Freedom Rock

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J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 15, 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 Clay Aiken does.

The transcript follows.

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washingtonpost.com: David Banner's 'Story' Has Two Points of View

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washingtonpost.com: A.K.A. RZA: At 9:30, Rapper Trips Over His Crew of Alter Egos

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J. Freedom du Lac: Now playing: "Constructive Summer" by the Hold Steady* (* = now featuring 33% less awesomeness, according to Producer David, who knew them when).

What a snob, that guy.

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Bleeding Love: Been officially sick of this song on the radio for about 3 weeks now.

J. Freedom du Lac: Ah, Leona. Big push to make this the song of the summer, I guess. But my vote goes to Estelle's " American Boy."

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Washington, D.C.: With the recent passing of Madame Marie of "Sandy" and the Boardwalk fame, I was wondering if you would agree that first side of "The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle" would go down in history as the album side with the finest use of a tuba? To my mind, the only question is, what is the competition? "Tusk" used Souzaphones, but we can be liberal on tuba-like instruments.

J. Freedom du Lac: Funny - we were just having a conversation here yesterday about the best uses of clarinet in rock. Didn't come up with much, beyond "When I'm Sixty-Four" plus some more recent indie-rock types, like Sufjan Stevens, who've been incorporating clarinet.

Bruce and the boys done well with the tuba, but "The Band" also has some tuba on it, and that's a pretty great album.

Didn't we already cover this a couple of weeks ago?

It's like de ja vu all over again all over again.

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Silver Spring, Md.: The NY Times Sunday Mag had an interview with Patti Smith this past weekend. Deborah Solomon asked Smith whether she used hair conditioner and then called her Queen of the Split Ends. I think this is the kind of investigative reporting and no-holds-barred opinion that is missing from the Post's music coverage and Post Rock accounts of hipster prevarication to "the 'Bucks" baristas.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, please.

She was just chasing my hard-hitting quick-six interview with Mike Peters of the Alarm, in which I asked the following:

What do you miss least about the 80s: The constant U2 comparisons or thathair?

To which he said:

"I think we're responsible for the hole in the ozone layer with all the hairspray we used. I'm glad I don't have to run out to the Target store every day on tour to stock up. I'm glad that part's over. But it was a fantastic time; the '80s were great to the Alarm. But then the '90s came along and Nirvana blew us all out of the water."

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Burlington, Vt.: Who's your favorite Jonas brother? Mine's Cooper Jonas, the one who didn't make it big but is perfectly happy as an ordinary New Orleans businessman.

J. Freedom du Lac: What's the name of that Bonus Jonas kid? I'm going to pick him. Poor kid.

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NIN: Now with the Afro-studded, Beck/Garbage/Gnarls Barkley bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen solidifying the mighty Nine Inch Nails lineup, how do you like their chances at next month's Virgin Fest? Is it safe to crown Trent Reznor as the white Prince Rogers Nelson yet?

J. Freedom du Lac: The Washington Post Sportsbook is still setting the line on the VMoFest performers. So I'm not yet ready to say how I feel about anybody's chances next month at Pimlico. I will go out on a limb, however, and say that Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are prohibitive favorites (at 45-to-1) to be better than Duffy, who is at 11-to-2 to top Amy Winehouse's performance last year.

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I'm going to Camden!: to see Radiohead, for my replacement show.

just throwin that out there, because I feel like we haven't discussed the Nissan debacle in a few weeks.

and I'm impressed with Live Nation for making this concession; it's exactly what I announced would make me happy while sitting in the traffic. Too rare and unexpected behavior from a large corporation (I know that's not a popular opinion in this forum).

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm not sure this isn't a shill, but I'll pass it along anyway. Because, you know, I believe in equal time - unless we're talking about ZZ Top or Tool.

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Falls Church, Va.: re: finest use of a tuba?

Try Rag, Mama, Rag by The Band. Also, the all-horn breakdown in the middle of Chest Fever, also by The Band.

J. Freedom du Lac: Is there an echo in here? I could've sworn I already nominated The Band.

Also great on the tuba-rock front: The Roots covering "Masters of War" with Tuba Gooding Jr. jamming on the sousaphone. I saw them do it at the pre-Grammy jam at the Key Club, and it was insane. (Especially when Travis Barker came out for a drum-off with ?uestlove.)

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re: favorite Jonas: The Skipper from Gilligan's island, of course.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Skipper

J. Freedom du Lac: Nice pull!

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Arlington, Va.: Have you heard any feedback on the Rock the Bells concert tour? We are really excited to see so many great groups together in one place!

J. Freedom du Lac: Haven't heard/read anything about the shows. The lineup sure is intriguing, though, especially for cranky old hip-hop heads who hate most of the post-golden era stuff.

Malitz and I have been talking about the five most essential albums released by the artists on the Rock the Bells bill, and we can't quite agree on De La Soul. I'll explain in a blog post closer to the show.

Question: Why is Santogold on that bill? I like some of her stuff, especially that "Pretty Green" cover she did with Mark Ronson last year and "L.E.S. Artistes." But she's really misplaced there.

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Indieville, USA: Producer Dave turning on an artist he once liked after they gain any form of critical acclaim or popularity. Who would've guessed it?

J. Freedom du Lac: Read his blog post and I think you'll understand. Has nothing to do with their popularity.

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Re: I'm going to Camden!: Better you than me. Live Nation is the Devil.

J. Freedom du Lac: Not a Live Nation shill here. (But possibly a competing promoter!)

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The Band's Tuba: Ah, the intro to The Night They drove Ol' Dixie Down.

The album also has my favorite rock pun : " Standing by your window in pain,.."

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh yeah.

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Re: best tubas: Isn't the potato a kind of tuba?

J. Freedom du Lac: As is Fee Waybill.

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Falls Church, Va.: Well, it's not a clarinet, but I love the sound of the oboe on the intro of "I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher.

J. Freedom du Lac: I see we're working our way through the woodwind cabinet here.

Isn't there a National song that uses a bassoon?

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Summer Song: I thought it would be a toss up between Danity Kane, Metro Station, or Estelle

Best summer songs:

dj jazzy jeff and the fresh prince vs. banannarama

J. Freedom du Lac: Not a summer song, but another track that I'm absolutely loving - even if it's kind of terrifying - is Ida Maria's " Oh My God."

Best summer song of all time? "Good Vibrations." Who care if it was released during the winter. Southern California = endless summer.

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Washington, D.C.: Are you going to interview Scott Weiland for Virgin Festival again this year? If so, can you ask him all the same exact questions and see if he notices?

J. Freedom du Lac: You know what's sort of funny/ridiculous? Producer David and I discussed doing this very thing.

Won't happen, though. Too many other artists on our interviewing wish list.

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Tuba Lov, IN: Tom Waits' got his tuba on, too much to list....

So I'm 34, unmarried, and went to a buddy's wedding 4 weeks ago. For whatever reason, the bride had chosen to make karaoke part of the evening's entertainment. Imagine my surprise when I notice a few Tom Waits options on the hit list. Naturally, I went with "Better Off Without a Wife". After quaffing a bit of Scotch, of course. The bride, initially, was offended, until it was explained to her.

I give 'em 2 years, tops....

J. Freedom du Lac: I take it you weren't best man?

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Help!!: Hey J. Free upgraded from a 4g to an 80g iPod, I need some help filling it. Any suggestions. I listen to almost anything, except music that scream at me...I hate that.

Thanks

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, you're not going to want that Ida Maria song, then, even if it is pretty tuneful.

Download the Ashton Shepherd album. The new Hold Steady. Thao and the Get Down Stay Downs. Badu. Fleet Foxes. James McMurtry - you know, my 2008 favorites. And then, if you're doing this legally, see what iTunes recommends. They pay people lots of money to write programs that get inside your head.

If you're "grazing" --- see if that new Jenny Lewis album has leaked yet. And then send it to me.

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That Ida Marie Song: I listened to like two seconds and was terrified. Its catchy but a little eerie.

J. Freedom du Lac: The video only adds to the terror.

Somewhere, Tracy Bonham is questioning her very existence.

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I see we're working our way through the woodwind cabinet : the tuba's a brass.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, thank you.

I was referring to the clarinet-oboe portion of the program. Kinda hard to fit a tuba into a cabinet, anyway.

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Nowhere Man: So, I'm heading up to Quebec this weekend to see Paul McCartney. 250,000 people are expected. Should be interesting. I remember reading a Post review years back (perhaps you wrote it) that stated McCartney arguably has the most impressive back catalogue in music. Unfortunately for devoted fans like me, he seems hesitant to stray away from his giant hits and play slightly more obscure cult classics at his shows. I'm hoping for at least one song this weekend that takes me by surprise. I have been praying for a performance of Oh! Darling for years. I'm curious...If you could pick one song for Sir Paul to add to his setlist, what would it be?

J. Freedom du Lac: Didn't he pull out "A Day in the Life" for the first time ever in concert recently? (Who cares if he botched his own lyric; he got John's parts right!) So, he's not incapable of pulling off a surprise.

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Athens, Ga.: Wasn't there an oboe on "Nightswimming" by R.E.M.? (Since we haven't mentioned them for, what, a couple weeks now.)

J. Freedom du Lac: There sure was! It really elevates the song, too.

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Ida Marie song: No more horrifying than "I Kissed A Girl." Katy Perry needs to go far away.

J. Freedom du Lac: Sure, but the Katy Perry song is horrifying for an entirely different reason - namely that it's overproduced pap.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Are you sure there wasn't a youtube link for 34 year old/perpetual bachelor's turn at "Better Off without a Wife." Man, what a cutup that guy is. He's held off on telling that story for four weeks. Quit holding out, dude.

J. Freedom du Lac: There might be, but I'm too busy listening to "Nightswimming" right now to look.

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Philly:5 Most Essential Albums from Rock the Bells Group:

Low End Theory--ATCQ

3 Feet High and Rising--De La Soul

Black on Both Sides--Mos Def

36 Chambers--Wutang Clan

Rakim--The 18th Letter

Come on, Free.

J. Freedom du Lac: You have two of my five. The Wu-Tang Clan itself isn't performing, though, that album is off the list. Also, since Eric B was on the production tip and won't really be missed in concert, I'm including "Paid in Full" over "The 18th Letter." Rest of the list - including the also-rans - coming closer to the concert date, in a blog post.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey, some of us love women screaming at us. Thanks for reintroducing that Ida Marie video to me, I forgot how addicting it is.

So what do you think of the guest list of artists on the new Jenny Lewis album?

J. Freedom du Lac: J-Lew's list is long: Johnathan Rice, Farmer Dave Scher, Jason Boesel, Jason Lader and M Ward, plus Elvis Costello and a whole bunch of backing vocalists (Chris Robinson, Benji Hughes, Zooey Deschanel, Vanessa Corbala of Whispertown2000), some family members, etc. Will be interesting to see how it comes together. I'm especially curious about the vocal harmonies, which worked really well on the first album when the Watson Twins did most of 'em.

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I give 'em 2 years, tops.... : So just cuz she didn't think YOU were a witty dude and cream at your music choices, her marriage to some OTHER guy is doomed? Maybe her husband chose the Karaoke, not her...

J. Freedom du Lac: Carolyn Hax called. She wants her chat back.

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Burbank, Calif.: Interestingly enough, just last week, my buds at work and I were saying that if you played the flute, not so much usage in today's rock/pop music like back in the 70's...Carpenters, Jethro Tull, Seals & Croft, Carole King....

J. Freedom du Lac: Will Ferrell ruined the flute forever in "Anchorman."

You won't be able to hear a flute part again in rock-n-roll without thinking: "AQUALUNG!"

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Zooey: I heard her on some NPR show, not so crazy about it.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, you mean she actually sings!?

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Washington, D.C.: Downloaded the Magic Tour highlights today for the Ghost of Tom Joad with Tom Morello. They cleaned it up pretty nicely for the official release - actually, all the songs sound pretty good. That and Sandy were my favorite, even though (maybe because?) Federici was playing the accordion with only his right hand.

J. Freedom du Lac: Obligatory Springsteen post.

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Re: Tom Waits: I used to be a fan until I found out he doesn't actually live in a box car. I was crushed.

J. Freedom du Lac: Talk about not keeping it real...

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Re: Equal Time: My wife always asks for equal time. Sometimes it means we have to go shopping, and sometimes it means something else.

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks.

And on that note, it's time for me to go. Lest I actually spend any time thinking up an answer to the question about what instrument Larry King would play in a band - and what kind of music they'd do.

Thanks for stopping by. See you at the show.

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