Wednesday, February 28

RONNIE SPECTOR



After yesterday's LEE HAZLEWOOD post, it seems appropriate to linger in the '60s for just a little bit longer. Like Hazlewood, RONNIE SPECTOR is best known for her work in that decade, and she too often found herself overshadowed -- in her case by husband and producer PHIL SPECTOR. Their relationship may not have been quite as stormy as IKE and TINA TURNER's, but it surely was no picnic or walk in the park (or picnic in the park) for poor Ronnie, either. (Of course, on the bright side, Ms. Spector DID manage to avoid being shot and killed by the man. You go, girl!)
Last year, Spector released her first album in almost 20 years, THE LAST OF THE ROCK STARS. Not all of the material was new, and, at times, she ended up being overshadowed (yet again) by some of her famous collaborators -- PATTI SMITH, KEITH RICHARDS, JOEY RAMONE, THE RAVEONETTES, etc.
For all that, the woman's voice remains a highly distinctive instrument, and it would be a welcome thing indeed if we didn't have to wait another two decades to hear more of it.
RONNIE SPECTOR on MySPACE.

[MP3] "All I Want"

[MP3] "Hey Sah Lo Ney"

[MP3] "There is an End"

BONUS TRACK >>>

[MP3] The Raveonettes [w/Ronnie Spector]/"Ode to L.A."

Tuesday, February 27

LEE HAZLEWOOD





Singer-songwriter LEE HAZLEWOOD is best known for his '60s collaborations with NANCY SINATRA. Now, at age 77, the man is dying of cancer. But he seems determined to go out with a wink and a nod. And maybe just one more coughing-fit-inducing chuckle. Fuck you, God, if you can't take a joke.
Call it a swansong or a last will and testament, but Mr. Hazlewood's final album, CAKE OR DEATH, came out on January 23. It's a bit all-over-the-place, but that can certainly be excused considering the circumstances of its creation.
Ever wonder what LEONARD COHEN would sound like if he got the notion to channel Hitler over surf-rock guitar? Well, look no further than "The First Song of the Day." Fan of LAMBCHOP? Then I'd guess you might find a happy place in your heart for the string-drenched "It's Nothing to Me."
What with her sexy go-go boots and her Rat Pack papa, Nancy Sinatra got all the love and attention back in the day. But Lee Hazlewood's songs will outlive us all. Peace be with him.

[MP3] "The First Song of the Day"

[MP3] "It's Nothing to Me"

[MP3] Tommy Parsons/"She's Gonna Break Some Heart Tonight"

BONUS TRACKS >>>

[MP3] "Summer Wine" [w/Nancy Sinatra]

[MP3] "Lady Bird" [w/Nancy Sinatra]

Monday, February 26

ADAGIO FOR STRINGS



We don't give a lot of love to classical music around these parts, but every now and again we do shine the spotlight on soundtracks. Perhaps influenced by the Oscars yesterday, we're going to give the love/shine the light on SAMUEL BARBER's Adagio for Strings.
You don't have to be an expert on classical music to know this piece. If you've seen PLATOON, you've heard this music. There's also a version of it that's been written for the human voice (Agnus Dei) that's even more breathtaking in its melodramatic melancholy.
And for those that just plain hate classical music and all that it stands for, we're throwing in a pretty ridiculous dance version. All goes to show: a great melody is a great melody, regardless of the musical genre it's stuffed into.
[MP3] "Agnus Dei"
[MP3] "Adagio for Strings"
[MP3] William Orbit/"Adagio for Strings" [Ferry Corsten radio edit]

Thursday, February 22

KINGS OF LEON


The brothers (and cousin) FOLLOWIL that make up Nashville's KINGS OF LEON will release their third full-length, BECAUSE OF THE TIMES, on April 5.
I'm generally not a fan of anything "blues-based," and I certainly could do without the whole genre of "Southern Rock." I'm also not sure what to make of the album's title, which apparently is named after a Pentecostal Church conference of ministers. These would be the folks that speak in tongues and writhe about like mental patients (or people experiencing a bad acid trip). I can only hope that the title is ironic or tongue-in-cheek in some way. The fact that the brothers' father (and uncle) was a Pentecostal preacher himself doesn't really do much to shed light on the subject. Could go either way. (Heaven? Hell?)
Of course, the music is what matters above all else around here -- songs that I like will always trump religions that I hate. (And I hate all of 'em, so don't be condemning me to hellfire, dear Pentecostal guests.) The songs below are about the only ones that I can recommend from this band, but I know they're big on the blogs, with critics, and with certain of their peers.
If you're of a mind to (or if the Lord commandeth it), you can pre-order BECAUSE OF THE TIMES [HERE].
KINGS OF LEON on MySPACE.
KINGS OF LEON on the road (to Jerusalem?) >>>
Feb 22 2007 7:30P/Leas Cliff Hall/Folkestone
Feb 23 2007 7:30P/Norwich UEA/Norwich
Feb 24 2007 7:30P/Engine Shed/Lincoln
Feb 26 2007 7:30P/Astoria/London
Apr 14 2007 8:00/Oasis/Swindon
Apr 15 2007 8:00P/Pavilions/Plymouth
Apr 16 2007 8:00P/Empress Ballroom/Blackpool
Apr 18 2007 8:00P/Hammersmith Apollo/London

[MP3] "Ragoo"

[MP3] "True Love Way"
BONUS TRACK >>>
[MP3] [VID] "The Bucket" [from the LP AHA SHAKE HEARTBREAK, 2005]

BLONDE REDHEAD



I didn't really jump on the BLONDE REDHEAD bandwagon until 2004's MISERY IS A BUTTERFLY. No doubt that was when a number of old-time diehards jumped off.
Well, excuse me for liking my noise and dissonance leavened with a bit of unabashed melody and grandeur. And excuse me for licking my chops at the prospect of more of the same (in the very best sense) as BLONDE REDHEAD prepares to drop its latest LP, 23, on April 10 (in the U.S.) and April 23 (in Europe).
BLONDE REDHEAD on MySPACE.
BLONDE REDHEAD all over tarnation >>>
March 14 Austin, TX/Emo's (SXSW 4AD SHOWCASE)
April 5 Nasa/Reykjavik,Iceland
April 7 Aldrei For Eg Sudur Festival/Isafjordur, Iceland
April 13 Detroit, MI/Magic Stick
April 14 Chicago, IL/Metro
April 15 Minneapolis, MN/First Avenue
April 19 Portland, OR/Wonder Ballroom
April 20 Vancouver, BC/Commodore Ballroom

[MP3] "Silently"

[MP3] "Spring and By Summer Fall"

Wednesday, February 21

ASH (WEDNESDAY)


Sometimes we're a bit literal-minded here at a PLAGUE of ANGELS. So today we're spotlighting some songs by Irish pop-punkers ASH.
The lads just finished recording a new album. Once it's been mastered, it'll be released to the masses sometime this year.
ASH on MySPACE.
ASH on the road >>>

Feb 21 2007 8:00P/Manchester Academy 3/Manchester
Feb 22 2007 8:00P/Manchester Academy 3/Manchester
Feb 23 2007 8:00P/Warwick University/Coventry
Feb 25 2007 8:00P/Newcastle Northumbria University/Newcastle
Feb 26 2007 8:00P/Glasgow QMU/Glasgow
Feb 27 2007 8:00P/Keele University/Staffs
Feb 28 2007 8:30P/The Propaganda, Bristol (DJ Set)/Bristol
Mar 1 2007 8:00P/Bristol Anson Rooms/Bristol

From the LP FREE ALL ANGELS, 2001 >>>
[MP3] [VID] "Sometimes"
[MP3] [VID] "Shining Light"
[MP3] [VID] "Candy"

From the LP NU-CLEAR SOUNDS, 1998 >>>
[MP3] "Folk Song"

From the LP TRAILER, 1995 >>>
[MP3] [VID] "Petrol"
[MP3] "Jack Names the Planets"

Tuesday, February 20

LAURA VEIRS



LAURA VEIRS has been a busy lass this past year-and-a-half or so. She moved from Seattle to Portland. She had a relationship end; had another begin. She toured in Portugal, Spain, and Australia. She changed her band's name from the TORTURED SOULS to the SALTBREAKERS. And she recorded a brand-spankin'-new album (also called SALTBREAKERS).
Said album will be released on Nonesuch Records on April 10.

LAURA VEIRS on MySPACE.

LAURA VEIRS out and about in the world >>>

Mar 23 2007 7:00P/Mississippi Studios/Portland, Oregon
Apr 4 2007 8:00P/100 Club/London
Apr 5 2007 8:00P/Academy 3/Manchester
Apr 6 2007 8:00P/Glee/Birmingham
Apr 7 2007 8:00P/ABC2/Glasgow
Apr 8 2007 8:00P/Fibbers/York
Apr 9 2007 8:00P/Arts Centre/Norwich
Apr 11 2007 8:00P/Ekko/Utrecht

From the LP SALTBREAKERS, 2007 >>>
[MP3] "Don't Lose Yourself"
[MP3] "Wandering Kind"

From the LP YEAR OF METEORS, 2005 >>>
[MP3] [VID] "Galaxies"
[MP3] "Spelunking"

LEOPOLD (SWE)



I want to be absolutely clear about this from the very get-go: the LEOPOLD in question today is the band from Gothenburg, Sweden, not the one from London, England. Nothing against the one from London, England, mind you. It's just that it's been a while since we've seen Sweden. And we've missed it.

LEOPOLD consist of MANS and OLA WIKLUND, CHRISTIAN LYUNG, and ANDERS JACOBSSON. They traffic in intensely mellow, pristine, and pretty pop. A Google search on them turned up the telling phrase: "Piano-pop melancholists." Indeed. Though they're not exactly COLDPLAY. More subdued. Less pretentious.

If you live in Sweden, you can buy FRIEND OF A FRIEND from DOTSHOP.SE (and probably any number of other Swedish-type locales). If you're unlucky enough to live elsewhere, you can just click on over to Parasol Records.

LEOPOLD on
MySPACE.

From the LP DREAMING IS FOR ANYONE, 2003 >>>
[MP3] "Promising Day"

From the LP FRIEND OF A FRIEND, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Johnny"
[MP3] "Work"

Monday, February 19

CANASTA



I'm pretty sure Canasta is a game of some kind. A combination of cricket and badminton, I'm guessing. Or croquet and ice dancing. Soccer and curling? Well, whatever... I doubt it's anything that any self-respecting American would ever be caught dead doing. Leave it to the Limeys, Kiwis, and Canucks.

There is, however, a very American version of
CANASTA. That would be the six-member band from Chicago. Formed in 2002, they are as follows: BRENDAN BYRNES (guitar, vocals), JOHN CUNNINGHAM (keyboard, clarinet, vocals), ELIZABETH LINDAU (vocals, violin), MEGAN O'CONNOR (piano, vocals), MATT PRIEST (vocals, bass, trombone, percussion), and COLIN SHEAFF (drums, vocals).

Clarinet? Trombone? Sounds a bit off-kilter, no? Well... "eclectic," maybe. And obviously "ambitious" when it comes instrumentation and arrangements. But, for the most part, these folks are playing a recognizable and inviting brand of indie pop/rock -- or "ultra-melodic, orchestral pop," as they would have it. Indeed, some creative touchstones here would have to include THE DELGADOS, YO LA TENGO, BELLE AND SEBASTIAN, and -- perhaps most of all -- the magpie methods of THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS.

The band released their first full-length, WE WERE SET UP, in 2005. Not surprisingly, a few more "eccentric"
instruments were brought to the party. Trumpet. Upright bass. Cello. Pedal-steel guitar. Again, though, these tools are integrated into the mix in a smart and subtle manner, and the album's 13 songs never feel cluttered or convoluted. Indeed, the fugue-like organ on "Microphone Song" only helps to add a hefty sense of menace, while the squiggly synthesizer line on "Sympathetic Vibrations" serves to heighten the playfulness of the "Peanuts Theme" piano and boy/girl call-and-response vocals.

WE WERE SET UP can be purchased from CD BABY, eMUSIC, INSOUND, iTUNES, or directly from the band's WEBSITE.

(If the songs below aren't enough to convince you to shell out a few bucks for the record, be sure to visit the AUDIO page on the band's website for a free download of another standout track -- "Slow Down Chicago." I'm sure that both BELLE AND SEBASTIAN and THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS would be proud to claim it as one of their own.)

CANASTA will be playing
Schubas in Chicago on February 22 with ANNUALS and THE NEVER and the Empty Bottle on April 17 with AQUEDUCT. Keep an eye on their MySPACE page for more music and live performances.

[MP3] "Microphone Song"

[MP3] "Sympathetic Vibrations"

BONUS TRACKS >>>

[MP3] Annuals/"The Bull and the Goat"

[MP3] The Never/"Cavity"

[MP3] Aqueduct/"Heart Design"

MALCOLM MIDDLETON



A couple songs to get the week started from MALCOLM MIDDLETON (one half of the now-defunct ARAB STRAP).

The Scotsman will release his third solo record, BRIGHTER BEAT, on March 1.

MALCOLM MIDDLETON on MySPACE.

MALCOLM MIDDLETON playing & promoting >>>

Feb 19 2007 8:00P/City Varietes (supporting Badly Drawn Boy)/Leeds/UK
Feb 20 2007 8:00P/Sage Theatre (supporting Badly Drawn Boy)/Gateshead/UK
Feb 23 2007 8:00P/Plaza (supporting Badly Drawn Boy)/Stockport/UK
Feb 25 2007 8:00P/ALBUM LAUNCH @ Mono/Glasgow
Feb 26 2007 1:00P/Fopp Records/Aberdeen
Feb 26 2007 6:00P/Fopp Records/Dundee
Feb 27 2007 1:00P/Fopp Records/Edinburgh
Feb 27 2007 5:00P/Fopp Records/Glasgow

[MP3] "A Brighter Beat"

[MP3] "Fight Like the Night"

Sunday, February 18

CHINESE NEW YEAR


Year of the Pig. Thus: Consider enjoying the following tracks with an order of sweet 'n' sour pork.

[MP3] David Bowie/"China Girl"
[MP3] R.E.M./"Yellow River"
[MP3] The Decemberists/"My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist"
[MP3] Tori Amos/"China"
[MP3] Ed Harcourt/"Shanghai"
[MP3] Tiger Baby/"Chinese Fairytale"
[MP3] Mando Diao/"To China With Love"
[MP3] Mew/"Chinaberry Tree"
[MP3] The Deathray Davies/"Chinese Checkers and Devo Records"
[MP3] Carl Douglas/"Kung Fu Fighting"
[MP3] John Mellencamp/"China Girl"

Thursday, February 15

STARFLOWER



I first stumbled upon the indie-pop four-piece STARFLOWER in October of 2006 with the song "Dance Till Morning Light" (perhaps introduced to it -- yet again -- by HITS IN THE CAR). Regardless, I was instantly smitten by that track's chiming guitars and light, almost whispery vocals. Not to mention the gentle-yet-driving-force drums, impeccable melody, and crisp-and-clean-as-a-Scandinavian-summer production. Ah-hah!, thought I at the time, these guys must be Swedish!

But heaven forfend! They are, in fact, from Finland, and that's no small slip-up on my part. The Finns resent being mistaken for Swedes in the same way that Canadians resent being mistaken for Americans, Americans resent being mistaken for Mexicans, and Mexicans resent being mistaken for Guatemalans. So... mea culpa, STARFLOWER. Mea culpa, Finland. (And mea culpa, Guatemala, while I'm at it.)

Now then... back to our regularly scheduled program....

STARFLOWER released their first full-length, MOMENT IN THE SUN, in 2006. Regardless of the country you happen to call "home" (even if it's Sweden!) (or Guatemala!), you can order said CD from the (um...) Swedish label MUSIC IS MY GIRLFRIEND.

Presently, the band is working on new material. If I can convince them to keep me posted on their progress, then I'll be sure to do the same for you.

STARFLOWER on MySPACE.

[MP3] "All By Myself"

[MP3] "Moment in the Sun"

THE RAKES



London's THE RAKES will be releasing their follow-up to 2005's CAPTURE/RELEASE on March 19. Entitled TEN NEW MESSAGES, the album will be introduced by first single "We Danced Together," which I'd have to rate as the best song on the record.
THE RAKES, of course, should not be confused with fellow English outfit THE BRAKES. Or BLOC PARTY, MAXIMO PARK, or THE VIEW, for that matter. Which is to say: this post-punk, neo-Britpop thing may finally be beginning to run its course....
THE RAKES on MySPACE.
THE RAKES in the UK >>>

Mar 19 2007 8:00P/Rock City/Nottingham
Mar 20 2007 8:00P/Vicar Street/Dublin
Mar 21 2007 8:00P/Barrowlands/Glasgow
Mar 22 2007 8:00P/Octagon/Sheffield
Mar 23 2007 8:00P/UEA/Norwich
Mar 25 2007 8:00P/Ritz/Manchester
Mar 26 2007 8:00P/Academy/Newcastle
Mar 28 2007 8:00P/Academy/Birmingham
Mar 29 2007 8:00P/Academy/Bristol
From the LP TEN NEW MESSAGES, 2007 >>>
[MP3] "We Danced Together"
[MP3] "Trouble"
From the LP CAPTURE/RELEASE, 2005 >>>
[MP3] "Open Book"
From the EP RETREAT, 2005 >>>
[MP3] "Dark Clouds"
From the compilation MONSIEUR GAINSBOURG REVISITED, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Just a Man With a Job"

Wednesday, February 14

VALENTINE'S DAY (OOMPA LOOMPA-STYLE)





A day hated by many; merely abided by many more. Of course, utterly adored by greeting-card companies. Candy makers. Chocolatiers. Florists. Women with significant others. Gay men with significant others. Gay florists with or without significant others.
But speaking of "chocolatiers"... This seems as good a time as any to re-post the Oompa Loompa tunes -- both old- and new-style. (And I kind of love the HELLO SAFERIDE song....)

[MP3] Hello Saferide/"Valentine's Day"

From CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, 2005 >>>
[MP3] "Augustus Gloop"
[MP3] "Violet Beauregarde"
[MP3] "Veruca Salt"
[MP3] "Mike Teavee"
[VID] "The Making Of" [w/DANNY ELFMAN] [7:16]

From WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, 1971 >>>
[MP3] "Oompa Loompa Song #1"
[MP3] "Oompa Loompa Song #2"
[MP3] "Oompa Loompa Song #3"
[MP3] "Oompa Loompa Song #4"
[VID] "Oompa Loompa Songs #1 to #4"

[MP3] "Pure Imagination"

Tuesday, February 13

VOLVOE


I first learned of the Danish band VOLVOE from the great Danish blog HITS IN THE CAR. A song spotlighted there -- "Organized Faults" -- managed to insinuate itself into my subconscious the way that songs sometimes manage to do. The music actually reminded me a bit of early DEPECHE MODE, but with a harder, more post-rock vocal keeping things firmly grounded in the 21st century.

VOLVOE started as an experimental duo in 1999, but has since morphed into a somewhat more traditional-minded five-piece. Unsigned at the moment, they describe their music alternately as "power-pop" and "electro-rock," though it seems clear they're determined to keep their options open and follow their collective muse wherever she may lead them.

Finally, I'm indebted to the guys in the group (ANDERS, THOMAS, MIKKEL, CHRISTIAN, and ANDREAS) for agreeing to send me better-quality versions of the songs below than were previously available on their MySpace page. I fully expect we'll be hearing more from this band in the not-too-distant future....

VOLVOE on
MySPACE.

A couple of upcoming VOLVOE live performances >>>

Mar 10 2007 8:00P/Rust/Copenhagen
Mar 24 2007 8:00P/Holmen Event/Copenhagen


[MP3] "Organized Faults"

[MP3] "Snowscape"

STARFLYER 59




I've been a fan of JASON MARTIN's one-man band, STARFLYER 59, for years now, so I'm not entirely sure how I failed to notice his 2006 LP -- MY ISLAND. My lack of awareness is even more inexcusable in this case because Martin has essentially released an album every year for the past 12 or 13 years. Thus, as always: He was due.
In recent years, STARFLYER 59 records have moved away from the shoegaze stylings of the early years -- replaced by crunchy guitars and up-front rhythm sections. MY ISLAND continues this trend (though Martin's growly monotone remains a constant).
If I'd heard this thing last year, it likely would have made my Top 12 for '06. As it is, I've little choice but to take solace in a "better late than never" mantra (and the fact that a new STARFLYER 59 release is likely only months away).

STARFLYER 59 on MySPACE.

[MP3] [VID] "I Win"

[MP3] "Nice Guy"

Monday, February 12

MARISSA NADLER



Massachusetts native MARISSA NADLER releases her third LP, SONGS III: BIRD ON THE WATER, today. This is dark folk that's low-key almost to a fault, but Nadler's haunting voice is more than worth the price of admission.

MARISSA NADLER on MySPACE.

MARISSA NADLER on tour >>>

Feb 25 2007 8:00P/BAR, New Haven, with Geoff Farina of KARATE/New Haven, Connecticut
Feb 27 2007 8:00P/North Adams, MA - at the Robot Mansion/North Adams, Massachusetts
Feb 28 2007 8:00P/Union Hall, Brooklyn, New York/Brooklyn, New York
Mar 1 2007 8:00P/The Bowery Ballroom, opening for El Perro del Mar/New York City, New York
Mar 2 2007 8:00P/First Unitarian Church - with GREG WEEKS/Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mar 4 2007 8:00P/Velvet Lounge - Washington DC/Washington DC
Mar 12 2007 9:00P/The Spitz/London
Mar 13 2007 8:00P/BBC 6 Music Session: Host Gideon Coe/London

[MP3] "Feathers"

[MP3] "Silvia"

SOFT COMPLEX



Washington D.C. synth-poppers SOFT COMPLEX released their first recording, BARCELONA, back in October. Whether to call it an EP or LP is a bit of a question -- seeing as its eight tracks run almost an hour.

"Barcelona" is the real star of the show here -- five-and-a-half minutes of '80s-styled pop moodiness in the vein of THE SMITHS, THE CURE, and NEW ORDER. Atmospheric but undeniably danceable.

The Person Autopilot remix of "Beat the Chill," on the other hand, sports a dark synthesizer backing that recalls DURAN DURAN's "All She Wants Is...."

The group will be playing the ROCK & ROLL HOTEL in D.C. on February 13 with STELLASTARR* and MONSTERS ARE WAITING.

SOFT COMPLEX on MySPACE.

[MP3] "Barcelona"

[MP3] "Beat the Chill" [Person Autopilot remix]

BONUS STUFF >>>

[MP3] Stellastarr*/"Love and Longing"

[VID] Monsters Are Waiting/"Fascination"

Saturday, February 10

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM








[What with the shocking (shocking, I say!) death of Anna Nicole Smith, the astronaut-in-a-diaper saga, and ten feet of lake-effect snow in upstate New York, it's no wonder that I couldn't find the time to post music yesterday. The Religious Right obviously has it wrong. It's not the secular queers that are destroying America; it's the 24-hour cable news channels. Too bad it's not Rupert Murdoch's death we're celebrating today.]
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM will release their new album, SOUND OF SILVER, on March 13. I've uploaded the two songs that I kinda/sorta like below, for your aural perusal. Dance, you bastards!

[I also kinda/sorta like the way LCD SOUNDSYSTEM describe their sound: "gay stuff. disco. bored people. a poorly executed fist-fight. sandwiches without too much meat and stuff on them. records that you used to hate but are kind of cool now that you heard them again years later at your friends house. hipster nonsense. midrange, and not so much bass-and-treble. an engine that needs the timing looked at and is running at capacity. a band."]

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM on MySPACE.

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM on tour...

Mar 11 2007 8:00P/UEA/Norwich
Mar 13 2007 8:00P/Academy/Bristol
Mar 14 2007 8:00P/Astoria (late show)/London
Mar 15 2007 8:00P/Astoria/London
Mar 16 2007 8:00P/A/ B Main Hall/Brussels
Mar 17 2007 8:00P/Melkweg MAX/Amsterdam, Holland
Mar 19 2007 8:00P/Stollwerck/Koln
Mar 20 2007 8:00P/Postbahnh of Berlin

[MP3] "North American Scum"

[MP3] "Watch the Tapes"

Thursday, February 8

THE SAFES




"Band of Brothers." With all due respect to the late Stephen E. Ambrose, what a lazy, cliched phrase. But sometimes there's no avoiding it -- as in the case of the Chicago band THE SAFES, who all but force a writer's hand by embodying the cliche in the most literal of ways.

FRANKIE, MICHAEL, and PATRICK O'MALLEY's indie power-pop will put you in mind of a softer-edged, less self-consciously sloppy REPLACEMENTS; a harder-edged, more lo-fi CHEAP TRICK; a less studio-shellacked MATTHEW SWEET. Their latest album, WELL, WELL, WELL, was recorded in Detroit with engineer JIM DIAMOND, who has jobbed knobs for THE WHITE STRIPES and a number of other Motor City outfits.

You can stream WELL, WELL, WELL in its entirety [
HERE] (give "Since Trust Went Bust," "Only in Your Mind," and "Cool Sounds Are Here Again" a try). You can purchase WELL, WELL, WELL on iTunes or [HERE].

THE SAFES on MySPACE.

THE SAFES on tour...

Feb 9 2007 9:00P/Grealys/Chicago, Illinois
Feb 15 2007 10:00P/Empty Bottle/Chicago, Illinois
Feb 17 2007 8:00P/King Club/Madison, Wisconsin
Feb 21 2007 10:00P/Lagerhouse/Detroit, Michigan
Feb 22 2007 10:00P/Asbury Lanes/Asbury Park, New Jersey
Feb 23 2007 10:00P/Pa's/Somerville, Massachusetts
Feb 24 2007 10:00P/Khyber Bar/Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Feb 25 2007 10:00P/DC9/Washington, Washington DC

From the LP WELL, WELL, WELL, 2006 >>>
[MP3] "Bliss This Instance"
[MP3] "Fairy Tale Tomorrow"

From the LP FAMILY JEWELS, 2005 >>>
[MP3] "Better Things to Do"

Wednesday, February 7

KRISTIN HERSH



Former THROWING MUSES leader KRISTIN HERSH released her sixth solo album, LEARN HOW TO SING LIKE A STAR, on January 23.

Over the years, the woman's voice has grown increasingly rough and raspy, but it seems to suit this particular song-cycle just fine. Her best effort in years -- if not one of her best ever.

KRISTIN HERSH on MySPACE.

From the LP LEARN TO SING LIKE A STAR, 2007 >>>
[MP3] "Peggy Lee"
[MP3] "Vertigo"

From the LP SKY MOTEL, 1999 >>>
[MP3] "Echo"

From the LP HIPS AND MAKERS, 1994 >>>
[MP3] [VID] "Your Ghost" [w/MICHAEL STIPE]
[MP3] "Me and My Charms"

From the compilation SWEET RELIEF II: THE SONGS OF VIC CHESNUTT, 1996 >>>
[MP3] "Panic Pure"

Tuesday, February 6

THE VIEW


The next big thing out of the UK?

THE VIEW made quite the splash in MP3 Blogland some weeks ago with their single "Wasted Little DJs." Alas, that particular tune didn't do much for me. "Superstar Tradesman," on the other hand, DID do something for me, which is why I felt compelled to include it on my Best of January mix.

"Same Jeans" gets my silver medal. "The Don": the bronze.
THE VIEW's debut LP, HATS OFF TO THE BUSKERS, will be available in the U.S. on March 13.

THE VIEW on MySPACE.

THE VIEW playing live...

Feb 7 2007 8:00P/Carling Academy/NME Tour/Birmingham
Feb 8 2007 8:00P/UEA/NME Tour/Norwich
Feb 10 2007 8:00P/Cardiff University/NME Tour/Cardiff
Feb 11 2007 8:00P/Octagon/NME Tour/Sheffield
Feb 12 2007 8:00P/Hexagon/NME Tour/Reading
Feb 14 2007 8:00P/Rock City/NME Tour/Nottingham
Feb 15 2007 8:00P/Liverpool University/NME Tour/Liverpool
Feb 16 2007 8:00P/Guildhall/NME Tour/Southampton

[MP3] [VID] "Same Jeans"

[MP3] "The Don"

[VID] "Superstar Tradesman"

MIKA


Back in November, I wrote of MIKA:

"So, who and the heck is Mika? Well, he's only the latest in a long line of pop stars to come out of Beirut. I mean, "Duh."

Seriously, though, the guy WAS born in Beirut. Then, he moved from one European locale to another, never entirely fitting in, but realizing early on that he had a passion for music and art. Now, in his very early 20's, he's set to release his first album, LIFE IN CARTOON MOTION.

This is pure pop -- shiny & sugary. It might remind you a bit of SCISSOR SISTERS. BEE GEES. Maybe even GEORGE MICHAEL."

Well, LIFE IN CARTOON MOTION is being released this week. And it's a most clever contraption. Or clap-trap. It's hilarious. Laughing-WITH-it hilarious. Laughing-AT-it hilarious. It's over-the-top. MEATLOAF over-the-top. It's cheesy in the extreme. Cheesy-to-the-point-of-Velveeta. Which is to say: inauthentic. And derivative. But also catchy as all hell. And delivered with a wink.

Speaking of derivative... let's throw ROBBIE WILLIAMS and FREDDIE MERCURY into the pop-star melting pot. "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)"? "Fat-Bottomed Girls," anyone? With maybe a knowing nod to THE SMITHS' "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others"?. So be it. And as one alert reader pointed out back in November, "Relax, Take It Easy" is really just CUTTING CREW's "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" revamped and injected with helium. But so be THAT, as well.

MIKA on MySPACE.

MIKA on the move...

Feb 20 2007 8:00P/BRIGHTON - Concorde 2/Brighton, South
Feb 22 2007 8:00P/London KOKO/London
Feb 23 2007 8:00P/Barfly/Birmingham, Midlands
Feb 24 2007 8:00P/Global Café/Newcastle, Northeast
Feb 26 2007 8:00P/ABC 2/Glasgow, Scotland
Feb 27 2007 8:00P/'Academy 2/Manchester, Northwest
Feb 28 2007 8:00P/Cockpit/Leeds, Northwest

[MP3] "Relax, Take It Easy"
[MP3] "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)"
[VID] "Grace Kelly"

Monday, February 5

THE POEMS








It's a well-known fact that, anything the world can do, America can do better. Have a jones to visit London, England? Well, screw that. Visit New London, Connecticut, instead. While there, you can visit the DNA EpiCenter and the Bigelow Outdoor Classroom -- which boasts a "natural setting of surrounding woodlands" and... um... a "protective awning."

Paris, France? Don't be a dope. Everybody knows that Paris, Texas is where the action's at. It is, after all, the "best small town in Texas." It also features the "prettiest plaza in the State of Texas" (this according to the Texas Monthly -- no doubt the "best monthly magazine" in Texas). Best of all, you can visit the Eiffel Tower. Standing 65 feet tall, the Tower was "constructed by Boiler Makers Local #902 utilizing materials, plant space, and employee time donated by the Babcock & Wilcox Company." That would be the same Babcock & Wilcox Company that was sued in 1998 because "radioactive releases from their plants" were causing "various cancers." Allegedly. But who can care about a trifle like that when you've got a 65-foot-tall Eiffel Tower to go look at. Oh, and... it was "Texanized" in 1998 "with a cowboy hat" [see picture at top].

Maybe a few of you have a hankering to drag your asses to Glasgow, Scotland. The question is: Why on earth would you bother? Glasgow, Pennsylvania is right here waiting for you. Glasgow, PA is a town of 63 people (98.41% of them white), located just four miles northeast of East Liverpool, Ohio (where THE BEATLES would have come from if they'd had the good sense to be born American) and 16 miles northeast of the Austin Lake Campground in Toronto, Ohio (a much preferable destination to the much-overrated Canadian version). (FYI: "Glasgow" is the 4,514th most popular surname in the United States. "London" is the 1,821st. "Paris": 2,319th. "Liverpool": 27,448th.)

Now then... if you insist upon visiting that OTHER Glasgow, then you might just want to look up the indie-pop group THE POEMS. ALL MUSIC GUIDE tells us this about them:

"Influenced by literature as much as the best in Scottish pop, Glasgow's the Poems feature former members of classic Scottish bands. Robert Hodgens (the Bluebells), Adrian Barry (the High Fidelity), and Bobby Paterson (Love and Money) were joined by vocalists Kerry Polwart and Amy Ogletree. The quintet signed on with Minty Fresh in the U.S. and released Young America in September 2006. The record includes contributions from members of Belle & Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub, Del Amitri, and the Proclaimers."

Couldn't have said it better myself. Though I would add that Ms. Polwart sports some very lovely pipes, and that the group's songs tend to be laid-back, lithe, and served sunny-side-up. Also: My rather lengthy "Humbert Humbert travels America" intro to this post is not entirely un-apropos, seeing as THE POEMS profess a certain fascination with the US of A (hence the album title). My guess is that they can appreciate this nation's many mythologies -- as only "outsiders" truly can. Of course, that doesn't mean they're dummies when it comes to manipulating the American free-enterprise system. GREY'S ANATOMY comes a'courting? Don't play hard to get. (Just ask PETER BJORN AND JOHN.) In THE POEMS' case, they licensed the lovely, laid-back, and lithe "Ballad of a Bitter End" -- a song that should only be listened to while driving into the sunset in a vintage VW bug. In Paris, Texas. While passing the Eiffel Tower. The one with the cowboy hat.
YOUNG AMERICA can be purchased at AMAZON.COM.
THE POEMS on MySPACE.
[MP3] [VID] "I Am a Believer"
[MP3] "Sometime Somewhere Someone Should Say Something"
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