the Buzz for February 2011


Christopher Cross (with Michael McDonald) — “Ride Like the Wind”
(from The Very Best of Christopher Cross) — Ride Like the Wind - Christopher Cross

Picture it: on my way to work Saturday morning, I stopped off at a local restaurant supply warehouse to pick up various and sundry necessities, and as I steered my flatbed cart through the aisles, adding onto it bottles of this and cases of that, this marvelously moody 1980 masterpiece — a top three smash which served to introduce the world at large to Chris Cross, the undisputed king of yacht rock (and, justified or not, still the only artist to ever win all four top Grammys — Record, Song, Album, and New Artist — in the same year) — commenced spilling from the store’s loudspeaker. For the record, there was no one in my immediate line of sight, but it wouldn’t have terribly mattered if there had been, as I literally could not control myself from picking up the exotically electric rhythm bursting into song, regardless of how much of a blithering idiot I may well have looked like; having been born in 1976, I came of age — musically, at least — sandwiched in that brief period between the decline of punk and the rise of new wave, and the tunes that sprung from that time — written and performed by heroes like Stephen Bishop, Hall and Oates, Air Supply, and of course Mr. Cross — continue, to this very day, to grip my soul.
And whenever I hear any of them, I just get happy.



5:56 pm: Welcome, everyone! As usual, all times Texas (i.e., Central). Unfortunately my sister Helen will not be able to join us for this live-blogging event, but I trust Sherry Ann (and others?) will provide their usual excellent quips as we begin the Red Carpet festivities.


6:01 pm: This is my 21st time watching the Academy Awards, and this is the 83rd annual Academy Awards.


6:03 pm: Much talk, no action so far… The “green room” seems decently nice, but not very Hollywood.


6:04 pm: Here’s Mila Kunis in a light purple dress! Did you know that she is a daughter of Russian immigrants?! She claims to have “learned to fake it very quickly” when it came to ballet.



A.R. Rahman featuring Dido — “If I Rise”
(from 127 Hours [Music from the Motion Picture]) — If I Rise - 127 Hours (Music from the Motion Picture)

Even though the indomitable Cher’s Burlesque showstopper
“You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” picked up the Golden Globe for Best Original Song last month, the thrilling tune is nowhere to be found in the same category at tomorrow night’s Academy Awards, so, as if by default, Rahman — a winner here two years ago for his sleek work on behalf of Slumdog Millionaire — becomes the odds-on favorite to win his second Oscar, this time for his haunting, ethereal end title theme (which features the divine Dido, bouncing back big time from her disappointing last album) from 127 Hours. (Due to unfortunate scheduling conflicts, Dido is unavailable to perform this song on the Oscar telecast, so, in what will no doubt be yet another boon to her already white-hot ascendancy, Florence + the Machine’s Florence Welch has been drafted into action. Incidentally, the Buzz is proud to present its third annual Academy Awards liveblog, beginning with ABC’s official red carpet coverage at 7pm EST tomorrow evening; A will kick things off alone, nobly aided by the sensational Sherry Ann and other special guests, and I’ll try like hell to be home before the ceremony begins at 8:30pm. Be there or be square.)



Call it the post-Valentine’s hangover: there’s no great lot happening this week at your local record store, as a handful of well-regarded midlisters step forward with their latest efforts. Leap in, kids:


  • Pioneering indie rock queen PJ Harvey is back with her
    tenth studio album, Let England Shake.

  • After a couple of side projects as a solo artist, Conor Oberst is back
    in charge of folk faves Bright Eyes and back with their latest record,
    The People’s Key.

  • Pop-punk players The Drive-By Truckers lace up their Go-Go Boots.

  • Previously released material from Colbie Caillat, MoZella, and
    Sherry Ann’s new fave Matthew Perryman Jones punctuates the
    original television soundtrack for ABC Family’s latest smash series
    Pretty Little Liars.

  • I can’t even fathom who thought this was a good idea: presumably to mark her recent tragic passing, the terrific Teena Marie‘s career earns its own entry in the fabulous new Icon series. But who decided it would be appropriate to leave off her best song (and, by far, biggest hit), “Lovergirl”?

  • The magnificent Margo Timmins and her captivating Cowboy Junkies return with Demons, the second volume in their unfurling Nomad series.

  • He may have struck out with all of his Grammy bids, but don’t cry for teenybopper Justin Bieber: his 3D concert film Never Say Never raked in some $30 million at the box office, and the quasi-soundtrack EP — which features cameos from Miley Cyrus, Jaden Smith, Kanye West, and Rascal Flatts — looks like a lock to debut at the top of next week’s album chart.

  • The fourth season — and final one featuring the peerless
    Michael J. Fox as a series regular — of one of A’s favorite sitcoms,
    Spin City, arrives on DVD.

  • Finally, if you haven’t yet caught up with Arcade Fire‘s The Suburbs — this year’s utterly mystifying Grammy victor for Album of the Year — your local Target store is selling it this week for the nice price of $8.99.


Orianthi — “Believe” (from Believe [II]) — Believe - Believe (II)

In all of the overheated discussion of the past few days over last weekend’s left-field result of the Grammy race for Best New Artist — in which complete unknown jazz ingenue Esperanza Spalding pulled out a shocker over today’s hottest teenybopper Justin Bieber — a name that was unfairly omitted from the conversation is that of Orianthi, one of last year’s most exciting breakthroughs. Originally slated to be Michael Jackson’s featured guitarist on his show-stopping final world tour, she burst out of the box with a terrific debut album (Believe, released in a pair of configurations) and a staggering radio smash (“According to You,” one of ’10’s standout tracks). But even with the Jacko-related boost, she hasn’t received nearly the amount of attention that her mammoth talent merits, and you just have to trust your Uncle Brandon when he tells you: this gal — and her stunning strumming, natch — are worth keeping a keen eye upon. (As for those Grammys, my last word on the subject is as follows: Bruno, buddy, you really ought to sue.)


Patty Griffin (with Buddy Miller) — “Never Grow Old”
(from Downtown Church) — Never Grow Old (feat. Buddy Miller) - Downtown Church

She rocks like a hard-nosed badass, she out-folks Dylan, and last year, she made the gospel album for peeps who tend, as a general rule, to fear gospel albums, so I am forced to ask: is there anything this impossibly gorgeous gal can’t do? (Most sincere congratulations to the peerlessly graceful Griffin, as last night, after four career nominations, said gospel album Downtown Church finally garnered Patty her very first Grammy Award.
Couldn’t be more well-deserved.)



In spite of the fact that 2010 was a reasonably decent year for music, this year’s Grammy race feels even more underwhelming than usual. (You know you’re in trouble when Katy Perry and Lady Gags are both duking it out for Album of the Year.) Handicapping the top races seems pretty cut-and-dry, and my fearless predictions are as follows:





As per usual, January ended markedly stronger than it began musically, and February kicks off with a much-anticipated deluxe edition rerelease of one of the most fabulous, most pivotal albums of the ’80s ever. Dig in:


While I most certainly should have been working, I spent the lion’s share of the day last Saturday geeking out on the fourth season of my old favorite guilty pleasure California Dreams, NBC’s early-’90s smash Saturday morning sitcom whose episodes the marvelous folks at Shout! Factory have been slowing doling out on DVD. Season four’s fifteen episodes are newly available via the Factory’s superb Shout! Select program, which brings less commercial titles such as this to DVD in bare-bones presentations to give the die hard fans access without having to fight the eternally tough battle for shelf space at traditional retail.
(Other offerings in the Select line include seasons of My Two Dads, Simon and Simon, and Rhoda.) And you can best believe this season of Dreams contains more ravishing work from the beyond beautiful Aaron Jackson — on whom I continue to be man enough to cop to harboring a ginormous crush — who, in one of my favorite episodes, “We’ll Always Have Aspen,” runs into a former flame and must navigate anew the treacherous travails of teenage love. (Laugh if you will, but I watched this episode, like,
five times this week! God bless you, Mr. Jackson!)




Eminem — “Lose Yourself”
(from 8 Mile [Music From and Inspired By the Motion Picture]) — Lose Yourself - 8 Mile (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

Not quite sure when all the Super Bowl commercials became at least as important (or, at very least, as worthy of dissection and debate) as the game itself, but c’est la vie. Usual suspects Doritos, Budweiser, and are again dominating the discussion of this year’s crop of ads, but I’m a little disappointed that more people aren’t talking about my hands-down favorite spot, a powerfully dramatic Chrysler commercial which played late in the game’s third quarter, and which extols the brilliantly resilient virtues of Detroit, an embattled, emotionally spent burg that remains the hub of this country’s most dynamic industry — the manufacture of automobiles. Much of the ad unfurls above — and, indeed, much of the ad’s inherent drama and potency derives from — an instrumental piece of the biggest (and probably most recognizable, and easily most riveting) hit ever scored by iconic rapper Eminem, whose travails growing up on the wrong side of Detroit’s tracks are well-documented, and who pops up in this commercial’s closing seconds to vouch for his hometown’s enduring ethos. (If you didn’t catch the ad Sunday night, you can watch it in its entirety below.)



Patty Loveless — “You Can Feel Bad”
(from The Trouble With the Truth) — You Can Feel Bad - The Trouble With the Truth

First of all, dreadful sorry for the erratic posting over the past few weeks; I have been battling a nasty sinus infection for what feels like years now, and the 875mg antibiotics-slash-horse-pills that my doctor prescribed ended up making me even sicker. (Blessedly, I seem now to be on the road to recovery, but if you see fit to pray for me anyhow, I’ll certainly take it.) Secondly, my online buddy Blake — a Nashville-based journalist who is as rabidly (and admirably) stubborn in the defense of his opinions as I am in mine, and with whom I have come to quite enjoy playfully sparring over music and more on this very website — has recently carved out his own acre of real estate in the blogosphere, and I heartily encourage you to check out his musings; he’s a very sharp writer, and his marvelous interviews often make me seethingly jealous (both because of the subjects with whom he gets to chat, and because of the smart questions that he thinks to ask them). (And if you require more incentive to steal a peek at Blake’s new baby: according to Blake himself, Brandon’s Buzz has apparently proven to be quite inspirational in the creation of certain features of his own site. (Color me honored, sir!)) Anyhoo, Blake requested some time ago that the Hive blast some Patty Loveless from its in-house boombox, and with this terrifically sassy tune — a colorfully canny twist on the classic he-done-me-wrong tale, written by the magnificently peerless Matraca Berg — I am at last happy to oblige. Welcome to your own comfy corner of cyberspace, Blake, and may you have every bit as much fun as I have over the past three years. (Incidentally, do you think Blake truly understands how lucky he is to have been born in what will most probably always stand as the single greatest year for music in the history of recorded sound? Who else thinks that he and I need to trade 1984 playlists, stat?)


Joan Osborne — “Right Hand Man” (from Relish) — Right Hand Man - Relish

Once upon a more gloriously innocent time, I literally couldn’t name five songs that were more fun to sing at the top of my lungs while barreling down an empty Texas highway than this wickedly randy gem about the eternal search for Mr. Right (and, natch, about all the Mr. Right Nows you gotta trip clean over while you’re on said search). I hadn’t heard this tune in eons, but when it popped up in a shuffle yesterday, I swear I was jamming along inside of eight seconds. (It’s time to phone home, Joan — we miss you desperately, gal!