March 24, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

You might be surprised to hear it, but I am reading a really interesting book about zombies. Heck, I’m surprised that I’m reading a book about zombies. But it was an unexpected gift and I’m not one to look a gift book in the mouth, so I dove in.

World War Z is rivetingly creepy, an impeccably-constructed fictional history of our modern world seeing an unknown outbreak in rural China that causes people to become undead, their blood congealed into a black ooze, with a shuffling gait and a low moan. Oh, and a bloodthirsty need to bite the living (like, break into your house in suburbia and feast on your family). Sounds all Halloween, but it’s more like Outbreak. The book traces the procession of the outbreak, the coverups, the panic, the turning point in the war, and then the reconstruction of the entire planet — entirely through short, well-crafted first person accounts of those who “lived through it.” It’s very believable and globally creative. I like freaking myself out with well-written scares. I recommend this title and am glad I gave it a shot.

Music I am listening to this fine first week of Spring:


This starts like bubblegum with a fresh sweetness and pop, but quickly you get the fuzz and hear the punky influences of Boyracer. Originally from Britain and now in Arizona, this band has gone through over 40 members in the almost two decades they’ve been making music. Currently the lineup consists of original member Stewart Anderson and two rockin’ gals, one of whom he is married to. As my friend who recommended them said, “the killer melodies really come through after a few listens,” and I agree — the overtones are sweetly gratifying, but with enough distortion to balance it so well. They could be from any decade of the last 40 years.

The Satisfier
Eli Reed

Here’s another out-of-nowhere 24 year old who channels James Brown here with a red-hot yowl and big brass soul. I originally read about Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves over on the Bag of Songs blog and as soon as I started listening to the track, I had to go back and doublecheck who this kid was and from which era. Originally from Allston, MA, he honed his musical chops after he up & moved to Clarksdale, Mississippi at age 18 — in the North Mississippi Delta, and one of the birthplaces of the blues. Holy mackerel. Go stream some stuff on this kid’s MySpace; album Roll With You is out April 29th on Q Division.

I The Kite

If you were Texas musican Will Johnson and found yourself sometimes tugged in different directions with your music, you might –if you were especially prolific– form two bands. And in 2008, you might release a double album with both of your bands on it. Centro-matic often explores the loose and beautiful, but slightly more rockin’ side of Johnson’s persona, where South San Gabriel is a bit more twilight dusk than burnished afternoon. Hazy but stunning, like a landscape from a Cormac McCarthy novel. According to the guys themselves, “what is distinctive about the release of Dual Hawks is that we get the chance to hear side-by-side the various ways in which Centro-matic and South San Gabriel complement and play off of each other—sort of the full-length equivalent of a split single.” Very cool idea, with gorgeous interplay.

The Blakes

A friend has been urging me for months to write something about The Blakes after he saw them randomly on a Friday night in a small club and wrote that “they were awesome…like fuck yeah spirit of rock n roll awesome — they sort of rip off The Strokes but they do it in a good way, like it is still 2002 and garage rock will rock forever and it isn’t 2008.” So yeah, I’ll take a listen. This song was originally part of the Sound of Color ad campaign, and finds this Seattle trio taking a bit of a departure from the garage vibe found on excellent tracks like “Modern Man” or “Commit” (on their MySpace) crossing over to a sunnier Kinks/Beatles vibe that evokes nicely their assigned color of blue. Or maybe a cheery aquamarine.

Heron Blue
Sun Kil Moon
Mark Kozelak’s music gives up its melancholy layers slowly, over repeated late-night listens. Therefore I cannot claim to have plumbed the depths of the new Sun Kil Moon album after only having streaming access to it for a few short days via their MySpace. But this one we managed to capture is bewitching. Like one particularly incisive lyric here, “Her hair it twists ’round her necklace / constricts and chokes like ruthless vine,” this song is near-eight minutes of ominous impending beauty. The new album April comes out the first day of that month and features guest vocals from Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) and Ben Gibbard.


  • I’m really looking forward to the new Sun Kil Moon as “Ghosts of the Great Highway” was one of my favorites a few years ago. I also love me some “Bonnie” Prince Billy so I’m sure the album is going to be super. Thanks for the track Heather.

    - Neil

    Anonymous — March 24, 2008 @ 10:10 pm

  • Right on Heather – I got that book for Christmas last year but only got around to reading it this Christmas. Can’t you just see the movie in your head?

    Payo — March 24, 2008 @ 10:23 pm

  • I loved the concept of World War Z and most of the novel was great, but I thought certain parts of it were weighed down by either too much military jargon or lackluster survivor stories (as opposed to more rivetting “interviews”). Still, the good was really good.

    muruch — March 25, 2008 @ 10:04 am

  • If you like the Centro-Matic and SSG, then you should check out Bridges and Blinking Lights. They good.

    Bona Fide Darling — March 25, 2008 @ 11:42 am

  • I have “World War Z” on my shelf and will get to it soon … Meanwhile, I’m almost positive I read that Max Brooks is Mel Brooks’ son. No, really, I’m serious.

    Pete — March 25, 2008 @ 7:16 pm

  • Right on for both World War Z and Eli Reed. I was never more sad when he lost the rock n’roll rumble to some butt rock band. It was then I realized I had to move from Boston.

    Not for nothing, but this is what we said about them way back when: Eli Reed has a few vinyls out too, which is a great way to hear them!

    The Sly Oyster — March 25, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

  • Hi! Love the blog. If you like that book you might also enjoy the great movie “American Zombie”, opening Friday in select cities (er, city)(and cp-starring my lovely wife Jane Edith Wilson)
    keep up the good work!
    Gary Lucy

    Gary Lucy — March 25, 2008 @ 8:43 pm

  • Nice job on Eli and the True Loves….I also found these guys on Tom’s Bag of Songs and absolutely love the four mp3′s I’ve got. Can’t wait for this album.

    Centro-matic’s Fort Recovery was a top tenner for me in 06. Somehow I missed this bit of news about a Centro-matic South San Gabriel double album. Wow. that’s the best news I’ve heard all week.


    Anonymous — March 26, 2008 @ 8:40 am

  • Good call on World War Z. I didn’t think I’d like it much but really got into it for the “history”/politics/storytelling and a little bit of the creepitute. Yes, Max Brooks is Mel Brooks’ son.

    It’s one of those things you have to recommend by saying “Even if you don’t like X, you’ll like this.”

    bone daddy — March 26, 2008 @ 9:11 am

  • Hey there…great post. I’ve been hearing a little ofthe Sun Kil Moon and it’s already on queue for my soundtrack to late nights reading…if and when you do get around to it, I’d love to hear your take on the new Counting Crows…I just got it and am halfway through “side 1″, great so far…thanks for reading, keep up the awesome work.

    Frank — March 26, 2008 @ 4:05 pm

  • love, love; love world war z. i had to read it for work recently. excellent and cool idea…

    ortholomeux. — March 26, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

  • ripping off the strokes is almost an oxymoron.

    Anonymous — March 26, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

  • Boyracer – nice!

    Dan Cook — March 27, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

  • Read World War Z a couple weeks ago; simply one of the best, all-encompassing zombie books you can hope to read. It’s something that would make John Wyndham jealous. Very well thought-out stuff. Very curious about the movie.

    Anonymous — March 31, 2008 @ 10:09 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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