Satellite Discoveries

"Nothing I Can Do"
Ben Taylor

You’d love this if you only heard it.  Imagine a brand new seventies JT song, wouldn’t you kill for that?  Instead of the perfect but bland drivel he’s been releasing since 1985 and "That’s Why I’m Here"?

I was parked at the light at Pico and Sepulveda and I heard one of those songs on Sirius’ Coffee House that is just too mellow, the kind that makes me disdain the station, and then the track made the most AMAZING CHANGE!  It went from mellow to MELLIFLUOUS!  And suddenly, everything seemed right in the world.

Do you remember "Gorilla"?  James Taylor’s almost perfect, lighthearted record released at the advent of summer 1975?  That began with "Mexico"?  You’d put that record on and feel the breeze in your hair and feel that this life was truly worth living.  That’s what "Nothing I Can Do" sounds like.  It doesn’t beat you over the head, it just takes you on a gently twisting ride.  And Ben’s voice has got that slightly reedy sound of his dad’s way back when.

This is not Top Forty fodder.  This is the kind of stuff they used to play on KNX, 93.1 FM, L.A.’s mellow rock station, back when one could dedicate an entire CHANNEL to this sound.  It’s the kind of thing you hear and buy the album and go to see the act.  And that’s what this whole business was based upon.

"Off The Record"
My Morning Jacket

On XM the deejays don’t talk enough, on Sirius they talk too much.  On XM when they do talk they sound like the lauded record spinners on the free format underground FM stations of yore.  When they talk on Sirius they sound exactly like what you hate about terrestrial radio.  Jive guys and gals preaching to a lowest common denominator, nobody YOU know.  They employ cliches, they’re all sunny, it’s complete bullshit.  Which is why I ignore them.  And felt self-satisfied after the babe waxed rhapsodic about this record and it turned to be FAR from the target.  The vocals were ridiculous, and the lyrics not much better.  And wasn’t that the guitar from "Hawaii Five-0"?

But then Jim James, who can sing others’ material SO well, stopped emoting, and the guitarist took over, and it was the seventies ALL OVER AGAIN!  Kind of like the Marshall Tucker Band crossed with an act from the U.K. Midlands.  An endless dreamy ride.  They don’t make them like this anymore.

Then again, they made THIS!

Download this.  You’ll be stunned.  You’ll finally understand what all the hype is about.  Imagine driving around after midnight, stoned with your buddies, on a hot summer night.  THAT’S what this record sounds like.  After you get past the vocals, when you get to the instrumental part.

Hear this ONCE, and you’ll GET IT!!

"Give It Time"
Eric Lindell

The first time I heard this, I thought it was ersatz.  The second time I thought it was okay.  The THIRD TIME I was ENRAPTURED!

That’s one thing about Sirius, you do hear records with enough frequency to grow into them.

I’ve got no idea who this guy is.  But once you get past the point that this SOUNDS like the Josh Dodes Band from VH1’s "Bands On The Run", recorded not so well, the vocals sounding just not distinct/unique enough, you realize there’s MAGIC HERE!

This is the best Black Crowes record in years.  That’s who it ultimately sounds like, Chris Robinson.  Without quite the offense.

But there’s the seventies sound, of being at the rock show in the middle of the afternoon, in the hot sun, high on beer and pot.  People are lying on their blankets, tapping their thighs with their fingers, and suddenly the girls in bikini tops get up and start writhing to the music.  This is not Top Forty music, it’s short form jam band music.

Listen to the clip a couple of times.

Go to: Eric Lindell.  Click on "Music".  Then click on "Give It Time" in the player.  Unfortunately, it’s only one minute.  But you’ll hear the hooks.

And, there’s an "Avenging Annie" falsetto background vocal that once you catch it in the record, you’ll hear up front and center, you’ll pick it out like a babe in the crowd, and you’ll devote ALL your attention to it.

Every time I hear this, it gets better.

"Take A Walk"
Urge Overkill

From Mike Marrone’s 50th birthday playlist.

I thought the band was an overhype, but DID like the lead singer’s look.  And their Neil Diamond cover.

And this starts off mediocre and unmemorable, but in the MIDDLE there’s a part so exquisite you’ll never forget it.  This is the kind of gem Mike specializes in unearthing.

"The Wings"
Gustavo Santaolalla
"Brokeback Mountain"

I’ve saved the best for last.

There’s this channel on XM, Cinemagic.  They play movie themes.  It’s right next to the Broadway channel.  I switch between them and play name that tune with Felice.  I’m stunned, she knows EACH AND EVERY ONE!  Oh, maybe not some of the themes from the recent lame movies, but up until the flicks took a bad turn, sometime in the past decade, she knows THEM ALL!

And I didn’t listen to Cinemagic much before meeting her.  Now it’s a regular stop.  I like it best when I hear Thomas Newman’s "Road To Perdition", my favorite recent soundtrack.  But most of what I hear doesn’t resonate.  And then Wednesday, I heard two cowboys talking.  I knew it was "Brokeback Mountain" before I looked at the readout.  Even though I’d never seen the movie.

But I wanted to go RIGHT FUCKING THEN!  Because as the music played under them, I got the mood immediately.  Out in the vast landscape of the American west, still untamed all these years later.

There used to be a romance in movies.  Before they became based on theme park rides and old TV shows.  Movies used to be our highest art form.  They were about story, they were about experience.  Now they’re worldwide extravaganzas, made for sums we can’t even FATHOM.  And what results we can’t really understand.  Oh, we can watch the films on screen, but we don’t feel a PART of them.

But we felt a part of "Last Picture Show".  And all those endless great movies of the late sixties and seventies.  We LIVED to go to the movies, not purely to escape, but to learn about ourselves and our world.

I can’t go anymore.  It’s too disillusioning.  I feel like the Nazi in "The Producers".  These are not MY movies.  I watch some HBO and Showtime, but I’ve kind of resigned from viewing filmed entertainment.  It’s kind of like music.  There’s too much of it and it’s too hard to find the good shit, which is buried and forgotten almost instantly.

I went to the BMI composer awards, and this guy won all of them.  He smiled, he didn’t look like a genius, was he really worthy of all those trophies?  But when I heard "Wings" after the cowboys spoke on Cinemagic I could have sworn it was Wyoming on the other side of my windshield, not Santa Monica.

I had to come home and download every Gustavo Santaolalla cut from the soundtrack album, all seven of them.  And I played them endlessly, for hours.

I recommend you do this.

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