singing, and that came across in her performance. The original is a classic and the emotion therein is palatable. It's actually heart-rending. Hayley was like a hallmark romance card.

The mediocre:

Brandon Rodgers -- very disappointing. He sounded better than he has in recent weeks, and he showed more promise. A thinks he should sing "You're Still a Young Man" by Tower of Power if the opportunity arises.

Sanjaya -- I really like his voice, but he can't sing. I thought this was a better performance than he's given lately. He reminds me of Tevin Campbell, for some reason. Except Tevin could sing. Sanjaya's lack of rhythm and ear are deadly. It's the same reason I hated Kimberly Locke years ago. A thinks it was terrible because he's not Marvin. Well, duh.

Gina Glocksen -- it was flat and screamy. She looks great, though. Never thought of "Love Child" as a "feel-good" song, Paula.

Phil Stacey -- yeesh. It was good for him, but he's really not that good. His vocals are not good. He oversings in that modern country style. Odd.

Blake Lewis -- his arrangement was interesting, but his vocals needed to be excellent, and they weren't. I was disappointed by his performance. Had he sung better, his arrangement would have been great. The judges were wrong in their critique because they didn't want to criticize his vocal.

Stephanie Edwards -- another Beyoncé performance. I don't get it. I think she has a decent voice, but she goes flat too often. The Beyoncé channelling is such an irritating style choice. She doesn't have as strong as the two leaders, so she picked the wrong song.

Chris Richardson -- he's a mall version of JT. I like that he's coachable, but his voice is just not that good. I think he can hear really well, he just doesn't have a great instrument.

Going home:

No idea. Maybe Hayley or Brandon?

Least Essential New Release - Sisqó

While perusing the Billboard New Release list, I saw this least essential wtf release:

20th Century Masters - Millennium Collection: The Best of Sisqó.

Essential New Releases - Amy Winehouse

There is one essential new release this week:

Amy Winehouse, Back to Black.

This album is finally receiving its US release. It's an excellent album and a very worthy follow-up to her 2003 album Frank.

Key tracks: too numerous to mention.

I haven't heard an album with such top to bottom fabulousness in years.

Amy Winehouse, Rehab (Desert Eagle Remix).
Amy Winehouse, Love is a Losing Game (acoustic).

Buy it here on Amazon for $7.99(!) or iTunes.

Monday, March 12, 2007

SXSW Shows I Will Attend

Work is crazy, so I am going to be attending far fewer shows than I had hoped.

These are the only shows I am guaranteed to attend (and to which I am looking forward):

-- Public Enemy at Auditorium Shores with all my people on Friday
-- CA to TX Indie Rock Day Party at Red Eyed Fly on Saturday

I am so jealous of all the people who have taken the week off and are going to shows by bands they love.

When I go to a show, I have to meet the "people" and have them watch my reactions. I intentionally underreact. The best you will get from me, if true, is "sounded great/audience loved it." I might tell you the band has "a lot of potential," which is very faint praise. If I ask you what you see for the band, I am completely disinterested.

On that very rare occasion when I hear something amazing and I tell you "I love it!," you know I really mean it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Reuters' SXSW Buzz Bands Article Lists Actual Good Bands

When I saw the title of the Reuters article Buzz bands to watch at South By Southwest, I was mentally preparing the haterade I would be pouring all over their list until I clicked through.

The Pipettes, Girl Talk, Malajube, etc.: they actually got it right for about 6-12 months ago, which is still much further ahead than I'd anticipated. (I mean, it's Reuters.) Below are some songs for my favorites on their list.

Mp3: The Pipettes, I Love You (BBC Radio 1 Session).
Mp3: The Pipettes, Dirty Mind (BBC Radio 2 Mark Radcliffe Session live).
Buy the album We Are the Pipettes from Memphis Industries or on Amazon.

Mp3: Girl Talk, Live Four.
Originally from Covert Curiosity.
Buy the album Night Ripper Illegal Art, at Amazon or iTunes

Mp3: Malajube, Pâte Filo.

Their label store site is down, so buy it on Amazon or iTunes.

The Week That Was - All Prep, All the Time

SXSW started today. It's an extremely busy time in Austin, and the next 8 days can get a little crazy.

I try to avoid as much official stuff as I can. Because of my postition, I am not really going out looking for new people to represent. I check out bands people recommend to me and that personal recommendation is the deciding factor between someone whose work I will enjoy and someone for whom I will expend my time and energy.

This week has featured ots of work, lots of phone calls, a new project. We're in the home stretch on two projects and I am trying to figure when I will travel to close them.

I am still holding out hope that I will meet my deadline of next week for the big project, but we might just miss it. The project will still happen, but I would love to make the announcement when everyone is together.

I am not listening to much new this week.

I bought RJD2's The Third Hand. It's okay, not great. Not as ghastly as that terrible Pitchfork review. I will allow it to grow on me. I like a couple of the songs a lot, and we'll see what happens as I hear more.

I also bought Apostle of Hustle, The National Anthem of Nowhere. I have loved every track I had heard, so I had to get it.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Texas Film Hall of Fame - Only in Texas

Tonight, I spent a very long 5 plus hours at a very strange banquet: The 2007 Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards.

The evening honored former Governor Ann Richards, who was a giant in politics in Texas, and a giant for the women of Texas. It is hard to overestimate her impact on the lives of people here. She had hosted four of these awards ceremonies, so her old friend Liz Smith hosted and the evening was sprinkled with rembrances by Lily Tomlin, Anna Deveare Smith (who I love), and others.

The night's first inductee was Richard Linklater, who joked about all the times he and Robert Rodriguez are mistaken for each other.

Thanks to the Statesman that tradition continues:

Bill Paxton was inducted next. He was very humble and charming. He spoke about the difference between being nominated by your peers in the industry and being honored by your home state.

Next, Betty Buckley who is most known for her amazing work on Broadway, was inducted. She was introduced by a still stunning Phyllis George who we saw before the dinner and looked as good close up as she did on the gigantic screens. Buckley spoke about the great tradition of Texas women, a theme echoed through the night.

Lance Armstrong appeared to induct the Dixie Chicks for some "soundtrack award." Armstrong told of one of the first "get well" cards he received after he was diagnosed with cancer: Ann Richards wrote: Lance, What a rotten deal."

The Dixie Chicks, well two of them, anyway, were there and were very moving in their acceptance.

The last inductee was Elizabeth Avellan, the producer of Desperado, Spy Kids, Sin CIty, Grindhouse, etc. (along with her now-estranged husband Robert Rodriguez). Her induction by the group she and Rodriguez had cofounded could have been all kinds of awkward. She handled everything very gracefully, thanking first God, then her parents, then her "partner of 18 years and the father of my 6 children."

She said that "filmaking is a combination of going to summer camp and going to war." That's one of the best descriptions I've heard.

It was a long evening (5 hours!). I bumped into some old friends, and M and I were the guests of some wonderful people, so we enjoyed ourselves.

TV Commercial - Jammin 105.9

I have seen this ad of the slightly geeky whiteboy dancing to NSync, etc. at least a dozen times. It must be airing during the local block on AI. Every time I see it, it makes me laugh.

I suspect it's a national clear channel ad.

In case it is not, enjoy it in all its glory: Jammin 105.9 ad

Thursday, March 8, 2007 Compilation

Austin Sound put together a compilation of 20 Austin bands.

It's a fairly comprehensive indie compilation that still managed to miss all of my local favorites including Driver F and The Black and White Years.

Definitely check it out.

"Jesse Jackson Is Not the Emperor of Black People"

If you missed last night's South Park episode "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson," check it out here on Comedy Central or youtube.

Andre 3000 - Rapping!

We've been OutKast fans since the very beginning. We own every single album. (Yes,even Idlewild, of which I really enjoyed half, typical of most OutKast albums.)

So I was very disappointed last week when A announced that he was "over" Andre 3000 because of all the singing.

Happily, I told him that Andre 3000 had been rapping on other people's projects.

While I haven't convinced him yet to reconsider, you should definitely check out the three songs below.

Devin the Dude featuring Snoop Dogg and Andre 3000, What a Job.
Originally from Spine Magazine.

Rich Boy featuring Lil Flip, Andre 3000, Jim Jones, Murphy Lee & The Game, Throw Some D's (remix).
Originally from Notes from a Different Kitchen.

Unk featuring Andre 3000 and Jim Jones, Walk It Out (Remix).
From Baller Status.

Wynton Marsalis on the Daily Show

Wynton Marsalis's appeared on the Daily Show last night.

I have not always been a fan of Wynton Marsalis's music, but I have a great appreciation for his ardent defense of jazz. A met him one night at the Elephant Room and they had an interesting talk. (A even told him why he stopped playing.)

I don't disagree with his opinion about rap (i.e., going from a drummer to a drum machine). From a jazz musician's perspective, the musicality of (most commercial) rap is frankly offensive. Not for lyrical content, so much as lack of musicianship. I had high hopes a few years ago that rap, even Houston rap, could succeed with tracks based on actual music. We did a couple of experiments, which failed. Of course.

Most commercial rap is club music -- the kind of songs we used to dance to until the wee hours when my friends were all single and hitting Fez regularly. Club music needs to be catchy with a propulsive beat. You can easily accomplish that with a keyboard and drum machine.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Amy Winehouse - Love is a Losing Game - Acoustic Version

Amy Winehouse should be much, much more famous in the US. She's a unique talent and she has a great voice.

I saw her video for Love is a Losing Game at about 3 am this morning. I think.

Here is a great acoustic version:

Amy Winehouse, Love is a Losing Game

Notes from a DIfferent Kitchen is streaming the video.

American Idol - The Girls - As Usual, Wow.

Jordin Sparks is adorable with a nice voice.

Sabrina Sloan gets a little lost as the 5th best black singer, which is unfortunate because she's really good. She sang a great En Vogue song and I really liked her performance.

Antonella was not nearly as horrible as usual, but I think it's because the background singers were so much louder than normal. Since Corinne Bailey Rae is not a great singer in her own right, she holds up well in comparison. Simon's not wrong.

Hayley Scarnato was pagenty and cruise-shippy. Yuck.

Ryan keeps setting up the performers with those manipulative questions "what are her chances of making the top 12?" you must take that personally?"

Stephanie singing Chaka Khan/Mary J Blige was a mistake. It exploited her lack of range (A: "it's not wide enough'"). Her high range is great, but it was a bad song choice. I like her, but she had pitch problems. She was behind the beat, and not intentionally.

Lakisha. Wow. She sang Whitney better than we've ever heard anyone sing Whitney on this show. Ever. I've heard it back a few times already, and I am just amazed. It's a favorite song and she did a great job.

Gina, I am just not feeling the rocker grrrl thing. I guess she's good? I don't know, I am not a fan. She doesn't have as good a voice as like Amy Lee from Evanescence to sing that kind of music. Still, it was good.

Melinda is so very good. She's a real musician and it shows. Best comment of the night: "you little tiger."

A says they should take all of the girls and four guys. I am afraid at least one of the black women will not make it through and they all deserve to.

A few mp3s for your enjoyment:

Whitney Houston, I Have Nothing.

Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige, Sweet Thing (live duet from VH1 Divas).

Video - Kings of Leon - On Call

This is the Kings of Leon video on which # worked a few weeks ago:

Free Audiobooks at LibriVox

According to Lifehacker, LibriVox is offering free audiobooks for books in the public domain.

I have a family Audible subscription and "books on tape" are great for solo hikes and long drives.

Definitely check them out.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Blog Round-Up - Cat Power, Arcade Fire, Jarvis Cocker, Supergrass

Stereogum has links to four Cat Power videos from Rolling Stone.

Music for Kids Who Can't Read Good instrumental Arcade Fire covers by the String Quartet Tribute.

The Indie Credential has a review a Jarvis Cocker show in Manchester and an mp3 of Fat Children.

arjanwrites has an mp3 of Louise Setara performing "Can't Stop the River." She's an 18 year old singer with a big, rich voice. I am interested is hearing more of her. She reminds me of those folky/bluesy singers my dad listens to. Not sure if she's my cup of tea, but I will give her another shot or two.

Idolator has a couple of Supergrass mp3s in honor of their tour with Arctic Monkeys this summer.

Brooklyn Vegan has a list of 11 Montréal bands playing SXSW.

I Guess I'm Floating has Illinois mp3s. I had never been that interested in Illinois, until I read this " Two of 2006's best albums, Annuals' Be He Me and Man Man's Six Demon Bag, both came crawling out of Ace Fu's arsenal and into the collective indie consciousness, almost completely out of the blue! And now it looks like they may have done it again, this time with the fantastic Ace Fu-debut EP What The Hell Do I Know? from Illinois."

Digital Underground - Underrated

Passion of the Weiss had a great post today about Digital Underground, whose great funky songs are largely forgotten by those who did not happen to be in high school or college when they came out in 1990.

One of the members had the only decent hip-hop radio show available where we grew up, and we used to listen to it to hear something, anything in hip-hop. Ah, a childhood in the provinces.

Anyway, Passion of the Weiss has "The Humpty Dance," "Freaks of the Industry," and "Doowhutchyalike."

My favorite has always been I Get Around, which features a young 2Pac.

Click below for an mp3 and buy Digital Underground on Amazon and iTunes.

Mp3: Digital Underground, I Get Around.

American Idol - The Guys - Another Bad Night

Blake Lewis is a clever, canny performer. I did not recognize the song or the band. 311? A recognized them as a mid-90s band, but I have no idea who they are. I wonder if they are like that Crazytown group someone sent me, amazed I had never heard them. Yeah, I don't listen to the radio. Ever. Unless someone recommends a group or I read a killer review, I have no idea what's out there.

I actually really like the John Mayer song Sanjaya sang. I bought it as a single on iTunes before Continuum was released. (Yeah, shut the hell up, I know it's corny and I don't care. Someday he'll fulfill his potential.) Sanjaya on the other hand, should go home. He has a nice voice, but he's not a good or developed singer.

Sundance -- oh, this makes me so mad. Seriously, he's going to sing freaking Jeremy?! Really?! He can't sing. I hate his personality, and then he's going to sing Jeremy. Hate. Hate. Hate. It's an appallingly bad performance, aping the original. His pitch was totally off and he sang it like the original, but worse. A just reminded me that there's something about him personally that we just don't like. Eh, it happens.

Chris Richardson singing Keith Urban. A: "Who's Keith Urban?" Me: "That Australian country singer married to Nicole Kidman." He seems like a nice kid. He's not a great singer, but he's likeable and his performances are more entertaining. Simon's comments were right on,

Jared. I have this theory about singers: R&B singers were often successful athletes. (Rappers, almost never.) I actually dialed the phone for him and Brandon because they are so obviously the two -- undeservedly -- going home. I think Jared's good, but Paula and Simon were actually right.

Brandon. Singing Rare Earth's I Just Want to Celebrate. (Yes, I googled it.) He has a decent voice, good vocal, control. He's a great backup singer. He just didn't step up, though it was fun. I voted for him, just because I think he and Jared are in trouble. A said he sounds like Corey Glover from Living Colour.

Phil. Rough, rough, rough start. He's really just not good . . . all sorts of flat and then sharp and then flat again. He'll make the final as cannon fodder because he had the baby during the audition. A: "He needs to go first. Before Sundance, before Sanjaya. He just needs to go."

Chris Sligh. Singing Christian music . . . he'll be around for a while, though I really don't like him. He's probably among the top 4 guys in singing. I agree with Randy that he was the best of the night, but that's a low bar.

If I had my choice, I would take Blake, Chris Sligh, Jared, and Brandon. Blake is the only one who has a real chance of staying for a long time in the final.

Television Without Pity has a great recap, as always.

A $20,000 Day

It's a bad time of year: everyone needs millions of things done before SX, plus all of the other non-SX-related actual business.

Posting may be intermittent while I keep drafting and drafting and drafting. And talking on the phone. And then drafting more.


On the good side, it's gorgeous out. Really gorgeous. Beautiful, bright, low 70s, no humidity.

Bankers I knew a decade ago referred to this as a "$20,000 day" . . . a day on which you would sell your house anywhere else in the world for a $20,000 loss, just to move to Austin.

More Feist Tracks at Noise for Toasters

Noise for Toasters has another great set of Feist songs up from her new album The Reminder, which is due out on May 1.

Monday, March 5, 2007

New Releases to Buy - Apostle of Hustle

This is another album I have been waiting to buy:

Apostle of Hustle is releasing National Anthem of Nowhere tomorrow.

I love the songs I have heard so far, and I am really excited to buy the cd from Amazon.

Here is a song I have not been able to get out of my head for months:

Apostle of Hustle, My Sword Hand's Anger.

30 Rock at The Source Awards

If you haven't seen last week's brilliant 30 Rock, you have to check it out.

New Releases to Buy - RJD2, Arcade Fire, Antibalas

Of all of the new releases this week, there are three in which I am particularly interested:

RJD2, The Third Hand.

I am definitely buying The Third Hand this week. The album is a bit of a departure. Two of my top 50 songs are RJD2, so I am willing to take the journey with him.

The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible.

I have heard much of this album bouncing around the web. It's good, and it's been getting mostly rave reviews. Still, the selling point for me is Montreal. Heck, I may wait to buy it until I am next there. (Hopefully in a couple of months, since it's still freezing there.)

Antibalas, Security.

I saw them at ACL Fest a few years ago, and we have a couple of their albums. I will definitely be picking it up.


I've been working on an extremely cool project for the past few months. (Someday soon, I will give you details.)

Today, I had a meeting with someone very tangentially related to that project, who has a different project that mines some of the same ground. It's a shorter-term deal, but an excellent opportunity to join together a few of my passions. Plus, it could open up a whole new line of business.

I can do both (my piece is more planning and less implementation), but I worry about the rest of the team getting caught up in one or the other and losing focus.

Another day, another big choice.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Retroactive Royalties for Webcasting

Wired has good coverage of the new rules on webcasting royalties released on Friday. The royalties are retroactive to 2006, which is outrageous, but not, unfortunately, surprising.

To stream 1 song to 1 listener:
2006: $0.0008
2007: $.0011
2008: $.0014
2009: $.0018
2010: $.0019

It is likely that the new economics will shut down internet radio and webscasting, or at least fundamentally change the business structure.

There is a chance for a rehearing.

Tales of Derring-Do - A Rescues Drivers From Car Accident

A just got home from a night watching a UFC fight.

On the way home, he saw an suv driving erratically, so he passed them.

In his rearview mirror, he watched the suv list to one side, swerve across 3 lanes, and flip over:

"So I bust a U, and go back to see what is up.

The SUV is on its roof and there are two hysterical bloody drunk chicks inside. I try to get them to calm down and stop moving, but they won't and they are trying to get out.

The front part is to crushed so I kick out one of the back passenger windows and get them to crawl to me and help them out.

The next person on the scene called 911. I get them to sit on the curb and be still until the cops get there. The cops ask me what happened and I tell them, they say thanks and tell me I can go, so I do."

Surprising in Austin: the police didn't rough him up a bit on g.p.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Willy Mason on BBC Radio 1

Willy Mason appeared on Colin Murray's BBC Radio 1 show this week.

You can hear the stream here on the BBC and the The Guardian has an article from a couple of weeks ago (hey , I am still getting caught up on my rss reading).

I posted about Willy Mason in Acoustic Hip Hop Covers and included his cover of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's The Message.

Buy Willy Mason on iTunes here.

Feist - My Man, My Moon and One Evening

I lost Feist, My Man, My Moon when my hard drive died a couple of weeks ago.

Thanks to The Hype Machine, I found it again on Blogs are for Dogs.

Click below to stream a live version of "One Evening" from The Black Sessions/Studio 105 in 2004. (Credit belongs to ryball, who exists no longer for providing amazing live performances.)

Buy Feist on Amazon and iTunes.

Gibson Guitars on the Hike and Bike

Gibson Guitar has put decorated guitar statues throughout downtown and the Hike and Bike Trail.

Like Chicago's "Cows on Parade" (1999), the guitars are all decorated differently:

One I saw at 10th and Lamar was covered in record store and band bumper stickers.

Another along Lamar is covered in disco ball-style mirrors.

Below are a few pictures I took as M and I wandered along the Hike and Bike on Town Lake a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Top Ten All-Time Favorite Songs

Ask someone to name his favorite song and you'll get hemming and hawing. Ask "what are your top ten favorite songs?" and you can learn something interesting.

My Top Ten All-Time Favorite Songs:

Angie Stone featuring D'Angelo, Everyday.
Ella Fitzgerald, Bewitched.
Dave Brubeck Quartet, Blue Rondo A La Turk.
D'Angelo, Me and Those Dreamin' Eyes of Mine.
Donny Hathway, Love Love Love.
Stevie Wonder, As.
dead prez, Hip Hop.
Charlie Hunter Trio, More Than This.
Al Green, Let's Stay Together.
Alicia Keys, If I Ain't Got You.

(At any time, one of these could earn a spot including D'Angelo's The Root and One Mo Gin, Donny Hathaway's Someday We'll All Be Free and A Song For You, Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto's It Might As Well Be Spring, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and Ain't No Mountain High Enough (with Tammi Terrell), The Pharcyde's Passin Me By and I'm That Type of N****, Tribe Called Quest's Left My Wallet in El Segundo, Stevie Wonder's Knocks Me Off My Feet, EWF 's After the Love is Gone.)

A's Top Ten All-Time Favorite Songs:

Charlie Hunter Trio, A Street Fight Could Break Out.
Various, Someday My Prince Will Come.
Medeski Martin & Wood, Shuck It Up.
Joshua Redman, Jazz Crimes.
Take 6, This Is Another Day.
Jane Monheit, It Might As Well Be Spring.
dead prez, Hip Hop.
Tower of Power, You're Still a Young Man.
Brian McKnight, Is the Feeling Gone.
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, You're All I Need.

Check out a few samples below, buy the songs on Amazon and iTunes, and add your top 10 to the comments (or email me, as I know you will).

Angie Stone featuring D'Angelo, Everyday.

D'Angelo, Me and Those Dreamin' Eyes of Mine.

dead prez, Hip Hop.

Stan Getz, Joao & Astrud Gilberto, It Might As Well Be Spring.

The Week That Was - A Valuable Lesson

I am tired of the "it was a stressful week" litany . . .so, this week, I am accentuating the positive.

My lesson of the week, month, year, relationship is that it's always better to tell the whole truth than try to protect your SO, friend, client, etc. from uncertainty.

Uncertainty is the bane of my existence. People come to me for answers and certainty, and sometimes, it's just not there.

Last night, T said "we're not children, we can handle it." And he was right.
(Thanks, guys, you really do rock.)

From here on, you all get the whole truth. Even if it drives you all as crazy as it drives me.

On the new music front, I am not that interested in the stuff floating around the blogs this week (Wilco? Really?) .

Except for Beirut and Feist.