Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In the Inbox and Feedbox 08/25/2009

I just need to clear my plate of a bunch of blogworthy things coming through my e-mail and RSS feeds. There are also a handful of half-formed posts that just going to have to wait including a Tarantino cover tribute ('twas to coincide with the release of Inglourious Basterds, alas) and an ABBA cover post that I owe a reader (soon!).

Jordan Galland Coverage:
My inbox is filled with a ton of PR stuff everyday and some folks are quite sneaky about pretending to read the blog, but every now and then someone actually takes to effort to actually send something relevant to what I usually post about and tailors the PR schtick enough for my personal benefit that I will ignore my little inner cynic and post about it. In my early blog days I would naïvely respond to most enquiries and now I sadly know better. Anyway, someone kindly asked me to give some blog love to Jordan Galland and I'm more than happy to oblige. Not only did he play piano and electric piano on Mark Ronson's Version (a Fong Songs cover fave), in July he contributed TWO great covers for the Cover Commissions series on over at Cover Me. If you somehow missed it, definitely go there to download his covers of Pulp's Bad Cover Version (HA!) and Duran Duran's Hungry Like the Wolf. Not only is he a talented musician, but he's also a filmmaker with his debut feature film Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead currently doing the film festival circuit. It stars Jake Hoffman (son of Dustin) and features an original score by Galland's longtime collaborator and childhood friend, Sean Lennon.

Speaking of Cover Me, he's got a logo design contest going on right now until Tuesday's midnight deadline (er, that'd be tonight). Prizes involved.

I Want More POZ-OR:
Nine months after my initial exposure to the PoZitive Orchestra's unique brand of recycled songs, I'm still loving it and was compelled Sunday to see if there were any updates to their website. No new covers I'm afraid, though they still play the occasional gig in Russia (d'oh!). Coincidentally, a review also popped up Sunday to reiterate that fact that everyone needs to listen to the PoZitive Orchestra. I wholeheartedly agree and you know what? So does Neil Gaiman, so there. To get my fix, I found the website of Gin-Tonic, another band lead by POZ-OR's vocalist/guitarist Cyril Kukharenko, and downloaded three-and-a-half albums of free music. It shouldn't be shocking that this music is pretty awesome too, all in Russian, and FREE. I'm currently listening to a bizarrely jaunty song about Osama Bin Laden called Враг №1 (Enemy No. 1). Go here for Gin-Tonic downloads!

Big List o' Covers
Reader John passed along this article he wrote for Esquire entitled 1,892 Cover Songs Men Could Listen To. I'm assuming women could listen to these cover songs too. While your brain might explode trying to peruse this list, he does offer takes on 10 of his favourites including one of my faves too: Lulu Hughes' rendition of Pink Floyd's Time.

All You Need is Ukuleles:
I hope you're all still keeping up to date with the astounding Beatles Complete on Ukulele project wherein all 185 Beatles songs are being covered and released once a week...for nearly three more years! How can you argue with that much great music for free? I'll admit I was skeptical when first hearing of the project with visions of amateur youtube ukulele players (not that there's anything wrong with that), but I've been continually blown away by the quality and diversity of the covers, which are all linked but not limited to the ukulele. Although they are arguably the most covered band of all time, good to great Beatles covers are in a minority. We're only 31 covers in and most of these are pretty fantastic, a few legitimately great. And you can't accuse any of them of being predictable. Adam Green's I Will is my favourite so far. The project is also having the side effect of exposing me to the incredible Beatles back catalogue, of which I'm fairly unlearned as it turns out despite considering myself a pretty big Beatles fan. If you're an artist, you can even look into joining the project for future unclaimed covers. Last year, project masterminds and arrangers, Roger Greenawalt and David Barratt performed all 185 songs live with guests at a 14-hour benefit show in New York. They're at it again this year, performing the entire Beatles catalogue on December 6th and 7th (All Lennon’s Eve) at Spike Hill in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If I was in the neighbourhood, I'd consider going for all 14 hours just for the experience.

Squirrel Nut Zippers Lost at Sea:
The Squirrel Nut Zippers have got a new album due October 27th, their first in nine years and first live album ever! Previously (I think) the only official live material came from a promo VHS tape I once found on eBay or bootlegs. These are mostly live versions of old favourites as recorded (I'm assuming) over the past two years of touring since their reunion, though I do see one track name I don't recognize.
1. Memphis Exorcism
2. Good Enough For Grandad
3. It Ain't You
4. Prince Nez
5. Put A Lid On It
6. Fat Cat Keeps Getting Fatter
7. Danny Diamond
8. Suits Are picking Up The Bill
9. My Drag
10. Happens All The Time
11. Bad Businessman
12. Hell
13. Ghost Of Stephen Foster
14. You Are My Radio
15. Blue Angel
16. Do What
17. Missing Link Parade

They're taking the tiered package approach: download only, download & CD, download & LP, and (DROOL.) a deluxe version that includes "extra tracks from [their] deep dark past along with exclusive video and photos all delivered to your computer". Superfans, myself included, will be able to buy the album early from their official website in September!

Last. Shows. Ever.
On Friday, I'm hopping on a train to Seattle to catch the last Harvey Danger shows ever. The past few weekends have been last shows in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles and now they're back in their hometown Seattle at the Crocodile Club to finish it off basically where it all started. You might be thinking "who cares?" since, after all, they're widely known as a late-90's one hit wonder for Flagpole Sitta. Longtime readers of Fong Songs know that I am part of a small, very devoted group of Harvey Danger fans. I've said it many a time, but their commercial disaster and hiatus-inducing sophomore album King James Version is one of my favourite albums of all-time. Their third and final album Little By Little... is no slouch either, being available as a free download since its 2005 release coinciding with a physical release. I finally got the opportunity to see them live last year for their 10th Anniversary Public Spectacle where they played all three of their albums + b-sides/covers/rarities over the course of two nights. And now I'll be there to say my goodbyes and thanks to one of my favourite bands.

  • you can read lead singer Sean Nelson blogging about the first couple tour stops on EW.com with presumably more to come
  • Watch "famous minor television personality" John Hodgman introduce the band's last show in New York City
  • at this past weekend's show at the Largo in L.A., Jon Brion was on hand to play lead guitar on Wine, Women, and Song and Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard (Mr. Deschanel, sigh) sang HD's Why I'm Lonely
  • for the HD faithful, a very limited edition CD Dead Sea Scrolls consisting of unheard songs and other rarities was made just for the final shows (only 300 copies I think)
  • There are three shows in Seattle: an all-ages show Friday at the Vera Project, an early show at the Crocodile, and The Last Show Ever
  • Cartoonist Peter Bagge ("Hate") apparently has a band called Can You Imagine? and will be opening for Harvey Danger at the early Saturday show

That'll probably be it for this week. Later folks!

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