Posts Tagged ‘She & Him’

Cygnus Radio Playlist 5/31/13: A childhood regression of sorts

June 3, 2013
Dom-in-i-nique-a-nique-a-nique-a ...

Dom-i-nique-a-nique-a-nique-a …

June 3, 2013

Franorama 2.0 airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT Fridays (7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and in the archives in perpetuity. For the link this all all other previous shows, click here.

I had never done this before: recaptured my childhood in the context of a radio show. But that’s what I did last Friday: rounded up every single song I remembered from the radio from my toddler years in Brooklyn in the early-to-mid-’60s (yep, I lived in Greenpoint 40 years before it was hip) and played them at the top of the 11 a.m. hour. (That would be the third set in the playlist below.)

My folks listened to WMCA, now a right-ring talk station but then a top-40 station, home of The Good Guys, with Joe O’Brien as the morning-drive host (accompanied by an obnixious occasional “sidekick” named Benny, who would burst out with “Hey! O’Brien!”). That’s what we listened to until we moved to Connecticut in the fall of ’65.

My folks gravitated to the old-folks’ stuff, but of course, MCA, and their Good Guys, were the ones who broke The Beatles to the masses in NYC when I was 2 1/2. So I got some Beatles, but also a lot of other diverse sounds. Maybe that’s why I’ve always had diverse musical tastes, which is why you see The Singing Nun and Louis Armstrong and the robotic novelty hit “Mechanical Man” among the set list.

The lights are much brighter there ...

The lights are much brighter there …

But my favorite song from childhood was from a pretty English singer named Petula Clark, singing about a mythical place called “Downtown.” Except I lived just across the Queens-Midtown Tunnel from midtown Manhattan,and there really was a Downtown, and, as she painted it for me, it sounded like this wonderful place full of life and activity. And there was one evening when we visited my mom’s cousin in Chelsea. It was my first time through the tunnel, all gleaming yellow brick, and when we exited among the dark gray clouds above, I remember shouting “Go downtown, Daddy! Go downtown!” And, of course, to my thrill, he did.

But yeah, all that probably had something to do with this deejay’s musical tastes.

Anyway, other random items from this past show: The chicken or the egg — did Little Richard begat Esquerita or vice versa? Played them back-to-back … Sister Sledge’s original 1973 version of “Mama Never Told Me,” redone in the early ’80s by Paul Weller protege Tracie Young with The Questions, and Boffalongo’s original 1970 recording of “Dancing in the Moonlight” … the first time I played a mashup — a tasty mix of Stevie Wonder singing “Uptight” over the remix of The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” … and recent releases by The Outta Sites (whose frontman, Chris “Sugarballs” Sprague, come to Cafe Nine on Monday (June 10) playing drums with Los Straitjackets; Texas singer/songwriter Eric Hisaw, who’ll play in Zoe Muth’s group when she comes to the Nine this Wednesday (June 5); Albany-based garage fiends The Mysteios; a couple things from the new She & Him album; an d a selection from a new country-laced EP by one of my favorite singers, Boston’s Jenny Dee (Jen D’Angora) & Several Men of Mystery.

I had so much fun that, what the hell, might as well do it again this Friday. Catch you then …

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Cygnus Radio Playlist 5/24/13: So many directions, so little time

May 28, 2013
The man, the myth, the legend, the Tiur de Force. With Brute Force after his show at Two Boots in Bridgeport, 5/23/13.

The man, the myth, the legend, the Tour de Force. With Brute Force after his show at Two Boots in Bridgeport, 5/23/13. Bethany Appleby photo.

Franorama 2.0 airs live Fridays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and in the archives in perpetuity. For the archived links to this and all other shows, click here.

I came into this latest episode of Franorama 2.0 with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of territory to cover in three hours.

I was coming off a show where my audience quadrupled, thanks to a mention on iTunes as a must-listen. I was also coming off a very active week musically:

The death of Ray Manzarek that Monday. It’s one thing to play The Doors everyone does it. (And rightfully so; Ray’s keyboard playing stands up there along with Felix Cavaliere and Al Kooper as the best of the ’60s.) But there was more. In addition to the three obligatory Doors songs (my favorite, “Soul Kitchen”; “Peace Frog,” because you can’t live in or near New Haven without a little blood in the streets in the town of New Haven; and “Light My Fire,” a classic use or organ in a rock song), I played two 1965 songs from his pre-Doors band, Rick & the Ravens, and two songs from X’s first album, Los Angeles, which he produced.

Brute Force the night before in Bridgeport. Back in the late ’80s, an old friend let me borrow his copy of the damndest album in the history of Columbia Records: the 1967 release I, Brute Force: Confections of Love. Well-measured abdurdity of a time and place. Anyway, Mr, Force — who later recorded for Apple, having been championed by George Harrison and John Lennon, no strangers to absurd humor — is still plying his musical trade, and in an I-never-thought-I’d-see-the-day moment, he and his eyebrows and his band (including his daughter, Lilah, on backing vocals) came to Two Boots Pizza in downtown Bridgeport the night before the show. the audience was way too small (about 15) but enthusiastic. And rightfully so.

Bob Dylan’s 72nd birthday. I was kinda Bobbed out, having played three hours of him the previous day as part of a WPKN fundraiser. But since it was his actual birthday, I couldn’t let it slide. So I didn’t. Bob got a set of tunes from you actually could understand what he was singing.

She & Him. The new third album by She & Him, cleverly titled Volume 3, is out, and Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward raised the bar here, a difficult task since Volume Two was such a gem. Played three killer originals, plus a mini-battle of the bands: three songs remade by Zooey and M., alongside the original versions. The real revelation was “Baby,” a rare side of vinyl from 1965 by someone much better known for her songwriting, Ellie Greenwich. She wrote the song with her then-husband/songwriting partner, Jeff Barry, and the recently deceased Shadow Morton, the man who shaped The Shangri-Las’ sound. Both versions here were excellent, but Ellie’s was a revelation.

New sounds: I’ve been soliciting new sounds from musicians all across my Facebook spectrum. And musicians have been responding, and I played two new-to-me performers on the show for the first time last Friday. From Albany, N.Y., came The Mysteios, latter-day garage featuring Johnny Mystery on guitar and his daughter, Tambourine Girl, on vocals. They’ve been getting play on the Underground Garage channel on Sirius XM, and I’m glad to have them aboard this show as well. From Austin, Texas, came the reflective sounds of singer/songwriter Eric Hisaw, who’ll be coming this way for the first time, playing at Cane Nine in New Haven June 5.

Anyway, the only downer was that the audience was back to its original numbers last week; the bounce the week before didn’t hold. Hoping the algorithms line up again at some point and that I end up on iTunes’ radar again and get a huge chunk of new listeners, and that they’ll stick around.

Anyway, if you like what you hear, listen on Fridays or click on the archives and tune in at your leisure. Also, please like my Facebook page and get your friends to do the same. And if you’re a musician who wants to get played on my show, go to my Facebook page and message me, and I’ll send you my snail and email addresses. Anyway, let’s do this again this Friday:

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ALBUM REVIEW: “Volume Two” — She & Him (Merge)

April 16, 2010

She is Zooey Deschanel; Him is M.Ward. And you might want to start thinking of She as a songwriter and singer above all.

Regardless of what Zooey Deschanel told Will Ferrell in “Elf,” she does sing. And in front of people. And very, very well, at that.

And “Volume Two,” the second and latest album by She & Him, the group fronted by Deschanel and M. Ward — a partnership formed when they collaborated on Richard & Linda Thompson’s “When I Get to the Border” for her 2007 film “The Go-Getter” — has been deservedly getting plenty of workout in my car stereo as of late. It’s an extremely well-crafted album; were it not for her other career, more people would be flat-out singing her praises as a songwriter and singer. Not one of her 11 originals here falls flat, and many of them hit some lofty peaks.

And it says volumes that this album gets a thumbs-up despite their version of one of my all-time favorite songs.

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