The Buzz’s record store report celebrates its one-year anniversary this week with some welcome new visits from some of this author’s all-time favorite artists. Can’t think of a better way to mark the occasion.


With painfully earnest vocal work from the terrific Emerson Hart, and with sensationally radio-ready angst-ridden fare like their 1997 crossover debut smash “If You Could Only See,” they seemed a fair bet for megastardom. Problem was, so did all the other bands — Third Eye Blind, Sister Hazel, The Wallflowers, Son Volt — with whom they emerged from the post-grunge haze of the late ’90s, and after three albums and a handful of well-received singles which nonetheless failed to capture the magic of their breakthrough, they called it quits, and this week, you can find the highlights of their discography streamlined into one disc with A Casual Affair: The Best of Tonic. Don’t miss the inexplicably ignored 1999 singles “You Wanted More” and “Mean to Me” to get a sense of the potential these guys certainly owned, and, as with last week’s Wallflowers best-of set, the Best Buy version of Casual comes bundled with a bonus DVD, containing five of Tonic’s music videos.

She still gets compared far too often (and waaaaaay too nonsensically) to my beloved Tori Amos, which irks me greatly because nothing in that Russian nitwit Regina Spektor‘s wellspring of daffy off-the-wall piano pop heretofore can hold a candle to even Ms. Amos’ most irritating fare. Perhaps the tunes of Spektor’s third album, Far, will be able to staunch that tide: the fact that she has brought in Electric Light Orchestra mainstay Jeff Lynne as a producer is certainly a reason to hope for the best, as is the fact that Far contains a tongue-in-cheek track called “Dance Anthem of the ’80s,” a title I can get behind any day of the week. A famously called her “plainly vile” last year in a hilarious comment right here on the Buzz, and while I concurred with that at the time, I’m willing to give her one final chance to win me over. But Reggie, honey, mark it: you are no Tori.

Shawn Colvin Live brings my favorite Austin-based singer/songwriter back to heavy rotation in my CD player after an extended hiatus. (Her last studio album, the phenomenal These Four Walls, arrived in 2006, and Colvin is notorious for taking her sweet time.) Recorded last fall in San Francisco, Live contains selections from across the stunning breadth of Colvin’s amazing career, from Steady On‘s twin touchstones (“Shotgun Down the Avalanche” and the still-enchanting title track) to classic favorites (particularly “Polaroids”) from her 1992 landmark Fat City to, of course, her 1997 starmaker “Sunny Came Home” (which justifiably won her a shelf full of Grammys and cemented her status as her generation’s keenest observer). Also tossed in, for good measure, is a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s flash in the pan “Crazy,” which fails to be as revelatory as Ray LaMontagne’s spine-tingling take on same, but which — just like all these covers of Kanye West’s “Heartless” that are crawling out of the musical woodwork — is still a hell of a lot more compelling than the apeshit original.

Eight years after the elegantly shattering masterpiece musicforthemorningafter became a cult sensation and helped make it fucking cool to want to be a shaggy-haired troubadour again, the magnificent Pete Yorn returns this week with Back and Fourth, his aptly titled latest effort. Yes, that irksome horsefly Natalie Maines is again contributing background vocals, but don’t let that scare you away. Four albums into what is shaping up to be a hell of a career, Yorn continues to leave no doubt as to his brilliance. (The lead single from Fourth, the gorgeous “Don’t Wanna Cry,” can also be found anchoring My Sister’s Keeper: Music from the Motion Picture, a soundtrack which also features previously released tunes from Greg Laswell, Vega4, and, ahem, Regina Spektor, as well as a previously unheard track — hard as that is to believe! — from Jeff Buckley.)

Also noteworthy this week:


  • More soundtracks of note: tracks from The Fray, Green Day, All-American Rejects, and a host of other rock heroes highlight the companion album for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; and three new tracks from Sherry Ann’s fave Alexi Murdoch (along with a handful of previously released tunes from his catalog) prop up
    Away We Go: Music from the Motion Picture.

  • “American Idol” season seven standout Michael Johns is up with his much-anticipated debut effort, Hold Back My Heart

  • Former “Law and Order” and “Crossing Jordan” star Jill Hennessy aims now to conquer the world of music with her debut record,
    Ghost in My Head.

  • John Mellencamp complements his 2008 Hear Music debut with the concert EP Life Death Live & Freedom.

  • That marvelous, angelic goddess Tift Merritt bestows upon us an acoustic live recording, Buckingham Solo, which features a heartbreaking rendition of her instant classic “Another Country.”


1 response to “i can die when i’m done, but maybe i’m crazy
(or: june 23 — a thumbnail sketch)”

  1. the buzz from A.:

    As much I had hoped otherwise, my previous comments on Regina Spektor apply just as well to Far. However, let me add one more bit: there is absurdity, and then there is absurdity and annoyance together, a potent combination, as Far illustrates. Just two examples: (1) see if you can listen to “Calculation” long enough to get to the inexplicable lines: “So we made our own computer out of macaroni pieces / And it did our thinking while we lived our lives,” and (2) tell me if the first minute of the “Dance Anthem of the 80s” doesn’t literally hurt your mind, body, and soul… She is vile, no doubt.