the Buzz for October 2008


“We found that America had turned every older band into ‘the reunion band.’ It was ‘I just want to hear those eight songs and drink my beer.’ You think, ‘I’m 41 years old, and I’ve earned some level of trust.’ And you find out you’re just like everybody else. You’re no better than Bon Jovi.”

— that ever-quotable doofus Billy Corgan, discussing with Rolling Stone last year’s ill-fated Smashing Pumpkins reformation, which, with the absence of core members D’arcy Wretzky and James Iha, was anything but.



Generally speaking, at least where music is concerned, the holiday shopping season really gets going the first week of November.  But with next Tuesday being Election Day and all, and with more emphasis than ever being placed on first-day sales, the record companies are largely shying away from that as a viable release date.  Consequently, this week is beyond crowded.  I advised you all last week not to get complacent; read on to see why that was a fair warning.


The acronym’s a nifty play on those controversial print ads which made their target a pop culture buzz magnet last spring; alas, the thirty-two point letters on the album’s cover akshully stand for Original Music Featured on ‘Gossip Girl’. An entire array of under-the-radar acts fills this collection, although appearances are made by The Kooks, Junkie XL, and current flavors of the week The Ting Tings. Could be fun, could be a sprawling, self-indulgent mess.



welcome to the fallout

posted at 11:29 pm by brandon in thank you, india

And tonight, one for the “you just never know” file:


If you’ve watched even a tiny measure of television in the past week, you’ve no doubt seen a commercial for the Subaru Grand Vitara automobile which is scored by the classic Switchfoot smash “Dare You to Move.” (Just watching a couple of hours of ESPN football highlights and VH-1 music videos last Monday morning, I caught the ad, like, ten times.) Apparently, I’m not the only one who has seen this promo spot, but it seems as though I am the only one who recognizes the song: behind the scenes here at the Buzz, I have access to a wonderfully educational page of statistics, through which I can learn not only which pages are being viewed most often, but also how folks are getting here to begin with, and it seems that people are rushing to their computers to Google the lyrics of the song — it begins with the lines “Welcome to the planet / welcome to existence” — in an attempt to ascertain the title and artist. And because I used those opening lyrics as a category for a post back in June, the Buzz is popping up near the top of many of those searches.


Because you’ve not found what you’ve come here looking for, I’ll happily ease your frustration. Once again, the band is Switchfoot, and the song’s title is “Dare You to Move” (here’s a handy Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown (Deluxe Version) - Dare You to Move link, s’il vous plait), and it can be found on their bold, coolly magnificent 2003 major-label debut
The Beautiful Letdown. (If you’re interested in learning more about this marvelous band’s discography, may I humbly suggest you begin with
the playlist I painstakingly crafted at summer’s start?) And, finally, whatever freak stroke of Google-determined luck brought you here to the Buzz, I sincerely thank you for your patronage, and hope you like what you see and have decided to stick around. We’re having lots of fun here discussing life and the meaning of it.


(PS: This week’s record store report is forthcoming. I swear.)



bear with me

posted at 9:09 am by brandon in me me me

As has been the case for the past month, posting will be rather erratic for a spell. My uncle is back in the hospital for the second time in as many weeks, and things are maddeningly hectic right now. Predictably, therefore, this week’s record store report is an unwieldy monster (I just counted twenty noteworthy releases, and I’m sure I missed a couple.) It may get posted piecemeal, with much of it guest-written by my beloved A, but it’s coming.


“The Internet is opening things up….  It’s broken the stranglehold that radio had. Downloading has made people more eclectic in their tastes, and I’d guess eventually that will redirect radio to loosen up, because it will have to compete.  When that happens, you can say whatever you want, and there will be a place for it.”

Paul Simon, speaking to USA Today in 2006 about the evolution of the music business.


Recent additions to the flair board:  a pair of buttons memorializing one of the all-time great singer/songwriters, David Gray; a pair of buttons to commemorate the sterling return to form for “Friday Night Lights,” which has opened season three with a brilliant bang; and a pair of buttons eulogizing Aaron Sorkin’s two noble television failures, “Sports Night” and “Studio 60.”

my flair 7



After a series of wallet-busting weeks, we get a brief reprieve this Tuesday, with only a couple of major releases vying for your attention. But don’t be fooled: with new stuff coming next week from Snow Patrol, John Legend, Queen, and Pink (whose red-hot smash “So What” is currently the most-played track at top 40 radio, despite being not half as fun as her instant classic “U + Ur Hand”), among many others, this week is hardly a harbinger of what’s to come. In other words, enjoy this breather while you can.


She’s had a tough climb in the near-decade since her iconic smash “I Hope You Dance” carried her to the (ultimately fleeting) Shania-level of stardom: despite its vastly underrated title track, her uneven 2002 effort Something Worth Leaving Behind was an across the board failure, having been deemed too pop for country stations to play, and vice versa; in 2005, she made a sharp U-turn back to the twangy side with the hilariously retrograde There’s More Where That Came From, and while the critical hosannas were free-flowing (deservedly so, too, especially where the devastating lead single “I May Hate Myself in the Morning” was concerned), that record likewise failed to fly off the store shelves. Now back with her sixth album Call Me Crazy, Lee Ann Womack finds herself at a peculiar career crossroads: having been supplanted in her native realm by young upstarts like Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood, it remains to be seen if Womack can downshift into the already-crowded arena of country’s elder stateswomen. (With Reba, Martina, and Trisha comfortably holding court there, and with the format still largely viewed as a man’s game, that seems far from a sure bet.) Nevertheless, Womack continues to prove herself as a vital, eternally intriguing artist, and Crazy should extend her streak of worthy efforts.



I’m pleased to let you all know that my terrific sister Amanda celebrates the 23rd anniversary of her birth this fine day.  I have no idear if she reads the Buzz or not, but regardless:  happy birthday, sis.  Have a piece of cake on me, and tell my Shaye-bug she has my permission to eat a corner piece.  Have a goo day.  😉

Much wuv,

your brother.



(Editor’s note:  I handwrote this post two full weeks ago, back when the topic was considerably more timely.  All apologies for the delay.)


Fall has been in full swing for several weeks now, and to here, its slate of new music has been uniformly stellar:  the New Kids on the Block have executed one of the most brilliantly maneuvered comebacks in recent pop memory with their startlingly fine (and fun) new record The Block (keep an eye out for this set’s second “Single,” a terrific duet with the white-hot Ne-Yo); led by Caleb Followill’s achingly vulnerable drawl, the Kings of Leon have delivered an intoxicating masterpiece with their superlative fourth album Only By the Night; and top-notch singles from Ray LaMontagne, Brandy, Jon McLaughlin, The Killers (whose latest, the strangely alluring “Human,” is marked by dopey-even-for-them lyrical content — the chorus, swear to Jesus, opens with the line “Are we human / or are we dancer?” — but a brilliant beat that splits the blissful difference betwixt “Somebody Told Me” and “When You Were Young”) and others, which would only indicate that more greatness is imminent.



say what?

posted at 10:09 pm by brandon in y'all don't wanna hear this tuh-day!

“In broad, has forgotten today at firm a grip. It was predetermined to return. I around in function also I see that in corrie has entered: the chief wished to be given the gold watch with the secretary, And a door to clasp for some use one’s judgement secure forgotten. But they in passion give birth to not noticed me at once. Half-trice I stand. Then has reached what to do, I wish pit oneself against a bag Yes imperceptibly I pleasure leave. The horse-radish there, has made a agreement with – both of them severely on me Goggle eyes give birth to looked. extravagantly here and me in a block stop it is improve than anything Has not around than niche a yield and to certain: “Greetings!” Here and so the full chaos sometimes turns out I would like that you too have told such history happened with you.”


— a hilarious comment which got caught in the Buzz’s superbly attuned spam filter. (No idear what these folks are advertising, but I find their blisteringly brilliant stream-of-consciousness prose to be ferociously inspired.)




Third records abound this week, as several key newcomers from the past few years all converge upon the second week of October attempting to grab hold of our attention and respect. I fully expect no fewer than one of these records to stand among the entire year’s best; let’s see how the rest of them stack up in kind.


Following the (for them, anyway) breakneck triumph that was Viva La Vida — it only took those silly fools of Coldplay four tries to make a (more or less) cohesive album! — all eyes fall this week to fellow British band Keane to see how they’ll respond.  Their first album, 2004’s Hopes and Fears, went platinum on the blazing strength of its two terrific singles, “Somewhere Only We Know” and “Everybody’s Changing”; 2006’s follow-up disc Under the Iron Sea stumbled a bit despite its blistering rock radio smash “Is It Any Wonder?,” which almost made me believe I’d side with Keane’s lead singer Tom Chaplin over that doofus Chris Martin in a karaoke duel.  Coming off of Chaplin’s shockingly pitch-perfect remake of “Under Pressure” (on which he literally seems to be channeling David Bowie!) for an EP late last year comes Keane’s third record, Perfect Symmetry.  The set’s leadoff single, the hard-driving “Spiralling,” holds a much grittier sound — perhaps even menacing — than anything we’ve heard from these guys heretofore, which is mighty fine by me, particularly considering their rivals in Coldplay have essentially been writing the same frickin’ song for ten years or better.  Watch out for this one; it could well be the sleeper of the fall.



“Pro is the opposite of con; therefore, progress is the opposite of Congress”

— from the Austin Chronicle’s trivia-based Mr. Smarty Pants Knows column, which last week made a rare lunge toward sarcastic sagacity.



A pair of fascinating newcomers releasing long-awaited sophomore projects, up against a host of old pros returning to the spotlight, punctuate this week’s (regretfully belated — sorry, Sherry Ann!) record store report.  But don’t just take my word for it:


Her already legendary spot-on spoofs of Gov. Sarah Palin will almost certainly stand beside Dana Carvey’s oafish takeoffs on the elder George Bush in the upper echelon of “Saturday Night Live’s” political pantheon, and if there’s any justice, the enormous buzz generated thereby will draw some much-needed attention to the product of the peerless Tina Fey’s day job, as writer and star of NBC’s enormously funny riotous farce 30 Rock.  Critically adored — the series just swept the comedy Emmys, nabbing acting trophies for Fey and Alec Baldwin (as masterful a buffoon as can be found anywhere on the dial these days), as well as honors for the series itself and for its writing — but a Nielsen also-ran — even as a niche show, this thing’s ratings are paltry — Rock miraculously returns for its third season at the end of the month, and to whet appetites for the series’ imminent return, this week brings the arrival on DVD of the outrageously hilarious Season Two, which features another Emmy-nominated turn from Elaine Stritch (as Baldwin’s ribald mother) and guest turns from, among others, Jerry Seinfeld and Edie Falco.  The textbook definition of eccentric television, this often-demented series is certainly not for everyone.  But it is funny, and given how shockingly short is the supply on that these days in TV land, that’s worth celebrating.