Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Dad Requested...

that I figure out what songs were in the movie Reign Over Me (w/ Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle) and put together a CD for him for his next gift. He said the movie was just OK, but that the music was great and that the official soundtrack didn't have the real music from the movie. Guess they didn't want to pay licensing fees, etc. I haven't even seen the movie myself, but with a little internet research, I found the list of songs in the movie. And I have to say it really did have some excellent music. Good job, Dad. YouTubes below are for Pearl Jam's cover of "Love Reign O'er Me" and the UK band Embrace's uplifting "Ashes". I'm actually surprised "Ashes" never broke the US pop charts.

1. Love Reign O'er Me - The Who
2. Simple Man - Graham Nash
3. Out in the Street - Bruce Springsteen
4. Drive All Night - Bruce Springsteen
5. Birds of St. Marks - Jackson Browne
6. Stop Your Sobbing - The Pretenders
7. How to Save a Life - The Fray
8. All These Things That I've Done - The Killers
9. Ashes - Embrace
10. In This Life - Chantal Kreviazuk
11. Lean on Me - Bill Withers
12. I Ain't Got Nobody (I used the Fats Waller version for my dad's CD)
13. I'm Old Fashioned (I used the Ella Fitzgerald version)
14. Hoop-Dee-Doo (I used the Perry Como version)
14. Love Reign O'er Me - Pearl Jam

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Bro-In-Law Requests

Mario's "Go" worth the long wait? Well, it's a good album. I'm not jumping up and down, though, and you know I'm very capable of that kind of response to new music. There are definitely some very good songs (esp. "Music For Love"), but none tops "Kryptonite", the clear standout track, which I've already been listening to for months and months now.

Mario has a very strong voice. When I listen to all the songs as a unit, though, I get really bored.

Also, someone decided he needed to sex himself up a lot on this one to compete with R. Kelly and Akon. "Let Me Watch" doesn't really add anything to this album. I love "I Wanna [Love] You" and "Freaky in the Club" in spite of their lyrics - it's not just that I'm a self-respecting female. Mario is just much better* when he's going for old-school, inspirational ballad R. Kelly (as in "Do Right") than when he's aiming for (um, ok, probable) sex-offender R. Kelly. Ironically, Akon produced "Do Right". Someone's got to fill that niche now that R. Kelly's left it behind.

*Ok, ok, "Go" - another kinky track on this album - is hot. I think we can thank the Neptunes.

Must buys - and these sound even better when you don't listen to them as part of the album overall:
1. Kryptonite
2. Music for Love
3. Do Right (this will do well on pop radio - moms will dig it)
4. Go (produced by the Neptunes)

Other memorable songs:
5. Crying Out For Me (but you know that)
6. Skippin'
7. How Do I Breathe (the first single, but I don't know... I go back & forth on this one. This song bores me.)
8. No Definition (Timbaland produced - not Tim's best, but it's ok)
9. Right and a Wrong Way (good cover of Keith Sweat)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hallelujah for Martin Sexton

This song makes the world all right. It will still all your December chaos for a moment. There's another slower version on his excellent Live Wide Open album, also gorgeous and raw.

RMW and I finally went to see him play in person last night. More later - super busy day/night today... but, please PLEASE go to one of his live shows if you ever get a chance. I walked into Roseland feeling distracted, buzzing around myself instead of anchored safely inside. I walked out feeling connected to my soul and humanness again. Yeah, I guess music -- well, and art more broadly -- is my religion, my truth.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Man I Miss The Daily Show on News Days Like Yesterday


"Q Mr. President, thank you. I'd like to follow on that. When you talked about Iraq, you and others in the administration talked about a mushroom cloud; then there were no WMD in Iraq. When it came to Iran, you said in October, on October 17th, you warned about the prospect of World War III, when months before you made that statement, this intelligence about them suspending their weapons program back in '03 had already come to light to this administration. So can't you be accused of hyping this threat? And don't you worry that that undermines U.S. credibility?

THE PRESIDENT: David, I don't want to contradict an august reporter such as yourself, but I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn't tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze. Why would you take time to analyze new information? One, you want to make sure it's not disinformation. You want to make sure the piece of intelligence you have is real. And secondly, they want to make sure they understand the intelligence they gathered: If they think it's real, then what does it mean? And it wasn't until last week that I was briefed on the NIE that is now public."

UM, ... REALLY!? You mean, Mr. President, that when Mike McConnell said he had new info back in August, you didn't care to ask what it was!?

"Q Why should you trust this intelligence if it's different than 2005? Why should we trust it any more?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, I'm -- without getting into sources and that, that's -- I believe that the intelligence community has made a great discovery, and they've analyzed the discovery, and it's now part of our government policy."

OH OK, I get it. It's part of our government policy now so it must be reliable intelligence. Of course!

"The Value of a Friend in the Next Cubicle"

Obvious to some of us, perhaps - but still nice to see research backing this point up.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


is my favorite song on Alicia Keys' new album. I love it. Well-written musically, and the best her (great) voice sounds on this album. Have a listen:

Once again, sadly, I can't endorse buying this entire album. Why the wildly talented Alicia Keys has yet to put out a consistently stellar album I cannot understand given how many amazing individual songs she has, but at least this album has many more good songs than her past albums have. These are the tracks worth buying, in my opinion:

*Wreckless Love
*No One
*Go Ahead (the chorus is awesome -- the rest of the song is nothing great)
*Superwoman (hell yeah, she needs to go on Oprah with this one ;)... "Even when I'm a mess, I still put on a vest, With an S on my chest, Oh yes")
*Like You'll Never See Me Again - this song gives me chills every time
*Lesson Learned - i like the john mayer groove in this one - you can tell he co-wrote even though he doesn't take over the song
*The Thing About Love

p.s. haha, as I'm writing this, dear husband tells me: "I actually like R&B. You know why? Think about it! It's happy bop bop, but different." YES. "Wreckless Love" is definitely "happy bop bop", but different. Indeed. Ha. Good job, husband.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sean Rowe

I honestly don't remember how I first came across Sean Rowe. Maybe myspace? All I know is that every time it's been a while since I've listened to him, and I play a song, and I'm like ohhh yeah, I really really like this guy's music. He's got a really unique, deep & gravely voice, paired with quality songwriting and guitar. For people who like these sorts of comparisons, let's see... maybe you'd get something close to Sean Rowe if you crossed Ray Lamontagne with Martin Sexton and then added some Barry White and some Nina Simone. But even then, he's still his own musician. He now has a youtube I can share with you. I recommend his 2003 album "27." highly. Apparently he's working on a new album now too (yay!)- he's got a couple new tracks posted on his myspace page now. He plays fairly regularly in NYC (he's based in Albany) - I really need to check him out live one of these days soon. Can't believe I haven't already. If anyone's interested, let me know.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Jay-Z On Charlie Rose = Weird... but good

I currently obsessed with American Gangster. I mean obsessed. It's the best rap album since Hell Hath No Fury and one of the best rap albums ever (like the latter too), probably.

So, anyway, on my one night off from work in weeks, after some quality family time with the sis, the cuz, and my fav pug-nephew Wilbur, I found myself on the couch watching Charlie Rose interview Jay-Z. I have to say it was a weird interview. I have never seen Jay-Z look so stiff/uncomfortable OR Charlie Rose ask questions so awkwardly/hesitantly. They both seemed to be trying so hard. There were definitely many moments when Jay-Z relaxed for a sec -- when he breaks out into a wide grin the whole mood is transformed. And Charlie Rose definitely got him to share some classic stories - e.g., involving Diddy calling him into his studio to share amazing soulful 70s samples that he had "no one to give to now that Biggie is gone" - samples that he had just been using for blasting in his house to dance around to in his socks. Ha. BUT Jay-Z draws the line for Diddy's involvement: "You can't executive produce an executive producer!" When asked what he thought when he first met "his lady", he said that the first thing he thought was that she was just an amazing talent, that she sang so fast while completely on pitch - that she sang like a rapper. That's a really great way to sum up what's so unique about Beyonce - never thought about her that way. (Charlie was like THAT's what you thought about first? her talent? Jay ignored that though, to his credit -- that says more about his respect for women than any lyrics ever would.)

Every time Charlie Rose asked him to do a few lines from a song, he would be like: "oh, that's good" -- in a sort of an awkward, almost patronizing way. I don't think Charlie Rose actually gets hip hop, despite having Jay-z on his show. Even while I do give him massive credit for having Jay-Z on his show, pushing himself out of his comfort zone.

And I give Jay-Z credit too, for going to talk to an old white suit -- I'm sure it was in the service of being a good ambassador for hip hop much more than it was about selling records. Part of his whole plan of "chasing history". Russell Simmons should be proud, despite their arguments about lyrics. Still, when Charlie Rose put him on the spot to make his case for hip hop's being "something special/contributing to popular culture", I cringed on Jay-Z's behalf - I was seriously embarrassed for my fellow white upper middle class, overeducated brethren - you know, the collective NPR-listening crowd. Are you kidding me? Of all people, Jay-Z should not have to defend hip hop in interviews. Just listen to the music, people. I don't totally understand how people can't feel the music, because so much of it moves me personally... but even if it's not your thing, if you really listen, I don't know how you could possibly not appreciate the artistry involved. Just listen to the music for a few minutes. Buy American Gangster.

Thank You For Blogging, Adam Duritz

I sometimes feel like I "get" Adam Duritz more deeply than I get a lot of people I actually talk to regularly. His blog is so bravely human and real and ridiculously well-written. And I find myself relating on a philosophical level over and over - just like I do with his lyrics. I recommend his latest entry highly.

I think I've determined my answer to the age-old question about what celebrity I'd most want to go to dinner with. Conveniently we both live in NYC. Ha.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

See, Husband? It's Not Just Me! Our Brains Want to Dance

Here's a link for more on that and other cool info from what neuroscientist/music producer Daniel Levitin has been learning about "our brains on music". On that page, look for the link to the audio of WNYC Soundcheck interviewing him.

Today, my brain is loving dancing to this while I push through(continue to push through...) my mounds of work. I keep going back and forth between this and Yo-Yo Ma. Two geniuses.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Alicia Says Everything's Gonna Be All Right

This song is getting me through today.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Since The Last Time

WOW! Who knew? Arrested Development just came out with a new album a few days ago - after 12 years. I've always been a fan. I'm listening to the album for the first time right now -- so far, it's good. Nothing life altering, at least yet (and songs like "People Everyday", "Mr. Wendal" and "Natural" really were life altering for me back in the day - I still listen to those songs, actually). But anyway, I like this new album. It is making me bop around in my seat and feel good despite having to spend my Saturday doing statistics. I hope they tour with this album - wouldn't an Arrested Development show be fun!?

p.s. they borrow from Los Lonely Boys' hit in the song "How Far Is Heaven?", and it makes the hook all new again and works! I also like "Miracles" and "Sunshine so far.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Regina Spektor - Hammerstein Ballrom 10/16/2007

What a incredible talent. Who needs a full band when you have a piano and Regina Spektor? My only regret is that this was my first time seeing her live. I am so jealous of the people who got to see her in smaller venues (with seats) before she was selling out 5000-capacity shows in NYC. If you are in love with music - with sound, really, and all its potential - you have to see this woman perform live. The way she dives inside sound and lingers to play around is pure joy. Oh, and she's just lovely in her quirkiness, sass and humility to boot. My Russian Jewish immigrant roots are radiating pride today.

Dan Lynch (nyctaper) was kind enough to post a really awesome recording of the show for flac download. Check it out. You can get the flac software you need here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I Got An All Girl Band

VH-1, 10 pm, tonight. The Salt-N-Pepa Show PREMIERE. These ladies' music is rolled up with memories of everything from Young's Regency Roller Rink to high school trigonometry class and senior week to, oddly enough, Brian Boitano's 1988 gold-medal winning performance.

I've heard the VH-1 show is actually pretty good. It's been added to my DVR. No matter what, I'm psyched to hear that they might be reconciling and maybe getting back together to make more music after... what has it been, a decade!?

Friday, October 12, 2007

The National at Terminal 5 Last Night

Craig, Rich & I went to check out The National & the new venue, Terminal 5 last night... I had wanted to catch St. Vincent live too, but we only got there in time for her last song. Seems like she really did start on time! Bummer, but to be honest, the few minutes I did hear were disappointing. I don't know whether it was just that her mic wasn't turned up high enough or whether the sound was intentional, but the song was really electric, with her singing like an afterthought shadowing the guitar, in a not good way. I like her album, her voice, her guitar talent, her songwriting ... anyway, I think I'd like to see her in a different setting. The Terminal 5 (industrial, steel cold), two minute version of Annie Clark was not what I expected.

So, yeah, Terminal 5... industrial, steel cold, cavernous (3 ridiculously high floors), still kinda feels like a construction site, excepting the random chandeliers... the good news is that the soundsystem is MUCH better than say, ha, Webster Hall's. No, really, the system is good. The place definitely has an urban club feel. It's huge - bigger than I expected and bigger than I'd really prefer. Maybe I'm getting old or something, but I really go for Bowery Ballroom and smaller these days. The sight lines are good at Terminal 5 though - have to give them credit for that. Except of course when the 6'5" dude forces space for himself in the spot right in front of me, just as the set begins - which seems to happen to me at every show I go to lately. From afar, they don't see me and think there's an open space there and then claim to not be able to leave. Being short sucks.

SO, the National: it was the first time I saw them live somehow (they've only played like a hundred shows in NYC in the past year), and I enjoyed their performance. I expected to be blown away, because I love their latest album, and I wasn't exactly blown away, but they're definitely a solid band. Rich "liked them, but didn't love them". Matt Berninger kind of came across as mumbling many of his lyrics live - and sort of spill-speaking them instead of singing them more often than I would have liked. Rich's take is that he relies too much on the tone/style of his voice more than his actual voice/singing - that may be fair. Overall, though, the band as a whole is a great combo of Dylanesque, pared-down grit and substance and U2 larger than life orchestration and inspiration. Old and new. Crazy violinist, reliable drummer, guitars that can both wail and lullaby, and sometimes (my perennial fav), slick horns. I'm not obsessed, like some in the audience CLEARLY are - but I dig.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I Can't Help Myself

I know I know .... he should most likely be in jail, and I feel kinda guilty for posting this, but, for some reason, this song and this video just crack my s*t up. Thank you to Gawker and to Idolator for drawing the youtube to my attention. The song itself has been amusing me since the CD leaked... and now everytime I hear it I think of riding back from Lake Placid when it startled our half-marathon compadres Jeremy & Shoko in its popping up via my IPod shuffle.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Not Even Close To As Good As DIAB...

but still pretty funny:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

For Arik/Eurovision Pop Fans

Credit goes to Arjanwrites for introducing me to Young Love, who I think would be *perfect* for your message board song contest, Arik.

p.s. check out the video for "Find a New Way" too.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

American Idol Songwriting Has Hit A New Cheesy Low

You're still a part of everything I do,
You're on my heart just like a tattoo,
Just like a tattoo, I'll always have you

Poor Jordin Sparks -- these are the lamest lyrics I've heard in a while. Her voice does sound good on the track at least.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thank You New Orleans & Fats Domino

There's something about New Orleans and New Orleans' music that always makes me happy. No matter if it's Fats Domino or Lil Wayne. N.O. songs twinkle like my "little" (but former football-player big) brother-in-law's eyes when he's fighting off a giggle. Well a giggle at a sassy remark, at least. New Orleans, & its music especially, has the best combo of joy + attitude.

So, I'm so completely ALL FOR anything that helps ensure that New Orleans music - its legacy AND its future - is here to stay. I would have bought the Tipitina's Foundation's Tribute album to Fats Domino anyway. But as it turns out this dual-disc album filled with huge names covering Fats' songs is worth every penny. I think I'm going to have to donate to Tipitina's separately AND buy the album for as many people I can think of who'd enjoy it.

Stand out tracks come from Lenny Kravitz With Rebirth Brass Band, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis And Maceo Parker; Taj Mahal and The New Orleans Social Club; Corinne Bailey Rae; Herbie Hancock With George Porter Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste & Renard Poche'; and Irma Thomas & Marcia Ball (but there are A LOT of good ones).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Real Quick on the New Kanye

Have only listened through once thus far, so more to come, but ... I like it. I actually got really excited for it watching Kanye perform on the VMAs - I know he wanted to be on the main stage (Kanye being Kanye), but he still got to me. Anyway, this album is a lot tighter than his past two - no skits that you end up skipping. It's also more interesting musically (drawing from more diverse influences, etc.) than his past work. Some fans may be disappointed b/c the lyrics carry less weighty social messages/less "self-consciousness" than his past stuff, but as music, it's good. It's definitely clear that he sees Justin Timberlake and Timbaland as his competition much more so than 50 cent. Personally, as a music fan, I don't mind that at all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

There's One Thing Britney Was Not

Yes, the performance was a tragicomedy. Of course, she was painful to watch. But, there is one thing she was not, and I'm getting really tired of hearing people say this. SHE DID NOT LOOK FAT, PEOPLE!!! PLEASE!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Wanted to Love Sara Bareilles...

Really, I did. Rolling Stone called her "Fiona Apple-on-Prozac". I read that and worried but was mildly intrigued. And then leaving the Nickel Creek/Fiona, I heard a Fiona fan absolutely raving about Sara Bareilles. So I listened... and listened... but, I'm sorry, I just don't find the Fiona comparisons appropriate at all. I honestly think she sounds more like an improved Amy Grant for the 21st century. And I just personally never really liked Amy Grant. She's got a clear, good voice, and yeah, she might do very well on pop radio/with teenage chick fans (hence the tour pairing with Maroon 5). I do truly dig her song, "Vegas". "Come Round Soon" and "Bottle It Up" are okay, and "Love Song" grows on you. Still, though, this album comes off as processed Soulveeta. A few steps away from the real cheese. No offense, KRAFT.

I prefer KT Tunstall or Toby Lightman for this niche. And please just don't even mention Fiona.

I Miss the Old Idolator

A friend of mine captured the difference perfectly -- it's just SO snarky now. Not just critically negative but just in general so sour. I love my sarcasm and cynical wit - don't get me wrong - but you gotta temper it with some enthusiasm for life and music and the world SOME of the time.
Former editor, Brian Raftery, I miss you!

Friday, August 17, 2007


I'm so glad my fav won So You Think You Can Dance. I'm so sad there won't be amazing dance on TV regularly anymore for a while. I think I need to find a dance class to take. I don't think - I *know* - I can't really dance. But I like to dance anyway, and I would like to learn more.

In other non-related news, I got so excited to hear Brian Lehrer's voice back on NPR this morning, but then I realized it was an encore presentation of an older show. I miss Brian Lehrer a ton when he's on vacation. Maybe he'll back live on Monday...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nickel Creek + Fiona Apple To The Rescue

After a pretty glum day yesterday, Sistra + this show in Central Park made my night many times better. I've seen Fiona perform 3 (4?) times before, and she's known for being very "hit or miss" live. She's moody, as we all know, and sometimes she prefers to scream most of her lyrics -- she definitely loves her cacophony at times. But, when she decides to really sing - to really perform... WOW. Amazing. Two highlights of the show were her covers of Patsy Cline's "Walking After Midnight" and Ella Fitzgerald's "When I Get Low, I Get High".

This was the first time I've ever seen her live where she honestly looked like she was having an absolute ball. Nickel Creek balances her out so nicely and draws out her greatest musical intuitions, wide-ranging influences, timing, and timbre. Fiona was having fun --spinning and twisting inside the music, quite un-self-consciously. She yelped in joy from time to time- laughed... even playfully gave Sara Watkins a love bite on the shoulder (not kidding!). She just seemed so very comfortable in her own, unique, skin... and happy. The feeling was contagious. And that voice. Oh, that voice.

And her song-writing too - music AND lyrics. Genius. You know, "Criminal" actually makes a good bluegrass song, too? Who would have thought it?

As for Nickel Creek... it was really more a Nickel Creek show than anything (Fiona was more of a guest in their show), and they're just great. So versatile. Such wonderful musicians. Sweet, clear voices. Chris Thile not only plays a mean mandolin, he also is charming and funny. I didn't realize until last night live what a beautiful voice Sara Watkins has, in addition to her fiddle playing (oh why did I quit the violin in the 4th grade??). I'm looking forward to Sara's solo album - out this year I think?

p.s. I hope they put out an album of these joint Nickel Creek - Fiona performances they've been doing (or a studio collaboration)... I love them together.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ahhh - What Krump Is Supposed to Look Like

The contestants never do a good job with krump in the competition (they can't ever quite get it), so it was awesome to see Lil' C and his crew show the dance off. Now this is what Wade would call "dancing inside the music":

Monday, August 13, 2007

On Repeat: Suzanne Vega's Beauty & Crime

There's this big-screen film reel in my imagination labeled "Suzanne Vega", and it's grown in length dramatically with her new album, Beauty & Crime. When I listen to these songs, it's as if I'm sitting in City Cinemas Village East*. It's pitch black, and virtually empty in the theater, and I'm restless from sitting and fidgeting while waiting for the picture to begin, from unsucccessful attempts to re-center myself through the yogic breathing to which my Type-A parts still haven't quite surrendered.

And, then I sense the projector light building behind me -the little dust particles spinning and transforming into this bright vivid story up on the screen. And I'm swept up into someone else's life. New York's life. As if I'm living that someone else's life, in first person, and see everyone and everything around me vividly, but have no idea what I myself look like. And yet, I'm no longer restless.

I endorse the whole album, though the earlier songs are more indelible than the later ones. In particular, I adore "Frank and Ava", "Pornographer's Dream", "Edith Wharton's Figurine", "Bound", "New York Is a Woman", and "Ludlow Street".

*For the record, I saw one of my favorite movies ever, You Can Count on Me, in the City Cinemas Village East.

Live clip from "New York Is a Woman":

Good article about Suzanne Vega: "She Sings the City Eclectic" NYTimes, July 15, 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Get Common's Finding Forever

As Julianne predicted, I love Common's "Drivin' Me Wild" ft. Lily Allen (& Kanye production). I love the end where she soulfully belts it out for a quick sec too (have I never heard her sing quite like that?).

Actually, I really like the new Common album Finding Forever as a whole. I don't have too many complaints - I'm a fan. Good beats, good lyrics, good samples (Nina Simone!), good hooks, good messages ... I can't be mad about much. It's nice to hear D'Angelo again (been too long). Bilal (yeah Philly soul!) sounds as great as he did on Clipse's "Nightmares". I actually wish itunes had digital liner notes... I want to know what more of the samples are, who more of the featured singers are.

Anyway, so the big question is... Is Finding Forever better than Be??? I don't know. I still love Be.

I think Finding Forever is probably more radio/single-friendly - Kanye's mark seems a little bit stronger on this one. Still, it's clearly another Common album (not Kanye's beats/samples or guest artists featuring Common). Finding Forever has more diversity in sound/tone -- I know a lot of people hate on Be, saying it gets too monotonous or whatever for them. I actually like its cohesiveness - you listen to it as an entire album, not so much as singles - when you're in a certain mood or want to be put in the Be mood. But I am enjoying Finding Forever a lot too, and I think it works either as a whole listening session OR a few singles. So, I don't have a clear favorite - at least not yet. Ask me again in a few months.

p.s. I can't get enough of Common's dad's deep, wise voice -- I feel like if I could crawl into it and hang out long enough, I'd come out a butterfly or something.

Monday, July 30, 2007

They're Just Like US: Bonobos

I love bonobos, chimpanzees... yes, even Paul Frank monkey faces. We can learn so much about humans from studying these creatures. Read this New Yorker article by Ian Parker.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I Wish My Landlord Was Expected to Give Me Gifts

"On the streets of Shanghai, the author's injured foot attracts less attention than her pet dog, still a rare sight in the city."

This article on a New Yorker's move to Shanghai really drew me in today...

"Settling Down in a City in Motion" - Emily Prager, NY Times, 7/19/07
Some excerpts:
*WHEN you rent a place in Shanghai, the landlord gives you presents. This is a terrific shock for a New Yorker. My agent told me I could ask for special furniture, TVs, gym memberships — the landlady would actually take me shopping.
*I went to buy some string one day and the man cut me a 12-inch piece. People buy only as much as they need. They do not hoard and their homes are not full of items they never use.
*It is against the law to walk a dog in the city between 7 in the morning and 7 at night... Pets are new to Chinese people and they don’t know very much about them.
*...There is a grace about living here that I love. People do things here that machines do in America.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Nikki My Yoga Instructor Likes Good Music

She played this song in class today, and I really like it and had to ask her what it was. It was "I've Been Thinking" by Handsome Boy Modeling School (featuring Cat Power). Gotta love the group name, and the album it's from is called White People, even though there are two non-white dudes on the cover. Ha. I'm going to have to look into more of this group's songs. I also like "The Truth" so far.

p.s. Sometimes there's just nothing better than a good, hard, sweaty........Vinyasa yoga class. For real. Try it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Sorry it has been so long since I posted... I don't know where the past 2 weeks have gone. I was out of town for part of it, saying goodbye to dear friends/newlyweds, saying welcome to my sister who just moved to NYC and started her first "real" job, visiting with a childhood friend who was in town briefly, and, of course, manically working on my dissertation study.

Since this is a mostly music blog, what has been musically notable (haha that's almost a bad pun) in my life in the past couple weeks?
1. A fun impromptu "DJ Charlie & Me" set late night Sat/Sun. We pulled our gracious little audience back through time via such gems as "Put It In Your Mouth", "Informer", "Push It", "California Love", "It Takes Two" & "Poison" ... we also had some crowd members tragically attempting to replicate the MC Hammer dance, the Kid N Play, NKOTB's Hanging Tough video ... (okay, okay... me included)
2. I have been trying really hard to love the new Kelly Clarkson album, but I would say I like 1/3 of it. (I still love Kelly regardless).
3. I have been effortlessly loving the new Patrick Wolf album, The Magic Position & a lot of the new Spoon album. Patrick Wolf's new album is kind of like Sufjan Stevens meets Tahiti 80, with a heavy spot of New Wave. And I was never a huge Duran Duran/Depeche Mode (the vocals were too melodramatically damp in my ear or something), but I really love this Patrick Wolf album. There are parts that definitely border happy bop bop, so maybe even my dear husband will like it (check out "Get Lost" & the title track). Listen to "The Underdog" and "Finer Feelings" from Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - you'll want the whole album.

Poor Jane

A Women’s Magazine That Tried to Be Otherwise - NYTimes, 7/12/2007

I'm very sad about Jane folding -- it was a good women's magazine that fit my sensibilities. Jane had a brain, ambition, and a great independent sense of self, but she wasn't a feminazi either. I will misss Jane.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Julianne Shepherd = Another Awesome Music Writer

Hit up VIBE for her clear window into the making of Keyshia Cole's video "Let It Go" (ft. Missy Elliott) - you'll feel like you were there. And I personally can't wait for her autobiographical movie coming out.

my fav quotes:
K.C.: "It's easier to be yourself than try to make up somebody. A lot easier."
M.E.: "...My main thing is to get the girls dancing, cause once you get the girls dancing the guys will always follow. When I go in the clubs now, the records are so hard it's like even the girls are like, [barks] 'THROW YA HANDS UP!' People ain't really havin fun with it no more, so that's my main thing - trying to get people back in the club."


Sasha Frere-Jones = Awesome Music Writer

this article on R. Kelly & Double Up is great:
Unbound - The New Yorker, 7.2.07

Think I Just Made Up My Mind About Congestion Pricing

Some Subways Found Packed Past Capacity - NY Times, 6/26/07

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hypnosis via Dance

I just watched this week's Wed. episode of So You Think You Can Dance, and there were a lot of great routines tonight (loved Dave Scott's choreography especially this week) ... BUT - I still can't stop thinking about this Mia Michaels routine performed by Lacey & Kameron last week. I can't stop watching it either. I can't stop getting chills from it. It's mesmerizing...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's Weird How My Music Moods Change...

Earlier this week I was listening to a lot of African musicians... Angelique Kidjo's new album (which is not as good as Ojaya! but still has a couple of gems on it like Sedjedo and her remake of Ravel's Bolero which she calls Lonlon), Fela & Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti (who's performing at S.O.B.'s soon!) ... etc. etc.

The bouncy, fluid rhythms and vowels have been a really good match for how I've been feeling inside ... go, go, go ... tons of good stuff going on - stay happy, no worries, just keep bouncing and moving and everything stays light... keep pushing darkness away... i'm imagining myself bopping down little fears and concerns like that carnival game where you mallet the groundhogs back into the underworld. Just keep popping them underground, and they don't exist. I love all this music... but the truth is, at some point, I have to slow down. Come face to face with my groundhogs and listen to what they have to say about cold, wintry spells.

So I've switched my Rhapsody to start listening to singer-songwriters -- some "blue-eyed soul" (for the record, I hate that term ... ) And it's weird -- in a different mood, I might find Jonah Smith, and much more so, Dave Barnes - too cheesy. In fact the first time I listened to Dave Barnes I thought he was cheesy and saccharine. But right now, this music feels more real. More aligned with my breathing. More in tune with how I feel inside. Positive, yes, but a little vulnerable. Still grooving and nodding my head, but a little more slowly - a little more self-consciously. A good thing? Ask me tomorrow. I might be back to blasting Clipse.

See BrooklynRocks for a link to listen to My Morning Scene by Jonah Smith

Link to Itunes to hear a sample of Angelique Kidjo (feat. Ziggy Marley) on Sedjedo

Seun Kuti's myspace

Monday, June 11, 2007

We Did It! 2007 Lake Placid Half Marathon

I'm hoping that one of the event photographers managed to snap a quality pic of Rich & me and Jeremy & Shoko cruising through the Lake Placid Half Marathon this past Sunday, because we all rocked it. Ladies & gentlemen, Rich & I are living proof that this whole training business works. 10 weeks ago we were wiped out after only 6 miles & yesterday, we ran (well, jogged) over twice that (13.1 miles to be exact) ... and it was actually fun! Even without my IPod shuffle! (They said no electronic devices... what!? I didn't even know if my legs would keep moving without tunes in my ears... but I had good non-musical company yesterday, and the time/miles actually flew by.)

Go us!

BTW, those are ski jumps - not massive water slides - in this pic of Lake Placid. Seeing those things up close, I gotta say ski jumpers are one brave breed.... or just, um, ... insane?

Friday, June 8, 2007

When Kindness Falls Like Rain, It Washes Me Away

I think I have listened to this Counting Crows song, "Anna Begins", fifteen times this afternoon. I've been in love with it since it was first released in 1993, and the bridge still "washes me away" just about every time I hear it. Adam Duritz is a brilliant songwriter. Even with all his fame, he has managed to maintain the ability to write honestly. He's not afraid of making himself vulnerable. I so admire that.

Listen to the song here -- but at least the first time, try to ignore the photo montage... while creative, I find it a little distracting...

Monday, June 4, 2007

Bryan Gaynor is My Latest Hero

He has scoliosis, but he still threw down on "So You Think You Can Dance". What an inspiration. Check him out below.

I also had forgotten since last season how much I platonically just adore choreographer/guest judge Shane Sparks...

Friday, June 1, 2007

R. Kelly Vs. Lily Allen

yes, yes, I know... R. Kelly would die if he read this post title - being compared side-by-side Ms. ... British, Myspace-wonder, white, feminist... Allen. But I'm sorry - I don't think it's JUST the common reggae influence that makes these two songs sound so similar to me. Can anyone back me up on this? Musically (obv. not lyrically), I think "Freaky in the Club":

is this summer's new "Smile":

Why Couldn't He Be Here to Knock On My Door & Give Me A Check?!?

Just saw 84-year old, still-working Ed McMahon outside my building. He is filming something outside of Tom's Restaurant for the NY Lottery. He has lost weight and is super friendly.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Yes, I'm Sick of It Already -

the new M5 album, that is. I got sick of it in less than a week - so disappointing. There are a couple of still-sorta-fresh tracks (Hey Ya-ripoff "Little of Your Time", "If I Never See Your Face Again", "Nothing Lasts Forever" (aka new take on "Heard 'Em Say"), but those are going to go stale too I fear, way before they ever even get inevitably overplayed on the radio. It's just so bubblegum lame, even (especially?) Adam Levine's oversexed lyrics.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

R.I.P. Shiloh

This little guy was the greatest dog in the world. He died in an accident last weekend, before his time, and my family misses him so much. Shiloh loved playing tag with me, ripping through the house with his beloved plastic yellow newspaper "The Daily Growl" and darting and skidding under tables. He was always happy when I came home for a visit and always remembered me, no matter how long it had been since he had seen me last. He often got so excited to see me that he'd flip his favorite blue bed over his head and go tearing around showing off -- this speeding blue bed with tiny black paws peering out the bottom. He always knew when I was sad, licking my tears away as if to tell me everything was going to be okay. He helped me get through my comprehensive exams of my doctoral program -- he went on something like 3 walks a day with me that week, listening intently as I worked through the logic of my next essay answer out loud. He loved snuggling and hated being told it was time for bed, because that often meant it was time to part from his loved ones (it was right about then that he would produce the audible version of "The Daily Growl").

The good thing is that he knew he was loved. Everyone in my family adored him. I love and miss you, Shilohman.

Where I'll Be Aug 14...

SUMMERSTAGE: Nickel Creek & Fiona Apple teaming up... love em both. And I'm imagining Nickel Creek will force Fiona to stay a bit more melodic live, while still featuring lots of improv (her live shows can at times feature so much spontaneity (and angst) that they can become a little too cacophonous). Check out BrooklynVegan's recent post for an awesome youtube of Fiona, Jon Brion, and Chris Thile doing "Fast As You Can" together.

Duncan Watts On... Eurovision?

Yes! The illustrious sociologist/network theorist Duncan Watts wrote an Op/Ed in yesterday's NYTimes about the Eurovision song contest! I too experienced my first Eurovision contest party this past May 12th, courtesy of my friend Arik who is a true veteran enthusiast of the contest, complete with a book on the contest's history (I had no idea that it's been around since 1956, and launched the careers of ABBA, Julio Iglesias, and Celine Dion!). Well... I guess it used to truly be a talent competition, but post-cold war with lots of little countries like Moldova & Slovenia having as much voting power as the UK & France... voting (much like voting for American Idol, only you can't vote for the contestant from your own country, and each country has the same number of "electoral votes" to award in total)...has become all about politics: European politics & the politics of sexuality!! Like Duncan Watts, I found the voting process FASCINATING!!!

But watching the song entries is silly, often campy, fun too. For example, check out the runner-up in this year's competition, Verka Seduchka from the Ukraine. Per Arik's report, this "Ukrainian space-age transgender telletubby is number 28 in the UK chart this week, based on downloads alone. Just wait until the physical single hit the stores. Danzen!":

The actual winner of the competition was what Arik would call the "Serbian KD Lang", Marija Serifovic. I actually thought she had the best voice in the competition, so given that Lordi (the monster metal band from Finland) won last year, I think someone with a good voice winning (rather than someone with just a major gimmick) is good news for the future of Eurovision. But he'd say she is BORING. You decide:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More on Maroon 5's New Album

ok, my initial resistance to change/their full embrace of radio friendliness is wearing off, and I'm now letting myself go in enjoying the danceability of these new songs...

Arik, I have a feeling you're going to love this album.

New Albums: Maroon 5 & The National

I've been waiting for these 2 albums to be released for a while now... haven't listened enough yet to firmly evaluate - but so far, I'm disappointed by the M5 (why should it surprise me that it's overproduced?) It's not bad or anything -- much of it is instantly catchy... which is kind of what scares me. I'm a little weary of it being too immediately accessible and then getting really stale really fast. I always liked the live versions of Songs About Jane better (they sounded much more alternative/rock live... they're actually all talented musicians - esp. James Valentine on guitar)... and, anyway, this album is more commercial pop than the last album. I'm sure it makes sense from a business perspective to go this route, but I'm not looking forward to even more shrieking teenage girls at their concerts.
As for The National's Boxer... so far, I gotta just say it's wonderful. I've been trying to pinpoint their musical influences - there are many, and they tease you with their subtlety (the best kind). This seems to be an album (unlike the new Maroon 5) that is not going to grow old fast... (or ever?). Anyone have extra tickets to any of their sold out shows at Bowery Ballroom next week?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Savion Glover's Feet (Even Webbed) Make Me Happy

I love Savion Glover. I love Robin Williams. I love animated penguins who can talk and sing and DANCE. Make sure you watch the clip long enough to see the big dance scene.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Betty Davis: An Original Funk/Soul Diva in Reissues

This woman has been rocking my computer speakers all day long. Please go check out the reissues of her self-titled album & They Say I'm Different.
I guess it should come as no surprise that her personal story (good summary via Seattle Weekly)is pretty darn interesting too... once married to Miles Davis (she was probably the influence that sparked his Bitches Brew stage), around 1980 she just disappeared ... though plenty of other fierce women in music owe her a lot (Madonna, Kelis, Macy Gray, even Lauryn Hill, amongst others...haha, even Melinda Doolittle - I always liked the gritty Melinda best - better for her career that she got cut from American Idol anyway, btw).
Betty Davis MP3s available via Pitchfork

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Random Thoughts

  • Happy birthday to Julianne & Janet Jackson!
  • I kinda hate to fuel any ego this big, but his new song is good
  • I think my sister would like the new Cassie song (it's catchy) - and while Cassie def. is influenced by Janet, make sure you honor the original too today - like, watch the video the other birthday girl dug out for the occasion (why don't they make dance videos like this anymore!?!?)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

American Idol: Bye Bye Blake

My friends Emily & Peter like him, but I thought the judges were overly kind to him tonight. He had pitch problems in all 3 songs - not awful awful pitch problems, but the bottom line is that his voice is not as good as those of the ladies. And btw his rendition of This Love was a total "copycat" performance, and Adam Levine also has a much better voice than he does. That's actually really not an easy song to sing - his version was ok, but felt like a good karaoke version to me. Between the other two, I'm kind of torn for the first time in a few weeks. Jordin sang well tonight, but her song choices were a little weird -- her last song was def her best. Melinda was smack on every song tonight - her Whitney song was not as good as the judges said, but she can hold her own. Her last two songs were great - and she was totally sparkling tonight in terms of her energy & confidence. It was great to see!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Jon Pareles is Reviewing Everyone I've Seen Recently: Stephen Marley

I just saw Stephen Marley (feat. Damian too) at Jazzfest, so in reading Jon Pareles' review of their recent NYC show in today's NYTimes, I was really surprised to read that Stephen did so many of his father's songs at the Nokia theater show too. (he did the same thing at the N.O. fairgrounds, but I thought that was b/c the audience there would be more likely to come see him based on his last name than his whole name...) I agree that, as much as I love the elder Marley, he really doesn't need to play as much from Legend as he does. His own sound (esp. combined with his songs from his brother's stuff) can more than make for a great show on its own.

BTW, Damian has the longest dreads I've ever seen in my life. They're like down to his knees. Crazy cool.

And at jazzfest, they had an adorable little kid dancing around with a flag onstage (maybe one of Stephen's sons?), and I also loved that the band included some elder Rastafarians. I'm a sucker for seeing multiple generations on stage. That's actually very common to see in New Orleans in general... I wish it were more common more broady.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Go to Idolator For Leak of Common Track

Geoff, that means you! ;)

Seriously, "The People" is really good. I can't wait for the whole album. Julianne told me I'm gonna love it, including (especially) a track feat. Lily Allen... ooh, can't wait!

For a track-by-track preview, see The Fader .

And, yes, he's been accused of being a bit corny (Gap commercial) / reportedly has carried a notebook that proclaims "God Is Love" to his hosted listening sessions... but I gotta tell you... I could be accused of being inspired at times:

Little kids (they get me EVERY time):
I want to be a governor...
I want to be a doctor...
I want to be a ballet dancer...
I want to be a Aaaastronaut!...
I want to be a... gym teacher...
I want to be a DUCK...
I want to be the first African-American female President
I want to be a police officer...
I want to be a suuperstar!
Deep wise "Pops":
be here, ... be there,
be that, ... be this
Be grateful for life, be grateful to life
Be gleeful everyday,
for being the best swimmer among 500,000...

AND, like Julianne, I will never get tired of the song "Faithful".

Jon Pareles' on Amy Winehouse's On-Stage Detachment

Jon Pareles of the NYTimes was as disappointed in Amy Winehouse-as-"performer" this week as I was back in March. But his causal attribution differs from mine. In explaining her odd persona live, Pareles points mainly to her Britishness (and its removal from the origins of soul, e.g., African-American church choir) & her age (growing up on "hip-hop's version of R&B"). I don't know... those factors might be (small?) pieces of the puzzle, but I don't think you have to be American, African-American, or Aretha's age to have soul - to show deep emotional connection with your songs - on-stage. Corinne Bailey Rae is just one example in a long list. She's British, half-white, did not get her start singing in a gospel church (it was a much more conventional brethren church choir) and is only 4 years older. Her songs are more neo-soul than retro, of course -- but having recently seen her live, let me tell you, the woman feels her music on-stage...

I just think that Amy Winehouse's performance issues have much more to do with being Amy Winehouse, specifically, than they do with the circumstances of her nationality or her age.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Just Call Me Randy Jackson

He pretty much said everything I said, right after I said it last night.
Last night was not a great show, but I'm still for Jordin.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Highlight of JazzFest: Corinne Bailey Rae

We saw a lot of great shows, and, to be honest, I thought the songwriting on her album as a whole was inconsistent & could get boring... but, live in person, Corinne Bailey Rae was *incredible*. She plays her voice like a master instrumentalist -- she's got this seemingly intuitive, amazing control and timing. She also has a lot more power than you would guess from hearing her radio hits. In the studio recordings, her voice can sound maybe a little too precious. Live, it is more raw and complex. She plays around with her vocal timbre -- sounding sweet for moments, yes, but many notes are complemented by this raspy finish that lingers in its reluctant release of your chest. In a good way.

And the other cool thing about her as a performer is that her whole being smiles throughout her show. Not only her mouth, but her eyes twinkle, her skin glows... and it's actually not weird. You know those people that never stop smiling, even when what they're saying isn't worthy of this big grin - those awkward smiley people? That is not what I'm talking about. The way she smiles -- you get the sense that it's completely authentic - that it's the result of just completely surrendering to the inherent beauty in all *real* human emotion & experiences-- even the complicated and not-all-sunny ones.

You don't have to have the range of Mariah to be worthy of divahood.

If you ever have a chance, please see this woman live.

Here's a preview - not from our show at Tipitina's, but from an earlier show at Webster Hall:

Friday, May 4, 2007

She Still Has Slightly Purple Hair

So Rich and I were wandering aimlessly around the French Quarter late this afternoon when we heard a trio of Brits talking/walking behind us. A girl and two guys. They were butchering the pronunciations of the streets, and the girl was lamenting her bad sense of direction. Rich was endearingly smirking at their accents. I took pity on them, being known for both a bad sense of direction myself as well as a compulsive tendency to try to help any people I can. I turned around and said "Decatur Street is that way" to the girl behind me. She laughed, put her hand on my shoulder warmly and said in her smoky voice, "oh thank you so much! ha - I wasn't even saying it right. Cheers, thanks again, cheers!" I turned back around and as we walked away, it hit me why she looked so familiar: it was Joss Stone! She was -- somewhat surprisingly to me -- really down-to-earth and lovely. And also, like just about every celebrity I've ever met/seen, incredibly normal in real life. I mean, yes, there's the slightly purple dark hair (i think the dirty blonde looks better on her) and multiple? nose rings, and she was wearing pants with huge hearts all over them ... but she had acne "just like US", and her hair was frizzing along with mine in the NO humidity, etc. etc. Hahaha - we should have told her that one of her songs was featured on our wedding save-the-date CD...

I kind of felt badly that I was criticizing her songwriting on this blog just days ago... I do love her voice though.

In a more "local" sighting, we walked by guitarist Ian Neville (Art Neville's son; Aaron Neville's nephew) who was standing outside of Port Of Call - he still looks about five years younger than he is (I think he's like 25 now?) Hopefully he'll pop on stage at some point tonight at the Howlin' Wolf.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

P.S.... Pela

If you don't know Pela, check them out. They're a rock band - their debut album, Anytown Graffiti was just released last month. I like 'em.

Vote For Jordin

Vote for Jordin; that song kicked her ass tonight, but she shouldn't get kicked off this week. Chris actually did not sound too nasal this week - wow!, but I still don't like him. And I love Justin Timberlake, so it has nothing to do with his "style" - the problem is he doesn't sing that well generally, and he doesn't really have style. JT definitely does. No comparison whatsoever, people. Phil Stacey is still creepy and not cool enough OR uncool enough for me to ever buy a record of his. LaKisha was better than she's been in weeks, but I still don't want her to win. Blake's "big risk" was pretty decent; he didn't annoy me too badly this week. And Melinda showed more style/personality than she has in weeks. I loved the whole "I don't know how to rock" shtick. A new fresh spin on the old stale modesty thang. Nice.

Speaking of Awesome Voices: Feist

Feist's new album, The Reminder, was released today. Many many lucky people who get advance copies of albums have already written lots about it. It is indeed a glittering album. Her best work yet.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Voices that Give Me Hope and Faith and Strength: Lauren Pritchard

Does anyone want to check out Lauren Pritchard's performance on May 22 at Ars Nova with me? (where my friend Jillian works!! )

Lauren Pritchard is only 18 years old. She has an intoxicating voice that is currently being featured in the musical Spring Awakening, in Duncan Sheik's incredible score for that show. Yeah, that Duncan Sheik. He of "Barely Breathing" a little over 10 years ago, who I barely took notice of back then. I *loved* Spring Awakening -- no, not because of the probably unnecessary teen nudity, but because of Duncan Sheik's songwriting - and because of the way voices like Lauren Pritchard's delivered those poignant songs (and hers was probably the stand-out among several excellent voices, despite her part in the show being relatively small). Duncan Sheik's songs and Lauren Pritchard & others' voices gave Spring Awakening a depth, complexity and organic trueness that is rare in the musical form. It helped A LOT that in this musical, the characters don't talk to each other via song -- the songs instead emerge from inner dialogues, reflecting what's going on in their own heads. Seems like such a small thing, but few (if any?) other musicals use songs in this way. And it's so much more natural...
Beyond transforming the musical genre, while I haven't read Frank Wedekind's original play, I also imagine that this music may have also completely transformed what was very possibly quite average material, in terms of content. Well, perhaps it was the addition of the outstanding score, plus Bill T. Jones' choreography (more interesting movement than typical "Broadway" dance numbers), and very innovative direction by Michael Mayer.

Anyway, Lauren Pritchard wanted to be a singer-songwriter before she wanted to be a Broadway star. And she just might be able to use her exposure from Spring Awakening as a launching pad for broader success in music, beyond musical theater. I hope she succeeds. It's hard not to compare her to Joss Stone -- another big, soulful/smoky, astoundingly young, white, female voice. The thing that continually disappoints me about Joss Stone is her songwriting -- it's her voice, not her writing, that is her strength. The problem is that a great song depends as much (if not more) on the writing as it does on the voice or the musicianship. I fear Lauren Pritchard may run into the same trouble, but I have more hope for the future in her case. Though not as good as the Sheik-provided stuff in Spring Awakening, the songs on her myspace page show potential. I haven't listened to them enough to want to lay down judgment, but check them out.

Also, YouTube of her singing Spring Awakening stuff:
1. "Don't Do Sadness/Blue Wind" duet with John Gallagher, Jr. - she comes in a little after the 2 min. mark
2. Singing "Left Behind" at a concert-type performance - w/ Duncan Sheik on guitar

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Countdown to Our Trip to New Orleans JazzFest

This weekend I'm in Ann Arbor, celebrating my sister's ascendance to "master" status. Go Bec! We're having lots of fun, but in terms of music, all I've really heard while out thus far has been Fergalicious from a jukebox (groan) and the like. It's okay... this weekend is all about my awesome sis, and next weekend is all about MUSIC. Let the countdown begin to our trip to the second weekend of JazzFest!

JazzFest is perhaps my most favorite event in the world, in one of my most favorite places. And we didn't make it last year, so I'm getting even more giddy than usual just thinking about it. All kinds of amazing music of all different genres, almost 24 hours a day, all over the city (way beyond just the fairgrounds)... I CAN'T WAIT.

I just started studying the grids for the fairgrounds schedules and the nightclubs. The goal is always to try to see as many artists/bands as possible in every 24 hour period there, while still leaving time for just enough sleep & food to keep Rich from committing me to an institution for OCD (I am prone to get a little scary compulsive with our daily music itineraries during JazzFest -- I prefer to call it ambitious...) .
It helps that the food is so good, of course... I was just reading Adam Duritz's JazzFest food favs and it's true... how can I mind taking set breaks when it's for Central Grocery's muffalettas? Brunch at Mother's? Crawfish Monica at the fairgrounds? For the record, I also completely agree with him that it's all about the iced teas and strawberry lemonade during the day -- save the Abitas for the night or else you might not see night!!!!

All right, time to watch Bubba drop wisdom to the UMich grads and remind me what a president is supposed to sound like on a podium.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Idolator's "Stuck On Repeat: Prince Makes His Case"

Idolator's right. Prince's studio cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" is goosebump gorgeous. Hit up that site for a copy of the mp3 (before the link expires).

Friday, April 20, 2007

Stephen Marley - Mind Control

I don't smoke, but I'm all about these joints... "Inna di Red" (ft. Ben Harper), "Hey Baby" (ft. Mos Def), title track "Mind Control", "Let Her Dance", "Traffic Jam" (ft. Damian Marley), "Chase Dem". The bulk of Stephen Marley's debut solo album Mind Control is really good stuff, actually. It's worth buying the whole album -- easily enjoyed straight through from beginning to end & perfect for playing at parties through the warmer months (and it's finally sunny and warm-ish here in NYC!).

I first fell in love with this guy's voice on Erykah Badu's track "In Love with You". Until now, he's never done a solo thing -- he's been working in music for years though -- with his brothers, people like Ms. Badu & Eve, producing, ... so you probably know his music without realizing it.

Sometimes on this new record of his, his vocals eerily channel his father's voice. And yet, this music is most definitely his own -- it's *modern* reggae full of lots of current influences. And oh, yeah, it's not all mellow either -- there are definitely some dance tracks too ("Traffic Jam", "Let Her Dance"). Anyway, check it out.

And check this YouTube for an acoustic version of "Inna di Red":

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Words Fail Me

Air - Alone in Kyoto

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Surprisingly Entertaining American Idol Country Week

First off, how lovely is Martina McBride?!?!?

Living in Manhattan where you don't hear much of it, I sometimes forget that I like country music. Sure, there's plenty of awful country music - but there's plenty of awful music in every genre. And when country is good, it can be great. Martina McBride was right on. The best country music is master storytelling - telling believable stories and telling them with heart. There is something simple and true and pure about great country music -- and great country artists. And, as I'm pushing my way into a crowded subway car full of seemingly perpetually irritated, and often smelly, strangers, being transported to open, country air through a simple melody might be really helpful. Maybe a little more country music is exactly what my NYC Qi could use for balance.

So, the show. I love Bonnie Raitt. I love the song "Something To Talk About". Sanjaya's stated goal was to do Bonnie Raitt justice!? Are you KIDDING me!? Watching that song get completely destroyed was perhaps the most painful American Idol viewing experience of the season for me - and believe me there has been plenty of competition for that crown. Why did you give him clearance to do it, Bonnie, why?! I am praying that Sanjaya will go this week. Though I'm starting to worry that he's going to win the whole thing, which I am also starting to admit would be as hilarious as it would be unfairly tragic.

Real quick notes on the others. Melinda was as awesome as always. She looked great, too. Phil Stacey, yes, surprisingly decent. I agree - he's bound for country music. Chris Richardson's Rascal Flatts song was extremely disappointing. I don't even like him, but I thought he'd do better than that this week. Blake - polished and seemingly secure in himself as always --- but his persona is starting to really annoy me. I start to feel sick when I watch him at times. I don't know why, exactly. It's like he's trying too hard or something. I like his songs better if I don't look at him while I'm listening. Jordin's performance - though not perfect - had goosebump moments of greatness. I think she's my favorite right now because besides being able to sing, she's young, yet mature, and she takes risks. I like that. She's probably really really annoying in person though. And, finally, I felt so badly for Lakisha. She tried to put herself out there and sing something she truly connected to, but it just wasn't good. It wasn't the right song for her. I wanted it to be good, but it wasn't. Oh well. Hopefully she'll get a next week.

Now check out one of my favorite country songs ever:

Monday, April 16, 2007

God's Gift to USC? Now Div I Ballin' [Lil'] Romeo Miller

Is Romeo Miller God's Gift to USC?

Maybe it shouldn't be surprising that South Central's own SC has officially cornered the market on the rapper-baller.

The artist formerly known as Lil' Romeo is officially going to be a Trojan come fall of 2008.

Dude. It's hard to decide whether this was a better *business* decision on the part of USC sports or for Romeo/his genius dad Master P. In USC's court, can you imagine what this is going to do for ticket sales? Merchandise sales? Half-time shows? Team after-parties?

Like Jay-Z, Master P (& maybe his prodigy Romeo, too) is not a businessssssman, he's [they're] a BUSINESS, ... MAN.

Not only does Romeo get a full athletic scholarship (like he needed the $$???) and a chance to "focus on his studies & basketball rather than music/Hollywood".... he also gets the opportunity to:
- slam dunk the perfect PR set-up for the May 22 release of his upcoming album Gumbo Station, which maybe not so coincidentally is reported to feature Dr. Dre production, as well as high profile guest spots from people like Rihanna & Lil Wayne
- sub in four years of true-South-Central street cred for his Beverly Hills High past, and
- hedge his music/balling bets with an education from the best film school in the country.

I don't know....my bro-in-law Geoff, a die-hard SC alum & fan, is skeptical about how Romeo's skills will hold up on the Div I courts. Forgetting about revenue benefits for a moment, did USC's NCAA tourney hopes for those 4 years just get stuffed by Master P & Romeo? Or will SC have the last laugh, as upon closer reading of the press coverage, it seems Romeo came in a package with his best friend Comptonite Demar Derozan, #46 in Scout.com's top 100 of the recruiting class of 2008? Geoff predicts that, overall, this SC news will help make him a repeat winner of Peter's NCAA pool in the years to come!

Thank you, Arturo Sandoval!

Usually it's old Jay-Z faves or some other hip-hop that gets me through my runs. Today, the mind(trumpet)-blowing Arturo Sandoval was AWESOME for helping me salsa-sprint through speedwork! If you think jazz is boring, you clearly haven't listened to this.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Good for Brightening a Rainy Day: The Pipettes

Last month I dragged Rich to an Amy Winehouse show. Amy Winehouse was quite the spectacle live - at the time, I actually wrote about it to JShep, who posted part of my mini-dissertation about it on her blog.

Thank god for the Pipettes (the openers), who were as intriguing as Winehouse, only sober and full of spunk and sass and Shangri-La moves. Rich, with his British appreciation for irony, found them "endlessly entertaining". They kept his blackberry in his pocket while we waited for Winehouse. Haha. I think Pitchfork describes them as "post-retro" - that's a perfect description. You have to see them live to fully appreciate them (they are better live/as performers than on recordings), but check them out on myspace if you don't know them already.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Random Josh Rouse Posts

Today I'm in the mood to give a random Josh Rouse plug --because he's a really quality singer-songwriter but not that commercially recognized, and the man deserves more popularity. My favorite song of his is "Winter in the Hamptons" -- it's a really delicate mix of two invented subgenres Rich & I call "whiny white boy music" (e.g., Howie Day) & "happy bop bop music" (e.g., Tahiti 80). Now, that's a hard combo to pull off, but this song does it well.

While searching for an MP3 posting of the studio version of "Winter in the Hamptons" elsewhere in the blogosphere, to my surprise I discovered that another music blogger felt a very similar random-josh-rouse-posting urge just a few weeks ago! And Cronhauer's version on his Your Moment of Zen blog is way more thoughtful than mine. So check it out for his insightful two cents on Josh Rouse & for his mp3s! Thanks Cronhauer!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Soulive - playing NYC tonight & new album

I first heard Soulive a few years ago at one of those scheduled-for-2 am JazzFest shows that Rich & I have now decided we're to old & lame to handle (thank you Scott for dragging us there late night that year!). This band can JAM and through a bunch of different genres, too: funk, soul, jazz, latin, hip-hop, R&B, a little pop and rock at times. Basically, if some groove can be found in it, they're down. Instrumentally, they are one of the most consistently tight bands I've ever seen. Eric Krasno & both the Evans brothers are just solid. If your head isn't nodding at one of their shows, you might not be human (or hearing). I especially love the drummer, Alan (shown in the pic). There might be some kind of correlation between how big your hair is and the quality of your stick skills, since my other fav drummer also sports an awesome 'fro. Hmm... maybe there's a new research study for me. Ha. Does anyone know if Erykah Badu can drum? Actually, maybe I just really like huge 'fros. My favorite Soulive guest vocalist, Reggie Watts is yet another with larger-than-life hair.

Which brings me to some potentially disappointing Soulive news, actually. This new album (7/31/07 release date), No Place Like Soul, features the vocalist Toussaint who has apparently become a full-time member of the band... and while Toussaint is fine(I like his reggae band!)... from the few new tracks I have heard thus far, I think his influence makes the band's sound just a tinge too sunny (that reggae influence maybe). I like Soulive better with slightly more hard-edged soul & NYC swagger (Reggie!!). But have a listen and you decide... hopefully when the whole album comes out, I'll decide I was wrong.

Of the Myspace new tracks, I like "Outrage" (pure instrumental) & "Comfort" the best (they're the groovier ones naturally).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

ADIOS, Legs!!!

Yes, I watch American Idol along with the rest of the country, apparently including Jenny-from-the-Block & "her husband". I'm not as into it the past couple seasons as I was in the beginning, but DVR makes it much less taxing to watch. Esp. on the results shows where they fill time with so much crap. Last night, I wish I HAD fast forwarded through that horrendous group performance of "Bailamos". Didn't anyone else notice how out of tune it sounded??? The whole thing was just a mess - botched arrangement or something in addition to the pitch problems. My friend Jeremy's beloved Enrique Iglesias must have had a stroke if he too watches Idol. ANYWAY... there was one perfectly *in tune* moment on the show last night, and that would be when Ryan announced that we don't have to listen to Haley Scarnato's bad elevator music vocals any longer. FINALLY!!! Sorry, Haley, much as you would like to work the sex appeal-trumps-talent music career strategy, your legs - lovely as they are - don't amount to no J-Lo. They do, however, give me a good reason to link to a sample of one of the funkiest songs about legs ever and for that I'll be eternally grateful:


p.s. Thank you to Blake for reminding me what a good song Mr. J-Lo's "I Need to Know" is. That there is a mighty catchy one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

They're called Illinois...

but they're from my home state of Pennsylvania. Even more specifically, they're from Central Bucks county, which is where Rich & I got married! Pink is from there too, actually. And Justin Guarini. Haha. How embarrassing.

Anyway, don't ask why they're called Illinois b/c I have no clue, but this indie band from right near where I grew up is pretty darn good. Lots of people at SXSW last month thought so too, if you worry about any geographical biases affecting my recommendations.

In honor of a) the fact that Rich is in Sweden this week making the title timely for me and b) the fact that it's just a great song, check out "Alone Again". I like it a ton just the way it is, but during the instrumental sections, I also keep half-expecting to hear it turn into a Fort Minor song or to hear Jay-Z or Eminem start spitting. I guess I think a quality hip-hop remix of it might turn out very cool too.

P.S. No, they don't sound anything like Sufjan Stevens, but I loved his mesmerizing Illinoise as well.

Blogging... who me??

Hello. This is my first foray into the world of blogging. I read a bunch of blogs. I write lots of e-mails that oddly kind of sound like blogs. Still, up until now, I have been resisting taking the Blogger free open mic for some improv of my own.

For some reason, though, tonight I said to myself, "why not?" I've sent enough impulsive, unsolicited e-mails to friends raving about this new song I can't stop playing on repeat or that surprisingly awesome opening act. It seems like it'd be a better idea to post all these things in one spot, where people can go and read what I've got to say if they want to and when they want to.

Maybe in 10 years, it'll be amusing to have a record of the soundtracking I tend to lay over my life -- to chuckle at whatever random songs or artists I fall in ...and often out... of love with. And if I help others find music they like along the way, that'd make me really happy.

So, yeah, this is going to be mostly a music blog, because my most tenacious impulses to gush tend to be about music. But... I have been known to be called "research gal" for reasons that go beyond my obsessive MySpace/Rhapsody/professional music blog treasure hunts and my current gig as a PhD student. So don't think I'm going to be able to refrain from posting about other stuff that you might just NEED to know. Like the excellent Van Gogh & Expressionism exhibit at the Neue Galerie (esp. Egon Scheile). Or the 150% that the incomparable Liev Schreiber is putting out there every night in Talk Radio. Or the fact that next Tues. April 17 from 12 pm to 8 pm is Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day (thanks Emily!).

We'll see how it goes...

in the meantime, I have to:

1) shut down my iTunes and stop bopping around to Devin the Dude's "What a Job" (feat. two of my old favs, Snoop & Andre 3000) and the leak of Mario's "Kryptonite" (feat. Rich Boy) [link to stream, c/o Authorize TV].
2) go to sleep so I can get up in time to go running, since my husband, Rich, & I recently committed to running a half-marathon (yep, the above 2 songs are going on my running playlist. Def don't think I could do this half-marathon thing w/out EITHER of my beloved training buddies... Rich OR my IPod Shuffle), and
3) send a shout to JShep, a *real* (and really amazing) music writer/blogger, who has been encouraging me to start a little blog for a while now... and to my fav Amman-bound future awesome architect, who has been seconding JShep's call and leads by example in the domain of following one's bliss. YOU LADIES INSPIRE ME.