Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rolling Stones "Salt Of The Earth"

If you check out the main page of mvyradio, every day you see a different "Lyric Of The Day."

Usually, I'm the one who put it there. It's been my semi-official job for years now. Other folks do it, when inspired, but most days, I'm searching for a great line to post on our page.

Often, the lyric relates to something else we have going on---a line from the Monday Free CD or Album Of The Week or from an artist who's coming into the studio that day.

And sometimes I try to find a line that's appropriate for the particular day.

In the past, on Memorial Day, I've posted lyrics from "memory" songs like "Memories Can't Wait" and "I Will Remember You."

But it was nice to be reminded this week of "Salt Of The Earth" (via a Bettye Lavette cover, that I'll save for another post), and to be reminded of how appropriate this song can be, for this holiday.

I love it when Keith Richards sings. Or tries to sing. He may be straining, but I've always found his efforts charming. I love that Keith, despite being one of the biggest rock stars of all-time, comes off as salt of the Earth, himself, and how that plays off Mick Jagger's more removed perspective.

Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a thought for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth

When Mick sings this line, he smartly puts himself not as another "Salt," but as someone of a different class, who wants to make sure that the "lowly of birth" are recognized, honored, remembered.

So if you ARE a "common footsoldier" you can feel celebrated. And if you are, like so many of the rest of us, safe and warm and content, thanks to the folks who toil in the trenches, you are invited to sing along and celebrate.

This weekend, I hope think about who you are, and celebrate accordingly.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Patty Griffin "Up To The Mountain"

Well, you've can relax now, and stop pretending for 7 more months. American Idol is over and you don't have to act like you don't watch and don't care.

Yeah, people with refined taste in music will turn their nose up at the Idol machine as it grinds out disposable stars like sausages. But, even if you are a music snob, there are reasons to love Idol.

Patty Griffin's longevity, for one.

Okay, I'll pretend that you don't know anything about American Idol (even though I know you do), and fill you in on the fact that one of the final competitors, Crystal Bowersox, sang Patty Griffin's song "Up To The Mountain" during the finale. And this song will be Bowersox's first single.

Millions of folks who have no idea who Patty Griffin is, will rush to iTunes and buy this song. And no, it probably won't turn them into music connoisseurs.

But because Patty is the songwriter, she gets a cut of every song that is sold. And she gets a cut based on how many times the Idol version gets played on the radio.

Tremedous artists like Patty Griffin may never get the same level of attention as a paint salesman from Chicago who wins Idol. But having her song recorded by an Idol, gets her a big paycheck, and that insures that Patty Griffin can afford to be the creative, non-mainstream artist that those with refined tastes can enjoy.

So hate on Idol if you want, but, for Patty Griffin, love it, too. I won't tell.

Solomon Burke, who recorded it for "Nashville" sings with Patty

And OMG! Susan Boyle did it too. So I guess Patty didn't need Idol, necessarily, because this is one of the best selling albums of the decade!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Obligations “Family Saint”

This is for anyone out there whose Rock N Roll dreams got sidetracked by life’s obligations. Read through and support one of your brethren . . .

My brother-in-law James played in various bands, around New York and Boston in the early 90s. You might have seen Johnny One Note at Toad in Porter Square or some such other indie music venue around town. They even got a mention in Rolling Stone, as one of the best unsigned bands in the country.

But like so many people who want to make a living in the arts, reality crept in and cast its shadow. Marriage and mortgage and kids and commuting from the ‘burbs followed, for James, and for his musical compatriots Hugh and Rob.

And, for most folks, that would be that. The dream may never completely go away, but the means usually do.

A few years back, the guys started talking about making music together. And though they were separated by hundreds of miles---Rob now lives in Phoenix---modern technology gave them the means to do it.

For months, they traded CDs and files and lyrics and ideas and demos, between their 3 cities, their 3 computers. Rob brought in new friend Paula, to play bass. And they coordinated a couple of vacation weeks, to get together in the same room and play live.

They named themselves The Obligations, booked a few days studio time, and made a CD, which came out last summer.

No real expectations, just the joy of playing, and the satisfaction of accomplishment. The creative spirit is still alive.

They received some nice reviews, some podcast and radio specialty show play, and after a few months, thoughts turned to what they might do next.

Then two weeks ago, from out of the blue, something quite curious happened.

Rob started receiving messages from tour promoters, asking if they were looking for representation for a UK tour.

This was particularly improbable, as the band hadn’t played ANY live gigs. Their jobs and their geography kept that from being an option.

After a bit of digging, here’s what happened. Their song, “Family Saint” is climbing the charts of the “UK Top 40 Unsigned Bands.”

If they are voted into the Top Ten, a panel of judges will select a grand prize winner, who will get a free music video made for the song.

Maybe you wanted to write a novel, or train dolphins, or travel the world, or study to be a chef in Paris . . . or play in a Rock N Roll band. But obligations got in the way.

Live vicariously. Listen to the MP3, and if you like it, vote for The Obligations.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Robert Randolph "If I Had My Way"

I cast a critical eye on the new Robert Randolph record.

I had seen him open for Susan Tedeschi many years back, and was completely blown away by his abilities on the sacred steel. His incendiary live performance had but one weak spot that night---some pretty sketchy vocals by the band.

Studio recordings have a way of making a forgivable live weakness, a real obstacle toward success.

Their first major label record was a modest accomplishment. It certainly didn't fully capture what this band could do, but it did ring of promise. I had high hopes for the second record.

Maybe they were too high. Or maybe the record was exactly what I thought it was--a shattershot attempt to try to gloss over the weakness, with a gaggle of ringer talent brought on board to co-write songs, commercialize the production and draw attention with celebrity guest shots.

It may have had some commercial success, but I thought it was a complete mess.

So where were they gonna go from here?

Well, good thought to hire T Bone Burnett as a producer. I can't think of a man out there who can bring more authentic earth and roots to a commercially viable album.

But the first single arrived and I thought . . . a cover tune huh? Of an old gospel song? Okay, so no attempts to write songs that they could sing and be convincing on?

A friend of mine pointed out what a great idea it was to pull out this song as a cover in 2010---It was a great idea Patty Griffin did it this winter on her album "Downtown Church."

I listened to it and I liked it but I had all these negative, critical things to say about it.

And then I stopped being a critic. I stopped thinking about what it should be and what I wanted it to be and what it could someday be. And I enjoyed it.

Sometimes you've got to let the critic take a break, because otherwise, he sucks the fun out of listening to music.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Aerosmith “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”

What are they waiting for?

For weeks, oil has been gushing into the Gulf Of Mexico, from an underwater well, with no signs of stopping, wreaking untold havoc on the environment.

What are they waiting for?

Blame is passed between the corporations. The government seems lackadaisical in its response.

What are they waiting for?

It’s as if no one knows what to do, to stop this. As if there is no precedent for a crisis like this.

Doesn’t anyone remember 1998, when that asteroid was hurtling toward Earth, threatening to destroy us? America didn’t waste time on finger pointing or hand wringing.

No dammit, we sent Oil Rig workers into space with nuclear weapons.

Are you now telling me that we can’t change the space suits for scuba gear, and send some Roughnecks underwater, to nuke this damn thing?

Somebody take charge here. And, Hey, Aerosmith, would it kill you to write another anthem to Oil Rig Workers?

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Beatles "I'm So Tired"

Week Six.

The boy, despite being as good as you could ask a newborn to be, is taking his toll on the SS Finn Family.

The nights are cruel. We have barely slept an hour before he is awake and ready to eat.

Feed, change, rock, sleep.

And like a record hiccuping over a scratch, we are shaken out of the groove of sleep and back into feed, change, rock, sleep until the sun comes up.

That's why I always liked this song. It captures the boozy, woozy feel of wandering the darkened halls of the house at an hour you can't quite pinpoint.

And I find that my low functioning brain keeps retaining lyrics, endlessly repeating a single phrase stuck in there. Last week it was Ellis Paul's "Annalee." Two weeks ago it was "I Wanna Be Like You" from Jungle Book.

No surprise that, with the accumulating debt I owe my sleep bank, this Beatles track should be on the brain, endlessly repeating, like a warped, skipping record.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tom Petty "I Should Have Known It"

Call it the "We're not old" single.

Have you noticed, that some of our favorite heritage artists, seem to want to prove that they can still kick ass?

Tom Petty has been making rock records for quite a long time, and he's got nothing to prove. But I suppose, if his new album led with a song with the tempo of "Free Fallin'" or "Wildflowers," some stupid reviewer would call him a middle-age folky.

To make sure that doesn't happen, the first single off his new record "Mojo" is the riff-heavy "I Should Have Known It," which sounds more Zeppelin than "Mary Jane's Last Dance."

Is the whole record going to be this heavy? Unlikely. Petty records tend to vary tempo and texture, so I'm betting this song is on the hard end of the spectrum.

Have you noticed this trend? Established, older, familiar artists, releasing the rockingest track on their new record, as a way to say "Don't call me soft."

Think "Supernatural Superserious," the first single off R.E.M.'s "Accelerate."

Think "Radio Nowhere," the first single off Bruce Springsteen's "Magic."

Think "Get On Your Boots," the first single off U2's "No Line On The Horizon."

None of these tracks are representative of the album they appear on. And none of them proved to be particularly durable---they didn't last on the charts as long as some of the later, better singles off those albums.

But they made a strong statement. Don't call it a comeback, indeed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jimmy Buffett "Fins To The Left"

You know, being thoughtful and creative isn't only for naming your band.

You can really screw yourself by being creative, but not fully thoughtful, when coming up with your email address.

When my girlfriend had become my fiancee about to be my wife, we started combining things, like bank accounts and bills and such. And just as we had our own shower curtains and knife blocks and copies of Jeff Buckley's "Grace," we had our own email addresses.

But while the extra copies of that other stuff could be sold in a yard sale, we decided to start fresh on the email front, and create a combined address.

We ran through various permutations of our combined names, but either it was already taken, or it was too weird or too hard to remember.

Then we struck on the idea of a play on my last name, "Finn." And we both like Jimmy Buffett, so, hey!

"Fins To The Left"!

Fun Buffett song, terrible email address.

It only took a couple of weeks to figure out that it's a pretty long email address to have to type and re-type.

And not much longer than that to figure out that a sentence, as an email address, is really hard to explain over the phone, to say, a customer service person. Particularly if they don't know the song. Or that MY Finn has to N's.

And it only took a little longer to realize that we were kind of stuck with the silly name, unless we wanted to change our online bank account, cable account, mortgage account, phone bill, and any number of multiple mailing lists we're on.

We are, and for the foreseeable future will be, Finns To The Left.

I know how The Goo Goo Dolls must feel.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rolling Stones “Plundered My Soul”

It must be kinda like finding your almost-finished-but-not-quite-done book report from high school on “Catcher In The Rye,” and deciding to complete it. And then handing it in for the teacher to review.

“Exile On Main Street” is nearly 40 years old at this point. And I can understand the impulse to remaster and release it. The album has a famously murky sound, so, while you don’t want to change the sound of mix, at least you can get it up to speed with today’s technology.

But beyond that, The Stones had some leftover songs from the “Exile” sessions, that they thought would make good bonus material for the reissue. But they decided to add polish to the unreleased track “Plundered My Soul” by having Mick Jagger re-record his vocals, and bringing back Mick Taylor, who played on the original sessions, but has not been in the band for 35-plus years, to re-record his vocal and guitar parts.

Also on the track, from the original 1970s sessions, Bill Wyman, who hasn’t been in the band since the 1980s, and piano player Nicky Hopkins, who died 15 years ago.

Imagine being Mick, who wrote this “done wrong” song when he was in his late twenties, now singing the song from the perspective of someone who’s pushing 70! There’s got to be a world of difference, in his voice, in his intent, in his experience, with 40 years between version.

Still, it sounds like classic Stones.

The album is out today.

Jimmy Fallon had bands his show last week, covering "Exile" tracks.

Green Day “Rip This Joint”

Keith Urban “Tumbling Dice”

Phish “Lovin’ Cup”

Monday, May 17, 2010

LL Cool J “Mama Said Knock You Out”

While writing about the Bob Dylan cover version of this song, I was reminded of an LL Cool J version---not the original.

Sure, I liked the original. It had the right mix of LL punch and swagger.

But the version that really stands out to me as a seminal musical moment, is from an MTV Unplugged episode.

Rap music is so much a part of the culture now, it’s hard to imagine a time when it didn’t have wide main stream acceptance, or even the acceptance as a legitimate musical form from the musical establishment. But yeah, even in the late 80s/early 90s Rap was having to defend its credibility.

Among the not-entirely-baseless claims was that Rap was a studio confection, that could not be reproduced in a live setting.

At the time, if you saw a Rap act in concert, you probably saw the MC onstage, maybe a DJ in the background, and the music was provided by a backing track. Flat and flaccid.

MTV was having a pretty successful run with its Unplugged format, and while there was no one Rap performer who could carry a full episode, they at least insured a curiosity factor, filling an episode with a couple songs each by De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, MC Lyte and LL Cool J, backed by a live instrument House Band.

The thing about concerts on TV is that they can only do so much to transcend the medium. With rare exception, the power of being in the room with a live act, is completely squeezed out when wrung through a TV’s tiny speakers and screen.

With rare exception.

I don’t know that the YouTube clip is going to do it justice either, but I remember watching on my TV as LL took the stage on this episode (which had the unfortunate title “Yo! Unplugged Rap”). The camera shows enough of the audience to really get the sense that the power of his performance was winning the crowd over, second by second, until the song’s frenzied conclusion, in the same manner it was winning me over at home.

It was an impressive performance, and I think it went a long way to legitimize the form for non-believers, as well as pave the way for the acceptance of live instrumentation in Rap, from bands like The Roots and The Beastie Boys, among others.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Susanna Hoffs “The Look Of Love"

So I had Susanna Hoffs on the phone for a Person Of The Week interview, specifically to talk about her involvement in the “Keep The Light Alive” charity CD for Lou Gerhig’s Disease, and when we finished talking about that project, well, I wanted to take advantage of having her on the phone, so I peppered her with a few more questions.

We talked about her collaborations with Matthew Sweet, the new Bangles record she and her bandmates are working on, and the possibility of a Vineyard visit someday.

Listen to that bonus part of the interview.

I loved her description of why covers are fun to do.

While I was on the carpet in the Living Room listening to records, she was in her room somewhere, listening to records with a guitar in her hands, trying to figure out something like, “Monday Monday” or “Sugar Magnolia.”

And, man, between the two collaborative covers records she’s done with Matthew Sweet, and the Bangles and solo records she’s done, there are some amazing covers, that do just what a good interpretation should---it should recall the original, but really have some kind of stamp of the interpreter.

So, for your entertainment, on the last day of a week’s worth of Susanna Hoffs posts, a bevy of her cover songs.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Bangles “Walking Down Your Street”

I didn’t have a CD player---they weren’t really common---until I went off to college. So all of my pre-collegiate listening memories take me right back to the carpet in the Living Room.

That’s where the record player was. And later Dad added a cassette player to the system.

If you wanted to listen to music, that’s where you went. Mom’s Living Room.

It was Mom’s Living Room, because, as she would often say, “I want one room in the house to be just for me.”

Toys could be strewn from the upstairs bedrooms all the way down to the basement, but they weren’t allowed in the Living Room. Food was strictly forbidden. Horseplay? You were looking at a one way ticket to a grounding, if you were horsing around in the Living Room.

But the Living Room was the only place you could really listen to music, so we were allowed to sit in there and listen.

So we'd sit. And listen. Maybe stare at an album cover or something. We'd quietly enjoy the music.

And let’s face it, like any kids, when Mom wasn’t looking, we jumped around like crazy.

We’d spin records and figure out how much we could jump up and down, without skipping the vinyl. We’d try to recreate the moves from “Grease Lightning.” The tennis rackets and hairbrushes and other pre-Rock Band pseudo-instruments would cross that magic carpeted boundary, into a forbidden zone of the Living Room where we imagined ourselves to be stars.

When I came home, a few weeks back, and told my wife that I’d be interviewing Susanna Hoffs, she gasped, “I loved her!”

And I said, “I know you loved her, I knew you’d be excited.”

She said, “No. I didn’t just love her. I wanted to BE her.”

When I started looking back over Susanna Hoffs’ career, and my eye wandered past “Walking Down Your Street,” I suddenly went there, to the carpet in the Living Room, where my sister Julie (who’s the same age as my wife), is dancing with her friends to that song. They’re singing it, fully, arms dramatically acting out the words, running from one end of the room to the other, in and out of the hallway and back in the Living Room.

SHE wanted to be Susanna Hoffs.

It’s a good memory. And in brotherly fashion, I can’t wait to tease her about it the next time I see her.

The official video, with Randy Quaid & Little Richard!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Bangles "Manic Monday"

The blessing and curse of success, is that your success tends to define you to a world of people. It seems particularly true with early success.

Some folks grin and bear it. I thought Matthew Broderick was a little more rueful, than wistful, during the Oscars this year, when, during a tribute to the late John Hughes, he described being recognized every day, as Ferris Bueller.

Some pretend it didn't happen. To this day, the Beastie Boys insist that their early beer-drinking, songs about girls and giant inflatable penis schtick was intentionally "ironic."

Some folks are stoic. Jimmy Buffett always plays "Margaritville" in concert, saying that that song got him through his lean years, and he's always willing to play it.

Some folks just shut the door on it. Arlo Guthrie went through years of refusing to play "Alice's Restaurant."

And some folks embrace it. At that Lilith Fair gig I mentioned in Monday's post, Susanna Hoffs actually led the crowd in a solo acoustic version of "Walk Like An Egyptian," which she didn't have to do (and probably didn't necessarily WANT to do), but did do, with cheeky aplomb.

And she won me over, late in our conversation, during the Person Of The Week interview.

We had been scheduled to talk by phone at a certain hour. (It sounds like a weird, teenage nightmare but) I literally waited for an hour, by the studio phone, waiting for Susanna to call. When she didn't call, I checked in with Claudia, who'd set up the interview.

After a few calls back and forth, Claudia let me know that Susanna had had a brief emergency at home, and wanted to reschedule for later in the day.

The second time, she called right on time, and apologized several times.

At the end of the interview, as we were wrapping up, to let her know that I really wasn't offended that she had missed our first appointment, we had this exchange.

Listen to it here.

I just thought that was so cool. There was no reason to bring up the song. I'm sure, like Matthew Broderick and his "Ferris" fans, Susanna has been on the receiving end of a joke like that.

But it showed a comfort with her past success, that lends confidence to the many projects she's currently a part of. And which I'll write about later this week.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Bangles “We Belong”

All my posts this week, spring out of interviewing Susanna Hoffs, over the phone for mvyradio's Person Of The Week, because she was a part of “Keep The Light Alive,” a tribute to the songs of Lowen & Navarro.

About 5 years, back, Eric Lowen was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gerhig’s Disease. It’s a neurogenerative affliction that slowly causes the person to lose use of their muscles, to the point where they are no longer able to walk or move or speak.

Jackson Browne, Five For Fighting and Keb Mo did covers of Lowen & Navarro songs, as did the group Susanna is still a part of, The Bangles, doing what is probably the most recognizable L&N song, “We Belong” (you probably know the Pat Benetar version).

I’ve complained in the past, about songs being ruined by having them re-associated with a commercial message. But here, I’m glad for the re-direction.

Now, when I hear what was a love song for the unsure, I instead hear an Anthem, that’s could just as easily be about old friends remaining committed to each other.

Buy the album and Support The Cause.

You can hear the Person Of The Week feature with Susanna Hoffs, where she talks about her friendship with L&N, and how and why she is involved with “Keep The Light Alive,” in our archives.

Lowen & Navarro & Friends sing

The Bangles version, with, for no reason, Disney footage:

The Pat Benatar version:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Susanna Hoffs "Eternal Flame"

I think if you say “The Bangles,” your mind, like mine, probably goes straight back to the 80s. The warm wave of nostaglia washes over you with images of Big Hair, chunky jewelry, and your ridiculous attempts toward making those “Walk Like An Egyptian” moves somehow danceable.

And then, perhaps, you dismiss it. The band. The music. The era.

One of the absolutely most rewarding parts of my job as a DJ, is that, from time to time, you find yourself in a situation where need to go well below the surface of an idea, and you come to appreciate why something that could easily be dismissed as nostalgia or fluff, has substance and soul. It goes a long way to explaining longevity, among other things.

Last month, I was pitched the idea of doing an interview with someone involved in the “Keep The Light Alive: The Songs Of Lowen & Navarro” album, a project which is raising money for Lou Gerhig’s Disease research and treatment. I’d naturally assumed that I’d be speaking to Lowen, or Navarro, or perhaps my initial contact on the project, Claudia Stuart Navarro. But after a bit of back and forth, Claudia said, “I am going to put you in touch with Susanna Hoffs, of The Bangles.” The Bangles contributed a song on this project, and Claudia thought Susanna would be an interesting and appropriate spokesperson.

And here’s where it happens. You have to start preparing yourself for this interview. Really listen to the music. Think about the performer and how you’re going to relate to them. And you examine them in a whole new light.

I think for most folks, Susanna Hoffs and The Bangles are some kind of totem for the 80s, that doesn’t go much deeper than 2 or 3 songs. But when I starting thinking about, and listening to, the music of her nearly 30 year career, I realized that there are so many songs I like, that I have history with, and mean more to me than just some one-hit-wonder.

So all this week, I think I’ll write a bit about Susanna Hoffs, and maybe get you to think about her in a Different Light (ugh, did I just make that joke?).

And you know, this isn’t the first time I found myself reconsidering her work.

Back in the mid-90s, Susanna was on the bill at Lilith Fair. I hadn’t planned on checking out her set, but I was headed from seeing this up-and-coming singer named Kacy Crowley, in one of the small tents, to catch Emmylou Harris on the main stage, when I found myself passing a side stage that had Susanna doing an acoustic solo set.

And hearing some of those songs I’d heard a thousand times before (or, actually, had seen a thousand times before, on MTV), done with a simple guitar and voice, caused me to stop and really listen.

I have two distinct memories of the show. One was that she covered “September Gurls.” At that time, I'd become obsessed with Big Star, a band that seemingly few people knew. And I further realized that The Bangles had covered this song in the 80s, and that at that time I didn’t know who Big Star was. If they were into Big Star, how could I write them off?

The other song that I clearly remember is “Eternal Flame,” which, when it was released, I wrote off as a chick song that had nothing to do with me. My ears were closed.

But my ears were open that day---I was there to hear new music, right---and I remember thinking to myself, “That’s actually a great little song.” Beautiful in its simplicity.

So let me reconsider Susanna Hoffs with you this week, and hopefully, you’ll do the same.

To hear a clip from Lilith Fair, jump to track 10 on the pop up player.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bob Dylan “Mama Said Knock You Out”

Perhaps, from this point forward, all Bob Dylan entries should be considered WTF entries.

For your Mother’s Day pleasure, please enjoy Mr. Dylan rapping the first verse of LL Cool J’s classic “Mama Said Knock You Out.”

This is not a joke (exactly). Mr. Dylan hosts a satellite radio program, and on a “Mama” themed show, he ended the program with this clip, where he actually seems to know the words. His co-host for the episode, Stephen Merchant, finishes it off.

But . . . “Bob Dylan covers LL Cool J”?

WTF for Mother’s Day!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Court Yard Hounds “The Coast”

There’s a reason for a band name.

Some names are designed to be unsubtle. If you pick up an album by Black Sabbath, or Boyzone, you pretty much already have a good idea of what you’re going to be hearing, before Note One plays.

There are names that are slightly more subtle, but no less descriptive.

Like your indie rock to be literary? Listen to a band named after an unfinished Tolstoy book (The Decemberists).

Into roots music? You don’t have to guess that you’ll like someone called The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Unfortunately, many wonderfully creative musicians, are just plain lousy at naming their bands, saddling them with weak weak monikers.

I mean, most famously, if they weren’t so friggin’ good, a band with the horrible pun-name The Beatles, should be shunned.

And today, we can add to the list of bands that don’t seem to have tried very hard to name themselves (who’s alumni includes The Goo Goo Dolls, Monsters Of Folk, and Limp Bizkit): the Court Yard Hounds.

On the Cape, there’s a restaurant called The Courtyard, that has live music (and houses the mvyradio Sales office in the basement). So when I first heard the name, I kinda figured this was some local band.

But no, The Court Yard Hounds are actually 2/3rds of the (former) biggest name in Country Music, The Dixie Chicks. While lead singer Natalie Maines takes more time off, sisters Marti Maguire and Emily Robison cut an album as a duo. And it’s great stuff. But a totally lame name.

Then again, Dixie Chicks is probably a candidate for the club, too, huh?

For more bad band names . . .

Courtyard Hounds origin story

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Steely Dan “Cousin Dupree”

About 5 minutes after welcoming Spring weather, I start cursing the arrival of unwanted bugs in my home.

Last week, inchworms started spinning silken strings from the trees in my front yard. And yes, I picked more than a couple of the tiny worms off my back, and out of my wife’s hair, as the little buggers descended from the branches onto us, the moving targets.

This week, it’s ants. They’re only coming in by the back door slider, but that’s where the kitchen is, so they’ve probably chosen wisely. It’s open season on any scrap of food left on the counter---and let’s face it, when you have a 2 year old, your life is crumbs.

Nothing feels more skeevy, than picking up, say, an delicious apple, biting into it, and then pulling the apple away from your face, to see an bug scurrying away from its near miss of your mouth.

And that’s basically how I feel about this song. I’m casually, somewhat absently, enjoying the catchy tune, and suddenly I figure out he’s singing about having skeevy, sexual fantasies about his underage cousin.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The New Pornographers “The Crash Years”

Remember when you were in school and you had a huge crush on someone, you’d seem to see them everywhere?

You’d spy them in the lunch room. Single their face out of the crowd in the football stadium. See them going into their house as you happened to be riding your bike down their street which, yeah, is across town, but you were in the neighborhood, and you’re not actually stalking them . . . are you?

Okay, so sometimes your crushes can get a little obsessive. And it’s good to recognize that.

I mean, I recognize that I’m slightly obsessed with Neko Case.

And I’m okay with it, because my crush is on her voice. And the only place I’m stalking her is in the record bin.

But the spring has been an embarrassment of Neko riches.

In the best news, The New Pornographers have a new record, and the first single has Neko, who’s part of the NP cast of characters, on lead vocals.

And she’s popping up on other people’s records, too.

Jakob Dylan has her on 8 tracks of his new “Women + Country” album, including the duet “Everybody’s Hurting.”

Peter Wolf brought her in for “The Green Fields Of Summer” on his new record.

And Rosanne Cash has released a bonus track from her sessions from “The List,” featuring, yes, Neko Case, on “Satisfied Mind.” It’s available only as an iTunes exclusive.

Yeah, I’m slightly obsessed.

The Crash Years

“Everybody’s Hurting”

“The Green Fields Of Summer”

Monday, May 3, 2010

Proverb “You (PJ’s Song)”/Beastie Boys “Live At PJs”

Silent Bob had a great line in the movie “Chasing Amy”:

“What you don't know about me, I can just about squeeze into the Grand F***ing Canyon.”

I am too often reminded that the gulf of my ignorance is mighty large. Well, not ignorance, but limited knowledge.

A few weeks back I wrote about how The Hold Steady had a song that used the name Jessie, and I complained that there weren’t any songs about people named PJ.

Well leave it to a Jessie, to find me a PJ.

Jessie Barnett is an independent record promoter, and an all-around bright guy, who made this comment on my The Hold Steady Post:

"Come on PJ... took me five seconds on Google. Enjoy!"

Okay, so I wasn’t likely to find a Christian rap song on my own, but I probably should have thought of Google. Thanks, Jessie.

But no excuses for forgetting The Beastie Boys “Live At PJs.” Especially since I used it as the intro to my radio show for the first 6 years (pre-mvyradio) of my career!

So here they are, for your listening pleasure. Plus the great Silent Bob speech.

Silent Bob’s Speech