Archive for January, 2010


Won’t You Come on Home…

Nothing wrong with working backwards when it comes to discoveries in the music realm. Sometimes experiencing a cover version first, instead of the original, can work for me. sElf reinterpreting Depeche Mode helped truly expose me to the synth-pop act; Jeppe, the Senior in Junior Senior, set my dance floor ablaze with his version of Johnny Come Home, originally created by Fine Young Cannibals. The energy levels on both versions are explosive. FYC’s is seeped in funky bass, rapid-fire guitar play, sporadic blasts of trumpet jazzing up the beat, all under an intense vocal delivery. How often do you play the original and then quickly queue up the cover? Or, vice-versa?

Fine Young Cannibals :: Johnny Come Home


We’ll Always Make Time for Hawksley…

And I’ll have to with two releases this year from Toronto’s Hawksley Workman. From Meat, comes We’ll Make Time (Even When There Ain’t No Time) – a slow burner, one that begins one way and closes another. A faint, repeating hum-dum, similar to The Pounding Truth by MM, sets the tone, while Workman attacks with his vocal delivery at a brisk pace. After he’s gotten his point across, lyrically and passionately speaking, the bells intensify, and the crunchy, explosive guitar sways the tempo to another direction. But to me, this is Hawksley at his best: flexing his versatility. Unpredictability is a great attribute to have.

Hawksley Workman :: We’ll Make Time (Even When There Ain’t No Time)

Someone pull me away from this song!


Shout Out Loud!(s)

Summer in the wintertime. Or, highly energetic pop music from the Swedes. Shout Out Louds have done brilliance – songs (now I know) of epic proportions, really. The single, Tonight I Have to Leave It, from ’07’s Our Ill Wills, immediately caught my attention when I took in the video care of Subterranean. I never ventured beyond this song though. What else lurked in their catalog was to remain hidden, until this year’s release, Work. On the opener, 1999, the exuberance begins with rapid-fire key strikes, a pounding rhythm and an overall pace that never lets up.

R.I.Y.L :: Spoon, Arcade Fire, Sea Wolf, and greatness

Shout Out Louds :: 1999


Hard Times with Prairie Cartel…

If I was ever going to fall for a band before I even heard a note, it was inevitably going to be Prairie Cartel. A Chicago-based, smart, electro-rock act. Sure, the location this trio (ultimately) stemmed from helps; a passion for rock and dance-based music isn’t going to hurt either; but it’s where they really come from that secured a place in my rotation. From the ashes of Fig Dish, a 90s sound, meets power-pop Chicago act; and Caviar, the reincarnation of Fig Dish as a smarter, wittier act, who like its 90s older brother, met their demise because of major label drama. Fine and good, because Blake Smith and Mike Willison, both driving members of both aforementioned acts, teamed up again to found Prairie Cartel.

This 3rd generation Fig Dish does not stop there though – what cemented a fervent interest in this act was when they recruited local Scott Lucas, who receives an occasional head nod over here. Placing these three veterans together churned out, Where Did All My People Go, a serious, potentially party-like record, one that should have ranked higher in ’09.

Recently, the China Shop began an exposé on this Chicago supergroup and its long road to finally recording last year’s dirty rock record. Blake Smith was recruited to report, in narrative form, this long and treacherous journey.

Prairie Cartel :: Jump Like Chemicals

Prairie Cartel :: 10 Feet of Snow


Canada’s Workman Dances to Yesterday….

Oh, 2010. It just don’t stop. The year has already unleashed greatness; more goodness awaits us. The Canadian one-man jam, Hawksley Workman, who has become a favorite as of late, is putting out two, yes, two new releases in this momentous year. (could be?) A quick blurb:

Workman will be cementing his electro-rock corner with his dual releases this year. With the albums Meat, out tomorrow on his own imprint Isadora Records, and Milk, a digital release which will premiere a track at a time on his website, Workman says he’s relocated an experimental, wild groove he hasn’t felt since 1999’s breakthrough For Him and the Girls. It took him a long time to process the fickle nature of being a pop super star.

Johnny, Cover This!

It seems I’ve been in the cover mood lately? Or, is it simply: I’m always on the prowl for pure pop greatness. The source? Originally, Fine Young Cannibals – an act I never knew were so capable. This 80s/90s English trio put out the driving scorcher Johnny Come Home – why did I hear this for the first time in 2010? Junior Senior, an over-the-top Danish pop act gained some popularity for Move Your Feet. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this duo became defunct to pursue solo careers. Senior, who is going under his first name, Jeppe, has unveiled where he is headed. His cover is robust with 80s synth dance madness. If I was more literate in Fine Young Cannibals, I might have objected to touching their pop perfection; but since I’m not, I’ll bask in the glory of both versions.

Jeppe :: Johnny Come Home


Nada Surf Unplugs in Seattle…

I receive an email from a like-minded music friend a few days ago with Nada Surf’s forthcoming tour for their upcoming covers record, if i had a hi-fi – a palindromic title. In this email thread, a comment was made that post Let Go, Nada Surf has withered down; plus, fuck Nada. Sure, the consistency on record has not been as strong; but by no means will I forget this act.

The band, who have been around since ’92 or so, have put out stellar records, albums that are returned to on a consistent basis. With melodies, harmonies, and Caws’ soothing delivery, and also their tendency to bring the upbeat rhythms, this trio, who sometimes receive their highest marks when folk-inspired minimalism is in place, have cemented their status with me. Release a new record, I’ll anxiously spin it; most likely fall for it. A career spanning 18+ years is bound to not always generate brilliance. But with near perfect albums like Let Go, records that have created timeless songs, this NY trio will always keep me intrigued to hear a forthcoming record – especially one where they put their own spin on songs like Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence. When Nada stepped into KEXP‘s studio in Seattle to lay down four tracks, including two covers from the aforementioned LP, they only further prove how and why they’ve survived this long.


Love Goes On
What Is Your Secret

Full performance

Fuck Nada Surf? Remember the quality they birthed when covering, If You Leave, for The O.C.?

Nada Surf :: If You Leave (OMD cover)

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January 2010
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