June 11, 2009

New Fruit Bats! “My Unusual Friend”


Several years ago when I first heard the Fruit Bats, it was via their slice-of-pop-heaven single “When U Love Somebody.” I listened to them nonstop for a whole summer, and many friends received that song on a mixtape. Maybe even you.

So I’m mightily excited by the news from Sub Pop today that they have a new mp3 for your enjoyment off their upcoming album later this summer:

My Unusual Friend – Fruit Bats

…. or how about this lovely, burnished, backporch-sunset older tune? It’s another favorite of mine:

Slipping Through The Sensors – Fruit Bats

the-ruminant-bandThe Ruminant Band is out August 4th on Sub Pop. And while I usually don’t quote from the press release, this paragraph flawlessly sums up that quality I love about the Fruit Bats:

“In this often reflexive and world-weary era of popular music, there seems little room for unabashed wonder, or joy without suspicion. Some regrettable fear planted within each of us around the 7th grade or thereabouts still makes it hard to dance, hard to hold hands, hard to say ‘I love you,’ at least without a quick caveat or escape route at the ready. Over the course of three records, the last two on Sub Pop (2003’s Mouthfuls and 2005’s Spelled in Bones), Eric D. Johnson’s Fruit Bats have looked for ways to file down the cynical edge of modern life and found many. Using bright melodies, defiantly major-key chord structures, natural imagery mixed with the occasional blazing insight and tender observation, the Fruit Bats have never shied away from darkness, but more uncommon in this day and age, they’ve refused to shy away from light.”


FREE BONUS: This song is part of the absolutely brilliant new Sub Pop Free Summer Sampler, hosted on one of the flashiest, tackiest, worst-designed website I’ve seen since, oh, 1997.

Perhaps it is best viewed in Netscape Navigator.

2009 Sub Pop Cybersex Digital Sampler Track List
1. Vetiver – Strictly Rule
2. Handsome Furs – I’m Confused
3. Mark Sultan – Hold On
4. Red Red Meat – Gauze
5. Obits – Pine On
6. The Vaselines – Son of a Gun
7. Fleet Foxes – Mykonos
8. Iron and Wine – Belated Promise Ring
9. Tiny Vipers – Dreamer
10. Zak Sally – Why We Hide
11. Fruit Bats – My Unusual Friend
12. Pissed Jeans – False Jesii Part 2

13. Grand Archives – Silver Among the Gold
14. Flight of the Conchords – Hurt Feelings

Horse 8808


ALSO: If you know any high school seniors who love music, Sub Pop has a VERY cool college scholarship program, with one of the best URLs I’ve seen this month (read it closely).

[top photo credit Annie Beedy]

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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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