Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Yes, it's been a long, long time.

But I'm back for two reasons:

#1: I have finally purchased a DVD Recorder which allows me to take all those months and months of shows I've been saving on my fake-Tivo and record them on to disc and then put them in my computer and magically make MP3s of the tunes. And that my friends, is why I'm here today, to post the first batch of songs. I'm sure these have been on the music blogs before, but they are new to me and I suspect new to a few others as well.

#2: My books, I Wanna Make My Own Clothes and I Wanna Re-Do My Room, are officially out now. In case this is news to you (and it's not if you read my other blog) these books are part of a series I did for Simon & Schuster. They are DIY books for girls that will help them explore lots of craft projects without picking up big machinery or expensive tools or supplies. Good old fashioned fun and a terrific gift for that teen girl in your life (plus, it will keep her out of trouble this summer.) Please, I beg of you, and I hate begging, buy my books.

I Wanna Make My Own Clothes, By Clea Hantman

I Wanna Re-Do My Room, By Clea Hantman

Incidentally, if you yourself have a blog that reaches this audience of their parents and you would like to review my books, drop me a note via email and I can mail you a copy.

Now to the music.

The following music is from Austin City Limits, the television show. Both shows were terrific to watch and certainly there is a something-something missing from the audio that the video provided, namely in the case of the Flaming Lips show, balloons, adults dressed as giant animals, fire, confetti, a nun puppet "singing," fake blood and Steven's father on sax. Regarding the Wilco show you mostly just missed Jeff Tweedy looking a little worse for wear, crumpled and a bit mcgrumpled, plus close-ups of Nels smoking on his guitar. And that's it.

All Live on Austin City Limits

Flaming Lips, "Race for the Prize"
Flaming Lips, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots"
Flaming Lips with Chan Marshall, "War Pigs"

Wilco, "At Least That's What You Said"
Wilco, "Muzzle of Bees"
Wilco, "Hell is Chrome"
Wilco, "Ashes of American Flag"
Wilco, "I'm a Wheel"

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Heart of Gold My Ass

I could make a whole list of excuses. Maybe I will next time. But today I'm gonna write about my favorite show, and I'm not even a little embarassed to say it: Gilmore Girls. There isn't another show on the air like it, in the middle of the silliness and the Kirk-ness (oh I love him too) there is real storytelling with genuine emotions that are not always made-for-tv (OK, some times they are, but I won't nitpick my favorite show.) All in all, well-acted, well-written and well-scored! It's quite obvious to me that the creator Amy Sherman Palladino (who unfortunatedly departs now that this season finale is over) is about my age just by her music selections on the show. And of course the finale, featuring the Troubadorpalooza, was just another nod to the pop culture jollies that pervade each and every episode. Each and every week I'm wowed by a line or three, wonderful zingers that are funny and telling and so a part of the wonderful characters she has created with the help of some great actors (inclduing Liza Weil, who plays Paris and is pictured to the left with the Sonic Youth offspring, Coco). Okay I have bowed to her feet enough for now, I'm here to rock it. Below you'll find songs from the folks she featured on her last show, not neccesarily the songs from the show, just shows from those performers. I loved that Sam Phillips album when it came out. Listened to over and over and over and on and on. Joe Pernice? Yes. That was the nicest surprise. Also singing on the show? Mary Lynn Rajskub, comedian / actress / writer most known for Mr. Show and 24, doing a rif fon losing her Volvo. She also has a kind of fake band (well they've played, does that make them more real?) with another comedian / actress / writer, Karen Kilgariff, called The Girls Guitar Club of Greater Los Angeles. No mp3 alas.

Grant Lee Phillips, "Dixie Drug Store" (such a great song)
Sam Phillips, "I Don't Know How to Say Goodbye"
Sonic Youth, "What a Waste"
Sparks, "Angst in My Pants"
Yo La Tengo, "Autumn Sweater"
Yo La Tango, "You Tore Me Down" (Flaming Groovies cover)
Pernice Brothers, "Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)"
Pernice Brothers, "One Foot in the Grave" (Live on KEXP)

And though he wasn't on the show, he was part of this show, Neil Young. These are from 1971. Live. Can you imagine hearing his voice back then, live for the first time? It's so extraordinary and otherworldly.

Neil Young, "Heart of Gold"
Neil Young, "Needle and the Damage Done"
Neil Young, "Tell Me Why"

For great commentary on Gilmore Girls and TV in general, check out Television Without Pity. But only the recaps; those fanatics on the gripe boards are insane.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What Makes A Great Steak?

I haven't posted in ages on this site. I have been posting reguarly on my smALL AGES blog, but this one has escaped me lately. I just couldn't find the motivation. And honestly, I've been writing so much (new books!) that I can barely stay awake at night long enough to do this. But I was thinking I would try something new.

There is a Wilco song, it's called "Hell is Chrome" and when I hear it, the lyrics, it makes me want to write. I don't know if anyone else has that feeling for a song, but this song, it has that effect on me. (Affect? Crap.) The lyrics conjure such a story that I feel longs for flesh. It is about the devil.

So I began to write a story based on the idea behind the song. Or rather, what I thought the idea behind the song was, my own interpretation. And so I've decided to post the first chapter here. It's super rough, no editor and I need an editor. But still. If you actually read it, let me know what you think. Not sure you can see exactly where I'm going with it yet, but I know. Oh I know. Song posted at the end.

I would sell my soul for a voice like Kelly Clarkson.

Not that I'd use it like she does.

I mean, save for that one catchy cheese puff "Since You Been Gone," hers isn’t exactly music to my ears. I prefer mine less glossy, less made-for-TV. But that voice. It's soulful, it's sweet, it's girly, it's sexy, it's pure pop perfection. You could do any number of things with it: A White Stripes 60s redux with screeching yelps and knowing hip shakes. Or a tender reading of a classic that brings tears to everyone's eyes. You could don a guitar and rock out like Jenny Lewis in Rilo Kiley, drawing all the boys in with coy smiles and knowing glances. You could sing sweet alt pop with an electro dance beat that gets all the gay boys on their feet. You could sit at a piano and sing melodramatic pithy songs about your sad internal life. Or punch it up with a swinging back beat and turn out some cool blue jazz for the new millennium. And of course, you could win American Idol and go on to sell bazillions of records. If that was your sort of thing.

I once asked my parents if there was any musical talent in the family genes. Did they ever sing in a chorus? In church? Did aunt Thelma know how to play piano or did Uncle Jim play guitar? I would've gladly eaten up that my distant cousin Pete playing banjo at a backwoods bar, badly. But all I got was a simple "Nope."

My parents are non-conversationalists. Not non-confrontationalist, but they are that too. See, they don’t have conversations, as in two-way, back and forth, ping pong.

They talk, for sure. My mother barely takes time for a breath, but they don't engage each other. Or me. Or any one else I've ever seen.

My mother rattles things off, like she's writing lists in the air. And she gives you blow by blow commentary on whatever is passing by her eye at the moment. Like in the car, "Oh there's the bank, it looks open" (not that we were headed to the bank or even needed to go to the bank at all) or, "you can't park along this stretch of road here" (not that we were setting to stop there or anywhere near there.) And her favorite topic is the weather, as in "haven’t seen this much rain in three months. Or four. No, three." None of which is kindling for conversation.

My father tells the same dozen or two very limited stories over and over again. They're not of the great action and adventure variety. They're more about a great savings at Costco on six extra large cans of baked beans or his dog's irregular sleep patterns that force him up at 3 in the morning. I say his dog because the dog simply ignores the rest of us in the house as if we were not there at all. Always has the best seat in the living room, the one facing the TV. His focus is solely on my dad and I think my dad likes it that way. Not that you can tell. He doesn't much smile. My dad's speech is mostly comprised of "uh-huh’s" to my mom’s endless parade of non-sequiters. That, and the occasional canned dinner table talk: "This butcher always gets a good steak." So one day I confronted this statement, which had just been said for at least the 17th time in this, my 17th year, I said, "What makes a good steak Dad?"

He didn’t even look like he thought about it, he just said, "You know one when you taste one."

So I asked about the butcher, "What's his name dad?"

"Don't know," he replied. He didn’t even look up from his plate.

"Where do the steaks come from dad?"

"Couldn't tell you." See what I mean? There is talking, sure. But no conversation. And the non-confrontational thing, well if I had finished that little conversational attempt by tossing out "I'm giving up steaks, Dad, and becoming a vegetarian," he would have just nodded and given me his patented "uh-huh." No questions asked.

I used to think the house's stifling boredom was due to the fact that my folks are so much older than my friend's parents. Sort of like, they were such normal 50s-era Leave it Cleavers they were weird. People always think they're my grandparents, not my parents, which seems to neither bother them nor amuse them. But then I figured it out. I put my finger to the core issue, the driving or rather stagnant factor of my mysterious familial misery. It's this lack of communication thing. The omission of dialogue. It’s the non-conversation. How can you value opinions when you don't ever seek them? How can you value knowledge when you're not ever asking any questions? How can I grow up to be a creative genius when I live in the thicket of this?

I’ve taken to imagining their lives before they had me. Or re-imagining them in my own shadows. Dad played piano in a juke joint, one of those places that barely had four walls and smelled of stale liquor and nobody minded. He did this in the evenings after working all day as a neurobiologist, curing diseases and whatnot. I dreamed he was a perfect yin and yang of brainy brilliance and searing talent. I dreamed that maybe he didn't talk so much even then, but his silence was simply masking his deep-seeded internal struggle, what with all the neuro-stuff by day and hot bombshells after him all night. Plus there was that super secret spy work he was conducting 24-7 unbeknownst to every one except the tight-lipped handsome man in a suit that appeared out of the shadows every Tuesday. Now Mom I imagine was a basketball star (she's tall, she could have been) with a sultry voice that made all the boys hearts quiver even though she wasn't the best looking broad in her brood. She was dangerous, she was a risk-taker, she was the personification of intriguing. I suspected that she'd sneak out to piano bars after her own folks were asleep and sing for the sailors, her long legs only barely sheathed in luscious ruby red satin.

It's hard to keep this image floating in my head when I hear her honk in her geese-like soprano, "Slow down, there is that deer crossing up ahead on the left." The deer crossing we pass every solitary single time we leave our neighborhood.

Wilco, "Hell is Chrome"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

He's Older Now...
But So Am I.

I was so obsessed with Billy Bragg in my college years, when he made it over to the States I followed him around and got to see him play up and down the Cali coast. My love for him was due to my obsession with both socialist / leftist politics and Englishmen. The accent. Oh the accent. But it was his songcraft that was really at the heart of it. Below you'll find a couple of tunes from the KEXP podcast from SXSW and some others as well. I love the first song, "Greetings to the New Brunette," because besides riffing on James Blunt's hair, he talks about how while he's known as a political songwriter, "he did the mats on it" and really 3-1, most of his songs are romantic love tunes. And so romantic are they.

I'm not normally a poster of lyrics, mostly because I love them in context with the music and then they are allowed to swirl around us and be what we want them to be. But this song kills me.

Levi Stubbs Tears (Billy Bragg)

With the money from her accident
She bought herself a mobile home
So at least she could get some enjoyment
Out of being alone
No one could say that she was left up on the shelf
It's you and me against the World kid she mumbled to herself

When the world falls apart some things stay in place
Levi Stubbs' tears run down his face

She ran away from home on her mother's best coat
She was married before she was even entitled to vote
And her husband was one of those blokes
The sort that only laughs at his own jokes
The sort a war takes away
And when there wasn't a war he left anyway

Norman Whitfield and Barratt Strong
Are here to make everything right that's wrong
Holland and Holland and Lamont Dozier too
Are here to make it all okay with you

One dark night he came home from the sea
And put a hole in her body where no hole should be
It hurt her more to see him walking out the door
And though they stitched her back together they left her heart in pieces on the floor

When the world falls apart some things stay in place
She takes off the Four Tops tape and puts it back in its case
When the world falls apart some things stay in place
Levi Stubbs' tears...

From KEXP podcast from SXSW:

Billy Bragg, "Greetings to the New Brunette"
Billy Bragg, "A New England"

From Back to Basics:

Billy Bragg, "Strange Things Happen"

From Talking wth the Taxman About Poetry:

"Billy Bragg, "Levi Stubbs Tears"

And finally a political track, this from the Yep Rock site, a twist on Leadbelly's "Bourgeois Blues":

Billy Bragg, "Bush War Blues"

Some Velvet Blog posted on Billy Bragg a few days back. He's got two great covers, the first a Love track, "Seven and Seven Is..." from the Rubiyat compilation that had newer Elektra artists covering older ones (on this same double CD it had the Sugarcubes covering Sailcat's "Motorcycle Mama" which I will be posting on my other blog, smALL AGES this week thankyouverymuch Heather.) The other Bragg track SVB has is "When Will I See You Again," originally performed by The Three Degrees, from an NME compilation.

More about: Billy Bragg, Some Velvet Blog
Buy Billy's re-mastered collection of songs, here.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Lush over dubbed vocals make me smile

Course I don't know what this band sounds like live since I never get to go out but gosh darn it if I don't just love the recordings by band Pas/Cal. Silly name, what with the slash and all, but I don't care. I loved their EP, "Oh Honey We're Ridiculous" for it's glorious unadulterated snap crackle and pop. They even shout out some spelling, a la the Bay City Rollers in the tops song, "What Happened to the Sands?" They are currently recording a new CD and the band blog about the happenings and coming and goings here. Two demo versions of new songs were found on their website as was my favorite Sands song. Lush and pretty like Belle & Sebastian with a bit more '60s thrown in for measure. I'm surprised they aren't bigger but then again, they have only recorded two EPs and a split single. Still, the sound is glorious.

Pas/Cal, "Oh Honey, We're Ridiculous" (demo)
"The Glorious Ballad of the Ignored" (demo)
"What Happened to the Sands"

Pas/Cal's website.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Starlight Mints

Okay so I didn't post on Friday (both internet and brain malfunctions) and now I'm here on a rare Saturday when I should be playing with my daughter or baking cookies or something. I love Starlight Mints. Not because they sound a bit like Pavement (and the do) or that they hail from Oklahoma or they have a married couple in the band but because I love jungly jangle pop music that has weird orchestrations and instruments, I love a little flute and strings in my rock, especially if it's sugar coated and Starlight Mints, true to their name, are indeed breath fresheningly sweet. New CD due April 25th of this year, that's just a few weeks away. Till then, a new track and two older tracks recorded live at KCRW in 04, I think.

Starlight Mints, "Inside of Me" (from Drowaton, due out April 25th)
Starlight Mints, "Black Cat" (live)
Starlight Mints, "Brass Digger" (live)

Pre-order the new CD. And their website.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Girl Talk: Date Line

The Talking Dating Game. You learn about how to ask boys out and how to respond when boys ask you out. And it's a game. Genius. Or not. The game came with a cassette that you played while you played the game. Here is a reel of the "dont's" as opposed to the "do's in one long, fairly weird, hilarious and totally 80s mp3. Oh and my favorite is Joel because like me, he hates rainy days.

Girl Talk Game Losers

Wanna buy the game? They have 'em on eBay. This is from the geniuses at WFMU.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Trio of Duets

The latest Rhett Miller CD The Believer, features a duet with Rachel Yamagata called "Fireflies." I like it, and offer it up here, mostly for Rachel's last bit where she sings, "For the last time, I'm not your mother." And Rhett's still singing about "nineteen." It's a purty tune, nothing extraordinary but lovely just the same. I like that Rachel's voice isn't overly sweet here too, it's got a nice slightly drunken northern drawl. But for a real drunken drawl in a duet, I pick the Eddie Spaghetti and Kelley Deal track "Hungover Together" from the Supersuckers CD Must've Been High. My other favorite country-tinged duet of the last few years is by the band Blanche. Marrieds Tracee Mae Miller and Dan John Miller do a convincing job as, well, marrieds, who are treading into unstable waters on the awesome track, "Do You Trust Me?" (From If We Can't Trust the Doctors.)

Rhett Miller with Rachel Yamagata, "Fireflies"
Supersuckers with Kelley Deal, "Hungover Together"
Blanche, "Do You Trust Me?"

Rhett's Cd can be found here. The Supersuckers can be found on SubPop and Blanche is on V2.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Best Female Rocker?

My Old Kentucky Blog had this contest last week. Totally subjective, he admitted, but he asked people to write in with their "best female rocker currently making music." The answers inspired me to write an entry that offered up songs or pointed to the many nominees. I honestly don't have an answer to this, which is a little disturbing to me. But I like the following songs and many of the other suggested gals with guitars.

Jenny Lewis, "Rise Up With Fists" (live)
Cat Power (Chan Marshall), "Dreams"
Metric (Emily Haines), "Combat Baby"
Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Karen O.) "Maps" (live and acoustic)
Fiery Furnaces, (Eleanor Friedberger) "I'm in No Mood"
Neko Case, "That Teenage Feeling"

Others suggested included Dottie Alexander of Of Montreal, Elizabeth Powell from Land of Talk, teenager punker Jemina Pearl of Be Your Pet, Patience of the Grates, Regine Chassagne from Arcade Fire and Amy Millan of Stars (and a new solo CD). By the way, MOKB chose Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. What do you think?

Jenny Lewis
, Cat Power, Emily Haines, Fiery Furnaces and Neko Case all have sites too.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Guest Post: Megan McCafferty

Megan McCafferty had a hit with her book about high school student Jessica Darling called "Sloppy Firsts" in 2001. Megan's books totally have that John Hughes' "16 Candles" vibe... and I love it. How great is it when a book conjures up a hilarious, snarky and thoughtful movie in your head? Anyway, the third book in her sort of series is "Charmed Thirds" and it releases April 11th. Jessica is off to college, NYC and a world of uncertainty in this one. Megan was kind enough to drop us a line and let us know what she was playing while she wrote this book.

Here is her unofficial soundtrack to the writing of Charmed Thirds:

01 Please, Please, Please.../The Smiths
02 Synchronicity/The Police
03 In Between Days/The Cure
04 See a Little Light/Bob Mould
05 Pass Me By/Pete Yorn
06 Wonderwall/Oasis
07 Oh Well/Fiona Apple
08 Nothing is Good Enough/Aimee Mann
09 Dumb/Nirvana
10 Everyday is Like Sunday/Morrissey
11 Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town/Pearl Jam
12 (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding /Elvis Costello
13 Closer to You/Liz Phair
14 Somewhere Only We Know/Keane
15 It's Only Natural/Crowded House
16 The One I Love/David Gray
17 You and I Both/Jason Mraz
18 Here, There and Everywhere/The Beatles
19 Somewhere Down the Road/Barry Manilow
20 Leaves that are Green Turn to Brown/Simon & Garfunkel

As I looked over these songs, I realized that many are steeped in melancholy. Charmed Thirds isn't a depressing book (it's funny! I swear!) but I guess I needed to tap into feelings of confusion longing and (yes) heartache... - Megan

I have to say, Bob Mould's "See a Little Light" is one of my favorites. Thanks Megan. And also of note, Megan McCafferty does a "retroblog" - it's her genuine writings from her high school diaries posted anew for all to read. A genius twist on the blog.

Pre-order the book (it releases April 11th) now on Amazon.
Or buy one of her other terrific books.
Check out Megan McCafferty's own retroblog.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Buckley Live

Last minute decision that came over me as Jeff Buckley found its way into my iTunes mix today and I thought, yeah: I'm gonna post this Jeff Buckley single I have that has a live version of everyone's favorite OC hit, "Hallelujah." This is live from Bataclan, Paris, February 11, 1995. It's nine minutes long. The other track from this single is a different version of "Eternal Life" entitled "road version." I don't know how diff it really is, but what the hey. Just as a side note, the single was for "Everybody Here Wants You" from Sketches for my Sweetheart the Drunk and not from Grace. I found this single at an old job, it was left behind in a former employee's office along with some really, really bad music. Like one-almost-hit wonder hair bands. Odd, I thought. Hope you enjoy.

Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah" (live in Paris, '95)
Jeff Buckley, "Eternal Life" (road version)

Buy Jeff Buckley stuff here.
Oh and you can now post comments, I have fixed the settings. Thank you Guy.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Round 'Em Up!

Since I have been kicked out of the house for a few hours and am writing this from a coffee shop (how 20-something of me) I am just gonna sing the praises of other blogs and tell you where to go for the goods today.

Clever Titles Are So Last Summer has been doing a guilty pleasure thing for the last week. It started as emo-guilty pleasures but has devolved into popland. That means she's showcasing the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Britney Spears. Yippee I say! It's wildly embarrassing to admit, but that's the point of guilty pleasures, isn't it? My guilty pleasure really lies with Rock Star INXS loser Marty Casey's cover of the Britney song. So freaking embarrassing. So freaking guilty. My husband is cringing now. Not a guilty pleasure? Chapin Sisters' cover of "Toxic."

Betty at Best of the Bunch did a fabulously composed post on women musicians covering Nirvana. Wow. That's all I can say on that post. Just, wow. Excellent. And she's also got a handful of free tracks by women. It's all women all the time! Okay maybe not...

Were you once a shoegazer? Me neither. But my aforementioned hubby was. Motel de Moka put up a wealth of shoegazer faves, including Kitchens of Distinction, which is what I thought the name of the place I wanted to buy this giant stainless new stove was called, much to my hubby's amusement, but that place is actually Standards of Excellence. I think Kitchens of Distinction is a better name for the store and Standards of Excellence a great name for the band. But I guess it's too late for that.

Lastly, my other blog, smALL AGES, has the Rutles. You know you want it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The iPod is Shiny, the Music is Not.

I wasted no time and bought a new iPod, 30g with video, like I needed that. I'm such a gizmo whore and with none of the technological know-how to back it up. It's pretty though. Shiny. (No crumbs yet stuck in the click-wheel!) I could go on and on about American Idol, but Television Without Pity does such an amazing job, I think I'll leave it to them. Suffice it to say, and not that you care, or are even reading this, but I agree with them. And I found this related story to be hilarious.

Miss Derringer is the band I like today. I really should keep track of where I hear songs first because it was someone's blog. The song was "The Letter" and not the Box Tops' song either. Girl group vibe and you can tell if you've been here before, I like that. And then I did a little digging and found that their other songs had more of a rockabilly-flavored tang to them, and a little twang too, and I think I like those even better. They are dirty little ditties, although admittedly, it occasionally feels like fake dirt sometimes, thrown on for hell of it, for atmosphere. Hey, they're on Sympathy for the Record Industry and that should clue you in. Still, I like. Singer is Elizabeth McGrath, a fairly well known artist whose stuff is creepy, truly creepy.

Miss Derringer, "The Letter"
Miss Derringer, "Lordy"

They have a site. Buy the CD here. Elizabeth's art.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

R.I.P. M.Y. i.P.O.D.

So this week just some songs I've heard that I really like. Today is Marit Larsen, a Norweigian with the same birthday as me. Course I'm like way older than her, but still, we have the same birthday, and the same as Princess Diana. Or had. Anyway. You know her voice could so tread into that boring singer songwriter territory that I just don't get, but then the instrumentation, the little quirks, they make it go so beyond all that is ordinary. And now I cannot get this song out of my head. Then again, I love hand claps. The rest of her songs? Not sure I feel the same way. Not sure I even like them at all. But this one is just divine.

Marit Larsen, "Only A Fool"

I got this next track last week from a blog I cannot recall, but it's also on I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS this week, a great blog by a gal whose only fault is she loves Pearl Jam, otherwise she's got such wondrously great taste! It's the gentle-voiced Jose Gonzales with Zero 7 from the latters upcoming CD. This track has a vaguely 70s quality to me, it just reminds me of the best of my breezy hippie childhood in southern Florida. Maybe it's the vaguely CSN&Y vocals. Vaguely. Man this song is good.

Jose Gonzales & Zero 7, "Futures"

Anway those are my favorite songs of the week, the ones taking over my iTunes and not my ipod because that died yesterday. Alas, I think it's time to buy a new one.

Oh and I learned from Copy, Right that Threadless, the cool t-shirts by artists company, is having a $10 sale thru tomorrow AM. Wacky, hilarious and adorable tees for ten. Hit it.

Marit Larsen can be found at MaritLarsen.com while you can go to Zero 7's site here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me

One of the bigger blogs has beat me to the punch on this yesterday or the day before, but I've never been about competition, so I don't have a problem with it. Plus, he's got like a zillion readers and I'm happy if I got ten! So today's band? The Pipettes. UK girl group extravaganza, circa the 60s by way of tomorrow. This song is so catchy and fun and just ready for a party. The perfect song for a kiss-off mix-tape. And check the video so you see the whole package: matching outfits and dance moves. They are on Memphis Industries with other bands like Dungen, Go! Team and El Perro Del Mar.

The Pipettes, "Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me"

And the video you can find on the label's site, just go to the Pipettes page and scroll down.

Their web site. And more songs can be found on My Space.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Quickie: Sia Sings Radiohead

Short post. Yep, this is Sia doing "Paranoid Android." Don't know how I feel about it. It's from an upcoming CD called "Exit Music: Songs for Radio Heads" that releases April 18th. I think I prefer the Christopher O'Riley piano / instrumental covers as far as Radiohead covers go. I can view it as an experiment though. Her voice and what I like about it (the fragility mostly) doesn't really mesh with the chamber-music-ness of it all.

Sia, "Paranoid Android"

See Sia at SiaMusic.net. Pre-order this Exit Music CD at Amazon.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Petra Haden is now Jack B.'s Sister in Law

Or, just an excuse to post on Petra Haden. She's arguably the most interesting of the triplets (not that we need to compare, that's her parents' job - ha ha), what with her a capella Petra Haden Sings: Who Sell Out record and the Frisell collaboration (that's them in the picture). And I guess I hard heard this but couldn't exactly recall when: in 2000 she was in a coma after being hit by a car. She's obviously come out of it stronger and sassier than ever. She's a violin-playing / singing member of the Rentals and the Decemberists as well. OK, on with the music.

Petra Haden & Bill Frisell, "I Believe"
Petra Haden, "Thriller"
Petra Haden, "God Only Knows"
Petra Haden, "I Can't Reach You"

Find more at Petra Haden's site. Buy her music.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Heart Jeff Tweedy

But if you know me, or have read me, you knew that already. About a month ago many of the blogs were showcasing the new Loose Fur tunes. Yikes, I missed 'em. So I found the song "The Ruling Class" yesterday and well, yee-haw. I heard that one when I saw Jeff solo last month. Sooooo good. Cuz he's back jack, smoking crack. Who? Oh. From the upcoming CD Born Again in the USA. Another tune, "Hey Chicken" is floating around too, as is a "video" for it (really just lots of Power Ranger clips). See below.

Loose Fur, "The Ruling Class"
Loose Fur,
"Hey Chicken" (video)

And as a complement to yesterday's indie girl folk Tanya Lee post, I thought I would throw out an ol SF Seals tune with the lovely Barbara Manning. I think it goes along nicely with those.

SF Seals, "Still"

Did anybody hear the Ben Folds tune "Landed" on a Hilton commercial? Hmm. Check out more Loose Fur on Drag City. And of course, you can find Wilco at WilcoWorld.net.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Bad Boys and Good Girls

Tanya Lee Stone's book, A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl came out a month or two ago. It's a book in verse about a jock and the girls who have crushed on him, or worse, and how they leave behind messages, words of wisdom and such, in the back of the library's copy of Judy Blume's famous "Forever." Genius, right? Right.

I asked Tanya for some musical notes to go with the book. She listed off two handfuls of artists, all women, that they played at the book's release party and said a playlist featuring those very women would be the ideal soundtrack to the book. So I've picked a few songs by a few of her artists of choice and the rest have links below. Thanks Tanya! Now go get her book and read along to these tunes...

Liz Phair, "Little Digger" (live on KCRW)
Liz Phair, "Stuck on an Island"
Fiona Apple, "Red, Red, Red"
Ani Di Franco, "Origami"
Carole King, "Smackwater Jack" (Live in the Living Room - although not my living room)

Check out this fabulous video from Miss Apple for "Not About Love"
Or watch her on Craig Ferguson's Late Show.

Other artists that Tanya Lee Stone digs: Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt (who lists her favorite CDs of late, love that!), The Roches, Sheryl Crow, Dar Williams, and the Indigo Girls. And she's a Broadway lover too! She's a fan of Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald, Lea Salonga and Judy Kuhn.

Buy A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl on Amazon.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Songs About Boys

I'm still hurting from a headache from h-e-l-l, so excuse my late-half-post and my whining. This one is random for sure, but I am posting songs that have boy names as the titles. Famous boy names to be exact. I didn't cover boy songs that don't have boy names as the titles such as "Just Like Anyone" by Aimee Mann which I believe is about Jeff Buckley or "Hey Jude" about Julian Lennon. Got to have boy names as titles. So here goes.

All Girl Summer Fun Band, "Jason Lee"
"Bill Murray"
Bree Sharp,
"David Duchovny"

Know any others? How about songs about famous women? Have a great weekend, see you Monday, same place. I will have artists picked by the lovely writer Tanya Lee Stone.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I Like the Like

As someone who writes for teens and loves music, I'm so intruigued with the girls of The Like. I think they would make fantastic subjects for a novel. Tennessee, Charlotte and Z, daughters of rock Men, with their coy hipster stances and saucy lyrics. Anywho, I have their two older EP CDs which are now out of print. Each one features a song not on their first official release, Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? And so here they are.

The Like, "End of an Era"
The Like, "27 Days"

You can purchase the Like's Geffen release. And/or you can visit the band's site by clicking... now. They ave video up.

And by the way, my I WANNA books.com site is now up (although a few things are still coming soon.) But you can pre-order my June-release books. Hint, hint. Come to think of it, you can buy my classic tome, Hey Day: 365 Things to Do, Make and Ponder by sending me $10. That includes shipping. The thing sold for more than that in the bookstores, so hey, it's a bargain. Email me if you are interested. The Marketing & Sales meeting is over now.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Guest List: The Pursuit of Happiness

While this is the name of a pretty good CD by the Weekend Players, it's more importantly (to me, to Tara) the name of a new YA book by
Tara Altebrando. And she has graciously agreed to give us a little sneak peek inside the book by way of some music that inspired her work. This book actually releases today! So go pick it up. Hit it, Tara:

First, a little bit about The Pursuit of Happiness (MTV Books). It's about Betsy Irving, a teenage girl who's working at a colonial village, dressing up as a farm girl. Her mother has just died and her boyfriend has just dumped her. She thinks she's going to have the worst summer of her life but thanks to Liza, an oddball who works at the village, and James, a lanky surfer who works there, too, things don't turn out quite so badly. Liza introduces Betsy to the local beach party scene, and James, who's apprenticing at the carpenter's shop, starts to carve Betsy things out of wood. Inspired by him and by an art exhibit at the village, Betsy also discovers her own gift for silhouette art--cutting shapes out of black paper. I won't give away what happens between her and James...

So: I always have music playing when I'm writing and when I was working on "The Pursuit of Happiness," I probably listened to "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" by the Flaming Lips around 500 times. The whole mood of the book is dependent on that record's melancholy and drama. I think the song that stood out most was "Do You Realize?"; its lyrics can knock the wind out of you. There's one line: "Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?" It's heavy stuff but it's so beautiful. James plays this song for Betsy in one scene and the moment solidifies everything she thinks she's feeling for him. I think that when someone plays you a song they love and you love it, too, it's very powerful. I wanted to try to capture that.

U2's "The Joshua Tree" was probably the CD I played second most often when writing. That record came out the year my own mother died--like Betsy, I was sixteen--and to this day I can't listen to it without getting chills. I think the opening lyrics of "Where the Streets Have No Name" pretty much sum up what Betsy's going through: "I want to run, I want to hide, I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside." She's being forced to deal with this huge adult thing but she's a teenager and all she really wants to do is BE, or figure out who she's going to be without everyone's expectations weighing on her. Other influences or just cool songs that I think "go with" the book:

"IOU" by Metric. This song is all Liza. She has a kind of edge that Betsy only wishes she had.

"Thirteen" by Big Star. Really sums up all the longing and frustration of young love. You want to run away with someone and spend every second with them but you can't--your parents won't let you!

"Take You Home" by Dutch Kills. Before I met my husband, Nick, I'd heard his band, Dutch Kills. I once spent a week at the Jersey Shore, where "The Pursuit of Happiness" is set, listening to "Take You Home" obsessively while sitting on the beach. I'd just been dumped by my boyfriend and I would listen to this song and wish that I would meet someone who could write a song like it--a romantic. I met Nick soon after that, and now we're married. Whenever I hear "Take You Home" now it reminds me of our first weeks of dating, how exciting and terrifying they were. I think Betsy's experiencing a lot of that with James. I'd LOVE to be able to play you another song of theirs, "Godspeed," a seriously gorgeous song about letting go that I listened to a lot when I was writing, but it's only a demo. The band's recording it for real now so I'll let you know when it's done!

Lastly, "The Pursuit of Happiness" is a summer book. There are parties and roller coasters and surf boards; the sun does actually shine. I think the Strokes are a great summer band. They make you want to drive somewhere with the windows down. "Last Night" is a particular favorite.
So thanks for listening and I hope you'll check out the book!

Flaming Lips, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" (live on KCRW)
Flaming Lips, "Do You Realize?" (live on KCRW, too)
U2, "Where the Streets Have No Name"
Metric, "IOU"
Big Star, "Thirteen"
Dutch Kills, "Take You Home"
The Strokes, "Last Night"

*And for more Dutch Kills songs, check out their site, they have loads for download.

I agree with Tara regarding the Flaming Lips LP. I think it captures such a vivid, three-dimensional feeling from beginning to end. Anyway, buy her book today. Check out her website. And her My Space page. And fyi, she is also known as Tara McCarthy, the Tara McCarthy who wrote the siamese twin pop star book, Love Will Tear Us Apart! Buy that one here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

They Didn't Even Make Me Cry

Here is what I loved about the Oscars: Jon Stewart, even though he told stupid, canned Bruce Vilanch-penned jokes, Lily Tomlin, even though she did stupid, canned Bruce-Vilanch-penned schtick with Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams' gorgeous yellow dress and striking red lips and glamorous hair and stunning necklace and the fact that she must have given her extra seat to her Dawson's Creek bud, Busy Philipps, so that bitchin Busy Philipps (of the best show, ever, Freaks & Geeks) had a betta seat than the nominated Steven Speilberg, and later today I will Google "busy philipps + front row + oscar" and see who her date was (courtesy of Heath's extra seat, obviously) cause he looked familiar and lastly, Larry McMurtry's jeans (oh, and Jon's promise to wear overalls next year; see how much funnier he is when he's ad-libbing?) George Clooney's speech was reasonable and made me chuckle on the "Sexiest man Alive, dead of a freak accident" comment and was seemingly heartfelt as he mentioned the other actors in the category and talked movie history but overall, a boring night. No one even made me cry and it is soooo easy to make me cry. Everyone seemed to be in "actor" mode, as opposed to real people mode and well, it was snooze-worthy.

In honor of Michelle Williams looking so beautiful and bringing along Busy Philipps, I have posted a few tracks that were heard on Dawson's Creek so long ago. Now these songs have made me cry. Why couldn't the Oscars?

From Season Three, the best season:
Rilo Kiley, "85"
Rilo Kiley,

From Season Six, the suckiest season:
Beth Orton, "Thinking About Tomorrow"
Damien Rice,
"Blower's Daughter" (This version is live, from Carson Daly show)

If you can get your Real Audio player to work (I cannot), go to DawsonsCreekMusic.com to hear Busy, aka Audrey, sing in her fake band and even hear lil' Joey Potter (nee' the I'll-Never-Be-Mrs.-Cruise) belt a tune out or two. Oh, and I think I fixed my subscription thingy, so if you subscribed.... you should hear about it shortly.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Finches Bliss Me Out

I've been lurking around various audioblogs for awhile now and it's been fabulous for picking up alternate versions of songs, new mixes, live stuff... all of bands I know and love already. There is plenty on them about bands I haven't heard of, but generally, and I don't know if this is the record store snob in me coming out, I just haven't connected with them. With a few exceptions. And this here is one of them.

The Finches are a band of two out of San Francisco and I adore everything I've heard thus far. Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs (c'mon, that's a good name!) has the most charming voice and it sounds lover-ly next to Aaron Morgan's. I don't know much about 'em, but I tell you, when my iPod is looking to bliss me out, it heads straight for "The Road."

The Finches, "The Road"
The Finches, "Daniel's Song"

The name? I have mixed feelings. We had so many finches when I was young, my mother was obsessed with them and had them in tiny bamboo cages dangling from within a ginormous macrame wall divider. The things would tweet all day, all night. And when one got sick, they all got sick and died mass birdy deaths. And then we'd start all over again. But the band, I like.

I greatly encourage you to explore them on your own— start with their website and then head to their My Space page. You can buy their six-song EP for seven dollars.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Rachel Cohn Spins Tracks From Her Latest "Playlist"

I'm so darn elated to have Rachel Cohn, music lover and YA author, on board today. She has this new book coming out with David Levithan called, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. I'm so eager to read this one and the following only intensifies that desire. See, Rachel has graciously passed on her "soundtrack" for the book, along with the corresponding defining moments and emotions. I've posted MP3s for ten or so, the list is far too long to post 'em all, plus where is the joy if I take all of the hunt out of the process. So first, let's get the book's set up and then to the songs, from Rachel herself:

The book is about two 18 year old straight edge New Jersey kids, both obsessed with music, who meet at a punk club in Manhattan one night, and the book follows their adventures in the city across that one night. Anyone wanting a further secret preview to the book (which comes out this May) can read into the song choices below. I'm very partial to R&B and honky-tonk - David's playlist for Nick & Norah would probably be much more indie punk/alternative. But we're both suckers for great songwriting, no matter the musical style. And so, my NN playlist:

Frank Sinatra, "Come Fly with Me" (for Nick, Hoboken boy)
Marshall Crenshaw, "Rockin' Around in NYC" (for their once-in-a-lifetime night wandering around Manhattan)
The Jam, "In the City" (same as above)
The Cure, "Pictures of You" (for Nick, wondering what exactly the "cure" is for)
The Smiths, "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" (for Norah, who thinks their date is tanking)
Abba, "Take A Chance On Me" (for Nick's breakup desolation mix - and Norah's appreciation of his song selection)
Sinead O'Connor, "I Want Your (Hands on Me)" (for Nick & Norah's chemistry)
Beastie Boys, "Triple Trouble" (for their foul mouths)
Kasey Chambers, "Still Feeling Blue" (mostly just cuz I like this song)
Green Day, "American Idiot" (for Nick & Norah's politics)
Johnny Cash, "Hurt" (for when the night isn't going so well)
Rufus w/ Chaka Khan, "Ain't Nothin' But a Maybe" (does he/she like me, or what?)
Lucinda Williams, "Something About What Happens When We Talk" (for the high Norah feels when talking through the night with Nick)
Ted Hawkins, "All I Have To Offer You Is Me" (purely romantic song that I adore)
Toshi Reagon, "This Moment" (same as above)
Boyz II Men, "Uhh Ahh" (for when things get naughty)
Eva Cassidy, "Early Morning Rain" (same as above, though really only the song title fits - the song itself, kinda sad)
Rosanne Cash, "Fire of the Newly Alive" (for unexpectedly meeting that one amazing person)
Elvis Costello, "You Belong to Me" ('nuff said)
Shuggie Otis, "Ice Cold Daydream" (for the ice room scene - and because I love Shuggie Otis on any playlist)
Astaire, "L-L-Love" (fun pop song, title says it all)
Jill Scott, "Gimme" (again, title says it all)
Tony Toni Tone, "Let's Get Down" (for Toni the Playboygirl bouncer)
Aretha Franklin, "Something He Can Feel" (what Thom says Norah can do for Nick)
The Beatles, "Something" (the only Beatles song Norah claims is any good)
Ash, "Punk Boy" (for punk boy Nick and his boys)
Le Tigre, "My My Metrocard" (song Nick & Norah sing together)
Merle Haggard, "Always Wanting You" (song Norah hears in the cab that makes her cry)

Rachel points out that the list could go on infinitely. I have to say, this is a great playlist even without the narrative and I can't wait to connect the dots. Pre-order her and David's book on Powells Books' site or Amazon. Rachel Cohn has written Gingerbread, and it's follow up, Shrimp. She has written The Steps and it's just released follow-up, Two Steps Forward. And she's the author of Pop Princess. She's one of my all-time favorites. Thank you!