August 22, 2012

the way your eyes light up when you’re caught in my beams

There’s a wistful knowing and a coy restraint in the way Charity Thielen (from The Head and The Heart) sings. Her voice has a redolent timbre that could just as easily be coming from a lazily-turning Victrola as a silvery modern pop record — it’s irresistible and won me over from the first time I heard her. I’m a big fan of her forays into her own territory, whenever I’ve gotten a chance to hear her sing up a storm on her own solo material and side projects.

This duet is charming and easy, a playful repartee between Charity and Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, The Minus 5) on his forthcoming record Danzig In The Moonlight. Stringfellow is a musician who I have heartily dug over the years (the man can craft a power-pop gem), and seeing them work together is exciting. The tune reminds me of the banter between Jade and Sharpe on “Home” (do you remember that day you fell out my window?), except with overt and pleasingly languid old-country overtones.

This is backporch flirting at its best.

Doesn’t It Remind You – Ken Stringfellow & Charity Rose Thielen

[top photo credit: Charity, me from Doe Bay last year. Ken Stringfellow by Alex Crick]

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.


December 26, 2005

Monday Music Roundup (is it Monday already? )

Good gluttonous morning. I think I have eaten about a thousand Christmas cookies and other equally sweet items in the last 24 hours – ugh! Christmas was splendid overall, filled with family and friends and thoughtful gifts (new Dr. Martens!) and, my favorite: lame, loud board games with lots of yelling about rules. As good as it gets. I hope yours was equally nice.

Here are five songs for your listening pleasure. Please let me know what you think, I am very excited about several of these tunes lately.

When U Find Someone
Ken Stringfellow
Wait a sec, am I listening to The Beach Boys? The gorgeous layered vocal harmonies on the chorus of this song from ex-Posies frontman Ken Stringfellow have the timbre of the Wilsons all over it, a successful homage. This is a sunny, shimmering piece – you’ve got to smile when the chorus breaks. Check out Stringfellow’s 2004 album Soft Commands.

Over My Head (Cable Car)
The Fray
A local band straight outta Denver, The Fray has been getting a lot of airplay over at KFOG in San Francisco (say it with me again, “KFOG is possibly the best radio station in the world”). This is an understated song from 2005′s How To Save a Life which has been really growing on me. Piano crashes into a driving drum beat, while the vocals by Isaac Slade draw obvious comparison to Coldplay, but are distinct. Rolling Stone cites this as “elegantly wasted twentysomething angst.”

Your Love
The Butchies
North Carolina’s The Butchies completely reinvent the glitzy, cheesy, synth-laced ‘80s power ballad “Your Love” (originally by British band The Outfield), turning it in to something sultry and lolling. Singer/guitarist Kaia Wilson breathes the sad lyrics of longing over a simple, slowdancing beat. The final cut on 2004′s Make Yr Life.

Elizabeth, You Were Born To Play That Part
Ryan Adams
This song absolutely rips me in two. I listened to this for this first time last night in the dark. Starting with the opening two words – Adams them lays out with what I perceive as stunning beauty, and I can’t explain why. Something about the fragility of the way he floats the words, “For you…” and the drop in the melody.

The local newspaper today reviewed 29 and said this song is about a romantic interest, but Adams has said in concert that it is about a friend who experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, and that’s the interpretation that resonates and gouges. One of the many lushly gorgeous tracks from Adams’ new album 29.

Break The Night with Colour
Richard Ashcroft
Ashcroft (former lead singer of The Verve, for those of you playing along at home) has a new album called Keys To The World, coming out stateside on February 7, and this is the first single. Ashcroft was recently called “the best singer in the world” by Chris Martin during his high-profile appearance with Coldplay at Live 8, and this track shows off his distinctive and heartfelt sound. It will be interesting to see what 2006 holds for Ashcroft, with some tour dates coming, both solo and opening for Coldplay. BONUS: You can listen to some new interviews with Ashcroft on his website.

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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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