August 24, 2009

Monday Music Roundup


On Sunday afternoon, my folks snagged some sweet birthday tickets for us to see the Rockies and the Giants play in Denver — fabulous seats, about six rows back on the third base line. Despite the 90+ degree scorcher of a day (and some family rivalry), the seats were filled, and some of my favorite fans were the eight and nine year-old boys waiting by the Giants dugout for autographs from players before the game. I think so often as adults we feel bereft of heroes, and it was amazingly refreshing to stand next to these kids in their team jerseys and hear their shouted, squeaky-voiced enthusiasm when, say, Tim Lincecum walks out from the dugout to warm up. This sign that the kid next to me made reaffirmed my faith in believing in things — even though the Giants lost (“Go both teams“).

Ahh, a Sunday well-spent.

I haven’t done a Monday Music Roundup in a while, but today there seems to be a glut of good new songs that I’d love to share with you and your eardrums. Shall we?

sunshowerFlaming Arrow
Jupiter One

Just tapped by the lovely, quirky Regina Spektor to open her upcoming North America tour, NYC’s Jupiter One is a duo with folksy roots and Seventies AM radio leanings. This song is all lemondrops and summer street strolls, over lyrics about burning buildings. What an odd, totally successful juxtaposition. I can’t get enough of this song lately. Sunshower is out September 15th on Ryko.

eels-myspaceIn My Dreams

Since we last talked about these things, Mark Oliver Everett, aka EELS, has released a new album called Hombre Lobo – “Wolf Man” for those who remember things from Sra Navarro’s Spanish class junior year, or the equivalent. He’s one of the purest, cleverest songwriters we got around, whether he is being sardonically prescient or heartbreakingly earnest. He did one of them MySpace Transmissions sessions (the same place that produced this moment of stunning awesomeness), where E played three new songs (like this one above, with such purdy piano), an older tune, and a cover Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country.” For the price of free, this is a nice little download. Send me a note if you’ve never gotten into Eels and I’ll suggest a few places to start, because really — you should.

port-obrienMy Will Is Good
Port O’Brien

When I was sailing on a boat, I listened to the nautical sounds of Port O’Brien often in my head (not on my iPod for reals because they were not allowed on board). I used the Port O’Brien song “Stuck On A Boat” for my seafaring mix, complete with the lapping sounds of the waves against a hull, and have been drawn for a long time to the mariner’s world they sketch out for us (frontman Van Pierszalowski was a commerical salmon fisherman). From Oakland, CA, Port O’Brien has a new album coming out called Threadbare (due October 6, TBD Records), which flirts with melancholy and weightier themes, and shows a new maturity to their sound due to some sad life circumstances the past year. See what you think of it; I like the seasick jitter of this song, with the humming voices in the background — kinda like a sea shanty. Yeah.

jon-spencerGee, I Really Love You
Heavy Trash

I first stumbled across this side project of Jon Spencer (he of the Blues Explosion), and its effortless bad-ass-ness two years ago, appreciating that retro garage rock, notable yowl, and filthy reverb. As I wrote then, Heavy Trash have a “rough and tumble rockabilly punk sound that makes me want to drink, smoke, and fight. And I don’t even do two of those three things.” I found this new stuff over on Bruce Warren’s blog, and he described them as “Blues/rock/soul/punkrock/garage/R&B colliding all together in one big New York City kind of rock mess of hotness.” I can dig that. Midnight Soul Serenade is out in October on Big Legal Mess Records.

black-holliesRun With Me Run
The Black Hollies

With songs to their credit like “Gloomy Monday Morning” and “Paisley Patterned Ground,” it should come as no surprise that Jersey boys The Black Hollies are still championing a spacey, mood-ring vibe on their newest efforts. These whippersnappers are a band Rolling Stone once said “would bring a smile to Brian Jones’ face,” and the first single explodes in a shimmering kaleidoscope of organ melodies and shiny happy harmonies. Softly Towards The Light is out October 6th on the Ernest Jennings Record Co label (Takka Takka and O’Death are labelmates), and you can catch The Black Hollies on tour with Benjy Ferree in the coming weeks.


Oh and: you’re welcome.

June 22, 2009

Monday Music Roundup

5098_556565316554_7303238_33483639_5737487_nYesterday afternoon found me sitting in an upper level of Coors Field with my dad and sister, celebrating Father’s Day with him in the sunshine as we watched the Rockies beat the Pirates. That’s what it looked like:

I was reflecting on how impossible it is to feel like anything is seriously amiss in the world when I get to have an afternoon like that — yelling at the players with my pops, tossing about my feeble knowledge of stats this season (I know just enough to be dangerous), and remembering all the Giants games at Candlestick Park when we were growing up.

It was a good day.

Here are a handful of tunes that have been keeping me company lately…

aa-bondy-coverWhen The Devil’s Loose
AA Bondy

Formerly of the band Verbena (whose 1999 major-label debut was produced by Dave Grohl), AA Bondy‘s solo songwriting knocked me for an immense loop when I was seduced by his Daytrotter session. Several songs from that session are now due to show up on his forthcoming sophomore release, and this is the title track. You’ll hear a bit of old-time parlor smoke in his voice, reminiscent of the creeping goodness I find in M. Ward, with a fuller sound to the new material. Bondy just announced some dates next month with Conor Oberst, and he hits Denver’s Hi-Dive this very night. You should go. When The Devil’s Loose is out Sept 1 on Fat Possum.

Periodically Double or Triple
ole-856250x250Yo La Tengo

This feisty, organ-laced number from Yo La Tengo‘s millionth (ok, I think 12th) album spans all kinds of eras from late Sixties-brilliance to the sexy tease of funkadelica. It’s reminiscent in ways of my favorite song off the last album, the falsetto glory of “Mr. Tough” (which, incidentally makes the best iTunes Genius playlist fodder, if’n you want to dance). Yo La Tengo never seems to stop experimenting; Popular Songs is due Sept 8th on Matador.

rsfarcoverLaughing With
Regina Spektor

Never afraid to experiment with an intriguing blend of playfulness and truth, first listens of Regina Spektor‘s new album Far are promising. The first song I heard from it was “Folding Chair” which charmed me with a vignette involving a beach chair, feet buried in the sand, and sea just being a wetter version of the sky. But this song is acutely incisive and couldn’t be further away from playfulness. Armed with her piano and her honesty, she muses, “No one laughs at God when their airplane starts to uncontrollably shake, no one’s laughing at God when they see the one they love hand in hand with someone else, and they hope that they’re mistaken.” It’s a heady, sharp one. And true, as far as I can tell. You can stream the full album now on her MySpace, Far is out tomorrow on Sire Records.

Waterfall (Judee Sill cover)
dan-rossen-covers-judee-sillDan Rossen

Back in the sister-goldenhair days of yore, Judee Sill was an important talent in the Laurel Canyon scene. Before her untimely death, Judee originally wrote “Jesus Was A Crossmaker,” covered radiantly by The Hollies and introduced to a bunch of the younguns on the Elizabethtown soundtrack. Here Grizzly Bear‘s Daniel Rossen covers an obscure song of hers with shimmering technicolor beauty and a ukulele. I absolutely love it. He joins folks like Ron Sexsmith, Princeton, and Beth Orton on the upcoming Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill, due Sept 22 on American Dust; Rossen’s mom must be proud.

bensonPoised and Ready (rough version)
Brendan Benson

When Brendan Benson announced a new album last week, the tracklisting included several songs that were first unveiled as “Ruffs” back in March of 2007. Before he began recounting with the Raconteurs, his solo career gave us some of the most intelligent, sharply-crafted power-pop tunes of the last few years. Even on this rough demo version – come on, you can hear how fabulous the new album is likely to be. I was converted to Benson’s songcrafting genius through a prized series of mix CDs from a friend, all heavy on Benson’s best songs — of which there are many to choose.  My Old, Familiar Friend is out August 18th on ATO Records, and I am really looking forward to it. Now go listen to this masterpiece as well, the snappier 2005 version I vastly prefer:

The Alternative To Love – Brendan Benson

September 8, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

The Getaway
Hawks of Paradise

I’m gonna dive right into this week’s roundup with another great Denver band, this one of four I managed to see on Friday night through a combination of clever planning and masterful club shuttling. Hawks of Paradise were recommended to me by someone who is very much into the Dandy Warhols, and they absolutely dial into that sound as well as folks like Brian Jonestown Massacre and, more recently, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (notably their beat-poet-influenced Howl album). They are amazingly fun to see live, even if you’re just coming to watch their female tambourinist, who was cool and calm and fantastic as she kept her beat. A few more free songs are up for download on their MySpace, and they open next month for the Drive-By Truckers.

The Truth And The Lies

My grandma’s given name was Ruby Nell, and I am fond of that name and this band. And I think she would have been too. Rubies is something that you can listen to with your grandmother, but that is not to say it is staid, boring, or a waltz. This trio of ladies from California makes songs that are throaty and gorgeous, whether a coffeehouse slowburner or a dance-floor filler. Members of Kings of Convenience, The Concretes, and Feist guest on their current album Explode From The Center (out now on Rough Trade) and this could be the perfect soundtrack to those moonlight winter nights that, sorry to say, are coming soon. Also speaking of Feist, Simone from Rubies designed that stunning artwork for The Reminder, which makes me want to give her a very enthusiastic hug. That was some of my favorite album art of the year. [tune via Julioooo]

Acid Tongue
Jenny Lewis
At that DNC shindig, Jenny Lewis charmed us early in the set with this ballad and her indie-supergroup backup choir that night. The song is absolutely winning, and really illuminates her warm, open, and slightly knowing voice. But after hearing her perform it live twice now, I gotta say that this studio version sounds like Sunday gospel in a a full church with those backing vocals swelling up. Her solo album Acid Tongue is due on Warner Bros September 23, and 2 of her Unconventional stage-mates (Johnathan Rice and Zooey Deschanel) guest on the album, along with M Ward, Elvis Costello, Chris Robinson. Not bad, Jenny. Not bad.

Dying Is Fine
Ra Ra Riot
This Syracuse band blew me away when I saw them live in the tiny, sweaty Larimer Lounge this spring. Ra Ra Riot blends this irresistible “chamber pop meets indie rock meets synthesizer danceability,” and they all were so tightly unified as a band that they practically cast off a humming vibration of synergy. Or something like that. I am so pleased to hear that their new album The Rhumb Line (out now on Barsuk Records) sounds absolutely divine, and this song in particular will stick in your head for days — those delicate strings, the hipshaking syncopated beat, the chimey female harmonies that try to assuage your fear of dying.

You Don’t Know Me
Ben Folds and Regina Spektor
I’ll admit that Ben Folds may be an acquired taste, as he doesn’t have a traditionally pretty voice but rather one that’s … pretty dorky. But he writes amazing songs. On this new tune he goes and experiments around with some early ’90s-feeling beat samples and high school musical duet play. But for whatever reason, I still enjoy listening to this perky collaboration with the lovely Regina Spektor (whose set I so enjoyed at Outside Lands). Way To Normal is out September 30th, and Ben plays with his reunited five in North Carolina on September 18th.

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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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