Friday, December 29, 2006

MEGA CITY FOUR "Sebastopol Rd."

What was the absolute best record of 1992? No, it wasn't Nevermind. It wasn't Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend. Besides both of those were technically released in 1991 anyway, so I was tricking you. Ahem. No, the absolute best record was Sebastopol Rd. by the very underrated Mega City Four. They precursored emo. They implemented gorgeous melodies and cranky guitars. The songs were so, so pop and perfect. And no one knew who they were. At least not in the States. They weren't just one of those trendy new Britpop bands. They possessed so much more than that.

It was with shock and sadness that upon my return from vacation, I found out that lead singer Wiz, had died recently, at age 44. Upon reading the news, I immediately dashed for Sebastopol Rd., and even though the early 90s production can sometimes be distracting, it holds up, it really does. I feel that I'm not nearly being as sentimental right now as I could be. By track four, I was fighting off the emotion. On "Peripheral", listening to Wiz screech out the words: "I'm not the brightest star and any given moment", I nearly collapsed to the ground crying. I had to remember how important this record was for me. How it jumpstarted my 20s.

We all know records that for one reason or another, we can't understand why it wasn't the absolute biggest record in the world. This is the one for me, it shattered any illusions I had about the record business and probably squarely defines my failure as an A&R guy. Please take a moment to investigate Mega City Four's classic 1992 LP. R.I.P. Wiz, your vision was truly appreciated and more importantly is celebrated more than you'll know. "It hurts so much to lose another friend."



Thursday, December 28, 2006


I'll tell you where I've been later. I've barely had time to catch a breath for the last several weeks, but there's some good stuff in store this winter. For now, enjoy a song from Ottawa's The Acorn, a totally gorgeous new EP that you should immediately seek out. It's been the perfect soundtrack to a warm autumn and even more perfect for these days leading up to a new year. Little Elpees will be more actively shortly.


Thursday, October 26, 2006


Back in the '03, Little Elpees had a label that released the best unheard record of that year. A little band from Miami full of sadness and sunshine called See Venus. They came to CMJ that previous autumn, armed with vibraphones, tambourines, and sassy melodies and pretty much left everyone in the audience in awe. Even Harvey Williams. The record was the orchestrated and bouncy Hard Times For Dreamers, a title that Chris Moll (the Brian Wilson of the group) came up with during a blizzard, snowed in at my Saint George apartment, watching Amelie. OK, I'll take some credit.

Anyway, See Venus broke my heart because what they possessed in absolute beauty and talent, they lacked in keeping it all together. No tour, stillborn album, the end. But not the end! Chris Moll is back on Andy from Ivy's Unfiltered label with his lovely trio, the Postmarks. Their debut full length is in the can, but they'll be releasing some little ditties here and there, plus a remixes EP with re-spins from Tahiti 80, James Iha, and more.

Here's one in time for the upcoming evil weekend. I'm building a haunted house in the basement and using this as the entrance music. Boo!


BILLY BRAGG "Don't Try This At Home"

Recently, over at Gorilla Vs. Bear blog, Austin LaRoche volleys up the top 10 saddest songs he's ever heard. Hmmmm. I wondered how my list would compare, because I consider the sad song, amongst the most appealing. There's nothing like feeling like you are going to have a total cry your eyes out festival from just hearing a chord progression mixed with a phrase that hits a little too close to home.

With that in mind, I offer you #10 on my list of the top 10 saddest songs I've ever heard. I've never been an over the top Billy Bragg fan. I own his records, but rarely listen to an entire album. But his highs are very high. "Shirley" with Johnny Marr on guitar, "Remember The Mountain Bed" with Wilco on the Mermaid Avenue sessions, and this little gem from 1991's Don't Try This At Home. See if you can hold back the tears by the time you hear him plead "You were so tall. How could you fall?"

Please feel free to offer up your saddest songs on le comments. I need to find some Kleenex.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

DIVISION DAY "Beartrap Island"

Let's face it. You either have to a huge sack of balls to name your band after an Elliott Smith song or you have to be plain stupid. The cynic in me wanted to believe this was another misguided California emo band with aspirations of MTV and Warp tours. I mean, shit, it's like naming your band The Nick Drake, isn't it? I'd scanned a few blogs and seen their name mentioned, all positive and nice things, but c'mon, blogs suck! I noticed they were pals of Birdmonster, hmmm. Still, I decided to throw myself into their debut self-released full length, Beartrap Island.

I'm sure when I first set foot on Beartrap Island I ignored the landscape. It just whirled past me as I worked. I didn't notice the very distinct and pretty vocals and melodies. I didn't notice the subtle arrangements of cool electronics bubbling under the noisy guitars. I didn't notice the ebullient pianos, perfectly written bass parts, the slamdunk choruses. But then I did. Like I was hit in the head with a coconut from a falling guitar hook. "Lights Out" came on and I got the goosebumps. Real goosebumps, like I got when I first heard "Change" by Tears For Fears in high school.

Division Day are soft rock. No, they are classic rock, part of the growing scene (Midlake, Margot & Nuclear So N Sos, Earlimart) of Fleetwood Mac worshippers. No, man, they are an 80s alternative band like the Church. Okay, good, I have no idea what they are. That's usually a good sign. Here's two songs that have been in heavy here for months. Division Day make their east coast debut live at Piano's in NYC on October 30. They also play Union Hall in Brooklyn with my 3 other favorite bands currently: The Changes (post coming), The Isles (posted), and Kunek (posted) on Friday, November 3.

You have to admit, it was better than naming your band "Green Day".



Friday, October 20, 2006

CORNELIUS "Sensuous"

I loved indie kids' fascination with Japanese pop music that spiked around the year 2000. While Shonen Knife paved the way for the broken engrish pop sensations that broke through to some degree at the turn of the millenium, Cornelius really slamdunked the whole thing with Fantasma. Fantasma was an eclectic and fascinating magical journey, crunchy cut & paste rock, no one here or in Tokyo had heard anything like it. While Takako Minekawa bleeped her way through sublime pop songs and Buffalo Daughter made everyone dance with the deep groove, Cornelius was more the sculptor, the Brian Eno of the core, but he managed to make a pop record, and it stuck.

Interest in Japanese pop has waned in America since, probably a result from a more experimental and less melodic scene over there and less avenues for such releases to see the light of day in the US. That whole broken engrish thing can't help either, it's charming for a while, but like Morrissey, hard to listen to for more than 30 minutes at a throw. Cornelius (real name: Keigo Oyamada, who not so coincidentally is married and has babies with Takako Minekawa) is back though, with a new record, Sensuous.

Owing more to Japan's electronic pop legends Yellow Magic Orchestra than the Flaming Lips-Yellow Brick Road wonderland that was Fantasma, Sensuous is arty, not a pop record. There are elements of Morricone and Francis Lai, two well known movie soundtrack composers, but there's nothing the kids are going to be able to dance to. And that's ok. It's interesting. If you are in the mood to put on Another Green World or a Flying Lizards record, maybe 2006's Sensous will suffice. While not a classic in that regard, it's curious, and fun to listen to. For about 30 minutes at a time.

"Sleep Warm" is the last song on the record and to me, the most appealing. It was hard to think of what a "single" might be from Sensuous, so you go figure and find the record, if it does find the record bins on this side of the Pacific.


Thursday, October 19, 2006


Hey! It's Haiku Thursday! I promise I'll get better at updating my blog. My blog, bloggy blog blog! There's some lovely stuff down the pike. Trust me. I said, TRUST ME! Ok, now for your haiku(s):

This is so far from
The Hour Of Bewilderbeast
Who the FUCK is this?


You should be ashamed
The production sucks Creed's dick
Fuck Badly Drawn Boy

or, or

Hey, Damon, whassup?
You had Magic In The Air
Now, steaming horse shit


Thursday, October 12, 2006

SOUTH "Adventures In The Underground Journey To The Stars"

How did it get to be October already? I'm still counting on a beach weekend. Guess it's not going to happen. Anyway, Little Elpees is back, sorry, did you miss me?

I'm not one to succumb to hype. It definitely puts me off. But, I am a curious being, like most of us. British bands get loads of hype. Not the kind of hype that puts them over the top in America anymore, but enough for people to throw the names around. How many copies did Arctic Monkeys really sell in the US? Tell me, I wanna know. When press darlings, South, hit my plate, I was full, gorging myself on a diet of soft rock souffles and chocolatey electropop. Little did I know that they could fulfill both needs, I just needed to listen.

And so now I am, and I like, I like. Last year's "Loosen Your Hold" made it on to my girlfriend's iPod (I put it there but barely remembered it) and she always asked, "who's this?". It was catchy, sure, and I could see why she liked it. But 2006's Adventures In The Underground Journey To The Stars is magical. Jangly, peppy, it delivers that Britpop punch you've been waiting for ever since Gene and Marion threatened for the title. It's quirky, and that's what makes it a million times better, than say, Travis.

South bring their angular arena rock to the intimate Union Hall in Park Slope, Friday, October 13 (that's tomorrow). Buy tickets here. I'm heading South for the winter.



Saturday, September 30, 2006

WEIRD AL YANKOVIC "Straight Outta Lynwood"

Little Elpees is proud to announce our first in a series of guest bloggers. Some call him the coolest person alive, he's undeniably one of the most scintillating songwriters in rock, ladies and gentlemen, this week's guest blogger: Mr. Graham Smith of Kleenex Girl Wonder:

While "Don't Download This Song" is really pretty easy and not really
even that great ("Virus Alert" being my personal favorite original off of "Straight Outta Lynwood"), at this point, it doesn't even matter. Let me put it to you this way: imagine if the ZAZ team that put together countless classics of the late 80's and early 90's had continue churning out Naked Gun sequels, every year or so, for the past 15 years. Would you be in a position to criticize the individual merits of each one? No, you would be glad that they kept on keeping on. The same goes for middle-to-late-40's Al; he could have long since stopped making awesome, family-friendly jokes, for no reason other than "he's 'Weird Al,' bitch."

But he didn't. No, like clockwork he comes through, just-in-time, to
hook you up with some ridiculously awesome skewerings of current pop mafiosos as well as meticulously written and recorded originals. My dream remains to start a band that specializes in creating serious "parodies" (I actually call them "ser-odies") of Al's original songs. I would have realized this dream already if it wasn't constantly pushed out of my subconscious by erotic fantasies involving long-time Al-laborator Jay "Bermuda" Schwartz.

So, download this song, listen to it, buy "Straight Outta Lynwood"
from iTunes or a brick-and-mortar or out of Al's trunk, who cares. You know you still watch "UHF" once a year, and as a matter of fact you know you have the website where divers Tulsans reflect fondly upon its filming in their fair burg. You also know that you have an archival copy of Al's faux-biographical documentary from the mid-80's on Beta. I also know this, and I will be coming over to watch it 2 or 3 times in a row this weekend, just so you know. - GFXMITH


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

THE SOFT LIGHTES "Incredible Moses Leroy Becomes The Soft.Lightes"

Band releases debut album. Debut album makes serious waves. Despite the difficult name, "The Incredible Moses Leroy", people go bonkers over "Fuzzy", a loop-de-loop sampling (samples the Sandpipers!!) of California Casio soft pop rock.
"Fuzzy" lands in a Volkswagen commercial. Girls run out to buy "Electric Pocket Radio", aforementioned debut album.

OK, sorry, I'll stop talking like that. Ron Fountenberry, main man behind the moniker, marries all of his loves into a very successful and pretty heartfelt sound. That's his band. Thing is, being that creative, also, you tend to get bored. So, when he wanted to change the name of the band, I can imagine the suits at his record company losing it, especially after the whole VW thing. But here they are, now, the Soft Lightes. Their second album, was stillborn. Too bad, because it's a wonderful flowery blip and bleep masterpiece. There's even a contribution from Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori.

Jumping to the present, The Soft.Lightes are ready to return by signing a deal with Modular (Avalanches, Presets) and finishing up a third offering. Not sure what they will call it, but sneak peek it at their MySpace, "Heart Made Of Sound" is quite lovely, you agree? If this is all coming as a discovery to you, download the wonderful electromagic below and oh, yes, they make a very rare appearance in NYC at Union Hall in Brooklyn on October 14.

TRANSMISSION C (from Becomes The Soft Lightes)

FUZZY (from Electric Pocket Radio)
NOAH AND THE ELECTRIC CHOLOS (from Bedroom Recordings demo)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

NOVILLERO "Aim Right For The Holes In Their Lives"

I dialed up "The Matador" last night on the "on demand" action. I remember seeing the trailers last year and immediately feeling like I needed to actually get myself to a theatre to see it. Pierce Brosnan, say what you will, I think he's pretty cool. Well, I missed the boat, that is, until last night. It was pretty great, I highly recommend it. All of this has nothing to do with a little band from Winnipeg called Novillero. But since you know that a "novillero" is a bullfighter, you can give me a little liberty here and gush in amazement that I tied that all in.

Before I even heard a recorded note, I was caught off-guard by Novillero at a Mint Records' CMJ night (last year or the year before, but because I am getting old, you tell me). Well-dressed, ebullient, harmonies all over the place and tight like a 14 year old female Olympic gymnast doing the floor exercise (I know that was awful but it really actually was the first thing I thought of, please don't arrest me), this Canadian quintet slayed the place. I don't think CB's Gallery knew what hit them, really.

A few songs stuck with me that night. Upon listening to the album, their second, it was obvious which ones those were. Stylistically, they aren't all over the map, but I can't pinpoint what map they are using. It's soulful garage rock, sure, but I hear some Inspiral Carpets, The Fall, Style Council, piano-driven punk. It's fun. They even have their own version of "Bez" from Happy Mondays, a backup singer who shakes the tambourine and dances up a storm.

In another solar system, "The Hypothesist" would be a monster hit. It sucks you in from the first cocksure piano riff and handclaps and, I swear, I've never played "air trumpet" before, but see if you can't help it by the time everything kicks in. "Abbey" is jumpy indiepop, infectious and celebratory, you'll certainly be singing "how can you lose something you never had to begin" over and over in your head. Novillero plays in Brooklyn, twice, at Union Hall, first on October 7 and again during Mint Records' CMJ night on November 2 with Immaculate Machine, The Awkward Stage, and Bicycles. Don't miss the boat, because, unlike "movies on demand", these kids might just go hibernate up in Manitoba and never come back.


BONUS ACTION: Novillero at SXSW this year covering Hall & Oates "Maneater". I told you they were fun:

Monday, September 25, 2006

IAN LOVE "Ian Love"

You're lucky if you don't have a voracious appetite for new music. Really, I envy you. I mean, you read blogs (I caught you), but my guess there are few of us out there who really consume this stuff. Like, actually listening to several dozen records a week. For regular journalists, it may even be easier, you get assigned a record to listen to, you review it. Simple. For people like us, we seek out good music, all day, all night, it's an obsession.

I'm glad I discovered Ian Love. It's that good kind of discovery too. Like, when someone whispers his name in your ear and you forget about it. Then you start MySpacing bands and you find him on your own, but then forget again. Then he plays a show and you catch his set and you're like, "IAN LOVE!". Ian was known for his band Rival Schools and sometimes plays in the sometimes band that Gabby from Luscious Jackson started post Grand Royal fizzle out. He mines that sometimes sad, sometimes bouncy Rufus Wainwright territory, maybe a bit more indie rock, keeping it simple and soulful.

His self-titled record is self-released. Selfishly, I don't want to tell you about it because it's quite lovely. I haven't always been kind to singer/songwriters, but then again, my guess is that most singer/songwriters who are labelled that, aren't so happy about it either. So let's not call him that. Let's say, "Sky To Fall" will melt your heart and catch you by surprise. Then find it on iTunes or buy the cd.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

ELF POWER "Back To The Web"

Elephant 6. It's probably hard to be a band in the wake of all that. Especially in 2006. Somehow, Elf Power have survived. Probably because they seem to be the hardest working of the association. They appeared on a compilation I put out in 1995. Here's what they sounded like then. Below is what they sound like now. Their only NYC area show is scheduled for next Saturday, September 30 in Brooklyn/Park Slope with a bunch of Athens, GA buddies in tow (M Coast and Great Lakes). Union Hall for details (yes, I book the place, shut up).


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

SPOOKY & SUE "I've Got The Need"

It's been a while, sweet, sweet dear turntable. I'm sorry I neglected you this summer. I've been very busy with new projects and overwhelmed on a diet of new and forthcoming music. It finally came to a head yesterday when I got the new Sloan and Bluetones records. I listened to both, twice over, and realized, I need to listen to something old now. Too many advance cds, not enough soul.

Sigh. I found Spooky & Sue's 45rpm single in the bins at Rhino Records in New Paltz, NY. If you've never been, I suggest a road trip. Here's to hoping they still have piles and piles of cool old records. Probably not on par with Princeton Record Exchange, but not bad either. I went up there for a wedding and salvaged the day with some record shopping (record shopping always tames the savage beast). I remember there was a vending machine outside the store that sold mealworms in a styrofoam cup for a dollar.

I also know that I've spun this little gem many times. Apparently they were big in the Netherlands. I don't remember them on the radio in the 70s here, but get your Spooky & Sue on. They've got the need to be with you, tonight.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

THE GLOVE "Blue Sunshine"

I so remember when we would obsess about side projects. There was something so "in the know" about them, like, even if you were a fan of a band like Depeche Mode, whose stock was increasing on the way to selling out the Rose Bowl, not many people owned the 12 inch by the Assembly or even Martin Gore's covers EP (covering Tuxedomoon even!). That made you cool. Ahem.

Goths in my town when batshit when they found out there was a Steven Severin (Siouxsie & The Banshees) and Robert Smith (The Cure) secret album called The Glove. I can see the pile of "gothy" cassettes right now. Clan Of Xymox's Medusa, Peter Murphy's Love Hysteria, The Glove's Blue Sunshine, so weird, I can see this pile in my old bedroom by the 13 inch B&W TV I had in there. Gay.

OK, anyway, the rumor was that Robert Smith sung every song but they sped up his voice. No. Steven's ladyfriend, Landray, handled half the vocals, Robert, in real time, the other half. They had to keep it secret because The Cure were, of course, under contract to a big label. Does that even happen anymore? We just end up with the Ranconteurs I guess. Some of "Blue Sunshine" holds up pretty well, some not so much. I always loved "Perfect Murder". Recently, the entire thing was re-issued with a bonus disc of Robert singing pretty much everything. Nice. Closet goths, apply that sex eye make up and get ready for a night dancing at the Limelight....


Friday, September 15, 2006

THE LEMONHEADS "The Lemonheads"

Evan Dando, hmmm. Who knows what to make of the guy? I can't say I was ever an enormous Lemonheads fan, I mean, I liked them, I consumed music, and when they hit the jackpot with "It's A Shame About Ray", I giggled and went along for the ride. But they could easily have been a band from that era that I've put on the shelf and forgotten about (see: Fudge, Milltown Bros, Urge Overkill). It wasn't Evan's notorious run-ins with various troubles or girlfriends (Courtney Love) that kept me interested. No, about 5 years ago I stuck "Rudderless" on a mixtape. With that, and iTunes, I've stayed "in touch" with that record, and it holds up.

So, every once and a while, I'll pop "Ray" into my queue, and it sounds nice. Was I surprised to find out that Evan was recording again and with the Descendents? Yes and no. I actually DID get myself amped up. Then I forgot about it. But this week, with the final result hitting the shelves next week or the week after, I finally got to listen to the self-titled 2006 version of the Lemonheads.

They succeed on most fronts. It is more rockin', "Clean Sheets" guitars, but still subdued and produced enough as to make it friendly for radio or the OC. Bad thing is, the songs aren't nearly as hooky as the aforementioned 1992 gem. It sounds more Dinosaur Jr than anything (I guess J Mascis played guitar, too). I've picked my favorite so far to share with you, and the more I listen, the better it gets, but nothing as memorable as "Rudderless". Maybe it's the Juliana backing vocals I miss. That wouldn't have been to hard to pull off, would it have? Either way, if you missed Lemonheads all these years, it will probably hit your sweet spot. At the very worst, it'll make you go find "Alison's Starting To Happen" and blast it full on.

UPDATE: Was politely asked to remove "Pittsburgh" in lieu of "No Backbone". Congrats to the lucky readers who got here first.


Thursday, September 14, 2006


And so I did.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

HOWIE BECK "Howie Beck"

There's something pretty cool about Howie Beck that I can't exactly put my finger on. I could, however, point out that his name isn't very rockstar (wasn't it the character in St. Elmo's Fire that Mare Winningham's dad wants her to marry to get the free Chrysler LeBaron? Nice.). I could point out that on first listen, the smooth Starbucks sound that appeals to the latte crowd kinda threw me off. I certainly don't want to listen to baby stroller rock or admit that I do. So now, after those snap judgments, we really listen...

A little Beatles-y, nice lyrics, hmmmm. Nice harmonies, soft synthesizer fills, acousticy riffs I'm starting to remember. Hey!, he's Canadian, whoa, there's a plus. There's some sadness, some real melancholy, oh, but here's lyric that makes me laugh ("don't be afraid if you're all fucked up"). Hey, this is a really nice record. And I bet I can't find one blog that's raved about him. Howie seems one of those not-so-good-at-self-promoting types. I like him even more. I even like that "Sometimes" sounds like it could make all the girls cry during the end credits of a Zach Braff movie or something. I'm okay with that.

I think a therapist would have a field day with today's post. In the meantime, please enjoy Mr. Beck's music and go see him at The Living Room on September 25, he makes a rare NYC appearance. I'm running out to grab an iced coffee at Connecticut Muffin. I crack myself up.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

THE DEARS "Gang Of Losers"

I love to see progress in bands. Bands who come up, for instance, from less focused, more twee roots and bloom into something really magical, that's good stuff. Bands who really move forward by uncovering something new about themselves and executing instead of making the same record or forgetting how to write songs or something. I always had that hope for the bands on my label or other small labels. That one day, something would click in them, and these wonderful seeds they'd been planting would turn into a forest.

I also get a kick out of seeing bands who used to send me demos, finding success several years later, somehow, someway. It's going to happen when you get a million demos a years. Demos, heh. Montreal's The Dears sent me their first cd sometime back in 97-98? Maybe 99? It was nice, but at the time, I had no more room at the inn. But even listening to the new songs from their upcoming "Gang Of Losers" release back to back with ones from their 2003 release "No Cities Left", you can see they are trying to trump the last record and you can't imagine that little band from back then. Not a bad thing.

While No Cities Left was a more docile acoustic affair sprinkled with the odd arrangements of organs, accordions, Gang Of Losers is a lush powerhouse. They hinted at it with "Lost In The Plot" three years ago, but once you get past the "Sinthtro" to "Ticket To Immortality", you can tell, the Dears are ready for the big stage or like the lyrics tell ("the world is really gonna love you"). I've listened to GOL as a whole for the past month or so and it's much more satisfying that way, instead of plucking obvious singles like "Ballad Of Humankindness" or "Bandwagoneers". It's solid, from beginning to end and has a "glue" that keeps it all together. And the guitars are louder. I've included one of the best transitions, tracks 4 and 5, which sound so very good together.


Monday, September 11, 2006


Everyone is going to have their little tributes to September 11, 2001 today. I thought of avoiding a post altogether or simply blissfully ignoring the date. However, I can't stop thinking, now that I've been brainwashed in having to, of the actual morning. I remember the skies, lots of people will say they remember the weather. It was "back to school" weather. The kind of crisp still air that used to get me all goosebumpy the last couple of years of high school, still does. This morning was like that. Maybe that's why I've decided not to ignore today.

I don't have a real tribute though. I do miss the actual building and of course am horrified when I think how many people died or were affected. When I came back to NYC in 1997, I had many wonderful nights on the 107th floor, going to hear friends spin records, even seeing shows up there (Beck, Spiritualized). And I did lose a lot that day and in the days after. No one died that I knew, and I was in close proximity, but I have no tribute for any of that either.

No, I woke up this morning with a couple of songs in my head that maybe remind me of the city. I took a cab back to Park Slope last night from my favorite bar ever and looked around and couldn't believe that I've been back here for 10 years. The beauty of the lights of the buildings, that grand view of the skyline barely fading from the rear window on the Manhattan Bridge, it's something out of a movie. And I certainly don't need Jon Brion or Michael Andrews to accent my movie moments (though they do a good job), I seem to live them all out on my own. I provide the soundtrack as music supervisor, whether audible or not, for these memorable times, maybe it's how I remember them later.

I wanted to add "Wake Up In New York" by Craig Armstrong and Evan Dando here, but I thought it would be too obvious. Oh man, here. The Blue Nile song is one of the prettiest ever, a certain cry your eyes out number, but I probably hear it in my head every time I take that aforementioned cab ride. Rufus's Poses came out right around September 11 and I don't know why, just feels right ("tower" in the title, completely unintentional). If you can manage to stay away from the headlines of the local papers today and avoid CNN entirely, you can have your own little tribute. The city you live in, is not ugly. Don't take it for granted.


Friday, September 08, 2006

OOBERMAN "Carried Away"

A little something special for you today to make up for my exile in Wellfleet
. I tend to gravitate to the underdog, the underrated. I'm a Cubs fan. No one I ever vote for, for president, ever wins. It's a sickness that one day I hope to conquer. One day I'll jump on bandwagons or ride a wave long enough to see the shore. Sigh.

Not today, though. When I think of Britpop bands that shoulda-coulda, I think of Ooberman. Their stock was very high when they signed to Independiente (UK label famous for Travis, etc.). Soon after, they released the quite fantastic, Magic Treehouse album. Timing, luck, due to whatever arbitrary events and despite the meteoric rise of their single "Blossoms Falling", the Oobs didn't sell many records. I attribute this to the soulful beauty and cosmic hippiness of their music. It's parts Beethoven, parts crunchy Ash-esque rock, boy/girl vocals, mini soundtracks to imaginary animated movies.

I released the Running Girl mini-album in the US (full disclosure) in 2001. Dan and Sophie even came over to play an unforgettable March Records' anniversary show at Brownie's in NYC. When they got home, they released, Hey Petrunko in the UK, no US release. It was a masterpiece, the kind of record you put on and you dream up a movie in your head. It was also a strange, perhaps difficult album, peppered with soaring orchestrated melodies, little instrumentals, intros and outros, people probably didn't get it. I did.

The band announced their break up in 2003. I can't say I was surprised, but I was definitely shocked. Recently though, they've had a change of heart. Maybe they've realized they could exist outside the whole music biz thing after all. Good for us. Below you'll find links for a new song from "Carried Away" as well as a track from "Hey Petrunko", "Running Girl", and their debut LP "The Magic Treehouse". I haven't seen any blog action on them, so spread the word if you are a believer.

THE BEAUTY OF YOUR SOUL (from Carried Away)

SUMMER NIGHTS IN JUNE (from Hey Petrunko)
RUNNING GIRL (Phantom 309 remix) (from Running Girl mini-album)
BLOSSOMS FALLING (from The Magic Treehouse)

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I hear so many different bands when I listen to Columbia, MO's Foundry Field Recordings. In fact, there are quite a few tracks that sound like dead ringers and descendants of Pavement's "Here" (not a bad thing). I hear Built To Spill, classic 70s soft rock (Alan Parsons), and Flaming Lips. But, if you are thinking, they are a noisy indie rock type, guess again. No, everything here is a little more subdued and melancholy, lo-fi, and no guitars flailing off the hook drenched in distortion. It's jangly, it's more soft than bulletin.

What seperates Foundry Field Recordings from sounding JUST LIKE all the aforementioned bands (and you will make your own conclusions too) are the vocals and the arrangements. Lots of little fun intros and outros, accent, not distract from the beauty of the songs. It's nearly Elephant 6, except that while Olivia Tremor Control were out there writing lyrics on green typewriters, FFR stick to a more traditional pop song, without all the cosmic imagery.

The record came out this past spring/summer, self-released possibly. I'm finding this is par for the course lately (see Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin and Kunek) where wonderful handmade recordings are getting enough spin from bloggers and fans that eventually they are winning over the people who don't have time to be "anglers" to catch something new. I wouldn't be surprised to hear they'd just signed to Sub Pop or Matador, they are really that good.

Come join us in a prayer, let's spend our last quarterstance randomly...


Wednesday, September 06, 2006


That was a long break. I took a much needed vacation. It involved sand, the ocean, many bowls of chowdah, visiting old haunts, and lots of soul searching. I've come back much more relaxed, that is, until I get that first case of sidewalk rage.

To keep me relaxed, I'll be spinning Charlotte Gainsbourg's gorgeous new album once a day. I didn't think I'd be mentioning Charlotte twice in the infancy of this blog, but there you go. I don't know why I was so surprised when I first heard "5:55" and fell madly in love with it. It's not like she's the offspring of a Hilton or something. She also has a new movie coming out, the Michel Gondry directed "The Science Of Sleep", which steals a page out of Sofia Coppola's book, judging from the trailer (read: 24-40 year olds who think Lost In Translation is the best thing since Hello Kitty sake will rush out to see it).

Back to 5:55. Contributions from Air and Jarvis Cocker really make the difference on 5:55, gorgeous and lush strings, see-saw pianos, and of course, Ms. Gainsbourg's breathy and soulful vocals, all add up to yumminess. She certainly has better pipes than her mother (Jane Birkin) and the whole album has more glue than say, the later day Serge records, which seemed to waltz from style to style.

"The Songs That We Sing" will make your day. "AF607105" will make you find the purchase link and buy it.


Thursday, August 17, 2006


I've been trying to outrun "twee" since 1998. See, I ran this little label, and when a double cd, triple lp compilation called Pop American Style came out in the summer of 1995, it put said label on map. While it was nice to have indiepop types embrace the label, it was expected from me to release badly tuned, badly sung, sincere pop music. To host house shows. To make small talk with people who think music started with the first Talulah Gosh single
. To wear badges. It was very hard, I have to say, having grown up with a vast interest and knowledge of every genre of music, but perhaps only the best 7% of each (yes, I'm the decider). I was sucked into a cuddlecore whirlpool that was hard to get out of.

Blah blah, that all said, a record released in February this year has seeped into my heavy rotation, against my wishes, and if you're one of those indiepop types holding out hope that someone can still make a heartfelt record without aping Belle & Sebastian, here's to you. Sheffield, England's Monkey Swallows The Universe comes in and single handedly saves the genre with their quaint folky melodies. I don't know when they popped up on the radar, I don't know if they've even infiltrated that community or made a dent in the UK, but I have no doubts once they hit the road, they will certainly swallow the universe.

"Jimmy Down The Well" may channel Amelia Fletcher in some regards, there's even a recognizable stolen Heavenly chorus in there, and yes, perhaps some stolen B&S trumpets (sounds more like Love to me), but the song sounds fresh and would benefit from some real production. The gem here, however, is "Sheffield Shanty" which trumps "Jimmy" with a plaintive acoustic guitar and a lilting refrain. Make sure you catch the little tribute to Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" at the end there.

Monkey Swallows The Universe may not be the Marine Girls. They might be better.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

JUNIOR BOYS "So This Is Goodbye"

Recently, I was lucky to see old pal Torquil from "up and coming" band, Stars (I hope you think that's funny!). He was scheduled to do a very special guest DJ set at Union Hall after his band slayed the sweaty crowd at Siren 2006. Little did I know that he would take the whole thing over with his enthusiasm to make the kids dance. Three hours! Wow. Halfway through the Manhattan fueled evening, he let me in on a little secret. "Skip, do you Junior Boys?", he whispered. "No, I don't, any good?", I purred back. "Oh Skip!"....

Now that I have certainly discovered Junior Boys I understand his need to champion them. Like a perfect hybrid of his beloved Stars and UK's Hot Chip, Junior Boys quietly blip and bleep their way through their newest album "So This Is Goodbye", after releasing several 12 inches. Like Stars, they are from Canada, but unlike Stars, their emphasis is more on electronics, less on lyrics. On first listen, the entire album just passed me by, dynamically not challenging me to take a time out to really listen. However, that changed as certain songs started to pop out at me towards the middle of the LP.

Here's one of my favorite tracks. "So This Is Goodbye" is out on September 12 on Domino.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

THE ISLES "Perfumed Lands"

The connotation "local" as in local bands has always seemed derogatory to me. I bet to most bands too. NYC bands don't seem to suffer from the tag as much, maybe the romantic notion of having a band in the biggest city in America warrants a bit more credit. The spotlight shines brightly here, but it's also a cruel and fickle one. If bands don't gain national notoriety within a short time, people seem to think something's wrong, while other cities nourish their babies and send them off all polished.

The Isles haven't been around all that long, they haven't had time to suffer the pitfalls of being a Brooklyn band, but their sound has certainly been mined previously. For the past few years, tons of other "local" bands either ape Joy Division/The Cure or Talking Heads/Blondie with unpalatable consequences. Few sound good. I seem to have no problem with, however, bands stealing the jangly Marr-esque guitar action. Seems more timeless? The only press I've read on the Isles are that they are Smiths clones. Not at all. Yes, they have the aforementioned Rickenbacker arpeggios, but I hear other "lost" classic bands from the mid-80's too like the Lucy Show, Let's Active, Style Council even. But indie because John Leckie didn't get to them in time. A Rough Trade band perhaps. 2006's The Railway Children with a pulsing bass that keeps you dancing. That's it.

Not so coincidentally, they've also found a way to have a release on a UK label, but not US yet. It IS 1986! Perfumed Lands is probably the best "local" release I've heard in some time. It's interesting. You might think you know what you are getting, but some of the songs take a bit of a turn, much to the listener's delight. Just when you are cursing them for ripping off a guitar line from "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now", they bust in an give you the unique and moody "Post Nobles".

The Isles play at Union Hall in Brooklyn with another favorite of mine, The Mugs, on Friday, August 18.


Monday, August 14, 2006

SPARKLEHORSE "Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of The Mountain"

Amazing what a day on the beach can do for your physical and mental state. I spent Sunday down at my old stomping grounds (what the fuck are stomping grounds?) and am a lovely hue of hairy crimson pink
. It's rare you can get a sunburn that doesn't hurt. I'm not sure what vitamins the sun gives us, but I needed them, desperately. Island Beach State Park is better than I gave it credit for, abandoning it some 19 years ago, cursing the Jersey Shore all these years...

That leads us to Monday morning and how beautiful a new Sparklehorse record sounds after a relaxing day eating fried clams and collecting seashells. Sparklehorse could possibly be the most criminally underrated American band, if that's possible. Mark Linkous has had his hands in many pies over the years (hello Dancing Hoods?!!), but I think he'd be happy to know that it's his Sparklehorse recordings that secretly make music lovers gush, they quietly whisper his name when no one's around.

A disturbing or comforting trend and a certainly not new one: big labels farming out the under 100,000 sellers to the hippest leaf/branch on their tree. For example, Astralwerks will release "Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of The Mountain" on September 25 after several records for Capitol/EMI. EMI have already bumped over Ed Harcourt and others to the hot shit acoustic-electronic label, so why not I guess. Maybe more attention, maybe not. Either way, run out and grab Dreamt because it's gorgeous and ambitious. "Some Sweet Day" will make Jon Brion lovers go bonkers. So go. (Get that?)


Thursday, August 10, 2006

KUNEK "Flight Of The Flynns"

For the rest of the summer or at least until I get back into the swing of things, this blog, originally intended on bringing you flowers from my vinyl garden, will feature new and up and coming bands. That's right. Just until I find a rainy Sunday to rip some more vinyl. That okay?

I have NOT seen Stillwater, OK's Kunek mentioned on many blogs. It's amazing how certain bands have Evel Kneivel-ed their way through the blog community, leaping several hundred bands in the process. Maybe Kunek will be one of those because their brand of "beard" rock is kinda happenin' right now. Or if it's not, it will be. Bands from places like Denton, TX (Midlake) and Bloomington, IN (Margot & Nuclear So And So's) have been holed up in their rehearsal spaces with their Rhodes', their orchestration, mimicking the best elements of Fleetwood Mac.

What Kunek's "Flight Of The Flynns" lacks in real songwriting, it makes up for in mood and soul. It's a pretty record. Maybe an American Sigur Ros or something. Lots of piano, lots of yearning guitar leads, lots of long division drum beats, and plenty of soft rocking. Kunek play Brooklyn's Union Hall on Monday, August 21. You might want to say you saw them then, instead of when they come back opening for Keane or something.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

THE FORMAT "Dog Problems"

I know that I've gone on and on about "discovery is everything" and how endearing it is to remember key people or moments in your life that have influenced you, but I really do hate it when I can't discover a band completely on my own. I guess that's harder to do really, but it was my job for years, so I pride myself on being that guy
. I hate it more when the person who turns me on to it is Graham Smith. Bastard.

I'd never heard of the Format until last week when the aforementioned "coolest person alive" IM'd me twice a day until I listened to "Dog Problems". I know he knows what I like (read: sounds like Supertramp, you're in the ballpark), but I don't trust him to tell me as he is insane mostly. As soon as I heard the pianos, the soulful yearning vocals, the stirring whirring guitars, yeah, I was hooked. The album as a whole is a nice little journey though, some baroque, some straight up power pop, it's lovely.

Sample these two tracks in 320kbps glory. I've purposely not looked up any information on the band other than I know they are playing in NYC soon (Irving?) and that they have a stillborn record on a major a few years ago. Fill me in, please, cause I need to learn.


Friday, August 04, 2006

LOVE "Forever Changes"

Aw crap. Blogs suck. They are so in danger of becoming epitaphs or headstones now. It's so late and I've just come home after a nice night with friends, it's late. And this is so awful. Arthur Lee, we'll miss you. Shit, rrrrrrrrghh.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

STRAWBS "Hero And Heroine"

What makes people, when they get older, lose interest in the things they love(d)? I mean REALLY loved. I can feel myself changing every day and yes, I don't listen to Minor Threat or Bad Brains as much as I used to, but every once and a while, I do get in a mood where I need to rock out. Sometimes I even pogo at Sloan shows like Beatle Bob. I'm not ever going to lose that feeling. I so desperately want to be 80 and reach for a Stereolab elpee.

My father had impeccable taste in music when I was a kid. His record collection littered the house with musically complicated, lyrically simple prog-rock. Yes' Fragile, In The Court Of The Crimson King, The Lamb Lies Down On least he wasn't listening to Englebert Humperdinck or Richard Clayderman or some shit. One record I vividly remember was 1974's Hero & Heroine by the Strawbs. I didn't realize how obscure it was until I grew older.

The Strawbs were British. So my father was a Britpopper? Hmmm. I really just loved looking at the bizarre album covers (post about Fleetwood Mac's Mystery To Me forthcoming) and hearing the funny blips and bleeps, the long division drumming, the classic arena rock guitar riffs. "Round And Round" had all of this and more and probably should've been a hit here in America, not sure why it wasn't.

I don't know where my father is right now. Last time I'd heard or seen from him he was waist deep into an unhealthy diet of Jimmy Buffett and Yanni. So sad. How does THAT happen? Really, I want to know. Because I never want that to happen to me.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

SLOAN "Who Taught You To Live Like That?"

Tuesday is haiku review day:

The new Sloan single
Who taught you to live like that
Is pretty damn hot


Thursday, July 27, 2006


Proof that I am still a teenager and not completely a jaded indie snob. This is the best song I've heard all year. Despite the clunky name (which made me not want to check them out), SSLYBY serve up some ebullient pop without soft serving it up emo style. Broom was self-released but is being re-released on Polyvinyl on October 22. "I Am Warm..." starts all Weezer if they were any good and didn't layer on 400 guitar tracks and then snaps into a celebratory Postal Service's "Clark Gable" as played by Voxtrot. That was the worst sentence I ever did write, but listen to the track, it's remotely accurate. And still, I love this song.

SSLYBY play NYC a few times in September, but I'll be catching them with Birdmonster and Catfish Haven at newly opened Union Hall (conflict of interest, whatever) on September 8. I love you but I've chosen someone still loves you Boris Yeltsin.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The only comments I'm getting are spam. So bored. Maybe see you guys next week. All the mp3s before July are gone. Hope you got them.

Monday, July 24, 2006


I used to have this teenage ritual where I would light up some candles and incense around 3am, be sad about nothing in particular, and play side one of Cocteau Twins' "Head Over Heels". I'm not sure what I was trying to prove, at 17, I had little to feel morose about (in hindsight), but I'm sure every high schooler did something similar. Maybe it was the growing pains of living in such a banal community, yearning to explore, something something. What I know is that "Melody Mountain" could easily replace "Head Over Heels" had it been made in 1986.

Susanna And The Magical Orchestra isn't that well known in the Americas. 2004's mostly original "List Of Lights And Buoys" was an underrated electronic gem, sparse and pretty. Susanna's cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene", though, must've struck a nerve with listeners and the band themselves as they follow up "Buoys" with the all covers collection "Melody Mountain". This year's model of This Mortal Coil perhaps?

While Nouvelle Vague is the happy-go-lucky partying younger sister, Susanna & co. is the more mature older sister with the cool record collection. It's obvious from the songs covered that Susanna is more interested in her unique reworkings of the songs than getting people to get up and bossa nova to a Modern English song. Susanna covers Scott Walker and Leonard Cohen sure, but also adds a Prince ballad and yet another version of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart". How many does that make in the last few years?

More interestingly, AC/DC's "It's A Long Way To The Top" is given the Portishead on even more Klonopin® treatment and Susanna is convincing when she sings, "getting stoned, getting beat up, broken boned" over a cocksure harpsichord. Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence" is included here today, too. "Melody Mountain" is out on August 14 on Rune Grammofon, find it if you're so inclined.

This week is new music week. I haven't ripped any new vinyl in a while, but plan to if I can find an hour or two. Friday's 21 track super fun summer mix comes down at the end of the day today, so get it while the gettin's good.


Friday, July 21, 2006

LEARN TO RELAX: Summer's Halfway Point 2006 mp3 mixtape

All of a sudden, July is almost gone. I'm not trying to depress you, seriously, it's just a fact. For the most part, it's been a mild summer in the city, though my Texan refugee friends wouldn't agree. In what I'm hoping is a regular, every 6 to 8 week thing (I guess that's not regular), I'm making a mix of really wonderful new and forthcoming music for you. Because that's what I do (see Summer Skewers). They have words for people like me. Maven. Tastemaker. You can call me Hot Chip.

Enough self congratulations, really, this mix flows very nicely and I'm hoping you'll download it today, slap it on to a cd or a folder on your iPod, and spend the weekend with it. Maybe you'll find some beach time, maybe you'll be drinking Tecate in cans on a rooftop. But this mix should get you through the midsummer doledrums.

I'm really anxious to share some amazing new tracks from Ben Kweller, Sleepy Jackson, and The Tyde. NYC bands you absolutely should know about: Rosewood Thieves, The Isles, French Kicks, and Death Vessel, all contribute fantastic melodies. New electronic yumminess from Hot Chip, Peaches and Small Sins. Thanks to Lizzy for the leadoff track, a hot jam from Gotye, that will get you to learn to relax. Really will. Wow, that Divine Comedy song sounds like a dead ringer for 10cc's "Life Is A Minestrone", no? Brothers And Sisters from Austin, you are my new favorite band, I just want more! Wait, no, you'll have to share the title with Midlake.

Please send some feedback this way so to make sure you all are enjoying your new mixtape. I'm pretty proud of how it flows, did I mention that already? I've ZIPped it so you have to grab the whole enchilada and as always, this thing will only be up for a few days, so grab it while you can. Here's to not letting the rest of the summer go to waste. Even if it's a moment's peace while the sun is beaming down on your face.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

THE FEELING "Twelve Stops And Home"

I went to see the Feeling last night. The Mercury Lounge holds about 250 people, but that's with people spilling out of the club. It was half full. No hipster bloggers, no NME groupies, not even any real record company activity (they are signed to Island here, there were only a handful of suits and they, with dour expressions). The band had apparently flown in earlier that day from London and they were faced with the 100 or so people that have found out about them through real word of mouth for their first U.S. show, I guess. They were tired, but they got revved up, the singer drinking single malt from a plastic cup.

The band is arena rock, there's no indie way around it. They drop cliches fast and furious, but there's something tender in there that makes you believe them. Some bands are good at that. The Feeling are ready for Jones Beach or Coachella, but they won't be invited yet. What they should do is tour with Phoenix and Midlake on the new classic rock tour and make painter's caps and white raglan sleeved tour shirts. OK, way off track. Anyway, yes, the singer tried too hard, did his obligatory crucified on the mike hand gestures, even going so far as to have everyone clap their hands "unless they were too cool for that". Sigh. But, but, they were brilliant, really great, tight, melodious, even though they didn't get their immediate audience ("we're used to playing for bigger crowds back home", um, duh, did you really just say that?).

What amazed me is that they had any label support at all. Island (U2, Keane) are fucking this up big time. Rolling over and playing dead, they are taking the Feeling's first UK single "Sewn" as their own, when so very obviously, the summer feel good hit, "Love It When You Call" should be the choice for the U.S. market. It's the Stacy's Mom of '06! Guess they got a free video of it (see below) or something. But while "Call" is buried on the album and the Working Class Dog aspect of it is lost on A&R guys, Twelve Stops And Home has a ton of hits, they just keep on comin'. Huey Lewis & The News' "Sports" has nothing on Twelve Stops.

I know I put this "Call" song on a mixtape a while back, but it's become a regional (zip code 11215, our backyard) hit and I feel I need to hammer home the point here. "Kettle's On" is a song the band did NOT play, maybe fearing we didn't know what a kettle was. Just give up and go with the summer hits, the schlocky cliches, the overcompressed guitars, the three part harmonies. You know you want to. And then see them when they come to town. They love it when you call.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Bare with me here. I need 8 minutes and 54 seconds of your undivided attention. This isn't one of those blogs where you scan to see which free mp3s you can add to your massive iTunes library. Nuh uh. New Thom Yorke files not here, thanks for looking.

It's been noted that I'm a big 70s soft rock (rhymes with pussy here). What really gets my bumps all goosey though is the marriage of analogue instruments with fake ones. Anytime I hear an upright clumsy piano with faux strings, a real violin with bleeping Moogs, I get absolutely crazy. Enter Mr. David Gates, leader of Yacht Rock favorites, Bread. If, Baby I'm A Want You, Make It With You (my theme song), you know the drill. He did the ballads good. You either think he's a legit influence on Josh Rouse or Kings of Convenience or you don't, I guess.

This is what happens next. If you are at work, go grab some headphones. If you are at home, go grab some headphones. Whatever you were doing, stop it. Plug in, download this track, and do NOT do anything else for nearly 9 minutes. Listen. Trust me on this one. It's hot out there, take a time out. Listen to the sound effects, the wind rushing by, the soaring strings (real or otherwise), the pleasant croon of David's voice. Wait for the song to take many detours, off ramps to Prettytown. Don't give up on it, just listen.

And get back to me.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Where'd I go?

Friday, July 14, 2006

SIREN FESTIVAL 2006 preview: Stars, Cribs, Dirty On Purpose

This weekend, thousands of hipsters will take the Q train to the Siren festival, sponsored by the Village Voice, held on a sweltering street in Coney Island. The unwashed will be wearing Sufjan Stevens t-shirts and Neighborhoodies and lilting in the 90+ degree weather waiting for the Scissor Sisters to come on. Here's a quick guide on how to avoid the headaches of Siren:

1. Pick only 2 or 3 bands to see. Hopefully they will all be playing near or around the same time. This year, unfortunately, my recommendations for Dirty On Purpose (3:30pm) and Stars (8pm), are a bit far apart. Good news is, that whole stage starting at 3:30 with DOP goes Serena Maneesh, Cribs, Art Brut, Stars. So you know where to be at least.

2. When the timeline in 1 fails you, find some key places to hang out and have fun. I always pick Ruby's up on the boardwalk. I get a corndog and a couple of Bud bottles and sit in the back, in the shade, listening to the Bobby Darin on the jukebox. If you are too hot, don't go on the beach. Hit the log flume. It's worth it and the lines usually aren't too long. A bottle of water is $2, but sitting with 3 other friends in a log boat and having water splash you all is priceless, or $4 each.

3. Don't overdo it. I know you want to hit some balls in the batting cages on Stillwell, but guess what, that shit makes you tired, fast. Also, don't stand in the street like some kid waiting for your bands to go on. You're not going to get any better position and you don't need to get any closer to Tapes N Tapes, believe me, so just stroll in from Ruby's at gametime and watch from wherever. The pavement is melting beneath your feet, don't get caught in the tar quicksand.

After you are done with all that nonsense, head to the new place in Park Slope called Union Hall, and hear Torquil from Stars and members of Dirty On Purpose spin records for you. See, they are going to be worked up, so come relax with them and tell them how much you love them.

Maybe next year Siren can move this whole thing to the beach? I mean, seriously. On the street, or sand between your toes? I pick the latter. Then we can watch people jump into the drink.

Stars THE WOODS (early demo)

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I got nothin' today, guys, sorry. Tomorrow I'll have a lovely Siren festival preview and some other goodies, but today, I've sunk to a new low. Today I present a made up EP called "Not Right Songs About Penises". I'm not exactly sure if there's a "right" song about penises, if there is, please send it this way, but use protection.

Last night I was DJ'ing and I played a track from the new Peaches CD, Impeach My Bush. I'm so convinced that Peaches is the new 2 Live Crew. Anyway, songs about penises, there are many. Ween's Flies On My Dick, um, popped up, on my iTunes, and so, of course, I had to go look for how many more might have slipped in (I'm so sorry about this post, have I said that?) to my library.

Play these for any occasion, just don't get too cocky. I can't even tell who you Poopy Pants is, but some of you will know.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

PLUSH "Three-quarters Blind Eyes" b/w "Found A Little Baby"

Wow, that was a self indulgent post yesterday. Sorry about that. Maybe I should keep this a bit more simple. Don't you people have any comments for me? I'm not even getting heckled for the Seals & Crofts? Are you summering on Nantucket? I don't think so, cause ever since the TV On The Radio post, traffic here is through the roof (Heather, you reading this?).

Nineteen ninety-four
The best single of that year
Was this one from Plush

There, 45rpm haikus. We'll add that to the many bad themes I've come up with. Turn this one up loud, it's lovely.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

SEALS & CROFTS "Diamond Girl"

It's amazing how much you learn about yourself by listening to music you've owned since you were 5. It's also fascinating that people can keep these little possessions in their lives for so long without really cherishing them, looking at them, taking them out and doing whatever it is you're supposed to do with them. I only wish I still had some of the things I've cherished over the years cause it's also hard to keep things in one place and in one piece (for me). Girls are good, I think, at keeping jewelry, that makes sense to me. Boys, not so much, maybe baseball cards, or albums? Is that too 1950s of me? Still, we keep these items, and, why do we keep moving them from place to place with us? Are they worth something? Who knows?

This is the first album I truly consider owning. I stole it from my cousin Guy when I was 5 (he's not mad). I wrote my first name on the left lampshade and my last name on the right lamp shade. You can't see it, I stole that image from the interweb. I had some 45s before that, but this was a big piece of art that I could look at all day. I remember being fascinated by the inside cover. It's a picture of Seals and Crofts with their wives, holding babies. Seals' wife was black. I don't know why I was so enamored, but it's amazing to think of how I grew up and how I've applied certain ways of thinking about love, respect, and consideration, because, maybe, of the photo on the inside of this album. They all looked so in love and happy and I'm glad I thought that was completely normal. I'm rambling...

Oh, this album also puts me squarely (no pun intended cause one's coming up) in Culpeper, Virginia, summer of 1974. We'd driven down from NJ in our yellow VW Squareback (I told you) to visit my Aunt Cecelia. I got chicken pox and her next door neighbor, Bunny, made me Rice Krispie treats. I fell in love with the sound of this record from the second the needle hit the groove. This and the Godspell soundtrack. Dudes, I was 5, cut me some slack. The intro to "Diamond Girl" sounded so unique to me. Amazing it still holds up. I'm so glad this is the way we remember things.

"Summer Breeze" is on this album. Yeah, it was the big hit, you've heard it. But I liked the whole album, too, which could be why I like to investigate full albums still. I've delivered the title track and the gorgeous "We May Never Pass This Way Again". Oh, Seals' brother is England Dan of John Ford Coley fame, wanted to mention that.

So what have I learned about myself today? My cousin Guy had great taste in music (I didn't mention I'd "borrowed" his copy of Kraftwerk's Autobahn, too). Interracial marriage is beautiful (as a more broad political statement, and no, I don't have jungle fever). Beards are cool. I like pussy 70s soft rock. Rice Krispie treats are still good. Listening to full albums as opposed to getting the greatest hits is a wise move. So, now I know why I keep these LPs. I can remember, I can learn about myself, to see how things early on have influenced me now. Is that weird?


Friday, July 07, 2006

MIDLAKE "The Trials Of Van Occupanther"
MIDLAKE "Bamnan And Slivercork"

NEWSFLASH! Classic rock has infiltrated indie rock. Yes, it's been going on for some time now, even before Karate starting doing Steely Dan inspired imitations. But, now, you can go to your uber snot friend's parties and no longer are they ashamed of a little Fleetwood Mac or Supertramp popping up on the iTunes, rather, they rejoice! Classic rock has gotten smarter, too, in the process. The "don't stop, thinkin' about tomorrow" lyrics have been traded in for more subtle and poetic imagery, more articulate heartbreak, and, while, less fun, more substantial.

From the opening piano of "Roscoe", Midlake definitely channel the aforementioned "Mac" adding soulful harmonies and a touch of Chris Rea or Boz Scaggs shuffle. I'm so glad that indie rock has taken this off ramp into a village way more interesting than Woweezoweetown or Doolittleville. I mean, for starters, the guitars are kinda in tune. It's smoother and more listener friendly, possibly, but delicious, a big wonderful AM radio vanilla milkshake and I'm spilling it all down the front of my shirt.

Midlake are from Denton, TX, which tells me they've been holed up refining their sound and songs without much distraction from their immediate surroundings. I missed the boat on their first LP, Bamnan And Silvercork, but their upcoming second album, The Trials Of Van Occupanther, will certainly make the rounds. It's out on July 25th on the Bella Union label. They also play three area shows (if your area is the 212 or 718), two at Mercury Lounge and one at Southpaw, July 28, 29, and 30 respectively.

I know the blogs have been hyping the hell out of Midlake, but it's justified. I'm posting two tracks that I love, but also ones that have been posted widely before, in consideration to the band, because you need to run out and get both albums, immediately. Now. And then go grab Fleetwood Mac's Mystery To Me and the Eagles' On The Border if you're feeling sassy.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

TWINN CONNEXION "Twinn Connexion"

What a very special treat I have for you today. I think alternate side parking mornings really inspire me. Not unlike my recent post on Lazy Smoke, today's post is all about flowery psych pop, so tune out now if bendy jangly guitars, hippy dippy lyrics, and the occasional sitar isn't really your cup of Earl Grey. Shit, even if it isn't, keep reading, because the Twinn Connexion are one of the most fascinating groups, like, ever.

Twinn Connexion's only release came out in 1968 on Decca Records. Twin brothers from Helena, Montana, Jay & Jerry Hopkins wore matching white suits with green ascots on the cover of their trippy soft pop masterpiece. I could envision them making a guest appearance in Peter Sellers' "The Party" or as boardwalk performers in "I Love You Alice B. Toklas". Or maybe friends of the Monkees or the Sandpipers. When I saw this album in the used bin at Sam's Jams in Detroit back in the early 90s for a dollar, I had no idea what a collector's item it was, I just bought it, for the bizarre factor.

The album has its share of misfires, in fact, some record company stooge probably sequenced the damned thing, as I nearly never got past the first two tracks, Sixth Avenue Stroll and I Think I'll Go And Find Me A Flower. The lyrics on Sixth Avenue Stroll perplex me: "There's a man with a funny cigar who's with a funny man, and I'll bet that, that funny cigar, just doesn't understand". No amount of acid can make me wrap my head around that one. But, the rest of the album, is a delight. Totally fucked up but gorgeous arrangements, some Left Banke harpsichords, some Moody Blues B-3, a ton of Laugh-In backbeats.

I got very very curious about re-issuing this a year or two back. I even managed to track down Jerry (thanks to musical knowitall, Dawn Eden), who was living in New York City. Sadly, his brother died several years ago, but he was nice enough to send me a mastered cd copy of the album plus tracks that never got released. So nice. I really had plans to tell the world about them, much like I did with the Poppy Family, but my label hasn't been able to make enough money to sustain sigh here.

I hope you dig, and that's the proper word here really, the tracks I'm posting here for you. If you can track down the whole album, it's worth your time and money. As far as I know, there may be some bootleg cds out there, but it's never had a proper re-issue. Twinn Connexion, you're nuts, I'm crazy, but I love you.