The Remy Caplan Playlist: A Manchester Soundscape

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On meeting my 24 year old cousin Remy Caplan (his mom and Uncle and I were raised like siblings) I used my usual litmus test and asked him what music he liked. I was impressed immediately and specifically when he name checked John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme which from “Acknowledgement“‘s three blast horn start and onwards thru “Resolutions” cathartic jam of faith cuts the listening public into two -those who love it and every one else. So i did what any right thinking blogger would do, i begged him for a mix. I thought I’d found a kindred musical spirit …

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The Grates At Mercury Lounge, Friday September 4th, 2009: the new, the Andrew Sisters, a good Sheila and the Bee Gees

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After Brisbane, Australia’s the Grates charming set at the Mercury Lounge Saturday night August 4th, 2009, lead singer Patience Hodgson jumps off the stage and into the stalls just as she promised she would. Patience doesn’t get far and those who greet her must have been surprised to find a budding pop star instead of being fobbed off with the normal “thanks for coming”. It is as sweet an gracious (and ebullient!) a performance as she has given all night and she doesn’t leave until closing band Tigercity hit the stage. It was a night filled with ebullient, graceful, catching …

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Joe Moss And the Smiths

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Back In Manchester, England I was able to excavate some personal rock myths I’ve dined off for years. Speaking with my cousin Ramsey Hammour, I confirmed that Tony Wilson was a regular at the private bar we frequented “the Film Exchange” though it was before Wilson had started Factory Records. Ramsey’s sister Shereen’s partner David worked at Hacienda as a bartender when he was seventeen and claims the place was exactly as insane as legend had it (I left Manchester before it opened). Ramsey remembers us knowing Marc Bolan. But more interestingly, my assumption that the Smiths had a connection …

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Electric Lady Island…

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If you are in town this weekend make your way to Randalls Island for the two day “Electric Zoo” festival. Saturday includes Everything But the Girl mainstay Ben Watt but Sunday is the keeped with David Guetta, and LCd Soundsystem’s James Murphy. Randall’s Island is a bitch to get to which is why I’m gonna pass. Still it’s an 11am to 11pm all day groove thang and if you wanna go you can take the ferry from East 35th street or do what i do, take the 4 train to 140th and a shuttle bus from there. Speaking of LCD, …

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Hank Williams Beyond Musical Labels by Mike Nessing

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Writer Mike Nessing takes on Hank Williams from a completely unique perspective. You say Country, I say Western. Let’s call the whole thing incredible.My biggest musical pet peeve is labels. I hate ‘em with a passion. This is a not an easy argument to defend though, because you need labels to discuss certain types of music accurately. Then there’s the whole promotion thing. How do you advertise tickets to say, a jazz festival without labeling it as such? It’s a lofty goal, but I really try to avoid categorizing music into anything other than “good” or “bad”. My reason being …

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Housmartins 4, Everyone Else 0

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August 2nd, 1999 and I am at a packed out Supper Club and the lead vocalist of two of the most English pop bands imaginable, Paul Heaton, is complaining of a hangover: “I spent all day in the hotel room watching soap operas and feeling sorry for myself,” he explained with a grimace. But it wasn’t effecting that sweet alto-contralto as he launched into the Beautiful South’s “Let Love Speak Up Itself”.I am a big Heaton and not just because the of the brilliat popcraft he has brought to the South but equally because of Heaton’s left wing 80s the …

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Motion Sea Sickness Changes One Bright Eyes

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We can all do with some hero worship, right? And while Armstrong may be my number one he never was the only one. In the early 70s it was Bowie, in the late 70s Costello, and right now my admiration for Conor Oberst, as anybody who reads this blog must be aware, is essentially unbounded. And I keep on feeling as if I have to explain myself, explain to you why I have great taste in music and i think he is a songwriting genius, a man of boundless musical curiosity and hopeless innocence and a lyricist who, when on …

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New Music Week Of August 31st, 2009: The Greatest Disappointment Of All

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I Look To You – Whitney HoustonMillion Dollar Bill – Whitney HoustonThere was a time round “My Love Is Your Love” when WH had gone from divahood to iconhood. Not just the voice but the material, not just the funk but the ballads, not just the range but the timbre, and the legs and the looks. Well, it’s always lightest before the dark and here came Bobby Brown swingin‘ his dick and making it all his prerogative and there went Houston in one of the most spectacular meltdowns this side of Michael Jackson. And here she comes again on two …

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Journey and Heart August 31st at Nassau Coliseum: Kick Ass Rock Bands for the over 50s by Todd Leibowitz

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Writer Todd Leibowitz Journeys to Nassua Coliseum and checks out the new Black Crowe’s recording: Lets start off with Heart. Ann and Nancy Wilson were incredible. They played a solid set for a little over an hour. All the big hits were done…”Crazy on You”, “Barracuda”, “These Dreams”, etc. They also did amazing covers of the Who’s “Reign on Me” and Led Zeps “Going to California”. I would of loved for them to play more. They were great. When they got off the stage, I told my wife that they could blow Journey off the stage. Lets see…. Then Journey …

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Blink 182 at the Comcast Center, Hartford, Co, August 29th, 2009: Frat Boy Banter by Helen Bach

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Writer Helen Bach and her friend Mary enjoy the gooey middle part in a night of boys rock. Bands playing:Chester FrenchTaking Back SundayWeezerBlink 182 Who doesnt love Weezer? Theyre like Devo with less technology and more self depreciation. When I found out last May they were touring with Blink 182 I fell off the chair. Finally, I’d be able to see them live. I am not a fan of Blink. Theyre frat boy banter didnt amuse me when they were frat boy age, and now as Dads.. its a joke. Almost borderline embarrassing. They can make music but the quips …

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Back In The USA

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This is such a wrong song to celebrate a return home!!! Written in 59 after Berry had spent two years in prison for breaking the Mann Act (taking a minor across State line for immoral purpose -a laughable charge), “Back In The U.S.A.” is another Berry travelogue though this one is seething with an anger not apparent on “Sweet Little Sixteen”. I think it was Greil Marcus who wondered why Berry was “looking HARD for a drive-in, looking for a corner cafe”. It was, of course, because he couldn’t get into most Drive In’s because of his color so they …

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Julie Burchill 2009

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When Julie Burchill was sixteen she was a little knockout in tight jeans, a leather jacket and a switch blade knife cutting up New Musical Express (“they thought teenagers were a figment of their imaginations” she opined. Thirty something years later she has written for the Face, the Guardian, and other big league publications, put on a ton of poundage, and found her writing style just about a cliche. But a good cliche -a smart as hell cliche. Though Burchill still doesn’t have the vaguest idea about music. At the outset of her new book, “Not In My Name You …

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Oasis Broke Up Today

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Oasis broke up yesterday after Liam Gallagher busted Noel’s guitars moments before they were to go on stage. Noel said he couldn’t play with his brother one second longer. How long do I give the divorce? That depends on whether Noel can make it alone or whether he is stuck playing Mick to Liam’s Keef for the rest of his life….

The UK Charts August 23rd, 2009: Dance, Dance, Dance to the Radio

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A quick scan of the charts finds French DJ David Guerta and collaborators nestled all over the damn place, the number one song in the nation is Guerta’s remix of Akon’s “Sexy Chick”a synth overload with all the hooks vocal and the rhythm broken up between drums and keybs bass. It dererves to be number one and Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling,” was also actually produced by Guerta. I thought Feeling was a remarkable feint from the gitgo -coming on like indie rock before heading West into dance, and it sounds even better on the radio than on the …

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Taylor Swift At Madison Square Garden August 27th, 2009: Fearless In Manhattan by Alix and Ali

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My friends Alix and Ali report from MSG: Dear Iman, Alix and Ali here. Taylor was simply fabulous. Once we got over the fact that we were dressed like all of the 12 years olds there with their mothers, we had an amazing time. Quick recap. She changed about 9 times. All cute sparkly dresses. She opened with You Belong With Me. When she sang Love Story it was the same performance from one of the awards shows with the castle and the quick change into a white dress on stage. She encored with Should’ve Said No and danced in …

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Soon…

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Top Of the Pops is no more but we are still gonna take a look at whats hot on the UK charts… soon

House Music Rules In The UK

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In the UK three decades ago soul music returned to the dance clubs from whence they came and today it is easy to forget how hugely popular that which we call mixes remains. I heard hardcore house on Radio One -the BBC’s national pop music radio station and wandering through HMV record store in Glasgow I saw rows upon rows on dance, club, dub, dj and house CDS. I recognized some names but not as many as you’d suspect. Some of the mixes will come from a single night club, some from a label, some from a posse of afilliated …

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Iggy Pop: Lust For Car Insurance

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Watching TV in the UK I was not surprised to see Iggy Pop dancing with his shirt off but I am amused to note he was hawking life insurance for Swiftcover Car Insurance. Their slogan: “Get A Life. Get Switchcovered”.Unfortunately, Switchcover are now under investigation for turning down actors, musicians and, er, Americans.Iggy gets paid anyway and after this years album of French Noir covers he’ll need the bread and the insurnce.

Miley Hannah Montana Stewart Cyrus and Reinvention In the USA

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The Miley Cyrus story is an American fable about reinvention. When the British first came to North America it was as a collection of skalliwags, thieves and lower class losers on the road to invent themselves as something else and as something grand. The American dream is the revrsal of the European dream, not of high birthplace but of high possibilities, not the rut of the working class but the movement of social mobility. 200 odd years later and the dream differs to entitlement of ability and is so socially inbred in can lead to hybrid and Miley Cyrus TV …

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Blood sucking in the UK

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A conversation with Hala (16), Kareema (12) and Miriam (8) tell me about music… IL: We had plans to see MJ together!!! How dya feel about his music? HED: still listen to him but not as much as before IL: How long ago were you a big fan? HED: When I was eight years old, his dance moves and moonwalk -that’s what intrigued me -just his dance. I was watching the “Motown 25”. Il: Now it’s all about Miley, right? HED: No… her music sounds all the same. Too poppy IL: MJ is obviously much better. So if not Miley …

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Leaving On A Jet Plane!!! I am in the UK for next ten days

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I am leaving to the UK for ten days today and will have limited ability to maintain my blog till I return Sepbember 2nd, 2009 but I will do my best to write any time I possibly can and will be back up and running before Labour Day. I’ve been doing this since April 23rd, 2009 and have been writing two to three full length posts a day as well as plenty of smaller ones -a ridiculous pace and inevitably with my own fair share of crap ones. Elsewhere David Adams, I would assume in disagreement with my negative take …

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The Playlist Monday August 24th, 2009: A Different Kind Of Tension

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Why Can’t I Touch It? – The Buzzcocks – One of the greatest bands of all times, I have been blasting this after noticing Pearl Jams version on their live album. Originally a b-side the lyric is a typically obtuse take on how life feels by the great Pete Shelly and, not unlike the 79 album A Different Kind Of Tension, it is tonal mood guitars and repetition of a minor riff as the verse? chorus? repeats and repeats. .Written by the band instead of the usual Shelley composition. Might I just mention I interviewed Shelly once and he was …

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Soon

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Juliet warned me. Hala warned me. Haylee and Emily warned me to… love Miley or die a fool, old man, they said. I will be entering no man’s land very soon and coming back to tell you all about Hannah Montana The Movie… no one here gets out alive….

Some Thoughts On Judee Sill’s Heart Food

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In the shadow of Mike Nessing’s memento mori I have been listening to Judee Sill’s Heart Food and one thing immediately comes to mind: this is an inversion of Ray Charles taking Gospel and making secular rhythm and blues, Sill’s was taking the singer-songwriter confessional and making Spirituals. Next is a disagreement I have in Mike’s opinion. Given the year it was released I don’t think “Heart Food” was hurt by its complex, unbelievably complex, still trying to figure out what on earth she was doing complex “The Donor,” songs or its highly polished for a struggling singer production with …

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Dirty Projectors Redux

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“Depression” off Dirty Projector’s 2007 Rise Above album was given a bare bones recording on daytrotter.com completely at odds with the choppy wave seasickness of the original. Mike Longstreth complains “there’s no girls who want to touch me, get away I don’t need your fucking sympathy” as Amber Coffman and Haley Dekel harmonize with eclectic disheaval . Awesome song and it’s free.

Kenny Laguna, Joan Jett and the other Runaways

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I loved The Runaways and had a king size crush on Cherry “bomb” Currie for the longest time though the one time I saw em live at CBGB’s they kinda suxd. Coupla years later I loved Joan Jett and rock and roll and interviewed Joanie for the cover of Creem and her manager Kenny Laguna was with her. Joan was charming and sweet and Kenny was loud and very, very funny and very, very tough.When it comes to JJ he is a cross between a mother bear with her cubs and a tarantula; her own personal Luca Brazi. As the …

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Almost Cut My Hair, Cut My Hair…

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Watching the Arthur Penn directed “Alice’s restaurant” starring Arlo Guthrie I was surprised I’d forgotten how dangerous it was to be a hippie in 1969. During one scene some not really red ncks at all, beat Arlo up and throw him throw a pizza shop’s glass window (Arlo rubs a pizza in one of the cowards faces, proof that love and peace will only get you so far) and the police jail him destroying private property just because he had long hair. In all my writing about Woodstock it was the x factor I’d failed to factor in. Being a …

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Iris DeMent at Highline Ballroom August 22nd, 2009: Songs Of Family and Faith

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The penultimate song of Iris Dement’s two hour concert at the Highline last night found the country singer-songwriter last night dedicating “My Life” to her daughter somewhere among the enraptured audience. The song was used at the end of the wonderful independent movie “Mr. Lonely” where a Michael Jackson impersonator, after falling in love with a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, goes to a private island for professional Chaplins and Clark Gables, watches the Monroe die, returns to Paris, and grief stricken looks at old picutres while “My Life” plays on the soundtrack. Well, of course it does. The Arkansan singer aches …

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The Roches Whisper In The Wind

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Is that a dulcimer I see before? Sure sounds like one and since the Roches best album Keep On Doing’s best song “On The ROad To Fairfax County” was written by Dacid Massengell -a folkie reprobate who knows his way round the instrument -listen his original for starters, just maybe the Roches third album, second with Eno’s buddy Robert Fripp producing, it would make sense. But I don’t think. This album is so minimal it’s possible they decided just about everything was getting in the way of Suzzy, Maggie and Terre’s harmonies. On “Fairfax County” a woman meets a Highway …

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WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE SHUT THE GUY UP

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Today in the New York Post Dan Aquilante had this to say about the Moody Blues Thursday at Radio City: “the rockers played a set that reminded the sold-out Music Hall why they’re one of the most important rock acts to come out of the UK.” Important? Compared to Emerson, Lake and Palmer maybe. Why Aquilante has a job is beyond me, he has zero taste in music. The bloke is useless.

LAST THOUGHTS ON WOODSTOCK

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This is what happened to the States: some foreign policy wonk came up with the domino theory: if one country falls to communism the next one will follow. instead of telling the world truth: Communism is perfect for small poor agriculture based economy’s with lots of, er communes, and sucks for every body else. The States got stuck in a war not unwinnable just not worth winning and were using the baby boomers -the largest group of teens and twenties in its history to fight the war through conscription. And the baby boomers didn’t want to fight it. Simultaneously the …

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Elvis Costello’s Talk Show “Spectacle”: Almost Me, Almost You, Almost Good

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Elvis Costello was making a mistake. It was years and years ago on “Late Night” with Letter man and he was pushing his album Spike and he was talking about a central song on Spike, “God’s Comic”. “God was wishing he had he given the world to the monkeys,” Costello said, with an ingratiating lean forward he hadn’t owned five years before and a twinkle in his eyes, “Dave, Pete, Mickey and Mike” he gleamed. Harharhar. As jokes go not the best but as told me the new user friendly bloody awful and the reason is Costello can’t tell a …

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Erin Muir: Somebody’s daughter

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Erin Muir is a singer-songwriter who left the wilds of Minneapolis (and what appears to be a vibrant music scene) for the mundanity of L.A. but she is forgiven because she is a great songwriter. A sort of Gothic Princess but not like black makeup, like a brooding Daphne DuMarier which is a touch too chick flicky except the strings are insane on the title track of her invisble new album (at least i can’t buy it and I would) The Poet’s Lovely Daughter. Muir’s calling card is a dusky and deep voice and the sexually ambigious lyric is strange …

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Kraftwerk by Mike Nessing

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Fun, fun, fun at the Autobahn ‘till her daddy takes the T-bird away. Or how I finally discovered the passion behind Kraftwerk by Mike Nessing The music of Kraftwerk had always struck me as distant, cold and calculated. It isn’t that I’m not a fan. I’ve heard most of their stuff and believe it to be great, just on a different plane. Music that comes from the brain and not the heart. I was very, very wrong. It required me to re-think it a little, but this music is as emotional and as heartfelt as any love song or for …

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PARAMORE’S BLISS

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Four years since perpetual power punk Paramore emerged from Tennessee, two years since “Misery Business” broke em big ,one year since the darker “Decode” made it to the Twilight soundtrack and yesterday since their new single “Ignorance was released. I thought they were disappointing at Summerstage last year, lead singer gave a preening, egotistical performance with a dollop of punk sincerity for good measure. “Ignorance” is the Paramore sound grown up: crunchy guitar, mid-tempo hard rock, but the song doesn’t have the bounce (though it has the darkness) of earlier material. So here’s the question: will they be Lindsay Lohan …

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Divorcing In The 80s: You, me, and all that stuff we’re so scared of…”

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Art is life is life is art is love and all that stuff we’re so scared off. Richard and Linda Thompson released Shoot Out The Lights in 1982 and went on a tour supporting the critically acclaimed album. Linda ended the tour and left their marriage. The same year and two years before his divorce, Elvis Costello released Imperial Bedroom. Fresh off Born in The USA, Springsteen released Tunnel Of Love, a year later he was divorced. The three albums are about sexual relationships at the point of maximum stress. They aren’t post-divorce albums like Here My Dear -rather they …

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When Every Night Was A Saturday Night Fever With the Drifters

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Remember the Drifters? Sure you do: tin pan alley, highly arranged first r&b and then pop vocal band. First with Clyde McPhatter leading the way they were covering stuff like “Money Honey” and later with mainly Ben E. King they had a string of crossover hits. From 59 to 64, from “Dance With Me” to “On Broadway” and seemed all set for the nostalgia circuit when… they went to the UK and became a disco band.  Johnny Moore, who had been the lead singer since 64 signed with Bell records. Bell records were a hit single machine in the early 70s. …

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Loudon Wainwright III and Family at Highline Ballroom, September 15th, 2009

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Loudon Wainwright III and his children Rufus and Martha Wainwright as well as the BRILLIANT AWESOME UNSPEAKABLY WONDERFUL folk trio Roches (get the Robert Fripp produced Keep On Doing if you have never heard them) will be there. Always great to see the Roches anywhere but this must be Rufus’ first Stateside concert since his opera debuted in Manchester, England this June and should be very, very interesting. Don’t miss it!!! Tell III to play “Dead Skunk”

daytrotter -one way ticket yeah!!!

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The other week I wrote a post about Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps -a Minneapolis band. Marie Lynn introduced them and where did she find them? daytrotter.com. It was while listening to Titus Andronicus on daytrotter.com I discovered one of the best bands EVER Spider Bags. Blind Pilot, Mi Ami, Ida Maria… heard them all for the first time on daytrotter…  Daytrotter.com is an Illinois based website who bring in bands to record at FutureApple Tree Studio 1 and download four or five songs on their websites that people can download for free. Recorded in analog basically live you …

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New Music Week Of August 17th, 2009: Modern Sounds Of Electronica

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I.D.G.A.F – Breathe CarolinaElectronica duo from Denver come up with the goods on this addictive pop crossover mover EXCEPT who is gonna play a song whose chorus goes: “I don’t give a fuck, I don’t give a fuck…” . Yeah, and bleeping won’t help. Maybe, re-record it, right? The two guys hit it with a cool sneer and it is really a place where Electronica can go and evolve outta the dancefloor and on to the charts. I got another song off the album as well, the title track, “Hello Facination” and it is really good. I’ve been writing about …

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Bob Harris And Me

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This is the most boring brush with greatness you WILL EVER READ!!! It came to mind because I was watching the Judee Sill youtube clip “The Kiss” and it came off an English BBC program from the 70s called “The Old Gray Whistle Test”. Old Gray was to hip music what “Top Of The Pops” was to chart watchers. The presenter was “Whispering” Bob Harris -a tall, laconic, quiet presense: bery father was a habadasher, graduate from cambridge, sorta bloke. “Old Grey” ruled TV rock till Tony Wilson came out with the hip young “Revolver” on Granada-TV. Wilson was the guy behind …

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“I WANT TO BE MILEY CYRUS LITTLE BROTHER”: JULIET LABABEDI’S PLAYLIST

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In a somewhat scathing review of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” back in April, I snickered “How much reassurance do young girls need?” Well, there is young and then there is young. My great niece Juliet Lababedi is going to be seven years old in a week and like all seven year old’s there isn’t enough reassurance and recommendation, and though my great-niece, is as self-possessed a young girl as you can imagine, if what she gets from a song like “the Climb” is a sense of life as a reachable goal, I applaud Ms. Cyrus on her achievement.    I never …

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WOODSTOCK CD 6: “The Sea Of Madness…”

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Suite: Judy Blue Eyes – Crosby Stills & Nash – It’s a shame Steve Stills is such an arrogant dick because some of the stuff he wrote with Buffalo Springfield and later with this band is pretty fucking awesome. This song is a real suite: it changes, the melody evolves with the song and the voices harmonizes gloriously. And this is a good version. I have a boot from their 2000 tour and I caught em at MSG and between the two I can tell you that despite their being some thirty years older in 2000 they were much better …

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