Thursday, February 22, 2007

THE SEA AND CAKE "Everybody"

Whoa. The Sea And Cake have made a classic rock album. Parts yacht rock, parts dueling guitars, parts bouncy 60s pop, Everybody is certainly for everybody. I'm smitten after two listens. What grabs you is the actual sound of this record, a little different from their previous offerings. My favorite song so far is "Middlenight", almost like a slowed down "Too Young" (see Phoenix). In fact, there's quite a few Steely Dan-isms in there which shouldn't surprise fans of TS&C, but what should....the verse chorus verses.... it's a complete pop record. Run, don't crawl, to your local record store on May 8 and buy a copy for a friend or someone who needs a shot of sunny spring melodies.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

THE RESEARCH "Breaking Up"
MOI CAPRICE "The Art Of Kissing Properly"

I'm about to say something really deep. Not, really. Every song ever is about love. There you go. Seriously. So, this is the day that we are told we are supposed to be in love or show our significant other how much we love them. Thankfully, mine let me off the hook this year because she wants to go to a party instead. Good, because I'm burnt out and have a problem with people telling me to do things, even Cupid
. Can't every day be Valentine's Day? Oh, sigh.

Have I posted about the Research? I didn't bother to check if I have, but even if I have, please please please seek out "Breaking Up". This amazing trio do amazing things with a Yamaha Portasound that's been duct taped together, a bass guitar, drums, and cocky, but vulnerable ba-bas. "I love you, but I'm scared I'll fuck it up" has to be the best lyric of last year. The whole record is dynamic and very special. Send this song to your special Valentine.

Going the other way are Denmark's Moi Caprice who are set to play their first US shows soon. An unreal thing about Scandavians, they can SING. All of them. Name a band from Denmark, Sweden, or Norway, and you can bet, even if you don't dig their music, they can sing like no one's business. Maybe they were weaned on ABBA or at least a-ha. Moi's "I Hate The Place But I Go There To See You" comes from "The Art Of Kissing Properly" and is a little more sentimental and less cheeky than the Research.

Happy be in love day. Hope it works out for you. You can always go outside and make snow angels today.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

ACE "Five-A-Side"
AL STEWART "Time Passages"

Doing a lot with very little. That's the theme of today's Little Elpees post. Also, it reveals what many people know about me. I am a complete pussy. Today I present to you, two very ace songs
. Get ready to board the yacht, I have some Harvey's Bristol Cream waiting.

OK, grab your bass guitar. You don't have one? OK, grab a rubberband. Now, pluck it like this: "bum....bum bum, bum....bum bum". Do that over and over and sing as many pretty melodies as you can over it. Seriously. You don't need a piano or guitar or skin flute to write this song, just do it. How do you think Ace came up with their 1975 super soft rock megahit (#3 on Billboard)? Same way, baby. After his stint in Ace, Paul Carrack ended up in Squeeze just in time to sing "Tempted". Dumb luck.

The 1978 version of "How Long" comes courtesy of Al Stewart, best known for inventing the "Year Of The Cat" (the Chinese calendar had it as Year of the Pussy but changed it on Al's urging). His "How Long" is called "Song On The Radio" and it's nearly identical down to the bum-bumbum bass and the soft as cotton Rhodes piano, except for some saucy saxophone (way overdoes it, but who cares, you have to fill 6 minutes up somehow) and some wanky guitar fills.

Enjoy the silky smooth and I'll see you tomorrow with something more 2007 and rock for the weekend.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

FIELD MUSIC "Tones Of Town"
YES "Time And A Word"

My pal Liz is going to have a fit over today's post, but she totally saw it coming
. Hit her Headphones On blog after you read this, she's got some lovely songs to warm you up during this arctic bullshit.

So quickly, as I'm hungry for lunch.... Field Music are a super trio from Sunderland, UK who maintain that they love Squeeze. I think they are prog-rock, Liz disagrees. Not sure how the Brewis brothers feel about that one. They are underrated and are poised to release a fancy new album called "Tones Of Town" soon. If you like your pop with some long division, this one's for you. It's for me too.

Yes are a band that my father got me into by placing a ginormous set of headphones on my head at age 4 and making me listen to Long Distance Runaround until I fell asleep. It never worked. You can make fun of me for having sentimental issues with Yes, but you do have to admit, they stole one of the best band names of all time (please leave your vote for best band name of all time in the comments section, all rights reserved, ahem).

Seperated at birth? You decide. Make up your mind, make up your mind.


Friday, February 02, 2007

THE SECRET STARS "The Secret Stars"

I may have gone a little too far today. But I don't mind at all
. Since I'm back on board with my iTunes library and sexy Seagate 300GB hard drive, I've been creating all sorts of playlists. For example, one's called Crazy Covers, and holy shit, it's crazy! But I wanted to make an 80s one, because I was kind of out to prove a point: that not all pop hits of the 80s sucked. I'm more of a hits of the 70s kinda guy anyway as I fell hook, line, and stinker for stuff like Gilbert O'Sullivan, Sweet, anything K-Tel. Once I got My Aim Is True on vinyl though, I pretty much ignored the schlocky awfulness of stuff like DeBarge and Miami Sound Machine.

So, back to finding a needle in a haystack. For every Naked Eyes song, I had to endure a Survivor one. I was finding most of the hits I could tolerate were of the new wave era. Until I re-discovered a lost classic from 1987 from Bourgeois Tagg. Remember, this was the "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" era. Pebbles and Cutting Crew ruled the school. So, it's shocking to hear the humble simplicity, the soaring strings, the Todd Rundgren production, the overall prettiness of something like "I Don't Mind At All". I don't remember being too in love with it since it was an MTV hit and I was probably at City Gardens moshing at a Ramones show. Time heals the wounds. Or am I crazy?

Upon listening this morning to the plaintive crooning of Bourgeois or Tagg or who knows, I was reminded of another similiar croon. The one of Geoff Farina of Karate/Secret Stars. I'm convinced he would've been the singer in Steely Dan had he been born 20 years earlier. Or am I crazy? It's also an exercise in why something is a hit or why it isn't. I mean, the Secret Stars are even unknown in indie circles, let alone close to scraping the bottom of any kind of chart. But it IS curious to see how close things can be and couldn't be farther apart.

I'm rambling and making no sense. But I don't mind at all. Pray for snow this weekend.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

THE AMERICAN BREED "Lonely Side Of The City"

Some oldies but goodies today on Little Elpees and finally a return to my vinyl collection, albeit a little cheating. When I was at the peak of my vinyl buying days, I would go through little phases. One such phase was collecting any record with a cover of "God Only Knows" on it. That's definitely another post or fifty. For awhile though I started to notice artists covering a little song from the mid 60's A&M Records' soft rock era called "To Put Up With You".

"To Put Up With You" was penned by Paul Williams, but like life in the Bacharach/Randy Newman era, it wasn't typically the author who was known for the hit version, rather the song was sold or covered. Not that TPUWU was a hit anyway, at least not a monster. Paul Williams is best known for being the lovable twee character that would show up on the Muppet Show or any other variety show of the late 70s (or his sublime role in Smokey & The Bandit). His "Someday Man" album is a gem, very underrated, and a classic soft rock staple if you are into The Association, The Left Banke, or Sagittarius. He's likely living off the royalties from delivering such classics as "We've Only Just Begun" to the Carpenters or "Evergreen" to Barbra Streisand.

The American Breed were best known for their hippy-dippy "Bend Me, Shape Me" single which hit #5 in 1967. Their version of TPUWU ended up on a later era record called "Lonely Side Of The City". I never knew what to make of the American Breed. They exuded some soul, but some flowery pop, too, definitely a unique combination, though I don't reach for their elpees as much.

I own both of these on vinyl. However, I saw this Paul Williams album for download somewhere and I grabbed it, so you're
very likely getting a decent version of this. TPUWU is a strange song, perhaps not exactly misogynistic, but a sad tale about a vain women and the man who just can't deal, would maybe rather hit the pub. Sigh.