Thursday, November 30, 2006

A little re-introduction....

Hey boys and girls...I had written a little blurb in the yahoogroup for my rodeo association, and since it kinda help understand what I do there, I wanted to reprint it here.



Hi, my name's Ernie, and I'm honored to be serving as your trustee for the Liberty Gay Rodeo Association. I wanted to introduce myself, and tell everyone a little about what it is I do, what the association has coming up, and a little request to boot. But first of all, I'd like to thank everyone who has joined LGRA as a member, whether it be at one of our events or through the website. You are really helping to invest in our plan to bring the rodeo to Philadelphia for the first time in May of 2008. In under a year, LGRA has grown to over 150 members, which is comparable to a big chunk of the other rodeo associations around the country that have been around for years. I am committed to giving 110% to contributing my part in helping put on an event its members deserve, and something long-lasting for the community. Also, I am very grateful for the men and women who have aided us so much with the work and events we have already done. Volunteers like Jeff C, Shane, Mark, Ed, Chris, Jim, as well as June, John, and Cliff (I'm really sorry if I've left out anybody) have given much time and effort at our different events, and I as well as the rest of the board are so appreciative of their help. And I want to give special thanks to John Stypa, for devoting so much time for developing such a smashing website, and Jade Meskunas for putting out a great newsletter. And finally in the thank you department, thanks to Michael, Jen, Jeff, Rocco, and Cindy for helping put this thing together before I came aboard.
Now as for me, if you don't know me, I've been a resident of Yardville, New Jersey all of my life (save for a college stint in Chicago). I've worked for Verizon for seventeen years, currently in repair dispatch. My "route to this destination" of helping with the rodeo comes from 16 years of country dancing between Pennsy, Jersey, and New York. The "two-stepping community" as it is has been a great social and physical outlet that I think defies the normal stereotypes of gay life, either by us or by the mainstream. I am lucky to have as a result the best of friends and buddies a man can dream of. And let me tell you, I was obsessed. At one point, I was going to different places sometimes 4-5 times a week. Ah, the days of lower gas prices. Well in 1992 I found out about the gay rodeo in DC and was able to make it down there. I was floored. I have seen rodeo events before, but nothing like this. Between the regular steer and bull riding, calf roping, and horse events, there were fun "camp" events like Goat Dressing, Steer Deco, and the Wild Drag Race (you can see descriptions and videos for all these events on DC's excellent website www.asgra.org ). All this amongst bleachers full of ordinary men and women enjoying the time of their lives. I haven't missed attending one since in DC. A few years back, my friends Jeff (our membership chair), Mark, and I got the nerve to enter ourselves in the "Dolly Madison Race" (a camp event that is like an obstacle course from the netherworld). Let me tell you we were all sorts of nervous. But it was an amazing experience. Since then I have learned how to do Steer Deco (which Jeff and I competed last year), Goat Dressing, and Chute Dogging with the help of the "play day" LGRA and ASGRA put on last August (my birthday weekend, even) in New Jersey. And if you ever have been to the rodeo, and though about trying something out, that is the way to go. You never know until you try, and heck, you can just do it for fun or even compete in the rodeo itself (we got a ribbon for 4th place, and believe me, I was very happy about it). We will be putting on another play day or two next year, and will keep everyone posted on it. C'mon and cowboy up!
Now as I had said before, I'm Liberty GRA's trustee. As such, firstly I'm our association's "voice" on the board of directors for IGRA (The International Gay Rodeo Association, our parent organization), almost like a "union steward", representing us at board meetings and at various rodeos. I'm the liaison to bring information on national happenings in IGRA. Secondly, I'm conversely IGRA's link to our rodeo, and I am responsible for enforcing and administering IGRA's standards to our rodeo as well as other rodeos in our circuit. The trustees are required to make sure all rodeo specifications (safety rules, event specs, etc.) are being met, clear any variances for rodeo events, and resolve any disputes on judging and execution of the rodeo itself. In doing this, I am not only preserving the quality and uniformity of the events that IGRA sanctions throughout the US and Canada, but also protect the contestants and spectators as well. I hold this responsibility in the highest regard. In addition to all this, I'm right now being a jack-of-all-trades, helping the rest of the board with the long but important journey in setting up our first rodeo. I'll be the first to admit I've got a lot to learn still, but I'm committed to helping in anyway I can. If you have any sort of question about either our rodeo or the other rodeos around the country, or even IGRA's goings-on in general, please write me or see me out, if I don't know myself I know how to find out.
Liberty has a great even coming up, our first bachelor/bachelorette auction at Woody's on Friday, December 8th. Dancing will be extended from 6-11pm, and the auction will be interspersed with dancing starting at 9pm. You can look at the wonderful people (and one horse) who volunteered their time for this and are up for "bid" by checking the website www.libertygra.org under "events". Also even though the leaves are falling, we are still doing trail rides the first sunday of each month. It's a great oppurtunity for those who love to ride as well as those that want to learn (absolutely no experience needed). Details are also in the events section.
Lastly, I said I had a little request. Actually, I have two requests. First, if you see me round at twostepping or anywhere else, please come and introduce yourself to me. I know a lot of our members already from country dancing, but there are a lot I have yet to meet, and would love the opportunity to do so. You can ask me anything (well....) and I promise to be helpful and honest. You can also get ahold of me at the email trustee@libertygra.org. Secondly, and most importantly, I would like to ask everyone to get involved. This association is really a team effort, and is definitely not the vehicle or one or a few people. Between the rodeo events themselves, LGRA also is involved in a whole myriad of other things, like fundraisers, community work, promotion, and your talents can really help. If you don't think you would have anything to contribute, either skillwise or timewise, please reconsider. You never know what assistance we need that you may be helpful with until then. As I mentioned before, many people have put time and effort into helping this along, and I am so more than grateful for that. My feeling is the more people involved with this, the better this organization can be. Especially helpful right now would be anyone who would like to help with public relations, artwork, sponsorship, and social events. Heck even if you want to give an idea you have or to help set up something for an event we're doing, I'd really love to hear from you.
I'd like to close by saying I'm really excited about our future. We've got a long road ahead, but I am confident we're gonna be putting on a show to remember in 2008!
Let's rodeo

Monday, November 27, 2006

You'll find another way to begin, and you'll trust in someone...


Ok, first off, do NOT go by the horrible air-brushed-to-the-point-of-drag-queen-ishness cover. Beneath that lies one of the greatest female artists in country today, Wynonna Judd, with an album that was so unfairly overlooked in the male-dominated country atmosphere of 2003. With only Oprah to save sales of the record, anyone only listening to radio would miss the appearance of What The World Needs Now Is Love, with only one mid-hit single, the title song. But this album is one of the best, if not the best, country record of that year.

The first sign of that is that the title song, good as it is, even pales besides a boatload of songs that are mixed throughout the album. The song fits into Wynonna's all-inclusive spirituality based on love, not fear of god. That is followed by "Heaven Help Me", a classic ballad yearning for her love not to leave. "It All Comes Down To Love" fits the theme of the title song, with a Bonnie Raitt-like groove behind it. Mom Naomi joins in for one song, the nostalgic "Flies On The Butter (You Can't Go Home Again)" bringing at least a Judds reunion for a brief glimpse. The inspirational mood continues with the simple but powerful anthem of "I Will Be" which segues nicely to a version of Foreigner's "I Wanna Know What Love Is" that is not only superior for her delivery, but made he even more appreciate the original. "It's Only Love" is a pleasant enough number, and "Sometimes I Feel Like Elvis" is way better than the title would imply. The only misstep is ironically following that up with a remake of the King's "Burning Love" from the Disney product Lilo And Stitch that doesn't really add anything to the original. Wynonna rebounds thankfully with two perfect songs, the remarkably Babyface-like "Who Am I Supposed To Love" and the most moving song I've heard in years, "Your Day Will Come". Just gander at lyrics like these....

Pack up all your tears
Bury the past
Send them away
Don't let 'em hold you back
Love will find you again
You'll find another way to begin
And you'll trust in someone
Your day will come...

Trust me, I've been there. I think we all have been there at one point. This song has become my mantra. After that the end of the album is a little bit of a denouement, though still quality, with the rockin' "(No One's Gonna) Break Me Down", the by-the-numbers soundtrack filler "You Are", and the earthy closer "Rescue Me". There's not an unlistenable moment on the album ("Burning Love" is not unlistenable, only unnecessary). You can't go wrong with What The World Needs Now Is Love, either as a glimpse of Wynonna Judd or country music in itself. If only country radio would get a clue.

Grade: A-
Best Cuts:
"What The Worlds Needs", "Heaven Help Me", "I Will Be", "I Want To Know What Love Is", "Sometimes I Feel Like Elvis", "Who Am I Supposed To Love", "Your Day Will Come"
Weakest Link: "Burning Love"

What The World Needs Now Is Love hit #1 country albums and #8 pop albums.
"What The World Needs Now" hit #14 country & #70 pop.
"Heaven Help Me" made #37 country.
"Flies On The Butter" made #33 country.
"I Want To Know What Love Is" hit #14 Adult Contemporary, and #12 dance radio.

To listen to the awesome track "Your Day Will Come" download by clicking here (rightclick to bring up another window).

and then once you do go buy the album. You can find it at sites like here and here.

And with no video, here's a bonus, the dance remix to "I Want To Know What Love Is" download by clicking here (rightclick to bring up another window).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Twostepcub music chart for 11-21-06...

Happy Thanksgiving to all in the US. Here's my tunes for the week, and as always you can click on the highlighted name of the artist to bring up their webpage (you can rightclick to bring it up in a new window). This week the Scissor Sisters stay on top for a second week, with the Fray (above) staying a second week in the top five while having another song linger on the chart. Saying goodbye are songs by the Pet Shop Boys, KT Tunstall, and Rodney Atkins, while big moves are made by George Strait, Christina Aguilera, and Pink. Gobble Gobble!

This Week Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
--------------------------------------------------------------------
1. I Don't Feel Like Dancin' - Scissor Sisters (1)
2. Call Me When You're Sober - Evanescence (2)
3. Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol (3)
4. Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood (4)
5. How To Save A Life - The Fray (5)
6. Far Away - Nickelback (8)
7. When You Were Young - The Killers (7)
8. You Save Me - Kenny Chesney (11)
9. Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt (9)
10. Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall (10)
11. Here It Goes Again - OK Go (13)
12. Once In A Lifetime - Keith Urban (12)
13. Want To - Sugarland (15)
14. Welcome To The Black Parade - My Chemical Romance (18)
15. Jump - Madonna (19)
16. Waiting On The World To Change - John Mayer (14)
17. Tell Me Baby - Red Hot Chili Peppers (17)
18. Every Mile A Memory - Dierks Bentley (6)
19. My Wish - Rascal Flatts (21)
20. Be Still - Kaskade (20)
21. Mama's Room - Under The Influence Of Giants (16)
22. Through Glass - Stone Sour (23)
23. Is It Love? - iio (24)
24. Here (In Your Arms) - Hellogoodbye (28)
25. Gone - Sun (26)
26. Steady As She Goes - The Raconteurs (22)
27. Boston - Augustana (27)
28. Nothing Left To Lose - Mat Kearney (30)
29. Buttons - Pussycat Dolls (25)
30. Too Little Too Late - JoJo (34)
31. It Just Comes Natural - George Strait (47)
32. Common Ground - Dave Aude & Tall Paul f/Sisely Treasure (33)
33. Can't Let Go - Landon Pigg (41)
34. Streetcorner Symphony - Rob Thomas (45)
35. My Number One - Helena Paparizou (36)
36. Amarillo Sky - Jason Aldean (44)
37. Is It Any Wonder? - Keane (37)
38. Sensitivity - Shape:UK (43)
39. Like Red On A Rose - Alan Jackson (29)
40. F*cking Boyfriend - The Bird & The Bee (49)
41. Move Along - All-American Rejects (31)
42. She's Everything - Brad Paisley (46)
43. Supernature 2006 - Cerrone (50)
44. What Hurts The Most - Rascal Flatts (32)
45. Love You - Jack Ingram (39)
46. SexyBack - Justin Timberlake (48)
47. Deja Vu - Beyonce (42)
48. I Write Sins Not Tragedies - Panic At The Disco (38)
49. Hurt - Christina Aguilera (67)
50. Crash Here Tonight - Toby Keith (54)
51. Love Don't Let Me Go - David Guetta vs. The Egg (62)
52. Shine - Luther Vandross (40)
53. Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae (35)
54. Let Love In - Goo Goo Dolls (65)
55. My Little Girl - Tim McGraw (61)
56. I Can't Hate You Anymore - Nick Lachey (68)
57. Maneater - Nelly Furtado (75)
58. What A Feeling - DJ Peter Luts & Dominico (59)
59. U & Ur Hand - Pink (81)
60. Love's The Only Drug - Ultra Nate (DEBUT)
61. Over My Head (Cable Car) - The Fray (56)
62. Fly Me Away - Goldfrapp (63)
63. Chelsea - Stefy (53)
64. Into The Ocean - Blue October (87)
65. Ain't No Other Man - Christina Aguilera (57)
66. It's Too Late - Dirty South vs. Evermore (55)
67. Would You Go With Me - Josh Turner (51)
68. Head Over Heels - Emelee (69)
69. Mountains - Lonestar (74)
70. Hard - Africanism (72)
71. A Public Affair - Jessica Simpson (58)
72. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley (52)
73. The Diary Of Jane - Breaking Benjamin (73)
74. My Oh My - The Wreckers (85)
75. A Good Man - Emerson Drive (79)
76. I Call It Love - Lionel Richie (64)
77. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is - Jet (60)
78. Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado (66)
79. The Riddle (You & I) - Five For Fighting (70)
80. Lips Of An Angel - Hinder (80)
81. You'll Always Be My Baby - Sara Evans (90)
82. I Loved Her First - Heartland (82)
83. The DJ Made Me Do It - Robin (DEBUT)
84. What The World Needs Now - Joyce Sims (DEBUT)
85. Lost Yo Mind - Pepper Mashay (DEBUT)
86. Heard The World - O.A.R. (89)
87. Life Is A Highway - Rascal Flatts (84)
88. Call On Me - Janet Jackson f/Nelly (71)
89. My Love - Justin Timberlake f/T.I. (DEBUT)
90. Some People Change - Montgomery Gentry (94)
91. Tim McGraw - Taylor Swift (93)
92. Watching You - Rodney Atkins (98)
93. Move In My Direction - Bananarama (77)
94. Anna-Molly - Incubus (96)
95. Satellites - September (95)
96. A Little Bit Of Life - Craig Morgan (100)
97. Give It Away - George Strait (91)
98. Not Ready To Make Nice - Dixie Chicks (99)
99. Getcha Some - Pleasure Center (DEBUT)
100. So Insane - Smash Mouth (DEBUT)

And here's the way cool video for Justin Timberlake's "My Love"...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

When you think the ride is over, you're back at the beginning....

Well to make things short, this was the best country album released in 2005. Yeah, I know it's kinda late but I felt it best to start with that.In fact, If your a newbie to country music, and want to listen to something to start, you can't go wrong here. Brad Paisley has carved a career of being simply the best male country singer/guitarist around now (sorry, Vince), and Time Well Wasted has continued his string of near-perfect albums of down-home goodness. He does usually have a pattern with his albums, but puts a winner in each of them.

Time Well Wasted starts out with the #1 song "The World", which is a cute little love ditty he's so good with, with lines like "to the waiter at the restaurant, you're just another tip....but to me you are the world...", and with charm celebrates the joy of the plain and simple without resorting on dumping on the urbane (the way a lot of other country artists fall back on). Next is his requisite drinking song, here being "Alcohol", which this time treats the subject with humor (as opposed to the somber subject in his last album's "Whiskey Lullaby"). However, next inexplicably comes a non-descript number "Waitin' On A Woman" which doesn't exactly suck but isn't really a keeper either. However Paisley is back on track with the best "fun" track on the album, the hilarious "I'll Take You Back", which is a litany of unbelievable things that must happen before he'll forgive his ex. "She's Everything" is a little bit of a by-the-numbers love song, but better delivered than "Waitin'...". The swing song requirement is covered by the female-baiting "You Need A Man Around Here", with his "aw, shucks I'm just a man" sweetness that even works on me. Alan Jackson joins Paisley on the fan-admiring song "Out In The Parking Lot", which is a great description of the people who pay these guys' salaries by coming to their shows. "Raining You" is a sweet, soft number to break the frivolity for a little bit in the middle of the album. Paisley then gives us a taste of his classic approach with the honky-tonk of "Flowers", as in "how many flowers have to die before you'll forgive me". After this, just when you think you're in a simple flow of the album, Paisley knocks me out with the two best cuts on the album, where he shines the most with his inspiring tales of everyday life, this time with the upbeat "Love Is Never Ending" , which sounds like a perfect sunny day song, and the classic duet with Dolly Parton, "When I Get Where I'm Going", sure to be a funeral standard (and that's in a good way) for years to come. "Easy Money" is a hat tip to his band, which is rare these days in the faceless NashYork machine. Paisley puts a killer instrumental in every album, and this time its the frenetic "Time Warp" which goes from lightning speed guitar runs to a grinding blues solo, and then back right again to the whirlwind pace it started with. The albums songs conclude with the sweet title cut, which is a good comedown from the pace of the album. However, it's not the end, with the comedy number "Cornography" closing things off with help from George Jones, Dolly Parton, and Little Jimmy Dickens again stealing the show. If you got your CD from Target, you get a second CD which has four songs, all of them good but not essential, including the standard songs "Yes You Will" and "Hard To Say Hello" and the novelties "Ode De Toilet" and "College" (and older song from an earlier Pat Green album).

All the songs here show the triple threat, Paisley can be, as a singer, a guitarist, and a songwriter. There is so much quality on here I can imagine almost every song here to be a hit single if given the chance. And with Time Well Wasted, he puts the best example of what country music is today. Buy it. Love it.

Grade: A
Best Cuts:
"The World", "Alcohol", "I'll Take You Back", "Out In The Parkin' Lot", "Love Is Never Ending", "When I Get Where I'm Going", "Easy Money"
Weakest Link: "Waitin' On A Woman"

Time Well Wasted hit #2 pop albums and #1 country albums.
"Alcohol" hit #4 country and #28 pop singles.
"When I Get Where I'm Going" made #1 country and #39 pop singles.
"The World" made #1 country and #45 pop.
"She's Everything" hit #10 country so far and #35 pop singles so far.

You can pick up a copy of Time Well Wasted at sites like here and here.

If you'd like to listen to the classic track "Love Is Never Ending" click here to download (rightclick to bring up in a new window).

And here's the video for the first single, "Alcohol"...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Rest in peace....

Ruth Brown, a pioneer in early rock and soul, died at 78.... A great influence on many artists, she'll be missed...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Twostepcub music chart for 11-14-06...

Hey folks, it's that time again, for my tunes of the week. As per the drill you can click on the highlighted name of the artist to bring up their webpage (you can rightclick to bring up a new window). This week the Scissor Sisters claim the top spot, with big moves by Madonna, Rob Thomas, and Cerrone. Leaving the chart are songs by Tim McGraw (for the second time), Brooks & Dunn, and Rihanna. And the Dixie Chicks' reenter for a third run. Woohoo!

This Week Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
--------------------------------------------------------------------
1. I Don't Feel Like Dancin' - Scissor Sisters (2)
2. Call Me When You're Sober - Evansescence (1)
3. Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol (4)
4. Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood (9)
5. How To Save A Life - The Fray (6)
6. Every Mile A Memory - Dierks Bentley (3)
7. When You Were Young - The Killers (5)
8. Far Away - Nickelback (8)
9. Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt (10)
10. Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall (11)
11. You Save Me - Kenny Chesney (15)
12. Once In A Lifetime - Keith Urban (12)
13. Here It Goes Again - OK Go (14)
14. Waiting For The World To Change - John Mayer (7)
15. Want To - Sugarland (17)
16. Mama's Room - Under The Influence Of Giants (13)
17. Tell Me Baby - Red Hot Chili Peppers (18)
18. Welcome To The Black Parade - My Chemical Romance (22)
19. Jump - Madonna (32)
20. Be Still - Kaskade (25)
21. My Wish - Rascal Flatts (27)
22. Steady As She Goes - The Raconteurs (23)
23. Through Glass - Stone Sour (31)
24. Is It Love? - iio (28)
25. Buttons - Pussycat Dolls (16)
26. Gone - Sun (30)
27. Boston - Augustana (33)
28. Here (In Your Arms) - Hellogoodbye (36)
29. Like Red On A Rose - Alan Jackson (21)
30. Nothing Left To Lose - Mat Kearney (35)
31. Move Along - All-American Rejects (24)
32. What Hurts The Most - Rascal Flatts (19)
33. Common Ground - Dave Aude & Tall Paul f/Sisely Treasure (42)
34. Too Little Too Late - JoJo (46)
35. Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae (20)
36. My Number One - Helena Paparizou (43)
37. Is It Any Wonder? - Keane (37)
38. I Write Sins Not Tragedies - Panic At The Disco (26)
39. Love You - Jack Ingram (39)
40. Shine - Luther Vandross (41)
41. Can't Let Go - Landon Pigg (44)
42. Deja Vu - Beyonce f/Jay-Z (34)
43. Sensitivity - Shape:UK (50)
44. Amarillo Sky - Jason Aldean (56)
45 Streetcorner Symphony - Rob Thomas (62)
46. She's Everything - Brad Paisley (58)
47. It Just Comes Natural - George Strait (76)
48. Sexyback - Justin Timberlake (49)
49. F*cking Boyfriend - The Bird & The Bee (70)
50. Supernature 2006 - Cerrone (72)
51. Would You Go With Me - Josh Turner (38)
52. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley (29)
53. Chelsea - Stefy (54)
54. Crash Here Tonight - Toby Keith (65)
55. It's Too Late - Dirty South vs. Evermore (48)
56. Over My Head (Cable Car) - The Fray (52)
57. Ain't No Other Man - Christina Aguilera (45)
58. A Public Affair - Jessica Simpson (47)
59. What A Feeling - DJ Peter Luts & Dominico (60)
60. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is - Jet (61)
61. My Little Girl - Tim McGraw (69)
62. Love Don't Let Me Go - David Guetta vs. The Egg (68)
63. Fly Me Away - Goldfrapp (64)
64. I Call It Love - Lionel Richie (57)
65. Let Love In - Goo Goo Dolls (71)
66. Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado (55)
67. Hurt - Christina Aguilera (89)
68. I Can't Hate You Anymore - Nick Lachey (85)
69. Head Over Heels - Emelee (73)
70. The Riddle (You & I) - Five For Fighting (51)
71. Call On Me - Janet Jackson f/Nelly (53)
72. Hard - Africanism (82)
73. The Diary Of Jane - Breaking Benjamin (74)
74. Mountains - Lonestar (81)
75. Maneater - Nelly Furtado (100)
76. I'm With Stupid - Pet Shop Boys (40)
77. Move In My Direction - Bananarama (63)
78. One Night Only - Deena Jones & The Dreams (66)
79. A Good Man - Emerson Drive (84)
80. Lips Of An Angel - Hinder (80)
81. U & Ur Hand - Pink (88)
82. I Loved Her First - Heartland (83)
83. Animal I Have Become - Three Days Grace (75)
84. Life Is A Highway - Rascal Flatts (67)
85. My Oh My - Wreckers (98)
86. Turn It Up - Paris Hilton (59)
87. Into The Ocean - Blue October (DEBUT)
88. Black Horse & The Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall (79)
89. Heard The World - O.A.R. (93)
90. You'll Always Be My Baby - Sara Evans (99)
91. Give It Away - George Strait (78)
92. If You're Going Through Hell - Rodney Atkins (92)
93. Tim McGraw - Taylor Swift (97)
94. Some People Change - Montgomery Gentry (96)
95. Satellites - September (DEBUT)
96. Anna-Molly - Incubus (DEBUT)
97. Free Your Mind - Ohsha Kai (95)
98. Watching You - Rodney Atkins (DEBUT)
99. Not Ready To Make Nice - Dixie Chicks (RE-ENTRY)
100. A Little Bit Of Life - Craig Morgan (DEBUT)

And here's an added plus, the video for September's "Satellites", debuting this week.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Single Life....November 12, 2006....


It's that time again, for the odds and sods I've picked on along the way....you can click on the highlighted name of the artist to bring up their webpage (rightclick to bring up in a new window). Cheers!

The Bird And The Bee - "F*cking Boyfriend [Ralphi Rosario Mixshow]" Boy was I surprised about this one. I was so expecting a wailing enormous black diva wailing a song with a title like this, one geared for the disco boys. Rather, this is a rework of a track by a group very much like Everything But The Girl or Esthero. Very cool even without the cursing (I'll have to go back to buy the original) and get my groove on. Grade: A-

Cerrone - "Supernature 2006 [Joachim Garraud Mix]" A classic proto-electro track by French disco producer Cerrone, with added thump and claps. You can't mess this song up too much, though be careful, I downloaded the "Danny Tenaglia mix" on ITunes to find out it was the Erasure version of the song instead. Wankers! Grade: A-

Goo Goo Dolls - "Let Love In" I guess the Dolls have relegated themselves to wuss-rock forever. Though it isn't a bad song, don't be expecting any taste of alternative in this rock. Good for soccer moms and revivals. Grade C+

Smash Mouth - "So Insane" This sounds better on the second listen than the first. That's good, and it is much better than their clowny "Story Of My Life". Grade: B

Nick Lachey - "I Can't Hate You Anymore" OK, Goo Goo Dolls, I'm sorry. You were just out-wussed. As much as I like Nick, and in all sorts of ways do I like him, and this song is good in the boyband genre kinda way, I'd hate to think he's kind of pigeonholing himself as the "victim" in all his songs. Perfect for the dumped and about to stalk. Grade: B-

Lady Sovereign
- "Love Me Or Hate Me" I tried to hate this, a jokey Eminem protege white-English-girl rapper. But I couldn't. Its electrobeat (am I seeing a pattern in these songs) sell the novelty-type raps. Grade: B-

Bowling For Soup - "High School Never Ends" On the other hand, I tried to love this, but BFS is getting a little too cutesy and product-like on this one. Don't become a cariacture of yourselves. Grade: C+

Sister Hazel - "Mandolin Moon" Sister Hazel, like Collective Soul, got unfair lost in the shuffle of alt-rock bands that sprouted like weeds in the 90s. Still chugging along, this track is easygoing alt-pop goodness, good for the fans of the poppy side of Blues Traveler or those waiting for the next Hootie album. Grade: B

Paolo Nutini
- "New Shoes" A native Scot of Italian heritage, Paolo delivered a cool bouncy track in the Jason Mraz/Jack Johnson funky-white-boy vein. Deserves attention. Grade: B+

Robbie Williams
- "Kiss Me" A really shockingly good remake of collaborator Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy's 80's trite-disco hit. Very good production on this, with machine-gun synths and swirling backvocals. Grade: A-

Povertyneck Hillbillies
- "Mr. Right Now" In the alt-country vein like a funnier Pat Green or Jack Ingram, the Hillbillies channel their best Randy-Newman-does-Blackhawk impression. Perfect country bar jukebox song. Grade: A-

Blue October
- "Into The Ocean" Kinda has that Peter Gabriel without the voice sound to it. A little much in the spoken-verse thing, but pleasant in its own way. Grade: C+

Justin Timberlake f/T.I.
- "My Love" I like this oodles more than "Sexyback". As opposed to that song with it's obvious product-ness, "My Love" is more of a real love song channeled through a neo-electro-soul backdrop. Grade: B

Daniel Powter
- "Love You Lately" Finally a followup to the earworm "Bad Day". Real good for the James Blunt set. Grade: B

Lily Allen
- "Smile" Breezy English girl-pop for those who like Corinne Bailey Rae and KT Tunstall and such. Grade: B

Madonna
- "Jump [Extended Mix]" The most faithful though short mix of the song. The other mixes ITunes are offering are a little too-intentionally outthere. Grade: B+

Paris Hilton - "Nothing In This World [Dave Aude Edit]" Here she goes again, this time nicking an 80's riff from a song I can't remember offhand. Though it sounds good, I'd probably sound good if I had paid for the pro-tools pitch adjustment. Grade: C+

And since he's eye candy, here's Nick Lachey with "I Can't Hate You Anymore"..



and here's the Povertybeck Hillbillies with "Mr. Right Now", they can ALL be Mr. right Now for me...

Rolling Stones 500 best - #94.....


I admit, I never "got" Miles Davis at all until recently. In fact, I still don't think I fully "get" his music now. However, his influence on modern music in indisputable. And with a boatload of albums of all styles of jazz music, it's easy to get lost in trying to dive into listening to anything from his career. But Davis' true legacy starts with two albums, albums as different as anything in jazz, the cool-mood Kind Of Blue from 1959 and Bitches Brew, his groundbreaking foray into jazz-rock in 1969.
Now, Bitches Brew is not an easy record. The shortest "song" on here is four and a half minutes long ("John McLaughlin") and Miles doesn't even play on that. In fact, you really can't call these "songs" per say, but musical fugues, like classical music filtered through the electric guitar based rock that inspired groups like Santana and King Crimson. The first two numbers originally held an album side apiece. "Pharoah's Dance" is a blend of African rhythms and snake-like horn parts that build and build to a frenzied pace to give way to a keyboard groove that then gives way back to the horns to finish the "dance". "Bitches Brew" brings the keyboards again to the forefront, the the bass and Miles' trumpet battling it out as well. "Spanish Key" is a clear omen for Santana's experimentation with guitar sounds in the early 70s, and "John McLaughlin" is a short, throwaway interlude to bring you to the final punch. "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" is probably the most straightforward track on the album, with a funky groove belying the trumpet's playful banter throughout the song. Finally Wayne Shorter's "Sanctary" closes out the original album, with Miles' using sparse instrumentation to build to a crescendo of cool. The CD release also includes another Shorter number, "Feio", a subtle reworking of the old jazz-bop to accomodate rock instruments like guitar and keyboard.

Now I'm not gonna tell you this is gonna be all well and good for the Britney set. However, it does pay off in repeated listenings, and especially on a rainy day with nothing to do but relax. Personally, Kind of Blue is more my kind of Miles, but Bitches Brew is a more relevant listen, and with changing the form that rock music can go in terms of timing and structure, along with James Brown changed all we know about about rock music, and paved the way for everyone from Led Zeppelin to Metallica.

Grade: B-
Best Cuts:
"Pharoah's Dance", "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down"
Weakest Link: "John McLaughlin"

Bitches Brew hit #35 pop albums, #1 Jazz Albums, and #4 R&B albums.

You can pick up Bitches Brew at sites like here or here.

and here's Miles at Montreux converting his "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" into a jazz-rock experiment.

If there was something on your mind you should have said, and did you think I'd lose control...

This is the record Erasure should have made this year. Electric Blue was issued the same year as Andy Bell's parent band, Erasure's Nightbird, yet sounds more true-to-form that the group effort (though that album definitely has its good moments). I'd really have thought Bell would use the advantage of making a solo album to explore different musical settings for his voice, but instead he makes Electric Blue a party album from the get go, with the whirling "Caught In A Spin" and first single "Crazy", with production from production team Manhattan Clique matching Vince Clarke bleep for bleep. "Love Oneself" puts Bell and Propaganda siren Claudia Brucken in an almost Kylie-esque electro-disc setting, something I could have expected from Andy but not from goth-gods like Propaganda's Brucken. Next comes "I Thought It Was You", with Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears paying homage to possibly one of his inspirations, with a funky, trippy number. The title track is an electro-clash club-friendly track, which segues into the groovy "Jealous", which is a good change of pace for the middle of the album, especially with the faux-string breaks. "Shaking My Soul" is almost girl-group-like, though with a modern sheen, and "Runaway" continues the assertive groove "Jealous" started. Second single "Never Fall In Love Again" is definitely the highlight of the album, with a classic Bell heartbreak lyric over a nostaglic Erasure-ish track. Claudia Brucken comes back for the fun song "Delicious", before Andy slows down the pace a little for the ballad "Fantasy". But to close the album, he goes right back into dancefloor madness with "See The Lights Go Out" and the puts you to bed with the sweet final cut "The Rest Of Our Lives". As much as Manhattan Clique not stray far from the Erasure mold, the production on this album is earthier than the band's recent efforts, which possibly heralded the bands recent acoustic album, Union Street. And with Bell's recent "coming-out" with his HIV-status, Electric Blue is nothing but positive and uplifting, in fact the most fun and joyful album of his career. And an album that stands fine up against anything his band has done (and that's saying a lot). It still isn't Erasure without Vince Clarke (though he did remix a version of "Crazy") but this definitely shows he's no svengali to Bell's talent.

Grade:A-
Best Cuts:
"Caught In A Spin", "Crazy", "Love Oneself", "Electric Blue", "I'll Never Fall In Love Again", "Fantasy", "See The Lights Go Out"

Electric Blue hit #12 Electronic Albums, and #119 in the UK album chart.
"Crazy" hit #3 Dance Club Play, and #35 in the UK.

You can buy the album Electric Blue at sites like here and here.

You can listen to the track "Love Oneself" by clicking here to download (rightclick to bring up in a new window).

And here's the video for his single "Crazy" (very 80's-like I must say)...

I'll wind up forgiving you, and probably loving you for the rest of my life...


Ah, she shows such promise. In 2004 Gretchen Wilson showed up with "Redneck Woman", smashing down the all-male club that country radio had been for over a year.Her first album, Here For The Party, was a cool mix was honky-tonk rave-ups and tearjerkers that showcased Gretchen's rural yet powerful voice. With sales of over 4 million and 4 top-5 country singles from that album, expectations were high for her second album. Well, if there's a classic case of sophomore jinx, this is it. All Jacked Up seems like a cariacture of the white-trash chic girl Wilson won me over with Here For The Party. Starting with the swing rave-up "All Jacked Up", which ruins a great groove on a apparent advertisement to driving, fighting, whatever under intoxication (no I don't buy the tag-end "don't drink and drive" throw-in at the end). Even worse is "California Girls", which Wilson feels the need to trash anything that isn't hillbilly (one of the verses says it's fine for Dolly Parton to have surgery but not for others to do it). That road is trolled again on "Politically Uncorrect" which is the obligatory drag-out-the-country-icon track, this time with Merle Haggard, and basically playing the faux-victim card like everyone is burning the flag and spitting on soldiers these days. "Skoal Ring" seems like a track on a forthcoming Jerry Springer Show soundtrack, and "Full Time Job" has a good sentiment (giving props to moms) but it's a little bland and banal.

Now there are a few glimmers of hope to be found here, mostly in the ballads, with "I Don't Feel Like Loving You Today" and "Raining On Me" regaining the heartbroken beauty of gems on her first set like "When You Think About Cheatin'". Also the slow burn of "He Ain't Even Cold Yet" proves winning. "Not Bad For A Bartender" would be pretty cheesy if it weren't for Wilson's delivery and knowledge that she really did live the rags-to-riches life that the song describes. And the addition of the hidden track, a cover of Billie Holliday's "Good Morning Heartache" shows talent waiting to be expunged of the parody-style aping a goood chunk of the album exudes.

The not-so-successful status of the album (it was a #1 album, but a quarter of the sales so far, with only one top-10 song to boast from it) will possibly herald a back-to-basics tack for the next, or possibly even more pandering to the white bread-neck audience they were going after. Hopefully with such a voice as Wilson's, I'm hopin' for the former.

Grade:C
Best Cuts:
"I Don't Feel Like Lovin' You Today", "Raining On Me"
Weakest Links: "Politically Uncorrect", "California Girls"

All Jacked Up hit #1 pop and #1 country albums.
"All Jacked Up" hit #8 country, and #42 pop.
"I Don't Feel Like Loving You Today" made #22 country, #109 pop.
"Politically Uncorrect" made #23 country.
"California Girls" hit #25 country, and #121 pop.

You can pick up a copy of All Jacked Up at site like here and here.

You can listen to the track "Raining On Me" by clicking here (rightclick to download it in another window).

And here's the video for the first single, "All Jacked Up".

I'm all dressed up and ready to fall in love....

As per request from Karl....the glory that is Eartha, here with Bronski Beat (sans Jimmy Sommerville) doing Cha Cha Heels.

Sunday comic of the day....

This about says it all.

(h/t to DailyKos)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Twostepcub music chart for 11-07-06...

Hey boys and girls....it seems like a new day with the election, I almost forgot to post my tunes for the week. As always you can click on the highlighted name of the artist to bring up their webpage (rightclick to bring it up in a new window). This week Evanescence stays at the top for a second week, and leaving the chart are songs by Steve Holy and Faith Hill. Big moves comes from Carrie Underwood, My Chemical Romance, Madonna, and Hellogoodbye. Cheers!

This Week Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Call Me When You're Sober - Evanescence (1)
2. I Don't Feel Like Dancin' - Scissor Sisters (4)
3. Every Mile A Memory - Dierks Bentley (3)
4. Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol (2)
5. When You Were Young - The Killers (5)
6. How To Save A Life - The Fray (6)
7. Waiting For The World To Change - John Mayer (7)
8. Far Away - Nickelback (9)
9. Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood (20)
10. Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt (12)
11. Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall (14)
12. Once In A Lifetime - Keith Urban (13)
13. Mama's Room - Under The Influence Of Giants (15)
14. Here It Goes Again - OK Go (18)
15. You Save Me - Kenny Chesney (23)
16. Buttons - Pussycat Dolls (10)
17. Want To - Sugarland (26)
18. Tell Me Baby - Red Hot Chili Peppers (21)
19. What Hurts The Most - Rascal Flatts (11)
20. Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae (8)
21. Like Red On A Rose - Alan Jackson (17)
22. Welcome To The Black Parade - My Chemical Romance (39)
23. Steady As She Goes - The Raconteurs (25)
24. Move Along - All-American Rejects (19)
25. Be Still - Kaskade (29)
26. I Write Sins Not Tragedies - Panic At The Disco (16)
27. My Wish - Rascal Flatts (35)
28. Is It Love? - iio (32)
29. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley (22)
30. Gone - Sun (36)
31. Through Glass - Stone Sour (42)
32. Jump - Madonna (68)
33. Boston - Augustana (40)
34. Deja Vu - Beyonce f/Jay-Z (30)
35. Nothing Left To Lose - Mat Kearney (41)
36. Here (In Your Arms) - Hellogoodbye (57)
37. Is It Any Wonder? - Keane (37)
38. Would You Go With Me - Josh Turner (24)
39. Love You - Jack Ingram (43)
40. I'm With Stupid - Pet Shop Boys (28)
41. Shine - Luther Vandross (45)
42. Common Ground - Dave Aude & Tall Paul f/Sisely Treasure (51)
43. My Number One - Helena Paparizou (46)
44. Can't Let Go - Landon Pigg (48)
45. Ain't No Other Man - Christina Aguilera (27)
46. Too Little Too Late - JoJo (52)
47. A Public Affair - Jessica Simpson (38)
48. It's Too Late - Dirty South vs. Evermore (49)
49. Sexyback - Justin Timberlake (50)
50. Sensitivity - Shape:UK (59)
51. The Riddle (You & I) - Five For Fighting (33)
52. Over My Head (Cable Car) - The Fray (47)
53. Call On Me - Janet Jackson f/Nelly (34)
54. Chelsea - Stefy (55)
55. Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado (44)
56. Amarillo Sky - Jason Aldean (61)
57. I Call It Love - Lionel Richie (53)
58. She's Everything - Brad Paisley (66)
59. Turn It Up - Paris Hilton (31)
60. What A Feeling - DJ Peter Luts & Dominico (62)
61. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is - Jet (65)
62. Streetcorner Symphony - Rob Thomas (69)
63. Move In My Direction - Bananarama (60)
64. Fly Me Away - Goldfrapp (64)
65. Crash Here Tonight - Toby Keith (72)
66. One Night Only - Deena Jones & The Dreams (58)
67. Life Is A Highway - Rascal Flatts (54)
68. Love Don't Let Me Go - David Guetta vs. The Egg (73)
69. My Little Girl - Tim McGraw (76)
70. F*cking Boyfriend - The Bird & The Bee (97)
71. Let Love In - Goo Goo Dolls (80)
72. Supernature 2006 - Cerrone (91)
73. Head Over Heels - Emelee (87)
74. The Diary Of Jane - Breaking Benjamin (78)
75. Animal I Have Become - Three Days Grace (71)
76. It Just Comes Natural - George Strait (DEBUT)
77. Good Day - Jewel (56)
78. Give It Away - George Strait (67)
79. Black Horse & The Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall (63)
80. Lips Of An Angel - Hinder (82)
81. Mountains - Lonestar (88)
82. Hard - Africanism (99)
83. I Loved Her First - Heartland (84)
84. A Good Man - Emerson Drive (92)
85. I Can't Hate You Anymore - Nick Lachey (95)
86. Cut - Plumb (75)
87. When The Stars Go Blue - Tim McGraw (81)
88. U & Ur Hand - Pink (96)
89. Hurt - Christina Aguilera (DEBUT)
90. The Glamorous Life - T-Funk & Inaya Day (83)
91. Unfaithful - Rihanna (74)
92. If You're Going Through Hell - Rodney Atkins (90)
93. Heard The World - O.A.R. (DEBUT)
94. Building Bridges - Brooks & Dunn f/Sheryl Crow & Vince Gill (70)
95. Free Your Mind - Ohsha Kai (93)
96. Some People Change - Montgomery Gentry (98)
97. Tim McGraw - Taylor Swift (100)
98. My Oh My - The Wreckers (DEBUT)
99. You'll Always Be My Baby - Sara Evans (DEBUT)
100. Maneater - Nelly Furtado (DEBUT)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

You've been livin' too long in broken promise land....

Ok this is the anti-Big & Rich. Lonestar has gone from soft-country superstars to the band that John Rich used to be in. They've racked up 9 #1 country hits in the span of 9 years. That's not bad for a band that originally was a semi-faceless pop-country hybrid a la band like Ricochet and Restless Heart (both in the "where are they now" column). With their sixth studio album, Coming Home, the group retreads the same path paved by earlier successes. So in place of "My Front Porch Looking In" is "You're Like Coming Home", a Hallmark-approved wuss-fest that does succeed for their musicianship (which is hard to come by in a group these days). You've got your "I'll Die Tryin'" to remind you of "Tell Her" and their other ballads, "Noise" to resemble the cute quirkiness of their "Mr. Mom" work, and "I Just Want To Love You" to simulate "Amazed". All and all not a bad album, per se, but not really a distinctive one. The generic lyrics and easygoing production doesn't really challenge you, but it doesn't leave a really bad taste in your mouth (figuratively) either. Though good in small chunks, Lonestar's wussy cheesiness does get a bit grating after a while. Which probably does explain the lackluster success of the album (it only produced one top 40 country single, the #8 title tune), while former member Rich broadened his horizons with Big & Rich to much greater success. You won't offend you parents by listening to this album, but you might get beat up by your football buddies...

Grade: C+
Best Cuts:
"You're Like Coming Home", "Noise"
Weakest Links: "Wild", "Two Bottles Of Beer"

Coming Home hit #3 country albums and #26 pop albums.
"You're Like Coming Home" hit #8 country and #63 pop.
"I'll Die Trying" hit #43 country.

You can pick up Coming Home at sites like here and here.

You can listen to the track "Noise" by clicking here to download (rightclick to bring up in a new window)

And here's the video for their hit single from the album "You're Like Coming Home". Now do they staple these guys to the truckbed or what?