This Week’s Top 5 Most Played Songs From Swap’s iTunes

The Rules: I reset the play counters for all the songs currently on my iTunes. Then at the end of every week, I check to see what the top five most played songs are. Whatever happens to be in this top five are then presented in order here from most played to least. If I have posted a particular song in the past, then I will bypass that song and post the next in line. If one artist dominates the list, then I will write about that artist in lieu of a Top Five list.

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I was (and still am) a huge U2 fan. Sure, I kind of lost interest in them after Achtung Baby came out (good LORD what the hell was Zooropa all about???) but still… I am a HUGE U2 fan. When How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was released, I was ever so ecstatic until I heard it. I swear I did not make it through the first five songs before putting in The Joshua Tree and saying to myself, “Self? THAT is U2. I don’t know what THIS nonsense is…” The amazing thing is THIS time, Myself agreed.

This week I was on a covert U2 binge. This happens every few months or so and when it does, man ALIVE it feels good.

I don’t care who you are… “With Or Without You” is a great song. If Keane decides to cover it, you can bet your ass it’s a great song.

Here’s a live shot of “With Or Without You,” and it sounds like it’s from Rattle and Hum… the movie, that is. I love this performance.

Amazon Search: U2

Your Dig-It Download:

With Or Without You (live)

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I used to perform this song on stage with Bo Bice. “Angel From Montgomery” was a regular part of his 2006 setlist, and I loved the way Bo sang it. Up until then, the only version of the song I’d ever heard was from Bonnie Raitt from her Road Tested live album.

It wasn’t until I started performing this song that I actually went back to find out who had originally written/recorded it. Turns out that John Prine first released this song on his self-titled 1971 album. I have yet to hear that version because I am lame, but I have the next best thing: a live acoustic performance of “Angel From Montgomery” by John Prine AND Bonnie Raitt.

Man alive, this song is gorgeous.

Amazon Search: John Prine, Bonnie Raitt, Bo Bice

Your Dig-It Download:

Angel From Montgomery (John Prine & Bonnie Raitt acoustic live)

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Ryan Adams’ latest offering, Cardinology, was released this last Tuesday. I’ve picked it up and am slowly digesting it… I’ll let you all know my thoughts about it at another time. I don’t want to be hasty with my review, as I’ve been listening to live bootlegs of most of the songs off of Cardinology for a while now and I’m trying not to be influenced by those recordings.

I can safely say, though, that one of my favorite songs from Cardinology is “Cobwebs.” The song reminds me of Adams’ 2003 album Rock N Roll, but “Cobwebs” succeeds where that entire album failed: it’s actually a good song.

Oooh, I know that was quite a dig on Adams… (ducking as rotten tomatoes fly by)

Take a listen to “Cobwebs,” and be on the look out for’s review of Cardinology… comin’ soon to a theater near you.

Amazon Search: Ryan Adams

Your Dig-It Download:

Cobwebs (live)

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Kathleen Edwards and Josh Ritter have been two of my favorite artists to come out in recent years. They both have distinctive voices, and when you combine them, well… it’s like discovering the magical combination of peanut butter and jelly… or peanut butter and chocolate… or peanut butter and banana. Hell, peanut butter with ANYTHING is good.

I especially like peanut butter and honey. The sweetness of the honey helps bring out the peanut buttery aspect of the peanut butter, which in turn invigorates the sweetness of the honey (didja git dat?). And if you’ve got CHUNKY peanut butter and honey, then you’ve got the greatest thing ever created on Earth. Even better than Hungry Man dinners, automatic transmission, AND double-fiber bread put together. In fact, if I had just a jar of chunky peanut butter and a big ol’ jar of honey, I could survive for about six months tops because by then my body would be so malnourished I’d die. Here’s an extra-credit assignment for all of you: How long can a human being survive on just chunky peanut butter and honey?

Waitaminute… what was I talking about?

Amazon Search: Kathleen Edwards, Josh Ritter

Your Dig-It Download:

Mercury (Kathleen Edwards & Josh Ritter live)

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Keith Urban’s 2004 Be Here was just about as big as an album could get, spawning five top five hits (three number ones). I picked it up after hearing “Days Go By” and still enjoy the album to this day. I personally think it’s his best offering to date, but that’s just me.

His follow up record, Love, Pain, & The Whole Crazy Thing, was a success as well, going platinum within the first two months of its release. This album was a leaning a bit more to the rock side of things, and I think it totally worked for Urban. I listen to it every now and then… I guess this week I listened to it more now than then.

“Shine” is one of my favorite tracks off the album. The piano, the groove, the whole message of the lyric is a perfect pick-me-up. I need tons of pick-me-ups because I live with an all-wise and all-knowing stuffed bear that kicks me in the family jewels whenever he gets the chance.

Hey, Sherman… what’s up? Did you run out of peanut butter?



Amazon Search: Keith Urban

Your Dig-It Download:


That does it for this week! Before you go, please take a second to complete the music poll below. It’s quick and painless, and I’m really interested in finding out what my readers like. Thank you always for reading and see you all on Monday!

Be good.

[poll id=”5″]

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This Is NOT What We Had Discussed.

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I was surfing the Internet this morning when I came across this article on Yahoo:

Joaquin Phoenix Shocks With Retirement Announcement

Apparently, Joaquin Phoenix is walking away from his very successful acting career to pursue music. Here is what he said in an interview given to E! Online:

“This will be my last performance as an actor (re: his role in the upcoming film “Two Lovers”). I’m not doing films anymore… I’ve been through that. I’ve done it… I’m dead serious.”

I guess his role in Walk The Line (where he played Johnny Cash) inspired him to be a musician. “Once he learnt guitar he found that he had quite a lot of demons inside himself that he wanted to expel through music,” explains Tim Burgess (frontman for the UK group The Charlatans), who is working on Mr. Phoenix’s first album.

Wow. This is NOT what we had discussed.

As many of you know, I am a consultant to many celebrities. They come to me when they are looking for direction in their careers, and more often than not, I suggest a complete makeover.

For example, before Madonna hit it big in the 80’s, she was contemplating putting out a record that “celebrates the carefree life of nuns.” I strongly urged her to go the opposite way and become well, a non-nun. I think that bit of advice worked, would you not agree?

Now, with Mr. Phoenix here, all I told him was, after a night of pure debauchery, “Yeah, man… rock and roll!!!”

I think my blood alcohol content at the time was 0.78.

Seriously, I did not think he would take that parting comment to heart.

I knew he was jealous of Steven Seagal, who had made his own transition into music a while ago. When we hung out, Mr. Phoenix carried with him this picture of Mr. Seagal, constantly referring to it as his “Nirvana.”

If memory serves, I took my last shot of Crown, scratched my “Hoo-Hoo,” stumbled towards the limo, threw up, then waved as I said those words, “Yeah, man… rock and roll!”

Yes, I will have to watch my words more carefully in the future. I often forget that since I am all-wise and all-knowing, people really listen to every utterance from my mouth.

I wish Mr. Phoenix the best, as I really enjoyed his touching performance in Walk The Line. I also hope he finds his “Nirvana.” We all have our demons to exorcise… it is a part of life. I applaud his courage, but next time maybe it is not the greatest idea to take a haphazard comment as advice from a drunk stuffed bear.

I look forward to reviewing it in my “Listen to THIS, Bitches!” column.

Good day.
– Sherman

Lucinda Williams: Little Honey

My first exposure to Lucinda Wiliams was in 1998 while I was driving on the 52 Freeway in San Diego, CA. The DJ for KPRi 102.1 introduced Williams’ song, “Can’t Let Go,” (off her Car Wheels on a Gravel Road album) and said something like, “I like this song, but not sure about the rest of the record. I don’t see what the fuss is all about.”

Well, I ended up liking what I heard and hastily scribbled her name down on a piece of paper to remind me to pick up her album the next time I had the chance. Turns out I did see what the fuss was all about… and so did the Grammys, awarding Car Wheels on a Gravel Road Best Contemporary Folk Album for that year. I’ve been a fan of her work since that day in San Diego, and I always look forward to her records.

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Last week she released her ninth studio album, Little Honey. The 2000’s have been quite prolific for Williams, as this is her fourth album in just eight years. Just to give you an idea of how prolific this century has been for her: it took her practically twenty years to release her first five albums.

Little Honey is quite a detour from her 2007 album, West. Where West was drenched in misery, Little Honey is, for the most part, an upbeat listen. Not since Car Wheels has she sounded this raw and energetic. But don’t fret if you’ve never heard any of her past albums, the great thing about Little Honey is that it showcases the many sides of Williams and feels incredibly balanced.

The album jump-starts with an all-out rocker, “Real Love,” complete with a false start (I love it when artists do that on albums). I found myself saying, “Hell yeah!” and holding myself back from hitting repeat.

The album rolls along nicely from song to song, but there are a few highlights that I’d like to hit…

… one of which is “Well Well Well,” which sounds like it came right out of the muddy banks of the Wishkah. “Well Well Well” is a great example of why I love the Americana/Alt. Country genre so much. The country influence is obvious, but the sound is so dirty that it reminds you of your favorite rock, punk, or blues record. I actually did hit repeat here and listened to “Well Well Well” a good three times before moving on.

The very next track, “If Wishes Were Horses,” is a gorgeous piece that features a piano solo that reminds me that slow and steady is always the best way to play. In this song about heartbreak, Williams sings, “If wishes were horses, I’d had a ranch.” I think that line sums up how we all feel when we’ve been hurt.

Wish I could turn a sad and blue, blue day into something good
Wish I could somehow make it go away, I wish you understood.

Simple words, but I’m sure all of the broken-hearted in the world can relate. That’s one thing I’ve always admired about her lyrics: the simplicity. She rarely uses huge metaphors or concepts, but writes in such a straightforward manner that her lyrics seem to transcend what she’s saying.

Or maybe it’s her voice that lifts the lyrics to another plane. She just keeps sounding better and better as time rolls by. Check her out attacking the mic on “Honey Bee,” or how naturally soulful she is in “Knowing.” She even pulls off AC/DC’s “It’s A Long Way To the Top,” which closes the record. Here’s a singer who knows what she’s singing because she’s most likely lived every word in every song.

My favorite track has to be “Heaven Blues.” There’s nothing complicated to it. The song centers around three chords and really doesn’t do anything more than those three chords, but maybe that’s why it works so well.

The studio chatter at the start of the song makes you feel like you’re sitting in the session as the song takes shape and form. I’ve always been a fan of studio chatter because of this very point. As a listener, I dig feeling like I was part of the process.

I love how she writes,“I’ll understand when I get to Heaven.” Like I said before: so simple yet speaks volumes… it IS the blues, after all.

Little Honey is definitely her most accessible album since Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. It’s less focused, but better balanced that her past few albums. I’ve been spinning it all night and unless I force myself to put something else on, this week’s Top 5 Most Played Songs list will be chock full of Little Honey songs.

Be good.

Amazon Search: Lucinda Williams

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Your Dig-It Downloads:

Honey Bee
Heaven Blues

How To Get Tinker Bell Going

Yes, it is hard to believe, but I enjoy mellow music as well. When I am not entertaining the ladies or attending an all night rave, I like to immerse myself into a hot tub of water, put on a set of $928.48 headphones imported from New Zealand, and drift off into Never Land with Tinker Bell (who is a HOTTIE) with some sensual music to get her in the mood.

It does not take much to get Tinker Bell in the mood. I just have to say, “I believe in fairies!” and she is good to go. All SHE has to say to me is, “You are all-wise and all-knowing!” and I am good to go… in a BIG way.

But I digress…

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One of my choice listens whilst in the tub is Mazzy Star’s 1993 album So Tonight That I Might See. This uber-soothing album never fails to ease every all-wise and all-knowing fiber in my body to the point where I am just a big puddle of uber-uberness, whatever that means. “Uber” is a cool word though, and I am going to use it because it is so uber-licious.

If you have never heard this album before, you are missing out on some uber-good music. On a scale of one to ten (10 being highest) on the “How Awesome This Album Is” scale, So Tonight That I Might See is about a fourteen. And that is being conservative.

But I have to qualify that with this: you need to be in the mood for it. Either that or you have to really want to be in the mood for it. Keep in mind, Mazzy Star music is considered to be “brooding,” “mournful,” “dreamy,” and incredibly laid-back… I’d like to throw in “sexy” as well because Tinker Bell uber-loves their music and she lets me know it EVERY time. Yes, Mazzy Star gets a LOT of plays here in Pappa Bear Land.

Their style is categorized as “Alternative,” but it sounds to be a blending of folk and blues. Reverb seems to be the effect of choice for Mazzy Star. The album is uber-reverby. Uber-UBER-reverby. It is as if they asked the producer, “’Scuse me, but does this reverb knob go to eleven?” And the producer answered with a resounding, “Uber-UB!” and cranked that knob PAST eleven.

The group is centered around two core individuals: David Roback (instruments) and Hope Sandoval (voice). Sandoval was a replacement vocalist for Roback’s previous band, Opal. When Opal split, the two continued to work together and formed Mazzy Star.

So in 1993 they release So Tonight (I do not feel like writing the entire name of the album again) and out comes a surprise hit, “Fade Into You.” I am sure many of you have heard this song before as it was in uber-rotation on not only MTV but radio stations all around the country. This song has appeared in quite a few television shows as well as movie soundtracks and has been remade by artists like Nena (remember Miss 99 Luftballons?), Natalie Wilde, and Run Run Run.

“Fade Into You” peaked at #44… the album hit #36 on the Billboard album charts and continues to be their most popular offering.

A note about Sandoval’s smooth and sultry voice… it is SO smooth and sultry that I have a feeling she knows and works it, baby, works it.

Speaking of working it, the album is now playing on my stereo and Tinker Bell is REALLY letting me know how much she appreciates it. I am usually very discreet with these matters, but what the hell…

Pappa Bear is VERY happy. (Just a little to the left, please, Tink. Tha-a-a-a-a-a-a-t-a-girl!)

Take a listen to the bootlegs I have posted. If you like what you hear, then GO BUY THE RECORD. If you do NOT like what you hear, then let me ask you this…

“What the F*** are you listening to a little stuffed bear for????”

Good day.

Amazon Search: Mazzy Star

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Your Dig-It Downloads:

[audio: Into You (Live).mp3]Download: Fade Into You (live)
[audio: Bells Ring (Acoustic).mp3]Download: Bells Ring (acoustic)
[audio: Into Dust.mp3]Into Dust

Texas via Glasgow, Scotland

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve picked up a few albums because of rather superficial reasons. I grabbed The Cure’s Head on the Door because the cover was cool. I bought Faye Wong’s album Sky because she looked so hot on the cover. I discovered The Redwalls because their cover looked like… well, it looked like something I would like.

So as you can tell, music comes to Ol’ Swap in a lot of different ways. It’s not always about “Hey, that’s a great song, I gotta pick up the album!” for us here at

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Now, the way I discovered the band in question here, Texas, was that I saw the video to their first single, “I Don’t Want A Lover,” and could not take my eyes off the lead singer, Sharleen Spiteri. She played a Fender Telecaster, and I’m sorry, but any girl with a Telecaster gets a vote from me.

So anyhow, I dug the song and went out to find their record. Come to think of it, I guess Texas came to me through the “Hey, that’s a great song, I gotta pick up the album!” method, but still, it was that Telecaster that got me. How sad is that???

Texas was formed in 1986 in Glasgow, Scotland by the bassist, Johnny McElhone. Although Texas has achieved incredible success around the globe, they have remained relatively unknown in the United States. They took the name from a Wen Wenders film Paris, Texas. In an interview for Pulse Magazine, Spiteri explains, “We saw the movie ‘Paris, Texas,’ and we just liked everything about it. We liked the soundtrack, too, but everything in the film is just so open. And, in turn, we feel that our music is very open and sparse.”

Well, they apparently hit the nail on the head with that, because “open and sparse” IS the feeling of their debut album, Southside. Released in 1989, this blues influenced rock record came amidst albums like Electric Youth by Debbie Gibson, Like A Prayer by Madonna, and Enuff Z’Nuff by who else? The one and only Enuff Z’Nuff. The album received positive reviews and launched them into the worldwide spotlight as a “band to watch.”

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Southside spawned one US and four UK singles: “I Don’t Want A Lover,” (US, #77) “Thrill Has Gone,” “Everyday Now, “ and “Prayer For You.” There were other cuts that could have ended up as singles as well, like “Tell Me Why,” (which contains one of the most satisfying bridges I’ve ever heard… EVER), and “The Future is Promises.” I’ve included a beautiful acoustic recording of “Promises” in the Dig-It Downloads.

Even with this strong set of songs, Southside was an album that almost never came to be. After a disappointing recording session in Los Angeles, the label decided to scrap everything and send the band home. Since a great deal of money had been spent on these initial sessions, they tried to record as cheaply as they could in Glasgow, which only led to further disappointment and debt. It wasn’t until they hooked up with Tim Palmer (Robert Plant, The Mission, Tin Machine) that the record began to take shape and form.

The sound of Southside was basically what the band was at the time, as producer Tim Palmer left them to their own talents. “What Tim really did for us was give us confidence,” says guitarist Ally McErlaine. “We just wanted to make an album that we wanted to hear.”

And what an album it is… ten wonderfully crafted songs (the Cd contains a bonus track, “Faith”) that showcases their pop sensibilities in a rock arena. McErlaine’s slide guitar shimmers in most every cut, which also exposes their roots in the blues. Check out the title track… you could swear you’re sitting on a porch somewhere deep in the South on a hot, muggy day with nothing but a cold glass of sweet tea to keep you from Spontaneous Combustion.

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Spiteri’s voice is definitely a highlight of the album for me. She’s got such a soulful voice that it’s hard to believe she was only around 21 years old at the time of recording. The aforementioned “Prayer For You” is a great example this, and even though the song is more country/gospel, I think it foreshadows the group’s eventual move to a more R&B flavor in their fourth album, White On Blonde.

Oddly enough, the worst cut on the Cd is the bonus track, “Faith,” and it’s smack dab in the middle of the record. I don’t understand why the record company felt it necessary to put that song right there and not at the end… it just goes to show you not to mess with something good.

It’s been almost 20 years since Southside hit the stores, and it doesn’t sound dated at all. All of the 80’s pomp and circumstance was apparently left out back in the dumpster. Just as McErlaine stated before, artists should always record an album that they, themselves, want to hear. It shows confidence, poise, and an understanding that if you are not true to yourself, then nobody else will be true to you.

Texas proved this point by sticking to their guns and recording one of the most memorable albums to come out of the late 80’s. Check it out, pick it up, and spread the word. Twenty years is nothing when it comes to a great record.

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I Don’t Want A Lover
Prayer For You
Future Is Promises (live acoustic)

Alanis Morissette: Pinkpop Festival 2008

In last week’s Top 5 Most Played Songs list, Alanis Morissette’s live performance of “Uninvited” took the top spot. Some of you have requested that I post the rest of the bootleg, to which I am only happy to oblige.

Ask and you shall receive!

The sound quality of this performance is excellent. Her voice, all the instruments, and even the audience is loud and clear. I’m afraid I don’t have much information on this bootleg other than it was a concert at the Pinkpop Festival in Langraaf, Netherlands. It appears that it was Alanis’ birthday, as the band asked the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to her.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Pinkpop Festival is the oldest annual festival in the world, dating all the way back to 1970. This three day festival takes place from a Saturday to Monday and draws about 60,000 people per day. About 1.5 million people have attended and more than 500 acts have played this festival in its 35 year history. Artists like Fleetwood Mac, Moby, The Pogues, U2, Iggy Pop, and Van Halen have graced the stage, and this year Metallica, The Foo Fighters, and Morissette were featured performers.

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Alanis has played Pinkpop three times, in 1996, 1999, and 2008. I’m going to say that this recording was from this year’s show, as it features songs (“Citizen of the Planet,” “Moratorium”) from her latest album, Flavors of Entanglement.

I cannot stress how powerful her voice sounds here. She definitely sounds like she’s having a great time performing (who wouldn’t in front of 60,000 people?). Take a listen to her improvised lyrics to her hit “Ironic,”

It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And meeting his beautiful husband

Ha Ha Ho Ho!!! Oh, that Alanis… she cracks me up.

Enjoy and go buy some Alanis Morissette stuff.

Amazon Search: Alanis Morissette

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Your Dig-It Downloads:

Alanis Morissette live @ Pinkpop Fest 2008
Download: Intro (live)
Download: Uninvited (live)
Download: All I Really Want (live)
Download: Easy Steps (live)
Download: Perfect (live)
Download: You Learn (live)
Download: Citizen of the Planet (live)
Download: Hand in My Pocket (live)
Download: Underneath (live)
Download: Moratorium (live)
Download: You Oughta Know (live)
Download: Ironic (live)
Download: Thank U (live)


It hasn’t taken long for New York’s Phonograph to make an impression in the music industry. Since forming in 2005, the band has achieved critical acclaim from Billboard magazine, American Songwriter Magazine, and The New York Times. They’ve toured with Wilco, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and they just played the Bonnaroo music festival this year.

Phonograph is categorized in the Alt. Country genre, but as singer Matthew Welsh explains, “Even though we’re known more for an alt-country aesthetic… we want a healthy balance between interesting psychedelic sounds and good-old-wholesome-American-songwriting.” I was immediately hooked on their music as it reminded me of Wilco’s journey into experimentation in their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album.

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According to Phonograph’s bio, the band started as Welsh’s solo project. With the help of the engineer, John Davis, Welsh put together the pieces of the current lineup while recording. The end result was a couple of EP’s, “From Action to Dynamic Silence,” and “Nu Americana.” I picked these EP’s up from CdBaby back in 2005 and haven’t been able to find them since. I guess they are out of print.

I can’t recall which EP was first released, but I remember receiving “From Action to Dynamic Silence” in the mail first. The song that absolutely captured me was the track “Learn to Die.”

Matthew Welsh’s voice carries the weight of the song, but when the rest of the band kicks in, it’s like seeing color when all you’ve ever known is black & white. The loops, the electronic effects, the horns… they all blend nicely and do not take away at all from the basic structure of the song.

Welsh sings:

Just take the time to figure out everything
You’re alright, you’re just standing in line
You just gotta learn to die

Totally dig it. This song remains one of my favorites of their catalog. I’ve included it in the Dig-It Downloads below.

In 2007 Phonograph released their first full length Cd. This self-titled debut continues to build on their sound and definitely lives up to Welsh’s hopes for the band. The songwriting is solid, and the musical canvas they use is so vast that I find myself listening to songs repeatedly just to try to catch it all. It’s like rewatching The Sixth Sense over and over again to make sure you got all the clues…

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2008 has been a good year for the group. They just put out an EP called Hiawatha Talking Machine, and are currently on tour supporting it. They’ve got their first Los Angeles date set for November 12. That’s a Wednesday night… I hope I can make it!

Phonograph is one of those bands that find a new way to do what has already been done. It seems as if they are constantly searching for ways to push the envelope in the Americana/Alt. Country genre… they’ve created a sound to call their own and I, for one, cannot wait to see what they’ll do next.

Pick up their albums, buy their swag, go see them live… do what you can to support this band.

You can purchase their records here:

Here are some upcoming shows for Phonograph:

November 12 @ 8:00pm – The Roxy, Los Angeles, CA.
November 14 @ 10:00pm – Pianos, New York, NY.
December 6 @ 8:00pm – The Studio at Webster Hall, New York, NY.
December 28 @ 8:00pm – The Higher Ground, Burlington, VT.

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Your Dig-It Downloads:

Nu Americana
Learn to Die

This Week’s Top 5 Most Played Songs From Swap’s iTunes

The Rules: I reset the play counters for all the songs currently on my iTunes. Then at the end of every week, I check to see what the top five most played songs are. Whatever happens to be in this top five are then presented in order here from most played to least. If I have posted a particular song in the past, then I will bypass that song and post the next in line. If one artist dominates the list, then I will write about that artist in lieu of a Top Five list.

Well, another week has passed… I’d like to personally thank all of you for visiting this site! Thank you for making this so exciting for me. I hope you have enjoyed the articles so far and that you’ve made a daily stop!

Let’s see what Ol’ Swap listened to this week. This part is always fun…

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This last week I kept listening to a live recording of “Uninvited,” Alanis Morissette‘s contribution to the City of Angels soundtrack. I’ve always dug this song, so a live performance was a welcome addition to my collection. She sounds just as powerful as ever… I think I just might post the entire bootleg sometime in the near future. Really a great listen.

“Uninvited” was a smash hit for Morissette even though the song was never officially released as a single. At the 1999 Grammy Awards, the song won the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song categories.

This live version sounds even better through headphones (just a tip).

Amazon Search: Alanis Morissette

Your Dig-It Download:
Uninvited (live)

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For those that know me, a Bruce Springsteen song in the top 5 comes to no surprise. For that that don’t know me, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, either… because you don’t know me.

“Fire” is one of his coolest songs. It was first recorded by Robert Gordon in 1978, then by The Pointer Sisters in that very same year. The Pointer Sisters got a bigger hit out of the song, reaching number two in the charts.

Springsteen’s own release of “Fire” didn’t occur until 1986 from his Live 1975-1985 boxset. The single cracked the top 50, but stalled at 46.

It doesn’t matter to me how the song charted, I think it’s one of his better compositions. I love the pause before the line, “Romeo and Juliet…” LOVE IT!

Anyhow, I listened to this 1980 performance quite a few times this week, landing it at #2.

Amazon Search: Bruce Springsteen, Robert Gordon, The Pointer Sisters

Your Dig-It Download
Fire (live)

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Yep. This week was typical Swap… got a Springsteen and Ryan Adams tune in the list. It’s no secret that I think Adams is one of the best songwriters of the last twenty years, and his prolific nature just has no end. His new record drops next week on Oct. 28 called Cardinology. I’m sure I’ll be writing about it sometime soon after I digest it.

But until then, I’ve been listening to some bootlegs. One of my favorites is from 2006… this version of “Harder Now That It’s Over” is just so laid back it completely soothes the savage beast.

“Harder Now That It’s Over” is originally off his second solo release, Gold.

Amazon Search: Ryan Adams

Your Dig-It Download
Harder Now That It’s Over (live)

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One of my favorite albums to come out of the 80’s was the The Indigo Girls’ self-titled debut. The songs were intense and incredibly satisfying, and their harmonies were immaculate. I wore out the Cd and eventually gave it away to some girl that I liked at the time. I wonder if she still has it?

They have a style all their own, and to this day that style still works. Their last record, 2006’s Despite Our Differences, was heralded as “the most infectious, pop-infused set that the duo ever has managed to concoct,” by MusicBox Online. Not bad for their fifteenth release.

I have to say, though, that of all their records, Indigo Girls is still my favorite. Maybe it’s nostalgia, I don’t know… but whatever the reason is, I’m fine with it.

Here’s a live version of “Land of Canaan” that I’ve been listening to. I think this performance is from a live video they have, but I can’t recall. The intro by Amy Ray sounds so familiar… if anyone can help me with this, I’d be most grateful.

Amazon Search: The Indigo Girls

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Land of Canaan (live)

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Uncle Tupelo is by far my favorite Alt. Country band. They are considered to be one of (if not THE) pioneers of the genre and I still wish they’d get back together for a reunion tour or album.

Anyhow, this song, “Acuff-Rose” is off of their Anodyne record. It pays homage to Acuff-Rose Music, a music publishing company from Nashville, TN. Roy Acuff and Fred Rose started this company because they felt that too many songwriters in Nashville were cheated and taken advantage of by agents, managers, attorneys, etc… the darker side of the biz. Acuff-Rose built their company on the belief that “our company would be honest. The writers would always be taken care of. No one would act in a shady way.”

The Acuff-Rose catalog included artists such as Hank Williams, The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, and Don Gibson, among others.

In May, 1985, the company sold their catalog to the Gaylord Entertainment Company (parent company to The Grand Ole Opry), and then in 2002 it was sold to Sony/ATV music. Man, I wish I had the money to buy it from them… anybody got about 5 billion dollars they can lend me?

Anyhow, this live acoustic version of Uncle Tupelo’s “Acuff-Rose” is just a joy to listen to. The mandolin does it for me…

Amazon Search: Uncle Tupelo

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Acuff-Rose (live acoustic)

Well, that’s it for this week! Thank you all for reading and making this week another blast for all of us here at Next week’ll be here soon enough… so much music, so little time…

Be good.

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The Cranberries: Dreams

I’ve always enjoyed cover versions of songs. A cover song can either be recorded differently or as close to the original as possible… whichever the case, it always makes for a fun listen. Very often I find that a good cover song can reinvigorate my interest in the original, like the cover version I’ve posted today.

The really interesting thing about this first installment is that the cover version isn’t in English. It’s in Mandarin, Chinese.

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First, let’s talk about the song, “Dreams.” The Cranberries hit the US charts in 1993 with their first major label release Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? on Island Records. “Dreams” appeared as track two, and although it hit the top 20 on the radio airplay charts, the single failed to crack the Billboard Top 40 (peaking at 42). Their first single, “Linger,” catapulted them into the spotlight by hitting #14… thing is, though, I think “Dreams” is the more popular song between the two.

“Dreams” has appeared on a number of movies like, “You’ve Got Mail,” “Boys on the Side,” “The Next Karate Kid,” (just a sidenote: what a horrid movie. Who would’ve thought Hilary Swank would rebound from that?) and “Mission: Impossible.” Not bad for a song that didn’t crack the Top 40.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear the song’s cymbal swell intro, I immediately get a tingly feeling in my bones that everything’s gonne be juuuuust fine. It’s just one of those songs that make you optimistic about anything and everything, even Brussels sprouts.

Now, I’m guessing that you’ve probably already played the cover version of the song from the music player below, and you’re wondering “Who IS this???”

She does a pretty good job, doesn’t she?

Faye Wong is the best selling “Canto-Pop” (Hong Kong pop music) singer of all time. She’s extremely popular in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, and Indonesia, selling over 9.7 million records since her 1989 debut. Wong is a singer, actress, model, and songwriter and is SO revered in China, that the title “Heavenly Queen” is usually attached before her name.

I’D love a title before MY name… something like “Bad-ass” or “Ultimate Power of the Universe.” If any of you can make that happen, I’d appreciate it.

Anyhow, to put it simply, Faye Wong is huge and can do one hell of a cover of “Dreams.”

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Her version appears on the album Tienkuu or “Sky,” which was released in 1994. I bought it in college while walking around Chinatown in San Francisco. I’ll be honest, I bought it because I thought she looked smokin’ hot on the cover.

Once I popped the Cd in, though, I changed my mind and thought she was HOTTER.

It’s a great album, regardless of whether you can speak Chinese or not… but I digress…

Her rendition of “Dreams” is outstanding. The instrumentation is almost spot on, and her vocals reflect the unique style of The Cranberries’ front person, Delores O’Riorden. I was so impressed that I played Faye’s version constantly… my friends would tell me, “Dude, you DO know that’s a cover, right?”

Sad thing is that my Chinese is so horrible, I can’t tell what Faye is singing. I don’t think she’s singing the right words because in her version, the opening line is “Say goodbye,” whereas in the original song, the line is “Oh my life.” I do know that Wong’s version is called “Break Loose,” so I highly doubt she’s singing the same words as O’Riorden did. Since I don’t know what Faye’s singing about, I’ll just imagine that she’s singing the same words as the original.

So take a listen and see for yourself. Play the Chinese version in your car with the windows down and see what people say. It’ll be a good time for all.

I’ve also thrown in a live version of “Linger” because I’m a nice guy and really deserve the title of “Ultimate Power of the Universe.”

By the way, how are we doing on making that happen?

Be good.

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Your Dig-It Downloads:

Dreams (The Cranberries)
Break Loose (Faye Wong)
Linger (live)

Those F***in’ Teletubbies.

Whoopdee-doo, today is an anniversary of sorts for me. Let me tell you that relating this bit of news is no walk in the park for me, nor should it be for you, as it is not for me. And by my command, anything that is difficult for ME must therefore, in turn, be difficult for YOU.

That is just the way life goes for you. Good luck with it.

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Twelve years ago today I was approached by Anne Wood, creator of the show Teletubbies. She had an interesting idea of having four peculiar beings called “Teletubbies” and their furry little bear friend (me) as stars for a children’s show that would revolutionize the world. Being a Bear-of-the-World and always anxious to lend my brilliantly genius paw at revolutionizing anything, I enthusiastically accepted the proposal.

At first the reheasals went well. The Teletubbies were very kind to me, especially Tinky-Winky. I think Tinky-Winky wanted to do a little “Tinky-Winky” WITH me, so I made sure I was never alone with him. Laa-Laa was sweet, as was Po, and Dipsy and I got along swimmingly because he loved to get smashed and chase chicks on a nightly basis.

But then things started getting ugly.

Po, who was normally very generous with her scooter, started to deny me any rides. Dipsy would not let me wear his hat, claiming “health reasons,” but I knew he was just being cruel. Laa-Laa would put her orange ball away whenever I was close by. Tinky-Winky stopped making advances on me.

I felt ostracized.

I was utterly shocked when the first episode aired. The working title of “The Teletubbies and Sherman Bear” was changed, and my figure was digitally moved from the rest of the group. Here is a screen shot of what actually aired.

Look at that travesty. It is as if they did not even TRY. I was embarrassed, shamed, and insulted. After about three episodes, I was asked to leave. Although I was not surprised with this, I was hurt and confused. To this day I do not know what caused this turnaround.

My friends tell me it was because they were all jealous of my all-wise and all-knowingness.

My manager tells me it was because they felt threatened by my incredible talent, and that it was obvious I was stealing the show.

My agent tells me it was because I demanded 3.5 million per show.

I just can not figure it out.

Well, whatever the reason, I hate those f***ing Teletubbies. And you do NOT want to cross a little stuffed bear… especially an all-wise and all-knowing little stuffed bear.

But dammitall, they ARE cute.

Good day
– Sherman