Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 27, 2007; 2:00 PM

Washington Post music critic J. Freedom du Lac is online every Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET to talk about the latest on the music scene: alternative, country, alt-country, pop, hyphy, harp-rock, reggae, reggaeton, R and B and whatever it is that Tila Tequila does.

The transcript follows below.


J. Freedom du Lac: This week's installment in PR Pitches We Never Finished Reading: "Idol Chris Sligh's Band Singing a Differant Tune" (sic)

So, what's up?


Washington, D.C.: Hey J, have you heard any rumblings about other bands that might make an appearance at V-Fest?

J. Freedom du Lac: Hearing lots of rumblings -- from My Bloody Valentine and the White Stripes to Amy Winehouse to Bjork and -- but it's all rumor and speculation at this point.

Among those not likely to play, however: Pearl Jam, which is apparently headlining Lollapalooza that same weekend, in Chicago.


Atlanta, Ga.: I don't disagree that someday soon, an independent singer or group with a compelling musical product will break wide using the self-promotion/self-distribution tools afforded by the internets. But isn't this Tina Tequila, who you admit is not a musician, the sort of performer who needs the starmaking machinery of a major label to sell albums? I'm not trying to be elitist, but it doesn't seem like she's got a song that's going to sell itself, right?

J. Freedom du Lac: It's already happened. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a self-made success. Not on a grand, superstar scale. Like, you won't see them playing the MTV Video Music Awards or on the cover of Blender. But they're moving units, merchandise and concert tickets and making money, and they're doing it themselves -- quite a feat for a new act.

To succeed in the pop space is an entirely different thing, though, and I do think that you need the major-label machinery and muscle behind you, if only for radio promotion. Even if Tila cuts a great single, it will be REALLY hard for her to crack the Top 40 playlists. The pop space is the domain of major-label acts. Period.


Good Charlotte / Bad Charlotte: In Monday's New York Times re the new album, the two critical lines: "Good Morning Revival," a mystifyingly inept CD that includes some of the worst lyrics you will - or, with any luck, won't - hear all year." and "One promising target market for this CD: countries where they don't speak English."

J. Freedom du Lac: Kelefa Sanneh sure came out swinging, didn't he? Not that our reviewer, Allison Stewart, loved the album. Most critics haven't. "Good Morning Revival" is averaging 46 out of 100 points on, which compiles reviews from various sources and comes up with an average rating. It's not an exact science, though -- the New York Times doesn't assign scores to albums, so Metacritic makes them up. In this case, they decided K's review sounded like a 20-pointer.


tequilaville: ok her music sux but you have gotta admit that tila tequila is pretty hot

J. Freedom du Lac: Me: "Why do so many people buy your calendars, posters and other merch?"

Tila Tequila: "Because I'm hot?" (Giggle.)

And here I thought it was because they liked her white paper on global warming.


Leesburg, Va.: I need some advice on how to intimidate some poker players through the use of song. I play in a fairly high stakes poker game on a regular basis and I need a song that I can sing at the table that's guaranteed to aggravate the other players. I was thinking of something along the lines of the Macarena song, but I figured you could come up something better.

J. Freedom du Lac: Try the Black Crowes song "Remedy." It was used in promotional spots for that lousy ESPN poker drama, "Tilt."

Or, you could put on the new Good Charlotte single, "The River." That one works especially well after you've caught a two-outer on fifth street.


Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C.: Happy spring, J. Free! I was wondering why there is a lack of Snow Patrol/OK Go coverage from the Post this week. Did you go to the show? Come on, it was fun!

J. Freedom du Lac: Been there, done that. We wrote about OK Go in November, when they played the 9:30 club, and we reviewed Snow Patrol at the 9:30 in September. I'm disappointed that you don't remember every word of every piece We At The Washington Post publish. I mean, really.

Didn't go to the show myself. The Patriot Center isn't my favorite venue. Snow Patrol/OK Go aren't my favorite bands. Wake me if/when Snow Patrol plays the Live Earth concert in Antarctica, though; I might consider going to that one.

_______________________ Tequila Dreams, And MySpace Viewers Fantasize


Tampa, Fla.: She's not THAT hot.

J. Freedom du Lac: To each his own. Hers, too: Tila has a pretty sizeable female following. Not girl-power-type fans, either. More like girl groupies.


Arcade Fire: J. Freedom, are they just the latest hot group? I'm a little nervous about jumping on the bandwagon.

J. Freedom du Lac: Given that they've made two pretty fine albums and have a reputation for putting on rather incredible live shows, I'd say no. They might well be the indie answer to Springsteen and the E Street Band.


Vienna, Va.: J Free, where are the reviews for new CDs out this week? I can't seem to find any on the Web site...I wanted to know if you had heard the new Kaiser Chiefs CD and also Modest Mouse's new one from last week.

Also, did anyone from WP do a review on Saturday's Snow Patrol/OKGo concert? It was awesome. Modest Mouse review

J. Freedom du Lac: Today's reviews: Good Charlotte, Mims, Mika, plus Chris Richards serving up his weekly Singles File. Sunday, it's Macy Gray and Jack Ingram.

Modest Mouse review is linked above.


Orange, Va.: Hope it's not late to heap lavish praise upon you for the Good Charlotte profile. Great writing and reporting. If I'm not mistaken you seemed to have genuine affection for the two subjects of your profile. Would you disagree?

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks, it's never too late to tell me how great I am. Feel free to return early and often.

I enjoyed spending time with Joel and Benji, but that doesn't mean we're BFF or anything.

_______________________ Today's Album Reviews and Singles File.


Washington, D.C.: It looks like The Police has secured their August 4 "local date" with an appearance at the Virgin Festival at Pimlico. How disappointing.... If I want to see these guys I either have to drive all the way up to Hershey, Pa., to see a full set or drive up to Baltimore and trounce around in the filth of a decrepit racetrack infield to see a 30-minute set while trying to wade through thousands of rude teenagers who think The Police's lead singer is a professional wrestler.

The D.C. music scene is pathetic...I'M MOVING!!

J. Freedom du Lac: The Police aren't doing 30 minutes. The headliners at last year's V-Fest -- the Who and the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- each played for at least 80 minutes. I sort of suspect The Police will do same, if not a little bit longer.

Did you even go to the festival last year? Guessing not. It was a pretty damn fine experience.

Don't let the door to the Beltway hit you on your way out.


Glen Burnie, Md.: J:

Joss Stone's latest...what do you think? Here's what Allison Stewart thinks.

J. Freedom du Lac: What she said.


the Live Earth concert in Antarctica...: I was not aware there was a penguin demographic for this sort of thing.

J. Freedom du Lac: Al Gore will talk climate change to anybody who listens, it seems.


20415: Good call on V-Fest. Question, what is there to prevent Pearl Jam from playing Chicago on Saturday and Baltimore on Sunday? they could even fly with Smashing Pumpkins.

Also, heard any more rumblings about concert announcements in the area? Wolf Trap has announced most of theirs, Rush has a date and Family Values says they'll be out here.

J. Freedom du Lac: Anything is possible, I suppose -- though wouldn't that be bad form to play competing festivals? Not that they're in the same zip code or anything.

One Wolf Trap show that I'm really excited about: June 13, Joss Stone with Common and Ryan Shaw. Not because of the headliner, or even the middle act (though I like Common). It's Ryan Shaw that I can't stop listening to. His forthcomimg album, "This Is Ryan Shaw," sounds like a lost Jackie Wilson/Otis Redding album or something. Serious vintage soul. Only, the kid is 25. But boy, can he SANG.


Raleigh, N.C.: Many of us that had to find great punk bands by scrounging through import bins, or skateboarding down to Smash! when it was on the other side of M street resent that kids put Minor Threat and Good Charlotte on the same playlist on their iPods. Punk and hardcore had meaning because they were underground. I don't care if the jock I got into a fight with in high school had troubles at home -- I bands to listen to and friends to hang out with that shared a common ground. I felt at home at the 9:30 club, back when its name actually correlated to its address, or Ft Reno, or the Complex, or WUST music hall. The commercialization of punk, ironically led by Nirvana, led to shows sucking, football players turning pits into scrums, fights in the street. Punk used to be something you earned, not bought.

J. Freedom du Lac: Fair enough. It's your scene, so you're welcome to interpret the arrival of latecomers and interlopers however you choose. I still don't think it's a bad thing that kids are discovering the bands, even if the music and the culture don't mean the same things to them as they do -- or, at least, did -- to you. And as you noted, the scene changed well before Good Charlotte arrived. (Speaking of which: Weren't were pit scrums and street fights before the football players showed up? And didn't some of the shows suck, too, back when you were their age, walking barefoot in the snow, uphill, etc?)


Atlanta, Ga.: To the whiny Police superfan: Count your blessings. Looks like the Police are skipping the ATL, and if I want to see them I have to go to the Bonnoroo, which is not just a festival but a SMELLY HIPPY festival.

J. Freedom du Lac: Thank you. By the way, do you have an extra room at you place? The Whiny Police Superfan is thinking about moving in with you.


Falls Church, Va.: Are you surprised that Ted Leo sold out the 9:30 club for his show on Thursday? And what do you think of his new album?

J. Freedom du Lac: Doesn't Ted Leo usually sell out his DC shows? I seem to remember a series of Black Cat dates that sold out well in advance. But I might be making that up. Haven't heard the new album yet, but looking forward to seeing him on Thurs.


Arcade Fire show: Are you going on May 4? If so, any expectations? (and to the above hesitant poster: jump on this wagon as fast as you can!)

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes. Expectations? The show will change my life.


Re: "Only, the kid is 25": Otis was only 26 when he died.

J. Freedom du Lac: Shaw sounds like he should be in his 60s. His music is of another time and place (Muscle Shoals, circa 1965).


Chips Ahoy!: I thought indie's answer to the Boss and the E Street Band was the Hold Steady?

J. Freedom du Lac: Their live shows aren't religious experiences.


Your articles are not relevant to music today: One week it's Good Charlotte, the next week it's some lady on the Internet who is, in you own estimation, not even a real musician. What you got for us next week -- a ten page feature on the guy who tries to play the tin whistle outside the National Zoo?

J. Freedom du Lac: No, I'm doing a feature on Steven Seagal.


Arlington, Va.: Arctic Monkeys have a new CD coming out in April and a show in May @ the 9:30 Club. Any word on whether the new CD lives up to the standards of the first?

J. Freedom du Lac: Haven't heard much about the new album -- though as I type this, a jittery and populsive new Arctic Monkeys song, "Brainstorm," is exploding out of my earphones, via's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" stream. I like the way it sounds, though I didn't catch many of the lyrics beyond "see you later innovator."

J. Freedom du Lac:


Uber Marlboro: In your Mika review you fail to mention "Love Today," which despite being on that Verizon commercial is one of the highlights -- did I read your article too fast and missed it or what gives? Also... do you have any love for Kings of Leon? Your verdict on the new album? The single "On Call" kinda stinks, even though I loved their first two releases. Mika, With Nod to Pop Royalty

J. Freedom du Lac: Nope, didn't mention "Love Today." Fun song but not my favorite.

Kings of Leon review running next week.


Ft. Wash, Md.: I think a major artist tired of the record label system could break through via myspace or something similar. Just like many rappers found their mainstream success through selling tapes out of the trunks of their cars. It would take somebody with a strong following and not too lazy and reliant on label support. Not this corny Tequila chick. She really isn't that hot.

J. Freedom du Lac: Major artists have the built-in advantage of having established a following. It's a different thing entirely to build from the ground up, a la Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The reason Tila Tequila is such an interesting test case is that she has a pretty big following -- but not necessarily for her music. So what happens when she tries to sell songs to those folks? It's a shame she's not a better musician. That sort of screws everything up.


Washington, D.C.: Oh can Raleigh just go away. Oooh you're unique and a rebel. I'm no Good Charlotte fan, but getting yourself tied up in knots because people like different music than you? Lordy.

I think it's about being open to more than one type of music.

J. Freedom du Lac: Careful -- Raleigh might stick a steel boot in your personal space.


Arcade Fire: get your religion here: I saw Arcade Fire at the Download Festival in 2005 at the Shoreline Amphitheater (huge outdoor venue near San Francisco), and even with a huge drunk crowd in the mid-afternoon, they were something else.

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks.

(Was This User Review Helpful?)






Baltimore, Md.: Re: Modest Mouse review

Strange review (I know you didn't write it). I grew up on the Smiths and have been listening to MM for five plus years. I don't hear much Marr guitar on the album. Maybe a little jangle on Florida and People as Places, but mostly I just hear Isaac Brocks circular guitar parts. I'm not saying this is good or bad, just that Marr doesn't seem to have made much of a difference.

J. Freedom du Lac: Agree that the Marr influence isn't particularly heavy. I'd hoped for more.


20145: Joss Stone and Common is definitely an odd paring, even more so for a place like Wolf Trap. Have there been any murmuring from the IMP camp about new stuff at their joints? I doubt Live Nation leaks very much.

FYI, Snow Patrol and OK GO were at Bender up at American, not Patriot Center.

J. Freedom du Lac: Bender/Patriot Center -- same difference to me. I don't like either space all that much, though I like Bender a bit more because it's closer to my place. And it's all about my needs.

The IMP camp is pretty well preoccupied with V-Fest, among other things.

Speaking of Joss Stone at Wolf Trap, when I saw here there in 2005, she got blown off the stage by her opening act: John Legend.


The Poker Player's Song: I love the scene in "Honeymoon in Vegas" when the Elvis impersonator sings "Wise men say..only fools rush in" while Nicholas Cage is stewing over whether to fold or not. That might work. Or if the guy really wants to be obnoxious, the chorus to "The Gambler" over and over, complete with the echo effect - "You gotta know when to hold' em (FALSETTO-When to hold 'em!)..

J. Freedom du Lac: Especially if it's my falsetto.


Amy "Kottonmouth" Winehouse: Hi Freedom,

I checked out the new Amy Winehouse CD over the weekend and was very impressed. But as I listened to lyric after lyric about her over indulgence in alcohol, I couldn't help but recall the Kottonmouth Kings -- the rap/punk group who made more albums full of odes to pot use than even Cheech and Chong would have thought possible. Winehouse's stuff is definitely higher end. But it seems to me that there's a point where one's inspiration becomes one's crutch.

J. Freedom du Lac: Hey, she sings what she knows. And to be fair, she has lyrics about other vices, as well. Ganja, for instance!

And those relationship sings are pretty great, in a scary, wouldn't-want-to-date-her kinda way. Not that I'd want to date her anyway. I mean, she sort of looks like a tranny Elvira impersonator or something. But I sure like her new album. Her earlier CD, which never came out stateside, isn't nearly as interesting.


Mt. St. Joseph High School, Baltimore, Md.: Have you heard "I'm Shipping up to Boston" by the Dropkick Murphys and well utilized in the film "The Departed"? Best song I've heard in years.

J. Freedom du Lac: You mean the song we were talking about In This Very Space back in December? Yeah, it's pretty great -- and I agree that it works particularly well in "The Departed." It's also a pretty snappy workout song.


Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C.: Hi J,

When will major record companies realize that the main reason CD sales are slowing is not piracy, it's because most of the music being widely released today is, quite frankly, crap. For the most part, the artists whose music is being heard in the main commercial outlets -- mainstream radio, MTV, etc. -- are merely different nondescript versions of the same archetypes: Emo-rock band; angry punk chick; pop princess; "dangerous" gansta rapper; white R&B guy; hot chick(s). The only radio I listen to nowadays is NPR. And if I turn on MTV, it's just to see what new ways they have dreamed up for teens and college-aged kids to make idiots of themselves before an audience of millions. Back in the early '90s when alternative rock and rap music were ascending, there was a lot of variety in the music that was being promoted. Now it's just more and more of the same.

J. Freedom du Lac: So you're saying people buy albums in large numbers when they're good but not when they're craptacularly bad?

Hmmm, let's take a look at the Recording Industry Association of America's list of the all-time best-selling albums.

Tied for seventh:


Tied for 14th:


Others in the Top 40:








You were saying?


RE: MySpace: Isn't that what Lily Allen is doing/trying to do? I'm not a huge fan or anything, but going from MySpace to SNL seems like some sort of accomplishment.

J. Freedom du Lac: She's signed to a major label (Capitol), whose promotional department has helped her get onto radio and MTV and SNL. Big, big difference.

Same with Cassie, another ex-MySpace star. She signed to Bad Boy, which is part of the Warner Music Group.


Silver Spring, Md.: What is Johnny Marr doing nowadays?

J. Freedom du Lac: Posing for Spin magazine covers with his new pal, Isaac Brock.


Winehouse -- Enough!: All this hype just reminds me of back when Paula Cole emerged and -- gasp -- she didn't shave her pits. She's not avant garde, she's not special, she's not unique, and her music and style are just as trite, if not more so, than Cole's.


J. Freedom du Lac: One person's (completely off-the-mark) opinion. I never said Winehouse was avant-garde. Just great. I don't see a Paula Cole connection here whatsoever, other than the fact that they're both female vocalists who you don't like.


"Punk is something you earned": You "earned" punk just by going to the old 9:30 club and Fort Reno? I hung out there too, am I allowed to put Minor Threat on the same playlist as Justin TImberlake, because I like them both. That whole attitude is dumb. Why does anyone care what other bands are on the same iPod playlists as bands you like?

As soon as punk becomes more about being in some exclusive clique rather than about the music and the sentiment behind the music, it will become just as shallow and dumb as Good Charlotte.

J. Freedom du Lac: Raleigh round the punk flag!


Chattanooga, Tenn.: Did you see the article in the NYT about how iTunes is killing the album? I'm not here to argue that point. Instead, I will express my amazement that (legal) music downloads haven't killed country album sales. If ever there was a genre that clung to the 2-singles-and-a-bunch-of-filler template, C&W is it. But the album sales keep-a-goin'. Must be cause none of us hayseeds have a computer or a valid mastercharge card.

J. Freedom du Lac: I did see that story, by Northern Virginia's own Jeff Leeds. The Music Row execs I spoke with last year, when I was writing a piece on country sales, were quietly thrilled that downloading hadn't hammered the genre like it has just about every other one out there -- but they seemed to agree that the day will come ...


Arctic Monkeys: Um, the single is called Brianstorm, not Brainstorm. Really. It's not a typo. But every time it's appeared in the Post or on the chat, it's been wrong - does someone keep fixing it when they shouldn't?

FWIW, the bits I've heard off the album, this single included, sound like they were listening to a lot of Motorhead while on tour.

J. Freedom du Lac: Nope, that's the way I typed it, because that's what I thought I was reading in the KCRW now-playing box on my screen. There's no conspiracy Here At The Washington Post to change the title. Really. Stand down.


FA(TT)Q: J Freedom: Talent & venue aside, is she "out there" for attention? Does she even aspire or think she can succeed (as a performer) in the non-Internet world? What sort of bank does she generate? Does she care? Is she a hit in the Asian market?

J. Freedom du Lac: Apparently, she sells a lot of merchandise. She also gets bank for personal appearances -- her asking fee is in the thousands. Oh, and guess what? According to something she posted on her MySpace this week, she's developing a reality show for VH1.


20010:"And didn't some of the shows suck, too, back when you were their age, walking barefoot in the snow, uphill, etc?"

Shows sometimes sucked because the music sucked. And lots of the problems came from fighting and a few boneheads. But...the scene/culture wasn't getting watered down and sold to the point where the music/message got lost.

Oh well, I'm not even 30 and you're making me feel old. And, going downtown to shows in 1990 from my parents house in NW certainly felt like walking uphill barefoot in the snow.

J. Freedom du Lac: You mean you weren't buying your outfits at Hot Topic?

Reminds me of my favorite word circa 1995: Mallternative.


Bethesda, Md.: How likely is Pink Floyd to reunite for Al Gore's Earth live concert? Al Gore to Sound Off On Climate Change With Concert Event

J. Freedom du Lac: Not sure what their official position is on global warming, but they did come back for Live 8. So...

In other news, Live Earth might not happen in DC, after all. Sen. Reid tried to take the resolution (authorizing the Capitol grounds to be used for the concert) to the Senate floor for a vote last Friday, and the GOP objected. So it's back in committee, where it may or may not stay for good. There's likely to be some news this week -- and that news could well be that they're doing he show in New York instead. Stay tuned.


Any truth to this?: I heard that Colin Meloy said last night that the Decemberists will be playing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra this summer at Merriweather. Can you confirm?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes.


Burke, Va.: Hey, did you just bash my man Phil? No Jacket Required... is a GREAT album, now "Take Me Home!"

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, he does have more hits than Sadaharu Oh.

But no, I won't take you home. Instead, how about we take this chat out to pasture?

Thanks for stopping by, peoples. See you all in line for the secret Good Charlotte show.


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