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Preview: Portland Phoenix - Music

Portland Phoenix - Music





 



Toon tunes

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Toon tunes
The reality behind the virtual Puffy AmiYumi

"It’s like Christmas in August," gushed Sam Register, vice-president of development at the Cartoon Network, as he described over the phone last summer the large box packed with Mattel toys that had just been delivered to his LA office. Inside were dolls, action figures, and playsets — a whole new product line — based on Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, the network’s animated show inspired by the real-life Japanese pop sensation Puffy AmiYumi. And Register wasn’t kidding about Christmas: the toys hit shelves just in time for the Christmas buying rush as the show went into heavy rotation, moving from two to five nights a week and positioning itself as the network’s most popular show outside of the Adult Swim block.

The series — a cross between Powerpuff Girls and Josie and the Pussycats — is imbued with the playful spirit of The Monkees or The Partridge Family. It follows the antics of peppy, poppy, pink-haired Ami, prickly, punky, purple-haired Yumi, and their semi-bumbling mana




Tween and clean

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Tween and clean
Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Foxx find their grooves

Followers of the increasingly crowded tween-rock scene had much to look forward to when Lindsay Lohan issued Speak (Casablanca), her debut album, 13 months ago. For one thing, she had an impressive track record, having contributed a handful of excellent bubblegrunge tunes to the Freaky Friday and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen soundtracks. (This is more than can be said for Kelly Clarkson, whose mushy American Idol performances hardly presaged the triumph of Breakaway.) More important, by the time of Speak’s release, the vicissitudes of Lohan’s personal life were already well known to readers of Star and US Weekly. If Ashlee Simpson could mine the kind of drama heard on her 2004 debut, the reasoning went, we’d be in for some real fireworks from Lohan.

In the event, with the exception of "Rumors," an excellent disco-rock single about the actress’s love-hate relationship with the gossip press, Speak was irredeemably dull — hardly the




Blues schooled

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Blues schooled
Elvin Bishop gets his groove back

Elvin Bishop is best known for his 1976 hit "Fooled Around and Fell in Love," a sweetly romantic song with a slide-guitar hook that replaced "Stairway to Heaven" as the closing number at your parents’ high-school dances — or maybe your own. He recorded four more albums with his Elvin Bishop Group after that, but as the ’80s began, he became a footnote in pop history.

That’s okay with Bishop (who plays Scullers January 18), because by then he was already a legend in the blues world as a charter member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. When he says, "We introduced blues to the white public at large," he isn’t exaggerating. The Butterfield band’s first three albums, including the raga-inspired psychedelic touchstone East-West (Elektra), fueled the passions of a young audience by making the sound of Chicago part of their own musical vocabulary. And the group’s 1965 debut fired the imaginations of Eric Clapton and a host of other white musicians who were just beginning to find their way in a styl




Live, long, and uncut

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Live, long, and uncut
Columbia opens Miles Davis’s Cellar Door

The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 is the eighth posthumously released Miles Davis boxed set delivered from the Columbia vaults since the "Miles Davis Series" program began in 1996, and that’s not counting re-releases and special editions of single discs. The best of the boxes have been repackagings (with extras) of classic multi-album dates: the Gil Evans albums, the Coltrane sessions, the "second classic quintet" recordings (with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams). The results have been less satisfying with the expanded, multi-CD boxes of what were originally single-album projects: The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions, The Complete In a Silent Way Sessions, The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions. If these sets suffer by comparison, it’s because the albums that were drawn from them, the compositions that made them famous, were created in the editing room. They don’t exist in nature.

This may sound odd in the post-hip-hop rock-and-roll era, where it’s taken




Let’s make history

January 6 - 12, 2006

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Let’s make history
The Portland music scene needs a centralized archive of memorabilia and music

Lost on Liftoff have plans to release their debut album on Labor Day Records later this month. When they do, I’ll make sure to remind you that frontman Walt Craven is now on his third wildly popular Portland band. Most of you remember 6gig, certainly, but what was that other band? Do you know? What did they sound like? Who else was in it?

Do a quick search for Craven on portlandphoenix.com and you’ll find the information you want pretty quickly. Except for that "sounds like" question. That even the vast resources of the Phoenix Web site can’t deliver.

So where would you go to find a copy of (okay, I’ll tell you) Goud’s Thumb’s album? We don’t have it here at the Phoenix offices. We launched in 1999, after the album came out, and we never got a copy (I have one in my more selective personal archive of about 200 albums; the Phoenix collection sits at about 500 titles). Bull Moose doesn’t have any copies. I called over to Chad Verrill in their buying office and he says that t




Third impressions

January 6 - 12, 2006

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Third impressions
Do the Strokes have anything left to say?

"With new bands I always listen to the third album," says the Kinks’ Ray Davies in the January issue of Mojo, regarding his curiosity about how Franz Ferdinand will follow up their sophomore effort. "That’s the real key to know what’s going to happen." Generally speaking, Davies is right. Assuming we’re talking about a band that had some sort of success with their first two albums, the third may signal a desire to stick with what works or the inability to grow artistically. Other times, it marks a departure or an attempt at maturation — think the Clash’s London Calling or Radiohead’s OK Computer. Neither scenario is necessarily negative or positive, but, as Davies points out, you often can get a good idea of where a band are headed by listening to their junior-year joint.

So what’s up with the third effort from the Strokes? Well, before we get to that, here’s a quick refresher course: for the most part, the songs on their 2001 debut, Is This It (RCA), were brilliantly stra




Liverpool’s latest

January 6 - 12, 2006

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Liverpool’s latest
The overlooked brilliance of the Coral

Last year, though word barely reached the States, the Liverpool scene came back to life, with the Zutons, the Stands, and the Coral leading the resurgence. The first two of those bands reflected the jumble of sounds and styles that have passed through the rough and tumble port of the North Britain city. Who Killed the Zutons? (Sony), dumped a Spanish galleon’s worth of musical nuggets into 13 playfully energetic songs buoyed by bolting rhythms, tooting saxophone, and brash rock-and-roll nerve. Drawing from similar waters, but with a darker, early-’60s British R&B flavor, the Coral had, over the course of five albums, developed a mysterious and exotic aura, with their Zombies-meet-the-Animals update of forlorn sea chanteys, sci-fi effects, bizarre rhythms, moping ballads, and dry Liverpudlian wit. And, when it was released last year, The Invisible Invasion (Deltasonic/Sony) seemed poised to gain a foothold for the band in the US. They seemed more focused than in the past, and the disc offe




Solitary man?

January 6 - 12, 2006

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Solitary man?
Getting to the heart of Neil Diamond

It’s easy to forget just how hard it’s been to pin down Neil Diamond over the years. If Rick Rubin is to be believed, it took close to a decade just to get Diamond to agree to collaborate on the American Recordings–style project that finally bore fruit with 12 Songs (American/Columbia) debuting at the four spot on the Billboard chart back in November. But Diamond was an elusive figure in the pop world long before Rubin came along. He’s known as a songwriter’s songwriter, a product of the Brill Building who was on hand for the birth of rock and roll. But unlike his Brill Building peers — even the ones who went on to become performers, like Carole King — Diamond’s also known as a performer’s performer, a glitzy pop star in glass-bead-studded, half-open shirts capable of breaking attendance records at arenas around the world. And, like so many of his singles, with their classic A-sides and forgettable, even embarrassing B-sides ("Red, Red Wine" backed by "Red Rubber Ball"), the contradict




Deep cuts

January 6 - 12, 2006

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Deep cuts
Rediscovering the edge in the Everly Brothers

On a list of artists whose legacy has been ill-served by the dozen or so hits by which they’re remembered, the Everly Brothers could lay fair claim to the top spot.

Take their third Cadence single, a rockabillified cover of Ray Charles’s "This Little Girl of Mine," released right between the iconic "Wake Up Little Susie" and "All I Have To Do Is Dream." The a-side reached No. 26 in early 1958, but has never found favor with the nation’s oldies-format programmers.

And the b-side is even more obscure. It’s not the song’s fault. "Should We Tell Him" has all the elements of the Everlys’ early formula: propulsive acoustic guitars, Chet Atkins’ pinpoint leads, Don’s limpid solo vocal turns in the verses, brother Phil’s high harmonies, and lyrics that elevate adolescent problems to high pop drama. The protagonist "takes his best girl dancing/to my best friend’s mansion," only to overhear them whispering, "Should we tell him?/To let him go on trusting isn’t fair." When he runs to




DAVE GHETTO

January 13 - 19, 2006

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DAVE GHETTO
LOVE LIFE?



IMOGEN HEAP

January 13 - 19, 2006

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IMOGEN HEAP
SPEAK FOR YOURSELF






CURT KIRKWOOD

January 13 - 19, 2006

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CURT KIRKWOOD
SNOW



SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR

January 13 - 19, 2006

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SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR
BLESSED



OTIS TAYLOR

January 13 - 19, 2006

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OTIS TAYLOR
BELOW THE FOLD




January 13 - 19, 2006

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Okay, it’s plenty cool that 19 albums mastered at Gateway Mastering are nominated for 32 Grammy Awards (even if the Grammys are a little lusterless nowadays). But it’s very cool that the two master masterers at Gateway, owner Bob Ludwig and protégé Adam Ayan, are both themselves actually up for Grammys. According to the Gateway Mastering site, "For years, mastering engineers were only eligible for certificates if they were involved in a recording. Several years ago, mastering engineers on historical reissues were awarded physical Grammy statuettes and more recently mastering engineers can win with the "Album of the Year" and "Surround Sound" categories." Thus, Ayan is nominated for his work on the The Complete Library of Congress Recordings Jelly Roll Morton disc under the Best Historical Album category, along with Steve Rosenthal; Ludwig is nominated for work on the 20th anniversary edition of Brothers in Arms (the "Sibilance" staff have it on LP, it’s retr




Comic belief

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Comic belief
Eugene Mirman’s DIY stand-up scene

Each week in a Lower Manhattan space called both Rififi and Cinema Classics — a combination bar, video store, and comedy club — comedians Eugene Mirman and Bobby Tisdale host "Invite Them Up." It’s a kind of Little Rascals talent show for emerging comics and musicians, not much different from what happens at Cambridge, Massachusetts’s Comedy Studio, one of the local rooms where Mirman honed his skills before relocating to New York City.

The shows have a no-frills, homespun feel that’s captured on the new live three-CD-plus-DVD set Invite Them Up (Comedy Central), which was recorded and filmed over three nights in May 2005. Like the Comedy Studio, the Rififi nights are a kind of safe harbor where regular audiences come expecting anything and the performers have the right to bomb without their careers, fledgling or otherwise, blowing up.

The package features 23 comics and three musicians, and as you’d imagine, there’s a lot of dross — enough to exclude at least one entire CD from the set.




Fronch music

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Fronch music
Boreal Tordu show a little historical perspective isn’t better off dead

I hate to begin with a backhanded compliment, but I like Boreal Tordu’s debut studio full-length album way more than I thought I would. I’ve always associated this band with having a shtick (Hey! Look at us! We’re French! (or, We’re North Amero-Franco-Quebeco-Acadian!)), and it’s the very rare band with a shtick that I can get behind. It’s why I almost never write the whole this-is-how-the-band-formed music feature. In those deals, you’re bound to be stuck with "man, we totally give it our all on stage," "we let him do the booking because we can barely find our underwear in the morning," and "it really felt like God brought us all together" for quotes, and you wind up telling the Zany Band, Drugged-Out Band, or Divine Intervention Band archetypical narrative and spending about a paragraph telling people what the music actually sounds like.

Boreal would likely argue that their shtick is part and parcel with what their music sounds like, though. Filmmaker Ben Levine (whose Waking Up French we r