Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 4, 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.


J. Freedom du Lac: Well, people -- it's already happening. Labor Day hadn't even arrived when the year's first batch of Christmas albums landed in my mailbox.

The early arrivals: Raul Malo's "Marshmallow World and Other Holiday Favorites," Mindy Smith's "My Holiday" and ... the various-artists collection "Monster Ballads Xmas." Yessss!!!! \w/

Twisted Sister and Lita Ford rawking out together on "I'll Be Home For Christmas," Skid Row doing "Jingle Bells," Stryper covering "Winter Wonderland" -- does it get any better than this? (I really hope it does, actually.)

Still, this is the holiday album I'm probably going to wind up playing the most over the holidays. Because, really, nothing says holiday spirit quite like Dokken doing "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

Let's do this.


PG County : This question really isn't topical in any sense but I was having this discussion with a friend but we are too young to give the question justice but it would make for a great article -- sooo could you please write it for us?

Here is the premise:

As far as live concerts in Washington, DC go, what would you consider the top five or 10 all time most memorable performances since, say, the 1960s? And why?

J. Freedom du Lac: Considering that I've only lived in Washington DC since June of 2005, I am uniquely unqualified to answer this question.

I'd be happy to take nominations from the chatters, though.

Are we sticking to DC proper, or can we include Maryland and No. Virginia shows? (If it's the latter, I'm throwing Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band at Nissan into the mix.)


Arlington, Va.: Submitting early; thanks for the chats. Just wanted to let you know they're apparently closer than you think.

J. Freedom du Lac: Very nice. But shouldn't the "R" be backwards? That's how the band spellz it.

By the way, what do we think about a 37-year-old dude using the name "Munky"? I mean, seriously - don't you lose the right to do something like that when you turn 35? If I can't win a damn Livingston Award anymore, then that guy needs to start calling himself James Christian Shaffer. Not that I was ever going to win one. But still.


Washington, D.C.: Whose blogs do you read to keep you on top of things...

I can't get enough of indie reviews...

J. Freedom du Lac: I spot check various sites and sources. Can't say, though, that I read any of them with serious regularity (as in, like, twice daily). I just can't find enough time to inhale all the musicstuff floating around online.

Which, of course, is exactly why we're launching our own music blog soon. There is quite clearly a BIG need for even more music musings and newsbits out there!


Fredericksburg, Va.: J. Freedom, through friends I've gotten into a MD pop band, the Dance Party and I plan on catching their next show. Any thoughts on them?

J. Freedom du Lac: I haven't spent much time with their stuff -- just some MySpace sampling. Might catch them this weekend at the 9:30.

They are, of course, playing before Georgie James, whose album, "Places," officially lands on Sept. 25 via Saddle Creek. How long will it be until the GJ song "Need Your Needs" lands on a soundtrack? (Attention music supervisors! Get with it.) Though "More Lights" is still my favorite GJ song.


I'm really sick of that song:"It starts in my toes, and then it comes out my nose..."

I know that's not the lyrics, but that's what I thought I heard the first time I listened to it, and now that's what I keep hearing.

J. Freedom du Lac: Your intepretation would no doubt make Colbie Caillat crinkle her nose. (Wherever it goes, she always knows!) That song is too cute and sweet for its own good. Or for my own ears, I guess.


simple question: you got a myspace ?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes. And no I won't add you. (Ditto my Facebook page. Don't even try.)


Arlington, Va.: Rilo Kiley - First what do you think about the new CD? Also, are you going to the 9:30 show? What's the buzz on the group as a live show? Saw Jenny Lewis at the Birchmere and she was great.

What say you?

J. Freedom du Lac: I like "Under the Blacklight." Smart. Super-catchy. Certainly funkier than I expected ... though maybe I'd have expected a little bit more beat-driven stuff if I knew going in that the producers included Mike Elizondo, whose credits include work with Eminem and 50 Cent -- and who's working on the new Dr. Dre album. I love that the band isn't just recycling its old ideas.

Agree that Jenny was fantastic at the Birch. I've only seen Rilo Kiley once and I honestly don't remember much about the performance other than Jason Boesel's great drum work and Jenny L's sweet vocals.


Capital Hill: My girlfriend and I were having this debate this weekend after watching 'Mad Max' perhaps you can throw in your two cents: Justin Timberlake and Adam Levine "Two men enter. One man leaves."

J. Freedom du Lac: Justin Timberlake. Because the world needs his brand of falsetto pop. It doesn't not need Maroon 5's. Thus, the forces of good will prevail and all will be right in the universe. The question, though, is whether Timberlake would emerge from the fight singing even higher. (How would Mariah Carey's dogs react to that, anyway?)

A more interesting and useful steel-cage match would be Adam Levine versus James Blunt, no? Maybe we could throw Chris Martin in there, too. (Blunt would win out since he's a military guy.)

By the way, am I wrong for not hating the Chris Martin song on Kanye's new album? (Don't answer that, please.)


Arlington, Va.: J. Free,

Your esteemed colleague, Mr. Weingarten, apparently thinks that the singer from the Plain White T's has a good voice.

Clearly, you need to stage an intervention.

J. Freedom du Lac: Weingarten is such a humorist.

Actually, I don't think there's anything wrong with the guy's voice (Tom Higgenson's, not Weingarten's -- I'm pretty certain Gene can't sing). It's just that song ...





Arlington, Va.: Did you know that Rilo Kiley is like Fleetwood Mac? That's what I read anyway. (I'm a shut-in.)

J. Freedom du Lac: yeah, I read that, too.

Here's what the Spin cover says: "Getting intimate with RILO KILEY. Are they the new Fleetwood Mac?*"

And then, as you unfold the second half of the cover, the * is addressed thusly: "All they need are some righteous facial hair, witches' frocks and a marching band."

(I haven't actually read the story, by the way. Too busy reading the Miranda Lambert Q&A in Blender. The one with the great photo in which she's clutching a buck knife and lookin' kinda scary. [Speaking of Miranda, did anybody see the CMT "Cross Country" episode last week featuring her with Jack Ingram? Was anybody else left cold? I didn't think it was particularly great.])


Washington, D.C.: What's going to replace the record store (as an institution) for music geeks to hang out and talk shop? I fear for future generations?

J. Freedom du Lac: Our new blog, natch.

(And may we recommend the soundtrack to "About a Son"? It's in the rack against the wall, under the Half Japanese poster.)


Washington, D.C.: More of a comment than a question, but I am really enjoying Josh Ritter's new CD! I bought tickets a couple weeks ago and the disc on Friday. It is very different from Hello Starling (the other CD of his I have) but it's so much fun! Will you be at the show? Who else would you recommend I listen to if I like both of these CDs? FWIF, I learned of Josh Ritter through my Calexico Pandora radio station and used LaLa to get the two CDs (traded for one and bought the new one).

J. Freedom du Lac: You should check out his '06 album, "The Animal Years." He good.

If you like Josh Ritter, you might also like ... well, you know you could really go in a lot of directions here. You could investigate Ryan Adams if you haven't already (though you need to choose wisely as you pick through his catalogue, which is REALLY uneven). The Bright Eyes album "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" could work. You might check out Spoon, too. You could take a half step backwards and check out somebody like Freedy Johnston or Steve Earle or the Waterboys. Of course, there's that Dylan guy (a MAJOR influence on "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter"). Also: Springsteen and Leonard Cohen and John Fahey.


20009: Here's the deal. I don't enjoy visiting your chat anymore. It was fun at first, but it's become a drag. So, I'm leaving.

I'm not sure of the break-up etiquette, not having done this before. Do you keep the Winehouse CDs, or do I get to take them with me?

Be well

J. Freedom du Lac: Don't let the mouse hit you on the way out.


Washington, D.C.: Did you see Snoop? What did you think?

J. Freedom du Lac: Nah. Gotta say, I'm not a big fan of shows at Love. After you navigate the madness in the parking lot and at the front door, you have to deal with the crowded performance space itself. Made even more crowded, of course, by the 43 people Snoop brings onto the stage.

I think all of this is a very long way of saying: I'm getting old.

I did, however, see Snoop in that David Banner video over the weekend -- the one that also features Lil Wayne and the ubiquitous Akon. Does that count?


Help! : There's a light - What light

There's a light - White light. Inside of you..

Great summer song but now that it's post labor day, I still can't get it out of my head. Any great autumn songs you could recommend?

J. Freedom du Lac:"Next to the Last Romantic," Josh Ritter.

"More Lights," Georgie James.

"Talking Old Soldiers," Bettye LaVette.


Downtown, D.C. : Everybody knows that Little Big Town is the new Fleetwood Mac. After all, mainstream country is the new pop.

J. Freedom du Lac: Bob Lefsetz, is that you?!


simple question No. 2: can we have a 'i'm delila' shirt burning?

and burn the plain white t cd's too?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes. Let's do it in Producer David's front yard.


Washington, D.C.: J. Free,

Is it wrong that I'm sorta annoyed/creeped out by Patty Scialfa? Would she be anything more than an occasional opener for Shawn Colvin at the Birchmere if it weren't for her being Bruce's wife?

J. Freedom du Lac: I can't say that I rushed to put the new PS album on when it landed. In fact, I still haven't. (I will eventually, though. Really, I will.)


Boston, Mass.: Here's the thing. I like to listen to my tunes while I drive, but I drive SO FAST that I often outrun the music. How much do you think it would cost for me to hire a dude (or a gal!) to drive REAL FAST in front of me playing my tunes so that the sounds can get a head start and I can listen to my tunes in the car like normal people do?

J. Freedom du Lac: This sounds like a Brad Paisley song. In fact, I think it is! "Mr. Policeman" from his new album "5th Gear." Very clever. (Doesn't hurt that he can pick it some on the geetar, too.)


San Diego, Calif.: OK J. Freedom. I give up. I've tried to deny the brilliance of Josh Ritter, but cannot any longer. "Animal Years" and "Historical Consequences" are a one/two punch every bit the equal of Nick Drake's spectacular 1970s albums, "Bryter Later" and "Pink Moon".

Also, while we're on the subject (what subject was that?) a shout out to artists such as Ritter, Neko Case, Vienna Tang, Ron Sexsmith, Wille Nile and others for not trying to be the next Dylan or Joni Mitchell...keep making great music for music lovers who look to the future and not just the past.

J. Freedom du Lac: Producer David has correctly observed that if this chat was representative of the American public, Josh Ritter would be one of the biggest stars around. If only.

I'm not sure I see the Nick Drake parallel, but I (obviously) do think that Ritter is a damn fine artist who is on a big-time roll. It's funny you'd mention him vis-a-vis Dylan, though, since "Historical Conquests" is clearly influenced by Bobby Z. How can you hear the opening track, "To the Dogs or Whoever," and NOT think "Highway 61"? Not that it's a bad thing, since the album very much succeeds. It's just ... a thing. I'd love to hear what Ritter says about the Dylanisms on this album.


Re: 20009: I thought that guy would never leave!

J. Freedom du Lac: Dude can't take a hint.


Chattanooga, Tenn.: Is Patty Scialfa a better singer than Julianne Phillips was an actress?

J. Freedom du Lac: I dunno -- she was pretty awesome in "Fletch Lives."

(By the by, not that I'm Mr. Spelling Bee Champ or anything, but ... it's Patti Scialfa.)


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: When is this rumored blog coming to life?

J. Freedom du Lac: I keep asking that same question.

Sometime before the Talking Heads reunion tour, I hope.


20008: Hey J Free,

I'm glad to see you're standing up for everybody's right to hate the thoroughly annoying "Hey There Delilah." Any other songs out there that just really get under your skin?

I nominate anything Gwen Stefani related, sans No Doubt.

J. Freedom du Lac: Fergie. All of it.

I sort of had it with that whole Umbreella-ella-ella thing after about the fourth play.

I refuse to stand with you in the matter of Gwen Stefani.


Washington, D.C.: Remember when you had a vacation and Chris Richards was the substitute teacher? Don't do that again.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm not planning on it. I'm scared to give him the forum, actually. He promised/threatened payback after somebody posted something about his body hair and I, um, let it through. I think the juice is running on that debt.


Hey There Delilah: is this generation's "Wouldn't It Be Nice."

OK, you can stop laughing now, but that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

J. Freedom du Lac: Did you really just compare the PWT's to the Beach Boys? Ohnoyoudidn't.

Be right back -- have to roll on the floor and LMAO.


San Fran:?new Radiohead album? Can you tell me something wikipedia can't? It was supposed to be out this summer, which I guess just ended.

J. Freedom du Lac: No, I can't.


ATLien: Space aliens come down and point their ray guns at you and say, "Explain to us who Pete Doherty is and why we should care or we'll vaporize you!" How do you respond?

J. Freedom du Lac: I'd ask them to take me to their leader. And then I'd try to think of something clever to say about the British tabs and skeletal supermodels and porkpie hats and drugs. And hopefully I'd have more time to think about it than I did before I pressed the PUBLISH LIVE button here. Because obviously, I got nothin' right now.


Colbie Caillat : Who she?

Face it, it's hard to tell the Ashley Tisdales from the Duff sisters from the Simpson sisters...

J. Freedom du Lac: She's that "Bubbly" singer. She's better than the Simpson sisters, et al. Though, well ... here, listen for yourself: Colbie Caillat: A MySpace Star on the Rise


Anonymous: There's no Christmas album that could ever compete with the James Brown Christmas album. "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto" is a holiday standard at my place. Pass the 40's!

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm with you on this. That's one of the all-time great holiday albums, if not THE greatest.


Indianapolis, Ind.: I'm looking out the window of my downtown Indy workplace watching all the preparations for Thursday's big NFL season premiere free concert with Faith Hill and Kelly Clarkson. I was getting all caught up in the excitement and was all ready to plan on going when I suddenly realized....the concert would feature music by Faith Hill and Kelly Clarkson.

what a disappointment.

I guess they're trying to appeal to the widest possible audience....and when I say that, I mean the whitest possible audience.

J. Freedom du Lac: At least they didn't invite the Plain White T's!

You know, I really do think that Kelly Clarkson has talent -- and soul. Listen to her live take of Patty Griffin's "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)" below. Video


PWT's Delilah: Can we compare it to the Turtles "Happy Together?"

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes.


last week i axed "whats the deal with fergie": and today you spill out

"All of it."

so you don't dig her audibly why top 40 likes her?

does she not do it for you or are you put off by her incontinence?

and i think its funny in her video with all these tough looking dudes playing her wus back up band music.

J. Freedom du Lac: A few possible answers:

The production work is generally better than the vocal work.

People feel sorry for the woman after having seen the picture of her wetting her pants on stage.

There's no accounting for taste. Except for my own, of course.


Annandale Dude: colbie:

i asked about her last week and it takes a full week for people to start asking questions?

and i like hillary duff with meat on her bones. she needs to eat a sandwich

J. Freedom du Lac: Fine, you were here first. Happy now?


Washington, D.C.: Not exactly a lot of dates for Bruce and the E Street Band tour. Will there be more in 2008 or should I just accept the fact that my favorite band is pushing 60 and can't prove it all night like they used to?

J. Freedom du Lac: I suspect more dates will be added once the already announced shows start going clean. I have no proof or documentation or anybody's good word or whatever. Just a hunch.


New Haven, Conn.: Did you get to read the NY Times Magazine cover story on Rick Rubin? What a terrible job -- save Columbia/Sony and the recorded music industry to boot!? He prides himself on convincing them to switch to digipaks ... why didn't he convince them not to release the 3CD "essential" Dylan package and start releasing more archival/concert material instead? And the Dead gets its own Sirius channel?

J. Freedom du Lac: I thought it was an interesting story on one of my favorite people in the music business. (Great cover photo, too. Look it up.) Of course one person can't save the music business by his own damn self. And my impression of Rick has always been that he's a better record producer than businessman. But he does have some interesting ideas. And he's at the helm of a pretty big and historic ship. So...we'll just have to see what happens.


Kelly Clarkson: Kelly can sing ANYTHING! Not sure where all the haters come from.

J. Freedom du Lac: Virginia.


Re: if this chat was representative of the American public, Josh Ritter would be one of the biggest stars around. If only. : But what IS a big star today? Someone who can sell 50,000 records?

J. Freedom du Lac: Someone who can get their own HBO concert special.


Washington, D.C.: I searched for a review of Bruce's new single Radio Nowhere, but didn't see one, so I figured I ask during the chat. The high energy rock hasn't been something he's done in a long time. What do you think of it or do I have to wait for the album to come out for you to review that?

J. Freedom du Lac: My initial impression is that I think I'll probably like the song better live than in recorded form. I'll reserve final judgement until I hear it in the context of the full album, though.


Flight of the Conchords: Love 'em or hate 'em?

J. Freedom du Lac: Bemused by 'em.


Washington, D.C.: I don't think I've seen you mention it anywhere, but what do you think of the Boss's new single, Radio Nowhere? What about the complaint that he ripped off Tommy Tutone's 867-5309?

J. Freedom du Lac: Tommy Tutone! I hadn't read that/thought about that, but now that you mention it...


But what IS a big star today?: How about a rock star has been who's got his own reality dating show? Rock of Love!

J. Freedom du Lac: Wouldn't that be a big star yesterday?

There are still big stars in popular music circa 2007. They're just not as big as they used to be.


Re: Fergie: My Humps is one of stupidest songs ever. My Humps? Gimme a break.

J. Freedom du Lac: I second this.

And now, for that break you were requesting: We're done until next week. Be sure to wear your "I'm Delilah" shirts next time through.

Thanks for stopping by.


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