Thursday, December 31, 2009 $5 MP3 Albums - New Lady Gaga, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rihanna, and More

I usually point out (um, rather late)'s selection of $5 MP3 albums for each month, but right now they're offering more than 800 albums for that price. I'm not sure how many of these deals expire at the the end of the month (that's today), and how many will continue beyond that date. (UPDATE, 1/4/10: Amazon's site still says that "over 800" MP3 albums are available for $5 each, so you can probably assume that all the ones mentioned in the paragraphs below are still at that price.)

One Web page lists 100 $5 MP3 album downloadsfeatures selections including Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster, It's Blitz by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the self-titled album by Chickenfoot, and more, with genres such as rock, blues, R&B, country, etc. all grouped together. (This may be the December selection.)

Another list of more than 800 $5 MP3 albumsis broken down by genre so you can view, say, all pop or country albums. The 50 $5 pop albums include Lady Gaga's The Fame (not to be confused with The Fame Monster), Rihanna's Rated R, Classic Sinatra: His Greatest Hits, Mandy Moore's Amanda Leigh, Fergie's The Dutchess, and Australian guitarist Orianthi's Believe. Younger listeners may squeal with delight at the chance to get teen heartthrob Justin Beiber's My World for $5.

Among the classic rock titles are some real classics, including Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

With more than 800 MP3 albums on sale for $5, I'll be buying more than a couple (am especially interested in that Orianthi album).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Patti Smith Documentary Airs on PBS Wed., Dec. 30th

While legendary punk rocker and poet Patti Smithis performing the second of her three shows in New York City Wednesday night, PBS will be premiering a new documentary movie about the artist (see trailer above) as part of its POV series. (You can find a conversation with Smith about the movie at the previous link; the piece aired on the PBS News Hour on Tuesday.)

"Patti Smith: Dream of Life" will be aired for the first time on Dec. 30th; check the link for complete schedule of air times. As the description in the New Hour piece notes, fashion photographer Steven Sebring started shooting daily footage of the musician, and "captured Smith during a time of tremendous loss (she had lost both her husband and her brother), and then her subsequent return to the public eye. 'He wanted to join me as I tried to put my life together after a very difficult time,' says Smith."

Patti Smith has for years performed in New York City on New Year's Eve, usually with another show or two in town, and this year is no exception: she's playing Bowery Ballroom Dec. 29th, 30th, and 31st. All three shows are sold out, but sometimes additional tickets are made available close to show time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

R.I.P. Vic Chestnutt - Acclaimed Singer-Songwriter is Dead at 45

Some sad news for any day, but especially Christmas day: Vic Chestnutt, an acclaimed singer-songwriter who battled substance abuse and suicidal thoughts, has died, his record company and other sources confirmed. It was reported yesterday that he was in a coma, which some sources said was caused by a suicide attempt. Some Web sites said that he had died, as did a few Twitter feeds from musicians, but the Web sites later changed their articles to say that he was in a coma.

An article on Entertainment Weekly's Music Mix blog says that some reports stated that Chestnutt was in a coma earlier in the week, but that the cause of death has not yet been made public.

Originally from Athens, Georgia, Vic Chestnutt was injured in a car accident when he was 18 and had been a paraplegic ever since. His musician friends later held concerts and produced a tribute album, Sweet Relief II: The Songs of Vic Chesnutt, to help pay his medical expenses, and those projects gave greater visibility to his music and gained him new fans.

Our condolences go out to Vic's wife, Tina, and his family and friends.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Year's Best Tunes? Here's a Whole Bunch of "Best Music of 2009" Lists...

The end of the year is a time to reflect on the best (and sometimes worst) music of the past year. And in the case of 2009, it's also the end of a decade (or not, as some would argue), so there are a lot of lists tallying up the best of the '00s, or aughts, or whatever the hell this decade is to be called.

Here's a sampling of some best-of lists of the year and the decade, from music business sources and the general-interest press.

* L.A.'s KCRW considers the top 10 live performances that took place on its flagship program, Morning Becomes Eclectic.

* Also, KCRW's music librarian, Eric J. Lawrence, offers a preview of music forthcoming in 2010.

* At another one of my favorite radio stations, New York's WFUV, the DJs and staff weigh in on their favorite songs and albums of the year.

* MTV, which now seems more of a reality TV network than a music channel, surveys the best music (and artists, and films, etc.) from 2009 (which they have dubbed "The Year of Gaga")

* NPR Music, which produces a number of fine music podcasts, live concerts, and more, offers several lists detailing different staff members' favorite music of the year.

* The Dallas Observer reviews the year in Latin music.

* lists 88 "Outstanding 2009 Albums You Might Have Missed." Looking through the first page of the listing, I can honestly say I've heard of only one or two of these albums/artists. Will have to check them out.

* Rolling Stone gives its picks for the best albums and songs of the Aughts... I mean, 2000s ... you know, the still-unnamed first decade of the 21st century.

* And Idolator lists the top-selling songs and albums of the year at iTunes, along with its editors' picks.

Onward to 2010...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Congrats to Nota, Winners of the "Sing-Off" Finale

Nota, the six-man singing group from Puerto Rico, has won NBC's a cappella competition, "The Sing-Off," in the show's finale, which was televised live Monday night. The sextet won over the Beelzebubs, the 15-man group that has been an institution at Tufts University for more than three decades. (See the "Sing-Off" live blog from the Baltimore Sun for a blow-by-blow recap of tonight's show.)

Voices of Lee, a group from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, was eliminated earlier in the two-hour live broadcast. The show featured each of the final three groups performing a song with a special musical guest. Voices of Lee performed "Pocketful of Sunshine" with Natasha Bedingfield; the Beelzebubs sang Leslie Gore's '60s girl-power anthem "You Don't Own Me" with Pussycat Dolls singer (and "Sing-Off" judge) Nicole Scherzinger; and Nota performed the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles hit "The Tracks of My Tears" with Mr. Robinson.

The "Sing-Off" finale also featured performances from the show's other on-air personalities: Nick Lachey singing along with the final three groups; Ben Folds playing piano as the Beelzebubs and Nota sang "Why Can't We Be Friends," and Shawn Stockman singing a medley of Boyz II Men hits with the two other members of the group.

Congrats to Nota for the victory, and to the Beelzebubs, Voices of Lee, and the other competitors for being chosen for the show.

For those who want to hear what Nicole Scherzinger does when she's not when she's singing and prancing with the Pussycat Dolls, here's a video of her performing a song with Slash:

"Sing-Off" Finale: Winner to Be Decided Tonight on NBC

Voices of Lee performs Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" in last Wednesday's show.

The voting finished yesterday in the finals of NBC's a cappella singing competition "The Sing-Off," and the results will be announced tonight, Monday December 21st in a live show (after endless commercials, of course). The show airs at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

There are three finalists: Voices of Lee from Tennessee's Lee University; Nota from Puerto Rico; and Tufts University's The Beelzebubs (which I've written about before). See the official "Sing-Off" site above for an overview, videos of the performances, and more details.

To see specific performances: Nota singing Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," Voices of Lee performing Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror," and The Beelzebubs doing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."

Tonight's finals will also feature a cappella performances from some heavy hitters: Natasha Bedingfield, Bobby McFerrin, Boyz II Men (the group that judge Shawn Stockman is a member of), and Smokey Robinson.

Voting took place from the end of last Wednesday's show until 9 a.m. yesterday morning, with viewers able to vote by phone or online, with up to 10 entries per e-mail address. So tonight's winner will probably be the group that conducted the best get-out-the-vote campaign. Good luck to all competitors!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Beelzebubs (The Bubs) Advance on NBC's "The Sing-Off"

If you watched NBC's "The Sing-Off" on Monday night, you discovered what a lot of people in New England have long known: that the Beelzebubs are impressive performers.

The Beelzebubs, also called The Bubs, are the all-male, a cappella singing group from Tufts University, and have been an institution there for decades. On Monday night, the first night of competition of "The Sing-Off," the Bubs wowed the audience with a lively version of The Beatles's "Magical Mystery Tour."

You can find out more about the Bubs, including their current and past members, their touring schedules, and their recordings, at the Beelzebubs official Web site.

The Bubs have been around for more than 45 years, and in that time have recorded 30 albums. On the group's album page on their Web site you can buy their albums directly, including their most recent album, Play the Game, which came out this year. The group's 2007 recording, Pandaemonium, includes their version of "Magical Mystery Tour." You can hear audio previews of many of the songs at the site.

The Beelzebubs made it through the first round of "The Sing-Off" and will face their next competition on Tuesday's show.

Oh, and yes, the Bubs have a Twitter page if you want to keep up with all things Beelzebubian: @tuftsbubs.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Free Streaming Christmas Music Online

If you're looking for some new Christmas music to get you in the holiday spirit but don't want to spend money on tunes you'll only listen to a few weeks of the year, check out these sites where you can stream Christmas music online for free.

* One of the leading online audio sites, Live365 has one of the biggest and broadest selections of holiday music channels (106, according to the site), with genres including jazz, instrumentals, easy listening, bluegrass, New Age and Celtic, and any more.

* AOL Music Christmas music: AOL is another major player in streaming music. Though it's best known for offering new pop CDs, it has more than a dozen Christmas offerings. Among the more unique options: Christmas songs from kids TV shows, holiday comedy tracks, winter solstice songs, and holiday songs from around the world.

What's more, AOL Music also enables you to listen to more than 30 full Christmas CDs free, including collections by current artists such as David Archuleta, the Beach Boys, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and A Fine Frenzy to Nat King Cole, Aretha Granklin, Ray Charles, and Frank Sinatra. Oh, there's also "We Wish You a Metal Christmas" (featuring Alice Cooper, Dave Grohl, and others).

* You'll find more than 30 streaming Christmas stations here spanning such genres as adult contemporary, instrumental, Latino, R&B, Top 40, country, jazz, rock, traditional oldies, and soundtracks.

* The Christmas music page of this Web site has links to 20 online radio channels, some from (see above). The stations cover everything from classic Christmas songs to holiday songs from the 1940s through 1960s and even a station that "plays only one thing: versions of 'Blue Christmas.'"

Whether you're into traditional Christmas carols, rock tunes, heavy metal songs, or endless versions of "Blue Christmas," you'll find something to suit your taste in these free online streaming Christmas channels. Happy listening, and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

New York Concerts on Sale This Week: Jim Gaffigan, Julian Casablancas, Muse, Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck, and More

2010 is shaping up to be a great year for live music in the New York City area, if the first few months are any indication. Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck are returning to Madison Square Garden; Julian Casablancas of The Strokes is stepping out on his own; The Swell Season is back supporting its new album; and Alice in Chains are touring once again.

Here are some of the shows that have recently been announced recently or are going on sale this weekend, followed by concerts that are already on sale.

On Sale Fri, Dec 11:
Jim Gaffigan - January 23, Wellmont Theatre; Montclair, NJ - 9:30PM show added.

An Evening With YES - February 10, Wellmont Theatre; Montclair, NJ
February 13 & 14, Town Hall

On sale Sat., Dec. 12

On sale now:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Free Music: New Podcasts with Frank Black, Blues, and XTC & Motown Covers

Above: The bluesy Roadhouse podcast is one of several offering tasty tunes this week.

The holiday season in the U.S. began right on schedule for music lovers with plenty of great new podcast episodes coming out in the last week or so. (And I haven't even begun looking into podcasts offering holiday music... that will be coming soon.) Here's what's come out recently:

The Pixies are on tour, but their leader Frank Black (under the name Black Francis) is about to come out with a limited release of Der Golem, Black's music to accompany the 1920 German silent film of the same name. The podcast previews the album, which they say will come in a box set with a run of 500 copies, in their 12/1 episode, titled "The Golem - Investigated!" There are intriguing tracks from the album that show a different side of Black's songwriting and performing talent, including straightforward rock and tunes with horns and a more orchestral feeling to them.

Speaking of Frank Black, there are a couple of Pixies covers on the latest edition of Coverville, the cover song podcast, "Outside there’s a cover request waiting" (12/1). A couple of November Coverville podcasts offer cover versions of two classic artists: Berry Gordy/Motown and '80s British rockers XTC.

Blues podcast The Roadhouse is out with episode #249 (11/28), with tunes from Moreland & Arbuckle, Sue Foley, Bob Brozman, Doug MacLeod, and The Holmes Brothers. Or check out other episodes, including #248, which features Elvin Bishop, Harrison Kennedy, Bessie Smith, Arthur Adams, and others.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Free MP3 Album of New Latin Music: Aterciopelados, Juana Molina, and More

If you're a fan of rock en Espanol or any kind of new Latin music, you'll want to get this new free sampler from Nacional Records. For a limited time, is offering "Nacional Records Sampler 2009: The New Sounds Of Latin Music". It features 21 tracks by some of the foremost new Latin artists, including some of my favorites such as Aterciopelados and Hello Seahorse! Also on the album are Mexican Institute of Sound, Juana Molina (who has gotten a lot of media attention in the U.S. in 2009), Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Señor Coconut, Manu Chao, and others.

Track listing:
1. CJ by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
2. Bandera by Aterciopelados
3. Yo Digo Baila by Mexican Institute of Sound
4. If You Want It by Pacha Massive
5. Brooklyn Cumbia by Uproot Andy
6. Shake It Up by Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich+Fussible
7. Cosita Rica by Bomba Estereo
8. Help Me Feat. Francisca Valenzuela by Latin Bitman
9. Trocintro (Extended Version) by King Coya
10. Puerta De Oro (Con Pablo Lescano) by Fidel Nadal
11. Mate by Todos Tus Muertos
12. Happy Everywhere by The Pinker Tones
13. Bestia (Julieta Venegas Remix) by Hello Seahorse!
14. Amar Y Vivir by Tonino Carotone
15. La Vida Es Llena De Cables by Señor Coconut
16. Llama by Monareta
17. Chicken Wing Ft. The Demigodz [Explicit] by Eric Bobo
18. Encadenado by Gonzalo Yañez
19. Insensible by Juana Molina
20. Esta Vez (Album Version) by Sara Valenzuela
21. Clandestino by Manu Chao

It's a nice collection that reminds me of one of my favorite podcasts, Ritmo Latino, which close up shop earlier this year. (Fortunately, the podcast's creator and host Neil Hohmann has a Ritmo Latino Facebook page that offers news and updates on Latin music, including live performances, new albums, and details on freebies (such as this sampler)). doesn't say how long the Nacional Records sampler will be available for free, but I downloaded it more than a week ago and it's still free as of Saturday, November 28th.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales: Music, Movies, and More

For those of you recovering from eating massive amounts of turkey and other foods, the Black Friday sales offer you the chance to shop for your friends and relatives (or yourself) and get some great deals. (What's more, many of the specials will continue through Cyber Monday).

The Black Fridays main pagelists deals available in a number of popular categories: music, movies and TV, electronics, video games, etc. At the top of the page is a "Lightning Deals" offer. These are items available only for a limited time and in limited quantity, and below the item is a countdown timer and a progress bar showing you what percentage of the item has been claimed. If you like the pulse-pounding thrill of chasing down a hot deal and buying it at the last minute, this option is for you.

Check out the Black Friday music salefor information on sale prices running through Monday, Nov. 30 on new releases and bestsellers, boxed sets, and $5 lightning deals on CDs. You'll also see the list of timed specials available.

Amazon always offers a selection of 50 MP3 albums for $5 each month, but for Black Friday they claim to be offering 600 MP3 albums for $5 each. I didn't take the time to count them all, but go to their page to check it out. There are lists of 50 $5 albums in pop, rock, indie and alternative rock, jazz, Christian and gospel, R&B, singer-songwriters, Amazon editors' picks, and more.

Many of these albums seem to have been offered in the monthly $5 sale, but there are also some titles I haven't seen there. These specials, like many other deals, may continue through Cyber Monday.

The Black Friday movies & TV dealshas a bunch of timed specials available through Friday night, Nov. 27. Only a few titles are on sale in any particular time window, but if there's something you want there, you'll want to pounce.

If this all sounds like a bewildering array of products and deals, well, it is. I can only peruse the Black Friday pages at for a few minutes at a time without feeling bogged down with all the choices. But, an overselection of discounted music, movies, and the like to choose from is a good problem. Amazon will likely hold sales after Cyber Monday as well. Happy shopping!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Get Tickets for New Lady Gaga NYC Shows; Video of Her at AMAs and in Pre-Gaga Days

Two more shows have been added to Lady Gaga's existing two nights at New York's Radio City Music Hall. She will now be performing at the famed Rockefeller Center venue on Jan. 20-21 and 23-24, 2010. Kid Cudi and Jason Derulo will be supporting Lady Gaga at all four gigs. You can buy Lady Gaga Radio City tickets here for all four shows; this is the official Radio City online box office. Tickets for all of the Radio City shows are on sale now.

And if you're wondering who Lady Gaga was before she was running around without pants and with flashing lights in public, well, check out the video below. It's from a 2005 show at at New York University talent show and features a young singer and pianist named Stefani Germanotta. I guess that name and the female singer-songwriter motif was just too common in the NYC area, so somehow she came up with the Lady Gaga persona. Obviously a smart marketing move.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

John Mayer 2nd Madison Square Garden Show - On Sale Now

The other day I noted in my post about upcoming concerts in NYC that John Mayer was playing at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 25, and that tickets were going on sale today. Well, a second show has been added for Feb. 26, and tickets for that second show also went on sale today.

You can get John Mayer Madison Square Garden tickets here for both shows, directly from the MSG online box office.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NYC Concerts On Sale This Week: John Mayer, Vampire Weekend, Cheap Trick, Yeasayer, Imogen Heap

Left: John Mayer promotes his new album Battle Studiesat Madison Square Garden on Feb. 20.

There's no off season in the New York concert scene, and there are plenty of good shows coming up later this year and early in 2010. Here are some upcoming in-demand shows that have tickets going on sale this week:

Going on sale Wednesday, November 18th:
* Imogen Heap, Music Hall of Williamsburg - show date Dec. 3

Going on sale Friday, November 20th:
* Vampire Weekend, United Palace (Upper Manhattan) - show dates Jan. 17, 18, 19

* Yeasayer - show dates Feb. 8 (Bowery Ballroom), Feb. 9 (Music Hall of Williamsburg)

* Dropkick Murphys, The Wellmont Theatre - show date Feb. 24

Going on sale Saturday, November 21st:
* John Mayer and Michael Franti & Spearhead, Madison Square Garden - show date Feb. 20
* Cheap Trick, The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza - show date Jan. 25

And if you're looking for a show to attend sooner rather than later, additional tickets have been released for Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, November 24.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cheap Music: Discount MP3 Albums at - Limited Time has special deals every day offering discounts on MP3 albums (as low as $1.99), and while these usually only last one day, here are a few good deals that are still valid a few days later. (Note: prices are still effective as of 1 a.m. Eastern time, Monday, Nov. 16th.)

* Document (R.E.M. No. 5), R.E.M. - Although this album doesn't get the attention of some of the band's better-known sets, it contains some classic R.E.M. tunes you'd recognize, most notably "It's the End of the World As We Know It," "The One I Love," and "Finest Worksong."

* Candy-O, The Cars, $2.99 - Ah, the second album by The Cars... I listened to this LP (yes, LP) many, many times when it came out. Includes "Let's Go," "Dangerous Type," and the title track.

And don't forget Amazon's usual 50 MP3 Albums for $5,a monthly feature on the site. The November offerings include new-music favorites from Heartless Bastards, The Gaslight Anthem, Yo Gabba Gabba, The Decemberists, The Antlers, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and Blitzen Trapper. For hip hop fans, Jay-Z's latest, The Blueprint 3, is also available for five bucks.

There are classic rock/pop albums from Johnny Cash, Heart, The Beach Boys, The Clash, The Band, The Steve Miller Band, and and Minutemen. For jazz and blues fans, there's Nat King Cole, Art Blakey, and John Coltrane.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Music News: FREE Veterans Day Downloads, Listen to the "New Moon" Soundtrack, Get Backstage at the CMA Awards

Free Veterans Day Downloads: Just heard this afternoon that is making available a free MP3 collection of patriotic songs for Veterans Day, entitled "Veterans Day Honor." The set features the bands and ensemble of the U.S. Armed Forces and features a few contemporary tunes as well as versions of classics such as The Star-Spangled Banner, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, and the Navy and Air Force hymns. There are 12 songs in all (though some are pretty short). It's not clear if the set will be free after today, so you might want to get it now.

Free Streaming - "New Moon" Soundtrack: The next movie in the "Twilight" movie series will be in theaters soon, and has made the original soundtrack for "New Moon" available on its Web site until November 15th. Most (but not all) of the tunes from the soundtrack can be streamed there, including tracks from Death Cab for Cutie, Band of Skulls, Lykke Li, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Editors, and more.

You can buy The Twilight Saga: New Moon Soundtrackhere, and learn more about it at its Web site,

Get backstage at tonight's CMA awards: If you want to get behind the scenes of the Country Music Association awards, follow @wildaboutmusic on Twitter. Longtime music writer David Wild has written the lines that are spoken by the stars on many awards shows, and he'll be sending along his inside, backstage tweets tonight at his Twitter feed. His comments will be a worthy complement to watching the CMA Awards on TV.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Weezer Snuggie: Smart Marketing or Nutty Stunt?

Weezer has never been hesitant to tap into pop-culture references (witness its music video for "Buddy Holly," in which the band played in a scene from TV's "Happy Days.") Now the band selling a Weezer-branded item in conjunction with their latest album, "Raditude," and that product is none other than that ubiquitous sleeved blanket, the Snuggie.

Weezer has put together a tongue-in-cheek infomercial to promote the Weezer Snuggie (below), featuring the band members lounging around what looks like a typical middle-American home wearing their soft fleece alt-rocker blankies.

What's more, the band wore its branded Snuggies while playing a song at a recent appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

You can buy the Weezer Snuggie in two designs, soothing blue or zebra print ("snugging safari," they call it), both with the Weezer logo. It comes with a copy of "Raditude" (either regular or deluxe versions), and you can purchase directly from the band's Web site, The Snuggie with the regular version of the CD is $29.99.

An article at WFUV's Alternate Side notes that "Raditude" features some interesting guest players, including Lil Wayne, the All-American Rejects, and Jermaine Dupri. And the band's recent AOL Sessions had smooth-jazz sax man Kenny G blowing his horn on one track.

It'll be interesting to see if the Weezer Snuggie campaign boosts the band's sales and visibility, or just gives its current fans a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Live Music News: Bon Jovi & U2 Dates on Sale; More Springsteen Full Albums

Here's a special live edition of our semi-irregular music news. Three heavy hitters in arena rock are in the news with live dates this week:

* Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band continue their string of New York shows at Madison Square Garden, and they've announced that this weekend's shows will feature albums performed in their entirety. On Saturday, November 7th they will perform the whole The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle, Springsteen's second album, for the first time ever.

The next night, November 8th, Bruce and the band will give the full-album treatment to 1980's The River, also for the first time.

Tickets may still be available for these shows.

* Bon Jovi tickets for the first-ever concerts at the new Giants Stadium (May 26 and 27) went on sale earlier this week; visit the band's Web site for information.

* U2 continues its series of presales for its 2010 concerts. This is the second week of the presales, which are open to subscribers, and include shows in Anaheim (June 6th), Denver (June 12th), Chicago (July 6th ), Miami (July 9th), and New York (July 19th).

Tickets for these dates go on sale to the public Monday, November 9th.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CMJ Wrapup: What Were the Highlights of CMJ 2009?

The five days of frenzy known as CMJ 2009 have ended in New York, and the music critics and bloggers are weighing in on what what notable about this year's indie rock fest.

(Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to any CMJ events this year. Oh well, sometimes the timing just doesn't work out.)

The New York Times says there was no one standout at this year's CMJ, as there was when R.E.M. and Arcade Fire made their names. But the paper gave a lot of ink to Florida's Surfer Blood, and also liked New York bands Cymbals Eat Guitars and The Antlers, among other bands.

Alisa Ali of The Alternate Side, the fine alt/indie channel of Fordham University's radio station WFUV, liked The Shackeltons as well as Drink Up Buttercup, Real Estate, Apache Beat, and Local Natives. Her article has videos from the latter two.

The latest edition of NPR Music's All Songs Considered features several live songs from CMJ, as well the entire show performed by Patrick Watson. Show host Bob Boilen raved about Watson, as I wrote on the Canadian music blog North by East West (, calling him "hands down the best performer all week. His band was stellar."

Fortunately, Patrick Watson's show was recorded and is now available as a free podcast download (it can also be streamed online). To download the concert, you may have to use iTunes or a similar program.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Believe," New Album by Australian Guitarist Orianthi, is Out; Get Her New Single Free

I've written before about the young guitarist Orianthi, who was to be part of Michael Jackson's "This Is It" tour. She's played with a lot of her guitar heroes, from Santana to Steve Vai, and after getting a lot of attention for her rehearsals with Jackson and her stint playing in Carrie Underwood's band on the Grammy Awards, Orianthi now has her own full-length album out.

Orianthi's "Believe"drops on October 27th and is available on CD and in digital format.

The 24-year-old Orianthi (full name: Orianthi Panagaris), who's been living in Los Angeles the last few years, is currently doing promotion for "Believe," and has been announcing the latest developments on her Twitter page. As of midnight on Oct. 26th the CD is ranked #165 on Amazon's music bestsellers list (for CDs), but that is sure to rise with some high-profile appearances, such as going on "Good Morning America" on Oct. 27th. She and her band will be going on tour soon to support "Believe."

Orianthi's first single from the album, "According to You," is free on iTunes as its single of the week starting on Tuesday, October 27th.

CNN Entertainment has a story on Orianthi in which she discusses working with Jackson on his tour.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

2009 WFMU Record Fair - This Weekend!

As if you weren't already suffering from musical overload with the CMJ Music Marathon in full swing, this weekend is another annual Fall attraction for New York-area rock fans: the WFMU Record Fair.

Once again the "free-form station of the nation" in Jersey City will put on its extravaganza of vinyl (including LPs, 45s, and 12"s), CDs, DVDs, and even VHS tapes. There will also be special WFMU records on sale for a dollar, and a number of live music events as well.

The fair will be held at the Metropolitan Pavilion at 125 W. 18th St. (between 6th & 7th Avenues). One-day admission is $7, or you can buy an early-bird admission for $25 that gets you in a few hours early on Friday and allows you unlimited entry the entire weekend. And, of course, it gives you first crack at the merchandise, including rare and hard-to-find items.

If you're ready to take a break from the live music in the clubs for CMJ, head on over to the WFMU Record Fair and pick up some choice recordings to take home.

Monday, October 19, 2009

2009 CMJ Music Marathon is Here: Prepare for Overload

Tomorrow begins the annual festival of wall-to-wall musical overload, otherwise known as the CMJ Music Marathon (though it includes film as well). From October 20th to 24th, dozens and dozens of bands from all over the world will descend upon NYC and environs to play gigs, and folks in the music biz will attend panels on subjects ranging from reimbursement in a digital world to the future of intellectual property.

For me, it's all about the music. You can find an alphabetical listing of all the CMJ bands here (though in a non-user-friendly format). Another option is to look at the showcases by day page or, to scan the massive a day-by-day listing of all CMJ showcase events at all venues.

To make it easier to manage all this, several pages on the CMJ Web site give you the opportunity to create your own custom schedule of events you want to attend.

A few of the better known (to me) acts include Au Revoir Simone, The Black Hollies, The Bongos, Clare and the Reasons, Dawn Landes, Deer Tick, The Fleshtones, Immaculate Machine, Japandroids, Ted Leo + The Pharmacists, and even Busta Rhymes (playing a gig at B.B. King's).

There's also an act called Dangerous, an "all-metal tribute to Michael Jackson." Not sure what to make of that one.

CMJ is offering a free 15-song sampler of songs from bands playing the marathon, and InSound is offering its own 15-song free music sampler as well.

Rest up tonight, for tomorrow the CMJ extravaganza begins!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hear the Entire Michael Jackson Single "This Is It" Streaming Online

The new album by the late Michael Jackson won't be coming out until near the end of this month, but the unreleased single of the title song, "This Is It," is now streaming online at the singer's Web site. The streaming began at Midnight Eastern time, Monday, October 12th.

The album "This Is It" will be released October 26th and 27th (except for the vinyl version, which hits stores on November 10th). The movie based on rehearsals for the "This Is It" tour will hit theaters on October 28th. (You can find show times and dates and reserve tickets to see the movie by visiting The film is scheduled to run for two weeks only.

Jackson's Web site says that the album is the companion piece to the film and that it includes "the music that inspired the film, demo recordings, and two versions of the previously unreleased song, 'This Is It.'"

Thursday, October 08, 2009

New York's WQXR Radio Changes Owners, and Frequencies, Starting Today

WQXR, the classical radio station that's been a fixture on the New York City airwaves for decades, has changed owners and, as of 8 p.m. tonight, has changed frequencies.

The station, which was long owned by the New York Times, was acquired in a three-way deal in which pubic radio station WNYC acquired WQXR. WQXR can now be found at 105.9 FM... the former frequency of Spanish-language station WCAA-FM, which is owned by Univision (the third party in the transaction). WCAA swaps frequencies with WQXR, and is now broadcasting at 96.3 FM. A blend of classical music meant to appeal to younger listeners can be found on an online stream called "Q2," according to an article in the Times.

On thing that's not changing is the station's format: it will still be devoted to airing classical music.

WNYC bought WQXR for $33.5 million. Laura Walker, WNYC's president and CEO, explained the transaction in a letter on its Web site. WNYC also has a set of frequently asked questions on the WQXR acquisition.

WQXR is an all-classical station that survived in a rough market that's seen many stations change hands and program formats. Unlike those stations, WQXR was being sold not because of lack of interest in its classical format but because of the continuing financial problems of its owner, the New York Times. (WQXR's slogan was, "The radio station of the New York Times." Which used to be radio stations, in a time in the past when WQXR had both an AM and an FM frequency playing classical music.)

WNYC now has three stations. WNYC AM (news and talk) will probably see few if any changes. WNYC FM, which plays classical and other music but has been featuring more news and talk over the years, will probably more even more in that direction as some of its classical programs and hosts move to WQXR.

I've enjoyed listening to WQXR off and on for more than 30 years, so I'm glad to see it still around, and still playing classical music. The new WQXR can be found at 105.9 FM in the New York metro area and at

Having just become a public radio station, WQXR is already taking part in a longstanding tradition of that genre: the pledge drive (naturally, they've got to pay off that $33.5 million somehow).

Monday, October 05, 2009

Bruce Springsteen Brings the "Wrecking Ball" to Giants Stadium

darkness  on the edge of town
Bruce Springsteen just turned 60, but he's still running rings around performers half his age. I saw the Friday show at Giants Stadium from Springsteen and the E Street Band, the second of their five-night run of shows to close out that venue. And not only did they play another of their famous three-hour shows, they didn't even take an intermission.

Springsteen is doing something new on this tour: playing an album in its entirety. Friday's was one of my favorites: 1978's "Darkness on the Edge of Town." (Other albums performed have included "Born to Run" and "Born in the U.S.A.")

The show began with six tunes before "Darkness," starting with "Wrecking Ball," a new song Springsteen penned specifically about the end of Giants Stadium. After that first group of songs he performed "Darkness on the Edge of Town," from "Badlands" to the title song. (For a song-by-song chronicle of the show, Jay Lustig's in-depth review from the Newark Star-Ledger and Stan Goldstein's review from

I expected a brief post-"Darkness" set of tunes, but Springsteen delivered a longer group of songs, many of them requests from signs held up by audience members. He ended the show with one of his oldest songs, "Rosalita," from his second album (one of the few songs from that set to be performed live regularly). It's one of his most rousing tunes, and he's used it to close a show many a time.

So Springsteen will outlast Giants Stadium, but that isn't the only venue in his home base of NJ and New York City that he's outlived: he played several shows at the now-defunct Shea Stadium in Queens a few years back. The Boss also was the first musical act to play what's now called the Izod Center (the arena next to Giants Stadium), which is on its last legs but will be around at least until the NJ Nets get their new home in Brooklyn built. I was fortunate enough to see one of those shows back in 1981.

This was a very satisfying show from The Boss and the E Street Band, and although I've never seen them give a bad show, they seem extra motivated to give Giant's Stadium a rousing sendoff. There are two more shows at "the old girl," as Springsteen called the Stadium, on Oct. 8th and 9th, and if you'll be in the NY/NJ area, you might want to go. You're in for a real treat if you do. (I'm not sure if the shows are officially sold out, but even if they are there are usually quite a few people outside the gates trying to sell extra tickets.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Last Call for's 50 $5 MP3 Album Downloads for September

(Meant to post this much earlier, but forgot. But if you're on the U.S. West Coast [or an earlier time zone], you can still get in on these deals.)
- - - - -
The end of the month means that time is running out for the September edition of's 50 MP3 albums for $5 each.

New-ish releases include Bible Belt,the acclaimed album by pop-folk singer Diane Birch, the self-titled debut by country-rock band Gloriana,and the album by rockers Billy Boy on Poison.

As usual, there are classics by bands such as the Rolling Stones (Black and Blue), Soul Asylum (Grave Dancers Union), Shawn Colvin (Steady On), the Cowboy Junkies (The Caution Horses), The Frames (The Cost),Lou Reed's self-titled album, Steely Dan (Gaucho), and Beatles covers on the "I Am Sam" soundtrack.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bruce Springsteen at Giants Stadium: Must-Know Info on Parking, Transit, Policies, and More

A few days ago I posted some information on getting to the Bruce Springsteen concerts at Giants Stadium. Now Springsteen has gone one better and put a detailed information sheet on what to know about attending his Giants Stadium shows on his Web site, Titled "GOING TO THE BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND SHOWS AT GIANTS STADIUM? HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW," the document is available in both PDF and Word formats.

The info sheet covers everything from parking location and cost to tailgating policy, tips for traveling by bus or train, items prohibited from the Stadium, and much more. It's great that Springsteen's people put all this together in one place to save fans from scrounging around trying to find it in various places. You'll definitely want to read it before you head out to the concerts.

Here's a quick look at some of the pertinent info from the document:

• Dates are September 30, October 2-3, 8-9, 2009
• Parking lots open at 1 PM for all 5 shows
• General Admission line is at gate B
• Stadium gates open at 6:00 PM
• Show time is 7:30 PM
* Patrons with tickets located in lower tier (100’s) mezzanine (200’s) and
upper tier (300’s) may enter through gates A, C or D.
* All patrons with General Admission (GA) field tickets may only enter through gate B.

And, at each date he'll be playing an entire album in full (as well as material from additional albums), according to Brooklyn Vegan. Here is the schedule they have their Web site:
Sept. 30 - playing 'Born To Run'

Oct. 2 - playing 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'

Oct. 3 - playing 'Born In The USA'

Oct. 8 - playing 'Born To Run'

Oct. 9 - playing 'Born In The USA'

Monday, September 28, 2009

Free Music: Downloads and/or Streaming from Japandroids, Yo La Tengo, Lou Barlow, Yorn & Johansson

Looking for some free tunes to listen to? Here are some fine recent choices I've come across...

Yo La Tengo is the latest band to have a live concert recorded and offered free as a podcast from NPR Music. You can read a brief story about the band and download or stream the Yo La Tengo concert here. It clocks in at nearly two hours, so YLT fans will find plenty to like.

NPR Music also has a (briefer) live set of music from Canada's Japandroids, for download or streaming. The frenetic two-piece band from Vancouver recorded a 20-minute set at Seattle's KEXP radio. You can download individual songs or the entire set.

The new albums by the Avett Brothers and Lou Barlow (of Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr.) are now available for free streaming on the site's "First Listen" series. Tomorrow the site will begin streaming Rosanne Cash's new album, "The List." Each album is offered for streaming for a limited time; check the link above for dates.

NJ native Pete Yorn, one of my favorite singer-songwriters of the last few years, has come out with his album of duets with Scarlett Johansson (yes, the actress) called Break Up. You can find a story on the Yorn-Johansson album here, and stream three songs from it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Seeing Bruce Springsteen at Giants Stadium? Plan Ahead for Getting There

If you're going to one (or more) of Bruce Springsteen's run of farewell shows at NJ's Giants Stadium Sept. 30th to Oct. 9th, you'll want to plan ahead and allow extra travel time. New Jersey Transit now offers train service to Giants Stadium, a long-awaited option for visitors, but are some kinks to be worked out. Namely, how to get 80,000 people onto trains efficiently without unduly long waits.

(The recent arrest of a man who was allegedly wanted to carry out terrorist attacks on sites in the New York area, including sports stadiums, means that security measures might well be more strict at events like this. So you may face longer delays on screening to get into Giants Stadium... another reason to allow more time.)

The U2 concerts this week at the Stadium have seen long waits for the trains, so provide a good idea of what you can expect if you're taking the train to the Springsteen shows. (I'll be taking the train to and from next Friday's show, so I took notice.)

Among other things, the article mentions that a NJ Transit spokesman recommends buying your return trip ticket before entering the concert... this will save you from having to stand in line after the concert. For more information, check out NJ Transit's Web page for the Meadowlands train to Giants Stadium, including parking details, directions, timetables and maps, and more.

If you're driving to Giants Stadium, make sure you check in with one of the NYC news radio stations, WCBS (880 AM, and WINS (1010 AM, for traffic updates, alternate routes, accidents, acts of God, and other delays.

And speaking of Bruce Springsteen concerts at Giants Stadium, a couple of extra shows were added, and with the large capacity of the stadium, you can probably still get tickets. Check the Web page here for Bruce Springsteen Giants Stadium tickets.

Here are the dates. (Showtimes for each day are listed as 7:30 pm, but the show actually starts later, around 8 pm.)
Wed., September 30
Fri., October 2
Sat., October 3
Thu., October 8
Fri., October 9

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

F*cked Up Wins 2009 Polaris Prize

Toronto punk band F*cked Up won the Polaris Music Prize last night in a ceremony held in its hometown. Each of the 10 nominees performed live and then the winner was announced late in the evening, with the critically acclaimed rockers with the radio-unfriendly name chosen to receive the $20,000 prize for its album "The Chemistry of Common Life."

As has become a Polaris tradition, the winner of the prize was less known than some other nominees on the short list. The Polaris Prize was modeled after England's Mercury Prize, with the intention of honoring the album with the best artistic merit regardless of sales or other commercial factors.

You can hear music from F*cked Up and the other nominees at the CBC Radio 3 Web site, Their podcast with highlights from last night's award ceremony is now available; you can listen to it on the Web site or download it there or from iTunes and other podcast programs. Besides the awards ceremony, CBC Radio 3 has also done podcasts dedicated to the short list artists and those on the original, longer list.

Congrats to F*cked Up!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Canada's 2009 Polaris Prize to Be Awarded Monday

The Polaris Prize to honor the best in Canadian music will be awarded Monday night, Sept. 21st in a live ceremony. The Polaris was created a few years ago to recognize the album with the highest level of artistic merit regardless of commercial success, and gives a $20,000 cash prize. Who will win? You can find out by watching the Polaris Prize ceremony live at the CBC Web site,, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Here is the shortlist of Polaris nominees, one of whom will walk away with the big prize:

* Artist: Elliott BROOD - Album: Mountain Meadows

* Artist: Fucked Up - Album: The Chemistry Of Common Life

* Artist: Great Lake Swimmers - Album: Lost Channels

* Artist: Hey Rosetta! - Album: Into Your Lungs (and around your heart and on through your blood)

* Artist: K'NAAN - Album: Troubadour

* Artist: Malajube - Album: Labyrinthes

* Artist: Metric - Album: Fantasies

* Artist: Joel Plaskett - Album: Three

* Artist: Chad VanGaalen - Album: Soft Airplane

* Artist: Patrick Watson - Album: Wooden Arms

You can also see the long list of Polaris Prize nominees to see who didn't make the final cut. Some pretty good albums were left out, including Leonard Cohen's live album and releases by Land of Talk, Japandroids, The Stills, and Martha Wainwright.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tour News: Pavement Reunion Dates, Yo La Tengo Tour, Extra U2 NJ Tickets On Sale

Random details on some notable tours for which tickets are now on sale:

The much-discussed possible Pavement reunion is a reality, but you'll have to wait a year to see them. So far they have scheduled four dates, all for next September 21st-24th at New York's Central Park Summerstage. The first three dates are already sold out; the fourth is set to go on sale on Sept. 25th (though the earlier ones were, too, but apparently sold out during the presale period). No presale tickets were available for the fourth show, but the show was not listed at sold out You can check the Pavement Summerstage tickets Web page to see if any further details (or shows) are added.

Hoboken's own Yo La Tengo is on an extensive Fall tour. Only one New York date so far (Sept. 25th at Roseland), but since their next scheduled gig isn't until Oct. 2nd in Montreal, additional NYC shows will likely be added. The Roseland show, which is all ages, features a great line up of special guests: The Black Lips, Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co., and The Joshua White and Gary Panter’s Light Show. See all the Yo La Tengo tour dates here.

U2 is coming to Giants Stadium in the NJ Meadowlands Sept. 23rd and 24th, and some additional tickets have been released. I got an email from the Meadowlands with news of this, and while there were no seats in the $55 range, there were $250 tickets available in Section 109, on the side of the stage. You can buy U2 concert tickets for Giants Stadium (and other venues) here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

L.A.'s KCRW Launches a New Streaming Music Channel

KCRW has long been regarded one of the nation's most innovative radio stations, and like many other stations it has made its programming available online. (I've been listening to KCRW online at various times since those painful times long ago when I tried to stay connected to its stream on a dial-up connection.) But the station has now made it easier than ever to hear their distinctive mix of music with a new music streaming channel called Eclectic 24.

KCRW has programs covering many musical styles, from alternative rock to R&B, house, electronica, Latin pop, and urban, and catching a particular show at the time it was broadcast live from the West Coast was a problem. KCRW Eclectic 24 solves that dilemma by putting into one continuous stream a selection of music from the entire range of its music programs, from its collection of accomplished DJs.

You can listen to Eclectic 24 online at The station has a number of features users have come to expect from streaming music sites. You can:
* listen on the home page, on a pop-out player, or with iTunes and other podcast players
* find brief biographical information on the artists, plus links to their Web sites and online stores where you can purchase their music
* listen to other KCRW programming, including live sessions

And a grid of album covers on the right-hand side of the page shows recently played songs. Just move your mouse over an image to see the song and artist name; clicking on an image gives more details and a link to a full tracklist of songs played.

KCRW's DJs are a talented bunch (many work as music directors for TV or film) and they have a wide range of tastes and styles. Eclectic 24 brings their collective song-picking talents into one stream, making it a great choice for music fans who like all kinds of music.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Free Music: Jay-Z Concert on Fuse, Amazon Music Downloads, Streaming Albums

Who couldn't use some free music in today's economic climate? Here are a few choice recommendations:

* Jay-Z Concert at Madison Square Garden: The hip-hop mogul knocked it out of the park (the Garden, actually) on Friday night, 9/11, in a concert broadcast on Fuse TV that featured a bevy of guest stars and, fittingly for the date, benefits the New York Police & Fire Widows' & Children's Fund. Fuse is airing the concert again today, 9/13, at 5 p.m. Eastern, and maybe again in the future. Check Fuse's Jay-Z page for broadcast info and exclusive Jay-Z interviews and videos.

* free MP3 song downloads: I'm a big fan of's $5 MP3 albums and free singles, but it wasn't until the other day that I realized that they have a whole huge list of free singles. The list includes everything from The Donnas to Apples in Stereo to Booker T., Jerry Lee Lewis, and even some classical pieces. You can find (and sample) the free MP3 song downloadshere.

* NPR Music free streaming albums: Hear some of today's most-anticipated album releases before they come out with NPR Music "First Listen" series. There are always at least of couple of albums being featured for free streaming; each stays up for a given time that may range from a week to a month. Right now (until 9/15) you can listen to the first CD of the Big Star box set, "Keep an Eye on the Sky"; upcoming are the new albums by the Avett Brothers and Rosanne Cash.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Music News: Apple Announcement, Beatles Rock Band, and Beatles CDs Remastered

It turns out that 9/09/09 is a big day in the world of music: The long-awaited Beatles Rock Band game comes out today, Beatles remastered CDs are now on sale, and Apple is holding its usual early September announcement, with speculation on products ranging from new iPods (probable, since prices of current iPods have dropped) to the launch of an Apple tablet computer (not so likely) to the very-long-awaited appearance of the Beatles on iTunes (coming, but not yet).

Mac Observer will blog Apple's "Rock and Roll" event live at 1 p.m. today (you can also follow the news live on other sites such as The Apple Blog). The online Apple Store is down, as is the case before new product announcements. Some of the wags on Mac Observer dig through the rumors and anti-rumors regarding today's Apple presentation. lists a range of options for The Beatles Rock Band game, from software for Xbox 360, Playstation, and Nintendo Wii to limited-edition bundles, controllers, and other add-ons.

You can buy the Beatles remastered CDs here. And if you're a real completist or just need to bring your Beatles collection up to speed in a hurry, you can buy The Beatles Stereo Box Set for $180. A mono box set is available for $230.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Spike Lee Throws Free Brooklyn Dance Party Today to Celebrate Michael Jackson's Birthday

Today would have been the 51st birthday of Michael Jackson, and film director Spike Lee is throwing a free dance party in Brooklyn to celebrate. The public is invited to the event, which runs from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday in the borough's Prospect Park.

Brooklyn's own DJ Spinna will be there to spin MJ tunes, and even though the weather looks a bit rainy it seems the party will be going on. (DJ Spinna, along with Q-Tip and Mark Ronson, will be playing Michael Jackon songs at a party at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square tonight.)

According to the Web site The Root, Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitzh will be at the festivities and will declare Aug. 29 “Michael Jackson Day.” (The site has directions to Prospect Park, too.)

The New York Post has information on other Michael Jackson birthday events in New York here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Free J&R Music Fest & Tech Expo, August 27 - 29, Lower Manhattan

The huge music and technology retailer J&R periodically hosts live music in its lower Manhattan neighborhood, and starting today is its 2009 J&R Music Fest & Tech Expo. The proceedings actually started Wednesday with a performance by the pop group Air Supply, but things get going in earnest on Thursday, August 27th.

Here's the schedule (all events are at City Hall Park, except where noted). See the J&R Music Fest & Tech Expo Web site for more details and biographical sketches of the performers:

* Thursday, August 27th
2pm - Dick Dale and Jimmy Dale (J&R Musical Instruments Store, 33 Park Row)

5 pm - Diane Birch
6 pm - Jemina Pearl
7 pm - The Smithereens

* Friday, August 28th
5 pm - Melinda Watts
5:30 pm - J Moss
6 pm - Clipse
7 pm - Mario

* Saturday, August 29th
1 pm - Randy Jackson (J&R Musical Instruments Store)
1 pm - KRS-One and Buckshot
2 pm - Letoya
3 pm - Nikki Yanofsky
4 pm - Roberta Gambarini
5 pm - Roy Hargrove

Note: Hurricane Danny is projected to blow up around the East Coast Saturday, which may throw a monkey wrench into the Festival. Check the Web site above for the latest updates.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Music (and Other) News: R.E.M. Dublin, Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Thirtysomething DVD, J&R Music Fest

There's news this week on albums, software, and TV, as well as music.

R.E.M.'s "Live At The Olympia" album, which drops on October 27th, is a unique kind of project: the recordings are from the group's "working rehearsals" from their weeklong run at a theater in Dublin. According to the band's Web site for the project,, for the first time R.E.M. tested out new material before an audience before releasing them on record. It's a two-CD set, and a CD/DVD set will also be available. See the Web site for track listing of the 39 songs, videos, and more information.

Apple's long-awaited Mac OS X "Snow Leopard" release now has a new on-sale date: this Friday, August 28th. The version was first announced more than a year ago. The price to upgrade to Snow Leopard from OS 10.6 is $29. Mac Observer notes that, as of yesterday, the Apple Web site wasn't showing a price for a standalone version for Mac users who are not running Leopard already.

The groundbreaking late-'80s TV show "thirtysomething" is finally out today on DVD (the first season anyway). The Washington Post reviews it here (and says that the set was delayed because it took so long to secure music rights). is selling thirtysomething: The Complete First Seasonfor $38.49, and it's said to include many interviews and other extras featuring cast members.

If you're near downtown New York City, check out the free J&R Music Fest and Tech Expo (August 27th to 30th, a kind of block party near the store (situated near City Hall). Tech equipment makers will be there for demos, and there will be live performance of musicians from The Smithereens to Roy Hargrove. I'll post more on the performances in the next day or so.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2009 U.S. Tour Dates for the Pixies "Doolittle" Tour

A few weeks ago I mentioned that The Pixies were staging a reunion tour to mark the 20th anniversary of their "Doolittle" album, and were going on tour to play the entire album live. At that time only European tour dates were available, but a number of U.S. tour dates have been announced (they actually seem to have come out a few weeks ago, but I just found out about it today).

Here are the American dates for the "Dootlittle" tour (which will include B-sides and other tunes related to the album). Tickets for most of the dates are on sale already.

4th - Los Angeles, Calif. - The Palladium
8th - Oakland, Calif. - Fox Theater
9th - Oakland, Calif. - Fox Theater
12th - Seattle, Wash. - Paramount Theatre
13th - Seattle, Wash. - Paramount Theatre
14th - Eugene, Ore. - Hult Center
16th - Denver, Colo. - The Fillmore
20th - Chicago, Ill. - Aragon Ballroom
21st - Chicago, Ill. - Aragon Ballroom
23rd - New York, N.Y. - Hammerstein Ballroom
24th - New York, N.Y. - Hammerstein Ballroom
25th - New York, N.Y. - Hammerstein Ballroom
27th - Boston, Mass. - Wang Center
30th - Washington, D.C. - Constitution Hall

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Music News: Monty Python Reunion, Beatles Rock Band Songs Announced

Beloved comedy troupe Monty Python is celebrating 40 years since its formation, and is reuniting in New York City for one night at the screening of a new documentary. Brooklyn Vegan says that they'll be at midtown's Ziegfeld Theater on October 15th for a showing of the theatrical version of "Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut)," along with a Q&A with the cast and a presentation from BAFTA, the British film and TV awards organization.

IFC is behind the documentary and will be televising it October 4th to 10th, in one-hour episodes. BV says IFC will also be showing the Monty Python films during a special Monty Python week. See the link above for episode descriptions and air dates for the episodes.

Speaking of beloved old British performers, the upcoming Beatles version of the Rock Band video game has been in the news a lot lately. Yahoo News says the names of the 19 of the songs to be featured in Beatles Rock Band were released today, with one song title yet to be released. The Web site Vintage Vinyl News lists what it says are 44 of the 45 songs to be included in the game.

Among the songs to be included in Beatles Rock Band: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "A Hard Day's Night," "Ticket to Ride," "Helter Skelter," "If I Needed Someone," and "Drive My Car."

Beatles Rock Band goes on sale September 9th.