October 6, 2008

Pete Yorn’s American Blues (with Frank Black)

That scruffy troubadour in the Omaha studio with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes/Saddle Creek) isn’t Jim Morrison in the Paris years, nor is it Jesus, we don’t think. That is one Pete Yorn back recording new music. The formidable Frank Black of the Pixies has also been joining him in recent months for “new explorations in music,” and all the results are expected in the form of an album rumored to be called American Blues.

American Blues, Vol. 1 – Pete Yorn

June 21, 2008

Black Francis may or may not have seven fingers on his right hand

I was born with seven fingers and seven toes, in my dark face sadness always shows,” claims the thumping, thrumming acousto-punk title track from the new Black Francis EP/mini-album, Svn Fngrs. This little collection of seven songs was recorded in seven days, and is a tasty, tasty return to classic form for the former frontman for The Pixies.

The title track is only one minute and forty seven seconds long, but it is addictively refreshing. Black Francis sings, “But tonight I’ll be with you, and in the morning when we’re through, please know that you have helped me with my pain.” Tunes like this’ll numb it for me too — it makes me feel as happy as I did that summer when I was 14 and listened to the Violent Femmes on cassette all through June and July. Each of the songs in the mini-LP forays into different musical ground, from Pixies-worthy fuzz-rock with those strong melodies (“Garbage Heap”) to the chugging-at-the-gate serration of “I Sent Away” with its near-apocalyptic overtones.

Svn Fngrs (take out the vowels — like Pig Latin, only harder to type) is out now from Cooking Vinyl; Black Francis is touring to show it off in your town.

Seven Fingers – Black Francis

October 1, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Very late on Saturday night, a group of us descended upon IHOP for french toast and pancakes because we were gripped with an urgent need for them. The place was packed, as usual, with your garden variety twentysomethings with slightly reddened eyes, talking quite a bit too loud. Everything was funny.

Front door opens, in walk three guys (no lie) straight from like a Dungeons & Dragons convention — trench coats, goggles (?!), greasy hair, a condescending look to the mortals around them. And even though it made me feel like I was back in junior high, it was really hard not to snicker, especially since ONE WAS CARRYING A SWORD. Like, 5 foot samurai ninja business.

Dude at the next table (striped polo shirt, popped collar, backwards baseball hat, used to getting his name on the board in grade school no doubt) starts lambasting the trio relentlessly. I thought I was going to die of silent laughter with tears rolling down my face when he started yelling about his retribution to their sword with his “butter knives of fury” and something about William Wallace. They can take our pancakes, but they’ll never take our freedom.

Ah, the things you miss when you go to bed early. This week’s tunes:

Slipping Through The Sensors
Fruit Bats

I was reading this weekend’s interesting article in the Seattle Times about the entitlement mindset towards free downloads and album leaks, and it mentioned all the good free (legal!) downloads on the Sub Pop site for their roster of fine musicians. I promptly clicked over and pleasantly immersed myself in all the artists I had forgotten were on their roster. It’s been awhile since The Fruit Bats have come out with anything new, but I love their past catalog – sheer melodic sunny pop harmonies and floating puffy clouds of goodness. I didn’t have this song on my iPod and it just is fantastic, echoing lazy summer days with a sound that would fit nicely on a mix with The Swimmers and The Shins — and fittingly so, since lead singer/frontman Eric Johnson has actually joined the latter band for the time being.

The Songs of National Freedom
(live on Daytrotter)
Richard Swift

Poor Mr. Richard Swift had the misfortune of facing another one of Denver’s finest drunken hecklers from three feet away when I saw him open for Wilco last month, and he took it gracefully. “We’re here to see Tweedy!” Mr. Front Row A-hole shouted at him. “I know. So am I,” Swift replied. This effervescent piano pop tune is cool but possesses just a hint of possible musical dance scenes unfolding in Technicolor. Captured live over on the wordlessly wonderful repository of free live downloads/writing/original artwork at Daytrotter, Swift says of this tune, “I wrote that one in a matter of minutes so I can’t really explain it. It kind of reminds me of ‘RAM’-era McCartney.” It will definitely stick in your head all morning, that melody. Originally found on this year’s Dressed Up For The Letdown.

Black Francis

Charles Thompson/Frank Black reclaims the moniker he used during those years with the Pixies for his umpteenthth solo album, Bluefinger, out last month on Cooking Vinyl. This song hits a niche in my heart normally filled by bands like Pavement, Sebadoh or Guided By Voices. I am absolutely loving the combination of scraggly guitars, rebel yell vocals that are just a tiny bit “off,” and wheezy harmonica. On this stylistic departure from the sounds of his previous solo output, Under The Radar called it “the bastard Pixies album that might have been.”

Put The Sun Back
The Coral

Earlier this year, Liverpool band The Coral headed into Buckinghamshire’s Wheeler End Studios (the personal recording grounds of Oasis’ Gallagher brothers) to record their 4th full-length album Roots & Echoes. As the title would imply, this is a warmer, rootsier, largely acoustic-based sound from this band of twentysomethings with retro leanings. I’ve most enjoyed their brand of scousey, brassy fun since their self-titled debut album in 2002. Where early efforts seemed to feel like more of a zoot-suit 1930′s vibe to me, the gentle roll of this album reminds me more of a modern Merseybeat collaboration between Gerry & The Pacemakers with a young and crooney Neil Diamond handling vocals. There are some cool moments (like this track, and I love the Doors-style organ and echoey surf guitar on “Remember Me”) but overall it left me wanting earlier days. Eh, maybe it’s a grower.

Since The Last Time
Arrested Development
No, no — not the hip Fox TV show. Anyone who lived through the faux-rap fashion trends for white girls in the early Nineties (purple overalls with one side unhooked?) may have also spent some time listening to Atlanta group Arrested Development. I will grudgingly admit to getting my dance moves on (probably the Roger Rabbit) to “Tennessee” or “Mr. Wendell” — please forgive me, I was in junior high. Yet I still listen to them from time to time (minus most of the dancing), and they don’t sound at all bad. Arrested Development is back this month with their first new album in 12 years, Since The Last Time (October 30). This title track features a scratchy organic/analog vibe, Jackson-5ivey, Motown shuffle and big gospelly vocal samples. Take me to another place, take me to another land…

And PS – If I can’t root for the Giants heading into postseason, I’ll get behind the Rockies in their tussle with the Padres for the wildcard spot. Go Rockies! I would love to be there tonight.

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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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