Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vic Chesnutt “Sad Peter Pan”

I think this is the Vic Chesnutt I like the best. Not too much band, but not too too stripped either. A little melancholy, and little funny. Not too many folks can pull off a like like "I just want to be Aaron Neville." And I picture him on the record insert, in that green felt hat.

I saw Vic Chesnutt in concert, at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, North Carolina. Three things really stick out about the show, which was a co-bill with Kristen Hersh.

One was that she requested that song. They were both on stage for the whole show, each taking a turn singing a song, and part-way through the show, Vic turned to her and asked "What should I do next" and she was momentarily caught off-guard, but when she thought about it, she smiled and said "Do the 'pushing the paint around' song."

Vic Chesnutt is wheel-chair bound, due to injuries from a car accident, and he talked about it a bit from the stage, with easy humor, mentioning "I was drunk as a Coot." Who can say the word "Coot" in regular conversation? Whenever I hear the word "Coot" I think of Vic Chesnutt. Which is basically confined to times I watch Beverly Hillbillies reruns.

The third thing is that I remember what he looked like at the end of the show. After 90 minutes of being so at ease on-stage, telling stories and singing his songs, when I came time to exit the stage, he carefully wheeled himself off the small ramp, down past the front row of seats and off to the side of the stage behind a curtain. And because I was in the front row, I could see him back there, and I remember how small he looked. How, once he dropped his stage demeanor, he receded to someone smaller, less comfortable with himself. It was in his eyes.

And as much as I have romanticized a musicians life, I often wonder if that is really what it's like. If you truly get a high, a true happiness from performing, what are the other 22 hours of the day like?

Hear "Sad Peter Pan"

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bacon Brothers "Go My Way"

There are certainly a lot of songs that are still on my hard drive because they were sent to the radio station, and I promised to give them a fair listen. I mean, I go through the list every once and a while and delete things that I know I'll never listen to.

So why is this on my computer, I ask myself? Did I forget to delete it, or did I leave it on there just in case someone said "Hey I hear Kevin Bacon and his brother have a band and I wonder what they sound like"? There ARE songs on the laptop that are still there for Show & Tell, if not for regular listening.

When a record company or promo person, especially one that I have a relationship with (meaning we talk by phone on a regular basis), and especially especially if they have a decent track record of working good records, asks me to listen to something, I always try to do it as a courtesy. Listen to it, offer some feedback, even if the feedback is "there is no chance of us playing this."

And I do feel like artists who have some success in one medium don't always get fair consideration when they venture into another medium. Just because Kevin Bacon is a good actor, doesn't mean his music can't be good too.

So I listened, pretending I put a disc in the player without reading the label, to try to give it an unbiased evaluation.

And man, it's just not that good. Or rather, it's just not that special. If I walked into the coffee shop, and two guys were strumming this song . . . sure, I'd go, "Hey this is pretty good for a couple of local guys." But c'mon, if we didn't know him from the movies, would this have ever ended up on my "Songs For Airplay Consideration" iTunes list?

So why is it still on my computer?

Listen To The Bacon Brothers Here

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Juliana Hatfield "Fleur De Lys"

It's funny, you take some of Juliana Hatfield's work out of context and you'd be tempted to dismiss it a cock-rock, which is SO not Juliana Hatfield. If Spinal Tap is 11, the power chords here are up to at least a 9, for lumbering rock riffs. This track is followed on the "Only Everything" album by "Universal Heartbeat" which starts with this wild drum fill, which made it a great on-air segue out of some of the heavy Rage Against The Machine songs of the same mid-90s period.

But when you think about Juliana Hatfield, and even if you listen to THESE songs, if you can listen and tune out the music, she's generally just so sweet and thoughtful and fragile in places. Does it work? I dunno. I guess it does, in that, this album reminds me of being in my mid to late 20s, when I was listening to punk rock and Rage Against The Machine, but was probably at my most fragile and thoughtful.

Hear "Fleur De Lys"

Hear "Universal Heartbeat"

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

They Might Be Giants "Hey Mr. DJ I Thought You Said We Had A Deal"

Well, I of course have great affection for songs about DJs. I am a DJ, I am what I play. Fortunately, I don't play techno, because there ARE a lot of songs about DJs in dance music, but they're not as interesting as Bowie or Van Morrison or They Might Be Giants.

I love that this one is probably the happiest sounding DJ songs out there, but it's about Payola/Pay For Play. I'm a little too young to have experienced it firsthand, but some of the old Promo folks that I talk to on a weekly basis have Some Stories, if you can get them going. Anything to get the record on the radio. And by anything, I think they generally meant coke. Hey, it was the Eighties.

They Might Be Giants have a bevy of songs where they take on a character in first person, be it a Kid (the Malcolm In The Middle theme) or The Replacements ("Hi, We're The Replacements"). And the charm of them is that they are all sung, unmistakably, by the same characters, John and John. No attempt is made to embody the role. With the possible exception of the role of They Might Be Giants, who's voices and persona they effect, in the song "They Might Be Giants." Boyee!

Hear "Hey Mr. DJ I Thought You Said We Had A Deal"

Hear "We're The Replacements"

Hear "Boss Of Me"

Hear "They Might Be Giants"

See the video Here