Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 28, 2007; 4:19 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.

____________________ It Always Translates Into Love; Producer Rudy Perez Is Fluent in Two Romantic Languages: Spanish & Music


J. Freedom du Lac: It's official: Bruce and the E Streeters are heading out on tour this year.

Billboard reports that the tour begins in Hartford on Oct. 2 -- the same day the new Bruce and the ESB album, "Magic" arrives at the music-retail outlet of your choice.

D.C. is on the itinerary with a single date: Nov. 11 at the Can You Hear Me Now? Center. Presumably a second date will be added when the first sells out.

Bruce tells Backstreets that the new album is "just built" to be played live. "I wrote with a lot of melody, and with a lot of hooks, and there's a lot of band power behind the stuff that I wrote this time out."

And no, I won't take you as my plus-one.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, and in other Springsteen news (sort of), CityDance Ensemble is opening its new season with "Born to Run." They'll be dancing to some of Bruce's recorded music -- "Backstreets," "She's the One," "Meeting Across the River" and "Born to Run" itself. Sept. 7 and 8 at the Lansburgh Theatre.


Fairfax, Va.: I found it interesting that McKenna cited the performance of What Becomes of a Broken Heart as the weak point of Osborne's Birchmere show, but your article (was it you?) of a week or so ago cited it as one of the best things on the Funk Brothers/Motown movie (you were absolutely right - what a powerful performance!).

You guys need to talk.

J. Freedom du Lac: That wasn't me. But let's just pretend for a moment that I had, in fact, written that about her showing in "Standing in the Shadows of Motown." I'm not sure why I'd have to talk to Dave McKenna about what he said about Osborne's performance of the song (the actual title is "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted") as we don't require critical consensus. I might argue with him about why he was wrong if I thought he was. I might also suggest that he stop drooling over his collection of tube amps and guitars long enough to get his hearing checked. But I'd never ask or tell any of our critics to take a particular position on something.

And anyway, we wouldn't have been writing about the same thing, as every performance is different. I'd have been writing about an old performance in which Osborne was backed by the Funk Brothers, whereas Dave reviewed a recent concert in a different room with a different set of players. I mean, even if you see the same artists performing the same song in the same space on the same night in front of the same audience, it can change. (Thinking of the Shawn Colvin-Alison Krauss re-do at the Paul Simon tribute.) Joan Osborne, "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" (video)


Washington, D.C.: It's been a dull year for popular music in my opinion -- Amy Winehouse being the only standout -- is fall going to change that?

J. Freedom du Lac: If by popular you mean Artists Who Sell Lots And Lots Of Music, then yeah. It's been boring at the top this year. But that's often the case, no? Things could change in the fall but don't hold your breath.


Farragut West, Washington, D.C.: Just read that the woman who put together the soundtracks for The O.C. and Grey's Anatomy is going to do the music for the new show Gossip Girl.

Would you ever want a job like that? Just curious.

J. Freedom du Lac: Seems like a fun job, no? Most Hollywood music supervisors seem to have legal backgrounds, though. Going to law school is not high on my list of priorities right now. I'm having a hard enough time learning to speak Spanish!


Washington, D.C.: I'm the guy that gave you the D.C. Springsteen dates a couple of weeks ago. Now that they've been officially announced (well, at least one date, but the second is a given), I've come back to collect my

'No-prize'(TM - Marvel Comics). Thankyou. Thankyouverymuch.

J. Freedom du Lac: You're welcome.

I'd make like Norman Chad and ask Shirley to pay the man, but there's no Shirley anywhere near here. Budget cuts and all.


river city: OK, here's my take on the Jenny Lewis v. Neko Case question. Neko has a better voice, more distinctive, singing strongly from the diaphram like KD Lang. People who prefer her tend to prefer unique strong female singers. Her songs are comtemporary in content. She offers a new fusion of old techniques with modern words and a slight edge to her voice.

Jenny has a softer, traditionally sweeter more feminine way of singing. Her songs are more traditional in sound and words, more like Emmy Lou Harris. Her songs sound just like stuff Emmy Lou Harris did 30 years ago, she offers less original twist on an old style, more just good sweet singing.

I prefer Neko.

J. Freedom du Lac: Another vote for Neko in the ongoing debate. Very nice job explaining your position here.


Myersville: How can you review M.I.A.'s superlative new album and not even mention the finest track? "Paper Planes" puts a Clash sample on top of a snap beat (perhaps the first decent one ever) and has a chorus that must be the reason that Three-Six Mafia allegedly claimed the songstress was 'too gangsta' to work with. For shame!

J. Freedom du Lac: Um, because it wasn't even among my three favorite songs on the album? M.I.A.'s World Tour de Force


Columbia, Md.: I know it is required to bring up her name in every chat so... Have you seen these pics of Amy Winehouse and her man?

Wow... It almost gives new meaning to the phrase train wreck.

J. Freedom du Lac: The photos taken just after the fight itself were awful. Not a pretty set of pictures at all.


the "i'm delila" shirts: i'm going to have to start wearing my 'i'm the man from nantucket' shirt to combat this teenybopper fad

J. Freedom du Lac: I vote for an "I'm Rosemary" tee covered with heart-shaped shrubs.

You know, to signifiy love growing whererever you, Rosemary, go?

Never mind.


New Haven, Conn.: Lots of good stuff in the pike for September -- Joe Henry, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock tribute to Joni, Go Team!, Bettye Lavette ... Am I missing any? Early word on any?

Gave the Josh Ritter a cursory listen last week - kind of manic compared to stellar Animal Years...

J. Freedom du Lac: Very busy month for sure. Manu Chao, Kanye, Go! Team, Animal Collective, DC's own Le Loup and Keyshia J. Blig-- errr, Cole ... and the things really go crazy on the 25th.

Bettye LaVette (who I'm supposed to interview tomorrow--think it would be weird if I asked somebody twice my age to marry me?), the debut from DC's Georgie James, a new one from PJ Harvey, Jill Scott, Steve Earle, Iron and Wine, the two Joni albums, Wayne Wonder, the Pipettes, Foo Fighters, Devendra ... the list goes on and on. And on. And on.

Re Ritter: You say "manic" like it's a bad thing.


idea for a new quintet:: i call them 'the trainwrecks'






J. Freedom du Lac: But Amy Winehouse isn't like the others. She can actually SING.


dear mr tate,: whats the name of that girl from california, best unsigned artist. myspace fanbase. bubbles on her nose single?

cant think of her name!

J. Freedom du Lac:

That's actually her URL, not her name. But you'll figure it out.


Annandale Dude: who's bad idea was it to remix wino's 'rehab' with jay-z ??

it doesn't work. it sounds out of place. its awful.

and am i the only one who is burnt out on timbaland? he is on every other song on pop top 40 radio and videos.

J. Freedom du Lac: I was over Timbaland as soon as I heard his artist album. But, then, that's because I hate the sound of his voice, unless he's simply using it to punctuate somebody else's song (see: "SexyBack"). Timbaland Turn-Off; Producer Is All Self and No Sizzle on 'Shock Value'


J-ville, N.Y.: J. Free,

Do you ever look back over your various 'year's best' lists and ponder which albums have stood the test of time? How often do you come across an album that you now consider a masterpiece but either didn't know about or didn't like the first go round? If so, we need examples.


J. Freedom du Lac: No, not really. But I did wonder the other day, while going through some CDs at home, whether I'd put "Electric Rock Music" by the Ass Ponys on my year-end list in '94 because I really liked the music (I did), or because I was trying to make an editor nervous (which he was). I never really answered my own question.

Since you asked, let's take a quick look at my list from that year (which, by the way, was my first as a music reviewer -- which I'm telling you because, well ... you'll see):

American Recordings: Johnny Cash. Masterful comeback.

Under the Pink: Tori Amos. My favorite Tori album.

Electric Rock Music: Ass Ponys. I swear, I liked the songs! "Little Bastard"!!

Ill Communication: Beastie Boys. Yep.

Downward Spiral: Nine Inch Nails. One of the best-produced albums of the decade.

Illmatic: Nas. Classic.

Mighty Joe Moon: Grant Lee Buffalo. Always thought these guys were underrated.

Parklife: Blur. Sure, OK.

Vitalogy: Pearl Jam. I stand by this one all the way.

Under the Table and Dreaming: Dave Matthews Band. Regrets? Ummm, yeah --- I've had a few. Now that I know that this was on the list (which I hadn't seen in years), I'm going to go back to the album. Maybe tonight.

There was a lot of stuff that came out in 1994 that I came to after the fact (eg, the great self-titled Latin Playboys album and the Mavericks CD "What a Crying Shame"), or that I heard at the time but have grown to appreciate even more as time has passed, as with Green Day's "Dookie" and Pavement's "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain."

My 1995 list, by the way, had a Top 10 that I don't necessarily disagree with in hindsight plus a second 10 that is bringing back some very interesting memories. (I'm also remembering how much I loved Blur, I guess.)

Top album was PJ Harvey's To Bring You My Love, an all-time fave.

Also: Post, Bjork; Everything Is Wrong, Moby; Trace, Son Volt; Brown Sugar, D'Angelo; Friday Afternoon in the Universe, Medeski, Martin and Wood (huh); The Great Escape, Blur; Elastica, Elastica; One Track Mind, Railroad Jerk; All Balls Don't Bounce, Aceyalone.

The Second 10: The Geraldine Fibbers, Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and My Home; Tricky, Maxinquaye; Steve Earle, Train a Comin; "Foo Fighters"; Morphine, Yes; Archers of Loaf, Vee Vee; Heather Nova, Oyster (really?); Mobb Deep, The Infamous; "Mary Lou Lord"; Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Experimental Remixes.

Now stop making me look back.


20009: So now that it's just about Labor Day, what were your favorite shows of the summer?

My favorite was definitely Thievery/Manu Chao at Merriweather. The Beasties' performance at V Fest is a close second though.

J. Freedom du Lac: Probably M.I.A.'s closing set at V-Fest in the dance tent.

My favorite shows of the year, though, seem to have happened indoors: Arcade Fire at DAR, Patty Griffin at the Warner and Smashing Pumpkins at the 9:30. Just kidding! What I meant to say was Sufjan at the KenCen.

Oh, and Beyonce did my favorite lip-synching of the summer.


Jenny vs Neko, part 45: I agree with the earlier poster...Jenny has a lot more sweetness to her voice and it sounds pretty (for lack of a better term) when she sings. Neko's voice gets called a 'force of nature' and there is more power and jaw dropping potential there.

But really, we are all winners with this one. They both make very good music and are easy on the eyes.

J. Freedom du Lac: Another vote for Neko.

Maybe we can commission an acutal poll on this.

Because, really, Neko v Jenny is THE most pressing issue of our times.


Arlington, Va.: The plus-one thing is getting old (unless, of course, you're talking to me...)

I would be really cool of the Post to allow devoted readers to tag along with various reviewers every once in a while -- music, movies, cars, restaurants...

Can you work on this?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, sure. You're welcome to go the Wiggles show with Producer David after he loses the Van Halen bet.

To recap: Producer D thinks there's no way Van Halen will still be together by the time their Nov. 1 show at The Phone rolls around. I say that they will, in fact, still be on the road; they certainly have plenty of good rea$on$ to do so.

Our side bet: The loser has to go to and report back on the Wiggles show exactly one week later at the V-Center.


Fairfax, Va.: Grant-Lee Buffalo...what a great band. MIGHTY JOE MOON is one of my desert island discs. I've seem them in progressively smaller venues...opening for REM at Cap Center, headline at 930, Grant-Lee Phillips solo at Iota. By that logic, he should be doing a set in my living room within the coming years. Grant is STILL a vastly underrated artist. Always puts on a great room or not.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, yes, yes. So great. Stockton, Calif.'s finest. (Or was that Pavement?)

Grant Lee P was Aimee Mann's co-host for her Christmas shows at the Birch last year, and he was just fantastic.


Vitalogy: Pearl Jam: and Dave Matthews? Bleh and bleh.

J. Freedom du Lac: I stand by my Pearl Jam pick. I am, however, running the other way from DMB.

At least I have the huevos to put the skeletons in my critical closet on full display. If I'd never posted that list, you'd be none the wiser.


Richmond, Va.: Are you still going to write a blog? Can you just call it Neko vs. Jenny and be done with it? I have Many Important Thoughts to post that my cats say the world deserves to hear.

J. Freedom du Lac: We're still waiting approval for takeoff. Apparently, everybody from the Air Traffic Control Tower has gone to the beach for the summer.


your top 10s: Wow, Railroad Jerk... My dad used to listen to that CD, and when I was 12 I was SO not impressed. Worth the relisten?

(Actually, it was probably vinyl not CD.)

J. Freedom du Lac: That was my reaction, too. Wow!

Here's the nonsensical write-up from my year-ender: "Imagine if Captain Beefheart (or Beck) joined the Kinks, then persuaded the group to infiltrate Manhattan's indie-rock crowd and, later, record a bunch of songs at 4 in the morning on some low-fi equipment in a cramped living room after a week's worth of absolutely no sleep - but plenty of booze and Robert Johnson and Bob Dylan and Hank Williams albums and irony pills and . . . well, it'd be pretty odd. And fun. And, perhaps, quite good. Which, of course, is precisely what Railroad Jerk's latest album is. The spontaneous foursome's oddly arranged blend of bluesy guitar, harmonica noise, walloping rhythms, surprising melodies and wacked-out, but observant, slurred lyrics is at once cool enough for the exclusionary indie kids and accidentally accessible enough for the Rest of You. So Jerk out."



Arlington, Va. Re Ozomatli -- I saw your recommendation for their show at Wolf Trap this Saturday? Did you get to the show? It was a great set. A little short, regrettably, but they finished by walking up the aisles -- still playing! -- to the lawn area, whey they played for another 5-10 minutes, in the rain! It was very fun, and good to see a band that is willing to go a little further to entertain the crowd.

J. Freedom du Lac: That's an Ozomatli trademark, the drum-line thingy. I've even seen them get jaded music-biz people to join in. A very neat trick.

I didn't go to the show because I really wasn't interested in the co-headliners. Wolf Trap is just a wee bit far for me to travel just to see the opener.


Stockton's Finest: Isaak!

J. Freedom du Lac: Dave Brubeck! (He's actually from the East Bay Area, but he went to school at Pacific.)


Re: Van Halen & Reunions in general: Everyone's all like "Oh I can't believe that Van Halen The Police Whoever are getting back together for a big money tour because those guys totally HATE each other." I'm just surprised when they DON'T (Morrissey). You can buy anything with enough $$$.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm with you: The surprising ones are the bands that don't get back together.

Put the Talking Heads on that list, too.


Railroad Jerk again: If I recall correctly -do i?- the lyrics to one of their songs are "They said it wouldnt work they said it wouldnt work but this is the story of railroad jerk."

Seems like that review was right on then.

J. Freedom du Lac: I trust your memory on this better than my own. I haven't listened to that album since, like, 1996 -- early '97 at the latest. Does that mean it hasn't held up? Or just that I have a short attention sp


RE: years past reviews: Do you carry your old clippings around with you wherever you go?

J. Freedom du Lac: Of course. Do you want to know what I said about Pavement's show at the Colonial Theater in Sacramento in 1994?

Actually, no I don't carry clips around. I just have access to electronic databases that have a lot of my old scribbles. Couldn't find these lists there, though, so I begged a friend at The Sac Bee to look up my '94 and '95 lists in the paper's electronic archives. The things I do for you people...


Idol Single: Tattoo by Jordan Sparks, what do you think?

J. Freedom du Lac: Haven't heard.

Any reader reviews?


Bethesda, Md.: Did I miss it in the Style section redesign, or did you all not review any new albums/singles today?

J. Freedom du Lac: You missed it. All of our album reviews are now running on Tuesdays, in Style. No more reviews in Sunday Arts (which doesn't exist anymore, as we've merge Style and Arts on Sundays). So, if you pick up today's paper (remember paper, kids?), you'll see four reviews on page C5: Talib Kweli's "Eardrum," Ben Harper's "Lifeline," Yung Joc's "Hustlenomics" and Northern State's "Can I Keep This Pen?" You'll find the Singles File column on that same page, with Chris Richards riffing on PJ Harvey, Remy Ma, Said the Whale, Kenna (awesome) and ... Paul Anka covering the Killers! Quick Spins: Talib Kweli, Ben Harper, Yung Joc, Northern State The Singles File


On Josh Ritter: So I was in a meeting last week, but here's what I think, now that it has had time to grow on me. Good album. A little campy (using "singing..." in Empty Hearts that's a bit of cheese right there), but a friend listened and said he sounds like Dylan. Not a bad comparison, and true. I still think Animal Years flows better, but you know what? Folk-rock tends to be campy anyway, right?

J. Freedom du Lac: You say campy. I say freewheeling and loose.

The Dylan comps are spot on here.


Talking Heads: will NEVER do a reunion because Byrne has refused to consider it, ever. The others would like to for the money. At least that's what they told us on the top '80 hits countdown on VH-1 a few weeks ago.

J. Freedom du Lac: Never say never. But it's really, REALLY unlikely. They don't really get along, and Byrne has said that they're not on the same planet musically, either.


Washington, D.C.: Speaking of bands that won't reunite, the first name I think of is the Replacements. They were one of my favorites in high school but I always thought they were a little underappreciated. Do you think there would be enough incentive and/or demand (i.e., $$) for them to reunite today?

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, they kinda, sorta did get back together to do some new material for a best-of collection. But Bob Stinson didn't make the sessions (errr, he's dead), and his replacement, Slim Dunlap, skipped 'em too.

I remember once talking to a Minneapolis music writer about the 'Mats and asking him about their live shows. He likened them to the Dead -- not musically, of course, but in terms of their consistency, or lack thereof. Out of every three shows, he said, two were usually lousy while the third was transcendent. Not much in between.


Silver Spring, Md.: Whoa whoa whoa. Put the Talking Heads on which list -- bands that do get back together for a huge sum of money, or bands that don't? A few weeks ago you joked about them reuniting for next year's V-Fest. I swear, if you're just messing with my emotions and getting my hopes needlessly up, I'm gonna start writing in about Tool.

J. Freedom du Lac: Bands that don't.

The V-Fest reference a couple-few weeks ago was a joke. It won't happen. NO CHANCE. If it does, I'll cover the festival dressed as one of the Teletubbies.


Herndon, Va.: Free download of new Bruuuuuuuce song:

J. Freedom du Lac: And now you know, Freedom Rockers.

This is what we like to call a Value-Added Chat.


Your New Nom De Plume: J. Freedom du Lac:

Lil J. Freedom du Lac

Yung J. Freedom du Lac

J. Freedom du Lac Tate

Big J. Freedom du Lac

J. Freedom duece Lac

Young J. Freedom du Lac

crap, my idea wasn't that plausible

J. Freedom du Lac: This isn't even marginally inspired.


Springfield, Va.: Speaking of the 'Mats, my favorite Westerberg quote is from some interview where he is asked why he fired Brendan O'Brien from producing one of his solo records: "If I wanted to make a Replacements record, I'd hire the f-----' Replacements." Snap!

J. Freedom du Lac: Classic!

Thanks for sharing.


Takoma Park, Md.: Well done with the 1995 list. And do not be ashamed about the Blur. The Great Escape is one of the best albums of all time. Damon Albarn cranking on all cylinders on that one. BTW, have you heard about his opera? I read something in the New Yorker about it, sounded very cool and very odd at the same time.

J. Freedom du Lac: I read something, somewhere, about the opera. Or am I thinking of Prince? No, no -- Prince is the guy who recently said this to Giant magazine about his next musical phase: "I might try a symphony, might try composing something with flutes." Huh.

I'm not mad at the 1995 list. Not at all. That PJ Harvey album is so ridiculously good.

More from the cut-and-paste file: "Brooding, primal, demented and deeply passionate, this is an intimately frightening, industrial blues masterwork that plays off the powerful tension between typical themes (love and hate, God and the devil, dominance and submission, fear and courage). But Polly Jean Harvey is not a typical songwriter or singer; her dark, tortured observations wander across low emotional terrain that most artists would likely shy away from, and her visceral, dramatic voice forces you to hear and, ultimately, feel her demons as they come flying out. Exorcism rarely sounds so good." (c) The Sacramento Bee, 1995

I'm going to crank that album tonight. See if I can scare the neighbors.


Columbia, Md.: Funny should should talk about both NIN and music standing up to the test of time. I was listening to NIN over the weekend and realized it didn't have the edginess and impact that it used to have. I'm afraid it's due more to me getting older rather than the music getting older. I guess this means it's time for me to put down the industrial and head over to the folk music.

J. Freedom du Lac: Maybe you're just not as nihilistic as you used to be.


Heather Nova: She's still great, just doesn't release stuff stateside anymore.

J. Freedom du Lac: Off to her Myspace page I go...



Silver Spring, Md.: If there's not demand for the reunion of your favorite underappreciated band, Coachella founder Paul Tollett will create that demand. He's taking credit for putting Daft Punk back on the map and has now set his sights on reuniting My Bloody Valentine. Granted, Loveless is one of the greatest albums ever made, but MBV only sold 250,000 worldwide and the band is what the term shoegazer was coined for. I'd give Tollett a Nobel Prize if he got MBV to make another record. Anyway, get ready for the hype for everybody's favorite band.

J. Freedom du Lac: And here I thought that Kanye put Daft Punk back on the map!

But yeah, Coachella is where the old bands go to reunite.


simple question: whats the deal with fergie?

J. Freedom du Lac: Six albums, $75 million? I don't really know what you're asking.


Is this Nostalgia Road?: What is happening here? If it is nostalgia time, I'd like to say that I once converted an evangelical to a NIN fan. Pretty Hate Machine had/has some legs on it.

From the way back machine, I seem to remember that Undertow was an entertaining listen also.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, apparently it's Flashback Hour.

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to the Swatch Watch Fresh Fest Tour?


Van Halen: One reason I think people are surprised they'd reunite is that they have been particularly vocal about their hatred for each other. Some bands keep their dislake sort of quiet, but not them. They wanted everyone to know they HATED each other. And I don't think the original members liked David Lee Roth from the start. Didn't they just use him for some free sound equipment or recording sessions or something?

J. Freedom du Lac: They hate each other. But they love the money. They shall overcome. Tickets for this tour are doing robust business. They WILL figure out a way to get through it, even if they want to throttle each other.


Mid-life Crisis: I'm having a mid-life crisis (or planning to have one as my 40th approaches). What should I start listening to, to feel young again? I'm considering changing my name to "Freedom," getting a motorcycle and some leather pants. But lets start with some new music first.

J. Freedom du Lac: Nick Lowe? Oh, wait -- that'll just make you cranky.

Put on the White Stripes at full volume. Explosive stuff. The kids dig it. But it also sounds, um, vintage enough to appeal to old men.


was reminded this weekend: of such a great classic:

"If I'd shot you when I met you I'd be out of jail by now."

J. Freedom du Lac: And I am reminded that I haven't eaten lunch today.

Thanks for stopping by people. Next time, we can talk about

my 1998 best-of list, on which I ranked Sheryl Crow ahead of Willie Nelson's "Teatro." Huh.


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