Friday, July 30, 2010

Black Country Rock

Song: Black Country Rock
Artist: David Bowie
Album: The Kids Are Alright Soundtrack

While I haven't seen the film yet, I've been really diggging the soundtrack to the new Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo movie "The Kids Are Alright."  It's a mix of 70's rock and indie of today.  Since I haven't seen the film, I have no idea how it all works, but it at least does on the soundtrack.  Joni Mitchell, Deerhoof, MGMT, X, and Gabor Szabo all make appearances on this eclectic set.

The song that has most struck me though, is "Black Country Rock," a song I sort of recognized but didn't realize it was Bowie.  And yet... it's unmistakably Bowie, though doesn't really sound like the Bowie we came to know.  I almost thought it was a cover, but it's not.  Written for his third studio album "The Man Who Sold the World," which is probably best known for it's title track.  Though this was the album that Bowie really came into his sound... and while it's not as glam as he would go just a couple years later, it does ring with a more classic rock sound that I never associated with the man, especially given his 80's and beyond output.

Regardless, this is a classic gem I probably SHOULD have known better, but glad to know it now.  I've also heard the film is rather good... anyone see it?


Black Country Rock

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Make it Better

Song: Make it Better
Artist: The Knocks
Album: Make it Better

I don't know much about the New York City based The Knocks, but I've really been digging this breezy, fun, summer song for quite some time now, though I haven't really heard it around.  It's a perfect slice of summer fun, and I'm interested in what the band has to offer for the future.

The Knocks are comprised of production/remix duo B-Roc & Mr. Jpatt and have done work for Katy Perry, Ellie Goulding, & Passion Pit to name a few.  You can check out their website for info on production credits as well as free downloads.  You can also get more info on the band at their MySpace page.

I think "Make it Better" is sort of like the perfect blend of a "Steal My Sunshine"-style summer jam with the infectiousness of "Young Folks."  But that just might be the whistling.


Make it Better

Can't Shake Your Love

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

White Night

Artist: The Postelles
Song: White Night
Album: The Postelles

The Postelles are a very young band hailing from the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  The guys are just in their early twenties but make upbeat garage rock with 50's Doo-Wop influences.  Initially, they reminded me of the pub-rock of Scotland's The Fratellis, but the more I listened I sort of saw them as a mix of that band (at least the debut of that band, not their terrible second album) and the Strokes.  And actually, the more I listened the more I heard the Strokes... and come to find out, the album was produced by none other than the Strokes Albert Hammond Jr.  But regardless of the sound, there is a sense of pure joy and youthful enthusiasm to the record that is downright infectious.

As young rock bands go, I just haven't been able to connect with these emo rock kids that sound all the same to me.  (Though come to think of it, a follower of this blog could fault me in the same way for all the electro-pop I listen to.  Oh well.)  And while The Postelles recall many other bands and sounds, I really think they have something, and bet their live shows are fun and harken back to a different era in rock and roll.

I really think this might be a band to watch.  They've got something.  Album isn't due until October, but you can get "White Night" and two other tracks for sale on their website in exchange for joining their mailing list.  The album is available for pre-order on Amazon, link above.


White Night

123 Stop


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Suburbs

Song: The Suburbs
Artist: Arcade Fire
Album: The Suburbs

As I continue my fuddy-duddy "Alternative Rock left only to have something called 'Indie' move in" way of thinking, I'm most reminded that "my" era of music is over and a new one has begun when it comes to Arcade Fire, arguably the band at the forefront of this new movement comes out with a new album.  I never related with the band, and while I've listened to both of their albums, and found songs that I liked... I certainly haven't connected with them the way I did with bands of similar ilk back in my day. (And how do I say that with a straight face being in my early 30's?)

Regardless, Arcade Fire are a band of note in the current music climate so their third album "The Suburbs" comes with a lot of anticipation.  Set to be released early next month, "The Suburbs" has already garnered much positive praise and is apparently a commentary on modern hipster culture. I certainly haven't gone that deep, though I will say after a couple listens I find it very pleasant, but I really like the first track (and first single) "The Suburbs."  It's got a road-warryiness to it that is an odd jump-off  for the start of an album... like you're just joining a trip that's already been going for some time.  Lyrically it sets up some uneasy feelings, which continue throughout the record.  But it's really a killer track.

Despite not connecting with "Funeral" or "Neon Bible" or really... the band in general, I do like their sound a bit and LOVE "Wake Up" from the debut and "Keep the Car Running" from the sophomore set.  I assume that I'll get over my Arcade block and realize the kids are actually alright.  Someday.


The Suburbs

Modern Man

Keep the Car Running

Monday, July 26, 2010


Song: Barricade
Artist: Interpol
Album: Interpol

Based on the strength of their second album, 2004's "Antics," I thought Interpol has really outgrown their Joy Division comparisons and proven themselves as real force in the garage-rock meets dance bands of the time.  Yet their last album, 2007's "Our Love to Admire" left me a bit cold.  Where ever track on "Antics" was a winner, even the singles from "Admire" couldn't match the assured  mood (and catchiness) of killer songs like "Evil," "Slow Hands," and "Not Even Jail."  The band is set to release their fourth self-titled album in September and "Barricade" will serve as the first single.

Immediately you recognize the band's sound with lead Paul Banks deep voice and guitar work, and typically obtuse lyrics.  I like it... though I think it does fall a bit short of the bands best.  I still do quite like them, so I'm interested in hearing the rest of the album.  The band also released the track "Lights" from the album with a video (see below) prior to the official first single.   The video is typically weird, but the song is a bit of a snore.  I dunno... it has a nice build, just not sure it really goes anywhere.

I didn't realize, but the big news form the band is that bassist Carlos D, who despite not being the lead singer was actually the most recognizable (and notorious,) announced in May that he was leaving the band.  Apparently he contributed to writing and playing on the new record, but will not continue with the band going forward.

I'm not sure how this will effect this album, or the band in general.  While he certainly helped to make Interpol what it is, from his look and well... antics, I don't know how much musically he contributed to the complete band effort.  I guess time will tell.





Thursday, July 22, 2010

No Surprises

Song: No Surprises
Artist: Amanda Palmer
Album: Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magic Ukulele

This is cute... Amanda Palmer, one half of the "Brechtian punk cabaret" band the Dresden Dolls and Evelyn Evelyn has just released an EP of... well the album title really explains it all.  Radiohead songs always lend themselves well to covers, the originals are so out there, that other artists lending their spin really seems to work.  Besides, the songs are ace.

Palmer pretty much focuses on "The Bends" and "O.K. Computer" but also does their first huge single "Creep" and really throws "Idioteque" on its head.  Her voice is deep and smokey, and specifically "Exit Music (for a film)" seems like part of some future noir movie.  I'm not really familiar with her bands work or her solo stuff, but she certainly seems to be a presence.

"No Surpises," from "Computer" has always been one of my favorite Radiohead tracks, and hearing those opening cords on the ukelele is disorientating/funny to say the least.  But as she begins to sing, you really start to feel the lyrics, and the weight of the song.  Much like the original with Thom, but just different.

Thankfully, at seven tracks it doesn't overstay its welcome.


No Surprises


Exit Music (live)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wonderful Life

Song: Wonderful Life
Artist: Hurts
Album: Happiness

Hurts are an English electronic duo from Manchester.  The band is comprised of singer Theo Hutchcraft and synth musician Adam Anderson, both of whom used to be in another band called Daggers.  Their debut album "Happiness" is scheduled for release in September, but have been making waves with their debut single "Wonderful Life," which sounds like a lost classic from the 80's.  A mix of Human League, A-Ha, and Bronski Beat, the band are just the latest indie-synth band to be biting the 80's as hard as possible.  That said, "Wonderful Life" is really a killer track, and I'm very interested to hear more.

The song was famously remixed by Arthur Baker, the legendary 80's and 90's Producer/Remixer whom was at the forefront of early remixes in the 80's (Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen) as well as key work with New Order.  "Wonderful Life" has also just been remixed by the Freemasons, giving the track their pop-club friendly feel.

Check this song out.  I'm eagerly awaiting the full album.


Wonderful LIfe

Wonderful Life (Arthur Baker Remix)

Wonderful Life (Freemason Remix)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Song: Aphrodite
Artist: Kylie Minogue
Album: Aphrodite

Last week I was on my annual summer vacation in Provincetown, MA where I'm usually able to pick out what the official song of summer is.  Music flows through Provincetown everywhere, but it's at afternoon tea dance where remixes of the latest pop smashes are played, and all the boys dance and sing along together... it's rather beautiful.  I half-expected to be overloaded with Katy Perry's "California Gurls" or Usher's "O.M.G.," but was pretty shocked when it was Kylie's "All the Lovers" was the hands-down most played track I heard all week.  Now while I think the track is a great summer song... it's just NOT the American summer song.  Because while it's come from my headphones a ton since the weather warmed, and I've seen countless friends post the video on Facebook... it's just not on the American airwaves.  At all. Oh well.

So while Kylie still can't quite connect with American audiences ("Can't Get You Out of My Head" must have just been a fluke) "Aphrodite" became her fifth UK #1 and she now stands as the only UK female artist to have number one albums in four different decades. (80's, 90's, 00's, and 10's.)  I've highlighted "Lovers" already, so I wanted to highlight the amazing title track, vs. the second single (which is also pretty great) "Get Out of My Way."

So how is the album?  Well, I became a Kylie fan first with the release of her uber-gay "Light Years" album, and then subsequently "Fever."  And while seeing Kylie last year, where she played a lot of "X" her last album which left me a touch cold, though the tracks sounded AMAZING live... but as a record, it and it's predecessor "Body Language" genre-jumped too much, making them sound like just a collection of random songs rather than a true album.  But with "Aphrodite" Minogue with the help of producer Stuart Price, have crafted what might just be the most "Kylie" of all of her albums.  (Well... maybe more like more-current versions of "Light Years" and "Fever."  This is lush, beautiful dance-pop that perfectly matches her voice, vibe, and everything that Kylie is.  Because of "X," which was so attention-grabbing, it sounds a little weak at first, until the melodies hit you.  It's more confidently assured than the bang bang banging of the previous set.

She might not have America's song of the summer... but she's got the rest of the world.  Go girl.



All the Lovers (Live on Alan Carr)

To see the very hot and sexy official video go here.

Get Out of My Way

Friday, July 09, 2010

Loving You is Easy (Dave Aude Remix)

Song: Loving You is Easy (Dave Aude Remix)
Artist: Sarah McLachlan
Album: Loving You is Easy

As dance music makes a resurgence on the pop charts I'm reminded how collectively an entire hot genre can fall out of favor, and you wonder... where did all of those CD and concert ticket buyers go?  This summer Lilith Fair, the "alternative" folky female-focused concert festival started in the 90's by Sarah McLachlan, was resurrected, only to have Kelly Clarkson drop out this week, as well as the cancellation of a bunch of dates.  It's a reminder that the elder titans of the genre haven't really had "hits" the way they had in the past.  Despite the release of album after album, the likes of Jewel, Sheryl Crow, Alanis, and festival starter McLachlan herself haven't connected with the size audience they had in the 90's.  Where are these fans?

Well... I'm one of those fans.  I went to Lilith in college, and was a sizable fan of all of the above referenced ladies.  Am I going to Lilith this year?  Never crossed my mind.

So is it me?  Have I fallen along with all the other marketed-to sheep that bend with the tides of culture?  As much as I really liked Sheryl's latest, I certainly didn't listen to it like I had albums past.  And what about Sarah?  How do you fall out of favor with one of the most gorgeous voices of our generation?  Well... when your music becomes as snooze-worthy as your detractors said it was, what do you expect?  McLachlan has recently released her seventh studio album "Laws of Illusion" and while it's very reminiscent of her older material, something is missing.  And I can't place my finger on it.  McLachlan has never been prolific, but like an acoustic-guitar wielding Sade, despite the length of time between albums, you knew that they would be GOOD.  But her last album, "Afterglow" was a complete snore-fest (save for the beautiful "Answer") and I must say... after a handful of listens, I feel that "Illusion" falls into the same category.  :(

First single "Loving You is Easy" is slightly bouncy and pretty lovely.  But I'm reminded of the first singles from her prior album, songs like "Possession" and "Building a Mystery" that had much more than their loveliness.  More weight and relevance could be found in those single songs than in whole on "Afterglow" and now "Laws of Illusion."  Is it just me?

So, instead of serving you up the straight-up album track (Liz Phair took up the female singer-songwriter slot this week) I'm giving you the Dave Aude club remix.  You can't fall asleep to it...


Loving You is Easy

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Need You Tonight

Song: Need You Tonight
Artist: Record Club
Album: Kick

I'm a big Beck fan, and as his career has gone on it's taken many stylistic turns and interesting stops into different genre's and collaborators.  In recent years he's started the Record Club, a mix of various musicians who set out to cover an entire album in one day.  To start off, he covered The Velvet Underground's "The Velvet Underground & Nico," then "Songs of Leonard Cohen."  He has since done "Skip Pence" by Oar, "Kick" by INXS, and most recently, "Yanni Live at the Acropolis."  (!!!)  Yup, that's not a typo.

Videos of the recording process can be found on Beck's official site, posting just about every track that is on each album.  It's an interesting process and thought, though the slap-dashness of the entire enterprise isn't always totally listenable... but I did like the re-dux of INXS's "Kick," taking upbeat pop songs and reforming them into indie-rock jams.  St. Vincent's Annie does the vocals on many tracks on "Kick," and pairs well with Beck's deadpan vocals.

Not sure how long he plans to continue the Record Club, but hopes that he starts writing some new songs of his own soon.


Need You Tonight

Record Club: INXS "Need You Tonight" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

New Sensation

Record Club: INXS "New Sensation" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Santorini (Yanni)

Record Club: Yanni "Santorini" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

My My

Song: My My
Artist: Liz Phair
Album: Funstyle

Liz Phair's adventures in he music industry are going to make an amazing book one day.  In the meantime, we have her new album "Funstyle," a self-released follow-up to her most unsuccessful, and even MORE critically bludgeoned last album "Somebody's Miracle."  I say in the meantime, because "Funstyle" is part a return to the very very old Liz (like pre-Guyville Girlie Tapes funny Liz) part "Comeandgetit EP" (the five-track EP that was a free download with her much maligned "pop" self-titled album, and part totally strange F.U. to the industry, the fans that turned on her, and the critics that have beaten her up no matter what she did.

As an album, "Funstyle" is her most free-wheeling and all over the place since her (excellent) sophomore album "Whip-smart."  It starts with electronic beats of "Smoke," which makes you think Liz has once again re-invented herself, and then turns into a half-sung, half-voice sampled stew that sort of puts you exactly where Liz is... burnt by the industry, and trying to start her new album.  "Bollywood" continues this with Liz rapping (yeah rapping) about Hollywood and her scoring TV shows.  It's way way weird, and leaves you questioning if the girl has lost her mind...

Then "You Should Know Me" gives us Liz of old, a downtempo acoustic guitar-based song that gets right under your skin lyrically.  The album continues very "Liz" for a couple tracks only to go all funk on "My My."  ???  It's a crazy trip that I am still trying to wrap my head around.  I've followed and gone with Liz on her journey across ALL of her albums, and I am a big fan of both her self-titled album and the last, "Somebody's Miracle."  It might be a fan-only release... but in many ways, her last was that.  It was a great album, and nobody seemed to want it.  I'm not surprised she went a little crazy.

The album is wrapped up with "U Hate It" which I think is actually pretty brilliant.  It sums up the whole silly indie-cred thing, people's reaction to music, and how an artist is ping-ponged around during it all.  On "Funstyle" she says more through experiment that straight-up songwriting.  I think it was needed, an album she wrote for her.  Let's hope it opens her up to more music... and not such a long break between albums.




You Should Know Me

Friday, July 02, 2010

Coquet Coquette

Song: Coquet Coquette
Artist: Of Montreal
Album: False Priest

As long time readers know, I wasn't so hip to Of Montreal initially, but their ninth album, "Skeletal Lamping," really took me by surprise and fell for their off-kilter lyrics, mood shift within songs, and lead Kevin Barnes all-around "freak-o-ness."  At the urge of my friend Cicely, and reader Mike in Texas, I went back a couple albums and really got to know, and like, them much much more.

So alas it's been with a bit of anticipation that I've been waiting for new music from the band, and just recently they released for free on their website "Coquet Coquette," the first single from their tenth album "False Priest."  Barnes has stated that the album has "a thick R&B influence" and that they had done away with the midi sounds and sequencers from the last couple albums and decided to return to organic instruments, live drumming, strings, and piano.  There is a more rock vibe on "Coquet Coquette," and starts like a track out of a Tarantino album.  And while it's not as dancey as recent previous stuff, the track is 100% Of Montreal.  It's a grower for sure.  I'm digging it.

Barnes did say that the album was filled with "very dancey, very funky stuff" as well as "holy fuck moments" that happen especially while listening with headphones.  Dig.


Coquet Coquette

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Song: Power
Artist: Kanye West
Album: Good Ass Job

Kanye West is returning to the game with the fourth album in his college "tetralogy" (after the one-off "808's & Heartbreak") with the new album that is unfortunately titled "Good Ass Job."  Given the media, it's hard to really know what people are thinking about Kanye as all we've really heard about the guy is outrage (Outrage!) for what he did to poor little Taylor Swift.  I frankly had no position to that entire debacle... but did feel that there was a touch of possible racism with the public's reaction to his outburst that "effected" America's latest country sweetheart.  All of that is debatable... but what isn't, is that Kanye is one of the most talented, forward-thinking people in music working today.

Case in point is "Power," the first single off the new album which "returns" him to the hip-hop he's been known for after 808's.  He got a lot of flack for that record from the hip-hop community, but I frankly think it's his best.  Emotional, futuristic, and while maybe not "hip-hop" as it's known in the pop world but there were certainly elements of his aesthetic all over the album.

"Power" is pretty blistering, and yet only Kanye could make his first toe back into the hp-hop limelight complete with a King Crimson sample.  The 60's psychedelic vibe that sweeps into the song, married with his completely distinct (and often criticised) raping, seems unremarkable at first, but this song has completely won me over... and is subtly epic in the way that "Love Lockdown" was immediately.