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.