Well, the mercury finally crested the mid-80s mark this weekend, just in time for Father’s Day BBQs. I was laughing out loud on a hot Saturday as I discovered the fabulous Tremble.com blog and read his post about the first bare-chested male subway rider signifying that summer is truly here, like a red-breasted robin announcing the spring. Tell me, where else on the web can you read a recounting of a story that includes the sentence: “Say how would you like to get your dance card punched by [fists] Savion Glover and Alfonso Ribeiro? Let’s bring in the noise as well as the funk, except with punches and kicks to the face and kidneys.” It’s terrifically funny reading.
Heck, no bare-chested, bleeding males ’round these parts lately, but some excellent new tunes can be considered almost as good…
The Old Days
This song feels eminently summery to me, a shiny new one from Philly’s excellent Dr. Dog (still not the children’s book). We’ve got banjos and sparkling vocals here, all swelling into a Nilsson-worthy symphony. The folks at FADER have seen Dr Dog perform much of their new material live, and wrote that “every new song they played was wilder, thicker, more willing to chop up the jam into smaller jam particles that smash into each other to create a wormhole directly to the best summer of your life.” Can’t complain. Fate is out July 22 on Park The Van — and make sure to catch Dr. Dog on a crazy amount of tour dates in the coming months, including a roll through Denver’s Hi-Dive September 27th.
A Change Is Gonna Come
I recently had an intensely-defended (and possibly liquor fueled) argument while in Washington DC about which version of this song was the best, Sam Cooke’s silky original or Otis Redding’s howling soul-filled cover. Now this goes and adds a new facet to the discussion. Ben Sollee is a white guy from Kentucky who takes a wholly good-natured, spirited stab at this formidable song — and unfortunately leaves me cold. I’ve written before that Otis’ version (the side I argued) “fairly drips with aching as [he] sings about the thick swelter of racial oppression in the South. You can almost feel and see the tension, like heat rising up off the August sidewalks.” On the other hand, this sounds like a pleasant skip through the daisies. Sollee is a talented guy though, and I really do like the sweetly dusty acoustic soul in the other tracks I’ve heard off his Learning to Bend (out last week on SonaBLAST! Records).
My Drive Thru
In this golden age of media tie-ins, a shoe company commissions an original song bringing together three artists we like: Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Brooklyn glitter girl Santogold, and Pharrell project N.E.R.D. Whew. Quite the mouthful of folks involved, but I think this works surprisingly well from the opening bell peals, largely because of Pharrell’s funky production and golden touch. I enjoy hearing Casablancas’ drawl over the top of such a dance-ready beat. Santogold says that “working across musical genres was like creating a patchwork where I got to weave together various influences and allow them to co-exist in a fresh and original way.” Now what to do about the Kurt Cobain Chucks?
Bargain of the Century
(song removed, stream it here)
Albert Hammond Jr
And while we’re on the topic of “projects that take away from precious time the Strokes could be spending making new music for us,” let’s also broach the new songs from Albert Hammond Jr that have made their way onto the interwebs in recent weeks. This cut starts with a bit more aggressive drumming than the lackadaisical start of “GfC,” but really, we keep ending up in the same hammock with Al, wine glass on our chest, unable to move with any real gusto in the summer heat. Sounds like we may be in for another collection of laid-back retro-pop melodies with this one. Incidentally I wore my AHJr shirt out to breakfast on Saturday morning (okay, so maybe I’d also slept in it) and I actually got a nod from the IHOP waitress about Al’s new album. I was mostly just excited to find out that I am not the only person in Colorado Springs who would know what that three-bunny silhouette meant. Hammond’s second solo album Como Te Llama is out July 7 on Scratchie.
Soul and Fire (acoustic demo)
Not to be confused with that anthemic “Soul on Fire” from Spiritualized that I posted last week (and cannot stop singing out loud), this demo is the closing track on Sebadoh‘s 15-year reissue of their seminal Bubble and Scrape. The double-disc opens with the original, and closes with this small and humble demo, which sounds like it was recorded at the kitchen table of a mountain cabin, while waiting for water to boil or for snow to quietly stop falling. Barely two minutes, this demo is much less heartless than the album version, as it wanders through thoughts like, “If you walk away we may never meet again,” and aches to a close with a phrase that sits on my chest: “Call me if you ever want to start again.” The reissue is out July 8th on Domino/Sub Pop, and Sebadoh will be performing the album in full at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago this July.