May 8, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

So, what am I working on this week? My first freelance music reviews! A local paper found this very blog and now wants me to review 5 albums, each in 50 words. Daunting for a rambler like me, but nonetheless a task I undertake with relish. Do you guys have any recommendations? What albums lately can you not help mentioning to everyone you meet? I have about eight or nine I am considering, but if you have suggestions, please leave em in the comments. I would really appreciate any help with this one, even if you are not a usual commenter.

Here is some music I will be enjoying this week:

Only A Fool
Marit Larsen
Shimmery plucky guitar pop from Norway’s Marit Larsen with wheezing harmonica and a wide-open happy vocal that reminded me of a few Sheryl Crow tunes that I enjoy. Ridiculously infectious with handclaps and banjo and all kinds of goodness. Highly recommended on these sunny days, even though the subject matter is actually quite non-happy (about a breakup and a cheating heart). Thanks to Matthew for recommending this one, from 2006′s Under The Surface, which you can buy on this Norwegian site.

Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean
Paul Simon
Here is one from Paul Simon‘s new album Surprise, which comes out tomorrow. A collaboration between everyone’s favorite long-lost pal and Brian Eno (“father of ambient music“), mixed by Tchad Blake (who worked with Pearl Jam on Binaural), there are some interesting elements of electronica woven throughout the disc (have you heard the first single “Outrageous” on the radio?). The disc also contains a re-recorded version the song “Father and Daughter” (originally on the Wild Thornberrys soundtrack from 2002), which would be a perfect addition to the rad mixtape you are surely making for your pops for Father’s Day next month.

Lay Lady Lay
(Dylan cover)
Magnet with Gemma Hayes
For some reason, the lyrics of this song have always kind of turned me off and I really can’t put my finger on why (I know! Heresy! She doesn’t like a Bob Dylan lyric!!). Maybe it’s the brass thing? I have an aversion to shiny brass furniture and being told to lay across anything brass would give me hives. But this is a really lovely cover with the achingly velvet-voiced Irishwoman Gemma Hayes blending perfectly as she swaps verses with Magnet (aka Even Johansen of Norway). Thanks to the Copy, Right? blog for unearthing this, it’s been on heavy rotation in these parts. Released in 2004 as a CD Single/EP.

Back Against The Wall
I was a big fan of the guitar-wailing/chill-electronica/soulful-harmonica blend on the 1999 eponymous debut from Euphoria. The track “Delirium” first caught my attention as something fresh and very very cool to slide across my aural palette. Euphoria is the project of Toronto-based guitarist Ken Ramm, and his new third album Precious Time sees collaboration with Steve Sidelynk (who worked with Massive Attack & David Gray), Tina Dico (who has sung with Zero 7) and the soulful Tracy Bonham. Take a listen to this unique sound on this bonus track from the new CD (from Zoe/Rounder Records), I think you’ll like it.

I’ll Try Anything Once
(early version of “You Only Live Once”)
The Strokes
“You Only Live Once” was absolutely one of my favorite tracks of 2005, mostly because of the insane percussion work (Fabrizio Moretti is so loose, and yet so tight). This is an interesting early version of the song because it is completely lounge-lizard lazy. I frankly quite enjoy seeing the metamorphosis of a song, but if Julian’s vocals annoy you (someone commented a while back: “it’s like, get to the point…quit singing like you’re loungin on a couch with the mic cocked sideways”), this one will probably get under your skin.

Bob Pollard (GBV) has posted two more new demo songs on his website: “The Finest Joke Is Upon Us” and “White Skin and Bones.” Recommended only for the most rabid of fans. And, from the Merge website: “Robert Pollard (and The Ascended Masters, as Bob has taken to calling his new band) will be opening up for alt-rock super heroes Pearl Jam on two stops of Pearl Jam’s upcoming tour (Pittsburgh and Cincy). Rumor has it that the new Pearl Jam album was heavily influenced by GBV, and that Eddie is a big fan.”

To call Marathonpacks’ recent tome on the Beatles a “post” would be like calling War and Peace a novella. This thing is epic, extremely enjoyable to read and stunningly good. Why did my University not offer a Beatles Appreciation class? The closest I got was ‘Music in American Cultures’ freshman year, which I (foolishly) dropped after I saw the massive textbook list. Gah.

Also, in the continuing love affair between Ben Kweller and Evan Dando (see their duet I posted last week), the Work For It blog has a lovely little cover of Kweller doing “My Drug Buddy,” which is a great song (I love the lyric “We have to laugh to look at each other” because that is my favorite kinds of friendships summed up in 9 words).


  • Congrats on the new opportunity, Heather. The 50-word rule will be tough, though (and would be for any of us!). How about the new Springsteen? An obvious choice, I know, but I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. Good luck, and take care.

    witchnose — May 8, 2006 @ 12:22 pm

  • Wow. good for you! i enjoy your blog so much more than any magazine reviews…i’m glad you’re getting some recognition.

    I agree with witchnose’s suggestion, and would also add the other obvious choice, pearl jam. I’d like to read what you have to say about them both.

    aaron — May 8, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

  • I know its been floating about for some time, but MaCartney’s new album, “Chaos and creation in the backyard” is a back to the raw journey for Paul that I feel is worthy of at least a looksee. I keep sticking it back into the player, and kicking back. I also just purchased Tourniquet, Magnet’s newish release, and have been listening to it for a couple weeks- it’s got some golden tracks. If you are unaware of Cary Brother’s new album,”Waiting for your letter”, I’d reccomend swinging through his myspace site or something- some good ethereal stuff there. Lastly, Snow Patrol’s new release, “Eyes Open” comes out tomorrow, and promises some fun… best wishes on your new venture!

    David W. — May 8, 2006 @ 1:11 pm

  • good luck with the job Heather! i hope that we’ll soon be seeing you on rolling stone or nme and such. //patrick

    The Frenchman — May 8, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

  • Heather, that is so coooool! I’m very jealous, but super happy for you. Thanks for the Magnet props-he’s one of my favorite musicians. BUT, the band that I cannot stop listening to or telling people about is MUTE MATH, a rock group from New Orleans. They are amazing, and it would be awesome if you could pimp them. I’ve never seen them live, but I hope I do someday.

    Honey — May 8, 2006 @ 3:21 pm

  • Cool beans on the review opportunity! I’m a rambler by nature too (as in words, not the car). Might I suggest Nada Surf – The Weight is a Gift. I just recently found NS and have been enjoying that album, especially the song Always Love. I guess it’s because it’s something I have tried to instill in my daughters.

    Jim C — May 8, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

  • I just saw these guys live and now I’m obsessed. I say review Aloha’s new album “Some Echoes.” . Everyone else probably knows about these guys.. I don’t know how I missed them.

    Anonymous — May 8, 2006 @ 4:44 pm

  • Since you’re in Colorado, I’d suggest the new one from Love Letter Band. Or maybe Munly & the Lee Lewis Harlots. They’re locals, right?

    If I can suggest some ATL locals to check out, I’d say Anna Kramer or The Selmanaires. Both albums were released locally last fall, but haven’t been released nationwide other than via the Internet.

    If it’s national stuff you’re thinking about, how about the Raconteurs? Perhaps obvious to us, but maybe not to a newspaper’s readers. That’s officially out on Tuesday. So is Gnarls Barkley, I think. Might be good accessible candidates.

    Rich — May 8, 2006 @ 4:55 pm

  • you should definitely write about the josh ritter cd…

    and, HEY, i posted that ‘lay, lady, lay’ cover on my site a few months ago! where’s my credit?!?!?!? YOU HATE ME!!!


    Chad — May 8, 2006 @ 5:36 pm

  • Chad, how did I miss that? You know I love you.

    heather — May 8, 2006 @ 6:03 pm

  • Congrats on the local daily pick-up, Heather! :))

    Some worthy new works:

    Hmmmm….Paul Simon – ‘Surprise’ (first few tracks, not so much the entirety); Paul Weller – ‘Catch Flame’; Gullimots – ‘We’re Here’ (Promo CD) to name a trio ;-)

    I’d also keep radar up for the new Jesse Malin album.


    renegade — May 8, 2006 @ 6:33 pm

  • Congrats on the review job Heather!! I hope you enjoy it. Do think you’ll be able to post your reviews on your blog for us to read?

    Sorry, I can’t recommend any music right now but I’ll give those artist you list a listen too.

    Gamer C. — May 8, 2006 @ 7:43 pm

  • I second Chad’s request to review Josh Ritter’s ‘The Animal Years’. I can’t stop listening to that one, and I just saw him play and it was one of the best live shows I’ve seen in quite awhile. I would also love to hear what you have to say about Built to Spill’s new one, ‘You In Reverse’, or Calexico’s new one, or …

    JMH — May 8, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

  • After you get past your first deadline and get some time, I would find a way to encourage local bands to get you stuff. Through your reviews locally and your website you could really help promote your local peeps. The other avenue (and they are not mutally exclusive) is to only review CDs that bands send you. It might limit your options a bit, but it might also get you a ton of free music that isn’t quite on the radar screen yet. You could be the next Nic Harcourt.

    Good luck.z

    szg — May 8, 2006 @ 8:24 pm

  • Awww–how nice, Heather! Good luck with your new venture, and enjoy it!

    Marc Morrison — May 9, 2006 @ 12:07 am

  • Heather I sent you an email a few days ago. You should really check out The Guggenheim Grotto. They had a session with XM Loft today that was fantastic. They will be re-broadcasting it throughout the week. I’m interested to see what you think of them.

    Trini — May 9, 2006 @ 1:57 am

  • Hey Heather,

    There is the new Pearl Jam one, but I’m sure you know that already. There’s also the Chili Peppers, which is good if you like the Chili Peppers. It is like Chili Peppers turned up to eleven, all of their indulgences allowed to run riot.

    Well done, by the way.

    ross — May 9, 2006 @ 2:43 am

  • Kudos on the reviews. My suggestions are the newer Marah, Lucero or Calexico albums. I’d just like to see some more fans of these guys.
    The new Josh Rouse is also a suggestion. You’ll do a good job no matter what you choose, but fill us in when they’re published.

    Stephen K. — May 9, 2006 @ 9:49 am

  • my inclination is get all indie and obscure on your readers, but i guess that’s not really the point, is it? so i’d suggest a mix of accessible and not-so-familiar, that way there’s something for everyone.

    perhaps sunset rubdown for the weird end of the spectrum, art brut’s cd is finally available here, gomez is pretty in-between the odd and the normal, and maybe a mainline cd or two to round it out. and congratulations!

    mjrc — May 9, 2006 @ 7:51 pm

  • Wow, you put into words my same feelings about lay lady lay… and I finally get it… its the brass!!

    Dylan rocks regardless :)

    Lizz — May 10, 2006 @ 1:01 am

  • beautiful strokes demo!
    do you have any more to post? if only their 2nd album would’ve sounded more like this demo…

    Anonymous — May 10, 2006 @ 1:23 am

  • im addicted to Imogen Heap and Caroline at the moment :)

    supergurg — May 12, 2006 @ 8:35 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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