January 1, 2011

Fuel/Friends favorites of 2010

sound wave

And so, another year marches to a close — another fantastic, adventure-filled, technicolor year. It’s the time when all of us start kicking around our neatly-bulleted lists of bests and worsts. For me, the more I read these lists, the more I feel that I missed more albums and artists than I heard this year.

The stats are staggering: in 2002, about 33,000 albums were released. In 2006 that number was 75,000. Last year close to 100,000 albums were released, with only roughly 800 of those albums selling more than 5K. It’s tough out there — to be heard, and to feel as a listener that you have adequately given a shot to even a fraction of a representative sample of one year’s offerings. I always feel this keening bittersweet regret at the end of each year, as so much more music was released than any one human woman can possibly digest or invest in.

That being said, I had a fairly simple time picking what my personal favorite albums were for 2010, of the ones I heard. I absolutely loved what Carrie Brownstein wrote on her NPR blog about these year-end lists.

She muses: “So I’ll admit that I’m not quite certain how to sum up an entire year in music anymore; not when music has become so temporal, so specific and personal, as if we each have our own weather system and what we listen to is our individual forecast. I’ve written a lot about music bringing people together, fomenting community, and many albums still did act as bonfires in 2010 . . . but many of us are also walking around with a little lighter in hand, singing along to some small glow that’s stuck around long enough to make us feel excited to be alive.”

That is exactly, precisely what I feel. And really, what is any top ten list but an assessment of those songs, those artists, those albums that have hit us square in the solar plexus exactly where we are sitting?

These are the albums that lodged deep and sharp into my red heart and made this year richer, smarter, harder and easier, sharper, sparklier, and all the more brilliant. And some of them seriously made me dance.



FUEL/FRIENDS FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2010

the-black-keys-brothers

THE BLACK KEYS – BROTHERS
(Nonesuch Records)

This is just one of the coolest albums released all year — maybe all decade. And I mean the kind of cool that is quintessential, untouchable, badass, just strutting down a sunny street with-your-own-theme-song type of cool. It blends their trademark swampy, bluesy, fuzzed-out guitars with crisp sharp beats that sliced right through that weight the first time I put this album in, on my roadtrip to Missouri. I think I listened to it on repeat through at least two (long, loooong) states and it was love at first listen from that point on.

Additionally – if there is a sicker breakdown all year than what happens here at 1:02, I don’t wanna know about it.

The Go Getter – The Black Keys

…Right?!





dan mangan

DAN MANGAN – NICE, NICE, VERY NICE
(Arts & Crafts)

This album from the Canadian side of the verdant Pacific Northwest was an unexpected discovery this year, recommended to me by a friend who helps arrange the Telluride Bluegrass Festival (another favorite thing of this year, but hey we’ll get to that). Dan Mangan has made a dense, thoroughly gorgeous album, heavy on the intelligent lyrics, his oaky-warm voice weaving in amongst a whole orchestra of instruments. This album is beautifully arranged and well-crafted, one you can swim deeply in during rainy days all winter long (although I discovered it in August and it sounded just as good in the sticky warmth).

Basket – Dan Mangan





DGcover_hires
DREW GROW AND THE PASTORS’ WIVES – SELF-TITLED
(Amigo/Amiga Records)

Drew Grow and his band The Pastors’ Wives hail from Portland, making music that easily straddles and jumps across genres to create something marvelously rich and endlessly interesting. The sound production throughout feels like an old, warm, crackly album (tip: get it on white vinyl while you can) with something urgent to say. From those fuzzy, sexy, pleadingly plaintive blues jams like “Company” to the aggressive push-and-tug of the rowdy “Bootstraps” and the dulcet golden ’50s croon of songs like “Hook,” this album has pleased me completely. Every song is a favorite.

The opening “Bon Voyage Hymn” sets the tone for this album (if it has one) of a sort of rough-hewn, honest, rock gospel as Drew howls, “Sing a shelter over me / With a mighty chorus, slaves set free.” And by that I mean the oldest spirit of gospel, in community and a shared love of singing, with our heads thrown back and our feet stomping — but while the guitar squalls and the dirty drums crash. At the house show they played for me in November, it was like the best kind of church, a jaw-dropping explosion of goodness.

Company – Drew Grow & The Pastors’ Wives

N.B.: Drew also has a stunning new acoustic EP.





the-head-and-the-heart-lp

THE HEAD AND THE HEART – SELF-TITLED
(self-released)

From the first evening back in early summer when I streamed this Seattle six-piece’s songs on my tinny computer speakers, I was reeled in hook line and sinker. The song sang about something that sounds like a hallelujah, the sheer delight of embracing with all of your heart and both your dancing shoes, and no band this year has given me more of that musical enjoyment – whether in a parking garage very late at night, or in the living room of an old house. Amidst the warmth, the uncanny wisdom, and undeniably catchy musical & rhythmic foundations of this band, there is magic. We will be hearing a good deal more from them in 2011, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Sounds Like Hallelujah – The Head and The Heart





jonsigo

JONSI – GO
(XL Recording)

This is, simply put, a kinetic album. Jónsi blends his native Icelandic language with forays into English, creating the dizzying effect of running fast through a dream forest, not exactly understanding what is being said and not needing to. He’s made an intricate, joyful album of grandeur that is uplifting and challenging without being overly twee or silly. It is a delicate balance to strike. The paint-spatter of colors on the album cover precisely depict what this explosive album sounds like – purple, yellow, deep red, shot through with sunlight.

This album was completely unlike anything else that I heard this year, and made me simultaneously smile widely and furrow my brow. It’s the most imaginative album I’ve heard all year, perfect at evoking things like riding the back of a jet-black dragon over canyons. Yes, and yes. Please.

Go Do – Jónsi

Addendum: I also just laughed very loudly for a good minute and a half after I just connected the mental dots to the possible inspiration for this album, or at least this song.





so-runs-the-world-away

JOSH RITTER – SO RUNS THE WORLD AWAY

(Pytheas Records)

I’ve said before that I think Josh Ritter is one of the most important and talented songwriters of our generation; this album is a stellar example of why. Through these thirteen sprawling songs, Josh demonstrates to me again exactly why I love the way that he sees the world. When I interviewed him this summer, he said he admires those who “see what everybody else has seen, think what nobody else has thought.”

Josh pens incisive, piercing, widely-varying folk songs with the comfortable intelligence of one who is in no hurry, yet is passionate in pursuing his muse and getting his stories out into the world. Highlights here like “The Curse,” “Folk Bloodbath,” “Another New World,” and “Lantern” are jaw-dropping. Josh has a remarkable way of teasing out truths about the world (seen and unseen), and poking into the human conditions in my own heart with a greater acuity than most out there.

Lantern – Josh Ritter

That song also contains one of my favorite lyrics of this entire year: “So throw away those lamentations, we both know them all too well / If there’s a book of jubilations, we’ll have to write it for ourselves / So come and lie beside me darlin’ — let’s write it while we still got time.”





lissie

LISSIE – CATCHING A TIGER
(Fat Possum)

From the first time I heard Lissie’s soulful, immensely evocative voice earlier this year on her song “Everywhere I Go,” I was riveted. Who was this slight, freckled blond gal with the echoes of an entire fifty-member church choir in her lungs? Originally from Rock Island, Illinois, Lissie has harnessed both the brilliance of the sunshine of her new California home on her debut album, as well as all the gnarls of her roots. Bluesy, confident melodies and goosebump-inducing howls are here in scads — this is a notably substantial first album from a woman to be reckoned with.

Record Collector – Lissie





the-dark-leaves-mppa

MATT POND PA – THE DARK LEAVES

(Attitude Records)

“We could start tonight, slide back the deadbolts…” Matt Pond suggests at the beginning of this autumnal album with rich hues that gave me endless listening pleasure this year. I was glad I took him up on the invite. I’d admired the work of the Brooklyn songwriter in spurts and starts over the past few years, but this is the first album of his that I have really immersed myself into his uniquely lovely, thrumming view of the world.

There is a sort of expansive, wide-eyed glow in this album that seems to invite transcendent things to happen. From the specks of silver he sings about in the evening sky and the illumination all around us, I love the way things look like an adventure when I am listening. “First hips, then knees, then feet – don’t think anymore,” he sings. Good idea, Matt.

Starting – Matt Pond PA





the-national_high-violet

THE NATIONAL – HIGH VIOLET
(4AD Records)

This is a decimating, gorgeous, elegant album, much like Boxer was but with additional hints of weirdness and unsettled edges that I like. I was ridiculously excited about this album (in a sort of masochistic way, since I know full well what The National are capable of), devouring every word I could read about it before it came out. The single best definition I heard came from Matt Berninger himself when he said they wanted it to sound “like loose wool and hot tar.” In that regard, they completely succeed – their music is dark, burning, sticking to your skin and all your insides.

This is an incredible album full of terse, razor-sharp observations on the worries that wait in the shadows for me and gnaw when they get a chance: I think the kids are in trouble… you’ll never believe the shitty thoughts I think… I was less than amazing… I tell you terrible things when you’re asleep. But I won’t lie when I say I found some of the strongest redemption of my year in this music as well, with the closing track “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” — singing along with lines “all the very best of us string ourselves up for love / man it’s all been forgiven, swans are a-swimmin…” The honesty of the darkness shot through with these glints is what keeps drawing me back to these guys, fiercely.

Conversation 16 – The National





tallest-man-on-earth-wild-hunt-cover-art

THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH – THE WILD HUNT
(Dead Oceans)

Kristian Mattson slays me – there are no two ways about it. When he sings on this album, “I plan to be forgotten when I’m gone,” it is almost comical because nothing really seems further from the truth. Mattson’s songs have the kind of heft and intricacy that make me certain his music will be around for a very long time after him. His guitarwork is sparkling, impassioned, and inspired. The words he selects and the way he delivers them are pointed and deliberate. I can’t tell if his lyrics are so sharp in spite of the fact that English is not his first language, or because of it – as if perhaps he can see more clearly through our muddy sea of language to pick out the iridescent rocks from the river.

Also: it’s worth noting that his EP released this year was equally good – serious brilliant work.

King of Spain – The Tallest Man On Earth





BEST ALBUM NOT FROM THIS YEAR THAT I JUST FINALLY DISCOVERED THIS YEAR:

cataldo - signal flareCATALDO – SIGNAL FLARE
(self-released, 2008)

I cannot stop listening to Eric Anderson, as evidenced by the fact that I have put him on just about every mix I made in 2010, and listen to this album most days lately on my walk to work. After a chance encounter with his music on a college radio show of a friend, I’ve been smitten by his earnest, unvarnished, incredibly catchy way of looking at the world that simultaneously makes me smile and breaks my heart. You know me. I like that.

He’s got a new album “Prison Boxing” coming out in 2011, according to Facebook. I plan to be substantially more on top of that one.

Signal Flare – Cataldo





9NINE SUPERB SONGS I COULDN’T GET ENOUGH OF IN 2010:
Burning Stars – Mimicking Birds [link]
Tell ‘Em – Sleigh Bells [link]
Safe and Sound – Electric President [link]
Six O’Clock News (Kathleen Edwards cover) – Paul Jacobsen [link]
If A Song Could Get Me You – Marit Larsen [link]
Second Mind (live at the SF Independent) – Adam H. Stephens [link]
Fuck You – Cee Lo Green [link]
Carry Us Over – Kelli Schaefer [link]
Baby Lee – Teenage Fanclub [link]





interviewsFAVORITE INTERVIEWS:
Bringing Jeff Buckley’s music to a new life through Shakespeare [link]
-and-
Talking to my Italian musical hero on the Santa Monica Pier [link]





shows_ive_seenFAVORITE SHOWS OF THE YEAR:
My forays into presenting house shows:
Drew Grow and The Pastors’ Wives with Kelli Schaefer (Nov 4, 2010)
The Head and The Heart (Nov 9, 2010)

Andy Clockwise at SXSW (March 2010)

Joe Pug house show (February 28, 2010)

Tallest Man On Earth (May 19, 2010)

Megafaun and their in-the-crowd rendition of “Worried Mind” (April 12, 2010)



FAVORITE FESTIVAL:
Telluride Bluegrass Festival, holy mackerel.





thumbnail.aspxAND: FAVORITE NIGHT THAT ONLY TOOK 56 YEARS TO ARRIVE
This one.




*****

I started 2010 with a Polar Bear Plunge and a vow that this year was gonna be ours, a year of intentionally acquiring adventures and memories that would make me smile when I was old and withered.

I think we did it, and these were the things that soundtracked it all.



[Sound Wave” sculpture at top by Jean Shin]

June 4, 2010

if a song could get me you

marit

I am poaching some free wireless at a gas station truckstop somewhere off Highway 70 cutting across the center of this great, flat land. I’ve been on the road for over a week for work, getting real familiar-like with all that Missouri (and Kansas) have to offer. I’ve had a tremendous time doing things like watching a Royals ballgame Wednesday (with fountains and waterfalls!) and a Cardinals game tonight in St. Louis, drinking a whole heck of a lot of Boulevard Brewery‘s limited edition beers while brushing up on my Saved By The Bell trivia with some genius cohort friends, going for night runs and unsuccessfully trying to outrace the mosquitoes, and melting –nay, dissolving– into a sticky pile in this humidity. My hair votes for never moving to the Midwest in summer. Oh! And I also ate Jack Stack’s BBQ for lunch today, and saw armadillo roadkill (not related).

Roadtrips also mean vast and fabulous swaths of uninterrupted time to catch up on all that music I want to listen to with each breathing moment, but which instead somehow shuffles itself into corners and under car seats and in stacks (and stacks) of promo CDs by my bed. About two hours ago I unearthed and popped in the newest album from Norway’s Marit Larsen and I have been happily stuck on it since. It’s actually from her 2008 album The Chase but was just released as a single in the States in January. I woke up in a ridiculously good mood today, and this song couldn’t sound more perfect.

I first heard Marit four years ago on Fluxblog, and her irresistible harmonica and handclap-laden ode to a breakup “Only A Fool” was one of my favorite 20 songs that whole first year of Fuel/Friends. I believe I put that on a running mix too (the music is all plucky, even though the lyrics are biting) and cuing it up even today it still sounds as unspoiled. What I have always loved about Marit is something undefinable in her voice which just radiates a sterling, approachable honesty. Her Scandinavian take on Americana music evokes hints of Nina Persson or even Lisa Loeb (with a banjo), and it’s sweet but never saccharine.

I’ll never grow tired of a really good pop song to soundtrack the yellow lines flickering past, the hot sunshine, and the miles and miles of open expanse. This song may or may not have gotten her the man, but it’s completely snagged me.

Put this one on your summer mix.

If A Song Could Get Me You – Marit Larsen

…and why not — for excellent measure:

Only A Fool – Marit Larsen

Tagged with .
November 20, 2006

If you want a show, just let me know and I’ll sing in your ear again

Today marks one year (!) since I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS took its first tentative steps with an initial post, and I’ve been contentedly rolling along ever since, gathering steam as I go.

I know that downloading music (and absorbing all that I have to say here) can sometimes be like drinking from a firehose, so I thought to compile you a 20-song mix of my absolutely favorite tracks that I have featured in the first year of this blog.

Some of these tunes I posted up way at the beginning when I think my readership was about 30 people a day. Since y’all have literally multiplied yourselves a hundred-fold since then, lots of you may have missed these excellent tunes the first time around.

So if you haven’t heard these, they get my highest recommendation, each and every one. If I had a radio station I would absolutely be playing each of these on a near-daily basis for the enrichment of the world’s eardrums at large. Here they are, along with what I originally wrote about them during this past year:

01. Powers – Blackalicious
“This track makes me jump up and dance in my stripey socks like nobody’s business. The ultimate summer party song, droning deep lead vocals, a sick backbeat, teasing electric guitar licks, and a gospel-y chorus. Uh huh. Shake it. This song ROCKS.” (6/19/06)

02. Somebody Ease My Troublin’ Mind – Les Paul with Sam Cooke and Eric Clapton
“Les Paul is best known for creating the first solid-body electric guitar for Gibson. This cut pairs Les (now 90) with Sam Cooke on vocals and Eric Clapton on guitar. Although Cooke died in 1967, they’ve revived some old vocal tracks of his, stripped out the backing instrumentation, and laid down new material here. Sam Cooke always makes me want to slow dance barefoot in the kitchen.” (1/9/06)

03. The First Single – The Format
From my concert review: “The final song, anthemic and sweaty and once again, everyone sang along. (Who names their first single ‘The First Single’? These guys do.)” (8/23/06)

04. I Will Be Free – Nil Lara
“Lara is soulful and passionate and sings like his heart is burning. Add in heavy doses of warm & layered Latin percussion, traditional Cuban and Venezuelan string instruments, and his soaring chants and vocals (in a combination of Spanish and English) – and I was hooked.” (7/19/06)

05. So Hard To Find My Way – Jackie Greene
“A fantastic upbeat, retro-sounding tune combining piano, banjo, and Memphis horns. With his new album Jackie is delving into more poppy arrangements than the harmonica-folk of his previous efforts, but it sounds good to me. I really like this chap and think we will be hearing a lot more from him.” (6/12/06) (video performance here)

06. Unnamed – Leona Naess
“This new one from Leona’s upcoming album is definitely her most singable, radio-friendly, and excellent sounding song in a while. With great couplet lines like “Shake these hips and let them persuade you / Take my songs – they’re always about you” . . . the lyrical writing style is classic but the sound is uptempo & fresh.” (5/15/06)

07. Crack The Whip – Spinto Band
“Pitchfork’s description of this song, by current Arctic Monkeys tour opener The Spinto Band, caught my attention: “Four-on-the-floor ‘Crack the Whip’ lashes the make-up alternapop zeitgeist, whippin’ the Killers at their own neu-dance-wave game before ascending to a gates-of-heaven Beach Boys chorus like this was the Biblical, non-DFA Rapture.” That is one of the best-written music review sentences I have read in a while, and I am digging the song in a big way.” (3/20/06)

08. Walt Whitman Bridge – Marah
“Hey there, Marah. Where’ve you been all my life? This is a really, really great folk-punk/roots/garage-rock band making some quality tunes, a largely undiscovered gem in the lexicon of rock music today. Listen to the harmonica in this one, and the story in the lyrics.” (1/28/06)

09. Under All The Bright Lights – Ryan Auffenberg
“This song sails effortlessly into my top ten favorite songs of 2006 thus far. Seriously, I love it and you will too. It is a stellar, evocative, emotional tour de force set against a lush backdrop of gorgeous strings and wrenching piano. But for all the prettiness of the melody, listen closely to the lyrics for a dose of jarring reality.” (8/14/06)

10. Something In The Way – Nicolai Dunger
“Neither a Nirvana cover, nor a Beatles cover, this ex-footballer (and by footballer I mean soccer player) Swede has a pleasant backyard BBQ vibe, which is something I can appreciate in the cold brown of winter.” (2/6/06)

11. Love You In The Fall – Paul Westerberg
“I find this new track very enjoyable – the opening is fantastic vintage Westerberg, with a similar feel to tunes like ‘Be Bad For Me’ or the recent ‘Mats track ‘Message To The Boys.’ The lyrics are admittedly a bit simplistic, but I don’t listen to him to discern the meaning of the universe or anything, so this will do just fine.” (9/15/06)

12. Take What’s Mine – The Shore (fixed)
“A certain musical know-it-all recently recommended that I take a listen to The Shore, an L.A.-based trio who somehow slipped past the mainstream musical scene but are definitely worth some of your time. Their dusty, beautiful music does indeed incorporate many elements of, say, Stereophonics or The Verve (including all the oooh, ooooohs you can shake a stick at) but after you give it several listens it gets richer each time, until it truly stands out on its own and you forget the comparisons.” (7/18/06)

13. Only A Fool – Marit Larsen
“Shimmery plucky guitar pop from Norway’s Marit Larsen with wheezing harmonica and a wide-open happy vocal that reminded me of a few Sheryl Crow tunes that I enjoy. Ridiculously infectious with handclaps and banjo and all kinds of goodness.” (5/8/06)

14. You Are The Everything (R.E.M. cover) – Redbird
“I believe that there are a handful of truly flawless, perfect songs in this world. One of those songs which I love front to back and throughout each note and lyrical turn is R.E.M.’s ‘You Are The Everything’ . . . Upon hearing this cover, within the first ten seconds I was blown away – this is excellent. Whereas R.E.M.’s is sublimely sweet & dulcet, this is an aching and honest version with a touch more twang, and a female vocalist (Kris Delmhorst) harmonizing earnestly.” (6/16/06)

15. I Can Get Us Out Of Here Tonight – Lucero
“To me it’s like the best signatures of a young, urgent Springsteen written all over this song. When Ben Nichols sings ‘I can get us out of here tonight,’ it’s that same burning twinge that Springsteen makes you feel in your soul that makes you want to throw caution to the wind, roll down the windows, and take off on the interstate.” (7/11/06)

16. Only You (live version) – Joshua Radin
“This is a cover of the early ’80s synth-laden junior high slowdance favorite ‘Only You’ by Yaz (remember it from Napoleon Dynamite?), which Radin said he chooses to perform because he liked it when he was a kid. However, he completely reinvents it into something that is absolutely beautiful, a flawless little gem of a song that I think I’ve listened to 15 times today.” (8/10/06)

17. Become The Enemy – The Lemonheads
“Just hearing Evan Dando sounding this good makes everything rosy in my world. I think that the new Lemonheads sound absolutely fantastic – rocking, melodic & interesting. As good as I would have hoped.” (8/17/06)

18. Thin Blue Flame – Josh Ritter
“This song clocks in at almost ten minutes, and I personally enjoyed listening to it on repeat while drifting off to sleep. It starts slow and builds several times and then fades, and it contains some stunning lyrics that create beautiful mental images. The production on this song includes background chatter and glasses clinking, which adds to the sense of immediacy, as if this song is being performed live for you in a small coffee shop or dark bar.” (12/10/05)

19. Plastic Jesus – Paul Newman (from Cool Hand Luke)
“Here is where I reveal my true colors – I harbor a *serious* crush on the Paul Newman of 40 years hence. Have you SEEN Hud or Cool Hand Luke? If not, you must. I think he smolders better than any actor today. And I love the fact that I just got to post a Paul Newman song on my blog.” (1/4/06)

20. Listen To What The Man Said (Wings cover) – Ron Sexsmith
The story: “After chatting to his buddy Paul McCartney about Sexsmith, Chris Difford of Squeeze took Ron over to the ex-Beatle’s house for an impromptu jam session. Maybe you’ve heard this story, but you know you want to hear it again. Difford makes the introduction, they all have breakfast and before you know it, Ron’s singing ‘Listen To What The Man Said’ with Paul taking the harmonies. ‘Well, I didn’t know what to play,’ Ron says, ‘And [McCartney] does this thing when you talk to him — if you say something humorous, he’s got these huge eyes, and he sort of gave me this look like I was being a wise guy or something. Well, it’s a song I’ve always played for myself… and it was cool. I was singing lead and he was doing the harmonies and stuff.’” (7/14/06)

FIRST YEAR MIX AS ZIP

Ta-dah! Do enjoy, trusty reader. Thanks to all of you for a fantastic and eye-opening year. You all rock, perhaps a little bit more so now.

I would be acutely interested in hearing some feedback from those of you who have been with me for a while — what are some artists or songs or albums that you have especially enjoyed that you read about here? What do you recall as your favorites featured here this year?

(Onward ho!)

May 8, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

So, what am I working on this week? My first freelance music reviews! A local paper found this very blog and now wants me to review 5 albums, each in 50 words. Daunting for a rambler like me, but nonetheless a task I undertake with relish. Do you guys have any recommendations? What albums lately can you not help mentioning to everyone you meet? I have about eight or nine I am considering, but if you have suggestions, please leave em in the comments. I would really appreciate any help with this one, even if you are not a usual commenter.

Here is some music I will be enjoying this week:

Only A Fool
Marit Larsen
Shimmery plucky guitar pop from Norway’s Marit Larsen with wheezing harmonica and a wide-open happy vocal that reminded me of a few Sheryl Crow tunes that I enjoy. Ridiculously infectious with handclaps and banjo and all kinds of goodness. Highly recommended on these sunny days, even though the subject matter is actually quite non-happy (about a breakup and a cheating heart). Thanks to Matthew for recommending this one, from 2006′s Under The Surface, which you can buy on this Norwegian site.

Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean
Paul Simon
Here is one from Paul Simon‘s new album Surprise, which comes out tomorrow. A collaboration between everyone’s favorite long-lost pal and Brian Eno (“father of ambient music“), mixed by Tchad Blake (who worked with Pearl Jam on Binaural), there are some interesting elements of electronica woven throughout the disc (have you heard the first single “Outrageous” on the radio?). The disc also contains a re-recorded version the song “Father and Daughter” (originally on the Wild Thornberrys soundtrack from 2002), which would be a perfect addition to the rad mixtape you are surely making for your pops for Father’s Day next month.

Lay Lady Lay
(Dylan cover)
Magnet with Gemma Hayes
For some reason, the lyrics of this song have always kind of turned me off and I really can’t put my finger on why (I know! Heresy! She doesn’t like a Bob Dylan lyric!!). Maybe it’s the brass thing? I have an aversion to shiny brass furniture and being told to lay across anything brass would give me hives. But this is a really lovely cover with the achingly velvet-voiced Irishwoman Gemma Hayes blending perfectly as she swaps verses with Magnet (aka Even Johansen of Norway). Thanks to the Copy, Right? blog for unearthing this, it’s been on heavy rotation in these parts. Released in 2004 as a CD Single/EP.

Back Against The Wall
Euphoria
I was a big fan of the guitar-wailing/chill-electronica/soulful-harmonica blend on the 1999 eponymous debut from Euphoria. The track “Delirium” first caught my attention as something fresh and very very cool to slide across my aural palette. Euphoria is the project of Toronto-based guitarist Ken Ramm, and his new third album Precious Time sees collaboration with Steve Sidelynk (who worked with Massive Attack & David Gray), Tina Dico (who has sung with Zero 7) and the soulful Tracy Bonham. Take a listen to this unique sound on this bonus track from the new CD (from Zoe/Rounder Records), I think you’ll like it.

I’ll Try Anything Once
(early version of “You Only Live Once”)
The Strokes
“You Only Live Once” was absolutely one of my favorite tracks of 2005, mostly because of the insane percussion work (Fabrizio Moretti is so loose, and yet so tight). This is an interesting early version of the song because it is completely lounge-lizard lazy. I frankly quite enjoy seeing the metamorphosis of a song, but if Julian’s vocals annoy you (someone commented a while back: “it’s like, get to the point…quit singing like you’re loungin on a couch with the mic cocked sideways”), this one will probably get under your skin.

BONUSES:
Bob Pollard (GBV) has posted two more new demo songs on his website: “The Finest Joke Is Upon Us” and “White Skin and Bones.” Recommended only for the most rabid of fans. And, from the Merge website: “Robert Pollard (and The Ascended Masters, as Bob has taken to calling his new band) will be opening up for alt-rock super heroes Pearl Jam on two stops of Pearl Jam’s upcoming tour (Pittsburgh and Cincy). Rumor has it that the new Pearl Jam album was heavily influenced by GBV, and that Eddie is a big fan.”

To call Marathonpacks’ recent tome on the Beatles a “post” would be like calling War and Peace a novella. This thing is epic, extremely enjoyable to read and stunningly good. Why did my University not offer a Beatles Appreciation class? The closest I got was ‘Music in American Cultures’ freshman year, which I (foolishly) dropped after I saw the massive textbook list. Gah.

Also, in the continuing love affair between Ben Kweller and Evan Dando (see their duet I posted last week), the Work For It blog has a lovely little cover of Kweller doing “My Drug Buddy,” which is a great song (I love the lyric “We have to laugh to look at each other” because that is my favorite kinds of friendships summed up in 9 words).

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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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