the Buzz for August 2009

31
Aug

 

The new release wall returns to Earth this week following last week’s end-of-August blowout, with only one truly major release commanding your attention. Take a look:

 

Summer’s biggest blast of pure pop fun, the brilliantly wacky “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” — which masterfully marries a flamenco guitar with a pulsing techno beat, and then tosses in a measure of deep-voiced Spanish rap and sex talk, just for the hell of it — finally gets a full-length album to surround it, as Miami rapper Pitbull releases his fourth record, Rebelution, this week. Akon, Lil Jon, Slim and others drop by to collaborate, and while it’s not clear how the rest of the album will stack up against “Want Me” — and you can damn well bet no fewer than fifteen DJs and producers are trying right this very minute to deconstruct that track and figure out exactly why it works so well — there’s no question that the ‘Bull has just taken his burgeoning career to the next level, and is ready for takeoff.

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27
Aug

fairman-banner-2

25
Aug

 

Weeks and weeks of slow-to-nonexistent release slates have led to this fresh hell: August’s final Tuesday is so jam-packed with new stuff that I’ll be typing about it from now until Christmas. But I’m not complaining, mind you: you have no idea how great it will be to walk into the record store and actually be greeted by a new release wall which is literally popping with exciting material begging for my attention.

 

(Incidentally, this is the Buzz’s 300th post, hard as that is to believe. Thanks to all my readers who continue to follow me on this crazy ride!)

 

Her annoying debut single “The Way I Am” — and the spare, folk-y album, Girls and Boys, on which it appeared — became a word-of-mouth sensation after saturating the whole of television a couple of years ago, popping up on such series as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “One Tree Hill” as well as in an extensive advertising campaign for Old Navy. A collection of b-sides and live recordings followed last year, and now, indie queen
Ingrid Michaelson has returned with her true sophomore project, Everybody. This gal’s tinny voice irks me no end, but she clearly has her fans, and they will probably turn out en masse to snap this up. Mazel tov, y’all.

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25
Aug

vote for me

posted at 10:01 am by brandon in terra-trees

A and I attended our first board meeting last night for the homeowners’ association of our new neighborhood, and no more than ten minutes into that flea circus, I was already plotting out ways to get myself elected to the board so that I can effect some change ’round here. Plan A: join the neighborhood book club and try to ingratiate myself among the local intellectual cognoscenti and power brokers.

(Incidentally, to those of my readers who live in Austin: after the meeting last night, A and I tried out Hyde Park Bar and Grill for the first time, whereupon I had a smashing sirloin burger, quite possibly the best I’ve ever had. If you’re in the mood for such cuisine, do not overlook this place. It looks pretentious and frou-frou from the outside, but the staff is friendly and the prices are stunningly reasonable.)

20
Aug

 

Earlier in the summer, one of Sherry Ann’s best friends was planning a trip to Mexico, and before she discovered that the friend doesn’t even own an mp3 player (!!), she proposed that I create a playlist of Mexico-themed tracks that she could load on the iPod. My initial reaction to her request was that it would be an entirely futile exercise, that there didn’t exist enough songs about our southern neighbors to even take down the fingers on one hand, much less fill up a brilliant Buzz playlist. However, a bit of spelunking into the scary depths of my iTunes library proved my original hypothesis to be incorrect. Indeed, some of my favorite songs ever (literally!) are either about outright, or — in their lyrics and melodies — ultimately evoke the spirit and mood of, Mexico. I quickly understood that she was on to something, and what follows is the final result of this earnest experiment. If, by the end of track number ten, you’re not picturing Mexico in a whole new light, do me a favor and start all over again at song one. And the second time through, listen harder.

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19
Aug

 

Sherry Ann’s demand that I get the record store report published by the close of business yesterday led to me missing a handful of this week’s interesting new releases. So, without further ado, an addendum:

 

  • Sheryl Crow’s fabulous cover of The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” and Shaw Blades’ faithful take on “California Dreamin'” are among the highlights of Californication: Music from the Showtime Series, Season 2.
  •  

  • Also hitting DVD this week: the second season — this one almost entirely George Michael-less, to its unfortunate detriment — of A’s favorite television series, Eli Stone; and cute l’il Miley Cyrus’ smashing star turn on the big screen in Hannah Montana: The Movie.

 

18
Aug

 

Pardon the truncated record store report this week, but — at least on the face of it — there’s not a hell of a lot out there this week to jump up and down about. But don’t let first appearances deceive you: there might just be a pleasant gem or two awaiting you among what follows.

 

  • Those ’90s heroes Sister Hazel are still plugging away at it;
    their latest effort is the aptly titled Release.
  •  

  • Rising country star David Nail has just gone and made his atrocious cover of the unheralded Train classic “I’m About to Come Alive”
    the title track of his debut album.
  •  

  • Her under-the-radar debut landed her a surprise Grammy nod for
    Best New Artist; let’s see how R&B diva Ledisi follows it up with her sophomore release, Turn Me Loose.
  •  

  • Speaking of atrocious, all hail the return of Eurotrash dance outfit Cascada, who are back with their latest full-length project,
    Evacuate the Dancefloor.
  •  

  • After an extended hiatus, Third Eye Blind are back and trying to re-catch lightning in a bottle with their new album, Ursa Major.
  •  

  • After knocking our socks off with her cover of “Born to the Breed” from last year’s Judy Collins tribute project, the fabulous Amy Speace returns with her latest album, The Killer in Me.
  •  

  • Alt-rock hero Brendan Benson steps away from The Raconteurs
    for a solo offering, My Old Familiar Friend.
  • Country queen Reba McEntire is up with her 25th studio album,
    Keep On Loving You. (As near as I can tell, the title track is not a cover of the REO Speedwagon rock classic, as much fun as that might have been.)
  • And finally, season two of the CW’s guiltiest pleasure
    Gossip Girl arrives on DVD.

 

15
Aug

Gone altogether are the irritating quasi-raps that kept his otherwise terrific 2006 debut Nothing Left to Lose from taking full flight, and in their place, the confident strains of a supremely gifted young artist who has finally found his true musical voice and is smart enough to let it stand on its own, unadorned by flashy, useless gimmicks. The man’s name is Mat Kearney, and if you have yet to discover his spectacular, wholly enjoyable sophomore effort City of Black and White, you’ve missed what might just be the finest album anybody released in the first half of 2009. (I’ll wager my buddy Isaac and his Fray compatriots could very well have something profound to say about that, however, so let’s not get too convicted too early in our beliefs.)

Teased by the flawless first single “Closer to Love” — which comes off as surprisingly glossy pop, given the wrenching unnamed tragedy the lyrics continually allude to — and anchored by “New York to California” — an effectively spare piano-based ballad so hauntingly gorgeous, it’s difficult to contemplate that it was penned by a mere mortal — there’s nary a bad apple to be found among City’s eleven sterling tracks. Kearney even earns bonus moxie points for daring to name one of his album’s songs “Fire and Rain,” considering that a classic James Taylor tune by that name just happens to be widely revered as the zenith of the singer-songwriter explosion of the early ‘70s, the one that troubadours the whole damn world over have been aiming to beat for most of four decades. Kearney has just made himself that club’s newest member, and the utterly fabulous City definitively proves that he has earned his spot outright.

12
Aug

 

It’s another slow one out there, with an anticipated DVD set as this week’s must-own item. Live it up:

 

The debut on DVD of season one of the all-time classic CBS sitcom Designing Women back in May filled me with such joy that I couldn’t fathom what could possibly match that sensation. That is, until I bought the four-disc set for season two yesterday morning. Loaded with classic episodes from the 1987-1988 season — including “Dash Goff, the Writer” (which introduced Gerald McRaney as Suzanne Sugarbaker’s writer’s-blocked ex-husband), “Reservations for Eight” (in which a seemingly innocent ski trip for the show’s four couples devolves into an all-out battle of the sexes), and the Emmy-nominated “Killing All the Right People” (network series television’s first and best stab at dealing with the AIDS crisis) — and one of the most stunning ensembles of both characters and actors to have ever found its way onto a prime-time lineup. If all you know of this show are the horridly butchered reruns that pop up urry now and again on TV Land, dive in and watch this brilliance as it was originally presented. I swear you’ll laugh yourself silly.

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8
Aug

what’s in a name?

posted at 10:02 pm by brandon in in a lather

“Who are these people I keep hearing about? Burt and… Laura?”

— the marvelous A, requesting more information on the greatest love story in the history of American soap opera — that of Luke and Laura on “General Hospital” — after listening to my interview with former “GH” star Lynn Herring on Brandon’s Buzz Radio. (Gotta love him!)

7
Aug

 

A and I have embarked on an amazing road trip to sunny, mountain-y Colorado, so this section of this week’s record store report comes to you on location from a lovely bed and breakfast just south of Cripple Creek (the state’s premier gambling mecca, from which I’m happy to report I made off with a cumulative total of $117 last night, thanks to a series of atypically shrewd choices at the roulette table as well as a shockingly loose Monopoly slot machine). I’m sitting out on the second floor veranda typing these very words, and I can’t even put into words the graceful glory of the view beyond this deck’s rails. And I certainly can’t think of three more astoundingly good artists than these to provide this morning with an appropriate soundtrack:

 

In just a handful of months, when we’re all counting our lists (and checking them twice, natch) of this decade’s finest achievements in music, and happily hurling hosannas upon the heads of those responsible for same, better believe that two of the names you’re going to hear invoked more than once — at least on this compiler’s list — are David Gray and
Michelle Branch, which brings me to wonder all the more if it’s fate, coincidence, or just sweet, stunning serendipity that they have just concurrently released their long-awaited new singles. I happened to catch Gray’s latest effort, the masterfully taut “Fugitive,”  David Gray - Fugitive - Single - Fugitive playing on KGSR a few weeks ago, and my first impression honestly wasn’t so hot. I couldn’t be more thrilled to reveal to you now how foolishly silly that knee-jerk analysis was: the track, which teases Gray’s forthcoming seventh studio album Draw the Line (which is due September 22, and which features a sure-to-be-spine-tingling duet with the queen herself, my divine Annie Lennox, and if that’s not enough to impel to you to camp out in front of your favorite record store, I don’t know what could), picks up right where his shattering 2005 masterpiece Life in Slow Motion left off, and finds Gray dabbling in and pulling from an ever more lushly adventurous palette of instrumentation. One listen to this reminds with such powerful precision why Gray remains the finest lyricist of this (or perhaps any) generation. As for Ms. Branch, her third solo album, Everything Comes and Goes, has bounced on and off the release schedule for most of the past two years, and while there is still no firm date for its arrival this fall, we at least have a delectable new morsel with which to whet our appetites, with her crazy-catchy latest single “Sooner or Later,”  Michelle Branch - Sooner or Later - Single - Sooner or Later which thankfully finds her continuing down the path she began blazing with The Wreckers, the country duo she founded three years ago with pal Jessica Harp. The band is currently on an indefinite hiatus while Harp and Branch tend to their solo careers, but it’s clear from “Sooner” that Branch has taken Nashville into her bones. And whether they realize it or not, Nashville is all the better for it.

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6
Aug

lynn-herring-poster

4
Aug

Writing this on A’s Blackberry while sitting at the Alpine Rose Cafe in Walsenburg, Colorado and waiting for lunch. Yup, the annual road trip is underway. Pray for us.

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