the Buzz for January 2009



For as meek and measly, as dull and dreary as January’s slate of music has been so far, the month sure is ending with a hell of a bang. It’s a full week on tap, kids. Live it up:


And now, a very special announcement: the first two seasons of that ridiculously brilliant classic early-’90s sitcom Blossom arrive on DVD this week. Starring the spectacularly spunky Mayim Bialik — who, I just got confirmation today, will be appearing on Brandon’s Buzz Radio next week to promote this very release — as an unusually perceptive pre-teen swimming upstream against both a screwy (yet oddly loving) family — musician parents, one who stuck around (the dad, played to perfection by the hilarious Ted Wass) and one who hightailed it to Gay Paree (the mom, the gloriously gorgeous Melissa Manchester); and a pair of brothers, one ditzy (Joey Lawrence, playing dumb to the hilt, honey) and one drunk (Michael Stoyanov, edgy, ditto) — and the onset of puberty, the show’s crackerjack ensemble also grew to include the terrific Jenna von Oy (as Blossom’s best friend Six — as in, the number of beers it took to conceive her, she helpfully reveals in the pilot) and the dashing David Lascher as Blossom’s steady boyfriend Vinnie. Back in the day, “Blossom” was the butt of a great many jokes because of its occasional lapses into preachy pretentiousness, but it’s quite worth the effort for a chance to watch this cast play nimbly off of each other. As blatant a precursor to the twin triumphs that were “Dawson’s Creek” and “Felicity” as can be found, it’s high damn time this show made it to DVD. Buy it at once.



the wanderer returns

posted at 12:52 pm by brandon in child, my work

A whirlwind trip out west, a jam-packed work schedule, and the head cold to end them all combined to temporarily derail the Buzz last week, but I’m pleased to announce that I’m back in bidness, and, although the cold remains, none the worse for wear.


I’m also no end of thrilled to tell you that Brandon’s Buzz Radio is chugging along nicely. People are jumping onboard daily — I have scheduled a show with legendary “Knots Landing” star Joan Van Ark for mid-February, and I just got a yes a few minutes ago from the marvelously brilliant singer/songwriter Jann Arden — and the response to here has far exceeded my wildest dreams. In addition, as of this morning, each episode of Brandon’s Buzz Radio can be downloaded as a podcast from the iTunes Music Store. From the store, just type “brandon’s buzz” in the search box, or click the button below for a direct link.


Brandon’s Buzz Radio —    Brandon's Buzz - Brandon's Buzz | BlogTalkRadio Feed


Coming later today: this week’s record store report.




I wrote the majority of what follows last night while flying home from Las Vegas (where I managed to enjoy a weekend of enormous fun and mirth wholly in spite of the fact that I failed to win as much as a penny), so if this week’s record store report seems a bit incoherent, blame the oversized slice of Sbarro pizza I scarfed down at the airport, which — though it tasted utterly divine going down — gave me the worst case of heartburn I can ever recall.


She has strayed away from that formula in recent years, but there’s no question that Mariah Carey made her name belting out sappy love songs — and the schmaltzier, the better, especially in those early years.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Carey has assembled eighteen of her best-remembered slow jams (line ’em up:  from “Vision of Love” and “Love Takes Time” up through “One Sweet Day” and even “Thank God I Found You,” they’re all here) and is re-releasing them as simply The Ballads, and while much of this is as disposable as it was then, pay special attention to a pair of tracks — “When You Believe,” her 1998 diva-fest duet with Whitney Houston (who was still remarkably, umm, sane in those years), and “Without You,” Carey’s smashing 1994 cover of Harry Nilsson’s classic — which have aged with stunning and extraordinary grace.



the road that stretches out ahead

posted at 11:39 pm by brandon in mine's on the 45

A and I walked into Starbucks yesterday in search of nothing more than a post-lunch slice of blueberry coffee cake.  Better believe I walked out of there brandishing significantly more than that.  While standing at the register waiting for the cute barista to serve up our sweets, I picked up and began to peruse the back cover of Hear Music’s latest masterfully assembled compilation, This is Us:  Songs from Where You Live, and damn near fainted from the sheer gorgeous majesty emanating from the disc.


Promising in the description that this record portrays “the wistfulness that lingers when home is far over the horizon” — a tall task, that — you’ll be demolished when you realize just how brilliantly (and with what kind of devastating surgical precision) it goes about accomplishing that exact goal:  Us starts out on a breathtaking high note, with Michael Penn and Aimee Mann’s — very much our generation’s John and Yoko, only criminally less famous — amazing 2002 cover of the Beatles’ “Two of Us” (is it heresy to say that I quite prefer their version to the Fab Four’s nondescript original?  As Sherry Ann will haply attest, I luvs me some Michael Penn, honey), and the tracklist really hits its stride in the disc’s second quarter, with a bam-bam-bam-bam shot of Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova (with the title track from their heart-wrenching, spectacular 2007 motion picture Once, which is already well on its way to becoming the music-centric film of its — and, perhaps, any other — time), Feist & The Constantines (teaming up on a radically downtempo take on the ’80s classic “Islands in the Stream” which, even though it’s not by half as much gloriously trashy fun as Barry Manilow and Reba McEntire’s recent remake, is just plain revelatory for all the emotion it manages to unearth in simply mellowing the groove), my beloved Josh Ritter (helping out Mark Geary on a sensational song called “Ghosts”), and the terrific troubadouress Gillian Welch (the melancholy masterpiece “Orphan Girl”).  I’m telling you, by the time you hit track number ten — She & Him’s astonishing acoustic cover of Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got a Hold On Me,” about which I’ve already waxed rhapsodic here — if you’re not ready to rush to the phone and tell your mommy how much you love and miss her, you’re a stronger man than I, guaran-damn-teed.  And it doesn’t even stop there:  sterling recent efforts from Shelby Lynne (“I Only Want to Be With You,” a highlight from her too-little-heard 2007 Dusty tribute Just a Little Lovin’), David Gray (“You’re the World to Me,” the radio single, which I initially found to be subpar but which has grown on me exponentially, from his Greatest Hits), and Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris (a track from their stellar collaboration All the Roadrunning which gives this collection its title), all light the way toward the record’s shattering conclusion, wherein that long-lost genius Jennifer Warnes — who has been desperately missed, at least in my house — reteams with her mentor Leonard Cohen for a soul-cleansing reading of his all-time classic “Joan of Arc,” an album climax so thoroughly worthy of the tumescent build-up that precedes it that you want to hit your stereo’s repeat button and let this record engulf you anew with its aural magic.


The musical equivalent of Mom’s mac and cheese, or her chicken soup, or her embrace that you’ve been craving in the six months since you last saw her, Us is a warm, comforting knockout, and a gentle but firm reminder that home is where you find it. Get thee to your nearest Starbucks immediately, and find it for yourself.







The march toward February 3 continues in earnest, and while there’s not a hell of a lot here to jump up and down about, you might get reacquainted with a forgotten gem or two this week, and that’s also worth celebrating.


Sizzling cameos from modern blues legends
Doyle Bramhall II and Susan Tedeschi (who just happens to be the bandleader’s wife, wink wink) highlight Already Free, the sixth album from
The Derek Trucks Band. Free — which features a smashing cover of Bob Dylan’s “Down in the Flood” among its eleven originals — finds the band moving away from their bluesy roots and toward a more streamlined, soulful rock sound. I say talent this good is welcome in any capacity.




Was not watching those nauseatingly arrogant San Diego Chargers get their ridiculous asses handed to them this evening by the Pittsburgh Steelers just brilliantly divine justice?


For much of the past year, I have been helping out — in the form of writing, guest research, and calling in when no one else would — a woman who has become a great friend of mine, the marvelous JoAnn Kubasek, with her fledgling online enterprise, an internet talk show entitled Stardish Radio. Hosted on the BlogTalkRadio network, a fascinating cabal of self-help and celebrity-driven chat shows, Stardish is a blast of a program whose main beat is connecting fans with their favorite soap stars (although we’ve also stepped outside that box of late, having recently had hilarious exchanges with the fierce and fabulous singer Kimberley Locke and with Academy-Award-nominated actress Marsha Mason, among others), and its moderator — a thirtysomething cancer survivor who recently relocated to the Buffalo area — is a total doll, and one of the coolest gals it has ever been my pleasure to have a conversation with.


Because Stardish is not my show, and because the show is designed specifically for the fans who call into it and not necessarily for its host(s), it often happens that many of my guest questions are forced to go unasked. (In no way am I denigrating JoAnn and/or the show for this; as it is the fans and the fans exclusively who keep these shows on the air, that’s not only the way it is, but the way it should be.) This was never more heartwrenchingly apparent than during a brisk, brilliant conversation we had last month with the legendary Constance Towers (whose best-known role is as Helena Cassadine on “General Hospital”); although I was able to chat with Ms. Towers about a number of topics throughout the hour we had scheduled with her, I was only able to skim the surface of what I really wanted to ask her about. And as utterly grateful I was for the experience and for the opportunity — how many regular schmoes like me get to hobnob with the same folks he watches with awe on television every single day?! — I closed out the episode with an extremely heavy heart.


Later that sleepless night, while exploring BlogTalkRadio’s main website, I ran across a button which read, “Become a host now!” Not sure what lay ahead of me, I clicked the link and filled out the information which the resulting application requested. (You actually wouldn’t believe how mind-bogglingly easy it is to be granted your own show! Anybody can get one!) Literally within minutes, Brandon’s Buzz: The Radio Show was born.


I have no idea what form the radio Buzz will ultimately take. As this blog is largely music-centric, I would hope and expect that the online program which now shares its name will eventually be as well; however, as pretty much any topic is fair game for this blog, so shall it be for the show, at least in the early going. (In my wildest imaginings, the radio show will essentially be the blog brought to glorious, three-dimensional life.) I’ve reached out to roughly twenty celebrities with whom I have always dreamed of having a serious conversation, and while Annie Potts’ (of “Designing Women” fame) press agent gave me a swift and rude “no,” and the divine Robin Strasser’s (of “One Life to Live” fame) webmaster gave me a firm and hopeful “maybe,” I’m thrilled beyond words to announce that I have gotten two bites right out of the gate. One of them has graciously agreed to be interviewed but has yet to be scheduled — we had a lovely chat earlier this evening; tune in tomorrow for more news on that front — and the other has taken an enormously brave leap of faith and agreed to be my very first guest.


Next Wednesday night — January 14, 2009, at 11pm EST (that’d be
8pm PST) — Brandon’s Buzz will welcome the marvelous Robert Krimmer. Once known professionally as Wortham Krimmer, Robert portrayed, with a stunning, steely grace, one of the most unique and riveting characters that has ever been created for daytime television — that of Reverend Andrew Carpenter on “One Life to Live” — throughout much of the ’90s. (You’ll hopefully recall how brightly Krimmer shone in one of the most daring, groundbreaking storylines in the history of the genre, the 1992 tale which found Krimmer’s Andrew falsely accused of molesting one of his teenage parishioners, who just happened to be gay and was struggling to come to terms with the fact. The story culminated with outdoor scenes which featured both the AIDS quilt and a gut-punchingly powerful sermon from Andrew which pivoted on the idea that hatred can only be consumed by love. Trust me: if you saw it, you never forgot it.) After his “One Life” stint ended at the turn of the century, Krimmer stepped away from showbiz altogether and enrolled in law school, and he is now a practicing attorney based north of Los Angeles. And, in what I predict will be a smashing hour of discourse, I and Robert and his fans will broach all of these topics and many, many more.


I can’t tell you how greatly I’m looking forward to this, and I’m very hopeful that you’ll all join me as the Buzz embarks on this latest leg of its journey. The show can be found at, and the call-in number is (347) 202-0799. January 14, 11pm EST, be there.



Didja miss me?


After a forced hiatus induced by a skittish music industry unwilling to compete with two major holidays for consumers’ attention, the Buzz’s weekly record store report returns in earnest. And while there’s not a hell of a lot upon which to wax eloquent this week — in the runup to The Fray’s thrilling return on February 3, January’s slate is awfully light — it’s a great pleasure just to have something to discuss.

PS: A suggested this post’s headline, and I thought it was cute. So if you don’t like it, flog him.


And now, a band whose music I know positively nothing about: Scottish experimental rockers Glasvegas, whose self-titled debut — a smash overseas last fall — arrives on American shores this week. The album’s Amazon page describes the band’s sound as “equal parts Jesus and Mary Chain, Elvis, and Phil Spector” combined with ’60s girl pop and doo-wop influences. Kids, I can totally get with that. (Plus: bonus points for that ultra-cool band name.)



“Find more airtime for analyst Cris Collinsworth.”

USA Today sports media reporter Michael Hiestand, outlining in great detail what the networks need to work on for their NFL pregame shows for the 2009 season. (Collinsworth’s brilliantly snarky retorts are easily the reason to check out NBC’s bloated seventy-five minute pigskin fest “Football Night in America.”)


pass interference

posted at 11:58 pm by brandon in difficult, painful

My thoughts on tonight’s just-ended Colts/Chargers game are as follows: Ugh.


Forever immortalized — at least, in my house — in a classic third-season “Designing Women” episode, in which Sugarbaker’s gets hoodwinked into redecorating a nudist retreat (Mary Jo: “I guess, for starters, we can eliminate wicker bar stools!”), the Stuckey’s pecan log roll has come to stand as an enduring mascot for the southern road trip.


A strange — and, if you stop to truly ponder the situation, deeply disturbing — mixture of maraschino cherries, powdered sugar, and white molasses fashioned into a foot-long cylindrical hunk, dipped in thick, gooey caramel, and rolled in only the finest crushed and chopped pecans (all the better to resemble a tree branch), this decadent delicacy — which, according to
the Stuckey’s website, was developed by Mrs. Ethel Stuckey in her cramped kitchen, and her recipe continues to be used to this day — might just be the finest cure an acute onset of sweet-tooth-itis — and there’s nothing like a road trip to incite a raging flare-up of same in my own mouth — ever demanded.