the Buzz for May 2011


Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise — “Once Upon a Time (I Remember)”
(from Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise) — Once Upon a Time - Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise

Happy Memorial Day, all. (Whatever memories you choose to reflect upon today, the Buzz humbly requests that they include music, still far and away the finest gift we as humans contribute to the ether through which we’re all struggling to trudge.)


The Judds — “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)”
(from I Will Stand By You: The Essential Collection) — Grandpa (Tell Me Bout the Good Old Days) - I Will Stand By You - The Essential Collection

My grandfather surrendered his human suit yesterday after walking this rock (and raising one hell of a fantastic family, and grilling untold thousands of the hands-down meanest barbecued hamburgers for any and all who might stop by) for eighty-some years. Across my own years, I’ve (over)heard casual anecdotes (and perhaps even a tale or two taller than would be considered typical) about the charmingly rebellious renegade spirit which lurked just beneath the visage of the gentle old man his grandchildren knew and loved so well, and I believe with ever more conviction that my own similar flashes of fuss and frustration, of wanderlust and wonderment, derive directly from him. (And I’m not so sure I’d have it any other way, to be perfectly frank.) Fare thee well on this opening leg of your next journey, Mr. John Henslee, and may you rest in the plentiful peace you have indisputably earned for yourself, sir.


Katy Perry — “Hot and Cold” (from One of the Boys) — Hot N Cold - One of the Boys

The capacitor on our home’s air conditioning unit short-circuited the night before last, and even though it’s not deadly hot yet — at least, not to the degree that it’s gonna be come August — if you’ve ever spent a late spring here in Austin, Texas, you know very well how impossibly humid it can be ’round these parts this time of year, and therefore, how imperative it is that all your personal cooling systems stay in proper working order. (Ceiling fans are brilliantly capable of circulating air that is already cold, but you can’t fathom how miserably fast your environment can turn sour when that same air sheds its frigid sheen.) So Wednesday night was a tossing, turning, sleepless night that felt like trying to nap in a cauldron, and by the time the repairman arrived to solve the problem yesterday — post 6pm, natch — the house was like a clay kiln and A’s head was about to explode. Luckily for all involved, the barrier between us and the cold household air that we’ve come to treasure like gold turned out to be an easily surmountable one — simply a minor mechanical malfunction — and last night brought with it a welcome return to the heavenly climes of our sweetest dreams.



The O’Jays — “For the Love of Money” (from The Essential O’Jays) — For the Love of Money - The Essential O'Jays

Had I been using my noodle yesterday, I would’ve forgotten all about that ridiculous rapture nonsense and plugged this all-time classic into Honey from the Hive instead, since the current best show on television — The Celebrity Apprentice, Donald Trump’s barking mad, blisteringly brilliant parade of backstabbing b-listers — wrapped its latest season last night, with the glorious Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin facing off against crunchy chart-topper (and fellow Amarillo native) John Rich, and while this competition cycle didn’t contain any moments as combustible or as jaw-droppingly hysterical as Joan Rivers calling her archrival Annie Duke a “piece of shit Nazi” — most seriously, one of the greatest sequences in the whole of television history — it was probably the greatest one to date, with all manner of fun new rivalries taking shape (queen conniver Star Jones vs. the shockingly competent LaToya Jackson vs. that number one nutbar NeNe Leakes) and the stupendously insane Gary Busey keeping everyone in stitches with his stories and sayings. (Don’t know about you, but I’ll never look at a kite on Father’s Day quite the same way ever again.) I’ll refrain from spoiling the end, in case you have yet to watch the finale, but in my humble opinion, Trump made absolutely the right choice in the end: both Matlin and Rich had incredible chances to shine individually throughout the course of the season (and they both managed to raise over a million dollars each for their respective charities, setting fundraising records for any Apprentice edition that could well be tough to top), but the ultimate winner killed it in practically every task and was a born leader throughout the course of the competition. And, his sketchy politics notwithstanding (and, thankfully, no longer relevant), Trump and his terrific team proved they still know how to put on one hell of an entertaining show.


iio — “Rapture (Tastes So Sweet)” (from Poetica) — Rapture - Poetica

So, if you’re reading this, then it’s clear that whole end of the world thing didn’t quite pan out as planned yesterday. (And, of course, at press time, Harold Camping — the California preacher man whose ridonk rantings incited all of this loony-tunes lunacy — was unavailable for comment.) Had I not already used it as a song of the day a few short weeks ago, I would’ve plugged Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place On Earth” into this slot, since it feels like an oddly appropriate sentiment for such a staggeringly pointless anti-climax as the one we all experienced last evening when 6pm rolled around to the sound of crickets chirping. So instead, let’s just pump up the volume on this hypnotic, swirling dance classic, and allow the cool, cruel groove to overtake our minds as though today, this day, actually is our end day.


JTX — “Love in America” (from Love in America [Single]) — Love In America - Love In America - Single

Closing out the week (and welcoming back Honey from the Hive after a brief hiatus, natch) with a few minutes of innocently trashy fun. Imagine if Ke$ha had a penis, and had some PG-rated material in her arsenal — which is to say, sang about something other than imbibing hard liquor — and I reckon you’d come up with something mighty close to this bizarrely sweet little piffle as an end result.



Patty Griffin — “Chief” (from 1000 Kisses) — Chief - 1000 Kisses

“. . . but I wish that you could see me /

when I’m flyin’ in my dreams /

the way I laugh there way up high /

the way I look when I fly /

the way I laugh /

the way I fly . . . .”


Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs — “Old Before Your Time”
(from God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise) — Old Before Your Time - God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise

Four glorious major-label releases into a compelling (and
exquisitely crafted) discography, the brilliant LaMontagne finally nabbed his very first Grammy Award back in February, picking up Best Contemporary Folk Album for God Willin’, a captivating collection of spry, atypically loose lamentations that Ray and his new band captured, almost on the fly, over the course of a single week last year. And just like the best of his most prominent predecessors — the dazzling David Gray, to be sure, but think bolder: think Don McLean, think Neil Young, think very early Elton John, even — LaMontagne, when he’s on his game, has this uncanny knack for using his warm yet weary voice to pierce right through your soul, leaving all manner of lovely debris in its wake and yet simultaneously leaving you graced and grateful for having been granted the experience of exposure.


Lauren Christy — “The Color of the Night” (from Lauren Christy) — The Color of the Night - Lauren Christy

The biggest sucker ever for these huge crashing power ballads am I. Given the subsequent smash success she managed to achieve as the driving force behind wunderkind production team The Matrix (who wrote or co-wrote indelible hits for Christina Aguilera, Jason Mraz, Liz Phair, and of course Avril Lavigne in the last decade), it’s a little surprising that Christy’s solo career — two albums between 1993 and 1997, both of them unjustified commercial flops — was such a non-starter. Too bad, too, ’cause she could have given all of those Lilith broads a run for their money.



Vitamin C — “Graduation (Friends Forever)” (from Vitamin C) — Graduation (Friends Forever) - Vitamin C

‘Tis graduation season, and even though my own school days are far behind me, I, too, am getting into the spirit: my baby girl Kelly received her diploma last night from puppy kindergarten, a six-week training course in which she (more or less) learned to sit, stay, retrieve and/or ignore toys on command, and other various tricks that basically amounted to manipulating herself into a variety of positions on the promise of getting a treat at the end of each rep. I love my dog to death — truly, I do! — but she suffers from what I like to term puppy ADD, and God help you if you manage to get her attention and then lose it by not being interesting enough for her, because she hurtles pretty quickly from stimulus to stimulus. Indeed, during the blessedly brief graduation ceremony last night — which, natch, unfurled scored by a lovely take on “Pomp and Circumstance,” courtesy of the boombox our teacher just happened to have at the ready — it was decidedly difficult to merely get Kelly to sit still long enough to place her mortarboard cap atop her head and snap a photo or two. (However, as you’ll see below, A and I managed to calm her down long enough to snap a couple of candids.) As for the future: vaya con Dios, Kelly-girl. It’s an old, cold world out there, my sleepy swee-pea.



Brad Paisley featuring Alabama — “Old Alabama”
(from This is Country Music) — Old Alabama (feat. Alabama) - Old Alabama (feat. Alabama) - Single

Regular readers of this blog know that, as much as is humanly possible, I try like hell to keep this website a Paisley-free zone, because nothing makes my teeth itch quite like his ponderous preening (not to mention the aw-shucks arrogant attitude with which he tries to sell same). But like pretty much everybody who came up in my generation with even a passing interest in the comings and goings at country radio, I grew up on a steady diet of the iconic hits of Alabama — a fair number of which this innocuously randy li’l ditty name-checks, and one of which (the classic “Mountain Music”) it samples outright — and this cute confection brings me right back to my childhood. The empirical evidence surrounding his new album (due at the end of this month) suggests that Paisley is out to do exactly that for his millions of fans, but compared to his awful last single — the album’s pompous, pandering title track, which trumped up every last ridiculous sweeping cliche about country music and its supposed base components — which was disastrously sappy and overblown, “Alabama” comes off as an organic minor masterpiece. So I dig this; sue me. (Plus, Paisley just announced that he is donating the proceeds from all digital sales of this single to the American Red Cross to aid the victims of the vicious tornadoes that ripped through the state of Alabama a couple of weeks ago, which adds an oddly appropriate layer of poignancy to this whole endeavor. You shouldn’t infer from this that I’ve changed my mind and decided to start liking Brad, but even a blind pig stumbles across an acorn a time or two. so there you have it.)