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Showing posts from February, 2005

Robbers On High Street - "The Price & Style"

These days when I listen to music I'm just looking for any sort of connection, but in my idealistic college days I looked for songs that could speak directly to and for me. I thought that pop music lyrics held the keys to every puzzle in my life. In fact, there was one revelatory morning during my freshman year when I woke up to Wrapped Around Your Finger on the radio and it spoke to me as if Sting specifically wrote it about me. As I scan the lyrics now I'm at a loss as to what it was to which I felt so connected, or even what the song MEANS ("I will turn your face to alabaster"?).

At the time I was interested in a girl who could play me like Earl Scruggs can play the banjo. By that I mean, well. I guess that morning I just got tired of it, and those words: "I'll be, wrapped around your finger" just suddenly meant something.

I think that experience is more common than finding a song that completely says everything you feel. In fact, I think many songs be…

69. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - Naturally (2005)

Is it possible to take retro too far?

Place Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings latest long player on the stack and hear for yourself. From the opening blast of How Do I Let A Good Man Down? you'll be transported approximately 40 years back in time. In fact, if you were to take even the most cursory of looks at the album art while you listened you could not be blamed for believing that this was a reissue from an obscure and long-forgotten '60s soul group.

But you would be nonetheless mistaken!

Witness: Sharon Jones is a 47-year-old with a powerful, time-worn voice. The Dap-Kings are a group of young men with whimsical psuedonyms like Boogaloo Velez and Binky Griptite. Producer, arranger, writer, and player Bosco Mann is a fellow obviously brimming with ambition. Should it take this many people to make a sound not far removed from the classic Motown groove? I guess so, though Jones is more Martha than Diana.

Like those enduring Motown singles, the lyrics are simple, but illuminate the …

68. Hem - Eveningland (2004)

Sophisticated. Mannered. Ornate. Dreamy. Pure. Lovely.

I'm not just practicing my adjectives and adverbs. I'm getting all the descriptive words out of the way, so I can be clear and direct about Hem and their second album, Eveningland. Hem is an 8-piece folk country band from New York. I say country, but not country in the way of Toby Keith and Garth Brooks. Rather, country in the way of Dusty Springfield of Ray Charles.

I went to see them sound unheard in concert about three weeks ago. After one great opener (the beautiful Dawn Landes) and one bad opener (the petulant David Mead) the band made us wait a good 20 minutes before showing up. Never a fan of tardiness, I was already preparing not to like them. But the minute they took the stage all was forgiven. I had one of those rare concert-going experiences where the performance actually created in me a sense of incredible well-being. In fact, for about five songs I went into my own world and dreamt.

I guess that's why Ev…