The Postal Service Helps UPS

When most hear the phrase "The Postal Service" they immediately think of the United States Postal Service. How ironic is it that the new TV ad for UPS features "Such Great Heights" by the band The Postal Service?

Van Halen Returns!

The RBC Center has been added to the extended leg of Van Halen’s Reunion Tour! The date is March 7, 2008. It will be interesting if Dave makes any reference to the show 100 yards away on June 2, 1979. Maybe we should throw some cups at him for old time’s sake.

Mixed Message

Anyone care to take a stab at why in the world KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) uses the song “Sweet Home Alabama” in their ads?

Have the ad people become so uncreative that they can’t even find a more appropriate song from their bag of classic rock dead horses? Was “Rocky Mountain High” not available?

The Best Songs of 2004

rhap_logo.gifFor the past few years I’ve put together discs or playlists of my favorite songs of the year. Today I’ll feature 2003.

2004: one of the biggest artistic letdown years in memory. So many new bands came to the forefront, but few had a decent singer. The title is based on the grossly overrated Modest Mouse CD “Good News for People Who Love Bad News”. It took a while to think of a whole CD of decent songs for 2004, and I couldn’t do it. I filled in the rest with a few great oversights from 2003. The Best CD this year: Keane – “Hopes and Fears”. Honorable mentions: Phantom Planet, Incubus, The Cardigans, and Juliana Hatfield. Other CDs you’re likely to enjoy are by U2, Green Day, Maroon 5, Joss Stone, and Tift Merritt.


  1. Everything I’ve Got In My Pocket (Minnie Driver) Yes, THAT Minnie Driver. Perfect on a foggy day.
  2. You’re The Storm (The Cardigans) From a super-mellow CD. This song is simply gorgeous, though.
  3. Bend and Break (Keane) Even more gorgeous! Sounds like Freddie Mercury sitting in with Coldplay.
  4. So Alive (Ryan Adams) Actually a 2003 song. A big departure for the alt-country former Raleighite.
  5. Worn Me Down (Rachael Yamagata) This one stuck in my head all year.
  6. Vertigo (U2) The whole iPod thing made me sick of it…still stands as one of the best ‘04 rock songs.
  7. Call Me Mellow (Tears For Fears) Yes, THAT Tears For Fears is back with their best song ever.
  8. Another White Dash (Butterfly Boucher) Opened for Sarah McLachlan captured the crowd’s hearts.
  9. Breakin’ (The Music) ESPN is using this one for Winter X Games ads. Very Jane’s Addiction-ish.
  10. Suspended (Matt Nathanson) Nice little song. Don’t know much about him.
  11. Somebody Told Me (The Killers) Great album cover. Great, funny lyrics in the chorus.
  12. Mona Lisa (Jesse Malin) This one grew on me at the office this year.
  13. Beautiful Ways (Pat McGee Band) VA roots rock band with nobody named Pat McGee in the band.
  14. C’Mon C’Mon (The Von Bondies) Featured in a Chevy ad.
  15. Long Time Coming (Delays) Featured in a diamond ad around Christmas.
  16. Almost (Sarah Harmer) Sarah is a heavy-rotation darling of Rochester’s great WBER radio station.
  17. Daughters (John Mayer) This song never really hit me until we saw him do it live.
  18. Take Your Mama (Scissor Sisters) Fun little throwback to the old Elton John. Great showing on SNL.
  19. Talk Shows On Mute (Incubus) Brandon Boyd can flat out sing.
  20. The First Single (The Format) Officially a 2003 release, but couldn’t be ignored. Can you say “The Outfield”?

Play This List In Rhapsody

The Best Songs of 2003

rhap_logo.gifFor the past few years I’ve put together discs or playlists of my favorite songs of the year. Today I’ll feature 2003.

With 2002 as best year ever on record, 2003 had a tough act to follow, but made a strong showing. While I didn’t have 2 CD’s worth of qualifying songs this year, I still had to do some paring. 2003 saw the introduction of garbage and lawsuits clouding downloads on KaZaa. We also saw the introduction of online music stores and streaming services. iTunes, Napster, and Rhapsody will be followed by much competition in 2004 which benefits everyone but record store owners (sell, sell, SELL!!!) . CD of the year: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Fever To Tell”


  • The Laws Have Changed (The New Pornographers) – The laws definitely changed in 2001, when great music returned to the market! TNP is one of those breakthrough bands of 2003, and this song makes a great statement. This is a good overall CD, but they should let her sing more.
  • Down on the Corner (Johnny Marr and the Healers ) – Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr has a new project, and this song is one of the best in years. Why in the world isn’t this one on the radio???
  • It Is What It Is (Minibar) – This one will bounce around in your head for days.
  • Jerk It Out (Caesars) – So which Pulp Fiction-esque soundtrack will include this one. Get up and dance y’all! “I’m Gonna Kick You Out” is another great song on the “39 Minutes of Bliss” CD.
  • Reoffender (Travis) – Domestic violence in a maudlin setting. Sorry to bring you down. This one will always make me think of the video that features the band all beating each other up. Make sure you’ve heard The Invisible Band before buying the disappointing 12 Memories.
  • The Riches (Jane’s Addiction) – My favorite band returned with an outstanding CD. I’m glad that Carmen hasn’t ruined Dave Navarro. Now if they’ll just come back through Raleigh!!!
  • I Can’t Remember (The Thorns) – Supergroup consisting of Matthew Sweet, Shawn Mullins, and Pete Droge has put out my favorite song of the year. Eat your heart out Crosby, Stills, Nash! This song ought to be saturating every radio station. Oddly, The Thorns’ cover of the Jayhawks’ “Blue” is getting more traction. The CD is, overall, disappointing. We’ll see if they stay together to put out another disc.
  • Cannonball (Damien Rice) – Don’t know a whole lot about him. This song did finish at #11 in the WBER countdown.
  • You Were Right (Badly Drawn Boy) – They’ve been around forever, but never really broken through. This one will do!
  • The Rising Has Been Defeated (Jack Johnson) – Former surfer movie guy Jack Johnson is every bit as cool as Steve Miller wanted to be. Jack’s latest disc On and On sounds just like the 2001 breakthrough Brushfire Fairytales, but that’s a good thing.
  • Blackest Eyes (Porcupine Tree) – The most interesting song I’ve heard in a while. Caustic AND beautiful in one!
  • Watching the Sun Come Up (Ed Harcourt) – Don’t know much about him either. This was on a CMJ disc in the Summer and just kept popping out at me. Hey Ya (Outkast) – Fun! It seems that every sportscast is using this as bumper music.
  • Wheels (Grand Drive) – Like Paul Simon minus the Africa! This was featured on CMJ this Summer, too, and stood out.
  • I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself (The White Stripes) – Sofia Coppola (Director of “Lost in Translation”) sealed this entry with her GREAT video. Actually, all videos these days should feature Kate Moss’ pole dancing. WBER had “Seven Nation Army” as their #1 song of the year. Many critics hailed this CD, Elephant, as the best of the year.
  • Cutest (Shamra) – Featured on CMJ this Summer, but I know nothing about them.
  • Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) – Think Chrissie Hynde on acid. This CD is infectious and ended up being my favorite of the year. Good drummer, too.
  • Pain Killer (Turin Brakes) – You heard this one on a Volvo ad soon after the pretty good CD was released. What a clean recording!
  • Amsterdam (Guster) – Maybe you’ve tried to steal this one and only gotten the “meow” song, but here’s the real thing. Guster opened for John Mayer in Cary and really got the place going. They are a favorite of Rochester’s great station WBER.
  • Special (Wilshire) – This song was on a CMJ disc this year and the song is infectious. Too bad the CD is one of the worst this year. It makes Rubin and Clay’s discs look edgy and groundbreaking.. Great song, though!

Listen Using Rhapsody



VH #1

pic-0087.jpgMy mother has always been a huge Boston fan. So, when they played at Carter Stadium on June 2, 1979, I got to go with my mother to see my favorite band. Boston is good, but this band that opened for them, Van Halen, was awesome. Van Halen II had just been released and “Dance The Night Away” was a new hit on the radio. We didn’t know anything about the band but it was apparent that “this Van guy is a total jerk…but his guitar player is good!”

10,346 days later, I finally got to see Van Halen again. This time it was in Greensboro for the highly anticipated reunion of David Lee Roth with the band, and it didn’t disappoint. There are many YouTube clips from the tour so far, and the good ones still don’t quite do the concert justice. Eddie Van Halen sounds as good as he ever has, and David Lee Roth was impressive. Eddie brought his 16 year-old son, Wolfgang, along to play bass, which ignited yet another controversy in the band’s history (longtime bassist Michael Anthony claims he found out about the tour and lineup change on the internet, even). Nevertheless, Wolfgang played all the notes correctly and did a good job of not distracting us from watching EVH, my favorite musician in history.

The playlist was exactly the same as it has been in other shows; 4-6 songs from each of the first six Van Halen albums. I was surprised to see how well received “Jamie’s Cryin'” was. Equally surprising was the silence from the crowd after “I’ll Wait”. Perhaps they were tired from the frenzy stirred after every single other song. I think I would rather have heard “Drop Dead Legs” instead. (Of course D.O.A. would have been more perfect, but who’s complaining?)

The sheer enormity of the event was overwhelming. There are so many story lines going with this tour. A not so exhaustive list includes: the impressive rapport between Roth and EVH, the father/son dynamics with EVH and Wolfgang, the potential “move over kid” moments with Wolfgang and Roth, the hook-shaped runway which trapped some lucky ticketholders inside the band at times, the Valerie Bertinelli angle on EVH/Wolfgang, the recent rehab situation with EVH, the trademarked giant equipment of EVH, the sheer presence and skill of EVH, the absurdly large drum kit of Alex Van Halen, the history of concerts in the Greensboro Coliseum, the INCREDIBLE seats that I happened to get for the nearly sold-out show through Ticketmaster just 10 days before the show, the importance of this music on my adolescence, the incredibly long time I waited to see this band, the unlikelihood that one gets to see their favorite band play only old stuff, and the presence of a former bandmate of mine there to see my guitar hero as well…to name a few.

Well, that does it. There are plenty of bands that I want to see, but none left to dream about. Bring on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Bring on The Bravery. They’ll be good but nothing will probably ever carry the weight that the reunited, fresh Van Halen did.

WBER – A Great Radio Station

While reading through the listserv for the band The Catherine Wheel a few years ago, I stumbled upon a great radio station. WBER out of Rochester, NY is a listener supported, alternative radio station. To be exact, “The only station that matters” gets its funding from the local school system there. Some of the DJ’s are high schoolers during the day, but the playlist is fantastic. They aren’t too obscure, but they are very cutting edge. Most importantly, they stream for free on the net!

A Great CD

Try The Bravery’s “The Sun and Moon“.