Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 16, 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 Nicole Scherzinger does.

The transcript follows.

____________________ 'The Real Thing'; Amy Adams Enchants, Impresses in Nun's Role

_______________________ Hootie And a Hollerin'; Rucker Finds Unlikely Success In Country Music


Barbadododos: What is the deal wif Rhiana. She has at least 3 singles on the radio now and has had nonstop play at least since that umbrella song ela ela ela.

J. Freedom du Lac: As the hip-hop kids say: She major.

She and Taylor Swift are destined to meet in a UFC match at some point, I think.

Welcome to the chat, folks. Or, as Rihanna likes to call it: Disturbia.


Rock and Roll Hotel: Going to the ...o.a.r. show tonight. How is the venue? Do they allow photography, be it flash or not? When will the band go on?

J. Freedom du Lac: The venue is fine. Somewhat unlikely place for OAR to be playing, but hey.

No idea about flash photography or start time. Get there early and drink lots*, though, to keep the concert economy moving.

(* = unless you're driving. In which case, buy seven T-shirts instead.)


Hollywood?: Good story on Amy Adams -my future wife- ------but what is the deal with you writing about movies? She going the Zooey/Jared Leto/Terence Howard route and ramping up a side career in music?

J. Freedom du Lac: She sang in "Enchanted" and was singing still when I met her for the interview. That story was so obviously about music.

Okay, here's the truth: TWP doesn't have an LA-based Style writer at the moment, since the great Bill Booth has gone south, to man our Mexico City bureau. The Amy Adams interview was available, and the editors needed somebody to do it. Didn't have to ask me twice, either.


Washington, D.C.: What non music blogs do you read on a regular basis?

J. Freedom du Lac: Here are four.

Bill Wyman's (no, not


Bill Wyman's)


, though it's often about music.

Rotoworld's MLB Player News

, because dumb luck alone won't win four FBL titles in seven years.


, because I just can't tune out the constant drumbeat of negativity re the news biz.

, which isn't a blog, but, rather, a discussion board for DC-area foodaholics.

Nate Silver's

was at the top of my list until early November. Still bummed that I never got to do a story on him.


Van Down by the River, Va.: Hey J. Free,

I got a bone to pick with Rolling Stone's pick for best single of the year - 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It).' Now, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but the one term that most critics use to describe this ditty is 'infectious.' Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the Black Plague was infectious. That didn't make the disease a necessarily good thing and worthy of high praise. Am I alone on my own island of hating this dull, repetitive pop number that everyone seems to be ga-ga over?

J. Freedom du Lac: You are not alone, but it is probably not a very populous island. The track is just undeniable. However - and here, I may be going out on a limb, on a deserted island - I actually like Britney's "Womanizer" even more than Sasha's single. Not for the vocal performance, such as it is. Just for the riddim and the way the whole song comes together.

Still, everybody knows that the 2008 single of the year is Jazmine Sullivan's "Bust Your Windows."

And that "Hey Ma" by James is very high on the list, as well - whether it was an official single or not.


North Carolina: What has happened to Lucinda Williams? We are big fans and all, but we have a hard time listening to her new 'Little Honey' CD.

J. Freedom du Lac: She stopped drinking?


Santa's Workshop is in Columbia Heights: J Freedom - You've done me a big favor in years past by helping me get the word out about this charity music show. I'm hoping you might hook it up for me again. As usual, 100% of monies collected will go to fight hunger with DC Central Kitchen. Thank you and happy holidays!

It's the 9th Annual Joti Rockwell and the Ambalamps Network Television Holiday Extravaganza!

Saturday, 12/20, 9-11pm at Wonderland in Columbia Heights ($10 donation). 100% of donations go to DC Central Kitchen.

The show has both traditional holiday favorites like John Denver's "Please, Daddy, Don't Get Drunk This Christmas," and "Father Christmas" by the Kinks, but also more funky offerings like, "Taste The Sugarplums," and "Dub Rudolph." Dr. Seuss, the Chipmunks, Charles Schultz, and Run D.M.C. will also be well represented. Santa will be there...we hope you can make it too.

J. Freedom du Lac: How can I say no to this? When it includes references to Run-DMC, John Denver, Alvin, Simon, Theodore and one of Producer David's favorite bands, the Kinks?


Dee R. Dotcomm: What's with the excessive editing on these chats? The minor topic drifts outside the world of music hardly seem like reason to censor questions. :-)

J. Freedom du Lac: What editing? The only editing that takes place is the occasional formatting fix. That and the scrubbing of naughty words.

All the questions get pushed through to the queue, except on those days when that dude in Long Beach is flooding us with 258 questions/observations about ZZ Top. I then pick and choose what to post. It's not censorship. It's called "playing God."


Severna Park, Md.: i like producer david blog

when is j freedom blog?

J. Freedom du Lac: Third Monday of every month.


Fairfax, Va.: We went to the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra last Friday at George Mason; large crowd, well received. Yet, unless my eyes are failing, I did not see a review of this event. The Post did see fit to review something at Jammin' Java, a tiny place, Roy Clark who has been around for decades and, presumably, reviewed before, and a couple of other small events....Is there something about reviewing as far away as the Center for the Arts that discourages having someone there? Or do you consider only those events in D.C. itself as worthy of coverage. Yes, I know you do sometimes review GMU events and others in Maryland, but I think it strange that the New Orleans group was missed....

J. Freedom du Lac: You see how many performing-arts reviews we had in the paper Monday? (Here, I'll help: There were eight.) You see any wide-open white spaces in the Style section that day? (Again, I'll help: You didn't.)

We can't review 'em all.

The Roy Clark and Carrie Rodriguez shows were Sunday and the reviews appeared today. Both are significant in their own right and were worthy of review in the estimation of the guy who puts together the reviews schedule. (That'd be me.)


Washington, D.C.: So I looked up Jazmine Sullivan after you talked about her a few weeks ago. I like "Bust Your Windows" but prefer "I Need You Bad." The lyrics in "Bust Your Windows" are just so repetitive...

J. Freedom du Lac: But it's such a powerful use of repetition.


College Park, Md.: Pitchfork's Top Songs of 2008

Thoughts? I probably would have put both "Love Lockdown" and "Single Ladies" (which are on the list elsewhere) in the Top 10. Also, I must be the only one not so hot on "American Boy."

J. Freedom du Lac: Haven't looked yet. Busy trying to finish my Top 10 albums list. But yes, you are the only one not so hot on "American Boy." It's the joint.


Chicago, Ill.: What are your thoughts of Pitchfork's top songs? They picked Hercules, "Blind" as #1?

I always like Pitchfork's list. But I never like their #1 song. It's like David Letterman and His Top 10, the number 1 reason is never as funny as say number 4.

My favorite song this year is Coldplay's Viva La Vida. If Radiohead writes this song, I think it's a cult classic.

J. Freedom du Lac: If Radiohead writes that song, Joe Satriani sues.


J Liberte: JFreedom: Tina Turner, Country Music, Actresses, Political Events--is there ANYTHING you don't cover?

J. Freedom du Lac: Gardening.

Though I think I did write about Spencer the Gardener at one point.


Camera Obscura: Re: the O.A.R show. Explain the need to citizen photograph a concert? I'm unaware of any venue or artist that allows real photography of their shows without a press pass. Cell phone cameras and video look and sound awful. And you'll be watching the show through a tiny lens. Wasn't this one of the things not to do at a gig? Are people afraid that they won"t remember the show, is it to prove that one has been there, or more importantly will this be the night that Noel is pushed off the stage? I saw Elton John 33 years ago when I was 10. I've been to hundreds of shows since, but I can still remember what he was wearing and some of the songs he sang. If it's good, you'll remember it.

J. Freedom du Lac: That's a damn good question. The only reason I take pictures at shows (always on the cell) is to taunt friends via text.


Austin, Tex.: Do you know anything about Rock en Espanol?

Any favorites?

J. Freedom du Lac: Not rock en espanol, but a mi me encanta "Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo" de Calle 13.


Illinois: As long as this chat seems to be free-form, will the Nats sign Mark Teixeira?

J. Freedom du Lac: Doubt it. He's going to look pretty good in a Boston uni. (I say that as somebody who hates the Red Sox but has Teixeira on his dynasty-league FBL team. It's all about the counting stats.)


Tre (Philly): No, not the only one not hot on American Boy....

Anyway, do you guys have a review of Jazmine Sullivan's album? I'm admittedly too lazy to look through the site to find it--if it exists!

J. Freedom du Lac: It's all about your needs.


but the one term that most critics use to describe this ditty is 'infectious.': Seriously, that's a word you use to describe songs like "Macarena" and "Who Let the Dogs Out."

J. Freedom du Lac: And "Only Wanna Be With You."


Lindsey Buckingham: Free,

Just purchased the latest from Lindsey Buckingham "The Gift of Screws". Not sure if you have heard but a fantastic album with great guitar work.

Definitely on my Top 10 list for 2008.

Have a great Holiday Season.

J. Freedom du Lac: One vote/plug for Lindsey Buckingham.

By the by, I posted

something about year-end-list lobbying

on the blog today. Publicists, defend yourselves!


Re: If Radiohead wrote Viva La Vida...: Radiohead would never write Viva La Vida. Don't even go there. I don't get it--do people really not see the vast superiority of Radiohead to Coldplay?

J. Freedom du Lac: Apparently not.

I was just looking at my live-shows database from this year. Radiohead's Monsoonapalooza is at #3, with a completely-made-up score of 9.1 (just behind Levon Helm and Randy Newman). Coldplay (the first Verizon Center show) is squarely mid-pack with a 7.1.


American Boy: The first time I ever heard American Boy was on Sirius and it was a remix. I was disappointed when I downloaded the original off iTunes (the remix doesn't have any Kanye which I think helps it a lot). I'm also finding that I can tolerate Beyonce much more through various remixes. E.g., the Freemasons remix of Ring the Alarm is in heavy rotation on my iPod although the original version made me want to stick needles under my fingernails (much like Womanizer, btw...).

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, come on - that Kanye verse is perfect. "Dressed smart like a London bloke/Before he speak his suit bespoke"!!!!


Baltimore, Md.: Amy Adams/Roy Clark twofer: How come no mention of Adams' work last year in "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day," where she worked beautifully with the great Frances McDormand?

As for Roy Clark, you really had to review him because, unlike the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, he's local talent. Long before Hee Haw and Branson, he was playing in the honky tonks that used to dot 14th Street in DC and Rosslyn. (Hard to believe, but Rosslyn was filled with honky tonks in the 50s and early 60s.)

J. Freedom du Lac: I dunno, I guess because I didn't want it to read like an annotated IMDB entry.

Roy Clark is a local legend. Like I said, there was plenty of reason to review him, as well as Carrie Rodriguez. Doesn't mean we never thought about reviewing the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, but there's not exactly unlimited space in the daily print edition. The Monday review pile-ups are especially brutal.


Radiohead Again: I was at that monsoonapalooza (lawn tickets, no less), and it was truly awesome...which leads me to the question: which two shows beat it?

J. Freedom du Lac: Ummmm......the two that I just named: Levon Helm (at Rams Head Live in Baltimore) and Randy Newman (at Strathmore in "Bathseeba," as my mother-in-law calls it).


Chinese Democracy: I kept hearing people talking about Chinese Democracy, can't wait for the new Chinese Democracy album, blah blah blah. I thought it was some great band I'd never heard of, so I searched iTunes and couldn't find the band.. Imagine my disappointment when I finally learn it's the latest album of some group that for some reason insists on calling themselves "Guns n Roses."

J. Freedom du Lac: Axl Rose sent out an open-letter that had your name on it, I think. It's longer than a William Vollman novel, but one of the points he makes (over and over and over) is that, no, this is actually a Guns N Roses project, not an Axl Rose solo project, because a solo deal would be more instrumental, and by the way, it's his name, because he brought it to the band in the beginning and everybody agreed that he'd leave with it if the original GNR ever imploded (which it did), and so on and so forth.


Explain the need to citizen photograph a concert?: It's 20 somethings who are taking a photography class, and have aspirations of doing work for Rolling Stone. They are building up a portfolio.

David Malitz: It's so annoying. It's an epidemic. Damn millennials. If I were to write a song with a Fallout Boy-inspired title about this trend it would be: "Hey Girlie/Bro, Just Because You Have a Camera and Took One Photography Class It Don't Mean You're An Artist."


Nats: The Nationals must sign Mark Teixeira. Spring can't get here soon enough. Not a sermon, just a thought.

J. Freedom du Lac: OTOH, I would love to see Teix and Elijah Dukes in the same MLB lineup, since they're already in the same FBL lineup ... on my team. (I picked him up after watching him play at Nationals Park a few times. He just looked like a stud when he swung the bat, even though his batting average was, like, .187 at the time. Yay me.)


Hercules:: "Blind" is so friggin' catchy. I think I would have put "Gila" by Beach House as my top song though.

Malitz: what do you think about the band "Life Without Buildings:? She sounds like a female Mark E. Smith. I just heard "PS Exclusive" yesterday and I can't get it out of my head.

David Malitz: Life Without Buildings, one of the great one-album bands of the decade. We charted "Any Other City" Top 10 for many months at WMUC back when it came out in 2001. "PS Exclusive" has a coveted 5-star rating in my iTunes, "New Town" is really great, too. And yes, Sue Tompkins sounds like a female version of MES. I remember the first time I listened to that album I mentioned to someone that it sounded a bit like the Fall and he said, "No, it sounds exactly like the Fall." Check out the live album that came out a couple years ago, "Live at the Annandale Hotel."

So, uh, yes, I really like LWB. In fact I think I will listen to them right now.


Guns n Roses: Who honestly cares?

J. Freedom du Lac: Axl. And Irving Azoff. And the folks at Best Buy. Plus, I guess, a few 34-year-old dudes who are living with their parents, in the basement.


College Park, Md.: Oh, Kanye is definitely the best part of "American Boy." Clearly. It's everything else that is...pretty lame.

J. Freedom du Lac: Here's one dissenting opinion.


Underappreciated Xmas Songs: I always thought The Band's "Christmas Must be Tonight" was a terrific song. Oddly about the only rock n'roll religious Christmas song around.

J. Freedom du Lac: The Xmas lightning round begins.


Follow up from last week...: There was a question about Christmas songs. Well after the fact I remembered this little gem: RuPaul, "RuPaul the Red-Nosed Drag Queen." Fierce!

J. Freedom du Lac: Ho.


Faith Hill and X-mas: Daughter and I watched Grinch movie this weekend. I forgot how beautiful the Faith Hill song is: Where are you Christmas? Classic Christmas song? Discuss.

J. Freedom du Lac: Ho.


Arlington, Va.: Christmas music...have I missed the discussion?

Anything new I should have?

Got Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown (should be issued and considered mandatory listening)

Verve, "Have yourself a jazzy little christmas"

Oscar Peterson's Christmas album

Jimmy Smiths Christmas album

Ella Fitzgeralds as well.

Steve Wonders Motown era album (He KILLS "Ave Maria")

I have Gary Hoey's album(s) as well.

Picked up the Bootsy Collins one as well.

I even have A Latin Jazz Christmas by Dr. Bobby Rodriguez.

What else is out there that I should have that is a little different?

J. Freedom du Lac: Ho.


Washington, D.C.: Thoughts on Kevin Rudolf's "Let It Rock"? I'm cool to lukewarm on it, but my wife l-o-v-e-s it. I'm also convinced that there is some religious undertone to it, and so, like all Christian rock music, it makes my ears burn. But I can't prove it.

J. Freedom du Lac: "Let It Rock" - the "it" in question must be ProTools, right? Man, that is one synthetic-sounding song. Except for the Lil Wayne part.

Not a song I feel the need to hear again.


Washington, D.C.: How many people did you have to kneecap in order to get the Amy Adams interview? Hubba hubba!

J. Freedom du Lac: None -- but I did have to pay off several editors.

Eight years of dinner theater: That's a pretty amazing little run on her resume.


Christmas Songs: Springsteen's cover of Santa Claus is Coming to Town is a classic. I think he also did a dirty one about Santa at a strip joint once. Not as much of a classic, but still enjoyable.

J. Freedom du Lac: Ho.


Lincoln, Neb.: Long Beach is not the only person with observations about ZZ Top.

I saw them on TV recently and during a closeup (thanks TV!) noticed that Dusty Hill had his teeth bleached a near-radioactive white.

Wouldn't have picked him to be the one to care so much about cosmetic dentistry.

J. Freedom du Lac: In other words: He looked like a bearded Miley Cyrus?


Washington, D.C.: I'm coming down with a cold and hate my job and need to rally for a happy hour tonight. What current song should I listen to to ramp me up a bit?

J. Freedom du Lac: If by "ramping up" you mean "putting you in the mood to do a lot of drinking," you should check out this performance by the great country sanger Jamey Johnson. But if it's a perky pick-me-up you're seeking, then how about the John Legend-Andre 3000 collabo, "Green Light"?


Xmas Songs: Whirling Dervishes : "You're a Mean One, Mr Grinch"

J. Freedom du Lac: Ho.


Jazzy Christmas: I definitely recommend Crystal Lewis's "Holiday." Her vocals + jazz trio = my favorite Xmas album.

J. Freedom du Lac: Ho.


North Pole: For some Bluesy Christmas tunes you need The Alligator Records Christmas Collection. "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'."

J. Freedom du Lac: Ho.


Holiday Challenge: Music question for you--my family's doing a music grab bag/white elephant for Christmas gifts this year, so I've got to buy a CD that fits the bill. Here's the population you've got to work with: four late-twenty-somethings, four fifty-somethings, and one ninety-year old. Mix of genders and races. What do I buy in the hopes that as many of them as possible like it, since I don't know who'll end up with it? Thanks!

J. Freedom du Lac: You buy MGMT's "Oracular Spectacular" and keep the receipt, so the loser - err, winner - can exchange it for something they actually want.

You could always try Al Green's "Lay It Down." Everybody loves Al Green. (Or should, anyway.) If you're not familiar with the project, you can get a taste




Xmas Classic: Commander Cody's "Daddy's Drinkin' Up Our Christmas."

"Daddy's drinking up our Christmas. Gonna be some hard times this year. Not tree, or stockings, or presents, Just bottles of Christmas cheer. No new Frigidaire for momma, No toy train for brother Bill. Daddy's drinking up our Christmas. Don't know what gonna become of him."

J. Freedom du Lac: Excellent! (Ho.)


Let It Rock: Let what rock?

J. Freedom du Lac: My Top 10 list. Which I have to finish before my editor starts throwing 2005-vintage Nanny O'Briens waffle fries at me.

Thanks for stopping by, folks.


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