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.