Every day I look at the world from my window

Dear friends,

Sometime giver of Brighten the Corner argument induced migraines and all-around pal o' mine, Matthew Fluxblog, has part one of a two three part interview with Rob Sheffield up on his site today.

You may recall my Love is a Mix Tape book report/fan gush from last month. A sweet and tender book from my music scribe of choice. I highly recommend it.

Thank you MP for providing the straight crack that I need.

Love, D

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We wanna see it all explode

Dear friends,

Meet Olga Bell.

I've written about her here, here, here and on lipstick kissed napkins that I slipped in your pocket when you weren't looking. This time, in place of words and dubious deeds, I have some pictures.

photos by Eric Lippe

When she and I started corresponding in May of last year, she had no band. This was a problem since I had fallen head over heels with her Moon River cover and wanted to hear that voice live. So much so that I decided that the first Neon Lights show HAD to include her. Luckily for me, she had a band by December and agreed to play.

What more can I say? She is my favorite canary.

Songs to seek:

Moon River/Bell (mp3)
Housefire/Bell (mp3)
Echinacea/Bell (mp3)
Clementine (Live @ Neon Lights)/Bell (mp3)

If you have not been badgered by me within an inch of your life to go see her and/or capitulated to said badgering, please do so this Thursday at Savoir Faire presents at Fontana's. She and her crack band, known collectively as Bell, will be performing with The Lisps, The Subway Band and Scary Mansion. The Sluts will be DJing. Go!

Love, D

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This used to be our song

Dear friends,

1. I was hit by the big stick of sick and spent most of yesterday looking at The Monkey from one watery, barely open eye. While I am grateful that my marvelous AS medicine gives me the use of my legs, it also repays that kindess with near-constant cold/flu fun. Gotta love side effects! At least it's not lymphoma.

I watched the Oscars from my sick bed. It was duller than usual, though I did like the Errol Morris interviewing the nominees intro. I'm convinced that man steals souls. The director-cut themed montages sprinkled throughout the night were a'ight but not as good as I expected. The Pilobolus interpretation of Snakes on a Plane amused but otherwise I thought it seemed like the producers were trying to add good taste to a program that works best as a cheesefest. The best original songs were dreary. Every single one was a snooze. I felt bad for Beyoncé 'cause she was clearly trying to show she could sing just as fiercely as Jennifer Hudson but instead it sounded like an over-melismatic nervous breakdown. Eddie Murphy was right not to participate in the Dreamgirls singalong given that the new songs ain't all that anyway and he knew he wouldn't win. Don't get me wrong, I adore Alan Arkin, his appearance in ANY film is a guaranteed delight**, but his work in Little Miss Sunshine was the kind of thing he does in his sleep. Knowing they were going to do their annual supporting category psych-out, I thought that that they would at least give it to someone who hustled. But then again, I can't remember any of the other male supporting nominees. This was probably the cause. Academy-wide memory loss.

Outfits-wise, I LOATHED J-Hud's Oscar de la Renta gold bolero jacket over dress ensemble, it was fugly and unflattering. That whole look was very disappointing, 'cause Hudson's been working her thing at all the awards shows so I was really expecting something prettier than a brown dress that looked like it was made out of nylon. I thought my girl Kate Winslet* looked washed out in that mint dress and not as lovely as she usually does. Helen Mirren was my favorite but she always is. Emily Blunt was a knockout too, she managed to make sequins look un-Vegas. I thought Nicole Kidman was gorgeous, if a bit mummified, in that red column bow number. I also liked Reese Witherspoon, loved the way that trim in various blue and purple hues moved.

Wow, I really am a girl.

I was really too sick to even do my dead people montage score card, though I think Don Knotts won the most applause. I have mad respect for Clint Eastwood for translating Ennio Morricone's acceptance speech. I was touched by Morricone's emotional response and forgave him for putting me through an atrocious Celine Dion number. Then again, The Man with the Harmonica! Who am I kidding? Morricone can do whatever he wants.

Ooh, I just remembered. Why was Elisabeth Shue dressed for an office cocktail party? I saw her on the red carpet during the preshow, posing like it was Balenciaga. It's the freakin' Oscars. Borrow a dress or something. Don't wear a knee-length, shapeless and sleeveless thing from Marshall's. That's just disrespectful to all of us watching it at home in our sweatpants. Geez.

2. In another entry in music from imaginary films, Her Pretty Face by The Apples in Stereo is a favorite make-believe soundtrack selection. It would be in my romantic comedy, used in the boy's mental montage of how cute the girl he digs (but hasn't won over yet) is. It's a shimmering little number, with crisply strummed guitar and Hilarie Sidney's soprano breathlessly expressing regret.

Normally I despise literal song use in films, for example Respect played after you tell someone off or How Can You Mend a Broken Heart when hearts are broken, so seeing a pretty face while this song plays might seem like overkill. However, there is so much rueful melancholy in this tune, that even those who aren't paying attention to the lyrics could feel something was amiss and those who are listening would know that saying that "Her pretty face is all you know" implies that you don't know anything about her at all.

I'll put up the MP3 link tomorrow, for now You Send It will have to do.

Her Pretty Face/The Apples in Stereo (mp3)
Her Pretty Face/Apples in Stereo (YST link)

Buy Her Wallpaper Reverie by The Apples in Stereo

Love, D

* Though Winslet does look fine in this photo.

** "Serpentine Shel!"

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No, no there's NO way

Dear friends,

I told you there'd be a wrap-up but I'm still working on the hull. Soon children soon...

1. TV Nonsense, One

Ok, I really hope that American Idol is one of the eight shows Emily Muggabears watches* because on Wednesday night, a young lady by the name of Lakisha Jones absolutely KILLED And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going aka that long song J-Hud sings in Dreamgirls. That tune is an important part of my childhood**, so much so that even when I hear a mediocre version of it, and there are MANY, when those "And you! And you! And YOU! You're gonna loooooove meeeeeeeeee" lines are sung, it's goosebumps time. Nice job Miss Jones. You rocked that shiz.

Speaking of rocking that shiz, check out the ugly-face making vocal powerhouse that was the original Effie White, Miss Jennifer Holiday. Wowza. She's got lungs. She knows how to use 'em.

And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going/Jennifer Holiday (song starts at 3:30)

2. TV Nonsense, Two

I finally caught up on Lost and really WTF? I don't understand why the producers can't look at a calendar. Didn't they think it might be a bad idea to have the excellent, post-modern Desmond episode on Valentine's Day when most people would be on a date and/or making fun of the holiday with friends? And that perhaps having yet another snooze inducing Jack flashback episode this week was you know...a bad idea?

While I can't watch Bai Ling anymore without hearing her shriek I Wanna Be Sedated in my head, I have to admit having Fionnula Flanagan AKA Molly Bloom/Everyman's Irish Mom and Diana Scarwid AKA Christina Crawford as guest stars was inspired. You just know Scarwid's gonna be evil as hell.

3. TV Nonsense, Three

Can someone please, please, please get me that Who Dat Ninja? movie poster that's in Tracy Jordan's office in 30 Rock? I want to hang it over my desk.

4. TV Nonsense, Four

I've become completely obsessed with Battlestar Galactica. I blame Jeff K. I was trying to explain its appeal to a friend by shrieking "It's in space! And there's this mad scientist guy who really isn't all that mad, he's just uber narcissistic, and there's a robot in his head that he has sex with ALL THE TIME. Not like actually in his head, he sees her. Oh she looks like a person, not like a robot. Uh, it's complicated. But really it's SO awesome." Yeah, that didn't sell. But seriously, there's way more to the show than "sweet, sweet robot love"*** and people smarter than I can tell you all about the allusions to current political events and what it is to rebuild society in wartime but really robot sex in space! How can you go wrong?!?

5. New ANTM. Next week. Aaaaah sheeeit. I can't decide from looking at the ad photo who is gonna win. I'll let you know what I think after the first episode.

Love, D

* Her exact number. I don't even want to think about all the shows I watch. Certainly more than eight. Less than a hundred. I hope. (Starts counting on fingers)

** I was an avid Showtime at the Apollo viewer.

*** Thank you Entertainment Weekly!

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Sooner or later, this happens to everyone

Dear friends,

1. I have been remiss! I forgot to say thank you very much to all of you that came out for Neon Lights presents A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Apache Beat, The Muggabears and Please Dept. The bands were all fantastic and DJs The Rich Girls are Weeping and Cassettes Won't Listen rocked the decks. I will have some superbly blurry photographs to put up soon and you can all marvel at how I can't seem to take an in-focus shot.

Ilirjana from Apache Beat, foggy in jewel tones

For actual in-focus pro-looking pic-churrs, go to Bryan Subinev*. He got a bunch of good ones. Coming soon, photographs from Devon B and a wrap-up from Jeff K. I am lovingly handcrafting my recap of the show out of wood and plan to present the tiny sailboat on Friday. Can you wait for it? Can ya? Can ya? I think you can.

2. Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys has made a career of sounding passionately bored and cynical over a thumping beat. This is a much greater feat than you'd think. It's hard work sounding deeply invested in your ambivalence and he is; his characters are always trying to think their way out of their feelings. Even the straightforward love stories turn into battles for equality since someone ALWAYS loves someone more than they are loved in return and ain't that a bitch?

In his duet with Dusty Springfield, What Have I Done to Deserve This, Tennant mock-raps about all the stuff he's done for his lover, "I bought you drinks, I brought you flowers/I read you books and talked for hours/Every day, so many drinks/Such pretty flowers." He's bitter and in love despite himself but he is utterly incapable of making a plain admission of it. Which is of course, the reason the relationship has failed. Dusty counters at the end, "We don't have to fall apart/We don't have to fight." HA! Clearly, if you're in Tennant's world then that's how it's gonna be. And that controlled, jaded style of his works so well with late 80's disco washes that Chris Lowe provides. Both music and delivery project the same thing. Namely, "Yes, it's all very glossy and false sounding, but it is sincere and deeply felt no matter what it sounds like or what I'm telling you." His mind says no, but his heart says yes.

What Have I Done to Deserve This (featuring Dusty Springfield)/Pet Shop Boys

Sometimes, when I am bored, I like to make up bad films in my head. Specifically, action/sex thriller movies like the ones from the 80's that I used to watch on cable tv growing up. Things with heavily browed dudes looking to go straight and the pastel wearing, bad men addicted chicks that they are entangled with. There's always a day out in a car montage with head thrown back laughter and an artfully lit sex scene that ends with a SERIOUS DISCUSSION about how they're gonna break free from their life of VICE and start afresh. Of course the soundtrack for my 80's film would rely heavily on PSB. Nothing else will do. Particularly, the florid I Want to Wake Up. The favorite is when Tennant bleats about crying "sudden tears" over his situation. My reaction is the same every single time I hear it; is he for real?! Yes, he is. Listen to the selections below and imagine the covertibles, the polka dots and the light coming through venetian blinds.

Songs to seek:

Love Comes Quickly/Pet Shop Boys (mp3)
I Want to Wake Up/Pet Shop Boys (m4a)
I Want to Wake Up/Pet Shop Boys (YST link)

Buy Please by Pet Shop Boys.
Buy Actually by Pet Shop Boys.

Love, D

* Ha! Bryan noticed that something was different with the lighting. This was courtesy of that other Team DJ hanging up additional lights prior to the show.

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I don't know how to love you

Dear friends,

1. Still ill. Yesterday, I got home and immediately fell asleep on the couch, damp paw clutching cell phone. J woke me up and we watched American Idol. After several tepid slow jams I found myself overly enjoying a Keane song. That alone says oh so much.

2. I saw Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren and Alexander Hamid (1943)  in high school at the urging of one of my friends. I still remember the goofy excited look he gave me after he pressed play. At the time, I found it ponderous. Kinda still do. But the imagery haunts and so does the story once you get past the shock cuts and the soundtrack.

3. Years later I saw this music video on late night tv and had myself a chuckle. Not 'cause it's an admittedly fetching Milla Jovovitch warbling in her underpants but because it's Meshes of the Afternoon, the WB version. Totally devoid of menace and with lots more dewy skin.

The Gentleman Who Fell/Milla (1994)

Love, D

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this ain't no rock show

Last Friday night I took Jessica to the ballet. We primped and preened ourselves into our finest threads and hesitantly made our way to the State Theater at Lincoln Center. Tonight there would be no need for earplugs, no merch tables, and definitely no stamp on the hand. Tonight we were part of the cultured elite, or at least we were going to fake it.

As we made our way through the lobby we did our best to blend in and I was pleased to see that we were probably the youngest people there. It was like the polar opposite of us going to an early show at Knitting Factory. I had decided to take Jessica to the ballet for Valentines Day since she's been taking ballet classes again. The truth is I was pretty excited to go. We both had seen the Nutcracker as children, but I was definitely too young to appreciate it. So this would be, in essence, my first time, and rather than a full ballet I picked a performance that featured four different shorter pieces.

As I had not seen a seating chart when I purchased the tickets online, I was relieved to see our orchestra seats were slightly to the left of center and only about a dozen rows back. The cliché sound of the orchestra tuning up made me giddy as Jess and I leafed through our playbill. In fact, I may have been more excited to hear a live orchestra perform Debussy and Bartok than the ballet. Not like I'm a huge fan of classical music. I own about 20 or 30 cds and I definitely have a few favorite pieces, but classical music is its own separate world. As a rock guy I think it's pretty easy to rub shoulders with a Jazz guy or a Folk guy or a Soul guy. They're all dirty and gritty in their own way. You can make noise in those genres without rules. Classical however, is full of pomp, circumstance and pretension. I know, I work in a record store and I've dealt with classical customers. They're arrogant and demanding, and sadly most of them don't know as much about the music as they pretend to. Over the years I've developed the ability to confidently fake it when helping a classical customer. You just need to drop such convincing lines such as:

"Bernstein's version is definitely superior."
"The fidelity of the EMI Classics label is second to none, trust Me."
"Tebaldi has a certain breathtaking quality that you don't hear in other sopranos."

In truth, I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, but I say it with enough arrogant authority to convince the customer. Most classical customers just come in looking for the same thing anyways which is usually whatever The Times gave a glowing review of that week. It's all very strange and sad, but in the end the music remains. Music that has existed for years, decades, centuries. And in the end, I will always appreciate that about Classical music, its ability to remain timeless as pop music has the ability to celebrate and dispose of an artist within a single month.

As the lights fell and the crowd began applauding I spied our conductor for the evening, a spry older gentleman who beamed over the rim of the orchestra pit. The curtain rose to reveal a group of diminutive and delicate ballerinas in pose as the opening strains of the "Raymonda Variations" by Alexander Glazounov began. I was unfamiliar with this piece of music, but they could have played an orchestral version of a Deep Purple song, I didn't care- it was a live orchestra and it was amazing; the accuracy of the performance, the perfectly nuanced tones of each instrument blending, the crispness, the color of sound. My eyes tended to follow the movements of the ballerinas, but I was more focused on the movements of the music. Slowly, the initial thrill of hearing a live orchestra ebbed away and I was able to appreciate the dancers. I wish I could describe the certain movements they made, but I'm not equipped to communicate about Dance. Just think about the most graceful thing you've ever seen- a deer jumping over a log, a feather falling through the air, a spinning top. Translate that to a person and you get the idea.

Suffice to say the rest of the evening was great and Jess and I both enjoyed it in different ways. However, when we returned from the second Intermission there seemed to be an extended wait. The final performance of the night was to be set against music from Bela Bartok. This piqued my interest as what I have heard of his work was pretty dissonant and chaotic. Finally, a voice boomed from the PA to tell us that "The Maestro had fallen ill" and that the performance would simply be done on the piano without the full orchestra. The crowd let out a concerned gasp, which was kind of sweet and stupid. I mean, if the announcer just said "The conductor had a bad piece of Salmon earlier tonight and he's vomiting in the bathroom" that sigh wouldn't have happened. But by using his proper title of "maestro" and the phrase "fallen ill" it all just seemed so dramatic. Maybe he just had bad gas. Regardless, getting the chance to see the pianist sweat his way through the entire schizophrenic piece himself was a treat, and in the end he was rewarded with liberal bellowings of "Bravo". Yes, the crowd actually shouts that out and don't think I let the opportunity to shout it myself pass me by.

So I don't know if I'll be going to the ballet again anytime soon, but I did find it an interesting experience and a nice departure from the usual rock show. Next on my list is the Opera. Jessica's grandparents are huge opera buffs and they know that shit inside and out so hopefully they'll give us some recommendations. Until them, I'll happily return to venues that feature drink specials, surly sound guys and big fat guitar amps.

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And then she went onward, just one star awake

Dear friends,

1. Tonight at Brooklyn's Union Hall, The Battering Room presents Sure Juror, Johan, The Muggabears and The Antlers. $8, 8PM, Rachael Underrated is DJ-ing between sets. I will be there, splurging on prosecco and acting like a fool.

2. Tomorrow night at The Delancey, Neon Lights presents A Sunny Day in Glasgow performing live at the release party for their brand new CD, Scribble Mural Comic Journal. $8, 8PM doors, 8:30 show.

The badass bill includes local beauties Apache Beat, The Muggabears and Please Dept.

The Rich Girls are Weeping and Cassettes Won't Listen* are the record spinnin' DJs for the night. Recognize!

Neon Lights partner Jeff K did some excellent write-ups on all the bands with handy mp3s for your listening pleasure. Click on the names above to read and listen.

It's just so pretty, isn't it? Sigh.

3. Song to seek:

She Moves Through the Fair/Fairport Convention (MP3)

This song reminds me of high school. Especifically, 10th grade English on the fourth floor of Tillinghast Hall. Mr. B babbling on and on about The Once and Future King as the snow fell and tucked into the corners of the faux gothic windowsills. I had a free period after that class so I'd always take the mostly unused back stairs down to the cafeteria. I'd sit there, sip my tea and try to fake my way through James Joyce's Ulysses. You can imagine how that went. I had better luck with his short story collection, Dubliners and became particularly enamored of "Araby." Because it aches. In that formless and frenzied way which colors adolescence. She Moves Through The Fair has nothing to do with that tale's plot. But somehow in my mind, it has come to represent the fantasy within the story. The beautiful girl, the gift at the fair which you'd like to give her and of course, loss.

I'm not a huge fan of Sandy Denny with her treble and tremble pipes and faerie-love. But I do think her vocals are perfection here; cold and mysterious. She sounds like she's walking in slow motion and you listen accordingly.

Buy What We Did On Our Holidays by Fairport Convention.

Love, D

* CWL has covered Liz Phair's Fuck and Run in honor of Valentine's week. Go HERE to hear it.

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Every thing is clear in our world

Dear friends,

1. My face! It stings! The hail! The hail!

2. Last night I bundled off into the snowy night looking vaguely like THIS and made my way over to Blog Show headquarters for a live Muggabears recording session. After some fauxpagne, talk of Kirk Cameron's angry God and who will be the next America's! Next! Top! Model!, we quieted down and da Bears jumped into three acoustic versions of songs from their new EP, Night Choreography. I swayed in the corner to Rings, thinking that it was really rather beautiful in a tender, "We don't need no stinking prom to LOVE"* way and that I can't wait to hear it again in all its electric glory. Which is why I will be seeing The Muggabears live TWICE this week, first at Union Hall on Friday, then at The Delancey on Saturday 2/17 for the A Sunny Day in Glasgow CD release show presented by Neon Lights.

After their performance, Blog Show vixens Nora and Rachael allowed Jeff K to say a few words about the Neon Lights bill and about us giving away a guest list spot and a bag full of yay to one lucky listenener. Because I had inexplicably decided that I wanted to be hype man** to Jeff K's spokesman, I didn't say anything the entire time 'cept maybe "Aaaaw yeah!" which prompted a startled look from my Co-Neon Lighter that I shall treasure for the rest of my life***.

Thank you Nora I Rock I Roll and Rachael Underrated for kindly letting us crash your party and thank you Ryan Ryspace for making sure that the sound was tops. Thank you Muggabears for going along with my harebrained schemes and thank you Jeff K for talking real good.

Listen to The Blog Show on Breakthru Radio at noon on Thursday for your chance to win a guest list spot for you and a friend plus a lovely gift bag containing The Muggabears Teenage Cop EP, A Fast One on Julian by Please Dept and the brand spanking new A Sunny Day in Glasgow full length, Scribble Mural Comic Journal.

3. In other Neon Lights giveaway news, we will also be offering more of those aforementioned fabulous gift bag/guestlist spots both today AND tomorrow on The New Afternoon show on WNYU (89.1 FM), so attention impoverished indie rock show lovers of NYC! Now's your chance for FREE goodies! Go listen!

4. Today is Valentine's Day and I won't lie, the constant commercials and specials on TV and those ubiquitous giant diamond circle necklaces that they keep telling me I'm supposed to want as a symbol of commitment make me want to hurl. If you feel the same way and just want to ignore the weather and dance! dance! dance! go to Jenny P's Hot Rocks party tonight at The Delancey or if you don't wanna leave Brooklyn, go to the WNYU Valentine's Day bash at Coco66 in Greenpoint.

Me? I shall be fine dining with The Monkey. He is lovely and mysterious and keeps me from falling in the snow.

Song to seek:

Oh My Love/John Lennon
Oh My Love/John Lennon (YST link)

Oh My Love/Martin L. Gore
Oh My Love/Martin L. Gore (YST link)

Buy Imagine by John Lennon
Buy Counterfeit 2 by Martin l. Gore

I will post my snowy weather Valentine mix next week so I don't have to compete for your affections with white teddy bears and heart-shaped chocolate boxes. You are all my Valentines, ya hear?

Love, D

* I am 150% sure that this is NOT what Travis Muggabear is singing about, but that's how I like to interpret that particular number. I'm so emo, as my friend Marts would say.

** Well, maybe not inexplicably. I was nervous AND we had been talking about the most famous hype man of all time, Flavor Flav. In retrospect, my homage could've been much, much worse.

*** Actually the startled look was for something else. Listen to the show and wait for my bizarre, high pitched "Thank YOU ladies!" towards the end. Classic!

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No one else could love you more.

Recently, my dearest friend, Gina, asked me to re-burn her copy of a homemade CD I had given to her back in early 2000. It was the soundtrack to the Kids in the Hall's live show, "Same Guys New Dresses", the songs they played during the shows of that magical 2000 tour.

I remember burning that CD, because it was, for me, the early days of that technology, and I used a beta-version of an MP3 trimmer on some of the tracks, so that before, for example, "Welcome to the Working Week" started, we would have to endure the sound of a bell-tone, and a lovely woman's voice informing us that that "This track was encoded by M2-MP3." I'll actually miss hearing that when I re-burn the new copy; it will lose something, I think, to have that gone.

The tour was the best time I ever had in my life. Friendships that started on the internet and then drifted, somehow, into the realm of nearly-moving-in, to the current state of Roommates and BFF, were cemented during that tour. Any time I hear "Celebrity Skin" or any song from Macy Gray's debut album, I stop, and sigh, and smile. Sometimes I'll shed a tear, particularly when the memories are triggered by an unexpected encounter with The Jayhawk's "Blue" or Billy Bragg and Wilco singing "California Stars"-- the latter more often provoking nostalgiac giggles, for whenever the line, "They hang like grapes", came up, we remembered the timing of that particular line over the pre-performance slideshow, and a closeup of Mark McKinney revealing more than was strictly necessary through his womanly pantyhose. (As my friend Kitana put it,

Are you listening to your KITH tour mix? Another thing I need to do when I
get the time, DAMMIT, is make those cds! I feel the exact SAME way when I
listen to it. Every song reminds me of something. I need to listen to it
right now, now that you mentioned it.

At one point in "California Stars", I always giggle when I listen to it,
despite its lovely, wistful tone because the one line about the stars that
goes, "They hang like grapes..." played over Mark's dingly-dangly new
dresses picture in the slideshow, once.

It's impossible not to make these connections, you see. We're fans, and we speak our own language, and that's what fans of anything do. You're a fan of something, you know, and you speak that particular language. It's okay to. Fandom is a creative experience, and all artists are fans of something. You are, too.

Anyway, these are the songs from the tour soundtrack. They were chosen by the tour's director, Jim Millan. Yes, some of the tracks were used, er, "comedically", within the context of the show; I'll leave it to you irony-tastic hipsters to guess which ones. I originally culled them during what I call The Golden Age of Napster, but they're easy to find today, of course. Technology has improved and the world has moved on since then.

You've probably heard them, but I'll take a note from D. and suggest you seek them in this particular grouping. It won't mean the same to you, maybe, but it's still a brilliant mix:

*Elvis Costello - Welcome to the Working Week
*Macy Gray - Do Something and Why Didn't you Call Me
*Boss Hog - Beehive
*Propellerheads - Sound of History Repeating featuring Miss Shirley Bassey
*Chris Isaak - Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing
*Hedwig and the Angry Inch - Tear Me Down (from the original stage
recording of Off Broadway show)

*Odds - Truth Untold
*Moby - Porcelain and Body Rock
*Garbage - Push It
*Prodigy - Firestarter
*Billy Bragg and Wilco - California Stars
*The Jayhawks - Blue
*Parliament - Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)
*Labelle - Lady Marmalade
*Commodores - Brick House
*Hole - Celebrity Skin
*Beck - Sexx Laws
*Bobby Darin - More

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As the days go by I wait

Dear friends,

There are TV rumors of snowfall, the suggestion of advancing snowflakes. I can't wait to hear the oh so satisfying crunch of freshly fallen snow under my feet and see the city blanketed in white. The morning after it hits, I will take a stroll and listen to this song before the sleet turns it all into slush.

Song to seek:

Feels Like I'm Walking/Huma (mp3)

They also do dishes.

Huma is a three piece from New Jersey that traffics in warm, charmingly homemade electronic/acoustic indie pop. Vocalists Brian and Jess have gentle, almost unassuming, voices yet on tracks like Feels Like I'm Walking that delivery achieves a stately grace. There's depth and yearning to their quiet interplay. Sadness too, since they don't sound like they are singing to each other or even with each other; they seem completely alone. I imagine the pair in this song playing Echo and Narcissus in a lost Cocteau film. He can't hear her, he's too wrapped up in himself and all she can do is follow behind, shadowing him, lost in her daydreaming.

Buy We Are Here For You by Huma

Huma plays with The Paper Chase at Maxwell's on March 19th. Befriend them on My Space.

Love, D

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Don't Knock the Rock

If you have a hankering for a hideously dated, lovingly tacky, and unbelievably rockin' musical, Rock Rock Rock (1956) is for you. When Alan Freed* isn't showing off his own musical chops (who knew?), the story focuses on high school student Dori Graham (a thirteen year-old Tuesday Weld**) who spontaneously breaks into song (dubbed by Connie Francis) and dance to communicate to hunky local talent contest winner turned egomaniacal superstar Tommy how much she loves him.

The film was shot at the time of Weld's very public pre-teen battle with drugs and booze, but amidst the film's fluffy backdrop, you would never imagine she could be a suicidal, raging alcoholic. Naturally. Who didn't mask their problems in the Eisenhower '50s? In any event, I rated this gem a whopping five stars on Netflix for kitsch, costume design, and the excellent musical performances by Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, LaVern Baker, and more.

* My introduction to Alan Freed was in an eighth grade music history class. The first day of class, our teacher explained that Alan Freed coined the term rock 'n' roll. Our teacher also taught us that the definition of music is "organized sound." A few days later when we learned some guitar basics, my teacher listened to my progress and urged "Organized sound," to which I replied, "Well, this is organized noise."

** My introduction to Tuesday Weld was her portrayal of Elvis Presley's biggest fan in Heartbreak Hotel. This was my favorite movie for a week or two sometime in 1988. It's no Rock Rock Rock, but she was still kind of awesome in her adult years (see also Feeling Minnesota, in which she played the hapless mother of Keanu and the 'Nof).



Be on my side, I'll be on your side

Dear friends,

1. In continuation of this week's Neil Young theme, here is a fine You Tube clip you should take a gander at. This version of Down by the River, a full Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rendition, is notable for many things, chief among them the glorious one-upmanship of the SOLO. I put that in caps because anyone who has seen Young live can tell you what a disorienting feeling watching him go OFF on his guitar can give you. There is no put-on to this man's soloing style; this is no show for you. It's private and almost dirty; a whirling dervish of sonic ecstasy that leaves you breathless.

But back to Down by the River. Start paying attention around the 1:42 minute mark. Poncho rockin' Stephen Stills gets the first solo and he goes after it with athletic determination. Watch the empty, Neanderthal expression on Young's face as he watches Stills play. I can almost see him deconstructing Still's riffs in his head. Then almost imperceptibly, Young insinuates himself into the Stills solo and BOO-YA! He STEALS that shit. Stills looks surprised and also...thrilled. For a guy who clearly likes coming out on top in terms of playing, at first, he's remarkably game and volleys. He answers Young's frantic, downward jabs with matching ones. But he's no match for him, which is why when the vocals come back in, Stills tries to hold onto his manhood by trying to out-sing Young. Ah, mistake! While Stills is technically the better singer, Young schooled his punk ass and knows it. The blank expression has changed into one of satisfaction. His and ours.


Down by the River (Live)/Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

2. You wanna help a sistah out by giving her an early Valentine's Day gift? If you plan to go to a show this weekend or just happen to have a ton o' music loving friends, go HERE and print out the 1/4 page Neon Lights flyer designed by the beautiful and talented Miriam Kasell. There are four to a page and in black and white for easy printing. Give 'em to your indie rock show-going friends, make a t-shirt of them, use them as note paper and/or stick 'em on your face. I'll repay you with a mix right here on Soft Communication. That's a promise!

Love, D

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Do I have to share?

Dear friends,


Neon Lights presents...
Saturday, February 17th @ The Delancey


(Scribble Mural Comic Journal CD release party)

"Like Grizzly Bear, ASDIG's got a steep pop-to-noise curve, so their most gorgeous melodies become thick and swampy before you've noticed the tide has come in. Even the brightest colors look black if you smear them all together. " - Pitchfork

Song to seek:
Things Only I Can See/A Sunny Day in Glasgow (mp3)

* * *


"(Apache Beat) decided to ...make music that sounds like Nick Cave dangling above the mother of all K-holes, at the bottom of which lie Cluster waiting to bludgeon him to death with blunt, rusting instruments " - Vice Magazine UK

Song to seek:
Tropics/Apache Beat

* * *


"Flush with noisy indie rock that reflects well-rounded late 80s indie rock, but nothing of the cribbing sort, The Muggabears can bring you the hip indie rock yet they often leave the hook of pop, catchy love dangling and not entirely fulfilled. " - The L Magazine

Song to seek:
The Goth Tarts/The Muggabears (mp3)

* * *


"...the Please Dept. want you to want them and with output like this it's hard not to. In a borough brimming with first rate talent, Please Dept. are aiming to be the next big thing." - Treblezine

Song to seek:
Sailor's Mouth/Please Dept. (mp3)

* * *

featuring the DJ talents of:

Cindy Hotpoint and Pinkie von Bloom from The Rich Girls are Weeping


Cassettes Won't Listen

* * *

$8, 8PM doors, 8:30 show, 21+, Drink specials ALL NIGHT

* * *

Mark your calendars, we hope to see you there!

Love, D

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All Day & All of the Night

I am DJing/hosting the second HOT ROCKs '50s/'60s Party tomorrow night! The party starts at 8pm; there will be an OPEN BAR from 10-11pm. Feel free to email me with any questions, song requests, etc., or join us on MySpace. The playlist from the first party lives HERE.

HOT ROCKs '50s/'60s Party!!!
Tues., Feb. 6th, 2007, 8pm
@ The Delancey
168 Delancey St.
NY, NY 10002
J to Essex or F to Delancey
$3 at the door


Try to be sure right from the start

Dear friends,

For Christmas my moms bought Shakey, the biography of Neil Young by Jimmy McDonough, for J. As a result, our household has been alive with the sounds of Neil for the past couple of months. After the Gold Rush and Harvest on the turntable. Decade on the CD player. Factoids at bedtime.

Sample conversation:

J: Whoa. Did you know that he wrote his first wife's mom's epitaph, "Shit Mary, I can't dance"? I don't think that's on her headstone though.

D: No way.

J: And that he was in a band with Rick James?

D: Uh huh.

J: You did?

D: What?

J: What are you doing?

(D looks up from cell phone where she has been frantically hitting buttons.)

D: I'm playing a game called Bedazzler or Bejeweled or something. You have to line up all the jewels and uh...(drifts off embarrassed)

J: Okay.

(Goes back to reading book, looks up suddenly.)

Did you know that Neil Young once ate a llama*?


J: Just checking to see if you were listening.

* * *

Llamas aside, the rumor is that Neil wrote this song for Graham Nash who was breaking up with Joni Mitchell at the time. As a song of consolation, it's sorta interesting in that it clouds its "Look before you leap!" sentiments with a soft and winsome melody. How can you be mad at him for tsk tsk-ing your fantasy love foolishness when it sounds so gosh darn nice?

Song to seek:

Only Love Can Break Your Heart/Neil Young (mp3)

Buy After the Gold Rush by Neil Young

I have a lot of Neil on vinyl. Luckily, a lot of people in Yonkers seemed to be throwing out/tag selling their Neil Young records when I was an adolescent. It made for an inexpensive obsession. And obsessed is what I was.

This Only Love Can Break Your Heart cover by Saint Etienne is responsible for my Young fandom. I heard this version first and then sought out the writer. The beat paired with Sarah Cracknell Moira Lambert sweetly singing "I was always thinking..." DEMANDS a lunatic jig.

Cover to seek:

Only Love Can Break Your Heart/Saint Etienne (mp3)

Buy Foxbase Alpha by Saint Etienne.

Do the cabbage patch.

Love, D

* Besides being a blatant falsehood, this might not have been the actual lie J used to test me. I think his involved dinosaurs.

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To let you in

Dear friends,

Zzzzzzz. Fah real. I'm exhausted, work is killing me and reading travel books about Sicily isn't doing it like it used to.

However, these purveyors of Anna Karina rock are very soothing indeed.

Video to seek:

Fallen Snow/Au Revoir Simone

Also, if you're fond of dimly lit indie tour bus shenanigans set to the best song of last year click HERE.

Have a good weekend!

Love, D

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Magical Mystery...Tune

For the past five or six years, I have been torturing myself trying to unravel the mystery of an unknown '60s rock song. This has surely happened to you. You hear a song on the radio, love it, and the DJ fails to identify the artist or song title. As a naturally curious, obsessive-compulsive prone Scorpio, my mystery song haunted me. I was unable to recall anything about the song that would enable me to Google it and determine its identity. The only lyric I could recall from my beloved song was I love you, which, in pop music identification, is absolutely and utterly useless; you'd have better luck finding a mystery song with the word 'the.' The only real elements of the song that would help me narrow it down were male vocals, an organ, and a soulful, dance-y beat.

I downloaded one unknown song after another from the time period. I plowed through mix CDs. I tuned into oldies radio online. I hummed the tune to countless friends, who generally responded sympathetically; good-natured mocking often ensued. No one recognized the song (most likely because my singing voice leaves something to be desired).

A few weeks ago, as I was drifting off to sleep, a '60s rock compilation infomercial (hosted by a Brady Bunch alum, natch) played on the television. After hearing a few familiar notes. I opened one eye and turned towards the screen. The caption scrolled by and my jaw dropped. The...song...was...identified!!! Like any logical person, I threw off my blanket, jumped out of bed, fumbled for my glasses, skidded on my socks over to my laptop, and immediately downloaded the tune.

I no longer feel impotent. However, I do feel a bit silly because I've had quite a few (other) Grass Roots tracks in my iTunes for years, and I never connected the mystery song with the band's sound. In any event, now you, too, if you are so inclined, can listen to the mystery song: THE GRASS ROOTS: MIDNIGHT CONFESSIONS. Is it the best song in the world? Not necessarily. Does it hold a special place in my heart? You bet.

P.S. Strangely enough, just days after solving the case, I read about new software that will identify your mystery song: All you need is a microphone, an Internet connection, and a willingness to serenade your computer. Make it happen.

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