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.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

THE LUCY SHOW "Extended Play EP"

That was a long bender I just came off of. It won't happen again, promise. When they (the man) stick 4th of July on a Tuesday, however, what else can you do but drink and eat for a week straight?

When I really think about it, it amazes me that MTV had any influence on me at all. Seriously. When 120 Minutes debuted, though, it was absolutely wonderful. They played indie bands. Can you even imagine? J.J. Jackson, Kevin Seal, and even Dave Kendall hosted the show which debuted in 1986, good timing as it coincided with my junior and senior years of high school. Did I mention they played indie bands? They essentially took a peek at the CMJ top 10 and played videos from those bands as well as a smattering of other stuff. But think about it, bands like Jazz Butcher, Railway Children, Felt, and Let's Active all were shown on this show.

One band I instantly fell in love with was the Lucy Show. Their video for "A Million Things" hit all the right notes for me. Mark Bandola looked like a flailing marionette in the video, romping from room to room in a submarine. It only took that one song to know I needed more.

Extended Play came after a couple of singles. They'd already signed to A&M, but needed another EP for indie sake, I suppose. It's not nearly my favorite, but kinda hard to find, and worth listening to. Their entire catalogue, actually, has been, or was, impossible to find. The small indie, Words On Music, though, just re-issued Mania, their second album, on cd. Read all about it and buy it here. Still, now they need to re-issue, the first LP, Undone, and all the singles....

I'll have some really fun stuff coming up, I need to rip more vinyl. I've also decided that while my blog was intended to be for the purpose of making me transfer my albums to my iTunes library, I'm just going to post what I want, when I want. Don't tell me I can't. It'll be 95% a music blog, though. See you tomorrow, really.