April 16, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

You may have read about the ooooh-ahhhh coolness of the new iConcertCal plugin you can download for iTunes which will automatically cull all the upcoming concert dates for whatever city you type in, based on who is in your iTunes library. What I didn’t know until yesterday is that it is now available for Windows users as well as Mac.

I did actually find myself ooohing and ahhhing when I loaded it — very cool & helpful and now all of us Windows Luddites can join in on the fun. Plus, it’s good for travelling (as I am doing to San Diego next month for my brother’s graduation — I gotta take that kid out and now I have some ideas of where to whisk him).

Here are some new tunes to feed your ears this week.

Look At You Now
Golden Smog
When does a side project become a “real” band? I love side projects for the freewheeling ways that they let the collaborating musicians explore common ground with no long-term commitment — they’re doing it because they want to. Blood On The Slacks (har har) is the second release in less than a year from Golden Smog (a supergroup comprised at times with members of The Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, Run Westy Run and Wilco — although this release is Tweedy-less), and it’s out April 24 on Lost Highway. There are several great tracks among the 8, including the blush-inducing falsetto ballad “Scotch On Ice” about a bendy and compliant sex partner, and the fuzzy & bright “Can’t Even Tie Your Own Shoes.” This particular cut is more ’60s harmonies and pop-influenced than some of the other more alt-country/rock pieces on the EP — a great summer song.

Os Novos Yorkinos
Bebel Gilberto
Daughter of legendary bossa nova musician Jọo Gilberto and Brazilian jazz singer Mi̼cha, Bebel Gilberto has a solid gold pedigree in making music. Momento is her third solo album, a deliciously global and seductive collection of earthy rhythms influenced by her native Brazil and recorded in London, Rio de Janiero, and New York. This track jumped out at me for the acoustic guitar and handclaps+congas foundation mixed with her slyly knowing voice. This song (and the whole album, really) deserves to be liberally splashed throughout all of your summer mixtapes this year Рdelightful and warm.

Are You Prepared
The Concretes
A charmingly retro-sounding closer to the new Hey Trouble album from Sweden’s The Concretes, illustrating the unvarnished ’60s girl-group undertones layered with synthy-Scandinavian pop and tambourines. The aforementioned “trouble” refers to the tumultuous year they’ve had with the loss of lead singer Victoria Bergsman (who is busy whistling and singing about not caring about the young folks lately) and their decision to carry on as a band without her. Her voice is certainly missed on this album, but it’s a new era for The Concretes with a new sound that’s growing on me. Hey Trouble is out now physically in Scandinavia and digitally elsewhere.

White Headphones
The Mother Hips
I posted a bit from Jackie Greene last week where he mentioned the new Mother Hips album. It sparked something in my memory and I delved into the immense & growing pile of promo CDs sitting on my stereo cabinet, and eureka! there it was. Kiss the Crystal Flake has an odd egg/ocean-themed cover and a psychedelic title, but it’s got some good stuff within. I’ve never seen the Mother Hips live, as everyone says I must, but I very much liked the ’70s-Stones swagger of this track, which also features Mr. Greene on piano. It also definitely recalls the opening of the Beck track “Strange Apparition” for me, which in turn also reminds me of the Stones too. All that to say – it’s good. Check it out.

Don’t Give Up
The Noisettes
Pardon me while I sexually harrass another female. This album from The Noisettes is one, if you get it, that you should buy the actual album. The front cover is the trio busting out of some sort of carnival-mouth thingie. The back cover is a rear view of their exodus, and the central focus is pretty much lead singer Shingai Shoniwa’s exceedingly lovely bottom in magenta spandex. I mean come on, you can’t help but check that thing out. The Zimbabwean/Londoner yowls on this track with a take-no-prisoners snarl that belongs in the halls of the baddest female punk rockers. I feel fierce just listening to her verbal assault in front of a wall of thick guitar that Brian Setzer would approve of, and unrelenting punk drums. This is fun stuff (even if I think noisette is French for . . . hazelnut?). What’s The Time Mr. Wolf (??) is out tomorrow in the US on Universal/Motown.

July 17, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

Hey there tiger, happy Monday. Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you.

So you think you know your rock history? Or do you just want to see how little you actually know? Newsweek has a wicked hard Rock ‘n’ Roll Quiz. It’s probably the worst that this nerd has ever done on a test (52% score), but it is extremely entertaining if you like the minutiae of musical history. Fun sound clips throughout, too, so turn down those speakers at work before you start the quiz — I mean, before you start working on that, uh, important spreadsheet, boss.

And as usual, here are 5 songs that have kept me company this past week:

Your Touch
The Black Keys
The boys of The Black Keys have parted with the Fat Possum label (but not before leaving them with a nice ‘lil EP of Junior Kimbrough covers) and joined Nonesuch Records, thrashing through their unique Hendrixesque garage-blues sound for a new disc, Magic Potion, due out in September. It’s heavy and wonderful, with a casual, loose, calling-out-key-changes-across-the-garage feel to it. They just finished a short tour opening for Radiohead — I guess their job was to exhaust the Radiohead fans before Thom Yorke and crew come and sing them into relaxed & hazy happy-land. The Black Keys also have more tour dates coming up, those are some I would check out.

Cemetery Row
The Minus 5
There is a jangly, shimmery, indie-bluegrass-rock sound to this track, with more than a passing resemblance to the wavering honesty of The Shins or Band of Horses. The Minus 5 is helmed by songwriter Scott McCaughey (The Young Fresh Fellows), who is joined here by friends such as Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Colin Meloy (The Decemberists), and Ken Stringfellow (The Posies), among others. From the self-titled 2006 disc (so-called “The Gun Album“) on Yep Roc Records.

Golden Smog
A friend and I spent some time re-dissecting the Clerks soundtrack last year, and one of the best efforts on that disc is by Golden Smog (a cover of Bad Company’s “Shooting Star”). I don’t recall us knowing then who, exactly, was in Golden Smog but now I know that it is a mixed blend of Gary Louris & Marc Perlman (The Jayhawks), Kraig Johnson (Run Westy Run), Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum) and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco, again!). This offering is a warm mid-tempo song from their upcoming album Another Fine Day (out on Lost Highway Records, July 18th).

Supermassive Black Hole
I just had not had the time to listen to Muse (even though they were running an ad over there, stage right). Then my cousin Alan posted an uber-enthusiastic status update on Facebook (I know, why doth the Facebook have such power over me?) wherein he raved about Muse. He recommended I check out several of their tracks while he tries in vain to contain his excitement before their concert in San Francisco tomorrow night. I completely love this song – a heavy arse-shakin’ blend of interesting sonic electronica and superfun stadium rock (a la the falsetto swagger of Eagles of Death Metal). From Black Holes and Revelations, released last week.

A Lifetime in Heat
Guggenheim Grotto
A very persistent reader kept sending me little blurbs about this band. I finally got a chance to listen to them – and I am glad she was so tireless! (Takes a while sometimes with me). Guggenheim Grotto is an Irish trio reminiscent of a blend of the intelligent composition of Badly Drawn Boy with the loveliness of Damien Rice or the backyard-hammock drifting of Iron & Wine. Their 2005 album Waltzing Alone is available on eMusic, and their Lifetime In Heat EP is downloadable in full from their website. Nic Harcourt from KCRW called this “one of the most beautiful records of the year,” and my peeps over at NPR’s World Cafe/WXPN have been spinning them as one of their “Artists of the Week.”


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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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