Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Top 10: 10/7/08

1. Booker T. & The MG's at the 9:30 Club 9/21/08 -- The first 45 minutes were kind of brutal. Felt like blues night at the Zoo Bar, but then they kicked into "Green Onions" and "Time Is Tight," which were both solid. That would've really been good enough, but then they brought out Eddie Floyd and he was incredible. The dude is 73 and he certainly taught me a lesson about performance. Plus, The MG's are such a solid backing band that it was interesting to see them slip into that mode so effortlessly. "634-5789," "Knock On Wood," "Soul Man" ... it was solid.

2. Felt Letters at the Black Cat 10/6/08 -- The first D.C. show (I think) from Ian Svenonius and Brendan Canty's new trio. It was an interesting combination of their respective sensibilities, even if the Spiv's seemed to dominate. Although the music was good, again, it was the notion of rethinking a performance that was most interesting to me. Between songs, attention would shift to the right wall of the club as Ian controlled a slide show that was narrated by two people not in the band (one of whom, Justin Moyer, shares my practice space). The series of slides corresponded with a Svenonian dialogue between two aliens contemplating a visit to Earth. Meanwhile, the band would resume playing, but every song ended with one of the band members pointedly (with tongue in cheek) telling the other that they fucked up the song and they needed to stop playing. Really, though, it was just a pleasure to see Ian and Brendan performing onstage again. That, and Ian's dialogue leveling the charge that to say one "plays" music is to infantalize musicians, was also kind of awesome.

3. "The 50 Years War" - a PBS documentary from the late 90s on the Arab-Israeli conflict since the creation of Israel. Epic (6 hours), but seemingly thorough, I felt that I learned a lot from it.

4. "Your Gold Dress" - Dukes Of The Stratosphear - a prime cut from XTC's psychedelic alter-ego. I especially love the point where the song shifts into pristine, Beatlesque pop after a minute of grungy Count Five psych/garage

5. The Mice - Canterbury Bells - A while back, my friend (Muddy Brackbill) introduced me to this Ohio power-pop/punk trio. There had been a CD compilation of the band's LP and an EP and it was a great mix of the aforementioned genres and definitely seemed to set the table for the indie-rock likes of Superchunk (who did indeed cover "Bye Bye Kitty cat"). Anyway, I came across a blog that had the songs that were to make up the never-released swan-song album, "Canterbury Bells." More great songs ("Resurrection Day," "Music Here") and a very nice surprise. The place to start, though, is the "Forever Ever Scooter" CD on Scat Records.

6. Recent acquisitions from the LP holy grail list = Tommy Keene's "Strange Alliance" and the Michael Guthrie Band's "Direct Hits."

7. Josh from Red Onion Records' suggestion that Title Tracks cover The Flamin' Groovies' "Shake Some Action" from start to finish. Maybe so, but "St. Louis Blues"? I'm not sure if I could see us playing that. Hmmm, we'll see. We already know "I Can't Hide," so that's a start.

8. "Anguish" - a 1985 horror film that pulls off the notable feat of combining two mediocre movies into one decent one, via the meta "movie in a movie" scheme. Michael Lerner and Zelda Rubenstein in the same movie is too much for me, but there is some unintentional hilarity and the "real life" scenes in the movie theater can be pretty righteous.

9. "I Got Kind Of Lost" - Big Star - this is from the "Thank You Friends" comp that recently came out and explores the history of Ardent Records/Studios. "I Got Kind Of Lost" was a Chris Bell song that wasn't included on either of the first two Big Star records (although Bell only played on the first one, some of his compositions appear uncredited on "Radio City" -- and there are rumors that he did some backing vox). "I Am the Cosmos" a CD that Ryko back in the 90s is a collection of all of the unreleased Chris Bell recordings, so I know the version of this song from that album best. But this is a take of Big Star doing it and it's easily equal to the Bell solo version. False starts, a more raunchy, lugubrious feel and great, great harmonies from Chilton and Bell. Fantastic and worth the purchase price of the 2xCD alone. "How was that?"

10. The new music blog from my friend, Chris Richards -- Summer Bleeding. It's like being in the van again.