Wednesday, January 31, 2007

This Two Will Change Your Life

According to Pitchfork, the little indie-pop band that could has the #2 album on the Billboard charts, with 118,000 units sold on its first week of release. Even if they might not be your thing, someone like the Shins selling that many albums (and iTunes downloads) out of the box can't be anything but good news for fans of all kinds of good music.

And now I feel like I'm a part of something! I picked up Wincing The Night Away last Tuesday at Best Buy. It was just an $8.99 impulse buy, but I can't remember the last time I bought an album at the store on the day of release.

I've listened to Wincing a handful of times, and the jury's still out on my final views. I like the first "side" (everything through "Phantom Limb") a lot more than the second. It starts out with four or five great songs in a row. Then it drags a little on the second half. Not anything I'm tempted to skip or turn off, but the songs all blend together. This seems a lot more "dense" than their first two albums. The best songs on Oh Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow were the stripped down and bare ones, but everything on this one has layers of stuff going on under the surface. I still haven't decided if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

And not to get all older-school-than-thou, but my first exposure to the Shins was in March 2001 at the SF Noise Pop Festival, sandwiched between the Orange Peels and the Aislers Set at the Bottom of the Hill. That was six months before Oh Inverted World came out. Most of the BOTH crowd loved them, but I thought the singer was trying to channel Robert Smith or Ian McCullough a little too obviously. Plus they're kinda boring live.

But #2 on the album charts on the first week is nothing to scoff at! (Pitchfork). Hooray for our side!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


A bunch of Rubinoos CDs were added to emusic this week, including their most recent one Twist Pop Sin. This came out last year, and was previously available only as a costly Japanese import. I found a copy during Tower Records' going-out-of-business blowout sale for 75% off the $29.99 list price ($7.50), mostly because I've always wanted to purchase a CD for $20 off list price!

I also just found out that their 1983 mini-LP Party of Two (a collaboration with Utopia produced by Todd Rundgren) is scheduled to be reissued in March, with six bonus tracks.

These guys have been together for nearly 35 years without changing their sound, despite their brand of pop being out of fashion for most of those 35 years. According to their myspace page, they still list Berkeley as their home, but they haven't played more than two local gigs in the last ten years (and I missed them both times). I've only seen them once, at the Starry Plough in the early 90s, and hopefully will see them again before they hang it up.

I've been a Rubinoos fan since the first time I heard "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" on the radio (KFRC AM) . It didn't really sound like anything around at that time, and that song had a timeless 8th grade innocence that spoke to my 8th grade self. I went to buy the record, and told the clerk at the Record Factory I was looking for an album by the Rubynews with "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" on it. He ended up giving me the first Ramones record (which also has a song called "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend"), either by mistake or maybe just to mess with me. The band names (Rubinoos, Ramones) were close enough that I thought I'd just misheard the name, but that was not the case.

All these years on, the Rubinoos still exude the same junior high innocence they did when they started, even though they're all pushing (or maybe even pulling) 50. If the power pop genre has lifetime achievement awards, these guys have definitely earned theirs!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Killing me by degrees

I've been meaning to comment about this article about from last week's East Bay Express.
Now, there's a new player in the game, one that might likely change the way music is heard and possessed.
Lala is an online swap service where people trade CDs they don't want for ones that they do. Evidently this is such a revolutionary idea that it will make us stop listening to CDs with our ears and storing them on shelves. Used record stores have been around for a long time, and lala is just like trading in your unwanted CDs to Amoeba. The main difference is that at a used store, you can get cash or store credit for your purchase, and at lala you get "credit for a free trade". Good karma. You send a CD to someone, they pay $1.75 to a third party, and you get "good karma", which near as I can tell, is the chance to pay pay $1.75 to that same third party for a CD that you want. So one unwanted CD + $1.75 = another user's unwanted CD.

Another difference, and one of lala's PR selling points is that 20% of each CD trade goes to "the artist". That's after the shipping costs. This works through lala's non-profit Z Foundation which establishes a trust fund that provides health care to "working musicians" (defined as "any individual who has performed live or on a recorded release in the last year and whose music-related income accounts for more than half of their total income"). Their monthly contributions (somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000) could provide health care to somewhere between 50 and 250 working musicians. Better than the cup of nothing that artists get when someone buys a used copy of their disc at Amoeba.

Lala discourages "rip and ship", or ripping a disc to your computer then shipping it to another user. This is "both illegal and against Lala policy". Bad karma. Their terms of service states that "if you ship the CD, you must delete the files". The buyers at Amoeba don't care what you did with your CD before you sold it to them. Because a used music retailer has no control over what users do with their music. And retaining a digital copy of a music CD before trading it away probably strains the boundaries of "fair use" and "first sale", but it's not really illegal. You can't go to prison for ripping and shipping. And the artists get the same %20 cut from ripper-shipper trades than they do from honest trades, so it doesn't "hurt artists" either. It's condescending to users, just like Apple putting "don't steal music" on every iPod.

And I'm still scratching my head over the final paragraph in the article.
In this latest David vs. Goliath battle for the heart of the cultural-technological nexus, vote your conscience and your wallet and back the small mobile intelligent unit over the lumbering monolithic Man. The bastards can't win all the time.
Of all the hype I keep hearing, the "stick it to the man" rhetoric is the most confusing. Lala's business model ("trade in your unwanted CDs for ones you want") isn't the Bastille. It won't alter the way we listen to music. It's just another way to dump your old Weezer CDs!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Australia Day Hangover

When I said earlier that "Friday on My Mind" was the only Easybeats song I had on CD, I forgot that I have "Gonna Have a Good Time Tonight" on Rhino's More Nuggets Vol. 2 CD. Which is a great compilation, with lots of the second attempts-at-hits by 60s one hit wonders.

The Easybeats - "Gonna Have A Good Time Tonight" [MP3]
(this should be a music player)

If this works, I should also be able to embed this youtube footage of the 'beats performing "Good Time" on Beat Club in 1968.

In 1987, "Good Time" had dueling cover versions by Jimmy Barnes w/Inxs (on the Lost Boys soundtrack) and the Hindu Love Gods (the R.E.M./Warren Zevon "supergroup") just for fun.

Someone I know just blogged about the new You Am I CD that Miles mentioned. I noticed that earlier this week. You Am I's meat & potatoes (meat pie & chips?) rock & roll might be back in vogue now that the Hold Steady are topping critics' polls. My emusic downloads were supposed to refresh on January 28th (today), but haven't yet. As soon as they do, Convicts will be the first thing I grab.

Meanwhile, to make up for not including You Am I on my Australia Day playlist, here are both sides of their 1993 debut single linked from other places on the internet. "Berlin Chair" b/w "I Can't Explain". The flip side was the debut single for another band.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday on My Mind: Aussie Aussie Oi

Today is Australia Day, so I've posted five antipodean tunes from my iTunes library to esnips for the enjoyment of my dozen readers. January is Summer in Australia, so they celebrate the same way that Yanks celebrate the 4th of July; with fireworks, and barbecues with Eskys full of cold VB (since Foster's is Australian for "making love in a canoe"). Here are five antipodean songs from the last five decades (1960s - 2000s) that would rock up any Aussie Day barbie!

From the 1960s:
The Easybeats - "Friday On My Mind" [mp3]
If you ask someone to name an Australian group from the 60s, most of them would name this band. And if you ask them to name a song by this group, most of them would name this song. One of the greatest TGIF songs ever. Its wikipedia description of minor-key verses building up to a major-key refrain reminds me of "Senses Working Overtime" by XTC. I'll bet this was one of Andy Partridge's motivations for writing "SWO".

From the 1970s:
The Go-Betweens - "Lee Remick" [mp3]
This is the Go-Betweens first single from 1978. Robert Foster's ode to an actress. He seems to be more fond of the B-side "Karen", which is on the 1978-1990 compilation and the Sunlight Striped Sound live CD/DVD. Both the A and B sides of this single are on their '78-79 Lost Album CD. This single sounds completely different than the GBs sounded later.

From the 1980s:
Paul Kelly & the Messengers - "Before Too Long" [mp3]
A ton of Australian bands made it internationally in the 80s (the Church, the Hoodoo Gurus, Midnight Oil, Men At Work, Air Supply), but Paul Kelly never really did. He's a Dylan/Springsteen level icon in Australia, still largely unknown in the Northern Hemisphere. This is from his 1987 album Gossip. His band were known as the Coloured Girls (from Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side") down under, but changed their name to the Messengers for the US market, since they were neither coloured nor girls. This song came out in 1987 at the height of US Aussiephilia (America's Cup, Crocodile Dundee, etc ) so I've never understood why it wasn't a huge Inxs-level hit.

From the 1990s:
The DM3 - "1 Time 2 Times Devastated" [mp3]
The winner of a coin-flip with You Am I, the DM3 were the brainchild of popmeister Dom Mariani, previously of the Stems and the Someloves. "1 x 2 x Devastated" is their best-known song, their "Friday On My Mind" if you will. This version is from an Australian power-pop compilation CD called Pop On Top!, which has a picture of a kangaroo playing a guitar on the cover. Kangaroos, Australian.. I get it!

From the 2000s:
The Chevelles - "Lost In Love" [mp3]
The Chevelles also have a song on that Pop On Top! compilation, but this is from their 2000 album Sun Bleached. It's always interesting when a band decides to cover another great song from their country's past, but sometimes it's even more interesting when they decide to rock up some sappy Air Supply love ballad.

I might keep doing this (posting five songs around a common theme) on future Fridays if it generates "positive feedback". Which means someone leaving a comment or email saying they like this.

The songs:
  1. The Easybeats - Friday On My Mind
  2. The Go-Betweens - Lee Remick
  3. Paul Kelly & the Messengers - Before Too Long
  4. The DM3 - One Time Two Times Devastated
  5. The Chevelles - Lost In Love

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I heard my mama cry

Earlier, I mentioned how I used to be a Chicago Bears fan when I lived in Illinois. That was 20+ years ago. I'm not a Bears' fan anymore. When it comes to sports teams, I'm like a chameleon adapting to my current locale. And after I moved to the SF Bay Area in 1987, I became a 49er fan (as I discovered when found myself cheering as the Niners stomped the Bears 41-0 on Monday Night Football that year) and have stayed one more-or-less ever since. Until recent years when the 49ers weren't very good. This year they were 7-9, which isn't very good, but better than the 4-12 they were last year or the 2-14 they were the year before that. So things are on the upswing in 49erland.

And if I were a Bears' fan last week, I would have stopped being one after last Sunday's NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field. The city of New Orleans was ravaged by a hurricane and a flood last year. The Saints had to play all their games on the road. This year both the team and the community are recovering. They nearly made it to the Super Bowl. It was the football feel good story of this year. Except for the Bears fan who hung this sign up at Soldier Field last Sunday.

For the graphically challenged, the sign says "Bears Finishing What Katrina Started". Which is not cool. Not at all. I know this is just one idiot (or group of idiots) out of 60 thousand fans, but it makes the Super Bowl more relevant when you have a team to root for. Or against, as the case may be. I've found a team to cheer against in Super Bowl XLI. Go Colts!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Venus the goddess of love can thank all the stars above

Last week I complained that Robyn Hitchcock hasn't played in San Francisco since Feb 2006. This week Robyn & The Venus 3 announced a U.S. Tour for the Spring that will take them to our fair city. I've only been doing this for a few weeks, and I'm already "making things happen".

Go see them if they're near you. Near here, they're playing at Slim's on April 10th, one day before the 30th Anniversary of The Beach Boys Love You. Maybe Robyn's Venus 3 mates Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck (who wrote the sleeve notes for the 2001 CD reissue of Love You) could persuade him to work up a cover of "Solar System" or "Johnny Carson" for its anniversary? Let it be so!

Around the same time, a new documentary on Robyn Hitchcock called "Sex, Food, Death, and Insects" (a nod to Amy X.'s "Death & Love & Insects"?) will debut Tuesday March 27th on the Sundance Channel. It's by John Edgington, who directed the most excellent Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story, so you know it's going to be a good one.

Speaking of upcoming 30th anniversaries, I just noticed a version of the 1977 Give It To The Soft Boys EP with a naked breast on the cover? If I'd seen that at a record shop when I was 12 or 13 years old, I'd have become a Robyn Hitchcock fan at a much younger age!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sixtagged Blue

As a rite of taggage, I've been tagged by Summervillain..

The rules are this

Each player of this game starts with "6 weird things about you". Each person who gets tagged needs to write a blog post of their own 6 weird things as well as clearly state this rule. After you state your 6 weird things, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says "you’re tagged" in their comments and tell them to read your blog for information as to what it means.
Six Weird Things About Me
  1. I didn't learn to drive a car until I was in my 20s.
  2. I nearly always choose three right turns over one left turn.
  3. I've been to more foreign countries (42) than US states (37).
  4. I still own more pre-recorded tapes than CDs.
  5. For CDs, I prefer digipaks to jewel cases.
  6. I take cable TV mostly for The Food Network and The Golf Channel.

Also, I don't know six bloggers who haven't already been tagged..

See Effing Aitch

Glazing over the lineups for the Coachella Festival last night, I noticed this.

..the Sunday lineup includes Rage Against The Machine, Air, Happy Mondays, Manu Chao, Willie Nelson, Paul Van Dyk, Crowded House, Kaiser Chiefs, Damien Rice, lacebo, Explosions In The Sky, Soulwax, Lily Allen, Jose Gonzalez, The Feeling, The Klaxons, The Kooks and Mika.

Crowded House? Wow! Neil Finn and Nick Seymour are currently auditioning drummers to replace the late Paul Hester, and are set to reform for a world tour. And if they're playing Coachella, they have to be playing somewhere in the Bay Area (probably either the Fillmore or the Warfield) shortly after that!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Talk of the Town

Field Music's second album Tones Of Town won't be coming out in the U.S. until February 20th13th, but is available for download from emusic on its U.K. release date of Jan 22nd. Which is today.
For those who don't know them, Field Music is/are a three-piece band from Sunderland (home of the Futureheads and Maximo Park) with two brothers, Peter and David Brewis, who sing and alternate between guitar and drums (depending on who sings lead) and keyboardist/bassist Andrew Moore, who also adds backing vocals. I saw them play an amazing show at SF's Bottom of the Hill last March, before their debut album was released in the US. It was a rainy Sunday night, and there couldn't have been more than 30 people in the audience, but they won over nearly everyone over the course of their set.

That self-titled debut album was one of the best things I heard in 2006. It was billed by their label as "Wire covering the Beach Boys", which gives a pretty good description of their sound, if not an ideal one. Peter and David are brothers, with the same knack for vocal harmonies that the Wilson brothers had, but they sound more English, closer to Ray and Dave than Brian, Carl, and Dennis. The addition of Andrew's keyboard and strings evoke XTC covering the Kinks or the Zombies. There's also a northern soul feel to the vocals and a 70s prog-rock quality that sounds like Peter Gabriel-era Genesis without all the soloing.
Those influences from their first record have are all extended further on Tones Of Town. Nearly half the songs have been available online for awhile. The first two tracks ("Give It Lose It Take It" and "Sit Tight") are available on the Memphis Industries label site, a few more songs are streamable on their myspace site, the initial single "A House is Not A Home" (not the Bacharach song) was posted on fluxblog a couple of weeks ago, and "In Context" was released as a single late last year. These tracks are all great individually, but hearing them in the context of the album shows how they all fit together into a whole 30 minutes of brilliance.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Just Here To Do The Super Bowl Shuffle

My NFL interest is at such an all-time low, when I heard Indy was finally headed to the Super Bowl, I thought maybe the NFL had hired the Shins to play the halftime show!

I didn't think I'd be able to use that line a few hours ago when the Colts were down 21-3. The second half, with Indy rallying to come back 38-34, made this AFC Championship the best professional football game of 2007.

The last time da Bears made the Super Bowl, I was attending college in Illinois, and was swept up in the Chicago Bearmania, much to the chagrin of my Packer-lovin' relatives in Wisconsin.
Anyway, I remember Super Bowl XX (46-10 ) vividly, and if that's all the Bears and Patriots can offer, I'm relieved they're not doing a sequel 21 years later. An I65 Bears-Colts showdown seems a lot more promising.

This year, da Bears aren't as impressive as they were in 1985-86, but they've still lost only two games all year. If they win the Super Bowl this year, Rex Grossman can unseat Trent Dilfer as the worst QB ever to win a Super Bowl. Da Colts look really impressive though, and congratulations to Peyton Manning for no longer being the worst QB to never make it to the big one.

Let the super hype begin!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Download more emusic!

I've been plugging emusic so much I should become an affiliate or something. Both of the new releases I've mentioned the past few days (Shake Some Action! and Meet The Smithereens!) were added there this week!

It must be the week of the three word imperative ending with an exclamation point.

Parsing the Fork

Parsefork is a "completely unnecessary music review aggregator" (as the author calls it) that scrapes record reviews from various websites (Pitchfork, Stylus, and Tiny Mix Tapes) and pulls the basic RSS info (artist, title, label, ranking, author,word count) into a sortable, filterable list of information to help find answers to all sorts of meaningless questions.

It's still a work-in-progress, and the clunky interface has an almost Bugzilla-like complexity (a single text box with a search button would work a lot better), but still a lot of fun to play around with. You can take some clueless Pitchfork review (let's take this one for the Hollies' Dear Eloise/King Midas) and discover that the same reviewer gave the Flaming Lips' Zaireeka a 0.0 rating but gave the The Soft Bulletin a 10.0 one year later. Talk about having a critical about-face on an artist!

Unfortunately Mango Starr (the reviewer who wrote this Tiny Mix Tapes slam of the Raconteurs' Broken Boy Soldiers last year) hasn't reviewed anything else for TMT.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

We'll blast that record to smithereenees!

For their first new material of the 21st century, the Smithereens have just released Meet The Smithereens! , a song-for-song replica of Meet The Beatles!, that January 1964 Capitol Records U.S. debut by England's Phenomenal Pop Combo. It's worth a listen (at least one listen. Stream it here when you've got 23 minutes to spare).

Not the Beatles but an incredible simulation. For further authenticity, the Smithereens should have persuaded Capitol (their former label) to press a duophonic LP version on cheap vinyl.

This should be a lot of fun live though (two nights at the Red Devil Lounge in Feb, yay!)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

They tell you your opinions

I wish one of my local NPR stations carried Sound Opinions. It uses that same time-tested formula of a balding critic from the Chicago Tribune and a chubby critic from the Chicago Sun Times, but instead of debating which way to point their thumbs on the latest movies, they discuss the latest music news and releases. It's "the world's only rock and roll talk show". It's Car Talk for music geeks!

Fortunately for the geographically unfortunate, the programs are available for streaming or downloading from their web site. Last week's episode (#59) featured a three song live set by Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 (Peter Buck & Scott McCaughey) which included a great impromptu cover of Syd Barrett's "Dominoes", a call with a record store owner in Juneau Alaska (who said he's been enjoying the "sunny California power pop" of the Loud Family & Anton Barbeau's What If It Works? during the Alaskan winter), and a discussion of the latest nominations for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (yawn, but I guess Peter Buck's other band made it in this year. Good for them!).

And apparently Peter's colleagues in that "other band" (Michael Stipe and Mike Mills) have joined Hitchcock and the Venus 3 at assorted dates on their recent UK tour. Or at least one of the dates. The Smudge of Ashen Fluff blog has a writeup of the Jan 7th show at the Zodiac in Oxford (avec mp3s). Scrolling further down is the news that Bill Berry likely will be joining R.E.M. at their HoF appearance in March, and even further down is an mp3 of Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3's performance of "Adventure Rocket Ship" on SO last weekend.

Which is where I came in. The only question left for me is when is Robyn Hitchcock playing San Francisco again? He hasn't been here since early last year, before the release of Olé Tarantula.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Traffic and Weather and Rocks and Things

Hooray, there's a new Fountains of Wayne album called Traffic and Weather coming in April! USA Today describes it as "a 14-track album of guitar-driven neo-psychedelia and retro-pop rife with intriguing characters ranging from an assassin target and department of motor vehicles clerk to a pair of lusty newscasters." That's just three songs, unless there are two separate songs about lusty newscasters, so there must be 11 more songs about other intriguing characters.

Adam Schlesinger also co-produced and co-wrote a couple of songs on the new America (yes that America) album Here & Now. They also cover songs by My Morning Jacket and Nada Surf, and anyone who's ever imagined Nada Surf's "Always Love" being sung by better singers doesn't have to imagine anymore. I'd link to an mp3 if I could find one, but I don't see any on the bloggregators. More proof that indie bloggers hate America.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Listen to the sound of my mind

It's hard for me not to like a band named after one of my favorite songs ever, especially when their self-titled debut album is also named after one of my favorite albums ever.

Let's All Turn On

Recently reissued with three bonus tracks and the original Australian cover art: The Hoodoo Gurus' debut Stoneage Romeos (not Stoneage Romeo, as emusic has it listed). The leadoff track "(Let's All) Turn On" has to be one of the best album starters ever. I once made a mix tape consisting of that song followed by all the songs mentioned in the lyrics.


  1. (Let's All) Turn On - The Hoodoo Gurus
  2. Shake Some Action - The Flamin' Groovies
  3. Psychotic Reaction - The Count Five
  4. Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
  5. Sky Pilot - Eric Burdon & The Animals
  6. Pushin' Too Hard - The Seeds
  7. Blitzkrieg Bop - The Ramones
  8. Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley
  9. Stop Stop Stop - The Hollies
  10. At The Hop - Danny & the Juniors
  11. Bluejean Bop - Gene Vincent
  12. Get Off My Cloud - The Rolling Stones
  13. Get Off the Phone - Johnny Thunders
  14. Twist & Shout - The Isley Brothers
  15. Ride A White Swan - T. Rex
  16. Get it On (Bang a Gong) - T. Rex

  1. Born To Lose - Johnny Thunders
  2. Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
  3. Blue Suede Shoes - Carl Perkins
  4. I Want You Back - The Hoodoo Gurus
  5. What I Like About You - The Romantics
  6. Waiting for The Man - Velvet Underground
  7. Can The Can - Suzi Quatro
  8. I Want To Hold Hold Your Hand - The Beatles
  9. Wolly Bully - Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs
  10. When You Walk in The Room - The Searchers
  11. Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks
  12. Tutti Frutti - Little Richard
  13. Sugar, Sugar - The Archies
  14. Talk, Talk - The Music Machine
  15. Money, Honey - Elvis Presley
  16. Under the Boardwalk - The Drifters
  17. Short Shorts - The Royal Teens
A bunch of other Hoodoo Gurus albums (all but the two Elektra ones) have been added to emusic as well. The last sentence in the AMG review of Stoneage Romeos says it best

... if you don't like the Hoodoo Gurus, I suspect you don't like rock & roll very much.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Go Taddster

Hats off to Hawaiian Tadd Fujikawa for becoming the youngest person in 50 years to make a cut on the PGA Tour, playing this weekend at the Sony Hawaiian Open just one week after his 16th birthday. He needed to go evenpar the last three holes on Friday to make the cut, and finished with a birdie and an eagle to make it by three. Tadd followed that up with another 66 on Saturday to vault into eighth place, and even though he dropped back into a tie for 20th with an even par 72 in the final round, that's still an impressive feat for a high school sophomore. How does he hit those 300 yard drives when he isn't much taller than his golf bag?

Clementine Conundrum

The Decemberists covered Elliott Smith's "Clementine" on the To Elliott: From Portland tribute album.

There's another song called "Clementine" on their first album, Castaways and Cutouts.

Are there any other artists who have multiple songs with the same title?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Come inside where it's okay

For Saturday the 13th, a live cover of Big Star's "Thirteen" by Elliott Smith, recorded in Stockholm on June 2, 1998.
From a cold sweat.

Elliott Smith - Thirteen (Big Star Cover)

Elliott's studio version of "Thirteen" as well as his cover of Cat Stevens' "Trouble", can be found on the soundtrack to Mike Mills' (not that Mike Mills) movie Thumbsucker.

I just realized that exactly one month after this performance, I spotted Elliott at a Loud Family show at Satyricon in Portland. If he covered both Alex Chilton and Cat Stevens, how could he not be a Scott Miller fan?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Best thing that I ever heard

Wrapping up the Sloan discussion (for now), with a fateful story about the last time I saw them live, on June 25th 2002, at Slim's in SF on the Pretty Together tour.

The show itself was great, and the guys rocked the place to the rafters, but I mostly remember it as the night my car got stolen. I parked at my usual spot on secluded side street a few blocks away, but when I walked back after the show, there was just an empty space on the curb where my car was left. After going through nearly every human emotion in the space of a few minutes, I decided to report my car as missing.

This was before I had a cell phone, so I called the SFPD from a pay phone at the Eagle Tavern (a nearby establishment that happened to be a "leather/gay" bar) and told the police dispatch that I couldn't my car where I'd parked it just a few hours ago. I gave a description of the car and where it was parked and when I left it, but froze up when he asked me where I was calling from. I didn't want to say I calling from the Eagle, afraid he'd think I was some dude in leather and chains who couldn't recall where he left his car after a wild night, so I said "Uhh.. 12th and .. Folsom!" (one block up from the Eagle where I actually was).

After I got off the phone I headed up the street to wait for the police to show up, and while they were on their way to meet me, they got a call on the radio that a car matching mine was spotted about ten blocks up from where I was. Some hooligans had taken it for a ten block joyride, adjusted the driver's seat, set all FM radio presets to Wild 94.9, then left it on the side of the road with the engine running.

All's well that ends well, but even though Sloan had nothing to do with my car being stolen, that post-concert experience turned me off the band for the next few years. And I still haven't been able to listen to Pretty Together. Coincidentally, that's the only one of their albums that isn't currently available on emusic.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bank It Like Beckham

So David Beckham just signed with the LA Galaxy for $250M for the next five years ($50M per year for the mathematically challenged).

He'll be joining the Galaxy in mid-July, after his contract with Real Madrid expires, at which time he'll be 32 years old. The obvious parallel is Pele and Beckenbauer to the New York Cosmos in the mid-70s, so Alexi Lalas and the Galaxy are hoping for another Once in a Lifetime.

Whether Beckham can kick up US soccer, prevent more top US players (Brian McBride, DaMarcus Beasely, Clint Dempsey) from hightailing it to Europe, or even turn the Galaxy into a better team (the "defending champs" didn't even make the MLS playoffs last year) remains to be seen, but he'll certainly make soccer more interesting on this side of the ocean.

Maybe he'll do a guest slot with Dr. Neela on ER
(Is that show still on the air?)

Now Don't You Start, Yeah Yeah

Before Navy Blues there was One Chord To Another.
(1996 CAN, 1997 USA)

This is the my favorite Sloan album, 40 minutes full of absolute and total pop brilliance, from the MC's introduction before "The Good In Everyone" through the finale of "400 Metres". The three tracks that made it to 2005's A Sides Win ("The Good In Everyone", "Everything You've Done Wrong", and"The Lines You Amend", though strangely not "A Sides Win") are barely the tip of the maritime iceberg. It's like a distillation of all the best parts from their first two albums, or a final step in the progression from Smeared through Twice Removed.

Everyone should own this record and listen to it regularly.

One Chord To Another came out in the US on The Enclave (the same label that issued Belle & Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister at around the same time) eight months after the Canadian release, but as a treat for patient fans south of the border, came with a special bonus disc, Recorded Live At A Sloan Party!. This nine song set included covers of songs by Jonathan Richman ("Dignified and Old"), the Everly Brothers ("Glitter and Gold"), Roxy Music ("Over You"), the Hollies("I Can't Let Go"), Stereolab("Transona Five" in an unlikely medley with Canned Heat's "On The Road Again") and fellow Canadians April Wine ("Wouldn't Want To Lose Your Love") and Matthew Grimson("Stood Up"), and well as their own "I Can Feel It". The title is an obvious nod to the 1965 Beach Boys Party! LP, which was also recorded in the studio with overdubbed "party" sounds added after the fact.

Sloan - The Good In Everyone (mp3 from indieblogheaven).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

C'mon C'mon (We're Gonna Get It Started)

Continuing on the Sloan kick, I've decided to pull out some of their previous discs to see how they stack up against the new one. 2005's A Sides Win compilation was a nice encapsulation of Sloan's greatness, but one downside with greatest hits albums is that they almost make the source albums expendable and invisible. The greatest hits album with highlights from each record becomes a nice substitute for the record itself. I'm going to revisit these Sloan CDs one at a time to reacquaint myself with them, starting with 1998's Navy Blues, one of my favorites of their many albums.

Navy Blues is now out of print in these United States, but isn't that difficult to find used for just a few US dollars. And well worth those dollars tool. This is Power Pop with two capital P's, equally powerful and poppy, in contrast with some of the others. The two tracks that made it to A Sides Win were the two Canadian hit singles from the disc, "Money City Maniacs" and "She Says What She Means", but the album sounds like a list of singles. A few of the songs are Beatlesque in a good way, combining the pop smarts of Rubber Soul with the group rocking of Abbey Road. "Chester the Molester" is "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", "Iggy & Angus" sounds more like "Come Together" than either Iggy Pop or AC/DC. But it's not so much copycat Beatles as what the Beatles would sound like if they were from Halifax instead of Liverpool and came of age in the 90s instead of the 60s.

Earlier this week, Idolator posted a couple of Navy Blues songs , for anyone who needs to be reminded (or introduced) to this album's greatness. Was it really nine years ago?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

You'll Never Hear the Start of It

With today's US release of Sloan's Never Hear The End Of It, I'm feeling motivated to start my belated entry to the world of blogging. This 30 track sprawl of an album sounds, upon initial sampling, like the best thing these Nova Scotians have done since the golden days of One Chord To Another and Navy Blues.