November 20, 2008

Robert Pollard boards a spaceship to Boston

The thought process behind this post went, “Wow, I really like this Boston Spaceships track from Bob Pollard’s latest. I wonder what else he’s up to?”

You Satisfy Me – Boston Spaceships

When it comes to updating oneself on Dayton’s prolific Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices) this is a dangerous question that will suck all your time away. Pollard famously claimed that he can “can write five songs on the toilet, and three of them will be pretty good,” and you will have multiple chances to test out this theory in the coming months. In Bob’s own words, “I’m doing more than I’ve ever done,” and that’s saying a lot.

Earlier this year, Pollard released Brown Submarine with Boston Spaceships, a project that reinvigorated Pollard so that he decided to take to the road these last months for his first club tour in two years. The Boston Spaceships site describes the album as “a pop punk album, made by and for kids who’ve worn out the grooves on their Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Wire and dBs records.” Of themselves, they say “Boston Spaceships rock hard, have fun and drink Miller Lite.”

Pollard has said that he plans to stick with this Boston Spaceships business and release an album a year with them. They’ve got a new album called The Planets Are Blasted coming out on February 17, 2009. Check out the new song from that album called “Headache Revolution,” live in Philly in September.

Pollard also released a new album a few weeks ago with his band Circus Devils called Ataxia (on Happy Jack Rock Records):

Girls Will Make It Happen – Circus Devils

And finally, just so no one thinks he’s wasting any time, there’s a new solo album under his own name called The Crawling Distance, due out Jan 20th on his own Guided By Voices imprint.

According to Bob’s Facebook page, there’s a sweet little mp3 sampler containing tunes from many of these recent efforts that you could snag if you bought a shirt at one of his shows, but I can’t turn up hide nor hair of it online. I’m anxious to hear some of these new tunes, especially if any of them come close the celestial pop magnificence of this song off 2008′s Robert Pollard Is Off To Business:

Gratification To Concrete – Robert Pollard

Man I love that song.

May 12, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

For Mother’s Day I got this handmade wooden box from my little four year old. It held various treasures, including a coupon, some chocolate covered espresso beans (good choice), and an ant. The ant apparently escaped. It seemed like a good idea to him at the time to include it in the gift. I feel very lucky. I hope you all tried to take care of your mamas as well yesterday.

When not busy being a kickass mom this week, I listened to this stuff (actually, sometimes simultaneously):

Tessellate (remix by Tom Campesinos)
Tokyo Police Club
The folks at Saddle Creek (home of Bright Eyes / The Faint / Cursive) sent this over on Friday just in time for Mother’s Day. The first line here talks about “all the boys who call their mothers on that day,” and sonically the remix is an electrifying combination that admittedly your mother may not like, with what sounds like crashing garbage can lids over cheerily chiming xylophones. It works for me. The original version of the song is featured on the Tokyo Police Club‘s debut full-length Elephant Shell, which was released last month after two previous critically-acclaimed EPs. The remix can be found on the new 7 inch or the limited edition of Elephant Shell.

Gratification To Concrete
Robert Pollard
As we all know, Robert Pollard can’t stop, won’t stop. After releasing no fewer than four solo albums on Merge in the last two years, former Guided By Voices frontman has amicably left that fold to form his own GBV record label. Robert Pollard Is Off To Business will be released on June 3, and this song about a lady who somehow gratifies concrete will be the first tune to hit the internetwaves. In an odd Stipe-ian dichotomy, this will work best if you don’t try to understand Pollard’s lyrics but just enjoy the crunchy riffs at play on this monster jam of a summer pop song.

Cheap Champagne

This new song from Canada’s powerpop/rock foursome Sloan starts with a sunny vocal breakdown that’s all retro-goodness, sounding like just four guys standing around on a street corner snapping in time. Each track that I’ve heard so far from their upcoming release Parallel Play (June 10, Yep Roc) wins me over in a unique way, and there lies some of the underrated genius of Sloan. They can fluidly slide between many different styles (most recently demonstrated on the 30-song tour de force of 2006′s Never Hear The End Of It), and it all works.

Sirens In The Deep Sea
The cascade of swirling, sparkling guitars in this song from Brooklyn’s Longwave sound like the moment you roll your car to a slow stop on a gravelly roadside overlooking the lights of the valley. This single was produced by Peter Katis (The National, Interpol) and boasts some gorgeous, epic-sounding production. After tour dates opening for The Strokes on their North American and European tours, Longwave is playing some shows with the re-formed Swervedriver in the coming months.

I’m Now

Recorded in just three and a half days, this 8th full-length album from Seattle’s Mudhoney possesses a raw and immediate punch. Although folks like Nirvana propelled to larger successes from the Sub Pop label in the late 80s/early 90s, Mudhoney laid seminal groundwork with the indie label through releases like Superfuzz Bigmuff. They were also featured on one of the first 7″s in the Sub Pop Singles Club with “Touch Me I’m Sick” (split with Sonic Youth). Hard to believe, but Mudhoney has been at it for twenty years (!!) and the sounds of this new song would suggest that they’ve lost little of their spitfire. The Lucky Ones is due May 20 on Sub Pop.

October 8, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Last night my friend Jill and I were at the Denver Fillmore for the Emerson Hart/Collective Soul/Live lineup, an evening punctuated by literal spontaneous rock’n'roll combustion – one of the speakers caught fire. Afterwards my friend working the show was incredulous that I hadn’t noticed. “You didn’t smell the smoke?” he said. Yes, I smelled intense smoke but thought it was just the two middle-aged urban cougars in strappy tanks getting high to my left.

Emerson Hart was very very good, backed by his full band. I could have heard a much longer set from him. The former frontman of Tonic has a solo album out now called Cigarettes and Gasoline [previous mention] and came out afterwards by the merch booth to meet folks. Very warm, down to earth, appreciative fella. He tells me that he’ll be back with an acoustic tour this November and I will definitely be there.

Collective Soul did nothing for me. I tried. Too much posturing and posing by singer Ed Roland, as if he had practiced his microphone slinging acrobatics beforehand in front of a mirror. I did get into the performance of “Hollywood,” a ridiculously catchy single off their new album, and “All That I Know” had a delicious huge beat. Other than that . . . mmm, not so much.

Live‘s music is absolutely awesome in concert – it soars and writhes and pounds, and I adore it. I sang emphatically along to every song; they might be in my Top 5 pantheon of bands close to my heart. I am pleased to also report on the status of Ed’s sweaty nipples: they are just as small as they were last year. My sister was with me at the last embarrassing display of gyrating self-confidence by their lead singer, so I texted her an ongoing update of his state of undress (“the shirt is unbuttoned” “we have nipples!” “he is shirtless. i repeat, he is shirtless”) because it’s just so bad you can’t believe it’s actually happening, and with such barely-concealed erotic glee on his part.

She texted me back this simple admonition: “Bask in their glory.”

Lonely No More

Starting with a high and lonesome harmonica, combined unexpectedly with big band thumping drum-major beats, this one gets my attention from the start — and then the perfect pop Buddy Holly melody sticks in my head for hours. From the new album by Magnet (aka Norwegian dude Even Johansen), The Simple Life is a kaleidoscope of instruments and influences, and it sounds absolutely fantastic to me. From the opening handclaps and Sufjan-banjo plucking of “The Gospel Song” through all the Eels-worthy strings, shiny brass, and thoroughly modern shimmer of sounds, I ♥ it with a vengeance. It deserves its very own post and a potential spot on my best-of-2007 list, but I am so excited I am throwing it out here now. My head literally spins a little with a discovery this good. The Simple Life is out now in the U.S. on Filter Recordings, and watch for Magnet opening for Stars on tour starting this month.

Shim Sham
Imperial Teen

This one hits kinda like the Breeders seething with a smatter of glam rock. San Francisco-based Imperial Teen has been making music together for over a decade, and their newest one The Hair, The TV, The Baby & The Band (out now on Merge) shares lead vocal duties by both the girls and guys in the band, as well as a pink Starburst sensibility of retro-tinged indie pop, crunchy guitars, and summertime lyrics. This tune’s all about a party at the Shim Sham club, and about “delinquent girls staying up all night / spray painting walls under suburban lights.”

Lonely Moon
The Cat Empire

An empire ruled by cats is a terrible idea, right behind a mouthful of bees. Where do these bands keep coming up with these names? I don’t know what went into the naming process of this Australian group that merges sounds of ’60s-organ rock, funk, reggae, dancehall, and more. Their fresh sounds are all over the map. “In America they tie themselves in knots trying to categorise our music,” says frontman/songwriter Felix Reibl. “It might not be easy to categorise but it’s music that’s perfectly natural whether it’s playing in a shack in Vietnam or a nightclub in New York” [credit]. So Many Nights was produced by John Porter (The Smiths, Ryan Adams, Missy Higgins) and recorded in Melbourne and Malibu, and it’s out recently in Australia with a planned invasion of U.S. shores in 2008. Listen to em now.

Rud Fins
Robert Pollard
A guy recently posted on the Ryan Adams board about Robert Pollard‘s two albums coming out this month because, as he said, “no one’s used the word ‘prolific’ around here lately.” Another supercreative artist who doesn’t try to quell the flow of tunes, former Guided By Voices leader Bob Pollard has the poppier Coast To Coast Carpet Of Love, coming out on the same day as the harder-edged punk feel of Standard Gargoyle Decisions. Street date is tomorrow for both sides of his persona, and you can stream both albums in full over on the Merge site.

Jackie Greene
I mentioned the new Small Tempest EP from California folk-bluesman Jackie Greene recently, and have now gotten a chance to enjoy it front to back. Let this run along with another perfect little song called Caroline — and where that one was a melancholy piano-scored summer afternoon watching clouds pass, this one starts with few autumnal guitar-plucked notes that immediately call to mind the “Don’t Think Twice” of Dylan. Greene’s got a smooth and wistful voice, and some lonesome harmonica chops here. Despite the “I was a teenage heartthrob in a film noir” cover, pick up this EP if you can catch Jackie live this fall.

September 25, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

So I woke up Sunday morning to a thick dusting of snow on Pikes Peak and surrounding mountains. Breathtakingly beautiful, yes. But I really do not know if I am ready for winter again. I kind of like my flipflops.

Well, the bright side of the picture as we are now into Fall and cruising towards shorter days and longer nights: more downtime to listen to music? Here’s a few to start your week off in style.

Kings Horses
The melodic influences of the Beatles (and their latter-day disciples Oasis) are brushed in wide, vivid strokes all over the new forthcoming album (Shine On, due Oct 3) from Aussie rockers Jet. Where before you probably knew them best for the tambourine-shaking, fatty bass line, Lust-For-Life ripoff “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” (which was used once in Alias where Sydney was dressed up like a kickass punk rocker with a mohawk, Docs, and a short plaid skirt, so she’s always the “girl” I think of when I hear that song), their newest effort is a lot prettier, with harmonies, woo-woo-woo backing vocals, strings, and expansive guitar lines. First single “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” carries the torch of previous rowdier songs, but there is a lot more depth this time around. Sounds pretty good to me, I’ve been listening to it all weekend.

Howie Beck, featuring Matthew Caws of Nada Surf
Toronto singer/songwriter Howie Beck was someone I hadn’t heard of until recently, and I admit I took a listen because of the people he has worked with: Feist, Josh Rouse, Jason Collett (Broken Social Scene), and Matthew Caws (Nada Surf). Those are all positive associations to my ears, but as I listen to more of Howie, I hear that he is a talented and polished musician in his own right. The shimmering, sure guitar melodies on this track, blended with the honest lyrics, make for an enjoyable introduction. His self-titled album was re-released last week in the US on Ever Records, a follow-up to his 1999 album Hollow, which was highly acclaimed by the British press following its release on Easy!Tiger in the UK.

Sweet Lady
What Made Milwaukee Famous
So these guys are completely NOT out of Milwaukee, rather their name is a nod to a lyric from Jerry Lee Lewis, which is all good in my hood. What Made Milwaukee Famous are from Austin, Texas, and have a bright, fun, singalong pop feel to their music (rather than the grey and snowy Schlitz-drinking soundtrack I had expected). Toe-tapping and fantastic, this song really wants to be the first track on your next mixtape. From the Barsuk Records re-release of their Trying To Never Catch Up album (August 2006, recommended).

She Moves In Secret Ways
Polly Paulusma
Thank you again to the free music from Facebook. I doubt I would have otherwise ever stumbled across Polly Paulusma, a British singer-songwriter with both smarts (Cambridge, Ph.D program) and vocal cords to love. Her charming folksy sound and earnest timbre reminds me a bit of Aussie Missy Higgins. This song has a rich, melodic, catchy, coffeehouse-show feel, lovely for the first chills of autumn. Also listen and tell me if parts of the melody and humming voices aren’t completely reminiscent of the best parts of “Trapeze Swinger” (Iron & Wine). This is off her self-produced 2004 album Scissors In My Pocket.

Supernatural Car Lover
Robert Pollard
I’ve joked here before about Bob Pollard‘s prolific songwriting (sometimes right up there with Ryan Adams in terms of quantity), as well as his wildy varying quality. You kind of never know what you are going to get. Following the eclectic From A Compound Eye, which he just released earlier this year, his new album Normal Happiness seems to exude a more upbeat, accessible, “normal happy” vibe. Most of the tunes on this album clock in at somewhere around 2 minutes, and they pack a fast and tuneful punch. This particular cut has the ability to stick in your head for days at a time. Normal Happiness is due Oct 10 on Merge Records.

Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

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.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →