Waking Ear

We have a pact, you and I. I write down what song I had in my head when I woke up in the morning. And, maybe, why. You click on "What's in your waking ear?" and tell me what's in your head right now. We discover new music and maybe learn something about how our minds work. Yeah?

Friday, June 27, 2003

The White Stripes/"Ball and a Biscuit" -- Great show last night. Will write more later. Busy day. Good weekend. Bye bye.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Prefuse 73/"The Color of Tempo" -- One Word Extinguisher is terrific, moody, rainy hip-hop, though I still prefer the spark and flash of Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives.

Scott Herren, aka Prefuse 73, moved from Atlanta to Barcelona, and no one yet has explained to me, via an interview, why. I find that move fascinating. If anybody can tell me what spurred him to go there, I'd love to know.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Deadman/"Rosa Marie" -- Thanks to BatesMotel for copying this CD for me. It's been a nice soundtrack to my drives around Austin the last 24 hours.

The band reminds me a little of Jim White -- Southern gothic recorded with echoes and ghostly vocals floating through the background. I can imagine them writing the songs in old abandoned houses, and the allusions to history and the Bible and cowboys and Indians show how haunted Texas really is. Some of the songs meander and get lost a little bit, but that's OK for this kind of thing.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Boston/"More Than A Feeling" -- I need to learn the lyrics to this song. All I know is "More than a feeling/Blah blah blah blah blah blah blaaaaaaaaaaaaaah." I heard it on the radio today as I drove away from the Austin airport. I'm here for a couple of days.

Roger McGuinn is here for a conference I'm attending. Which is weird.

OK, back to work.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Janet Jackson/"Miss You Much" -- Girlfriend and I went to this bar last night and heard a really strange assortment of music, mostly late '80s/early '90s pop like this. Which was cool. I'm still getting over just how cool the Pet Shop Boys were.

Controversy brews at Le Rub. And I like Matthew's point -- the deliberate baiting is getting tiresome. There was a time when I could assume that Pitchfork's writers (some of whom I do think are good) were being mean because they meant it, but lately I'm not so sure.

Damn, we all spend a lot of time writing about Pitchfork.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Bjork/"There's More to Life than This" -- That part where she goes into the bathroom -- that was revolutionary. Never has music been so cinematographically vivid. You can see her dashing through the club, follow her into the w.c, hear her close the door, watch her reapply her makeup, listen to her whisper, then head back out into the grimy dance floor. It's a music video without a music video.

I went to see everyone's favorite Juno winners, Broken Social Scene, at an instore at Other Music last night. And I took a picture with the new digital camera I unwisely splurged upon. I love it. It's my little 2-megapixel baby. Anyway, here's the photo, which I call "I Wish I Was a Little Bit Taller."

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Frank Sinatra/"Theme from New York, New York" -- It was rainy and gloomy today in the city. But such a pleasant temperature -- about 65 degrees. Dallas might have had a 65-degree high once, but not for more than a couple of days before it got fuming hot. I had a meeting near Times Square today, and tourists were bumping into each other everywhere. You could barely walk. But I even see New Yorkers walking around gawking at the sights and sounds sometimes. This city never gets old.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Pavement/"AT&T" -- Wowee Zowee remains my favorite Pavement album, a rat's nest of hooks and goofy lyrics and squeals, yielding occasionally to moments of clarity like this one. I put it on Schmubb's birthday CD because we used to sing the "Wooooaaah" part at the end.

I'm going to New York on business today and will be back next week. But I'm going to try to post as often as possible this week, so keep comin' by.

Monday, June 16, 2003

P. Diddy/"Bad Boy For Life" -- P. Diddy needs to stop ruining decent bass lines by mimicking them as a vocal melody. It's uncreative. I can't believe this crappy song's in my head.

I didn't even notice that the Beta Band, Drive By Truckers (Huntsville, Ala. representin'!) and Spoon will also be playing at the Austin City Limits Festival. This schedule's going to be a bitch.

Oh, the Drive By Truckers remind me -- anyone know any other bands that hailed from Huntsville or thereabouts? Any musical history that took place in the Rocket City? I have to compete with Girlfriend's hometown of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., where Zappa recorded. Once, I think.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Grandaddy/"Now It's On" -- Sumday is another album on my undecided list at the moment. I'm not sure I like the easy-listening vibe, and some of the robot stuff falls flat after two or three listens. But there are a few really great songs, like "Now It's On," in which the metaphors work and the recurring riff never gets old. I'm also a fan of the glitchy noises and weird sound effects inserted for no reason. It's such a Grandaddy trademark.

Happy birthday to Schmubb, who dreamt all his life that he'd die before he reached 24. You're there now, buddy -- now what?

Good weekends to all.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Blur/"Caravan" -- I'm still sorting out my feelings on Think Tank and need to give it a few thousand more spins (which, on a CD player, means a few more listens) before I've reached a conclusion. But "Caravan" definitely goes in the plus column. It feels world-weary, sluggish and wounded, and the vocals ooze through that megaphonish filter like blood through gauze. This is also a percussion-heavy album, and the rickety tambourines work well on "Caravan."

I don't believe in "deck," but The Hipster Handbook's promotional site is pretty fun. Thanks to Girlfriend for passing it along.

This show's lineup keeps getting better. Ween, Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Liz Phair, Beth Orton, Yo La Tengo, Shins, Old '97s, Cody Chesnutt, Polyphonic Spree, Turin Brakes, Dandy Warhols, Richard Buckner, Julieta Venegas, REM. Seriously. Y'all come on down to Texas. Hopefully the organizers have their shit together better than the Field Day and All Tomorrow's Parties Los Angeles folks.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

The Flaming Lips/"Do You Realize??" -- There are no surprises in a Flaming Lips show. The plush animal costumes, the fake blood and the balloons have all been well documented for any even casual indie rock fan. And the songs stay tightly scripted, a must because of their intricate detail. But the show still feels lively and free-spirited because Wayne Coyne's such a fucking goof. He smiles his wide smile and goes on long tangents about how wonderful the crowd is and how dedicated they are to be there, and everyone's laughing and the people in the animal costumes are pumping their fists -- and it's hilarious.

This could all get a little cultish and scary, like a Polyphonic Spree show, but the Lips are so at ease and human that it doesn't become a freak show. Just fun with colors, lights and a nun puppet. Nothing wrong with that.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Julieta Venegas/"Bueninvento" -- Julieta has resurfaced in my brain without warning. Haven't listened to the CD in a while, but I need to pull it out again. Just read somewhere that she recorded Bueninvento with Cafe Tacuba guys, which figures.

She's rumored to be playing at September's Austin City Limits Festival, which should be a blast. I encourage you all to come down to Texas for that one.

Speaking of festivals, sounds like Field Day was pretty rough. I still would've liked to go, though.

Monday, June 09, 2003

The Roots feat. Cody Chesnutt/"The Seed (2.0)" -- This song had kind of slipped off my radar screen, so much so that I didn't recognize it at first when I heard it on the last episode of Six Feet Under. But it has re-entered my mental rotation with a vengeance now -- that swaggering guitar riff, that bombastic beat, and that thrilling Terence Trent D'Arby impression on vocals.

Speaking of the newly minted Sananda Matreiya, you can hear his most recent album in streaming audio here. I had no idea it was out, but I'll be trying to find it as soon as I can. It's everything I love about D'Arby -- a little gospel, a little sex, a little Africa, a little ghetto.

Friday, June 06, 2003

The Carpenters/"We've Only Just Begun" -- This is one of the most chill love songs ever. There's very little sex, unless you count the "and when the evening comes, we smile" line. This is about people who are past that giddy first part of a relationship and just feel comfortable with each other, getting a little fat around the middle. OK, maybe that's not appropriate with the whole anorexia thing, but you know what I mean.

As I was telling Chelle and Girlfriend last night, I'm very familiar with the Carpenters because of anorexia. For four years, all through college, I dated a woman who had, and continues to have, so far as I know, a crippling, utterly bitter battle with the disease, along with other forms of mental illness, and she was a huge fan of Karen. I think women who are dealing with eating disorders can hear their pain in Karen's voice. I think I hear it too; even "Just Begun" sounds like a fantasy to her, a life she'll never lead because she's married to something much more sinister. Or maybe I'm just super-imposing context.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Aerogramme/"Black Path" -- I love the way this album, Sleep and Release, twists and turns. Is that prog? Melodies are fleeting; they don't last through entire songs. Songs start in low places and end soaring, or vice versa. And there are healthy heapings of cello, the world's most underused rock instrument. I want to hear cellos everywhere.

"Black Path" is all gloom and fantasy, maudlin strings and choked-up vocals. You can blast it in your car and the quiet parts still sound quiet. I like this song for all the reasons I liked the Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin -- it's lush and overproduced, but it can't believe it's being so melodramatic. It feels so purposefully self-conscious. Aerogramme's going to throw it all out on the line and show you how it is, but still be a little bit afraid to spout it all out, let it gush. I like that tension. I'm into tension this week.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Cat Power/"Say" -- This has always been one of my favorites. She fucked up and now she's being obnoxious about it by saying, "Fine. I will always be 100 percent consistent from now on." She's guilting someone. I hope all is well with you. I wish the best for you.

I've been pretty faithfully going to the gym for a few weeks, and they play a pretty bad radio station there. I've heard more Avril in the last month to make me violent at the very thought of Clear Channel. Helps for the adrenaline, though.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The Mountain Goats/"Tallahassee" -- John Darnielle gets the most props for his lyrics, and they're way better than his voice. But he deserves credit for his guitar work, too -- songs such as this one rely on anxious bass lines and rich strumming. Repitition builds tension, and this album is all about tension in the fullest sense of the word -- that push and pull between opposing forces, affection and abuse, the very best and worst of people in love.

On the absolute other end of the spectrum, this 80-something guy in my office keeps forgetfully opening an e-mail that has a MIDI file of Jimmy Cliff's "I Can See Clearly Now," inadvertently playing the Muzak for the entire office. It would be annoying if it wasn't so fun watching the poor old guy try to figure out how to shut it off every half hour or so. But I'm stuck with that song in my head for the rest of the day, thank you.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Stevie B/"Spring Love" -- I saw Stevie B yesterday at an all-day music festival. The 1980s Miami dance titan has gained a little weight, but his voice still sounded -- well, like Stevie B, anyway. It was kind of sad to see him standing alone on stage, in a white T-shirt and jeans, singing over prerecorded music. But he still seemed happy, telling the crowd that he was jetting all over the country to play for his old fans. He also introduced every song this way: "OK, let's take it back to 1984, '85, '86!"

I have discovered many Stevie Bs out there. There is Stevie B the metal artist, linked above. There is Stevie B the racing enthusiast. Mixmaster Stevie B the most Italian DJ. Stevie B makes ribs. And he's gay. I love the Internet.


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