Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Find My Soul

Song: Find My Soul
Artist: Sally Shapiro
Album: Disco Romance

Sally Shapiro is yet another Swede making great pop music you probably haven’t heard before. Her debut album, “Disco Romance” comes out in April, a cute slice of mid-tempo electronica that reminds me of a less-pop Dido, or Annie at her more mellow moments. It’s very much a “clean-the-house” record as it sort of seeps into the background and doesn’t command too much attention. That is not a bad thing, because I actually quite like the album, it just doesn’t overdue it with the in-your-face pop hooks. Are we sure she’s Swedish?

“I’ll Be By Your Side” is the first single, but I am gravitating more toward third track “Find My Soul.” It’s a little 80’s, a touch cheesy… but I don’t know I just LIKE it. Sally is unassuming enough, maybe I’m just routing for an unconventional pop star. Apparently she doesn’t do interviews, which may prove an issue with getting her out there. You can hear more tracks on her MySpace page.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My Violent Heart

Song: My Violent Heart
Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Album: Year Zero

I have just been made aware of the interesting marketing plan being put into the new Nine Inch Nails album “Year Zero” which is set for release in April. “Year Zero” is a concept album set 15 years in the future painting “a world where greed and power continue to run their likely course,” and “The world has reached the breaking point— politically, spiritually and ecologically." So said lead nail and creative mastermind, Trent Reznor in a statement.

More details on the story and the plan can be found in this Rolling Stone article. Pretty fascinating. I read that the song “My Violent Heart” had been leaked on the internet last night and further research shows that many more have, but they may actually be part of the plan and not a true “leak.” All four “leaked” “Year Zero” tracks can be found here, which looks just like one of the multiple sites in this complicated network. “Survivalism” has been slated as the first single, and sounds like vintage Nine Inch Nails, though I am currently feeling “My Violent Heart” a bit more.

While they are not saying outright that they are officially giving these songs away, I really believe it’s a good move. A similar tactic was used to promote Tegan & Sara’a last album “So Jealous” where three full songs were posted as free downloads on their official site, including single “Walking With The Ghost” a good month and a half before release date. I was listening to these songs constantly and bought the record as soon as it came out.

I’ve been a fan of Nine Inch Nails since the release of the “Broken” EP back in 1992. It remains my favorite complete work by Trent, though I also really love the more dancy debut “Pretty Hate Machine” and the pop-industrial blockbuster “The Downward Spiral.” I got a little lost (as did the majority of his audience) with the bloated double album “The Fragile.” As much as I tried to like it I found the multiple instrumentals and slow pacing ultimately boring, which could never be said of any prior work. 2005’s “With Teeth” was a step back into the right direction and while I didn’t LOVE it as a whole, it included some great singles, including “Hand That Feeds” and “Only.”


Here are some vintage Nine Inch Nails videos to enjoy:


March of the Pigs

We're In This Together

Monday, February 26, 2007

Are You Alright?

Song: Are You Alright?
Artist: Lucinda Williams
Album: West

Lucinda Williams is a national treasure.

One of the most important figures in contemporary folk/country singer-songwriters, Williams has released just eight records in her twenty-eight year career. This month saw the release of her eighth, “West.” Lucinda had been known for not being very prolific and at worst, a neurotic control freak perfectionist. This reputation began to take hold when she took six years to follow up 1992’s “Sweet Old World,” re-recording the entire album and mixing and remixing each track until it was “right.” That album would be “Car Wheel’s On A Gravel Road” which was released in 1998 on Lost Highway. “Wheels” can only be described as a true masterpiece, a perfect album in every way. The wait proved to be worth it as it was hailed as the top album by many critics and won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album, and her first to go gold. It was the first record I had gotten of Lucinda’s and I immediately fell in love.

I had missed the boat at first with “Wheels,” not hearing the record until 2001, just in time for her sooner-than-expected follow up, “Essence.” While much more downbeat, I still flipped for “Essence” and its sexy southern-gothic charm. Because I couldn’t get enough, I went back and obtained her dynamic self titled album from 1988 and “Sweet Old World.” Like “Car Wheels,” “Lucinda Williams” sounded like a perfect record, and way too interesting than most pop-country of the time. (Though Mary Chapin Carpenter scored a huge hit with a cover of Lucinda’s “Passionate Kisses” taken from the self-titled album.) “Sweet Old Word” has many a great song, but is weary and a little too sad for my taste. (Though no Lucinda fan should really be without it, especially for “I Just Want to See You So Bad.”)

Just two years after “Essence,” Williams returned with another album, 2003’s “World Without Tears.” The songs are amazing, and I am very fond of the record… though for the first time the album didn’t feel like a whole work, a bit all over the place bouncing from up tempo rockers to slow ballads, with some blues-like “rapping” on a few tracks. I am feeling the same about “West” from my first few listens, though am still taking my time with it. “Are You Alright?” opens the album, immediately reminding me of “Essence” opener “Lonely Girls.” It has a slow, almost hypnotic build, with a repeated phrase that slowly gets under your skin. I think it’s an odd choice for first single, but like most of Lucinda’s work, (and arguably Williams herself) it defies pigeonholing.

If you are starting out with Lucinda I think it’s best to begin with “Car Wheels” which was just recently re-issued, the self titled album is not far behind in greatness… I highly recommend that one as well.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Criticar Por Criticar

Song: Criticar Por Criticar
Artist: Fangoria
Album: El Extraño Viaje

In Spain, Fangoria have Madonna status as the pop band of the moment. Last year saw the release of “El Extraño Viaje” which continued in their guitar driven electro-pop vein. The band is comprised of lead singer Alaska and Nacho Canut who originally formed a different band, Alaska y los Pegamoides in 1977. They changed their name in 1982 and then again after group member Carlos Berlanga left in 1989 to “Fangoria” after the American horror enthusiast magazine. The new vibe was emphasized by songs such as "La rebelión de los electrodomésticos" or "The household appliance rebellion".

My friend Harley, whom I went to visit while there, was hearing lots about the band there and recommended I check them out. While we were in Sitges, a seaside town about 40 kilometers southwest of Barcelona for Carnival, we saw a Fangoria themed float during the parade which featured a slew of people dressed up like Alaska. I took a little video of it on my camera:

I am not sure which song that is playing during this clip… it’s honestly so hard to figure out when the songs aren’t in English! I must say though, the couple songs that I have heard form them are impressive musically. For the most part, as I paid attention to the music being played around when I was there, the Spanish language songs came off as a bit goofy or a little dated. Fangoria in general sounds very current to me, and their current hit, “Criticar Por Criticar” even sounds a bit like the Scissor Sisters “Filthy/Georgeous.” Harley said that Fangoria are known just as well for their lyrical content (biting, sarcastic, and funny) as their groovy beats. They seem to have an outrageous “life’s a party” image, as evident in the official music video for “Criticar Por Criticar”:

In general, as I listened to the music being played in Spain I was surprised at how little it changed from place to place, or more-so just the variety in what was played. Indie dance-pop would be followed by a Madonna song, then something from Kylie or Robbie Williams, then even an old washed up goofy hit from years ago like “Mambo #5.” And oddly, songs like that and “The Macarena” were played without irony… the crowd got into it! Overall, as I knew, Europeans have a bigger interest in pop music of all genres as well as underground dance tunes. I also heard a lot of remixes and mash-ups being played from 80’s new wave stuff and 90’s pop. It was really something.

While in Sitges for Carnival, the parade consisted of several floats all blaring different types of music. While Harley pointed out the Fangoria float, we also witnessed a Queen themed float which had all the male and female dancers dressed as Freddie Mercury. But consistently, everything was upbeat and rooted in dance music… basically anything from 70’s disco to the present. I found this video of some the insanity I found myself in, so you can get an idea of what it was like:

All of this was a reminder at how much I wished we were a bit more musically adventurous here in the states. I love seemingly random playlists and that’s how it was in Spain. What was missing, and very odd for someone so use to pop music here, is the lack of hip hop being played. It’s just not as big there as it is here and in other parts of the world. So while diverse, they obviously lean toward things that are relevant within their culture. And while some Spanish language pop was played, it seemed English pop songs were in the majority.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Get It (The DFA Demo)

Song: Get It (The DFA Demo)
Artist: Britney Spears
Album: Unreleased

So what is up with Britney?

I would never say that I was a fan of Britney Spears, yet I have always felt a certain affinity for the girl and have often defended her when she is bad-mouthed. I don’t quite understand why, maybe it’s a big-brother instinct… but I often feel like she is treated unjustly, and a good example how f’d-up our current celebrity culture, and partly culture in general is.

Even though I was in Spain and not really following anything that was going on the world (pop culture included) we received the brief news that Britney had shaved her head via a local Spanish paper while in the seaside town of Sitges. Because my Spanish is about as good as my knowledge of pop-country… all we really knew was that Britney shaved her head and saw the picture. I knew nothing of the rehab or the “she’s out of control” media blitz that was happening just about everywhere else. Now that I’m back I’ve been subjected to all the articles, the negative as always New York Post cover story, and the Inside Hollywood Edition Tonight “news” programs that love to rip apart the celebrity lifestyle while making serious money from it.

Briefly the story of Britney Spears goes like this… Cute girl from small town Louisiana who auditions like crazy, gets on the Mickey Mouse Club, gets a record deal (after many many auditions and failures) releases her first single and watches it and it’s accompanying album soar to the top of the charts. Multiple number ones (and constant judgment of her budding sexuality and image) later… this girl had become the reigning teen pop queen with millions of global fans, but watched as her albums sold less (partly due, no doubt, to shrinking music sales in general and the quick death of teen pop) and her behavior constantly scrutinized. Her relationship with Justin Timberlake ended and watched his solo record spawn multiple hits (including the Britney bashing hit single and video “Cry Me A River”) while she tried to muster hit singles from her latest (and frankly best) album “In The Zone.” “Toxic” was pretty big, “Everytime” was part embarrassing and also confusing, and then suddenly she was with some backup dancer who sort of looked like Vanilla Ice, married, and having two kids. She retreated from the spotlight only to be hounded like never before… she entered a gas station barefoot, split from the hubby via text message which was caught on camera (are we really to believe this?) and now has been partying with Paris Hilton and supposedly “going crazy.” (Note that only about half of this paragraph could actually be proven with fact.)

Because of my little knowledge of the event this whole hair cutting thing was fascinating to me (As Britney, for unknown reasons) always seems to be. I thought that it could possibly be a way to “ugly” herself to try to disinterest the prying photographers that hound her… though that doesn’t really make sense, and only compounds the problem. Then I thought this was a spiritual thing, cutting her locks to “cut away” some of the negativity she’s been through… a failed marriage, a questionable career, it was a “re-birth” so to speak… something she’s been hinting at (though completely obtusely) in the “Everytime” music video. And then I thought it could just be a total re-imagining of the Britney image. I imagined a futurist, bald, completely hot Britney in a techno-cool video matched with a hot elctro track that would symbolize Brit 2.0.

But instead what we are being fed is that she is an out of control party girl, estranged by her family, and on a number of drugs, cocaine, ecstasy, you name it. And the hair cutting was just an awful “in the gutter” moment and a symbol that the girl has absolutely lost control. And here is where I get angry.

The facts are, Britney is just one of millions of kids in this country and around the world that like to go out, party, have drinks, and yes… experiment with drugs. What we are being told, for the most part, is that if you do any drugs you will be hooked, immediately be on a downward spiral, and your life will undoubtedly end unless you repent and, if you’re a celebrity, go into rehab. Rehab is the new hot local for celebrities that need an image boost because some drunk as hell annoying tart caught said celebrity cutting loose and took a shot on their camera phone. What is little reported are the number of people that do let loose, act the fool from time to time, yet maintain jobs and continue to be successful. That said, because I have spent my entire work experience as a semi-corporate cog with very little feeling of actual control in my life, I would have no idea what it would feel like to actually be wealthy enough to do what I wanted. It has effected star after star and this happens, no doubt, due to the higher class we put them in. It’s like giving candy to a baby and then slapping it when he eats it. Ugh.

And why is it that when Justin Timberlake brags about doing drugs and is even smoking a joint with the interviewer from Rolling Stone (they were in Amsterdam) for a recent cover story, it is treated with a sense of street-cred, and not proof positive that his life is out of control and headed for a breakdown? Simply, woman are still held up to a double-standard, and our culture seems to love to rake them through the coals. As Britney grew into her sexuality and gave the public what they asked for (young girls looking like they want sex) she was ridiculed and constantly scrutinized. And mostly, it should be pointed out, by woman. Britney poses suggestively on the cover of Rolling Stone and she’s a slut, Justin poses shirtless and it’s “Wow, I didn’t realize how cut he was.” Now imagine if HE was the gay “one” in N’SYNC.

I get really fired up about this because there is seemingly nothing positive that we get from our sick interest in celebrity culture and their lives. Why do we need to see pictures of underwear-free Britney? Does that really make her a bad person? I mean… really. Any why is it that a movie can be shot with seemingly willing actors yet if proper clearance and permissions are not signed off on, the film will never see the light of day… yet anyone with a camera can take pictures of anyone and sell them to the highest bidder. Why is someone peeking in the bushes and sneaking looks is a stalker but with a camera they are just paparazzi and doing their job? Honestly, the best thing we could do in this country is simply make it illegal to take someone’s picture without consent. It makes sense and would elevate our culture with that simple step.

So I defend Britney, and the possible “mess” that her life might be right now. I see pictures of heroin and crack addicted former Libertines singer Pete Dougherty and think the guy looks like he just got out of the gutter. But Britney, even bald, looks pretty okay. (Maybe it’s the Californian sun.) Or maybe this IS some strange marketing scheme to re-claim, and re-imagine, her career. I have no idea any more. We are constantly lied to by the media and press and artists representatives… what do we believe? Lindsay Lohen is late for work and we are told it’s from exhaustion or an appendicitis, or… hell I don’t know I don’t pay attention enough to know. But then all of a sudden she’s in rehab! And is she really there to help herself or is it for publicity and the public’s sake? We’ll never know, and nor should we care. Lindsay… just do a good movie!

The one hiccup in my affinity for Britney is the fact that… I don’t think she’s probably a very good “artist.” She’s an entertainer for sure, and a killer one, but her diary-talk songs she’s written or co-written are pretty… well, let’s just say Fiona Apple need not lose sleep. Early last year a demo was leaked of a song she did with New York hipster-dance remixers the DFA. They have remixed the likes of the Gorillaz, Nine Inch Nails, Junior Senior, Hot Chip, Goldfrapp, Tiga, The Chemical Brothers, Fisherspooner… the list goes on and on. Also, one half of the DFA, James Murphy is responsible for LCD Soundsystem, one of the hippest and critically praised dance acts from the New York underground. They spent an afternoon with Britney and they came up with “Get It,” a cow-bell strewn funk bouncer that has Britney cooing randomly about “And it hit my heart” and “I am here, going insane.” I have read that it was never to see the light of day because her record label thought it was too “wierd,” while when asked about the collaboration, Tim Goldsworthy, the other half of the DFA was quoted as saying:

“That was weird. Won't do that again. No offence to her - she's lovely. Got a foul mouth, though! When we work with people, we hang out, listen to records, share stuff. But with Britney we had absolutely no way of communicating. She didn't know anything that we knew.”

Regardless, I actually quite like this song. Lyrically it’s really tossed off, but for a demo… it’s got a great bounce and could hint at something really interesting in her future. I will still pray for Britney, and would love her to prove her distracters wrong. The chances seem slim, but I just wish that when someone finds themselves trashing Britney they would take a hard look at our cultural landscape of the moment, and see that Britney is just the product that we asked for… and have lambasted when we got what we want. How does anyone deal with that amount of ridicule? Could you?

Maybe after all this Britney will just bring the hat back. It could use some help.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

We're From Barcelona

Song: We're From Barcelona
Artist: I'm From Barcelona
Album: Let Me Introduce My Friends


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Young Folks

Song: Young Folks
Artist: Peter, Bjorn & John
Album: Writer's Block

If there is one thing the Swedish know how to do, it’s Pop music. When they do pop it’s as bouncy and catchy as you can get. (See ABBA’s career) But even when they do punk it’s a little pop (The Hives.) When they do glam it’s a little pop (The Ark.) And when it comes to the indie rock of Peter Bjorn & John, once again… pop!

“Writer’s Block” is their third album, released last year in Europe and just recently here, it’s a tight, almost singer-songwriter album with a super pop sheen. I love it, and am really digging their first single “Young Folks.”


The video for “Young Folks”:

Monday, February 12, 2007

Blindfold Me

Song: Blindfold Me
Artist: Kelis
Album: Kelis Was Here

I have been listening to Kelis’ “Kelis Was Here” since it was released last year and I can’t really put my head around it. The album is a schizophrenic affair, jumping from one kind of musical style to another, and Kelis’ persona changes along with those styles. I’ve dug her ever since her first single, “Caught Out There” from her 1999 debut “Kaleidoscope” which featured the distinctive chorus “I hate you so much right now! I hate you so much right know! Aaahhhhhhhhh!!!” Wow. She’s been the Neptunes vocal darling for years, being the female voice on their “Got Your Money” by Old Dirty Bastard, and “Truth or Dare” on their N.E.R.D. side project’s debut. They repaid her, and handsomely by the way, with the gift that was “Milkshake,” a strange unbelievably catchy smash hit from 2003.

The album from which “Milkshake” came, “Tasty” was just that. Catchy, fun, and sexy… I was surprised that it contained that one and only hit. (Of course subsequent singles were bigger in Europe.) Because of the hit, expectations were high for “Kelis Was Here,” and for some odd reason the lame “Bossy” was chosen as first single. “Blindfold Me” somehow did not catch on late last year and it’s too bad… what a fierce track it is. She’s released the sweet mid-tempo Cee-Lo duet as the latest single… maybe that will catch on. It’s also a very good song. But if you are looking for the sexy, sassy Kelis of Milkshake, look no further than “Blindfold Me.”


Her first solo video for "Caught Out There":

Blindfold Me:

Latest single "Lil Star" with Cee-Lo:

Friday, February 09, 2007

Love Generation

Song: Love Generation
Artist: Bob Sinclar
Album: Western Dream

I am excited today. I am excited because something happened yesterday that cleared up a now ten month mystery that has been driving me crazy.

Have you ever heard a song, maybe on the radio, or out somewhere and weren’t able to find out what the song was? Maybe the DJ didn’t say, and/or nobody around knew what it was around you. I use to work in a corporate record chain back when I was in my teens and often would have people come in with this dilemma. Often I would get to hear disastrously off-key versions of songs that people had heard in the hopes that I would point them in the right direction. I was pretty good with this as I was pretty up on a lot of varieties of music. Though I did have one customer come in, sing the chorus and some broken verses of Madonna’s then hit “Deeper and Deeper.” When I quickly said to the woman; “Oh, that is Madonna’s Deeper and Deeper, you can find it on her latest album Erotica…” she cut me off to say “No, no it’s not Madonna.” Then again sang the same chorus and broken verse of Madonna’s “Deeper and Deeper.” It’s hard to argue with morons and this lady did not pick up on my thinly veiled frustration when I said “Huh, then I’m not sure what that is… though it has the same lyrics as Madonna’s Deeper and Deeper.” If it had been today I would have suggested she do a Google search with the lyrics she knew… and follow up with an apology call to yours truly.

Last May I celebrated my 30th birthday with a few of my best friends in Amsterdam for an entire week. It was an absolutely magical time for me that I will remember for many many years to come. During that week I heard a song playing when we were all out one night that I immediately needed to know about. It had a lot of whistling, and I almost thought it might be Rusted Root. (Wow) I asked all my friends and nobody had heard of it. The next night I heard it again. This time I asked a few strangers as it plays and nobody knew it. Errgh! Over that week I was to hear this song a total of four times yet nobody, wherever we were could tell me the title let alone artist.

When I returned to the States and it crossed my mind again, I did a little online research. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really remember many of the lyrics to do a good Google search. The repeated refrain, from what I could remember said something like “feel the love and elation.” But that didn’t come up. I tried “feel the love and Erration,” “feel the love bedration.” Nothing. You would think it would cross my mind that the song would contain actual words form the English language… who’s the moron now right? To my defense, we were in Amsterdam, and every time I heard the song I was either out at a bar or enjoying some… coffee.

Now ten months have passed and I had never heard the song here in the States. At this point I had really let it go so what a shock to me when yesterday, at about 5:30 PM I faintly heard what I thought was the song coming from the speakers of someone in my office. I stood up and while I thought it was a remix, it was my song! So my lovely co-worker Melanie informed me that it was called “World Hold On” by Bob Sinclar, which SHE has heard while in Greece. (And was obviously a little more successful in tracking it down than I.) After some research and downloading at home I found out that the song I had actually heard was Bob Sinclar’s first single from his 2006 album “Western Dream,” “Love Generation” which had actually been released in 2005. (And pretty much sounds almost the same as “World Hold On,” another whistle chorus!) Bob Sinclar is a French DJ that has been releasing singles and compilations since the late 80’s. “Love Generation” was chosen as the official FIFA theme song for 2006, it was a major international hit… and yet it eluded me for almost ten months here in America. How is that possible?

Anyhow, this is a fun, upbeat song that’s positive, and easy to get to know by heart because the chorus is really just whistling. It has a persistent throbbing backbeat, and a sort of general “let’s love everyone vibe.” Now that I get to hear it I think it’s good, not great… and probably best enjoyed while out with a group of good friends. I wish American radio, MTV, etc. would look to our international friends a bit more for pop music… but it seems as International as we’re willing to go is “London Bridge.” Oy.


Video for World Hold On:

Video for Love Generation:

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Song: Dashboard
Artist: Modest Mouse
Album: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

The return of Modest Mouse… yay! Like most of you, I hadn’t heard of Modest Mouse until the release of their last album, “Good News for People Who Like Bad News” and their break-through single, “Float On.” But the band formed in 1993 and had already released a slew of independent LP’s, EP’s and collections before their Epic debut, 2000’s “The Moon & Antartica.” I thought “Float On” was an amazing song as was the full “Good News” album.

Their follow up, “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank” comes out on March 13th. “Dashboard” is the bouncy first single. I liked this right away and after a few listens think it sounds a bit like Franz Ferdinand. The band seems to be paying attention to the beat of their songs more, as I have been browsing through their back catalog and finding much I like, and some that I think is so-so. I think “Dashboard” is a good first single, though there is really no way to tell if it will catch on or not. I thought Franz’s first single from their sophomore album “Do You Want To” was one of the best (and catchiest) singles I had heard in a very, very, long time and yet it did not get any serious airplay… and now it’s in a hair commercial! Ugh. But I will stay on the positive side and hope that Modest Mouse do their fans and critics well with this highly anticipated album.


Two great videos from the singles of “Good News”:
Float On

The Ocean Breathes Salty

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Song: Rehab
Artist: Amy Winehouse
Album: Back in Black

Amy Winehouse is the current toast of the European charts AND the European tabloids. “Back in Black” her sophomore album is doing very well in the U.K. yet it seems to be overshadowed by the fact that… she’s a bit of a booze-bag. “Rehab,” happens to be the first single, and I don’t know if this is life imitating art or art imitating life… but it’s a KILLER song with a great funky groove and Winehouse is an amazing singer. She comes from a long line of British soul singers, and her music is a heck of a lot more interesting than Joss Stone’s.

But Amy, at the tender age of 23, is looking pretty close to a crash and burn. (The fact that she has an alcohol dependency, her first single is entitled “Rehab” and her last name happens to be Winehouse is like… a publicity dream.) Recent tabloid fodder had her throwing up onstage and leaving after just one song at London club G-A-Y. (Guess what… it’s a gay club.) And then there is this… a more than half-in-the-bag duet with Charlotte Church on “Beat It.”

I’ve only heard a handful of tracks on the new record but am very impressed and will most likely pick it up when it is released here in the States. (Her first record was never released here.) Let’s see how this hot mess makes out… wouldn’t be funny if she was the one UK hopeful that actually breaks here? (I’m not holding my breath… or putting down my drink if she’s around.)


The video for Rehab:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Song: Mint
Artist: Keyth Lawrence
Album: The Dairy Farm Follies (demos)

Keyth Lawrence is a New York based piano driven singer-songwriter. He is currently unsigned but releasing his material via his own label, I Said! Records. Keyth’s debut album “Figures” contained the propulsive ballad “Leaving” which was featured on the Here! TV series “Dante’s Cove” and in the independent film “Open Cam.” “Mint” comes from a series of demos he wrote on a rural dairy farm for inclusion on his forthcoming second album.

Initially, Keyth’s music relied mostly on his piano work and was very reminiscent of Tori Amos, an obvious inspiration. Upon listening to the demos from “The Dairy Farm Follies” I hear a world of difference in the new material, adding guitar and drums into the fold and fleshing out his unique sound. I was reminded of Coldplay in the way he added guitar and a more sweeping dramatic… and cinematic, touch to his songwriting. “Mint” is a great single (currently no. 4 on the Sirius HotQ Top 20 Chart) and I also highly recommend “Wood,” also from this new batch of songs.

You can listen to and purchase Keyth’s music at, also a great site for getting introduced to new up-and-coming artists. Keyth is also a dramatic performer, and I recommend seeing him live to hear his funny, personal between-song banter alone. Check out his official website or MySpace page for dates and more information.


Monday, February 05, 2007

It's All True

Song: It's All True
Artist: Tracey Thorn
Album: It's All True - Single

The return of Tracey Thorn! If you don’t know Tracey, she is the lead singer for Everything But The Girl, who formed way back in 1982 in Hull, England. For most of the 80’s EBTG produced mildly successful jazz-pop and it wasn’t until 1995 that Todd Terry’s remix of “Missing,” a mostly acoustic song from 1994’s excellent “Amplified Heart” took EBTG from cult status to a band with an international cross-over hit. (“Missing” is the song that goes “I miss you… like the deserts miss the rain.”)

After that dance oriented hit, EBTG strayed away from their more acoustic/jazz sound and released the absolutely amazing trip-hop classic “Walking Wounded.” While there wasn’t a “Missing” sized hit on the album, they did release a couple of great tracks including “Single” and “Wrong.” This set the stage for what I consider their masterwork, and final (thus far) album, 1999’s “Temperamental.” It is by far one of the best dance albums ever created and pretty much set the bar for electronica in the new millennium. Sonically amazing with songs that actual touch you emotionally, “Temperamental” is grounded by Tracey’s haunting, beautiful voice. While sonically a bit different, I really feel that this album was Madonna’s blueprint for “Confessions on a Dancefloor.”

Now, eight years later (and 25 years since her last solo record!) Tracey returns with “Out of the Woods” set for release on March 5th in the U.K. “It’s All True” is the first single which was released last week on iTunes. It’s an electro-80’s style dance song that had me saying to myself “Okay…” on first listen, “Interesting” on second, and by the third it was “Wow this amazing… I love it.” Tracey’s voice is a wonder, and somehow manages to create emotional depth in dance music without resorting to diva-like runs and vocal acrobatics. (For further listening please check out “Protection” by Massive Attack, a true trip-hop classic thanks in no small part to Tracey’s vocal.)

The song reminds me of Stuart Price’s Les Rythem Digitales record “Darkdancer” from 1996. It has a French-electro vibe to it… I just can’t get enough.

Already one of my favorite new singles of 2007.


And here is the odd, yet compelling, video:

Friday, February 02, 2007

Deee-Lite Theme

Song: Deee-Lite Theme
Artist: Dee-Lite
Album: World Clique

As I started this week I thought I was going to have just a ton of great pop music from the 90’s that I could highlight and spark the memory of my dear readers with tunes from times gone by. As the week is now at a close, I found myself searching through my CD collection for my final song and came up a bit short. It became very apparent to me that while I was still in tune to the pop music of the day, I was clearly into the “alternative” scene as that is what comprises the majority of my collection. Sure, bands like Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, and R.E.M. were the pop music of the day… but it was pop as in POPular. Most of the novelty one-off hits of the 90’s are super dated and/or not even worth discussing. Some are just plain BAD, what were we all thinking?

As I went through my collection I came across the very first CD that I ever owned… Deee-Lite’s “World Clique.” I got the CD along with my first SONY boom-box style CD player (with the push and lift top loading tray) as a Christmas gift. I literally can still remember that day and how unbelievably excited I was. So while you ALL know “Groove is in the Heart,” one of the oddest hit songs to some along since… well probably “Love Shack,” I am instead highlighting the first song on the album, and by default… the VERY first song I was to hear on CD and my first CD player… “Deee-Lite Theme” or Track One. This song is a bit personal to me, as is the album, because it was a window to the multi-cultural “Global Village” of New York City… the town I now call home. This is an absolutely silly song but it’s got a great beat and groove and I continue to play it now and again when I DJ.

Deee-Lite never got another shot in the spotlight post the success of “Groove is in the Heart,” their second album, the super-politically correct manifesto “Infinity Within” failed to ignite a hit and neither did the third, 1994’s “Dewdrops in the Garden.” They released a remix record and then in 2001, a new millennium, they released the best-of and soon disbanded. It’s too bad, both follow-up albums were actually very good and helped bring the New York underground to this country’s collective consciousness in a way that had not been done before. They were truly cutting edge in their attempts to bridge gaps between cultures and sexual identities. I miss them.

So as this week ends and I reflect on the 90’s as a whole it occurs to me that, despite a few exceptions, that the beginning of the decade sparked an openness to something new and different that slowly died despite “alternative” taking over the airwaves. I feel like gruge-rock dominated the “out-there” scene in music and bands like Deee-Lite, Seal, EMF, KLF, etc. couldn’t fit in. Does this have to do with marketing? Or the media telling us what we should listen to… what is “now” what is hot? I’m not sure. But a lot of things changed in the 90’s as pre-millennium tension seemed to have record buyers looking for something new and then suddenly comfortable. Why does it feel further away than it actually is?


Thursday, February 01, 2007


Song: Killer
Artist: Seal
Album: Seal

Seal’s “Crazy” was a bit of a surprise hit here in the States in 1991. It went to number fifteen in the U.K. yet managed to go to number seven here, despite its acid house vibe which was VERY European at the time. The self-titled debut did well here with the help of the single, as did the also self-titled sophomore album which came three years after, in 1994. But Seal really became a household name near the end of 1995 and into 1996 as he watched his song “Kiss from a Rose,” also included on the “Batman Forever” soundtrack become a monster hit on Adult Contemporary radio.

I’ve always liked Seal, never LOVED him, but do love a lot of his songs. If I’m honest I must say that while I really dug 1994’s “Seal” I think “Kiss from a Rose” got totally played out when it was big and one of those songs that I never probably need to hear again.

My favorite though, is “Killer,” which was actually the song that got him his record deal. It’s such an evocative song, mysterious, and cinematic. George Michael covered it a few years later; making a medley of that with “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” that is actually also quite good.

I fell away from Seal and haven’t heard the two follow up albums, 1998’s “Human Being” and 2003’s “Seal IV” though have heard really good things about the former, but have not heard as much as a single. Though with his self titled debut he brought in the 90’s and an era where music seemed like it could go anywhere. Unfortunately, possibly due to the “alternative” boom, European-leaning pop really started to stay in Europe.


The video for "Crazy":

The video for "Killer":