November 13, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

At my lovely university in California, things were usually scenic and tranquil when walking across campus; vivid green grass, carefully manicured flowers, and lots of squirrels frolicking. Those dang squirrels would always look at me a bit askance (I swear) as they froze in my path, weighing which direction to run, and the thought would often fleetingly cross my mind that this would happen. See, I’m not crazy.

Here’s some new songs that I have added into regular rotation this past week that I think you’ll like too:

Gretchen My Captain
As Fast As
Ahh, opening bands: something you don’t count on liking, but it is always a treat when you do. I saw Portland, Oregon’s As Fast As (as fast as what?) on Saturday night opening for Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, and I was impressed by their alternating arena rock/pop-deluxxe sound (which reminded me of sort of Van Halen meets Marcy Playground). With their windmill guitar moves, matching fu-manchu moustaches, and interesting use of instruments, these guys were clearly having fun. This song features an amplified ukulele with heavy distortion, and sounded like nothing I’d ever heard in a song when they busted it out live. Nice whistle solo too — this song is catchy (admitted: the vocals at the beginning may first strike you as grating, but give it to 0:53 where it all soars, and then if you don’t like it, you have my unnecessary permission to delete). As Fast As are heading out with Under The Influence of Giants next, and then the travesty that is the re-formed INXS. Their album Open Letter To The Damned is available now for a scant $8.

Silent Movies
Peter & The Wolf
Okay, so I am hopelessly falling all over myself in love with this song. A friend recommended that I check out Peter & The Wolf, fronted by Austin’s Red Hunter, and emailed me “Silent Movies” to listen to. It is an irresistible blend of scratchy M. Ward old-time radio sound, combined with these fantastic harmonies that would make Brian Wilson blush. From the album Lightness (2006) on Los Angeles’ The Worker’s Institute label (home to Sigur Ros). Listen to more goodies on their MySpace.

Janie Jones” (Clash cover)
In between his demanding schedule of beating photographers bloody, getting Kate Moss’ engagement ring stuck on his own finger, and just generally imploding, Pete Doherty and his Babyshambles cohorts have teamed up with Strummerville (the Joe Strummer Foundation for New Music) to record this cover of the Clash classic. I am not sure how they all fit in the studio, but Doherty joins 21 other musicians on the single, including fellow ex-Libertine Carl Barât, The Kooks, We Are Scientists, and the Guillemots. Sounds a bit unnecessary, but whatever, the resulting tune is fun.

Middle Distance Runner
So what IS it with all these oddly-named bands in the roundup this week? It’s a leitmotif. Middle Distance Runner was a recent and pleasurable find for me this weekend over on Some Velvet Blog. Bruce says, “If you dig The Format or Hot Chip or The Changes or The Spinto Band” (I do) “then you’ll dig MDR’s Plane In Flames” (and I do). One just needs to hear those opening handclaps to know we are on the right track towards pop goodness.

Greatest Mistake
Handsome Boy Modeling School, featuring Jamie Cullum and John Oates
This isn’t a new addition to my rotation, but one that popped up recently on shuffle and I remembered how much I enjoy singing along to it in my best soulful falsetto. From the diversely chill and superbly star-studded White People album (2004), Handsome Boy Modeling School teams up here with British skateboarding jazzmaster wunderkind Jamie Cullum and the moustachioed half of Hall & Oates. The resulting song is slinky and absolutely fantastic to belt in the shower.


  • re: squirrel attacks, if you want a laugh, go here and scroll down to the “What Makes a Good Interview?” segment: “cbc interview with trucker about beaver attack.” beyond funny.

    oh, and thanks for the babyshambles – disastrous as it may be….

    c — November 13, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

  • “A beaver of all things to be attacked with.”

    “I couldn’t brake . . . and so I slid up onto the beaver.”

    Oh, it’s just wrong. Thanks for the link. I don’t even want to know how you found that audio clip.

    heather — November 13, 2006 @ 2:20 pm

  • Peter & The Wolf totally rules. You do know he toured by sailboat earlier this year, don’t you? They crashed it eventually, but it was lots of musician-gypsy fun up to that point.

    Dainon — November 13, 2006 @ 4:35 pm

  • hey- just to let you know, As Fast As is actually from Portland, Maine. If you’re into them, they have an earlier incarnation of Rocktopus, which I think was some of their best work.

    Pretty awesome stuff, either way.

    Anonymous — November 13, 2006 @ 5:43 pm

  • Oh, see I was talking to the lead guy and he said he was from Portland, Maine but now he is in Portland, OR with the band, so I assumed the band themselves were from Portland, OR. Oh well, either way thanks for the earlier incarnation info!

    heather — November 13, 2006 @ 6:22 pm

  • I saw As Fast As open for Butch Walker, and they rocked w/ such energy! I must say, I’ve never seen a bassist ride a bass like that…

    jeffro — November 14, 2006 @ 5:29 am

  • Thanks for the Jamie Cullum! I saw him this year in Detroit at this great old theater where they tore out all the seats to make a huge slanting dance floor. He’s a lil’ spitfire in concert, playing every manner of drum. And then the piano with his ass at one point. Love him.

    And I think it was the first week I stumbled in here that I picked up Eliot Morris’ “Balancing the World” and I’m enjoying/living it daily still. I finally picked up the CD last week. Yum.

    Michael — November 15, 2006 @ 6:05 pm

  • Sure, Michael. Jamie Cullum is indeed AWESOME in concert, spitfire indeed. Saw him unexpectedly in 2004 at a benefit show and was completely blown away. Saw him again recently, just as good.

    And I also just got the whole Eliot Morris album and am really really enjoying it too. GREAT.

    heather — November 15, 2006 @ 10:52 pm

  • Thanks for giving some love to DC’s MDR. I do a feature on my site, where I let a band take it over for a day. Last week, was Middle Distance Runner. They wrote a freaking Choose Your Own Adventure story. It was actually pretty hilarious. I am based out of Baltimore, so I’ve seen them live and they really do live up to the expectations of their album.

    Joe — November 16, 2006 @ 9:05 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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