Monday, July 27, 2009

Doctor Rosen Rosen Remix - Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You (2009)

Lily Allen - It's Not Me It's...Dr. Rosen Rosen (Remix)

Dr. Rosen Rosen, a remixer from Los Angeles, has stretched the envelope of what we know as remixing with a total remake of Lily Allen's lastest release, It's Not Me, It's You.He has taken her vocal tracks, discarded the rest of the music and written, recorded, and produced new backing tracks for Lily's vocals and accomplished the dramatic and unlikely result of producing an album that is both different from the original and totally wonderful. And his remix album is available for free download right now, right here.

Listen to "Never Gonna Happen (original version)"

Listen to "Never Gonna Happen (Dr. Rosen Rosen Rx)"

Check out the above comparison of the original and the Dr. Rosen Rosen remix of "Never Gonna Happen" while you read Dr. Rosen Rosen's own description of this project from his website.

I saw Lily Allen for the first time in 2006 while on tour in Iceland. We didn't actually meet face to face and I didn't even catch her name; my introduction was seeing her video for Smile in a crappy hotel room. A few days later I was strolling around a gigantic Virgin Record store in London, when I saw a poster of her and the name... Lily Allen. I snagged her debut record and went home to New York a fan.

Fast forward to 3 years later: Lily Allen is a bonefied pop-star and is releasing her second album "It's Not Me, It's You." I reach out to her US record label to see if they were commisioning any remixes... no dice. Lily was, however, releasing all of the parts to all of the songs on the album so anyone could remix them. Brilliant. I knew I had to remix the whole album.

One thing I really like about Lily Allen is her knack for pairing bouncy music with not-so-bouncy lyrics. My goal in remixing her entire record was to see what would happen if I placed Lily's voice and lyrics into new musical landscapes that were a complete departure from the original recordings. As most of the original album "It's Not Me, It's You" is upbeat (thanks to Greg Kurstin's awesome production) my remixed version "It's Not Me, It's Doctor Rosen Rosen" takes on a darker/dreamier tone. I mixed a lot of organic sounds (pianos, strings, glockenspiel, horns) with dreamy synths, deep basses, and big drums to create a totally new record. I produced, composed, and mixed all of the music you hear. The only original parts I used were Lily's vocal tracks.

I really enjoyed making this and I hope you enjoy listening.

Doctor Rosen Rosen

Here's another A/B comparison that really shows the vivid musical imagination that Dr. Rosen Rosen brings to this project.

Listen to "Not Fair (original version)"

Listen to "Not Fair (Dr. Rosen Rosen Rx)"

The opening riff of the "Not Fair" remix sounds a lot like Imogen Heap's "I Am In Love With You" from Speak for Yourself,a sound which totally works in this new context. The original version of "Not Fair" seemed to be a somewhat calculated retread of Lily's complaints about partners' sexual inadequacies, but in the Dr. Rosen Rosen remix, these same complaints seem to regain the cheeky appeal that made the first album a delight but might otherwise seem a bit contrived after a couple of years in the celebrity/tabloid limelight. Even more interesting is the inclusion by Dr. Rosen Rosen of an interview clip with Lily where she discusses the guy who the song is about. Now that's some inspired remixing.

Perhaps the biggest improvement in the remix is the song "Fuck You". The original struck me as more of a precious and somewhat gratuitous use of the f-word with a sing-songy chorus that seemed to undercut it's own attempt at shock value. The remix totally remakes the song and even changes the emphasis of the vocal to clearly make the point that the subject of the song is so despicable that he/she totally deserves the full measure that this song is dishing out, it totally makes the chorus seem more justified and less a lyrical gimmick.

Overall the new music in the Dr. Rosen Rosen remix is beautifully conceived and is perfectly recorded and produced. The energy level is a bit lower than the original, which is a real interesting choice. It'll take some time to really discern all the nuances of the Dr. Rosen Rosen version, but that'll be a very rewarding trip. This is a musical achievement of the highest order. Go Doctor!

Dr. Rosen Rosen's myspace.
Dr. Rosen Rosen's website.
Lily Allen's myspace.
Lily Allen's website.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Susan Enan - Plainsong, New Album Due July 30th

One of the most promising Rockwood finds of the last several years, Susan Enan has readied her first full length album for release on July 30th. Previously projected for spring 2008, Plainsong is now available for mail order at Susan's website with download purchase coming soon, and based on the first several preview tracks, the record clearly sounds well worth the wait.

Listen to "Birds"

Rockwood Music Hall, 10/12/07

Have a look back to January 2008 for point of reference and first impressions of Susan and a few photos of her singing at Rockwood. Susan's songwriting skill is matched by the intensity of her performance, and now on record her songs take on a whole new dimension with some beautiful production. Here's another track.

Listen to "We All Belong Here"

"Bring on the Wonder" may be Susan's best known song, it was used in the television show Bones, and was included on that show's season two soundtrack CD, released in 2008. Sarah McLachlan sings backup.

Listen to "Bring on the Wonder"

On July 5th, Susan wrote a myspace blog entry on the making and marketing plans for Plainsong:

A note about making an album.
I arrived back in the UK on Thursday afternoon to release the album I’ve been carrying around for some time.

Making it has been quite a journey. If you have been following for a while, many thanks for sticking with it. If you’ve just joined us, you lucky things! You’ve missed out on a lot of waiting.

But now, it’s finished. I started out extremely unqualified to produce an album but did it out of necessity because I always believed in the songs. And of course, none of this would have been possible without the generosity of some very talented people along the way who were kind enough to work alongside a novice. For that I am eternally grateful.

And when the music was finished, then began the huge learning curve of what do to next. So, what is next?
Well, my fab brother has set up an online shop that will be live here at in a week or so, and my fab parents are going to run it just to get things going. This is as grass roots as it can get!

I must admit, I do like the simplicity of things at the moment. You have a finished record, you put it online, you make some copies, and put them in the post… job done. We’ll be shipping them out from our local village post office to anywhere in the world. It will also be available as a download before the end of the month but we are still finalising the details of that. So far as itunes, amazon etc goes, it takes indie artists a bit longer to get in with the big boys so it may take a few weeks but I’ll keep you posted.

So, as one journey ends, another begins. I have no idea what’s next (touring etc.). I’ll start to think about all that once I get back to NY in a month, but my grandmother once told me ‘life is an adventure,’ and I’m up for it.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to finally share these songs with whoever would like to listen,


(Photo source: Susan's myspace, Plainsong photoshoot)

Here is the tracklisting for Plainsong:

1. Bird
2. Bring on the Wonder
3. Monoplain
4. On Your Side
5. If You're Feelin' Low
6. We All Belong Here
7. Skin, Bone & Silicone
8. Moonlight
9. Don't Worry
10. The Grave

Watch Susan's myspace page for her tour schedule, expect some live dates not too long after she returns to the states next month. Based on the preview songs, Plainsong seems to be an auspicious debut, I'm seriously looking forward to hearing the rest of it.

Susan Enan's myspace.
Susan Enan's website.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mindy Smith - Stupid Love, New Album Due in August

Mindy Smith - Stupid Love (Vanguard, 2009)

Mindy Smith's third and most recent album, My Holiday (2007)is not just a great Christmas album, but due to the quality of the original songs, is one of my favorite records of all time. The songwriting, the vocals, the production, all add up to a listening experience that I just can't get enough of. Early notices on Mindy's new album suggest that she's on a roll, and that the excellence continues. Here's a little preview.

Listen to "What Went Wrong"

(Photo by Traci Goudie, ©2009 Vanguard Records)

From Vanguard:
Stupid Lovefinds Mindy co-producing along with Ian Fitchuk and Justin Loucks. The three explore and expand with different sounds making an impressive backdrop to the thirteen tracks on the record. Written over a two year period, each song delves into the various stages of relationships; the highs, the lows, the emotional investments made, how they can change us and move forward. For Mindy, Stupid Loveis a statement of where she is now from where she has been.

Listen to "Couldn't Stand the Rain"

Here's the tracklist:
1. What Went Wrong 3:23
2. Highs And Lows 2:54
3. If I Didn't Know Any Better 3:55
4. Love Lost 4:14
5. Telescope 3:02
6. What Love Can Do 3:09
7. Couldn't Stand The Rain 4:28
8. Bad Guy 2:18
9. Surface 4:02
10. I'm Disappointed 2:30
11. True Love Of Mine 4:28
12. Love Chases After Me 4:34
13. Take A Holiday 4:18.

Stupid Lovewill be released on August 11th.

Mindy Smith's myspace.
Mindy Smith's website.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Imogen Heap - Ellipse, Long Awaited New Album Due in August

Imogen Heap's second solo album, Speak for Yourselftopped many year end best lists in 2005, including mine. Almost four years in the making, her followup album Ellipseis finally ready and will be released on August 25th on RCA. Speak for Yourselfwas created in a studio Imogen built in her London flat, and was compelling for it's combination of electronics, unusual instruments, powerful rhythms, and Imogen's highly melodic songwriting and singing. To say that expectations are high for Ellipsewould be an understatement. The first song, "First Train Home" was released this week for preview listening, a video is also available to U.K. viewers, and is due soon here in the states. After a few spins, it seems that "First Train Home" picks up right where "Goodnight and Go" left off. Listen and enjoy new music from Imogen Heap.

Listen to "First Train Home"

From Imogen's website comes the tracklisting for Ellipse:

01. First Train Home
02. Wait It Out
03. Earth
04. Little Bird
05. Swoon
06. Tidal
07. Between Sheets
08. 2 - 1 (formerly 'Pollyfilla')
09. Bad Body Double
10. Aha!
11. The Fire
12. Canvas
13. Half Life

Here's one more preview song, listen to "Canvas".

The video of "Canvas" is here.

Preorder Ellipse at Amazon.
Imogen Heap's website.
Imogen Heap's myspace.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Julian Peterson - Rockwood Music Hall, 7/10/09

One of the really cool things about the Rockwood Music Hall and the Living Room, is that when you come to see someone, you often get to hear someone new, playing in the hour immediately before or after the person you came to see. Last night depsite some craziness on the Jersey turnpike on the way to Shayna Zaid's 8pm show, an early arrival at Rockwood enabled seeing a complete set by Julian Peterson in the 7pm hour. Julian has two very cool looking guitars and plays them exceptionally well. His set was good sounding, mostly original material drawn from his self-released album Get On This Train.

Listen to "Hold On"

Cover songs can tell you a lot about an artist; what they choose to play and how they choose to play it can speak volumes and give the audience a reference point from which to interpret the rest of the artist's music. Such was they case last night when Julian pulled out a cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" singing it "in the style of Donny Hathaway". The last time I heard someone do the Donnie Hathaway verson of "Jealous Guy", it was Chrissi Poland on John Lennon tribute night at the Long Island City Bar last December. If Julian's respect for the elders of soul and blues wasn't immediately clear to the Rockwood audience, this gem of a cover put a nice point on it.

Listen to "Footprints"

According to his myspace, Julian's band is normally a trio, with Julian on guitar and vocals, Andrew Perusi on bass, playing the upright last night, and Nick D'Agonstino on drums. In addition to the trio, last night Cian McCarthy guested on keyboards, reprising the same role he played in the recording of Julian's record.

Buy Get On This Train at CD Baby.

Julian Peterson's website.
Julian Peterson's myspace.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

John Fogerty on Independence Day, Happy 4th!

(Photo source:

Out on a delightful morning bicycle ride this morning, the iPod rolled into Blue Moon Swampby John Fogerty, which seems so appropriate to hear on the 4th of July. Fogerty had a run of hits with Creedence Clearwater Revival in the late sixties that was almost as prolific as the Beatles, writing, playing, and singing songs that melded so many great American musical traditions into three minute slices of rock and roll that sounded heavenly on the radio; influences from rock to country to cajun to blues to soul, and most emphatically that swamp guitar sound that is his signature.

John Fogerty - Blue Moon Swamp (1997)

Blue Moon Swamp sounded so good that I had to let the ipod roll right on into the live Premonitionalbum.

John Fogerty - Premonition (1998)

The fourth of July is a significant date in Fogerty's career. Not only is his status as an American musical icon without doubt, but for nearly twenty years after Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up, Fogerty never played his Creedence songs live, due to an enormous legal battle with his label, Fantasy Records. His history is best told by the man himself, reproduced here in an earlier blog article. But it was on July 4th, 1987, performing at the Welcome Home benefit concert for Vietnam Vets, broadcast live, that Fogerty made what is described as a spontaneous decision as he played the intro to his first song "The Old Man Down the Road", to shift gears and play "Born on the Bayou" instead and then he proceeded to play Creedence songs for the entire set, much to the delight of the veterans and everyone else in the music world, and he has never looked back. The lawsuit is long settled now, Fogerty is back on Fantasy, and his live sets now include all of his great songs, both solo and with Creedence. Check out a few tunes from Blue Moon Swamp (1997) and Premonition (1998), and have a happy Fourth of July everybody.

Listen to "Blueboy" from Blue Moon Swamp.

Listen to "Green River" live, from Premonition

Listen to "Suzie Q" live, from Premonition

Listen to "Swamp River Days" live, from Premonition,originally on Blue Moon Swamp.

John Fogerty's website.
John Fogerty's myspace.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Shayna Zaid & the Catch - The Living Room, 6/26/09, CD Release Show

When we last checked in with Shayna Zaid, her band had just been named the Catch, and in the last six months, she and the band have continued working full tilt, writing, recording, and playing frequently at Rockwood Music Hall and the Living Room, as well as extending their reach beyond NYC with ever more frequent college tours. Shortly before last Friday night's show came the happy news that a new EP was finished and ready for release and that the first copies would be available at the Living Room, making the show a CD release party.

Shayna Zaid & the Catch, new EP coming soon to Amazon MP3 and iTunes, CDs available at shows.

Listen to "Closer", from the new EP.

Let's start with the new EP. Shayna and her band have been in a highly creative zone for some time now, perfecting their mix of folk, pop, rock, and soul that results in a sound that is clearly their own. Not content to keep writing in any one style, Shayna, Joel and band stretch their songwriting muscles on the new EP, simply titled Shayna Zaid and the Catch, and in so doing have come up with a set of really great new songs. The record opens with "Morning Sun" a rocking little tune will put a smile on your face every time you hear it. You don't necessarily have to be in love to feel this bright in the morning, but listening to this song might make you feel like you are.

"Fireflies" is straight ahead pop/folk with a great hook that will happily take up residence in your head, and features undoubtedly the most exuberant vocal heard yet from Shayna. This is another great love song that underscores Shayna's mastery of expressing matters of the heart in a song. Which nicely leads into track three, "Closer" which has been a staple of their live set since it's debut last summer. When Shayna plays live, "It's You" is the jaw-droppingly beautiful love song that usually ends the set, but "Closer" has had the same effect on me ever since she first wrote it, with a most gorgeous melody, beautiful lyrics, and a heartfelt vocal by Shayna that is pure magic.

Listen to "Bonita", from the new EP.

Next up is "Bonita", which is three minutes of pure pop pleasure, with the band cooking on all burners and great sounding production by guitarist/producer Joel Dean to match a super piece of songwriting; this tune is totally ready for prime time. The disc ends with "Blow" a swing rave-up in which Yan Izquierdo leads the band with a violin part that falls somewhere between western swing and gypsy folk with tons of energy and his usual melodic and expressive playing. Shayna's vocals are about the most edgy in her repertoire to date, resulting in a highly danceable tune that leaves you wanting more when it ends. So at that point the only thing to do is to spin the EP again. Or better yet, go catch Shayna and the Catch playing live.

Which is what a most enthusiastic roomful of listeners did Friday night at the Living Room. The set was loaded with all the songs on the new EP as well as a few long-term audience favorites such as "Just Because","Stay", and "It's You". "Blue Waltz" is another new tune that's not on record yet that also sounded great played live.

The set ended with a powerful performance of "It's You" that left everyone in the room entranced. Shayna's live performance always engages the crowd, but this show seemed to have an extra bit of intensity that you could really feel as they played. If you're anywhere within reach of NYC, you really need to come out and see this extraordinarly talented band before some record label sees the light and takes them big time.

In addition to celebrating the new EP, the band debuted their newest member, bassist Danny Stone; don't be fooled by his youthful appearance, he's an awesome player. And he would need to be to hold his own with such formidable musicians as Joel Dean on guitar, Yan Izquierdo on violin and mandolin, and Chris Heinz who anchors the band with his masterful drumming. In addition to her singing and songwriting, Shayna also plays the acoustic guitar and concertina on certain songs.

John Cusimano (The Cringe)

Shayna had the 9pm spot Friday night at the Living Room, and performing before her in the 8pm hour was The Cringe who thoroughly entertained a similarly packed house with a varied set of originals and great sounding cover songs such as the Who's "Baba O'Reilly" which was part of a medley, and a crowd-pleasing encore rendition of the Beatles' "I Got a Feeling". The Cringe is led by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Cusimano. He and his wife, ABC talk show host and Food Network cutie Rachael Ray, both stayed for and seemed to really enjoy Shayna's set.

The EP's were flying fast and furious after the show and everyone left with smiles. Shayna and band head out to Milwaukee this weekend to play Summerfest, they'll be back at Rockwood on Friday July 10th, and again August 25th at the Canal Room in NYC. If you're not in the New York area, check Shayna's myspace page for the lengthy college tour schedule that will take them to every corner of Pennsylvania along with dates in Ohio, Georgia and Florida.

Before leaving for Summerfest, Shayna and the band worked up an arrangement of "Beat It" as a tribute to Michael Jackson to play at festivals this summer. Even though Shayna doesn't do cover versions very often, the rendition of "Beat It" you will hear if you come to a show this summer (including next Friday's Rockwood show) is superb. All the band contributed to the arrangement; Danny and Chris give the song a modified shuffle rhythm joined by Joel's acoustic guitar to set up the signature riff which is beautifully played by Yan on violin. Shayna does the vocal soft and sexy, singing from the standpoint of a girl dismissing an ex-lover. The happy result is that this ultra-familiar song now sounds as much like a Shayna Zaid song as it does one of Michael Jackson's gazillion selling hit records. Like I said, this band is in the zone.

Here's one more from the new EP, listen to "Fireflies"

Check out more photos from the Living Room show at the Music & More Flickr page. Shayna's previous EP, Au Fait is still available, if you don't already have it, you can buy it at Amazon MP3 using the link below or pick it up at iTunes.

Shayna Zaid - Au Fait EP

Shayna Zaid & the Catch on myspace.
The Cringe on myspace.