[ Friday, July 29, 2005 ]
Have yerself a laugh
A friend turned me on to this website, which had me laughing hard at least a half-dozen times:http://www.boston.com/ae/music/gallery/bad_album_covers/
By the way, the slogan for the new Michael Bay film THE ISLAND could be the slogan for my upcoming film THE GRADUATE SCHOOL: "You have been chosen. Plan your escape."
On the box right now: Gap Band, ULTIMATE COLLECTION.
Dove With Claws [3:08 PM]
[ Thursday, July 28, 2005 ]
Six strings, one heartache
I've been listening to Rhino Records' new 1990s box-set, the latest installment in their decade-overview collections that try (usually successfully) to cram an entire decade's popular music into 7 discs. While this set seems a little too white and a little too indie for my tastes, they've once again managed to put together a mighty enjoyable set of music, that sets my nostalgic heart a-fluttering. It's nice that certain songs - Kris Kross' "Jump" or Spin Doctors' "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" - have returned from the other end of the irony pendulum, simply returning to their home position as great pop songs.
One thing that it's definitely confirming is that the last decade was a kind of heyday for big, guitar-heavy, anthemic, American rock and roll: Wallflowers, Gin Blossoms, Soul Asylum, Counting Crows, Joan Osborne, even Hootie and the Blowfish or The Black Crowes. While not all those artists are on the set, there's definitely a nice strain of the kind of 60s-influenced rock music that I've only recently realized had a major impact on my own musical consciousness. As John Capista (www.elcuentodemivida.blogspot.com
) said the other night, listening to "Runaway Train": "This sounds like one of your songs." I've noticed, believe me.
(By the way, how fucking great a song is Joan Osborne's "One Of Us?")
Two other political notes:
1)Even though some aren't happy with Jon Stewart's interview of Rick Santorum the other night on THE DAILY SHOW, I thought it was a pretty successful example of how THE DAILY SHOW has become one of the few bastions of true, respectful journalism on American television. Did he nail Santorum the way I'd have liked? Of course not. But at least the two had a probing discussion without resorting to talking points or yelling.
2)Make sure you follow the Karl Rove story. It gets better and better and better...
On the box right now: Stevie Wonder, MUSIC OF MY MIND.
Dove With Claws [7:43 AM]
[ Monday, July 25, 2005 ]
I'm alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) awed and disgusted by Ryan Adams, whose overly romantic rock-star bullshit gets on my nerves, and who consistently makes great and interesting music. I've been revisiting Whiskeytown's three albums over the past few days, and I guess I'm back in love with Ryan. There's some really fantastic music on these records, even if Caitlyn Cary's voice and violin has a very significant role to play in all that. It's astonishing how much he sounds like Gram Parsons on some of these tracks, and Paul Westerberg on others. I've always thought of Ryan as a highly talented magpie, nothing more and nothing less, and the Whiskeytown stuff confirms that. And my god can this guy write a song. Like Jeff Tweedy, who manages to be both more and less pretentious than Ryan, Mr. Adams is amassing a truly impressive body of songs, and I imagine that, years from now, I'll look back with slightly rosier glasses than I would be prone to view him through now. (After all, I was at the famous 2001 Madison show when he basically acted like an ass for three hours, sometimes pausing to rock like a motherfucker.) Maybe he'll mellow, or maybe I'll grow more tolerant, but - until then - I'll have about ten or twelve handfuls of great songs to tide me over (with more assuredly on the way). We shall see.
On the box right now: Whiskeytown, STRANGER'S ALMANAC.
Dove With Claws [6:55 PM]
[ Sunday, July 24, 2005 ]
Lousy bastards: Addendum to Sly
So, I thought I was going nuts, because I was sure I remembered the article where I first read about this Sly tribute as listing a track on the album by Nappy Roots. No such track exists on the Starbucks version, so I began to question my original observation. (I'm not always the most reliable source, so this was a wise choice.) Looking back at the article, I realized that there was
a Nappys cut on the play list, and that it was a version of "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey." I now imagine - combined with the fact that there are a couple bleeped curses on the Starbucks version - that the company is marketing a version of the album that doesn't include this "potentially controversial" cut. For a variety of reasons, this - to quote our friend Kevin McCool - really pisses me off. Apart from the fact that this means I'll have to find a hook-or-crook way to get ahold of at least the Nappy Roots track when it's "properly" released in September, it also means that apparently the pseudo-enlightened, crunchy-ass white liberals who run the Starbucks company didn't feel that their customers should be exposed to an honest, and by no means gratuitous, discussion of the ambiguities of race hatred. (And, as we all know, it's not the ideas
that scare them so much as the simple words
, which is childish and all too common.) This is bullshit, surreptitiously slipped into the bedsheets of unassuming fools like me, who still believe(d) that only Wal-Mart had the juice to strong-arm record companies into censoring themselves. Starbucks is guilty (which, I must admit, gives me another reason to despise them gleefully), and so is Columbia Records. I'm guilty, too, because I fell for it, but I'm not gonna let the same snake bite me twice. J'accuse!
On the box right now: Van Morrison, INTO THE MUSIC. I've always hated Van's redundant and uninteresting rants against major record companies, but maybe he's got a point...
Dove With Claws [9:47 PM]
What is it good for?
Let me tell a brief story, to illustrate an upcoming point: I read about this upcoming Sly Stone tribute album, advertised in the article as coming out in September. Telling a few music-geek friends about this, one informed me that the disc was already available at the "Hear Music" kiosk at Starbucks. Believing him, I (gulp) went to Starbucks yesterday, and - sure enough - there it was. I picked it up, and realized that along with it there were five other albums that weren't available anywhere else. Three of these were special Starbucks compilations, but the other two were discs that are going to be widely released, but haven't been sent to regular record stores (or the big-box retailers) yet. Starbucks isn't the only store doing this; believe it or not, Cracker Barrel is having a lot of success with a series of exclusive releases and collections, and most of the big-boxes have the occasional "exclusive" bonus that accompanies the release of new albums. This collusion between record labels and big national chains, combined with the now-irreversible rise of downloading and file-sharing, is basically conspiring to kill small record retailers.
Now, before you think I'm going into a screed about the poor local stores getting screwed by major corporations (even though I easily, and sincerely, could), I also wish to point out, independently of this, I have noticed in the past few months that each of the 5 or 6 local record stores that I frequent have all dramatically increased their sales of used discs, clearance overstock, or - the best part - promotional copies
sent to them by the record companies. This last one, of course, is completely illegal. And it's getting to the point where it's unusual not to see a few marked-down discs with that trademark red "This disc is not for sale..." sticker lining the racks.
So, while I was standing in Starbucks, ready to swallow my buy-local-fair-trade-fuck-cultural-homogenaity pride in order to get a two-month jump on an enticing Sly tribute, I realized that the attempted squashing of local record stores by corporate America has, unsurprisingly, been greeted with an equal and opposite reaction: the locals have declared war on the record companies. Just as the American public has file-shared our way into a reappropriation of goods, the remaining bastions of the mom-and-pop strongholds have themselves, in their small and disorganized way, struck back at the majors and big-boxes. And I for one, am fine with it, since I don't want to have to buy my music at a place where I can't even bring myself to buy a cup of coffee.
On the box right now: Various Artists, DIFFERENT STROKES BY DIFFERENT FOLKS. Yep, that's the one.
Dove With Claws [8:43 AM]