This week has beaten me down and this weekend has given it all back, with sunshine and gardening and twilight pickup basketball games. This song is a dulcet slice of someone else’s memories a generation ago, all halcyon doo-wop harmonies and big string symphony crescendos. Excuses – The Morning Benders
I did in fact watch most of the Grammys last night in between sorting mail and promo CDs and going through bills. It was that riveting. And just like when I cried last year when Kanye started singing ’bout his mama, I also cried this year when Jennifer Hudson sang (so sad), and just like last year I was also left largely disaffected by the pop music industry in general. Except Radiohead. I actually yelped –out loud– during their performance of 15 Step, watching the faces of the USC kids pound their big drums so ferociously. That is easily the single most electrifying performance I’ve seen on the Grammys. And now I want to travel somewhere, anywhere, and see Radiohead again. Bless their hearts. [watch and listen]
That, and I couldn’t help but noticing in the Memorial montage that a guy named Pervis died this year and I really feel that should be the new hipster baby name because it’s awesome.
La musica nuova:
The Vox Jaguars
These kids play with, well, a swagger and a band name that sums up what it’s like to be 19 and bursting with confidence. I heard The Vox Jaguars over on Some Velvet Blog, all fuzz and scowl and garage rock, replete with fake British accents asking, “wot?”. They’re also from the coastal town of Santa Cruz, just over the hill from where I grew up. Two are in high school still, which I guess means they go to San Lorenzo Valley or Harbor High. Weird. They have an EP out tomorrow on Anodyne Records, home to the Meat Puppets — and they show fun and promising verve.
This unadorned song sounds like someone sitting up at an old piano on your grandparents’ sunporch, the honeyed notes floating through the air and swirling around with the dust motes. Evocative very much of Ben Kweller’s prettiest numbers, our protagonist wonders here if he is someone’s missing piece. I guess you never know until you try. Illinois is still not from Illinois, but they are giving away all kinds of free music leading up to their new album The Adventures of Kid Catastrophe on May 5th. Check out the other goodness.
Redolent with a richness in her warble that feels more at home in the 1930s than today, Laura Gibson‘s music feels very grounded and a bit otherworldly all at once. I’d like to see her play with Elvis Perkins in Dearland because they are some sort of soul siblings and might not know it yet but omg. She is actually on tour in the coming months with Juana Molina and also Fuel favorites Blind Pilot (but only for the SLC stop!). Her new album Beasts of Seasons is out February 24th on Hush Records.
1940 (Submarines cover)
The Morning Benders
Berkeley’s Morning Benders bring their pleasing super-sunny pop harmonies to Denver next Saturday, and in a charming little gesture with their tourmates The Submarines, they’ve each covered one another’s work and released it for free to the adoring fans. I like the way this song takes a minute to get its training wheels straight and rolling on the merry way, with the hints of Sixties psychedelica throughout.
Berkeley’s The Morning Benders have a sunny sound that I’ve recently raved about. Hot on the heels of their lovely release Talking Through Tin Cans, they’ve now gathered together some of their favorite covers, recorded them in their bedrooms, and are releasing them free to you.
Through a partnership with a few of us music blogs, The Morning Benders are releasing one track each day this week through a different site. The full collection will be available next Tuesday on their blog. For now, here is the Fuel/Friends debut, see below for locations of the other ones:
The band says: “These songs sound the way they do, because we recorded them with a laptop and one mic. We used mainly acoustic guitars and shakers because that’s what we had lying around, and we couldn’t make much noise in our apartment anyway… We learned the chords and the lyrics (which was pretty easy because we’ve heard all these songs hundreds of times), and we played ‘em.” OTHER SONGS ON THE EP: via 3hive: He’s A Rebel (The Crystals) via MOKB: Mother & Child Reunion (Paul Simon) via I Pick My Nose Blog: Pull Up The Roots (Talking Heads) via Spinner: Temptation Inside Your Head (Velvet Underground)
Covers coming in the full batch next week will include songs by Fleetwood Mac, Randy Newman, and more. Check the Morning Benders blog for details. And rock on with the free summer covers music.
This was a lovely summer weekend of champion gyro-eating at the Greek Festival (and watching the dancers click their heels about in traditional garb), summery new Japanese-abstract print bedding, and some indoor thrashing of the Rock Band drum pads. Pretty soon I’m clearly going to be an expert; for now it would help if I could follow along with which side of the screen I was supposed to be playing to.
Summer is also bursting with juicy tunes:
Momentary Drowning Young Coyotes “Stomp, clap, point at the map. Nod, shake, we’ll head to the lake. We’ll dive off the floating dock into the green unknown. This Denver threesome might own the copyright on summer this year.” [linesthroughlines blog] Oh, Young Coyotes, you had me at hello. This Denver collective comes to us through the deaths of a few other bands, and consists of people who like “campfires, chanting, oceans, deserts, spontaneity, and lots and lots of drums.” I like all of those things although I haven’t chanted since…Coachella. There is a charming rawness and joy that permeates this music from the opening handclaps. Young Coyotes are currently unsigned and living just up the highway, finishing their debut album. They are totally down to soundtrack my summer.
Boarded Doors The Morning Benders This foursome from Berkeley just announced fall tour dates with Ra Ra Riot, which means an excellent evening wherever that tour lands them. Classically-constructed and sunny, The Morning Benders make spry pop music that tries for nothing more than to be authentic and honest. This particular sampling rises and falls, marches and prowls with that vibrating surf guitar and the best bits of the British invasion. Their debut album Talking Through Tin Cans is out now on +1 Records and they are relentlessly on tour, with We Are Scientists now and Ra Ra Riot come autumn, hitting Monolith and Treasure Island in between. Heck, they can almost see Treasure Island from where they filmed this video.
Black Ghost / Black Girl Starling Electric The Clouded Staircase album definitely looks like something I would find in my parents’ old walnut laminate record cabinet, nestled cozily amidst the Keith Green and The Mamas and the Papas. The halcyon light on the cover and swirling cursive letters give it away. But hey, drop the needle on this album from Ann Arbor’s Starling Electric and you’ll be surprised to hear a variety of decades and moods reflected in lush and heady music that’s absolutely sublime — “a call to arms for anyone still interested in melodies, harmonies, and the power of a good pop song.” Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow (of The Posies/Big Star) fell in love with this band and were early and vocal proponents. I also enjoy the picture on their MySpace of drummer John being wrapped in Robert Pollard’s loving embrace (Pollard invited them on tour with him). Clouded Staircase is out August 19th on Bar/None Records, with a record release party that night at NYC’s Mercury Lounge.
We Are From Venice (La Serenissima mix) The Bloody Beetroots Italy possesses some of the best nightlife in Europe — nay, the world. So it makes me happy inside to see how duo The Bloody Beetroots are rocking those dirty dancefloors with their electronica, while moving to take over the rest of the world. Masked in a potential crosscultural salute to the Mexican luchadore (?) this duo is signed to the Dim Mak label and cranks out headspinningly filthy sounds. I’m not sure what’s going on with the masks, but at least they’re having fun. Be sure to check out the new Bloody Beetroots 8-song mini-mix over on the XLR8R podcast last week, and Los Angelenos can see them (well sort of, with the masks and all) this Saturday with N*E*R*D and labelmates MSTRKRFT & Steve Aoki.
She Does Locksley When Fuel/Friends first mentioned this freshfaced Brooklyn quartet with a ragged retro sound, Locksleywere just preparing to self-release their own album. Don’t Make Me Wait is now seeing re-release with two bonus tracks and a wider distribution through Fontana Records on August 19th. “She Does” is a screamer of a song that possesses some of the eager roughness of very early Beatles material, back when they’d still unleash those screams with a teen-angst edge. Locksley has toured with The Dandy Warhols & The Hives, and are playing now with Rooney, so you get a delightful idea of what you’re in for. Locksley will be at Denver’s Walnut Room July 22.
And sweet goodness, did you see that Sub Pop is resurrecting their epic Singles Club for a limited time? Details here. And since I don’t have to rely on allowance and babysitting income anymore, I might actually JOIN this time around!
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
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