Tag Archives: music

Random Treme Post

I’ve managed to see every episode of Treme so far, remarkable since I don’t have HBO. Episode one was at a friend’s house and the last two weeks have been with friends at a local bar. It seems most everybody in this city has some connection to the show.

My connections? My former teacher, writer Rodger Kamenetz, had a cameo in the second episode, “checking into hotel with Steve Zahn about ten secs.” And another friend is working on the show.

Was recently reading Back of Town and saw this great making of video. Near the end, there’s a great quote from David Simon: “This city really does matter to America, even if America doesn’t get it.”

Check it out:

Here’s an interesting article about how uncomfortable filming can be in neighborhoods.

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Filed under music, New Orleans, pop culture, t.v.

offBeat Magazine hits the right note

I was so satisfied to see the selection of letters to the editor and the “Strange Fruit” item on page 8 of April’s issue of offBeat. Their response is, finally, exactly what I could hope. Maybe better than I hoped for.

It begins: “On our March cover, we demonstrated a remarkable lack of judgment and sensitivity when we matched a photo of a young band hanging from monkey bars with the headline ‘Strange Fruit.’ The combination of the phrase and the hanging image was far too close to the subject of the Billie Holiday song first recorded in 1939–lynching–and we’re profoundly sorry for our mistake.” And it ends, “We regret treating such a history so casually, and we’ll make an effort to do better in the future.”

In between these well-expressed statements is a history of the song, “Strange Fruit,” highlighting a haunting story of a woman following Billie Holiday into the powder room, screaming at her, “Don’t you sing that song again! Don’t you dare!”, ripping her dress and then tearfully explaining how it reminded her of a lynching she’d witnessed as a child. Wow. Powerful stuff.

Thank you, offBeat, for listening to your readers and using the opportunity to bring the important thing back in focus — the music. Thank you for being, once more, a magazine we can be proud of, as New Orleanians and lovers of music.

Serendipitously, a friend posted a related image on Facebook, which I found on the Internet, here. I think it sums up the entire month for me.

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What a wonderful experiment… Redux

I had a bitty panic after announcing I’d essentially review the cds I bought blind from cdbaby.com. I’m in a place where I’d rather rave about the things I really like rather than spend time ranting about things I don’t (Crystal Skull is an important exception). So I thought, “What if I don’t like one of these cds, what am I going to do?” And purchasing four cds in a very random way seemed to pretty much guarantee I’d dislike at least one.

And I’m not exactly qualified to review cds in any way that pretends to be objective and technically informed (Dave tries, but I just like what I like, despite how great the production quality is). I mean, keep in mind that you’re about to read reviews by a person who tends to dislike one word song titles. Not necessarily the songs themselves. But one word song titles annoy me. They remind me of when I was writing poetry and when a title didn’t come naturally, I’d just slap one word on it that seemed evocative or, even worse, “Untitled.”

Luckily, I liked all of them (despite a plethora of one word titles). Some more than others, granted. But I don’t regret purchasing a single one. In the order I listed them before (i.e. alphabetical), drumroll please:

Aquaboy The World Still Turns Without You – I’m only just now, as I’m looking up links, realizing that Derek Buckner and Aquaboy are one and the same. I purchased TWSTWY because it was recommended if you like Beck, Wilco, Pavement and Air. And I do like all those folks. The title track is my favorite and also Mediocre Man. One customer likened them to the Beatles. Not really seeing that one, but I’ll vouch for the Wilco and Pavement.

Derek Buckner Symptoms – I saw Lucinda Williams in the recommended if you like and I was all in. This was an okay cd for me. Nothing, after repeated listens, has really stood out, but it was an excellent soundtrack for part of my recent road trip.

Sarah Burton Love Is For Pussies – This is recommended if you like Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow and Feist. While I like the first two ladies, I’m a big Feist fan so it was that and the title that struck me. Sarah Burton is probably a compulsive self-Googler (important for an indie musician, in my opinion) because she contacted me the same day I posted about the experiment. On the previously referenced road trip, I was writing the review for her cd in my head. I really like Sarah’s voice, but I’m left hungry by this c.d. It’s not a full meal, but rather an appetizer. In the best sense, it whets your appetite for more and I’ll definitely follow whatever she does next. I think she can ditch the first version of Barcelona because it felt a bit jerky and loose to me whereas the extended flamenco version settled those issues very nicely. Also liked I Hate You quite a lot. Every time I’ve listened to this EP, I’ve liked it more and more, heard something new each time.

Tiffany Randol Kiss Me Kiss Me – Recommended if you like The Cardigans, Regina Spektor and Feist. Then compared to June Carter and Kate Bush. The cover art is a tad reminiscent of my favorite Suzanne Vega cd, Nine Objects of Desire and I wouldn’t say it’s inappropriate to compare Randol to Vega. If I had to pick a favorite of the four, this would be it. Loved every second of this too-short EP. I would recommend it enthusiastically.

So cdbaby – let’s do this again. If you ever need someone to test whether your “recommended if you like”s work, please feel free to send me cds. Or if you’re dying for some really random, entirely subjective reviews…

Now, in other music thoughts.

So, I’ve been really struck by those great Liberty Mutual ads, especially the music. I took a sec to try to find out about the songs in the ads and I’m a bit embarrassed because all of the songs are already in my iTunes. They’re all the work of Hem, a band that Dave turned me onto a while back. Then, I found this really wonderful piece where Mary Chapin Carpenter talks about the ads and Hem for The Washington Times.

And it probably goes without saying that I’m pretty devastated that Alexis Grace got booted off. I have to say that I don’t think that her performances of Jolene proved that she should’ve been given the judges’ save. The entirety of what she’s done on the show does. Part of me keeps hoping that it’s not too late and they’ll change their minds and save her. Why not? This season’s been incredibly wacky anyway. Regardless, I look forward to seeing what she does next.

I felt like Randy Travis was rather wasted in that duet with Carrie Underwood, but I was in love with it anyway. Her voice when she belted out “I told you so.” Wow. It was incredibly cute the way Randy Travis kept looking at her adoringly while she sang. If you don’t believe me, watch this. Didn’t know this song existed before and now it’s in regular rotation – and I still get chills every time.

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What a wonderful experiment…

After hearing part of “Unbelievable” by the Sleepy Rebels on that JC Penney commercial and getting it stuck in my head, I moseyed on over to my lovely cdbaby.com to purchase it.

Where, oh my, they are having a sale. From their website:

“Buy 3 of these, and they become $5 each. All of these 20,000 albums sell for full price if you buy them alone. But once you have at least three different “$5 specials” in your shopping cart at the same time, you will see their price drop to just $5 each. We did this so you could afford to experiment. Have fun! Get as many as you can!”

I love their mentality – we did this so you could afford to experiment. And in that spirit, though my personal times are tough, I bought four albums from artists I’ve never heard before. All based on the “recommended if you like”s that cdbaby puts under each c.d. Foolish? Perhaps. We’ll see. I’ll blog about what I think after I’ve listened to them.

Here are the c.d.s I picked:
Aquaboy The World Still Turns Without You
Derek Buckner Symptoms
Sarah Burton Love Is For Pussies
Tiffany Randol Kiss Me Kiss Me

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Emilie’s 2008 Best List

What a crazy year this has been. It’s the year that my big appetite for music became voracious and I sought out friends and resources to feed it. It’s the year that I “discovered” audio books as a natural result of driving for work – a lot. It’s the year I didn’t go to the theater as much as I used to, but everything came to DVD so much quicker. It’s the year I hoped to finish my book. It’s the year I started this blog.

This is a very personal best list, so the things that I’m highlighting as my favorites of 2008 may not have been released in 2008, just discovered by me in this year that’s soon to be past.

Books – 2008 is the year I read more nonfiction, romance and thriller than ever before, not to mention almost all of Jennifer Weiner and Jennifer Crusie, Spiderwick and Neverland and a lot of David Sedaris. Out of the almost 150 books I’ve read this year, my 15 favorites in roughly the order I read them:
1. His Dark Materials (3) Philip Pullman
2. Gregor and the Code of Claw, Suzanne Collins
3. When a Man Loves a Weapon (this will be released in 2009), Toni McGee Causey
4. Things I’ve Learned from Women Who’ve Dumped Me, Ed. Ben Karlin
5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (about halfway through the year now), Junot Diaz
6. The Rescue Artist, Edward Dolnick
7. The Ruby Key, Holly Lisle
8. To Kill a Mockingbird (finally read this!), Harper Lee
9. Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician, Daniel Wallace
10. Calumet City, Charlie Newton
11. Finn, Jon Clinch
12. A Very Long Engagement, Sebastien Japrisot
13. Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
14. Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
15. The Wolfman, Nicholas Pekearo

Notables: Continued reading some of my favorite series – the “Alice” books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson books, and Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty. Also was blown away by a trio of historical romance writers – Gaelen Foley, Sherry Thomas and Suzanne Enoch, who gloriously re-invent the genre and write freaking well. Agnes and the Hitman and Faking It made me laugh myself hoarse. And I’ve been crazy about the Twilight series, of course, really impressed with how things wrapped up in Breaking Dawn.

Movies – I used to go to a movie by myself every Sunday, but that habit sadly went away. However, as a three year + member of Netflix, I still saw over 100 movies this year (and I did get to the theater some, of course). I’m going to try to approximate the order I saw them in.
1. Stardust
2. Once
3. Juno
4. Shoot ‘Em Up
5. Across the Universe
6. Wanted
7. Live Free or Die Hard
8. Dear Frankie
9. I’m Not There
10. Persepolis
11. Dark Knight
12. My Blueberry Nights
13. The Brave One
14. Penelope
15. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
16. Mamma Mia!
17. Wall*E – in some ways, my favorite of the year
18. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
19. Twilight
20. I Could Never Be Your Woman
21. Rachel Getting Married
22. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Notables: Much, much better than I’d heard/you’d think – Speed Racer, Good Luck Chuck and The Cutting Edge 3. 21 and Atonement almost made my list, so I guess that makes me a big James McAvoy fan.

TV – This was the year my t.v. became largely decorative. When I forgot how to hook the cables and wires back up after Gustav and relied almost entirely on watching t.v. on my computer. But the shows I love, I love all the more for it. No particular order here.
1. How I Met Your Mother
2. Bones (NOT happy it’s moving to Thursdays)
3. So You Think You Can Dance (Cat Deely’s the bomb, Joshua wasn’t my fav and we need DVD)
4. Survivor (yes, I still love this show)
5. In Plain Sight
6. Top Chef
7. Moonlight (NOT happy this got canceled)
8. Pushing Daisies (NOT happy this got canceled)

Notables: Big Bang Theory surprises me, whenever I manage to catch it, with how funny it is.

Music -This was the year of music. I’ve never been such an avid music listener and collector.
Singles –
1. Wagon Wheel, Old Crow Medicine Show (most listened to song in my iTunes)
2. Forever in Blue Jeans, Jason Castro (he wasn’t my favorite, but this stuck in my head)
3. Toxic, Yael Naim (cover of Britney, haunting and freaky)
4. Fake Is the New Real, Alice Smith
5. Johnny and June, Heidi Newfield
6. Be My Husband, Lisa Hannigan and Damien Rice
7. So What, Pink
8. Another Way to Die, Alicia Keyes and Jack White
9. American Boy, Estelle and Kanye
10. Just Like a Woman, Charlotte Gainsbourg
11. Holding Out for a Hero, Frou Frou
12. Are You Strong Enough to Be My Man, Sheryl Crow
13. You Got Growing Up to Do, Patty Griffin and Joshua Radin
14. Echo, Cyndi Lauper
15. Comes Love, Billie Holiday
16. Whatever Lola Wants, Ella Fitzgerald
17. Love Song, Sara Bareilles
18. See You Again, Miley Cyrus (say what you want, but this song is catchy and cool)
20. Missed Me, Dresden Dolls
19. Hide and Seek, Imogen Heap
20. Arms of a Woman, Amos Lee
21. Lilac Wine, Katie Melua
22. Do I Move You, Nina Simone
23. Hurt, Johnny Cash

CDs –
1. Across the Universe soundtrack (oh glorious TV Carpio, put out a cd already! Dana Fuchs!)
2. Juno soundtrack
3. Once soundtrack
4. Acid Tongue, Jenny Lewis
5. Volume 1, She & Him
6. Black Snake Moan soundtrack

Performers, period –
1. Patty Griffin – I’m delirious over Patty Griffin
2. Jenny Lewis
3. Lucinda Williams
4. Emmylou Harris
5. Allison Moorer
6. The White Stripes, Jack White notably
7. The Dresden Dolls
8. Roisin Murphy
9. Katie Herzig
10. Sugarland
11. Krista Detor

Notables: My love for Nina Simone, Johnny Cash, The Magnetic Fields, Cake and The Beatles, always vibrant, has been renewed. I grew to really appreciate Kanye West (though my first love for him came after his infamous quote after Katrina). And I learned that, as amusing as I find it when my neighbor M. sings the lyrics to “Ding, Ding, Dong,” I am NOT a fan of Gunther.

Websites – These are the websites I checked every day in 2008, once I knew about them!
1. Post Secret
2. I Am Fuel, You Are Friends
3. Living With Music – writers blog about music!
4. GalleyCat – how could I leave this one off?
5. Wikipedia
6. imdb
7. cdbaby
8. Amazon
9. Craigslist
10. YouTube

My Favorite Things – What I’ve been loving this year
1. Favorite Home Away from Home – Cheers, my coffeeshop
2. Friends – you know who you are and likely, you’ve introduce me to a lot of great music and food this year. I love you for it, this year and all years.
3. Family – for the pictures, the drama and the support.
4. Local Music – The Zydepunks, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, Loose Marbles and Gal Holiday
5. Food – the roast beef po’boy at Parkway just may be my favorite thing I’ve eaten this year
6. Lessons – dancing, parallel parking, how to be a better writer (friends again, thank you)
7. Libraries – Nola and BR, so very excited about having multiple library cards
8. Writing – NaNoWriMo, PerNoWriMo, Write or Die, Jamey
9. Epiphany – being excited and finding others who’re also excited about the same things.
10. City – New Orleans. Of course and always.

That’s it, Emilie’s Top List for 2008. Enjoy. Argue. Applaud. Whatever. 🙂

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