August 24, 2009

Monday Music Roundup


On Sunday afternoon, my folks snagged some sweet birthday tickets for us to see the Rockies and the Giants play in Denver — fabulous seats, about six rows back on the third base line. Despite the 90+ degree scorcher of a day (and some family rivalry), the seats were filled, and some of my favorite fans were the eight and nine year-old boys waiting by the Giants dugout for autographs from players before the game. I think so often as adults we feel bereft of heroes, and it was amazingly refreshing to stand next to these kids in their team jerseys and hear their shouted, squeaky-voiced enthusiasm when, say, Tim Lincecum walks out from the dugout to warm up. This sign that the kid next to me made reaffirmed my faith in believing in things — even though the Giants lost (“Go both teams“).

Ahh, a Sunday well-spent.

I haven’t done a Monday Music Roundup in a while, but today there seems to be a glut of good new songs that I’d love to share with you and your eardrums. Shall we?

sunshowerFlaming Arrow
Jupiter One

Just tapped by the lovely, quirky Regina Spektor to open her upcoming North America tour, NYC’s Jupiter One is a duo with folksy roots and Seventies AM radio leanings. This song is all lemondrops and summer street strolls, over lyrics about burning buildings. What an odd, totally successful juxtaposition. I can’t get enough of this song lately. Sunshower is out September 15th on Ryko.

eels-myspaceIn My Dreams

Since we last talked about these things, Mark Oliver Everett, aka EELS, has released a new album called Hombre Lobo – “Wolf Man” for those who remember things from Sra Navarro’s Spanish class junior year, or the equivalent. He’s one of the purest, cleverest songwriters we got around, whether he is being sardonically prescient or heartbreakingly earnest. He did one of them MySpace Transmissions sessions (the same place that produced this moment of stunning awesomeness), where E played three new songs (like this one above, with such purdy piano), an older tune, and a cover Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country.” For the price of free, this is a nice little download. Send me a note if you’ve never gotten into Eels and I’ll suggest a few places to start, because really — you should.

port-obrienMy Will Is Good
Port O’Brien

When I was sailing on a boat, I listened to the nautical sounds of Port O’Brien often in my head (not on my iPod for reals because they were not allowed on board). I used the Port O’Brien song “Stuck On A Boat” for my seafaring mix, complete with the lapping sounds of the waves against a hull, and have been drawn for a long time to the mariner’s world they sketch out for us (frontman Van Pierszalowski was a commerical salmon fisherman). From Oakland, CA, Port O’Brien has a new album coming out called Threadbare (due October 6, TBD Records), which flirts with melancholy and weightier themes, and shows a new maturity to their sound due to some sad life circumstances the past year. See what you think of it; I like the seasick jitter of this song, with the humming voices in the background — kinda like a sea shanty. Yeah.

jon-spencerGee, I Really Love You
Heavy Trash

I first stumbled across this side project of Jon Spencer (he of the Blues Explosion), and its effortless bad-ass-ness two years ago, appreciating that retro garage rock, notable yowl, and filthy reverb. As I wrote then, Heavy Trash have a “rough and tumble rockabilly punk sound that makes me want to drink, smoke, and fight. And I don’t even do two of those three things.” I found this new stuff over on Bruce Warren’s blog, and he described them as “Blues/rock/soul/punkrock/garage/R&B colliding all together in one big New York City kind of rock mess of hotness.” I can dig that. Midnight Soul Serenade is out in October on Big Legal Mess Records.

black-holliesRun With Me Run
The Black Hollies

With songs to their credit like “Gloomy Monday Morning” and “Paisley Patterned Ground,” it should come as no surprise that Jersey boys The Black Hollies are still championing a spacey, mood-ring vibe on their newest efforts. These whippersnappers are a band Rolling Stone once said “would bring a smile to Brian Jones’ face,” and the first single explodes in a shimmering kaleidoscope of organ melodies and shiny happy harmonies. Softly Towards The Light is out October 6th on the Ernest Jennings Record Co label (Takka Takka and O’Death are labelmates), and you can catch The Black Hollies on tour with Benjy Ferree in the coming weeks.


Oh and: you’re welcome.

October 27, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

No two ways about it — I’m pretty proud of those Halloween carving adventure results. First time I ever tried one of those fancy kit things with tracing wheels and all (mine is on the right), and I still popped the eyeball out of the left eye and had to tape it back on (shhhh, don’t tell). Since we always used dull carving knives and grabbed the gooey innards with our bare hands when we were kids, I felt a little out of my element when handed mini saws and ridged plastic scrapers. But what I lack in inborn creativity, I make up for in being able to trace.

I also solidified my costume this weekend at the Buffalo Exchange secondhand shop in Capitol Hill (Denver) with my friend Laurie. When she screamed and then died laughing after I tried said element on, I knew it was a keeper. My mom took out a needle and thread yesterday to make some alterations to the dress (because she is the best mom ever) and I am set. Boo!

Music for this week:

If You Want Blood (AC/DC cover)
Mark Kozelek

Gathering a wide variety of covers from his days with Red House Painters and also his solo career, Mark Kozelek is releasing The Finally LP on December 9th. Always staggering in the ways he reinvents originals, many of the tracks collected here were first featured on compilation albums that are no longer available. If you know me at all, you might know that I am a sucker for covers (and love his) so I will be picking this one up. AC/DC never sounded so pensive, so sensual, so sad. Listen to his previously unreleased cover of Husker Du’s “Celebrated Summer” here, and pre-order the record on his Caldo Verde imprint.

Fresh Feeling (live in 2005)
This song takes me back vividly to a perfectly encapsulated feeling of, well, freshness. Possibility. Old paint peeling and new horizons suddenly coming into sharp focus. I never tire of the the sweet melancholic strings combining with the crispness of the sharp clean beat. This live version of Fresh Feeling is from Manchester in 2005, and part of a free 4-song EP for download on the Eels website as part of a promotion for the new Blinking Lights deluxe version. Lately I’ve been quite impressed with Eels reissues and special collections – the packaging and liner notes alone are a journey. And since I’ve never caught E live, I can always use more free live Eels. You have until tomorrow to go and get it!

Born In The ’80s
The Boat People

While I watched Game 1 of the World Series, Bruce from Philly and I were electronically bantering, and he recommended I check out The Boat People from Brisbane and Melbourne. Their music is jaunty and bright and catchy – like Phantom Planet and the cousin Coconut Records. Even though the song talks about being born in the Eighties (and they likely were) don’t let it mislead you — the music isn’t bound to that decade. Their album Chandeliers is out now, with colors and lines on that wonderful cover art that echo the feel of the music inside.

Black White
The Raveonettes
Julio feels nauseous when he thinks about how effortlessly cool Danish duo The Raveonettes are, and listening to this new attitude-laden slowburner from their fresh Beauty Dies EP makes me jealous as well. All I know is that when they make a movie of my life I kinda want a scene where I get to walk down the street with this playing. I will probably wear sunglasses. In keeping with their vibe, this feels like such a stark, spacious song while vibrating with those warm surf-retro guitar tones. So sexy. Stream the full EP here, it came out last week on Vice Records.

Duet (with Ray LaMontagne)
Rachel Yamagata

So one more song featuring Ray’s warm voice before I head out the door to his show in a few minutes — and this is an incredible tune that has knocked me flat. The duet here is from Rachel Yamagata‘s new album Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart, and it is exceptional. One of my favorite Ray moments falls within the nakedness of early renditions of “Can I Stay,” and this feels like its musical twin, or its postscript. Yamagata’s voice has innate qualities that have always reminded me of a female Ray (or perhaps the sadness wound deeply into Lisa Hannigan’s songs). Now the twain shall meet in this flawless, delicate, intimate bedroom classic.

January 22, 2008

Eels contest winners

I just got a package in the mail this very afternoon with the two new Eels CDs and I must say that these are the finest and most intriguing liner notes I’ve read in a long time. They readlly put a good deal of thought into this album. In addition to cool scans of all kinds of memorabilia, E comments on each of the 24 tracks on the best-of collection, and all 50 songs on the rarities comp. So necessary.

If you are a serious fan, you’ll get all excited-like on your insides reading his stories behind how he wrote all these tunes (“Jon Brion came over to my house and decided we were going to conduct an experiment where I’d go downstairs for 30 minutes and write a song and he would do the same upstairs. This is what I wrote.”) and the notes on the recording (“I should have been a bongo player. My girlfriend sometimes played the celeste on this one. Sometimes you gotta let Yoko have a little bit of the spotlight.”)

The new fan will be enticed to take a listen by reading over what he says, because E wields his words sharply and incisively, and is an entertaining storyteller. As he says at the end of the notes for the best-of collection, “Casual users: if you’ve enjoyed this enough, perhaps I’ll see you over in the USELESS TRINKETS aisle for more.” I think you should go.

#1 – jay strange (thanks for the story jay)
#2 – Kari
#3 – Scott/sml1771

All the comment entries were so wonderful to read and only made me appreciate the lyrics of E’s tunes even more. I kept saying, “Oh yeah! I forgot about that line!” Read em over. Or read E’s All-Time Favorite Joyous Songs:

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January 16, 2008

Your essential Eels, your useless trinkets (and a triple trouble new contest)

So I am back from Kauai, after the most brutal red eye flight home last night that just kicks all the vacation relaxation right outta you, back into the biting 11 degree weather. It’s sunny today here, so that’s nice, and I do have to smile at my tan peeking out from the fleece, as it reminds me of lying on Poipu Beach less than 24 hours ago, watching the humpback whales play just offshore. Seeing whales like that as they spout and breach is one of the few experiences left for grownups to spark that flicker of a childlike sense of wonderment. Those animals are incredible.

Anyways, yesterday was also notable for E (Mark Oliver Everett), the multi-instrumentalist artist behind the band Eels, because he released two new albums to the world.

Meet The EELS: Essential EELS Vol. 1, 1996-2006 is a great place to start if you know little about this stellar artist. It collects 24 tracks spanning a ten year period and 12 videos, to show first-timers who this E fella is.

The companion album goes deeper: EELS Useless Trinkets: B-Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities and Unreleased 1996-2006 has 50 hard-to-find B-sides, film contributions and unreleased tracks, and a DVD of live performance footage from Lollapalooza 2006. All the music has been digitally remastered, with new liner notes from E.

(Please tell me which one/s you are entering for – 1, 2, or 3)

#1 – Someone wins a vinyl 7″ — limited edition (3000), signed by E, featuring two tracks – both previously unreleased:
A-side)”Climbing To The Moon” (Jon Brion remix)
B-side)”I Want To Protect You”

#2 – Someone else wins the Meet The Eels CD+DVD

#3 – A third someone wins the Useless Trinkets b-sides 2-CD+DVD

TO ENTER: E has written some gorgeously sad songs that leave me wide-eyed how someone could so precisely nail a sentiment in two or three lyrics, a few brutal scather songs, some fun and off-the-wall contributions, and several that make me want to dance. If you feel so compelled, please let’s chat about your favorite Eels song or lyric. To keep it fair for those who are new to Eels and want to be introduced, the winner will be randomly picked for each of the three prize packs, so you can win even if you can’t discuss favorites (yet). I’ll run this through Sunday or so.

Fresh Feeling
I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man (Prince cover, live)
I Write the B-Sides

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July 18, 2006

He moves his words like a prizefighter

Let me start by saying that although I am a force to be reckoned with with certain kinds of puzzles and games (Jeopardy, um, checkers), I HATE the New York Times crossword puzzle (and no, I am not using that word too strongly). Clues like “slant differently” and “Banquo, e.g.” just make me feel stupid. So I avoid it and we are all happier people. That being said, Wordplay made me want to give it a second chance and sharpen my pencil.

Wordplay is a new documentary about championship crossword puzzlers that I saw this weekend. No, really. AND here’s the rub: It is actually vastly enjoyable and entertaining with quite the deluxe soundtrack (you knew I was going there).

From the opening notes of the perfectly placed Cake song (“Adjectives on the typewriter/He moves his words like a prizefighter/The frenzied pace of the mind inside the cell“) to the Eels & They Might Be Giants in the middle, Talking Heads covers by Shawn Colvin (has Sunny come home yet?) and the original compositions by Gary Louris (The Jayhawks & Golden Smog), it’s fantastic.

This movie explains what the little nerds of Spellbound aspire to when they grow up. It’s crazy to hear these people speak in such reverent terms of their annual gathering in the Stamford, CT Marriott; it is the Holy Grail, American Idol, and the prom all rolled up into one. But it’s played with a light touch by director Patrick Creadon, and is overall a lot of fun to watch. You end up rooting for your favorite competitor, and as my friend is rumored to have said, “I never expected to cry in a movie about crossword puzzles.”

If I cried at all, by JOVE, it was due to laughing at Jon Stewart, who stars in the movie as well as other crossword-puzzlers like the Indigo Girls, Bill Clinton and (Yankees’ pitcher) Mike Mussina. Jon Stewart’s comments about what he perceived famed Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz to be like before he met him were worth the price of admission alone: “You picture this guy who’s like . . . 13, 14 inches tall, doesn’t care to go more than 5 feet without his inhaler. But then you meet him and, wow! He’s tall. He’s like the Errol Flynn of the crossword puzzle world.” I wonder if I could somehow get Jon Stewart to come live at my house.

Shadow Stabbing – Cake
Originally from Comfort Eagle (2001), possibly my favorite song on that album.

Saturday Morning – Eels
Originally from Shootenanny! (2003)

This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) – Shawn Colvin
Talking Heads cover, originally from Cover Girl (1994)

Plus, you can listen to songwriter Gary Louris perform three other songs from the movie (“Read Every Word” from the ending credits, “Listen Joe,” and “Tarpit”) on Minnesota Public Radio.

13 Across: Good fun.

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June 5, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

So, I think Kenny Rogers goes to my gym. I was watching this man (either him or like HIS TWIN) do extremely fast ninja squats yesterday while I mulled over the choices for the Monday Music Roundup with my iPod on the freaking Stairmaster. He had cat-like speed and reflexes. Who knew?

David Mead
This is pretty much the most ridiculously infectious and happy pop song I have heard in a while, from Nashville songwriter David Mead. I defy you to not be happy listening to this. I bought the whole Tangerine album on eMusic (click the banner on the right if you wanna sheck it out) and have been quite pleased. Interesting, intelligent instrumentation, catchy as all get out. I also love the completely different feel in the stripped vocal goodness of the track “Reminded #1.”

Golden Age” (Beck cover)
KT Tunstall
A lovely Beck cover from the KT Tunstall website-only release Acoustic Extravaganza, recorded over the holidays on the Scottish isle of Skye. One forgets that tiny Beck also has an introspective side to some of his songs, and here Tunstall takes it and suffuses the tune with the warm & rosy glow of sunrise.

The Chesterfield Kings
Well, folks, The Chesterfield Kings (oldies that I have never heretofore heard of, from Rochester NY) enter the running and there is now a three-way tie for “Best Rolling Stones Song In Recent Years NOT By The Rolling Stones” (tie with the Deadstring Brothers and the new Primal Scream). This is not a bad thing – I think there is ALWAYS room for a little sloppy bluesy harmonica rock ‘n’ roll, yes? Also on the album (The Mindbending Sounds of the Chesterfield Kings) notably enjoyable tracks are the delightfully Beatles-inspired “Somewhere Nowhere” and “Transparent Life.” Please IGNORE the horrific hairstyles – this is not Whitesnake, even if they look like it. Someone get a pair of clippers, I’ll cut their damn hair myself.

Landed (with strings)
Ben Folds
I like Ben Folds because of his quirky and honest voice (it’s not traditionally beautiful, but stirring and transparent in its ordinariness) and his absolutely lush & gorgeous piano orchestration. This version of Landed (a bonus track on some editions of Songs for Silverman) goes on and adds insult to beautiful injury by heaping on some delicately rich strings. Will make you ache.

Song No. 6
(featuring Ron Sexsmith)

Ane Brun
This American debut from Scandinavian songbird Ane Brun (A Temporary Dive, V2 Records) caught my eye initially because of this track, a collaboration with my newfound hero Ron Sexsmith. However, I have been pleasantly surprised by the entire disc (Pitchfork gave it a 7.7, if that means anything), even though it is driving me to the Cliffs of Insanity to not be able to peg who her voice is a dead ringer for in the opening lines of this song. HELP? Oh no, is it Norah Jones? I think it’s Norah Jones that she reminds me of. Oh dear. Well, her album is NOT a Norah Jones facsimile, she is in a totally different vein. Good smattering of stuff on eMusic for her too.

After my live Eels post last week, Jethro commented that the cover they do of Sophie B. Hawkins’ lusty slow jam “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” was hilarious. And indeed it is. For your listening pleasure (and worth it just to hear E sing “give you something sweet each time you come inside my jungle book”) -

Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” – Eels

June 1, 2006

Eels: Black Session, Paris 2000

A million thanks to Stu, who wrote to me last night after he got back from the Eels show in San Francisco with a mini-review. E played with Smoosh, those pre-teen musical prodigies that are just so darn cute, whom I absolutely object to because they remind me of Mary Kate & Ashley Olson, (pre-anorexia & pre-poor-fashion-choices). Besides, if I want to listen to children in the indie rock world, I’d almost rather go with that four-year-old from Japan. Almost.

Anyway, Stu’s email helped me complete the handful of missing tracks from this great Eels concert I’ve been wanting to post. Sublime.

Eels Black Sessions
Paris, France – Studio 105

01. Instrumental Overture
02. Feelin’ Good [Nina Simone]
03. Grace Kelly Blues
04. My Beloved Monster
05. It’s A Motherf*cker
06. I Like Birds
07. Cheater’s Guide
08. Suicide Life
09. Can’t Help Falling In Love [Elvis Presley]
10. Flyswatter
11. Introducing the Eels Orchestra
12. Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues
13. Susan’s House
14. Jeannie’s Diary (played but not broadcast)
15. Novocaine For The Soul (played but not broadcast)
16. Brave Little Soldier (played but not broadcast)


This show was broadcast live on the radio as part of the famous French Black Sessions, with Jeannie’s Diary performed during the 10PM news (not too shabby). The sound quality and song choice on this set are both excellent. More pics here. And happy June everyone!

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March 28, 2006

Eels Tour & Free NYC Show

News from the ‘ole inbox:
“EELS officially announce their 2006 NO STRINGS ATTACHED Tour with many new dates, starting with their traditional tour warm-up shows at The Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, May 25th & 26th, then winding through the west, midwest and northeast of the United States and Canada on their way to rock Europe for festival shows and more.”

Free summertime show in New York City at the World Financial Plaza on June 13! You lucky ducks.

Cuddling in bed with E is probably optional.

May 25 Los Angeles, CA – Roxy Theater warm-up show
May 26 Los Angeles, CA – Roxy Theater warm-up show
May 27 San Diego, CA – House of Blues
May 28 Santa Ana, CA – The Galaxy Theater
May 31 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
June 1 Sacramento, CA – Harlows
June 3 Portland, CA – Roseland
June 4 Seattle, WA – Showbox Theater
June 6 Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
June 7 Boulder, CO – Fox Theater
June 9 Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue Theater
June 10 Pittsburgh, PA – Three River Arts Festival
June 11 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
June 12 Philadelphia, PA – Theater of the Living Arts
June 13 New York, NY – World Financial Plaza – Free show!
June 15 Somerville, MA – Somerville Theater
June 16 Montreal, QUE – Le Nacional
June 17 Toronto, ONT – Mod Club Theater
June 24 London, England – Hyde Park Wireless Festival
June 25 Leeds, England – Wireless Festival
June 26 Glasgow, Scotland – ABC
June 28 Rouen, France – Exo 7
June 29 Paris, France – La Cigale
July 1 Rotterdam, Holland – Ahoy Open Air Festival
July 2 Werchter, Belgium – Werchter Festival
July 3 Frankfurt, Germany – Batschkapp
July 4 Vienna, Austria – Flex
July 8 Kildare, Ireland – Oxegen Festival
July 9 Balado, Scotland – T in the Park Festival
August 5 Chicago, Illinois – Lollapalooza

Here are two live Eels tracks, to get you in the mood. These are from the excellent KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic session last May:

Grace Kelly Blues (live) – Eels

Girl From the North Country (live, Dylan cover) – Eels

And one more, a bit more upbeat, from another session at KCRW:

Packing Blankets (live) – Eels

Oh and remember, as Steve Perry says (somewhat inexplicably), “E is real Ball-z.”

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January 30, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

It’s Monday, new music for the week.
“We happy?”
“Yeah, we happy.”

Ol’ 55
Sarah McLachlan
There’s been some Tom Waits love goin’ around in the blogosphere lately (even Jesus loves him, but I guess Jesus loves everybody), which reminded me of one of my favorite covers ever, a Waits song from Sarah McLachlan’s Freedom Sessions. This track was recorded this very late one night/early one morning, after Sarah & her band had been imbibing large quantities of red wine. Not everyone knew the song, so those that did were mouthing chord changes to the others. She sounds better drunk than I do sober. (But oddly enough, not as good as I *think* I sound drunk. Ironic.)

Tiger Man (live)

On their 2003 tour, Eels often opened their show with this Elvis cover, a classic swaggering song of sexual bravado. I can picture Elvis The Pelvis making all the teenage girls scream with this one. With E, not so much, but with his unique sound he can pull it off. Rockin’ good fun from the Ancienne Belgique show. Thanks to Giacomo from!

These Things
Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions

You may remember Hope Sandoval as the dreamy-velvet voice of Mazzy Star. While Mazzy Star lies dormant, Hope has gone on to release some newer material with her band The Warm Inventions. This track is from her 2002 EP Suzanne. When I listen to this, I picture a voice coming out of a black, black room – like you are sitting somewhere in the dark and suddenly you hear this lolling voice, like a slowly swirling river, out of nowhere. It’s just her and a slow bluesy guitar for most of the song. Very evocative.

The Shins
Flake Music
As Chris puts it, “Way before The Shins were going around changing Natalie Portman’s life in overrated movies, they were Flake Music.” Matthew posted this track by Flake Music (from their 1997 CD When You Land Here, It’s Time To Return) and I have been enjoying its poppy vibe for the last month. Shimmery goodness, as one would expect from they-who-would-become-Shins. And yes, so you’re not confused (or, even worse, accuse me of a typo!) the song is in fact also called The Shins. Whoa.

Why Don’t You Do It For Me?
Big thumping drums and a retro-rockabilly/blues feel to this group distinguishes the 22-20s from the rest of the next-big-thing bands over in Britain today. The 22-20s took their name from a track by Delta bluesman James, and it’s clear from listening to them that these chaps have studied their musical roots. Liam Gallagher (Oasis) has been rumored to have said about music these days, “Everything’s sh*t. Except for the 22-20s.” So there you have it. That may or may not be an incentive for you, but (Liam or no) this is some good stuff in the Heather Browne book. From their self-titled 2005 debut album.

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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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