April 9, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

One of the big important early steps in starting a band is that all-important decision of what to call yourselves. Has to be something that will entice people to take a listen, but with just the right edge to it. If there is some hip in-joke connotation that could work too.

So here’s your first stop: the massive Wikipedia page devoted to Fictional Band Names in popular culture. From Hey That’s My Bike to Sonic Death Monkey to yes, even Fingerbang, they’re all here, waiting to be loved, discussed and revived. I found it immensely amusing.

Here’s what I am listening to this week:

Brandi Carlile
The new sophomore full-length album from Brandi Carlile is out now on Columbia, and I like the direction she is heading. Her work with T Bone Burnett (Counting Crows, Roy Orbison, Gillian Welch) is so flawlessly treated that I can almost forgive him for his cut-of-meat moniker. The Story was recorded live, directly to 2″ tape in eleven days, and possesses a very immediate, raw, timeless, soulful quality – four words that pretty much sum up Brandi for me. This song is completely charming from the opening notes, and finds a nice experiment with piano, which I always love. ALSO: Obligatory Pearl Jam connection, if you can believe it — drummer for this album is Matt Chamberlain, early drummer for Pearl Jam, appears in the video for Alive. I was thrilled to hear that. Although Ten this ain’t, she does bring the rock on tunes like the wailing-howl of a title track.

The Neptunes (Pharrell feat. Jay-Z)
You think you love your Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z for gettin’ your party on, but also laughed at Jamie Cullum’s frank and swingin’ treatment of this tune from Pharrell and Co. — then you need the original. I’d been meaning to seek this one out and finally did, off 2003′s The Neptunes Present . . . Clones. I’m reminded of how great the synthy, sexy, throwback sound of this hit single from Summer ’03 is, and I’m a step ahead because I already know all the lyrics thanks to Jamie. Well, except for maybe the bridge: “…like you were just another shorty I put the naughty on.” I’m workin’ on it.

Someday Soon
Gin Blossoms
My recent mention of the Empire Records movie (another one I know all too well, as in whole segments of dialogue, front-to-back) reminded me of the lead-off track from the fab soundtrack with the Gin Blossoms. Did you even catch that those guys released a new album last year after ten years? Called Major Lodge Victory, it sounds exactly like, well, circa-1995 Gin Blossoms. But they picked one sound and do it well, and I am finding myself loving this song for driving and harmonizing along. It’s got great “whoooooooos,” soaring guitar bits, and even a litle foray into the Cher-tastic world of Vocoder effects.

Fly Paper
This is my second mention of Trinidad-Canadian artist k-os (“chaos”), but I just got the full album Atlantis: Hymns for Disco (which is finally available stateside) and the eclectic blend of old-school beats, fresh hip hop, authentic island vibes is making it one hell of a party album that you really can’t sit still for. It’s thoroughly enjoyable all the way through. The only weakness is some fairly simplistic aphorisms-masquerading-as-lyrics (“I’m caught between a rock and a hard place” / “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it“), but I’m definitively not in it for the lyrics. As the song begins, the voice of an old-time radio announcer inquires, “Feeling stuck? Self-loathing? Shoegazing? – Try new supersonic Fly Paper . . .it’s catchy!” And indeed, this could be the perfect cure for the common indie kid feeling too mopey to shake it.

Free Love Freeway
David Brent/Ricky Gervais with Noel Gallagher
I was reminded of this little smarmy gem from a recent gorge on British Office courtesy of the library DVD I snagged. I was watching Season One (and I know this is anathema, but not feelin’ it as much as the American version, probably because the British version just lacks Jim Halpert. And Dwight. And Michael.) and this is a classic from the most painful staff meeting you never had to attend. Dig the priceless lyrics like “Free love on the freelove freeway, the love is free and the freeway’s long. I got some hot love on the hot love highway . . .” Now, exactly how Noel Gallagher got involved in the studio version of this is an enigma to me, but this pokes some mighty good fun at bad music.

January 1, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I don’t know about you, but I’ve often pondered the existential question that all of us, if we’re honest, must someday answer: If you attended Bayside High, which Saved By The Bell character would you be? Finally there is a quiz to help you make that all-important determination with great questions like:

Everybody’s got a dark side. What’s yours?
a) I’ve moved a lot because my dad’s in the military, so it’s difficult for me to make friends.
b) I was addicted to caffeine pills.
c) I’m a complete nerd…how much more dark can you get?!
d) I went on a date with Screech. Eww!
e) My family isn’t very wealthy, despite what people might think.
f) I’ve been struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, depression and mild anxiety… Syke! Ha ha, I had you fooled there, didn’t I? You really believed I was that messed up! Ha ha! What a moron!

Bonus points if you can match each option with the appropriate character. It’s somewhat comforting to have such clear-cut roles in life. By the way, it tells me that I am Kelly Kapowski. I’m not really seein’ it; I think I’m more of a Screech (nerd), or maybe Slater? I’ve always so admired his fashion sense.

Happy new year and happy new music!

Sunday Morning
This one’s just fun and fresh and feels like something you should dance around to (if you, unlike me, have any feisty left in you after last night and especially -ugh- this morning). A slaptastic backbeat and repetitive lyrics that sound like they are droning at you from very far away, this is infectiously catchy. It’s got the class of an old soul deal remixed with modern hip hop beats, from Trinidad-Canadian k-os (stands for knowledge of self, pronounced like “chaos”) to help you start your year off right. From the upcoming release Atlantis: Hymns For Disco (EMI International).

Rob Crow
I was prompted to finally listen to this new song that I downloaded a few weeks ago by seeing and (magnabbit!) liking the freaking Clorox Wipes commercial that Rob Crow (of San Diego band Pinback, not to be confused with Nickelback) penned and is, sadly, only available to tug at your heartstrings and make you feel all oozy as a snippet in the ad, as you watch a dad dance around with his daughter standing on his feet (as he stops, inexplicably, to wipe the table with a Clorox wipe, which is the logical move at that time in fuzzy technicolor-memory moments with your kids). Sorry. Back to this song, it’s from Crow’s forthcoming (Jan 23) album Living Well (Temporary Residence Ltd) and it reminds me a little of early Beck in its lo-fi acoustic/electronica-hybrid goodness.

Everybody’s Talking
(written by Fred Neil, popularized by Harry Nilsson)
Dreamy (now defunct) indie ’90s band Luna put out a covers-only album this summer on Rhino Records (called Lunafied) that I just adore. You all know that I love the creative energies present in the best reinterpretations, and this album presents an always-interesting journey through songs by artists from the New York new-wave of Blondie and the Talking Heads to the Sixties goodness of Serge Gainsbourg and Donovan.

I Am A Leaver
The Damnwells
The second studio album from Brooklyn’s The Damnwells, Air Stereo (Zoe Records) made it onto the best-of 2006 lists of several friends I respect, so I decided to take it for a spin. Their sounds is warm and full, a golden pop-alt-country vibe that for me draws up memories of Gin Blossoms and the handful of Goo Goo Dolls songs that I like. It’s robust and thoroughly enjoyable, damn good.

War No More (link below)
Tommy Guerrero
San Francisco musician/ex-skateboarding legend Tommy Guerrero has a laid back, earthy sound that would be right at home on the front porch of one of the city’s lovely old houses, or perhaps a beach somewhere in the Pacific. This instrumental track has a global vibe to it with African-feeling drums and a shimmery Latin melody. Guerrero contributed to some of my favorite tracks on the Sprout surf movie soundtrack, and the aptly-named From The Soil To The Soul is an album that I could definitely see myself playing on repeat.

Trying something new, this is a free download of the song through an independent music promotor, IODA. They do all the linky work for me:

Download “War No More” (mp3)
from “From the Soil To the Soul” by Tommy Guerrero
Quannum Projects

Buy at iTunes Music Store

Buy at eMusic

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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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