A BLOCK OF YELLOW
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"
What and the hell is a blue merle? Well, it's a type of Great Dane, for one thing. Led Zeppelin knew this -- referring to the creature in "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp." Remember that reference? Okay, maybe you don't, but it's there... somewhere.
I know this because the Nashville band Blue Merle took their name from that reference, so there you go. The band is led by singer-songwriter Luke Reynolds and bassist Jason Oettel, and their mellow sound has been compared to Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket. For my money, though, Reynolds' voice is almost an exact amalgam of Coldplay's Chris Martin and Dave Matthews Band's... um... Dave Matthews. See if you agree.
The songs below are taken from Blue Merle's debut LP, Burning in the Sun.
Blue Merle on MySpace.
[MP3] "Every Ship Must Sail Away"
[MP3] "If I Could"
THE MONOCHROME SET
Here's a recent discovery for me -- 1982's Eligible Bachelors by the Monochrome Set. They were from London. Pop music with literate lyrics. Music to remember the Falklands War by. [I would write more, but I'm fucking sick and tired of Blogger knocking me off-line and forcing me save drafts every five seconds.]
[MP3] "The Jet Set Junta"
[MP3] "I'll Cry Instead"
[MP3] "The Devil Rides Out"
THE '60s, VOL. 3
Some time ago, I received an e-mail from somebody requesting that I re-post one of my earlier '60s mixes. As I'd long intended to finish off the current series by posting Volume 3, I certainly consider myself sufficiently goosed in the ass at this point to do just that. Hopefully, the "somebody" in question will find some tracks here that he likes just as well as those from the last batch. Hopefully, you will as well.
Please left-click [HERE] to nab the following tunes...
01) Bob Dylan/Like a Rolling Stone
02) The Cyrkle/Red Rubber Ball
03) The Mamas & The Papas/Go Where You Wanna Go
04) The Drifters/Under the Boardwalk
05) Dion/Abraham, Martin and John
06) The Righteous Brothers/Unchained Melody
07) Patsy Cline/Back in Baby's Arms
08) Mason Williams/Classical Gas
09) Tammy Wynette/Stand By Your Man
10) Zager and Evans/In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)
11) Peter, Paul & Mary/If I Had a Hammer
12) The Beach Boys/God Only Knows
13) Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood/Summer Wine
14) The Doors/Break on Through
15) Jefferson Airplane/Somebody to Love
16) The Animals/House of the Rising Sun
17) Connie Francis/Where the Boys Are
18) Nat King Cole/L-O-V-E
19) Paul Mauriat/Love is Blue
20) Simon and Garfunkel/The Sound of Silence
21) Neil Diamond/Solitary Man
22) Louis Armstrong/What a Wonderful World
23) Barry Sadler/Ballad of the Green Berets
24) Linda Ronstadt/Different Drum
25) Roy Orbison/Crying
26) The Ronettes/Be My Baby
NOW IT'S OVERHEAD
I've never been a huge fan of Athens, Georgia's Now It's Overhead. It seems as though I should like their songs more than I do, seeing as I tend to appreciate the individual parts of those songs. But something about how Andy LeMaster & friends string things together has always turned me off. Or, at the very least, has always managed NOT to turn me ON.
That pattern seemed to be holding true as I listened to their latest LP, Dark Light Daybreak, yesterday afternoon. Certainly, the songs seemed to have some sharper edges than in the past (which was welcome), but there remained a certain unsatisfying drone... a certain lumbering quality to the note and chord progressions....
But then, lo and behold, certain of the tracks started to come together for me. Before I knew it, I was liking a full half of the album. Time will tell if more listens will unlock some of the other tunes to these still somewhat skeptical ears, but I'm glad I stuck with this one till the end. And I have no qualms whatsoever about recommending the songs below...
[MP3] "Day Light Daybreak"
[MP3] "Believe What They Decide"
[This'll probably have to be it for today, folks. I'm off to my brother's to eat White Castles and watch the Lions embarrass themselves on national TV. Just like last year. And the year before that. Etc. Ad infinitum.]
THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES
Recently, I've been listening to some older albums that slipped under my radar back in the day, rather than focusing so heavily on 2006 releases. One such LP was The Soundtrack of Our Lives' 2002 effort, Behind the Music.
Though hailing from Sweden, TSOOL don't play the slick and/or sophisticated pop game that so many Swedish artists excel at. Instead, they've made a career of being magpies and shape-shifters, albeit always with one collective foot firmly planted in '60s psychedelia. While I'm not familiar enough with the band at this point to compare this particular record with their other efforts, I can certainly raise my voice in praise for Behind the Music's impressive range of influences and moods (not to mention: tempos). I've tried to provide you with a few examples of that range below, so step on up to the smorgasbord....
This December, the Soundtrack of Our Lives will be Down Under >>>
Dec 1 8:00P/The Tote/Melbourne
Dec 2 8:00P/Corner Hotel/Richmond, Melbourne
Dec 8 8:00P/Annandale Hotel/Sydney
Dec 9 8:00P/Meredith Music Festival/Meredith
Dec 12 8:00P/The Tote/Collingwood, Melbourne
In the meantime, you can find them on MySpace.
[MP3] "Sister Surround"
[MP3] "In Your Veins"
I guess we'll stick with the "white" theme and offer up a couple songs from the Lawrence, Kansas band, White Whale. I only recently discovered their first album, WWI, which was released on Merge back in July.
The band's nautical references might seem to harken to the Decemberists, but the lead singer's voice puts me more in mind of Ed Harcourt. The group South also comes to mind -- sort of subtle and pretty for subtle and pretty's sake. And, on "The Admiral," there's a bit of an Arcade Fire-like vocal ramp-up toward the end.
[MP3] "What's an Ocean For?"
[MP3] "The Admiral"
[This week may be a bit erratic, posting-wise, what with the American holiday and my general desire (and need) for a break. Will still try to keep some music coming, though....]
For a change of pace from some of the poppier fare of recent days and weeks, here are two great songs from Jim White's 2004 album, Drill a Hole in That Substrate and Tell Me What You See. As that title might suggest, Mr. White often writes from a Southern gothic perspective, and fans of Tom Waits and Vic Chesnutt would do well to give him a listen.
[MP3] "Static on the Radio"
[MP3] "That Girl from Brownsville Texas"
Are the Like the new Wilson Phillips? Heaven forbid.
BUT... they are ARE three young women with fathers of... shall we say, "elevated"... status in the music industry. Deja vu? Bite your tongue.
Okay, here's how the musical/horticultural/nepotistical/family-tree stuff breaks down: Charlotte Froom is the bass player and also provides backing vocals. Her father is Mitchell Froom -- uber-producer to such artists as Crowded House, Los Lobos, and Suzanne Vega, amongst others. Tennessee Thomas is the drummer. Her proud papa is Pete Thomas -- a drummer for such artists as Elvis Costello, the Finn Brothers, and Amos Lee, amongst others. Finally, Z. Berg is the lead singer and plays guitar. Who's HER daddy? Why, that would be Tony Berg -- one-time session guitarist (for such artists as Air Supply, Debby Boone, and the Muppets, amongst others), producer (for such artists as Michael Penn, Edie Brickell, and Aimee Mann, amongst others), and famous A&R guru at Geffen Records, where he worked with such artists as Beck, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and At the Drive-In, amongst others. Oh, and the Like's record label? That would be Geffen Records. Coincidence? Don't even go there, girlfriend.
Okay then... time to lower the snarkiness quotient just a nudge....
The truth is, the three ladies of the Like started making music together while still in their teens. They released three EPs on their own [no help from Daddy(s)] at local shows, etc. Then, in 2005, they procured that Geffen contract and released their first album, Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking?. And it's a pretty damn solid record, actually. Pop with pseudo-punk accents (see: the first song below).
[Now, I'm tired of typing. I owe the Like nothing, though I actually LIKE the Like. But I drink like a fish, and snarky is as snarky does. Or, at least, isn't that what Tom Hanks says while sitting on that park bench in that movie where he's as dumb and in love with his mother as George W. Bush? More music later... I hope....]
The Like on MySpace.
[MP3] "What I Say and What I Mean"
[MP3] "The One"
It used to be (and sometimes still is) that the very idea of "side-projects" induced a sort of collective "eyebrow-raising effect" in music listeners everywhere. If you were a fan of the original artist/band, you would naturally worry that said side-project might be the beginning of the end for that entity. At the very least, the artistic integrity of said entity (must stop writing "said"; must stop writing "entity") would necessarily be compromised, what with time and creative constraints, etc.
Lately, though, it seems that there have been a number of successful collaborations and crossovers. Certainly, the various members of the New Pornographers have proved quite adept at juggling their responsibilities both within the group and without. Ben Gibbard has somehow found the requisite time and energy to drive a cab for Cutie (whoever the hell "Cutie" is) while simultaneously moonlighting for the Postal Service. And, of course, Dave Grohl will happily serve as monkey-drummer to any organ grinder who comes a courtin'.
Well, now it's Torquil Campbell's turn.
"Uh... Torquil WHO?" you may ask. That would be Torquil Campbell, who, along with the better-known Amy Millan, serves as front-person for the Canadian indie-pop group Stars. Mr. Campbell linked up with American Chris Dumont back in 2003 to form Memphis, a highly pleasant electronic/folk/pop amalgam that's less interested in knocking your socks off than in peeling them off you, inch-by-inch (which is not to suggest that they have some sort of foot fetish or anything, but... well... never mind....). Anyway, Memphis released their first record, I Dreamed We Fell Apart, in 2004, but, outside of Canada (and maybe even INSIDE of Canada), I'm not sure that all that many people heard it.
That can potentially be rectified with the upcoming American and European release of their second album, A Little Place in the Wilderness (look for it in early 2007, or, if you live or are visiting Canada, pick it up in your local record shop right now). Fans of Stars should understand that Memphis does the music-thing just a little bit differently. There's less emphasis here on verse-chorus-verse songcraft and more on gentle-but-never-static soundscapes. Apparently, the LP was recorded during a Canadian winter, and it has that feel to it. The instrumentation and arrangements may be subtle, but they're hardly sparse. And the music, in general, may have a cool efficiency to it, but there is an undeniably warm subcurrent to the work that seems -- dare I say -- downright "hopeful." Seems safe to say: Canadians and Americans alike long for those first green leaves of spring. This is the soundtrack to that longing.
Memphis on MySpace.
[MP3] "I'll Do Whatever You Want"
[MP3] "A Little Place in the Wilderness"
It was almost exactly a year ago that I first declared my budding love for the then-unsigned Lucky Soul. Long before I laid ears on such '60s revivalists as the Pipettes, I had high hopes that this London quintet would eventually land itself a record deal and break on through to the other side (of the Atlantic) (and otherwise).
Well, it's finally happening (as reported by Torture Garden). Lucky Soul's first album, The Great Unwanted, will be out in March '07, and they'll be releasing an EP on December 11 featuring the songs "Ain't Never Been Cool," "I Gots the Magic," and "Struck Dumb." You will find the last of these below.
To hear more from Lucky Soul, visit them at MySpace or see them up close and personal at the following locales >>>
Nov 18 8:00P/NEW POP REVOLUTION, THE METRO/LONDON
Nov 23 8:00P/SPITALFIELDS MARKET ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS OPENING/LONDON
Nov 28 8:00P/THE FLY NEW OXFORD STREET/LONDON
Dec 5 8:00P/BARDEN'S BOUDOIR STOKE NEWINGTON/LONDON
Dec 15 8:00P/THE DEBASER/STOCKHOLM
Dec 31 8:00P/LS NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY @ THE HOPE & ANCHOR/LONDON
[MP3] "Struck Dumb"
What is one to make of a "band" called Shivaree with a lead singer who goes by the name of Ambrosia Parsley? Who the hell knows?
Well, maybe Quentin Tarantino does; apparently, he's a fan.
As am I, it turns out. Ms. Parsley possesses a rather bewitching voice that's halfway between poppy and sultry, and her songs play out as deceptively placid little gypsy curses -- look at them the wrong way and they'll spit a pox upon you. To put it another way, Shivaree are "romantic musical anarchists" determined to "prevail against all odds: a waltz or three here, a black mambo there, and 19 months of second-class travel to a cabaret near you."Quentin Tarantino couldn't have put it better.Shivaree on MySpace.
From the LP Who's Got Trouble?, 2005 >>>
[MP3] "I Close My Eyes"
[MP3] "Little Black Mess"
From the LP Rough Dreams, 2002 >>>
[MP3] "John, 2/14"
From the LP I Oughtta Give You a Shot in the Head for Making Me Live in This Dump, 1999 >>>
[MP3] "Goodnight Moon"
The Pierces are sisters Catherine and Allison, who, having already made the journey from their birthplace of Alabama to New York City, are now off to support Albert Hammond, Jr. on his tour of the UK.
Their debut album, Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge, will be released in February of '07 on Lizard King Records. Based on the very pretty, haunting, late-'60s/early-'70s-evoking song below, I'm looking forward to hearing it.
Here are the Pierces on MySpace.
Here are the Pierces' upcoming gigs with Mr. Hammond, Jr. >>>
November 22 Birmingham/Academy 2
November 24 Leeds/The Cockpit
November 25 Manchester/Academy 3
November 27 Glasgow/ABC 2
November 28 Nottingham/Rescue Rooms
November 29 London/Scala
[MP3] "Go to Heaven"
I don't spotlight a lot of low-key singer-songwriters on this blog, in part because so many other blogs make a specialty of that. Also, in part, because low-key singer-songwriters sometimes make me sleepy.
Even so, I'm putting up a couple of low-key songs by low-key Brooklynite Kevin Devine today. I'm not going to write much about the guy because, 1.) I don't know a hell of a lot about him, and, 2.) I'm sleepy.
I can tell you that he released his first major-label album (Put Your Ghost to Rest) on October 17, and that he may soon be coming to a town near you (see below... as well as his MySpace page).
Nov 14 7:30P/The Black Sheep/Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 15 6:30P/Club Sound/Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 17 7:00P/The Roxy/Los Angeles, CA
Nov 18 7:00P/Chain Reaction/Anaheim, CA
Nov 19 6:00P/Bottom of the Hill/San Francisco, CA
Nov 20 8:00P/Parkview/Riverside, CA
Nov 21 6:30P/Soma Sidestage/San Diego, CA
[MP3] "You'll Only End Up Joining Them"
[MP3] "Brooklyn Boy"
Ah, what to call this? Dinosaur rock? More like "crocodile rock," I suppose, seeing as whatever the hell it was that did in the dinosaurs couldn't quite kill off the crocs. In a similar way, some bands just seem to keep on keepin' on. The question is: Is that the sign of a group so talented and tough it passes the test of time, or merely an indication of an outfit so artistically out-of-touch and/or egregiously greedy that it refuses to give up the ghost?
Of course, around about the mid-'80s, Aerosmith nearly HAD given up the ghost. But, as it turned out, it was nothing that a little rehab and a timely collaboration with Run DMC couldn't fix. Suddenly, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry & the gang were back in the saddle and about to release the most popular albums of their career.
Alas, listening to those late-'80s/early-'90s efforts now... well... let's just say that they reflect a lot of the overproduced, superficial, hair-metal fluff of the time. Maybe the band was in on the joke; maybe they weren't. But, to say the least, half-a-goof songs like "Love in an Elevator" and "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" haven't aged particularly gracefully. Nor have the later, sticky-sweet ballads, which were probably only popular at the time because they so often were accompanied by Alicia Silverstone playing cute, coy, pert, and perky for the Beavis and Butt-head generation.
Whatever the case, Aerosmith are nothing if not persistent, and they've gone ahead and released yet another greatest hits collection -- this one entitled Devil's Got a New Disguise. Its 18 tracks break down in thoroughly predictable ways -- five "older" tunes (including the classic ballad "Dream On"), two new ones (the somewhat gritty title track and the dull "Sedona Sunrise"), and 11 encompassing the aforementioned big-payday period. (It should probably be noted that the two "new" songs are, in fact, originally from the Permanent Vacation recording sessions, circa 1987.)
As a final note, Aerosmith are currently on tour with Motley Crue, which somehow sounds just about right. Maybe, twenty years from now, they'll be sharing a bill with Insane Clown Posse. Or the Rolling Stones.
Nov 13 7:30P/Cricket Pavilion/Phoenix, Arizona
Nov 15 7:30P/Smirnoff Music Centre/Dallas, Texas
Nov 17 7:30P/Verizon Wireless Amphitheater/Selma, Texas
Nov 19 7:30P/Woodlands Pavilion/Woodlands, Texas
Nov 22 7:30P/Ford Amphitheatre At the Florida State Fairgrounds Tampa, Florida
Nov 24 7:30P/Sound Advice Amphitheatre/West Palm Beach, Florida
Dec 7 7:30P/Target Center/Minneapolis, Minnesota
[MP3] "Devil's Got a New Disguise"
[MP3] "Dream On"
Upon first hearing this artist's name, I just naturally assumed he was a Brit -- some sort of younger, cuter version of James Blunt. Well, the "younger, cuter" thing holds (and probably quite a bit of the "James Blunt" thing, too). But, in truth, 23-year-old Landon Pigg harkens from good ol' Nashville, U.S.A.
He released his first album (logically entitled LP) back in the summer, and it's a solid -- if not standout -- affair. There does seem to be a lot of this type of music floating around these days... pleasant voices, pleasant melodies, but nothing you haven't heard before on the OC and other such shows.
Still, what with his age (and, yes, those good looks), we'll cut Mr. Pigg a bit of slack and see if he can rise above his influences on his next go-round.
Landon Pigg on MySpace.
[MP3] "On the Other Side"
PULP FIXATION (ON SECOND THOUGHT... IT'S THE *REMEMBERING* THAT COUNTS)
It suddenly occurred to me that my last, entirely random post might be misinterpreted (by one person, in particular), and I wanted to rectify that, post-haste.
But rather than go the Breakfast Club/Simple Minds/"Don't Forget About Me" route, I think I'll serve up a suite from Jarvis Cocker's former clan, Pulp. Somehow, these songs -- from one angle or another -- get at where I've been these past few days (and hope to get to again).
[MP3] "The Fear"
[MP3] "Do You Remember the First Time?"
[MP3] "Glory Days"
[MP3] "This is Hardcore"
[MP3] "We Are the Boys"
[MP3] "Something Changed"
[MP3] "Like a Friend"
REMEMBERING TO FORGET
For various reasons, this has been a rather erratic week for me in the blogging department, and that's going to happen from time to time. Here's a Fountains of Wayne song that was new to me (and a Magnetic Fields song that it put me in mind of).
[MP3] Fountains of Wayne/"The Girl I Can't Forget"
[MP3] The Magnetic Fields/"The Night You Can't Remember"
Between trying -- not very successfully -- to rid my gutters and yard of leaves, and attempting, simultaneously, to get my mind around a sudden and utterly stunning "opportunity" in my life, I haven't had much time or energy for music lately.
Nonetheless, here are some songs that didn't quite make my Best of October mix. Mere also-rans? Well, sure. But you might just enjoy them more than the ones that made the final cut...
[MP3] Saint Etienne/"Lightning Strikes Twice"
[MP3] James Dean Bradfield/"Still a Long Way to Go"
[MP3] Math and Physics Club/"Darling, Please Come Home"
[MP3] Pete Yorn/"Bandstand in the Sky"
[MP3] Nicolas Makelberge/"Dying in Africa"
Off to Sweden we go for more of that ever-satisfying, ever-slightly guilt-inducing Swedish pop.
Marit Bergman just recently released her third full-length, I Think It's a Rainbow. Alas, unless you live in a Nordic country, you may have to work a little harder and pay a little extra to grab ahold of it.
Ms. Bergman's sound incorporates both '60s and '80s pop sounds, and maybe that's why it sounds just a bit more "sophisticated" -- and just a bit less "slick" -- to my ears than the sort of thing that Britney and her silicone ilk are known for.
Marit Bergman on MySpace.
[MP3] "No Party"
[MP3] "Alone Together"
SHINY TOY GUNS
Today's songs -- by L.A.'s Shiny Toy Guns -- have been circulating for a while now, but in lousy quality. I think you'll find these to be a great improvement.
The Guns released their first album, We Are Pilots, on October 17. The music stretches from light 'n' frothy pop-electronica to somewhat harder modern-rock -- with singer Carah Faye taking the lead on most of the former; Chad Petree on the latter.The band is currently touring the UK, as such >>>
Nov 8 8:00P/CLUB NME @ SUMO. 18 AND UP. Leicester: England.
Nov 9 8:00P/THE CRYPT >> 18 + Hastings: England
Nov 10 8:00P/MET LOUNGE. with Kill Hannah. 14 AND UP. Peterborough: England
Nov 11 8:00P/THE UNDERGROUND. with Kill Hannah. 18 AND UP. Southport: England
Nov 12 8:00P/FIBBERS. with Kill Hannah/Viva Machine. 15 AND UP. York: England
Nov 13 8:00P/CLUB NME at DIGITAL. 18 AND UP. Newcastle: England
Nov 14 8:00P/THE TWIST. with Kill Hannah.16 AND UP. Colchester: England
[MP3] "Starts With One"
[MP3] "Le Disko"
BEST OF OCTOBER
[Wow. Had to love that Tigers sweep of Oakland in the World Series this year. (Anybody know who won the Mets/Cardinals consolation match?)]
As for the music, seems we've let a few more girls into the club this month. Hope you find a few to enjoy (the songs, not the girls).
Please left-click [HERE] to initiate your download sequence.
01) Monster Movie/Driving Through the Red Lights
02) Polar Eyes/Hey Mary
03) Royal Treatment Plant/You Don't Need Me
04) Mark Mallman/Substances
05) Shiny Toy Guns/Don't Cry Out
06) Nightmare of You/My Name is Trouble
07) Valeze/Search and Destroy
08) Moi Caprice/Drama Queen [single edit]
09) Imogen Heap/Glittering Cloud
10) Badly Drawn Boy/One Last Dance
11) Pernice Brothers/Conscience Clean (I Went to Spain)
12) The Features/Contrast
13) Monster Movie/Vanishing Act
14) The Killers/Bones
15) Starflower/Dance Til Morning Light
16) Yeah Yeah Yeahs/Sealings
17) doublePark/I Don't Want to Party
18) Anna Ternheim [w/Max Peezay]/Bring Down Like I
20) The Positions/Back to Me
The Bluetones are one of those British bands that got lost in the mid-to-late-'90s, post-Britpop shuffle. They were simply never destined to attain the almost mythic status of the Stone Roses. They would never break through to the commercial mainstream the way that Oasis did. They would never reach the artistic heights of Radiohead. And it occurs to me: I'm referring to these guys entirely in the past-tense, as if they're already dead, buried, and disbanded.
Well, not so. In fact, they're about to release their self-titled fifth album on November 14. You can pre-order it [here] (though Americans may have to go the import route [here]).
The Bluetones on MySpace.
The Bluetones' upcoming busking >>>
Nov 3 8:00P/Knust/Hamburg
Nov 5 8:00P/Mau Club/Rostock
Nov 8 8:00P/Lopen/Copenhagen
Nov 9 8:00P/Paradiso/Amsterdam
Nov 12 8:00P/Cockpit/Leeds
Nov 13 8:00P/Fez Club/Reading
Nov 14 8:00P/Junction/Cambridge
From their self-titled LP, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Head on a Spike"
From the LP RETURN TO THE LAST CHANCE SALOON, 1998 >>
From the LP EXPECTING TO FLY, 1996 >>>
[MP3] "Slight Return"
I was first alerted to the band Polar Eyes by the German blog Coast is Clear back in early September. I found the songs that were available there highly promising, but was once again frustrated by the 96 kbps-quality of the MP3s. (It seems I'm becoming increasingly greedy in this area; and MySpace and EZArchive can kiss my pale, white ass.)
Regardless, I dashed off yet another urgent and imploring e-mail to a band that I knew next-to-nothing about. As happens only rarely, the band actually responded to said e-mail (perhaps out of pity). Turns out, they were in the midst just then of some serious music-making and picture-taking and bio-crafting. In short, they implored me to be patient and promised to get back to me.
I was. And they did.
So, now, we can present you with a couple of fresh and gleaming Polar Eyes tunes -- in top-notch quality. These should give you at least some idea what the band is capable of [though I'd also recommend that you mosey on over to their MySpace page (that damned, quality-skimping whorehouse of a site; it's got its hooks sunk into me still) and check out the slower, "softer" "Wait" -- for yet another angle on their audio].
Okay now, a bit of "Who," "What," "Where," "What's Next"...
Polar Eyes are T (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Phil Bellemare (lead guitar), Julian Woods (drums), and Elliot Kerr (bass and backing vocals). On the one side of their sound, they cite Weezer and Coldplay. On the other: Elliott Smith and Neil Young. They harken from the suddenly-it's-a-music-hotbed, Montreal. If all goes well, they'll have a single out by December, and an EP sometime in the spring.
[Till then, look for their "Hey Mary" to make a repeat appearance on my "Best of October" mix sometime this Friday. That guitar lick is positively Iggy-licious, circa 1979's "Five Foot One."]
[MP3] "Hey Mary"
Why do so many remixes suck such major windage? It's a question for the ages... kind of like the one about the tree that falls next to the bear shitting next to the woodchuck chucking wood while no one is listening (in the woods). (I am paraphrasing.)
As usual, I suppose, context is everything. If you're out on the dancefloor, hopped up on poppers or all touchy-feely, Give-Peace-a-Chance/All-We-Need-is-E, then most remixes will probably sound just swell (if not utterly life-altering). All one needs in that case (besides the artificial stimulants) is that reassuring, chest-echoing bass beat, some soaring (perhaps "burbling") synthesizer lines, and a Glo-stick or two to light your way to Heaven or Hell or whatever-the-hell theme you may be chasing that particular evening.
When it comes to more "active" listening, however, remixes have a way of courting tedium and pointlessness -- even when you're a fan of the original song or single. Maybe that's what mash-ups were intended to remedy. Bored by one extended, repetitive, melodically static soundscape? Well, here's ANOTHER one, unimaginatively intersperced with the FIRST one. Clever is as clever does.
Even so, such remixes and reimaginings will likely remain a part of our popular culture (certainly for as long as Madonna keeps kicking). And, perhaps even more alarming, the occasional "remix CD" will continue to drop upon us -- often when we least expect it; almost always when we least desire it.
So, it is within this rather bleak context that I remind any and all of you who give a hoot about such things that Goldfrapp released just such a remix CD, We Are Glitter, back in October. Now, please understand, I like a number of Goldfrapp tracks, including a few that appeared on their last "regular" release, Supernature. But for one exception, all of the remixes on Glitter are spun from Supernature's songs and are done by artists other than the Goldfrapp duo.
Frankly, I'll have to leave it to you fine folks to decide whether or not this sort of thing is your cup of tea. For this particular, forever-banished-from-the-dancefloor outsider (I was recently exiled for my SUPER-funky rendition of the "Funky Chicken" and my Rush Limbaugh-inspired, Michael-J.-Fox-off-his-meds "remix" of the Macarena), it's almost impossible to judge the quality on display here. But for all you dancin' fools -- or those of you who just enjoy driving (or sitting in gridlock) to a driving beat -- this disc might be just the ticket to Heaven or Hell or those Woods with the Tree (falling) and the Bear (shitting) and the Woodchuck (chucking).
Just remember to stay hydrated.
Goldfrapp on MySpace.
From the LP We Are Glitter, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Satin Chic" [Bombay Mix] [by The Shortwave Set]
[MP3] "Ooh La La" [Extended Remix] [by Benny Benassi]
From the LP Supernature, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Ooh La La"
From the LP Black Cherry, 2003 >>>
[MP3] "Strict Machine"
From the LP Felt Mountain, 2000 >>>