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This week in “Mews”…

– Radiohead has begun work on a new album.  Colin Greenwood: “It’s at the stage where we’ve got the big Lego box out, and we’ve tipped it on the floor, and we’re just looking at the bits and wondering what to build.” Nigel Godrich is once again in the production chair.   BBC

– A remix album of the new Depeche Mode record is in the works, but Sigur Ros and MGMT (artists not known for “remixing” anything) are among those tackling the tracks.  Might be more of a cover/tribute album?  Pitchfork.com

– The new Frank Sinatra biopic will be directed by Martin Scorsese.  Sinatra + Scorsese = rad.  NPR

– Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam’s bassist) was assaulted and robbed a few weeks ago outside the Atlanta studio where the band is working on their 9th album.  Apparently the thieves made off with over $3,000 in cash.  (The obvious question at this point: “um, who carries that much cash?”)  Meanwhile, Pearl Jam has been booked for the debut of the new Conan O’Brien show on June 1st.  Rollingstone.com

– The Rock Band people are working on a country version of the video game, to be released this summer.  The new game will no doubt contain heavy doses of patriotism, instrumental parts that require immense precision to perform, and be relentlessly mocked by fans of every other kind of music.  Countrystandardtime.com

– Editorial: A band I really love, The Posies, have reunited and are playing two NYC shows in a few weeks.  The shows are rumored to include a performance of their amazing 1993 release, Frosting On The Beater, from top to bottom.  Livenation.com

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Album of the Week this time around is a classic. It Might As Well Be Swing is a collaboration between Frank Sinatra (arguably the all-time greatest American male vocalist), Count Basie (one of the founding fathers of the Big Band sound) and producer Quincy Jones (79-time Grammy winning American music icon). Many of the records featured in the AOTW series have been personal favorites of mine, and this one is no exception. This is the album I listen to when I’m just starting my day – a day when I’m in a good mood and want to stay that way. Picture yourself strolling through a park on a sunny afternoon and imagine the ideal soundtrack.

It Might As Well Be Swing, recorded and released in 1964, is the 2nd team effort from Sinatra and Basie, after 1963’s Sinatra-Basie. The album contains no Bossas, up-tempo tunes, or ballads to speak of. The music is, as it’s name suggests, just deep, swingin’ groove from top to bottom. (Note: I literally HATE cliche jazz terminology like the word “swingin”, but I use the rhetoric intentionally here because this record so embodies the vibe that cliche jazz terms seek to communicate.) The song list contains many famous Sinatra hits (“Fly Me to the Moon,” “The Best Is Yet to Come”) in addition to a nice smattering of typical jazz standards. It’s a perfect introduction to the stereotype of old school “Jazz,” and it’ll be a very enjoyable listen for almost anyone.

A cool element for drummers in this recording is the mix. Sonny Payne can be heard clearly in all the tracks, which isn’t always the case for old-school Big Band records. Payne just puts on a clinic on how to drive a 18-piece jazz orchestra, all while supporting Sinatra in the lead role. Grooves, hits, set-ups… everything he plays is assertive, driving, and of course his every note is deeply swung.

You should probably buy this album, and in the meantime you can preview some excerpts here.

(PS. I am writing this from Billings, MT. I’m on a short tour with Elizabeth Hunnicutt this week and part of next. We played in ND yesterday, and we’re in MT today, then Washington and Idaho and then home. I’ll post some updates of the shows as they happen.)

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