Alternate Tuning

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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New Releases This Week

Eric Clapton -- Back Home (Reprise)
The Coral -- The Invisible Invasion (Columbia)
Death Cab for Cutie -- Plans (Atlantic)
Bob Dylan -- No Direction Home: The Soundtrack (The Bootleg Series Vol. 7) (Columbia/Legacy)
Hackensaw Boys -- Love What You Do (Nettwerk)
OK Go -- Oh No (Capitol)
Opeth -- Ghost Reveries (Roadrunner)
Sonny Rollins -- Without a Song (The 9/11 Concert) (Milestone/Concord)
Marty Stuart -- Soul's Chapel (Universal South)
Kanye West -- Late Registration (Roc-A-Fella) 3.5/5

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I Thought This Was All in the Past

Suge Knight is shot:

Nice little commentary in the last few lines.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Attention: The CD is NOT Dying

Contrary to this story, which is actually thinly-veiled PR for the Sun, people still listen to CDs, and will for some time.

For the record, I've had the Sun album for a while but have yet to listen to it, mainly because I can't hear it in my office, or my study at home, or in my car, or in my bedroom, and using the DVD player in the living room means taking over the family space, which I don't often do. DVD-only -- not so much the way to go. CD + DVD video, much better. Although soon I'll have a DVD player on my computer, I still won't sit there watching videos.

A Colossal Interview

David Marchese had the chance to really talk with Sonny Rollins recently, and he turned it into yet another great feature. He's aided by Rollins's forthrightness, accessibility, and humility. It's great to see one of jazz's biggest names taking the time to give such a good interview to a young journalist. And check the sidebar for some titles you might have missed (I've never listened to any of them).

[Yes, I know the title of this blog entry is awesome.]

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

New Releases This Week

Great week:

American Princes -- Little Spaces (Yep Roc) 3/5
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Howl (RCA) 3/5
Boris with Merzbow -- Sun Baked Snow Cave (Hydra Head)
David Allan Coe -- Penitentiary Blues (Shout Factory) 4/5
Criteria -- When We Break (Saddle Creek) 2.5/5
Friends of Dean Martinez -- Live at Club 2 (Aero)
Gabin -- Mr. Freedom 3.5/5
I Am Kloot -- Gods and Monsters (Echo) 3/5
John Wilkes Booze -- Telescopic Eyes Glance the Future Sick (Kill Rock Stars) 3.5/5
Khanate -- Capture & Release (Hydra Head) 3.5/5
New Pornographers -- Twin Cinema (Matador) 4/5
Portastatic -- Bright Ideas (Merge) 3.5/5
Rogue Wave -- 10:1 EP (Sub Pop)
Syd Matters -- Someday We Will Foresee Obstacles / A Whisper and a Sigh (V2) 3.5/5 for both albums
Otis Taylor -- Below the Fold (Telarc)
Tenement Halls -- Knitting Needles & Bicycle Bells (Merge)
John Vanderslice -- Pixel Revolt (Barsuk) 3.5/5
Various Artists -- Total 6 (Kompakt)
Zox -- The Wait (Armo) 3/5

Notes: The New Pornographers have made the best album Carl Newman's done. John Vanderslice's isn't as good as his last one, but any time one of my favorites has a releae it's exciting. Zox has made the biggest improvement between albums I've ever seen. I hated their debut, but this one's actually decent, and I understand they're extremely hard-working. Best of the lot: David Allan Coe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pick of the Week (8/22/05)

Silver Jews -- American Water (Drag City) 1998

It's the type of album that makes you want to buy the rest of the band's catalog even while you realize that you won't tire of listening to this one. This is the only one I have by them, but it's enough to put Berman on my list of lyricists to pay attention to.

Friday, August 19, 2005


The most surprising thing about Ringbits is that it took this long. The company licensed Google's search engine to set up a service that finds the ringtones you're looking for. I haven't used it, so I can't vouch for its effectiveness, but it seems like it would be better than trying to construct your own searches.

One day I'll get a cellphone...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Serious and the Funny

Going far from my usual tastes and geography, I ended up interviewing a Serbian metal band for PopMatters, in what turned out to be an enlightening talk from someone in a world so different from mine:

On the lighter side, every time my dog hears Spoon's "Stay Don't Go," she goes into Concerned Alert Mode because of the rhythmic panting sound. (And let me know if you know what that sound is I'm talking about -- I can't identify it.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Apparently I'm a Payola Watchdog

I don't know why this angers me so much, especially given that I've ranted about it twice on the Stylus blog, but here's another article defending the practice of payola. I'll try to keep my response brief...

One view is that radio stations should be faithful to listeners and make choices based only on their DJs’ honest musical appreciation. But how do they know what gangsta rap track is top quality? Payola helps them learn, because record companies will tend to value airtime the most for releases for which they have the highest expectations of future sales.

Hmmm...Maybe the DJs should be allowed to listen to the music and decide. My feeling is that author Thomas Hazlett is furthered removed from gangsta rap than most of the DJs who are spinning, what?, N.W.A. The idea of letting record companies choose which is the "best" is also problematic. Sales [or sales desired/expected] DOES NOT EQUAL GOOD. Everyone repeat that until you've got it. Something can sell 10,000 copies or 10 million copies and be good.

In music, bribery stratagems can be amusing but compact disc buyers are not much scandalised by corporate marketing indiscretions.

This falls into the "If no one cares, it isn't bad" category of flawless logic. I don't like so much.

American regulators are once again flailing at payola in music, where it poses no great threat to society, while ignoring influence-peddling in news and information, where the corruption of public discussion is of potentially grave consequence.

American regulators are flailing at a whole bunch of stuff that doesn't matter, as the recent spate of news coverage on legislative pork will attest. That doesn't mean we don't have the time or resources to fight payola and "influence-peddling in news and information." Btw, whatever happened to Judith Miller -- isn't she still in the news? Aren't people talking about this?

As Mr Stanton was keenly aware, market competition – not government prosecutors – will draw the lines that matter.

This falls into the "If it's capitalist, it must be good" category of flawless logic. People can't buy what they never hear! Isn't that the point?? My goodness, I've had enough, pro-giant-corporation unthinking for the day, and enough writing on the music industry that's more concerned with industry than with music. I don't know why it makes me so angry, but it does.

New Releases This Week

American Minor -- American Minor (Red Ink/Jive) 2.5/5
Bill Frisell -- East/West (Nonesuch)
Gang Gang Dance -- Hillulah EP (Secretly Canadian)
Madness -- The Dangerman Sessions Vol. 1 (V2)
Mt. Eerie -- No Flashlight (Secretly Canadian)
Salim Nourallah -- Beautiful Noise (Western Vinyl) 4.5/5
Oxes -- Oxes EP (Secretly Canadian)
Pras -- Win Lose or Draw (Universal Motown)
The Ramones -- Weird Tales of the Ramones (Rhino)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Pick of the Week (8/15/05)

Denison Witmer - Philadelphia Songs (Burnt Toast Vinyl) 2002

Witmer dwells in territory that's usually too AOR-songwritery for my tastes, but he makes it work. This album, not surprisingly, reveals a talent for using place in music.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Where I've Been

Been missing me? I'm on a paternity break -- the new baby girl came Aug. 2.

You can still get your same old fix at a brand-new venue, Hoosier Logic, recently started up by PopMatters critic Matt Gonzales. I've got a review of the unexpectedly good new album from John Wilkes Booze.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Bananas?

Orange Juice has a compilation out, and that's good, but did we need so many "Orange" bands mucking around at once? I count:

Oranges Band
Orange Park
Orange Peels

with recent or forthcoming albums.

Do a quick search at AMG. Who'd have thought there'd be so many of these people...