Julian Casablancas – who knew?

Wow, did this one come out of nowhere. I’d never come across Julian Casablancas‘s post-Strokes solo stuff until just last week, when I heard it on a local indie AM station. I seeked out the record, and was amazed. Great pop hooks, a retro electronic vibe, while still managing to be fresh and unique. Just a really original and enjoyable album.

“Out of the Blue” opens the album, and is one of those crank it up sorts of tunes – crank in the car, crank on some headphones… just Crank it somewhere.

BuyOut of the Blue for $0.99, or the whole album, Phrazes For The Young, for only $4.99.

New Tunes from What Laura Says

Here are a couple of free & clear tastes from the forthcoming album (June 8th) by local band doin’ good What Laura Says. Below the tunes is a trippy newly released video – a “dubbed-out tanpura remix” from the new record, set to decomposed film footage of a 1960’s carnival (of unknown location – somewhere back East, apparently). I’ll have to pass on to the good folks at Shorpy, whose readers could probably name the place in a snap.

The Friday Five: March 26, 2010

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

Editor’s Note: I want to take just a moment to thank Rob Smith for filling in for me last week. I strongly recommend checking out his series Death by Power Ballad, over at Popdose. He is a huge influence on my writing style, and truth be told, I was honored to have him cover for me. Now, onto this week’s five! – Michael

The Five:

“Spoon” by Dave Matthews Band (from Before These Crowded Streets, 1998)

Before These Crowded Streets remains my favorite record by Dave Matthews Band. It has a dynamic that I think that the band has been chasing ever since its release, and has only come close to with their most recent release Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King. “Spoon” is the record’s final cut, and features Alanis Morissette on vocals, Bela Fleck on Banjo. The lyrics find Dave contemplating God himself in a cup of coffee. Alanis delivers the knockout, third verse:

From time to time
Minutes and hours
Some move ahead while
Some lag behind
It’s like the balloon that
Rise and then vanish
This drop of hope
That falls from his eyes

“The Idea of You” by Dave Matthews Band (from 2008-08-26: DMB Live Trax, Volume 14, 2009)

More DMB? I’ll take it! This recording is from the final show saxophonist LeRoi Moore performed with the band before the ATV accident that lead to his death. The tune is an unreleased gem that the band has played multiple incarnations of in the last few years. Matthews’ has mentioned on numerous occasions that the track is about his unrequited crush on a childhood babysitter. I’ve maintained since the first time I heard it in 2006, that if they released this as a single it would be just a big of a “hit” as “Crash (Into Me).” The band shelved this song for the 2009 tour, and it’s uncertain if it will resurface, but here’s hoping it does.

“A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles (from A Hard Day’s Night, 1964)

Now that the second – or was it the third – wave of Beatlemania has settled down a bit, I’ve been spending some quality time with each of the remastered records individually. A Hard Day’s Night is the record that I seem to come back to most often, likely driven by my love of the title track and only furthered by its association with the film of the same name. I’ve watch the movie at least three or four times in the last six months, as it seems to pop up on VH1 Classic or Palladia at least once a month.

“Momma’s Boy” by Chromeo (from Fancy Footwork, 2008)

I love Chromeo. That’s it.

“Perfection” by Run D.M.C. (from Raising Hell, 1986)

Back in the day, my friend Ducky and I – yes, we called him Ducky – would learn and recite the rhymes from this record. This one I always rocked a little extra hard, if only for the following:

I got a funky fresh (car) with the funky fresh (bar)
I’m a funky fresh (star) and I’m up to (par)

Now that I’ve embarrassed myself, I think I’ll go ahead and ask the question:

What’s on your shuffle today?

New Gaslight Anthem: “American Slang”

Over the last couple of days, not only did Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem join Facebook, but they also released their first single (and title track) from their forthcoming album American Slang. Stoked! This means not only will we all be rocking out to a new Gaslight album in a few short months (June 15th), but we’ll also have the chance to catch them live – which is an experience all its own. Their studio albums are impressive, but live is where their music pulses and breathes.  Can’t wait.

Hear “American Slang” on the Gaslight Anthem’s Facebook page.

Here’s the track list:
01. American Slang
02. Stay Lucky
03. Bring It On
04. The Diamond Church Street Choir
05. The Queen of Lower Chelsea
06. Orphans
07. Boxer
08. Old Haunts
09. The Spirit Of Jazz
10. We Did It When We Were Young

The Friday Five: March 19, 2010

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

Editor’s Note: It doesn’t happen often, but I’m actually going to be away from all forms of internet today so I’ve asked my Popdose cohort, Rob Smith, to watch the shop for me today. I’m sure you will all make him feel right at home, and I’ll be back next week! – Michael

The Five:

Huh?  Wha?  You want me to do what?  Lead off this week?  Sure, dude.  Absolutely.  Anytime.

Here goes:

Gowan, “Moonlight Desires.”  Cool live version, solo piano.  I like this a lot better than the original studio version, with Jon Anderson on guest vocals.  Gowan, of course, has been the new Dennis DeYoung in Styx for the last 11 or so years.  I know a few Styx fans who can’t stand Gowan, but it’s not like he won a Rock Star: Styx competition to get the gig or anything. He had a solid, though unspectacular career prior to joining the band.  I recommend this live record (called Solo Live: No Kilt Tonight) for Gowan’s voice and chops, certainly, but also his humor (he performs a 30-second snippet of Monty Python’s “Lumberjack Song”) and this most excellent ballad.

Escape Club, “Wild Wild West.” Jesus freakin’ Christ, I have Escape Club on my iTunes?  Damn that Like, Omigod box set.  On the rare occasions I hear this song, I think about doing radio in college, freshman and sophomore years.  We had a Top 40 show I’d DJ on occasion, and this one was in the stacks and played pretty much constantly [I also think of Information Society’s “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)” when I hear this, cuz both tracks were more or less ubiquitous].  We could play Escape Club once an hour with no complaints from management, but when I tried to squeeze in Thomas Dolby’s “Airhead,” I got in trouble.  I did win once, though — I was the first to play Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy,” got yelled at, but was eventually vindicated when it became, oh I don’t know, the Number One song in the country. I had fucking EARS back then, man!  But I hate Escape Club.  Shit.  Next?

Van Halen, “Unchained.” That’s more like it.  My fave Van Halen song, whether performed by Roth, Hagar (on the ’04 tour — fucking awesome), or Cherone.  I just think the riff is tops — one of the simplest and best Eddie VH ever conjured. Big fail, though — having Wolfie do the “C’mon Dave, give me a break” line on the most recent tour. Roth could eat that kid alive, and on occasion did. You’d think Ed would want to protect his only child from wiseacres like Roth. Perhaps ye olde parental instinct got burned out during one or another evening with the Schlitz Malt Liquor tallboys.

Jonatha Brooke, “Because I Told You.” The gods smile upon me. I love Brooke’s music, particularly the stuff from the Story through maybe ’95 or ’96.  This is from her first live record, and it’s a gem. A track from Ten-Cent Wings, arguably her best solo record, the melody gives me chills every time I hear it (only other song to do so consistently: Springsteen’s “Bobbie Jean.” Man, when that sax solo kicks in at the end …).  The sorta/kinda middle-eight is particularly beautiful: “You take the wheel for now / I’m too tired to drive this one home anyhow, for now.” Find this if you’ve never heard it — studio version or live.  You’re welcome.

John Denver, “Rocky Mountain High.” Fuck you if you think this is wimpy. Just … I don’t want to hear it. It takes a man — a real man, one not afraid to mow his lawn in the nude — to come up with a chorus like this one. “I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky?” Are you kidding me?  Fucking great image.  I also like the AM radio vibe on this; it doesn’t matter what I hear this song on — computer, earbuds, boombox, or multi-component stereo system — it still sounds like I’m listening to it in my dad’s old Chrysler.  The one with the manual transmission, shift on the column.  But I don’t want to hear that it’s crap, or wussified pap, or unfit for man or Muppet. Great song. “Friends around the campfire and everybody’s high?”  I could go for being around that campfire right about now.

So anyway, now that I’ve defended John Denver by telling you all to fuck yourselves, I suppose that I should ask forgiveness.  But really, all I want to know is this: What’s on YOUR shuffle?

Tunes from The Last Waltz

The Last Waltz – best concert film of all time? Certainly right up there. When I stumble upon it on TV, like I did tonight, there’s no way I can turn away.

Thanksgiving 1976. The Band. Bob Dylan. Van Morrison. Neil Young. Dr. John. Joni Mitchell. Muddy Waters. Eric Clapton. Neil Diamond. Ronnie Wood. Ringo Starr. Ronnie Hawkins. Paul Butterfield.

Still such a thrill to watch.  Here’s the last song of the show, as Dylan leads The Band and all the guests in his own tune, “I Shall Be Released”…

Oh hell, let me add a few other tunes…

The Band w/ Neil Diamond
“Dry Your Eyes”

The Band w/ Joni Mitchell


The Band w/ Muddy Waters
“Mannish Boy”

Ick’s Pick: Josh Rouse’s El Turista

I knew next to nada about Josh Rouse before hearing of his new album El Turista a couple weeks ago. The review I read spoke of laid back Latin-inspired rhythms, the kind of vibe Stan Getz and João Gilberto exuded. That’s my kind of vibe.

After streaming the album on Lala (sounding like a broken record with Lala lately), I was hooked. One listen is all it took. And I know there are those of you out there who will lock in the same way I did.

Take some time right now – listen to this record on the nifty little widget down there.

Then, here you go: El Turista (Bonus Version). You’ll thank me later.

Phish confirmed for Telluride Town Park

If the ticket gods are kind, then come August 9th and 10th, I’ll be in one of my favorite places on earth – Telluride, Colorado – to see Phish! My first Phish show was 20 years ago, when Phish came to my school (Colorado College) for an outdoor Earth Day show with Pike’s Peak in the background. Since then, I’ve seen them play in Arizona, Las Vegas, Wisconsin, and London.

When I heard that Phish may play Telluride this summer, a heavenly spot where my parents live during the summers, I knew that I’d need to find a way. Well, if I can score the tickets, I will be there! Oh hell yeah…

See all the dates from their just announced Summer Tour right here.

And here’s a “Lizards” from their Colorado ’88 collection (the cover features Trey & Mike crossing Telluride’s main drag, Colorado Ave).

Elvis Presley’s first Ed Sullivan Appearance

I finished up Peter Guralnick’s “part one” bio of Elvis Presley last week, a book called Last Train To Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley. It’s a fascinating and exhilarating look at “50’s Elvis,” including his first TV appearances in 1956.

Earlier in ’56, Elvis had made his first television appearances on shows hosted by the Dorsey Brothers, Milton Berle, and Steve Allen. These appearances shocked – SHOCKED! – the nation’s old guard. The media, parents, and citizens of high moral fortitude (yeah right) were appalled at the sexual connotations set forth by Mr. Presley. Of course, his actions then wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in today’s cesspool of cultural waste – but in 1956, ooo-weee, look out America, Elvis the Pelvis is comin’ for your kids!

On September 9th, 1956, Elvis made his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Mr. Sullivan was recovering from a serious car accident, so Charles Laughton actually hosted the program in the New York City studio. Across the country in Hollywood, Elvis was filming his first motion picture, Love Me Tender, so his first appearance on Ed Sullivan was simulcast from CBS Television City.

The clips below skip the intros by Laughton, so if you have a Netflix account, I’d recommend watching the entire show (available streaming). But what we have here with Elvis’s performances are pure magic. The show was viewed by 60 million Americans that night – a staggering 82.6% of the total television audience. I’m sure it changed some minds and solidified some others.

But man oh man, to be a music lover in the year 1956. It’s hard to imagine now, but try to think back to the mindset of 1950’s America – you flip on the television on a Sunday night and you see this

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“Ready Teddy” is my favorite of the bunch. I love the way he kicks off the song with a finger point to the drummer – going from 0 to 60 in about 5 seconds. This is pure Elvis – unrestrained and one of a kind.

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