Freedom Rock

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J. Freedom du Lac Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 22, 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.

____________________ Sharon Jones, at the Height of Her Powers


J. Freedom du Lac: Hola from NoLa, peeps.

Your Correspondent is currently in Crescent City - supposedly on vacation, though here I am, spending an hour with you. All I do is give.

Caught the great Allen Toussaint on Saturday at Tipitina's, which was quite a treat. Standing under a Trouble Funk show poster, I had an amusing small-world moment when I ran into a couple of friends with DC roots - including Eric Brace, the from the outstanding now-based-in-Nashville band Last Train Home. Allen Toussaint's car was parked out back, and it was quite a sight: An older-model Rolls with the LA license plate "PIANO." I've also been past Fats Domino's place during one parade (I was watching, not marching) - and saw some of the great NoLa brass bands (Rebirth, Hot 8, etc) during another parade.

I'm currently eating take-out jambalaya, trying not to spill on the keyboard.

Let's do this.


Alexandria, Va.: This isn't a rock music question but you should know the answer. What can you tell us about your new classical critic, Anne Midgette? Where did she come from? What's her background? I liked her piece on Brahms today and look forward to other articles by her.


J. Freedom du Lac: Anne had been writing about classical music for That Big Newspaper Up North (no, not the Toronto Star) since 2001. She's been published in a good many other outlets, as well - Opera News, the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal, etc. Her work was included in The Best American Music Writing 2006 collection. She's the co-author (with Herbert Breslin) of "The King and I: The Uncensored Tale of Luciano Pavarotti's Rise to Fame by His Manager, Friend and Sometime Adversary."

Maybe you can convince her to host a chat so that she can tell you more about her background.


Springfield, Va.: What are the Vegas odds on Chinese Democracy coming out this year? I for one am hoping for a concept album about Axl's hair implants.

J. Freedom du Lac: I dunno about the Vegas odds, but I might be able to run across the street to Harrah's here to see if they've posted odds. I'm guessing 9:4.


Festiv, AL: Noticed that the lineup for Coachella has been announced and the headliners are Jack Johnson, Portishead and Roger Waters. Can't say I'm impressed, although the supporting acts look better. What do you think this augurs for the rest of the festivals, or does this one take place too early in the year to tell?

Still I can hope that Kraftwerk expand to a full scale tour and, after seeing Daft Punk last year, I can check something off my to-do-before-I-die list. Although I hope to last past this summer before I shuffle off this mortal coil and join the choir eternal.

J. Freedom du Lac: As Producer David noted on the Post Rock blog, it's a bad sign, indeed, when Jack Johnson's name is the first one you see on the poster for a festival that is supposed to be hipper than all other domestic mega-fests. Apparently, Johnson is going to co-headline the All Points West festival at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, too. (Same promoter. So it's more or less supposed to be Coachella East. Only the you'll get East Coast swelter - in August - instead of the broiling desert air of Coachella. Fun!) Radiohead might be at All Points West, too, I guess. Coachella definitely has its share of interesting acts this year -- but will it be special? Or is it gonna be just another festival -- one that closes with Roger Waters and that flying pig of his? (Admittedly, I liked his set at Live Earth.) Post Rock: Coachella? Meh.


Nashville, Tenn.: Allen Toussaint! Tipitina's!

What a show!

Nice little history-of-R&B lesson, no?

J. Freedom du Lac: Indeed! Amazing, though, that you could still buy tickets at the door. New Orleanians are spoiled when it comes to live, local music.


Washington, D.C.: Now that we're about a year or so into it, what do you think about the format changes of 94.7 from pure classic rock to more of a mix of today and yesterday. How about Oldies 100? Do they do it as well as Cerphe and the gang did?

J. Freedom du Lac: As noted in the FAQ that, um, I never got around to doing, I don't actually spend much time listening to the radio - particularly since I rarely drive. However, Producer David listens to 94.7 daily - on his morning coffee runs - and has been blogging about the songs he hears every week on 94.7. Link below. Post Rock: Two-Minute Man Archive


The First Cut Is the Deepest: What others songs should I listen to in wake of today's finanical news?

J. Freedom du Lac:"Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty.

"Workin' Man Blues" by Merle Haggard.

"Hard Times" by Run-DMC.


Chicago, Ill.: Head to head with Wilbon, Free - what's his guilty pleasure?

J. Freedom du Lac: Probably John Tesh's old Pan American Games theme.


Severna Park, Md.: You don't drive? Neither does my Grandma. You two should hang out.

J. Freedom du Lac: Unlike another music critic on the staff of This Very Newspaper, I actually do drive. Just not very often. So infrequently, in fact, that I sold my car. So whereas Lazy Producer David pollutes the air by driving to a nearby coffee shop every morning, I do a lot of walking.


LTH: What's Last Train Home up to these days?

J. Freedom du Lac: Just released a new DVD, "Live at Iota." They'll be at the Barns at Wolf Trap on Feb. 10.


Atlanta, Ga.: J. Free--I've seen U2 live in concert. Why should I see their big 3D movie? To see Bono's "big arse" as he so eloquently put it during the premiere at Sundance? I'm a big fan, but this just sounds like the cash register ka-chinging.

J. Freedom du Lac: Because it'd be like seeing U2 live in concert again, only with less of Bono's stage banter? (So I'm told anyway; I missed the local screenings.) I suppose it all depends on how much you liked that tour - and whether you're a fan of the concert-film form.

By the by, Chris Macias, a Friend of Freedom Rock who writes about music for The Sacramento Bee, summarizes the movie thusly: "Bono and his ego on a three-story screen." Har!


Silver Spring, Md.: Coachella jumped the shark. Jack Johnson did the Curious George soundtrack, for the love of God. He's music for jocks who think Dave Mathews is too hardcore. I'm just glad we can wait a few more months before My Bloody Valentine is everybody's favorite band.

J. Freedom du Lac: Fantastic description of Jack Johnson. Just outstanding. He's not even interesting enough for medium-level dull people.


Wilbon's Music: I picture him as a Big Daddy Kane fan.

J. Freedom du Lac: Dramatic, Asiatic, not like many?

I could see that. He's about the right age.

If I ever see him around the office, I'll have to ask him if he prefers the original "Raw" to the remixed version. Good litmus test.


Arlington, Va.: Perhaps we could take up a collection to get Producer David his own single-cup carafe and some of those pods.

J. Freedom du Lac: He has his habits, and he's not gonna change 'em. He'd probably just wind up spending the collected money on beer.


Free Fallin', NY:@"First Cut"...might want to consider "Wall Street Shuffle" by 10CC.

J. Freedom du Lac: Good one. Or "Poor Song" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.


Re: U2: Remember when Bono used to stop the show to make prank calls from the stage?

I think for their next tour, they should have a segment called "Will Bono Eat It?" where a roadie or local celebrity will bring out a "mystery dish" and see if Bono will, you know, eat it. I bet he will 9 nights out of 10. He's a hungry dude.

J. Freedom du Lac: Or, they could have a segment called Bono in the Bathroom, where he gets wired up (audio only, thank you) and we all get to hear what he sings in the john. When my colleague Sridhar Pappu was doing a story on Mr. Vox, Sridhar happened to be in the bathroom when Bono came in singing "I Want To Hold Your Hand." Nice.


Can I be cool like you...:...and slam Bono? Do you all feel more superior now?

J. Freedom du Lac: Sure, go ahead. You have the floor.


Just wondering...:...what I need to do to sound as pretentious and stuck up as everyone here as I discuss groups that are obscure and unknown and probably ought to stay that way. Seriously, is this some kind of reaction to the way the cool kids beat up all of you in high school?

J. Freedom du Lac: Instead of being a pork sword about it, how about you ask a question here about an artist you're interested in? Try it sometime. You might like it.


Portishead: They are pretty great in concert, though it's about 15 years too late for them to be the "hip" choice. I would go to a show just to see them.

J. Freedom du Lac: I saw them on the "Dummy" tour and thought they were kind of dull, actually. But I'd read reviews from that same tour that described a completely different show than the one I'd seen. Perhaps an off night for them, as I really loved that album.

I'm intrigued by Kraftwerk, by the way. Wonder if they can top what I saw during the Roots set on the Lollapaollza side stage a decade back. Rhazel the Godfather of Noise did "Tour de France" as a solo beat-boxing symphony, and it was flat-out incredible. Even the guy standing next to me was flipping out. Some old punk named Mike Watt.


Jack Land: I guess I'm not hip enough to be here, or maybe I've spent too much time in Hawaii. I think Jack Johnson's music is exactly fine for what it is, which to me sounds like something you'd hear sitting around a campfire on the beach after a day of surfing. So he did the soundtrack for a kid's movie, with simple songs aimed at kids ... not sure I see what the problem is there.

J. Freedom du Lac: In that context, Jack Johnson's music works. In the rest of the world - not so much. His dullness to popularity ratio is strong.


Euphemism USA: Nice line, "pork sword."

However, I prefer Lemmy's phrase, "bacon torpedo."

J. Freedom du Lac: I quote "Juno" so you don't have to. I was supposed to have a write-up on that soundtrack in today's paper, by the way. But I got bumped. Pre-empted by whatever else was in today's Style section. I am so second string.


More Coachella: In the rush to slam the top 3 billed bands, you neglected to mention Kraftwerk getting 2nd billing underneath Portishead. That's . . . surprising. Have they done anything since Autobahn and Pocket Calculator? Maybe they get the "wow, I didn't know they were still alive" crowd?

J. Freedom du Lac: They released a live album not long ago, though in their case, I think live means getting the sequencing gear set up properly.

Methinks Cafe Tacuba is the biggest threat to win that day's battle of the bands. Sleeper pick: Cold War Kids.

Wonder if Mark Ronson will bring Wale with him.


Re: Just wonderin'...:

Sounds like someone's a little hurt over the earlier Jack Johnson comments....

Regardless, I noticed that Rilo Kiley is on the Coachella bill -- is it just me, or has the new album kinda' fizzled? I never felt it had the same spark as "More Adventurous", but it seems like both critics and consumers have sorta' forgot about them.

J. Freedom du Lac: The new album kinda fizzled, though they weren't exactly wanting for pre-release press. I myself dig that "Silver Lining" track.


Silver Spring, Md.: Let's see, Coacchella - Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Gang of Four, Pixies or a guy who sounds good sitting around a fire on the beach. My Aunt Princess sounds good sitting around the fire on the beach with an acoustic guitar.

J. Freedom du Lac: Let the piling on begin.


Springfield, Va.: So what did you think of the Juno soundtrack? I like Kimya Dawson, but a little bit goes a long way.

J. Freedom du Lac: Tiresome is the word. I've never been a big fan of hers. Insufferably twee - at least to these ears.


Random Thoughts at Work: Remember the "Seinfeld" episode where George's new suit makes a squish/squish sound when he walks? My new shoes are making a sweek/sweek noise. It's really embasrassing.

I like Fugees. Bur not after they became Fugees Featuring Lauryn Hill. Pretentious of her, I thought.

Tom Brady has bigger problems than being in an air boot. For a guy making $14 mil a year, those were some cheap looking flowers he was taking to Gisele.

J. Freedom du Lac: Actually, they became the Fugees Who Maybe Won't Make Another Album Music Because Lauryn Hill Is Dangling Her Toes Off The Deep End. So sad. Lauryn's "Miseducation" is great, though. A longtime personal fave, though I got sick of those skits after about, oh, one listen.

What kind of music do you think Tom Brady likes? I put him on Rodney Atkins.


Back in the D.C.: Hiya J.

Have you heard many a song from the man called Joe Henry? Why does he have 2 first names? I like the way he sangs, though. It is not the Joe Henry that was affiliated with the Smithsonian, although that is a fine institution as well. Do you know the dude, and can you recommend further listening? Gracias.

J. Freedom du Lac: But of course. What alt-country fan worth their subscription to No Depression hasn't heard him? He doesn't even have the most interesting name in his family: His sister-in-law is Madonna.


Music For Today: Parliament - "Wizard of Finance"

J. Freedom du Lac: Very nice!


Song for the day: How about Crystal, the opening number on Husker Du's classic "Candy Apple Grey"?

Avalanche looms overhead

Airplane flies overhead

Important man sits by the window

Sucked out of the first class window

Images run by, thousand miles an hour

But the time seems far away

Folding clothes in a folding closet

Folding money in a resume

J. Freedom du Lac: Another good nomination.


About Miseducation: I liked the album too, but didn't her whole band end up suing her because she didn't really write the material in the Prince "I wrote all of the material" sense?

Kind of takes away from it a good deal...

J. Freedom du Lac: There was plenty of litigation surrounding that album. But the bottom line is that no matter who did what on the album (John Legend doing studio work!), the end product was fantastic.


Agreed!: Yeah, listening to the Juno soundtrack was basically like being lodged in Zach Braff's earwax (to paraphrase the Onion).

J. Freedom du Lac: Excellent! Let the Ellen Page backlash begin here and now. After all, she brought the Moldy Peaches to the director's attention.


Stock Market Crisis Music: I want to listen to "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC because when I saw my most recent 401(k) statement, I kept thinking "I am going down ... all the way."

J. Freedom du Lac: I feel your pain. And how.


Tom Brady doesn't listen to the Drive-By Truckers?:"What kind of music do you think Tom Brady likes? I put him on Rodney Atkins."

Well, he went to Michigan, so I see him as more of a corporate-rock kind of guy, despite Giselle Bundchen.

J. Freedom du Lac: Hey, now - one of my best friends went to Michigan. He spent much of his time during law school there downloading box sets from the library. "Star Time" was the first one on his list, I think. Now that's a quality education!


shf: J. Free, this is not really relevant to anything today, but can you weigh in on a discussion I had this weekend: Who do you think was the worst of the late-90s early-00s alternative radio rock bands? Please say Staind. They were worse than Limp Bizkit, right?

J. Freedom du Lac: Sorry, I have to go with Limp Bizkit. In part because of the Fred Durst factor - but also because the music is latently obnoxious. Plus, there were - and are - a lot of popular bands that sound(ed) like Staind, so it all kind of blended together. Whereas Limp Bizkit was singularly annoying. And I had a gag reflex to that music.


Album of the Day: More Miles Than Money, by Alejandro Escovedo

J. Freedom du Lac: Bingo.


Takoma, D.C.: Oh man, Lauryn Hill's miseducation album is -so- genius. I don't even skip the skits.

J. Freedom du Lac: So tragic. Kinda like Amy Winehouse, but without the obvious signs of an impending meltdown, no?


Tom Brady's Favorite Bands: I'd put him squarely in the jock rock genre. DMB, Jack Johnson, etc...

I'll bet he also loves Paul Revere and the Raiders.

J. Freedom du Lac: After the Super Bowl, he'll probably become a fan of A Perfect Circle.


Hey: Do the "cool kids" like Jack Johnson? Please help. I'm tired of getting beat up, but I'm also tired of pretending I like Journey.

J. Freedom du Lac: Depends on which cool kids. Apparently the cool surfer kids do. The cool indie kids, not so much. I'm neither cool nor a kid, of course. So these are all just guesses.


Tom Brady's Favorite Music:"Your Cheatin' Heart.." Hank Williams Sr.

J. Freedom du Lac: Wouldn't that be Bill Belichick's fave?


Fairfax, Va.: I know I'm probably flogging a decayed horse, but the more I think about it, the more I think online filesharing (legal or otherwise) will ultimately be beneficial for the music industry.

I think what we're seeing are the dying throes of a beast so entrenched in the idea of glamour and coke parties and limos and buckets of money that they cannot accept that the market is changing and so are their fortunes. I for one am excited that there will ultimately be a leveling. More musicians will be able to make a decent living playing, and we the pop aficionados will not so constantly be bombarded by the same Top 40 artists.

I cannot wait for the day where we have fewer American Idiots and more Twin Cinemas.

J. Freedom du Lac: That's an interesting take. I do think, though, that the Top 40 artists will always be the Top 40 artists (margin of error plus or minus 3). No matter how much the distribution model changes, the managers of those acts will find the new road to ubiquity. It's just that they'll probably be less ubiquitous than they have been. Of course, if commercial radio blows up, then all bets are off.


Maybe third time's a charm: Thanks for proving my point as I try again to have you answer my question...because a discussion mocking Tom Brady is soooooooo cool. Here it is again in full form:

I have -- several times -- about R.E.M., their lack of American success vs. huge European success over recent years. But the only time I've seen you even mention Michael Stipe was to mock his appearance on "Iconoclasts." So I'm feeling pretty comfortable in my accusation of pretension. OK?

J. Freedom du Lac: Clearly you haven't been around here for very long because I've discussed REM in great detail in the past.

Sorry I don't remember what your question - from a previous chat - about REM was, but, well, I don't. Re-post it next week - and please don't wait until the last 10 minutes of the chat to do so - and I'll be sure to answer it. Unless, of course, you're too cool to return.


shf: Interesting. I'm no Limp Bizkit apologist, but I have to admit they at least pioneered new ways of sucking. Staind was sooo uninventive and boring, and to me that is a worse crime, despite the Durst factor. History will be the judge, though, I guess.

J. Freedom du Lac: The question, though, wasn't which band was the least cutting-edge in terms of craptitude - it was which was the worst. I had a negative visceral reaction to Limp Bizkit's music. Staind's just grated on the ears. Lesser of two musical evils as far as I'm concerned.


Tom Brady: I read some article in a Boston newspaper where he said he liked to go to small clubs and listen to rock, blues, hip-hop, and that he also liked electronic music.

But in the same article he said something about getting the "ladies to dance." So who knows.

J. Freedom du Lac: He must be a Beck fan, then. I'm rooting for the Patriots this weekend.


Just Some Friendly Advice:: Cut down on the name-checking of the Roots, Free. You know you'll wind up paying Scott Storch some kind of royalty for it. Shoot, I'm writing him a check for $5.95 as we speak.

J. Freedom du Lac: Just wait until I go to LA for the Grammys* and crash the annual Roots-hosted pre-Grammy jam.

(* Assuming they happen this year.)


Washington, D.C.: Hiya - I'm a giant U2 fan and I'm not ashamed. Well, maybe I'm a little ashamed. I mean, they're just so freakin -obvious-. Why even bother being a fan of such a giant band?

But anyway. I saw U2 3D at a screening in the fall, so it was an earlier, shorter cut, but it was AWWWeSOOOME. And I don't think that's my U2 fandom speaking.

(Also, just for the record, I think Bono is amusingly pompous. However, I do love the Edge with every fiber of my being.) (Well, most of them.) ( Except the Morgellons ones.)

J. Freedom du Lac: I, for one, am very much looking forward to their new album. They do great, galvanizing rock better than almost anybody else in the world.


Washington, D.C.: what can I (we?) do to contribute to the demise of commercial radio?

J. Freedom du Lac: Subscribe to satellite radio.


RE: Bono: Sheesh, poster, lighten up. Even Bono likes slamming Bono; it's an international sport, like soccer or curling.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes. The man went on SNL to make fun of himself, for chrissakes. He does have a few self-effacing bones in his body, you know.


Kensington, Md.: I am a 38 year old man who makes no apologies for being a metalhead in the 80s and for still being a metalhead today. The problem is that most of the metal I listen to today is STILL from the 80s and early 90s (everything from early Metallica, COC, Maiden, Pantera, etc to hair metal). I really can't get into bands like the Strokes, White Stripes, Spoon, etc. I also despise nu-metal. Just too wimpy for me. What is some good hard driving rock being put out today that is worth listening to? I am not asking for metal, just good guitar driven hard rock. Thanks!

J. Freedom du Lac: What about Hinder? It's pretty obvious stuff, but they seem to be resonating with a lot of folks who miss the days when Motley Crue ruled the earth.

If you want something more interesting, what about System of a Down? It's Frank Zappa fronting Metallica.


Springfield, Va.: Making fun of Bono is almost too easy. He's a pompous windbag who sings with the zeal of an attention-hungry 7-year-old. I'm sure I can't be the only one thoroughly unimpressed (not to mention bored) by U2, right?

J. Freedom du Lac: No, you're not. But I'm not sure what, exactly, is wrong with singing with the zeal of an attention-hungry 7-year-old. I prefer that sort of hunger to apathy.


Silver Spring, Md.: Hey, Just Wondering... I didn't get beat up by the cool kids in high school. I was one of the cool kids because I listened to groups that no one had heard of. Time to catch up. Enjoy the Jack Johnson show.

J. Freedom du Lac: More piling on.


New Orleans, La: I know this is last minute, but I'm in New Orleans too! How was the Tip's show? Did you see any other music while you were here?

J. Freedom du Lac: I've seen some jazz in the Quarter, as well as some frat boys doing hip-hop karaoke at two different bars (dopey dudes sing "My Humps" - a new Bourbon Street tradition, apparently). But that's about it.

Why are we both online if we're in New Orleans? Something is wrong with this picture.

I dunno about you, but I'm logging off.

Thanks for stopping by today, folks. Come back next week for the Jack Johnson-free chat starring special guests REM.


Oakland, Pa.: JFDL, I propose that next week we all abstain from snarking on Tom Brady, Bono, or Jack Johnson.

But we agree to unload on poopiehead posters with no sense of humor or shred of irony

J. Freedom du Lac: It's under consideration.


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