Monday, February 26, 2007

System Upgrade

So I'm pretty much done sinking cash into the hifi for now. I'll post more when I get a chance, maybe this weekend since I'll have a plane flight to Michigan when I can work on some site stuff. Suffice to say that I'm extremely happy with my vinyl front end and general amp/receiver setup. Also, I've tweaked the computer audio setup a bit so that I have more storage space for the vinyl rips I've been doing. If Julie won't let me get rid of the woodstove and put in a Wurlitzer jukebox (like I could afford one anyway), loaded with 7" singles, of course, at least I can set up a virtual jukebox for casual/party listening (do we still party?). NO MP3s, of course.....


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Maybe I am a Yuppie Tool!

Corinne Bailey Rae- my next essential spin????

So I was watching the Grammys the other night, or the first hour anyway since I have a 9:00 bedtime. I need to seriously consider if I'm turning into a tool who buys their cd's off the counter at Starbucks. Actually I don't go to Starbucks, so that's not such a worry, but anyway. I actually wanted to see this Police reunion (not bad but Sting had to sap up 'Roxanne' during the last verse, the bastard) and the Dixies perform. Then I was pretty happy to see that three-way singer/songwriter thing with Corrinne Bailey Rae, John Mayer, and some other dude. I'm not really a Mayer fan, although I like that song from his first (?) album that goes "I want to run through the halls of my high school/I want to scream at the top of my lungs." But I had heard that Bailey Rae tune "Put Your Record On" on the local soft rock station that our shop man plays at work all day, and I really like it. It doesn't help that I've been driving the truck to work lately which only has AM/FM and I end up listening to AOR/AAA radio a bit.

I got Julie a cd by Rachel Yamagata, an artist she heard on XM. I've only given it a background music spin so far, but it ain't bad- female singer-songwriter stuff with lots of piano and stuff. Did I mention I bought the first Norah Jones album on vinyl for $30 on preorder?

Now I'm ripping some cd's onto my work computer to have some tunes to listen to during the day. What's on there? Dixies, Beth Orton, Richard Thompson, Alejandro Escovedo, Ray Davies, the Smithereens last album. Not exactly edgy stuff, but some might fall just a little out of the AAA format if only due to bad sales (chicken or egg?).

I need to fix this. Once I get the Civic out of the shop and can drive with a cd player it's time to crank up some Helmet, maybe a little Slayer, whoop it up with some Snapcase. I think I need to get an album from a band I know little about, Mastodon. That'll cure me. Right? Right?

Then I'll go home and spin the new Cat Power record. Maybe put on R&L Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights. Oh and I think I need to get that Corrinne Bailey Rae record.

But I draw the line at Coldplay.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way:

Call me a yuppie tool if you want. I guess I'm still young, despite my gray hairs, but certainly not urban and only marginally professional. Anyway, I like these girls, despite their sketchy dealings a decade ago that helped push them to superstar status, and consider them the ‘real deal’. Yeah, the need co-writers for virtually all of their songs, but they pick good ones and come up with good results. So their 2006 release was one I was looking forward to, and kind of hoped would reflect a new attitude, less gloss, more substance, in light of their troubles with the country music establishment in recent years. (But what the hell is with the album cover???) An establishment they just don’t need, but who fed them loads of cash for a good while.
So the girls pop out this Rick Rubin-produced slab, and the Rubester did a fairly good job toning down the slick production edges.

The choice of co-songwriters reflects these girls standing in the music world- no Nashville hitmakers, but real, honest-to-goodness crafters like Mike Campbell, Gary Louris, Keb ‘Mo, Dan Wilson, hell even Linda Perry and Sheryl Crow. The nice part about their own songwriting contributions is the diversity in lyrics. Because the three ‘chicks essentially write their own songs separately, we have very different viewpoints here. You’ve got pissed-off Natalie, the firecracker with and attitude on “Not Ready to Make Nice,” a solid stab at the ‘fuck-you song’ we knew she would put out there, as well as the cranked-up “Lubbock of Leave It”, another solid one with poppin’ banjo and a great guitar riff from Heartbreaker Mike Campbell. Then you’ve got the sisters- one seems to be smitten in love (the wistful and lovely “Easy Silence”, XXX “Lullaby”, the gospely “Baby Hold On”). Then the other who seems to be reconciling her lost love on the Neil Finn co-penned “Silent House” as well as and the album’s standout “Voice Inside My Head”. The latter was the radio single, at least on our shitty The Point station, and its theme of love lost and regret belies its pop melody.

Yeah, there’s a weak track or two, particularly “Favorite Year”, co-written by Sheryl Crow. The lyrics, again looking back on a soured relationship to the good times before, aren’t bad, but without even looking at the liner notes I thought it sounded like a derivative SC song. That said, if it’s the weakest thing on the record, then this one stands up as pretty solid after all. Hopefully the ‘chicks will continue on this alt-pop-countryish path and stay the hell away from Nashville. They don’t need an army of New Country fans, even if they make fewer millions, but rather can hold their own artistically in the real music arena with a fanbase that truly appreciates them.