Alternate Tuning

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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

New Releases This Week

Dirty Vegas -- One (Capitol)
Nas -- Street's Disciple (Columbia)
Mum -- Dusk Log (Fat Cat)
Simon & Garfunkel -- Old Friends Live On Stage [2 CD+DVD Deluxe Edition] (Warner Brothers)
T.I. -- Urban Legend (Atlantic)
Tindersticks -- Working for the Man: The Island Years (Universal)

Monday, November 29, 2004

Pick of the Week 11/29/04

Nina Simone -- Diva Series (Verve) 2003

Yep, the second Diva Series album in the past few weeks. No real reason why they're showing up.

This one now holds a special place with me. We were stuck in traffic on I-81 last night with only Nina to keep us patient. Worth it just for her rendition of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," with the violins playing a soft echo of the Animals' hook. She's got the oddest voice of the singers I've been listening to of late and it's very enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

New Releases Due out This Week

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Breathless/There She Goes, My Beautiful World CDEP (Mute UK)
Lemon Jelly - "Stay With You" single (XL Recordings)
The Makers - Stripped (Kill Rock Stars)
Snoop Dogg - R&G: (Rhythm & Gangsta) The Masterpiece (Doggystyle/Star Trak/Geffen)
Gwen Stefani - Love, Angel, Music, Baby (Interscope)
Third Day - Live Wire (Brentwood)
U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (Interscope)
The White Stripes - Under Blackpool Lights DVD (XL Recordings)

New U2

My review of the new U2 is up today.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Nostalgia Locomotive

The best song you haven't heard all year is "Nostalgia Locomotive." Don't even ask me to describe it, just listen to it here.

Pick of the Week 11/22/04

Bark Psychosis -- Hex (Virgin UK) 1994

The album that inspired the term "post-rock."

Friday, November 19, 2004

Shake the Sheets

Half a listen in to Shake the Sheets, Ted Leo's new album, I was a bit disappointed. I thought it was decent, but this is Ted Leo, and decent isn't good enough. What the album lacked, I thought, was that song that makes you have to go back, like "Under the Hedge" and "Timorous Me" on Tyranny of Distance or "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" or "Ballad of the Sin-Eater" on Hearts of Oak.

Of course, Ted and the Pharmacists didn't let me down, but the standout track isn't "Mia and Me," the one everyone's raving about; instead it's "Bleeding Powers." The song's catchy as anything on the disc, and the lyrics are perfect weave of the political and the personal. It's both a cry for union and a plea for continued struggle. It's flanked by the title track and "Walking to Do," another strong number, making this album one of the rare ones that ends with its strongest moments.

I still don't think Sheets is as good as his previous full-lengths with this band, but I probably like it more than the quite-enjoyable Chisel albums and about as much as last year's solo EP.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Random Meme

I got this one from Ian:

1. Open up the music player on your computer (if you have one -- the music player, I mean. Clearly you have a computer, because otherwise you couldn't read this).

2. Set it to play your entire music collection.

3. Hit the "shuffle" command.

4. Tell us the title of the next ten songs that show up (with their musicians), no matter how embarrassing. That's right, no skipping that Carpenters tune that will totally destroy your hip credibility. It's time for total musical honesty. You can put the list in the comment thread, or write it up in your blog or Journal and then post a link in the comments.

5. I'm adding something; if you get the same artist twice, you may skip the second (or third, or etc.) occurances. You don't have to, but since randomness could mean you end up with a list of ten song with five artists, you can if you'd like.

Here are my ten (I had to skip a few repeats):

"Citric" - Chris Knox
"Evil" - Interpol
"Why Do I Feel" - The Shaggs
"In the Light of the Miracle" - Arthur Russell
"You Don't Know What Love Is" - Sonny Rollins
"In the Backseat" (live) - The Arcade Fire
"Miracle Drug" - AC Newman
"I'm Not Down (Hold Your Head Up)" - E-Jitz (from London Booted)
"Shannon Stone" - Go Home Productions
"Banana Co" (acoustic version) - Radiohead

Nick Cave Article

Salon has an excellent article on Nick Cave today.

I only know some of Cave's work, but the new one (ones?) are definitely way up there. Unlike the Salon writer, I also really dig No More Shall We Part.

Thanks to Largehearted Boy for the heads-up.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Continuing Life and Times of Shawn Carter

We knew he wasn't really retiring, but did anyone really expect a Jay-Z/Linkin Park collaboration? After listening to volume of after volume of his words, we know that the real truth is that the Grey Album opened up the mainstream market for mashups, and the rapper and the rockers could cash in with only 4 days of work.

My wish, that Jigga would have had one more moment of clarity...

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

New Releases This Week*

Marvin Gaye -- Live in Montreux (Eagle Vision)
Michael Jackson -- The Ultimate Collection (Columbia/Legacy)
Lansing-Dreiden -- A Sanctioned Beam (Hollywood)
Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz -- Crunk Juice (TVT)
Man Man -- The Man in the Blue Turban Without a Face (Ace Fu)

*these dates may be subject to change

More Reasons to Like Jeff Tweedy

From Rock & Rap Confidential:

By Xeni Jardin | Wired News

02:00 AM Nov. 15, 2004 PT

Giving away an album online isn't the way most artists end up with gold records. But it worked out that way for Wilco.

After being dropped from Reprise Records in 2001 over creative conflicts surrounding Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the Chicago-based band committed what some thought would be suicide -- they streamed it online for free.

By conventional industry logic, file sharing hurts the odds for commercial success. Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy disagrees. Wired News caught up with him during his current tour to find out just what makes Wilco so wired.

Wired News: What sparked the idea of offering your music online for free?

Jeff Tweedy: Being dropped from Reprise in 2001. They weren't going to put out Yankee Hotel Foxtrot the way we'd created it. They wanted changes; we weren't willing to do that, so they rushed a contract through their legal department to let us go. It was the fastest I'd ever seen a record company work. Once they let us go, we were free to do with the album what we chose.

We'd been noticing how much more important the internet had become -- once information is out there in the world now, anyone can get it. Since that was beginning to happen with the record anyway, we figured, OK, let's just stream it for free ourselves.

WN: Did you minimize the quality of the files you offered online, so that people would be encouraged to pay for a higher-quality "real thing" when you signed to a new record label?

Tweedy: We didn't go out of our way to make it sound low-res. MP3s are poorer quality anyway. That's part of why the record industry's argument against file sharing is so ridiculous -- nothing out there on P2P networks sounds as good as the original CD or vinyl record.

WN: Did the free online release make it hard for you to find a new label home?

Tweedy: That's why we ended up with Nonesuch. They weren't intimidated by the fact that hundreds of thousands had already downloaded it.

WN: What was your reaction when copies of A Ghost Is Born started showing up online this year, before the official release?

Tweedy: Something interesting happened. We were contacted by fans who were excited about the fact that they found it on P2P networks, but wanted to give something back in good faith. They wanted to send money to express solidarity with the fact that we'd embraced the downloading community. We couldn't take the money ourselves, so they asked if we could pick a charity instead -- we pointed them to Doctors Without Borders, and they ended up receiving about $15,000.

WN: What are your thoughts on the RIAA's ongoing lawsuits against individual file sharers?

Tweedy: We live in a connected world now. Some find that frightening. If people are downloading our music, they're listening to it. The internet is like radio for us.

WN: You don't agree with the argument that file sharing hurts musicians' ability to earn a living?

Tweedy: I don't believe every download is a lost sale.

WN: What if the efforts to stop unauthorized music file sharing are successful? How would that change culture?

Tweedy: If they succeed, it will damage the culture and industry they say they're trying to save.

What if there was a movement to shut down libraries because book publishers and authors were up in arms over the idea that people are reading books for free? It would send a message that books are only for the elite who can afford them.

Stop trying to treat music like it's a tennis shoe, something to be branded. If the music industry wants to save money, they should take a look at some of their six-figure executive expense accounts. All those lawsuits can't be cheap, either.

WN: How do you feel about efforts to control how music flows through the online world with digital rights management technologies?

Tweedy: A piece of art is not a loaf of bread. When someone steals a loaf of bread from the store, that's it. The loaf of bread is gone. When someone downloads a piece of music, it's just data until the listener puts that music back together with their own ears, their mind, their subjective experience. How they perceive your work changes your work.

Treating your audience like thieves is absurd. Anyone who chooses to listen to our music becomes a collaborator.

People who look at music as commerce don't understand that. They are talking about pieces of plastic they want to sell, packages of intellectual property.

I'm not interested in selling pieces of plastic.

WN: Your critics might say that it's easy for you to say that, given that you're already a commercial success.

Tweedy: I'm grateful that I've sold enough to have a house, take care of my kids and live decently. But that's a gift, not an entitlement.

I don't want potential fans to be blocked because the choice to check out our music becomes a financial decision for them.

WN: How do you feel about some of the new kinds of rights management alternatives some are proposing, instead of our current copyright schemes -- for instance, Creative Commons licenses that would allow your fans to remix your material for personal, noncommercial use?

Tweedy: Commercial use is one thing, but I have no problem with fans tinkering with it on their laptops, then sharing it with their friends -- that's just a new way for them to listen.

WN: Wilco is involved in a lot of non-music projects -- you published a book of poetry called Adult Head this year, the band was the subject of a 2002 documentary film, and the band just released a new book of photos, art, essays and previously unreleased tracks on an accompanying CD -- The Wilco Book. Is there a link between all the multimedia exploration and the relaxed attitude you seem to have about what happens to your music in the digital realm?

Tweedy: We're a collective of people who live to create things. When we released A Ghost Is Born, we decided to do that in an enhanced format for a number of reasons. We get to deliver more art that way. It's also a concession to the fact that we're artists who do work within the industry infrastructure. This offers something more than a downloaded MP3 can.

WN: What's next from Wilco in the way of online experiments?

Tweedy: Every few months or so we put a new live show on our site for download. And between YHF and AGIB, we released some tracks exclusively on our site for free. We've been encouraged by the response.

This has just become part of the way the band interacts with our audience. It's part of what we do now, and I don't think we're going to stop anytime soon.

Random Thought on Fiona Apple

So this really has nothing to do with anything and it's not timely, but isn't it time Fiona Apple and Epic parted ways (as Internet rumors are suggesting -- without evidence -- may have happened already)? The label's still looking for a single off the new album, which has been sitting for over a year. Nonesuch, are you looking for a new artist?

Monday, November 15, 2004

Pick of the Week 11/15/04

Anita O'Day -- Diva Series (Verve) 2003

Jazz vocalist with unbelievable speed and scat.

Sunday, November 14, 2004


Friday, November 12, 2004

A Pleasant Surprise

After only one spin, I'm pretty impressed by the new Green Day album, American Idiot. I think dropping that punk facade opens up the the group to a better presentation. Without the cliched sneer, the group can just play their straight-ahead powerpop, which is more convincing and affecting.

The new disc might even convince me to give the long-forgotten Dookie a spin.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Happy Veteran's Day

This post should have been my first of the day:

Thank you to all the veterans out there, and especially those in my own family.

Sympathy for the Artist

I'm not arguing in favor of some sort of totally relativistic form of criticism, but I do think it's necessary for a writer to have some sort of understanding of the artist's efforts. For example, you wouldn't review a noise-rock band and complain that there's no melody, or review an avant composer and bemoan the dissonance. I've read two reviews in the past week that really reveal this problem.

The first article comes from Tiny Mix Tapes. The reviewer here gives the new Woven Hand album, Consider the Birds, a 1 out of 5 rating. Why? Too much Jesus. The problem is that Woven Hand is deliberately making a Christian album (the title's even drawn from scripture). The reviewer doesn't critique the delivery of the message, but the message itself. The writer says, "The instrumentation is an excellent starting point and Edwards and crew should be commended for their work. Edwards voice is unique and his delivery is emotional and expressive." So the music's that good, but the religious content of a religious album merits it getting nearly the lowest marks possible?

To quote the reviewer once more, "It may be rough to give the music and the vocals fairly good marks while giving the album on the whole a bad review merely based on the message, but that's just how she goes." But that's not how it should go. It's lazy, irresponsible journalism.

I won't say more now, because I'm saving it for my own review, but the music on Consider the Birds is stunningly georgous, in a Nick Cave sort of way, and even if the lyrics were utter nonsense, it would be worth more than a 1/5.

The second is from The Michigan Daily and is on the new Liz Janes album. Here's the opening paragraph:
Rock‘n’roll is a boy’s game. Although female musicians exist, there is little crossover, inter-gender appeal. This isn’t because rock‘n’roll is inherently sexist; rather, most men simply can’t relate to the concepts preached by mainstream female artists — like Sarah MacLachlan — in the same way that most females have little in common with Robert Plant. Sufjan Stevens protégé Liz Janes has created an album that manages to sound musically asexual while still expressing femininity through its lyrics.

So are we to praise this "asexuality"? Are we stuck with gender examinations worthy of discussion 40 years ago? It's a terrible gambit and I should have stopped reading there.

I'll skip the mis-reading of the lyrics and go on to: "When the soft instrumentation occasionally reaches a breaking point, the transition between Janes’s quiet and loud dynamics is startling." Yes, that's what she's trying to do. You don't need to enjoy it, but this isn't poor arranging or mixing; it's a deliberate (and not uncommon aesthetic style). The reviewer sounds like he's caught out of his element, listening to something that's not all that weird, but too weird for him.

Finally we get: "Poison & Snakes does little to erase the gender lines in rock music today. The lack of innovation in its music and lyrics results in an album that is unremarkable, but inoffensive; there is little in Janes’s work that is noticeably (or notably) bad, but, unfortunately, little deserving of praise." I don't understand that first sentence at all. Is the object of women in music to disavow their femininity or to own up to it or what? Moreover, does the gender issue arise because her album's "unremarkable." There's huge confusion on how to read gender here, along with the problem of how to listen to it.

For what it's worth, my own take on the album (admittedly not my best writing) is available at Stylus. I thought it was a very good album, just a step down from her much more abstract debut.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

(Not So) Fresh Cream?

It looks like Clapton, Baker, and Bruce are getting back together, at least for a string of shows. I've been disappointed with Clapton's recent work, but surely a Cream reunion could bring out some incredible music.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

New Releases This Week

The Bee Gees -- Number Ones (Polydor)
Neko Case -- Tigers Have Spoken (Anti)
The Doobie Brothers -- Live at Wolf Trap (Sanctuary)
Philipp Glass -- Music of Undertow (Orange Mountain)
Mates of State -- All Day (Polyvinyl)
Astor Piazzolla -- Ensayos
The Sex Pistols -- Extended Versions (Collectables)
The Stray Cats -- Rumble in Brixton (Surf Dog)
The Wrens -- Abbott 1135 (Absolutely Kosher)

Monday, November 08, 2004

A Better Way to Wake Up

The Biz Markie Alarm Clock is coming.

Pick of the Week 11/8/04

Os Mutantes -- Os Mutantes (Omplatten Records) 1968/1999

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Post-Election Solace

Still feeling down? It won't change the world, but a friend just gave me The Complete Million Dollar Sessions. It's 40 tracks and over an hour of Elvis, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis in an unrehearsed, impromptu jam going through their favorite gospel, rockabilly, and rock'n'roll numbers with a few whole songs, plenty of fragments, and some chatter. It's improving my mood more than any other music, I think.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

New Releases This Week

I'm not in the mood to do much writing today, so here's some interesting music that was due out yesterday:

The Beatles - Capitol Albums, Vol. 1 (Capitol)
The Buzzcocks - French et Encore du Pain: The Complete 1995 Paris Live (Recall)
Crosby & Nash - Bittersweet (Synergy)
Eminem - Encore (Aftermath)
MF Doom - MM..Food? (Rhymesayers)
Nourallah Brothers - Nourallah Brothers (Western Vinyl)
Rufus Wainwright - Want Two (Geffen)
Woven Hand - Consider the Birds (Sounds Familyre)

And the one I'm really excited about:

DFA Records Presents: Compilation #2

Monday, November 01, 2004

Election Edition

Great post from Songs: Illinois [note: no first-person credits are mine -- I just did a smash-and-grab job]:

Hey!! Stop what you're doing! You're not going to find that Arcade Fire live bootleg today, nor will you be stumbling across the b-side to "Hand In Glove", and there's no way you'll be finding that unreleased Pixies album. What you need to do is get ready to vote in the most important election of our lives. Figure out where your nearest polling place is and make sure you are registered. Tell your friends to vote, tell your enemies for that matter. But just vote.

Worried that you're not informed enough to vote? You're on the internet - the information is out there waiting for you. Not a U.S. citizen? Then please call or email all your American friends and make sure they plan on voting. Many artists/organizations are stepping up and helping with the Get Out the Vote campaign, and now so are many of us in the music blogging community. Below are some links but please continue to add your own.

And since this is an mp3blog we've added a song or two as well.
Vote by Chris Stamey w/Yo La Tengo

From me I've added The Creekdippers' (w/Victoria Williams and Mark Olson from the Jayhawks) "Poor GW"

From PregnantWithoutIntercourse comes Billy Braggs "Help Save The Youth Of America - Thanks PWI

Two fun Dubya cut ups from the Dubya Project (from WFMU by way of Largeheartedboy)

"Der Fuerors Face"
"Sunday Bloody Sunday"

RadioBabylon's participating and has added tons of music and satire to the cause

KingBlind's got his post up too

Teaching The Indie Kids To Dance is onboard with some new links

The Napkin's on the ball and will be adding songs all weekend

Tuwa's Shanty is up and has added Tom Lehrer' "We Will All Go Together When We Go"

Rummage Though The Crevices
has joined the cause and has added a spoken word piece called "Thank you George Muthaf#$@% Bush and a song by the Compassionate Conservatives

Telephone Thing took the call and added the post

Eric at Lost Bands has found the calling and added "Country Of The Blind" by the Faith Brothers

Enchilada's Blog has linked to this page with a get out the vote message

Aurgasm adds a couple of songs - Orbital, Cat Power and Antibalas

TheBigTicket joins the party with songs from Leonard Cohen And Trey Parker, Thanks Jon!

Eminem's powerful new video for Mosh

Get Out And Vote On November 2nd. Regular Blogging Will Commence On November 3rd.


Music Bloggers For Democracy
and everyone that has agreed to post
the big ticket :
songs:illinois :
last sound of summer
Tuwa's Shanty
Lost Bands Of The New Wave
Enchilada's Blog