Cover of the Week 41 and (non) Cover of the Week 42 The Lethal Temptress

August 2009

I’m heading out for a week of vacation. Does that mean I shortchange you, the 15 people who check this blog regularly, by taking a week off of the COtW project as well? No! I’m the kind of guy who doubles down instead, projecting ahead a week where I won’t be able to get to the recording. So, I offer you this “Two-fer Cover of the Vacation Week” or, “A Bill Janovitz Cover of the Week Block Party Weekend.”

[Edit: This has been removed]: First off, you get a non-cover of Buffalo Tom’s “White Paint Morning.” I include this because greatest response seems to be to the reinterpreted Buff Tom songs. I always felt this song was better than the also-ran status it seems to have. But that might be just me — literally. Yet my wife likes it as well, so there you go. I hope you like this more sparse acoustic version.

Second on the playlist is a cover of a song from a band I just discovered this week thanks to my friend, Tom Perrotta, novelist and screenwriter, music aficionado, and all-around really great guy. He has become friendly with Tim Bracy of the disbanded The Mendoza Line. Tom and I went out to see the Sox on Tuesday night and he brought along a disc for me to hear.

Nowadays, it just takes so much for something to break through all the noise. I have piles of books, CDs, magazines, and children that I just never have enough time for, all yelling for my attention. Here comes this disc from a band who was around in the mid 1990s and put out 10 albums in as many years, and it turns out I never recall ever hearing the music. I am actively paying attention all the time — college radio, eMusic subscription, not as much music press as I used to read, but checking in every once in a while on blogs, and so on. And yet how did I get this far without ever knowingly hearing this great music? Especially with so many friends into similar bands — the ML touches on many of the same sounds/themes as Wilco; Whiskeytown; Leonard Cohen; Dylan; Tom Waits; Velvet Underground; Stones; Mazzy Star; and Bettie Serveert. In other words, great rootsy, but forward-leaning songwriting and performances. And really excellent lyrics.

If you’re interested in the band, you can Google them and find out the whole drama and story behind the group. Or better yet, buy up all the music. I particularly find it interesting that Bracy wrote this song and it is Shannon McArdle who sings it on the record. It is a medium register for a woman’s voice, in the key of A, but for me, it brings me closer to the high end of my range.

Hope you are all well. Hope you enjoy the songs. I feel the love. I hope you feel the love back. See you in a week or two.

9 thoughts on “Cover of the Week 41 and (non) Cover of the Week 42 The Lethal Temptress”

  1. Very cool – Smitten has somehow become the Buffalo Tom record that I most often return to (and it's been in my car CD player for the past year). Initially, I didn't get it and responded more to Rachael and The Bible (you know how Colbourn can hit one over the head with a hook), but it's all wonderful. A few of my friends are still caught by LMCO and BRLD. Heck, it's all great from SST to 3 Easy Pcs to Hilken to Toppin. Have a nice vacation – we 15 Bill blog readers will survive one week without you.

    PS The Mendoza Line also fell under my radar but i picked up 30 Year Low just last year (on emusic) – bracing stuff.

  2. Bill,
    Truly loving your offerings as usual…
    I…also am one of the 15 regulars…(Name that band-"Here Comes A Regular")
    It is a real treat, not only to listen to these songs….but to read the background as well…
    I would love to drive out to visit you sometime in your element and have a Beer with you….who knows…maybe someday..
    Enjoy your well deserved time off.
    A loyal fan,
    Steve "Bullseye Studio" B.

  3. Hey, I don't think that any BT songs can be considered as also-rans, if that makes you feel any better. Enjoy your week off and thanks for the two-fer!

  4. .: Well, as one of the (hopefully way more than) 15 people like Whirling House and Steve B who love the CotW project and still cannot believe how generous you are to us, let me first wish you and the wife and Scurvey Dog and French Toast a wonderful week of vacation. The Bill J Blocktacular Smackdown is on in Edmonton this weekend.

    Thanks for doubling down and spoiling us this weekend. I enjoyed this acoustic version of White Paint Morning – the tempo feels like it's been cut in half and completely changes the song. The quiet piano extro at the end caught me off guard. Please continue to offer us a few more BT reinterpretations. I am still lobbying to hear your acoustic version of "For All To See", the song that introduced me to BT in the first place when I bought the "No Alternative" album back in day.

    Similar to Whirling's experience, it took me some time to warm up to Smitten, but it eventually did happen. My favorite tune on the album remains Do You In.

    I was not aware of The Mendoza Line, but as you note, with so much to do in so little time – the only constant being the number of hours in the day – I've discovered other bands of which I'd never heard, only to learn they had released many albums. Giant Sand is an example – I had no idea they had produced and released so many albums by the time I first learned of them, nor did I know about the Calexico connection either.

    I wish more people would follow the CotW project. It really is remarkable. I'm doing well – thanks for asking. Spent last weekend working Performer Hospitality at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. I was Artist Handler for three acts: Kathleen Edwards, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and The Idan Raichel Project. Other acts who performed here included Steve Earle, Boz Skaggs, Iron & Wine, Béla Fleck & Toumani Diabaté, Oysterband, Rodney Crowell, Arrested Development, etc etc.

    Have a nice break with the family, rest, relax, enjoy, know that we feel the love over and over.

  5. Smitten first sursprised me with fantastically explosive choruses: postcard, scottish windows, wiser. But I guess the perspectives were deepening with 3rd person songwriting and bigger stories to tell. What strikes you first about white paint morning on the album is the background "bah bah di-dahs" without those, there is certainly room for lyrical emphasis. The lyrics are such that you can feel the dew on the grass waiting for the bus with this woman. Its probably easy to say this song is a list and another is an also ran, but fans will all have favorites deep into the album. I always liked "see to me" most- because of the imagery and poetry.

    Anybody who listens to this will be buying Mendoza line records, great songs.

  6. I've got a feeling there are more than 15 of us out here…
    Buffalo Tom has been a release day band for me since LMCO. Ironically, it was the acoustic non-cover/cover tacked on the end of Birdbrain (Reason Why and Heaven)which made me so eager to hear LMCO. Birdbrain was not my cup of tea because it just seemed the album was trying to make the band something it wasn't and the cover/non-cover were more true to what the band wanted to be and would fully embrace on LMCO.
    But, I digress….. I remember being devastated when Smitten came out because I thought it was horrendously bad. Why I ever thought that is beyond me because it is, as Whirling House concurs, the BT album I listen to more than any other. Every time Bill's vocal comes in on Rachael, it kills me. White Paint Morning has always been my favorite song from the record and this weeks non-cover just proves it.

  7. Count me as one of the 15, and a HUGE Mendoza Line fan as well (and acquaintance of Timothy). You should get to know him if you don't. Who else shares such a fondness for baseball and indie rock?

    I still think Lost in Revelry is their most complete album, but enjoy digging in. Lots of good stuff there.

    The other band you missed that is a natural fit, if you don't know them is Okkervil River. I bet you do, though.

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