September, 2010 Archives

12
Sep

We Haven’t Been Able to Hold Steady…Until Now

by Lefort in Music

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“Heaven is whenever/We can get together/Lock your bedroom door/And listen to your records”

Until now we haven’t been able to hold on to The Hold Steady.  No matter how much we like reading Craig Finn’s lyrics, when combined with a musical meld of Thin Lizzy, Meatloaf, The Replacements and Bruce Springsteen, and delivered in Finn’s monotonous monotone, we have heretofore repeatedly hit “skip” on the band’s offerings.  In short, there’s been far too much bar and not enough band in their bar-band motif for us.

But whether we have devolved or the band has evolved, with their latest record, “Heaven is Whenever,” we are suddenly able to grasp and hold on to the Hold Steady rocksteady.  The new record’s variety, meatier arrangements, dynamics and added vocal flourishes have made believers out of us.  As a result, we can finally hear the songs and stories of normal, yearning American youth questing for release out in that great American everywhere where kids are Born to Run, but too often too deferential and despondent in that Darkness on the Edge of Town.

Lyrically, Finn is as strong as ever:

“I know bodies of water freeze over/I’m from a place with lots of lakes/But sometimes they got soft in the center/And the center is a dangerous place.”

“There was a kid camped out by the coat check/She said the theme of this party is the industrial age/You came in dressed like a train wreck.”

“You can’t get every girl/You’ll get the ones you love the best/You won’t get every girl/You’ll love the ones you get the best.”

The Hold Steady finally show us on the new record that they don’t just revere classic rock; they can make it too.   “Heaven is Whenever” sports more polish and reach without eschewing their trademark exuberance and angst.  There’s more subtlety and wisdom here as the band masterfully matures.  Yes, there are still bar-band trappings, but space, layers and interest have been added to the musical mix.

Check out We Can Get Together, a comparatively delicate rocker with perfectly fragile backing vocals.  And Finn’s lyrical bent resonates when he sings of hanging out with an old friend, sitting in her bedroom, and listening to songs about heaven, including one by great, underrated and somewhat obscure Brit-band, Heavenly.  Hallelujah, Craig.  Oh, and thanks for the reminder:  we were saved once or twice by Makes No Sense at All.

We like this fine stanza from this track:

“And heaven is the whole of the heart.  Paradise is by the dashboard light.
Utopia’s a band. They sang ‘Love Is the Answer.’  I think they’re probably right.
Let it shine down on us all.  Let it warm us from within.”

And check out The Weekenders, which deftly builds instead of detonating all at once, and employs bigger choruses and harmonies throughout.  We like these wise stanzas from this song:

“So if it has to be a secret then I guess that I can deal with it
God only knows it’s not always a positive thing
To see a few seconds into the future
And if you swear to keep it decent
Then yeah I’ll come and see you
But it’s not gonna be like in romantic comedies
In the end I bet no one learns a lesson”

And now we really regret missing their much-lauded recent show at Soho.  We won’t get fooled again, and make that same mistake.

The Hold Steady–We Can Get Together

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/06-We-Can-Get-Together1.mp3|titles=06 We Can Get Together]

The Hold Steady–The Weekenders

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/03-The-Weekenders.mp3|titles=03 The Weekenders]

And though it’s older, check out the video below.  Anybody that holds up Joe Strummer is all right by us.

11
Sep

From Real Country to Cosmic Love, Remixed

by Lefort in Music

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Florence and the Machine have been getting raves for years, and particularly for their live shows.  Led by Florence Welch and sounding like a mix of Kate Bush, Sinead O’Connor, and Natalie Merchant, with a touch of harpy Joanna Newsom and a dollop of cosmic Stevie Nicks, their debut record, “Lungs,” was released in the summer of 2009 to critical acclaim.  With great  songs and deliveries on Dog Days Are Over, Hurricane Drunk, Drumming Song, and Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) amongst others, we concurred with the experts.

Now comes a recent remix of their great song, Cosmic Love, as re-imagined by Short Club.  While we liked the harp and wrenching dramatics of the original (see the videos way below), this mix kicks in after its acoustic opening.  Earthly or higher love?  You make the call.

Florence and the Machine–Cosmic Love (Short Club remix)

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Cosmic_Love_Short_Club_Remix.mp3|titles=Cosmic_Love_Short_Club_Remix]

And here are a couple of alternative takes:


And in case you missed the VMAs a couple nights ago, here’s Florence flooring:

9
Sep

The Real Country, No. 5

by Lefort in Music

Iris Dement came down from the clouds in 1992 with her great debut record, Infamous Angel, and rained hard on us for quite a few years.  In 1993, she released her best record to date, My Life. Iris was the 14th child born (in Arkansas) to the Dement family.  The family moved to California for a while before Iris moved to Kansas City and then to Nashville.  Iris hides nothing in her songs, and her vocals channel a deeper source.

It’s hard to pick just one song amongst a handful of Dement’s real country gems, but we have to go with No Time to Cry.

My father died a year ago today,
the rooster started crowing when they carried Dad away
There beside my mother, in the living room, I stood
with my brothers and my sisters knowing Dad was gone for good

Well, I stayed at home just long enough to lay him in the ground
and then I caught a plane to do a show up north in Detroit town
because I’m older now and I’ve got no time to cry

I’ve got no time to look back, I’ve got no time to see
the pieces of my heart that have been ripped away from me
and if the feeling starts to coming, I’ve learned to stop ’em fast
`cause I don’t know, if I let them go, they might not wanna pass
And there’s just so many people trying to get me on the phone
and there’s bills to pay, and songs to play, and a house to make a home
I guess I’m older now and I’ve got no time to cry

I can still remember when I was a girl
but so many things have changed so much here in my world
I remember sitting on the front porch when an ambulance went by
and just listening to those sirens I would breakdown and cry

But now I’m walking and I’m talking doing just what I’m supposed to do
working overtime to make sure that I don’t come unglued
I guess I’m older now and I’ve got no time to cry

I’ve got no time to look back, I’ve got no time to see
the pieces of my heart that have been ripped away from me
and if the feeling starts to coming, I’ve learned to stop ’em fast
`cause I don’t know, if I let them go, they might not wanna pass
And there’s just so many people trying to get me on the phone
and there’s bills to pay, and songs to play, and a house to make a home
I guess I’m older now and I’ve got no time to cry

Now I sit down on the sofa and I watch the evening news
there’s a half a dozen tragedies from which to pick and choose
The baby that was missing was found in a ditch today
and there’s bombs a-flying and people dying not so far away
I’ll take a beer from the ‘fridgerator and go sit out in the yard
and with a cold one in my hand I’m gonna bite down and swallow hard
because I’m older now and I’ve got no time to cry”

(c) 1993 Songs of Iris ASCAP

Iris Dement–No Time to Cry

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/05-No-Time-To-Cry.mp3|titles=05 No Time To Cry]

European Community

S-Double Corporation has two registrations which have issued covering the use of the S/DOUBLE (No. 005004312) and “S/Cube” (No. 005005021) trademarks in the European Community countries.  Please see the attached registrations.

Japan

S-Double Corporation has three registrations which have issued in Japan covering the use of the S/DOUBLE (Nos. 4991693 for the sporting goods and toys, and another registration for clothing that should arrive imminently) and the “S/Cube” logo design (No. 4991692) for the sporting goods and toys category and for the clothing category.  Please see the attached registrations.

Additional International Registration

On June 8, 2007 we filed for trademark protection under the Madrid Protocol for the S/DOUBLE (receiving No. 930011) and S/Cube logo design (receiving No. 927769) trademarks for the sporting goods and toys class and the clothing class for the following countries:  Australia, China, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Morocco and the Russia Federation.  We have recently received the attached Notifications of Protection from Australia and await further such Notifications or correspondence from the other listed countries.  Also attached are status pages with respect to the foregoing printed out this morning off of the WIPO web site.

Please let me know if you need anything else or have any questions.

Thanks,

6
Sep

Mavis and Tweedy–Together, A Graceful Raid

by Lefort in Music

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A marriage made in heaven.  Rarely has a phrase been so apt as in this instance.

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco produced and wrote two songs for gospel/soul legend Mavis Staples’ impending record, You Are Not Alone.  The record will be released on September 14th and features a couple of songs (including the telling title song) penned by Tweedy and recorded at Wilco’s Loft recording studios.

The Staples Singers were one of our favorite acts while growing up, and Mavis is carrying on the legacy of that justly-loved group.  It turns out Tweedy is a fan as well and jumped at the chance to work with Mavis.  The mutual respect between Mavis and Tweedy can be heard throughout You Are Not Alone.   Staples has said the session at the Loft was one of the most spiritual sessions she’s had.

Tweedy’s production defers to Mavis’s voice as the centerpiece of the record, but the mix of members of Mavis’s band, some Wilco members (Tweedy included), and others provides the perfect musical accompaniment.

(photo: Spencer Tweedy)

Check out the title track below.  We love these lines from the song:  “A broken home, a broken heart/isolated and afraid/open up, this is a raid/I wanna get it through to you/You’re not alone.” It’s not hard to believe that Mavis spilled some tears during the recording, as she has said.

Mavis Staples–You Are Not Alone

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/You_Are_Not_Alone.mp3|titles=You_Are_Not_Alone]

As an added bonus, here’s a great alternative take solo by Tweedy.

And here is Mavis and Tweedy together on the title track.

And finally, here are the Dynamic Duo discussing the project.

5
Sep

Lost in the Trees–But We Can Stand

by Lefort in Music

“Cut the weight of what is too sharp to hold.
So surround yourself with good people.
I know it’s painful, but we can stand.”

That part we get.  And we have yet another favorite song to pass along.

The band, Lost in the Trees, has circumnavigated the indie scene via Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the Berklee College of Music, and back to Chapel Hill.

There is a buzz about ’em, like honeyed wires and jealous bees.

We like the emotion and electricity combined with strings, not to mention the group vocal attack and lyrically oblique agenda (yes, oxymoronic, we grant you).

Check it out.

“Like an old man walks to the end of his life.
And he’s carrying his bag of bloody knives.
Pass them out and say, “Hold them tight.”
Here’s a weight too sharp to hold.
So I’ll take true love, and I’ll cut it up with scissors.
And I’ll throw it in the fireplace.
We can disappear together.

Cut the weight of what is too sharp to hold.
With my paper soul and I hear it’s painful
as to forgive and you’re still angry.
If I can’t heal my heart, forget me.

So I take true love, and I’ll cut it up with scissors.
And I’ll throw it in the fireplace.
We can burn it out forever.
Why is life so hard?
And I’ll cut it up with scissors.
And I’ll throw it in the fireplace.
We can disappear together.

Cut the weight of what is too sharp to hold.
So surround yourself with good people.
I know it’s painful, but we can stand.
And if this plan can’t work, then tear my hand.
With a paper soul healing is painful.
As is to forgive, and you’re still angry.
If I can’t hear my heart, forgive me.”

Lost in The Trees–Fireplace

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Fireplace.mp3|titles=Fireplace]


4
Sep

When We Were Young(er)–New Hosannas

by Lefort in Music

Hosannas are coming to Santa Barbara to play Muddy Waters on September 21st.   In advance of their arrival and the impending release of their new John Askew-produced record, the band has just released the first song therefrom, When We Were Young.

With When We Were Young, Hosannas have raised the bar yet again and impressively added to their stellar song list.

The song is an arresting amalgam, update and complication of the best of the 80s music on which we thrived back then.  One hears the influence of Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, Gang of Four and other 80s bands, but Hosannas have made the sound their own with their inventive, vesper vocals and Brandon Laws’ stellar staccato stints on Stratocaster.

“When we were young we would move to this beat; I guess we would move ’cause we needed release.”

Exactly.  This song will make you move ’cause they’ve got the beat.  The propulsion of drums, synth and guitar swept us up.  Put it on replay and enjoy.

Hosannas–When We Were Young

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/When-We-Were-Young.mp3|titles=When We Were Young]

3
Sep

The Real Country, No. 4

by Lefort in Music

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Kris Kristofferson has written and performed some of the great songs of the American songbook.  He is the Pendleton Poet; one of the best song wordsmiths to ever grace us.  Sometimes those summa cum laude’s from Pomona College and Rhodes Scholarships pay off.  His bio is dense, including a plethora of films, loves and laurels.  But for us the riches are in his songs, which have been performed by magicians (Cash, Joplin, Nelson) and regularly gripped the best sellers lists when there was merit in th0se lists.  His great song, Sunday Morning Coming Down, is amongst our all-time faves and has been covered by many of the greats.  We prefer the songwriter’s version below.

With economy, Kristofferson deftly conveys both the large and the small losses.  One of the best.

“Well I woke up Sunday morning
with no way to hold my head
that didn’t hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad
so I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes and found my cleanest dirty shirt.
And I shaved my face and combed my hair and
stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

I’d smoked my brain the night before on
cigarettes and songs that I’d been picking.
But I lit my first and watched a small kid
cussing at a can that he was kicking.
Then I crossed the empty street and caught the Sunday smell of someone frying chicken.
And it took me back to something
that I’d lost somehow
somewhere along the way.

On this Sunday morning sidewalk,
wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday,
makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothing short of dying,
half as lonesome as the sound,
on the sleeping city sidewalks,
Sunday morning coming down.

In the park I saw a daddy
with a laughing little girl who he was swinging.
And I stopped beside a Sunday school and listened to a song that they was singing.
Then I headed back for home and somewhere far away
a lonely bell was ringing.
And it echoed through the canyons
like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

On this Sunday morning sidewalk,
wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday,
makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothing short of dying,
half as lonesome as the sound,
on the sleeping city sidewalks,
Sunday morning coming down.”

Kris Kristofferson–Sunday Morning Coming Down

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/1-01-Sunday-Mornin-Comin-Down.mp3|titles=1-01 Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down]

And for good measure, here are a couple of alternative takes by a couple of unknowns.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E824r7KrVPw