Music news

Girls Can Tell

Apologies to Okkervil River and James McMurtry, but Spoon's Gimme Fiction is hands down the most successful Austin album of the year. Their third, and most complete, Merge effort topped the CMJ 200 for a month and is at 26 weeks on the chart and counting; Waterloo Records' weekly sales tallies show similar local results. With Spoon playing 101X's Independent Workforce Christmas show Monday at the Parish with Morningwood, Stellastarr*, and Alpha Rev (see "Music Listings"), TCB wondered how one 2005 phenomenon rates in another: the ever-expanding blogosphere. Britt Daniel might want to look into a bodyguard or two.

"My favorite was Spoon. I have been a fan for a long time and secretly have a crush on Britt Daniel." – Lollapalooza review on

"So the other night I dreamed about Britt Daniel for the first time since, well, the first time... I was in a big lot, almost like a junkyard, and Britt was there too. We were both working on our motorbikes. We never spoke, though I was always trying to get his attention. He looked on with a detached, unconvinced air."

"I lowered my head in an 'I've got a secret' style, and noticed Britt do the same thing. I told him that he was the only man I wouldn't kick out of my bedroom for using improper English. Britt then responded that he doesn't use improper English." – "She Found the Lonely Sound,"

"I want to marry Britt Daniel. Tomorrow at Amoeba, I shall make him mine!" – "april*" on

"Oh, Britt Daniel. Thank you for being such a wonderful ball of hot rock star goodness. This show was amazing."

Illustration By Nathan Jensen

Statue Envy

Texans were once again well-represented across the musical spectrum in last week's nominations for the 48th annual Grammy Awards. Burleson waitress turned American Idol and now legit pop star Kelly Clarkson scored nods for her still-ubiquitous "Since U Been Gone" and its album, Breakaway. In Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals, 2005 winners Los Lonely Boys hope to repeat with "More Than Love." Recently retired Destiny's Child rang up R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals, R&B Song, Rap/Sung Collaboration, and Contemporary R&B Album for Destiny Fulfilled. Beyoncé got two more, Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Wishing on a Star," and R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals for the "So Amazing" duet with Stevie Wonder, thus pitting Jay-Z's old lady against her former group. As usual, country categories are rich with native nominees: George Jones, Willie Nelson, and Delbert McClinton square off for Male Country Vocal; Lee Ann Womack is an early Female Country Vocal favorite for "I May Hate Myself in the Morning," and is also up for Best Country Song; the Dixie Chicks got two for the Keb Mo-assisted "I Hope"; and Country Collaboration With Vocals pits Nelson and Norah Jones against Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris. Crowell and McClinton also drew Contemporary Folk Album and Contemporary Blues Album nods for The Outsider and Cost of Living, while Austin's Eric Johnson (Bloom), Marcia Ball (Live! Down the Road), and Jimmie Dale Gilmore (Come on Back) got in with Pop Instrumental Album, Traditional Blues Album, and Traditional Folk Album, respectively. About 12 of these awards will be presented live from L.A.'s Staples Center Feb. 8 on CBS.
Photo By Scott Newton

Speed of Sound

R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, who came onstage for "In the Sun" and Automatic for the People's "Nightswimming," joined singer Chris Martin and the rest of Coldplay during the British superstars' Austin City Limits taping last Friday night at the KLRU studios. Martin, chipper as ever, heaped praise on the long-running PBS series: "It's a tremendous honor to play Austin City Limits, one of the grandest music showcases anywhere in the world," he said. "It's a humbling experience knowing that we're sharing the same stage as performers like Johnny Cash and Neil Young, who have had such a big influence on us as a band." Coldplay later covered "Ring of Fire" and performed "'Til Kingdom Come," a new song Martin wrote in Cash's honor. "After the taping, I heard many a girl state Chris Martin looked them right in the eye the entire show," confides one ACL staffer. Editors chopped footage all weekend, so the quickest turnaround from taping to broadcast in the show's 30-year history airs Saturday, 7pm, on KLRU. Full disclosure: TCB was unable to attend the taping due to the Chronicle's annual holiday party, and doubts Martin can do Rosanne Cash's "Seven Year Ache" as smoothly as Austin's own K-Tel Hit Machine.

Boogie Chillun

IN MEMORIAM: Last month, Vala Cupp, who spent several years touring with John Lee Hooker before moving to Austin in 1999, committed suicide at age 51. Cupp, who moved here from San Luis Opisbo, Calif., sang locally with the John Gaar Band and co-produced the unreleased Hooker tribute album From Austin With Love. "I think this town chewed her up and spit her out," sighed her friend Greg Rhodes, who's looking into releasing From Austin as a benefit for the SIMS Foundation... Prolific Grand Prairie Grammy winner and songwriter Jerry Lynn Williams, whose work appears on Bonnie Raitt's Nick of Time, Eric Clapton's MTV Unplugged, and a host of others, passed Dec. 2 in the Abacos Islands.

FLU-SHOT TRANSMISSION: Okkervil River is spending this weekend in Seattle headlining influential radio station KEXP's annual Yule Benefit with the Wrens. Before they left, singer Will Sheff discussed the band's near-disastrous fall European tour one night at Club de Ville; between his flu-shot vocal cords and drummer Travis Nelsen playing one show with a severely bleeding hand, Sheff is understandably ecstatic about staying home next year. Also grounded, much less willingly, is the newest inductee into Austin's Pitchfork society, Voxtrot. Fresh off a glowing mention of their Raised by Wolves EP in the latest Spin, the band was forced to cancel the second half of its current tour when its van broke down – again. Good press seldom pays for a new transmission.

TCB CORRECTION CORNER: Last week TCB reported Daniel Johnston was taken to Ben Taub Hospital; in fact his family has never said which Houston-area facility currently houses the ailing singer. A message on Tuesday said "Daniel's condition remains very serious," and gave an address for fans to mail cards, letters, images, and other get-well wishes: 6117 Magnolia, Katy, TX, 77484 or

Photo By John Anderson

Black Widow Boys

Last Thursday's afterparty for new Townes Van Zandt documentary Be Here to Love Me at Antone's was an interesting collision of chatter-minded film types and hyper-reverent Townesophiles shushing anyone who dared speak above a whisper. After short sets by the Flatlanders, Bill Callahan, Townes' son J.T. Van Zandt, and the much-missed Knife in the Water (whose "Fraulein" was beautiful), ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (pictured) supplied more schmooze-friendly volume to "Black Widow Blues." Trail has otherwise holed up in their northside studio, Mob House, recording material for what they recently decided would become, instead of an EP, the full-length follow-up to this year's Worlds Apart.

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