Thursday, June 30



Starflyer 59 is one of those one-man bands that come down the pike every now and again. In this case, the man is Jason Martin, a California-based singer-songwriter who's recorded some ten albums over the past ten years under the SF59 moniker. Apparently, Mr. Martin isn't too pleased that his music is often labeled "shoegazer," and I can't blame him. His songs DO move. They do ebb, flow, build, breathe, etc. Granted, they do so within certain fairly distinct boundaries, but so be it. There are worse things than being accused of being "atmospheric" - especially when there are plenty of examples of verse-chorus-verse to be found amongst the evocative soundscapes...

"Good Sons"/Starflyer 59 [from the LP Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice, 2005]
Good Sons-mp3 [left-click]

"Wake Up Early"/Starflyer 59 [from the LP I Am the Portuguese Blues, 2004]
Wake Up Early-mp3 [left-click]

"Underneath"/Starflyer 59 [from the LP Old, 2003]
Underneath-mp3 [left-click]

"Can You Play Drums?"/Starflyer 59 [from the LP Leave Here a Stranger, 2001]
Can You Play Drums?-mp3 [left-click]

"All the Time"/Starflyer 59 [from the LP The Fashion Focus, 1998]
All the Time-mp3 [left-click]

Tuesday, June 28



As I didn't have anything specific in mind for today, I've decided to highlight four very solid songs from four very "veteran" (in the best sense of the word) artists. Mark Knopfler, of course, was the leader of Dire Straits. The Finn Brothers headed Split Enz and Crowded House. Angela McCluskey was the singer for a band called Wild Colonials. And Shelby Lynne... well... most of you probably know who she is.

"What It Is"/Mark Knopfler [from the LP Sailing to Philadelphia, 2000]
What It Is-mp3 [left-click]

"Killin' Kind"/Shelby Lynne [from the LP Love, Shelby, 2001]
Killin' Kind-mp3 [left-click]

"Won't Give In"/The Finn Brothers [from the LP Everyone is Here, 2004]
Won't Give In-mp3 [left-click]

"Know It All"/Angela McCluskey [from the LP The Things We Do, 2004]
Know It All-mp3 [left-click]


Far be it from me to go more than a few days without posting a Canadian artist on this blog. Tegan and Sara, at least, aren't from the city of Montreal - they're from the far less exotique cow-town of Calgary (no offense... er... offence, Calgarians). More interesting, perhaps, is the fact that these two are not only twin sisters, but also both openly lesbian. (Sounds like a stunningly unfunny scenario for ex-SNLer Rob Schneider, no?)

On their first, mostly acoustic record, Tegan and Sara sounded more like Ani DiFranco than Indigo Girls. Since then, they've opened up their sound a bit - even throwing in some rather appealing New Wave elements on last year's So Jealous. To my ears, it's the best work they've done. Then again, it should be noted that I do have a bit of a jones for the '80s, in general, and the Go Go's, in particular. So there you go.

"I Know I Know I Know"/Tegan and Sara [from the LP So Jealous, 2004]
I Know I Know I Know-mp3 [left-click]

"Underwater"/Tegan and Sara [from the LP If It Was You, 2003]
Underwater-mp3 [left-click]

"More for Me"/Tegan and Sara [from the LP This Business of Art, 2000]
More for Me-mp3 [left-click]

Monday, June 27



A bit of sincere flattery...

"Creep"/Richard Cheese [from the LP Lounge Against the Machine, 2000]
Creep-mp3 [left-click]

"Shitter Crappier" [an amusing take-off on the Radiohead "song" "Fitter Happier"]
Shitter Crappier-mp3 [left-click]

"Karma Police"/The Brown Derbies
Karma Police-Brown Derbies-mp3 [left-click]

"Rodeohead"/Hard 'N Phirm
Rodeohead-mp3 [left-click]

"Karma Police" [live]/Howie Day
Karma Police-Howie Day-mp3 [left-click]

Lucky-mp3 [left-click]

Saturday, June 25



"This Mess We're In"/Thom Yorke with P.J. Harvey [from the P.J. Harvey LP Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, 2000]
This Mess We're In-mp3 [left-click]

"I've Seen It All"/Thom Yorke with Bjork [from Selmasongs, the soundtrack to Dancer in the Dark, 2000]
I've Seen It All-mp3 [left-click]

"Bitter-Sweet"/Thom Yorke with the Venus in Furs [from the soundtrack to Velvet Goldmine, 1998]
Bitter-Sweet-mp3 [left-click]

"El President"/Thom Yorke with Drugstore [from the Drugstore LP White Magic for Lovers, 1998]
El President-mp3 [left-click]

"Rabbit in Your Headlights"/Thom Yorke with UNKLE [from the LP Psyence Fiction, 1998]
Rabbit in Your Headlights-mp3 [left-click]

"Rabbit in Your Headlights" [Underdog remix]/Thom Yorke with UNKLE
Rabbit in Your Headlights [underdog]-mp3 [left-click]

Friday, June 24



Well, we might as well get this over with now. As Radiohead is my favorite band, I have little choice (and much desire) to show them some love in this forum. So, today, we have a handful of relatively random b-sides. Tomorrow will feature some of Thom Yorke's collaborations with other artists. And Sunday, just for yuks, will see a selection of other artists' tributes to the band - some on-the-ball, some off-the-wall.

"Talk Show Host"/Radiohead
Talk Show Host-mp3 [left-click]

Pearly*-mp3 [left-click]

"Inside My Head"/Radiohead
Inside My Head-mp3 [left-click]

"How Can You Be Sure?"/Radiohead
How Can You Be Sure?-mp3 [left-click]

Fog-mp3 [left-click]

Thursday, June 23



I don't know what it is about the Swedes, but when it comes to music, they seem to have an uncanny knack for hooks and harmony. Today, ABBA may be seen as little more than a polyester-jumpsuited punchline, but they sure as hell knew their way around a melody. Christ, so did Roxette, for that matter.

Granted, Swedish artists rarely exhibit much in the way of originality - tending instead to ape American or European acts of the past. But what goes around comes around, and the '90s found various cadres and cabals of Swedish songsmiths supplying the new American teenybopper line - from the Backstreet Boys to Britney Spears. And let's face it: they STILL have to answer for that.

Not so long ago, I went through a bit of a Swedish stage, prompted in large part by my discovery of Hello! Surprise!, a swell little site for audio exploration. Then, Songs: Illinois spun off SwedesPlease - a new MP3 blog dedicated to the sounds of Sweden. Both sites have highlighted the music of Acid House Kings - a band that makes music a lot more easy-going and innocent than its name might suggest. This is pop music in the vein of '70s AM radio. Simple. Infectious. Highly hummable. So why not sit back with an Absolut and give in to the peaceful, easy feelings...

"Do What You Wanna Do"/Acid House Kings [from the LP Sing Along with Acid House Kings, 2005]
Do What You Wanna Do-mp3 [left-click]

"Sunday Morning"/Acid House Kings [from the LP Mondays are Like Tuesdays and Tuesdays are Like Wednesdays, 2002]
Sunday Morning-mp3 [left-click]

"This Heart is a Stone"/Acid House Kings [from the LP Sing Along with Acid House Kings, 2005]
This Heart is a Stone-mp3 [left-click]

Wednesday, June 22



"Red"/Elbow [from the LP Asleep in the Back, 2002]
Red-mp3 [left-click]

"Red"/Treble Charger [from the LP Maybe It's Me, 1997]
Red-mp3 [left-click]

"Your Church is Red"/The Black Heart Procession [from the LP 2, 1999]
Your Church is Red-mp3 [left-click]

"Blood Red River"/Beth Orton [from the LP Central Reservation, 1999]
Blood Red River-mp3 [left-click]

"Red Oyster Cult"/Guster [from the LP Keep It Together, 2003]
Red Oyster Cult-mp3 [left-click]

Tuesday, June 21



All praise these melancholy Danes! From the first, this boy/girl duo had an instantly recognizable sound and aura to them. Of course, that shouldn't have been surprising, seeing as all of the songs on their first album were in B-minor, featured no more than three chords, and clocked in at three minutes or less. They opened things up only slightly on their second LP (B-major!), and just a little bit more on their third, this year's Pretty in Black.

Yes, overall, the Raveonettes' songs still have a tendency to sound quite alike, but that retro, late-'50s/early '60s guitar work... those slick, disassociated, I couldn't-care-less-if-you-love-me-or-loathe-me vocal harmonies... the stripped yet cinematic production style... all of these things add up to a tight blast of garage rock by way of Ennio Morricone that's just right for the summer driving season (if you can afford the gas).

"Here Comes Mary"/The Raveonettes [from the LP Pretty in Black, 2005]
Here Comes Mary-mp3 [left-click]

"That Great Love Sound/The Raveonettes [from the LP The Chain Gang of Love, 2003]
That Great Love Sound-mp3 [left-click]

"Do You Believe Her"/The Raveonettes [from the LP Whip It On, 2002]
Do You Believe Her-mp3 [left-click]

[Also, Torr tells us that the Raveonettes will be playing the Carson Daly show tonight/Wednesday morning.]

Monday, June 20



"C'mon C'mon"/The Von Bondies [from the LP Pawn Shoppe Heart, 2004]
C'mon C'mon-mp3 [left-click]

"Across the Bridge"/Great Lakes Myth Society [from the LP Great Lakes Myth Society, 2005]
Across the Bridge-mp3 [left-click]

"Clones (We're All)"/Alice Cooper [from the LP Flush the Fashion, 1980] [Alice goes glam!]
Clones (We're All)-mp3 [left-click]

Sunday, June 19



I truly have no idea why so many of my early posts to this blog have featured bands from Montreal - the Dears, Stars, and now, the High Dials. Just coincidence, I guess. Or is Montreal the new Omaha? Which had been the new Detroit. Which had been the new....

Regardless, the High Dials make retro-'60s, pastoral-psychedelic pop. Sort of. Actually, I've only heard three of the songs off their regrettably-titled new album, War of the Wakening Phantoms - two of which I like and am sharing below. On their first LP, A New Devotion, they did sometimes have a tendency to get a bit too free-lovin', trippin'-through-the-daisies for me, but I'm quite fond of all the songs I've put up today, and I hope that you enjoy them as well.

So, love and peace and quality romps in the ganja grass for all...

"The Holy Ground"/The High Dials [from the LP War of the Wakening Phantoms, 2005]
The Holy Ground-mp3 [left-click]

"Soul in Lust"/The High Dials [from the LP War of the Wakening Phantoms, 2005]
Soul in Lust-mp3 [left-click]

"Can You Hear the Bells?"/The High Dials [from the LP A New Devotion, 2003]
Can You Hear the Bells?-mp3 [left-click]

"Desiderata"/The High Dials [from the LP A New Devotion, 2003]
Desiderata-mp3 [left-click]

[Check out the great Canadian MP3 blog *Sixeyes for more song selections from the High Dials.]

Saturday, June 18



We all have a past. Back in the '80s, my favorite bands were the Cars, Boston, and Def Leppard. And while I still appreciate the Cars and Pyromania... Boston?! Like I said: We all have a past.

In 1983, when Def Leppard was releasing the aforementioned Pyromania and the Cars were dropping Heartbeat City, R.E.M. was making its long-form debut with Murmur. I wouldn't actually hear that album till 1993, at a time when grunge (Nirvana; Pearl Jam) and punk-pop (Green Day; Offspring) were dominating the American airwaves. Suffice it to say, I found myself smitten.

From there, I set about exploring the entire R.E.M. catalogue, from 1982's Chronic Town to 1992's Automatic for the People. With each release, I found treasures aplenty. And even on later, lesser efforts - Monster and New Adventures in Hi-Fi - there were genuine pleasures to be had.

The times they were a'changin', however, when drummer Bill Berry retired in 1997. Both Up and Reveal sounded slow and insulated - and far too tricked-up with cheap-sounding synthesizers. The final straw came with last year's Around the Sun, which sounded like Michael Stipe singing in front of a wall of anonymous session musicians. Somehow, gradually, R.E.M. had ceased to be a "band" in the studio. This was not only disheartening but deeply frustrating, as these guys are still capable of putting on a fairly rocking live show.

For the first seven years of their existence, R.E.M. put on a lot of rocking live shows and released a series of not-quite-traditionally rocking albums on the I.R.S. label. While I am not one of those purists (or "snobs," depending on your point of view) who thinks that R.E.M. sold out or went to shit after signing with big, bad Warner Brothers in 1988, I do find it enjoyable and enlightening - every now and again - to return to R.E.M.'s IRS days and immerse myself in the always slightly off-kilter wonder of it all. This was a band trying hard not to try too hard, and the music was all the better for it. Feel free to disagree...

"Radio Free Europe" [Hibtone single]/R.E.M. [1981]
Radio Free Europe-mp3 [left-click]

"Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)"/R.E.M. [from the EP Chronic Town, 1982]
Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)-mp3 [left-click]

"Pretty Persuasion"/R.E.M. [from the LP Reckoning, 1984]
Pretty Persuasion-mp3 [left-click]

"Wendell Gee"/R.E.M. [from the LP Fables of the Reconstruction, 1985]
Wendell Gee-mp3 [left-click]

"I Believe"/R.E.M. [from the LP Lifes Rich Pageant, 1986]
I Believe-mp3 [left-click]

"Welcome to the Occupation"/R.E.M. [from the LP Document, 1987]
Welcome to the Occupation-mp3 [left-click]

Friday, June 17



Stars are a Montreal-based band (like the Dears, a group I spotlighted some days ago) that make good use of boy/girl dynamics to craft nice, easy-going pop. Whether that pop is "chamber" or "twee" or both is entirely up to the listener, but their work also features low-key electronic flourishes that sometimes add to the overall effect, and sometimes detract from it.

To my ears, though, these folks have gotten better with each of their three albums, tightening their sound and shifting their emphasis from soundscapes to songs. Here are some of my favorites for your listening pleasure:

"What I'm Trying to Say"/Stars [from the LP Set Yourself on Fire, 2005]
What I'm Trying to Say-mp3 [left-click]

"Calendar Girl"/Stars [from the LP Set Yourself on Fire, 2005]
Calendar Girl-mp3 [left-click]

"Elevator Love Letter"/Stars [from the LP Heart, 2003]
Elevator Love Letter-mp3 [left-click]

"On Peak Hill"/Stars [from the LP Nightsongs, 2001]
On Peak Hill-mp3 [left-click]

Another song can be found at the very excellent 3Hive.

Thursday, June 16



"The Slow Descent into Alcoholism"/The New Pornographers
The Slow Descent into Alcoholism-mp3 [left-click]

Alcoholic-mp3 [left-click]

"Alcohol"/Saturday Looks Good to Me
Alcohol-mp3 [left-click]

Wednesday, June 15



A mix CD trading-partner of mine recently introduced me to the Decemberists' Colin Meloy's previous band, Tarkio. They released the LP I Guess I Was Hoping for Something More in 1998. Sounds like it might be getting a re-release at some future date. Some information on this, as well as a few MP3s, can be found at Dreams of Horses.

Fans of the Decemberists, at least, should find something of interest here, though there seems little question that Tarkio's sound is less expansive, less dramatic than that of Meloy's later incarnation. Still, a perfectly pleasant stepping-stone to what was to come.

Here are a couple Tarkio MP3s:

"If I Had More Time"/Tarkio
If I Had More Time-mp3 [left-click]

"Sister Nebraska"/Tarkio
Sister Nebraska-mp3 [left-click]

Monday, June 13



Today, we're giving a little love to Longwave. Longwave is NOT to be confused with Long-View, as that would be an entirely different group of music-makers. LongWAVE apparently hails from New York City, though they sound as though they might be from the UK (kind of like Interpol). Which is not to say that they sound like Interpol, because they don't. Actually, their sound can't be pegged entirely - they've been compared to everyone from the Strokes (apparently those guys are Longwave fans) to U2. They have also been called "shoegazers," with a "dark," "epic" sound akin to Bends-era Radiohead. Not that any of that is much to live up to.

Their new LP, There's a Fire, is set to be released by Red Ink on June 28th. Until then, feel free to ratchet down your expectations and give them a listen....

"There's a Fire"/Longwave [from There's a Fire, 2005]
There's a Fire-mp3 [left-click]

"Everywhere You Turn"/Longwave [from The Strangest Things, 2003]
Everywhere You Turn-mp3 [left-click]

"Ending"/Longwave [from Endsongs, 2000]
Ending-mp3 [left-click]


First, I wanted to take a second to thank Torr and Silence is a Rhythm Too for linking to this site, as well as Songs:Illinois for pointing a lot of people in my direction. Very generous and much appreciated.

Second, the links to the various "Nico" songs from a couple days ago should be working now. Not sure what happened the first time around; it's clear that I still don't know what the hell I'm doing with this blog business....

And finally, to start the new week, some covers:

"Magnet"/Yo La Tengo
Magnet [left-click]

Kite-Ivy-mp3 [left-click]

"Mad World"/Gary Jules
Mad World [left-click]

Sunday, June 12



Fans of Radiohead, Blur, and Morrissey might want to check out this band from Montreal. Today's MP3s are all taken from their second LP, No Cities Left (2004), since I didn't much care for their first album (End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story, 2000). These guys do tend to wear their influences on their collective sleeve. "Warm and Sunny Days," for instance, while highly pleasant, might as well be ripped from Blur's The Great Escape. To be sure, though, this is a band to watch, as it may be just a matter of time before they find their own voice and run with it.

"Who Are You, Defenders of the Universe"/The Dears
WhoAreYou,DefendersOfTheUniverse-TheDears-mp3 [left-click]

"Don't Lose the Faith"/The Dears
Don'tLoseTheFaith-TheDears-mp3 [left-click]

"Warm and Sunny Days"/The Dears
WarmandSunnyDays-TheDears-mp3 [left-click]

Wednesday, June 8



I can't remember where I first heard of the Spinto Band. Somewhere on the Internet, to be sure, but I can't seem to recall where I initially stumbled upon their MP3s. But what I heard, I liked, so I set about trying to locate some of their work - an album, EP, single, whatever. Alas, I came up empty.

Then, about a week ago, Songs:Illinois tipped me to the fact that their first LP, Nice and Nicely Done, would be coming out on June 7 on Bar/None Records. And so it did.

Below are the MP3s that turned me on to these seven(!) guys to begin with. You can find more of their MP3s here: TheSpintoBand (though these efforts seem somewhat more sketchy and juvenile).

"Oh Mandy"/The Spinto Band
OhMandy-TheSpintoBand-mp3 [left-click]

"Brown Boxes"/The Spinto Band
BrownBoxes-TheSpintoBand-mp3 [left-click]

"Trust vs. Mistrust"/The Spinto Band
TrustVs.Mistrust-TheSpintoBand-mp3 [left-click]

Tuesday, June 7



Well, Monday was meant to be "Covers Monday," but I was powerless to post - literally - for 43 hours. Suddenly, I knew what it meant to be Amish. It was all I could do not to go in search of a goat to milk. Or... you know... raise a barn or something. Reminded me of a couple summers ago, when some dumbass bumblef*ck of an Ohio utility company blew out Michigan, New York, and parts of Canada. Except, that time, I was only powerless for 24 hours. Still, it's just one more thing to hate Ohio for - as if putting George W. over the top in '04 wasn't enough. Ohio: "Almost as White Trash as West Virginia!" Coming soon to a license plate near you.

Now, some covers:

"Sally Ann"/10,000 Maniacs (from the CD single Candy Everybody Wants, 1992)
SallyAnn-mp3 [left-click]

"Feel Like Going Home"/The Walkabouts [] (from the LP Satisfied Mind, 1993)
FeelLikeGoingHome-mp3 [left-click]

"Greenfields"/Michael Stipe [w/Faultline] (from the Faultline LP Your Love Means Everything, 2004)
Greenfields-mp3 [left-click]

Sunday, June 5



For this week's single artist, we travel to the Kingdom of Sweden -- enchanted land of Saabs and ABBA. Smorgasbords. Socialism. Suicide. And such pretty, pretty people that Hitler secretly dreamed he was Swede. Truth be told, though, Sweden has become something of a musical hotbed in recent years. The Hives. Sahara Hotnights. The (International) Noise Conspiracy. Mando Diao. The Sounds. And, taken together, they have succeeded in making the sugar-sweet days of Roxette-and-Aqua pop seem just a silly, distant memory.

But today we are shining our all-powerful klieg light on Kent, a band from the lovely city of Eskilstuna. Actually, I have no idea if it's a lovely city or not, but let's just go ahead and say that it is.

Kent formed in the early '90s, released their first record in 1995, and have been big sellers in their home country since at least 1997. Alas, they are little known in North America, no doubt getting lost amongst the countless other one-word, post-Radiohead types (Travis, Coldplay, Doves, Elbow, Paloalto, Starsailor, Muse, et al.). Muse may well be the most accurate comparison, though Kent is generally more mellow; their singer less prone to shrieky hysterics. Also, Kent sing most of their songs in Swedish, so be forewarned.

Now, as for that aforementioned smorgasbord...

"Karleken Vantar"/Kent (from the LP Vapen & Ammunition, 2002)
KarlekenVantar-mp3 [left-click]

"Parlor"/Kent (from the LP Vapen & Ammunition, 2002)
Parlor-mp3 [left-click]

"Du Ar Anga"/Kent (from the LP Du & Jag Doden, 2005)
DuArAnga-mp3 [left-click]

Saturday, June 4


1] "The Saturday Option"/Lambchop
(From the LP What Another Man Spills, 1998)

TheSaturdayOption-Lambchop [left-click]

2] "Home By Saturday"/Hayden
(From the LP Elk-Lake Serenade, 2004)

HomeBySaturday-Hayden [left-click]

3] "Saturday"/Westrin & Mowry
(From the LP One Week Epiphany, 2005)

I was turned on to these guys by the very fine mp3 blog songs:illinois.

Saturday-Westrin&Mowry [RIGHT-click]


Today's electronic EP features a handful of my favorite tracks -- some of which you may already be familiar with, others which may be new to you. Either way, these never grow old for me and often appear as "usual suspects" on my mix CDs.

1] "On and On (Lodestar)"/Crash Vegas

Crash Vegas is a Canadian band that, to the best of my knowledge, has not released anything since their 1995 LP Aurora. "On and On (Lodestar)" is the second track on that record, and it's one I first heard on a Windsor, Ontario radio station while summering in my native Detroit (all the best people summer there, don't you know). A few years later, while visiting Toronto, I specifically sought out the album and this rather haunting track. For me, this has an autumnal, nostalgic quality to it, and it reminds me somehow of The Mamas & The Papas' "California Dreamin'."

OnandOn-Lodestar-CrashVegas [left-click]

2] "Lullaby (Weren't We Wild)"/Judybats

Like Crash Vegas, Judybats haven't released much (if anything) since the mid-'90s. This track appeared on their second record, Down in the Shacks Where the Satellite Dishes Grow, in 1991. It is, to be sure, a product of its time -- as R.E.M.-esque jangle-pop was then a very big thing, indeed. This baroque little gem proceeds pleasantly, then ratchets itself into a different stratosphere for the coda. Again: haunting.

Lullaby-Weren'tWeWild-Judybats [left-click]

3] "'74-'75"/The Connells

More jangle-pop, circa 1991. And yes, more nostalgia. This can be found on the album Ring. Apparently, this song was a fairly big hit in Europe in its day. But it's timeless and should play just as swimmingly on other continents.

'74-'75-TheConnells [left-click]

4] "Climbing to the Moon"/Eels

I haven't yet heard Eels' newest, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, but "Climbing to the Moon" is a favorite from way back. Which is to say, from 1998's Electro-Shock Blues. Such a gentle, graceful song. And, as a bit of bonus, Grant Lee Phillips gives an assist.

ClimbingtotheMoon-Eels [left-click]

5] "Street Spirit (Fade Out)"/Radiohead

Radiohead supplanted R.E.M. as my favorite band somewhere around 1995. I liked "Creep," loved "Fake Plastic Trees," but it was this song -- heard first on MTV at three in the morning -- that inspired me to buy The Bends and begin a most joyous journey. Now, a decade later, "Street Spirit" remains one of my favorite Radiohead tracks. (And, is it just me, or does the ghost of Kansas' "Dust in the Wind" lurk somewhere in its shadows?)

StreetSpirit-FadeOut-Radiohead [left-click]