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 BrilliantButCancelled.com, 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":