Monday, March 31, 2008

"Juno" Gives Birth to a Second Soundtrack Album

Just like its namesake movie, the soundtrack for "Juno" was a big hit, so now fans of the music will be getting a second helping. "Juno B-Sides: Almost Adopted Songs" will be issued on April 8th exclusively through iTunes (priced at $9.99), with a release through other digital services on May 13th. No physical release for the album is planned at this time, it seems.

The 15-track "Juno B-Sides," as the name suggests, are songs that didn't quite make it into the movie but, as director Jason Reitman says in the liner notes, "are all essential members of the Junoverse."

The new CD includes a tune sung by "Juno" star Ellen Page, along with a couple of songs by Kimya Dawson, the singer and songerwriter featured in the movie and on the original soundtrack album. Also on the collection are songs by Belle and Sebastian, Buddy Holly, Yo La Tengo, and Astrud Gilberto, among others.

Podcast Novels Gaining Momentum

Modern technology is taking an old idea and giving it a new twist: say hello to the podcast novel. Decades ago, stories and novels would be serialized, or published in regular parts in newspapers or magazines. The rise of the iPod and iTunes have led to the podcast novel, a long-form work of fiction told in regular segments (usually weekly) via podcast.

Author Scott Sigler, who is a pioneer of the podcast novel form, was interviewed recently on the public radio program Weekend Edition. Sigler has become one of the most successful podcast novelists, having written a number of novels that have reached the number-one spot on the iTunes list of top-selling audiobooks.

In some cases, a podcast novel may be eventually issued as a regular book. In fact, Sigler's newest podcast novel, "Infected," will be issued in hardcover April 1st.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Play Ball! Preview Podcasts for the New Baseball Season

If you want to get up to speed on the upcoming baseball season, iTunes has a couple of free video podcasts to give you a concise preview. There's a page in the iTunes store where you'll find two special preseason MLB baseball podcasts.

One is an MLB 2008 season preview that looks at all 30 clubs, hosted by Peter McCarthy. Running at an hour, this special gives divisional overviews, reports from Spring Training, and a segment that features beat writers from all the teams.

The other MLB preview podcast is the Fantasy 411 Season Preview show. It looks to tell you what players will be pleasant surprises and which will be major disapointments. It also features two rounds of a mock draft and goes position by position to help you create the ideal winning team.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sahara Hotnights Heats Up Knitting Factory NYC

Anybody whose knowledge of Swedish rock and pop is limited to Abba is missing a lot of great music... such as the all-female band Sahara Hotnights.

At New York's Knitting Factory last Thursday the four women played an enthusiastic (if short) set of their older rockers and more mellow ballads from their newest album, “What If Leaving is a Loving Thing.”

Mind you, this show came less than two weeks after I saw another of Sweden's rock and roll exports, The Hives, at New York's Terminal 5 with The Donnas. The state of Swedish rock and pop is indeed strong, especially when you include the pop trio Peter, Bjorn, and John; the rock group The Soundtrack of Our Lives, and other groups.

Sahara Hotnights reminded me of The Donnas, in fact, besides the obvious fact that they are both all-women rock foursomes. Both started out at about the same time, in the early 1990s, and both began playing a rough-edged style of rock that has grown more polished in recent years.

Some fans have complained that “What If Leaving is a Loving Thing” is too mellow compared to the band's earlier material, and it definitely is more melodic and more ballad-oriented, with some dance rhythms thrown in. The same has been said of The Donnas, which started out sounding much like the Ramones, with loud, hard, fast two-minute songs.

But it's inevitable that a band's sound is going to change over the years, if only because the members have become better musicians. And in the case of both The Donnas and Sahara Hotnights, being being together as a band for more than 15 years is definitely going to naturally result in growth and change.

Having said that, if I were to recommend one Sahara Hotnights album to someone it would be their second disc, 2001's “Jennie Bomb.” It features their harder, more aggressive power-pop sound and plenty of catchy tunes, including “Alright Alright (Here's My Fist, Where's the Fight?).”

The only complaint I had about the Sahara Hotnights show was its short length. At 43 minutes, it was even shorter than a Donnas show (the ones I've been too have clocked in at anywhere between 50 minutes and an hour).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bob Mould Live in NYC: Husker Du, Sugar, and More

After rocking hard most of his career, Bob Mould stepped back away from the world of rock and touring, as indicated by the title of his album “Last Dog and Pony Show.”

He still put out solo albums, though, and recently came out with a new album, "District Line." A couple of weeks ago he brought his new tour to New York's Irving Plaza. If he's lost any intensity or guitar skills since the last time I saw him live with Sugar a few years back, he sure didn't show it. (I never did see Husker Du when they were around, so I can't make a comparison to those days.)

Mould and his band ripped through a solid, hard-rocking set with no lulls. As a review of his recent show in Philadelphia noted, "Mould proved he could bring the rock whenever he felt like it - very loud, very hard and very fast." He played a number of tunes from the new album, District Line, as well as from Mould solo albums (including one of my favorites, “See a Little Light” from the Workbook album), Sugar (including “My Favorite Thing” and “Hoover Dam”), and of course some old Husker Du favs such as “Makes No Sense at All” and “Divide and Conquer.”

“District Line” is a solid album, and while it has the familiar Bob Mould guitar-driven sound, it also includes some sounds that reflects his work experimenting with electronic music and spinning DJ sets with Richard Morel (who's playing keyboards in Mould's current band).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Watch Every NCAA Tournament Game Free with March Madness On Demand

You can now watch every game of the NCAA Tournament FREE online with March Madness on Demand (MMOD). In past years the NCAA has offered MMOD, but not for every game. It's completely free to watch every game, and you don't even need to register.

(Yeah, I know, this doesn't have to do with podcasting or music, but it does involve streaming and archived Web content. And lots of people want to know this info!)

March Madness on Demand streaming games include an exclusive halftime show. The downside: demand for some (many?) games is high, so you may have to wait until you can view the game. The MMOD Web site says that each game will be archived shortly after it's finished, so you'll be able to keep up with the action later if you want.

Check the official March Madness on Demand Web site above for FAQs, system requirements, etc.

If you can't watch, you listen to live streaming audio from the Westwood One network, according to the MMOD Web page.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

R.E.M. News: "Accelerate" Streaming; NY Tour Dates

It's less than a couple of weeks until R.E.M.'s new album "Accelerate" comes out, and the band has announced that the entire album will be streamed free on the iLike Web site. Also, a free video of the video for their song "Living Well is the Best Revenge" is available for download from the iTunes Music Store. (This isn't the official video; it's an acoustic version from the "Take Away Shows" people, filmed playing in what looks like a van!)

Previously I announced R.E.M. has released its tour dates, but the venues for the two New York tour dates were not listed. These dates have now been supplied: according to the tour page on R.E.M.'s Web site, the June 14th date is at the Nikon Jones Beach Theater on Long Island, while the June 19th show is at Madison Square Garden.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Hives and The Donnas Rock NYC

The Hives and The Donnas are two of the most high-energy garage-rock bands around, so it's only appropriate that they recently played a venue in New York that resembles, well, a big garage.

The cavernous new venue Terminal 5, said to be the first large concert venue to open in Manhattan in years, hosted The Hives (from Sweden) and The Donnas (from Southern California) on March 7th, and it was probably one of the best values in concert-going I've had in years (except for free concerts). For $22.50 I got to see The Donnas, favorites of mine who I catch every time they come to NYC, and The Hives, who I just became familiar with when I knew I'd be seeing them.

If The Donnas are high energy in concert, The Hives are absolutely manic. Singer Pelle Almqvist roamed all over the stage, jumping and scissor-kicking his way through the show and even wandering into the audience. Guitarist Nicholaus Arson was similarly frenetic, urging the crowd on and periodically putting guitar picks onto his extended tongue and spitting them out into the audience.

The two bands' joint tour has ended now, but it was a very entertaining twin bill. The bands will continue touring separately (in Europe and Australia, respectively) supporting their new albums: "The Black and White Album" (The Hives) and "Bitchin'" (The Donnas).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 Free Video Site Goes Live, the new online video service jointly sponsored by NBC Universal and News Corporation (which now owns MySpace), is ready for its close-up. The service goes live on Wednesday, March 11th, and the review have been positive.

Originally it sounded like would be a YouTube-like site where users would upload their videos, but instead it seems to be a distribution method for sharing TV shows, movies, film clips, and other content from big-name producers. Most reviews have positively remarked on's slick, clean interface. lets you watch movies and TV free online; it's supported by advertising. But in same cases it sounds like it lets users select the type of ads they want to view.

TechCrunch is impressed with the look of the site and its features, and offers numerous screen shots of the site. But TechCrunch notes that its reviewers weren't part of's private beta.

A reviewer at did try out the beta, and offers a brief review. It likes what it saw, though it also notes some drawbacks to the site.

The New York Times apparently wasn't in on the beta test either, but describes the appealing range of material that's to be available on "... Shows and feature films from NBC, Fox and more than 50 media companies, including Sony Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. ... On Wednesday, Hulu is also planning to announce that the Warner Brothers Television Group and Lionsgate will add content from their libraries."

The Times also notes that will feature sports highlights from NBA and NHL games, and NCAA men's basketball games going back 25 years.

And the Times notes that will even offer about a dozen episodes of Fox's "24" (many more to come, I hope).

For anyone who wants to watch TV and movies free online (legally), seems to be a promising new option for viewers.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2008 Inductees: DC5, Mellencamp, Ventures, More

The 2008 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees will be formally feted and, well, inducted tonight, Monday, March 10th. You can learn more in the induction notice. Although the Rock and Roll HOF is in Cleveland, the induction ceremony always takes place in NYC, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The show will be televised on VH1 Classic, I've read.

The performer inductees are:
Leonard Cohen
The Dave Clark Five (Dave Clark, Lenny Davidson, Rick Huxley, Denny Payton and Mike Smith)
John Mellencamp
The Ventures (Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards, Gerry McGee, Mel Taylor, Don Wilson)

Madonna isn't really what I think of when I hear the term "rock and roll," but then there have also been members from soul and other genres admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And Madge has rocked out occasionally during her career. I guess the HOF just couldn't ignore her massive record and concert ticket sales over the years. She's said to have the biggest record sales by female of all time.

Some accomplished non-performers are also being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight: the well-traveled Little Walter in its sideman category, and legendary Philly soul producers Gamble & Huff in the "Ahmet Ertegun Award” category (formerly called the non-performer category).

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Free SXSW Concerts Online: R.E.M., My Morning Jacket, Yo La Tengo

You can hear free, live South by Southwest concert streams online at the NPR Music Web site. R.E.M., My Morning Jacket, Vampire Weekend, and Yo La Tengo are just some of the bigger names that will be featured. Other artists to be presented in concert are guitarist extraordinaire Kaki King, Canadian alt-rockers The Weakerthans, and Swedish pop singer Jens Lekman.

Some will be audio-only live streams, some will be Webcasts with video, and I'm sure that many of these will be archived for future listening. Some might even be available for download.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Video & Lyrics - Jeff Buckley Doing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"

I love it when underappreciated songs and artists get mainstream attention. Jeff Buckley's stirring version of the classic Leonard Cohen tune "Hallelujah" is one such song, and it apparently got some increased attention when a contestant on "American Idol" performed the song (in the style of Jeff Buckley's rendition, I've heard).

You can hear Jeff Buckley's version, straight from the record label, BMG here... so it's good quality, not some grainy that's been copied a zillion times so you that you can almost count the distorted pixels. (But for some reason BMG won't let people embed the video.) And if you want to read the lyrics to "Hallelujah," you can find them here.

Though to be honest, you probably can't say that Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" is unknown or underappreciated; it's been featured in many TV shows and movies, including one of the blockbuster "Shrek" movies (I haven't seen any of them, so I don't know if it's Shrek 1, 2, or 3).

"Hallelujah" can be found on Jeff Buckley's album "Grace," which came out in 1994, just a few years before Buckley's untimely death at age 30.

View Sheryl Crow Concert Online

Sheryl Crow's team has sent out an e-mail announcing that the MSN Network's "Control Room" will be airing an entire concert by the singer beginning Thursday, March 6th. The show will launch at 11 a.m. Eastern time. According to the e-mail the concert can be viewed here.

Sheryl Crow also has a few late-night TV appearances coming up, as well as some additional concerts:

4/22, Wichita, KS
Century Concert Hall

4/23, Tulsa, OK
Brady Theater

4/25, New Orleans, LA
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

4/26, Pensacola, FL
Pensacola Civic Center

4/27, Jacksonville, FL
Moran Theater

4/29, Clearwater, FL
Ruth Eckerd Hall

4/30, West Palm Beach, FL

5/3, Atlanta, GA
Chastain Park Amphitheatre

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Free Stream of Wilco Concert

Even though Wilco has been around for about a decade, there are still plenty of music fans who've probably never heard of them. That probably changed tonight when they were the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Also helping to raise their profile is a concert Webcast by NPR recently.

If you missed the Webcast, don't worry: you can stream the entire Wilco show for free (including the opening set by John Doe, formerly of X).

To find out about Wilco and their tour plans, check out the official Wilco Web site.