I had a hard weekend. But notably, there were some new releases and musical gems that made me happy, and I also (frickin finally) finished Bill Bryson’s dry and uproarious book about Britain, Notes From A Small Island. I enjoyed it so much that it almost feels wrong. I’m talking ’bout laughing (really, kinda chortling) out loud on every other page, plus really enjoying reading about places I’d visited in the UK that I hadn’t thought about in 5 years; places like this little gem, or here. I wrote a few thoughts about the book for Bruce’s Some Velvet Blog, part of a series on summer reads, and that’s up now.
Hollywood Bass Player
After releasing a charmingly laid-back EP with his Spanish novia, She’s Spanish, I’m American, Josh Rouse will be back in solo long form with a new album called Country Mouse City House (out July 31 on his own imprint Bedroom Classics). This track is toe-tappingly catchy with a fittingly strutty bass line — and for some reason it made me want to sing “My Life” by Billy Joel (aka the Bosom Buddies theme song) all weekend. If you preorder the new disc now, you also get a bonus CD with some cool demos and unreleased songs.
A Long Time Away
Lead singer of the now-defunct Liverpool band The Stands, Howie Payne is set to release his first solo LP this year, and has posted 4 new tracks on his MySpace page for your streaming pleasure. What I’ve heard of The Stands has quite a bit more rollicking sound, hailing from the same scene as neighbors The Coral and The Zutons, but these new songs are precisely some of the aforementioned things that made me happy this weekend. They are a bit more wistful and shaded, with a bit of blowing-through-the-jasmine-in-my-mind reminiscence for me.
The National Side
This next tune from Minneapolis band Romantica is different but I like it a lot. A fellow Ryan Adams fan recommended this to me, saying it was a tune that “you absolutely must check out” and guaranteed that it would be one of my favorite songs of the summer. All I can liken it to would be — okay, so Evan Dando moves to North Carolina and finds a backing band of mariachi dudes to play with. Then there’s also some great “buh-bah-buh-dah-dah-dah…”s which you really just can’t go wrong with in most circumstances. I like it. It’s from their forthcoming album America, out on 2024 Records.
Kingston Advice (Clash cover)
Camper Van Beethoven
Since we’ve already established an abiding fondness on my part for the output of David Lowery, it should come as no surprise that this track is one of my favorites off the new Clash tribute album The Sandinista! Project (out last month on the Megaforce label). As with all tribute albums, there are some questionable stylistic choices amisdt the 36 tracks, but this band is one with the cred to believably cover The Clash in a trippy, inventive way. Maybe I could have done without the fife, but otherwise I dig this.
Pacific Gas & Electric
I am in love with the quirky weirdness of the new soundtrack from Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, full of hidden gems mostly from the ’60s and ’70s. I just got the soundtrack this weekend, and no surprises – we all know Quentin is a genius at this stuff. I’d love to hang out with Quentin and talk music someday. The man strikes me as borderline crazy, but he’s one of the best soundtrackers out there. This cut is a swampy electric blues harp romp, but the other songs on the album range from campy girl groups, atmospheric Italian film scores, the swagger of T. Rex, and the British Invasion sound of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Fantastic off-kilter kitsch.