Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 14, 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 Dan Deacon does.

The transcript follows.

____________________ A Blast of Beyonce; At Verizon Center, the Electric Superstar Put On a High-Voltage Performance


J. Freedom du Lac: Greetings, chatters. Crazy day here at Washington Post Music Central, as the tweeny boppers have apparently declared a jihad against us -- most specifically, against one of our great correspondents, Allison Stewart, who opined today on "High School Musical 2," "Hannah Montana 2/Meet Miley Cyrus" and the Jonas Brothers juggernaut. Seven pages of comments and counting now at the online version of her not-exactly-rave review of the three albums. The Jonas Brothers fans are really out in force.

A quick sampling of their comments:

"that is so NOT true! the Jonas Brothers are absolutely amazing and I am a HUGE fan of theirs! their new CD is awesome and they're even better in concert! I'm sorry to be rude, but since you have, this article is stupid!"

"are you ppl insane? seriously ..its not even worth my breath to tell you how stupid you sound right now is this site run by adults or immature kids who dont know talent?

back off the jonas brothers."


So there you have it.

Let's roll.


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Is that Elvis Costello/Bob Dylan show really happening?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes.


Kanye vs. 50: Tell me you don't think that 50 actually has a shot against Kanye on 9/11. I hope the American people know the difference between hip-hop and rap ... then maybe 50 will live up to his promise and retire!

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, maybe he'll retire -- just like Jay-Z and Too $hort retired. Sure. But I do think 50 Cent has a great shot at outselling Kanye. I don't love Fiddy's music, but the dude is a commercial force. He's sold about as many copies of "Get Rich or Die Tryin" as Kanye has of "College Dropout" and "Late Registration" combined. So in some ways, his declaration that he'll outsell Kanye when their new albums come out next month is sort of like Meadowlark Lemon saying that the Globetrotters are going to beat the Washington Generals. Well, yeah. Duh.

_______________________ Disney: In Tune With Tweens


Silver Spring, Md.: I saw that a handful of local bands are playing the 9:30 Club on Saturday. (Juniper Lane, No Second Troy, etc.) Do you know how they made that happen? I'd love to get my band on that stage!

J. Freedom du Lac: That happens every so often at the 9:30. Usually when there's an open slot on the weekend schedule, it seems. It's a good heat check for the artists, who really have to hustle to sell tickets. Unless they're just that popular that they can draw 1,000+ people without making much of a promotional effort.


Washington, D.C.: Greetings Mr. du Lac - I'd like to revisit Virgin Fest for a moment if you please. There is a notable amount of chatter on various Police websites/message boards alleging that the Police are using prerecorded backing tracks on this tour, especially on the vocals. Did you hear any evidence of this? If true, that's pretty disappointing. I expect such shenanigans from the Madonna/Beyonce/Britney kind of pop ilk, but not from a band of legitimate musicians.

J. Freedom du Lac: I did not hear any evidence of that, but I also wasn't looking. And it's harder to pick up on those things if you aren't looking. But I think trickery is used a lot more frequently than most people realize -- whether it's a certain vocal or instrumental track being triggered during the show, or off-stage musicians bolstering the sound, or pitch-correction software helping somebody sound like they can actually sing or play in tune.

Did anybody at V-Fest think they were hearing something that they weren't seeing the Police play or sing on stage? Besides bleedover from the Modest Mouse set, I mean.


Lakeland: Who in the world said that about THE JONAS BROTHER?

I want to know cause who ever said that just put themselves in a bad spot

Because alot of Jonas Brothers Fan of MAD and would like to do something to that person

And I am one

So who ever said that is probably a person who has never heard Jonas Brothers.

So just STOP being like this to them they are great guys who can write songs and play them.They are way more talented then you all are.

J. Freedom du Lac: Who in the world? Well, I believe that the writer's name appears at the very top of the review. But I can't believe that you'd really want to do physical harm to the writer, simply because she doesn't love your favorite band. That's just asinine.


Springfield, Va.: Not too much in the way of the new records as of late, but next Tuesday will be expensive: new Rilo Kiley, New Pornographers and Josh Ritter. You've already spoken well of the new Ritter, how about the other two? I heard a single from the new RK and thought it good. I still prefer Jenny Lewis' work with The Watson Twins.

J. Freedom du Lac: Haven't heard the New Porno/ Rilo Kiley albums yet. Too busy listening to M.I.A.'s "Kala" over and over. (And now, I have that damn Hot Chip song in my head. Thanks.) Hot Chip, " Over and Over"


Downtown D.C.: Have you seen the Violent Femmes lately? After being off my radar screen for 20+ years, I saw them out in CA last week (for free, no less). They rocked, played all the old songs that everyone knew, and were really fun. I had no idea they were still out there. Came away from it saying "THAT'S why we go to live shows!"

J. Freedom du Lac: I haven't seen those dudes in a dozen years. They played at one of the first shows I reviewed in Sacramento -- an alt-rock radio festival whose lineup also included a relative newbie in Beck. He was the only breakdancer on the bill. Gordon Gano was in fine, super-nervy form that day. If I recall correctly (and it's 50-50), the concert was staged on a baseball field. Or am I confusing that with the urban-pop radio show that featured Jon Secada? It's so easy to get Beck and Secada confused.


'Ask The Misfits': That's a misleading chat. I totally thought I'd be able to ask Glenn Danzig who would win a bench-pressing contest between him and Henry Rollins.

J. Freedom du Lac: Boom-tsk.


Jonas Brothers: It's too bad the demographics of the commentary are not available. But that said, what are the chances the majority of those people are actually tweens? Granted it's summer, but this is the Washington Post -- not a huge tween site. The writing is, erm, bad, yet almost all comments left are badly written. If they are adults, then it's creepy. "A group of young, attractive boys"? Ick.

J. Freedom du Lac: Could be that it's the summer interns at Disney earning their stripes -- and trying to sound like they're of the demo. Or could be that there was an organized campaign spawned on some of the Jonas Brothers message boards. Or maybe it's the Jonas Brothers themselves!


Dylan and Elvis at Merriweather?: Details please.

J. Freedom du Lac: Sept 28. Tix on sale Friday at 10 am. And no, you can't be my plus-one.


Police Using Backing Vocals at V-Fest: Well, when Sting started singing "Suspicious Minds" in the middle of "Message In A Bottle", I got suspicious...

J. Freedom du Lac: Very funny.


Washington, D.C. (by way of Sacto): Do you often find yourself at odds with the "vibe" at any given show? You gave a very bad review to The National after their performance earlier this summer at the 930 club. I thought your review was way off - the show was exhilarating and just about everyone else at the sold out show seemed to agree. It seemed strange to me that a packed house would enjoy the show so much, but you apparently left unimpressed and/or disappointed.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm not sure how I'd know whether I'm at odds with said "vibe." It's not like somebody stands outside the venue after the perfomance and hands out a "vibe" report -- like "tonight's show had a high vibe of 72, with a low of 43." How would you measure it, anyway? All I know is what I write. I thought the National show at the 9:30 club had its moments, and I said so in the review. But in general, it was a pretty soporific set. I really found that sense of inertia to be almost suffocating. Plus, I thought there was a marked sameness to the songs. Obviously, your mileage may vary. But I'm not sure just about everybody else who was at the show agreed with you. While there were certainly a good many folks who enjoyed the show, I've also seen some comments that supported my own take -- in emails, on the 9:30 forum, from Kyle over at, etc. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. I still think that the National make great headphone music. Just won't be hustling over to the club to see them again when they return. The National: A Snoring Success


Kill Devil Hills: How long do you give the Van Halen reunion tour to last?

J. Freedom du Lac: Until all the checks are cashed.

Doesn't look like they're scheduled to come to DC. Producer David is convinced it's because they're going to headline Virgin Fest 2008, if they can last that long together. Actually, he's joking about that. (I think.)


Speaking of Elvis: Which Elvis, Costello or Presley?

J. Freedom du Lac: It's actually Bob Dylan and ... Blelvis!

If you haven't already, you *must* read Monica Hesse's Style story on Blelvis from today's paper. Good stuff.

I was surprised to read that the actual Elvis recorded more than 1,100 songs during his lifetime. That number seems high to me given that his recording career didn't even last 25 years. King Blelvis


Beyonce's Audience: I'm surprised that the audience was primarily female. Guess from the press she gets, I assumed she was another one of those hot babes who also sings a little.

J. Freedom du Lac: Vocally, she's not an Aretha or Mavis or Gladys or Patti or Ruth Brown or anything. But she does have a pretty big voice. And in case you haven't noticed, she's done a LOT of message-y songs for female listeners.


Washington, D.C.: Okay, if Springsteen will be in D.C. in November, will he be joined by the Jonas Brothers???? Please say yes.

J. Freedom du Lac: No, but I think Corbin Bleu is opening.


Waldorf, Md.: As a 12 year old (girl) I would just like to say that not all of us like Hannah Montana, High School Musical, or the Jonas Brothers. Actually, I think they all SUCK, their songs are full of cliches and they have NO talent. Half the kids in chorus can sing better than Hannah Montana, and that's really saying something. The Jonas brothers are a bunch of Green Day-ish, punk rock, rejects.

So, yeah, any Disney bashing is fine with me.

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks for the support. And from Waldorf no less! Folks down there sure know about Green Dayish punk rock rejects, don't they? Seen Joel or Benj tooling around town recently?


Van Halen....: Will be here. They're doing a 50 state tour, so they haven't firmed up all of the dates yet. Looks like early October or Mid-November here.

If The Poliece were using back vocals or anything like that then they're the hardest working band to ever use them, and the people controlling the extra stuff suck. They weren't always in total synch with each other, in a good way IMO, and they were all jamming pretty hard, especially Copeland.

J. Freedom du Lac: Define here. Because I'm typing this message from a place that's not recognized as a state.

Copeland is a beast. Though I still believe that Andy Summer was the musical star of that show -- even if Post freelance critic Chris Klimek has been arguing with me via e-mail recently about Summer's guitarwork at V-Fest. He thinks it was just a bunch of wankish noodling. I think it was brilliant playing. I thought he was even better than John Frusciante was on the same stage the previous year. Clearly Chris is wrong. I mean, the guy just wrote a rave about Michael Buble.


somewhere: Who are the Jonas Brothers? Never heard of them.

J. Freedom du Lac: Because you're not 12, I'm guessing.


Severna Park, Md.: How come you're not funny like Gene Weingarten or Eugene Robinson?

And don't say, "Well, I'm funny-looking," because that doesn't count. Mussolini was funny-looking, too, and look how that turned out!

J. Freedom du Lac: They have better joke-writers.


Beyonce Photo in Sat. Paper: That was one scary photo. Her face! All that hair!! She's gorgeous, natch, but in that pic she looked like she fell out of the book "Where the Wild Things Are."


J. Freedom du Lac: The most amazing thing about that picture? That Post photographer Marvin Joseph got it in the first place. Whereas most artists let you shoot one or two songs, Queen Beyonce's folks are only giving photogs 60 seconds to get their work done before they're ushered away. That ain't much time to get it right. Marvin -- he good. To me, the picture shows Beyonce getting in touch with her inner-Tina Turner. It also shows that she has a mighty fine haidresser. That's one impressive weave!


Boston, Mass.: J. Free! Thanks so much for the Ryan Shaw recommendation. I caught a few acoustic songs on WBOS in the car last week and I got the album the next day. It's fantastic. I love the early Motown/early rock/soul/whatever sound he's working. It's been on repeat in my car for the last 4 days. Awesome. I'm only bummed I didn't realize this before he did a free show up here. I'll have to catch him next time.

J. Freedom du Lac: Glad you found him. Ryan was just added to the lineup at the Dream Concert -- the big benefit for the MLK Memorial. Sept 18 at Radio City Music Hall. Stevie and Aretha are on the bill, along with Carlos Santana, Babyface, Garth Brooks, Queen Latifah and Bebe and Cece Winans. Pretty good company.


Chris is wrong: And both axe-slingers ripped. Frusciante was louder, but Summers was definitely more intricate and a little less prone to wandering off into a song. Having a fully-there Sting as opposed to an Anthony "On Another Planet" Keidis singing probably helps.

And by "here" I meant the DC/Baltimore more area. Or maybe even both cities. Beyonce and Cristina played both.

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks. But I already knew that Klimek was wrong.


Washington, D.C.: Hi, J. Free. I asked about the Muse show last week, so I thought I'd report back on the show today since you passed up a bunch of sweaty men to go see Beyonce instead.

Cold War Kids got off to a slow start, but then kicked into "Hang Me Out to Dry" about 4 songs in, and were energetic and entertaining for the rest of their set, managing to get the crowd to sing along with repeated lines. I don't know them well, but I might look into them more.

Muse started off with their ridiculous sci-fi/Western/surf-rock epic "Knights of Cydonia", which is a blast live, with everyone jumping and screaming "No one's gonna take me alive!". They proceeded to play every song I hoped to hear, including their cover of "Feeling Good", which made me wonder if the song would be played twice at the Patriot Center within a week (Michael Buble played the arena over the weekend and has his own cover of the song). This was my first time seeing Muse's full light and screen show, and I'm not sure I liked the screens. As mentioned in the Post's review, it made things feel too scripted. Also, the absolute silliness of some of the things on the screen (Galaga during "Stockholm Syndrome" and sexily shimmying robots during "Supermassive Black Hole") gave me a faint suspicion that perhaps the joke's on us. Believing that Matt Bellamy is absolutely crazy and that liking the music is indulging him is part of the fun of Muse. However, if the space/apocalypse obsession is part of a carefully crafted image, then it seems like I might have been duped all along...

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks for the report. I thought Cold War Kids were pretty great at the 9:30 earlier this year. Was hoping to see them at V-Fest, but Aiden beat 'em out in an obviously rigged contest for the last slot. Muse @ Patriot Center


Philly, Pa.: I have twin 6 year olds who love Pavement, Wilco, Phish, REM, My Morning Jacket, etc... They've never heard or heard of High School Musical or the Jonas Brothers.

Am I a bad parent?

J. Freedom du Lac: You should totally write a book on parenting.

Though I do wonder whether Jim James might have the kind of voice that scares kids.


Washington, D.C.: Not official yet, but Oct. 2 is the alleged Van Halen date in D.C.

J. Freedom du Lac: Sweet. Break out the Aqua Net!


20008: Maybe I'm too busy listening to Dylan after re-reading "Chronicles: Volume 1," but for those of us who apparently aren't hip to the tween scene (and it pains me to even use that phrase) can someone please explain who/what are the Jonas Brothers and Hanna Montana, and what is it about High School Musical that necessitates a sequel (because the first one left so many unanswered questions?)

PS: I'm not even that old.

J. Freedom du Lac: Some things can not be explained. This one, however, can: There's a sequel because the first "High School Musical" made a fortune. Not only was it a huge hit on TV, but the accompanying soundtrack ended 2006 as the best-selling album of the year.


OH you DI-NT!: those comments are so funny, thnx

sigh, I remember how it felt to be a teenage girl feeling everything so passionately! and trying so hard to be mature

J. Freedom du Lac: The Jonas Brothers: 2 Cool 2 Be 4 Gotten!


brandiland: Brandi Carlile 9/28 @ the 9:30 club. Any plans to attend? Impressions of her?

J. Freedom du Lac: I did have plans to attend ---- until the Dylan-Costello show was booked. I rather like Brandi's new album, "The Story." Strong writing, VERY interesting voice. She's a mighty fine live performer, too.


Vienna, Va.: For Pete's sake! Van Halen is doing a 50-city tour, not a 50-state tour.

J. Freedom du Lac: Ah, a clarification.


Springsteen: What's this about Bruce being here in Nov?

J. Freedom du Lac: Two shows at [Insert Telcom Company Name Here] Center. So go the rumors.

The Police are coming, too.


Manchester, N.H.: Is it too early to put in a vote for Most Annoying Song of the Summer? If not, put me down for Sean Kingston's (or is it really Elmer Fudd?) Beautiful Girl.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, come on -- that's a nearly perfect summer song! You have to love that melody. Such sugary-goodness. And then he starts singing about being suicidal if he doesn't get the girl? Yowza.


Chris Isaak Show: Caught Isaak in Asheville a few nights ago--good show, if a little short at 80 minutes. The guy in front of me set off the security wand with his artificial hip.

Rock and roll!

J. Freedom du Lac: Chris Isaak and "artificial hip" in the same post?! Too cool.


Costello and Dylan: Are they touring together or is this a one-off? Are they sharing a band, can we expect equal sets, any ideas on ticket prices?

Merriweather really has it together this year. Now if they can just manage to get Arcade Fire to drop by, and get Bright Eyes to play with the BSO after his Hollywood Bowl gig, we'll be all set.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm VERY disappointed that Arcade Fire aren't scheduled to come back to the D/M/V area with LCD Soundystem. It seemed like an inevitability earlier in the year, but things just didn't work out. Seth (at IMP) says he wanted to the show but, well "they're very very very precious about where they play." I guess the East Lawn of the White House wasn't available or something.


T-Town: JFduL: So Chris thinks Mikey Bubbles is for men as well as women? Doesn't he know that the grass on the lawn at Wolf Trap is strictly off-limits for inhalation? Maybe you need to send him to Vegas to see Celine Dion and help him clear his head. Or is he doomed to the Branson beat in the near future?

J. Freedom du Lac: He was just as surprised as anybody that he liked the show. Maybe he was still drunk on Muse.


re: High School Musical soundtrack: Best selling album of 2006? Overall sales? Are these even relevant figures in the days of downloading?

Say it ain't so!

J. Freedom du Lac: Sure, they're relevant figures -- because labels actually get paaaaaaaid from album sales. (I learned this in Accounting 101 at mighty Whittier College. That Sallie Mae student loan was totally worth it!)

I haven't looked at the Big Champagne figures on file-sharing and such, but I'm pretty sure the HSM soundtrack was doing big numbers there, too.


Excellent Parenting: For the first 3.5 months of her life, my six month old daughter could be soothed only by "Turn on Me" by the Shins. Now, in the car if my wife wants to put her to sleep she puts on Sky Blue Sky by Wilco. I like to think she enjoys the "smooth jams" rather than thinks that it's boring dad rock.

Today, I read that we are supposed to bounce her in time to music more often. I think we'll rock out to M. Ward tonight...

PS, Jim James doesn't scare her, but she gets scared if I try to sing along in falsetto!

J. Freedom du Lac: Funny - I sometimes get sleepy myself when Wilco is on.


Nearer to Sanity: Dude, you need to, um, rush over to Paul Farhi's chat room immediately and rescue him--he's been set upon by angry Rush fans. It's getting very ugly...

J. Freedom du Lac: Angry Rush fans are NOTHING compared to angry Jonas Brothers fans.


Neko vs Jenny, Round 3: On Neko Case vs Jenny Lewis, Neko wins for her work with the New Pornographers, which trumps anything Rilo Kiley has done (not to put down Rilo Kiley either). Besides, Ms. Case is gracing us with her presence twice in the coming months, this Thursday and a day in October with the afformentioned New Pornographers.

J. Freedom du Lac: Another vote for Neko. This is looking like a runaway. But you're all wrong. All of you.

Next week, by the way, we are planning to run a combo review of the New Pornographers and Rilo Kiley albums. I've already stacked the deck, though, by assigning it to a writer who favors Jenny Lewis over Neko Case.


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: The WaPo says you're offering up a "blast of Beyonce." I'm waiting . . .

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, kind of like those kids waited for her for, like, four hours before the concert, per Darragh Johnson's Metro story.

And B's Her People wouldn't let them take photos with her. If you wanted one, you had to buy it from the official Beyonce photographer. As if that woman doesn't already have enough money? I think that policy kept Beyonce off the front page of This Very Newspaper on Friday. I'm told that We At The Washington Post were going to run a pic of Beyonce with the kids on A1. But then they wouldn't let us shoot Beyonce with the kids. So, no Beyonce with the kids on the front page. Pretty sweet diva move. (Not.)


Chevy Chase, Md.: The National is coming to 930 in early September. Have you ever seen them live and if so, how are they? I think The Boxer is remarkable. I'd be interested in your take on that too. Thanks.

J. Freedom du Lac: I have, in fact, seen them live, and I thought they were pretty dull. (See previous post questioning.) But I do like the album.

_______________________ Beyonce's Opening Act; Before Her Concert, Music Star Drops In To Chat With D.C. Girls as Part of Forum Against Violence


Washington, D.C.:50 Cent will probably outsell Kanye West, although I feel pretty confident saying the latter will win more Grammys next year. Speaking of which, any advance ideas of which of this year's albums might get Grammy Album of the Year nods? The eligibility window closes in about a month I think. The best candidate I can think of is Amy Winehouse.

J. Freedom du Lac: Album of the year nods. Hmmm. I wish I remembered exactly what came out when, but off the top of my shaved head ... Amy Winehouse is a near-lock for a nomination. Grammy voters love Norah Jones, so possibly "Not Too Late." Maybe Feist, though I'm not sure she's made enough of a commercial impact. (And yes, Recording Academy voters do seem to consider that.)


Tysons Corner, Va.: News Flash, Amy Winehouse and her husband have checked into rehab!

J. Freedom du Lac: Say it ain't so, so, so!


Whittier College?: Like Nixon?

J. Freedom du Lac: Something like that.

George Allen, too. (He didn't attend Whittier, but he did coach there for a short period.)

Is it weird that so many more famous people went to my high school than to my college?


Washington, D.C.: I recently surprised my wife by taking her to the Beyonce concert in Atlantic City. Being that Beyonce is my wife's absolute favorite, I didn't mind plunking down a considerable bit of hard-earned money to purchase seats very close to the stage. However, my wife and I were highly disappointed in that it was clear that Ms. Knowles clearly lip-synched her way through the show. Even more disappointing is that I'm 90% sure that her "band's" performance was also pre-recorded. I'll never waste another dime on another arena show.

J. Freedom du Lac: Interesting. I was actually watching closely for lip-synching and I came away convinced that she sang most of the lyrics live. There were certain songs -- noted above -- that appeared to be designed as vocal breaks, but I believe they were the exceptions. Course, it could be that she's just a damn good lip-syncher and was able to fool me for much of the show. But I don't think that's the case. I also didn't think there was anything strange about the music. It looked and sounded live to me. But it's harder to tell when there are so many musicians on stage.


Washington, D.C.: Your Beyonce review was spot on! She didn't stop moving for two hours yet managed to sing powerfully and flawlessly. I always wondered why she and Jay seemed to be laying on a yacht in St. Tropez all the time but now I know why -- she is TIRED! I can't believe she does that across the world every night. She may have her critics but no one out today can entertain like she does.

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, I'm not sure they're on that yacht because she's tired. Probably more like: Because they can.

But yeah, it was a pretty great pop spectacle. And ... she didn't fall down the stairs! I could have sworn that the audience gave her a mini cheer when she made it down the steps safely during the previously treacherous "Ring the Alarm." Sort of how a crowd claps for a pitcher when he throws a strike after seven consecutive balls.


Beyonce: Look at how fake her hair is! Did she fake it on stage, too, Ashlee Simpson style?

J. Freedom du Lac: You know, there were a couple of points in the show where I was pretty sure she was lip-synching. Parts of "Speechless" and "Ring the Alarm" sure didn't seem right. And during "Suga Mama," she didn't even pretend to sing, putting down the microphone (on a conveyor belt!) so that she could slink around the stage during the first third or so. For the most part, though, I do believe that she was singing live.


Baltimore, Md.: Hey there!

Given Beyonce's recent foray into Latin music (re-releasing "B-Day" with a second, Spanish-language disc; collaborating with Shakira and others; and I believe the Spanish version of "Irreplacable" topped the Latin charts, etc.) was any of that newfound side of her music evident during last week's show?

I'm curious. Well, plus, I wanted to invoke Shakira's name...

J. Freedom du Lac: You know, Beyonce had actually rehearsed "Irreemplazable" before the tour with Rudy Perez. But she didn't sing it en Espanol here.

Shakira, by the way, showed up on the video screen. Sigh.


Oxford, Miss.: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. You a fan?

J. Freedom du Lac: Very much so, yes. Looking forward to the new album. Out next month, no?


Arlington, Va.: i like both jenny lewis and neko case. maybe, just maybe, if i was forced to choose i would pick jenny lewis although it is very close. so count me as one of the jenny lewis votes.

J. Freedom du Lac: The polls are still open, people.

Maybe we should call our music blog Jenny Lewis > Neko Case. Since, you know, Listening Post is already taken by those damn people over at Wired.


50-city, 50-state: Does it really matter? They'll do one gig before throwing in the towel.

J. Freedom du Lac: Good point.


Fairfax, Va.: What do you make of Robert Plant pairing up with Alison Krauss to cut a record? Even though I like both artists, it seems like a waste of time. Why don't Page and Plant go on the road again since they did it twice before in the 1990s? They can still pack an arena. Basically, you ask today's youth (I have two nephews in college) which rock bands from yesterday they like the most, and they will tell you Zeppelin and Floyd. There you go.

J. Freedom du Lac: I think it could be interesting. Why not see what they come up with before deciding it's a waste? (That's my job, by the way.) I saw the Page-Plant tour at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, of all places. Pretty decent show. They could rake in another small fortune if they did it again -- but do you think it would be more artistically interesting than a Krauss-Plant collaboration? I don't know. While people would be excited just to be there, the potential for the two artists mailing it in night after night would have to be kind of high.


To the Superparent from Philly: Don't get cocky. I've got a good friend who's a jazz guitar instructor, and he would brag and brag about how his kids just looooooved Mingus. Then his kids got to be old enough to buy their own records, and we don't hear him brag anymore.

Don't discount peer pressure. Music is like drugs that way.

J. Freedom du Lac: Friends don't let friends buy Jonas Brothers albums.


Alexandria, Va.: Should Ryan Adams start drinking again?

J. Freedom du Lac: Not according to Amy Winehouse, no.


Kanye vs 50 follow up: To be fair, GRODT was an amazing album and Massacre was horrible. Kanye's new singles are killing 50's right now....his first 2 singles flopped so badly he had to record new tracks for the album. His time is over...Stronger will push Kanye over the top.

J. Freedom du Lac: Maybe. But you never know how consumers are going to react. TI's new album isn't great, but it still sold a ton of copies.

What I'm really wondering about is which of the two albums will leak in full first.


Silver Spring, Md.: Can you explain the booking policy at the Black Cat? I like the rock n' roll as much as the next guy, and i really like the space, but i can not for the life of me get excited about the acts they book. What gives?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, their booking policy is to bring in bands that don't have fans in Silver Spring.

But seriously -- it's not a booking policy, is it? They just happen to bring in a lot of bands that don't speak to you. Sort of like Jaxx tends to book bands that I don't particularly care for. I'm not taking it personally, though.


Washington, D.C.: Jenny Lewis - absolutely. Anyone from Troop Beverly Hills would win in my book any day!

J. Freedom du Lac: Producer David says he's going to opt-out if the blog is called "Jenny Lewis > Neko Case." I guess I have to reconsider then.


Northwest, D.C.: That's it. I'm playing the drinking game for every time Amy Winehouse's name comes up in your chats from now until whenever.

Since I don't like her music or her celeb-personality, I might as well get some benefit from having to see and hear about her whenever modern music is discussed.

J. Freedom du Lac: So if I post your comment about Amy Winehouse, you'll have to do a shot? Because it's the Amy Winehouse drinking game? Fun. Be sure to post some comments about the Jonas Brothers when we're done talking about Amy Winehouse here. Oh, did I say Amy Winehouse again? Damnit!


iTunes: Kanye is kicking some Fiddy a** on iTunes presales. That's gotta mean something.

J. Freedom du Lac: Maybe, maybe not. You'd have to consider what percentage of album sales were digital vs physical for "The Massacre" and "Late Reg"/"College Dropout." I don't have the numbers in front of me, but it could be that Kanye's digital sales represent a much higher percentage of his overall numbers than Fiddy's. Or it could mean that Fiddy is about to get served.


Disappointed in DC: Really Beyonce, Disney music, and 50 v. Kanye is what we're reduced to? Seriously people as a city that helped to found the punk movement can we branch out a little bit more?? And please J. Free, stop plugging the crap music Good Charlotte makes just because they're from Waldorf. There are plenty of great local bands and smaller shows that NEVER get any coverage from the WP. I'd love to take the reviewers to a different scene and see what they think, but because I'm not 12 and into the Jonas brothers or 50 and into the police, i apparently don't count.

J. Freedom du Lac: One vote against The Washington Post's music coverage.

So I suppose I shouldn't recommend that you check out "Independent Room," the Beyonce-Fugazi mash-up by Party Ben?

Of course there are plenty of things that don't get coverage from us. We can't cover it all -- and that goes for bands at every level. We're also not niche media. This is still a general-interest publication and Web site. So we choose accordingly.

But we still cover more music than just about any other daily newspaper that I can think of. Fifteen-plus albums covered every week between Style, Weekend, Sunday Arts and Sunday Source. And roughly 35 shows a month reviewed in the Style section. It's not just Jonas Brothers and the Police, either. Anybody who's paid attention to our coverage can tell you that. You're welcome to do your own audit at

But really --- way to distort the truth for the sake of your argument. Nice one.


Oh, did I say Amy Winehouse again? Dammit! : shakira

J. Freedom du Lac: Thank you. But please, let's talk more about Government Issue. Too much Shakira and Winehouse for our angry friend.


drinking game: I'm not kidding, J. I've got 7 on my score sheet so far. I take the Metro to get home, and it's not too hot today, so I'm looking forward to it. I just need to find a place that hosts happy hour and has good buffalo wings. I'll e-mail you the evidence pics.

J. Freedom du Lac: dulacj at washpost dot etc.


Leesburg, Va.: I've been listening to my Coup CDs the last few days. What a great band. Is there anything that's come out in 07 that a Coup fan would dig?

J. Freedom du Lac:"Pick a Bigger Weapon"? Great stuff. It made my year-end best-of in 2006. I haven't heard anything this year that comes close to mixing the funk, the humor and the politics of the Coup. But the year is still relatively young.


Anonymous: Do you think the overall quality of pop music is at one of the lowest ebbs in American history? How do you think the current crop of industry creations and 3-chord whiner rock stack up to the jazz heyday, or even to the vocal harmonies and guitar heroics of the '70s? Seems to me that actual musicianship is, with few exceptions, out of favor (where are master instrumentalists like Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry, John Bonham, Eric Clapton, etc?) Is there hope for contemporary pop, or will we continue celebrating mediocrity for the foreseeable future?

J. Freedom du Lac: This reminds me of the line Robert Christgau used to use year after year to open the annual Pazz and Jop poll: "It was the worst year for music since ... "

I think there is some great music being made right now, as well as some stuff that rates pretty high on the scale of extreme craptitude. Just like any other era, really. In the 70s, which you praise, we had disco, among other trends that were supposed to signal the death of pop music.


cool parents: yeah, the control goes well before the tweens. I know a hipster mom who bought all the cool alt-country covers of kids songs, and derned if the only thing that'll quiet that kid down is the big purple dino...

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeahbut what does the kid think of Nation of Ulysses?


Page-Plant/Van Halen: Where is the love for the bass players, man? John Paul Jones and Michael Anthony getting treated like flotsam and jetsam isn't cool with me. These guys aren't the Jonas Brothers - they got skillz!

J. Freedom du Lac: Bass players are like interior linemen in football. No glory -- unless they happen to run the ball. Or, in this case, sing.

So, then: Sting = Refrigerator Perry


Avengers HQ:: Now you're hitting below the belt, Free! We both know you sent me to the Michael Buble show as -punishment- for dissing Andy Summers!

To clarify my position, I object to the sluggish tempos of the v. 2007 Police much more than to Andy's much-expanded role. I think it's sweet that Sting is being more of a team player this time around. I mean, Andy is in his sixties now -- he's only got, like, three or four more reunion tours left in him.

Recommended reading: "One Train Later," Andy's memoir. Especially page 274, where he writes, "If Sting ever invites me to play with him again, I'm going to noodle like Chef Boyardee."

J. Freedom du Lac: Chris Klimek, attempting to defend himself from afar. And doing a pretty fine job by pulling up that old quote. Touche.

Now start boning up on your Aerosmith, dude.


Police at V-Fest: I didn't hear any evidence of that. If they were cheating, you'd think Sting would have kept some of the higher notes that were in the original versions but were modified in the live performance. (I'm not really complaining -- that's not uncommon for aging singers who wailed more in their youth. Just saying that, if you were going to use pre-recorded vocals at all, wouldn't it be to compensate for that?)

J. Freedom du Lac: Good point. He still did some wailing, but yeah -- most singers who work high eventually have to drop down at least a little bit. It's the only reason Smokey Robinson still sounds so silky. But he says that he started singing lower something like 30 years ago.


Van Halen reunion tour : Since one of their main problems was egos, and since David Lee Roth basically did ALL the talking when they announced, I'd say it won't take too long for it to implode. Besides, Eddie doesn't look like he can last too much longer. Of course, when you continue smoking after having surgery for tongue cancer because "cigarettes don't cause cancer" I wouldn't expect your health to improve too much.

J. Freedom du Lac: Here's one vote for taking the under on whatever Ladbrokes sets as the Van Halen over line.


The bass player gets no glory: But in Spinal Tap they recognized that some lead guitarists could be replaced with one hand of a keyboard player.

J. Freedom du Lac: Speaking of which -- did you see that Judd Apatow is making a biopic of a fake musician? "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," starring John C. Reilly. Apatow has observed that biopics about musicians tend follow the same basic template, whether it's "Ray" or "Walk the Line." Could be interesting.


Raised on great music: Mom and Dad have amazing taste in music. I played with their records as a kid. We had "Really Rosie" (Carole King) and "The Point" (Nilsson) and all sorts of pseudo-kid friendly (and no so kid-friendly) music around all the time. I went through the crappy middle school phase, too. But when I got to college, I started re-discovering all the stuff I grew up with. I bought a copy of "Tapestry" and was marvelling to Mom that I already knew all the songs. She looked at me like I had three heads and said, "Of course you know all the songs. Do you know how many times you've heard it?" I didn't. It was a lot, apparently.

J. Freedom du Lac: My parents played a lot of Scott Joplin, Tchaikovsky and Joan Baez.

But I think the first concert they dragged me to was, like, Ricky Nelson at the state fair. That probably explains a lot.


Glen Ellyn, Ill.: Mr. Free,

If you were a pro baseball player, what would they play when you came up to bat?

J. Freedom du Lac: It would be Amy Winehouse's "Rehab." Because I'd probably break my wrist trying to turn on an inside fastball. And I'd also want to see our friend suffer while playing his AMY WINEHOUSE drinking game.

And on that note about AMY WINEHOUSE ... so long. Thanks for stopping by. Especially all of you AMY WINEHOUSE fans.


Music Biopics all follow the same line: I bet the Jonas Brothers' won't.

J. Freedom du Lac: And ... the coda.


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