Hot tunes for a cold month

Best of February music.

TThe 46th Annual Grammy Awards, Feb. 8
The worst part about the Grammys this year was not Celine Dion’s embarrassing microphone mishap. It was the public service announcement for the Web site Neil Portnow, the president of the Recording Academy, introduced the public service announcement by intimating that the academy only wants to ensure that quality music will continue to be produced. Because we all know that if major label A&R representatives can’t afford a new BMW, the music will suffer. The public service announcement cuts back and forth between a club scene and a girl downloading music. The girl ends up ‘stealing’ the song from the club. The site attempts to debate the issues around downloading music but it is obviously slanted. And the advertisement’s slick production values show that a lot of effort and money went into this – who’s paying?

Mason Jennings “Ballad of Paul and Sheila”

Jennings’ last record “Century Spring” brought him a step too close to Dave Matthews. However, his latest effort, “Use Your Voice,” finds Jennings retreating back to the cozy folk of his self-titled debut. While not as catchy or delightful, “Ballad of Paul and Sheila” is a touching look back at the day the Wellstones’ plane went down. Jennings combines his hometown-boy appeal with his political-activist spirit for an important document of a tragic and historical moment in Minnesota.

Halloween Alaska on “The O.C”

First, Fox’s new hit television show “The O.C.,” a show about rich high schoolers in Orange County, Calif. getting themselves into trouble, announces that trendy artists like Spoon and the Doves will be on their soundtrack. To top that, local super-group Halloween, Alaska (featuring members of the Love Cars, 12 Rods and Happy Apple) will have their song “Des Moines” featured on an upcoming episode. Who knew these sun-soaked teens liked somber laptop music?

Kanye West “College Dropout”For a while now, Kanye West has generously lent his talents to some of the biggest chart-topping artists like Jay-Z, Ludacris and Alicia Keys. But now he’s keeping his heavily layered sample beats for himself, or at least some of them. The track “Through the Wire” proves West not only has a keen ear for sampling but also can certainly hold his own on the microphone with lyrics like, “There’s been an accident like Geico / They thought I was burnt up like Pepsi did Michael.”