September 3, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

What better way to spend a holiday Monday than at the ballpark? That’s a trick question; there is no better way.

We had a mini family reunion this afternoon at the Giants vs. Rockies game in Denver, as my sister was in town from California for the long weekend. We brought our own small contingency of Giants fans to represent with cheers and SF love while they painfully lost (7 to 4 final – it was 7-1 for a while there). But not for lack of fan support out in the bleachers, I tell ya.

And (!) I got stung by a yellow jacket that I figure must have been Rockies-trained to go after the orange and black. I guess that’s what I get for wearing a Giants tank top. Seven hours later, it still feels like a hot needle in the skin of my forearm. Little yellow striped bastard.

Playboy Decoy (demo)
Probably Vampires
Oh vampires are so hot right now.
I thought I had read about Chicago’s Probably Vampires in Rolling Stone, but I think that was actually Vampire Weekend, an NYC band also with an EP coming out. These guys don’t sound anything like vampires, unless vampires got all poppy ’60s harmonies (like The Redwalls with a vengeance) when I wasn’t looking. There’s nothing about this band hearkens the pasty gothness of nocturnal bloodlust — this will make you tap your toes and feel sunny. They’ve opened for folks like Voxtrot, Harvey Danger, and Phantom Planet, and this track is a home demo version of a song on their forthcoming EP, Sons of Guns, due out in October. Be their MySpace friends — they’re not as scary as they sound.

Tick Tick Boom
The Hives
I love this new Hives song because it’s unrelenting and urgent, making me feel like I am the protagonist in a high-action movie like Mission Impossible, racing against the clock. It will undoubtedly be optioned for a film soon, what with the ticking time bomb chorus and tightly-caged riffs, so listen to it now. In fact, I made a whole mix around this vibe over the weekend. This is the first single off their upcoming October album The Black and White, which is conveniently also the two (non?) colors that they allow in their strict matching band dress code. This Swedish garage rock five-piece is on tour now with Maroon 5 (and did you see them on the cover of Rolling Stone and is Adam Levine’s head molded of rubber?).

Love In A Trashcan
The Raveonettes
This track is worth listening to simply for the feeling I get that it’s what Hole would sound like if they joined a ’60s surfing community. The guitar tones on this are amazing, echoey and warm and so close you wanna dive in. Another Nordic delight, The Raveonettes are a duo from wonderful Copenhagen with an edgy retro-Spector 1950s sound. This is track 3 on their 2005 album Pretty In Black (Columbia/The Orchard) and I’m glad to be finally hearing it now.

My Party (Kenna & Chad Hugo remix)
Kings of Leon
Stereogum had this up last week [story here], and I gotta confess that Kings of Leon are one of the last bands that I expected to get the remix treatment from Ethiopian musician Kenna and sometimes-Neptune Chad Hugo, but this song has a strong backbeat to begin with and actually works pretty well. We’re still not sure what Caleb is singing about (she saw his party?) but this remix is suitable for busting out at your next shindig, and will help me get ready to see KOL in two weeks at the Monolith Festival out at Red Rocks. I am ridiculously excited, you don’t even know.

Middle Distance Runner
So at least my tastes are consistent. I was finishing up the post for today, including my favorite tune off the new Middle Distance Runner EP, when I realized that this is a new version of the same song I posted from them last November. Originally included on their full length Plane in Flames album, this re-recorded version is cleaner and tighter for the new EP, and I still love the handclappy pop sound. MDR is from Washington D.C., and their hometown paper (the Post) said, “MDR’s sound clearly draws on mid-’90s British rock — think pre-OK Computer Radiohead, Blur, Oasis — and exudes a confidence and professionalism that many young bands lack.” The more I listen to this, the more I like it — especially the layered breakdown at the end with cascading chorus harmonies. Addictive.

November 13, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

At my lovely university in California, things were usually scenic and tranquil when walking across campus; vivid green grass, carefully manicured flowers, and lots of squirrels frolicking. Those dang squirrels would always look at me a bit askance (I swear) as they froze in my path, weighing which direction to run, and the thought would often fleetingly cross my mind that this would happen. See, I’m not crazy.

Here’s some new songs that I have added into regular rotation this past week that I think you’ll like too:

Gretchen My Captain
As Fast As
Ahh, opening bands: something you don’t count on liking, but it is always a treat when you do. I saw Portland, Oregon’s As Fast As (as fast as what?) on Saturday night opening for Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, and I was impressed by their alternating arena rock/pop-deluxxe sound (which reminded me of sort of Van Halen meets Marcy Playground). With their windmill guitar moves, matching fu-manchu moustaches, and interesting use of instruments, these guys were clearly having fun. This song features an amplified ukulele with heavy distortion, and sounded like nothing I’d ever heard in a song when they busted it out live. Nice whistle solo too — this song is catchy (admitted: the vocals at the beginning may first strike you as grating, but give it to 0:53 where it all soars, and then if you don’t like it, you have my unnecessary permission to delete). As Fast As are heading out with Under The Influence of Giants next, and then the travesty that is the re-formed INXS. Their album Open Letter To The Damned is available now for a scant $8.

Silent Movies
Peter & The Wolf
Okay, so I am hopelessly falling all over myself in love with this song. A friend recommended that I check out Peter & The Wolf, fronted by Austin’s Red Hunter, and emailed me “Silent Movies” to listen to. It is an irresistible blend of scratchy M. Ward old-time radio sound, combined with these fantastic harmonies that would make Brian Wilson blush. From the album Lightness (2006) on Los Angeles’ The Worker’s Institute label (home to Sigur Ros). Listen to more goodies on their MySpace.

Janie Jones” (Clash cover)
In between his demanding schedule of beating photographers bloody, getting Kate Moss’ engagement ring stuck on his own finger, and just generally imploding, Pete Doherty and his Babyshambles cohorts have teamed up with Strummerville (the Joe Strummer Foundation for New Music) to record this cover of the Clash classic. I am not sure how they all fit in the studio, but Doherty joins 21 other musicians on the single, including fellow ex-Libertine Carl Barât, The Kooks, We Are Scientists, and the Guillemots. Sounds a bit unnecessary, but whatever, the resulting tune is fun.

Middle Distance Runner
So what IS it with all these oddly-named bands in the roundup this week? It’s a leitmotif. Middle Distance Runner was a recent and pleasurable find for me this weekend over on Some Velvet Blog. Bruce says, “If you dig The Format or Hot Chip or The Changes or The Spinto Band” (I do) “then you’ll dig MDR’s Plane In Flames” (and I do). One just needs to hear those opening handclaps to know we are on the right track towards pop goodness.

Greatest Mistake
Handsome Boy Modeling School, featuring Jamie Cullum and John Oates
This isn’t a new addition to my rotation, but one that popped up recently on shuffle and I remembered how much I enjoy singing along to it in my best soulful falsetto. From the diversely chill and superbly star-studded White People album (2004), Handsome Boy Modeling School teams up here with British skateboarding jazzmaster wunderkind Jamie Cullum and the moustachioed half of Hall & Oates. The resulting song is slinky and absolutely fantastic to belt in the shower.

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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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