Today’s Free Download – Marnie Stern

In Advance of the Broken Arm

If this song’s title is true, then I’m truly bummed – I can barely understand what Marnie Stern is singing. But “Every Single Line Means Something” is punchy, aggressive pop, a three minute and forty second tantrum that gets more addictive with every listen.

Marnie’s got Rage Against The Machine’s slash-and-burn guitar ethics, paired with an updated Lene Lovich hiccuping vocal style. The short strum/slap guitar bridge mid-song is hypnotic. It’s like getting thrown in a cauldron and getting bitch slapped by the girl you thought you were making points with.

Download “Every Single Line Means Something” (mp3)
from “In Advance of the Broken Arm”
by Marnie Stern
Kill Rock Stars

More On This Album

Rhino’s Free Grateful Dead Stream – NYE ’76

deadcow76.jpgThe Grateful Dead finished up a tumultuous 1976 with their New Year’s Eve appearance at San Francisco’s Cow Palace. They began the year with a series of “hit and run” shows, their first since 1974. The band split with United Artists and went shopping for a new record label, after their experiment with Grateful Dead Records fell apart.

Plans to release the film of their week-long run of Winterland shows stalled, although they did put out a two-record set of the concerts – “Steal Your Face” – which satisfied their obligations to UA. Most fans consider it the worst Dead album ever.

But as the year ended, they began a transition which would buoy their greatest commercial successes, signing with Clive Davis’s Artista Records and beginning work on “Terrapin Station.” Over the course of their Arista career, they went from being a cult band to an institution, releasing “Shakedown Street,” “Go To Heaven,” and “In The Dark,” their best-selling studio album.

There’s a sense of the greatness to come in this concert recording, due to be released January 23. Every second of the concert is included in the recording; Rhino is streaming Disk 2, which includes the following songs:

1. Sugar Magnolia >
2. Eyes Of The World >
3. Wharf Rat >
4. Good Lovin’ >
5. Samson and Delilah
6. Scarlet Begonias

Fans who advance purchase the set on the Dead’s website get a nice freebie:

All pre-orders of the Grateful Dead’s Cow Palace release will receive a very special bonus CD, Spirit of ‘76, featuring more than an hour of previously unreleased music from 1976, produced especially for this release. Highlights are numerous, including exquisite renditions of “The Music Never Stopped” and “Crazy Fingers” from 6/9/76, “Let It Grow” and “Might As Well” from 10/2/76, and the magnificent “Playing In The Band” >”Supplication” >”Playing In The Band” jam from 9/24/76. This CD is available only through GDStore.com for a limited time when you purchase the Cow Palace release.

Go to the Rhino Listening Party page to listen, or access the QuickTime Stream:

http://streamos.rhino.com/qtime/rhino/listeningparties/74816/74816_disc2.mov.

Today’s Free Download – Imaad Wasif

Kill Rock Stars Winter Holiday Album“River,” Joni Mitchell’s dark holiday lament, gets some testerone competition with Imaad Wasif’s “The New Year,” a track from Kill Rock Stars’ Winter Holiday Album, a joyous little affair indeed.

Wasif was a member of Lou Barlow’s side project New Folk Implosion at the end of their run. The group appeared in the film “Laurel Canyon” in 2002.

The song begins with gathering cymbal thunder, spare acoustic guitar and a harrowing opening line:

It was Christmas time/and I was the reaper of woes

It doesn’t get much more hopeful, but when Wasif asks that everyone “come together this December and for the new year,” you want to believe it can happen.

It’s much like the way we root for lost hikers and suspected kidnap victims to be found.

Despairing, near suicidal, this song won’t be on the next “Now That’s What I Call Christmas,” but as a leadoff track for Kill Rock Stars Records holiday package, it’s perfect.

Download “The New Year” (mp3)
from “Kill Rock Stars Winter Holiday Album”
by Various Artists
Kill Rock Stars

Today’s Free Download – “O Holy Night”

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Finally, NBC has posted an MP3 of “O Holy Night,” the amazing “Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip” performance by the Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews-led New Orleans horn band, which aired last Monday.

The Studio 60 “Christmas Show” episode repeats on December 18, and it’s worth watching for more than the music.

The dialogue is sharper, character development more focused and (very important to critical detractors of the show in its early days) the comedy in the fictitious variety show is much, much better. The “Dateline: To Catch A Predator” sketch was funnier than anything on SNL last night.

I do hope they keep this show on the air. Matthew Perry’s character is so much more satisfying (to me, anyway) than his one-dimensional “Friends” role. Bradley Whitford is always good, and the relationship developing between him and Amanda Peet is a good story move. I’m waiting for Steve Weber’s network chairman to throw a monkey wrench into that one. Whose baby is it, really?

Back to the music – this song is even more beautiful without the dialogue. Thanks, NBC. If the sole legacy of “Studio 60” were just “O Holy Night” and the shout-out to New Orleans music it engendered, that would be more than a lot of shows I could name.

Download it here. Right click and save is best.

Note: NBC took down the file, so I’m engaging in a little guerrilla promotion to ensure this song is heard.  Send a donation to Tipitina’s Foundation to show your gratitude.

Studio 60’s Gift – An Instant Christmas Classic

neworleans.jpgTelevision is certainly an upside-down world. Reality TV is anything but real, and scripted shows often provide the most true glimpses of the world we live in.

Case in point: Monday’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” episode, simply entitled “The Christmas Show.”

One subplot concerned the quietly organized sick-out by musicians employed by the fictional “Studio 60” show as well as the real “Tonight Show” – bandleader Kevin Eubanks makes a cameo appearance. Executive Producer Danny Tripp (played by Bradley Whitford) deduces that the job action is being done to provide substitute work for homeless New Orleans musicians, “any of which could play our band under the table,” says Danny, to provide them with money and a path to the L.A. Musician’s union.

Danny decides to gather up as many of these refugees as he can and give them a spotlight performance on the show. The band, led by the amazing Troy “Trombone Shorty”Andrews, plays a jazz version of “O Holy Night” with a stark black and white photo montage of the New Orleans reconstruction effort as a backdrop.

Their performance literally had me choking back tears. New Orleans jazz is a kind of judo – it seems so simple and unadorned, yet so few musicians can play it with authority. One sustained note (where a vocalist would sing “O Night, O Night Divine”) from Andrews’ trumpet communicated such an powerful range of emotions. Sorrow, hope, despair, rage, resolution – all unmistakably articulated.

“This is America’s music,” his trumpet spoke, “and it is worth saving.”

All good television fiction, but here’s the catch. NBC’s website proudly promoted a tie-in with Tipitina’s Foundation, an organization “dedicated to helping artists recover from Hurricane Katrina and preserving the cultural traditions of New Orleans.”

Tiptina seems like a worthy group, and I’m pleased to see NBC blurring the lines between the ostensibly real and make-believe worlds. For those of us who learned about prejudice on “All In the Family,” it makes complete sense.

You can see and hear “O Holy Night” on YouTube, and a free audio version is supposed to be up on iTunes soon.

UPDATE: NBC lawyered away the YouTube version, so you have to go to their website, click on the “watch the musical highlight” link, and wait through a tepid “Nacho Libre” advert in order to see it. That’s all fine, but NBC’s version is chopped at the end, not faded. Quite inferior. One further note: the “Christmas Story” episode re-airs December 18.