I spent many hours last night trying to come up with an introductory paragraph for this new series. I would write two sentences, get midway through the third and realize it was all crap. Delete. Start again.
This morning while getting ready for work, I read Lisa McKay's profile of our February BC of the Month, Tom Johnson. Tom is one of our finest music writers. It did not surprise me at all when I discovered he, in answering one of Lisa's questions, found a way to say what I was struggling to say:
I simply can't help myself. I love pointing people to new music, I love trying to get the word out, and love keeping people interested. There are few things more satisfying than turning someone on to some band or album that they've never heard before. I still get very excited about new releases, in a very geeky way – which is why I keep tabs on release dates and such and why Overlooked Alternatives exists, really. That's just me talking to myself about why something is exciting.
There was a time when radio and MTV were a part of that process of turning us on to the next great song, artist, or album. I am sad and frustrated to say that rarely happens anymore. MTV had to spinoff a channel in order to play videos anymore. I can't explain what has happened to radio except to say, having worked in the industry for a time, I hate what it is becoming. If you can't turn to MTV and you can't turn to radio to find the best of what's going on, where do you go?
The Listening Room.
Like Tom, we not only love music but we love talking about music. Each week, you will find the songs that have been making the rounds in our CD players, iPods, and heads. We'll tell you who they're by and why they have infected us. Tell us what you think. Do you know and love these songs, or do they make you want to jab scissors in your ears? What have you been listening to?
At the beginning of the week, I would have bet money I was going to choose a song from Norah Jones' new album because I logged so many hours with it. It is a wonderful record.
There is a reason, though, that I chose to make this a weekly column and not a daily feature- well, two reasons. Reason #1, I don't have the time to do this every day.
Reason #2 happened on Friday. I had been having a perfectly lovely Norah Jones-themed week when all of a sudden, "This is Hardcore" by Pulp popped into my head. "Hardcore" is a great combination of samples, croon, guitars, keyboards, and sex. It is cinematic, overblown, and completely intoxicating (think James Bond theme song).
I didn't discover Pulp during the heyday of Britpop. I was very late to the party. As it stands, the only Pulp I own at present is their Hits compilation. I plan to rectify that on pay day when I order the deluxe, remastered version of This is Hardcore.
BC Music Editor Connie Phillips: "Little Red Dress" from One More Midnight by Hal Ketchum
Because I've been working on the articles for February's Featured Artist, Hal Ketchum has been in pretty heavy rotation on my iPod this week. There's one song in particular that I've found myself hitting repeat on more than once, however and that is "Little Red Dress" from his forthcoming One More Midnight.
It's a fun song about temptation and the dress she's wearing. It has a funky jazzy feel to it and he delivers it in such a flirtatious manner it makes me smile and encourages me to get up and dance.
Mark Saleski: "Wish I Could" from Not Too Late by Norah Jones
I have been pulling a DJ Radiohead and listening to a song over and over and over again. Norah and her cohorts have put together a collection of songs that have bowled me over. "Wish I Could" is one of those tunes that contains that magical "perfect" combination of words and music. So beautiful that it'll bring tears to your eyes.
It is probably no surprise, that I too have been listening to Not Too Late. Over and over an over again. While I've listened to the entire album a dozen times or so over the last few days, "Sinkin' Soon" is one that usually gets repeated three or four times before I move onto the next one. I love that it is completely and totally a Norah song, and yet unlike anything else she has ever done. Dig that plink little piano work, and that horn – man, that horn just kills me – it sounds like someone talking underwater. I also have to mention "Little Room" which is a simple little song musically and full of cute, sweet lyrics, but it's got a whistling part at the end, and I've always been a sucker for whistling songs.
Anna Creech: "Time After Time" from Covers by Andy & Denise
I'm a sucker for a good cover song, particularly if it's done in a style unlike the original. That's why I've been listening to Andy & Denise's version of "Time After Time" off of their album called Covers. Andy's fingers dance on the acoustic guitar strings, adding an element of energy that was not in the original version.
Michael Jones: "Life is a Carnival" from Endless Highway (Tribute to the Band) by Trevor Hall
I love it when an artist is able to pay homage to something and yet not have to resort to merely sound like karaoke. Trevor Hall puts a spin on the song that makes it very much a unique creation, and yet the song evokes the same playful spirit of the original material. Love it.
After a bad break up I am enjoying newfound freedom!