Thursday, February 22, 2007
A co-worker recently gave me a copy of the "new" Beatles album, Love. I know it's been blogged to death, but I wanted to put the official Lost Things Found stamp of approval on it. Amazing.
First of all, to have the audacity to listen to some of the greatest albums of all time and think, "Wouldn't it be better if we put 'Back in the USSR' before 'While My Guitar' (as producers George and Giles Martin did) takes some real moxie. (Although if anyone was going to feel confident in this role, it would be George Martin, the Beatles' legendary producer.) What's so incredible is how the final product, rather than watering down the original impact of the music, makes the songs sound even MORE vital, even MORE revolutionary than they did upon first hearing. This album actually sounds like the complex solution to some huge cosmic riddle.
The feeling I get when listening to this exquisite mash-up of Beatles songs is something like the feeling all those rabbis must have gotten when they applied code-breaking technology to the Torah and discovered the names of famous rabbis throughout history.
Who would ever have thought that you could superimpose "The Word" onto "Baby, You Can Drive My Car" and they would create a new sound that's almost holy, like the ancient concept of the music of the spheres finally realized?
I know - I didn't really believe it either. All I can say is, listen for yourself. There is something otherworldly going on here.
Monday, February 19, 2007
My motto for 2007 (I heart 2007) dovetails nicely with one of my favorite songs ("Stupidly Happy") from one of my favorite albums (XTC's Wasp Star: Apple Venus Vol. 2<).
"Stupidly Happy" is currently the song of the week on XTC's MySpace page. Go there to listen to it in its entirety and read an interview with XTC's Andy Partridge about how it came into being.
My favorite quote from the interview?
"I guess, when I write a song, I sometimes have other bands in mind as a template. Not as a stealing thing, but you're doing your own little Sistine Chapel, and you use bits of songs by other bands as some sort of scaffolding to help you up there while you're doing your own thing."
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Happy Valentine's Day! Here is the official Lost Things Found 2007 February/Valentine's Day playlist. To get in the spirit of things, I included a lot of French jazz and pop and then threw in some very of-the-moment indie gems to cut the sugar. Enjoy! (Sorry I don't post mp3s on this blog - I'm not quite savvy enough yet! Maybe someday. In the meantime, search the songs out from the Hype Machine if you like.)
Happy Flower by Nellie McKay
Marilu Sous La Nege by Serge Gainsbourg
Autour de Minuit by Les Nubians
Heart Made of Sound by the Softlightes
A Mon Pere by Dany Brillant
Supreme Girl by the Sterns
Without You by Sasha Dobson
About a Girl by Chris Stills
Goodbye by the Postmarks
L'Homme En Noir (Pretty Woman) by Sylvie Vartan
Springtime Can Kill You by Jolie Holland
Heretics by Andrew Bird
Dance Me to the End of Love by Madeleine Peyroux
Bitchenostrophy by Rickie Lee Jones
Via Con Me by Paolo Conte
Scoubidou by Sacha Distel
Je Taime Moi Non Plus by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
Live Long by Kings of Convenience
The Best Days by the Softies
Make Me Yours by Bettye Swann
Monday, February 12, 2007
I have my issues with Sting, but you have to admit, the man sounds GREAT. If you missed the Police reunion on last night's Grammys, here's some video to check out.
It makes me proud to say, despite my love/hate relationship with the man, that Sting was my very first concert back in 1993.
Also, here is Christina Aguilera proving she deserves every accolade. The lady can blow.
And channeling Lady Day with white flowers in her hair, here is Beyonce singing a song from Dreamgirls. Not crazy about the arrangement, but again... the girl can sing.
But what the Grammys really reminded me of last night is how INSANELY talented Justin Timberlake is. I am not ashamed to admit that my friends and I went through a huge 'Nsync obsession when I was a senior in college (let me just repeat that - a SENIOR in college) and it was entirely because we could see the talent in JT even then. (For proof, watch this video.) And he has done an amazing job of developing that talent into something other-worldly. Need more proof? Check out this rehearsal of "What Goes Around" and then his duet with contest winner Robyn Troup.
It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog, but for me, the highlight of this year's Grammys was the amazing Corinne Bailey Rae/John Mayer/John Legend medley. As I said, an amazing time to be alive.
For all the complaints about the business of the music industry and the iTunes-induced fears of the future of recorded music and the criticism that the good music simply can't get made with all of the marketing pressures in the world today, a brief glance at the Grammy nominees/winners list should restore anyone's faith in the art of music-making.
I mean, come on - this years winners list includes Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, the Flaming Lips, Mary J. Blige, Donald Fagen, OK Go, Peter Frampton, John Mayer, Madonna, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Legend, Jill Scott... the list goes on and on and on and looks like the index from a very cool encyclopedia of rock 'n roll. And those are just the winners.
But don't discount the greatness of nominees Imogen Heap, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Corinne Bailey Rae, Sheryl Crow, Keane, Bruce Hornsby, Beck, Neil Young, Tom Petty, the Raconteurs... seriously, I'm pretty sure that no matter what anyone says, musically speaking, this is the best time to be alive.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Not that I agree with everything Rolling Stone says, but it's nice to see that they do occasionally back me up.
Like, for instance, my recent post where I defended my love of John Mayer by explaining that he's one of the greatest blues guitarists of the modern era? Well, for those of you who prefer to take your musical opinions from journalistic behemoths, check out the latest issue of Rolling Stone. Author David Fricke says, "Mayer is a pop star and a dynamic, accomplished guitarist with an electric-Chicago attack and melodic concision." Or, as I said two weeks ago, the real deal.
While you're there, make sure you watch the featurette interview/jam that's posted.
Update: While perusing the Grammy winners list, I just noticed that David Fricke, author of this article, was nominated for a Grammy for his liner notes for the Byrds' box set There Is a Season.
After getting the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die, (the picture at left is the cover of the Spanish language version - how cool?) I can honestly say it's going to be a while before I can cross them all off my list, but that's okay - I'm learning so many interesting things just by reading through it!
For example, did you know that Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" was co-written by Straits mastermind Mark Knopfler and STING? Who knew?
Or that Elvis Costello and the Attractions' album Armed Forces was produced by Nick Lowe, the same year that Costello himself produced the Specials' debut album?
That's just the tip of the iceberg, trivia-wise. I think this could keep me busy for a while.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
My list of desert-island discs changes daily - or so it sometimes seems. There are a few that remain on the list permanently, and an ever rotating collection of things I think I can't live without.
The thing I can't live without this week is Rickie Lee Jones. I even have tickets to see her at the Pabst at the end of the month. To prepare for it, I've been listening to her incomparable eponymous debut and the recent three-disc collection Duchess of Coolsville. The debut is a definite desert-island disc. 11 tracks and every single one of them great. From the radio-friendly hit single "Chuck E's in Love" (written about fellow musician and then-paramour Chuck E. Weiss) to the peppy "Young Blood" to the melancholy "Coolsville" - I literally cannot pick a favorite or even a group of them. The All Music Guide calls it "one of the most impressive debuts of a singer/songwriter ever" - and I couldn't agree more.
Once you've developed a deep appreciation of all things Rickie Lee, dive into the three-disc compilation Duchess of Coolsville. The compilation spans her career to this point, and includes most of her studio recordings as well as several live and demo versions. The AMG says, "It's everything a career retrospective should be and then some, and it places the artist in her proper context: as an adventurer with a fiery yet tender heart that expresses itself in song without reservation, artifice, or guile."
Along with Weiss and former boyfriend Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones really captures a certain west-coast-on-a-road-trip-to-New-Orleans vibe that brings to life the feeling of creative possibility that was the byproduct of 1970s isolationism.
Highlights of Duchess of Coolsville for me were the happy duet "Beat Angels," the Paris-in-the-1950s-influenced "Bitchenostrophy," the jazz-tinged "Satellites" and the positively ear-gasmic jam "Woody and Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking." And that's not even including the demos, every one of which is great.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Next in the Valentine's Day music series:
Nellie McKay's debut album, Get Away from Me.
This album is strange in the extreme, mixing cabaret, jazz, pop, and rap (yes, rap) to create a wholly unique sound. A lot of the songs sound like something out of a cabaret in postwar Paris, a little tarnished and quirky. But the real reason this is one of my favorite Valentine's Day albums is because of its bitingly ironic attitude toward life and love. In "I Want to Get Married," McKay sings, "I want to get married/ I need to cook meals" and "I want to exhume the gloom of my shallow life/ I want to be simple and honest and dimpled, 'cause I am your wife."
"Ding Dong" is a surprisingly peppy and appealing song about clinical depression, and "Clonie" features some of my favorite lines on the album: "Who knew I could look so good/ Just talkin on the phone to/ Clonie," and the "Mother Nature, don't you call her phony/ She's my clonie."
Guaranteed to put you in the right frame of mind for Valentine's Day.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Although it hasn't officially been released yet, the debut album from British phenom Lily Allen has been all over the internet since last summer, so I'm in the unusual position of being late to jump on the bandwagon of an album that hasn't been released. (In case you needed further proof that the Digital Age has peaked.)
Anyhow, AOL is streaming the whole album until next Tuesday, and I've really been rocking it out at work. Critics always use the word "reggae" to describe Allen's sound, which sort of turned me off intially. (I mean, come on... when has white girl reggae ever been a good idea?) But this is reggae as filtered through Blondie or the Police - reggae with a total 80s New Wave thing going on - it's so happy! You can't not bop along, even when the lyrics you're bopping along to are surprisingly sharp.
Also, check out Allen's MySpace page, and don't miss her as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live this weekend (Drew Barrymore hosts).