I see a girl who looks like a pearl. I see a pearl of a girl.

Dear friends,

1. I came home from a night out, logged into the computer, Google-imaged Narwhals, then screamed "UNICORN WHALE!" as I pointed at the screen.

Why isn't this magnificent creature on the TV show, Planet Earth? Huh? HUH!?!

4. Sorry, I have lingering belligerence about this.

5. None of these points are connected to Lisa (Take 3) by Cannonball Adderley*. One of my High School English teachers gave me an intro to Jazz mix and this song became the favorite. There's two takes but I prefer #3. The later take has a slight patina of fatigue about it. Take 3 is zippier. Adderley's rising lines at the end are fantastic too, flirtier and more playful. A great song for a brisk walk down city streets, on your way to someone you're really feeling.

Lisa (Take 3)/Cannonball Adderley (mp3)

Adderley considers the Narwhal.

Purchase The Cannonball Adderley Quintet Plus by Cannonball Adderley.

Love, D

* Though the insane train of thought from "rocking a horn" to bebop to Adderley was what prompted this entry. Oh, and David and Lisa was in there as well.

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That's too easy

Dear friends,

I've never paid attention to Stereolab lyrics. I love the band and their music but I remember their songs as impressions, floating polka dots forming a pointilistic portrait; a face, an emotion and a scene. Words would ruin the feeling. My favorite record of theirs, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, is a treasure trove of these moments, from the opening percolating beats of Metronomic Underground to the dreamy, violin sweep of Slow Fast Hazel. I play it around the house while I vacuum. I chirp ba da bap or la la la and everything is lovely like an animated film with singing birds.

Apparently, I went the wrong way here. Upon inspection of a lyric sheet, Stereolab usually aims more political than personal. Oops. The Noise of Carpet is straight confrontation courtesy of a clipped and haughty vocal from Lætitia Sadier. You are complacent, cynical and a bore. Take some responsibility, make some choices and stop blaming your dissatisfaction on others. It's all YOU. Wake up to your life.

The Noise of Carpet/Stereolab (mp3)

Purchase Emperor Tomato Ketchup* by Stereolab.

Love, D

*Seriously. Buy it. This is fantastic album. Someone really ought to pitch it for the 33 1/3 series. Cough, cough, hint, hint.

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The Gifted Ones

This is 森田童子 Morita Douji, acid folk vixen of the 70's. Here she is singing her hit 奥たちの失敗/Our Failures. This tender-voiced ray of sunshine makes me reflect fondly on Cobain. She does not, however, instill in me the desire to off myself in a million slow-motion glam shots.

Morita's got a song that bands I enjoy like to cover. It's called たとえば僕が死んだら/Tatoeba Boku ga Shindara or For Example, What if I Died...?

She sings of her deaths so very gently, it's hard not to shed a single glittering tear that will fall forgotten in the dust on the plain of this lost earth in which we silently drown with our moms. I don't normally care for this abundance of blatant despair in my music but I can usually be bought in other tongues. Tragedy is such a relative thing. I can cry listening to Cocco but Morita's words do not move me in the same way.

These, however, do kick considerable ass.

This is Number Girl covering Morita Douji at a live event. My favored listen.

This is Eastern Youth covering Morta Douji.

While I'm here, I'd like to push a little more Number Girl on you. Check out this badass cover of Teppu Surudoku Natte/Sharpening the Iron I found on YouTube.

It's astounding to me how cool this song sounds stripped down to just percussion. If I closed my eyes, I'd think someone was pounding out nails on an anvil. Or summoning spirits on the taiko. Or both.

Jesus, but I do love my numbered girl.

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Cocco was barely more than a girl when she began writing what would turn into a pop sensation. Sometimes whispering and sometimes shouting her macabre juvenile fantasies, her arrangers did their best to find layouts for her lyrical delirium that would still please a crowd. Now Cocco is an adult and she has not made much noise for quite some time until now.

Her most recent album, Kira Kira, seems to reflect a desire to revisit her roots. Cocco is an island child. Okinawa is a decidedly mystical place full of fearsome stone dogs, flowers that resemble paint splotches on stems and fiery food. People usually go there seeking escape. Where do its residents go? Into their own heads it seems. In the white hot sunshine, Cocco sifted sand flecked with coral between her toes and thought. Not of blood. Not of thorns. Not of tenderly rending lovers into soft pulpy ribbons.

She got nostalgic.

This is the Chochoi Lullaby. (チョッチョイ子守唄). According to Cocco, it was written from forgotten fragments of a tune her mother used to sing. The lyrics were not Japanese but uchina or native Okinawan. The song is about a little boy getting ready to sleep. He asks a sparrow (in this case, a bird like a sandpiper) to wake him in the morning with its cry. Cocco admitted only two sounds remained in her ears and these were "Cho-choi" or "chirp chirp". She spun her own thread from there. Cocco has never revealed the roots of her lore quite in this way before. She has many lullabies. But these did not come from home, they came from her.

The story goes like this.

Sandman wearing Radiohead's sneakers picks up his guitar and begins plucking it like a sanshin. When the vibrations reach the black sea, its waves soften and hush. Calmed by heat and perfume, o-hime sings.

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Soy tan vulnerable a su amor

Dear friends,

Today I have to tip my hat to the first band I ever geeked out over, Soda Stereo. Who dat? Soda Huh? Soda Stereo was a new wave trio from Argentina and they sang in Spanish. While Rock en Español was not a new thing (the 60's British Invasion affected everyone apparently) they were revolutionary in that they were not presented as novelty, they were sold as rock superstars. Lead singer and main songwriter, Gustavo Cerati, aped the signature styles of the top new wave stars of the time (Robert Smith - hair and make-up, Michael Hutchence - overt sexuality, Morrissey - rampant self-absorption and flowery shirts) and made the translated combination his own. Musically, at the start, they were a little bit The Police, a little bit The Cure. I was too young to get any of the references but what I did get was that it sounded just like the music on the radio but sung in the first language I ever learned.

Please understand, this was a big deal. When you grow up listening to radio in other countries where English is a foreign language, most of the pop songs played on the air are in GIBBERISH. This strange language made up of "uashashahsha" type sounds and one recurring word - YEAH. You learn to sing along to your favorite songs but it's phonetic and never quite right. You learn what the lyrics mean but you never really understand the subtleties. Of course, by the time I heard Soda Stereo, my English was fine but rock in Spanish still blew my mind. Those songs were on the radio. I could go home on holidays and hear them on several Santiago stations, tucked in between the yeahs.

Sobredosis De TV is an early one and very much of its time (80's synthezised cowbell! Too loud slap bass!) but boy, do I still love it. What you're hearing is that universal story; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds that living alone again is making him a little insane. The simple things, like turning on the light, turning off the light carry new menace. Her absence is his new roommate. Not so foreign, eh?

Sobredosis De TV/Soda Stereo (mp3)

Buy Me Verás Volver by Soda Stereo.

Chances are, if you're not Latin, you have no idea how HUGE this band was. For a little bit of history and perspective, go HERE. Currently, Soda Stereo is touring Latin America and playing three stadium dates in the U.S. of A. The L.A. date is already sold out.

Love, D

PS Here's a video for La Ciudad de la Furia from their MTV Unplugged appearance in 1996 featuring guest vocals from the singular Andrea Echeverri from Aterciopelados.

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In the time it takes a heart to mend or break

Dear friends,

When I first heard this Simone White track on internet radio several years ago, it had a different name. It's a lovely little thank you either way. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Beep Beep Song/Simone White (mp3)

Purchase I Am The Man by Simone White.

Love, D

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Cracks the whip deadpan on cue

Dear friends,

Today's selection came from one of the many records I inherited from my cousin Pam who was a Goth for a few years and now listens to Celine Dion. No, I don't get it either. But I digress...Peek-A-Boo is an oddly funky song. I say oddly, because on visuals alone, you don't expect Siouxsie and The Banshees to be so rhythm-based* but they are. Their songs are as driven by Budgie's beats as Siouxsie's shrieks. The music video is great also because Siouxsie, with her lined eyes and Louise Brooks bob, presents such a charismatic visual. She sashays around, her flapper fringe swinging to and fro, projecting this marvelous theatrical power. I love it when she screams about biting into rag dolls, baby! and hitting the floor like it's her version of burning down the house, turning the beat around, and putting the needle on the record when the drumbeats go like this. Only with accordion. SO GOOD.

Peek-A-Boo/Siouxsie and The Banshees (mp3)

Peek-A-Boo/Siouxsie and The Banshees (video)

Photo by Fiona Freund

Purchase Peepshow by Siouxsie and The Banshees.

Love, D

* C'MON. One look at the lady above and I know you expect glacially-paced odes to Bougainvilleas.

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In a life built out of only goodbye

Dear friends,

Forget the end of the week gratitude, let's get straight to the disenchantment! Magnolia Electric Co. has a meandering genesis that I can't quite keep track off so if you need facts go to their Wiki page. If you're not into history, then go straight to their gorgeous country/folk lover's lament, Hard To Love A Man. The male and female voices intertwine, rising and falling with each statement. They're not complaining, they're stating facts, it WAS hard to love a man like you, I DID send my love, etc... but what can you do? For an "it's over" song, it's unusually tender. Even the accusations leveled at the hard-to-love man seem non-judgmental. Of course, it's not the words so much that make me come to this conclusion, but the vocals. They close the door gently.

Hard To Love A Man/Magnolia Electric Co. (mp3)

(Photo by Dylan Long)

Purchase What Comes After The Blues by Magnolia Electric Co.

* * *

Because I have a voice meant for telegrams, INTERNET RADIO is clearly the next logical step! The canada dry Bill of Soundbites got me to talking about Guitar Feelings by The Muggabears* on Blog Fresh Radio. The interview included a lot of high pitched stammering about da Muggas being like Ingmar Bergman (but ya know...FUN!) plus a few other outright LIES confidently stated as fact, so I know the post-edit product must be just as good as a Lifetime movie about a dog shooting your face. To listen to the show (which also features song recommendations from Green Pea-ness, Song, By Toad and Chocolate Bobka) go HERE.

Love, D

* A tune first discussed in this post.

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So much more aware

Dear friends,

Along with a few other well known folks, Soft Communication has been nominated for a bestest music blog EVAH award.

Music blogs make me scream too.

The winner will receive a bar of soap and a hand towel from Hey Nielsen! and Billboard.com. On behalf of myself and everyone who has contributed to Soft Communication, I would like to say thank you for the nomination. If you feel like voting for us, go here.

In honor of this random occurrence, here is a Linkin Park cover done by British R&B chanteuse Jamelia. Can't get weirder than that, can it?

Jamelia wonders what she is doing here; looks coy

Numb (Live)/Jamelia (mp3)*

Love, D

* Check out the back-up singer replicating the spoken word/rap part. Hilarious.

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This is about when we were younger but we didn't write it

Dear friends,

To me, the best thing about this cover is that it's SO faithful. Yes, it's faster, a bit more brutal, less camp, but still so faithful as to be a bit boring and tossed-off. Like a cover band playing at a bar down the street on a Sunday. Of course, there is one crucial difference. This band is made up your friends, whom you adore, and their glee is your glee. You're all slightly drunk on possibility. These songs are ours, they make up our little histories and we can play them! Look at all that smiling! Music-love is a wonderful thing.

The Headmaster Ritual (Live)/Radiohead

Watching Yorke run through all those ululating post-chorus exhortations of lalalala-di-aaay, it suddenly strikes me...of course! It's such a Rosetta stone moment. I love it when you can suddenly, clearly hear the A to the B to the C of influence.

The Smiths were also about when I was younger. Not so much Headmaster Ritual as Nowhere Fast; the glorious sound of itchy, adolescent drama.

The Headmaster Ritual/The Smiths (mp3)

Purchase Meat Is Murder by The Smiths.

Love, D

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A Little World

Boiled egg yolks everywhere remind you to appreciate the moon in Autumn. Soon you won't be able to see it. Winter nights are bitter and cloudy and no one bothers looking up. The man doesn't live there, don't you know? Just two forest rabbits pounding mochi (sticky rice cake) with a wooden mallet. Mackerel and suri are at their fattest now. Persimmons gleam against olive-colored branches like drops of coral blood. Flavors get richer, colors deepen and people get sad.

My thoughts were always miles away from despair. I was raised on Halloween, dammit. I was also fortunate enough to live a stone's throw away from New England and the constant smell of woodsmoke, cider doughnuts, orange pumpkins, harvest hay rides. The turning of the season is a somewhat more melancholy affair but by no means less pleasurable.

This cover of the jazz standard 'Autumn Leaves' (translated here as 'kareha' 枯葉 or 'Dead Leaves') is sung in convincing French by ma cher pomme (yes, Shiina Ringo). A time of dying may be just cause for sorrow but that doesn't mean we can't make out. Or sigh and clutch yellowing photographs. Ringo's voice is not rich or smoky even when she's putting on a foreign accent. I don't believe my apple was out to redefine the song but she did. The digital background is cold and plastic. It doesn't make me sad at all.

Like sakura in Spring, the emergence of the scarlet star-shaped leaves called momiji are eagerly anticipated. Naturally, the Japanese have a song for them. Aiko Shimada sings with a voice as shimmery as the koto accompanying her.

There is something both eerie and sorrowful about Japanese traditional songs. It is perfectly genius the way they brush upon both but never quite lean one way or the other. The Japanese are fond of the gray spaces, the in-between colors of emotion and sound. Aiko's cover of this Edo lullaby doesn't so much lull as it makes me think in cliches. One pluck (courtesy of Elizabeth Falconer) and, ridiculously, all I see are samurai. Oh yes it even pulls that rippling Asian gimmick. Wait for it, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

But let's disassociate from the sound. I'll tell you the words. The singer might be mother or some other person not expected to care for an infant of the time. It's dark as were the ages. There's smoke or at least its scent, burning useless embers. It's still drafty in these houses of paper and wood and the baby frets.

She tells the child he is good and coaxes him to sleep. She wonders where his nurse or komori (子-ko, child 守りmori, protect) has gone. Perhaps to her home village in the mountains, yes that is where she has gone. What do you suppose she'll bring back for you? A soft flute sighs in the breeze.

I recall discovering Aiko Shimada around the same time I discovered Hem. As a solo artist, she has a voice that makes itself comfortable in many sofas. At times she is shades of Bjork at a less explosive pace, atmospheric with no end in sight. Just a gauzy stream of consciousness that takes you wherever you want it to--the next dimension, the shadowed realm of Morpheus, across the street.

As providence would have it, she has an Autumn Song. She could do with just the guitar but she dresses it up modestly with a faint zither and a crisp breeze. Like the lullaby of old, she sings an elegant ode to an end.

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I want a laugh a minute, without fail

Dear friends,

Sometimes you want intrigue. After we set our clocks back and leaving for work in the morning means leaving in darkness, it's good to have a soundtrack to the change. The sky outside is that beautiful blue, the air is colder than you've felt in too long, and everyone is walking on automatic. Towards the train, towards the train, towards the train. Staring out the subway window, listening to this song, the way it creeps along, the double tracked voices intoning some strange self-help admonitions involving Kate Moss, you let yourself sink into a notion. You are in a movie. In this film, you are a Cold War spy, your cover is office-worker and you've been doing this commute for several years. Things are about to change however, your true mission begins today. You have the camera, you have the map. You are ready.

Everyday/Yo La Tengo (mp3)

Photo by Phil Morrison

Purchase And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out by Yo La Tengo

Love, D

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Sorry now that you've fallen from my eyes

Hope Sandoval specializes in beautiful meowing. Long syllable-stretches of wan regret. Perfect for sleeping, drowning your sorrows or languishing in a darkened room. Take Everything is saved from being an exercise in gorgeous night-time wallowing because it has a smidgen of tension, enough to make you alert. About two and a half minutes in, the pace picks up a touch and JCMC's William Reid's guitar makes a rueful, fuzz-toned appearance. Weirdly, I don't think he's the one responsible for the real pièce de résistance, the ending slide solo*. First time I heard this I thought that the part was too similar to the one in big hit single Fade Into You but it isn't really. It has bite for one thing. Its fragmented shards suggest, however subtly, that while the protagonists may have given in, the person who has "won" will be just as wounded at the outcome.

Take Everything/Mazzy Star (mp3)

When this album came out, I was, as the novelists say, disappointed in love and listening to this album A LOT. Hoo boy. I remember one particular friend looking at me sprawled, splotchy-faced, on their sofa listening to this record for the billionth time and saying "No way. Turn that off. NOW." Thank you friend. Sometimes we all need a not so gentle push.

Purchase Among My Swan

* The slide part sounds patently David Roback and it's an odd thing when the special guest star guitarist is out-shined by the guy actually in the band. Can anyone confirm this for me?

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After The Jump Winterfest

New York City, December 8, 2007
taking over all three levels of the
Knitting Factory


curated by the people behind:
themusicslut . batteringroom . disconap . earfarm . ryspace . irockiroll . musicsnobbery . merryswankster . softcommunication . theunderratedblog . sitdownstandup . watercoolergossip . bumpershine . themodernage . productshopnyc . yetidontdance . slapyouinpublic . subinev . punkphoto . poptartssucktoasted . stereoactivenyc . fingeronthepulse

for more information, please email:
booking: booking@afterthejumpfest.com
charity: charity@afterthejumpfest.com
sponsors: sponsors@afterthejumpfest.com
publicity: publicity@afterthejumpfest.com

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Sugar-baby with your champagne eyes

Dear friends,

Because I am ridiculous, I found myself getting teary eyed on the F train. I was listening to Sweet Thing by Van Morrison and while I wish I could say that this was a random occurrence, a combination of circumstance and song, it wasn't. This song has been affecting me since I was twelve years old. Of course, I didn't really know what the hell it was about then except that it was clearly about some kind of ECSTATIC MOMENT and that the way the song builds and builds, taking its time to introduce each little flurry of instrumentation, endlessly repeating, it was as if the song was meant to conjure something. I thought that Van Morrison was trying to magically create a moment, visualizing a perfect place, a perfect feeling and that the line about how he will never, ever grow so old again meant that that place was heaven. And that, by the end, with the flute and strings going full throttle, he succeeded, that this place now exists. He could be singing in a dank basement bedroom but in his head this wondrous place is alive and threatening to spill out.

Of course, years later, I feel differently. It seems clearer than anything that this is a song about someone letting go and allowing themselves to experience joy for the first time*. It's still rich as anything in imagery and color, still magical, but the words "I will be satisfied not to read between the lines" stick out to me. How amazing and simple. Of all the things I ever envisioned for myself romantically when I was a teenager, I don't think that finding someone who could make me stop calibrating situations was high on the list. But listening to that line, sandwiched between sleepy strangers on their way to work, I thought wow, yes. Wonderful! We shall walk and talk in gardens all misty wet with rain. I think I might have sang it out loud. I don't really care if I did.

Sweet Thing/Van Morrison (mp3)

You don't need to read anything about Van Morrison to know that maybe he's not a cuddly teddy bear type of guy. His gaze in photographs where he's not singing is typically a scowl. Not so much defiant as downright disagreeable. He's a puzzling creature. Completely singular and wild.

Purchase Astral Weeks by Van Morrison.

Love, D

* Yes, joy in the form of another but here the joy is just as much the titular sweet thing as the girl.

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Night after night after night after night

Dear friends,

It's SC MP3 Flashback time!

I saw these guys twice during CMJ. They'd probably rehearsed once in the past seven months*, if at all, there were some odd sonic Quine-Pastorius** break it down moments and singer Joe Willie was even less intelligible than usual but...AH! How I love the Unsacred Hearts! How I missed them!

Photo by Matt Tyson

Somewhere Deep in NYC/The Unsacred Hearts (mp3)

Check out A whiskey grin that always got him to the door but never got him in from June 2006 featuring a little write-up on the ditty posted above.

Have a good weekend!

Love, D

* To be fair, their guitarist was away doing important work in a former Soviet Republic.

** I know that sounds kinda hellish but it worked somehow.

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This is really happening

Dear friends,

1. Remember this guy?

Photo by Mark Abrahams

2. Ryan Adam sings This Is It OR Bedroom scene circa 2003:

J: What do you think? Do you like it?

D: I don't know. It's good...I guess. But it's like he wants to be The Strokes or something. It sounds a little weird. Why can't he be himself? Doesn't he know he rocks?

J: I love this.

D: You do?

J: Yeah.

(J falls asleep, D reads a book about Mapuches which she returns several months late and winds up owing many dollars in fines to the Brooklyn Public Library.)

This Is It/Ryan Adams (mp3)

Purchase Rock N Roll by Ryan Adams

3. Ryan Adam sings This Is It OR Bedroom scene circa 1 week ago:

(D presses play, dawning realization comes over J's face. He smiles.)

D: It's take two from his new EP with The Cardinals.

(They listen.)

D: The vocals are great. But...I prefer the original. You know what I mean? The guitars, the build at the end like a muffled chainsaw, the desperation*. Now it's a little too clean, too neat.

J: Yeah, the first one was better.

D: It's such a good song though.

J: Sounds just like Metallica-rrrr.

D: Yes.

(D tries to sleep but mostly stares at imaginary mosquitoes. J reads a book about "a couple of guys who start a comic book empire during WWII and a million other things". He owns it, there will be no late fees.)

This Is It/Ryan Adams and The Cardinals (mp3)

Purchase Follow The Lights by Ryan Adams and The Cardinals

Love, D

* Of course I never said this sentence out loud. I thought it though. It's true, I came to love that song way more than I did during my first initial listen. Isn't that the way it always goes?

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