Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Track of the Day: 1-31-08

Today's Track of the Day:

Thelonious Monk - "Bemsha Swing"

The version that concludes Brilliant Corners, to be precise. I can't think of many pianists - heck, many musicians, period - as instantly recognizable as Monk. This track has it all; it swings with Monk's trademark off-kilter rhythms and idiosyncratic phrasing, and the melody is unforgettably catchy. His sidemen on this cut include Sonny Rollins and Max Roach; it's tasty stuff.

The Trouble With Rudy: The Final Chapter

Apparently the biggest problem with Rudy is not being able to get enough people to vote for him.

So long, Mr. 9-11. Here's to a long, happy, and most importantly complete retirement for you. If you can take some of your foreign policy advisors along, that'd be swell.

New Adventures in Music Criticism

It's hard to write good music criticism, but it's unintentionally hilarious when paid professionals don't even make a good-faith effort at it.

The Detritus Review. It's both funny and edumacational. Check it out!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Track of the Day: 1-23-08

Track of the Day: 1-23-08

Cat Power - New York

I made a New Year's Resolution to blog more.

You can see for yourself how that's been working out.

Nonetheless, here's a new track I enjoy. I like covers of songs by artists other than the ones who wrote the song or made it famous, because they often do something interesting or at least new with the song. That's not always a good thing, of course; Tori Amos' cover of Heart of Gold is almost criminal. Still, I mostly enjoy hearing familiar stuff in a new way. In a way, actually, it allows me to hear both the artist and the song as distinct things. It's harder for me to separate the singer from the song on the original recording.

Today's track comes from Cat Power's new album, Jukebox. It's a cover of the song we've all heard a thousand times, made famous by Frank Sinatra and played after Yankee home victories. "Overplayed" is a huge understatement, but Cat Power finds new stuff in the old tune. It helps that neither she nor the band sound anything remotely like the Sinatra version. Imagine a kind of country/soul version of it played by a rock band with totally different phrasing and you'll be fairly close. This version conveys a sense of almost desperate longing, which I can't say I've ever associated with the upbeat, optimistic Sinatra tune. It's all right there in the lyrics, but I'd never heard it that way before. It's like listening to it with new ears.