Mail's here!

Wherein I finally dig into the mountain of promos and press releases that have been piling up.

By Brian McManus
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 7, 2009

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Here comes Trouble: Andrew demonstrates what irony would look like if it had a face.

My mail bin had become a fire hazard—hundreds of CDs in padded envelopes piled on top of one another like so much kindling, waiting desperately to be opened, threatened to spill out of the mail bin in my office in what was sure to be the world’s most violent avalanche.

But last week, instead of being defeated by the prospect of going through so many freshly laid aural turds, I did what any good music editor does: I had my intern open it all, and sort it. Now, as the cold, unforgiving winter air gives way to suggestions of sunshine and the promise of a new, brighter tomorrow, I’m coming out of the slump for good—listening dutifully to the CDs I’d been ignoring. I’m even reading press releases all the way through before I delete them.

And as I’ve combed through the piles, I’ve been taking notes: best, worst, etc. As you can imagine, I’ve learned a few things.

Best new discovery: I got a copy of Mandy Moore’s new album, Amanda Leigh. The press release says Mandy’s been listening to loads of Todd Rundgren, Joni Mitchell, CSNY and Nilsson. Might those familiar with Mandy Moore’s aggressive mediocrity expect a more mature, highly nuanced album from the newly married (to alt-country ex-addict Ryan Adams) poptress? God no. It’s awful. But through Amanda Leigh I discovered Moore’s blog, and it’s oddly addictive. Tons of pictures of her and Adams. They’re in Japan! They have a dog! They’re in the studio! They’re making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! She has a head cold! None of the posts have any comments, so I’m pretty sure no one’s reading this thing yet. You could be the first. www.mandymoore. You’re welcome.

Thing I learned about Eddie Van Halen by reading Valerie Bertinelli’s biography Losing It (and Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time), which I finally finished over the weekend: After being named Best Rock Guitarist for the fourth straight year by a “guitar magazine,” Eddie took loads of abuse from David Lee Roth, who chastised him for thinking he was “hot shit” and getting a big head because of said honor. “I wish Dave would lay off me,” Eddie told Bertinelli before collapsing in tears into her bosom. (No shit!) She knew Eddie well. So well, in fact, she knew he didn’t think he was “hot shit” at all, and instead suffered from near terminal deficits of self-esteem. He doubted his talent constantly. On that day Eddie and Bertenelli held each other tight, said “I love you” to one another for the first time. Then this happened: “We ended up in bed, making love as if we were starving for each other.” (Page 88.)

DVD I’m morbidly curious about: Every year hundreds of thousands of grizzly biker dudes and the girls with issues and fake tits who love them flood the tiny town of Sturgis, South Dakota, on their roaring Harleys for a rally of like-minded Chopper enthusiasts. These guys are modern-day Vikings—poring through Sturgis and draining it of its booze (I suspect), fornicating openly in the public (I imagine), fighting anyone and everyone who dares give them a cross look (I figure), eating turkey legs on the back of their big bikes as the August sun beats down on the hot chrome beneath them. They do all this wearing leather vests with no shirts underneath. Sounds cool, right? Maybe these guys have the right idea, forever chucking the shackles of the workaday world to live free on the open road and doing whatever the fuck they please. Right. On. Then, after all the merriment, 35,000 of these bearded badasses crowd into a venue ... to watch Nickelback. Nickelback: Live in Sturgis 2006 catches all the mayhem!

Not as terrible as you might imagine: A dub version of Sgt. Pepper’s by Easy Star All Stars.

Most boastfully self-aware lyric: The first line on Peaches’—dirty electro “rapper” and ardent supporter of “the shocker”—new album I Feel Cream (oh, yes she did!): “I dined and dashed on electroclash/ I outlast the backlash.” Out May 5.

Best CD: Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Tell ’Em What Your Name Is. There’s a song on this album, “I’m Broke,” which you can also listen to on the band’s MySpace, that succeeds mightily in the unenviable task of putting a danceable soundtrack to our current economic shitstorm. Sample lyric: “Got a job at Mickey D’s/ Work me so hard/ They fuckin’ me with no grease.” Next stop (in my dreams): Sturgis ’09!

Sticker I felt guilty about pulling off before realizing, like Black Joe Lewis, I’m broke: “FOR PROMOTION ONLY. Ownership Reserved By Sony. Sale is Unlawful.” Affixed to the new deluxe edition of Pearl Jam Ten, which features two CDs and, for the first time ever, a DVD of Pearl Jam’s somewhat legendary appearance on MTV Unplugged. (Includes the unaired “Oceans!”)

Most glaring press release omission: “Like most born rock stars, Trouble has always been a rebel. Embracing his passion, he dropped out of high school at 15 to live his dream ... ” That snippet is from a press release about Trouble Andrew. Trouble is joining Santigold on her U.S. tour, the release announces, and “rabid fans around the world” will finally get an opportunity to see the star behind the hit “Chasing Cash” in all his live splendor. What a breakout talent this guy must be, plucked from the ether as a relative unknown. One thing the release fails to mention: Trouble is professional snowboarder Trevor Andrew, Santigold’s boyfriend of several years.

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