Live Last Night, On TV - Episode 2

Man, this turned out to be a much bigger undertaking than I anticipated. At least I'm getting to use my DVR a lot. For the record, I'll only be watching new episodes, so no complaining about me missing Thrice on Conan. And it's a Friday through Thursday thing.

1. Ricky Skaggs, "A Toy Heart" (Ferguson, Tuesday)
This really stands out after watching a whole bunch of lifeless, watered down rock music. Unlike Kenny Chesney and his five guitarists doing nothing last week, the seven guys playing stringed instruments for this song are all integral, none more so than Skaggs himself, of course.

2. The Duke Spirit, "The Step and the Walk" (Leno, Tuesday)
These guys have a chance to make some noise. It's pretty straightforward bluesy rock that can still be categorized as "indie" or "alternative" and they have an attractive, dynamic female lead singer who can actually sing. Seeing them on stage, they look and sound like a band people would actually pay money to see.

3. The Steeldrivers, "Blue Side of the Mountain" (Conan, Friday)
A little bluegrass, a little country and a big dude bellowing in a scratchy, soulful wail on top of that. It makes for a pretty nice combo. This is an original but absolutely sounds like it could be an old traditional song, which means the band likely achieved its goal.

4. Black Kids, "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You" (Letterman, Thursday)
This song is innocuous and catchy enough and the girls on keyboard bring some cheery energy to it. Maybe it's just me but I feel like I can see the thought bubble over the singer's head the entire time: "Stupid pugs, stupid 3.3, stupid pugs, stupid 3.3."

5. The Time, "Skillet/Jungle Love" (Leno, Wednesday)
Well, at least they're not pretending that anyone wants to hear anything new. Not that there's anything new to play. At only two songs it's not quite a medley but it's close enough that I have to dock a few points.

6. Los Lonely Boys, "Heart Won't Tell a Lie" (Kimmel, Wednesday)
Barroom blues with some pretty wicked, wah-wah heavy solos. After watching a full week of these you get a better appreciation for a performance in which you can be sure people are actually playing their instruments.

7. Grizzly Bear, "Two Weeks" (Letterman, Wednesday)
I don't like Grizzly Bear. It's pretty more than anything else, which is the main reason why. Can I make a bad pun? Their songs have no bite. A few months ago there was this article in Entertainment Weekly about Josh Groban being different/cooler than you think and he got his own sidebar to list things he liked and the band he named was Grizzly Bear and that's when I was like, "Yep, I was right about that one."

8. Nas, "Sly Fox" (Colbert, Wednesday)
I guess this is sort of the hip-hop version of "Let's Impeach the President." A political statement song with no attempt at subtlety using something very basic for the musical accompaniment. Indifferent then, indifferent now.

(More after the jump.)

9. Augustana, "I Still Ain't Over You" (Letterman, Tuesday)
Dear Person Who Selects Music for Television Show Featuring Young and Pretty White People,

Hi, we came up with more of those kind of catchy, sentimental ballads you like, hope you enjoy.

Love, Augustana

P.S. Will sound great in a slow-motion montage!

10. One Republic, "Say (All I Need)" (Leno, Friday)
There are honestly a dozen bands in every major city who have interchangeable, surprise-free anthems like this song. They aren't hard to write or pull off with competence and confidence. In D.C. there's No Second Troy, Honor By August, Telograph, Juniper Lane, just to name a few. One Republic just got lucky.

11. Minus the Bear, "Throwin' Shapes" (Kimmel, Friday)
This band's success has always befuddled me and this performance didn't help explain anything. A mathy emo band from Seattle that manages to sell out the Black Cat at $14 a ticket? I figured they must be "hot," or maybe Christian, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Just Death Cab with more complicated time signatures and a singer who seems really uncomfortable singing on live TV.

12. Alanis Morissette, "In Praise of the Vulnerable Man" (Kimmel, Tuesday)
"You are the bravest man I've ever met/You, unreluctant at treacherous ledge/You are the sexiest man I've ever been with/ You, never hotter than with armor spent." I guess she's mellowed a bit over the last decade.

13. Alanis Morissette, "Not As We" (Leno, Monday)
Alanis is rocking some wholly distracting cleavage for this performance. Alas, it wasn't distracting enough. Her chirpy caterwauling/yodeling still manages to be completely annoying.

14. Curt Smith, "Seven of Sundays" (Ferguson, Wednesday)
Apparently the former Tears for Fears singer has shouted it all out. Because it doesn't get much mellower than this new-age-world-folk. Honestly, a fine way to end to show that concludes at 1:35 a.m.

15. Gavin DeGraw, "Cheated on Me" (Leno, Thursday)
There's disinterested and then there's the crowd standing outside of "Leno" watching DeGraw sleepwalk his way through one of his countless tepid ballads.

16. Keaton Simons, "Good Things Get Better" (Ferguson, Monday)
One of approximately a few thousand passably attractive young guitar playing dudes trying to be the next John Mayer. Whatever happened to ambition, people? Even John Mayer doesn't want to be John Mayer anymore. At least not musically. So bad that I'm offended.

17. Does It Offend You, Yeah?, "Dawn of the Dead" (Kimmel, Thursday)
At least these guys know they are offensive. Terrible electro-rock by dudes dressed as zombies. Only a touch better than Hollywood Undead.

By David Malitz |  July 25, 2008; 5:04 PM ET Live Last Night, On TV
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Boo for dogging on Keaton Simons. Take a listen to the guy, do some research- you might actually be impressed by his ability.

Oh wait. Artists' best work is always on late night TV. I forgot...

Posted by: Old Town | July 27, 2008 10:54 AM

I've really got to question your tastes after that slam on Grizzly Bear. Out of a vast sea of similar sounding, unoriginal bands out there, pumping out the nearly completely indistinguishable and forgettable singles wrapped around album filler, this is one band who is creating a sound wholly their own - deeply textured, intelligently composed, and often unexpected.

Take for example the track Colorado from Yellow House - incredibly sophisticated instrumentation ... around the four minute mark they bring the swelling bassons crashing down back into a soaking wet, deeply reverbed guitar - what I would call their signature sound. Something you also hear most clearly expressed on the version of Little Brother on the Friend EP.

Isn't this the same blog which feted REM for a whole week? Man. What is it with the uber-hipsters who think that Animal Collective and the Silver Jews represent the apex of rock these days?

Posted by: James | July 28, 2008 9:30 AM

you are stupid for not liking grizzly bear. that's about all I can say

Posted by: pooper | July 29, 2008 7:38 PM

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