One of the big important early steps in starting a band is that all-important decision of what to call yourselves. Has to be something that will entice people to take a listen, but with just the right edge to it. If there is some hip in-joke connotation that could work too.
So here’s your first stop: the massive Wikipedia page devoted to Fictional Band Names in popular culture. From Hey That’s My Bike to Sonic Death Monkey to yes, even Fingerbang, they’re all here, waiting to be loved, discussed and revived. I found it immensely amusing.
Here’s what I am listening to this week:
The new sophomore full-length album from Brandi Carlile is out now on Columbia, and I like the direction she is heading. Her work with T Bone Burnett (Counting Crows, Roy Orbison, Gillian Welch) is so flawlessly treated that I can almost forgive him for his cut-of-meat moniker. The Story was recorded live, directly to 2″ tape in eleven days, and possesses a very immediate, raw, timeless, soulful quality – four words that pretty much sum up Brandi for me. This song is completely charming from the opening notes, and finds a nice experiment with piano, which I always love. ALSO: Obligatory Pearl Jam connection, if you can believe it — drummer for this album is Matt Chamberlain, early drummer for Pearl Jam, appears in the video for Alive. I was thrilled to hear that. Although Ten this ain’t, she does bring the rock on tunes like the wailing-howl of a title track.
The Neptunes (Pharrell feat. Jay-Z)
You think you love your Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z for gettin’ your party on, but also laughed at Jamie Cullum’s frank and swingin’ treatment of this tune from Pharrell and Co. — then you need the original. I’d been meaning to seek this one out and finally did, off 2003′s The Neptunes Present . . . Clones. I’m reminded of how great the synthy, sexy, throwback sound of this hit single from Summer ’03 is, and I’m a step ahead because I already know all the lyrics thanks to Jamie. Well, except for maybe the bridge: “…like you were just another shorty I put the naughty on.” I’m workin’ on it.
My recent mention of the Empire Records movie (another one I know all too well, as in whole segments of dialogue, front-to-back) reminded me of the lead-off track from the fab soundtrack with the Gin Blossoms. Did you even catch that those guys released a new album last year after ten years? Called Major Lodge Victory, it sounds exactly like, well, circa-1995 Gin Blossoms. But they picked one sound and do it well, and I am finding myself loving this song for driving and harmonizing along. It’s got great “whoooooooos,” soaring guitar bits, and even a litle foray into the Cher-tastic world of Vocoder effects.
This is my second mention of Trinidad-Canadian artist k-os (“chaos”), but I just got the full album Atlantis: Hymns for Disco (which is finally available stateside) and the eclectic blend of old-school beats, fresh hip hop, authentic island vibes is making it one hell of a party album that you really can’t sit still for. It’s thoroughly enjoyable all the way through. The only weakness is some fairly simplistic aphorisms-masquerading-as-lyrics (“I’m caught between a rock and a hard place” / “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it“), but I’m definitively not in it for the lyrics. As the song begins, the voice of an old-time radio announcer inquires, “Feeling stuck? Self-loathing? Shoegazing? – Try new supersonic Fly Paper . . .it’s catchy!” And indeed, this could be the perfect cure for the common indie kid feeling too mopey to shake it.
Free Love Freeway
David Brent/Ricky Gervais with Noel Gallagher
I was reminded of this little smarmy gem from a recent gorge on British Office courtesy of the library DVD I snagged. I was watching Season One (and I know this is anathema, but not feelin’ it as much as the American version, probably because the British version just lacks Jim Halpert. And Dwight. And Michael.) and this is a classic from the most painful staff meeting you never had to attend. Dig the priceless lyrics like “Free love on the freelove freeway, the love is free and the freeway’s long. I got some hot love on the hot love highway . . .” Now, exactly how Noel Gallagher got involved in the studio version of this is an enigma to me, but this pokes some mighty good fun at bad music.