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November 23, 2005

{Lads by David Itzkoff}

lads.gif A hilarious, poignant, and pessimistic bio of one mans rise through New York's publishing industry (...Details, Maxim). Touching and tempermental Izkoff creates a perfect balance of raunch and redemption which makes for some perfect light reading. Lads is both hysterically funny and painfully honest while providing an insiders look at the supposedly glamorous New York publishing world. This memoir extends far beyond Itzkoff's forays into the publishing business and will touch anyone who has ever experienced frustration, self-doubt, and loneliness. David Itzkoff is currently an senior editor at Spin magazine. Purchase here.

{Breathless}

brethless.jpg If you have yet to discover the beauty of Jean-Luc Godard’s films than this is as good a place as any to start. Often reffered to as one of the most (if not thee most) influential of the French New Wave movement Godard’s films ooze with stylized imagery , bebop jazz, and wreckless editing. In this film, a nomadic thug Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is on the run from police and finds solace in an aspiring journalist Patricia (played by one of the most beautiful women to grace the silver screen, Jean Seberg). The two evade capture as they steal cars in an attempt to drift off into the sunset. This is an absolute must view for film buffs. Purchase here.

{Ashbury- Last Sensation EP}

ashburylast1.jpg I’ve been an aficionado of this band ever since I picked up their self-titled debut EP, which is filled with meloncholic lyrics set to familiar new wave rhythms. Quite simply, they had me at the opening line of “Blood on Stone” (“I could never be the one to trust with your life, I would only break you down with time”). Over time Ashbury have drawn comparisons to The Killers or The Faint (simply because they play electro-rock), but to my ears Ashbury finds influence in a Joy Division/ New Order hybrid. With so many L.A. bands begining to gain notoriety worldwide (The Blood Arm, Moving Units, Autolux, Dios (Malos), Giant Drag), it will be interesting to see how much longer can this band remain one of L.A.’s best kept secrets? On this second EP, the East L.A. five-piece seem to be coming into their own with a darker and more polished sound, which may be the result of working with Hot Hot Heat Producer Warren Huart. The EP is filled with sleazy synths, pounding drumbeats, electric guitars, hard bass lines, and singer Jesse B.’s signature stoic delivery. With one foot planted firmly in the past and one in the future, all this group needs now is a full-length album under their belt. Listen to tracks from Last Sensation here or checkout a couple of Mp3's from their debut EP: "This Doubt Remains"/ "Blood on Stone".

November 22, 2005

{James Apollo-Good Grief}

jamesapollo.jpg I was pleasantly surprised to hear from James Apollo via e mail this morning and I haven't been able to stop streaming his new album Good Grief since. The album is filled with western-rich folk, hints of Latin rhythms and Tom Waits-style cabaret. The album plays out like the soundtrack to an old movie with tales of the civil war, sunrises, and broken hearts. Here's a couple of Mp3's: "Dead Men Weigh More"/ "Three Birds" or stream the album in it's entirety here. Purchase here.

{The Ex- Singles. Period. The Vinyl Years 1980-1990}

ex.jpg After their start in 1979 in the heydays of punk’s first wave, The Ex developed over the years into a melting pot of divergent musical styles. Noise, jazz, improvisation, and ethnic music have been interweaved into The Ex's music . More than 25 years later the band is still around and so is the demand for their old vinyl singles, especially those made between 1980 and 1990. None of those singles were released in the States and all of them have been unavailable for too long. Stream the album in it's entirety here.

{David Dondero- South Of The South}

daviddondero.jpgSouth Of The South is the new album from one of my favorite singer-songwriters David Dondero, who delivers yet another impressive collection of literate folk-blues numbers. Dondero writes in a stream-of-consciousness style with equal parts humor, condescension, lust, and sentiment. His music shares a kinship with folk music troubadours Woody Gutherie and Townes Van Zandt...but in his lyrics there is always some sort of political message (wether it be the politics of love, war, or sex). So, I guess from that angle he'd even have some Bob Dylan influence in there too. Dondero recently switched labels from Future Farmer to (Conor Oberst's ) Team Love Records and I feel sorta guilty pointing out that South Of The South is available for download FOR FREE in it's entirety courtesy of Team Love here...so make sure you check him out when he comes to a venue in your town. If your a fan of Bright Eyes then you should know that in the past Conor has listed Dondero as an influence stating that "It was hearing his voice that made me comfortable with my own.” Nuff said.

{Thao Nguyen- Like The Linen}

thao1.jpg Since the age of twelve Thao Nguyen worked at the family laundromat; cleaning, making change, and most notably, folding the linens (hence the album title). Over the course of that time she also managed to learn to play guitar and write songs...and thank god she did. I try to imagine walking into that laundromat in suburban D.C. and hearing Thao's delicate voice and the gentle strumming of the guitar chords and I can't help but think how I would've undoubtedly became a stalker of sorts. With clever lyrics and catchy guitar melodies Nguyen crafts songs that range from the country tinged "What About" to the lounge flavored "City Sky"...but she's clearly at her best on straight-forward folk songs like "Hills", "Tallymarks", "Chivalry", or "We". Lucinda Williams, Beth Orton, Cowboy Junkies, and Erin Mckeown are amongst her influences and you can definitely detect hints of all of these artists in her music, but filtered through a voice that is all her own. Like The Linen is a compelling look at a genuine singer/songwriter who pours her heart into every phrase. Purchase the album from Never Trust Me Corporation so that she can get the funds to come out and tour L.A. Here's a couple of Mp3's courtesy of Thao Nguyen's official site: "Hills" / "We".

{Made in Sheffield}

sheffield.jpg This amateur documentary takes a look back at the 1980's New Wave scene in Sheffield and touches upon some of the great (and relatively unknown) bands that shaped the industrial city's musical history. This ain't no Live Forever, in fact this documentary is lacking quite a bit, but it does delve deeply enough into the music to make it worthwhile viewing. The creators located a few of the original musicians, who share brief stories, and move on, never providing a context for the disjointed snippets. Using Chris Watson as the sole face of Cabaret Voltaire might not have been the best route to take (founders/main members Stephen Mallinder and Richard Kirk kept the band going for more than a decade after Watson left). The most interesting bits come when some of the more obscure bands (Artery, 2.3) are mentioned, but we get no insight as to why these bands are so important. We see Jarvis Cocker here and there, but there's no Pulp history and where's Martin Fry (ABC) or Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17)? If you're a fan of any of these bands you may find this interesting despite it's flaws, view the trailer here. Mp3's: Human League- "Being Boiled"/ Artery- "Into the Garden".