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.