September 30, 2008

Monday Music Roundup, Tuesday edition

People, I tell you — this month is going to be the death of me. I can’t manage much banter, but I can offer you music.

No One’s Better Sake
Little Joy

I love songs where something is a little off-kilter – syncopated or otherwise, just to keep you a bit ajar. Little Joy is the new sideband of Fabrizio Moretti (perhaps my favorite Stroke because of his divine percussive gifts), and the beginning of this song sounds a bit like your car radio has been jarred loose from its dashboard moorings. In Puerto Rico. In 1967. The eponymous Little Joy debut is out November 4th on Rough Trade.

Caroline Says, Part II
Lou Reed
I also love songs that bring you into them mid-thought, mid-scene. Songs are so ephemeral and short by nature that there’s usually no way you can tell a cohesive story, as you would in a novel (well, unless you’re maybe Josh Ritter but not many are). Lou Reed starts this song with Caroline getting up off the floor and finishing her sentence. She’s angry, and I would be too because she apparently wants him to stop hitting her. Fair enough, and a bit heartbreaking. This snapshot comes from the live re-recording of the entire 1973 album Berlin: Live At St. Ann’s Warehouse is out November 4th on Matador. When Berlin was first released, Rolling Stone reviewed it as one of “certain records so patently offensive that one wishes to take some kind of physical vengeance on the artists that perpetrate them…a distorted and degenerate demimonde of paranoia, schizophrenia, degradation, pill-induced violence and suicide.” Thirty years later, the magazine named it one of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Wild Sweet Orange

Their band name sounds like Celestial Seasonings, but this song from Birmingham’s Wild Sweet Orange is a lot more vibrant than a cup of tea. I think I first listened to this album upon reading ace-eared Bruce write that lead singer Preston Lovinggood –yes, that’s his real name– had a voice that was “just earnest enough to satisfy the needs of Grey’s Anatomyrock fans (listen to “Aretha’s Gold”) but also disaffected and lethargically-not caring enough for you indie-rockers (listen to the Malkmus-like “House of Regret”). We Have Cause To Be Uneasy is out now on Canvasback Music, and was produced by Mike McCarthy (Spoon). WSO is on tour with Counting Crows and Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s in the coming months.

Talk About
Dear And The Headlights
This tune from Arizona band Dear And The Headlights is about our differences, those foibles that drive the ones who love us crazy. It starts with lines about being warm and naked, come to save each other, and (like it goes for many of us) the song progresses from well-thought out guitar chords to a sort of jangly angry cacophony with yelled lyrics like “I said oh God damn it, you’re so mean” by the end. The mood of the song is so perfect to soundtrack their argument, and the way he yells when he gets truly frustrated echoes the cracks in Conor Oberst’s vocals. Their album is called Drunk Like Bible Times (stream it here) with song titles fitting the album moniker, like “I’m Not Crying. You’re Not Crying, Are You?” That sounds about correct. Their next album is going to be called, And Verily Adam Lay With Eve, And The Lord Saw That It Was Good.

Done With Love
Whispertown 2000
I missed the Jenny Lewis/Whispertown2000 show in Denver last week, but my friend Jake made it out to see the fair Rilo Kileyan and her new favorite band. He spent most of his time going jelly-kneed over Jenny (what can you expect from a blog called I’d Leave My Girlfriend For Jenny Lewis?), but he also enjoyed the “Cat Power vibe” and eighties-tastic denim shorts of these ladies, Morgan Nagler and Vanesa Corbala of Whispertown2000 (who also appear on Lewis’s new record). I saw WT2k open for She & Him at the Noise Pop fest in San Francisco in March, and they’ve got an alt-country vibe mixed with those doo-wop girl group harmonies. Their sophomore album Swim is due out October 21 on Acony Records.

August 6, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

It’s like Christmas in August.

If you’ve attended conferences for work before, surely we’ve all collected the same array of doodads and logo-covered items over the years. But I’ve never experienced quite the excitement that I get tucked inside a nondescript canvas bag at the registration table for the Boulder music summit. Instead of letter openers and stress balls, I find enough sampler CDs and random little EPs to sate me for quite a while (even a Modest Mouse 7″! Yeehaw).

Many of these artists are buzz bands that I keep hearing about, and going through them for myself was a kick. I also came back just chock full of word-of-mouth recommendations from all the fellow music nerds there.

I’ve done some culling and here are five of the best for this week’s Monday goodness:

Sara Bareilles
This gal was the opening act for Ryan Adams on Thursday night at The Fox, and I was really taken by her. Sara Bareilles is 25 years old and from Eureka, California (way north by Oregon). She was signed to Epic in 2005 with no formal musical training after singing in an a capella group at UCLA. She says the following, “I write mostly on piano and I’m a girl, so lots of people say it’s Norah Jones, or Fiona Apple. That’s fine. I love Norah’s subtlety and Fiona’s fierce lyrical prowess. But I also have an affinity for the playful and intelligent-pop of people like Elton John and Ben Folds.” She closed her set with this song, which she said was about a particularly intense relationship that took her six years to get over. You truly could have heard a pin drop in the room. I was moved by the mournful realization written all over her face as she sang these stinging lyrics. Her album Little Voice is only $6.99 on iTunes.

Crown Victoria
Robbers on High Street
Recommended for fans of The Beatles, Harry Nilsson, or the “where, exactly, in the UK is he from? Oh wait, it’s Chicago” accent of The Redwalls’ Logan Baren. Robbers on High Street are actually from New York, but my friend Josh and I spent several minutes during their lunchtime set discussing where “The Accent” was from. It’s not, apparently. I dig their sound — check “The Fatalist” on their MySpace, it’s also ridiculously catchy. These guys are in LA tomorrow night, and breeze through San Francisco’s wonderfully snug Cafe Du Nord on Thursday. The album is called Grand Animals and just came out two weeks ago.

Broken Strings
The Cobbs
Raw and rough rock from unsigned under-the-radar The Cobbs from Philly, this has a distinct fuzzy Black Keys feel to it. I hear that they absolutely kill it in concert — they’ve just finished a run with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and share some of the same ’60s guitar pop/garage rock vibe with a hint of the Stone Roses thrown in. This was a word-of-mouth recommendation to me that I’m glad I heeded, I look forward to spending some more time with their album The Cobbs Sing The Deathcapades this summer. You can stream the whole album over at

House of Regret
Wild Sweet Orange
With a duet-tastic chorus reminiscent of the harmonies on one of my favorite Bright Eyes songs – Landlocked Blues with Emmylou Harris – this track is the closing romp a little EP from Birmingham, Alabama band Wild Sweet Orange. Here’s the story of how I heard of these guys – last year after the Boulder summit I wrote about Joshua Radin, and posted my most, most favorite version of his “Only You” cover, recorded live at Reg’s Coffee House. Well, that Reg guy who runs it passed me this one as well — with his recommendation, I think you should take a listen. According to pal Dodge, they’re on tour soon with The Whigs and The Broken West, both of whom I have spoken highly of. That’ll definitely be a shared bill to catch.

Scott Matthews
This weekend I sat down and re-watched the Jeff Buckley: Live in Chicago DVD. Actually, watched is an understatement; I was more glued back into the couch cushions, unable to breathe. I’m serious, not trying to be melodramatic — that voice, in the flesh, does something to my ability to move. I tell you this because there’s most definitely haunting echoes of Buckley in the voice of British artist Scott Matthews, that much is clear from the first notes. He’s got a gorgeous silvery range with melancholy tuning that brings Nick Drake to mind. I hear he’ll be huge, but you should just listen because he’s good. His album Passing Stranger is out now as an import, and will tentatively be released in the U.S. on Sept 25 (Universal Republic).

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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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