Tuesday, January 8, 2008; 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 Britney Spears does.
The transcript follows.
washingtonpost.com: For Crying Out Loud! Hannah, Fans Make Themselves Heard
washingtonpost.com: Q&A: Francis Ford Coppola
washingtonpost.com: Patti Smith Has Spoken; Singer Takes Liberties With Lyrics, and More
washingtonpost.com: Discovering True Power In a Power Ballad
washingtonpost.com: Top Albums of 2007
washingtonpost.com: Blog: Post Rock
J. Freedom du Lac: Happy '08, peoples. LSU and Miranda Lambert are national champs. Hilary has been overtaken by Hannah as the front-runner. "Dewey Cox" stiffed at the box office, but I'm still in the tank for those tunes. And I can't stop listening to that eponymous Vampire Weekend album that's coming out on Jan. 29 - though, as Producer David has noted previously, in this era of major internet leakage, official release dates are sort of like MSRPs. Not everybody abides by them.
My '07 Top 10 list is, of course, done - though if I had to do it all over again, I might move some of the pieces around. Had the hardest time figuring out what to put in the 9/10 slots, as a bunch of albums were in play. Ultimately went with the live Black Keys album at 9 and White Stripes at 10.
Any of albums in the upper half of my Next Best list could have made the cut:
* Spoon's "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" -- so fresh and so lean, lean, with a terrific pop sensibility.
* Elizabeth Cook's "Balls" -- the year's other great authentic country album.
* Oakley Hall's "I'll Follow You" -- Now! That's What I Call Southern Roots Rock (even if they're from Brooklyn).
* Levon Helm's "Dirt Farmer" -- so raw, so honest; a moving comeback.
* Pela's "Anytown Graffiti" -- absolutely should have been on our indie-Springsteen list.
* Kanye's "Graduation"
* Richard Thompson's "Sweet Warrior"
* Cafe Tacvba's "Sino"
* Of Montreal's "Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?"
* Joe Nichols' "Real Things"
Glen Ellyn, Ill.: J. Free,
You're going head-to-head against Eugene Robinson - who has the freestylin' skills?
J. Freedom du Lac: Michael Dirda.
Alexandria, Va.: Can we get another link to your 2007 top 10?
J. Freedom du Lac: Yep.
washingtonpost.com: Top Albums of 2007
Washington, D.C.: I forgot. What bet did you lose to have to cover the Hannah Montana presentation?
J. Freedom du Lac: The one in which I bet myself that I could get through the night without wearing earplugs. I lost.
Arlington, Va.: I'm being WAY optimistic here - is the Hannah Montana group still in town? How likely is it that Kay Hanley et al are going to regroup at a random club for a show?
And who's staying at the Georgetown Ritz?
J. Freedom du Lac: If by "in town" you mean Baltimore, then yeah, maybe. They're at 1st Mariner Arena tonight - then on to New York. As for me, I'm enjoying the silence, thankyouverymuch.
Springfield, Va.: Why does the Post send people to cover things like NSYNC or Hannah Montana concerts? Is it because it's A Noteworthy Event, or is there true critical insight to be gained from hyped-up arena pop that appeals to shrieking 12 year olds?
J. Freedom du Lac: Because it was Monday night and there wasn't anything good on television? (Unless you happened to be an SEC football fan, that is.) I sent myself because it was a Noteworthy Cultural Happening that very much deserved to be documented.
Re: Hannah Montana and decibel level: Can't vouch for N'Sync at RFK, but I did see Britney Spears at the Verizon Center in... 2003? P. Diddy opened, if you can believe it. The shrieking was insane -- it was like being at the world's biggest Bat Mitzvah (said with no anti-Semitic intentions whatsoever).
J. Freedom du Lac: The Miley Tinnitus show was like the biggest Bat Mitzvah ever staged on a roller coaster.
J. Freedom du Lac: BREAKING NEWS: Somebody in the comments section of my Hannah Cyrus piece says the Jonas Brothers might be the new Beach Boys.
Bowie, Md.: My daughter saw Rufus Wainwright in concert in Wilmington, and I knew the name sounded familiar since his Dad Loudon had that big 70s hit "Ded Skunk in the Middle of the Road" but he also is doing soundtracks etc. So us old guys can still be productive. Anyway, would an oldie like me groove on Rufus's latest release?
J. Freedom du Lac: It really depends on how much you like Judy Garland. His latest release is "Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall," a live recording of his 2006 concerts in which he made like Judy circa 1961. Not quite the same thing daddy does, is it?
Washington, D.C.: How depressed did Hannah's back up band look? How do you think one gets that gig?
J. Freedom du Lac: You probably can't work for Smiley Miley unless you, too, can rock the Cheshire Cat grin. Thus, they looked very, very $toked to be up there.
Solid band, too - assuming they were actually playing. Who really knows anymore? (Besides the production manager, I mean.)
Washington, D.C.: Just a note that the newest album from Marah came out today: ANGELS OF DESTRUCTION. Anybody who likes The Hold Steady would like Marah. Really any indie-types who like Springsteen would like Marah.
J. Freedom du Lac: I'm just not as excited about Marah as you are. I don't think Dave Bielanko's narratives are as incisive or gripping as Craig Finn's. He can't quite match Finn's observational skills and knack for poetic detail. I do like the manic energy of some of the new songs, but THS> Marah in my math book - at least in terms of recorded output. Live, it might be a different story.
Marah is at the 9:30 club on Feb. 7, by the way. You can't be my plus-one because I'll be in LA for the Grammys. The show I'm really bummed that I'll be missing is Vampire Weekend on the 6th at Rock and Roll Hotel. Still haven't seen 'em. But I'm very much digging that album.
Herndon, Va.: J. Free - did you wear earplugs to the HM show? Did it help?
J. Freedom du Lac: WHAT????
Washington, D.C.: Okay, my eight-year-old was at that concert last night. As the guest of an affluent friend. I've been resisting this stuff for as long as I could, and I have to say--this all seems pretty harmless. And seeing live music is great, even if it is a lip-synced ball of fluff. My girl also still loves Blondie and Allison Krauss, so I think we're okay.
J. Freedom du Lac: I don't think it's necessarily harmful. It's just not my cup of Mountain Dew. Like that great American poet Jon Bon Jovi says: Dad don't understand what the little girls know/Blame it on the love of rock and roll.
I really don't understand why she used a body double when she left the stage early, though. Lots of pop diva types leave the stage before a song is over so they can get a head start in wardrobe. Beyonce, Mariah - pretty much all of them working at the arena level do it. But they don't send stand-ins out there to make it look like they're still singing on stage. Why not just cut the vocal at that point and have the band vamp while the dancers dance? I'm puzzled by that one.
Arlington, Va.: AOL news has a big link on their news page to the story about the apparent scandal of Miley using a body double while she changes clothes. Apparently some fans are feeling duped by this and the fact that she lip-syncs the whole show.
J. Freedom du Lac: We've got the same stuff on Post Rock, including video.
Glen Allen, Va.: I'd recommend Bowie, MD start with Rufus' "Want One," and probably work backward from that. Alternately, check out his track on the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack, or his duet with Teddy Thompson on "King of the Road" from the same CD. (NB, Rufus' track didn't actually appear in the movie, go figure).
OR, get to know a lot more of Loudon's work, "Dead Skunk" was probably not his finest hour.
J. Freedom du Lac: There you go...
He Got No Heart: Mama left out that part. I love that line.
On your recommendation, I picked up the Elizabeth Cook CD. TERRIFIC is all I can say. I'm not sure it isn't better than "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend", which is really really good. (and how much grief have you received over your No.1 pick this year ?)
J. Freedom du Lac: Elizabeth Cook - absolutely lurve her!! So smart, so funny, so twangy, so soulful, so ... real. I think, however, that Miranda's songs are superior - and "Crazy Ex" is ultimately more rewarding. It fares better with repeat listenings than does EC's "Balls." As noted above, though, "Balls" was within sniffing distance of the Top 10.
Amount of grief received over my No. 1 pick: Exactly one message, from my pal Mario Ona, who thinks Brandi Carlile could kick Miranda's artistic ass from here to Texas.
Silver Spring, Md.: J. Free,
January and February are looking bleak for live music in the D.C. area. Tell me I'm wrong - give me four or five must-see concerts in the next two months (preferably in clubs, not arenas).
J. Freedom du Lac: Here's a six-pack for the next month:
Jan 16, Yeasayer, Black Cat Backstage
Jan 17, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Black Cat
Jan 23, Richard Thompson, Lisner
Jan 31, Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down, Iota
Feb 6, Vampire Weekend, Rock and Roll Hotel
Feb 7, Michelle Shocked with Erin McKeown, Barns at Wolf Trap
Washington, D.C.: I didn't realize Marah's publicist participated in your chat.
J. Freedom du Lac: We don't discriminate against publicists. (Unless they're really annoying. Or don't know what they're talking about. Many publicity interns, for instance. Well-meaning, but...)
Conyers, Ga.: You still don't get it, even with your almost made it top ten list.
Without a doubt, Raising Sand is one of the ten best of the past year and T-Bone Burnett is the producer of the year, bar none.
At least your counterpart at that great metropolitan paper just north of you thought as much.
J. Freedom du Lac: Rashod Ollison at The Sun Top 10'd that album? Who knew!!?
It's my list, not yours. I absolutely get it. I get that it's not one of my 20 favorite albums of 2007. What's so confusing about that?
Washington, D.C.: My Top 10
The Arcade Fire - NEON BIBLE
Jason Falkner - I'M OK...YOU'RE OK
Explosions In The Sky - ALL OF A SUDDEN I MISS EVERYONE
James Blackshaw - THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING
Joel Plaskett Emergency - ASHTRAY ROCK
Josh Ritter - THE HISTORICAL CONQUESTS OF JOSH RITTER
Rilo Kiley - UNDER THE BLACKLIGHT
Rush - SNAKES & ARROWS
The Shins - WINCING THE NIGHT AWAY
Silverchair - YOUNG MODERN
J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks for sharing this.
That Josh Ritter album really didn't age well for me.
When's Jenny Lewis doing another solo album?
Annapolis, Md.: How can I get a body double? That would be awesome! I could teach someone to fake my job for a day. Hell, I do it every day!
J. Freedom du Lac: Let us know how that works out for you.
January Concerts: Rhett Miller's at the Black Cat on January 18th. Too bad it's acoustic and not the entire Old 97's, but it should still be a good show.
J. Freedom du Lac: Ah, yes - the sweet blue-eyed darlin' returns. Wonder if he ever got that restraining order against Chip Porter.
Long Beach, Calif.: DID you actually like the Lame-bert songs? I listened for 30 seconds and almost vomited. Such a lame "wall of western sound". How about something "alternative"?
J. Freedom du Lac: No, I put it at No. 1 on my list as a joke. Get it!!?!
Aren't you still on chat probation, by the way?
Washington, D.C.: Greetings Mr. du Lac - Tell me about this Mark Ronson dude. I understand he's some kind of re-mix guy. I don't claim to be an aficionado of such efforts but I'm curious since I see that he's taken on an old Bob Dylan tune. Even better, it's been released as a 7 inch single with a picture sleeve. So, is it worth the purchase?
J. Freedom du Lac: Not sure I'd refer to Mark Ronson as a remix guy. I mean, yeah, he does remixes. But his most notable work been as a producer. He and Salaam Remi helmed Amy Winehouse's terrific-sounding "Back to Black." He also did some work with Lily Allen. And he produced his own covers album, "Versions," which has some great stuff on it - Santo Gold doing the Jam's "Pretty Green," La Winehouse doing that Zutons song, "Valerie," etc. Ronson is up for non-classical producer of the year at this year's Grammys.
As for the Dylan remix, it's ... interesting. Bobby D singing "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)" over a big, brassy hip-hop groove.
Huh. Judge for yourself. You can catch the video on YouTube.
washingtonpost.com: Bob Dylan - Most Likely You Will Go Your Way (& I'll Go Mine)
Must See Concert, DC: Lupe Fiasco, 9:30 Club, Jan. 30th.
Trust me on this one.
J. Freedom du Lac: Good call. See you there.
Scalpee: Wouldn't it be something if Hannah Banana was the one who started the end of the online scalpers?
I mean, it's one thing to make Eagles fans pay 2-3X cover price (they deserve to suffer, after all). But the soccer moms are a pow'rful force to be reckoned with.
J. Freedom du Lac: Hilarious sight last night: DC police had F Street blocked off between 6th and 7th, as they usually do during Verizon Center events. But that didn't deter the mother driving the ginormous black SUV with Hannah/Miley notes shoe-polished on the windows from busting through the barricade - all the better to get her kids closer to the entrance. The police were furious.
You can't stop soccer mom; you can't even hope to contain her!
Washington, D.C.: You know what record grew on me with multiple listens? Wilco's Sky Blue Sky. Couldn't stand it on the first listen way back when, and now I really enjoy it. And I don't even own a Volkswagen.
J. Freedom du Lac: That makes one of us.
Fairfax, Va.: rufus - seek out his version of Cohen's Hallaluegh (yes i'm a bad speller) - on I'm the Man (or just go to Mogg). better than buckley's (maybe).
rufus dad is the man...........
J. Freedom du Lac: More Rufus insight. (Though I disagree - it doesn't trump Jeff Buckley's version. Hell, it might not even be better than kd lang's.)
Hannah/Miley: Maybe people have been using body doubles at concerts for years, and we don't even know it. You know those political rants Bono does sometime - maybe that's actually Tim Robbins or Alec Baldwin holding court, while the real Mr. Hewson is having a Guiness or lobbying a Senator.
J. Freedom du Lac: I'm using a body double right now. Chris Richards is earning a little extra money to help pay for his new apartment in New York. That's why I'm (he's) not making fun of Chris (me).
Loudoun Wainright: His best work was on MASH.
They got some saki, and sashimi, and some clean sheets,
Oh, kimono, oh, kimono,
Tokyo's the town that I love the best,
East may be East, and West may be West,
Forget about between, it'll drive you insane,
And teach you things you never knew before.
Maybe I'm dating myself a bit too much. After all, I've been single 3 years and running. (A nod to Tom Waits "Better Off Without a Wife". You're welcome.)
J. Freedom du Lac: Today's chat, sponsored by the Wainright family. (No love for Martha today?)
Late to the Party: I just heard the Rilo Kiley song "Silver Lining" on the radio this weekend and I loved it. I've never bought one of their CDs before...will I like "Under the Blacklight" if I like that song? What CD is their best? Thanks!
J. Freedom du Lac: Best Rilo Kiley album is ... the Jenny Lewis solo CD, "Rabbit Fur Coat." Actually, if you dig "Silver Lining" (which you should dig, since it's the best tune on the album), you probably *would* like Jenny's solo stuff.
Long Beach, Calif.: Any opinion of Brett Dennen yet? I love his voice........... cheers
J. Freedom du Lac: He's an interesting artist. I really liked that "Darlin' Do Not Fear" song - the one that sounds sort of like Paul Simon circa "Graceland." In spite of that high, quavering voice, though, he's s kinda derivative and not particularly distinctive. (Joni! Dylan! James Taylor!) I'll be really curious to see what he does once he finds his own artistic voice.
Reston, Va.: Hey J. Free - sorry, going to miss the chat today, but I wanted to let you know that you have at least one reader who appreciated your review of the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert last night. I was there with my 10 year old (winning my dad of the year trophy) and while she was very entertained, it's such a slick Disney money machine that it's hard to take any of it seriously. Fortunately for me, my daughter sings along when I'm strumming Freebird or Stairway to Heaven, so all hope is not lost for her.
J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks. The check's in the mail - as is the glow wand.
Arlington, Va.: Stacy Jones is the drummer behind the stage show - formerly of Letters to Cleo & Veruca Salt... And I believe that he is how they got a lot of the band AND the backup singers.
J. Freedom du Lac: Now it can be told.
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: There is always love for Martha. I remember when she opened for Neko a couple of years ago and more than held her own against the headliner.
J. Freedom du Lac: I saw her open for Madeline Peyroux at Lisner in the fall of 2005, and Martha acquitted herself quite nicely there, as well.
Bowie, Md.: thanks Glen Allen ... Rufus is on the Starbucks Christmas compilation I got last month (I know, I know) singing "What are you doing New Year's Eve" and I thought he sounded like Stan Getz ... which is a good thing. Thanks for the tips. And 10-4 Loudon has a great body of work. So I'll jsut add this: Groovy.
J. Freedom du Lac: Wainwrightmania cont.
LoveFor, MW: I'll bet Martha doesn't lip sync or use a body double.
J. Freedom du Lac: But she might if Billy Ray Cyrus was her daddy instead of Loudon III.
Norfolk, Va.: Been away from the chats for a while--what's the buzz on I'm Not There--that's one of my 10 best for last year
J. Freedom du Lac: The mess of a soundtrack filled with Dylan covers? The word is: Meh.
I'm not with you there, Norfolk.
Baltimore, Md.: Bustin' the barricades: Are you serious? A woman drove an SUV through the police barricades at Verizon Center and was not appropriately tasered? Wonder what the cops would have done had someone tried that at a 50 Cent gig?
J. Freedom du Lac: Busting wasn't the right word. More like -- she threaded the needle of the barricade. There was a gap between the cop car blocking west-bound traffic (her direction) and the officers standing in the east-bound lanes. She was driving on the wrong side of the street, though. And clearly had done something she shouldn't have. The fact that there were so many cops out there - and no other cars on the street - should have tipped her off. The cops ultimately just chased her away.
Rufus: There is NO WAY his version of Halleluia is better than Buckley's Rufus is a whiney, histrionic affected singer (it's that inhaling business....)The best version, however, is John Cale's.
J. Freedom du Lac: John Cale's version is very good, indeed. Buckley's gives me goosebumps, though.
Those Wacky Wainwrights: Don't forget Adam, the pitcher for the Cardinals. Wait, they're not related?
J. Freedom du Lac: He'd look really good on my keeper-league fantasy team. I'd consider.
Chattanooga, Tenn.: If the kids fall for Hannah Montana doubles, what's to stop Disney from running 2 or 3 tours at the same time? Like with the Ice Capades?
J. Freedom du Lac: Brilliant. Though it would be a major burden on their accounting department -- no way could they count the money fast enough. You'd be amazed to see how busy the merch booths were last night at Verizon Center. Incredible.
RE: Bustin' the barricades: At the very least she should have been handcuffed to a mailbox.
J. Freedom du Lac: Or, made to listen to "The Best of Both Worlds" on a two-hour loop.
Selfish Utility Vehicle: The whole Hannah Montana phenomenon is well-summarized by the selfish soccer mom "threading the needle" of security personnel and equipment to get her precious children to a corporate moneysuck concert. God Bless Corporate America and its SUV-driving slaves.
J. Freedom du Lac: I wish I'd been taking video. It was pretty great.
Veruca Salt: Hey, when apartment-hunting in Chicago several years ago, I looked at the apartment their singer had just vacated. Didn't take it, though.
J. Freedom du Lac: Did it come with an Everlasting Gobstopper?
Hannah Montana $$$: The real question is: how much of this money is coming back to Billy Ray Cyrus. Because if it's more than gas money, that a crime and a shame.
J. Freedom du Lac: Not as much as is going to Disney.
More Rufus: Wasn't Rufus's version of Hallelujah on the Shrek soundtrack? Not a lot of street cred given out for that.
J. Freedom du Lac: Actually, wasn't that John Cale's version? Or am I making that up? Best musical performance in that movie: Eddie Murphy's Donkey doing "I'm a Believer."
Columbia, Md.: My Top Ten, but not in any order...
Shins - Wincing the Night Away
Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Iron & Wine - Shephards Dog
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
NP's - Challengers
Band of Horses - Cease to Begin
Spoon - Ga ..
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Bright Eyes - Cassadega
Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War (a major grower, wasn't a fan when it first came out)
J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks for sharing.
You seen that Ford commercial that uses "Funeral" by Band of Horses? Who knew? (Even though it's not on the new album...)
Silver Spring, Md.: The National's Boxer was the best album of the year. They also blew Arcade Fire off the stage at the DAR show. You must have been asleep in the balcony.
J. Freedom du Lac: No, I was asleep in the orchestra. But I was sleeping in the balcony when the National played at the 9:30 club not long after the DAR show. Most boring show of the year by a band whose new album I actually liked.
Washington, D.C.: Listening to the new soundtrack to THE WIRE. Blind Boys of Alabama doing "Way Down In The Hole." Sweet.
J. Freedom du Lac: As Omar says: inDEED.
It's the best version of all.
Steve Earle sings it on Season 5, by the way...
Washington, D.C.: Do you think it's worth trying to get tickets to see the Pogues at 9:30? I know, I know, original lineup, chance of a lifetime, etc. But the Baltimore show was $55, and I doubt the 9:30 show will be much cheaper. I'm a woman of limited means, J. Free. Is it worth it? I know it costs a lot of money to keep McGowan in booze, but dang. I have a hunch he's saving up for a set of solid gold teeth.
J. Freedom du Lac: Absolutely. If you can get in, you should go.
This should help get you in the mood...
washingtonpost.com: Pogues live - Dirty Old Town
Washington, D.C.: Thank you for not putting Neon Bible in your top 10.
J. Freedom du Lac: A handful of great songs, but...
On the other hand, they were responsible for one of my favorite shows of 2007.
Rufus: Apparently it's Cale's version that's in the movie, but it's Rufus' version that appears on the soundtrack. So you're both right. Go figure.
J. Freedom du Lac: Can we at least agree on this? That Smash Mouth's "I'm A Believer" is actually pretty good?
Hey!: You talk too much today about Rufus Wainwright.
You don't talk enough about Rufus Thomas.
washingtonpost.com: Rufus Thomas - Walking the Dog
It ran and ran and ran: The first time that I saw Patti Smith was at the Reading Festival in 1978 (!) and the second time was at last year's Lollapalooza. Both times she played a standard 50-60 minute set, playing the hits. Based on these I didn't expect a thirty minute version of Are You Experienced complete with several clarinet solos, extemporaneous poetry about Benazir Bhutto and long soliloqies about Tristan und Isolde. Still, it made a change, no?
J. Freedom du Lac: That show was full of surprises, wasn't it? The Tristan and Isolde riff was ridiculous -- in a good way.
Cracked me up that she kept apologizing for her voice. It's not like she's a crooner.
By the by: Where does Patti rank on the list of People You'd Never Expect To Perform "O Holy Night"? She's pretty high on the list, no?
RE: Way Down in the Hole: Steve Earle's version is not the best.
J. Freedom du Lac: I love me some Steve Earle, but I have to say that his version is a distant fifth out of five for me.
The Blind Boys are #1, followed by the kids who did the Season 4 version, then Tom Waits, then the Nevilles, then Steve Earle.
Violet: Jonas Bros = new Beach Boys?
Maybe as fronted by Mike Love!
Brian Wilson's posse is ready to throw down.
J. Freedom du Lac: Thank you.
Ft. Wash, Md.: Do you have a top ten hip hop albums list? Rap was so horrible this year I'd be surprised if anybody could name ten really good CDs this year.
J. Freedom du Lac: Did Lil Wayne release 10 mix-tapes last year? If so, maybe. Otherwise - no. Rough year.
Re: Marah: I'm glad you think Marah recovered from that time she flipped out on TRL.
J. Freedom du Lac: And on that amusing note, let's put this chat out of its misery.
Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to come back to the land of Live Onlines tomorrow at 1, when Chris Richards hosts a Very Special Singles File chat. It'll be his last, as he's leaving D.C. to take over the masthead at The Fader.
"O Holy Night": Patti ranks just ahead of Cartman.
J. Freedom du Lac: Bingo.
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