Friday, May 02, 2008

I Was Just Wondering if You’d Come Along; Tell Me You Will

Before These Crowded Streets - Dave Matthews Band

No band better sums up the late nineties better for me than the Dave Matthews Band to the point that I wrote a thesis paper that there was no higher concentration of hot chick in a given place than the Dave Matthews Band concert. I did theorize that the Playboy mansion may have been the only place with a higher concentration but unfortunately I still have yet tested out that hypnosis. Hot chicks aside, it was mostly about the music and that is why the band is the first to have multiple inductions into the Scooter Hall of Fame.

Where Under the Table and Dreaming had better collection songs, Before These Crowded Streets was a better complete album. Before These Crowded Streets also saw the band goes in a darker direction. Dave had always written some dark lyrics, but this album is when the band’s music when in darker directions. It is appropriate then that they dusted off Halloween from the Recently EP to include on the album as it still remains their darkest song with Dave just going off the deep end at the conclusion shouting “burial” and “Love Is Hell” over and over again. (I think, Dave seemed to want to keep the song ambiguous as the song’s lyrics are the only ones missing from the insert and the lyrics seem to change every time they play it live.)

Halloween then transitions into my personal favorite track off the album, The Stone. From the haunting intro that then goes into Boyd Tinsey’s frantic violin and then changes once again when the chorus hit, it moves into a sweet ode, that goes back the frantic beginning seamlessly when they get to the next verse. And as great as the song is on the album, you really haven’t truly heard the song until you have experienced live (check out Listener Supported if you are unable to see the band or if they end up not playing the song on your stop as they tend to end with an off-putting wall of strings that just come to a complete halt that isn’t found on the album).

You could tell early on that the band was going dark thanks to the headless Dave featured video for Don’t Drink the Water. The song is a sarcastic look through the eyes of early settlers as they displace Indians from their land which really hits its stride at the end when Alanis Morissette, who also shows up on Spoon with some more backing vocals, joins the band with a creepy harmony to Dave’s bridge.

That’s not to say Before These Crowded Streets is all doom and gloom. The album actually starts off with the sweet bouncing ode Rapunzel (well after Pantala Naga Pampa sets the mood nicely). The there is the perfect summertime song Stay (Wasting Time) that is a prerequisite for any block or pool party even a decade later. What also makes the album unique is that there is a half dozen or so thirty second jams throughout the album that just brings everything together which I wish the band would have continued to do for the rest of their albums.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

2008 Spring Music Preview

The first quarter for music is pretty boring but the past winter saw surprise releases from Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Gnarls Barkley and The Raconteurs that came out without the usual months long hoopla, instead coming out within days of their announcement. Hopefully that trend continues because there isn’t much on the docket for the spring that really piques my interest that much. Wait, apparently the trend has as you can expect an album from Foxboro Hot Tubs (i.e. Green Day’s garage band side project) “any day” now. Here is a list of the albums that at least caught my eye.

If you are interested in preordering the albums from Amazon, the link on the album name will take you their, the links on artists names will take you to their iTunes page. If I left one of your favorite artists off the list with an upcoming album feel free to drop me an e-mail or feel free to wax poetic in the comment section on which albums you are looking forward to. (Note: release dates subject to change):

May 6
Home Before Dark - Neil Diamond: Yet another round of songs from the Diamond created with the help of Rick Rubin. You can preorder Home Before Dark on iTunes and get a bonus preorder-only track.

Gavin DeGraw - Gavin DeGraw: His first album was listenable in an easy listing kind of way. But that was five years ago. DeGraw says the new batch is more rock as evident from the first single, In Love with a Girl. But how rocking can something be when working with Daughty’s producer? You can pre-order Gavin DeGraw on iTunes.

Snack Time - Barenaked Ladies: It has been a while since they have created a great song, but rarely do they put out anything bad.

May 13
Narrow Stairs - Death Cab for Cutie: If the eight minute opus of I Will Possess Your Heart is any indication, the new album will be a big departure from the breakthrough of their last album. You can preorder Narrow Stairs on iTunes and receive a bonus track.

Blame it on Gravity - Old 97’s: Maybe the best band no one outside of Texas has heard of is back for some more southern rock.

Rockferry - Duffy: The latest Bristish import who is like Amy Winehouse without the modern feel, potential drug overdose, or jail time. The more I listen to Mercy, the more I am looking forward to the whole album. You can pre-order Rockferry on iTunes.

May 20
3 Doors Down - 3 Doors Down: Third time wasn’t the charm for the band as Seventeen Days was a huge disappointment. Hopefully they can rebound. You can pre-order 3 Doors Down on iTunes and get a bonus pre-order only track.

Anywhere I Lay My Head - Scarlett Johansson; Julianne Hough - Julianne Hough: Julianne Hough is what I like to refer to as moderately attractive, but I couldn’t make it more than a minute into her video before I had to turn it off. Johansson’s stab at Tom Wait songs do not fair much better. Hopefully the two stick to their day jobs.

May 27
Lay it Down - Al Green: Hopefully ?uestlove of The Roots can do for Green what Rick Rubin was able to do for Johnny Cash. John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae and Anthony Hamilton also guest on the album.

Same Old Man - John Hiatt: Simply one of the best songwriters of the past couple decades.

June 3
Perfectly Clear - Jewel: Her last album bombed now Jewel is trading in her van for a cowboy hat for a country album.

The Glass Passenger - Jack’s Mannequin: Shortly before the first album was released, Andrew McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Natually they were not able to promote the album since he was recieveing cancer treatments so the gem was widly unnoticed. Now that his treatments are over, hopefully the new disk will reach a larger audience.

Rock My World - Bret Michaels: No, seriously, that is the name of his album.

June 10
Seeing Things - Jakob Dylan: The Wallflowers are basically a one album wonder, a decade after that hit; Bob’s son has hooked up with Rick Rubin for a solo album.

Seeing Sounds - N.E.R.D.: When not producing for other people Pharrell William is pretty hit or miss with his solo outings and trio N.E.R.D. You can download the first single Everybody Nose for free over at

Self Portrait - LaLah Hathaway: All I know is that her dad is named Donnie whom you may know best as the dude that was referenced by Amy Winehouse, “There’s nothing you can teach me that I can’t learn from Mr. Hathaway.”

June 17
Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends - Coldplay: There has been nothing more disappointing this decade that X&Y to the point where the album almost sounded like a Coldplay cover band. The band has said to have broadened their musical palette this time around with lead singer Chris Martin, taking a break from singing hooks for rappers, discovering lower register for his vocals this time around. This week only, you can download their first single, Violet Hill on their website,

June 24
Weezer - Weezer: Just start calling it The Red Album now to avoid confusion with their two other self titled albums. You can pre-order Weezer on iTunes and receive a pre-order only track and a unique password to purchase Weezer concert ticket on before the general public.

(Expletive Deleted) - Nas
Life, Death, Love and Freedom - John Mellencamp
Everything Comes and Goes - Michelle Branch
TBA - Ben Folds
TBA - B.B. King
TBA - Ray LaMontagne

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sitting by the Sea Shore Soaking up the Summer Breeze

Hello...x - Tristan Prettyman

Being what may have been one of about only a hundred people who picked up the debut album from Tristan Prettyman, I found a breezy summertime disk that was a great listen as long as the weather was as sunny of what was found on the album. And since sadly not many checked out her first album, her first single off the follow up Hello…x follows the template created for that first album down to the chorus repeating the title three time, this time being Madly instead of Love, Love, Love. But Madly isn’t too derivative thanks to some well placed hand claps and a sing along chorus that should replace Bubbly in the overplayed category on the radio sometime soon.

But it is elsewhere on the album where her growth shines through. The album does starts out with the sunny California fireside bounce of Hello and Echo, but it quickly takes a big turn to the Deep South with the on the front porch blues of California Girl that morphs when an eclectic guitar takes the song somewhere else near the end. Also fitting the blues genre is Just a Little Bit which ends with Tristan singing over a bunch of guys hoping to bring her down to her knees. Handshake could have had the most infectious bassline of the year if it weren’t for Death Cab for Cutie’s I Will Possess Your Heart and can have even the most uncoordinated guys try to break out a dance move or two.

The high point of Hello…x is War Out of Peace a driving song which that may be best heard when your are driving yourself along a country road with the windows rolled down with nothing sounding you but rows of corn on a nice summer day. Then there is Don’t Work Yourself Up, a soft song that slowly evolves into a wall of sound with multiple vocals overlapping to great effect. So be sure to pick up Hello…x this summer when you are heading down to the beach or just the local swimming pool as it will get you ready for the season.

Song to Download - War Out of Peace

Hello…x gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.