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.
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)
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 BarÃ¢t, The Kooks, We Are Scientists, and the Guillemots. Sounds a bit unnecessary, but whatever, the resulting tune is fun.
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.
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.