December 19, 2010

someone watches you / you won’t leave the rails


I fell for this Bill Fay song the first time I heard it in the Wilco movie I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. But where Jeff Tweedy’s version is a humble benediction that casts out fear (and which I’ve used on a dozen mixtapes), this version from Damien Jurado and Richard Swift rises up all spectral and echoey, like a lost gospel choir in some knockaround vacant Southern church. Affecting and fabulous.

Be Not So Fearful – Damien Jurado and Richard Swift

Be Not So Fearful (live at the Vic, 1/6/03) – Jeff Tweedy

This is the first track on the collaboration album Other People’s Songs that Secretly Canadian labelmates Jurado and Swift recorded late this summer and released for free. Yup, free.

Go get it here, and read more about the song selection and recording process over here. Swift produced Jurado’s Saint Bartlett album this year, and I once saw Swift open for Wilco — a neat perfect circle of music.

January 26, 2009

Monday Music Roundup (+ contest!)


One night last week when I should have already been asleep, instead I sat up in bed scrolling through Failblog archives and absolutely dying laughing. Along with the FYP blog (for example: omg), Failblog is my new favorite — for reasons like this or this, or this or this.

That’ll start your Monday off right; so will these songs.

Hospital Bed

The opening violin stirrings of this song are breathlessly gorgeous, heart-stoppingly so. After the condensed symphony of the first seconds, it transforms into la-la-las and quiet plucking and patter that sounds like rain on the cabin roof on that one night, so black, during the storm. I could hear you breathing.
Seabear is from Iceland, and this song is off their 2007 album The Ghost That Carried Us Away [and brought to my attention by this fine set of ears]

Help I’m Alive

I posted this last week as part of that gigantic hour-long mp3 from my set at the Larimer Lounge, but it is such a fantastic song that it deserves a starring role. Emily Haines is a sometimes-member of Broken Social Scene and Metric, in addition to putting out solid solo albums. Make no mistake, this is a kickass girl-rock moment on par with the riffs of Veruca Salt’s “Volcano Girls,” with the danceability of Blondie and Hello Stranger. Over the shadowy industrial chugging there bursts a golden sheen of ’80s rock and snarl. My favorite, favorite part comes at 1:17 — one of the absolute best moments in a song I’ve heard in months. Listen/try to sit still. You can’t. You’ll dance. This is the leadoff track from the forthcoming 2009 release Fantasies.

A Song For Milton Feher
Richard Swift

I saw Mr. Swift open for Wilco on the blessed day that they converted me to raving lunatic fan. I remember being impressed by his toe-tapping poppy, piano-based compilations and huge head of curly hair. Apparently Milton Feher is a classical dancer, and I have no idea what this song is on about, but it’s a catchy blend of sunny pop sensibilities and synthesizers. This track was first on Swift’s free EP Ground Trouble Jaw last year, and will also be featured on the forthcoming full-length The Atlantic Ocean (both via Secretly Canadian). [thanks Bruce]

Black Lung

I love the homespun charm in this song, the way it sounds like it’s being recorded in someone’s kitchen. The double-tracked vocals have a shimmering air of transparency that reminds me of Bon Iver’s home projects. Cedarwell is a man named Eric Neave from Wisconsin, and there’s a pretty little breakdown at the end with campfire clapping that always makes me smile. Find a dozen more songs for download on his site, with a donation suggested. Thoroughly lovely. [via MOKB].

Back From Exile
Nickel Eye

While The Strokes continue to consider offering us a new album, bassist Nikolai Fraiture has become the latest Stroke to embark on a side journey with his band Nickel Eye (get it? Nikolai?). The album brings old poems of Nikolai’s to musical life, and features Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Regina Spektor.

CONTEST: You can win one of these autographed 7″s I’ve got (pictured below on my kitchen table, “Brandy of the Damned” b/w “Back From Exile”) just by leaving a comment for me. Discuss Strokes side projects if you wish, or something else I will find entertaining, and I will pick two random winners. Contest runs through the end of this week, and the Nickel Eye album (The Time of Assassins) is out tomorrow on Rykodisc.


October 1, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Very late on Saturday night, a group of us descended upon IHOP for french toast and pancakes because we were gripped with an urgent need for them. The place was packed, as usual, with your garden variety twentysomethings with slightly reddened eyes, talking quite a bit too loud. Everything was funny.

Front door opens, in walk three guys (no lie) straight from like a Dungeons & Dragons convention — trench coats, goggles (?!), greasy hair, a condescending look to the mortals around them. And even though it made me feel like I was back in junior high, it was really hard not to snicker, especially since ONE WAS CARRYING A SWORD. Like, 5 foot samurai ninja business.

Dude at the next table (striped polo shirt, popped collar, backwards baseball hat, used to getting his name on the board in grade school no doubt) starts lambasting the trio relentlessly. I thought I was going to die of silent laughter with tears rolling down my face when he started yelling about his retribution to their sword with his “butter knives of fury” and something about William Wallace. They can take our pancakes, but they’ll never take our freedom.

Ah, the things you miss when you go to bed early. This week’s tunes:

Slipping Through The Sensors
Fruit Bats

I was reading this weekend’s interesting article in the Seattle Times about the entitlement mindset towards free downloads and album leaks, and it mentioned all the good free (legal!) downloads on the Sub Pop site for their roster of fine musicians. I promptly clicked over and pleasantly immersed myself in all the artists I had forgotten were on their roster. It’s been awhile since The Fruit Bats have come out with anything new, but I love their past catalog – sheer melodic sunny pop harmonies and floating puffy clouds of goodness. I didn’t have this song on my iPod and it just is fantastic, echoing lazy summer days with a sound that would fit nicely on a mix with The Swimmers and The Shins — and fittingly so, since lead singer/frontman Eric Johnson has actually joined the latter band for the time being.

The Songs of National Freedom
(live on Daytrotter)
Richard Swift

Poor Mr. Richard Swift had the misfortune of facing another one of Denver’s finest drunken hecklers from three feet away when I saw him open for Wilco last month, and he took it gracefully. “We’re here to see Tweedy!” Mr. Front Row A-hole shouted at him. “I know. So am I,” Swift replied. This effervescent piano pop tune is cool but possesses just a hint of possible musical dance scenes unfolding in Technicolor. Captured live over on the wordlessly wonderful repository of free live downloads/writing/original artwork at Daytrotter, Swift says of this tune, “I wrote that one in a matter of minutes so I can’t really explain it. It kind of reminds me of ‘RAM’-era McCartney.” It will definitely stick in your head all morning, that melody. Originally found on this year’s Dressed Up For The Letdown.

Black Francis

Charles Thompson/Frank Black reclaims the moniker he used during those years with the Pixies for his umpteenthth solo album, Bluefinger, out last month on Cooking Vinyl. This song hits a niche in my heart normally filled by bands like Pavement, Sebadoh or Guided By Voices. I am absolutely loving the combination of scraggly guitars, rebel yell vocals that are just a tiny bit “off,” and wheezy harmonica. On this stylistic departure from the sounds of his previous solo output, Under The Radar called it “the bastard Pixies album that might have been.”

Put The Sun Back
The Coral

Earlier this year, Liverpool band The Coral headed into Buckinghamshire’s Wheeler End Studios (the personal recording grounds of Oasis’ Gallagher brothers) to record their 4th full-length album Roots & Echoes. As the title would imply, this is a warmer, rootsier, largely acoustic-based sound from this band of twentysomethings with retro leanings. I’ve most enjoyed their brand of scousey, brassy fun since their self-titled debut album in 2002. Where early efforts seemed to feel like more of a zoot-suit 1930′s vibe to me, the gentle roll of this album reminds me more of a modern Merseybeat collaboration between Gerry & The Pacemakers with a young and crooney Neil Diamond handling vocals. There are some cool moments (like this track, and I love the Doors-style organ and echoey surf guitar on “Remember Me”) but overall it left me wanting earlier days. Eh, maybe it’s a grower.

Since The Last Time
Arrested Development
No, no — not the hip Fox TV show. Anyone who lived through the faux-rap fashion trends for white girls in the early Nineties (purple overalls with one side unhooked?) may have also spent some time listening to Atlanta group Arrested Development. I will grudgingly admit to getting my dance moves on (probably the Roger Rabbit) to “Tennessee” or “Mr. Wendell” — please forgive me, I was in junior high. Yet I still listen to them from time to time (minus most of the dancing), and they don’t sound at all bad. Arrested Development is back this month with their first new album in 12 years, Since The Last Time (October 30). This title track features a scratchy organic/analog vibe, Jackson-5ivey, Motown shuffle and big gospelly vocal samples. Take me to another place, take me to another land…

And PS – If I can’t root for the Giants heading into postseason, I’ll get behind the Rockies in their tussle with the Padres for the wildcard spot. Go Rockies! I would love to be there tonight.

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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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