Friday, March 31


I spent a good chunk of my Thursday driving around my old haunting grounds of Ann Arbor. The windows were down, the sun and temp were up (60 degrees!; happy day, happy day!). All the while, I was blasting some of my favorite songs from the month of March, trying them out, inflicting them upon the oblivious 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds slouching along the campus streets.

Seems like just yesterday that I was one of them. But that was 16, 17, and 18 years ago. How intensely depressing....

On the plus side, the music sounded pretty damn good to me. Hope it'll sound that way to you, too.

Left-click [here] to grab the tracks.


1) Ladytron/Destroy Everything You Touch
2) Hard-Fi/Gotta Reason
3) The Sounds/Painted By Numbers
4) Clearlake/Getting Light Outside
5) Los Super Elegantes/Panadero
6) Archie Bronson Outfit/Cherry Lips
7) The Dresden Dolls/Necessary Evil
8) The Raconteurs/Steady, as She Goes
9) The New Amsterdams/Hover Near Fame
10) The Delays/Cavalry
11) Timo Raisanen/Fear No Darkness, Promised Child

12) Marit Larsen/Only a Fool
13) Gustav & the Seasick Sailors/Charlie Fay
14) Sing-Sing/Lover
15) Morrissey/You Have Killed Me
16) Yeah Yeah Yeahs/Turn Into
17) Margot & the Nuclear So and So's/Quiet as a Mouse
18) Love is All/Spinning and Scratching
19) I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness/The Ghost
20) Mates of State/Nature and the Wreck

Wednesday, March 29


The economically-monikered eight-piece Margot & the Nuclear So and So's re-released their 2005 LP, The Dust of Retreat, yesterday - and I like it; I like it very much. All Music Guide seems to as well, even comparing it to Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Heady stuff, to be sure, but is it deserved? Well, that - as always - will be for you to decide...

[MP3] "Vampires in Blue Dresses"

[MP3] "Quiet as a Mouse"

[MP3] "Dress Me Like a Clown"

Tuesday, March 28


I liked the "sound" of the Stills' debut LP, Logic Will Break Your Heart, even if only a few of the "songs" proved fully-formed and distinctive. The Montreal band will release their second CD, Without Feathers, on May 9th. People are already remarking on the change in the group's sound, as evidenced by opening track "In the Beginning." As it happens, I didn't care for that song, and I don't much care for the rest of the album, either. Yes, that's one more 2006 disappointment for me, but who's counting? (*I* am. Dammit.)

Now here are, more or less by default, my two favorites from Without Feathers...

[MP3] "Baby Blues"

[MP3] "Halo the Harpoon"


I wasn't exactly a big-time passenger on the Vines bandwagon when they first broke through in 2002 (though I did prefer their debut album to that of the Strokes'). Well, time flies, and these once-rough-and-tumble Aussies are back with their third LP, Vision Valley (April 4th). In general, this is a quite a departure for the band. The production style is positively "polished," which may be a turn-off to old and new fans alike. Should an old dog learn new tricks? Should a leopard change its spots? Does anybody still give a shit about the Vines?

[MP3] "Don't Listen to the Radio"

[MP3] "Take Me Back"

Monday, March 27


Elf Power is pretty much up to its armpits when it comes to mythic ties. First, the band hails from the celebrated indie mecca of Athens, Georgia. Second, it was born and raised within the famous Elephant 6 Collective. They will release their eighth album, Back to the Web, on April 25th. Lead singer Andrew Rieger says that he had been listening to a lot of "Middle-Eastern folk and "gypsy music" while recording the CD, and that the final result is "dark" and "orchestrated" folk-rock. Sounds good to me. As do these...

[MP3] "An Old Familiar Scene"

[MP3] "The Spider and the Fly"


The Dresden Dolls are a male/female duo from Boston who traffic in cabaret pop-punk. Their second record, Yes, Virginia, will be released on April 18th. Though normally I might find this type of music a bit too "messy" for my tastes, there's something undeniably beguiling about it - even as it always seems to be careening toward tunelessness. Yet, time and again, they manage to pull it back from the brink. Just call it "infectiously vexing." Or "vexingly infectious." Or whatever the hell else you want to call it. Just give it a listen...

[MP3] "My Alcoholic Friends"

[MP3] "Backstabber"


Irving, a San Francisco five-piece, will release their sophomore full-length, Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers, April 4th. The song "Jen, Nothing Matters to Me" has already been making the Internet rounds [get it from Fluxblog (here)]. Here are a couple more tracks from the new album that I'd recommend...

[MP3] "I'll Write the Song, You Sing for Me"

[MP3] "She's Not Shy"

Friday, March 24


Today's "SaveFile Friday" features R.E.M. in soundtrack (and closing credits) mode. The band has contributed some pretty nifty ditties to some pretty shitty flicks. Fortunately for us, this is an audio-only post. So... no need to watch Philip Seymour Hoffman spew semen all over his sloppy self. No need to see Chris O'Donnell cavorting in a codpiece. No need to give closet-case, Scientology apologist Tom Cruise the time of day.

Nope. Not here. Not ever. Just do the left-click thing...

[MP3] "Draggin' the Line" [from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, 1999]

[MP3] "All the Right Friends" [from Vanilla Sky, 2001]

[MP3] "Fretless" [from Until the End of the World, 1991]

[MP3] "Revolution" [from Batman & Robin, 1997]

[MP3] "The Great Beyond" [from Man on the Moon, 1999]

[MP3] "This Friendly World" [w/Jim Carrey] [from Man on the Moon, 1999]

[MP3] "Only in America" [from Canadian Bacon closing credits, 1995]

[MP3] "Happiness" [Michael Stipe w/Rain Phoenix] [from Happiness closing credits, 1998]

Thursday, March 23


Describing the sound of Columbia, Missouri's Witch's Hat is no easy feat. The band says they're influenced by "shitty sci-fi, video-game music, coloring books, the clergy, Dungeons & Dragons, sexual frustration, jargon, and onomatopoeia." Well... that's helpful.

Think: They Might Be Giants. Think: Sparks. Think Jethro Tull, if they misplaced their flute. Think Guided by Voices covering "The Battle of Evermore." Think Tenacious D and Spinal Tap in the most epic Battle of the Bands ever. Think soundtrack to the car-ride to the Milwaukee's Best kegger. (On second thought, to hell with it: just go with the dungeons and the coloring books; the dragons and the jargon.)

Visit their MySpace page [here]. Purchase their LP Mastery of the Steel (2005) [here].

[MP3] "Glodyany, 1972"

[MP3] "Huzzah"


Track a Tiger is a Chicago-based band led by Jim Vallet. They released their first LP, Woke Up Early the Day I Died, in February and describe their sound as "Richard and Linda Thompson and the Sea and Cake having drinks in the living room while Low and Sonic Youth make dinner in the kitchen. Fleetwood Mac is out getting more ice." I might throw Yo La Tengo into the mix as well (maybe they're mellowing out on the balcony, smoking something aromatic).

You can listen to all of the tracks on Woke Up Early the Day I Died on the band's website. You can purchase it at Future Appletree and CDBaby.

[MP3] "Glad to Be Scattered"

[MP3] "Happy"

Wednesday, March 22



The first album I ever bought was the Cars' Heartbeat City. On vinyl. In 1984. I was 14. I loved it.

Alas, the band would break up just four years later. Since then, singer/bassist Benjamin Orr died of cancer in 2000 and lead singer/songwriter Ric Ocasek released a string of little-heard solo albums and carved out a successful career as a producer (Weezer, Hole, Bad Religion) (not to mention tended to his still-miraculously-intact marriage to model Paulina Porizkova - 16 years and counting!).

Now, following the dubious leads of such once-seminal bands as the Beach Boys, Doors, and Queen, the Cars have re-formed as "The New Cars," with Todd Rundgren stepping into Ocasek's chrome, Art Deco loafers. In truth, of the original band members, only lead guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes have signed on to this "new" enterprise. Not that those guys are exactly slouches. Easton's guitar work (especially on the early records) was an underrated strength, and Hawkes' stylish synthesizer lines were one of the things that drew me to the group in the first place.

Still, though, one has to wonder how successful (creatively and commercially) this new line-up can possibly be. (And how many Brinks trucks did they have to back up to Ocasek's crypt to convince him to sign over the rights to the band name?). Well, time will tell.

For now, perhaps a little compare & contrast is in order...

[MP3] "Not Tonight"/The New Cars [2006]

[MP3] "You're All I've Got Tonight"/The Cars [1978]

[MP3] "Tonight She Comes"/The Cars [1985]

[MP3] "It's Not the Night"/The Cars [1984]

Tuesday, March 21


Meligrove Band is a Toronto-based indie collective that seems on the verge of big, big things with their third CD, Planets Conspire. I take special satisfaction in recommending these guys, as Toronto is metro Detroiters' favorite "exotic" city. Easily beats... um... Toledo. Chicago's too much like Detroit (except, of course, that Chicago's a place you'd actually want to live and visit). Oh, and... Cincinnati sucks. Might as well cede it to the South.

Okay, enough with the geography. The primary reason that I'm highlighting Meligrove Band is that I like their music. Hell, if they were from Gary, Indiana, I'd still be praising them to the stars (and wishing them imminent exodus to a somewhat more civilized city in the Hoosier state). Kokomo, maybe. Or French Lick. Hooker Corner? Gnaw Bone? Floyds Knobs? Okay. Never mind.

[MP3] "Everyone's a Winner"

[MP3] "Our Love Will Make the World Go Round"

[MP3] "Planets Conspire"

Monday, March 20


Like many others of late, I have been all entranced and enraptured with the indie rock/pop that's been swirling out of Sweden. I can probably trace my particular infatuation back to my discovery of the MP3 blog Swedesplease in the spring or early summer of 2005. I'm sure that it must have been there that I stumbled upon Gustav & the Seasick Sailors and their nifty little ditty "Angels Fable."

I posted said ditty back in November, as well as three songs from the band's first album, Vagabond's Polka. Now, their second CD, SIRKUS, has been released, and I have two of its songs to offer. If you like what you hear, I hope that you'll visit Gustav & the Seasick Sailors' blog and/or MySpace page and/or Marilyn Records, where you can find out how to purchase their music, regardless of where you happen to exist on this planet.

(By the way, you will find the great "Angels Fable" lurking on SIRKUS.)

From the LP SIRKUS, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Charlie Fay"
[MP3] "Something Weightless"

From the LP Vagabond's Polka, 2004 >>>
[MP3] "Mr. Moment & Miss Clarity"

Friday, March 17


Initially, today's post was to include just five or six tunes by various Irish artists. Alas, I couldn't help adding tracks, and, before I knew it, the whole thing had gotten tragically out of hand.

So... here's a St. Patty's day sampler to sate your holiday hunger.

(Best enjoyed with corned beef, cabbage, a Shamrock Shake, and a hearty helping of Catholic guilt. Tear that pope to pieces, Sinead! He IS the real enemy!)

Left-click [here] to download.


1) Sinead O'Connor/You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart
2) Sinead O'Connor & Shane MacGowan/Haunted
3) The Pogues/Tuesday Morning
4) U2/Van Diemen's Land
5) JJ72/October Swimmer
6) The Frames/Pavement Tune
7) The Cranberries/Ode to My Family
8) The Divine Comedy/Perfect Lovesong
9) The Corrs & Bono/Summer Wine [live]
10) Damien Rice/Older Chests
11) Ash/Sometimes
12) JJ72/Take from Me
13) U2/One [live/War Child]
14) Sinead O'Connor & the Edge/Heroine
15) Sinead O'Connor/This IS a Rebel Song

Thursday, March 16

MANSUN (1995-2003)

Born out of the Britpop bubble of the early-to-mid '90s, Mansun was one of the many bands that briefly blew up, then quickly slinked back into insignificance. In retrospect, their 1996 LP Attack of the Grey Lantern remains their only real claim to fame. While it's certainly no OK Computer, it is an ambitious, stylish opus that holds up relatively well - even a decade down the road.

Unfortunately, Mansun's subsequent efforts were somewhat colorless, and they eventually, inevitably went the way of the dinosaur and dodo. Now... have some fun with the following fossils....

From the LP Attack of the Grey Lantern, 1996 >>>
[MP3] "Wide Open Space"
[MP3] "The Chad Who Loved Me"
[MP3] "Take It Easy, Chicken"

From the LP Little Kix, 2000 >>>
[MP3] "I Can Only Disappoint U"

[MP3] "My Idea of Fun"

Tuesday, March 14


All Mighty Whispers are a Franco-Anglo trio (working with a Polish producer) whose cool, elegant sound evokes comparisons to Air, Trembling Blue Stars, and Mercury Rev. Fortunately for us, they write actual "songs," as opposed to artsy-fartsy "soundscapes" that just drift listlessly hither, thither, and yon.

Besides the tracks offered below, you can download three more at their [website], as well as stream their entire debut album, Love Revolution.

[MP3] "Heaven Have Me Now"

[MP3] "Bringing Down Hush"

[MP3] "Winter Love"

Monday, March 13


The English four-piece Hard-Fi is releasing their debut album, Stars of CCTV, in the U.S. tomorrow - a full year-and-a-half after its initial release. Of course, much has happened for these guys since then. A subsequent UK release in June of 2005 spawned a string of hit singles and nominations for two Brit Awards and the Mercury Prize. Then, earlier this year, Stars of CCTV went to #1 on the British charts.

In a way, I'm sorry that this record won't be eligible for my eventual 2006 Top 10 album list, since I've been pretty well underwhelmed by most of the things I've heard so far this year. I'm clearly never going to be a Fiery Furnaces fan. The new Flaming Lips was a huge disappointment for me. I found about four worthwhile songs each with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Neko Case, and Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins. But this damn Hard-Fi thing is pleasing me to no end. It's got a drive and energy to it that I've been needing, apparently (not to mention some boffo basslines). I don't care what critics want to call this type of music - rock, ska, punk, hip-hop, blah, blah, blah.... It just sounds like pretty great pop to me.

The band is currently playing some gigs on the West Coast and will appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live this Wednesday night (along with Janet Reno!).

[MP3] "Feltham is Singing"

[MP3] "Gotta Reason"

[MP3] "Better Do Better"

Friday, March 10


Here are my favorite tracks from February in a downloadable zip file. A bit more mellow than the January mix, I would say. Hopefully, you can find some new and/or worthwhile tunes to choose from.

Just left-click [here].

(Last I checked, January's mix was still available [here].)


1) The Indelicates/We Hate the Kids
2) Mighty Six Ninety/Have You Ever Asked Yourself
3) Love is All/Felt Tip
4) Starlight Mints/Inside of Me
5) The Pipettes/Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me
6) Ted Leo & the Pharmacists/Under the Hedge
7) Anna Ternheim/To Be Gone
8) Unbunny/Nightwalking
9) Sibylle Baier/Tonight
10) Band of Horses/The Funeral
11) The Concretes/Chosen One
12) Matt Mays & El Torpedo/Cocaine Cowgirl
13) Neko Case/Hold On, Hold On
14) Calexico/Cruel
15) James Blunt/High
16) Chris Mills/You Are My Favorite Song
17) The Stills/Retour a Vega
18) Cat Power & Karen Elson/I Love You (Me Either)
19) She Wants Revenge/Spend the Night
20) Controller.Controller/PF
21) Division Day/Dayenu
22) The Arrogants/Butterflies

Thursday, March 9

LUNA (1992-2004)

[Third installment in our series of broken-up bands.]

Luna was born out of the break-up of Dean Wareham's previous band, Galaxie 500. I can't be sure, but I think I discovered them with the song "California (All the Way)," which remains my favorite Luna tune till this day. I don't know what it is, exactly, about Wareham's voice that I like so much. It has a certain unassuming, "woozy" quality that leaves me halfway between sadness and laughter (actually, a hell of a lot closer to "laughter").

All things considered, the group had a good, 12-year run, though I've heard a lot of Galaxie 500/early Luna fans bitch about the quality of the later albums. Granted, Rendezvous may not have been the strongest of swansongs, but there is ample solid material on each of their records to satisfy this listener.

Dean Wareham, by the way, released an album with second Luna bassist Britta Phillips in 2003 called L'Avventura. Their voices work well together, so I was happy to see that they're currently in the studio recording a follow-up with producer Tony Visconti. Stay tuned.

From the LP Bewitched, 1994 >>>
[MP3] "California (All the Way)"

From the LP Penthouse, 1995 >>>
[MP3] "Double Feature"

From the LP The Days of Our Nights, 1999 >>>
[MP3] "Superfreaky Memories"

From the LP Romantica, 2002 >>>
[MP3] "Mermaid Eyes"

From the LP Rendezvous, 2004 >>>
[MP3] "Astronaut"

Wednesday, March 8


[I actually completed this entry nearly two weeks ago, but every time I go to post it, somebody scoops me. First, there was The Perm and the Skullet [here]. Then, there was Rock Insider [here]. But so be it. The time is nigh to hitch my wagon to this... um... bandwagon.]

Well, I'm far from the first blog to talk about the L.A.-based quartet Division Day, and I'm sure that I won't be the last. These guys were kind enough to send me a copy of their last EP, The Mean Way In, as well as an advance copy of their upcoming full-length CD Beartrap Island. They have a full eight songs currently available for download on their website, one of which you will also find below.

Describing Division Day's sound is no easy task. Listening to their songs, I found myself jotting down impressions such as: "early Flaming Lips," "Spoon," "Radiohead: Kid A," "Alan Parsons Project"[!!!], "playful-alternating-with-moody art-rock," "slightly unhinged lullaby" [re: "Hand to the Sound"], "understated majesty" [re: "Colorguard"], even "slight nods to '80s new wave." Then I remembered that the band had recorded at John Vanderslice's studio in San Francisco. That locked it in for me, because they definitely share that man's penchant for off-kilter instrumentation, arrangements, and mood.

Thus far, Division Day have primarily toured the West Coast (playing shows with the likes of Xiu Xiu, the Velvet Teen, and Cass McCombs). They're hoping to branch out further in U.S. this coming summer. In the meantime, Beartrap Island will be released in March. Here are my two favorite tracks from it...

[MP3] "Colorguard"


Tuesday, March 7



[Speaking of bastards... today's picture is apropos of nothing other than the fact that Braveheart is my least favorite Best Picture winner of the past 12 years. (And that's saying something, as I didn't like Million Dollar Baby (2004), Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Chicago (2002), or A Beautiful Mind (2001), either). (Lest you get the idea that I hate EVERYTHING, let me point to the Academy's sterling run from 1991-1993: The Silence of the Lambs, Unforgiven, and Schindler's List. Ah, now THOSE were the days.). More to the point, though: I can't stand Mel Gibson. His radical Catholicism. His rampant homophobia (see previous). His 107 kids (actually, just 7; but still: see previous). Oh, and let's not forget his Holocaust-denying father. What a lovely klan... er... "clan." (I can still remember thinking back in 1995 that Braveheart was the artistic equivalent of Mel Gibson jerking off in public for three hours. And wouldn't you know it - The Passion of the Christ turned out to be the same exact thing - the only difference being that the bastard did his jacking from BEHIND the camera. But enough already. End of rant.]

[MP3] Franz Ferdinand/"Fabulously Lazy" [from the Do You Want To single]

[MP3] Madonna/"Fighting Spirit" [Confessions on a Dancefloor bonus track]

[MP3] Maximo Park/"Hammer Horror" [from the b-sides/rarities collection Missing Songs]

[MP3] Clap Your Hands Say Yeah/"Cigarettes" [BBC 6 Music Gideon Coe Session] [from the In This Home of Ice single]

Monday, March 6


[MP3] Belle and Sebastian/"Meat and Potatoes" [from the Funny Little Frog single]

[MP3] The New Pornographers/"High Art, Local News" [Twin Cinema bonus track]

[MP3] We Are Scientists/"This Means War" [from The Great Escape single]

[MP3] Hard-Fi/"Seven Nation Army" [White Stripes cover] [from the Cash Machine single]

Friday, March 3


Well, Sunday night could be a steamrolling sort of situation for Brokeback Mountain. Or, there could be a backlash, and the movie could just go *poof*. So to speak.

I literally haven't seen ANY of the nominated films or performances yet (it's probably been three or four years since I stepped foot in a theater; this hermit prefers DVD in his thoroughly bubble-wrapped and bird flu-proof survival shelter). Still, I'll tune it to watch Jon Stewart and to see if Robert Altman tells the Academy to go screw itself.

[Today's tunes are of the SaveFile variety, so just left-click here, then again on the next screen, and then right-click/"save as" on the screen after that. Not too terribly tough.]

[MP3] Sparks/"Ride 'Em Cowboy"

[MP3] Lambchop/"Cowboy on the Moon"

[MP3] Husky Rescue/"Summertime Cowboy"

[MP3] Fred Eaglesmith/"Rodeo Boy"

[MP3] Paula Cole/"Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?"

Thursday, March 2

THE DELGADOS (1994-2004)

[This is the second installment in our "R.I.P. [fill in band-name here]" series - an effort to celebrate those artists that, sadly, are no longer with us. Of course, they're not literally "dead," generally - just victims of that most nefarious of band-busting bugaboos ... "creative differences." Ah, the humanity.]

I didn't discover the Scottish band the Delgados until 2002, when they released the album Hate. Little did I know that they'd been together eight years by then, or that they'd only have a couple years left to linger. If I'd been compiling Top 10 album lists at the time, I'm sure Hate would have ended up occupying one of the more paramount positions that year. Listening to it today for the first time in a long time, I find it still holds up remarkably well. Some of that no doubt has to do with producer Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev; The Flaming Lips), who began collaborating with the band on 2000's The Great Eastern.

The Delgados are one of those groups - like Stars and Rilo Kiley - who trade off male/female lead vocals. Perhaps it says something about me that, in all three examples, I prefer the female singer to the male. In the Delgados' case, that means that Emma Pollock gets my vote over Alun Woodward. Thus, all four of the songs I'm offering today feature Ms. Pollock on vox. Sorry, Mr. Woodward.

From the LP Hate, 2002 >>>
[MP3] "Coming in from the Cold"
[MP3] "Woke from Dreaming"

From the LP Universal Audio, 2004 >>>
[MP3] "I Fought the Angels"

From the LP The Great Eastern, 2000 >>>
[MP3] "Make Your Move" [Twin Peaks Mix]

Wednesday, March 1


I can't remember where I first heard about Mighty Six Ninety, but both Come Pick Me Up and My Old Kentucky Blog have jotted about them this year.

And yes, it's undeniably true that this American five-piece sounds an awful lot like the Smiths (with maybe a bit of New Order stirred into the mix), but I think they're swell, and I think you should think they're swell, too. (Also, they were nice enough to send me an MP3 after I rather rudely requested one through unsolicited e-mail.)

These next few weeks, the band will be playing a handful of shows out West, including the SXSW in Austin on March 18th (5 PM at the Red Fez, reportedly). After that, they'll return to the UK, where their sound has thus far been better received and appreciated than here in the States.

Finally, they will be releasing a single ("Believable") in the UK on March 13th. You can stream it on their MySpace page [here]. You can download the b-side ("Northern Border") [here]. And you can purchase the whole kit 'n' kaboodle [here].

[MP3] "Have You Ever Asked Yourself"

[MP3] "Leave This World"

[MP3] "Keeping You in Mind"