if music be the food of love
--- the Buzz to here ---


The holiday season is upon us anew, and everyone at Brandon’s Buzz would like to wish its readers and listeners a very merry Christmas.

In the spirit of the season, one of Brandon’s Buzz Radio’s former guests, the spectacular singer/songwriter Brenda Russell, has made available at
her website (www.brendarussell.com, natch) a free download of an utterly gorgeous new holiday tune “Christmas Card.” All you must do is enter a valid e-mail adress, and the track is yours to keep. (If you’d rather not submit your e-mail address, the track is still available for forty-nine cents.)

Happy holidays, all.


“I want to find good pop music. Help me please.”

— a comment from a poster named Kalebarkab which got stuck in the Buzz’s spam filter this afternoon. Don’t know whether it is indeed spam, since they’re not overtly advertising anything anywhere in their message, but the sentiment is pure serendipity, and my response is simply this: visit this very site everyday, and soak up like a frickin’ sponge every syllable you read, and you’ll be on the road to happiness.


three women

posted at 11:39 pm by brandon in if music be the food of love
  • If you’ve yet to give the Amazon mp3 store its proper due, you’ll never find (or need) a more palpably urgent motive than this to head on over there and check it out: just ahead of the release of my spectacular
    Tori Amos‘ tenth studio set Abnormally Attracted to Sin (due on Tuesday), Amazon has posted a free download of one of its album tracks, the devastatingly gorgeous “Maybe California.” A harrowing narrative about one mother trying desperately to stop another from committing suicide, “California,” in a stunningly beautiful four minute tour-de-force, renews my hope that Sin will stand as a remarkable return to form for Amos, whose last record — 2007’s horrifically muddled American Doll Posse — found her drowning under the weight of her own pretentious ambitions. Having not been impressed by Sin‘s first official single, the middling “Welcome to England,” I was fighting fears that we were in for more of the same, but I’m officially afraid no mo’. Welcome back, baby.



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In a wretched twist of fate this evening, my iPod’s battery died, and I keep forgetting to return the charger to my truck. To entertain myself, therefore, for the nearly two-hour drive home from Austin, I was forced to listen to the, ahem, radio. (!) And if you’ll allow, I’d like to share a few impressions from that traumatic experience:



My buddy Chip sent me an fabulous email this afternoon, the opening paragraph from which reads as follows:

“I am ripping [Tori Amos’ classic albums] Little Earthquakes and To Venus and Back today. Finally, the gaping hole in my music collection is filled.”

Have you any idea what kind of good this news does to my battered soul? Most seriously, does it not feel as though an angel was just granted his wings?


While doing a bit of long overdue spring cleaning this evening, I popped into the player a Roxette DVD I stumbled upon at Half Price Books a few weeks back. Instantly, I was blown completely away by the utter magnificence unfurling before me. I didn’t even bother to read the back of the box when I first picked it up; this being from one of my five favorite-ever bands, I simply added it to the stack of items I had already earmarked for purchase and continued shopping, none the wiser to the breathtaking brilliance I was now holding.

These kinds of surprises are the most pleasant ones: The Ballad & The Pop Hits: A Complete Video Collection is a superlative visual accompaniment to the two hits collections (divided as indicated in this DVD’s title) Roxette released in 2004. (The Ballad Hits was the only one of the pair released in this country, and if that fact alone doesn’t make you want to instantly emigrate to Sweden, I s’pose nothing will.) The DVD contains thirty-seven of the band’s music videos, a few dating all the way back to their humble (and hilariously lo-tech) inception in 1986, and pretty much all of them — even 1993’s dopey “Almost Unreal” from the disastrous Super Mario Bros. film — supremely entertaining.

But the real hidden jewels here are a couple of hour-long documentaries which close out the disc. One of them is a riveting recollection of the making of Joyride, Roxette’s 1991 smash second record; the other chronicles the band’s brutal 1995 international tour in support of Crash! Boom! Bang!, a stunning album which the f–king idiots who run American radio refused to play because, somewhere between 1992’s “Spending My Time” (their final domestic top 40 hit) and 1994’s “Sleeping in My Car” (Crash‘s leadoff single), it was inexplicably decided that Roxette had gone hopelessly out of fashion.

You’ll understand how wholly ridiculous is that notion when you spend some time with this DVD, which contains no fewer than ten undeniable pop music masterpieces, each from the minds and mouths of a couple of luminous Swedes — Per and Marie, kind of a European remix of Conway and Loretta — who will forever got the look.


I ask you without a trace of insincerity or jest: when was the last time you turned on the radio and felt like you were hearing a true musical event?

Those righteously brilliant mavericks Sugarland are yet again tossing country radio on its tin ear this spring, and this time, they’ve gotten a little help from their friends. Last fall, the duo — led by the divine and fearless Jennifer Nettles, who may well be the finest, most striking vocalist to be found on the current dial — toured with up-and-comers Little Big Town and Jake Owen, and all three acts decided to corral their disparate voices and close each show with a thrilling, towering cover of The Dream Academy’s 1985 classic smash “Life in a Northern Town.”

A video of the spectacular performance has been streaming at cmt.com (and playing on the network) for months now, and in the last few weeks, thanks solely to a series of enterprising program directors poaching the audio directly from said video, the song has become a sensation at radio and is skyrocketing up the country charts. Sugarland’s label, MCA Nashville, continues to insist there are no plans to make “Northern Town” commercially available, but we’ll see how long that lasts as this thing continues its brisk march toward #1. When record labels realize they’re leaving gobs of money on the table, they tend to overturn their own dumbass decisions real quick-like.

Sugarland, Little Big Town, and Jake Owen,
in a special performance from April 2008’s CMT Music Awards:

The Dream Academy’s wistful 1985 original:


No doubt it’s already all over YouTube and any number of other online video portals, but, to commemorate the long-awaited domestic release of the divine George Michael’s new comprehensive greatest hits set TwentyFive — about which a blog post is imminent — VH1 Classic is airing in a regular rotation Michael’s landmark 1996 appearance on “MTV Unplugged.” If, like myself, you were horrified and outraged by (the usually dependable) Carrie Underwood’s heinously overblown performance of Michael’s 1990 tour de force “Praying for Time” on that “Idol Gives Back” special a few weeks back, you must check out the masterfully intimate way George reinvents his own smash live: using a deceptively plain piano accompaniment, a string section worthy of the Met, and a viper’s parched precision, Michael takes what began as a bitter slam against greed and gluttony and transforms it into a wrenching, impossibly riveting elegy for ceded innocence. It is haunting, spectacular theater, and nothing short of same.

the original video, from 1990:

the Unplugged performance, from 1996: