Wednesday, July 26

LD BEGHTOL
& THE NEW CRITICISM

LD & THE NEW CRITICISM

If you're a fan of Stephin Merritt/the Magnetic Fields/the 6ths/et al., you should feel right at home with LD & the New Criticism. For one thing, lead singer/songwriter LD Beghtol sang on Merritt's magnum opus 69 Love Songs - perhaps most memorably on the mega-charming "Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side."

Also like Merritt, Mr. Beghtol is a bit of a whore when it comes to sharing his talents with the planet - spreading himself thrillingly thin with Flare, Moth Wranglers, and the Three Terrors (with Merritt, natch).

Beghtol takes his latest roll in the hay with the rather collegiate-sounding LD & the New Criticism - a fluid group of like-minded, deep-thinking free-spirits forever torn between their twin obsessions of sex and death (I'm guessing). Also (and here I am again guessing): love and lies. War & peace. Paris. Nicole. Mary-Kate. Ashley. Etc. Ad infinitum.

LD & the New Criticism released their first album, Tragic Realism, on Darla Records last November. The sound? Well, Beghtol pegs it as "experimental countrypolitan deathpop." And, yeah, that's pretty much it in a nutshell.

Actually... no.

Experimental? Not all that much in the greater scheme of things (upon hearing these 16 tracks, your grandma will not be scandalized; she'll just not get 90% of the references).

Country? Let's just say: "tinged."

Politan? You bet; this is an urban record. Not "urban" as in "Blood v. Crips/"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" "urban," mind you - but "urban" as in "West Hollywood," "the West Village," and... um... "the Pet Shop Boys' cover of the Village People's 'Go West'" "urban."

Deathpop? Well... that one might be right on the money.

(And no, you don't have to be queer to "get" this stuff; you just have to be as well-read, ironic, and just generally cabaret-centric as your average queer.)

(Whoever that may be.)

Truth be told, listeners WILL hear a lot of the Magnetic Fields in these songs - arch, clever lyrics paired with spare, playful instrumentation. (And yes, that DOES mean "ukulele." And "toy piano." "Glockenspiel." "Finger cymbals." "Etc." "Ad infinitum.").

Considering what a superstar Stephin Merritt is in indie circles, it's shocking to me (shocking, I say!) that LD & the New Criticism haven't been all-the-rage in the music blogs over the past eight months. The elbow-patch-on-tweed-sleeve band name probably hasn't helped a whole hell of a lot. Maybe not so much the "experimental countrypolitan deathpop" thing, either.

But only the most unhip of Middle-American, septuagenarian grandmas would be put off by such obviously "ironic" superficialities. The music's the thing. And LD & friends deliver it to the hilt.

[MP3] LD & the New Criticism/"Unpaid Endorsement"

[MP3] LD & the New Criticism/"Apathy!"

[MP3] LD & the New Criticism/"Always the Last to Know"

BONUS TRACKS >>>

[MP3] Moth Wranglers/"Never Said 'I'm Sorry'"

[MP3] The Magnetic Fields/"The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side"

Tuesday, July 25

JOAN
JETT
& THE BLACKHEARTS

JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS

I have this memory - which may or may not have much to do with reality - of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" and the Go-Go's' "We Got the Beat" both getting huge radio airplay at around the same time back in '81 or '82. I would have been about 11. For me, at least, it's been all downhill since.

Of course, it couldn't have been a picnic for Joan, either. After all, having a monster hit like "Rock 'n' Roll" often sounds the death knell for even the most promising of young artists. But Joan Jett was anything but a babe-in-the-the-woods even then, having been a member of the jailbait-as-marketing-tool band the Runaways for three years - a band that was (dare we say it) "big in Japan" and producers of the hit song "Cherry Bomb."

Post-"I Love Rock 'n' Roll," Joan Jett and the Blackhearts have released records somewhat sporadically (though 1988's Up Your Alley went platinum on the strength of the Top 10 single "I Hate Myself for Loving You" and 1994's Pure and Simple served as something of a comeback album). And, yet again proving her resiliency, Jett survived the 1987 cinematic debacle Light of Day with Michael J. Fox.

Which finally brings us to 2006 and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' latest CD, Sinner. Peering out from the cover with a bit of kittenish come-hither, the now 45-year-old Jett still looks like she could carve out a man's kidneys with one expertly finessed stiletto. More importantly, the music still packs the hard-rock heft and tough-chick riffs that have always defined her sound with the Blackhearts. So... call it another comeback if you must, but Joan Jett has been making this type of music for a full two/thirds of her life, not to mention inspiring the next generation(s) of riot grrls to strap on guitars and make just as big a racket as the boys ever did or ever could. She empowers them also with her stature as founder and leader of Blackheart Records for the past 25 years and as host of her own Sirius radio show, Joan Jett's Radio Revolution.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are currently on the road with this summer's Warped Tour. Check out their MySpace page [here] for a list of upcoming shows.

[MP3] "A 100 Miles Away"

[MP3] "Everyone Knows"

Monday, July 24

EASTERLY







The Salem, Oregon band Easterly started out in 2001 with singer/songwriter Noah Hall front-and-center. Since then, however, Hall has made room for five bandmates, most of whom have contributed songs to the greater good of the collective.

Still, Hall's songwriting and voice remain the standout centerpiece(s) for these indie popsters, though their infectious guitars and harmonies play a huge part in the bigger picture. So far, Easterly have been compared to everyone from the Pernice Brothers, Brendan Benson, Grant Lee Buffalo, Teenage Fanclub, and the Posies. Yet, for all that, they have a sound all their own and deserve to be heard well beyond the boundaries of the Pacific Northwest.

Easterly will soon be mastering their second full-length CD, and we'll be updating you on that album's availability as soon the information becomes known. In the meantime, check out a couple of unmastered tracks from the CD below, as well as a number of MP3s from the band's first record on their website's "media" section[here].

You can purchase that CD from Amazon.com or from Not Lame Recordings.

Easterly will be playing Portland, Oregon's Doug Fir Lounge on July 27 at 8 PM along with the acts the Days and Nire. Check out their MySpace page [here] to look up their multiple shows in Salem in August and to hear even more sound samples.

From their self-titled LP, 2004 >>>
[MP3] "Wicked Conversation"
[MP3] "Happiness"

From their forthcoming LP, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "It's No Secret"
[MP3] "Seek Ye First"

Sunday, July 23

THE '60s, VOL. 2



A second serving from the '60s...

Please left-click [here] for the tunes.

TRACKLIST >>>

01 Chubby Checker/The Twist
02 The Ventures/Walk, Don't Run
03 Steppenwolf/Born to Be Wild
04 The Hollies/Bus Stop
05 Ben E. King/Stand By Me
06 The American Breed/Bend Me, Shape Me
07 The Association/Cherish
08 The Lovin' Spoonful/Summer in the City
09 Jan & Dean/Surf City
10 The Beau Brummels/Just a Little
11 We Five/You Were on My Mind
12 The Supremes/My World is Empty Without You
13 Bee Gees/I Started a Joke
14 Sonny & Cher/I Got You Babe
15 Roy Orbison/Oh Pretty Woman
16 The Beach Boys/Good Vibrations
17 The Lemon Pipers/Green Tambourine
18 John Fred & His Playboy Band/Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)
19 The Box Tops/the Letter
20 The Foundations/Build Me Up Buttercup

21 Neil Sedaka/Breaking Up is Hard to Do
22 Shelley Fabares/Johnny Angel
23 The Rascals/Good Lovin'
24 The Spencer Davis Group/Gimme Some Lovin'
25 Otis Redding/(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay
26 The Rolling Stones/Paint It, Black
27 Jefferson Airplane/White Rabbit

Saturday, July 22

FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE


I intended to post this a few days ago, as Fountains of Wayne were scheduled to start airing on the PBS show Soundstage at that time. Still, it's a "check your local listings" thing, since they won't be on in the Detroit area here till tomorrow. Regardless, this gives us a chance to offer up some primo tunes from one of today's great pop outfits...

From the LP Welcome Interstate Managers, 2003 >>>
[MP3] "Stacy's Mom"
[MP3] "Valley Winter Song"

From the LP Utopia Parkway, 1999 >>>
[MP3] "Denise"
[MP3] "Prom Theme"

From their self-titled LP, 1996 >>>
[MP3] "Radiation Vibe"
[MP3] "Please Don't Rock Me Tonight"

Wednesday, July 19

THE SMITTENS



In writing about the Icicles yesterday - as well as their two upcoming shows in Michigan - I neglected to mention that they'll be playing those shows with the Burlington, Vermont band the Smittens. Well, how better to rectify that situation than to shine a little spotlight in that band's direction as well.

The Smittens describe their music as "fi-curious indiepop" and a "DIY punky bubblegum pop explosion." Indeed. Just listen for yourself....

You can click [here] to purchase the Smittens' latest CD, A Little Revolution. Click [TC's Speakeasy in Ypsilanti and August 5 at the Sazerac Lounge in Grand Rapids. Be there or be square, and all that....

[MP3] "Good Migrations"

[MP3] "Stop the Bombs!"

Tuesday, July 18

THE ICICLES



Off-hand, I can't ever remember having posted on an artist from my home state of Michigan before. (Well, I think Madonna might have gotten in there somewhere, but she's British now and doesn't count.)

On the other hand, the Icicles are the genuine Great Lakes article, and I doubt they have any intention of feigning Brit accents and escaping our state any time soon. Not when they seem to be having so much fun where they are right now. Well... judging by their music, at least.

The Icicles play breezy, '60s styled pop - all swirling synths, groovy basslines, girl harmonies, handclaps, and tambourine. The All Girl Summer Fun Band is a logical comparison point. Heavenly as well.

The band's debut LP, A Hundred Patterns, can be purchased for just $10 from Microindie Records [here]. You can also sample some live tracks at their MySpace page [here].

Finally, for those anywhere in the Michigan area in early August, the Icicles will be playing TC's Speakeasy in Ypsilanti on August 4 at 8:00 and the Sazerac Lounge in Grand Rapids on August 5 at 9:00.

[MP3] "Snowman"

[MP3] "I Wanna Know"

Sunday, July 16

KYLE ANDREWS



Chicago native Kyle Andrews just released his debut LP, Amos in Ohio, this past June. However, I first discovered him with the simply irresistible "Sushi," which does indeed sound a bit like Eels' Mark Oliver Everett playing a Japanese sushi bar. You can picture Bill Murray there, too. Drinking Suntory whiskey.

Now Nashville-based, Andrews does wonders with simple instrumentation - some soaring keyboards here; some gentle washes of acoustic guitar there. (I also can't help hearing just a twinge of Jeff Tweedy in his voice as well, which suits me just fine.)

To hear that voice for yourself, you can check out the sound samples on Kyle's MySpace page [here].

The album Amos in Ohio is available from Badman Recording Co. and Amazon.com.

[MP3] "Moon Tea" [from the LP Amos in Ohio]

[MP3] "Connecting the Dots" [from the LP Amos in Ohio]

[MP3] "Sushi"

Saturday, July 15

THOM THOM CLUB


I meant to post this collection of Thom Yorke's previous solo work (both in and out of Radiohead) last Tuesday, when Yorke's solo album, The Eraser, came out. I hope to get back to more regular posting next week...

Left-click [here] for the songs.

TRACKLIST >>>

01) Thom Yorke & the Venus in Furs/2HB [from the film VELVET GOLDMINE]
02) Thom Yorke & the Venus in Furs/Ladytron
03) Thom Yorke & the Venus in Furs/Bitter-Sweet
04) Thom Yorke & PJ Harvey/This Mess We're In
05) Thom Yorke & Bjork/I've Seen It All [from the film DANCER IN THE DARK]
06) Thom Yorke & Drugstore/El President
07) Radiohead/Gagging Order
08) Thom Yorke & UNKLE/Rabbit in Your Headlights
09) Radiohead/I Will [demo]
10) Thom Yorke/Go to Sleep [live/acoustic]
11) Thom Yorke/Follow Me Around [live/acoustic]
12) Radiohead/I Want None of This
13) Thom Yorke/Killer Cars [live/acoustic]
14) Radiohead/Like Spinning Plates [live]
15) Radiohead/True Love Waits [live]
16) Radiohead/Lozenge of Love
17) Radiohead/You Never Wash Up After Yourself

18) Radiohead/Motion Picture Soundtrack [acoustic]
19) Radiohead/How I Made My Millions
20) Thom Yorke & UNKLE/Rabbit in Your Headlights (Underdog Mix)
21) Radiohead/Fog [live]

Friday, July 7

BEST OF JUNE


A little late in coming, but here are last month's winners (for me, anyway). As always, I hope you'll find a few to agree with me on...

Please left-click [here] for the songs.

TRACKLIST >>>

01) Archie Bronson Outfit/Dead Funny
02) SohoDolls/Pleasures of Soho
03) Sound Team/Born to Please
04) Keane/Let It Slide
05) Tilly and the Wall/You and I Misbehaving
06) Brother and Sisters/One Night
07) Easterly/Wicked Conversation
08) Franz Ferdinand/Well That Was Easy
09) Avocadoclub/Too Much Space to Walk Away
10) Boy Kill Boy/Ivy Parker
11) Elf Power/Come Lie Down With Me (And Sing My Song)
12) Mojave 3/Puzzles Like You
13) Lucky Soul/The Great Unwanted
14) The Veils/Advice for Young Mothers
15) The Sleepy Jackson/This Day
16) The Dears/Whites Only Party

17) Office/Wound Up
18) Girl Alliance/Jaded
19) Pulp/Ansaphone
20) Bishop Allen/Things Are What You Make of Them
21) The Concretes/Song for the Songs
22) The Minor Canon/Good Luck

Thursday, July 6

AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL YOU SOCCER SUCKERS...



And yes, we will be calling it "soccer" here. Don't like that? Tough poop.

Now, rumor has it there's been some kind of rinky-dink tournament being played lately. In Germany, of all places. I mean, is that really a very good idea? Remember the "tournament" the Germans hosted in 1972? I think Steven Spielberg just finished directing a film about it. They had hosted a similar "tournament" in '36. Spielberg got at least TWO movies out of what followed that one. Lesson? Allowing the Germans to host anything more than that mother of all Lowenbrau keggers they put on every October is a dicey proposition at best. Yet here we are again....

To watch SOCCER, of all things! Now, I know that, even as I speak, the very dear-to-my-heart Scatter o' Light and her rabid gaggle of feral fantasy-leaguers are pulling out their red and yellow fabric swatches and preparing to go all hooligan on my ass. But I have to ask them, when it comes to their beloved futbol del mundo: WHERE'S THE DAMN ACTION? I mean, there are more shots fired by Detroit preschoolers with Glock 9s on a day-to-day basis than the U.S. team managed to get on net the ENTIRE tournament. That's entertainment?! Hell, there's more inherent drama in watching George W. Bush try to ride a bike. Or eat a pretzel.

Others, it would seem, disagree. Sometimes, they even go so far as to write SONGS about this so-called "sport." Behold:

[MP3] The Charade/"Dressed in Yellow and Blue"

[MP3] The Lightning Seeds/"Three Lions"

But me, I'm going to stick with the great American pastime of baseball (so called because it long ago passed its time as America's favorite sport). All the same, the sight of Robert Redford hitting that majestic shot into the exploding lightposts in The Natural is still a stirring one. (And, in retrospect - considering Redford's environmental bent - a none-too-subtle indictment of America's electricity industry.) But even the just-recently-deceased former CEO of Enron would have found that scene far more (shall we say) "heart-stoppingly" exciting than the sight of Sylvester Stallone trying to stop Max von Sydow on a penalty kick in 1981's Victory. (You know it's true.)

So, ultimately: Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its weary ears to you...

[MP3] Randy Newman/"The Final Game" [from The Natural]

(P.S. Not that I've been paying any attention to this crap, but my prediction for the final is that Finland will kick Iceland's ass right back to that freakish, whale song-singing/dead swan-wearing island they came from. Take it to the bank.)

BOURNE AGAIN


Now, you have to understand, I'm not exactly the world's biggest fan of The Bourne Identity. Yes, I thought it was fairly solid for the type of movie that it is (though its Supremacy sequel sucked giant lemon balls). And, true, I do prefer Matt Damon to his dimmer glimmer twin, Ben Affleck. And yes, it's also true that I have an undeniable weakness for plots involving lost identities, e.g. Memento (and even, to a far lesser extent, such over-the-top monuments to absurdity as Face/Off and The Long Kiss Goodnight).

All of which has only a little to do with this first post today. For, you see, it was hearing some of the music from The Bourne Identity in recent commercials for some car brand or another and then, most horribly, NASCAR, that got me thinking about the movie again. Turns out, that music is Paul Oakenfold's "Ready Steady Go," and it appears in the film during various car-chase sequences, if memory serves. Alas, it does not appear on the movie's soundtrack. For that matter, neither does the Moby song that accompanies the closing credits. So, somehow, all THAT gets us to the two tunes below.

(A lot of build-up for not much climax, but we can talk about my sex-life some other time....)

[MP3] Paul Oakenfold/"Ready Steady Go"

[MP3] Moby/"Extreme Ways"

Wednesday, July 5

THE PRESS


Atlanta-based band the Press have just released their new single, "The Red Comes Ringin'," on Goodnight Records. The song scared me a little, to be honest, but other, less lily-livered listeners will no doubt find a way to groove and grind to it. (You can decide for yourself by checking it out on their MySpace page [here]).

On the other hand, I did take a decided shine to the single's other track, "I Like to Talk About Myself," and the band had no problem with me offering that up as a download for you here.

They also thought that I might be partial to a song off their last EP, Noxious Saucy Beast. That one's called "The Fattest Pigeon," and they were right: I like it real swell. Perhaps you will, too...

[MP3] "The Fattest Pigeon"

[MP3] "I Like to Talk About Myself"

Tuesday, July 4

THE NATIONAL


The New York (by way of Ohio) group the National finally began to garner a bit of mainstream attention with the release of 2005's Alligator. Truth be told, though, they've been putting out solid albums and songs ever since 2001, and we spotlight some of those here today...

From the LP Alligator, 2005 >>>
[MP3] "Mr. November"
[MP3] "Karen"

From the EP Cherry Tree, 2004 >>>
[MP3] "All the Wine"

From the LP Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, 2003 >>>
[MP3] "Available"
[MP3] "Slipping Husband"

From their self-titled LP, 2001 >>>
[MP3] "John's Star"
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