Friday, January 26, 2007

THE ASSOCIATES "The Affectionate Punch"
hollAnd "The Paris Hilton Mujahideen"

I picked both of these songs before I knew what kind of angle I was going to use or what I was going to say at all. Sometimes I have a good idea of why I'm posting music, but also sometimes, like when I DJ or make mixes for people, I have no idea why I'm merging songs/artists/moods, it happens without effort. I don't know if that makes me lucky or dumb or a bit of both. Probably just dumb.

The Associates are an acquired taste. Their dramatic presentation coupled with their sparse arrangements are unique. Yes, they were likely the new wave children circa 1981 who were weaned on a diet of glammy 70s rockers like Bowie and Bolan, and they likely inspired bands like Pulp and The Auteurs, but the Associates don't get enough credit for sticking out like a sore thumb in a crowded new wave scene. I have to admit, I have a hard time listening to complete Associates records, but this newly remastered version of The Affectionate Punch is worth a listen. "Janice" pretty much gets me good.

hollAnd could've existed as part of the early Factory, early Rough Trade scene, too, but as it is, here they are in 2007 with their first new record in 10 years for the 90s and 00s equivalent of the aforementioned labels, Teenbeat. Trevor Kampmann has his hand in a lot of pies, but it's this "rock" return to form that people should be thrilled about. Most of the songs come in at 2 minutes or under, but they are filled with hooks, sparse compressed production, and you don't have time to get sick of them. The sound is very unique, very hollAnd. Yes, sometimes the vocals are hauntingly familiar, very Imperial f.f.r.r. era Unrest. Funny coincidence? You make the call.

So I've said the word "unique" a few times here and that's no backhanded compliment. I've always felt that a band should gain some merit if you can recognize them amongst the sea of contenders. In pop music, it's just too easy to sound like someone else, especially as time goes on. So cheers to the Associates and hollAnd...


Thursday, January 25, 2007

DEAN & BRITTA "Back Numbers"

A big big big shoutout to Data Rescue II (Electric Bugaloo) for managing to save 31,000 songs off my failed to mount LaCie 160GB drive. Thing is, once I erased that drive, it was fine. I was panicky that 4 years of burning my cds and lps (and subsequently getting rid of some (trust me I have too much music)) had amounted to zero. So, don't be surprised if there is a flurry of activity in the coming days. Speaking of, it's snowing in Brooklyn!

OK, back to Little Elpees and the post I wanted to make last week when said hard drive went soft. Luna. Hmmm. You knew about Dean Wareham's appreciation for French pop, his penchant for smart without being alecky melodies, the band's driving, almost jam band like performances, but for me, Luna was up and down when it came to listening to complete records. Don't get me wrong, I adored Luna, but let's just say I understand why artists disband fine groups in their prime. They don't want to repeat themselves. That and they are likely in debt, ahem.

That's why I'm thrilled about Dean & Britta. He (and she) can now make completely different records, and they are. This is a candidate for album of the year (I know it's only January, but you have to say these things out loud to remember in December). Back Numbers is filled with Gainsbourg-esque shuffles, girl group ebullience, and some very very wonderful songs. Songs, people, songs. Songs are everything. Unless they're not. Oh, and the vibes on this record, the vibes. No, the actual vibraphone. It's really something.

Listen to Britta belt out "You Turned My Head Around" and tell me if your curiosity isn't completely piqued. Thanks also to Mike Fleming for his good advice on the hard drive meltdown. I learned a valuable lesson. There is no amount of money I shouldn't spend to protect my music. It is the most important thing to me. If you are reluctant to spend 150 clams on a backup drive for your iTunes library, learn from me, do it, right now, baby.

Dean & Britta play Union Hall in Brooklyn tonight, January 25.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007


This guy is outta control. I wish I had some coke. Update to my hard drive woes coming soon, but I have two people to thank.... Roger isn't one of them.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

FIONN REGAN "Be Good Or Be Gone"

I lost 31,000 songs when my LaCie 160GB hard drive filled with music failed to mount yesterday. My computer finds the drive in Disk Utility and Disk Warrior, but can't manage to mount the drive. And that, my friends, sucks a big bag of dicks, because I spent the better part of 4 years burning my collection, etc. So I can't share with you right now. Not like I want to. But enjoy this lovely video from Irish lad, Fionn Regan. He's playing tonight at Union Hall in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

LONEY, DEAR "Loney Noir"

I was trying to think of some grand articulate way of stating the following: I hate twee, I love boys who sing like girls. Does that make sense? I love orchestration. I love when you feel someone has put very much of themselves into a piece of music. I think that Swedes and the Japanese can get away with using cliches in music because sometimes they are so damned cute and convincing. But I hate twee.

From the nanosecond I heard the opening notes of "Sinister In A State Of Hope" from Loney, Dear's upcoming "Loney Noir" offering, I was hooked. I knew it was going to be for me, especially if I could overcome the fact that this band was very close to another "Sinister" band the twee crowd seem to have made the new Smiths. I liked that last B&S record though, I really did. They just lost me around the "Seymour Stein" bullshit.

OK, back to the Loneys. I've been playing Loney Noir now for the better part of '06, I'd really been meaning to share it with Little Elpeesers and it's finally seeing a release on the, ahem, emo friendly Sub Pop label. They are also coming stateside for some shows. I suggest you go. That is, if you dig the following samples. I dig and had to dig deep to get their whole catalogue. I prefer Citadel Band to Sologne or The Year Of River Fontana, their previous three albums, but it was fun to discover. Always is.

SATURDAY WAITS (from Loney Noir)

I DO WHAT I CAN (from Citadel Band)

Monday, January 08, 2007


UPDATE: Hey, sorry, tried to post this, hours ago, but for some reason my Fetch wasn't working. Don't be surprised if there's a new post very shortly after this...

I discovered Ash very shortly after their first single or two dropped. A friend from Minneapolis raved about the teenaged Northern Ireland punky trio and I bought in. "Kung Fu" was incredible and I was looking for a way out of a fey pop tent I'd constructed for myself. I needed some rock and Ash was just what the doctor ordered. They had some missteps (2000's Nu-Clear Sounds comes to mind though if I re-immersed myself in it I'd likely come to love it), for the most part though, I followed their career from the early 90's gritty punk darlings to the power pop heroes to.....what? (insert sound of needle scratching off the side of a record here)

Wait, what's this, you're adding a girl to the band? Was this the record company's idea? Are one of you sleeping with her? Yoko? What? Well, I was surprised they'd enlisted Charlotte Heatherley on second guitar and vocals sometime around 1998, but when Free All Angels came out, I was fully comfortable and impressed with the new addition. I remember that summer, that record, was so absolutely perfect, mostly because it felt like such a summer record. "Sometimes" and "Shining Light" killed me dead in my tracks.

Ash released a pretty hardcore heavy metal pop record in 2004 with "Meltdown" and it struggled to find an audience over here. Charlotte surprised me again by jettisoning the band, amicably it should be noted. She promptly released a very solid solo record "Grey Will Fade". "Bastardo" wore on me after a while, but "Kim Wilde", "Summer", and "Paragon" were true examples of jagged little power pop, think if Juliana Hatfield had any confidence and a distortion pedal.

Charlotte's about to launch another album and here's the first single. It's a hip grinder, it didn't hit me the first listen, but now it's hitting me pretty hard. There's nothing out there like it and that's probably the best thing anyone can say about it. It's not going to make you dance, but it revs you up to hear more.... stay tuned.


KIM WILDE (from Grey Will Fade)