Thursday, October 26, 2006

Looking beyond "Monster Mash"

Halloween is rapidly approaching -- I thought a playlist might be in order. I tried to include songs that not only applied to the Halloween theme, but also qualified on their own musical merits. I also tried to find songs that weren't totally cliched. (Which is why you won't find "Monster Mash" on this list.) Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

1. "Superstitious" by Stevie Wonder
2. "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac
3. "Season of the Witch" by Michael Bloomfield
4. "Frankenstein" by Aimee Mann
5. "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon
6. "Black Cat Blues" by Buddy Guy
7. "My Beloved Monster" by the Eels
8. "Serpentine Fire" by Earth Wind & Fire
9. "Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo
10. "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads
11. "Witch Hunt" by Rush
12. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" by Jimi Hendrix
13. "Demon's Eye" by Deep Purple
14. "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult
15. "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne
16. "Thriller" by Michael Jackson

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Voodoo Music Experience

I have decided to save Part 2 of the Joni Mitchell posts for next week, because I just netflixed her American Masters profile for this weekend.

So, moving on...

My parents used to have a condo in New Orleans (they sold it pre-Katrina,) and as a result, I became a huge fan of the New Orleans music scene. (The last concert I went to was Dr. John at Potowatomi Bingo and Casino in Milwaukee in September. With my parents, in fact.)

Unfortunately, I am nowhere near New Orleans these days, but if you are, you might want to check out the Voodoo Music Experience this weekend. The annual festival features solid and up-and-coming national acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Duran Duran, the Flaming Lips, and Kings of Leon. But even cooler, the festival also features a full line-up of local New Orleans music. I would go just to hear blues maven Marva Wright's tribute to Mahalia Jackson alone. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Original Meters also have a special place in my CD collection.

Even if you can't make it to the festival, check out some of these amazing New Orleans musicians on albums that benefit Katrina rebuilding:

Our New Orleans - Various musicians, some local, some nationally famous, sing the songs that made New Orleans famous.

Sing Me Back Home - The New Orleans Social Club. Did you see these guys on Austin City Limits? Awesome.

Sidenote: One of the national acts performing at the festival is Blue October, who, despite having a moderately annoying press kit (which I learned when they played Hedgpeth in East Troy last summer) have a good song called "Into the Ocean" which I discovered via Pandora. Check it out.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Joni Mitchell's new album?

Rolling Stone is reporting that Joni Mitchell has a new album coming, which, frankly, is really exciting news.

For those who don't know her legendarily diversified and prolific body of work, here's a list of things to listen to while waiting for the new album.

1. Song to a Seagull - Her 1968 debut album is spare and beautiful, often just her guitar and her ethereal soprano voice rising over the implied hush of a Canadian winter. Highlights for me include Michael from Mountains, Night in the City and Cactus Tree.

2. Clouds and Ladies of the Canyon - These 1969 and 1970 releases, respectively, expand on the concept of Song to a Seagull and include some classic folk revival melodies, establishing Mitchell as a songwriting force to be reckoned with. She also demostrates her considerable painting abilities with the cover art. Highlights: "Morning Morgantown," "Conversation," "Willy," and "Chelsea Morning."

3. Blue - In 1971, Mitchell released this revolutionary, confessional album, written largely in Europe and incorporating the use of a new instrument to Mitchell's repertoire - the Appalachian dulcimer. All Music Guide says it best, "Unrivaled in its intensity and insight, Blue remains a watershed." It's one of my desert-island discs. It's probably in the top 3 of my desert island discs. Hear this album.

... To be continued.

Update: Remember the other day when I was talking about XTC's "You and the Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful"? Well, they have conveniently put that song up on their MySpace page, so go listen!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


The rebroadcast of the three-part documentary "Eyes on the Prize" - PBS's chronicle of the civil rights movement - inspired me to dig out some of my miscellaneous compilation CDs to fulfill a craving for 1960s gospel and spiritual music. (The documentary itself is full of great vocal spiritual music from the Smithsonian's Folkways collection.)

During that search, I found a Hear Music (that's the Starbucks brand) compilation called "Songs of the Spirit" that came out a few Christmas seasons ago. It's kind of a weird assortment of great traditional gospel/spiritual music and questionable folk and neo-folk songs.

But if anyone is looking for a good soundtrack to the civil rights movement, I would suggest some of these songs are a good place to start. I'll list the full track listing, with an * next to the traditional spirituals.

1. Abide with Me by Thelonius Monk Septet
2. In the Palm of Your Hand by Alison Kraus and Union Station
*3. People Get Ready by the Chambers Singers
4. The Long Day is Over by Norah Jones
5. Listen to the Shepherd by Jim Lauderdale, Ralph Stanley, and the Clinch Mountain Boys
*6. Freedom Road by the Blind Boys of Alabama
7. Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright
*8. Roll Jordan Roll by the Fairfield Four
*9. Weeping Mary by Word of Mouth Chorus
*10. Strength, Power and Love by the Soul Stirrers
*11. Amazing Grace by the Swan Silvertones
12. Orphan Girl by Gillian Welch
*13. None of Us Are Free by Solomon Burke
*14. Didn't It Rain by Mahalia Jackson
*15. Joy to the World by Pastor Patrinell Wright with the Total Experience Gospel Choir

Another song that came to mind during this documentary was "I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to Be Free" by Nina Simone, or really, any Nina Simone... including her Martin Luther King Suite.

Update: While you're at the Folkways Web site, download the 24 one-hour podcasts - a collection of old-time music, spoken word and sound recordings from the landmark project of American music.

For the love of XTC

A very overcast sky on my way to work this morning made me think of one of my favorite albums of all time, XTC's Wasp Star: Apple Venus, Vol. 2, and specifically the song "You and the Clouds Will Still be Beautiful."

When I first heard this album (thanks to the Gilmore Girls, reinforcing the point that you just never know where good music is going to turn up,) it was like falling in love with someone new... every time I heard this song, I got the same, stupidly warm glow you get when someone you want to make out with smiles at you from across a room.

I can't recommend it highly enough.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mission statement

Did you ever have a friend that always had great music recommendations, always knew the next hot band before anyone had heard of them, or loved a classic album that suddenly sounded amazingly fresh?

Welcome to Lost Things Found, the online version of that friend.

This is not a hipster music-critic blog. I'm not that interested in the newest indie buzz bands unless the music is amazing, and no matter how overexposed a song is ... a good song is a good song. I will defend the vocal harmonies of N'Sync to this day. People who love music, who really love music, know that there is no such thing as bad music.

So here is where you will find a collection of artists, songs, albums and micellaneous music-related news that ignores what is hip to bring you what is good.

I believe that every endeavor needs a mission statement, so here are a few guiding principles to get us started:

1. There is no such thing as bad music, only music whose time hasn't come yet ... or whose time passed a long, long time ago.

2. "Music - if it sounds good, it is good." - Duke Ellington

3. Good music can turn up anywhere, from television shows and mainstream radio to dollar vinyl bins at flea markets and rummage sales.

4. You can appreciate something about a song, album or artist without actually 'liking' that song, album or artist.

5. Music taste is always changing, so something that sounded stale or avant garde last month may suddenly sound revolutionary. Constantly re-evaluate.

So keep your eye on Lost Things Found for all things music-related ... and feel free to add your own opinions and recommendations, too.