June 11, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I had a hard weekend. But notably, there were some new releases and musical gems that made me happy, and I also (frickin finally) finished Bill Bryson’s dry and uproarious book about Britain, Notes From A Small Island. I enjoyed it so much that it almost feels wrong. I’m talking ’bout laughing (really, kinda chortling) out loud on every other page, plus really enjoying reading about places I’d visited in the UK that I hadn’t thought about in 5 years; places like this little gem, or here. I wrote a few thoughts about the book for Bruce’s Some Velvet Blog, part of a series on summer reads, and that’s up now.

Hollywood Bass Player
Josh Rouse

After releasing a charmingly laid-back EP with his Spanish novia, She’s Spanish, I’m American, Josh Rouse will be back in solo long form with a new album called Country Mouse City House (out July 31 on his own imprint Bedroom Classics). This track is toe-tappingly catchy with a fittingly strutty bass line — and for some reason it made me want to sing “My Life” by Billy Joel (aka the Bosom Buddies theme song) all weekend. If you preorder the new disc now, you also get a bonus CD with some cool demos and unreleased songs.

A Long Time Away
Howie Payne
Lead singer of the now-defunct Liverpool band The Stands, Howie Payne is set to release his first solo LP this year, and has posted 4 new tracks on his MySpace page for your streaming pleasure. What I’ve heard of The Stands has quite a bit more rollicking sound, hailing from the same scene as neighbors The Coral and The Zutons, but these new songs are precisely some of the aforementioned things that made me happy this weekend. They are a bit more wistful and shaded, with a bit of blowing-through-the-jasmine-in-my-mind reminiscence for me.

The National Side
This next tune from Minneapolis band Romantica is different but I like it a lot. A fellow Ryan Adams fan recommended this to me, saying it was a tune that “you absolutely must check out” and guaranteed that it would be one of my favorite songs of the summer. All I can liken it to would be — okay, so Evan Dando moves to North Carolina and finds a backing band of mariachi dudes to play with. Then there’s also some great “buh-bah-buh-dah-dah-dah…”s which you really just can’t go wrong with in most circumstances. I like it. It’s from their forthcoming album America, out on 2024 Records.

Kingston Advice (Clash cover)
Camper Van Beethoven
Since we’ve already established an abiding fondness on my part for the output of David Lowery, it should come as no surprise that this track is one of my favorites off the new Clash tribute album The Sandinista! Project (out last month on the Megaforce label). As with all tribute albums, there are some questionable stylistic choices amisdt the 36 tracks, but this band is one with the cred to believably cover The Clash in a trippy, inventive way. Maybe I could have done without the fife, but otherwise I dig this.

Pacific Gas & Electric
I am in love with the quirky weirdness of the new soundtrack from Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, full of hidden gems mostly from the ’60s and ’70s. I just got the soundtrack this weekend, and no surprises – we all know Quentin is a genius at this stuff. I’d love to hang out with Quentin and talk music someday. The man strikes me as borderline crazy, but he’s one of the best soundtrackers out there. This cut is a swampy electric blues harp romp, but the other songs on the album range from campy girl groups, atmospheric Italian film scores, the swagger of T. Rex, and the British Invasion sound of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Fantastic off-kilter kitsch.

October 21, 2006

Soundtrack goodness from a mountain house

I am sequestered for part of this weekend up in the lovely Northern California mountains near Sonora, so not much fanciness planned for this here bad boy. I do, however, need to announce the winner of the Marie-Antoinette soundtrack contest which ended yesterday.

It was a tough choice because all of your entries were passionate and wonderful and made me want to sit in a theater and watch films with all of you — just for the musical discussion value.

The suck-up who called me classy started things off on a nice foot, and I loved every person who mentioned Richard Linklater and Dazed & Confused (adored that film). I never knew that Linklater “created mixes for each of the characters in Dazed and Confused and sent them to the actors before production so they could get a feel for their character.”

I have not actually seen Vanilla Sky or Moonlight Mile, but now based on your descriptions I think I must. And I loved your variety of nuanced choices: Jon Brion, Ennio Morricone, Michael Mann, Peter Coquillard. All gave me something new to consider & appreciate.

The most mentioned person was Cameron Crowe, whom I wholeheartedly support: Tony K. said of Elizabethtown, “Cam painted a canvas with largely unknown acts proving how much incredible music there is out there that we are unaware of” (amen!), and another commenter noted, “I think he makes movies just so he can make a soundtrack.” Loved your waxing poetic on his movies because I absolutely feel the same way.

Quentin Tarantino (“Tarantino soundtracks have the feeling of an old mix-tape that a boy would make for a girl he was trying to get with“) and Martin Scorsese (“It’s one thing to play a catchy song over a scene or compile a hip soundtrack, but to actually take a popular song and use it to CHOREOGRAPH a scene as effectively as Marty does… well, it’s just genius“) were close runners-up in terms of frequency of mentions, which are surely warranted.

But for some reason I am going with Aikin as my winner with his interesting comment for the Trent Reznor produced Natural Born Killers soundtrack. Here was an entry out of left field that I had completely forgotten about, but remember loving for all the reasons he mentions. The songs wove a creepy and unsettling feeling with the use of pretty songs like Patsy Cline’s “Back In My Baby’s Arms” or Dylan, juxtaposed with plenty of NIN and Jane’s Addiction and even Dr. Dre.

Plus, aikin used the sentence, “There’re a lot of weenies in this fire,” when he started his discussion of this soundtrack’s greatness, which is a phrase we definitely do not use enough. So congrats to grand poobah winner Aikin for an interesting selection. I’ve emailed you to get a mailing address.

Thanks everyone for playing, and this contest was waaay too hard to judge. I could have chosen any of you as the winner. Whew.

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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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