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It Was Great Fun

7 Mar

All you really need to know about Jamie Cullum is right there in the lyrics of the song “Mixtape,” which appears on his new album The Pursuit.

The song — which name-checks Nine Inch Nails, Louis Armstrong, Morrissey, John Coltrane, Cinematic Orchestra, De La Soul, Thelonious Monk, the Shangri-La’s, and more — indicates the wide range of musical influences that are running ’round Cullum’s head, and which result in a wide-ranging live show, such as the one he put on Saturday night at the House of Blues in Boston.

(And if the list of influential artists doesn’t give away what Cullum’s live shows are like, then the image of an exploding piano on his album cover surely does.) Continue reading

Not Over Him Yet

2 Mar

I wish Jamie Cullum made it easier for me.

For the past four months, I’ve been hard-pressed to find one favorite track on his new album, The Pursuit. I started off liking the raucous swinger “You and Me Are Gone” the most, then moved on to first single “I’m All Over It,” then side-tracked to the lovely “Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down.” If you’d asked me two weeks ago, I might have told you my favorite track was “Mixtape,” but at this present time, it’s actually Jamie’s beautiful cover of “Not While I’m Around,” from Sweeney Todd.

Which is not to say that the other tracks on the album are bad, and nor does it mean I’ve tired of the ones I no longer deem my favorite. It’s just that The Pursuit is such an enjoyable album that I’ll just get stuck on one song or another, and for a time, it’s all I’ll want to listen to. Continue reading

Love Ain’t Gonna Let Me Down

14 Feb

Contrary to popular belief, I really don’t have any problem with Valentine’s Day. Sure, I’d probably like it more if I had someone to spend it with, but who needs another person? As the Beatles sang, “All you need is love.” Or, to quote Stephen Stills, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” And that’s why today, like in years past, I’ll be spending the day doing things I love: I’m going to sleep late. I’m going to have brunch. I may go to a movie. I’m going to talk with my niece. I’m going to watch the season premiere of The Amazing Race. I’m sure I’ll have some form of cake. And I’m sure I’ll listen to some great music, including Jamie Cullum’s “Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down” and Dave Matthews Band’s “You and Me.” It’s going to be a lovely day.

So, whether you’re single or in a relationship, I wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day, and a day full of love.

Can’t Stop the Music

7 Nov

You might call this a case of “Desperate times call for desperate measures” — relatively speaking, of course.

Monday, Jamie Cullum‘s new album, The Pursuit, will be released in the U.K. and all over Europe. I’m a very big Jamie Cullum fan, have been for years, and for a while now, I’d been banking on the fact that the album — Jamie’s first in more than four years — would be released in the U.S. a day later, on Tuesday. That’s how it usually works, after all (though one wonders why albums don’t just drop on the same weekday around the world). Well, last week I got an email telling me that in fact, the U.S. release would not happen until March 2.

Suffice it to say, I just couldn’t wait that long. I mean, that’s crazy, right? Releasing the album in Europe, and then waiting four months to do it here? Especially after a four-year gap between albums. Jamie may not be a household name in the U.S., but he’s hardly an unknown, brand-new artist (Pursuit is actually his fifth album, though not all have been released in the U.S.). People like me are going to notice if he has an album out elsewhere in the world, and they’re going to want to get their hands on it now.

So as any enterprising person would do, I went on a pursuit of my own, and set off to find the album somewhere on the Interwebs. Before you could say “I’m All Over It Now,” I found a site (actually, a couple of them) where I could download all 12 tracks, for free, before the album had even been released overseas. It was almost too easy. Isn’t the Interwebs great?

Now, before you get all huffy and accusatory on me, and tell me I’m “stealing music,” you should know this much: I have every intention of buying the album when it’s officially released over here next year. In fact, I’ll probably even go for the deluxe edition (assuming I have the same option as the European fans), which includes bonus tracks and a DVD. I support artists I like, and I want this album to do well.

Speaking of which, let me say this: The Pursuit is great (of course it is). More mature, confident, and experimental than Jamie’s previous albums, Pursuit features some impressive tracks, such as his take on Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things,” Stephen Sondheim’s “Not While I’m Around” (from Sweeney Todd), and Rhianna’s “Don’t Stop the Music.” The originals “Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down” and “Mixtape” are cool. “Music Is Through” will be a hot number when Jamie plays live, as will the raucous swing tune “You and Me Are Gone.” The dramatic “If I Ruled the World” erases any memory of Tony Bennett’s more-famous version. In short, Jamie’s come a long way from his U.S. debut, Twentysomething (a long way from his follow-up, Catching Tales, too), and he’s pretty much blasted out of the “jazz singer” box that some have painted him into (just in case the album cover wasn’t symbolic enough for you). The Pursuit is well worth the wait.

But let’s not miss the larger point here: In the age of the Interwebs, you can’t keep devoted music fans waiting. If an album is out in one part of the world — and it’s going to be hyped in other parts of the world with emails, on Facebook, Twitter, and a podcast — then it should be out everywhere. Otherwise, you can’t blame a guy for finding it on his own, especially when it’s this easy.

Listen Up

23 Sep

Tuesday was one of those big multimedia purchase days that I have every so often.

The third season of 30 Rock was released on DVD, and David Gray, Mika, and Harry Connick Jr. all released new albums.

When I was at Costco, I noticed that A.J. Jacobs had a new book out, so I grabbed that, and because I hadn’t purchased it yet, I also picked up the third season of Brothers and Sisters on DVD.

A mixed bag of music for sure, and maybe not your tastes, but I always enjoy new stuff from artists I like. (The David Gray album is particularly good. I’ll let you know about the others when I hear more of them.) Continue reading

Start All Over Again

31 Dec

When it comes to New Year’s songs, many people are fond of “Auld Lang Syne” or “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” But I prefer some of the new stuff, like Dan Wilson’s “What a Year for a New Year” and Jamie Cullum’s “Next Year, Baby.” The latter tune in particular is a favorite (I love how he makes all sorts of resolutions that he knows he’ll never keep), so on this eve of a new year, I thought I’d share it with y’all right here. Enjoy.

Mr. Kowalski’s Neighborhood

29 Dec

In Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood plays a grizzled old man named Walt Kowalski.

A Korean War veteran, Walt is one of those Midwestern guys so set in his ways and his beliefs that the slightest deviation sets him off. He’s intolerant of others who aren’t like him, insulting to every race, and he doesn’t have much incentive to change his ways.

He’s Archie Bunker without the laugh track.

To paraphrase someone else’s metaphor, he’s John McCain in a Barack Obama world.

So as you might assume, Walt’s not taking too kindly to the Hmong people who have moved next door (and throughout his neighborhood) and who are disrupting his status quo. Continue reading

Not So Frightful

19 Dec

We’re expecting a big snow storm here in Boston today, so in that spirit, I thought I’d repost (nearly two years later) Jamie Cullum’s great performance of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Mother Nature, I say bring it on.

Let It Snow!

15 Jan

For some reason, “I’m dreaming of a white Martin Luther King Jr. Day” doesn’t roll off the tongue like “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” does. So I guess it’s a good thing that “Let It Snow” is a song that can be sung on any holiday, and since there’s snow in the forecast today, even if it is just a slight chance and not until tonight, I thought I’d post this video of Jamie Cullum singing it on what looks like some British TV show. (And maybe by posting this, it’ll work magic and we’ll actually get a substantial snow storm. This has been a really lame winter so far.) Enjoy!

Too Much Cheer?

7 Dec

Compilation of A Very Marty Xmas 2006 is now in full swing. I dipped into the “unusued holiday music” folder on my computer last night and found more than 200 tracks (!!!), so there is a lot to choose from — not to mention the new stuff I’m discovering this year. For example, this morning I found an MP3 of Elliot Yamin, my guy from American Idol, covering Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas, which is one my all-time favorite holiday songs. The Killers have a great new holiday song this year. And then there’s The Daily .Wav, which keeps putting up quick clips from the holiday episodes of old tv shows, and blogs like, which are counting down to the holiday with new tracks every day. Plus, I’ve already got Jamie Cullum singing “Let It Snow.” So I’ve got a conundrum this year in terms of narrowing down all my available options. Which of Harry Connick Jr.’s tracks will make the cut? (Right now I’m leaning toward “Blue Christmas.”) And do I include Diana Krall’s “Christmas Time Is Here” or “The Christmas Song” … or her version of “Let It Snow?” Do any of Jimmy Buffett’s songs go on the mix, and do I even bother opening Regis Philbin’s holiday CD, which I purchased in the bargain bin after last year’s Christmas, or uploading the others I’ve acquired this year (like Aimee Mann and Sufjan Stevens’ CDs)? I forgot how much work went into making this mix, and while I always like when a project like this keeps me busy, this year’s mix is proving to be a real challenge already.

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