October 13, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

This last week I started twittering. Suddenly all the small moments in my life are memorialized in 140 characters or less. So now in addition to being able to keep up with what some of my favorite real-life friends are doing RIGHT THIS MINUTE, I’ve also laughed daily at the twitter feed of writer Joshua Green Allen aka fireland. I don’t know him for reals but I first read about him over on Heather’s Dooce blog, and he turns out to live up in Denver. Now, my Denver is never as fun as his Denver, but now I can chuckle at his twitter feeds like: “First time I’ve ever been fired for sexual harassment during a job interview, but your sick gams ARE my biggest managerial weakness.”

Allen also penned a great article about the perfect length for a song, and posits that it “had to be closer to three minutes than two, but definitely shorter than three minutes. Three minutes is where bloat starts to set in. Where the band thinks: Hey, let’s do the chorus seven times. Hey, let’s give the saxophone guy a real moment to shine on this one. Hey, let’s add another bridge.”

He goes on to give some love to The La’s “There She Goes” as the ultimately perfect song of that perfect length. In sum, a man after my own heart. Listen to the 2:42 muxtape too if you’re in an abbreviated mood.

Music for this week:

Pop Song

This Portland band played on Saturday at Denver’s Hi-Dive but I was literally still trying to thaw under my comforter from a freezing afternoon attempting to understand Australian Rules Football in a friend’s tournament over at the Air Force Academy. Starfucker rocked the joint, and I dozed cozily. But I’ll bet the cool kids there enjoyed their sound — sexy but not sleazy, light but with an undercurrent of electronic grime. I think this song should have played in Empire Records; it’s got that mid-90s innocence and pop heft. Starfucker’s self-titled debut is out now on Badman, and their cover of Madonna’s “Burnin’ Up” is also streaming on RCRDLBL. Worth noting, they are neither the NIN song nor the Belgian band of the same name, but apparently this recreational hobby seems to be hitting its stride.

Balloons (Foals cover) - Holy Fuck
Balloons (original) – Foals
Hey, while we’re already using words that make my mom blush, let’s throw this little nugget in here as well. This week Foals and Holy Fuck released a collaboration/mutual admiration society 12″ where they each covered one of the other’s songs. These dudes both played Monolith, so I like to picture them sitting down at the oxygen bar and coming up with this idea amidst the red rocks. It could happen. To get the vice-versa cover (Super Inuit), click here. The split 12″ is out now on white vinyl via Young Turks, or on their tour(s).

Satanic Messiah
Mountain Goats

As I write this Sunday night (35° outside!), I’ve been listening to Mountain Goats on shuffle while I pack and go through stuff I’d rather not look through in prep for moving this next weekend. The poetic ache of Darnielle’s lyrics, his indignation and passion keep these songs on repeat. The newly-released Satanic Messiah EP is not Darnielle’s foray into black metal but rather a lovely 4-song acoustic collection with religious metaphor themes (not uncommon in his songs). Of these songs, Darnielle writes, “I am fond of them; they remind me of old vanished things.” This particular tune is ostensibly about going to see a show or performance, and how “we were all made young when he stepped onto the stage, like an animal escaping from his cage,” and then sings about how they all were “too dazed to leave when it was over.” Mountain Goats play Denver on Friday night with Kaki King, and I’m going to hope for something similar.

I Can’t Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt cover)
Denison Witmer
No, really. Listen to this cover, even if you haven’t given Bonnie Raitt much thought since you (like my sister) sang this song in Pops Choir in high school. Philadelphia folk artist Denison Witmer loves covers as much as I do, and he’s taken to releasing a whole slew of them for free in his achingly stripped-down style. Through his MySpace and a partnership with the ace Cover Lay Down blog, Denison has been giving away free songs on a regular basis, including ones originally by Band of Horses, Oasis, Van Morrison and Red House Painters. This particular one is my favorite of the batch. It starts with a settling in a room; you can hear the grey empty space starkly bouncing back his plaintive, resigned voice. It is an absolutely devastating song, and especially the way he does it — all void and defeated. Witmer’s new album Carry The Weight is out November 11th, and side project alert: check out his River Bends band with Steve Yutzey-Burkey of The Swimmers.

Urban Lull (At Once Charmed)
The Umbrella Sequence
I’ve said it before, but our local community college radio station is one of the best I’ve ever listened to. They have turned my ears on to so many things that I previously missed, like The Umbrella Sequence from Minneapolis. This song came over my car speakers the other day and I was instantly addicted and turned it way up. With sunshiney chiming pop melodies that fight valiantly (and occasionally win) through a scratchy wall of fuzz and electronica, they garner comparisons to Flaming Lips and Super Furry Animals. This is the lead-off track from last year’s Events (on Princess Records), and like a good aspiring rock star, Ryan Rupprecht sings over and over “We’re all getting bored” — but no, I am definitely not. Great song.

OH, A CLOSING PLEA: Help me think of fabulous Halloween costume ideas, potentially surrounding a long red dress with marvelous sequin trim I found in my basement? I also have a red feather boa, if that helps (or perhaps doesn’t). Or suggest something completely different. I’ll probably be at the Girl Talk show first that night, so I could go dressed as a hipster in neon sunglasses.

Or just this, I suppose. That would be amazing. [via]

December 20, 2007

Christmas mixery

Mmmmmm. Cookies. My 4-year-old and I baked those Rudolph cookies last weekend. There was sugar and M&Ms everywhere, and don’t even get me started on how hard it was to bite those pretzels into antler shapes. Unsanitary, but it gets the job done the only way I could figure out how. The end result was fantastic, and we’ve been delivering (what I now realize are little saliva-contaminated) batches to our good friends all week long.

While we baked, we listened to my new Christmas mix for 2007 that I’ve been tweaking and perfecting for weeks. I think I’m good now, and since I just realized that Christmas is in 5 days, we should hop to it. Let me just say that there is so much annoying Christmas music out there. Good heavens, no one should be allowed to cover Little Drummer Boy again, and nothing with synthesizers, ever.

These 20 tracks have passed my Grinchy muster, and all 20 of them are non-annoying — good Christmas listening that won’t bug the snot out of you.

The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
Merry Xmas Everybody – R.E.M.
(2007 fan club single)
Father Christmas – The Kinks
Let It Snow – Magnet
Do You Hear What I Hear? – Third Day
(with the night wind talking to the little lamb, this song was a favorite as a kid)
Merry Christmas, Baby – Otis Redding
Christmas Song – Denison Witmer
Xmas Eve – The Damnwells
Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time! (Sufjan cover) – Luke Flowers
Here It Is Christmas – The Old ’97s
(new song 2007)
Much Farther To Go – Rosie Thomas (w/ Sufjan)
Christmas Means Love – The Soul Stirrers
In The Bleak Mid-Winter – Sarah McLachlan
(from Wintersong)
That Was The Worst Christmas Ever! – Sufjan Stevens (still my favorite of his thousand Christmas songs)
It Feels Like Christmas – Al Green (and to hear it, by “Christmas” Al means “sex”)
Ding, Dong, Ding, Dong – George Harrison
Sing Mary Sing – Jennifer Knapp
O Holy Night – Tracy Chapman
Waking Up On Christmas Morning – The Smithereens
Christmas Message from Elvis / Silent Night – Elvis Presley


One note: Luke Flowers, who covered Sufjan up there in spot #9, is a talented local artist here in Colorado Springs. I saw him perform that song Tuesday night at a coffeehouse in my neighborhood, and he recorded the whole set. By the magic of the internet we can listen again and recreate that event. You can download the 12-song live Christmas album for free on his site: some lovely reworkings of traditional tunes, 4 Sufjan covers, and an original song about his Christmas pony that froze solid. Merry Christmas!

December 17, 2006

Christmastime is here again

Well, it finally happened.

I was finally subjected to my first live performance of the season of “Feliz Navidad,” which ne’er fails to make me want to gouge my eardrums out with a knitting needle. I also was at a fancy office Christmas party on Friday night and the soul cover band kept throwing in trombone lines from Joy To The World and Sleigh Ride, etc etc etc.

It brought to my attention the fact that this post is long overdue. I’ve got a pretty sizeable collection of “Christmas Music That Won’t Drive You To Drink Unless You Want To” — which just got a shot in the arm this year thanks to a rockin’ 3-CD compilation I received from Philly friend Brian (yay Brian!).

There’s a lot of schmaltzy crap out there this season, kids. Stay safe. Here’s a haven of good stuff for your seasonal mixmastery:

We Four Kings – The Blue Hawaiians (surf music!)
Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas – Eels
Do They Know It’s Christmas – Pete Yorn
Work on Christmas – Harvey Danger
God Is Real (Jesus Is Alive) – John Davis (of Superdrag)
Angel In The Snow (unreleased version) – Elliott Smith
Washington Square – Chris Isaak
I’d Like You For Christmas – Julie London
Donna and Blitzen – Badly Drawn Boy
You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch – Luce
That Was The Worst Christmas Ever! – Sufjan Stevens
Back Door Santa – The Black Crowes
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Leon Redbone & Zooey Deschanel (Elf)
Winter Wonderland – Liz Phair
The Gift of Grace – Denison Witmer
Christmas Eve – Teenage Fanclub
Silent Night – Ben Harper & The Blind Boys of Alabama
When I Get Home For Christmas – Snow Patrol
Listening To Otis Redding At Home During Christmas – Okkervil River
Xmas Curtain – My Morning Jacket
Fairytale of New York – Stars
The Rebel Jesus – Jackson Browne
Maybe This Christmas – Ron Sexsmith
What A Year For A New Year – Dan Wilson (of Semisonic)
Merry Christmas Everybody – Rooney
The Winter Song – Eisley
White Christmas – Mark Kozelek
Christmas – Leona Naess
Christmastime is Here – Snowden
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Hem
Holy, Holy, Holy – Sufjan Stevens
Silent Night – Brian Wilson

**HO HO HO, The file as a ZIP**

That helps to slightly ease the sting of briefly having — and then cruelly LOSING — the vinyl Christmas With Elvis record last night at a houseparty with a white elephant gift exchange.

It was mine. I was so excited. But now the doe-eyed Elvis (with those dewy lips, good heavens) is gone from my Christmas celebration, stolen by another gal, sending me home with a plastic candy cane full of little bottles of flavored Stoli instead.

I’m still in mourning.

« Newer Posts
Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

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.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →