Henry Lumpkin – “Don’t Leave Me” and anguish in soul songs

January 31st, 2009

Henry Lumpkin – Don’t Leave Me (mp3) (buy)

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I’ve been listening to a lot of soul stuff lately, especially 1959-1962 Motown. It’s not as timeless as the mid-60s Motown–plenty of it sounds old–but it’s still chocked full of good tunes. Some take a while to grow on me and some are more immediate.

One that stopped me in my tracks on my first listen was “Don’t Leave Me” Henry Lumpkin. This 1962 track was released as a B-side of his “What is a Man (Without a Woman)” single after originally being a B-side for Marv Johnson in 1959.

Lumpkin cries “Don’t leave me/ Come on back” repeatedly with such anguish that it’s immediately believable that his woman–and what good is he without her–has left him. There are other lyrics in the song, the verses, but the song is so centered around that repeated line that it might as well have those repeat for two minutes.

In a way, I think of it as the anguished equivalent of Sam Cooke’s unceasingly suave first hit, “You Send Me” which just repeats the title line for most of length of the song. They’re both centered around one line and succeed in the emotion and style that is captured in that line–Lumpkin’s hurt and anguish and Cooke’s suaveness and love.

Sam Cooke – You Send Me (Demo Version) (mp3) (buy)

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I have been hearing a lot of one particular feeling or emotion in a lot of indie songs these days: yearning. That’s the currency of the day and I–and it seems plenty of other people–are buying it. While “You Send Me” stands as a counterexample, I think a lot of the ’60s soul songs I like trade in anguish. One of my favorite all-time songs The Tracks of My Tears” is another example where the singer puts across pure anguish. What still gets me about it is that Smokey Robinson’s voice is a pure cry, a wail. It’s anguish in a way that only Smokey could do; Lumpkin twists his voice into anguish in a way that all his.

The Miracles – The Tracks of My Tears (mp3) (buy)

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Also, let’s be honest, one of the best Motown singles of all time is “Bernadette” and that’s all anguish.

song obsession friday! (for the week ending January 30)

January 30th, 2009

Song obsessions are those songs that we listen to on repeat. I noticed that my obsessions are often a week long. I also thought that other people might have similar obsessions. I’ve collected a panel of a few like-minded individuals and gotten their “song obsessions of the week.” Quite often it’s easy to explain why the song is good; it’s much hard to explain why we’re obsessed. Maybe you’ll become obsessed with one of these.

Adrian (me):
The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound (mp3) (buy)

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This song obsession was a long time a-comin’. I saw the band (and heard some buzz) when the band played this song on Conan in early December. I liked the song and mulled over that for a few week. I got the album from emusic and mulled that over for a few weeks. Then, for some reason, I started hitting repeat on this song this week.

I really don’t know why I became obsessed with it. I can answer an easier and similar question, though: why I like it. It’s got a great melody, the lyrics in the chorus hit me–they’re great–and it’s got great interplay between it’s hard elements (rawk) and softer elements (yearning melodies over sparse instruments).

Scott:
Half Japanese – 1,000,000 Kisses (mp3) (buy)

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album leaf @ bottom of the hill, photos, review, etc.

January 29th, 2009

“I’m just around the corner. I’ll be there in a sec.” I was running a little late to see Album Leaf (myspace) at the Bottom of the Hill. It was only midway through the second band, Black Mamba, when I got inside, but it was packed. People were jostling, bumping and squeezing forward left and right. I don’t remember a show at the Bottom of the Hill that packed since that Mountain Goats show.

It’d been a since I last saw Album Leaf. I’d sort of forgotten what to expect in the intervening four years. I don’t remember much from that earlier show other than that the band put more energy and emotion into their music than what I’d expected. My expectations were a bit more tempered this time, but they still put a good amount of energy and emotion into the show.

It was a good show. It didn’t change my life but it was consistently good. I have my favorite songs, but the Album Leaf’s live show is a bit particular in that no matter what song they were playing–new or old, favorite or not–I enjoyed it.

on sale soon (01.29.09 edition)

January 29th, 2009

Posted every Thursday, On Sale Soon is a weekly series of the tickets going on sale that weekend.

Where to get tickets: The Independent, Great American Music Hall, Slim’s, Fillmore, Shoreline, and other Livenation venues, the Warfield. Another Planet booked venues like Greek Theatre @ Berkeley, Palace of Fine Arts, etc. Bimbo’s.

On sale now/ Thursday Jan. 29:
3/5 Kim Manning, Pamela Parker, bernadette, Valerie Orth Band @ Great American

Pre sale Thursday Jan 29:
2/22 Modest Mouse, Mimicking Birds @ Fox Theater

4/3 The Moody Blues @ Fox Theater
4/20 Bloc Party @ Fox Theater

3/29 New Found Glory, Bayside, Set Your Goals, Verse @ the Grand Ballroom

4/11 Friendly Fire, White Lies, The Soft Pack @ Slim’s

On sale Friday Jan 30:
3/11 RX Bandits, Tera Melos @ Bottom of the Hill

On sale Saturday Jan 31:
4/7 Fall Out Boy, Metro Station, Cobra Starship, All Time Low, Hey Monday @ Event Center at San Jose State University

On sale Sunday Feb 1:
3/8 Neil Halstead @ Great American
3/9 BLK JKS, The Botticellis @ Rickshaw Stop
3/10 Babasonicos @ The Independent
3/15 Tindersticks @ Great American
3/15 Simian Mobile Disco @ Mezzanine
3/18 Abney Park @ Slim’s
3/19 MSTRKRFT @ The Independent
3/20, 3/21 Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress @ The Independent
3/21 Four Tet @ Mezzanine
3/22 Bad Livers @ Slim’s
3/28 detroit7, SA, Sparta Locals, Flip, Omodaka @ The Independent

4/3 Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Justin Townes Earle @ The Independent
4/3 Moonalice @ Slim’s
4/11 New Monsoon @ The Independent
4/15 Crookers, The Bloody Beetroots @ Mezzanine
4/16 Kenny Rogers @ The Warfield
4/17 Turbonegro, Kandi Coded @ Great American
4/23 Dan Deacon, Future Islands, Teeth Mountain @ Great American

6/12 The John Jorgenson Quintet @ Great American

On sale Monday Feb 2:
4/2 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band @ HP Pavilion

Double check all information as venues and promoters often change on-sale times and days up until the last minute.

The radio show came first: “I once was Canadian” on the radio now!

January 27th, 2009


cred: me

I’m on the air on KZSU right now doing my “I once was Canadian” radio show. As I said last week I’m doing 3 hour shows, so that means I’ll be one every Tuesday from 3-6pm. Listen in!

During either show you can listen online or at 90.1 FM. You can also follow along with my playlist online.

Update: Here’s the playlist

  • Beach Boys – Barbara Ann
  • the Righteous Brothers – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
  • the Beatles – You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
  • Bob Dylan – Girl From the North Country
  • Tallest Man on Earth – Pistol Dreams
  • Elvis Perkins In Dearland – Weeping Pilgrim, 417
  • Otic Gibbs – Caroline
  • Deer Tick – Nevada
  • Try Me Bicycle – Big Small
  • Jessica Lea Mayfield – We’ve Never Lied
  • The Deep Dark Woods – Journey Home
  • Peter Broderick – With Notes in My Ears
  • Horse Feathers – Curs In The Weeds
  • the Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound
  • Bruce Springsteen – Atlantic City
  • Cowboy Junkies – Someday Soon [request]
  • the Hold Steady – Multitude of Casualties
  • Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Me and Mia
  • Les Savy Fav – The Sweat Descends
  • Night Rally – Kip Preston Thoroughly Exits the Dragon
  • Seam – Get Higher
  • Superchunk – Fader Rules
  • Constantines – Some Party
  • Mason Proper – Lock And Key
  • Mogwai – The Sun Smells Too Loud
  • Robert Pollard – 1 Years Old
  • Light Fm – Black Magic Marker
  • the morning benders – grain of salt (big echo version)
  • Shugo Tokumaru – Green Rain
  • Karl Blau – Before Telling Dragons
  • John Vanderslice – White Dove
  • Shirley Ann Lee – There’s a Light
  • The Wright Specials – Ninety-Nine and a Half Won’t Do
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Didn’t It Rain
  • Rev. Columbus Mann – They Shall Be Mine
  • Sam Cooke – Touch the Hem of His Garment
  • The Crystals – Heartbreaker
  • The Crystals – Then He Kissed Me
  • Ben E. King Spanish Harlem

two songs we sang on my school bus when I was in 3rd grade

January 26th, 2009

In third grade, our school bus ride home went down a hill past some woods–the trees are always bare in my mind–and a soccer field. Near the top of the hill, there was a bump where the road went from being slightly downhill to quite steep downhill. If you sat near the back of the bus and the driver was going a fast that day, you could get some air as the back wheels whiplashed over the bump. I’m sure it was not far–an inch or two–but our young minds thought it was a mile, that we were flying, momentarily weightless.

It was around this hill, after our air-inspired laughter subdued, and we neared the soccer field that we started singing. I’m not sure why we did, but usually one of the fourth graders[1] would start singing and we’d all sing along. Here are the songs we sang:

Beach Boys – Barbara Ann (mp3) (buy)

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The Righteous Brothers – You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’ (mp3) (buy)

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My present-day mind can’t help overanalyze these: these songs are related because Phil Spector–who produced the Righteous Brothers track–helped inspire Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys’ production. Yet, this track, from the Party! album, doesn’t feature Wilson’s famous production.

But of course we knew none of this. We just knew that they were fun songs to sing. They still are. Maybe sing them on your Muni ride home today and see if people join in?

[1] Incidentally, among the daily song leaders was Ryan Malone.

concert calendar updated; google calendar, iCal, RSS support added

January 25th, 2009

bishop allen + mixing board
Bishop Allen, who is on the concert calendar for March 24, recently at the Independent by Adrian Bischoff

I’ve updated my ipickmynose concert calendar for the SF Bay Area with shows that I’m interested in seeing or think will be good. I’ve always sort of liked that text format, e.g.

1/28 Album Leaf @ Bottom of the Hill, 9pm, $14, a/a

It has lots of data in a little space. Don’t worry, that’s still there, but I understand that some people are more visual, so I’ve added a google calendar:

You can add it to your calendar or RSS, too:

Add it to your Google Calendar: If you want to add this to your google calendar, copy this xml calendar link and go your calendar. Go to “other calendars”->”add”->”by URL” and paste that link. Then you should have the ipickmynose concerts calendar in your calendar.

Other calendar programs (iCal): If you have other calendar programs, try the xml link or this iCal link.

RSS: If you want to add it to your RSS feed, use the xml link as the feed link.

Let me know if you have any problems or want to see any more calendars or things supported.

3 oldies/ soul blogs to read

January 25th, 2009

I love oldies and soul. I’m glad to see more blogs devoted to that sort of music. Here are a few worthwhile ones I’ve been reading:

  • Soul Sides Honestly, you’re just silly if you don’t read this one. Though it tends to focus on the late ’60s and ’70s rather than earlier stuff, the tunes are still great and it has expert writing. Start with this 2008 year-in-review (the old) post.
  • Like Dynamite to Your Brain Hidden gems, mostly taken from vinyl. It’s a treasure trove of all sort of music. It’s also local, based in Oakland. Start with this Big Three post.
  • Adios Lounge It has all sorts of music, mostly from the 60s and 70s, but some from earlier. The posts aren’t too frequent, but they’re good when they come. Start with this this Wanda Jackson post.

And, while we’re on the topic, oldies night at the Knockout is a good time and the DJs there spin some hot sides.

david bazan house concerts–san francisco and LA tickets on sale at 10am PST! more to come

January 23rd, 2009


David Bazan at Jovita’s in Austin, SxSW 2008

I’ve seen David Bazan solo, or with Pedro the Lion or with the Headphones, a lot of times. The first time I saw him was in Somerville Theatre near Boston, a large old movie theater with a fairly large capacity and hundreds of people. PtL was opening for Low. The smallest show might have been that Jovita’s day show (pictured above) during SxSW last year. There were around 150 people there at the time.

Well, as a huge fan of this amazing songwriter and his quirky performances, I was pretty happy when news came out that he would be doing a series of left coast house concerts. Even better when I found out tickets will be going on sale for his February 18th Berkeley show go on sale today at 10am PST. Apparently it will only have room for 35 people!

2/18 David Bazan @ Undisclosed Berkeley house, 8pm, $20, a/a

The shows have apparently been selling out quite quickly–Portland’s and Seattle’s shows are already sold out. The LA house show also goes on sale at 10am PST.

More West Coast dates will be announced in the future and it seems the best way to make sure you get a ticket is to keep checking in at the Undertow Store because–at least for the SF and LA dates–they’re on sale there before they’re on Bazan’s web page.

(Thanks to Aaron from cameraphonic for the tip.)

song obsession friday! (for the week ending Jan 23)

January 23rd, 2009

Song obsessions are those songs that we listen to on repeat. I noticed that my obsessions are often a week long. I also thought that other people might have similar obsessions. I’ve collected a panel of a few like-minded individuals and gotten their “song obsessions of the week.” Quite often it’s easy to explain why the song is good; it’s much hard to explain why we’re obsessed. Maybe you’ll become obsessed with one of these.

Adrian (me):
The Tallest Man on Earth – The Gardener (mp3) (buy)

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I’ve been obsessively listening to this whole album. It’s addictive and great. “The Gardener” got a few more listens because I love the strummed guitar pattern and how they work with the vocals.

Keith:
East River Pipe – Silhouette Town (mp3) (buy)

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Some songs bring back memories of my early days of college radio, sifting through 7”s with hand-copied covers and finding the occasional jewel in amongst the errata. Fred Cornog didn’t stay anonymous for long when Sarah picked him up from train-station obscurity, and dreamy but damaged songs like this one most certainly sold the deal.

Andy:
Masters of the Hemisphere – Anything, Anything (mp3) (buy)

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I don’t remember what spurred me to do it, but I recently picked up two Masters of the Hemisphere albums from Amazon, dirt cheap. Immediately upon hearing Anything, Anything, I was transported back to college, when Kindercore was king.

There’s nothing about this song I don’t love – the simple guitar intro, the fact that every word of the song is sung in what’s at least 4-part harmony. The dirty, compressed drums. The repetition of “anything anything” under the chorus. It’s pop perfection.