Thursday, December 28
Compared with many of the musical eccentrics who have called the Motor City home at one time or another (IGGY POP, ALICE COOPER, TED NUGENT), BOB SEGER has always seemed like a pretty normal sort of guy. Meet him in a bar, and he might just buy you a beer, not break the bottle over the rail and start carving hieroglyphics into his reptilian torso (a la Iggy). Alice, of course, would be too busy in the deepest, darkest corner playing with his snakes and perfecting his guillotine (and golf swing) to pay you much mind. And Ted... well... Ted would be hanging his latest antlered sacrifice on the paneled wall, sucking down a gallon of Jack and a jarful o' jerky (the latter courtesy of his latest antlered sacrifice), and still singing the misty-eyed praises of the Reagan Revolution.
Which is in no way to suggest that Mr. Seger is some sort of priss or pansy. Just listen to early, balls-to-the-wall rockers like "RAMBLIN' GAMBLIN' MAN" and "KATMANDU" (or even the later "HER STRUT") and you'll be rid of that misconception right quick. But this much is true: the man is certainly known as much for his anthemic ballads as his "balls-to-the-wall rockers" (hell, "WE'VE GOT TONIGHT" was covered by KENNY ROGERS & SHEENA EASTON, for crying out loud). There's also the undeniable fact that, if the younger generation knows this guy at all, it's as the former voice of Chevy trucks (damn that young whippersnapper JOHN "THIS IS OUR COUNTRY" MELLENCAMP!) and as the soundtrack to TOM CRUISE's tighty-whitey two-step, circa 1983.
Seger's street cred may well have taken another hit when, after releasing his last album of the '90s (1995's IT'S A MYSTERY), he semi-retired to his Michigan home to (gasp) spend time with his wife and kids. In retrospect, that long break looked like it might come to an end early in the new millenium, as it was then that Seger seemingly rediscovered his muse and began work on new material. Alas, no new record emerged, and suddenly it began to appear as though the man's "semi-retirement" might just become a permanent thing.
Well, not so. This past year saw not only the release of the full-length FACE THE PROMISE, but also the first tour for Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band since 1996. Tonight, the band will play the third of four sold-out shows at the Palace of Auburn Hills, where Seger's loyal metro Detroit fans will dutifully hold their lighters aloft and sing along to all the old favorites and -- who knows? -- maybe to some of the new stuff, too.
Speaking of the new stuff... I've been surprised to read so many four-star reviews of FACE THE PROMISE. In a way, I can't help but think that these are being produced by a bevy of graying baby boomers flush with nostalgia for Seger's mid-'70s to mid-80s heyday. Not that it's a BAD record, exactly -- just a bit on the sterile and insular side. For a man whose breakthrough recording, in a lot of ways, was 1978's combustible LIVE BULLET, the years away from the road have clearly had something of a stagnating effect. Perhaps taking a cue from his own "STILL THE SAME," Seger has constructed his songs in the old, familiar ways. A mix of would-be classic rockers and ballads, FACE THE PROMISE employs the usual amounts of tasteful piano and keyboards, the occasional blast of sax, and the by-now-generic, "colored girls say doo do doo do," Motown/gospel girl backing vocals. On first listen, the title track has a certain welcome heft to it -- with its snaky riff and solid-like-a-rock backbeat. But that riff ultimately plays out as a by-the-numbers, down-by-the-Bayou exericise in showing the world that a 61-year-old man can still rock out like a teenager. And it doesn't help that the lyrics seem supplied by Rand McNally and some fill-in-the-blank songwriting software program.
Seger's collaboration with fellow Detroiter KID ROCK (on the VINCE GILL tune "REAL MEAN BOTTLE") works better -- if only because the two of them seem to be having such a blast singing the thing. Maybe -- just maybe -- Seger's current tour will inspire him to get back into the studio sooner rather than later, and to take a more devil-may-care approach to the recording of his next album. In the meantime, the man's voice remains as warm, craggy, and comforting as ever. And we'll always have his earlier work to come back to -- like that corner dive bar you just can't seem to find a reason to stop frequenting. The one where, on any given night, you might just run into a guy who looks and sounds a hell of a lot like Bob Seger. And where he might just buy you that beer.
Dec. 28, Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit
Dec. 30, Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit
Jan. 13, St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa
Jan. 16, Charlotte, N.C.
Jan. 20, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.
Jan. 25, Madison Square Garden, New York
Jan. 27, TD Banknorth Garden, Boston
Feb. 6, Oklahoma City
Feb. 8, American Airlines Center, Dallas
Feb. 10, ALLTEL Arena, N. Little Rock, Ark.
Feb. 12, Toyota Center, Houston
From the LP FACE THE PROMISE, 2006 >>>
[MP3] REAL MEAN BOTTLE [w/KID ROCK]
[MP3] NO MORE
BONUS TRACKS >>>
[MP3] TURN THE PAGE
[MP3] NIGHT MOVES
[MP3] HER STRUT
[MP3] ROLL ME AWAY
[MP3] RAMBLIN' GAMBLIN' MAN
[MP3] 2 + 2 = ?
[MP3] LITTLE DRUMMER BOY
Wednesday, December 27
I only today discovered DEATH CAB chauffeur and POSTmaster BEN GIBBARD's cover of BJORK's "Joga." His version (assisted by KIND OF LIKE SPITTING's BEN BARNETT) is slow and stark, but undeniably beguiling. And, since "Joga" appears on my favorite Bjork album (1997's HOMOGENIC), a couple of bonus tracks seem in order...
[Oh, and... are you diggin' my new site header? Really catches the eye, no? Argh. Hope to have it remedied -- one way or another -- by the new year.]
[MP3] Ben Gibbard [w/Ben Barnett]/"Joga"
BONUS TRACKS >>>
[MP3] Bjork/"All is Full of Love" [strings mix]
Tuesday, December 26
Ahh... LAURA BRANIGAN. Can't call her a one-hit wonder; she had at least TWO. Below, you'll find a modern-day dance version of the one, as well as one of my favorite bands nicking the riff from the other ("Glor-ee-uh!").
[MP3] Infernal/"Self Control"
[MP3] Pulp/"Disco 2000"
I can't really say I'm a big fan of the Swedish trio THE TINY. Lead singer ELLEKARI LARSSON's voice tends to grate me the wrong way. Precious is as precious does.
But I like ED HARCOURT just fine, and he was good enough to lend a hand (and voice) on one of the songs from the Tiny's 2006 release, STARRING SOMEONE LIKE YOU. If you'd like to hear it, I'm here to help.
The Tiny on MySPACE.
From the LP STARRING SOMEONE LIKE YOU, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Sorry" [w/ED HARCOURT]
From the LP CLOSE ENOUGH, 2005 >>>
Monday, December 25
Ho! Ho! Ho! (aka Paris Hilton! Pamela Anderson! Mary Cheney!).
[MP3] THE VON BONDIES/"C'mon C'mon"
[MP3] FRANZ FERDINAND/"Come On Home"
[MP3] SUFJAN STEVENS/"Come On! Feel the Illinoise!"
[MP3] LEVELLERS/"Come On"
[MP3] CONSEQUENCES/"Come On"
[MP3] BROADCAST/"Come On Let's Go"
[MP3] PJ HARVEY/"C'mon, Billy"
[MP3] JEM/"Come On Closer"
Saturday, December 23
We don't spend a whole hell of a lot of time highlighting electropunk music around these parts, but what the hell -- it's the weekend, and maybe you're in need of something a little more than the usual Red Bull & vodka to get your body moving tonight.
TWIN CITIES ELECTROPUNK is a collective of Minneapolis-St. Paul electronic artists that's just released its third compilation of songs. Just 1000 such compilations are available in hard-copy form, but you can download all 14 tracks (as well as the first two collections in their entirety) from their website above. These guys are clearly working in true DIY fashion, so, regardless of your general feelings about "electropunk" music, why not head over there and see what you can dig up?
Here, by the way, is how they describe the project, sound, and mission:
"Nobody invented this electropunk thing. No city can claim it (though New York certainly tries). It's simply what happens when you take a generation of bored teens and twentysomethings - raised on hardcore punk, British techno, Nintendo, and Doritos - and place cheap digital recording technology within their grasp. Next thing you know, you've got a million zillion half-rock, half-electronic, cyborg bands thrashing out one MP3s after another of ragged, jagged synthesizer pop and giving it away for nothing on their websites. Nobody asked for some big record label's permission – heck, most of them didn't even pay for the software they're using - they're just doing it for the hell of it. Because there's no excuse for boredom when you’ve got computers and guitars. If that ain't punk, I don't know what is."
Twin Cities Electropunk on MySPACE.
[MP3] Mach FoX/"AXion/FriXion"
[MP3] Evarial/"I Ain't Too Keen on That"
I rarely find myself smitten by remixes, and that certainly holds true for the recent ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI remix album, WE DIED, THEY REMIXED. That said, I did think the remix below quite charming. Feel free to compare it to the original version from 2005's IN CASE WE DIE.
[MP3] Architecture in Helsinki/"Wishbone" [Franc Tetaz Remix]
BONUS TRACK >>>
[MP3] Architecture in Helsinki/"Wishbone"
Friday, December 22
More kids' songs for Christmas -- this time courtesy of the U.K. charity album COLOURS ARE BRIGHTER: SONGS FOR CHILDREN. Proceeds go to SAVE THE CHILDREN.
Mainly, though, this gives me an excuse to re-post the RICKY WILDE version of "I Am an Astronaut" from 1972. Ricky "sang" this tune when he was just ten years old, and it cracks me up every time I hear it. He also happens to be the little brother of KIM WILDE, who would become famous in the '80s for "You Keep Me Hangin' On."
[MP3] Snow Patrol/"I Am an Astronaut"
[MP3] Belle and Sebastian/"The Monkeys Are Breaking Out the Zoo"
BONUS TRACK >>>
[MP3] Ricky Wilde/"I Am an Astronaut"
Monday, December 18
RAMONES songs being sung by children? Well, why the hell not?
Go-Kart Records released BRATS ON THE BEAT: RAMONES FOR KIDS on November 21. The gimmick? Kids -- in the guise of the GABBA GABBA HEYS SINGERS -- support various punk and indie artists on various Ramones cuts. Silly but harmless. Though, on a more serious note, a percentage of the album's sales will be donated to St. Jude Children's Hospital.
[MP3] Brett Anderson [The Donnas]/"California Sun"
[MP3] Spooney [Gabba Gabba Heys]/"We Want the Airwaves"
[MP3] Emily Wynne-Hughes [Go Betty Go]/"I Just Want to Have Something to Do"
Friday, December 15
Lately, I've been luxuriating in the dirty-old-man decadence of SERGE GAINSBOURG. Specifically, I've been listening to INITIALS S.G. -- a 23-track collection covering the Frenchman's wink-'n'-a-leer career from 1958 to 1980. A perfect soundtrack to any respectable Friday night orgy. (Don't forget the martinis and whipped cream.)
[MP3] "Marilou Sous la Neige"
[MP3] "Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus" [w/JANE BIRKIN]
[MP3] "Initials B.B."
Thursday, December 14
Those "crazy-ass socialist" Swedes, PINTO -- ANDREAS, HANNAH, LARS, and DICK -- are back again with a brand spankin' new single. This one comes just three weeks after the release of their LAST single, "Iron and Rust." These fine folks are nothing if not industrious.
The first song below has a bit of understated bump-bump in its trunk, and both tracks percolate along with that perfect pop sense I've come to expect from these guys -- not too much or too little of any one component. I mean, honestly, do they teach Pop Songcraft 101 in the public schools in Gothenburg? In Stockholm? In... um... all those other cities of Sweden?
Regardless, if you haven't yet visited the MUSIC page on the PINTO website, what are you waiting for? You'll find plentiful pop gems there, ready to meet your "right-click/save-as" needs.
[P.S. Andreas told me that he would be celebrating "Lucia" yesterday. Something about children dressed in white with candles on their heads. I naturally assumed that Andreas had just been hitting the Absolut a little too hard. But, a quick trip to Googleland later... "On December 13th, one of the shortest days of winter, girls in Sweden dress up as Santa Lucia, wearing a white dress and a crown of candles. Boys carry a candle and wear a kind of white pyjama."
Ahh... charming! Except...
"In Sweden we do not wear candles anymore because girls caught their hair on fire very often."
Yikes! And then...
"The way that Saint Lucia became a saint was that there was a man who liked her that Lucia didn't like back. Lucia's mother asked her to marry the man but she refused. When the man heard about this he said he would burn her. But Lucia prayed to God to have the power to survive the fire. Because of her kindness to others her wish was granted. The man tried to burn her but she had the power to withstand fire so the man got a sword and stuck it in Lucia's throat."
All of which is to say: "Happy holidays!"
PINTO on MySPACE. ["Saint Lucia" story courtesy of KRISTIAN & NORA, grade 5, currently enrolled in Pop Songcraft 101.]
[MP3] "Here Comes the Love (Can You Show Me a Way Out?)"
[MP3] "Hard Inside the Heart"
Wednesday, December 13
ROSIE THOMAS is a young singer-songwriter who has made a lot of friends, traveled a lot of miles, and recorded a lot of music in a very short amount of time.
A couple of those friends? DAMIEN JURADO and SUFJAN STEVENS. The travel? Starting in Detroit, she moved to New York City and now resides in Seattle. The music? Well... she just released her fourth album in four years (THESE FRIENDS OF MINE) today on the Internet.
On this latest effort, Ms. THOMAS collaborates with songwriter DENISON WITMER and the aforementioned Mr. STEVENS on a low-key song cycle that shines brightest in its quietest moments. The fragile lullabies "Kite Song" and "Paper Doll" are prime examples of this, while the more exuberant closing title track hints at the casual nature of the recording sessions and the interplay between the musicians. Gentle acoustic guitars and piano are the norm here, with the occasional swell of understated strings helping to keep things from getting too stark and insular.
You can purchase THESE FRIENDS OF MINE at eMUSIC, RHAPSODY, or iTUNES. Physical copies will be available for sale in March of '07 through Nettwerk Records.
ROSIE THOMAS on MySPACE.
[MP3] "Kite Song"
[MP3] "These Friends of Mine"
Scottish trio THE FRATELLIS play an energetic style of glam/pop/punk that evokes everyone from the BEATLES to the POGUES; BLUR to SUPERGRASS. Their debut LP, COSTELLO MUSIC, was released in the UK in September and has spawned a couple of hits there. They are playing gigs in the London area even as we speak (type).
THE FRATELLIS on MySPACE.
[MP3] "For the Girl"
[MP3] "Whistle for the Choir"
Tuesday, December 12
A couple quick songs from TEXAS' 2005 album, RED BOOK. Still an import-only for North America, as far as I know. These tunes continue in the band's more recent vein -- leaning more toward dancefloor-friendly pop than blue-eyed soul.
I wrote about the band (without having yet heard RED BOOK) in April of '06, as such:
"This week's sweet, single-malt-whiskey-soaked sojourn in Scotland comes to a close with the very-American-sounding TEXAS. Fortunately, this is not some chewin'-tobacco, country-western collective from Texarkana; it's a semi-sleek/semi-soulful pop band from Glasgow. They've never seemed to get a hell of a lot of love from anywhere but the UK, and not even there so much anymore."
TEXAS on MySPACE.
[MP3] "Can't Resist"
[MP3] "Get Down Tonight"
It's often considered the height of laziness for music reviewers (or MP3 bloggers) to compare one band's sound to that of another's. I'm guilty of this on prettty much a daily basis -- in part, because I'm lazy. But also because I haven't a single shred of know-how when it comes to the technical nuts and bolts (and notes and chords) of music-making, and am therefore unable to describe an artist's work from that angle.
That said, I must admit that I don't mind the "this-band-sounds-like-ARTIST-A-crossed with-ARTIST-B" thing at all. If somebody tells me that a group sounds like RADIOHEAD, I'll probably want to give that group a listen -- even if, as it sometimes turns out, that group doesn't end up sounding like RADIOHEAD to me in the least. As much as I appreciate and envy the poetic prose of, say, SAID THE GRAMOPHONE, I often don't have a clue as to what a song or band he's writing about will sound like after reading that poetic prose. Maybe that's part of the charm; the listening experience becomes an exercise not just in discovery but in faith. But time's a wasting; I've got songs of my own to post; I've got my own (highly unpoetic) prose to cobble together and dump upon the populace. Tick-tock, tick-tock.
So... when I tell you that the L.A.-based band ROCK KILLS KID has been compared (time and time again) to THE CURE, U2, THE KILLERS, and THE BRAVERY... well... you're just going to have to cut me some slack. Led by the seemingly borderline-agoraphobic JEFF TUCKER, ROCK KILLS KID released their first full-length, ARE YOU NERVOUS?, back in May. It's a solid effort. And while these guys are certainly beholden to the artists listed above, they manage to cover a range of styles and moods within the album's ten songs. I, for one, will be very interested to hear what they manage to come up with next time around (and to see if they can put those KILLERS and BRAVERY comparisons behind them.)
ROCK KILLS KID on MySPACE.
Monday, December 11
I posted on THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES a week or two ago. I was putting their album to bed this weekend and got the opening, acoustic riff to the first song below stuck in my head. It took me back to my college days -- and to my then-favorite band. The second song below was written as a male-oriented counterpoint to the third song below. The fourth and fifth songs below are the fourth and fifth songs below. The river above is the Huron -- which was the river of my college days.
[MP3] THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES/"Ten Years Ahead"
[MP3] R.E.M. [w/KATE PIERSON]/"Me in Honey"
[MP3] 10,000 MANIACS/"Eat for Two"
BONUS TRACKS >>>
[MP3] 10,000 MANIACS [w/MICHAEL STIPE]/"To Sir With Love" [live]
[MP3] R.E.M. [w/NATALIE MERCHANT]/"Photograph"
Friday, December 8
First off, THE LONG BLONDES should not be confused with THE LONG WINTERS. THE LONG BLONDES are a new wave-influenced, art-rock collective from Sheffield, England -- home to one of my favorite groups of all time, PULP. Little wonder, then, that former Pulpster STEVE MACKEY served as producer for the THE LONG BLONDES' debut album, SOMEONE TO DRIVE YOU HOME.
Led by sly, not-at-all-shy singer KATE JACKSON -- who I'm pretty sure is NOT the KATE JACKSON who starred on the '70s TV show CHARLIE'S ANGELS -- THE LONG BLONDES have been making positive waves in their home country with their aggressive-yet-poppy, girl-centric brand of rock. Fans of CATATONIA and "LADYKILLERS"-era LUSH should take note.
THE LONG BLONDES on MySPACE.
Dec 10 8:00P/Molotov/Hamburg
Dec 11 8:00P/Magnet/Berlin
Dec 12 8:00P/Gebaude 9/Cologne
Dec 14 8:00P/Les Inrocks Indie Club @ La Maroquinerie/Paris
Dec 15 8:00P/Razzmatazz 3 (Anniversary party)/Barcelona
Dec 16 8:00P/Moby Dick
[MP3] "Once and Never Again"
[MP3] "Weekend Without Makeup"
Thursday, December 7
Rhode Island's THE BROTHER KITE specialize in slow, pretty soundscapes that would generally fall under the heading(s) of "shoegaze" or "dream-pop." These genres are (generally) not my cup of tea, what with my forever-dwindling attention span and my (general) aversion to using record albums as background Muzak.
THE BROTHER KITE released their second album, WAITING FOR THE TIME TO BE RIGHT, back in September. As is not uncommon in their genre(s), the band string their songs one-to-the-next, creating a satisfying tapestry of sound that's understated but also undeniably pleasant. I've posted my two favorite tunes from the new record below. The second, in particular, does not play by the traditional verse-chorus-verse rules, but, if you give it a chance to unfold a bit, you may just be taken in by its beauty as I was.
(Oh, and... in an altogether-sub-Twilight-Zone-type-of-way, I would just like to note that I find BROTHER KITE lead singer PATRICK BOUTWELL's voice a dead ringer for BAND OF HORSES' not-altogether-differently-named BEN BRIDWELL's.)
THE BROTHER KITE on MySPACE.
THE BROTHER KITE on the road >>>
Dec 13 10:00P/Roger Williams University Radio/Bristol, Rhode Island
Jan 6 9:00P/Maverick's/New Bedford, Massachusetts
Jan 10 9:00P/El-N-Gee/New London, Connecticut
Jan 12 9:00P/Brillobox/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Jan 13 9:00P/Nite Owl/Dayton, Ohio
Jan 14 9:00P/The Note/Chicago, Illinois
[MP3] "Bringing It Back Home"
[MP3] "Lay Down Your Burden"
Vendettas are one of those groups that seems determined to keep a low, mysterious profile. That, or they've just been a bit lazy when it comes to maintaining/updating their MySpace page (which seems to serve as their primary website).
I CAN tell you that Vendettas feature five band members; that their singer is female; that they call Sydney, Australia their home. I can also tell you that they play a fairly hard-driving brand of punk-fringed pop that may put more than a few of you in mind of Sweden's the Sounds.
Unfortunately, at this time, that's about ALL that I can tell you about Vendettas -- other than that they'll be playing the following shows in December...
Dec 9 8:00P/Starvation Christmas Party - Warehouse/New South Wales
Dec 9 9:00P/Rebel Rebel Home Nightclub/Sydney/New South Wales
Dec 13 8:30P/Spectrum/Sydney/New South Wales
Dec 16 8:00P/The Brag - Christmas Party/Australian Capital Territory
Dec 29 11:00P/World Bar/Australian Capital Territory
[MP3] "Too Many Days"
Wednesday, December 6
Years ago, when I was still writing fiction, I wrote a story called "Terminus" about an average, sad-sack American who awakes in bed one day and decides right then and there that he doesn't want to die -- not that day, not ever. Subsequently, he sets about trying to arrange his life in such a way as to absolutely maximize his own longevity. His very first thought is that he will move to Sweden. Sweden, he thinks, is very probably the greatest and safest place on the planet. Even the cars are highly safety-conscious [this message brought to you by the good people of Saab]. In the end, though, our protagonist begins to question the health benefits of a national diet consisting solely of meatballs and salted fish, while simultaneously worrying over Sweden's reputation for suicides (this last after subjecting himself to an Ingmar Bergman movie marathon).
Anyway, all of this is my long way of proving my on-going obsession with the Kingdom of Sweden. As most any regular MP3-blog visitor already knows, pop and indie artists have been crawling out of that country's woodwork for years now. I don't know what they're putting in the water (or vodka) over there, but I wish they'd start exporting more of it to the U.S. Maybe then we wouldn't be stuck with such bland, Budweiser-bred, alt-rock Neanderthals as Nickelback and Hinder (with apologies to my brother, Steve, who has an ear for just such Neanderthals).
My latest Swedish crush comes courtesy of the Gothenburg band Pinto. I was introduced to them through a very unassuming and self-deprecating e-mail by band leader Andreas Magnusson, who had apparently just learned that "pinto" means "penis" in Portugeuse. How very "punk rock," thought I (and so much better to be named for the male member than for the pencil-dicked Ford car of yesteryear that had the unfortunate habit of bursting into flames when bumped from behind).
Now, Pinto's name may be "punk rock," but their music is anything but. In fact, their sound has been said to suggest a "weird Tom Petty, an insane Ben Lee, or a Swedish R.E.M." Or, as Andreas himself put it: "ABBA crossed with Nick Drake -- which pretty much comes out Evan Dando" (though I think he was at least half-kidding about that one). Overall, though, Pinto specialize in short indie-pop tunes -- bright, bittersweet, and buoyed by some thoroughly charming vocals. For me, those vocals put me strongly in mind of a young Lloyd Cole (as conjoined with Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard).
Finally, the four members (not THOSE kind of members; we've moved on from that now) of Pinto have a highly strange and un-American sense when it comes to the capitalist system. You see, these particular Swedes don't like to sell their music; they prefer to give it away. All of it. As soon as they're done recording it. Crazy-ass socialists.
So, be sure to go to Pinto's website and/or MySpace page and download the generous assortment of songs that you'll find there. Also, look for their full-length debut (with any luck) in early 2007.
[MP3] "Armchair Anthropologist"
[MP3] "Never Leave"
[MP3] "I Belong to You"
Tuesday, December 5
A selection of songs that just missed the cut last month...
[MP3] The Rapture/"Whoo! Alright - Yeah... Uh Huh"
[MP3] Consequences/"Release Me From Love"
[MP3] Malajube/"Pate Filo"
[MP3] Shiny Toy Guns/"You Are the One"
[MP3] Youth Group/"Dead Zoo"
[MP3] Asha Ali/"Fire, Fire"
Saturday, December 2
[This post was delayed as a result of a 13-hour power outage yesterday. So, if you'll permit me: Fuck winter. Fuck cold November/December rain. Fuck wind. Fuck Detroit Edison. And fuck the Amish -- for living like that all the time... and not bitching about it.]
Another month in the books. How time flies.
Left-click [HERE] to download the following November collection...
02) Shiny Toy Guns/Rainy Monday
03) The Like/The One
04) Albert Hammond, Jr./In Transit
05) Marit Bergman/Green Light
06) Jarvis Cocker/Tonite
07) The Information/A Simple Plan
08) Shivaree/Goodnight Moon
09) Bang Gang/Find What You Get
10) The May Fire/Right and Wrong
11) Kevin Devine/You'll Only End Up Joining Them
12) Dover/Let Me Out
14) The Bluetones/Head on a Spike
15) Sam Roberts/Fall Before You Finish
16) The Soundtrack of Our Lives/Nevermore
17) Rock Kills Kid/Raise Your Hands
18) The Awkward Stage/Heaven is for Easy Girls
19) The Arrogants/Easy
20) Jim White/That Girl from Brownsville Texas
21) The Bicycles/I Know We Have to Be Apart
Friday, December 1
Friday is the time here on Sprockets when we dance (and touch our monkeys). Thus, a few tracks this morning from Always on Our Minds -- A Tribute to Pet Shop Boys. You can get some info on this limited release by going [HERE].
[And come back later today for the Best of November mix. It's bound to be swell.]
[MP3] Sara Noxx/"Rent"
[MP3] Intuition/"Love Comes Quickly"
[MP3] Chinese Theatre/"Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)"
Thursday, November 30
What's say we go someplace exotic now? That's right, I'm thinking we should take a little trip to Canada. Not to Toronto, mind you. Oh no, too typical. Montreal? Forget it. Vancouver? Yawn. Winnipeg? Maybe next time.
No, today, we're off to London, Ontario -- which is somewhere roughly halfway between Toronto and where I live here in the States. I once took a train through London, Ontario. I seem to remember that the station was graffiti-free. That's about all that I remember about it.
But now we have something else to remember London, Ontario, Canada by -- and that would be the band A Block of Yellow. ABOY break down as follows: Anthony Nastasi sings and plays guitar; Alex Whalley ALSO sings and plays guitar (the seeds of their ultimate break-up are probably sown right here). Dan Tomas has the good sense to play bass and keep his mouth shut. Likewise, Paul Everest -- no troublemaker he -- is content to sit quietly in the back and play his drums.
Temporarily putting aside thoughts of their inevitable future crash-and-burn ego clashes, I can tell you that A Block of Yellow traffics in what they like to call "Hip Pop." In short, it's music that's meant to make you feel GOOD (odd lot, these Canadians). They cite the Clash and the Quarrymen as influences. But also: the Supremes. And ABBA. And: "the Kinks having a pillow fight with Modest Mouse."
So... these guys either have very well-rounded musical tastes, or... they're simply too damned isolated up there in the Great White North to have any idea that some of these artists DO NOT SOUND ANYTHING LIKE some of the OTHER artists. Well, let's leave them in their blissful ignorance, shall we? Canadians are cute that way. Like puppies.
But don't think for a minute that Canadians don't have a yen for making a buck (to mix a monetary metaphor). For, you see, these boys also have product to peddle. They not-so-very-long-ago released their four-song EP, Grow Up or Grow Out, and would no doubt be happy as "Hip Pop" if you shelled out the very few bucks (or yen) required to purchase said EP. In fact, you can do just that by clicking [here]. Or, get it on iTunes, if you prefer. Either way, the four lads of A Block of Yellow (ABOY) will be tickled pink (to mix a color metaphor). Now... somebody break open a Molson.
A Block of Yellow on MySpace.
[MP3] "It's Almost Over"
[MP3] "Helping Juliana (With Pilgrim Hands)"
Veruca Salt... now THERE'S a blast from the past. "Seether," baby! Wherefore art thou, mid-'90s grunge?
A full twelve years after releasing their first and only big Buzz Bin hit (and eight years after co-leader Nina Gordon got the hell out of Dodge), Louise Post has cobbled together yet another incarnation of the band and released the appropriately titled IV. What's stunning is how little the group's sound has changed in all those intervening years. It seems that Ms. Post may be under the delusion that hard alt-rock's popularity never declined, or that it's due for a sudden, miraculous revival.
While it certainly tends to be true that what goes around comes around, and that history -- musically and otherwise -- has a way of repeating itself, Veruca Salt's latest effort seems far better suited for the dust bin than the Buzz Bin. Sure, it may represent an improvement over the ragged mess that was 2000's Resolver, but that provides scant solace, what with its outdated dynamics and recycled riffs.
Maybe the mistake is in thinking that Veruca Salt -- even in its original configuration -- was anything more than a passing fad to begin with. They were, after all, a poor woman's version of the Breeders, who themselves were a poor woman's version of the Pixies. Everybody knows what happens when you make a copy of a copy. Clarity is lost. Quality suffers. And, ultimately, you end up going back to the original in search of satisfaction. Wherefore art thou, Frank Black?
Veruca Salt on MySpace.
From the LP IV, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Blissful Queen"
From the LP Eight Arms to Hold You, 1997 >>>
[MP3] "Volcano Girls"
[MP3] "Sound of the Bell"