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Thursday, March 09, 2006
More Music I Need to Know More About

I was running errands last night, daydreaming in traffic. The radio or a CD is always on; I can daydream better to a radio I'm not paying attention to than I can daydream to the absense of that noise. All of a sudden I hear a song I not only know but love, and a song that had no seeming reason to be on that radio station at that particular time. And then I hear another song by another band I like.

All Things Considered is running a four part series on what it calls Latin-Alternative: what is it, who's making it, how's it marketed, what's its future? The song I love, Me Gustas Tu, is by Manu Chao. Here is Bongo Bong off All Songs Considered. I've mentioned Chao before, that time in his role as the producer of last year's wonderful Abadou and Mariam release Dimance a Bamako. Here is their M'Bife/M'Bife balafon, also from ASC. The other band whose song I heard is Ozomatli, a favorite of my favorite DJ in Seattle. Here's their Street Sign.

Here are Tuesday's and Wednesday's segments. I'll add Thursday's and Friday's when they're made available.

Ali Farka Toure

His obituary on and The Guardian and All Things Considered (with music).

Two more (with music)

It's easy to love an artist's music, easy to hate an artist's music, easy to be indifferent to an artist's music. What's hard is evaluating a new release of an artist that I like, like a lot, like enough that I want to make a commitment but just haven't been able to make that leap to love.

Two albums have just been released by artists I want to love. One, Neko Case's Fox Confessor Bring the Flood, is generating much buzz: here's a Wash Post review in today's paper, though Case is on the cover of Harp and can be found pretty much everywhere now. She's going to be famous.

Her voice is simply unique, powerful and passionate, unmistakable. She doesn't sing on most of the songs on the New Pornographers' albums, but the songs she does sing dominate the albums. (Click on that link and find the audio files - click on Letter to an Occupant; you only get 30 seconds, but quite a good taste.) And this, perhaps, is a key to my resistance to the solo work: she has this big, animal instrument of a voice which she never lets off the leash the way I want her to. Maybe my formative years listening to Kate Bush has created in me a need for emotional theatrics, a need for the timely screaming climax in a song. I listen to "Hold On, Hold On" off Fox Confessor, it's almost, almost, perfect. Almost.

Similarly, The Gourds new Heavy Ornamentals.

As long as I've been listening to The Gourds, they've almost been one of my favorite bands, enough so that I own most if not all of their albums. I've often wondered if my acquired taste for what can be badly if necessarily be called alt-country or roots-rock or whatever hindered my appreciation; of the bands I listen to who could be grouped together under that limiting label, The Gourds are my favorite. This picks at the scab of genre that seems to be so popular at picking, and in this case indicts me: in order for me to commit my love I am asking them to exceed my expectations of what alt-country should be. There is always a point in my favorite Gourd songs where I feel if they just kicked it into some indefinably sublimer plane, gush would go my heart. The first cut off the new one, "Decline*O*Meter," starts strikingly, the chorus is catchable, but the bridge... almost, almost.

I've bought both albums without regret, and they are in my rotation and will stay there for awhile, and I will in all probability buy Neko Case's and The Gourds' next albums, but when I stock up the car for the family trip this summer I doubt these albums or any of the previous will make the cd case. I recommend both, and hope the listener loves them. I wish I could.

Say I've just gone down to the basement CD racks to browse and rediscovered all my Mazzy Star albums, and in listening to So Tonight That I Might See I remember precisely why I loved this band, and I'd like to be able to make available to those who'd like some of the songs. How could I make them available? I know I could go create a radio station on Live365, but I have neither the time or ambition to do that. What I'd like to do is occasionally compile a podcast and make it available here for anyone interested. How? What programs? Through ipod? Are there copyright hoops I'd have to jump through? Any advice would be appreciated. Email is Or here in comments.

I also found some Beat Happening and Pylon and The Gits and Tsunami and Velocity Girl. And all the Pere Ubu you'd want.

* * * * * * * * *

UPDATE: Slate's going to be running a debate all week on Rip it Up....

Today's New York Times has a review of

It's just been released in paperback. Good read, though I'd still recommend