August 13, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I had a movie weekend — being inside to escape the heat of the day and the monsoon thunderstorms of the evenings. First up, despite the film being about music, I found Dreamgirls to be schmaltzy, poorly constructed, and pretty much unbearable. My friends who recommended it to me owe me a ticket to a show containing at least 97% fewer full-length, improbably placed songs in the middle of normal scenes. I also saw Bourne Ultimatum as a date with my Dad for his 60th birthday this weekend and it was absolutely fantastic. Bourne is my kind of man right there. He is practically omniscient (“In ten meters, turn left and bend down to tie your shoe! TIE YOUR SHOE!“), unbreakable, unbeatable, and he kills people with his bare hands even if there are, like, nine of them. It was a roller-coaster ride of a film that ended with a remix of the explosive Moby theme “Extreme Ways” that I had forgotten about but remembered the words to within the first 20 seconds (I would stand in line for this), a feat which impressed my dad greatly. He is always one of my biggest fans.

I am more excited than usual about the new music I found this week:

Electricity + Drums
The Apparitions

Okay, click that play arrow immediately.
Do it.
Hear that?
Every once in a while out of the dozens of songs I seem to listen to in a week, something stands out in a big way — the kind of song that makes me stop everything I am doing and say, “What the heck IS that?!” This fantastic song from The Apparitions [from Lexington, Kentucky and Washington D.C.] has been absolutely at the tip-top of my playlists for the week. I think if you just listen, you will agree with me, and we can handclap around together and try to figure out all the words. As This Is Futuristic came out in January on Machine Records, and it is terrific.

Scar That Never Heals
Jeremy Fisher
Dude, hand me a tambourine. The song that I heard raves about off this album from Canadian Jeremy Fisher is track 3, “Cigarette,” which boasts one of the best choruses of the summer. But this song is the opening track, and is just so filled with infectious ’60s/’70s pop goodness — think Monkees meet Neil Diamond’s “Cherry” in a modern and non-cheesy way that absolutely makes you want to sing along. Goodbye Blue Monday is a refreshing album from start to finish, and finally gained U.S. release two weeks ago (on Aquarius Records). Check it out.

Heavy Load
Deadstring Brothers
The obvious vocal comparison as soon as you hear anything by Detroit’s Deadstring Brothers has to be the bendy-voiced swagger of Mick Jagger, but they also experiment with strong female harmonies (and she occasionally takes the lead) and have a wonderful rollicking sound all their own. I loved their Starving Winter Report (2005) and have listened to “Sacred Heart” off that album 86 times, according to my iTunes. This is more sloppy fabulousness from “the new high priests of soulful rock ‘n’ roll.” Special thanks to Songs:Illinois for this first preview off their newest rootsy-country romp, Silver Mountain (October 8, Bloodshot Records).

Theologians (Wilco cover)
Donavon Frankenreiter
I do like Donavon Frankenreiter‘s echoey-folksy voice, like he’s a troubadour transplant from a few decades past. I enjoyed the Venice-Beach-meets-Stax Records-funk sound of 2005′s Move By Yourself, and he’s done some nice collaborations and soundtrack contributions in recent years. But it is a fraught-ridden endeavor to release an EP of covers of well-known and well-loved songs (his new Recycled Recipes, on Lost Highway) unless you radically rework the tunes like, say, Cat Power or Mark Ronson. This Wilco cover is servicable, but I think that’s more due to the quality of the original song than anything he necessarily adds to it. Hate to say it, but stick with originals.

Ah Mary
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
Grace Potter is 24 year-old firecracker, a consummate performer & band frontwoman who has a voice that sounds much bigger and surer than her years should allow. Reminiscent of bold rockers from years past like Janis Joplin with inflections of Bonnie Raitt (who makes Ryan Adams cry), this is an album custom-built for playing loud with the car windows down. It’s been a while since I spent time with an album like that, and I only wish it had been released earlier in the summer. This Is Somewhere is her third release, it came out last week on Hollywood Records, and my friend says he wants to convert to that sect of Mormonism that allows polygamy so he can make Grace Potter his second wife. Good luck with that.

May 30, 2006

“Monday” Music Roundup, holiday edition

Good morning, champs. Did everyone (in countries where they celebrate Memorial Day, i.e. the U-S-of-A) have a nice long weekend? Sunburns, BBQ-overdose, and hangovers? Check. Plus, Brad and Angelina had their new little girl (name translated means “New Messiah” – sign of the endtimes?) so, you know, I can breathe easier now. And maybe now I can schedule that trip to Namibia without needing written permission from them. Gotta love when rich Western celebrities are allowed to buy off the immigration officials in poor developing nations. It’s just so comforting.

Here are five songs that I rocked repeatedly on my recent California trip. By the way, I managed to squeeze in one more In’N'Out meal, bringing the total to two of the world’s best burgers in 3 days. Can you hear my arteries screaming?

Pink Steam
Sonic Youth
Nobody sounds exactly like Sonic Youth. They have a unique free-form sound all unto themselves that remains consistent (but fresh) over 25 years and more than a dozen releases. I am really, really liking this song (off their new album Rather Ripped, due June 13) for reasons I can’t completely articulate. Something about the volatile combination between the brooding heavy undertones and the harmonic accent notes, the fact that it is mostly instrumental, and the driving drumbeat. It is the perfect accompaniment to driving along a dark and winding California highway, looking at the crescent moon.

Move By Yourself
Donavon Frankenreiter
This is an enjoyable summer tune, a sonic hybrid reminiscent of the Isley Brothers and Jack Johnson getting down together. The opening minute is pretty smokin’ and the new album is more of a funk-groove manifesto than the laid-back surf sounds of his first disc. From Frankenreiter‘s upcoming sophomore release Move By Yourself (out June 6 on Lost Highway Records).

Broader a New Sound
Nobody & Mystic Chords of Memory
My eye was first drawn to this single because of Devendra Banhart’s involvement with it (he covers one of their songs called The Seed/La Semilla as a b-side here). But in the process I was introduced to a new artist. Nobody & Mystic Chords of Memory is a L.A.-based trio who has come out with a light and lively combination of toe-tapping trip-hop and summery folk music here, with slightly off-kilter Shins-eqsue vocals. Quirky and radio-friendly.

Where is My Boy?
Faultline (featuring Chris Martin)
c featured this song over at her blog, Scatter O’Light last week and I am loving it, the layered and fuzzy-dark feel. I have decided that for some reason, I apparently like Martin much better on guest vocals than as part of Coldplay. This is like the third guest vocal I’ve featured by him. He has such an emotive wail. From Faultline’s 2004 disc Your Love Means Everything.

Michael Stipe
If I had to pick my three top vocalists EVER, Michael Stipe would be in that top triumvirate. He is unparalleled in sexy velvety smoothness, I could listen to him sing-talk all day (“Belong” is one of my favorite R.E.M. tunes for that reason). And then when he breaks into that naked and vulnerable falsetto, nothing compares. This is a mysterious Serge Gainsbourg tale, from the album of covers Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited, featuring everyone from Stipe to Cat Power to Marianne Faithfull to Jarvis Cocker and more. I love it. Check out that uber-smarmy album cover. If he doesn’t give you the Old-Man-Heeby-Jeebies, I don’t know what will.

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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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