April 21, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

This was a weekend of long-overdue fresh starts and spring cleaning:

Time to retire old Jack, I’d say. And (!!) yesterday afternoon I sat in a coffee shop with a local illustrator/designer and discussed my concepts to redesign this site. He’s making me a nifty new custom header image, and I think I am going to move Fuel/Friends over from Blogger to WordPress. I would welcome any suggestions you may have for redesign, or help with the conversion process if you’re a web-type because I am in the slow class when it comes to this stuff.

Here are some tunes I am enjoying this week after culling the promo CD stack that I am woefully behind in enjoying:

Looks Like We Haven’t Learned A Thing
The Walkup

After meeting in a Lower East Side NYC bar in 2005, The Walkup have been honing their energetic, punchy live show into a full-length studio album of material called Down on Pacific (June 3, Reynolds Recording Co). Their music is angular and hooky with Brit-pop influences and ace drumbeats, perfect for warmer days and summer nights. The album is produced by Gregory Lattimer (Albert Hammond Jr.) and Caleb Shreve (Ra Ra Riot).

Do The Panic
Phantom Planet
Southern California band Phantom Planet‘s retro overtones take bold predominance in several tracks on their newest release Raise The Dead (released last week on the Fueled by Ramen label). This cut is an absolutely infectious reworking of a song originally off their 2004 fanclub-only CD Negatives, all laced with ba-ba-ba (shooby doo)s and exhorations to “come on, come on” over jangly jaunty guitar. You’ll be totally wanting to bust out singing this all day; wait until you’re in the elevator.

How Did We Forget?
El Perro Del Mar

As we recall from high school Spanish class, El Perro Del Mar translates to “the dog of the sea” and sounds like it should be a quartet of jolly Mexican mariachis, but is actually comprised solely of the the lovely platinum blonde Swede Sarah Assbring. This tune sounds like it’s coming to you on a very old radio, wafting in from another room where it’s been playing all along. There is a timeless quality to the music – the coy bittersweetness of the blues, modern Swedish ambience, and moments where it feels like a gentle lullaby. From The Valley To The Stars is due tomorrow on fellow Swedes The Concretes‘ label Licking Fingers. After touring with folks like Jens Lekman and Jose Gonzalez, she has several upcoming dates in May with it-girl Lykke Li.

Evil Urges
My Morning Jacket
This brand new mp3 from My Morning Jacket was unleashed upon the music-web community last Friday via email blast. It’s the title track from the upcoming Evil Urges album (June 10/ATO Records), and the fact that it’s cross-posted on just about every other blog in the world (except maybe this one) shows how hotly anticipated this release will be. Also, judging by the vibe emanating in virutal heatwaves off this track, their evil urges are actually compelling them to wanna gyrate around like Prince and croon in a soulful Motown falsetto. If this sneak peek only whets your appetite, you can also check out the astoundingly cool SXSW set that Jim James did with M. Ward to hear some more new MMJ material, mixed with the old. Sublime.

If You Stay
Richard Julian

Brooklynite Richard Julian hangs out with musical pals like the talented Jesse Harris and plays in Norah Jones’ side project band the Little Willies (who opened for Ryan Adams in NYC that one time). In addition, if you appreciate a recommended drink menu to complement each track on an album, check the liner notes of this one. Developed by an NYC mixologist, the concoctions range from warm beer & weight gain, to absinthe and rye whiskey, to this one — a sugar cube with champagne, laced with Angostura Bitters. The sweet with the bitter, as Julian musically weighs in on whether she should stay or go: “but if you stay there’s a film I’d like to go see / and if you go, i’ll watch one on tv.” It sounds like a nonchalant proposal, but by the end of the song Julian is confessing that he would “weep like a goat” while she packed her things, letting his true colors bleed through. Sunday Morning in Saturday’s Shoes is out now on Manhattan/EMI.

December 10, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Hot on the heels of the date we lost Lennon, and after a long weekend in a hospital waiting room, I am not going to commemorate another morose anniversary today.

Instead let’s celebrate the life of Otis Redding. I’ve re-upped all the great songs on this post from his birthday last year in honor of this fantastic musician, one of my favorites. Today I’d also like to add one addition to the Otis playlist:

Hard To Handle
Otis Redding

So I could save face and be all, “Yeah, I knew that Black Crowes song was totally a cover of Otis.” But that would be a big fat lie. Somehow (?!) I missed this original until a guy recently enthusiastically cited it to me as Otis’ best. Song. Ever. That title is up for some discussion with me (I like Tramp. Or maybe Dreams To Remember). This tune was originally released posthumously in 1968 as a b-side, and soundly trumps the Black Crowes cover I’ve been listening to all these years. You can find it on this recent anthology. Go Otis. We miss ya.

Skinny Love
Bon Iver
While I work on finalizing my year-end favorites list (meaning painfully hacking perfectly good albums left and right in order to narrow it down into something meaningful) I’ve been taking the opportunity to listen to some artists that never actually got the chance to vibrate my eardrums in 2007. Dodge put this album as his #1 for the year, and since Dodge is right about a lot of things (he loves me, for instance) I thought I should spin it. Wow. As you listen to Bon Iver, it starts to scrape something loose inside of you. This is one that you might find yourself listening to over and over again as I have been, even if you are unsure when it first kicks in. Something intangible and gorgeous and raw thrums under the thin skin of this song.

Phantom Planet

While the themesters of the O.C. (sorry but they are never, ever going to slip out of that recognizable tinny piano melody rising to the top of my mind whenever I say their name) work on recording a new album for Spring 2008 with Fueled By Ramen, Phantom Planet is making a limited-edition tour EP available with some new tunes. Aptly titled Geronimo, this song sounds pretty ferocious and relentless, like a fashionably new-wave native jumping off a sandstone bluff onto the waiting trusty steed? Not like I would know firsthand, but I have been re-reading some Cormac McCarthy. So.

Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? (Dylan cover)
The Hold Steady
This came on the local SF radio station KFOG this weekend when I was out in California, one of the few bright spots of my hellish weekend. Starting slowly from the restrained opening, it cracks open like a carnival into something exuberant and near life-affirming. Something about the way The Hold Steady treat this, it perfectly preserves the just-barely-hanging-together feel of the original, with a huge rush of their own unique spirit. Probably the best song on that (dang good) I’m Not There soundtrack.

Weird me out. I was adding this song into the post, the final paragraph of which has already been written with that Singles nod in the last sentence, which really is the only way to say it. I visited one-man-band Sean Jackson‘s MySpace and I see that his profile quote is, “Other than that, he was ably backed by Stone and Jeff.” And I love him. So I’m just gonna leave it at that; you may be familiar with how much I love that movie and quote it at inopportune times. This guy definitely has tones of the Foo Fighters (although not as good as their new album, more from me on that later perhaps) and he namechecks influences like Westerberg and Malkmus. So okay, we’ll listen. Album is called For You.

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And PS – I got a kick out of this; I somehow made the Business section of the Tulsa World newspaper.

The final sentences read, “As for me, a few days later — before the technician could arrive — the light on my modem mysteriously came on again. With all apologies to my wife, I went straight to Heather. Honey, it had been too long.” I am loved in Belgium, and apparently Tulsa! Thanks John.

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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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