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What's new in iJamming!...
Thu, Dec 20, 2001
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
My immediate reaction to September 11
PART 2: Messages from friends & family overseas
PART 3: Observations & quotes from others.
PART 5: COPING - 2 weeks later
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured albums
(Hub, Slumber Party, DJ Harry, Spearhead, The Who tribute
Albums that sound different since September 11
(Charlatans UK, Arabian Travels, Cafe del Mar, Sugarcult)
Featured wine region 3:
Featured wine region 4:
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother (DB, Spooky, Jody, RSW, Bad Boy Bill)
FEATURED Wines (Langlois Cremant de Loire, Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Campbell's Muscat, Brumont Gros Manseng, Dr Frank Gewürtztraminer, Daubree CoteRotie, Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, Mas Saint Laurent Picpoul, Quivira Dry Creek)
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
From Homework to the Disco:
grows up and dumbs down
The iJAMMING! chat:

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
The Return of Shoegazing:
DOVES take New York by swarm
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
Featured vine:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
The iJAMMING! interview:
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
From the JAMMING! archives: RAYMONDE in 1985
The full iJamming! Contents
iJAMMING! album reviews
(Posted September-December 2001)
Click here for the thinking behind this section.
Reviews posted December 2000,
Reviews posted March 2001
mix CDs reviews posted March 2001
mix CDs reviews posted October 2001
Albums that sound different since September 11


'The #1 band in Estonia' hit elsewhere with their fourth album.

There's a certain cultural imperialism involved in my astonishment that a band from Estonia can sound this good, and those of us who can only place the country as being behind the former Iron Curtain need reminding that it more or less borders Finland, which, as part of Scandinavia, has long been a key market on the global map. Then again, how many great Finnish bands do you know, let alone Estonian?
Totally Blind Drunk Drivers sound like they've been listening to a steady diet of the Buzzcocks, Blur, Fountains of Wayne and Blink 182 since they were born, and it's worth noting that 'The Breast Off' (title lost in the translation, I think) is their fourth album in six years; this is no baby band. Guitars are suitably raw and fuzzy, drums are crisp and simple; the winning ingredient is Urmas Voolpriit's vocals, which recall Pete Shelley at times, and Brett Anderson at others; he wins bonus points for excellent English enunciation throughout. (Apart from 'Voyage Voyage' the lone track in what I assume to be the band's native language: Estonian, or Finnish?) The TTBD, once a trio, has added keys along the way, and this increases the quality of arrangements; some synth gurgle and blurps even give this the occasional retro-Jesus Jones vibe. (In a good way.) All things considered, many an American band would aspire to be this good - and yet there's a certain naivete to TTBD that could only come from not second guessing their intentions the whole way down the line.
'Happylife' and 'Dum Dum' are excellent introductions to a girl-obsessed agenda. 'What The Hell' is retro-1978 power-punk, incorporating Lennon's 'Imagine' as an (uncredited) coda. The techno-pop of 'Radio' contains the great line "I wanna be a hippy and I wanna get stoned." 'Mary Jane' and 'Mary' are two feminine objects of the band's desires, but neither compares to their Suede-like glam power ballad, tongue in cheek (and hand in pants) ode to 1970s soft porn start 'Emmanuelle.'
These simple, refreshing, fruity and a little bit nutty new Europeans deserve wine wine to match. Mionetto's Pionet Grigio will do just fine.
2-B Real

Girl-fronted pop a Go-Go (and Bangles, No Doubt.)

I'm such a sucker for girl pop that a few years back I made up a 90-minute mix tape entitled 'Give Her A Gun.' If I was to record a sequel I'm sure I'd find room for Lava Baby alongside such acts as The Go-Gos, Transvision Vamp, Echobelly, the Pretenders, Blondie and the Shirelles. The New York 3-girls and 2-boys band comes out of the gate blazing with the delightfully ambigous 'Sex Junkie' ("If I brought home a girl for you, would you get excited or try to hide it...if I kissed her and kissed you would you try to stop it or rock it?") and barely lets up across nine tracks and a mere 31 minutes. The group wear their influences so blatantly on their sleeves they may as well be tattoos: this is 1980s new wave girlie rock straight out of a John Hughes movie. Given that they're a good twenty years too late, they make do with covering Split Enz' 'I Got You,' (Survivor, Scorpions and C&C Music Factory are apparently fair game for the live set), and playing Radio Disney tours (do what?) while turning down a VH-1 'On The Road' rockumentary. In fact, they've been compared to Josie & The Pussycats and there is something almost cosmetic about their commerciality. Still, and despite the fact that the inner cover is a mess - designed by the Kinko's overnight dude? - the music is a pure pop pleasure throughout. Pass the hairspray.
'Sex Junkie' for that raw ambiguity, 'I Got You' for cool quota, and 'Now That You're Mine' for straight-up pop classicism. 'Say What I Mean', with the Big Muff foot pedal on overdrive (you think the album was a asex alert?) sounds so like a British girl-fronted band that I'm going insane trying to think who it is.
American through and through, but alternative with it; their inherent femininity in balance with their masculine desires, Lava Baby deserve a wine to match. Château Montelana's 'Saint Vincent' is the one.
Soul Selects

Mellow, melancholy, singer-songwriter with soul.

I can't pretend not to be biased when it comes to Hub Moore. His first band, 3 Colors, were largely responsible for my moving to America; over the years he's become a great friend and is currently, by coincidence, even something of a neighbor. But I wouldn't sell you on someone's music unless I believed in it, and if I tell you that it was my great honor to have Hub sing two of his compositions at my wedding years back, you'll get an idea just how highly I rate him. Yet, despite a well-received album on Slash a couple of years back, and contributions to several Hal Hartley movies, he is still languishing in obscurity, this second solo album being self released out of necessity rather than choice. Aided by the production and playing talents of his former 3 Colors colleague Chris Harford, the oddly-titled Daylight is, in fact, mostly dark, offering cinematic snapshots of every day people trying desperately to keep control of their every day lives, some succeeding better than others. Guitars are kept quiet apart from the occasional brooding solo, Hub's singing is often close to a whisper, there are no drum rolls to speak of, no crashing finales. But don't confuse subtlety for any lack of intent. The melodies here linger, the lyrics dig deep, moog synths and other "effectronics" add layers of atmospherics, and the emotion is apparent for all to see. Fans of Chris Whitley and Jeff Buckley - and especially of author Raymond Carver - will surely be won over by Hub, if they can just get the chance to hear him.
'Thirty-Three' is the most patently commercial song here, though it's also one of the most lyrically depressing, about wasting your life away without realizing it. ("You say you don't wanna be a waitress, you're going to start making some plans, but then you go out drinking after work until you're lighting cigarettes from the wrong end.") 'Wave of Sorrow' offers support of love to a friend in distress, while 'Exit 6' and 'She Wants Me To Stay' each track equally unhappy women. They may not be high on laughs, but these songs offer plenty solace.
It's a sipping kind of album. Amarone if you can afford it. Campbell's Muscat makes a damn good alternative if you can't. For his part, I know Hub likes them expensive Belgian beers.

A girl group in the best sense of the concept.


Seizing on the timeless melodies of the Ronettes, Crystals and co. while performing with the restraint of the Velvet Underground, the all-female Detroit four piece Slumber Party have claimed they don't listen to anything recorded since 1975. Still, if you want a real modern reference point, think of Black Box Recorder minus the cynicism, or the Donnas without the aggression, and you're getting close.

I can't honestly say that Psychodelicate (surely a play on Pete Townshend's Psychoderelict?) is a better album than that last year's eponymous debut; I can say that it's even more understated, and may open up with increased play. Still, whichever album you go for, you'll find a number of delightfully melodic and quietly played pop gems, many of which recall classic melodies from the pop heyday of the mid-sixties. For all that Slumber Party hold back, you can hear traces of the Shop Assistants and other raucous C86 style girl groups from the UK, and they appear to have the resolute independence of the riot grrrl movement too. Opening for His Name Is Alive recently, the band (Leigh Sabo, who plays drums only with mallets and brushes, and bassist Marcie Bolen having only recently joined vocalist, guitarist and organist Aliccia Berg, and second guitarist and occasional vocalist Gretchen Gonzales) they performed with equal parts modesty and aplomb. Given their attention to style, it looked like it would be easy for them to simply turn up the volume, pile on the make-up and acquire the major deal. It's harder to hold back - but it's the higher ground too.
The most complete song on Psychodelicate must be 'Everyone Else I Know,' which has a tune Saint Etienne would kill for, harmonies the Shirelles would have been proud of, a droning bass, high-pitched lead guitar wailing in the background, and some gorgeous Farfisa-style organ, all of it tightly compressed and contained.
Classic, feminine, populist, arty and easy on the palate. The Gros Manseng from Alain Brumont in south-western France would be a lovely inexpensive match if you can find it. A good viognier might set you back more but would make a more impressive date.

Jam band gets housed - and comes out smiling.

Electronic(a) jam bands are the next new thing, as evinced by the phenomenal live popularity of The New Deal and the Disco Biscuits, though I fear that the bands' tendency is more towards prog rock with all its virtuoso musicianship than the hedonistic devotion to the dance floor that we get when the likes of Orbital and Chemical Brothers manipulate their sequencers onstage. What makes this particular album interesting is that the String Cheese Incident don't claim to be part of the post-rave dance floor; all reports indicate that they remain very much in the Deadhead vein. DJ Harry, who moved from the mid-west to California a decade ago, discovered house in the parking lot after a Dead show (!) and promptly took up spinning to fellow hippies and jam band freaks. His devotion to both the live and club scenes enabled him to take samples from String Cheese live shows and blend them with his own organic grooves. The result is surprisingly persuasive, coming close to what the Dubtribe Sound System has often aimed for: percussive grooves (most of which seem to be live samples as opposed to Harry's own) topped by jazzy keys, sax solos, a minimum of vocals and frequent instrumental break downs. After several segued tracks, the words "jazz fusion" start spring perilously close to mind, but the overall effect, while not entirely groundbreaking, certainly serves to tear down another set of musical barriers.
'Texas,' with its four-to-the-floor kick, jazz guitar licks, circular bass riff, looped vocals and snare rolls; love to hear how it first sounded as 'Born On The Wrong Planet.' 'Rollover,' which sounds more like a dance track the longer it goes on.
Something traditional, reliable, fresh yet familiar - and organic. Honig's Sauvignon Blanc.

A musical What's Going On presented as a public radio soul opera

I've keenly followed Michael Franti's career ever since seeing him and his first band the Beatnigs banging on sheet metal on the floor of sixties entrepreneur Georgio Gomelsky's Manhattan performance space during a CMJ Convention back in 1987. Franti later quit the influential San Francisco-based Beatnigs to form the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and then went solo under the guise of the band name Spearhead, gaining some commercial success in 1994 with the album Home. The silence since then has been somewhat distressing, but Franti has not been idle. In fact, he's been recording a potential - but ultimately unsuccessful - masterpiece.

Musically, Stay Human is What's Going On? for the new generation, Franti's increasingly soulful singing (as opposed to his old days of rapping and ranting) clearly influenced by Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and co. Lyrically, it's full of political - but rarely polemic - poetry, Franti proving himself a natural successor to Gil Scott Heron and KRS-One should he desire that much attention. Conceptually, however, Stay Human is difficult to love. It is presented as a public radio show, in which Brother Soulshine and Nazelah Jamison report on the election of a State Governor (played, for what it's worth, by 'Woody' Harrelson), itself centered around the execution of a framed activist, Sister Fatima. The album's message is clearly stated: all human life is sacred, and murderous politicians get their just rewards. But the plot rapidly spirals out of control, and the dialogue interrupts too many great songs. Of course, I'd sooner have Franti's social context surrounding the music than the humdrum violence that contaminates most gangster hip-hop, but Franti's done himself a dis-service by not believing that listeners could appreciate or understand the songs in isolation. Spearhead could so easily become a platinum selling male-fronted counterpart to the likes of Erykah Badu and Jill Scott; instead, Stay Human will likely remain confined to the commercial sidelines by dent of its rigid format.

Musically, Stay Human barely falters, but I'm especially taken by the street soul of the title track, with its line "All the freaky people make the beauty of the world," by the funky hip-hop of 'Rock The Nation' and by the simple phraseology of 'Do Ya Love': "It ain't about who you love, it's about do you love." Words of wisdom, indeed.
If you're going to drink with this, it can't be too conspicous or luxurious. I'm thinking an honest, solid wine with some history and integrity, something a little cult-ish too. The Picpoul from Mas Saint-Laurent fits the bill perfectly.
Various Artists

Who-like bands pay tribute to the Who by covering the Who.

Why indeed? The two rules of tribute albums are: 1) The celebrated artist plays no role in compiling the tribute. 2) The celebrated artist does not appear on the tribute. The Who break both these rules and 'Substitute,' assembled by their career sound man Bobby Pridden, fails terribly as a result. The line-up of talent is undeniably impressive - Pearl Jam, Phish, Paul Weller and David Bowie included - but most of the acts seem too overawed at being invited that they can only offer the Who by numbers. Prime example: Paul Weller is in especially fine voice on "Circles," but his version is so damn authentic it reminds me of when I once made a home tape of originals alongside covers and genuinely couldn't distinguish The Jam's version of 'Disguises' from the Who's. Eddie Vedder is another wonderful singer, and more distinctive too, but is the power-pop anthem 'The Kids Are Alright?' necessarily the right song for that band to cover? Of the other artists, it's hard at the best of times to differentiate Stereophonics, Ocean Colour Scene and The Cast, let alone when they're all covering one of their prime influences, and as for giving the Stereophonics' singer Kelly Jones a second turn at the mike, for his version of 'Substitute' with the Who at the Royal Albert Hall last year, it begs the question: why not just release the whole of that all-star cast concert as a "tribute" and be done with it?
Sheryl Crow's take on 'Behind Blue Eyes' stands out primarily because hers is the only female voice on the album. It takes a few plays to appreciate on its own terms, as a heartfelt rendition with some adorable harmonies. David Bowie's 'Pictures of Lily' gets an honorable mention because for daring to fuck with the original, though I dispute whether slowing it to half pace and dragging it out to a full five minute laborious dirge was actually necessary..
We're talking about a poor imitation of a classic here, and I don't like pointing people to that kind of wine. Go for something truly Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy: a young Châteauneuf du Pape from Le Vieux Telegraphe will get you fired up to hear the real deal instead of a substitute.
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