Friday, January 30, 2009

LP Lust: January 30

I'm moving this weekend. My things are in bags and boxes, scattered around my apartment, and I have that general feeling of all not being right with the world that you get right before you move and your life is packed away. Rational thought dictates that this would be the absolute worst time to bring more things into your soon-to-be-vacated home, fortunately I've never been much of a rational thinker, instead preferring the flights of fancy so common to those of us born under the sign of Gemini.

And so, friends, I've adopted the maxim that when the going gets tough, the tough buy records.

A nice, neat little pile has joined my collection. One of my favorite stores for kitsch proved itself very worthy of praise for their records. Here's what will be moving with me Sunday afternoon:

*Cliff Richard - I'm Nearly Famous

*Dean Martin - Houston

*Nat King Cole - Thank You, Pretty Baby

*The Graduate Soundtrack

*The Four King Cousins - Introducing...The Four King Cousins

*Burt Bacharach - Reach Out

*Herbie Mann - Memphis Underground

*Henry Mancini - Breakfast at Tiffany's

*Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On

*Waylon Jennings - The Ramblin' Man

*Bill Withers - Still Bill

*Roberta Flack - First Take

*Elton John - Elton John

*Graham Nash - Wild Tales

Now I really can't wait to get to my new house and get my fancy new record player (with USB hookup!) ready to roll. I'll never leave home...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Basking in the Glow of Victory, Championship Edition

The first time I wrote about my team winning Cous Cous's Rock'n'Roll trivia was the first week of the year. Now, the last week in January, it's time for an update. The first month of 2009 trivia has wrapped up with the newly-instilled Grand Championship round, held after the final regular round this past Tuesday night.

My team, David Bowie's Nipple Antennae, has swelled to 7 members, and won for our third week (out of four). We also took the Grand Championship round, making us the first ever Grand Champions.

I've gotta say, being a Grand Champion feels even better than winning three of four weeks in January.

And kudos to the masterminds of trivia (otherwise known as Al and Morgan) for coming up with this Grand Championship. It's a great idea. As long as we keep winning, of course. And to all you Richmond loves, come out to Cous Cous on Tuesday, and see how you stack up against the trivia elite. Don't forget to tip your bartender.

So congrats and sloppy kisses to my darling teammates: Laura, Mark, Tracy, Chris, Patty, and our newest Nipple, James. Let's keep kicking ass.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spectacularly Off-Topic: Banzai

I've been rather lucky, in that I've had the pleasure of living in the lovely United Kingdom on several occasions. These months afforded me many wonderful opportunities, one of which is going to be discussed here. It's not (exactly) music-related, but certainly worth a mention. So here we go (warning: if I was sober this writeup would be way more awesome, sorry kids).

One of the (infinitely many) things that made me adore living in Britain (Scotland, for the most part, to get specific), is the show Banzai. Several friends brought it to my attention, and we spent quite a few intoxicated evenings glued to the TV, making drunken wagers on this splendidly over-the-top show. I had missed the show like crazy, until I recently found myself joyously enthralled with the official Banzai YouTube channel.

But again, I'm getting ahead of myself. I have to express the sheer fantasticalness of Banzai. It's a Japanese betting show, adapted for a British audience. Each show is full of random games, the object of which is to bet on, preferably in an intoxicated state. It pretty much defies explanation, so I suggest you just dig in to Banzai right here, right now, and see if you don't get instantly hooked. Some of my favorite games involve the uncomfortably dynamite Lady One Question. You'll see what I mean.

Betting ends!

Monday, January 19, 2009

LP Lust: January 19

I've been a very bad girl.

Somewhere between the last time I bought records and this minute right now, I had made a promise to myself that I would not, no way no sir no how, buy any more LPs until after I move into my new apartment. I've got quite enough vinyl to hike up the stairs, thank you very much. And yet somehow, I managed to break that promise. Not just in the form of one or two more records. Oh no. Here's what happened.

It started last weekend when I took a little afternoon excursion to Fredericksburg. Among the items that came back to Richmond with me were these two albums:

*Dory Previn - Live at Carnegie Hall (1973)

*Leon Russell & Marc Benno - Asylum Choir

True, this isn't that much of an issue. After all, two LPs don't weigh very much. But then, that same weekend, I went to a party, and got this as a party favor:

*Annuals - Such Fun

And that, well, it was a gift! And just one more album, certainly, can't hurt.

But then, friends, I went to Plan 9. I went there with the best of intentions, to merely offload some CDs and DVDs I felt comfortable parting with in the interest of space (as the new apartment is quite a bit smaller than my current digs). But as I was waiting, something terrible happened. I got sucked into the black hole known as the used vinyl. And it was then that all hope was lost. I well and truly broke my promise to myself by purchasing the following multitude of LPs. But what's another ten records?

*Scritti Politti - Hypnotize

*Leon Russell & Marc Benno - Asylum Choir II

*Bronski Beat - Truthdare Doubledare

*The Hollies - He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

*Elton John - Honky Chateau

*Interview - Interview

*Dave Mason - Alone Together

*Mountain - Climbing!

*The Style Council - Internationalists

*Supertramp - Crisis? What Crisis?

I'd say I was hanging my head in shame, but I'm actually pretty happy with these albums. And I've learned something about myself. When it comes to vinyl, I simply cannot control myself.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gettin' All Presidential On Your Ass

Word on the street is that this Tuesday is kind of a big deal, presidentially-speaking. Most people I know are pretty excited about Inauguration Day, and will be partying heartily on the 20th. I exclude myself from said excitement, merely because being as cynical as I am I tend to think all politicians are wastes of oxygen, but even I am pretty darned happy to see a (much-needed) regime change.

As per usual, I have digressed. My fellow Americans, my point is this: why wait until Tuesday to get your party on? Ok, so you might already have started celebrating, but what if you're in search of something to do tonight? Bands for Lands and the City Paper (DC) got together and arranged a little shindig over at the historic 6th and I Synagogue, celebrating both the Inauguration of Barack Obama (President #44, if you're keeping score) and the release of the Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs for 43 U.S. Presidencies LP, a collection of songs (one per Prez) all about the leaders of our land. Song #44 is to be debuted at this do. Personal faves of mine (and contributors to the album) These United States will be on hand to warm up the festivities, and folks such as Nellie McKay, Jukebox the Ghost, Laura Burhenn (ex-Georgie James), Denison Witmer, Tim Fite, and the aforementioned These United States performing songs from the presidential album. It should be a super duper way to stave off the cold and celebrate the nation's return to blue.

Hail to the Chief, indeed.

mp3: Washington Dreams of the Hippopotamus (f/ Vince DiFiore of Cake)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Post a Song, Save A Kitten

What indie kid out there doesn't love free mp3s and saving baby kittens, puppies and the like? Nobody. Not even your grandfather.

To that end, today we have for you the latest from Neko Case, "People Got a Lotta Nerve", from her upcoming album Middle Cyclone (due March 3).

See, here's the rub, as it were. For every blogger that posts this track, Neko and Anti Records are donating $5 to the Best Friends Animal Society. Same goes for all iLike users that add it to their profile.

So grab yourself some free tuneage, post it on your own blog if you have one and help end things like kitten juggling. Both you and your ear holes will be doing your parts to help make the world a better place, and that's good.

mp3: People Got a Lotta Nerve

(Pictured is Megan's cat, Bear Bryant. He's not in a shelter, but he sure is cute)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How Could We Forget?: Her Space Holiday

This CD clearly fell into the "I'll get around to it" category for me. The track "Sleepy Tigers" quickly made its way into ye olde iPod's heavy rotation, but it took me a while to listen to the entire album. I have no real excuse other than to say I was listening to a lot of stuff at the time, and there are only so many hours in the day.

My knowledge of Her Space Holiday (the stage name of Marc Bianchi) previously was limited to the song "Missed Medicine", which a buddy of mine had put onto a mix. I knew I really dug that track, but didn't have much else to go on. I have since learned that HSH predominantly does contemporary one-man music, meaning entirely in this case that it pretty much is him and a laptop. Which is surprising, since XOXO Panda, The New Kid Revival plays more like a camp sing-a-long than anything else, incorporating everything from kazoos to banjos along its ambling way.

While a few tracks here do drag a tad, overall I thought it had a more than pleasant vibe and comes across as an excellent CD to sit out under the stars with to count fireflies. The standout tracks for me would be the aforementioned "Sleepy Tigers" and "The Day in Review", though there's plenty more to keep one satisfied.

Since having really started listening to XOXO myself, I've read a fair amount of bitching about Bianchi going off in a new direction. Personally, I kind of dig the progression (descenscion?) into twee territory. It's the differences that keep us coming back for more, right?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How Could We Forget?: Crystal Stilts

I only recently realized I made an egregious error with my Top 18 of 2008 list (and the Honorable Mentions)…I somehow, someway, inexplicably left Crystal Stilts off my list. Call it a mental lapse, call it a fuck up, call it what you will. I shall now try to make amends, dear friends.

Crystal Stilts only recently (well, over the course of the past four months or so) caught my ear, but my affection for them happened pretty instantaneously. As soon as I got a little taste of their delightfully crackly surf rock-hearts-shoegaze collision I knew I wanted, nay, needed, more. As luck would have it, these New Yorkers kindly obliged, releasing the splendiferous Alight of Night LP. It’s like the Jesus & Mary Chain hanging ten on longboards, or perhaps it’s like Dick Dale in head to toe black fiddling with feedback. Either way (or neither way), it’s pretty great.

“Departure”, formerly known (on their EP) as “Converging in the Quiet”, is one of my favorites, fearlessly driven by simple, tinny drums and droll, oft-monotonous vocals. If that sounds like a backhanded compliment, it’s not. There’s an almost lackadaisical, half-handed quality to the entire album, almost like it just happened to turn out as well as it has. And hot damn, is it good. So my apologies to Crystal Stilts, for not being able to see the forest for the trees. Whoops.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How Could We Forget?: Spinnerette

You know how it goes at the end of the year. What with the holidays, the never ending parties, the fights with your family, the inevitable fist fight with your one sibling and subsequent drunken apologies, sometimes you just forget a few things you meant to do before New Year's Eve. We here at LET are no exception and will be running a new column, at least for the time being, entitled "How Could We Forget?" where we'll post on CDs that somehow escaped our notice, fell off our radar or perhaps fled our minds during a moment (of which there were many) of intoxicated weakness. Regardless, these CDs do some rawking and we'd be remiss not to give them some love. First up is Spinnerette's Ghetto Love EP.

In my defense, this did only come out mid-December, but that's not a good enough excuse for not mentioning this rocker sooner. Spinnerette is the new project from former Distillers guitarist/vocalist Brody Dalle. In case you were worried Ms. Dalle lost any of her edge, rest assured, this one was made to punch you in the gut. The eponymous lead track
has an ominous bass line, incendiary guitar work and Brody's throaty growl of a voice, so it has that going for it. That leaps into the equally propulsive "Valium Knights". "Distorting A Code" slows things down considerably, but give it until just after the halfway mark, when producer Alain Johannes' technical wizardry shines through brilliantly. Is that backward looping I hear? Me likey. "Closer Bury My Heart" comes as close to a ballad as I imagine Spinnerette is willing to get, but a syrupy love song it is not, that's for sure. Assuming this EP is just a taste of things to come, I'm looking very forward to the long player.

mp3: Ghetto Love

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Scoring with Merge

I'm beginning to fall in love with these big bundle packages labels are putting together. Perhaps it's not a new thing, this notion of giving the people tons and tons and tons of good stuff, I'm quite possibly belated in paying them their warranted attention. Those rad people of Merge have put together one hell of a subscription offer, it's choc-full of awesomeness. I'm pretty sure that if you were to give this as a gift you would be in the recipient's good books forever. Say, for example, you needed a gift idea for someone's birthday on June 15th (like, I dunno, me), this would be a much welcome present.

But back to Score!. It's a gigantic package, put together in honor of the label's 20th birthday. What you get, for the price of $199, is 14 CDs of Merge songs curated by people like David Byrne, Amy Poehler, and Peter Buck, the Merge remix CD, the Merge covers CD (featuring Broken Social Scene, Death Cab for Cutie, and the National, among others), a 350 page book of every single solitary album cover ever released by Merge, a Scharpling and Wurster comedy CD, and future goodies in the form of exclusive subscriber songs. Not bad, eh?

But wait, there's more. The proceeds go to charity. Getting good shit and doing good things at the same time? How often does that happen?

The Merge Score! subscription is available until January 11th, so get cracking!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

At the Cinema: The Verve - This Is Music: The Singles 92-98

I've already mentioned my hunka hunka burning love for the Verve several times, so I'll try to gloss over being too gushy (though I make no promises).

"The Verve - This Is Music: The Singles 92-98" was released back in 2004, but I've been watching so much of it lately I figured I ought to tell you what makes it so appealing. Well, other than the Verve's hauntingly beautiful storm clouds of spacey shoegazing rock, that is.

The DVD includes 13 videos, arranged in seemingly random order (I've gotta admit, I would have preferred chronological, it would have made their progression visually much more interesting) and two audio-only tracks from the Best Of CD of the same name. But still, you get to see it all, from the early, Verve EP and A Storm in Heaven days of long-haired and crazy-eyed Mad Richard (Ashcroft) to the trendily-shorn Captain Rock years (Noel Gallagher's nickname for Ashcroft) of A Northern Soul and Urban Hymns.

Seeing all these videos in one collection reveals some interesting things, the first being that the band is basically the highlight of all the videos. Meaning, Richard, Nick, Simon, and Pete (and sometimes the other Simon) make up the vast majority of what you're looking at. Whether that's narcissism of happenstance isn't really the issue, but I did find it a bit unusual. The second major thing I noticed, because until I bought the DVD I hadn't ever seen older Verve videos, is that the really, really old ones (and to a certain extent the videos from A Northern Soul) recycle shot after shot after shot. I lost count of how many times certain scenes showed up, but perhaps they were just being budgetarily-minded and reusing the shots was justifiable that way.

On the other side of the coin, this is a pretty great DVD, especially if you're a little on the fanatical side (example: me). The videos aren't works of music clip genius, but there are several that really encapsulate the Verve: the older videos for "Slide Away", "She's A Superstar", and "Blue" are definitely some of the standouts. A little goofy in that early 90s way, these three videos are old Verve to the core. They're swirling, disjointed, sprawling, and occasionally over-saturated. And that's pretty much exactly how they ought to be. And the video for "On Your Own", the song that made me cry the first time (and many times after that) I heard it, is very well illustrated by its video, a very gloomy, muted affair. While I don't love most of the videos off of Urban Hymns, the band's last effort before their split in 1998, the video for "Bittersweet Symphony" will always be one of the most striking videos I've ever seen. There's nothing quite like watching a particularly gaunt Richard Ashcroft glaringly strut down a London street, scornfully ignoring everyone he happens to bump into on his jarring jaunt in his Clarks.

The Verve - This Is Music: Singles 92-98 is a must-have for Verve fans, and a worthwhile watch for even the most casual observer. When it comes right down to it, the thing about the Verve has always been that they've been more about the music than anything else. These videos are just another way to experience their divine musical presence.

Basking In the Glow of Victory

I've been in Richmond for a little over a year now, and fairly soon after I arrived my lovely roommate Chelsea took me to Cous Cous for music trivia night. I've been hooked ever since. The cast of characters has changed, my teammate most weeks has been my best friend Laura, but we've recently picked up two new members and the juggernaut is complete.

The point of this babbling intro?

We won.

For the first time since I've been going to trivia, we won. Not only the first round, but the second as well. Which made my team the evening's overall winning team.

Victory would have been sweet enough ordinarily, but was especially glorious given that we were seated next to a table of cheating little jerks who whipped out their phones and tried to stealthily find the answers. I'd launch into a diatribe about the patheticness of cheating at a local music trivia night, but I'm too busy being a smug little so-and-so about our thrilling win.

In short, friends, victory tastes pretty damned good. Or as they say in one of my all-time favorite flicks, "damn it feels good to be a gangsta."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Album Review: The Broken West – Now or Heaven

On rare occasions, I love something so much that I can’t properly form words with which to describe the depth, breadth, and extent of my affection. Lately, this describes just how much I’ve gotten into the Broken West and their sophomore album, Now or Heaven. I’m in love. Love, I tell you. It’s full-blown, crazy dangerous infatuation and goddamn if it isn’t wonderful.

Now or Heaven is another one of those albums I should have made myself familiar with last year, but chide myself for not having done so. And let me tell you something, loves, it’s so good an album that it would have snuck into my top ten, probably the top five, for sure. It’s straight up magical and I adore it. For one thing, it’s on Merge, and we all know that pretty much makes this album awesome by default right off the bat. But then, in addition, it’s just plain old gloriously beautiful. It makes me smile like I’ve just won the lottery twice over.

Ten songs, ten different ways to steal my heart, piece by piece. Now or Heaven is impeccably produced, crisp, clear and oh so exquisitely, painfully good. It’s more than a little bit power pop, driven by straightforward vocals, sun-drenched guitars (I had to say it, they are from the Left Coast, after all), and a reliably, fiercely solid rhythm section, but it’s hardly an album full of fluff and nonsense. Lyrics like “Matter of fact/I got an attitude/that you will never see” and “I am/hidden in plain sight” (from “The Smartest Man Alive”) and “I got it bad/I only want what I can’t have” (from “Got It Bad”) give the distinct impression that there’s more here than meets the eye.

I pretty much dare you to take in this record ("Gwen, Now and Then", “Auctioneer” and “Ambuscade” being my current obsessively-repeated tracks) and not fall head over heels in love with the Broken West. It’s impossible, I tell you. Impossible.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Album Review: Stephen John Kalinich – A World of Peace Must Come

Poetry. Peace. Brian Wilson. What do these three have in common, you might wonder? The answer, friends, is Stephen John Kalinich, and the 1969 album A World of Peace Must Come.

Kalinich was an occasional songwriter with the Beach Boys, working particularly with Dennis Wilson, and Brian Wilson co-produced the album over the course of one night in his house, even playing on some of the tracks (such as organ on “Be Still”). Remarkably, these songs never saw the light of day until the release of A World of Peace Must Come last year.

An album of virtually all poems (“Walk Along With Love” is somewhat sung as opposed to the recitation of other songs), Kalinich’s dreamy yet grounded lines are backed by mostly sparse instrumentation, acoustic guitars here and there, the aforementioned Wilsonian organ. It’s not the easiest listen initially, it’s a little roughly edited at times, and you might feel inclined to write off Kalinich’s poetry as hippie dippy pipe dreams (what, with lines like “be still and know that life is beautiful”). But give it a second listen and you’ll discover it’s actually rather good, idealistic but not naively so, especially if you stop and consider that nearly 40 years later, we’re still deeply entrenched in a world of war. Given the gloomy alternative, Kalinich’s pleas for peace and love and happiness sure do seem like ideals to strive for.

mp3: Be Still

Friday, January 2, 2009

Album Review: Black Kids – Partie Traumatic

I’m starting off 2009 by paying more attention to things I should have listened to more in 2008. And believe you me, there's a lot of it. Exhibit A: Black Kids.

Partie Traumatic is a party for sure, though happily there’s no trauma in sight. The members of Black Kids have engaged a simple, effective game plan that they execute to perfection over the course of the ten songs on this their debut LP. Cute, occasionally silly lyrics, two saucy keyboard playing/backing vocal singing vixens, and heavy doses of homage to the 80s are the means to the end for the Kids, and pretty much every song will make you feel like you really ought to be cutting some serious rug.

This is the perfect album for a little bit of over the top escapism. New year got you feeling blue? Winter giving you the mean reds? Throw on
Partie Traumatic and feel your cares melt away in a haze of dance floor jams and ridiculously catchy songs. Be amused by the lyrical content of songs like “Listen To Your Body Tonight”, which features the devilishly impish call-and-response with lines like “Hello?/Hello this is your body/What do you want My Body/I wanna feel somebody on me”, as well as the undeniable track “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You”, which is even more fabulous than the title alone suggests.

Sure, Black Kids might not be realigning the musical universe. But sometimes, a good time is what it’s all about. And if there’s one thing these Floridians know how to do, it’s have a good time.

A Gift from Nonesuch Records

Those daffy bastards at Nonesuch Records have decided to make all our lives a little better by releasing a few tracks from Black Keys' frontman Dan Auerbach's upcoming solo CD, Keep It Hid.

Surprisingly, I have not seen these tracks blasted all over the Interwebs yet. I'm guessing it's gotta be because of the holidays, as this clearly is the CD I'm currently most looking forward to hearing in 2009.

If these tracks are any indication, Auerbach is sticking fairly close to the BK sound, b
ut has added a bit more pyschedelia and country blues to the mix.

"The Prowl" is a growling gut cruncher, while "Trouble Weighs a Ton" and "I Want Some More" have a much more "old skool" blues feel to them.

Damnation, I can't wait until February 28 when this tour hits the 9:30 Club.

mp3: The Prowl

mp3: Trouble Weighs a Ton

mp3: I Want Some More

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Stone Coldest Foxes in Musicdom

We’re not above a little base objectification every now and again here at Les Enfants Terribles. And there’s plenty to ogle these days in the music biz. Bearing that in mind, I decided to put together a list of the guys who make my little heart go pitter-patter, make me swoon, and get me all hot and bothered.

So what’s it take to make it on my list, you might be wondering? I'm harder to please than you might think. It’s all about having that certain something, be it a saucy come hither glint in the eyes or a sassy wiggle of the hips during a gig. In some cases it's subtle, but in others it's about as subtle as a thrust of the crotch. These guys have foxiness in spades in a variety of ways, and that one pictured to the left is the hottest of the bunch. But I think you’ll agree, any way you slice it these ten are pretty darned hot to trot.

10. Matt Berninger (The National)

9. Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen)

8. Jarvis Cocker (ex-Pulp)

7. Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals)

6. Tim Burgess (The Charlatans)

5. Jason Pierce (Spiritualized)

4. Calvin Harris

3. Peter Hayes (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club)

2. Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age/Eagles of Death Metal)

Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)