Friday, April 28, 2006

Song of the Week 4/28/06

Rihanna - "SOS"

Dear lord, will there be anything catchier than this song this year? Whoever decided to use Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" as the sample for the song is a pure production genius. I listen to it once, I want to listen to it again. As a co-worker said, "It sounds like a mash-up of two really good songs."

Of note--this is the youngest artist (18 as of February) to garner Song of the Week honors. I will now go bang my head against the wall next to my desk.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Song of the Week 4/21/06

George Harrison - "Cheer Down"

I have sold a lot of CDs over the years to a) pay for beer; b) pay for moving to New York; c) to pay for vodka; d) to clear space out of my tiny apartment and e) to pay off my credit card debt. The biggest regret I have in selling discs over the past 13 years is selling George Harrison's Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989. At the time I sold it to my co-worker Sal I had no idea it was out of print, and worth much more than the 7 bucks I sold it for. I kicked myself a few times (especially when Harrison passed away in 2001), but when we reported that his back catalog was being remastered I was happy. I became very upset when that remastering did not include the three new songs that were on Best of Dark Horse. "Poor Little Girl" and "Cockamamie Business" are good songs, considering they were recorded specifically for the compilation. And "Cheer Down," well, that's one of my favorite Harrison solo songs ever. It came out a few months before the compilation on the soundtrack to Lethal Weapon 2. That summer was my first away from home, as I worked at the college station in Ithaca. I listened to a lot of music that summer when I was not on the air, and I couldn't get enough of "Cheer Down."

Finally this week I asked Sal if he could bring Best of Dark Horse back in so I could burn it into my Itunes. He just so happened to have it in his desk, so I snatched it and walked briskly to my computer. A few minutes later I was never so happy to hear the slide guitar of George Harrison. Pardon the cliche, but cheering down never cheered me up so much.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Exposed! The Grandmother of Sammy Hagar and Rhea Perlman

She's not really, she's just an 87 year old granny who happened to be a convicted murderer who eluded police for THREE DECADES.

Brings a new meaning to "It's About Time." Turn your clocks back!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Song of the Week 4/14/06

Dio - "Rainbow in the Dark"

I wrote two stories last week that were about Ronnie James Dio. That's about two more stories than I write in a whole year about Ronnie James Dio. The metal midget (seriously, he's about 5' 2") had his wife put out a statement that he wasn't reuniting with Black Sabbath this year, and in fact, he was going to be out promoting his new Holy Diver Live album. Yes, it's that classic 1983 album, done live. Whew, talk about the well running dry.

In any case, I listened to the three Dio songs I have on my Ipod on the way back to Brooklyn Friday night and eventually found myself in Great Lakes. This was the first indie rock bar in Park Slope, so you expect to hear Death Cab for Cutie, Pixies, punk, etc. So I was a bit stunned when "Rainbow in the Dark" came blasting out of the jukebox. And what was even funnier is that some guy all the way at the front of the bar started singing along as loud as I did (well, as loud as I wanted to--that dude was loud). Raising up the devil horns (pictured above) never felt so good.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Song of the Week 4/7/06

Josh Rouse - "Winter in the Hamptons"

Moria the concert pal and I went to see Josh Rouse last night at Town Hall in Manhattan. It was a good show, yet kind of odd because Rouse made a big deal about having a string quartet tour with him, but he only used them on six or seven songs during a 95-minute set. It seemed as though he could have gotten more of his money's worth.

In any case, when he led the crowd into a sing-along of "Winter in the Hamptons," I started focusing on the lyrics, and a couple of lines really struck me as perfect for the way I feel right now:

"Here we go, singing our songs with our soul
The winter has gone, where do we belong
We have stayed too long"

It's been a long winter, indeed. (I"m not talking weather-wise.) And singing along with Rouse and the crowd at Town Hall felt good. Singing along with a song that has somehow mapped a direct link to your soul (or whatever it is inside us) makes some of the stress that life brings melt away.

Or maybe it was the six pints of Rolling Rock, whatever.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Co-Song of the Week 3/31

Young Fresh Fellows - "Hillbilly Drummer Girl"

Tina Turner - "Better Be Good to Me"

I've rarely had two such diverse songs dominate one week like this. The Tina story is easy--somehow my-coworker Doug brought up "Better Be Good to Me" in one of our stupid conversations that dominate our days. Of course, I immediately downloaded the track and cranked it up. And when Doug did his own Tina impression, I knew we had a winner. We listened to the song every day at work--and fruitlessly looked for the video where Tina just rips it up on stage somewhere. Damn, she was hot for a 60 (maybe older?) year old woman in 1984.

"Hillbilly Drummer Girl" is a bit of a longer tale. This week I saw two shows from The Minus 5, the group led by Young Fresh Fellows frontman Scott McCaughey. Scott started this band 13 years ago as a vehicle for his non-Fellows material and stocked it with a rotating cast of musicians. Within the past five years, he's solidified the lineup to an amazing four piece--Peter Buck on bass, John Ramberg on guitar and vocals and Bill Rieflin on drums. I've seen this lineup perform four times, and those shows are easily the best out of the nine Minus 5 gigs I've made it to.

Their two shows this week were two of the best concerts I imagine I'll attend this year. The second show at the Mercury Lounge was slightly better for one reason. (Well, two reasons if you count the smoking guest appearance by Lenny Kaye on guitar.) Scott walked up to the mic at one point and said, "This next song is a cover. It's by one of the best bands you'll ever see, and this song is probably one of the best you'll hear this year." Then McCaughey kicked off that killer riff that starts off "Hillbilly Drummer Girl." I started jumping up and down, screaming "yeah, YEAH!" All of the people around me at the front of the stage gave me some extra space for the rest of the show after that little display. And then two people came up and asked me, "Who does that song originally?" "Ugh," I thought, "How could these people not one of the best Fellows songs ever?" After the show was over I went up to Scott, gave him a hug and thanked him for breaking out that song, telling him he had no idea what it meant to me.

Now the Minus 5 have covered a Fellows song before--"I'm Not Bitter" from Down With Wilco was first on a rare Fellows LP--but I never expected this song to ever make a Minus 5 set. Hey, the Fellows have played New York three times in the past 12 years, so I'll take what I can get. And for it to be this song, well, it's almost too much.

I discovered the Fellows in college, really dug playing them throughout my time on 92 WICB and even played songs from them on my "alternative" show in Syracuse from 1992 to 1995. After moving to New York, I sort of forgot about them until I discovered my co-worker Jodie was a huge fan. One week we preceded to go on a Fellows spree, buying all the albums we didn't own, playing them at work, annoying our co-workers all the way. All these years later, whenever I hear "Hillbilly Drummer Girl," I think of her and the crazy, mixed-up and (once in a while) most perfect times in my life. (It also doesn't hurt that The Figgs recorded a cover of "Hillbilly Drummer Girl," making it even more appealing to my ears.)

The past few months I've been going through another emotional rollercoaster that makes me think back to those times almost a decade ago. So having the Minus 5 play this silly song about a female drummer going to Memphis on Tuesday night somehow how brought it all together. I'm not sure if it was relief, sadness over what could have been, sadness that what I hope for in the present day I know will never happen or just the extreme lack of sleep I've had all this year due to stress on all sorts of fronts, but during those three plus minutes Scott was singing and the band was rocking, it all melted away. I felt like that college kid again; I felt like that guy who had been in New York for a year and unexpectedly stumbled upon love; I felt like that guy from last summer who was cheerful to be around and truly enjoyed life for the first time in years. I felt good. I don't think I could adequately explain to Scott (who I feel lucky enough to be friendly with) how much his music has meant to me over the past decade, or how much that performance of "Hillbilly Drummer Girl" meant to the healthiness of my soul. But who knows, maybe that brief sweaty post-show hug said it all.