April 19, 2007

Friends, lovers, and bread.

I literally woke up with this Josh Rouse cover in my head this morning, and laid there barely half-awake with the sun streaming in between that crack in the blinds, these crystalline opening notes running on repeat. It really is a sunrise kind of song. So I decided to temporarily preempt what I was going to post in favor of this cover-licious compilation.

What would possess a bunch of modern-day indie rockers to contribute to a cover album of ’70s AM-radio deluxxe group Bread? All of their stuff forever sounds like it should be listened to on a big ‘ole 12″ vinyl LP whilst wearing platform espadrilles and a loudly patterned shirt. Or maybe just nothing at all. But if you can get past the overarching soft-rockness, the harmonies are tasty, the music has definitely affected the generation of fine music that I like now, and there is a laid-back goodness oozing all over this stuff.

Josh Rouse’s lovely cover is pretty much note-for-note faithful of this ridiculously sad-sap, “please walk all over me because I love you, you goddess” song, but it absolutely works with his striking tenor, and is nice to wake up to on brain radio:

It Don’t Matter To Me (Bread cover) – Josh Rouse

It Don’t Matter To Me – Bread
(add that to the list of worst band names to Google, along with Cake and Live)

Friends and Lovers: The Songs of Bread was released in 2005 (actually, two years ago to the day as luck would have it) and in addition to Rouse also features Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of The Posies, Cake, Erlend Oye (of Kings of Convenience), Oranger, Rachel Goswell (of Mojave 3), and Bart Davenport (of Honeycut).

Friends and Lovers (Bread cover) – Erlend Oye

Man alive, listening to this stuff –the originals and these covers– makes me feel like an 8-year-old again, riding my bike really fast, or sitting on the cracked tan vinyl backseat of my dad’s dusty green Datsun with the radio on. You don’t realize how much Bread you’ve probably passively absorbed in your childhood. Rhino Records recently released a Best Of Bread album as well, if you just can’t get enough.

And if you’re still too insecure to fully bask in side of your brain that wants to love Bread, let John McCrea of Cake excoriate you as he defends their cover of “Guitar Man”:

Yeah, why make fun of a well-written song unless you’re an insecure person that needs to use music almost like insecure middle-age people use fine wine,” he said. “You’re using music as a badge. And simultaneously I think what you do is drain the actual joy out of it, and it becomes somewhat of a calcified exoskeleton of your pathetic and, I guess, not fully defined ego.”
- John McCrea, Cake

So there.


July 10, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

Oh, I could talk about the World Cup all day today, but you know already from the last post.

So instead I will chat about the cinema. Last weekend I saw The Break-Up with my sister (I know, I KNOW). I told her that she is the only one I would see it with and enjoy the experience. The movie itself was an odd combination of really FUNNY moments (mostly due to Vince Vaughn), melded with supremely nasty fighting that made me feel a bit uncomfortable and sad because they were being so mean to each other. I did, however, think I was going to die of laughter during this scene: “Come, come GARY on the kickdrum! That’s GARY! On the kickdrum. Come, come on the kickdrum!” Just watching it again gives me immeasurable joy.

Slip Away” (Cars cover)
Sparkle*Jets UK
This collection of smaller indie bands covering Cars songs sought me out on MySpace, and I am glad they did! The disc, entitled Substitution Mass Confusion, slipped by me when it was released in 2004 (Not Lame Records). There’s a splendid variety of bands: Jon Auer, Butch Walker, Owsley, The Bravery, Gigolo Aunts and more – all covering those great Cars songs that you didn’t realize you knew until you start singing along.


This cued up at the college radio station when I was visiting the other week, prompting me to ask “Do you guys play Beatles songs here?” One listen and I think you will see why – a winning combinations of rich woodwinds and a swanky female voice. From Sia‘s lovely Colour The Small One album (2006 in the US, Astralwerks). She is currently on tour with Zero 7 in Europe.

Crash and Burn
Gran Bel Fisher
I wasn’t sure about this song when it first started, it’s got sort of an early-’90s brit-pop/mature folk sound to the vocals and a rhythmic piano backing, but it blends into a supreme and uplifting pop song. Gran Bel Fisher has recently been opening some shows for Brandi Carlile, who you know I love, and I have heard he is magnetic live. From his mellifluous album Full Moon Cigarette; give it a listen.

Brimful of Asha” (Cornershop)
Fatboy Slim
This song instantly transports me to my senior year of high school, with its catchy riff and Indian feel – one I had largely forgotten about. This remix from Brighton’s favorite son Fatboy Slim is from his new greatest hits collection, Why Try Harder (Astralwerks, June 2006). It’s nothing that will change the world, but it’s fun and great for a summer playlist.

World Surrounded
Sam Powers

Yep, I was apparently smoking crack when I posted earlier what I said was a Mic Harrison track. Because it SO wasn’t. I mislabeled. Let’s listen to “World Surrounded” by Sam Powers – that’s what I posted earlier today under a different title. So fix your labels if you already snagged it.

Three members of Superdrag — Sam Powers, John Davis, and Mic Harrison have all done the solo thing, and this lovely fuzzy pop song demo from Powers has the rough hallmarks of the unique, classy sound that made Superdrag great. I agree with this little blurb that says “the solo echoes what it might sound like if Jimmy Page was in The Replacements.” Sam played bass on Last Call For Vitriol, however, since this demo was posted in 2004, I cannot find ANYTHING online about what album this ended up on (hence no corresponding picture), or even Google “Sam Powers” without getting an Australian magician. Anyone know anything about what the actual Sam Powers in question has been up to?

This is one of the many ace related songs you can find in the downloads section of the Superdrag site. There’s also a good variety on eMusic. Superdrag’s a band I’ve been revisiting lately, and one that always makes my friends ask, “Hey, who IS that?”

June 12, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

What a wonderful soccer-filled weekend. I love the simplicity, the urgency, the grace & beauty of the sport. The luck of the Irish (or something!) was with me this weekend because I did (mostly) well on my predictions and am tied for first place with a couple other “music lovin’ mofos” in our bloggers’ World Cup pool. Woo hoo!

Here is a linguistic/soccer-related question that occured to me this weekend during the Angola vs. Portugal game. Perhaps one of my global readers can enlighten my ignorance. I kept hearing the announcer mention the Portuguese team “Benfica.” It caught my ear because it sounds like a bit of racy slang in italiano (‘fica’ means fig, and is also slang for a, uh, certain part of the female anatomy. Ben, short for bene, meaning good). So what gives with the word “benfica”?! I know it must not mean the same thing in Portuguese, but how widespread was the jesting in Italy when ex-Fiorentina coach Trapattoni became the coach in 2004 of benfica? Anyone?

Or is it just my pathetic Italian-as-a-second-language misunderstanding, and I am embarassing myself? Wouldn’t be the first time.

Enough of that nonsense, here’s some tunes.

Cemetery Song
Jon Auer
This has got to be the peppiest pop-song-about-a-dead-person ever penned. From former Posies member Jon Auer‘s fine outing Songs From The Year Of Our Demise (available on eMusic), the harmony-laden Beatles-esque sound fits in among 15 tracks Auer wrote for this themed-album, all written about the loss of a friend and the facets of grief. Despite the subject matter, this low-key album is surprisingly not depressing. Check out the free single (“Six Feet Under”) on label Pattern 25′s website, and buy the album on eMusic.

So Hard To Find My Way
Jackie Greene
A fantastic upbeat, retro-sounding tune combining piano, banjo, and Memphis horns. From his new CD American Myth, Jackie is delving into more poppy arrangements than the harmonica-folk of his previous efforts, but it sounds good to me. I really like this chap and think we will be hearing a lot more from him.
(PS – Did you download that Esthero/Sean Lennon duet “Everyday Is A Holiday” a few months back? I swear this song is its musical twin).

Universal Frequencies
His Name Is Alive
Wow, it must be the summery weather, but this week’s music roundup is shaping up to be a string of ’60s pop sound tributes. This lovely offering, as will become apparent in about thirty seconds to whomever listens to it, is a complete and straight-up homage to the Beach Boys (notably, Good Vibrations & the whole Pet Sounds album). His Name Is Alive admits to listening to Pet Sounds incessantly during the writing & recording of their 1996 album Stars on ESP, from which this comes. It’s fun and kind of trips you out to hear something that could pass so smoothly for the Beach Boys, but with the addition of a female voice to the layered harmonies. Another eMusic find.

Wait(Beatles cover)
Ben Kweller
Let’s just keep the momentum going with more Beatles. See, all these songs thus far are the perfect accompaniment to some strollin’ in the sunshine. No better music for that kind of business than the Fab Four, eh? Ben Kweller was born to sing retro pop confections, and this is a feel-good cover from the Razor & Tie 40th anniversary tribute album to Rubber Soul (This Bird Has Flown, 2005). If you don’t have the album, buy it on eMusic — it’s also got some sweet tracks by Ben Harper, Ben Lee (it’s a Ben bonanza!) The Donnas, Ted Leo, and Sufjan Stevens.

Into Oblivion
Lisa Germano

And here’s the exception to the blissfully happy lineup of songs so far this week. I’ve heard of Lisa Germano in connection with Eels, but over the years she has also worked with David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Johnny Marr, U2, Sheryl Crow, and John Mellencamp. From her latest solo effort In The Maybe World (July 18, Young God Records), this song is tailor-made for a sleep mix. Lisa’s lushly rich vocals fronting the best song Sigur Ros never wrote. Close your eyes and picture; a piano underwater, laying on your back floating on an iceberg, walking through a dark forest at 3am. Sonic bliss.

Off to catch some of the Italy v. Ghana game. Forza azzurri!

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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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