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What I Enjoyed This Week 1/25/09
(1/25/09)

Welcome to the first of (hopefully) a regular weekly blog post about my week…i.e., what I enjoyed in terms of music, TV, DVD, etc., and various things that may have happened this week (like say, Obama’s inauguration).

This week did have the beauty of Barack Obama officially becoming our 44th president of the United States of America. I remarked to my friends and family that for the first time in my life I actually cared about watching the inauguration. Back in 2004 I saw Barack Obama give his now famous “red state, blue state” speech at the Democratic National Convention and immediately knew he would one day be president, but so quickly, well that I could not imagine. It’s such a wonderful feeling to once again have a president I can respect. Please don’t let us down President Obama.

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On the downside, I fucked up my foot pretty good this week, and it turns out it was from a new pair of shoes I bought for my day job. Apparently the shoes were pinching the side of my right foot with every step I took. I have decided to send the shoes to the United Nations to find out if these shoes constitute torture under the Geneva Convention (I suspect they do).

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However, while I was laid up yesterday trying to heal my foot, I finally got to sit down and watch my DVD of the complete series of “jPod” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1024701). For those unaware, jPod was a book by one of my favorite authors, Douglas Coupland (also know for his books “Slacker”, and “Microserfs”, among others), turned into a series for the Canadian Broadcast Company (which means it never actually aired here in America, and the DVD is only available through Canadian companies).

The series picked from plot points and storylines in the book, changing the course of things from the book, but all the while keeping the same quirky humor that made me enjoy the book so much.

Description of jPod taken from http://www.morningstarent.com/canada/index.php?p=10&type=view&id=3001 (DVD distributor’s site):

jPod chronicles the amoral, light-hearted and often shocking adventures of Ethan Jarlewski and his four co-workers who routinely deal with Chinese gangs, boneheaded bosses, sexual swinging, British royalty and gore-laced video games.

Of course that description barely cracks the surface of the weirdness of this series. Think of The Office, if it was done by the people behind the BBC series Spaced.

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Speaking of quirky TV series, Flight Of The Conchords is back on HBO for it’s second season! Yippie!

One of the absolute funniest shows on television, Flight Of The Conchords (http://www.hbo.com/conchords) tells the story of the acoustic duo and the odd situations they get into (such as in the new season opener getting a job doing a commercial for a feminine toothpaste, where they are dubbed, “the Femident Boys”). Each episode includes at least 2 musical numbers that are both hysterically funny, and work well in the context of telling the story of the episode. The show truly has to be seen to see for yourself to see the brilliance of it.

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I listened to a lot of new albums this week too (I know, you’re shocked but this bit of news). Here’s a rundown of a few choice albums:

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Easter - “Easter”
http://www.myspace.com/easter

There may have been a lot of shit music that came from the 80’s, but remember that there were a lot of great bands from the 80’s that, sadly, have long since been forgotten and don’t get played on “retro hours”.

Easter is one of those bands. Featuring former Anti singer, Danny Dean, this garage-pop, new-wave tinged punk rock band, had a minor rock hit in 1988 with “Manhattan boy”, that songs, as well as 9 other greats from that era are on their self-titled CD (which can be purchased here: http://cdbaby.com/cd/martinient).

By the way, Social Distortion fans might be interested to know that Mike Ness once played guitar in this band (although does not play on the CD).

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Various artists - “new arrivals volume 3”
http://www.newarrivalscd.com

The third in the series of compilation CDs from Mpress Records, this CD showcases some amazing songs, and all the proceeds from the album go directly to the National Eating Disorders Association (http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org).

Included on this CD are songs from Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, The Kin, Joy Askew, Adrienne Pierce, Glen Phillips (of Toad The Wet Sprocket fame), and Mpress Records founder, Rachel Sage. The staff of Mpress Records that handpicked this selection did a great job of putting 19 adult-alternative songs that don’t suck onto one CD.

And did I mention that buy purchasing the album you’re helping a good cause (I know I already did, but it bared repeating).

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Wendy & Lisa “white flags of winter chimneys”
http://www.wendyandlisa.com

It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since Prince & The Revolution’s “Purple Rain”, which brought Revolution band members Wendy & Lisa into the spotlight. A few years later they broke off and started releasing their own albums without Prince. It’s been 10 years since their last album (in-between they have been scoring TV and films, including NBC’s “Heroes”, but they have finally returned with an amazing new album, “white flags of winter chimneys”. The album is alternative space-rock, fusing electronica and jazz influences with their electric and acoustic guitar driven sound.

The album was produced and put out by Wendy & Lisa, giving them full creative control, something they often cited that their previous record label would not give them. The results are wonderful and certainly worth getting.

Go to http://www.wendyandlisa.com to stream samples from the album, and to purchase “white flags of winter chimneys”.

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The Catholic Girls - “airplay / broken record”
http://thecatholicgirls.net

NJ’s own the Catholic Girls return with a new EP, “airplay / broken record”, and it rocks!

“Airplay” is a rocker that I am pretty sure is about the state of radio and how there was a time when you could request a song and actually get it heard on the radio (get some airplay), but these days radio is so pre-formatted by “the powers that be”, that DJs and music fans no longer have any say in the matter. Of course, I could be reading into the lyrics given my personal jaded view of radio.

The other songs on the EP also rock, “broken record”, which feels like a lost Bangles song from the 80’s (which shouldn’t surprise me, because The Catholic Girls should have been as big as the Bangles back in the 80’s), a dance remix of their 80’s hit, “god made me for you” (which for those wondering, is remixed like an 80’s new wave song, very cool), and “Christmas with this girl” (I’m not a big fan of holiday music (don’t get me started), but the song has some nice riffs).

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The Caterpillar Book - “maybe this summer”
www.myspace.com/thecaterpillarbook

“Maybe this summer”, from NJ’s The Caterpillar Book, is a CD of perfect radio friendly, mid-tempo pop. Their bio (reprinted below) references The Goo Goo Dolls (post “a boy named goo” album) and Counting Crows, I’d add to that list Train and Matchbox Twenty. They may not be exactly like any of those bands, but if you’re a fan of any of those bands, I think you will probably like this too.

From their bio:

The Caterpillar Book is about change. It is about the growth and understanding. The change that happens to all of us as we become our true selves. Ryan O’Dell, Dan Mertens and Kris Van Cleave have been playing together since they met as students at school. Two CD’s and several band names later, bassist Vern Miller joined the group, which is now called "The Caterpillar Book." Add in John Williams on guitar and the group was finalized. With roots that go deep into rock and roll, the band is full of influences but likens itself to Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Goo-Goo Dolls, Oasis and Counting Crows. As well as being multi-instrumentalists, all the band members are songwriters and singers, which further contributes to the unique mix heard in their original material. "Our goal is to express ourselves as musicians and artists through songs that touch the heart and soul, make you laugh, make you think, and make no musical or philosophical compromises."

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The Morning After Girls - “3 songs sampler”
http://www.myspace.com/themorningaftergirls

Wow! I was just sent a 3 song sampler with songs from The Morning After Girls forthcoming CD (due out in the spring), and these songs are incredible!

What you need to know:

Much like Barenaked Ladies, there are no girls in The Morning After Girls.

Unlike Barenaked Ladies, The Morning After Girls play psychedelic rock.

You can stream the three song sampler on their MySpace page:
http://www.myspace.com/themorningaftergirls

And you can see them live on Tuesday January 27th at Mercury Lounge in NYC, where they will be showcasing songs from their forthcoming CD.

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Ok, that’s all for this week.

Wow, over 1500 words.

Not sure if I’ll be able to write that much every week.