Wednesday, April 30

THE DRESDEN DOLLS

In March of 2006, I wrote about THE DRESDEN DOLLS thusly:

"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 18. 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.'"

All still true. While listening to the Dolls' upcoming release -- the it-logically-follows NO, VIRGINIA (May 20) -- I found myself focusing on the moany-moany machinations of AMANDA PALMER's vocals. Perhaps misunderstanding the phrase "sing from the diaphragm," the woman seems to summon her vox from a somewhat... er... um... lower spot on the anatomy than most singers. In fact, her herky-jerky histrionics have a way of making TORI AMOS sound downright dainty and demure. No small feat.


NO, VIRGINIA is made up of tracks left over from the YES, VIRGINIA sessions, as well as some new tunes.

THE DRESDEN DOLLS on MySPACE.

From the LP NO, VIRGINIA, 2008 >>>
[
MP3] "Ultima Esperanza"
[
MP3] "The Sheep Song"

From the LP YES, VIRGINIA, 2006 >>>
[
MP3] [VID] "My Alcoholic Friends"
[
MP3] "Necessary Evil"

From their self-titled LP, 2004 >>>
[
MP3] [VID] "Coin-Operated Boy"
[
MP3] "The Jeep Song"

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Tuesday, April 29

WOLF PARADE

What with the plethora of "wolf"/"bear"/"monkey" bands & blogs in recent years, it's no wonder that some of them get lost in the general scrabble & scrum.

Despite the hype surrounding their 2005 full-length debut, Montreal's WOLF PARADE didn't really dent my consciousness until February of the following year, when I finally took the time to sit down and give APOLOGIES TO THE QUEEN MARY a proper listen. I liked but did not love. But there was room to grow. And notice had been served.

June 17 will see the release of LP2, AT MOUNT ZOOMER (formerly KISSING THE BEEHIVE). First time through, I'm more than liking; I'm close to loving; there's room to grow; this may be my favorite 2008 release to date; time will tell if this is merely eager-eared overpraising.

Strangely enough, for this increasingly ADD-addled listener, it's the longer songs that are thus far denting my consciousness most forcefully. The two below, for starters. "California Dreamer," for another. Just very nice, assured grooves/vibes. Talented-but-scattershot teenagers developing into solid, dependable twentysomethings... metaphorically-speaking, at least. I'm liking this story. And I might just come to love it.

WOLF PARADE on MySPACE.

From the LP AT MOUNT ZOOMER, 2008 >>>
[
MP3] "Language City"
[
MP3] "Fine Young Cannibals"

From the LP APOLOGIES TO THE QUEEN MARY, 2005 >>>
[
MP3] "Shine a Light"
[
MP3] "It's a Curse"

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CAJUN DANCE PARTY

Boy, I am such a patsy/pansy when it comes to being beguiled by Britpop.

Upon first listen, I'm not sure that CAJUN DANCE PARTY's debut long-player, THE COLOURFUL LIFE, sounds much different from a hundred other entries in the genre (hell, even the album title could belong to THE KINKS, BLUR, COLDPLAY, or a hundred other Brit acts of various eras). But a few of the songs have that sound that's been pushing the right buttons for me for the last four or five years now, and, like Pavlov's dogs, I rush slobbering to my computer to post them for you.

If you haven't already moved on and left me in your dust, here are a couple more links in the ever-lengthening chain....

CAJUN DANCE PARTY on MySPACE.

[
MP3] [VID] "The Race"

[
MP3] [VID] "Amylase"

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Monday, April 28

SUPERTRAMP

Yesterday, in commenting on JUICE NEWTON, substitute had this to say:

"Juice Newton is back-of-the-station-wagon music along with Supertramp and ELO. Nostalgia for the Fritos and Orange Crush overwhelms me!"

Ah, yes indeedy. Though, truth be told, I was always more of a Pepsi boy, myself. And Fritos always ran a distant third to Doritos and Cheetos in my little world. (Of course, this being the Detroit area, I should put in a plug for Better Made potato chips & Faygo. And Sanders hot fudge.)

Anyway, we already gave ELO the "Sunday Showcase" treatment back in January, but SUPERTRAMP certainly deserves some lovin' as well (for the great, great "Logical Song" alone -- #6 US; #7 UK)....

[MP3] "The Logical Song" [1979]

[MP3] "Take the Long Way Home" [1979]

[MP3] "Breakfast in America" [1979]

[MP3] "Give a Little Bit" [1977]

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LEO SAYER

A bit of stream-of-consciousness posting to start the week....

Yesterday, in commenting on JUICE NEWTON, Jami had this to say:

"these songs were all about being in the car with mom. dad was still pining for the doors and the who and jimi. but when mom had control of the radio, these were the songs. for a trip even a little further back in the time machine that was mom's pinto, remember leo sayer? oh-wo-yay-yay. i love you more than i can say. i love you twice as much tomorrow. wo-oah. i love you more than i can say."

Well, enough said. I didn't have a "mom's pinto" in my life, but I did have an "aunt june's mufflerless ford maverick." The car was forest green. The aunt had one leg, smoked like a chimney, and took out her frustrations on her dog, Taffy. She also made the best french toast in the history of the world (Aunt June, not Taffy). But that's not why you stopped by today....

For me, the two LEO SAYER hits that resonate are "When I Need You" and the aforementioned "More Than I Can Say." The former went to #1 in the both the US and UK. The latter went to #2 in both places. And "I Can't Stop Loving You" -- which sounds quite a bit like "When I Need You" but nonetheless qualifies as one of Sayer's best efforts -- went to #6 in the UK. Guess we Americans were sleeping on that one.

[Another stream-of-consciousness post is just hours away. Y'all come back now....]

[MP3] "More Than I Can Say" [1980]

[
MP3] "I Can't Stop Loving You (Though I Try)" [1978]

[
MP3] "When I Need You" [1977]

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Sunday, April 27

BARRY MANILOW

Maaaaniloooow!

Yes, I can hear Colbert's anguished bellow even now. First, the man loses his Emmy to TONY BENNETT. Then: BARRY MANILOW. Oh my. The horror.

So yeah, maybe this post is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Mr. Manilow doesn't exactly inspire the same sort of critical or hipster acclaim as, say, NEIL DIAMOND. But it was back in December -- when I was dedicating Sundays to the likes of Diamond, KENNY ROGERS, DOLLY PARTON, CARLY SIMON, and BREAD -- that I slotted Barry in for posting. Then I got cold feet. Perhaps the man was too Velveeta cheesy even for me....

But no, to hell with that. I was 3-8 years old when the songs below were dominating the charts and Manilow was ushering in each New Year with Dick Clark, the dropping ball, and a still-filthy, hookers-and-trenchcoats Times Square. The man not only wrote the songs, he arranged, orchestrated, and sang the hell out of them. He's FRANK SINATRA-meets-MEATLOAF. And surely there's room enough for that monstrosity here on this blog. With no apologies. And few regrets.

[MP3] "Could It Be Magic" [1973]

[MP3] "Mandy" [1974]

[
MP3] "Weekend in New England" [1976]

[
MP3] "Copacabana (At the Copa)" [1978]

[
MP3] "Ready to Take a Chance Again" [1978]

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JUICE NEWTON

Here's a little visit to a time when country and pop were virtually indistinguishable from one another....

JUICE NEWTON's "Queen of Hearts" was a big deal on the Top 40 charts when I was in the sixth grade at Lewis Cass Elementary. That, and THE OAK RIDGE BOYS' "Elvira." And something or other by EDDIE RABBIT. "Driving the Night Away"? Well, whatever.

(Okay, I actually stopped and looked up the Eddie Rabbit on Wikipedia. It was "Drivin' My Life Away." There. Now I can sleep.)

[Come back later today for some cheese-tastic selections from a man Stephen Colbert considers an arch-enemy....]

[MP3] "It's a Heartache" [1978]

[
MP3] "Angel of the Morning" [1981]

[
MP3] "Queen of Hearts" [1981]

[
MP3] "The Sweetest Thing (I've Ever Known)" [1981]

[
MP3] "Love's Been a Little Bit Hard on Me" [1982]

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Friday, April 25

SANTOGOLD

I'd shied away from SANTOGOLD largely because I found the cover of her self-titled debut album so damned unappealing/unappetizing. I mean, look at it up there.... Just plain godawful.

But the music can get you to moving, and that's not a bad thing for a Friday night. M.I.A. is the logical comparison point here, though Santogold (aka SANTI WHITE) has a thing for THE PIXIES and '80s pop as well. Which is to say: Don't you dare try to pin this girl down. She won't be havin' it....

SANTOGOLD on MySPACE.

[
MP3] "You'll Find a Way"

[
MP3] "Say Aha"

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THE AIRFIELDS

Those partial to the late-'80s/early-'90s Sarah Records sound would do well to check out Toronto's THE AIRFIELDS. The songs below -- from their LP UP ALL NIGHT -- will likely transport more than a few of you back to more carefree and innocent days. Sweet nostalgia, ideally suited for open-windowed, nighttime summer drives. Ah, to be 18 again....

THE AIRFIELDS on MySPACE.

[
MP3] "Prisoners of Our Love"

[
MP3] "Icing Sugar"

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Wednesday, April 23

PHANTOM PLANET

What becomes of a band that loses its two claims to fame? For PHANTOM PLANET, those claims were semi-celebrity drummer JASON SCHWARTZMAN ("Rushmore") and the title-track tie-in ("California") to a hip, "hot" show ("The O.C."). But Schwartzman's gone Hollywood. And "The O.C." sleeps with the fishes. So, what's a band to do?

Just keep releasing albums, apparently. After 2004's uninspired detour to STROKES-ville, ALEX GREENWALD & Co. are back with RAISE THE DEAD -- a slightly more inspiring collection to help you spring into summer....


From the LP RAISE THE DEAD, 2008 >>>
[
MP3] "Leader"
[
MP3] "Confess"

From the LP THE GUEST, 2002 >>>
[
MP3] "California"

From the LP PHANTOM PLANET IS MISSING, 1998 >>>
[
MP3] "The Local Black and Red"

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Tuesday, April 22

THE CONNELLS

Into the vaults we go....

Raleigh, North Carolina's THE CONNELLS were kind of R.E.M. redux back in the late '80s/early '90s -- jangle-pop/power-pop with a Southern sensibility (by way of the UK).

It's been eight years since their last release, the line-up has changed (more than once) (more than twice), and pretty much all of the band members have secured employment outside of the music industry, but they refuse to officially call it quits. Plucky perseverance or out-of-touch obliviousness?

Well, who the hell cares? What matters is that they managed to produce some pretty fine tunes back in the day. If their day should come again, chalk it up to "bonus," baby.

THE CONNELLS on MySPACE.

From the LP WEIRD FOOD & DEVASTATION, 1996 >>>
[
MP3] "Maybe"

From the LP RING, 1993 >>>
[
MP3] "'74-'75"
[
MP3] "Any Day Now"

From the LP ONE SIMPLE WORD, 1990 >>>
[
MP3] "Stone Cold Yesterday"
[
MP3] "The Joke"
[
MP3] "Too Gone"

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Monday, April 21

KARA KEITH

ARTIST: KARA KEITH

FROM: Canada

GENRE: Indie pop

SAYS SHE'S INFLUENCED BY: TV theme songs, Bob Fossi, KATE BUSH

SOMETIMES SOUNDS A BIT LIKE: THE DELGADOS' EMMA POLLOCK.


KARA KEITH on MySPACE.

From her self-titled EP, 2008 >>>
[
MP3] "Kick This City"
[
MP3] "Get Up and Go Go"

From the LP THE LOVE YEARS, 2002 >>>
[
MP3] "Zeno"

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K.O.L.O.

BAND: K.O.L.O.

FROM: Switzerland

GENRE: Indie pop


ALBUM: SONGS FOR A SLEEPWALKER

SAY THEY'RE INLUENCED BY: THOM YORKE, ELBOW, DAMIEN RICE

SOUND MORE LIKE: THE FEATURES, HARD-FI

K.O.L.O. on MySPACE.

[
MP3] "Sleepwalking"

[
MP3] "Not a Fool"

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Sunday, April 20

ABBA - PART 3

ABBA on WIKIPEDIA.

[
MP3] "Hej Gamle Man" [1970]

[
MP3] "Another Town, Another Train" [1973]

[
MP3] "She's My Kind of Girl" [1973]

[
MP3] "Honey, Honey" [1974]

[
MP3] "S.O.S." [1975]

[
MP3] "Mamma Mia" [1975]

[
MP3] "So Long" [1975]

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ABBA - PART 2

ABBA on WIKIPEDIA.

[
MP3] "Dancing Queen" [1977]

[
MP3] "My Love, My Life" [1977]

[
MP3] "Knowing Me, Knowing You" [1977]

[
MP3] "Take a Chance on Me" [1978]

[
MP3] "Summer Night City" [1979]

[
MP3] "Angeleyes" [1979]

[
MP3] "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" [1979]

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ABBA - PART 1

Ugh. What a black mood I've been in of late. Eight months of court-ordered sobriety (with six to go). My brother's death in February. A 40-year-old cousin dying of liver failure (despite never having been a drinker at all). A speeding ticket Thursday night. And goddam religion & pseudo-religion & "spirituality" every goddam place I look. Obama's goddam preacher doing his damndest to Swift Boat him. Goddam pope on the 24-hour news channels 24/7. Goddam Dalai Lama traipsing around my beloved, secular Ann Arbor (with Richard Gere! PHILIP GLASS! BOBBY fuckin' McFERRIN!). Orthodox Jews walking the streets looking like something out of a "Saturday Night Live" sketch. Creepy Mormons in creepy dresses & creepy hairdos in Texas compounds. Why the hell couldn't we just burn them all down -- like we did with that other cult in that other Texas compound.

Okay, so I'm feeling a little angry. A little bitter. (Uh-oh -- there's that word again. Obama called the White Trash of Pennsylvania "bitter." Said that's why they cling to their guns & their gods & their prejudices. He was, of course, correct. Overly simplistic, but correct. So... welcome to the White House, John McCain. Welcome to four more years of old-white-man Republican rule, people of Earth. Welcome to 1989-1993, Part Deux. Son of a bitch.)

So.... what is one to do? Turn to pop music, of course. Happy, absurd, immaculate pop music from the beautiful people of Sweden. People who don't believe in gods or guns or Texas. People who believe in the important things. Like hockey. And vodka. And a great hook. And a glorious chorus.

So here's Part 1 of three today. Keep coming back. I promise to be less bitter. And, six months from now, I'll be right as rain....

ABBA on WIKIPEDIA.

[
MP3] "The Winner Takes It All" [1980]

[
MP3] "On and On and On" [1980]

[
MP3] "Our Last Summer" [1980]

[
MP3] "Head Over Heels" [1981]

[
MP3] "One of Us" [1981]

[
MP3] "Slipping Through My Fingers" [1981]

[
MP3] "Under Attack" [1982]

[
MP3] "You Owe Me One" [1982]

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Friday, April 18

THE COURTEENERS

Are THE COURTEENERS destined to be the next Next Big Thing outta the UK? Rumor has it that MORRISSEY thinks so. (Of course, I was just writing last week about how he thought JAMES were going to be the Next Big Thing back in the '80s, so one must certainly take his opinion with a grain or two or three of saltpeter).

Honestly, though, the Courteeners' "What Took You So Long" reminds me of a James' song (something about the guitars & drums, near as I can tell), though the rest of their debut LP, ST. JUDE, leans more toward typical, 21st-century Britpop.


THE COURTEENERS on MySPACE.

[MP3] "What Took You So Long"

[MP3] "Cavorting"

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Thursday, April 17

SANDRINE

ARTIST: SANDRINE

FROM: Australia

ALBUM: DARK FADES INTO THE LIGHT

GENRE: Indie pop

SOUNDS LIKE: She may have escaped a religious family background (a la TORI AMOS), but her sound owes more to '70s AM radio. Hints of BACHARACH/DAVID (the easy-going chorus to "Let the Love") and a sort of mellow, PAUL McCARTNEY/CARPENTERS hybrid ("Where Do We Go"). Coming soon to a TV commercial or a Starbucks near you.

MySPACE:
SANDRINE on MySPACE.

[
MP3] "Let the Love"

[
MP3] "Where Do We Go"

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AQUEDUCT

BAND: AQUEDUCT

FROM: Seattle (by way of Tulsa, OK)

GENRE(S): Indie/Rock/Pop

MySPACE: AQUEDUCT on MySPACE.

[MP3] "Living a Lie"

[MP3] "As You Wish"

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Wednesday, April 16

LADYTRON

LADYTRON's new one, VELOCIFERO, will see the light of day on June 3.

LADYTRON on MySPACE.

[
MP3] "I'm Not Scared"

[
MP3] "Burning Up"

BONUS TRACKS >>>

[
MP3] "Destroy Everything You Touch"

[
MP3] "Blue Jeans 2.0"

[
MP3] "Ladybird"

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