the Buzz for July 2009



Unless new material from Kristinia DeBarge and/or that High School Musical moppet Ashley Tisdale float your boat, this week’s new release slate is practically non-existent. No matter: this has been a fairly robust season for great new music, which always increases the odds that worthy material will slip through the cracks of your consciousness. So in lieu of a typical record store report this week, allow the Buzz to help you thresh the wheat from the chaff of summer ’09:






This coming Tuesday is my thirty-third birthday, and outside of having a nice dinner (and perhaps a soupcon of post-meal canoodling) with A, I intend to spend it doing my favorite activity on this planet: music shopping. Live it up, y’all — there’s some terrific stuff hitting stores this week:


Admire this gal’s gumption if nothing else: Brooke White, the angelic young lady who eternally captured the hearts of most of us “Idol” freaks with her ethereal, ebullient musical stylings during season seven — YouTube her astonishing take on “I Am… I Said” during Neil Diamond week from last year, and just try to convince me you don’t ache for her with every fiber of your existence — has chosen to include on
High Hopes and Heartbreak, her hotly-anticipated post-“Idol” debut, a sweetly mellow (and utterly fascinating) cover of Kings of Leon’s transcendent epic smash “Use Somebody,” a decision that has Sherry Ann utterly aghast. (And she doesn’t even like KOL that much!) As a well-documented fan of that album (and of that song), I wouldn’t normally advocate this kind of thing, but I think the fact that White — whose easy, effortless lilt is about a hundred million miles away from Caleb Followill’s pained (if undeniably compelling) yowl — can put her own spin on an instantly iconic rock tune and hold her own doing so proves that a truly great song can withstand whatever the hell you throw at it. The Buzz loves ya, Brooke baby.



Morley Safer tonight called him “the father of television news.” Tom Brokaw: “The managing editor for America.” Long was he considered the country’s most trusted man, and that was an honor he forever wore with nothing less than the utmost seriousness.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a short story in which legendary newsman Walter Cronkite — and, more specifically, his awe-filled play-by-play of Neil Armstrong’s mind-blowing 1969 moonwalk, the fortieth anniversary of which we’re mere days from celebrating — played a brief but pivotal role. And even though Cronkite’s remarkable career was already beginning its twilight by the time I became aware of his enormous presence, his contributions to American journalism continue to stand as the form’s standard bearers, the impossible bar that today’s multiplicity of blank-faced telegenic jokers is forever aiming to clear.

The news of Mr. Cronkite’s passing this evening at the age of 92 saddens me in a way I can’t quite put my finger on just yet. But, as the marvelous Sherry Ann so wisely counseled me several weeks ago, I’ve reached that age where the heroes are beginning to prove themselves to be mere mortals, just like the rest of us, just like me. People are born, people die. One door opens, another door closes, and that’s the way it is.



As the world continues snapping up Michael Jackson recordings of any stripe — a fact which stands as heartening evidence that people can still be compelled to purchase actual records given the right circumstance — there’s not much happening on the new release wall this week. Chalk it up to the July doldrums:


The “Idol” cabal is certainly having itself a kick-ass summer to here: Miss Kelly’s back with a spectacular album that has entirely eradicated the stench of the leaden effort which immediately precedes it in her discography; spunky li’l Jordan Sparks has blasted back to the foreground with her fabulous smash “Battlefield,” a brilliantly bombastic Ryan Tedder tune about which not nearly enough Buzz ink has been spilled (a situation that I’ll set about rectifying next week, when the full album drops); and my beloved Brooke White offers me the greatest birthday present fathomable next week with the release of her long-awaited post-“Idol” effort High Hopes and Heartbreak, which is teased by the bouncy sing-along track “Radio Radio.” And then there’s Chris and the boys from Daughtry, who have set top 40 radio ablaze all over again this summer with the fiercely melodic “No Surprise,” the terrific lead single from the band’s sophomore record Leave This Town. Even though he can be a tad too pompous for his own good, and his sideburns more often than not tend toward the bizarre, there’s no denying that Chris is one hell of an engaging performer, and because his debut was such a masterfully executed commercial triumph, there’s little reason to believe that album number two will deviate radically from such a winning formula. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (If you’re so inclined, pick Town up at Target, whose edition comes bundled with a bonus DVD containing the band’s six videos, including the new clip for “No Surprise.”)




The Associated Press predicted Monday night it would likely be the biggest and most spectacular memorial for a public figure — bigger than Elvis, bigger than Diana, bigger than Marilyn — in the history of the free world, and having been glued to the coverage of Michael Jackson’s farewell service all damn day last Tuesday, surfing aimlessly across all the channels broadcasting the exact same action, I can scarcely imagine a more true statement.


Except to say that I found the overall presentation to be incredibly moving — and, when you consider the whole thing was thrown together on something like 48 hours notice, stunningly smooth — and that Miss Mariah would almost certainly have benefited from an extra hour of rehearsal time, and that the choice to finally cut his hair is the best creative choice John Mayer has made in eons, I haven’t much pertinent commentary to add to the growing list of funeral post-mortems. As I indicated in my initial Buzz eulogy, Michael’s music is strong enough to forever speak for itself, and, notwithstanding Al Sharpton’s pompous proselytizing, it by and large did on Tuesday.



“You should have let me take over while you were moving!!”

— the inimitably hilarious Sherry Ann, indicating to me this evening (via IM) that I could have avoided a prolonged absence of Buzz posts this past week if I had only handed the reins of this operation over to her for a spell. (She even went on to suggest that we could have temporarily changed the blog’s name to Sherry’s Sass. Gotta love that girl’s moxie!)


still kicking…

posted at 11:22 pm by brandon in me me me

Sorry for the dearth in Buzz posts; I’m in the process of moving, and my internet access at the new place won’t be established until Tuesday, so updates will be catch as catch can until then. The Michael Jackson playlist is almost finished, and Sherry Ann lodged a request a few days ago for a Mexico-themed playlist, so that’s in utero as well.



Not so much happening out there in musicland this week, so please forgive the short and sweet record store report. (And don’t forget: with new stuff on the horizon from Daughtry, Reba, my beloved Brooke White, and Sweet & Hoffs 2.0, summer ’09 is far from over, kids, so enjoy this relative breather.)


  • One of the great underrated American bands of the past
    decade receives a gorgeous career retrospective this week with
    Music from the North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology. (And, yes, their classic singles “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” and
    “Save It for a Rainy Day” are most definitely front and center.)

  • Hot on the heels of a big screen smash, which has spawned the
    surprise soundtrack hit “The Climb,” cute li’l Miley Cyrus is back already with Hannah Montana, Volume 3, the latest collection of songs from the Disney Channel’s cash cow.

  • And finally, this week brings another visit from Jay Farrar
    and the brilliant boys of Son Volt, who drop their sixth album,
    American Central Dust. Methinks it’ll be quite hard to top their terrific 2006 effort The Search, which featured a spine-tingling cameo from the dynamite Shannon McNally, but if anyone’s up to the task, it’s the very gentlemen who gave us the scorching 1996 rock radio classic “Drown,” which remains one of the best songs in the history of ever. Count me in.



“Past experience: He who never makes mistakes never does anything that is worthy.”

— the hauntingly sage message tucked inside my Pei Wei fortune cookie this evening.


“For me… you can write two types of songs. ‘I love you and you love me’: boring. It’s a closed loop. But ‘I love you but you love someone else’? That’s interesting.

Sting, discussing his theories on hitmaking with Oprah in 2003.