April 23, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I was stoked Saturday morning when I read about a program called Tangerine! that automatically analyzes the songs in your iTunes library for beats per minute (BPM) and then allows you to make playlists based on beats. I’ve been looking for something exactly like this that will give me the right beats for running different speeds. I’ve been addicted to lengthening the amount of time I run lately (thanks new shoes!) and always delight in finding the perfect song for the MPH I am going – my feet strike the ground with the drumbeat and compel me to stick with it.

My sheer unbounded joy turned to dejection when I saw that Tangerine is currently only for Macs. Boo for me. Does anyone know of websites or tools for creating running playlists based on the speed you are running? I have quite a few tunes that I personally have learned are the perfect speed for running (Pearl Jam’s “Undone” is my current fave), but would LOVE to cull my collection for other candidates. Lemme know what works for you?

Here are some tunes which may or may not work for running.
They’re all worth a listen:

Charcoal Days and Sterling Nights
Ike Reilly Assassination
The new album from Ike Reilly, We Belong To The Staggering Evening (May 8, Rock Ridge Music), is very securely in my frontrunners for Best-Of 2007. I’ve been spinning it at high volumes all weekend long and this is one fantastic album: full of bluesy, boozy, humid, rock riffs and intelligent, biting, evocative, rough-and-tumble lyrics that make me want to take off with Ike through the desert on the run from the cops, with a knowing glance between us and the windows down.

This song starts like a old-time automatic piano in a dusty Western bar somewhere, then busts into a full and marvelous scorcher. Ike sings his heart out, with lines like, “It’s those lies you tell that make me wanna be your lover, the crime in your eyes makes me wanna run for cover, the storm in your thighs makes it all feel right . . . ahh those charcoal days and those sterling nights…” I had a ridiculously difficult time selecting which track to feature since they are all so different and excellent – a single track cannot do justice to the album. I literally went back and forth for over an hour here. Depending on the tune, you get the wide-open anthems of Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, the ambitious pop harmonies of Oasis, and the bluesy back-porch swampy harmonica of a generation past. Preorder this album immediately.

Ooh Girl
Red Button
A delightful reader who turned me on the to the best Cotton Mather b-side I’ve heard (“Heaven’s Helping”) returns to my inbox with a fantastic power pop tune from Los Angeles-based Red Button, the project of Seth Swirsky (who has written songs for everyone from Rufus Wainwright to Al Green) and Mike Ruekberg (who scored the indie film Dummy with Adrien Brody). From the lush string opener that echoes Eleanor Rigby, on into the jangly harmonies, I love the unabashed goodness of this little gem. The album is called She’s About To Cross My Mind — it’s 11 songs in 33 minutes. You can sample their other tunes on their website, and how’s this for a ringing endorsement: “If The Red Button had beeen around in the ’60s when I was producing, I would have signed them to EMI.” – Norm “Hurricane” Smith, Beatles engineer (1962-1966) and record producer (Pink Floyd, The Zombies) for EMI. Delicious.

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Five-Eight feat. Michael Stipe
This CD was released last month with barely a ripple, but it celebrates an amazing evening in Athens, Georgia musical culture. On September 12 of last year, local musicans gathered at the 40 Watt Club in Athens for a big party — and to record covers of a variety of R.E.M. tunes as a benefit.

Turns out four members performing that night didn’t need to rehearse any of the songs: R.E.M. was in town for their induction into Georgia’s Music Hall of Fame, and joined in on several tunes. This version is rough and fast, almost punk — a joyous ending to a fantastic evening. Net proceeds from Finest Worksongs benefits Community Connection of Northeast Georgia and Family Connection/Communities in Schools, so it’s a great album for a good cause.

The Harder They Come
(Jimmy Cliff cover)

Pat MacDonald
Speaking of good causes, the Bridging The Distance compilation was released last week on Arena Rock Recording Co. as a benefit for p:ear which works with transitional youth in Portland, Oregon. Very interesting song choices to cover – ranging from Fleetwood Mac and Yes songs to Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, and even Sam Cooke – from a variety of bands like The Decemberists, Chris Walla (of DCFC), The Minus 5, The Dandy Warhols, and this guy who may or may not be the same Pat MacDonald whose future is so bright he’s gotta wear shades. A pulsating, fuzzy, supersonic cover of the ’70s reggae Jimmy Cliff classic.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy (yep. for real)
Ian Hunter
I’ve been listening to this cheesy ’70s rock winner all weekend because I see that Ian Hunter has a new album coming out in a few weeks. Former Mott the Hoople frontman struck guilty gold in my book with this song, from the opening cockney “Allo” and the Wayne’s World-worthy guitar solo in the middle (also unfortunately covered by Great White in the ’80s). Nothing on the new album can touch the playful dance-around-and-shake-it goodness of this. Ian Hunter is still rocking the perm and the aviator sunglasses. I guess he figures to stick with what worked with the ladies. Shrunken Heads is out May 15 on Yep Roc.

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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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