Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Music I bought this year

I want to add another post before I forget this thing exists again (maybe tomorrow or next week I'll talk about where all of my free time has gone lately), so here's an old standby: a list of CDs. This year has brought some marvelous music my way. Here are the CDs I've picked up. What have you added to your music collection over the past eight months?

Chingon — Mexican Spaghetti Western
I discovered this little-known — by this band name, that is — group in the DVD extras on Kill Bill v2. The band consists of Robert Rodriguez and most of another band called Del Castillo. The album is an awesome set of high-speed Mexican guitar music and a few traditional-type (slower) songs. They do the music for Kill Bill and the extras include footage from the live set they played at the theatrical premiere of Kill Bill v2. They were so energetic and flat out GOOD, that I looked up their website and ordered the disc that night. I was not disappointed.

Rebel Meets Rebel — (self-titled)
Have you ever thought to yourself, "wouldn't it be cool to hear the strong, melodic voice of David Allan Coe combined with the killer heavy metal sound of Texas metal band Pantera?" If not, you should! That's exactly what Rebel Meets Rebel is...Coe's sweet vocals blend surprisingly well with the metal sounds, on most of the tracks at least. With songs like "Nothin' to Lose" and "Get Outta my Life", it's pure outlaw music, from a hard-edged metal perspective.

Rob Zombie — Educated Horses
It's the same ol' Zombie...and yet, it's not. Rob wanted to get away from the theatrics this time around, so the jacket photos look like one of those long-haired guy bands from the 70's. But the sound is pure Zombie. The theme of the album centers on the Salem Witch Trials of yesteryear. One of the albums's singles, "American Witch," is a lament to the souls of the innocent women put to death by the Puritan town fathers. The whole album is great, but the best track is the theme song for The Devil's Rejects, Rob Zombie's follow up movie to House of 1,000 Corpses.

Hank Williams III — Straight to Hell
His third album, and definitely a great finish to the trilogy. It's a two disc set, but the second disc is a single, almost-30-minute track, full of nonsense, ravings, and musical ramblings. Often creepy, it's worth listening to at least once. Could be a could disc to put on as background music at social gatherings. The first disc is priceless. After his first album, you thought you had a pretty good handle on just who this guy is and how hard he parties. Straight to Hell jumps up and lets you know that you don't have a clue. The songs are great, the music is fast. HWIII is the closest anyone has come to successfully blending REAL country music and punk rock. Strange thought, perhaps, but it sounds damned good.

Drive-By Truckers — A Blessing and a Curse
The name says it all. DBT is one of my favorite bands ever, damned near THE favorite. This album is a blessing because, well, it's another DBT album! The curse is that the disc is collared by a very commercial sound. I've never before heard an album that actually sounds castrated. But that's the best way I can describe this one. The usual, inspired songwriting is there, but the music just doesn't have the teeth it usually does. My first thought...disgustingly...was "this sounds like the Eagles!" It's a good album, but it certainly isn't even close to my favorite. On the other hand, if you usually think their music is a little too gritty for you, try this one. It's not at all bad, it's just not what I'm used to. I'd really like to hear these songs live again. I did hear most of them last year when the gang swung through Charlottesville, but that was before the album's release, so I didn't know what to expect. The best part of this disc is the free live EP that came with the early-purchases. It contains four tracks, one of which is a killer version of Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," where each band member sings a verse in turn. Shonna, the bobble-headed bass player, is great!

The Gourds — Shinebox
One of those collections of cover songs, this certainly isn't the best Gourds album, but it's a good romp anyway. The crowning track, of course, is their version of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice." There's also an okay take on "Ziggy Stardust." I don't know if this one is really worth buying; if you like the Gourds, it IS a good purchase. Otherwise, I'll be glad to let you borrow it sometime.

Robert Earl Keen — The Party Never Ends
Subtitled "Songs you know from the times you can't remember," this is a compilation of most of Keen's best songs. Several of them are live versions with spoken commentary, and Keen's personality really comes through. It was released back in 2003, but I only discovered it a couple of months ago. And yes, of course it has "The Road Goes on Forever." Good album.

Lucinda Williams — (self-titled)
This is one of her early albums that I had to pick up solely for "Changed the Locks." It was worth buying for that song alone...the other tracks are bonus treasure! It's easy to see how Lucinda came to be the standard against which all other female Americana singer/songwriters are measured. Unfortunately, very few come close to her talent or heavenly twang.

I think that's everything I purchased this year. I might have missed one or two, but probably not. It has been an awesome year. SO, belly up, and tell me what YOU've brought home from the music store!

Playing on XM: Robert Earl Keen!

Johnny Bravo is top of cool

(Hey...would you look at that...a blog, and it seems to belong to me.)

I was working from home yesterday and in the background, my sons were watching TV and playing. Johnny Bravo (watch Cartoon Network sometime if you don't know who he is) was on and, in his sexy-Elvis voice, I overhear him say, "A lady doctor? Has science really come that far?" It was sublime.

A little while after that, my 5-yr old comes into the room declaring "I am the king of the underworld!" I was too afraid to ask where he'd picked up that charming phrase, or where exactly he'd been for the past 15 minutes, lest he go "Children of the Corn" on me.

And that reminds me, over the weekend we were going for a swim at the YMCA. Afterwards, we went for dip in the jacuzzi to warm up and allowed the 5-yr old to get in for the first time ever. The rule is that kids must be at least six to get into the boiling pot of people, and he's only three weeks away from it. So he tenderly works his way into the hot tub, ever so slowly getting used to the heat. He works his way in up to his chest, then stands up, complaining that it's just too hot. We respond with something innocuous, "Oh yeah?" And he says, "Well, it's too hot for my belly but it feels good on my things."

My wife and I quickly turned our heads away from each other, biting back our laughter. His "things." No way in hell was I about to ask for clarification.

Today is the birthday of one of my friends. We share an office at work and spend most of our days talking about comic books and their authors and artists, or flinging movie quotes back and forth. Today, being his birthday, he received a box of flowers....from his favorite watering hole. How awesome is that, for the local bar where you spend many an evening, to send you roses on your birthday? If it ain't Callahan's Place, it's danged close.

Playing on XM: Blazers...bluesy slide guitar