Friday, February 26, 2010

Nice Weather for Ducks

WeCast Music Trivia!

Song: Nice Weather for Ducks
Artist: Lemon Jelly
Album: Lost Horizons

Dear Readers,

It's a special Friday as I have a little contest for you. This week, starting with Neon Neon's "Stainless Style" and ending with today's album... "Lost Horizons" by Lemon Jelly, all the albums I've blogged about have something specific in common. And the first person that comments on this post with the correct answer gets a very special gift from WeCastMusic! Please include your guess, and your e-mail address in the comment. Go!

"Lost Horizons," Lemon Jelly's first album proper can only be described as Jazz-influenced Psychedelic Chill Out. It's an oddly sunny record that soars by on sampled voices, acoustic guitar, piano, and a trippy kitchen-sink approach to music. Many of the songs go on for over seven minutes and sometimes... sometimes... it can get a bit annoying. But, it's such a great mood record, and has so many great blissed out moments, it's very worth checking out. Oh... and a little factoid... it's exactly one hour long.

The best stand-alone track (as this is an album to listen to from start to finish) is the dizzy, silly, "Nice Weather for Ducks," that has a 60's British Psychedelia vibe. Totally bonkers... and totally charming. "Space Walk" and "Experiment No. 6" can get downright claustrophobic, and it all ends with the jazzy, from-a-spy-movie "The Curse of Ka'Zar." It feels like there is some meaning to it all... yet I certainly don't have it. Might be best a mystery.

Lemon Jelly have only released three albums (and their first was just a collection of early EP's) and are currently on hiatus. I'm also a fan of their second album "'64 - '95" which is much more pop oriented, though no less strange.


Nice Weather for Ducks



Thursday, February 25, 2010

Velvet Pants

Song: Velvet Pants
Artist: The Propellerheads
Album: Decksandrumsandrockandroll

"Decksandrumsandrockandroll" was the only full length album released by Big Beat duo the Propellerheads back in 1998. Producers Will White and Alex Gifford created a 70 minute James Bondian soundscape of sampled voices, trip-hop, big beats, and big big sound. They first gained notoriety by remixing "Her Majesty's Secret Service' for Bond Composer's album "Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project" which can also be found on the album. Another standout is "History Repeating" with vocals by Shirley Bassey, which was also included and most likely inspired her "The Remix Album: Diamonds are Forever" from 2000.

Tracks from the album have been used in videogames, the film "The Matrix," and the very FIRST iPod ad. ("Take California.") It's really a great record with a super cool vibe even at twelve years old. I'm a sucker for taking something old and giving it a new spin. I'm not sure why they never were asked to write a NEW Bond theme... oh well. This is an album for the collection.


Velvet Pants

History Repeating

Take California

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Road Rage

Song: Road Rage
Artist: Catatonia
Album: International Velvet

Somehow, when I made the switch from listening to CD to iPod-only, Catatonia, the mid-late 90's Welsh Alternative rock band just didn't make the cut onto the computer. I was into them for a bit, liking their pop-rock sound that reminded me a bit of an English version of Belly or Throwing Muses. They released six albums over the course of their six years together (1995-2001) with their third, "International Velvet," making the biggest splash.

I was a big fan of that record, though nothing dates an album more than deciding to write one of your biggest hits around a popular TV show of the time ("Mulder & Scully.") I was also a fan of the punchy "Road Rage."

The band went on to release three more records with less and less commercial interest. I never followed them beyond "Velvet," but apparently they went more dark and less pop in their later years. Going back to albums that I was into over ten years ago, and beyond, and even those I HADN'T been introduced to makes me think a lot about what stands the test of time, and what should... regardless of how dated they sound, remain important to the history of music for expanding a genre, or really creating a new one. I suppose this thought belongs more to Leftfield from yesterday... but also, good bands like Catatonia that might just slip through the cracks in the bigger picture.

I'm rambling... check out Catatonia, and specifically "International Velvet," good stuff.


Road rage

Mulder & Scully (live)

Dead from the Waist Down

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Open Up

Song: Open Up
Artist: Leftfield
Album: Leftism

It was around the time that The Prodigy released their breakthrough third album "The Fat of the Land" that the American music market was told that techno was the new grunge. The European acceptance of the musical movement, and "rave culture" was the touchstone for this, but it didn't really happen. Grunge had just become another genre in "alternative music" (which had been "moden rock" and now, "indie") and pop and hip-hop continued to be the dominant pop music force. So while "techno" (a term I don't even think is used anymore) never truly blew up, electro and electronica sort of happened bridging the gap between this new dance culture and what had already happened with disco in the 70's and new wave in the 80's. While I was too into the American alternative and not so much into dance at the time, I was missing some progressive dance music and killer "techno" albums that were defining the movement and changing what we know as the dance music album.

One record that made it's mark during this time was 1995's "Leftism" the debut album from Leftfield, a duo comprised of record producers Paul Daley and Neil Barnes. It began a movement toward "intelligent dance music" and "progressive house," but were one of the first to use elements of reggae and dub into house music. The album is a mix of spiritual new-agish world music and house, sort of a more dancy Enigma. Today it sounds a little dated, (like the rave scenes in "Go") but you can tell it's made for a "mind expanding" experience, and no doubt a favorite for ravers and those partial to ecstasy.

Opener "Release the Pressure," which breaks seven minutes, gives you a good idea what you're in store for. A slow, organic build, into hard-driving (yet uncomplicated) beats. The album is a journey, and delves into trip-hop, drum and base, and a variety of sub-genre's over it's nearly 70 minutes. I'm not sure what I would have thought of this, or if I would have gotten into dance music more at the time if I'd heard this at it's time of release. But now at fifteen years old, I see how it could have inspired many new up and coming dance artists, and brought the concept of the "dance album" back into the fold. "Open Up" was the first single and almost seems like a time capsule. If you like it, you'll dig this album.

An important moment in dance music history.


Open Up

Release the Pressure


Monday, February 22, 2010


Song: Raquel
Artist: Neon Neon
Album: Stainless Style

"Stainless Style" is a really interesting record. It's a one-off record from Gruff Rhys, the lead singer of Super Furry Animals, and electronic producer/artist Boom Bip. It's a concept album about the crazy life of John DeLorean, the boozy womanizing founder of the DeLorean Motor Company. The album takes it title as a play off "stainless steel," which the company made a car out of entitled The DeLorean DMC-12. The album is a complete 80's throwback, a synthpop record made from instruments of the time.

I'm not sure what all of that's supposed to add up to, but the record is... amazing. I'm not sure how I missed it back when it was released in 2008, it's one of my new favorites. While it does sound very 80's, I'm reminded of the new Goldfrapp single "Rocket" in that it takes pretty characteristically goofy 80's sounds and adds very "now" production, mixing a bit of the past into something new and exciting.

But beyond all of this could-be-a-disaster conceptualizing... the album is just filled with some killer songs. After a two minute synth intro, you have the one-two punch of "Dream Girls" and "I Told Her On Alderaan" which sound like sublime samples of 80's pop, but not only that... they sound like 80's CLASSICS. Really really good. Next is my favorite, the sexy "Raquel," about DeLorean's 1970's affair with Rachel Welch. A dark, slow beat starts the track, and builds within the first minute, opening up to some almost "Popcorn"-esque bleeps. Once the vocals kick in... you'll be hooked.

Elements of hip-hop also pepper the album, helped by guest Spank Rock, Har Mar Superstar, and Yo Majesty. The result of all these elements is rather modern, and the concept of the record only helps deepen the experience with each listen. I've REALLY been digging this record, and would highly recommend it if you have a penchant for 80's inspired disco-rock. (But then again... who doesn't?)



I Told Her On Alderaan/Trick for Treat

Dream cars

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Almost Killed Me

Song: Almost Killed Me
Artist: Skye
Album: Keeping Secrets

"Keeping Secrets" is the second solo album from Morcheeba vocalist Skye Edwards. The album was released late last year. Like her work with Morcheeba, "Keeping Secrets" is a moody downtempo slice of middle-of-the-road trip-hop. She has a beautiful, velvety voice, that tips the proceedings towards pretty versus the semi-creepy vibe of a lot of trip-hop. Only "The Shape I'm In" and "Almost Killed Me" pick up the pace a little, but it remains a very cool, very British, sexy album. I recommend it.

I haven't heard her first album, but it's worth noting that Skye isn't just a vocalist, she wrote every song on "Keeping Secrets" herself. She is also well known for covering the Gorillaz track "Feel Good, Inc." as well as lending her voice to a couple charity singles. I still play Morcheeba's first hit single "Trigger Hippy" often, such a good track.


I Believe

Almost Killed Me

Feel Good Inc.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Song: Disconnected
Artist: Shy Child
Album: Liquid Love

I've been digging a lot of mid-tempo electro-pop lately, getting a lot of plays out of the Digits debut as well as the new Hot Chip record. So it was a pleasant surprise at the sound, and song-writing quality, of the new Shy Child album "Liquid Love," a band I'd never heard of before. They hail from right here in NYC, and have been writing and releasing records since 2002. "Liquid Love" is their fourth, following 2008's "Noise Won't Stop" which garnered them a bit of attention over in the UK. They've toured with Muse, Bjork, and Hot Chip themselves.

Lead single "Disconnected" is breezy and fun, and I also really dig the first and title track, which samples Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere" for some moody, get-things-started, assistance. The rest of the album is filled with loungy, groovy, synthpop... some really great stuff. I'm certainly going to go back and check out some of their earlier work as this record is a really nice surprise.



Drop the Phone

Noise Won't Stop

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Song: Shampain
Artist: Marina and the Diamonds
Album: The Family Jewels

Wow. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Marina Diamandis, A.K.A., Marina in the Diamonds, an artist that if you didn't know much about now, you will. I was introduces to Marina by my friend Melanie a couple months back and have been enjoying a couple tracks that she'd released on her "The Crown Jewels EP" as well as a few random tracks that had been posted to blogs, including first single "Mowgli's Road," "I Am Not a Robot," and "Obsessions." So I was eager to hear her debut. And it's quite the stunner.

Marina will most likely be compared to Tori Amos and Kate Bush, as she certainly has their bold sense of artist adventure and unique point of view. "The Family Jewels" turns out to be a very enjoyable musical platter ranging from upbeat piano-based ditties to shimmering electro-pop and et her voice, and approach remain very distinct from track to track. It's all just so... Marina. I think she may be a real artist to watch.

In the age of leaked music, it's very important to let the right tunes out at the right time. And Marina got us all hooked with those three killer songs on the EP, and instead of those three good songs and a bunch of filler... there is just a bunch of killer. ;) "Are you Satisfied?" is a great opener, and then things really pick up with the dancy, catchy, "Shampain," which I loved right away. "I Am Not a Robot" comes after with a smile, like a new friend. She wisely bookcases the okay "Girls" with "Robot" and "Mowgli's" and follows it with "Obsessions," which somehow sounds better on the album than it did on the EP. (It wasn't a favorite at the time, but I'm really digging it now.) Next is second single "Hollywood," another new favorite... and I was already to declare the album a new favorite.

Six more tracks of gloriously off-kilter pop wrap up "The Family Jewels" and solidify Diamandis as an artist to watch and the album as one of the best female singer-songwriter debuts to come along in quite some time. If you've heard a little but of Marina and liked her, you will be nothing but blown away by the entire album. Highly recommended.



Mowgli's Road


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Memories(w/Kid Cudi)

Song: Memories (w/Kid Cudi)
Artist: David Guetta
Album: One Love

I'm on the fence about David Guetta. I've found most of his music to be a little annoying, and what I always equate to straight-forward gay club music. Of course that's only because I'm in the States... where club-ready dance music is pretty much saved for the gay clubs, and doesn't cross over to pop radio like it does in Europe. But with "One Love," Guetta has worked with just about every big and popular vocalist, and created the most American radio-friendly dance-pop concoction. (No doubt this album was played OUT at the "house music" lovin' Jersey Shore this past Summer. First pump!)

Of course Guetta will best be known here as the producer of the Black Eyed Pea's ubiquitous hit "I Gotta Feeling," a song I actually quite liked for a while but got a little tired of it when it was EVERYWHERE. That song is also located on "One Love" by way of the "FMIF Remix," which adds the, I'm sorry, cheesy club beats. I have been swayed by Guetta as of recently due to the Calvin Harris remix of the Estelle-voiced title track, which was big room filling epic. Not usually my thing... but I really liked it. (The album version is not as exciting.) But I've REALLY been loving the Guetta produced "Acapella" by Kelis which I blogged about a couple weeks ago... a great club-electro track that doesn't verge into those "cheesy" beats. Amazingly... that's the best song NOT on this record.

But I did give the album a listen after hearing recent single "Memories" featuring the amazing Kid Cudi. I have really jumped on the Cudi train, love his flow and voice, and it really works on "Memories" which manages to not be cheesy at all. It's a standout on the album. I also like future single "Gettin' Over," which features the vocals of Chris Willis on the album, but is getting the superstar makeover when released as a single, with B.E.P.'s and Fergie re-recording the vocals. It opens just like "I Gotta Feeling" anyhow, so maybe it'll sound like a sequel.

So while "One Love" turned out to mostly be what I expected... it does have it's moments. And regardless... it made Guetta a dance-music superstar whom we will no doubt hear much more of in the future. I just wonder why poor Calvin Harris didn't have any cross-over hits with his much much better (in my opinion) album "Ready for the Weekend." Oh well.



Gettin' Over

One Love

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Hammond Song

Song: Hammond Song
Artist: The Roches
Album: The Roches

The Roches are a female trio of folk-singing sisters that formed in the 70's from New York City (by way of Park Ridge, NJ.) They released their classic self-titled debut in 1979 and have continued to release albums and tour to this day, most recently with 2007's "Moonswept." I'd heard of these girls before but only recently got their debut. And what an odd little record it is. produced by Robert Fripp, who was looking for "the perfect sound" and got it with the harmonies these sisters were capable of. He employed "audio verite" approach to recording the girls and the results are pretty remarkable. Most of the record has very little "music" to it, only a very simplistic acoustic guitar usually in the background. Their voices are brought to the front (and the side, and the back, and you name it) and the combo of the three (Maggie's alto, Terre's soprano, and Suzzy's in-between range) is actually pretty mind-blowing. With the right headphones, the music seems to actually come ALIVE. It's rather wild.

The album opens with the goofy get-to-know-us track "We." Another large aspect of the girls charm is their laid-back humor, which can be found in their lyrics, and aparently their stage presence. Track two, "Mr. Hammond" is a real mind blower... employing both acoustic and electric guitar (again minimally) it reminds me a little of Radiohead's "High & Dry" musically, but it's those voices... they merge together in a way that they become one, or two, again... I can only describe it as alive. Amazing. The rest of the album is more upbeat and folky and has a charm that is hard to resist.

Certainly not for everyone's taste, but if you like folk, this is a touchstone album. I could only find live clips on YouTube, but it's REALLY important to hear some of their recorded work. Amazing.


Hammond Song (live)

Hallelujah Chorus (live)

Christmas Caroling (performing songs from their popular hoiday album "We Three Kings"

Monday, February 08, 2010

Paid in Full

Song: Paid in Full
Artist: Eric B. & Rakim
Album: Paid in Full

Arguably the best rap album of all time, but certainly vastly influencial, "Paid in Full" is the debut album by New York based hip-hop duo Eric B. & Rakim. Employing a much more laid back vibe and approach to rapping than what was popular at the time, the album was recorded in just a week, with some songs written in less than an hour. It's influence both with sampling, and the use of jazz is still heard today in much "concious" hip-hop. The loops can be simplistic, but married to Rakim's famous flow, the sound is addictive, raw, and exciting. It's often considered an "accidental masterpiece."

The album produced five singles, "Eric B. Is President," I Ain't No Joke," "I Know You Got Soul," "Move the Crowd," and my favorite, "Paid in Full." The duo went on to produce three more records before breaking up.


Paid in Full

I Know You Got Soul

Friday, February 05, 2010

We Are Having a Hootenanny

Song: We Are Having a Hootenanny
Artist: The Magnetic Fields
Album: Realism

It' hard to escape the charms of the Magnetic Fields' epic, twee, humorous, and charming "69 Love Songs," from 1999. Twenty-three tracks each on three discs, it was an achievement in quantity, but also quality, anything-goes, D.I.Y. songwriting and recording. I know nothing of the Fields' output before that album, but as you can imagine... that album was a LOT to sort through, and while the rewards were great... where does one go after releasing something so epic? Well, you continue the concepts... and post "Love Songs" the Fields tackled their "no-synth trilogy" which started with 2004's "i," continued with 2008's "Distortion," and ends with this year's "Realism."

I really loved "i," whose concept, at the time, seemed to only be that every song title started with the letter "i," and did not realize that the record did not have any synths or electronics on it. "Distortion" on the other hand... was unlistenable. Noise as a genre has never been enjoyable to me, and that's what it added up to. "Realism" on the other hand is lead Stephin Merritt's "folk album" as he describes it, and while it is a folk album from start to finish... the Fields' trademark charm and left-of-center pop melodies have been restored post "Distortion." It's all kinds of cute but yet... I can't help but miss the anything-goes free-wheeling of "69 Love Songs." Maybe I should let it go.

Apparently an all-synth record is on the way, so we will see what the future holds for the Magnetic Fields. I will certainly be listening.


You Must Be Out of Your Mind

Everything is One Big Christmas Tree

Walk a Lonely Road

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Baby Can't Stop

Song: Baby Can't Stop
Artist: Lindstrom & Christabelle
Album: Real Life is No Cool

Here's an odd little slice of 80's nostalgia (-ish) from Norwegian producer Hans-Peter Lindstrom and singer Christabelle. The pair began working together in 2001 and "Real Life is No Cool" is a collection of singles they have put out since then. The record is dreamy at times, and yet the 80's style disco-funk can break that dreaminess... not unlike the 80's feel of Goldfrapp's new single "Rocket," you pause in how DATED it all sounds... and yet, ultimately you don't feel like you're stepping backward at all. Kind of hard to explain.

All of this is best showcased at the album mid-way point with "Baby Can't Stop," where you hear a little Prince, a little "Beverly Hills Cop," and a LOT of 80's horns. It's straight out of that Eddie Murphy/Bette Midler (via her fire-red hair chubby "Ruthless People"/"Outrageous Fortune" phase) buddy comedy that never happened. Outrageous indeed.

While the record jumps around from Moroder-esque disco ("Let's Practice") to even early 90's piano laced house ("So Much Fun") it's Christabelle's quasi-mysterious vocals that hold it all together. It's an odd record... one that once it's over you question it's very existence, and yet you no doubt have been on a very odd, very strange trip. Check it out.

Oddly, someone has put "True Blood" clips with a bunch of tracks from the record on YouTube. YOu can see them below.


Baby Can't Stop

Let's Practice


Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Song: Sarah
Artist: Digits
Album: Hold it Close

Digits are a Toronto-based indie-dance project by Alt Altman. His self-described "introspective dance music" is a dreamy blend of quiet beats, low-energy vocals, and wistful lyricism. I was immediately reminded of fellow Canadian's Junior Boys, though a little less sexy. Actually, Digits are probably best described as a male version of Sally Shapiro, who I love. It's not in your face dance/electronic... more singer-songwriter.

I like opener "Saturation" as well as the pretty, throbbing, "Sarah." "You're Going to Age" is probably the hardest hitting on the album, and a bit more immediate than the rest of the album, which settles for a mood over attention grabbing hooks and beats. Overall, it's al album that gets under your skin... great for late nights.

You can read more about Digits and but the album at their official website. Three songs from the album are available for free download there, or can read up and listen to more at their MySpace Page.


You're Going to Age

Monday, February 01, 2010


Song: Burning
Artist: The Whitest Boy Alive
Album: Dreams

As it seems like a Monday I'd rather EASE into... I wanted to highlight The Whitest Boy Alive, who's debut album "Dreams" I've really been enjoying. The band is based in Berlin, the latest from Erland Oye of Kings of Convenience fame. The band started as a more electronic music project but has morphed into a more band oriented effort. I haven't heard their new album, "Rules" which came out last year yet, but have been really enjoying "Dreams" which is a dreamy mid-tempo affair.

I first came across the band when I heard the Fred Falke remix of the last song on the album "Golden Cage." It's a great remix, and while it did set me up thinking that the album would be more upbeat than it is, I still really like it. Erland's voice is really soothing and nice, and sets the tone for the album. Very good.

Terrible band name though. Eh?



Golden Cage

Golden Cage (Fred Falke Remix)