The Music Guy

by John James

The long awaited backyard film project from the Flaming Lips, Christmas On Mars, arrives on store shelves this week. Home grown and nurtured over the past few years at the band’s command center in Oklahoma City, outer space, weirdness and joy all collide into a future cult classic. Slowly unveiling as David Lynch’s Eraserhead, the cold and loneliness of Wayne Coyne’s dimly lit planet landscape gets under the skin, lifted by a soundtrack that’s akin to Disney instrumentals composed by Des Voix Bulgares. Filmed primarily in black and white with dashes of intense color, the Freudian tunnels and feeding tubes, atomic egg yokes and a mysterious cosmic infant climax softly into hope and peace for all mankind, the way it’s supposed to be, when Santa is a Martian and snow flutters down on the red planet. The film comes two ways, as a single DVD, a deluxe package with the soundtrack CD and a mother lode of goodies including a T-shirt, popcorn box, bumper sticker and postcards. A green-vinyl version of the soundtrack is also on the way, with a bonus white-vinyl seven-inch single of holiday tunes and a cover of Spacemen 3’s “Lord Can You Hear Me.”

More DVD fun this week comes from Cheap Trick’s Live At Budokan: Legacy Edition box set. This labor of love really wants you to want them, with three CDs that offer up the 1978 concert fully remastered with nine more songs than it’s original 10-track LP track list. A DVD offers the original Japanese television broadcast in new 5.1 Surround Sound and a return to Budokan in 2008 with “Voices” and “If You Want My Love.” A bonus interview from earlier this year reveals the unexpected explosion from the Japanese press after their tour in that country with Queen.

Television Alert:

“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” hosts Beck tonight, Sarah McLachlan on Thursday and Adele on Tuesday; “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” presents Boz Scaggs on Thursday and Blitzen Trapper on Monday overnight; “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” offers up the Cold War Kids on Thursday and Ray Davies on Friday overnight; Tavis Smiley sits down with Sarah McLachlan on Friday; “Austin City Limits” features Aimee Mann and Iron & Wine on Saturday; and this Sunday’s episode of “Desperate Housewives” involves a “battle of the bands,” with Tokyo Police Club performing as entrants Cold Splash.

New Releases: (and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change…)

Belle and Sebastian — The BBC Sessions (Matador) collection of radio performances from 1996-2001, a second bonus disc features their Belfast Christmas show from 2001, chocked with cool covers

Beyoncé — I Am… Sasha Fierce (Columbia) with guest Justin Timberlake

Danny Brill — Better Late Than Never (Danny Brill) dedicated to Keith Emerson, the prog rock pianist’s debut is backed by vocalist Ian Lloyd and bassist Tony Levin

Fireman — Electric Arguments (MPL/ATO) Sir Paul McCartney’s alter ego is back with producer Martin “Youth” Glover, a founding member of Killing Joke

Foo Fighters — Live at Wembley Stadium (RCA) DVD filmed over two nights earlier this year, featuring an acoustic set and guests Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin joining the band on “Ramble On” and “Rock And Roll”

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson — original motion picture soundtrack (Legacy) fantastic audio companion to the documentary narrated by Johnny Depp, peppering tracks by James Booker, the Youngbloods, Sonny Boy Williamson, John Prine and Bob Dylan with audio delights by the unstoppable tour de force himself

Sammy Hagar — Cosmic Universal Fashion (Loud & Proud/Roadrunner) with guests Billy Duffy & Matt Sorum of the Cult and Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, the new album features a cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right To Party”

JT IV — Cosmic Lightning (Drag City) vinyl-only collection of mysterious singles from the 1980’s, plus a bonus DVD

Karmakanic — Who’s the Boss In the Factory (Inside Out) cool side project from Flower Kings’ bassist Jonus Reingold, with guests Joe Zawinul of Weather Report and Andy Tillison of Tangent

Little Boots — Arecibo (IAMSOUND) produced by members of Hot Chip and the Bird and the Bee, this pulsating, hypnotic four-track, 12-inch EP features remixes by Fake Blood and Ebola and a fantasy electro James Bond-theme in “Meddle”

Los Difuntos — Los Difuntos (Nickel and Dime) also available on colored vinyl, these high charged sons of East LA whip up the Rawhide mosh pit with guest Matt Freeman of rancid on “Lucy”

Momu — Momentum (Looq Records) infectious dance floor meltdowns from DJs Mark Musselman and JD Moyer with vocalist Alysoun Quinby and live bassist J-Bone

Moon & Moon — VII Acts of an Iron King (La Societe Expeditionnaire) Will Lemon’s amazing and ambitious audio journey that’s equal parts avant-garde theater and rock opera — a fraught tale presented by a foot soldier, magician, victim, priest and the King at the middle of a tragic roundabout — played out with guests Bat For Lashes, Devendra Banhart and the Butthole Surfers’ cosmic seer, Gibby Haynes

Mudvayne — New Game (Epic) along with special code to play along with a weekly murder mystery game on the web, the fan-friendly band debuts their “The Album Is the Ticket” program with Best Buy and Ticketmaster where preorders of the CD allow special access to tickets for their new tour

Nickelback — Dark Horse (Roadrunner) featuring the single “If Today Was Your Last Day”

OhGr — Devils In My Details (SPV) third solo album from the Skinny Puppy founder, tripping down the rabbit hole with spoken word stream of consciousness segments by horror actor Bill Moseley

Pavement — Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition (Matador) the fourth in the label’s expanded reissue series, this two-CD set features a 62-page booklet, 10 B-sides and 14 live tracks

Peaches — “Wild Thing” (Delicious Vinyl) digital and 12-inch vinyl single of the Tone Loc smash from 1989, featuring an a cappella, instrumental and TEZ remix versions

Phish — At the Roxy (JEMP Records) eight-CD box set documenting their three nights in Atlanta in 1993

Queen — The Singles Collection: Vol. 1 (EMI) import-only box set containing reproductions of original singles from 1973-1979 on 13 individual CDs

The Service Industry — Keep the Babies Warm (Sauspop) featuring current and former members of Spoon, Dumptruck, the Wannabees and Cher UK, this twisted pop nugget is guaranteed to have you singing along with “Liquid Meat (Into a Form)”

The Summer Wardrobe — Cajun Prairie Fire (Sauspop) recently backing Roky Erickson on his national tour, this shadowy, swirling Austin quartet covers his own “Mine, Mine, Mind”

Twisted Sister — Live at the Astoria (Demolition) CD/DVD set recorded in London in 2004

The Von Bondies — “Pale Bride” (Majordomo/Shout! Factory) seven-inch single

The Who — The Who: At Kilburn 1977 (Image) two-DVD set with bonus footage from their 1969 performance at the London Coliseum in 1969

Nimrod Workman — I Want to Go Where Things are Beautiful (Drag City) after 40 years in the coalmines of and years of hard living, Mike Seeger recorded these deeply spiritual, haunting songs and stories of a lost Appalachia with a NEA Folk Arts grant in 1982 when Workman was 87 years old

Andy Yorke — Simple (Chocolate Lab) new album from the former frontman of the Unbelievable Truth and younger brother of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke

John James can be found via cyberspace at