July 17, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

Hey there tiger, happy Monday. Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you.

So you think you know your rock history? Or do you just want to see how little you actually know? Newsweek has a wicked hard Rock ‘n’ Roll Quiz. It’s probably the worst that this nerd has ever done on a test (52% score), but it is extremely entertaining if you like the minutiae of musical history. Fun sound clips throughout, too, so turn down those speakers at work before you start the quiz — I mean, before you start working on that, uh, important spreadsheet, boss.

And as usual, here are 5 songs that have kept me company this past week:

Your Touch
The Black Keys
The boys of The Black Keys have parted with the Fat Possum label (but not before leaving them with a nice ‘lil EP of Junior Kimbrough covers) and joined Nonesuch Records, thrashing through their unique Hendrixesque garage-blues sound for a new disc, Magic Potion, due out in September. It’s heavy and wonderful, with a casual, loose, calling-out-key-changes-across-the-garage feel to it. They just finished a short tour opening for Radiohead — I guess their job was to exhaust the Radiohead fans before Thom Yorke and crew come and sing them into relaxed & hazy happy-land. The Black Keys also have more tour dates coming up, those are some I would check out.

Cemetery Row
The Minus 5
There is a jangly, shimmery, indie-bluegrass-rock sound to this track, with more than a passing resemblance to the wavering honesty of The Shins or Band of Horses. The Minus 5 is helmed by songwriter Scott McCaughey (The Young Fresh Fellows), who is joined here by friends such as Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Colin Meloy (The Decemberists), and Ken Stringfellow (The Posies), among others. From the self-titled 2006 disc (so-called “The Gun Album“) on Yep Roc Records.

Golden Smog
A friend and I spent some time re-dissecting the Clerks soundtrack last year, and one of the best efforts on that disc is by Golden Smog (a cover of Bad Company’s “Shooting Star”). I don’t recall us knowing then who, exactly, was in Golden Smog but now I know that it is a mixed blend of Gary Louris & Marc Perlman (The Jayhawks), Kraig Johnson (Run Westy Run), Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum) and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco, again!). This offering is a warm mid-tempo song from their upcoming album Another Fine Day (out on Lost Highway Records, July 18th).

Supermassive Black Hole
I just had not had the time to listen to Muse (even though they were running an ad over there, stage right). Then my cousin Alan posted an uber-enthusiastic status update on Facebook (I know, why doth the Facebook have such power over me?) wherein he raved about Muse. He recommended I check out several of their tracks while he tries in vain to contain his excitement before their concert in San Francisco tomorrow night. I completely love this song – a heavy arse-shakin’ blend of interesting sonic electronica and superfun stadium rock (a la the falsetto swagger of Eagles of Death Metal). From Black Holes and Revelations, released last week.

A Lifetime in Heat
Guggenheim Grotto
A very persistent reader kept sending me little blurbs about this band. I finally got a chance to listen to them – and I am glad she was so tireless! (Takes a while sometimes with me). Guggenheim Grotto is an Irish trio reminiscent of a blend of the intelligent composition of Badly Drawn Boy with the loveliness of Damien Rice or the backyard-hammock drifting of Iron & Wine. Their 2005 album Waltzing Alone is available on eMusic, and their Lifetime In Heat EP is downloadable in full from their website. Nic Harcourt from KCRW called this “one of the most beautiful records of the year,” and my peeps over at NPR’s World Cafe/WXPN have been spinning them as one of their “Artists of the Week.”



  • Amen for persistence. I discovered the Grotto either end of last year or earlier this year … and it made me a happy, happy man. My two cents: download the whole shebang while you still can (even though I’d love a full effort on a good, old-fashioned CD).

    Dainon — July 17, 2006 @ 9:19 am

  • Same score as you! Pleased cos u know way more about music!!!!

    Matt — July 17, 2006 @ 10:24 am

  • I wasn’t much better. 60. Which I guess is good cause it was for the 60 years or something like that. and thanks for the Black Keys. They rock my world.

    The Duke

    Duke of Straw — July 17, 2006 @ 10:27 am

  • I really love Muse despite their inherent over-the-topness.

    c — July 17, 2006 @ 10:31 am

  • I managed a 64%. That test was tricky, though I think some of the questions should have been replaced (what difference does it make who Linda Ronstadt dated?)

    Matt Gilmour — July 17, 2006 @ 10:38 am

  • Wow thanks for the heads up on the Minus 5. The YFF were my favorite local band growing up (next to Soundgarden). Can’t wait to see what Scott McCaughey’s got going on now.

    Susan M — July 17, 2006 @ 11:36 am

  • I knew you’d mention The Guggenheim Grotto evenutually! Yay! Such great music!!

    Get your hands on the CD..it’s a really cool red leather binded booklet jam packed with neat info, a comic strip and they even do a write up on each song…not many bands do that and it’s so interesting to read where each song comes from.

    Thanks for spreading the word..

    Anonymous — July 17, 2006 @ 1:08 pm

  • Another Grotto fan here! Discovered the band earlier this year, and still think A Lifetime In Heat is one of the most beautiful songs ever. And yes, the CD is well worth the money!

    Chris — July 17, 2006 @ 2:38 pm

  • Tried the quiz – got 60%! I keep telling myself I would have got more if I had been American rather from the UK. Honest! Love the blog, which I check almost daily, inspired me to finally do my own!

    Ed — July 17, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

  • 52% here as well. Glad you like the Yorn tracks… they are sweetness.
    The Format played at the smallest concert venue I’ve ever been to in St. Louis. I was runnning late and hustled across the street toward the door when I saw a guy sitting on the curb texting on his phone. I asked him if The Format had played yet and he said, “No. We don’t go on for another half-hour.” It was Sam, the guitarist. Long story short, great show. They wanted to play longer but curfew set in sooner than expected. They’re playing a much bigger venue next time they come through StL. See ya!

    bryce — July 17, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

  • Ouch! 48%! If I scored like that on a 1975 – 2006 quiz there would be reason to re-evaluate my life. Still reason for concern, but I’m not a boomer so I can get over it.

    Trellick Tower — July 17, 2006 @ 4:12 pm

  • Aww Heather, thanks so much for posting the Guggenheim Grotto. They recently played a fantastic session for XM Loft as well.

    They just got signed to UFO Music in the States and will be touring here in October. I’m really excited about that. They’ll also be releasing their album sometime in September I believe. The album cover (booklet) in itself is absolutely beautiful I highly recommend everyone getting a copy, it truly is worth it.


    You can download their entire EP for free off their website http://www.guggenheimgrotto.com

    Trini — July 17, 2006 @ 5:06 pm

  • Well gang, sorry. I just got 84%. But then, I’m 46 years old, so some of those bits of trivia have been with me for a looong time (although, I want to know what song Michael Bolton wrote with Dylan. Weird!). Great posting as usual, Heather. Take care all.

    witchnose — July 17, 2006 @ 9:43 pm

  • I believe that Bolton/Dylan song in question is the Bolton song “Steel Bars”.

    Marc Morrison — July 17, 2006 @ 11:05 pm

  • Thanks, Marc, for being brave enough to admit that you know about the writing behind a Michael Bolton song.

    heather — July 17, 2006 @ 11:08 pm

  • I think Chris Mars was in Golden Smog when the did “Shooting Star” too. It was on their first ep (all covers), “On Golden Smog” which is well worth checking out if it’s still available.

    Got a pathetic 48% on the quiz. There were a ton that I easily narrowed down to 2 choices and invariably picked the wrong one.

    JohnnyHank — July 18, 2006 @ 9:29 am

  • finally broke down and took the quiz. it WAS kinda hard, but i still managed to get an 84, (i’ve got a few years on ya). thanks for bringin’ it to light. rock on!

    Lance VanDyke

    Anonymous — July 24, 2006 @ 12:22 pm

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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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