Recently I found myself outside the Sputnik in Denver staring down a double-edged challenge: one of my friends and his sister (close sibs) rode a vintage Schwinn tandem bike to the Langhorne Slim/Young Coyotes show [nice review here]. I’ve never rode a tandem anything before, and thought I’d give it a whirl.
Let. Me. Tell. You. That business is not as easy as it may look. Who invented that? Why did they think it would be a good idea to make two people balance in unison, and why did I think that it would be a good idea to try my maiden voyage at 2am? But I must say — should the opportunity ever present itself to you, I can recommend trying it simply for the fact that I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe and I haven’t done that in a while. And then I pretty much fell off.
Speaking of new experiences, here are a few that aren’t quite as fun but probably sound better (less grunting):
Traipsing Through The Aisles
I’ve recently become enamored with Samantha Crain, the newest signee to the Ramseur Records label (also home of the Avett Brothers who I plan to see tomorrow night for my birthday!). This Shawnee, Oklahoma native is a startling 21 years of age, and I was immediately curious to hear her music when I read that she conjures up “Judy Garland singing Neutral Milk Hotel songs.” And yes, amen exactly when you hear it. Her recent release The Confiscation: A Musical Novella is structured as a rich series of interconnected short stories. It’s backporch firefly music, or campfires and pine smoke, or pick your metaphor evoking a good and spreading warmth. Listen now.
Love Vigilantes (New Order cover)
While Ramesh Srivastava of Voxtrot has been holed up in Germany for the last year, decompressing and working on the follow-up to their 2007 debut full-length (after their string of fantastic EPs), he’s stayed in Das Loop of technology and is now podcasting. There are all kinds of great free audio and video gems in their shiny corner of iTunes — a 30-minute summer mix, Vincent Moon videos from La Blogotheque, and this poppy New Order cover. All handclappy and cheery, this is almost reminiscent of “Love Me Do” with that opening harmonica. Even the spontaneous crowd chatter over the opening fits perfectly, as if you just walked into the room where the party is happening and everyone is there. You’ve got a fresh mint mojito or something summery in your hand, and this is your soundtrack.
We Should Fight
Ezra Furman & The Harpoons
From the Jonathan Richmanesque spoken opening of “I wrote this song in a paper bag,” this song unleashes into punk and melody, retro and squak, Violent Femmes meet The Kinks with a dash of The Replacements’ sloppy joy. Ezra Furman & The Harpoons were signed by Minty Fresh Records while they were still in college at Tufts University, and are still evolving as a band. I like where they are heading. The best lines in this song are “I’m not a monster, I’m a human being / I’m not a monster, I’m a human being / And I’m the greatest thing you’ve ever seen.” All that college-guy confidence and tenderness and insecurity in one lyric that sounds great yelled loud. The Brian Deck-produced Inside The Human Body is due October 7th on Minty Fresh [thanks SVB!]. Also – side note, these kids have a charmingly humble song called “I Wanna Be Ignored.” Take that, Stone Roses.
I Said Alright (live on KEXP)
The Jet Age
I’ve been meaning to give these guys a mention for months, ever since a friend with exceptionally good ears sent me a handful of laudatory texts late one night while seeing The Jet Age in San Francisco. He spoke of their charisma, their irrepressibly catchy and rocking sound (but maybe not in precisely those words, since it was 1am). Their debut album What Did You Do During The War, Daddy? (Sonic Boomerang Records) garnered an 8.0 on Pitchfork, who called it a “heart-pounding rocker â€¦ all of the riffs are stellar.” This is lean, punky, melodic pop. The Jet Age is from Silver Spring, MD and they’ve got a handful of DC-area shows coming up. I hear you should go.
This song mysteriously popped into my inbox with vague provenance. We’re supposing that it is some new music from those golden Harvard boys, Chester French, following close in the same retro vein as the songs that have leaked so far from their hotly anticipated debut. Rhyming champagne with chow mein is something that’s just been begging to be paired for a long time now, and no one has done it until this song — but the lyrics about having a gift certificate to the mall totally reminds me of this, somewhat unfortunately. This Pharrell-endorsed buzz band has been all over the news lately – one of NME’s 25 Bands Making America Cool Again, a Rolling Stone Artist To Watch, and now a spouse to Peaches Geldof. They play Monolith on Sunday, September 14th.
BONUS! The new David Byrne/Brian Eno collaboration album can be streamed here: www.everythingthathappens.com