November 13, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

At my lovely university in California, things were usually scenic and tranquil when walking across campus; vivid green grass, carefully manicured flowers, and lots of squirrels frolicking. Those dang squirrels would always look at me a bit askance (I swear) as they froze in my path, weighing which direction to run, and the thought would often fleetingly cross my mind that this would happen. See, I’m not crazy.

Here’s some new songs that I have added into regular rotation this past week that I think you’ll like too:

Gretchen My Captain
As Fast As
Ahh, opening bands: something you don’t count on liking, but it is always a treat when you do. I saw Portland, Oregon’s As Fast As (as fast as what?) on Saturday night opening for Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, and I was impressed by their alternating arena rock/pop-deluxxe sound (which reminded me of sort of Van Halen meets Marcy Playground). With their windmill guitar moves, matching fu-manchu moustaches, and interesting use of instruments, these guys were clearly having fun. This song features an amplified ukulele with heavy distortion, and sounded like nothing I’d ever heard in a song when they busted it out live. Nice whistle solo too — this song is catchy (admitted: the vocals at the beginning may first strike you as grating, but give it to 0:53 where it all soars, and then if you don’t like it, you have my unnecessary permission to delete). As Fast As are heading out with Under The Influence of Giants next, and then the travesty that is the re-formed INXS. Their album Open Letter To The Damned is available now for a scant $8.

Silent Movies
Peter & The Wolf
Okay, so I am hopelessly falling all over myself in love with this song. A friend recommended that I check out Peter & The Wolf, fronted by Austin’s Red Hunter, and emailed me “Silent Movies” to listen to. It is an irresistible blend of scratchy M. Ward old-time radio sound, combined with these fantastic harmonies that would make Brian Wilson blush. From the album Lightness (2006) on Los Angeles’ The Worker’s Institute label (home to Sigur Ros). Listen to more goodies on their MySpace.

Janie Jones” (Clash cover)
Babyshambles
In between his demanding schedule of beating photographers bloody, getting Kate Moss’ engagement ring stuck on his own finger, and just generally imploding, Pete Doherty and his Babyshambles cohorts have teamed up with Strummerville (the Joe Strummer Foundation for New Music) to record this cover of the Clash classic. I am not sure how they all fit in the studio, but Doherty joins 21 other musicians on the single, including fellow ex-Libertine Carl Barât, The Kooks, We Are Scientists, and the Guillemots. Sounds a bit unnecessary, but whatever, the resulting tune is fun.

Naturally
Middle Distance Runner
So what IS it with all these oddly-named bands in the roundup this week? It’s a leitmotif. Middle Distance Runner was a recent and pleasurable find for me this weekend over on Some Velvet Blog. Bruce says, “If you dig The Format or Hot Chip or The Changes or The Spinto Band” (I do) “then you’ll dig MDR’s Plane In Flames” (and I do). One just needs to hear those opening handclaps to know we are on the right track towards pop goodness.

Greatest Mistake
Handsome Boy Modeling School, featuring Jamie Cullum and John Oates
This isn’t a new addition to my rotation, but one that popped up recently on shuffle and I remembered how much I enjoy singing along to it in my best soulful falsetto. From the diversely chill and superbly star-studded White People album (2004), Handsome Boy Modeling School teams up here with British skateboarding jazzmaster wunderkind Jamie Cullum and the moustachioed half of Hall & Oates. The resulting song is slinky and absolutely fantastic to belt in the shower.

January 3, 2006

Warchild Music, for a good cause

So. Your resolutions for 2006 are varied. You want to cuss less when driving. You vow to eat more whole grains, be less (embarassingly) talkative when you are intoxicated, and STOP singing along to Kelly Clarkson when she “happens” to come on the radio. Right?

How about helping children affected by war? Now there’s a resolution I can help you keep. Warchild Music’s mission is simple:

“One child dies every three minutes because of armed conflict. War Child believes children should never be affected by war. Full stop. Our campaigning seeks to address this gross injustice. Sanction action with us now.”

Back in September, I came across their compilation/benefit album Help: A Day In The Life, which is stuffed to the gills with great tracks to raise money for their organization. Includes brand new songs by Coldplay, Razorlight, Keane & Faultline, Emmanuel Jal, Gorillaz, Manic Street Preachers, The Kaiser Chiefs, Damien Rice, The Magic Numbers, Tinariwen, The Coral, Mylo, Maximo Park, Elbow, Bloc Party, Hard-FI, The Go! Team, Babyshambles, Belle & Sebastian, and George & Antony, plus these two sample tracks below:

I Want None Of This – Radiohead
From the Warchild Music website: A circular piano riff with Thom accompanied by what could well be a choir of angels, ‘I Want None Of It’ is a thing of awe and wonder. In short, it’s quite, quite lovely. The lyrics deal with a parting of the ways that hasn’t gone too well: ‘You can keep what you want, I want none of it/They’re just bad memories I don’t want’. Very beautiful, very wonderful, very Radiohead.

Hello Conscience – The Zutons
From the Warchild Music website: We are looking here at a brand-new, never-before-heard Zutons track in which singer Dave McCabe wrestles with his conscience over the rights and wrongs of going out drinking until you don’t know who you are or which way up you should be. By the sound of the rollicking chorus, his conscience doesn’t get a look in. With fuzzy guitars, rasping sax and a sly wink to The Smiths, you’ll be dancing to this right through the Indian summer.

You can buy it from Warchild Music online, or download it from iTunes. You can also get it on Amazon. Twenty-two varied and excellent tracks for about $12, depending on your method of purchase. Help do something good in the world to kick off the new year!

And since you asked, I made two resolutions: Take my vitamins every day, and diligently continue on my path to becoming a kick-ass drummer.

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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. If you represent an artist or a label and would prefer that I remove a link to an mp3, please email me at browneheather@gmail.com

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