Take Five – New School Year Edition

Grab your Trapper Keepers and pencil cases, kids. It’s time for another Take Five digest! There will be a quiz later. Well, not really. Only if you misbehave.


It’s been five years since Hurricane Katrina, but the region is still in need. Here’s your chance to both help out and get some amazing music. The “Dear New Orleans” compilation (available for just $8 (on Amazon MP3, with all proceeds benefiting Sweet Home New Orleans and the Gulf Restoration Network) features 31 exclusive songs from the likes of Laura Veirs, Thao Nguyen, Allison Moorer, Mirah, The Wrens, Steve Earle and much, much more. Most of the songs evoke the spirit of New Orleans, as felt or perceived by the musicians, so it is not just a thrown-together B-side compilation intended to rake up some bucks for a cause. It is a thoughtful, high quality collection of songs. Grab it.

In other news, I finally snagged Marching Band’s new album “Pop Cycle,” and it is true to its name – a delicious cycle of pop that you can ride for hours. I also picked up the new School of Seven Bells, “Disconnect from Desire,” which I like even more than their first album. Very poppy, shimmery and fun.


  • My good friend Dave was in town this weekend, and we had a blast. While exploring shows to possibly attend, I came across a great lineup at the Lizard Lounge: Juston Stens (ex-Dr. Dog), with John Shade opening. I’d heard a lot about John Shade from Brad, who raved about him during his residency at the Armory earlier this year. Sure enough, upon downloading his album “All You Love is Need,” I discovered something approaching acoustic pop perfection.

    John Shade
    is performing Sept. 21 at TT the Bear’s, opening for Basia Bulat and the Acorn, another recent infatuation. That’s not a lineup to be missed.Oh, what about this past weekend’s show? We ended up not going to a show at all, though we did partake in karaoke at Joey Mac’s in Cambridge which resulted in two dozen people standing arm in arm singing “Piano Man.” I think that was worth the trade-off.
  • If you feel like trekking to the Blue Hills next weekend, the Life is Good folks are putting on a decent music festival. Interestingly, the acts that interest me the most are not the ones with top billing: OK Go, Mavis Staples, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Will Dailey and (in kids’ music form) They Might Be Giants.

Around the Web

In the News

  • On Wednesday, Apple introduced Ping, a new music-oriented social network that comes pre-baked into its extensive iTunes network. The stated goal of Ping is to allow users to follow their friends and favorite artists (which begs the question, what’s in it for us?), but of course the ultimate end for Apple is to sell more music. This Mashable post portrays Ping as a Myspace killer, which is an interesting thought. Myspace has been holding onto the music scene like a branch along the rapids that are rushing it out to irrelevance, and by the looks of Ping, it could loosen that grip. Where Myspace fails with design and usability, Apple wins in spades. However, this initial review of Ping indicates that success may not be so easily won. What really interests me is how Ping, assuming it catches on, lines up against the independent spectrum of music media and services. Prefix Mag titled its brief blog post about Ping, “Apple Introduces Ping To Make Blogs Like This One Irrelevant.” Amusing, but accurate? What could this mean for blogs like Prefix Mag, and services like Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Rdio? Will Ping fail because it doesn’t churn up awesome user data like Last.fm, or will it be a killer app because it blends consumption with connection in the most powerful way? The commenters on the aforementioned Prefix Mag post don’t seem to agree with the latter. “I think it’s cool. And besides, it can’t replace my favorite blogs or standardize them. That’s boring,” one wrote. “yeah, it won’t replace content sites. well, not yet anyways,” wrote another. Not yet, indeed. Time to wait and see. In the meantime, here’s a list of what one guy wishes Ping actually was.
  • Jeff Tweedy is producing Mavis Staples’ upcoming album, “You Are Not Alone,” due out Sept. 14. Check out their cover of John Fogerty’s “Wrote a Song for Everyone.”

Second Thoughts

There are rumors flying around that Boston pop/new wave legends the Cars are on the threshold of reuniting and going on tour.

Let me tell you a little something about me and the Cars.

The Cars were my first favorite band. I listened to them in the womb. Every Christmas until about 10, I asked for a Cars album I didn’t yet own. I spent sacred hours alone in my mom’s bedroom at the tender age of 6, listening to her 8-track copy of “Candy-O” and doing some odd penguin dance to “Double Life.” My favorite song was “Lust for Kicks,” so by second grade, I was asking my mom what lust meant. In 4th grade, I wrote a fan letter to the Cars, in care of the record label address on the back of one of my Cars tapes; it was returned to sender. In 6th grade, we were all asked to bring music to play at a dance; I brought my Cars greatest hits tape and asked them to play “Drive.”

I love the Cars. That said, I don’t need to see them live. Not without Ben Orr. Not post-Weezer and everything else Ric Ocasek has had a hand in. The Cars were one of the most influential bands in my life and helped stoke a lifelong love of music, but I’d pass on a late-in-life, last-gasp-for-glory tour, and maybe even album. For me, that time has passed. The letter was returned to sender. I’d much prefer to hide out in my mom’s bedroom, put on “Candy-O” and penguin-walk the night away. That’s how I will show my abiding love for the Cars.


2 responses to “Take Five – New School Year Edition

  1. I don’t care to know what the littlest Bieber sounds like at full speed but that slowed down track sounds just like something Sigur Ros would have done on Heima. Bizzarre!

  2. Hey! thank you so much for the linky action and also for the kind words. I like your Take Five column a lot. But I’m afraid to click on the Bieber thing.

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