Saturday, December 22, 2007

All That I Want

Have you seen that charming JC Penney commercial where people are shopping on an idyllic street in the snow and a folky Christmas song about ships in a harbor is playing? Well that song is "All That I Want" by an awesome folk duo, The Weepies.

And over at, you can listen to an excellent live show they did back in 2004 in Cleveland. (Unlike in the past, now you can stream it right there on the page - SO convenient!) The show is excellent - a good, long setlist, excellent sound quality and cute between-song banter. (If they sound like an extra chummy folk duo, that's because shortly after they met and formed the Weepies, they also fell in love. In fact, just a few months ago, they had a baby! For their full bio, which is ADORABLE, visit their MySpace page.)

Highlights of the concert include "How Will He Find Me," "I've Got To Have You," "Vegas Baby" and the positively charming "All That I Want," which is destined to become a new Christmas classic.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

JPP Review: Feist, The Reminder

Over at Just Press Play, I just posted a review of Amazon's top album of 2007, The Reminder, by Feist. And no, Amazon, I don't agree.

The first 'graph:

Don’t listen to Feist’s album The Reminder with headphones on.

This time, that's all you're getting. For the rest, go here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Slowhand Christmas

Something about the holidays makes me crave the blues, and particularly Eric Clapton's gorgeous, honeyed version of it. My favorite modern Christmas song is his version of "Merry Christmas Baby" with Sheryl Crow from the Very Special Christmas compilation of 1999:

From that same period, "Cryin' Christmas Tears":

And as an added bonus, here's a clip from the Sessions for Robert J. DVD - my favorite song on that stunning album, "They're Red Hot" (ignore the strange syncing problem and just listen):

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday music that won't make you sick

I'm having trouble getting into the holiday spirit this year - I don't know what it is, exactly, but all of the saccharine Christmas music that I usually crave at this time of year suddenly sounds trite and suffocating.

So the WOXY holiday mixer is a real blessing - like a lot of radio stations, it plays all holiday songs, but they're all indie gems, deep cuts, rarities... All music that won't make you want run screaming from a mall. You'll hear holiday songs from artists like Rufus Wainwright, Fiona Apple, Matt Pond PA, the Flaming Lips, the Dandy Warhols... SO refreshing.

Cue it up and relax into the yuletide spirit on your own terms.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

JPP Review: Alicia Keys, As I Am

Oooops, posted this review a week ago on Just Press Play - almost forgot to cross-link it here.

As usual, the first paragraph:

At times, it seems like everything Alicia Keys touches turns to gold. At 27, she has accomplished more than most musicians can hope to achieve in a lifetime, including winning nine Grammys (so far) and selling over 25 million records worldwide. Her latest release, As I Am, continues the string of pitch-perfect soul/R&B albums that has defined Keys and earned her such a diverse fan base.

For the rest, go here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

LTF Playlist: Best of 2007

Remember back in the beginning of the year when my motto was "I heart 2007"? Well, now that we're in the home stretch, I can say with some authority that it has been a pretty good year for music. As the year-end lists start rolling in, I thought a new playlist might be a good idea, so with a lot of help from Paste's "Best of 2007" issue (I know, I'm obsessed right now,) I made a a new LTF Playlist that hits a lot of the highlights from the past 11 months. Artists include Amy Winehouse, Bright Eyes, Bruce Springsteen, Feist, Iron and Wine, Josh Ritter, PJ Harvey, the Shins... and yes, even Kanye West made it on there.

Cue it up at right and see if you find something new to love. I bet you will!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Better late than never

Ok, yes... I am a year late to jump on the Regina Spektor bandwagon. Yes, her album Begin to Hope was on the top of all the year-end, best-of lists LAST year. So I wasn't exactly ahead of that wave. But if you're in a similar boat, now is the perfect time to get into Spektor's music, which sounds like a Russian winter in music form. Seriously, what Tchaikovsky was to classical music, Spektor is to modern indie. There are elements of everything from traditional Russian waltzes to the Beatles (remember how the Russians used to go nuts for them?) to modern post-Soviet techno. And it all blends together seamlessly, tied up with Spektor's fascinating and accented soprano. (She comes from Moscow originally, by way of New York.)

A stunning album with too many highlights to mention. The album's ubiquitous single "Fidelity" is just the beginning. Ballad "Samson" is a current favorite of mine, but I have a feeling this is an album from which every song will be a favorite at some point.

Here's the video for "Fidelity":

And here she is performing "Samson" on the BBC's Culture Show:

What is it with Sweden and insanely creative music?

It must be the cold weather, but the Swedes sure know how to make interesting, cutting-edge and insanely creative music. The latest evidence? David Sandstrom & Co.'s amazing cover of Wilco's "Jesus, Etc." on YouTube. What a gorgeous, ethereal, haunting version of an already-amazing song.

I couldn't agree more with YouTube commenter lseymour, who said, "Who spiked the Swedish water table with magic music dust that makes all the music from Sweden so unbelievably good these days?"

(Thanks, Paste!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The wisdom of the populace...

The year-end best-of lists will flow in steadily in the next few weeks, and Amazon is early on the bandwagon, declaring Fesit's The Reminder the best album of 2007. But I think the Amazon customers top 100 is actually a little more interesting. The wisdom of the populace ranked Feist at 11th (a more appropriate placing, in my opinion) and included some real surprises, including Neil Young, Pink Martini, Lucinda Williams, and the Once soundtrack, as well as LTF favorites Patty Griffin, Wilco, Amy Winehouse and the Hairspray soundtrack. And that doesn't even cover the top 30.

I have to say, it gives me a whole new faith in democracy when I see that Joni Mitchell, Rufus Wainwright, Colbie Caillat, Spoon, Stevie Nicks, Elliot Smith, and Mavis Staples all made the American public's choice for top 100 albums of 2007.

Check out the list here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Singular Obsession: Holiday edition

I am pleased to announce that after a short musical dry spell, I have emerged with a new, holiday-themed singular obsession. This one came via the Paste Magazine Dec./Jan. music sampler.

The song? "It Really Is a Wonderful Life" by Mindy Smith. But you don't have to be a Paste Magazine subscriber to enjoy it (though why aren't you a Paste Magazine subscriber? Right now, they're offering a pay-what-you-want subscription plan!) Check out Smith's MySpace page to hear the retro-lovely, tiki-jazz-tinged holiday gem.

Just don't be surprised if you get the urge to listen to it over and over and over again. It's that infectiously charming. Happy Thanksgiving (a few days late)!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Finally catching up

Speaking of, they are finally catching up with me - three of the artists I told you about last summer are currently featured on their "artists on the rise" You Oughta Know feature: Sara Bareilles, Colbie Caillat, and Feist.

Ok, so Vh1 is a little slow on the uptake for Lost Things Found's tastes, but the good news is that as part of the series, all of these artists recorded live, in-studio versions of their songs which are available to watch online. As usual, Sara Bareilles totally blows me away - I just love her soulful, powerful voice. And the 3-part harmony intro on "Bottle It Up" is a really nice update. "Many the Miles" is still my favorite and this version is PERFECT.

Colbie Caillat's set is extra laid back - you can almost hear the ocean waves lapping in the background. And I really love the ringing, mandolin-like quality of the guitars.

And last but not least, Feist performs the now-ubiquitous "1 2 3 4" along with a couple more tracks. What I love about Feist is she never phones it in and she never performs a song the same way twice - this is the rockin' out version of "1 2 3 4."

There's a bunch of other unplugged stuff on the site, too - see if your favorites are there!

And remember, you heard it here first.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wilco on ACL

Nodding off to sleep last night, I discovered that Austin City Limits is showing an hour with Wilco this week - it was well worth the lack-of-sleep hangover today just to stay up and watch it. I love Wilco's albums, but I really believe they are the best live band out there right now. Nothing trumps a live Wilco performance.

Visit to find your local viewing schedule or go to the web site to watch selected video and and interview with frontman Jeff Tweedy. The ep features a lot of songs from their new album, Sky Blue Sky, which is excellently complicated and mellow at the same time. (Spin Magazine says it's "a near-perfect album by a band that seems, finally, to have found their identity.” I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it's good.)

How can you resist that lovely 3-part harmony on "You Are My Face"?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I can wait, I can wait, I don't want to wait's The Leak is currently streaming the new album from Alicia Keys, called As I Am. As with everything Alicia Keys touches, it is awesome. Highlights so far are "No One," "Tell You Something" and "Lesson Learned," which features John Mayer.

But don't take my word for it, listen for yourselves. That is all.

(Except for this: How awesomely Diana Ross-like does she look on that album cover)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

To another island in another life

Remember a few posts ago when I told you about the Old Navy commercial featuring Ingrid Michaelson's "The Way I Am" and I said the commercial didn't do the song justice? Ok, well, I have since downloaded the entire album, and the 30 seconds you hear while perusing Old Navy sweaters, as great as it is, doesn't even begin to hint at the awesomeness of this label-less album.

(By the way, I purchased the album through Amazon's new DRM-free download store and I cannot say enough good things about the experience. Finally, someone has freed me from Steve Jobs!)

I really love her voice, a hint of Lisa Loeb's little-girl-lost quality mixed with jazz phrasing is a perfect counterpoint to the rich folk-pop she writes.

Here's a couple raw live performances of songs on the album, but keep in mind the album sounds much fuller, richer, greater:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

JPP Review: Jeremy Fisher, Goodbye Blue Monday

My latest review is up at Just Press Play - this time it's Jeremy Fisher's debut album, Goodbye Blue Monday.

The first paragraph:

Alt-Americana has many pedagogues, but all too often they miss the mark by too carefully mimicking the genre they set out to honor. It can be limiting to compose mainly on acoustic guitar and find fresh ways to incorporate a harmonica lick or a tambourine backbeat. Those who try to adhere too closely to Americana’s strict mandates often sound derivative or throwback-y rather than emergent. Which is why Jeremy Fisher’s debut album, Goodbye Blue Monday, sounds so remarkably fresh and listenable – it’s alt-Americana without the heavy weight of reverence dragging it down, and he’s not afraid to stray from the traditional when it suits his sound. You’ll hear elements of early 1950s rock ‘n roll, folk protest, and mountain music woven in with more mainstream pop sounds as well.

For the rest, go here.

For your viewing pleasure, here is the video that started it all, Fisher's homemade stop-action video for "Cigarette:"

Friday, November 02, 2007

Still got some work to do

So those who know this blog know of my total admiration for and adoration of Fountain's of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger - I've said it before but I'll say it again: I think he is absolutely the best pop songwriter and producer working right now.

So it shouldn't have come as such a surprise to find out that he was in charge of most of the music for the Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore romantic comedy Music and Lyrics, especially since I specifically remember reading reviews at the time that mentioned how surprisingly good the music was from this otherwise mediocre movie.

I Netflixed it recently and completely agree with the reviewers - the music is surprisingly good (Schlesinger is no stranger to writing clever pop music for movies - prior to this, he wrote songs for the Josie and the Pussycats movie as well as the hit single from That Thing You Do! which went out to place in the actual Top 40 charts.)

But the best surprise to me was a track playing over the closing credits by the band America, whose comeback album Schlesinger was also producing around the same time as this movie came out. The track is called "Work To Do" and it's included on that album, called Here & Now (and also well worth checking out.)

But to hear it now, check out this movie montage of Music and Lyrics set to the song:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Xponentially awesome

Searching for a great mix of indie, new wave, classic rock and everything in between? I recommend the Xponential radio stream from WXPN - the University of Pennsylvania's unparalleled NPR music station. Recently played artists include XTC, KT Tunstall, Cake and David Bowie. Where else are you going to see all those names in one place?

While you're there, check out the concert archives for live sets from Rhett Miller, Martin Sexton, Rufus Wainwright, Andrew Bird, the Guillemots... basically everyone I've been telling you to check out all year.

By the way, this is also where you can hear the "Folk Alley" channel I told you about a few posts ago...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Lost Things Found!!!

One year ago today, I put finger to keyboard, drafted a loose mission statement and started the music blog we have all come to love - Lost Things Found. One hundred and twenty-seven posts later, it's time to celebrate that milestone with a customized LTF playlist! Click the FineTune player to the right to hear a sampling of songs I've blogged about in the first year of this little project. Everything from Cee-Lo to Sara Bareilles to Fountains of Wayne - from Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone to Spoon and Wilco. And everything in between.

I set out with this project to highlight music that I think is exceptional in one way or another, music I think more people should hear and love. And in doing that, I ended up with a pretty great playlist. So cue up the player and enjoy!

And here's to another year of beautiful, inspiring, exceptional music.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

JPP Review: Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit

I was gratified to see that people are digging my latest review over at Just Press Play - literally. (Last I checked, it had two diggs.)

What's the topic this week? The Life Pursuit, by Belle & Sebastian. As usual, the first 'graph:

In a topsy turvy music world where traditional "indie" artists are as likely to have major label record deals as pop royalty, definiting musical genres is quickly becoming useless. That said, Belle and Sebastian are as close to indie music behemoths as it gets, and this reputation has been built (sometimes by the band itself and sometimes by fan-created mythology) on Belle and Sebastian's trailblazing blur of musical styles. This is the true hallmark of modern "indie" music - not how big or small the record label, not how organic or contrived the trajectory of fame, not how earnest or slick the intention, but the sheer volume of musical influences evidenced in the sound.

For the rest, go here.

And, as a bonus, here is the video for my favorite song on the album (well, at least, this week's favorite), "Funny Little Frog":

And, for good measure, a former favorite, "Blues are Still Blue":

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Feel the happy coming back

There are a couple of infectiously wonderful songs being used in happy ads right now - the Icicles "La Ti Da" in this Target commercial:

To hear the full song and check out more from this Michigan band, visit their MySpace page.

And then there's Ingrid Michaelson's "The Way I Am," currently appearing in this Old Navy sweater commercial:

Frankly, I don't think this ad does this charming song justice, so here she is performing the song on Last Call with Carson Daly a few weeks ago:

For more, check out her MySpace page, where she discusses the intricate complications of "selling out."

But I say keep the excellent music coming, Madison Avenue!

Lapping up "Paste"

Well, I finally broke down and bought my first issue of Paste Magazine the other day and I think I'm in love. It says it covers "signs of life in music, film and culture" but it's heavy on the music and WOW - do they have amazing taste in music. Absolutely the best place to hear about the best of the best of new music plus overlooked gems.

But my favorite part is that every issue comes with a CD sampler hand-picked by the people at Paste - so everyone gets to benefit from their amazing musical tastes. I'm currently grooving out to the September CD sampler, which features 20 amazing tracks, including:

"Car Crash" by Matthew Nathanson
"Trouble" by Over the Rhine (Remember that you can listen to Over the Rhine's newest album in its entirety over at their MySpace page)
"The Minute's Gone" by PJ Olsson
"Get To Love" by the Old Ceremony
"Darlin' Do Not Fear" by Brett Dennen
"Through the Trees" by RF and Lili De La Mora

For more information on the CD samplers, visit the Web site. And for even more awesome recommendations, try "Paste Recommends." Or listen to their "Culture Club Podcast."

Seriously, I could spend hours here. Totally in love.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Listen with Flare!

I just discovered that one of my favorite retail web sites, Fred Flare, also has an awesome music podcast called "Fred Flare's Boombox." (Click the link above and then "Click to Rock.") There are about five DJs who create playlists of 10 songs or so - you can listen to each playlist as a whole or put the boombox on shuffle and hear a little bit from everyone. Fred Flare being based in the indie hipster capital of the world (Brooklyn), all of the music is very cool and of-the-moment.

I'm particularly digging on DJ Julie's mix this month - she included some of my faves from Feist, Belle and Sebastian and Wilco.

Check back - like a woman of child-bearing age, the boombox changes monthly.

Friday, October 05, 2007

JPP Review: Bruce Hornsby, Halcyon Days

This week's review is up at Just Press Play. This week, I chose Bruce Hornsby's 2004 release, Halcyon Days.

The first paragraph:

Bruce Hornsby may be a constant staple of the adult alternative charts thanks to his 1986 debut album which featured the smash hit "The Way It is," but don't try to box him too tightly - with each subsequent release, Hornsby has introduced a wider variety of influences on his albums, culminating in a collaboration this year with country legend Ricky Skaggs. On his 2005 solo release, Halcyon Days, there is a noticeable pastiche of styles, revealing the influence of everything from bluegrass to cabaret and musical theater to country, all rooted in the warm likability of the adult alternative Hornsby has always been famous for.

For the rest, go here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Remember when I blogged about What Made Milwaukee Famous back in July? Well, they're debuting a new album at a couple of pre-release shows in Austin tonight and tomorrow night. If you can't make it to the shows, this excellent in-studio performance for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic should tide you over. They sound awesome - tight and hooky and fun.

Check it out!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Apple Venus on a half-open shell...

"Then She Appeared" is currently the song of the week over at the XTC fan site on MySpace - go there now to listen to it and read an interview with Andy Partridge about how it was originally a joke song that got a stay of execution from a producer with a great ear and become one of XTC's most beloved songs (though Andy will always think of it as a joke, sadly.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kickin' Down the Cobblestones in Folk Alley

I always say there's nothing better than a mandolin in the morning.

Even though I'm having a fairly cranky day, this holds true - the luminous WXPN out of the University of Pennsylvania managed to put a smile on my face with their "Folk Alley" channel. They describe it this way:

"Folk Alley is XPN's NEW 24/7 music stream featuring a blend of singer-songwriter, Celtic, acoustic, Americana, traditional and world sounds. It is produced by WKSU in Kent, Ohio." (Having lived in Ohio for 4 years, I had to appreciate the shout-out.)

Just heard a few hysterical anti-Administration songs by Christine Lavin ("The Liar Sleeps Tonight" was particularly amusing) and a song from the Once soundtrack.

Cue it up and enjoy!

JPP Review: Aimee Mann, Whatever

The latest Just Press Play review is Aimee Mann's debut.

The first paragraph:

In 1993, amidst little attention, former ‘Til Tuesday frontwoman Aimee Mann released her debut album, Whatever. Until that moment, Mann was something of a one-hit wonder, known in mainstream America, if she was known at all, for Tuesday’s 80s radio hit “Voices Carry”. And while few people took notice of Whatever at the time, it signaled the arrival of a formidable songwriting force and a return to a solidly poppy sound that was suffering at the time. Against the backdrop of music that made up 1993, from the grunge of Pearl Jam and Nirvana to the hardcore of Tool and Sepultura to the angry-girl eclecticism of PJ Harvey and Bjork, Aimee Mann, with her jangly choruses, intelligent lyrics and solidly memorable tunes, sounded like she came from another planet.

For the rest, click here.

Ignoring how creepily, Clockwork-Orange high she looks, here's an excellent rockin' version of "I Should've Known " from 1993:

And here' s a cool behind-the-scenes doc from the Live at St. Ann's Warehouse dvd set to an acoustic version of"Way Back When" (it's bookended by part of a fairly nervous interview - pay no heed):

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New album alert

I'm totally running around like crazy right now, but I wanted to share a new artist I recently discovered thanks to Whitney and the always-awesome Pop Candy.

Jeremy Fisher's debut album "Goodbye Blue Monday" was released on Tuesday and if the four songs he's posted on his MySpace page are any indication, it's pretty awesome. I am particularly obsessed with "Scar That Never Heals" ("She runs guns, everyone wants guns...") It almost sounds like a Graduate-era Simon and Garfunkel with a really dark sense of humor. Well worth checking out.

Friday, September 14, 2007

JPP Review: Leona Naess

This week's contribution to Just Press Play is the self-titled album from folkstress Leona Naess.

The first 'graph:

Leona Naess has the kind of sultry, wounded voice that jazz legends are made of. But she is no chanteuse- in fact, there are very few jazz influences at work on this self-titled album, her third major-label release. She often sounds like she's had one too many glasses of Scotch, so her confessional style of folk-pop lends itself nicely to that atmosphere. Listening to this album, her third major-label release, it often feels like you just pulled up a bar stool next to her as she started singing her troubles. Or that you ran across her at a campfire and she pulled out her acoustic guitar to lament lost love into the night sky. The album sounds organic and warm, the sparse accompaniment allowing her distinctive voice to shine through. (A strong Edie Brickell influence is evident in the character of her voice, a sort of little-girl innocence mixed with the Scotch.)

For the rest, go here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Have some fun with it

Modern-rock god Elvis Costello is all the more admirable for being so humble, down-to-earth and funny. So I was totally unsurprised to see him admitting to a clever and creative prank:

"I recorded some new melodies for some of my older songs, and for a gag I recorded them on just a cassette player. And I didn't have a microphone so I plugged in headphones into the tape recorder, because you switch them backwards, they work as a microphone. I didn't want to be like a Luddite, so I put them on a CDR, and I put 10 of the CDRs in 10 copies of the 'best of' record that we released in April, and hid 'em in the shops in America, just to see whether anybody bought records anymore.

"And as nobody's found 'em yet and it's now September, I guess nobody buys records anymore. But somewhere somebody's gonna get a little surprise one of these days . . . They're gonna be in Wal-Mart or somewhere, and they're gonna buy one of these records and they're gonna discover a little free gift from me. . . . There's not enough fun with the business of music. It's all very serious. The record thing for as long as it's gonna last, it needs a little mischief put back into it." - Elvis, Sept. 7 (2007), in The Tennessean.

(Thanks Elvis Costello Home Page!)

Here are a couple of a classic Elvis performances:

The rebellious performance of "Radio, Radio" on Saturday Night Live in 1977. Costello was asked to perform "Less Than Zero," which he starts here before stopping and relaunching into "Radio, Radio." For this, he was banned from SNL for 12 years. (The irony to me is that they preferred he play a song about a man with a Swastika tattoo.)

Then, in a genius comic twist, Costello mocked his own rebellion on SNL's 25th anniversary special in 2000, interrupting a performance of the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" so they could perform the iconic Costello song together.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Song a Day

For the past year, I've been getting a daily e-mail from Page-A-Day Calendars with a different song recommmendation on it every day. I've compiled about 50 of the suggestions into a new LTF playlist, at right.

It's a pretty eclectic assortment of classic jazz, early rock 'n roll, vintage independent releases from the 80s and 90s and very current stuff, from Andy Williams to Bowling for Soup to Brian Eno to Buddy Holly. (And those are just the first four artists.) I guarantee you'll discover a song you've never heard before in this mix. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The right song at the right time

I know I'm supposed to have moral issues with the use of real music - particularly cutting-edge indie music or iconic, groundbreaking rock music - in advertising. Something about artistic integrity being mutually exclusive with the soul-lessness of trying to sell mass quantities of unnccessary products, if I understand it correctly. But I can't help it: if an ad is done well, it's like a beautiful little piece of art that makes you look at the world differently and appreciate a song in a whole new way as well.

That was the case when I saw my favorite commercial of all time, the (controversial) Nick Drake/Volkswagen commercial:

And it's also the case for this inspired and beautiful Sony commercial that features the song "Heartbeats" by Jose Gonzalez. I just love all those colorful bouncing balls and the song in the background:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Feist does late-night TV right

I often wonder, when I'm watching artists take on the circuit of late-night TV, why they don't try to do something more interesting, provocative or creative than just rehash a album-sounding version of the latest radio hit. Well, as if she sensed my criticism, Canadian indie rocker Feist has been putting in some awesome performances on late-night TV lately. First there was a peripatetic version of "I Feel It All" on Jimmy Kimmel:

The spontaneity and the improvised feeling really reminds me of the Take Away Shows I told you about a few months ago.

Then, to raise the stakes, she did an AWESOME version of "1 2 3 4" on David Letterman with a backing choir Rolling Stone refers to as an "indie-rock all star choir." It included members of Broken Social Scene, Grizzly Bear, New Pornographers, the National, Mates of State and Nicole Atkins & the Sea.

Why aren't more artists doing things like this?

You want some lovely? I've got some lovely

I just reviewed what may be my favorite pop album ever over at Just Press Play.

The first paragraph:

There are two kinds of people: those who love XTC rabidly, passionately, without logic, hesitation or reservation, and those who have never heard XTC. For those who have never heard of XTC, there is absolutely no better place to start than Wasp Star: Apple Venus, Vol. 2.

For the rest, go here.

As a bonus, here's an interview that explains why the album is called what it is:

"Wasp Star came along because i just didn't want to call it Apple Venus Volume 2, because it was a little lame and a little confusing. And I had a book of Aztec art. While we were mixing the record I bought this book of Aztec art, and found in there the Aztecs' phrase for Venus which was 'wasp star'."

There's actually more to the story, which you can check out here.

There aren't any songs from Wasp Star on their MySpace page right now, but there are a couple of excellent tracks from other albums, including "Summer's Cauldron" and "Mayor of Simpleton." Definitely check them out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Happiest music ever

Ok, I have a confession to make: I have been listening to the Hairspray soundtrack pretty much nonstop all month. I saw the movie on a lark thinking it would be a cute Friday night diversion and absolutely fell in love with its delightful camp, beautifully retro visuals and infectious happiness.

After seeing the movie twice in the theater, I finally broke down and bought the soundtrack and it's been in rotation in my life ever since. (It doesn't hurt that breakout star Nikki Blonsky is flawless in the lead role and her voice is SO strong and warm and full of character.)

You absolutely can't listen to this soundtrack without getting happier than when you started. Even the trailer makes me happy!

Here's a favorite song from the soundtrack, "Welcome to the 60s" (I absolutely cannot hear John Travolta singing "I'm the cutest chickie that you ever did see" without smiling):

It's not hip, it's not indie, it's not cutting-edge. But it's irresistible! And remember the mantra of this blog: No snobbery allowed.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The best mix tape I ever made

One spring night back when I was in college in Ohio, I got nostalgic for a lazy summer evening on the lake back home, and I sat down and made a mix tape to transport me there musically. It turned out to be the best mix tape I ever made, one I still take out and listen to many times every summer, even though I now live on the lake back home and there are plenty of lazy summer evenings to go around.

But in case anyone else is nostalgic to spend time on a porch swing in the twinkling night of a Wisconsin summer, here is the track listing for the Stardust and Fireflies mix:

Side 1: (Remember, this is a tape)
* Paper Moon by James Taylor (found on the A League of Their Own soundtrack)
* I'm Beginning to See the Light by Ella Fitzgerald
* Crazy Love by Van Morrison
* Summer, Highland Falls (Live) by Billy Joel (from Songs from the Attic)
* The Wind by Cat Stevens
* Dream a Little Dream of Me by Cass Elliot (of the Mamas and the Papas)
* Love's Recovery (Live) by the Indigo Girls (from 1200 Curfews)
* Summer Song by Greg Greenway (local Boston troubadour)
* Warm Love by Van Morrison
* Jim by Billie Holiday
* Pig by Dave Matthews Band
* Two Sleepy People by Art Garfunkel (also on the A League of Their Own sndtk.)

Side 2:
* Nightswimming by R.E.M.
* Bridge Over Troubled Water by Aretha Franklin
* In Another Life by Semisonic
* I Didn't Know What Time It Was by James Taylor (A League of Their Own again)
* Romance in the Dark by Billie Holiday
* Into the Mystic by Van Morrison
* Moonshadow by Cat Stevens
* Mystery by the Indigo Girls
* St. Judy's Comet by Paul Simon
* Someday We'll Be Together by the Supremes
* Pink Moon by Nick Drake

The tape is dated 4.22.00. But trust me, it's actually timeless. Happy summer 2007!

You provide the rhythm and I'll provide the soul

The newest Over the Rhine album, called The Trumpet Child, is currently streaming free of charge over at AOL Music.

If you haven't heard Over the Rhine yet, you're in for a treat. I have been a fan since college, when an ex introduced me to the husband-and-wife duo out of Ohio. I immediately loved them on the strength of Karin Bergquist's voice alone - lusty, full, and charming. The fact that they write consistently likeable songs as well is just icing on the cake.

Their style is an eclectic mix of pop, jazz, blues, Americana and cabaret. The first song on the new album sounds like a lost Tom Waits track - in fact, most of the album has a sort of Waits-ian appeal to it.

If you like what you hear, check out their MySpace page for a tour schedule, their official Web site and then have fun combing through their extensive discography.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

JPP Review: John Mayer, Continuum

First paragraph of the latest Just Press Play review:

"Since his debut album, Room for Squares, took the top 40 charts by storm in 2002, John Mayer has been working to convince us that he’s not a pre-packaged teeny bopper heartthrob, but rather an accomplished blues musician, singer-songwriter and all-around student of music. He made strides toward this goal with his sophomore release Heavier Things, but with Continuum, his third studio album to date, Mayer fully accomplishes that goal. He establishes himself as a musical genius and there is no looking back..."

For the rest, go here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Under the Covers

It's an excellent week for interesting cover songs. I don't know what it is, but there's something fascinating about hearing musicians reinterpret songs they've admired.

First and foremost there's the highly-anticipated compilation Guilt by Association where uber-indie rockers cover their guilty pleasures. I am absolutely enthralled with Petra Haden's a capella cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." Check it out at the album's MySpace page, along with two other tracks. There's a release date of Sept. 4 - I can't wait!

Then check these Yahoo! videos, where pop stars cover other pop stars' pop songs. Some of them are a bit safe, but I particularly enjoyed Natasha Bedingfield's cover of Maroon5's "This Love" - I have always loved the song and I like the stripped-down down of just Bedingfield's jazzy voice and an acoustic guitar.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

JPP Review: Ryan Adams, "Gold"

Just filed a new review over Just Press Play and have gotten some very positive feedback already. Loyal LTF readers already know about this album, but for those of you who would like a more in-depth examination of the genius of Gold will want to head on over and check it out.

As usual, here's the first paragraph:

Ryan Adams has worked hard to cultivate his reputation as the new “bad boy” of rock. But to listen to his 2001 release, Gold, he sounds more like a careful student of classic rock, a pedagogue of a truly golden era of rock music. Gold is the equivalent of his Master’s thesis in classic rock. The fact that it earned him as much acclaim as it did is a testament to his ability to learn the lessons of rock music’s past, and reconstitute them into something timelessly appealing.

For the rest, go here.

Here's a very cool, laid-back acoustic version of the first track, "New York, New York" recorded in Jamaica:

And here "Firecracker" gts the same Jamaican treatment:

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Stay Humble

Nashville singer/songwriter Tyler James hasn't released his debut album yet, so now is a great time to start loving him, while you can still see him in tiny, intimate college venues.

I mean, seriously, check out his list of influences:

"bob dylan, paul simon, paul mccartney, joni mitchell, rainer marie rilke, nick drake, neil young, tom waits, the band, woody allen, jaoa gilberto, bill withers, randy newman, david bowie, mark kozelek, wilco, beck, four tet, jesus christ"

Does it get any better than that? Not in my opinion.

Visit his MySpace page. Or better yet, watch this excellent short film that follows him on tour and chronicles a day in the life of a Nashville singer/songwriter who is working on his first album. The song is "Stay Humble." And I love it.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

TV on the Playlist

It's time for a new LTF playlist (at right.) This one's called TV on the Playlist, because it was inspired by my newfound love of the ABC ensemble drama Brothers & Sisters. The soundtrack is mostly mellow and acoustic, very heavy on the album closers. To round it out, I've included some songs from a former television love of mine, ABC's spy drama Alias, using the logic that many of the people who used to work on Alias now work on Brothers & Sisters.

Artists include Chantal Kreviazuk, Depeche Mode, Lucinda Williams, Nina Simone, Ray LaMontagne, and Jonny Lang, among many others. So flip through and find something new to love!

(And if you're curious, ABC airs Brothers & Sisters at 10/9C on Sunday nights or you can watch a few episodes on demand on their Web site. Check it out!)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Making us famous

Caught a rerun of Austin City Limits last week that featured Austin band What Made Milwaukee Famous. If you haven't heard them yet, do yourself a favor. Sort of an American version of the Guillemots, they feature a very catchy, clever mix of genres. On the post-ACL interview, which you can watch here, they cited everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis to Nirvana as influences. (For the record, their band name is derived from the Jerry Lee Lewis lyric: "What's made Milwaukee famous made a loser out of me.")

First check out my current singular obsession, "Sweet Lady," at their Myspace page.

Then check out this three-part live performance from 2006:

Sunday, July 29, 2007

MSN Video: Down at the Crossroads

Yesterday was Eric Clapton's annual Crossroads Guitar Festival, and while MSN supposedly has the video, in true MSN Video fashion, it is currently not working. So to tide us over until (if) that moment ever comes, here is a teaser highlight of John Mayer and Eric Clapton performing "Crossroads":

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

JPP Review: Rufus Wainwright, "Poses"

I've talked of my love for Rufus Wainwright's Poses before, but for those who may be new to Lost Things Found, or who may like a more detailed explanation of the genius of this album, check out my latest Just Press Play review.

The first paragraph:

Rufus Wainwright is a musician’s musician. As the son of quirky ‘70s folksinger Loudon Wainwright III, he is one of the few children of musicians to surpass his parent in influence, popularity and critical acclaim. His eponymous debut announced Wainwright as a unique talent, fusing his own style of pop songwriting punctuated by influences of folk, classical, opera, and musical theater.

For the rest, go here.

Here's a performance of one of the songs from the album ("Greek Song") from a concert in 2006:

And the incomparably beautiful "Poses" performed live, just Rufus and the piano:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Musicians" on Bravo

So far, this is the only proof I have ever been able to find that a program called Musicians did in fact air on Bravo in 2002. It was styled after Inside the Actor's Studio but with musicians instead of actors. It was hosted by Rolling Stone scribe David Wild, and it was beyond awesome. I suppose that's why it was destined to a short run.

Anyhow, it was a big factor in solidifying my love of Hall and Oates. Darryl Hall has one of the sexiest voices in recorded music today. And this is the only reference I can find to this program anywhere on the internets:

Where is the DVD collection of this short-lived but brilliant series? (In typing this, I realized that it is a prime candidate for, which, ironically, is now owned by none other than Bravo. Hmmmm...)

Forget your preconceived ideas: Joan Osborne

Ok,so remember a few months ago when I sang the praises of Joan Osborne's amazing vocal ability after seeing her perform on the Motown DVD Standing in the Shadows of Motown?

I was reminded of this when I was perusing the bios of the staff over at the All Music Guide and read the following in Thom Jurek's bio:

"Jurek believes that singer Joan Osborne is one of the most gifted vocalists of our time, but has yet to be recorded properly. His not-so-secret ambition is to co-produce (with Ms. Osborne) the album that proves it."

This is the expert opinion of a man who listens to lots and lots and lots of music for a living.

Still don't believe me?

Listen for yourself (and ignore the creepy French intro - I have no idea):

And because you know I can't resist Hall & Oates, listen to the amazing restraint she shows on "Sara Smile" (Most people who cover this song ruin it by doing too much - in Joan's expert voice, it's perfect):

And the video quality's not so good here, but this slowed-down version of "Midnight Train to Georgia" is exemplary as well (listen to how beautifully she handles the "Superstar but he didn't get far" interlude in the middle - rather than hitting the rhythm too hard as most people do, she almost whispers the melody instead... gorgeous.) :

Sunday, July 15, 2007

JPP Review: Fountains of Wayne "Traffic and Weather"

Latest Just Press Play review is for Fountains of Wayne's Traffic and Weather.

As usual, here's the first 'graph:

Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger is the hardest-working and most underrated pop tunesmith working today. When he’s not co-writing all of Fountains of Wayne’s songs (with Chris Collingwood), producing their albums, or playing keys, bass, guitar and singing backup, he’s doing the same thing for his other hugely successful indie-rock band, Ivy. And in his free time, he exercises his profoundly adept producing touch on such albums as America’s comeback, Here & Now.

For the rest, go here.

Here's the video for the first single, "Somebody to Love:"

And because life doesn't get any better than this, Adam and Chris of Fountains of Wayne sing back up on "Calendar Girl" with Neil Sedaka at a cabaret show. I love everything about that sentence.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Live Earth highlights

Finally got a chance to catch some of the Live Earth videos on MSN tonight. I was generally very impressed with the video and sound quality, though in true MSN fashion, the player is kind of a pain. (The links below will take you to the right concert, but then you have to toggle to the correct performance. There doesn't seem to be any way to link directly to the performance - argh.) Anyhow, here's what I'm particularly digging.

KT Tunstall performing "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" in New York. Very acoustic and funky.

Jack Johnson performing "Mudfootball" in Sydney. Still my favorite JJ song. Love that bongo rhythm.

Joss Stone performing "Tell Me 'Bout It" in Johannesburg. Man, this girl can blow. It's nice to see her looking a little more put-together, too.

John Legend performing "Ordinary People" in London. I like the stripped down quality of this version. Simple and powerful.

The Police featuring John Mayer and Kanye West performing "Message in a Bottle." Seriously, does it get any cooler?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

JPP Review: John Mayer "Heavier Things"

And speaking of electric guitars, I have another review posted on Just Press Play- this one for John Mayer's Heavier Things.

Here's the first paragraph:

Call it John Mayer's blue period. The title of his sophomore release is perfectly appropriate. It not only refers to his choice of instrument (from the largely acoustic ear-candy of his debut, Room for Squares, to the mellow, almost exclusively electric sound of Heavier Things,) but also to his lyrics (from Squares' wry wit to Heavier Things' more worldly gravitas.)

For the rest, go here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Where would we be without Les Paul?

A native of nearby Waukesha, Les Paul invented the electric guitar. And where would modern music be without it?

PBS is currently running an episode of American Masters dedicated to this groundbreaking pioneer of an instrument that is now essential to modern music. Paul originally made his name as a brilliant jazz guitarist before using his knowledge of electronics and acoustics to invent new recording methods and an electrified version of his beloved guitar.

The doc is a fascinating examination of a living music legend. At 90 years old, he is still full of the joy that music brings. Inspiring. Check local listings to see if it's running in your market again anytime soon.

Interesting factoid: Steve Miller, also from Wisconsin, learned a few chords from Paul, who hired Miller's father to sit in with his orchestra occasionally. Eventually, Paul invited a young Steve Miller to sit in with him as well.

All of Colbie

More love for AOL Music - now they're streaming Colbie Caillat's new album, CoCo, as part of their CD Listening Party. I've written of my love for Caillat's music before - hear even more of it now.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

More Sara

I just can't get enough Sara Bareilles this week - thought I'd post another song you absolutely must hear.

Here she is doing an awesome, grooved-out version of "Vegas" from the new album:

And an excerpt of her cover of the Beatles' "Oh! Darling" from Abbey Road. So much soul. Love it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Not a 'Little Voice'

Well, I am sad to report that I missed Colbie Caillat at Summerfest last weekend. Maybe next year.

But that's okay, because I've got a new obsession this week: Sara Bareilles. Her album Little Voice releases tomorrow but you can currently stream the whole thing at AOL Music.

The songs are impossibly catchy, full of great rhythmic hooks and her voice has a soulful fragility that is drawing comparisons to Fiona Apple.

To get an idea of her voice, check out this cover of the Beatles' "A Little Help From My Friends":

And to get a feel for the rhythmic hookiness of her music, here she is performing my favorite song from the album, "Many the Miles":

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

From the driving-with-the-top-down files

I recently got a gig writing music reviews for Web site Just Press Play. One of my first reviews is OK Go's Oh No, which coincidentally happens to be excellent summer music, particularly if you just got a sporty new car with a sunroof (as I did.)

Here's the first paragraph:

Chicago’s OK Go had built up a loyal fan following through their theatrical live shows long before the release of their self-titled debut album in 2002. That album combined unabashedly bright power-pop, campy, dramatic vocals, and a polished, high-energy studio sound reminiscent of the Cars...

For the rest, go here.

And because you can never see it too many times, here is that awesome homemade video for "Here It Goes Again" - the one with the treadmill choreography.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Where Cold War Kids meet Prince

I've posted a new LTF playlist at right - this one's called "Inspired by Bigelow" because I compiled it from a playlist distributed by upscale apothecary C.O. Bigelow Chemist. The list's compilers - Dineh Mohajer and Jeanne Chavez - seem to have combined 80s New Wave and cutting-edge indie rock. You'll hear Prince and New Order next to Arctic Monkeys and the Raveonettes, Joy Divison and the Smiths next to The Eels and Editors.

So sit back, flip through the jukebox and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bonnaroo Radio

If, like me, you missed music festival Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., last weekend, fret not. AT&T's Blue Room is currently streaming "Bonaroo radio" featuring live performances recorded backstage at Bonnaroo. (Click on "Listen Now" to the left and then toggle to "Bonnaroo."

There were TONS of great bands at the festival, including Wilco, Kings of Leon, Regina Spektor, Spoon, Fountains of Wayne, Feist, and Mavis Staples. The Police headlined.

I'm not seeing any archived video up on the Blue Room site yet, but I'll keep you updated. In the meantime, enjoy the stream.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A bit of 'Bubbly'

Colbie Caillat has a touch of the rock royalty about her (father Ken co-produced and co-engineered Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, among many other credits), but it's her stunning voice that won me over as soon as I heard her on Cities 97 this morning. No album out yet, but she has songs available for download on iTunes and you can listen to them on her MySpace page as well.

She's on tour opening for the Goo Goo Dolls right now - I'm toying with the idea of braving the crowds at Summerfest weekend after next to check her out.

The sound is warm, acoustic, jangly - and rising above it all is that honey-smooth voice that sounds both innocent and wise at the same time. Start with the single "Bubbly," but don't stop there - listen to all of it. Lovely.

Or check out this video of her performing "Realize" in LA:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Inspired by

I was attending Fleetwood Mac shows in utero, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that I am a huge Mac fan to this day.

Browsing around today, I noticed a cool feature on their music pages - Music You Should Hear, as recommended by other famous musicians. Basically, it's an artist's personal list of the music that has influenced them the most.

Fleetwood Mac lead guitarist Lindsey Buckingham is one of the featured artists, and his list is surprisingly eclectic, ranging from Chuck Berry to Eminem, and each selection features a very literate and thoughtful examination of that artist's place in the rock lexicon.

As always when I read a musician's list of favorites, I had more than a few moments of "I thought I was the only one!" The Drifters' "Save the Last Dance for Me," for instance, has always been a favorite of mine, even before I read, via LB, that its author was wheelchair-bound. (How unbelievably heartbreaking?)

After reading a recent Dave Barry column extolling the virtues of garage-rock paragon "Louie Louie," I wasn't surprised to see it make his list. And I am definitely in the camp that thinks that the late Beach Boys are VASTLY underrated, so I couldn't agree more with his assessment of "Surf's Up" as a piece of musical genius.

But the happiest moment for me was seeing my touchstone album, Joni Mitchell's Blue, listed as one of Buckingham's influences: "Joni Mitchell's genius was never more clear to me than on the album Blue," he says.

Other artists to compile lists include Elvis Costello, ">Rufus Wainwright, Patti Labelle , Mavis Staples and Maroon5.