Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 23, 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 is below.


J. Freedom du Lac: Greetings, chatters.

Some of you might remember that I once made fun of Coldplay (and the Dave Matthews Band) by writing that they "generally appeal to medium-level dull people. They both create music to be played in new cars. Whereas true artists make music to be played in old cars."

Outrage ensued! Well, not really: But some people wrote in to complain. And it kept coming up in the chat.

Well, on Sunday, L Freedom and I bought a new car.

And on the way back home, "Viva La Vida" came spilling out of the speakers. And I didn't change the station.

That's right: I was listening to Coldplay in my new car.

I don't even know me anymore.

Of course, I'm already on record as having said that the band's new album, "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends," is pretty decent.

But still: I thought I owed it to you to share.


Washington, D.C.: What are your favorite concert venues in metro DC? Thanks!

J. Freedom du Lac: Wherever there aren't people talking during the show. And I have a good standing spot/seat with good sightlines. And the rubber stamp on the back of my hand can be removed without using steel wool. And the mix is good.

Often, that means the Birchmere, unless I get there late for a seated show. Do the people who go to concerts there actually work? Seems like the place fills up awfully early.

Washington, D.C.: Quite a day for new releases. Jenny Lewis, TV On The Radio, Kings Of Leon, Cold War Kids, David Gilmour live double-album (for the old f@rts in the crowd).

Thoughts on any of those?

J. Freedom du Lac: The Jenny Lewis is a major disappointment, IMO. (See Malitz's riff here. I agree with pretty much everything he says, until he starts talking about how boring her first solo album was, too. So wrong, dude. So. Wrong.)

TV On the Radio's "Dear Science" will probably wind up winning a lot of critic's polls - and unlike the band's previous poll fave, "Return to Cookie Mountain," which didn't live up to the considerable hype in my opinion, I think this one comes pretty close to doing so. Not my favorite album of the year, but it's awfully good. (See today's Chris Richards-penned review here.)

Kings of Leon: Meh. (The Malitz take-down is here.)

Haven't yet heard the Cold War Kids, but it's on top of my pile. Liked the last one quite a bit; really, really liked the band in concert.


Arlington, Va.: Howdy. Just wanted to say thanks to TWP for reviewing the James show last week. I am a big fan and have seen them at least a dozen times. They were definitely on top of their game and the crowd was packed and really into it. I don't get to many concerts these days because I'm not as young as I used to be, but that had to be one of the best shows of the year. And they are planning to return to the US early next year? Cheers.

J. Freedom du Lac: But of course. Malitz and I were both there - fine show, especially once Tim Booth took that distracting rolled-up-condom-looking hat off his head. Loved that they had a Don Was doppelganger playing trumpet; really fleshed out the sound. Well-constructed set list, too. As Malitz noted post-show, there were 1,200 happy middle managers after the gig.

I rather like some of the new album. Especially "Hey Ma," the titular protest song.

Not sure if they're planning to return. James review


Coldplayland: Well, it's not as if they aren't on every station.

J. Freedom du Lac: This is true.

By the way, re the above question about new releases: As I actually can't find the Cold War Kids album at the moment (you'd understand if you saw my desk), I went to their Web site and then MySpace to try to hear the new music. There's exactly one song from the new album available. What's that all about? Almost as annoying as the country acts whose MySpace pages feature streams of snippets instead of full songs.


Tulsa, Okla.: Hey guys, procedural question here.

How come the postrock blog is the only washpost blog or article that blows up my browser?

I am able to peruse the entire wash post website without problem except for Postrock. It literally kills the browser. I think it has to do with one of the video's you have on there, as it will start load and then die.

For your computer people, i run a current fully patched ubuntu hardy heron 8.04 OS with firefox 3.0.1 browser with flash.

J. Freedom du Lac: Haven't the slightest idea. But I assume - as always - that it's Malitz's fault.

We'll try to figure it out. (Meaning: We'll ask somebody who knows what they're talking about to figure it out.)


Arlington, Va.: I read yesterday that the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame nominees came out. Here's the list:



the Stooges

Jeff Beck

Wanda Jackson

Little Anthony and the Imperials


Bobby Womack


Who do you think they have left out? Who doesn't deserve to be on this list?

I can't figure out why Peter Gabriel is still not in the hall, given the quality of his work and his influence (on bringing World Music into mainstream rock, on the use of visuals in videos and concerts, as well as his actual music). Do you share my miffedness or is the HoF just a silly idea we shouldn't care about anyway?

J. Freedom du Lac: I could make a case for all nine of the nominees - yes, even Run-DMC, as I fall on the "include 'em" side of the should-rappers-be-inducted argument. So they all deserve to be on the list.

As for who was excluded: As always, it's a long and rather amazing list. (Among the acts who weren't nominated in their first year of eligibility: The Smiths, Bon Jovi and Stevie Ray Vaughan.)

The Web site Future Rock Hall covers The Excludeds pretty well, actually. Worth spending some time there if you feel like getting fired up about those who still on the outside looking in, eg Gram Parsons, Rush and, um, Weird Al.

And people do get worked up about this stuff: Just check out the comments section on yesterday's blog post about the nominations for proof. You'll also see the warm invitation extended to me by the Cleveland visitors bureau to come hang out in the friendliest of all Midwestern cities. It's pretty awesome. Here:

To J. Freedom du Lac (very cool promotional sellout name):

When did Rock and Roll become identified with snobbery and insulting a city (the other four will spend a lovely - if lonely - weekend in Cleveland...)? Whoever you are, you need punched in the face. You wouldn't last five minutes in Cleveland's neighborhoods, you snob punk. Used to be a fan of Wash Post, no longer.

Posted by: Nate | September 22, 2008 7:36 PM


Gaithersburg, Md.: Hello, J.Free,

Re: Country music crooner James Otto

It's nice to see that the GEICO caveman was able to get a record contract. (Only my fellow S-kickers will understand that one) He does not sound bad, though. Agree?

J. Freedom du Lac: Wow, harsh. But....

James Otto.

Geico Caveman.

The only song of his that I've heard is the single, "Just Got Started Lovin You," the one that kind of sounds like Josh Turner's "Your Man," only without Turner's super-rich baritone.


Herndon, Va.: The following ads were at the bottom of "Please Explain to Me ... Jenny Lewis" - I think it explains a lot...

Ads by Google

Panties Set From Thongs to Full Coverage. Explore Panties Set!

Free Songwriting Contest $1,000 Cash & Publicity Awarded Every Month! No Submission Fee.

Leeland live in concert Limited first-in tickets on sale Sat., Oct 25th Joppa, MD 7pm

J. Freedom du Lac: That's outstanding!


Wanda Jackson: If any of you chatters have never heard her, do yourself a favor and pick up a CD. She's amazing.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, yeah - she's fantastic.

Great interview, too. Did a Q&A with her earlier this year for the blog, and she was marvelous. (Click here.)


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Isn't a person who would take the time to pen a letter to the editor by definition a "medium-level dull person"? -Of course, those who contribute to online discussions are exempted from this rule . . . ]

J. Freedom du Lac: You might be onto something here. Though I always enjoy the Free For All page on Saturday, where readers sound off on things they hate (and, once every five months, that they love) in/about the paper. It's sorta like the comments section, really - only with an editor, and without people posting "first!" and arguing about things that have nothing to do with the stories themselves.


Washington, D.C.: I don't really have a question, just wanted to let you know that Sugarland review was pretty funny this morning. Good combination of actual music review w/ atmospheric description as well.

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks, I'll pass that along to Rachel. She done good.

Amusingly, she got a note this morning from blogger (and Friend of Freedom Rock) Alison Bonaguro, who wanted to fact-check something: Had Rachel been barfed on, or was she spared? (For those keeping score at the office: She was spared.)


Ann Arbor is a tart: Technical question: Is it possible to move your names to the top of the blog posts so I don't have to page down to determine whether something was written by J Freedom or by the guy who needs so much explained to him.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'd have to ask a Movable Type expert whether that might be possible. But it's probably not something we'd do.

Here's a tip: Just read it assuming that I did NOT in fact write it, since Malitz has been producing about 71 percent of the blog posts lately.

Also: If the post features a photo of somebody you don't recognize, there's a 96 percent chance that it's a Malitz post.

Those odds increase if the post includes references to "Comet Ping Pong," "Starbucks barista," "Pittsburgh Pirates" or "David Berman"/"Silver Jews." Oh, and "I look like a Jonas Brother."


Arlington, Va.: J. Free - I just finished reading Paul Farhi's chat and now I have "Ebony and Ivory" stuck in my head. Please help!

J. Freedom du Lac: This might help unstick that song.


David Malitz-Jonas: That's just scary.

J. Freedom du Lac: In many ways.


Enterprise, Ala.: Did you know that Metallica used to be pretty awesome?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah. And then they cut their hair.

That in and of itself didn't make them any less awesome, really - but it's a pretty easy way to remember when they jumped the shark. "Load"/"Reload" was not the band's finest hour, though it actually got worse. (Metallica with a symphony orchestra! Nothanks.)

I actually think "St. Anger" had some pretty fine moments (parts of "Frantic," eg, except when the edge suddenly disappears from Hetfield's voice, which is just weird). I appreciate the rawness of the album, too. I think "Death Magnetic" is a fair flashback to an earlier era, but there's something missing there. Sense of purpose? Dunno. Can't quite pinpoint it.

Curious to see how they are on the upcoming tour.


Washington, D.C.: Hiya JFduL What kind of car did you buy? Did you upgrade the stereo? Doesn't Coldplay sound the same regardless of the quality of your car stereo? Muzak is Muzak.

J. Freedom du Lac: Something very utilitarian that gets very good gas mileage for a non-hybrid. And it's a stock stereo. No plans to upgrade, either, as I won't be driving very much, and L Freedom's WAMU listening sessions will sound just fine on the current stereo. Wouldn't be much point to installing a higher-end system.


Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: "Often, that means the Birchmere, unless I get there late for a seated show. Do the people who go to concerts there actually work? Seems like the place fills up awfully early."

The Birchmere books acts that tend to appeal to an older crowd, many of us with plenty of annual leave to take if we want to make sure we get good seats (especially if Richard Thompson is playing).

BTW, do yourselves a favor and have someone review Scottish folksinger Julie Fowlis at Jammin' Java this Saturday.

J. Freedom du Lac: You people and your annual leave!

Love the place, but there's nothing worse than arriving just as an act is going on at a sold-out show -- and getting stuck in one of the backwards seats against one of the walls near the back of the room.


Anonymous: Re: Wanda Jackson Her voice has changed, she's practically a minister on stage, and the only edge she has is from whatever rockabilly band is backing her up. GET THE OLD RECORDS, avoid the live shows!!!!!

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks for passing this along. Haven't actually seen her live, so I can't agree/disagree, except to say that, yes, those old records are what you'll want to hear.


McLean, Va.: Hi J - Sunday's New York Times travel magazine supplement featured a photo of "gentleman traveler" Bryan Ferry. The caption briefly noted that he is currently in the studio with Eno working on a new Roxy Music album. Can you add any details?

J. Freedom du Lac: That's been kicking around for some time; I remember hearing about it before I came to TWP, which was in mid-2005. No idea when it's supposed to be finished/released, though. But Eno has insisted that he won't tour with the band.


Chicago, still home of two first place teams: Regarding the Hall of Fame - more importantly, will Ron Santo finally make the Hall of Fame?

J. Freedom du Lac: He's kind of the Rush of Cooperstown, isn't he? At least in terms of the amount of outrage that's generated when he's passed over every year.

He definitely deserves to go. I'm with Joe Sheehan on this one.


James, D.C.: Rumor is that James is thinking about touring the US again in February, probably owing to the better-than-they-expected response to these shows. So keep a look-out.

I second the poster and J - the show was AWESOME! I've loved them for 10+ years but had never been able to see them live before. They absolutely did not disappoint.

J. Freedom du Lac: I hope they bring that light backdrop again - and then give it to me after the show. That thing was cool.


Washington, D.C.: Want to join my new band, "The Susan Luccis of Proto-Punk?"

J. Freedom du Lac: Nah. I hate music/it's got too many notes.


Of Montreal: What are your, or Producer David's, thoughts on Of Montreal? And what album of theirs would you recommend (if any). Friend offered me tickets to 9:30, and I can't use volume or headphones at work, and offer expires sooner rather than later.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'll be reviewing their show at the 9:30. You should go, too. "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?" is an album that continues to grow on me. Haven't spent any time with the new one yet, though.

As for Malitz - he says: "Not to sound like an elitist [ahem], but I was sick of that band in 1999."


Bethesda, Md.: Do you really think that the Smiths will ever be nominated into the Hall of Fame? Especially when there's zero chance of the obligatory jam session with Morrissey and Mike Joyce. Joy Division or New Order, other British bands that have influenced music not made by Bruce Springsteen or favored by his fluffer Dave Marsh will never be in the Hall either. It's Bon Jovi and Pearl Jam from here on out kids.

J. Freedom du Lac: I think there's a chance, yes. Massively influential and important. Doesn't matter that the jam session might not materialize. I mean, Nirvana will get in when the time comes, and there obviously won't be a full-band jam session then. So....

Bon Jovi was eligible this year but didn't make the List of Nine.


Washington, D.C.: Weren't you going to put an interview with Nils Lofgren on the blog? Did I miss it?


J. Freedom du Lac: It's my "Chinese Democracy."

It's currently scheduled for, well ... soon.


Hand Stamps: Easiest way to get rid of the handstamp? Ask Mrs. FDL for some of her eye-makeup remover. A little of that on a cotton pad or even a tissue and the ink wipes right off. Never fails. You can thank me later.

J. Freedom du Lac: Actually, I just use Clearasil Pore Cleansing Pads. They almost always take the ink right off. (Still fun to complain about, though.)


SW D.C.: I know one of the guys who does security for IMP and Sunday in the Country is always one of their biggest headaches. I guess the booze sales numbers are good enough to offset the damage.

I would also like to disagree re: Metallica. The stuff with the SFSO is, I think, pretty nifty. I do agree on St. Anger and Death Magnetic though. St. Anger doesn't deserve the scorn it's gotten. Some very strong song writing. And some of Death Magnetic is a bit aimless. I think James was going for something introspective on death and survival.

At least it's "Death Magnetic" and not "Deth Magnetic". That's way too 80's.

J. Freedom du Lac: I've always wondered why IMP doesn't do many country shows at the 9:30 club. Surely, some of those acts would do big bar business. Maybe not enough to outpace, say, the Black Crowes. But it'd have to be up there. And I sure would like to see some of those acts at the club. Eric Church, for instance. Miranda Lambert. A Jamey Johnson-Ashton Shepherd double-bill. Aside from a small handful, though (Pat Green, come on down!), they just don't seem to do big, multi-city club tours that swing through this region. Too bad.


Chattanooga, Tenn.: Why ISN'T Rush in the Rock & Roll HOF. And don't say, "Because they suck." Suckitude does not preclude HOF membership.

J. Freedom du Lac: Because the nominating committee hates progressive rock. No Rush, no Yes, no nominations for King Crimson, etc.


Washington, D.C.: If memory serves a recent chat brought up the strangest song you ever heard in the strangest setting. For me: "Blitzkrieg Bop" at the Safeway on Bladensburg Road. Surreal. Just surreal.

J. Freedom du Lac: Very bizarre, indeed.

Wonder how that would sound in the new car?


Re: Rock Hall of Fame: Do they really have to admit five?

J. Freedom du Lac: I believe they do - if for no other reason than to anger all those Rush fans who get worked up every year when the band is left out yet again. (Course, they can't even crack the list of nine nominees.) Those nominating conversations must be fun, especially now, with hip-hop coming into play.


In defense of Cleveland and other topics...: I was at the RRHOF a couple of weeks ago and have to say it was pretty amazing. Standing there looking at Joe Strummer's Telecaster and Paul Simonon's smashed bass (see the cover of "London Calling"), and Jerry Garcia's guitars was spine-tinging. I truly got goosebumps a couple of times.

(Yes, I'm a AOR/classic rock junkie and plead guilty to it -- my parents were hippies so I never had a fighting chance. But I do think I've got pretty good taste in music...)

To that end, Run DMC in the HoF is a no brainer. Stooges? Unparalelled influence -- need to be in. Anyway you slice it's a much better crop this year than last year.

Two final thoughts...I guess I don't dislike Coldplay as much as many here. They've shown some nice evolution and frankly I like the fact that I listen to a group who is actually making music in this decade. They're good to relax to...

And consider this the obligatory, once-a-chat Springsteen question. No real question in mind...just thought I'd put the marker down.

J. Freedom du Lac: Never been to the Rock Hall myself. Tried to go for the opening, but my editors at the time decided it wasn't an big enough story. Changed their mind while watching the opening ceremonies on live TV and wound up running a wire story on the front page of the next day's paper. Not that I'm still bitter!


Washington, D.C.: A question about camaraderie at TWP. When you (collectively) are planning a major purchase like a big TV or your car or something like that, do you find the other columnists that specialize in those areas (Pegoraro for electronic gadgets, Warren Brown for cars) are happy to offer their 2 cents, or do they make you read their columns? Just curious. What about J.F. du Lac for music? Are you free with your advice?

J. Freedom du Lac: Not I, though I think I once asked one of the baseball writers (probably Dave Sheinin) a question about a player I was considering in my fantasy baseball dynasty league.

But I do know people here who have done stuff like that before. Asking Steven Pearlstein for investment-strategy advice, for instance. And certainly Tom Sietsema gets a ton of restaurant questions. I get occasional questions from colleagues, but usually it's like: "Can you get me a front-row ticket to the sold-out Springsteen show?" Or: "Should I let my 11-year-old daughter see Opeth?"


"...the nominating committee hates progressive rock...": Isn't Genesis in the HOF? Or is that just in appreciation of Phil Collins's "Mexican" accent?

J. Freedom du Lac: I don't believe they're in.


Coldplay in the New Car: I'm OK with this, as long as you didn't buy a yuppiemobile like a Beemer or Saab, in which case you are dead to me.

J. Freedom du Lac: Nope and nope.

Malitz guessed Porsche.

I'm like: Dude, what indications did I give you that the midlife crisis has arrived? Besides my relatively positive Coldplay album review, anyway?

We went Toyota.


Your editors didn't think the RRHOF was a big enough story!?!?!?: That might be enough to make me cancel my subscription....

J. Freedom du Lac: Me, too - though at the time, I didn't even have a subscription, even though I was eligible for The Sacramento Bee's employee discount.


8th and I: J. Free--

What's the latest on Chinese Democracy? I ask because the track they lent to Rock Band ("Shackler's Revenge") is pretty awesome, and I am wondering if this mythical creature is ever going to show itself for the world to see. Not that anyone buys CDs anymore.

J. Freedom du Lac: The prevailing opinion/speculation seems to be that it'll come out before year's end. Of course, we've heard that before, haven't we?

It will land after my Nils interview, that's all I know!

Meanwhile, just published a kinda interesting timeline that tracks the spread of all those Springsteen-at-the-DemConvention rumors.

Writes Dan Billin:

"One of the sorriest spectacles at last month's Democratic National Convention was the blizzard of erroneous news reports saying the program for Barack Obama's stadium speech would include performances by Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. The coverage was schizophrenic, with serial confirmations of the rumors on one hand and serial debunkings of them on the other. Not even an emphatic denial on Springsteen's official Web site was enough to dissuade the hard-core believers in the press. How the story progressed from speculation to fact to bust provides an object lesson in the pitfalls of rumor reporting, celebrity-obsessed journalism, and the over-use of anonymous sources."

Weird thing is, it was pretty easy to get official word on this. All I had to do was get in touch with Springsteen's camp - which I decided I should do after receiving a bunch of emails from Springsteen-loving colleagues in Denver who were dying to know whether the rumors were true.


scott circle: Just curious: what are you listening to in in the office right this very minute?

J. Freedom du Lac: TV on the Radio's "Dear Science."


Run-DMC: Though there's no denying the contributions from Run-DMC to popular music, wouldn't they fit better at a rap/hip-hop hall of fame? Does such a thing exist?

J. Freedom du Lac: Nope.

Not unless you think that the Hall should eject Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Isaac Hayes, the Staples Singers, Curtis Mayfield, the Bee Gees, Bob Marley, Al Green and every other artist who doesn't fall directly under the rock-and-roll umbrella, as you're narrowly defining it.


Tulsa, Okla.: Favorite out of place song

Kmart - Christmas shopping when the Who start singing "Christmas" from tommy comes over the speakers.

J. Freedom du Lac: Fantastic!

"Tommy doesn't know what day it is/He doesn't know who Jesus was or what praying is."

That's even more ridiculous than this widespread idea that Joni Mitchell's "River" is somehow a Christmas song - something I wrote about in 2006.


New York, N.Y.: When will the 80s/90s be recognized at the RRHOF? It's kind of a joke right now. You have groups like 'New Order' and 'the Cure' that must eventually be enshrined.

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, given that an act isn't eligible until 25 years has passed since its recorded debut, the '90s are still several years away. As for the '80s, they've been recognized a little bit, as Madonna, REM, Van Halen, U2 and Prince are among those who've been inducted. Not exactly the sort of music you're talking about, but same decade.


SW D.C.: Do any country acts really do club tours? Some do theater tours on occasion, but I can't say I've ever heard of many country acts doing club tours. Maybe deep down south.

As for other country acts at Merriweather....Live Nation has a pretty firm grasp on a lot of them and they don't seem to be willing to work with IMP on doing more of those shows at Merriweather. Since they all sell Nissan really well I guess that's all LN needs unless an artist really pushes hard for Merriweather ala Green Day or Iron Maiden.

J. Freedom du Lac: Chesney played both Merriweather and Nissan one year, but yeah - it's really Live Nation's thing. Nissan is definitely the epicenter of mainstream country music in this market. Makes for a nicer drive to Nissan from downtown DC, too, as the traffic pattern is much different for those shows, with more cars coming from the west/southwest.

And no, the country acts don't really do club tours in this region, which is a shame. I started thinking about that when I saw Eric Church at a smallish venue in Nashville in 2006. Why can't we have that here?


re: Bethesda, Md.: Please don't build up someone you like by trying to tear down someone else. I think the British bands you mention should get consideration for the HOF, but slamming Bruce Springsteen isn't really giving anyone a reason. Stop the hatin'!

I for one would pay money to see Miserable Moz inducted. That could be a all timer.

J. Freedom du Lac: Personally, I'd love to see the Smiths reunite for the Super Bowl half-time show. The NFL already likes Moz, obviously. So why not?


Bowie, Md.: I'd love it if the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would periodically eject someone. My candidates: Jackson Browne (rock and roll?), the Mamas and Papas (only together for a year and a half).

J. Freedom du Lac: It's like being a tenured professor, though. Only, with royalty checks.

Malitz and I strongly disagree with your Mamas and Papas pick, by the way.


re Blitzkrieg Bop: Even odder place. Performed by a marching band at this year's Kensington Maryland Labor Day parade.

J. Freedom du Lac: That might take the cake.

Thanks for stopping by today, folks. See you on the blog.


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