Friday, March 30, 2007

Give it to Me (w/Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake)

Song: Give it to Me (w/Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake)
Artist: Timbaland
Album: Timbaland Presents: Shock Value

2006 was the year Timbaland came back. After being at the forefront of the R & B/Hip Hop movement in the early (and late) 90’s, Tim had a bit of slip early this decade with tracks from Mya, Lil’ Kim, Brandy, and Xzibit not taking hold on radio. I suppose you can’t have one hit after another, even the Neptunes don’t always serve up a “Milkshake” each time. But last year he did the majority of the production on two of the biggest pop records of the year, Nelly Furtado’s “Loose” and Justin Timberlake’s “Future Sex/Lovesounds.” And with Nelly’s “Promiscuous Girl,” he took center stage and proved a great foil for Nelly’s back and forth hit.

This month sees the release of his “album” “Timbaland Presents: Shock Value.” It’s more of a collection, with Tim calling in his famous friends for a track here and there and concocting a pretty cool collection of tunes. As always the beats are fresh and all over the place, though at seventeen tracks it is WAY too long, but in the MP3 age, it’s not really about making a cohesive album, you pick which you like and remove the others. So if you’re not really a rock fan, you can delete the Hives, She Wants Revenge, and Fall Out Boy collaborations and keep the 50 Cent, Tony Yayo, etc. Nelly and Justin return the favor of keeping their careers on track by being on lead single “Give it to Me” which is infectious, fun, and utterly stupid. “You see us in the club we’ll be actin’ real nice” is about as deep as it gets. There are rumored disses by Justin to Janet and Prince (Uh… why?) and Timbaland basically just boasts about how great he is as a producer, but it’s fun. I dig it.

Timbaland has done better, his groundbreaking work with Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot is some of the most important work that has been done in the world of hip hop to date, and he basically created Aaliyah and made her the star she was.

If nothing else, this is some dumb fun to keep you boppin’ into the weekend.


Video for Give it to Me

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Someone to Love

Song: Someone to Love
Artist: Fountains of Wayne
Album: Traffic & Weather

“Stacey’s Mom,” the inescapable hit from Fountains of Wayne put the band on the map after two very fine albums of solid, if a touch goofy, power-pop. The album from which “Stacey” came, “Welcome Interstate Managers” got some of their best reviews to date, and they quickly followed the one-off hit with a collection of B-Sides called “Out-of-State Plates.” This pretty much solidified them as critical darlings with many claiming a lot of the material on “Plates” was better than their album counterparts. The collection also bought them some time to stay in the public eye before creating the official follow up and also deal with the pressure of following up a massive hit like “Stacey’s Mom.”

While I enjoyed their first two albums, I thought “Managers” was really inconsistent, a bit all over the place, and I literally never need to hear “Stacey’s Mom” again. While their earlier work had a more tender Cars vibe with a hint of goofiness, “Stacey’s” was full on Barenaked Ladies mode, without the sweetness. “Traffic & Weather” seems to be more of the same though it does try to get back to the blissful pop of the self titled debut and follow up, the excellent “Utopia Parkway.” “Traffic” may be just what fans want though, despite the thus far mixed reviews… I suppose I was just wanting something a little more.

“Someone to Love” is I believe the first single, and it has a pleasant semi-disco beat and sing-a-long chorus. While they like to write story-songs about pretty regular people, they unfortunately try to get jokey with the pop culture references a touch too much for my taste. But maybe I am just being a bit cranky. Sometimes you want sunny pop to sing along to in the car on a hot summer day… and for that, “Traffic & Weather” is pretty perfect. I don’t know if I hear a “Stacey’s Mom” size hit on here, but that may be beneficial for the album… we didn’t need another one.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stars All Seem to Weep

Song: Stars All Seem to Weep
Artist: Beth Orton
Album: Central Reservation

Beth Orton’s electronifolk had really won me over by the time she released 2002’s “Daybreaker.” I remembered her first single, “She Cries Your Name” getting play on my college station back in 1996, but it was the sophomore album, 1999’s “Central Reservation” that really solidified her career. Her vocals always seem just a touch off, but she writes the most beautiful tunes, and then fit her husky voice to a tea.

I really liked “Central Reservation,” especially “Stars All Seem to Weep,” my absolute favorite song of hers. It’s the perfect mix of electronic blips and beats, subtle guitar, and Beth’s stark poetry. Just absolutely beautiful. I find the album a little inconsistent (which many, many would argue with) but found her follow up, 2002’s “Daybreaker” to be the real gold. I also really liked the companion album, “The Other Side of Daybreaker” which was a half remix half b-sides album, which can stand on it’s own.

All of this build up made last year’s “Comfort of Strangers” such a disappointment. She ditched the electronics for the most part, and while I could have been up for a straight up singer-songwriter album from her… “Comfort” ended up being what no other Beth Orton record had been before… boring. Sure, I dug lead single “Conceived,” but it seemed to be the only song with an actual hook or melody. Despite several listens I just could not connect with it.

A Beth expert might say to start with “Central Reservation,” (and the amazing “Stars” is worth it enough) but I put my money on “Daybreaker.”


Here are a slew of videos, one from each album (chronologically of course!)

She Cries Your Name

Stolen Car

Concrete Sky


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

#9 Dream

Song: #9 Dream
Artist: R.E.M.
Album: Instant Karma: The Campaign to Save Darfur

Usually when I listen to new R.E.M. it just makes me yearn for the days of old R.E.M. I’ve said it before, while there are some great songs the band has written since Bill Berry departed, their new material really hasn’t lived up to the Berry years. “Up” was a bit of a mess, “Reveal” was a touch better, and 2005’s “Around The Sun” was probably their worst album to date. Ouch.

I loved this band… still do, so it goes without saying that when I heard Berry was joining the band again to record a new song I flipped. But it comes with good, just okay, and bad news.

The Good: “#9 Dream,” which will be included on “Instant Karma: The Campaign to Save Darfur” a benefit/tribute to be released in June is beautiful. Michael sounds great, the song seems to come from their mid-80’s period… it’s perfect!

The Just Okay: It’s a cover, not an original. “Instant Karma,” as you may guess, is a tribute using the songs of John Lennon, which Yoko donated all publishing royalties in order for the proceeds to benefit Darfur. I didn’t know the song as I am not up on a lot of Lennon’s solo work, but it is beautiful. But honestly, I would loved to have heard something new will Bill back in the mix. What has been sorely missing from the Berry-less records are the hooks. It seems Bill really was the one to make the songs pop.

The Bad: This is a one off. R.E.M. are wrapping up work on their next album and Berry is not on it at all. Boo-hoo.

I can understand that the man had to quit this band. If you don’t know, he suffered a brain aneurysm on stage during the “Monster” tour in 1995 and subsequently quit to work a farm in Georgia. He is very missed, and while I wish he would record with them and just not tour, it seems he was truly ready for a complete life change. We’ll just call “#9 Dream” a possible good new start.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Stop Me

Song: Stop Me
Artist: Mark Ronson
Album: Version

Mark Ronson, born into rock royalty, raised in England, but developed as a musician and DJ in New York City has had some serious high quality projects happen recently. His production work for recent albums by Lily Allen, Robbie Williams, Christina Aquilera, and Amy Winehouse have gotten the whole industry hip to his old time soul meets hip-hop vibe. His most recent album, “Version” will be released in the U.K. in the middle of next month.

Ronson was immersed in DJ culture in NYC in his teens, getting involved with the titans of the time, the Beastie Boys and Run DMC back in the 80’s. Throughout he broadened his knowledge of music while becoming a fixture in the socialite/celebrity scene. He DJ’d a party for Puff Daddy and through networking and word of mouth released his first album “Here Comes The Fuzz” in 2003. That album featured a wide range of collaborators (Jake White, Ghostface Killer, Rivers Cuomo, etc.) and found modest success overseas.

“Versions” is a mix of covers, all given an old-soul redo with from-scratch arrangements. He puts a clever spin on Coldplay’s “God Put a Smile on Your Face,” Britney’s “Toxic,” and Radiohead’s “Just,” which was originally found on the compilation “Exit Music: Songs With Radio Heads.” First single “Stop Me” is a cover of the Smiths classic “Stop Me if You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before.” I liked it immediately and really dig how it morphs into “Keep Me Hangin’ On” near the end. Also on the album is a re-done version of “Oh My God” featuring Lily Allen (whom he did an excellent remix for on the hit single “Smile.”) which she covered for the Live Lounge series. He really brings up the soul on his version… I can’t wait to hear the whole record. Could be the hipster chill out album of the year. (At least for this month)


Here is the video for "Just"

And he also has a Podcast on iTunes, here is ep. one:

Friday, March 23, 2007


Song: Superstar
Artist: Sonic Youth
Album: If I Were a Carpenter

A couple years ago on a Friday night I was up at a bar on like 77th Street and York that had $2 Rolling Rock specials and a pretty popular karaoke night. Their selection was great, I sort of half-remember “performing” R.E.M.’s “Man on the Moon” and my boyfriend of the time did a pretty sexy version of INXS’ “Need You Tonight.” I specifically remember this because I was pretty drunk at this point ($2 beers are as rare as affordable housing in NYC after all) and I remember seeing a 40+ Spanish woman that was grooving along to my BF’s performance. Well, she looked over at me and due to the alcohol I walked straight up to her, looked her in the eyes and said “You. Me. NOW.” She just nodded and we proceeded to grind and dance for the rest of the song. Not sure why she didn’t slap me, but it was a good memory.

But, she was not the most memorable thing of the night. After my drunken come-on with Viva La Espana, a too skinny for words woman in her 50’s slowly made her way up to the stage. She turned around and her slightly sunken-in, but pretty face and frizzy brown hair struck me. It was like I was in the presence of the ghost of Karen Carpenter. So fragile was this woman it was almost uncomfortable and before I knew it she started a meek, but ultimately powerful version of the Carpenters “Superstar.” To be honest it felt like I was in a movie, or it was some sort of other-worldly experience. Bazaar for sure… and like many a time I thought to myself, “only in New York.”

Now the Carpenters in their heyday were considered pretty dorky. Songs like “Top of the World” and “Close to You” were the essence of schmaltz. Yet, other songs had a true core of personal sadness that was at times beautiful and just a touch unbearable. Listen to “Solitaire” or “Rainy Days and Mondays” and you’ll realize that Karen’s decent into crippling, and ultimately fatal, anorexia was pretty much written on the wall… or in this case, written as hit singles.

I was too young to really know the Carpenters, and my parents fell into the category of thinking they were dorks so I had no exposure. It wasn’t until the excellent tribute album “If I Were a Carpenter” from 1994 performed by hot Alterna-acts of the time such as Matthew Sweet, American Music Club, Sheryl Crow, and Cracker that I really got to hear their songs. I loved this entire thing and it really made me realize the true power of their songwriting. (And sadness.) I’ve never been a big Sonic Youth fan, despite everyone just raving about them, but their cover of the Uber-sad “Superstar” was strange, subdued, and just quietly beautiful. I remember it popping up oddly enough in the Michael J Fox ghosts-in-New Zealand movie “The Freightners” (Directed by a pre-Lord of the Rings Peter Jackson.) It’s a beauty, and I highly recommend the entire tribute album if you are a Carpenters fan or not.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

No Cars Go

Song: No Cars Go
Artist: The Arcade Fire
Album: Neon Bible

So I don’t get it… I don’t know if this is a product of being in my 30’s, getting older, loosing my hipster cred, I don’t know… but I can’t seem to really get into these slew of super popular indie rock bands that have (in a minor way) rocked the music world with their albums. Recently, two of these bands, the Arcade Fire and The Shins have released their hotly anticipated sophomore albums to critical and commercial success. So why am I yawning?

I won’t bore you (or myself) with looking up their histories, where they’re from, etc… both bands had hot albums that clicked with “The O.C. set” and have enjoyed great runs on the strength of their albums playing the world and finding a lot of fans and no doubt MySpace friends. I missed out on both band’s breakthroughs. In the case of The Arcade Fire it was “Funeral” which I subsequently got and thought it was okay, if a bit boring. They have recently released “Neon Bible” which I also think it okay but again… I’m not blown away. In the case of The Shins, (again on The O.C. and the Garden State Soundtrack, which again people flipped for and I thought was so-so) their “Chutes too Narrow” garnered them a huge audience and the recently released “Wincing the Night Away” (love the title) just had a huge debut. Again I’ve listened and while I find none of it offensive, none of it grabs me. They sort of remind me of The Smiths sometimes, but unlike that band (which changed my life) I don’t feel anything form them either musically or lyrically.

I bring all this up because while I am often excited about new music and usually go along with the critics, here are two bands that the blog generation can not say enough about and I literally don’t get it. What is it about these two bands that has everyone so crazy? I like “Neon Bible” and the song “No Cars Go” has an epic-that-goes-nowhere vibe to it, but I like it just okay. Yet, despite hearing it several times now I can’t tell you what it’s about… not that I’ve sat down with the lyrics and read along but there is just no meat there. I can remember pouring over the cryptic musings of Morrissey and Michael Stipe… maybe it’s a college thing.

I recently went to see a show with my youngest cousins (whom I remember holding when they were babies) to see a band I didn’t know called Of Montreal. Again I felt a little detached, didn’t know the music and yet the crowd (consisting strictly of young white hipsters) went crazy and sang along to every song. Would they think the same if I went back in time and took them to a Belly show? I don’t know. The Arcade Fire came up and I asked my cousin if he liked the new record… he did, well also thought it was “okay” but said, “It’s too bad they came out with “Funeral” first, which is just like a modern classic.” Modern classic? “OK Computer” yes, “Automatic for the People” yes, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” I can go along with all of these but the Arcade Fire? Really? To me it’s like I took the exit to Snore City. Yawn.

Readers what am I missing here? Am I "losing my edge?"


Here they do the song live... man there is a ton of them!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Whoever You Are

Song: Whoever You Are
Artist: Geggy Tah
Album: Sacred Cow

One of the more odd hit singles of the 90’s, Geggy Tah’s “Whoever You Are” is seemingly simply about… how great it is when someone lets you cut in front of them while driving. And then of course overwhelming need you feel to thank them, even if you don’t know who they are. Pay it forward!

Geggy Tah started as a duo releasing their first album, 1994’s “Grand Opening” on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label. A critical hit because it was so off-beat and mixed so many different styles, it wasn’t until 96’s “Sacred Cow” did they find some commercial success, solely it would seem, on the strength of “Whoever You Are.” Unfortunately due to label trouble, the follow up didn’t happen until 2001 and by that time the glitter had faded.

The song is infectious though, and off the top of my head I can’t really think of another song structured around something so simple. Can you?

Enjoy. Though there is a slight chance you might think of this as the stupidest song you’ve ever heard.

Not sure if this is the official video, but it’s funny none-the-less.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Traffic Jam

Song: Traffic Jam
Artist: Stephen Marley
Album: Mind Control

Here is a surprise. I am not really much of a follower of reggae, the movement or the music. On a lark, and many recommendations, I got to listen to the new Stephen Marley album “Mind Control,” which is out today. Stephen is the third of Bob’s children, second with his wife Rita of a total of thirteen children. (Though only ten were actually his, he adopted two of Rita’s and Rita had one that wasn’t Bob’s… though Bob had already had three that weren’t Rita’s, and had four others without her as well after she had the one that wasn’t his, though Bob considered her his.) Confused? Oh well… one love.

Stephen had been part of the Melody Makers lead by his older brother Ziggy since the age of nine. He had recently produced his brother Damian’s three solo records, most notably last year’s “Welcome to Jamrock” which spawned the hit and more hip-hop flavored title track. I never listened to Damian’s record but read many positive things. I didn’t really dig the single which was, as mentioned, a bit more hip hop than the straight reggae we know of his father’s. Stephen’s work falls somewhere in between. There are tracks you would think are vintage Bob, and others that sound like an updated remix of some classic reggae, fresh beats, and fresh vibe.

Like most white hipster music lovers, my reggae collection consists solely of Bob Marley’s “Legend” and maybe a few Shaggy tracks. It’s half-way embarrassing. I really embraced Sinead O’Connor’s amazing reggae record from two years ago, but I just personally really like her… though it should be noted that she happened to use some of the hottest and best in the reggae biz for that record. It was just good, and surprisingly un-awkward given what it was. Stephen’s record is something different all together. This is a straight-up reggae record that just happens to be incredible. It features guest appearances by Mos Def, Ben Harper, and brother Damian himself, among others.

It’s hard for me to highlight just one track, but I suppose you have to hear the single, “Traffic Jam” which features Damian. It’s very catchy, and while a bit more “street” than the more laid-back reggae on the record, it’s far from Clipse. I am really digging this entire record and am highly recommending it. Again, I’m not a reggae fan by any stretch but sometimes great music is just great music. Missing are Bob’s more optimistic lovey-dovey lyrics, but this is 2007, “One Love” is falling on deaf ears. But this is not an angry political record, it’s just current and varied, a portrait of an ever-changing island life.

PLEASE go listen to some of the other tracks on his MySpace page.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Hurdy Gurdy Man

Song: Hurdy Gurdy Man
Artist: Donovan
Album: Donovan's Greatest Hits

Over the weekend I saw David Fincher’s “Zodiac,” a disturbing, beautifully shot thriller about the killer that stalked the San Francisco area in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The film is opened and closed with Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” which has been in my head since. The vibe of the song is absolutely perfect for the film, not to mention time period appropriate.

Donovan is best known for his songs “Mellow Yellow” and “Season of the Witch” but was a huge force in the 60’s folk music scene and was considered “Britain’s answer to Bob Dylan,” even though he was Scottish. I think of him as the original freak-folker, and Devandra Banhart doesn’t make sense without him. While he was part of the psychedelic flower-power movement, I find a lot of his music a little creepy, and that’s why “Hurdy Gurdy Man” works so well in “Zodiac.”

His Greatest Hits is a solid must-have for fans of this era. It’s a wonder a tribute record has never been done in his honor, though you’ll find a very pretty take on his “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” on Sarah McLachlan’s sophomore album “Solace.”

I am also highly recommending “Zodiac,” which works as an excellent who-done-it, though as is the history… we never find out for-sure the killer is. It’s like a “48 Hours Mystery” with a REALLY big budget. I say that positively, as I love to hear all the evidence and try to work it out, make up my own opinion. The film has a great cast that really commits full-on to the project. It’s long (just shy of two hours) so consider the early show.


The Trailer for Zodiac:

Friday, March 16, 2007

Grand Canyon

Song: Grand Canyon
Artist: Tracey Thorn
Album: Out of the Woods

It’s official… I LOVE the new Tracey Thorn album. Not as dancy as I expected, (or hoped) as that was the direction that the Everything But the Girl material had been going over the last few records, but actually… the album seems almost like an EBTG retrospective, with all new songs. Fusing their melancholy acoustic vibe with electronic elements and/or downright dance songs. But I am talking myself into a corner here a little bit because at times it doesn’t seem like EBTG at all. Am I making any sense?

Lead single, the 80’s-tastic “It’s All True” has continued to be one of my favorite new songs of the year. It’s one of the more, if not THE most upbeat track on the album. “Out of the Woods” starts with the almost hymn-like “Here it Goes Again.” Strings serenade Tracey’s perfect voice as the song tip-toes around on a slinky quiet beat. At first I found it such an odd opener, but it’s really grown on me. “A-Z” picks up the pace just a touch with a throbbing consistent beat, and yet you just can’t help but hang on Tracey’s every word.

The rest of the album can be quite beautiful, with the electronic flourishes very minimal. This could be your Grandma’s techno record… and I say that in the most positive way possible. My current favorite is “Grand Canyon” which has a slow build a-la Dido’s “Take My Hand.” Like that song it would have been a great album closer… it never gets super clubby, but returns the beats, though they take a back seat to Tracey’s lyrical poetry. This one reminds me the most of the last EBTG record “Temperamental” with some of the same interesting percussion as songs “The Future of the Future” and “Lullaby of Clubland,” like sounds of glass balls bouncing on glass, etc.

“Grand Canyon” would have been a great closing track if “Raise the Roof,” the actual album ender, weren’t better suited. It’s like a lost great Eurythmics track, but still all Tracey. It’s hopeful, sunny, and while again very 80’s sounding, it still remains current.

This one was a long time coming, and I can happily say it was worth it.


Here is the video for the last Everything But the Girl track, "Future of the Future"

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Chelsea Dagger

Song: Chelsea Dagger
Artist: The Fratellis
Album: Costello Music

The Fratellis have next big thing written all over them. Formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 2005, the band has quickly seen success overseas from singles released on debut EP’s and singles. Their song “Flathead” was chosen by Apple for their latest iPod commercial, they are named after the villains in The Goonies, and their debut album “Costello Music” is actually like… good. And fun!

It seems like they could be the next Kaiser Chiefs, which isn’t good for the actual Kaiser Chiefs because they have a lot to prove, and a lot riding on their sophomore album which has recently come out. Maybe there is room for both… we’ll see. “Chelsea Dagger” is infectious fun and my new recent obsession.

I also really dig the artwork they've used for their albums and singles.


Video for their iPod Commercial:

Video for Chelsea Dagger:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Are U That Somebody?

Song: Are U That Somebody?
Artist: The Gossip
Album: GSSP - RMX

Here is something that I recently purchased, have been enjoying, and need to get the word out there! Two weekends ago I saw the Scissor Sisters perform at the Madison Square Garden Theater, another great show, aside form the first opening band (didn’t get their name and they are not even worth researching.) The Sisters awesome tour DJ, DJ Sammy Jo got the crowd really pumped for the headlining act as he always does, and often will introduce me to remixes that I was unaware of. That night was no different as he played a killer funky remix of the Gossip’s “Listen Up!” It turns out that the group recently released an EP entitled “GSSP – RMX” and included three mixes of “Listen Up!,” one of “Standing in the Way of Control” by Le Tigre and a cooler than shit cover of Aaliyah’s R & B hit “Are U That Somebody.”

Aaliyah was one of the most promising young talent to come out of the R & B scene in the early 90’s. At the tender age of fifteen her debut record “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number” was an out of the gate hit. She had a controversial secret marriage to R.Kelly who was ten years her senior and now officially the weirdest sleezo to still have a career (Well, maybe MJ still has that.) Her sophomore record also garnered many hits but it wasn’t until “Are U That Somebody” produced by a then relatively unknown Timbaland and Missy Elliot, from the Dr. Doolittle soundtrack that she cemented her reputation as one of the most talented and forward-thinking artists in R & B and pop Hip-hop. This continued with “Try Again” from the film “Romeo Must Die” which she starred in. She briefly turned her attentions to acting, starring in “Queen of The Damned” and landed a juicy role in the hotly anticipated two Matrix Sequels. She recorded her third and most accomplished self titled album, released in 2002. Unfortunately her career was cut short when she passed away in a plane crash just after completing the shoot for her second video from the album, crushing the Hip Hop and R & B community.

Here is Aaliyah's original video for "Are U That Somebody?"

What I love about The Gossip’s take on the song is that they don’t patronize it and perform it ironically. Aaliyah not only had the best beats of the time but was also lyrically ahead of what else was out there. “Are U That Somebody” tells the story of a woman with a secret, and a private fling that she is keeping from “everybody.” She needs to tell the boy that she is pregnant, but this is more about her and if he is the one meant for her. Really amazing stuff. I love the sexy slow-dance-punk vibe that The Gossip use for their cover, and Beth Ditto has a voice that really deserves more recognition.

The Gossip have been moving into a more dance-rock direction over their career and with the “GSSP-RMX-EP” I think it really proves that this is their true fit. I’ve been enjoying Le Tigre’s take on “Standing in the Way of Control” since the middle of last year and these “Listen Up!” mixes are just absolutely killer, with MSTRKRFT’s (the one Sammy Jo played) being the hands down favorite. Seek these out! (Available on iTunes as well as a CD single on Amazon.)

I also just need to mention the second opening act the Scissor Sisters had before Sammy Jo’s set. After the awful first band a couple stage hands brought out three microphones and placed them equidistant in the center of the stage. Then, three wooden poles with wigs on top positioned right in front of them. Suddenly, voices came from nowhere explaining “Hi, we’re Wigs on Sticks and we’re so excited to be opening for the Scissor Sisters, Yay!” Then lights started going and a recognizable (though a bit obscure) girl group track from the sixties began to play. The lights created the illusion that they were performing. Here is a crappy looking video someone shot of them, you’ll get the idea:

Well it turns out that Wigs on Sticks is the creation of Sister’s lead Jake Shears who even created t-shirts for them for sale at the show. (I didn’t see them, or buy one.) And now it turns out they’ve landed on MySpace! Hysterical.

So, big ups to The Gossip, the Scissor Sisters, and the dearly departed Aaliyah. We miss you!


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Panic On

Song: Panic On
Artist: Madder Rose
Album: Panic On

Another blast from my musical past, Madder Rose’s “Panic On” from their 1994 release of the same name was one of my favorite songs for a good while. I pulled it out recently after listening to an unsigned female fronted band that’s lead singer’s voice had an uncanny resemblance to that of Madder Rose’s Mary Lorson.

Formed in 1990, Madder Rose was a New York City based indie rock band that produced very of-its-time jangle rock for their first two records, 1993’s debut “Bring it Down,” and “Panic On.” They switched to a more electronic trip-hop vibe for 97’s “Tragic Magic” and their swan song, 1999’s “Hello June Fool.” I only have the middle two albums, and while “Panic On” the song still is a personal favorite, I must admit that as a whole I liked “Tragic Magic” much better. From my research it seems that their debut is the more critically lauded release, which I haven’t heard.

Listening to them again it reminds me of a time where music was very exciting to me. With bands like The Breeders, Belly, Morrissey, 10,000 Maniacs, The Cure (their early 90’s resurgence,) Matthew Sweet, and COUNTLESS others all being part of something that seemed big to me… important. I worry that this is true sign that I’m becoming an old man because despite trying, I can not get into these bands of the moment like The Arcade Fire, The Shins, etc. I don’t dislike them but there is no connection, and I’m not sure why. I hope that it’s not simply being jaded… because I don’t think that it the case as there is new music I am constantly getting into and really praising. Yet it seems to tend more towards the pop of Lily Allen than say the art rock of TV on the Radio. (Though “Wolf Like Me” was one of my favorite tunes of last year.)

Anyhow, the music world can pretty much agree that back then, even when music seemed a bit more adventurous, Madder Rose were sorely overlooked. Check out “Panic On,” it just might be your favorite new song.


The video for “Panic On”

And their very first video from "Bring it Down"

Monday, March 12, 2007

LOVE it or HATE it: F'ing Boyfriend

Song: F'ing Boyfriend
Artist: The Bird and the Bee
Album: The Bird and the Bee

I can’t decide if I love or hate this song. On one hand, it’s got a groovy vibe, and is ironically vulgar, with cooing sweet female vocals. On the other, the song seems a bit too loungy-hipster-cool. As if it was designed for some trendy lounge in Williamsburg filled with people that would no doubt annoy me to no end.

The Bird and the Bee are a Los Angeles based two piece consisting of Greg Kurstin and vocalist Inara George (who also has released a solo album.) Kurstin has played on songs by Beck and has also produced The Flaming Lips, Peaches, and Lily Allen. “F’ing Boyfriend” is from their self titled debut that came out earlier this year. Peaches remixes the song and is available here.

What do you think? I dig it a bit, but then I listen and it annoys me a little. Tell me if you LOVE it of HATE it in the comments section below.


Video for new single Again & Again:

Friday, March 09, 2007


Song: Girlfriend
Artist: Matthew Sweet
Album: Girlfriend

A couple weekends ago I was introduced to a new obsession… I got to play a video game called “Guitar Hero.” Forgive me if I sound like I’ve been living under a rock for a couple years but I had never heard of this game nor that fact that anything like it existed. (I also haven’t played a video game since college when “Myst” took over my life for a solid weekend.) The game involves playing an almost life-sized plastic guitar that you “play” along with a song you select. The notes are played by hitting up to five color coded buttons where you would play strings and “strumming” at the right point while the song plays. It is unbelievably difficult to get a hang of at first (unless you play the actual guitar) but once you get it… it becomes wildly addictive.

I was able to get it down by practicing with one song, over and over until I got it. To my delight, amid tracks by Motley Crue, Van Halen, and Heart was one of my favorite songs, “Girlfriend” by Matthew Sweet. Once I did get it I can’t tell you how freakin’ awesome it felt to be wailing away on this silly plastic guitar during the solos. The point of the game is just that… to make the player feel as much like a rock star as they can in the comfort of their living room. And it works! You have a crowd cheering you on (if your doing well,) and the feeling of actually hitting those notes, or pulling the wammy bar at the right moment is pure unadulterated dork-out excitement. And once you get a taste, it’s hard to stop.

Because of this, I pulled out my copy of Matthew Sweet’s third LD, also entitled “Girlfriend.” I got it back in high school and it was one of the more influential records of my life. Some consider it a power-pop masterpiece, and I suppose it wasn’t until Guitar Hero did I realize how much it really rocked. There is little pretension in Matthew’s music so it comes across as unassuming, but when I was able to rip through the guitar solo in “Girlfriend” on Guitar Hero I realized the true power of his work. Dig!

1991’s “Girlfriend” put Matthew Sweet on the map, and he enjoyed a nice alt-rock presence over three pretty great albums including 93’s “Altered Beast,” and 95’s “100% Fun.” He took a misstep with the poorly done and poorly received “Blue Sky on Mars” from 1997. It isn’t without its gems but it really felt like a leftovers album from “100% Fun.” He returned to form in 1999 with “In Reverse” in which he employed Phil Specter’s “Wall of Sound” technique. It is not up with his best work, but a good album none-the-less. He hasn’t since reached the type of cultural significance he enjoyed in the early 90’s, and I lost touch… and haven’t gotten his last two albums.

Though I must say, putting “Girlfriend” in again brought me back and made me remember just how GOOD the guy was as a songwriter and guitar player. That album is required listening to any pop fan. It’s that good.

This week I got to play the game once more at a bar that was having a special game night. Unfortunately, “Girlfriend” had not been unlocked from that version of the game (as you do better, new songs become available and get “unlocked,”) so I was forced to play the likes of Danzig’s “Mother” and “You Really Got Me” (unfortunately the Van Halen version, not the far superior Kinks.) I did a VERY messy version of “Message in a Bottle” as I thought I could actually graduate from the “easy” setting to “medium” which involves adding one more key to use. It was a bloody mess, a massacre, and this humble budding fake rock God was put in his place. But we’ll see about the next time I play… and the next chance I get to shred on “Girlfriend.”

Rock on.

Here is some happy dork rocking Girlfriend:

Actually a quick YouTube search shows it's sort of an internet obsession:

And here is a grea Anime-inspired video from "Ive Been Waiting," another great song on Girlfriend:

Thursday, March 08, 2007

45:33 Nike + Original Run / Norh American Scum

Song: 45:33 Nike + Original Run / Norh American Scum
Artist: LCD Soundsystem
Album: Sound of Silver

A couple months ago I had obtained a leaked version of LCD Soundsystem’s sophomore album “Sound of Silver” which will be released on March 20th. I have been totally enraptured by the album and honestly feel it’s going to be one of THE records of 2007.

My good friend Josh is a runner and also has a blog that he updates regularly. He really dug the LCD Soundsystem stuff I shared with him and coincidentally I got to tell him that LCD had released a single track 45+ minute song that was designed specifically for a run in conjunction with Nike. The song is available on iTunes, we both decided to get the track and do a dual review today. Check out his here.

“45:33 Nike + Original Run” was designed for a run of that length with a slow build, a middle upbeat section to get you “there,” and then a cool down section at the end. Unfortunately, I am not a runner. I don’t even work out regularly… but I’m a huge fan of his music. So, instead of trying the track out running and then embarrassing myself by not getting through the first fifteen minutes, I decided to do something else… clean the house. It came at a perfect time as last weekend my Mother came to town to visit, I had to get the place in order anyhow, why not use “45:33” to get me motivated and moving?

As promised, the song starts slow with some ambient layered keyboards that grow and grow beginning to swirl around. Piano is added just after a minute. At this point I am sorting laundry on the living room floor. Colors on the right and whites to the left to the left. My dog Clementine thinks this is a new game and grabs a sock from the thrown pile and starts running around with it. As the beat kicks in about two and a half minutes in, I already find myself distracted chasing her around. After getting the sock, which only a dog would put in its mouth, I finish sorting and have put the first load in. A voice begins to say “Shame on you,” which I repeat to the dog… who is ignoring me.

The vocals continue to talk about “taking love away from me,” “you can’t hide…” etc. Not sure what this means but I think about running and what goes through the mind of a runner as they listen to something like this. Is it a general, “let’s get moving and thinking about anything BUT the fact that we’re running.” That’s really what I would want, honestly. Although, as the song progresses I am not forgetting the fact that I put dishes in the washer but never ran it throughout the week. It is filled, will not hold anymore, so now I have to do the ones in the sink by hand AND run the full washer. As the sink fills up and I try to scrub the once non-stick frying pan which apparently shouldn’t have been put in the dishwasher like ever… I recognize “Something Great” from “Sound of Silver.” I’m already ten minutes into the “run” and the song I recognize really is pushing me to get these dishes done. It’s the closest I’ve come to a natural high… is this what all those runners are talking about?

Hearing the song in a different context I begin to think about how much a downer the lyrics are. “When something great is gone” is repeated over and over, not in this version, but in the version on “Silver” which I am hearing despite not actually being there. The cantankerous lyrics aren’t different for LCD, as lead James Murphy is sort of a grumpy aging hipster. Usually it’s pretty humorous, as in their awesome, hysterical early single “Losing My Edge.” Suddenly I realize that I have finished the dishes and am checking e-mail, which is NOT cleaning. Losing my edge in deed. So I stop, shut the laptop, and get out the Windex. I honestly can’t believe how much dust collects over a short period of time… I feel like I just recently took everything off the entertainment unit and cleaned the surface, but it’s totally filthy again. I then think back to a time when I was a kid and didn’t have to clean house or do much of anything. When something great is gone…

Suddenly, at 30 minutes in the beat kicks up and I am flying. I can’t believe how much I’m getting done… and am I enjoying it? Well no… I’m not on drugs, I’m just a slave to the beat. This gets me through the entertainment unit, but by the time I’m onto the various bookshelves and CD racks, the ambient picks up again and I begin to slow down too. Ugh, it’s the come down already. Somehow it takes me over eight minutes to clean one shelf and the song is over. I can’t believe how quick it went. More upsetting is the fact that the first load of laundry still isn’t finished let alone dry, I have two more where that came from, three more bookshelves, and… oh snap, I need to wash the futon cover as well… which the dog has basically chewed up and is being held together by safety pins. Not to mention the dishes that will need to be put away once the washer is through its cycle and cooled down, and I haven’t even started on the bathroom either.

I’m a bit depressed now and wishing this track was like four hours long, though that kind of run would probably kill someone, maybe not a professional runner but certainly an aging hipster who is actually into LCD Soundsystem. But instead of thinking about all I haven’t done I put on “Sound of Silver” and start to get into it again.

I really love this record, and think first single “North American Scum” is great. By the time the piano ballad “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” comes on I get a little melancholy again. Partly because of the song, which is equal parts sad and funny, but also because I still have so much more to do, though I have made a good dent in the bathroom. Thank goodness for small favors.

In the end I liked “45:33.” I’ve also been listening to it first thing when I get to work and it does get me going. Josh thinks it is okay, and I mostly just feel it’s definitely not made for cleaning house… unless you have just forty five minutes and thirty three seconds of work to do. Yeah right. Ooh… that first load of laundry is now dry, I need some folding music…


Here is the video for North American Scum:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

She Ain’t My Baby

Song: She Ain’t My Baby
Artist: The Teenage Prayers
Album: Ten Songs

The Teenage Prayers are a New York City based band that is currently unsigned. (Criminal!) A co-worker gave me their self-released debut album “Ten Songs” a couple months back and the more I listened, the more I couldn’t get enough. They have a soulful southern vibe to them, sometimes sounding like the Rolling Stones, but more indie. Actually, after listening to the awful Taylor Hicks record (An American Idol winner that I liked) all I can think is that THIS record is the kind he should have put out. If the band doesn’t get their deserved record deal with their sophomore set of tunes maybe they should shop them to him management… though they would most likely lose any spec of credibility they have… ah, indie rock.

“She Ain’t My Baby” is a short, fun little tune that has an almost rockabilly/50’s vibe. Check out their official website and MySpace page for concert dates, I hear they are amazing live.


Here is the band doing a Buck Owens song live:

Do a YouTube search for “Teenage Prayers” and see a bunch of home made video clips as a homage to classic movies.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Song: Ruby
Artist: Kaiser Chiefs
Album: Yours Truly, Angry Mob

The Kaiser Chiefs exploded onto the scene in 2004 when the Leeds quintet’s first single “Oh My God” reached number 66 on the UK charts despite not being signed. This started the label bidding war and when their debut record, “Employment” was officially released in 2005, they shot up the charts and watched their breakthrough single “I Predict a Riot” go to number one. That song also managed to break big with alternative radio here in the states which lead to a U.S. release later in the year.

Their follow up, “Yours Truly, Angry Mob” will be released later this month and “Ruby” is the first single, which is currently commercially available. Like the tunes on “Employment,” “Angry Mob” is a collection of pub stompers with catchy riffs and drunken sing-a-long choruses. It’s more of the same but well done. Time will tell how this does, as other neo-new wave bands have had mixed results with their sophomore albums.


Video for Ruby

Video for their monster hit I Predict a Riot

Monday, March 05, 2007


Song: Secrets
Artist; Bloc Party
Album: Another Weekend in the City

I find this fascinating…

Several months ago Bloc Party’s eagerly anticipated sophomore album, ‘A Weekend in the City” was leaked to the internet. The version going around, which I got, had very weak sound quality and while I sort of liked what I was hearing it wasn’t totally grabbing me. I waited until it was officially released, bought the CD, and re-imported. Partly from living with the album, and partly because of the newly rich sound, it really started to grow on me and despite not seeming to have the punch that their debut “Silent Alarm” did, the songs subtle layers began to become more clear and I began to really like it, listening more and more.

Unbeknownst to me, a fervor was swirling in the blog community about how much “A Weekend” sucked, despite the fact that it actually hadn’t come out yet. When it was released, the official critical response was mixed, with just about half panning and half claiming it was better than the debut. It continued to grow on me, so I was still formulating a true opinion.

In the midst of this, the band was releasing a variety of singles and special editions of the album which contained extra tracks, remixes, you name it. The B-sides that were floating around totaled eleven songs, the same amount that were on the official album. Because we are in the age of the internet, blogging, and DIY music… fans compiled these songs, named the collection “Another Weekend in the City” and even created some artwork for it that looked much like the official cover for the album. Blogs really then began to blow up as many fans that were disappointed with the official release were calling “Another Weekend” much better, and more in line with the sound from their debut. I found a blog that was hosting downloads of everything and have been listening since last week.

While I don’t quite agree that their original sound is “back” in “Another Weekend,” as I think that the official album sounds just like Bloc Party itself, I will say that these songs are pretty bloody good. I don’t know any of the material quite well enough yet to say which songs should have been included on the official release and which should have been bumped to “Another Weekend,” but I am sure enough relieved that they didn’t decide to make it a double album, as in my opinion fairly well reviewed recent 2-disc sets from Christina Aguilera and The Red Hot Chili Peppers just seemed like more was more and not necessarily making the epic they envisioned.

In the age of the iPod, iTunes, and the ease at which music fans can customize their listening experiences, it seems that Bloc Party seem okay with putting out the album they wanted to officially, and then letting their fans decide how they want to hear their music. This raises an interesting argument over the roles of band/songwriter and fan. Is it not the fans that really MAKE an artists career? Shouldn’t they cater to their needs and desires a bit? Or should an artist be just an artist and give the public what they want, or simply whatever is their artistic statement. In a couple ways it seems that Bloc Party have done both. They made the album they wanted to make, yet had written enough high-quality material for two albums… but instead of holding onto it, they just put it out there and thus muting the bedwetting bloggers complaining that the album sucks and forced them to listen to another albums worth of material. Now it seems you can build your own Bloc Party album, taking the tracks you like best from the total of twenty-two. I find this all rather impressive on the band’s part, mostly because all the material really seems first rate. As a music nut I am often obsessed with finding B-sides and hard to find tracks of artists I really like and while there can be a few gems within the leftovers of even my favorite artists, for the most part this material was understandably left off if not for quality, then just for being stylistically different from what the official album consisted of.

In the case of Bloc Party, and “Another Weekend in the City,” let the debate rage on. Honestly I have really been enjoying these songs, with “Secrets,” “Rhododendron,” and “We Were Lovers” sticking out as great tunes that no Bloc Party fan should be without. And if you have “A Weekend in the City,” we sure to seek these songs out which, I must add, are all available commercially, if not on the various special editions of the album then on the singles for “The Prayer” which have been released in several versions.

So which is better? And does it even matter? The album debuted pretty strong here despite the lead singer’s recent revelation. (Yay!)


New videos from Bloc Party:

The Prayer

I Still Remember

Friday, March 02, 2007

Big Girl (You are Beautiful)

Song: Big Girl (You are Beautiful)
Artist: Mika
Album: Life in Cartoon Motion

Every once in a while something comes along that grabs you so strongly right out of the gate that you are forced to sit up, pay attention, and recognize it as something of importance. Usually this is pretty personal, as music often is, and sometimes a band or artist will do this and it will catch on and become widespread, just because they are doing something so different sonically. In my lifetime I think of Beck, Nirvana, Missy Elliot, etc… music that seems different and strikes an immediate chord. My last big moment like this was the Scissor Sisters, which I was able to get in on pretty early. They took influences form the past and made something very new and fresh, and that is what Mika is doing with his debut album, “Life in Cartoon Motion.”

Mika hails from London, born in Lebanon but raised there as well as in Paris. His sound is Elton John meets Queen with a splash of Broadway flamboyance. The Scissor Sisters are a good touchstone as far as contemporaries, though it seems with Mika, we have found someone that likes falsetto even more than Jake Shears! The songs are mostly upbeat and immediately catchy. As a matter of fact, I JUST got this album yesterday and am already over the moon about it. I had heard mention of him for a while but had yet to hear anything from him. Apparantly there is some confusion if he is gay or not, and if he is out of the closet or not… I am trying to avoid all of this media garbage as I want to have a clear head and just take the music as is.

First single “Grace Kelly” is a revelation, and I have a feeling (if there is justice) that you will be hearing a lot of it very soon, but I am getting a kick out of “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)” which is Mika at his most camp, and no doubt a nice “follow up’ to Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls.” The album is filled with one high-kicking pop gem after another, including “Love Today” which has a propulsive “9 to 5-esque” piano stomp, and “Relax (Take it Easy)” which has a fun elctro-dance beat. Take a trip to his MySpace page to hear some more from the album, but better yet… just go get it when it comes out at the end of the month!

I can’t stop listening, and am hoping it stays hold a-la the Sisters and is not just a sweet, love-it then you’re over it like Junior Senior. Time will tell.


Check out the video for lead single, the GREAT “Grace Kelly”

And him performing the song live

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Heart of Hearts

Song: Heart of Hearts
Artist: !!!
Album: Myth Takes

You could call !!! dance-rock or prog-funk, but it’s just hard to pinpoint their exact sound and give it a label. (It’s also hard to pronounce the bands name if you don’t know… it’s “chk chk chk.”) I loved their single “Me And Guliani Down By The School Yard” from 2003, but thought their sophomore album, 2004’s “Louden Up Now” was just okay… if a little plodding. Their latest record, “Myth Takes” is set for release on March 6th. I’ve only listened to it a handful of times but am really digging it, as well as first single “Heart of Hearts.”

If this don’t make your booty move your booty must be dead.


Here is the video for “Heart of Hearts”