Archive for April, 2009

30
Apr
09

I Have A CD Stuck In My Deck!

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There has been a CD in my Honda’s deck for months. I’d even go, maybe, four? It could be five, even. Now, it’s not that my in dash player won’t give that disc back up. It’s that I won’t give another spin to anything but this 2006 record. For variety, and not for anything to get stale, my medium of choice when rollin’ in my ‘6-4 is my iPod. There are those times though where I want to slow it down – and not experience the ADD state of shuffle. There is bliss in experiencing an album from start to finish – in the chronological order that artist intended for their listener.

I’ll enter my car, scour my coat pocket for my iPod, but then realize it’s a short drive; why not let the CD continue? The silence will dissipate sooner . You must realize, I most likely played this album in its entirety easily three-five times already this week. This record, one where I initially praised, was one that grew on me exponentially. Since its hibernation in my Accord, the drug-induced haziness of the guitar tones,  and dark lyrical content have become embedded in me. It’s almost a struggle to hit AUX on my dash to step out of Ten Silver Drops, the last album by the original Secret Machines lineup. But last night, it happened: my player was set free! The green disc escaped. How you ask?

Bumbling around online, I realized there was a disc, yes, a CD I didn’t own by this trio. Back in 2006, while toting what recently pushed whatever #20 would be on my all-time favorite record list out of its spot, this NYC force dropped into KCRW’s studio. Here, they performed six tracks – two from Now Here Is Nowhere and four from Ten Silver Drops. Upon seeing my collection was lacking, I ran out to another long forgotten medium: the record store.

This CD, another one consisting of nothing but Secret Machines psychedelia and gloominess, is what FINALLY made me hit eject. A collection of epic tracks re-imagined exclusively for KCRW….

  1. Alone, Jealous and Stoned
  2. The Road Leads Where It’s Led
  3. Lightning Blue Eyes
  4. Faded Lines
  5. Daddy’s In The Doldrums
  6. Nowhere Again

Secret Machines :: Morning Becomes Eclectic ( Live at KCRW)

29
Apr
09

Indie Folk-Rock from Toronto and Calgary

Sadly, many music listeners only know Toronto-based Great Lake Swimmers for its terrific kid-friendly song, “See You On The Moon” now featured in an Honda Insight commercial.  The track originally appeared on the Canadian compilation See You on the Moon: Songs for Kids of All Ages.  The band produce some of the most beautiful alt-folk/rock/indie around, and have been doing so since 2003 over the course of four excellent albums.  Their mild hit song, “Your Rocky Spine,” featured on Showtime’s sublime show Weeds and on various other recent compilations, is a memorable opus about physical affection and desire.

Great Lakes Swimmers’s newest release, Lost Channels, ranks among its best, reminiscent of early R.E.M with its folk-rock and jangly guitars/banjos structured in three-minute nuggets of outstanding song craft.  Lead-off track, “Palmistry”, relates palmistry with loneliness–“Won’t you come and read the future, turn it on/Won’t you tell me how I will not feel so lonely?”  The band has managed  to expertly connect its lyrics with its often stark instrumentation and lovely vocals.   Amazon.com just concluded its digital $2.99 sale for Lost Channels, but it’s still only $7.99 in 256 kbps DRM-free MP3–and well worth it!

Not to be outdone by its folky indie Ontario breathren, collective Woodpigeon from Calgary, similarly brings together folk-rock and indie, while making heavy use of jangly banjo, glockenspiel, choirs, long song titles, and Sufjan Steven-eque wispery vocals.   The band’s recent double CD, Treasury Library Canada c/w Houndstooth Europa should be enjoyed by any Sufjan  fan and anyone appreciative of indie music that captures the earnestness of folk.  The original single CD was originally only sold at concerts, but its brilliance required an official release with Houndstooth Europa, a 10-song bonus CD, thrown in for good measure.

Great Lake Swimmers :: Palmistry

Woodpigeon  :: Piano Pieces for Adult Beginners

Simply phenomenal performance of “Your Rocky Spine” from the CBC’s Studio Q:

29
Apr
09

Oh, Natasha! Oh, Daniel!

From the well received Two Suns album, comes Bat For Lashes and company performing her lead single,“Daniel” on Jools Holland. Great track on record, but who the hell could have guessed it would have become a whole other song in a live setting? Whoa! Check the goodness below when Natasha dresses herself up in tribal gear, belts on the tambourine, and lets her voice fly.

Great article on Bat for Lashes in the latest Under the Radar (stingy – they don’t share online)

28
Apr
09

Shiny And Colorful Pomegranates!

For me, the only thing worthy about Ohio is the setting for Wild Thing, Coach Brown, and Dorn’s wife. Besides that epic masterpiece, Ohio hasn’t done all too much for me. I hit a deer once, which consequently made me slam into the guardrail. Yea, Ohio ain’t shit. But, wait – we have Pomegranates, a colorful four-piece that is writing light toned guitar based pop numbers. Those tones are multi-layered. Listening to “Corriander”, it’s reminiscent of a kaleidoscope – where each unique texture blends seamlessly into the overall shimmering melodies. Ohio is back on my good side….

Pomegranates :: Corriander

Pomegranates Daytrotter Session

6/01/09 at my former stomping grounds.

27
Apr
09

Can I Sleep On The Air Mattress With You?

Even if I stay awake….I still get rest for hours. And even if there was a king size bed, where I could stretch my legs, lie my head, all by myself in the darkest room….just know that know matter what the options are I choose: the air mattress with you!

Conor Oberst –AKA Bright Eyes – the Omaha folkster and one who’s willing to cry his heart out for you is an advocate of the air mattress. And what do you know? I am also, Conor! On Outer South, his latest output with the Mystic Valley Band, the boy wonder confesses his love for the blow-up bed and its potential seductive nature. He’s tuned to a lighter and poppier Desaparecidos with hints of power-pop tendencies. I can dig it…

Conor Oberst :: Air Mattress

25
Apr
09

Some Saturday Soul…

Due to raspberry beer and an unrealistic amount of scotch, I woke up this morning slightly out of it. Instead of hitting shuffle and a potential headache catalyst happening, I opted for the sweet sound of David Ruffin – the ex-Temptation. Some months back, I stumbled on this man’s Unreleased Album. Today, with a pounding hammer in my dome, now was never a better time for the turn everything around sound of David Ruffin and his timeless rhythms. Maybe it was his throaty delivery; or perhaps the smooth instrumentation backed with female harmonies that snapped me out of the haze. I’m crediting Mr. Ruffin for getting me movin’ today…

David Ruffin :: Each Day Is a Lifetime

David Ruffin :: Dinah

24
Apr
09

A Fine Bottle of Nick

Most post rock band solo singers never manage to equal their early, rock band years. For example, while Paul Weller has had a rich and longstanding solo career following The Jam (and Style Council), I don’t think anyone would argue he has come close to matching The Jam. I’m still waiting for Grant-Lee Phillips to produce an entire album worth of material as consistent as some of his Grant Lee Buffalo material, although I think he has come much more closer than Weller. Does anyone expect Eddie Vedder to come close to Pearl Jam’s best?

Following his rock band years with Rockpile and Brinsley Schwarz, few artists have so gracefully aged from young long-haired rocker to gray-haired troubadour with such style as Nick Lowe. At one time, Lowe would have probably been at the top of any list of most under appreciated British rockers. That was then though, and this is now. His songs have been made famous by the likes of Elvis Costello (“(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding’), Johnny Cash (“The Beast in Me” and “Without Love”), Tom Petty (“Cracking Up”), The Connells (“Cruel to be Kind”) and countless others. Lowe is one the best songwriters around, bar none. Of late though, his own versions have garnered a rich, expanded reissue with his classic The Jesus of Cool and a new double CD greatest hits, with a limited edition DVD version too, titled, appropriately Quite Please: The New Best of Nick Lowe (Lowe’s previous “Best Of” served as introduction for so many…including myself).

I can honestly say that two of most memorable shows of my life have been seeing Lowe at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA (2001) and the Boulder Theatre in Boulder, CO just last year. While his music has changed over the years, there’s a easy argument to be made that its only gotten better with age. Quiet Please features the original version of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout)” from Brinsley Schwarz, Rockpile’s version of “When I Write the Book,” and many of  his more contemporary marvels, such as “Has She Got a Friend?” and “I Trained Her to Love Me.”  Don’t worry, it also has classics such as “Cruel to be Kind,” “The Rose of England,” and “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll.”  Always writing with a wry sense of humor about his well-chronicled female exploits (married awhile to Carlene Cash, stepdaughter of Johnny). Lowe, while now apparently settled down, and the proud father of 4-year old Roy Lowe (his first child), can still write songs of his labored, lascivious past, like “Long Limbed Girl.” Check out a live performance of it from a couple of years ago in London. And, here’s to Nick.




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