01 December 2008

POST



I am here to happily plug Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007. This book by Eric Grubbs caught my attention and I could not put it down until I had finished all 350+ pages. While it was impossible to cover every band that fits into the post-hardcore genre, the book's focus is the story and music of bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate, Jawbreaker, Hot Water Music, Jimmy Eat World and more. Grubbs provides a thorough history of each of these key bands and even takes detours for brief biographies of various indie record labels that the bands were signed to in their travels.

The story behind Dischord Records, Jawbox and Braid were my personal favorites but I found that even bands I had no interest in had riveting stories. Through his dozens of interviews and tireless research, Grubbs gives POST a fascinating narrative to go along with the discussion of the genre and its influences. If you have even a passing interest in post-hardcore or emo music, you need to get this book.

13 November 2008

"Rancho Pillow" - The Andrews Sisters


I've loved the Andrews Sisters' music for longer than I've been buying CDs for myself. In fact, the CD collection I have of there's was opportunely borrowed from my Mom before one of her moves. My original favorites of theirs were songs I already liked and had heard other people sing (or was forced to sing myself in chorus) like "Boogie woogie bugle boy" and "Mrs. Otis" regrets. Over the years these first favorites have faded back behind a couple stranger, more fun songs that just feel good in the mouth. You know what I'm talking about right? Were a song might not be the best thing you've ever heard but because of the way its written or the words used in it it just feels good to sing along with. One of these is "Ferry boat serenade" and even better is "Rancho Pillow."

"Rancho Pillow" had ridiculous lyrics and strange subject matter and is done in the perfect blended sometimes knifelike harmony that is the Andrews Sisters.

04 November 2008

"Teach Me Tiger" -- April Stevens

Long ago, but not so far away I worked the night shift in the library. I made friends with Annabel the sheep on media player and streamed internet radio to my little desk when I was not manning the big desk. It was a grubby, grumbley, magical time with just me and one other staff member and a couple of student assistants. Then one night, as punk rock Annabel bobbed around in her dance, a song trickled out of the speakers that would nearly asphyxiate me with laughter. That song was "Teach me Tiger" by April Stevens.

Don't worry, you can listen to the song without needing to laugh yourself to death. It's just that when I heard it, and waved my coworker over to listen to it too, we imagined what it would be like to end every line with a breathy wah wah wahwah wah. Lots of songs have that little nonsensical lyric in a chorus or wherever, usually its a 'baby baby,' or 'yeah, yeah,' "Mmmbop" consisted almost entirely of these nonsensical add-ons, but none has caught me so off guard as 'wah wah wahwah wah.'



--LeE.

16 October 2008

"Where Evil Grows" - The Poppy Family

The greatness of this song deserves a post of its own even though it was only just featured as part of The Great Halloween Playlist. "Where Evil Grows" by the Poppy Family is the kind of song I dream about stumbling upon when doing something else ( like putting together a Halloween playlist). It's not the only great song on the list that I had never heard before, but it is my favorite. "Where Evil Grows" really has everything going for it, beautiful forboding music, cleaver and well crafted lyrics. I highly suggest that even if you don't venture down the path of constructing your own Great Halloween Playlist, you at least head over to The Poppy Family's official Myspace and check out this song.

--LeE.

13 October 2008

The Great Halloween Playlist

I have a confession to make. I was dead tired of the 10 song CD compilations of silly Halloween songs that make up the meat of music we are offered for our October holiday. And I was unsatisfied with the top 10 or 13 lists that proliferate on the net. What with mp3 players and online playlists a mix needn't fit on a tape anymore. So, I have scoured my memory and Myspace music to create a better musical offering for Halloween.

A little aside here: If Myspace is good for anything it is a great resource for finding genius music that you previously never knew existed, and an excellent way for bands to market themselves before and after being signed. If you've been playing around with the new personal playlist feature in Myspace, you can easily put this playlist together sans only a couple songs and listen to your hearts content.

Included within the Great Halloween Playlist are some heavy, some light, some old, and some new, but none quite so fluffy as the Monster Mash. If you wanted recommendations for your Halloween listening pleasure, you have found the right place.

The Great Halloween Playlist

Old Black Magic - Louis Prima and Keely Smith
Werewolf - Haunted Love
Black Magic Woman (radio edit) - Santana
People are Strange - The Doors
Where Evil Grows - The Poppy Family
Sympathy for the Devil - Rolling Stones
Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo
Devil Woman - Cliff Richards
Witchy Woman - Bad News Bears
Little Red Riding Hood - Paul Revere and the Raiders
Marie Laveau - Bobby Bare
I'm Your Boogie Man - White Zombie
Boris the Spider - The Who
Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
Let's do the Time Warp - Rocky Horror Picture Show
Abracadabra - Steve Miller
The Killing Moon - Echo and the Bunnymen
Spooky - Dusty Springfield
Zombie Zoo - Tom Petty
Ghost Town - The Specials
Teenage Frankenstein - Alice Cooper
Hell - Squirrel Nut Zippers
La Grippe - Squirrel Nut Zippers
St. James Infirmary Blues - White Stripes
Ding Dong the Witch is Dead - Rosemary Clooney
I Put a Spell on You - Nina Simone
Zombie Jamboree - Harry Belefonte
Red Right Hand - Nick Cave
Sleeping with a Vampire - Brigitte Handley and the Dark Shadows
Date with a Vampire - The Screaming Trees
Transylvanian Concubine - Rasputina
Spooky Madness - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Halloween - Souixe and the Banshees
Thank you Satan - Dionysos
Cannibal Flesh Riot - Hola Ghost
Halloween She Gets So Mean - Rob Zombie
Lunatics - Fun Boy Three

--LeE.

10/24: Love Me Dead - Ludo (courtesy of Busch Garden's Hall-o-Scream, seriously)

09 October 2008

Entombed



I'm trying to get into the Halloween spirit and what better way than to dig up some old Swedish death metal. In 1991, I was just about to make my transition from metal head dumbass to punk ska whatever dumbass and the hardest band to let go of was Entombed. Their albums "Left Hand Path" and "Clandestine" are essential if you have even a passing interest in death metal. Of course, their album "Wolverine Blues" (which I still can't get into, even nostalgically) made abandoning them much easier. When it comes down to it, I'm not very open-minded when it comes to death metal. If it didn't come out around or before 1993 at the latest, then I just can't dig on it. Anyway, here are three tracks from Entombed.





08 October 2008

Dionysos

I first stumbled upon Dionysos courtesy of one of the many blogs I read. If I had been a little more savvy, or perhaps wrote about Dionysos right after I first heard about them I could give the proper credit to the person who clued me in. Either way, that won't stop me from passing on information on this awesome French band.

There are two different ways to love a band, I think. Obviously, you can love them for their music and how it feels when you immerse yourself in the sounds and moods they create with their music. Then, you can love them for their theatrics. I'm betting that you have run into a music video that was phenomenally awesome, but the music wasn't something you would ever consider listening to on its own. Or perhaps you routinely attend the concerts of a band that is fantastically entertaining on stage, and you love the songs because they come with memory of the visuals.

I admit, I was first entranced by Dionysos' videos (the three following to be precise), but their music has outlived the theatrics for me. It's just great stuff.







They're music continues to evolve and is now quite different to my ears than these videos. You can hear it on the Dionysos myspace page.

--LeE

03 September 2008

Plastic Bertrand - "Ca Plane pour moi"

Of all the classes I took in college, my German language class was the most interesting and netted me the most contacts--all of whom I am no longer in contact with, but hey, them's the breaks. Not only did we have near explosive arguments between a Nazi sympathizer and just about everyone else, but we had the greatest most retiring instructor, from whom I learned very little language and very much culture. I was invisible in this class at the very beginning, as I was in all my classes, until I buzzed all my hair off. With my new haircut I had a group of friends to go to Einstein bagels with every day after class. It was great! I'm getting to the point now, I always rode in one car to get to Einstein's and in this car I heard "Ca Plane pour moi" by Plastic Bertrand.

Of course I had no idea who the artist was behind "Ca Plane pour moi" when I heard it in that car, nor did I find out when the car's owner made me an unlabeled mix CD with "Ca Plane pour moi" on it. And I still didn't find out when I lost that CD in one of my overabundant college student housing moving trips.

Off an on I would search for the song with my limited knowledge of French spelling and always came up with nothing until recently. Now that I've found it--it's everywhere. I mean, you have heard it on the Gossip Girl commercial right? And I swear its in another phone and/or car commercial as well. And YouTube has a video. Ah, sigh of relief for finding the song and soothing the niggling frustration of not being able to figure out what I should know already if I had paid attention when I had that mix CD. Cheers, LeE.

20 August 2008

Golem - Libeshmertzen


I think my exposure to Golem was as serendipitous as finding the album Libeshmertzen in a clearance used CD bin. Stranger still, I wasn't even the one to spot the CD, my boyfriend was. It looked promising enough at two dollars to give it a try and I am eternally glad I did. Golem is a Klezmer imbued six piece Easter European folk-punk band. Their songs are both old and new and in many different languages, played on traditional and neo rock instruments. If I didn't already think that all of these things could fit together, the energy of the musicians themselves would've sealed it for me.



So, in doing a little poking around for info, I found that in an attempt to stay true to the party band aspect of klezmer, Golem does do weddings and batmitzvas. This is only too awesome!

Golemrocks.com
Golem Myspace

12 August 2008

'Nina, Pretty Ballerina'



In 1973, Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Anni-Frid/Frieda had yet to be dubbed the name that would ring throughout the world and were still a year off from the Eurovision winning worldwide smash of Waterloo. All four members had been successful chart-topping musicians in Scandinavia prior to forming what would become the ABBA juggernaut, and the Ring Ring album segued between where they had been (folksters, vague rockers, and pop imitators) to where they were headed (dance vanguards, vague funksters, and pop influences). It was originally released to Scandinavia and a limited market around the world (it wasn't released in the UK or US until the mid-1990s) and was a success.

The album is great. Perhaps not the music you'd expect from ABBA, but a really great reflection of the pop music scene at that time (think Gilbert O'Sullivan or the Rocky Horror Show soundtrack). The end of groovy The first hit single was People Need Love, a song that would have been better suited for the Starland Vocal Band (and who would cop that sound un-/-intentionally for their hit Afternoon Delight 3 years later). The poppy and catchy title track of the LP was set up to be the big Eurovision breakthrough (with English lyrics penned by the great Neil Sedaka) and though it was a big success it unfortunately was not chosen to represent Sweden.



I've been reconnecting with my lost ABBA past (thanks to seeing Mamma Mia! thrice and counting) and going back through their entire catalog and not just the Gold album. My personal favourite from Ring Ring is a track called Nina, Pretty Ballerina, the story of a shy and quiet working girl by day who on Friday nights turns into Nina, pretty ballerina, now she is the queen of the dancing floor... (a subject that would jettison them to immortality 3 years later). It has all the traits that would soon become their signatures--main vocals by Agnetha and Anni-Frid, a dance-friendly rhythm, happy backing vocals, and a folk-sensibility. This is the last song to ever tap into the term 'groovy' without being ironic. Then again, groovy had to be over with by the time it reached Scandinavia.

Here. Listen. Dance. Rejoice. Reconnect. Smile.

Keep the Faith,

-N.

ABBA - Nina, Pretty Ballerina

11 August 2008

Rita Pavone



You ever feel like you’re the last person to hear about something? That’s how I feel about Rita Pavone. You see, I’m about 40 years too late. But that happens, right? I found this Italian songstress on the Morricone Lover blog and proceeded to flip out over her. This boyish little munchkin just tears up the pop music. Her music is very lively, unbearably cute, comically schmaltzy, and yet comforting, all at the same time. Luckily, Pavone is all over Youtube so you can get an idea of her diminutive infectiousness.

When her stylists played up her boyishness, I have to admit that I get a little creeped out. Nonetheless, there is something vastly important about listening to music like this. When you are diggin' on Italian pop culture like I am lately, this stuff really just transports you into a different place. I'm guessing that this would be like an Italian kid going on Youtube and searching for The Shangri-Las. I don't know what I'm talking about.









16 July 2008

Durian - Sometimes You Scare Me



I found Durian on Epitonic several years ago and it was their song “X and Y” that caught my ear. I just couldn't stop myself from listening to this hypnotic and hyper track over and over again. By the time I picked up their 2000 album, Sometimes You Scare Me, the band was long gone. Luckily, the album proved to be more than just one great song. Recorded by J. Robbins at Inner Ear Studios, the whole dang record is pretty much awesome as hell.

Reading the lyrics, oh man, I just get totally lost. The singer gives himself a great deal of work to do and you’ll hear it. Every song has a weighty paragraph of lyrics and a mountain of weirdly delivered moments and idiosyncratic intonations. The guy uses every facet of his voice and it all just totally blows me away. A staggering amount of power in Durian’s vocalist, for sure.

Here’s a little taste of “X and Y”:

When sanding off the finishing
Be careful don’t damage the ring
Gray grime hands are the next big thing
They’ll hate one mistake and then excuse scores more
To prop up their affirmation-laden lore
A tense date, a report from an inside source
Who’s unfazed and jazzed to say
We’re staying on course
Supposing all things maximize
(with lower tiers simply excised)
I plotted out both x and y!

And then there’s the rest of the band! My god, these boys are gifted. “Emergencies and Laughs” is just a swarm of bees with pleasure stingers. The guitars and the bass are a guiltless banana split and the drums are a 500 meter dash in an algebraic hailstorm. Durian’s music just runs and stops and slows down and runs and stops and spins around and…

Please buy this album wherever you can find it.

Grab "Emergencies and Laughs" & "X and Y" right here.

01 July 2008

Songs from the Screen: a mix

Sometimes songs can be made great by a video, and sometimes they can be killed by their video. Visuals are so important to us humans that its no wonder loads of cash are spent upon them. But there is a very special visual music tie out there. It is the movie song. This isn't just a song on the soundtrack, it is a song written specifically for the film or performed by an actor in the film. These can be really, really bad songs, but if they tie into the plot and the feel of the movie well enough they can have a life of their own outside of the movie even if they are really really bad. Now, I'm not passing judgment on any songs here or outside of my little most liked list. I'm a sucker for a movie song, and these are my favorites.

BECK "Hit in America"
Not only do I love this show, but I love the song. And I love the animation sequence for the song during the intro credits. I was waiting through-out the entire series for this song to show up on stage, but it never did.

Top Secret "Skeet Surfing"
I have been known to annoy friends of mine with this song. I have never been able to get an answer as to why it might be bothersome. Its so fun. Its like one of those late night mash up ideas that comes from greasy pizza, stupid entertainment, friends, and sleep deprivation. You know the kind, where everyone sits around saying, "what if such and such were combined with so and so, then it'd be like...."

Empire Records "Say no more mon amore"
I am not afraid to admit that I've been a fan of Maxwell Caulfield since Grease II. What can I say?-- I was a little girl and all. I love the way he plays the washed up jerk rock star here and I love how sleazy his music video is. I only wish the song was included in the soundtrack. Come on, its for the movie....it can't be a rights issue or anything.

Get Over It "Dream of Me"
Sung by Kirsten Dunst in Dr. Desmond Forest Oats' 'Rockin Midsummer's Night Dream.' Sometimes I can really be a fool for those heart broken pretty songs, and I was for this one.

Josie and the Pussycats "Pretend to be nice"
Another girly movie, but good for so many reasons (see LeEMS Bean). This was probably my favorite song of the bunch, maybe because the movie had a whole video montage based on it. And if you saw ------, you'd know that video montages are created especially to evoke emotion, yeah!

Martians Go Home "The Martian Hop"
Ok, so this one was around before the movie, but it just fit in so great and, after seeing it lip synced by kelly green painted and clothed Martians mid move, I just had to have it. The Ran-Dells were lumped in among the novelty doo-wop one hit Wonders, though for lack of representation and not for lack of talent.


--LeEtta


7/7 addition: I can't believe I forgot this! One of the best movie songs of all time: "'Cause I'm a Blonde" from Earth Girls are Easy. Julie Brown is always fantastic, the movie is fantastic, and all of that gets rolled into a fantastic song. I have to admit I never really understood the singing sequences in Earth Girls are Easy when I stopped to think about them. The movie isn't a musical, and they can't really be explained as just a vehicle for Julie Brown, because Gina Davis also has a song. But that's only when I stop to think about them, somehow they fit in just fine. K, bye. --LeE

13 June 2008

My Dear Giallo



I was startled to find myself listening to film soundtracks. It was something that had always perplexed me when others did it. For instance, about 6 years ago, I was hitching a ride from some hipster friends of mine to a class assignment for an art history class and they were listening to this really dramatic orchestral music. I asked them what in the Hell they were listening to and I was informed that it was the Gladiator soundtrack. It caused me to start giggling so much that I’m probably lucky that they didn’t just drop me off at the next corner. It struck me so funny because I just assumed that only complete nerds listened to film scores.

So yeah, I never expected this much nerdiness to have manifested itself inside me. But after I started Doomed Moviethon, my horror movie review site, I think it was pretty obvious that there was no turning back. A Giallo is a bloody Italian mystery-thriller from the 1970s and a sub-genre which quickly became my favorite of all the films I had begun collecting. These intensely dated though endearing films feature equal amounts of blood-spilling, black-gloved killers, and boobs. It wasn’t long before the soundtracks began tugging at my dang ear.

The score for a typical Giallo is pretty outrageous. They usually have terrifying and discordant pieces that perfectly accentuate a scene in which a fashion model is being chased through a garishly lit room full of mannequins by a deranged killer. But that isn’t all that a Giallo soundtrack is about. In fact, most of them feature these “hip” tracks with breathy female vocals set to ludicrously cool lounge music. And the last and most important ingredient: at least one painfully schmaltzy “love theme” to top things off.

The most recognizable name in the long list of Giallo soundtrack composers is Ennio Morricone. With nearly 500 film scores to his credit, Morricone is also prolific in his contribution to the infamous genre by lending his talents to dozens of films. Other fantastic composers to watch out for are Stelvio Cipriani, Bruno Nicolai, and Riz Ortolani.

So yes, soundtrack enthusiasts, get your nerd on! I am totally one of you or at the very least, I’m becoming so obsessed with a subgenre that I consider myself geeky beyond reproach. When night falls, you’ll find me out on my patio, smoking a cigar with a couple of hours’ worth of Giallo soundtracks on my iPod. The best is when I start to dreamily look around at my darkened apartment complex and begin to imagine some razor-wielding maniac in high heeled boots lurking around in the shadows.

My Dear Giallo 2 is the third Giallo soundtrack mix I’ve put together and I’m pretty proud of it. I searched for as many selections from soundtracks to films I hadn’t seen before. There are around 8 tracks that come from films that I haven’t managed to see just yet. Hopefully, if my research has paid off, there isn’t any music from a film that strays too far from the restrictions of the genre. If so, I apologize. At the very least, I made sure that all of the music fits together thematically and should put you in a very, very odd mood. The title of each track is a film title so start searching for the films, y’all.



The mixes:

My Dear Giallo 2

My Dear Giallo 1

Giallo Meltdown

Other stuff:

G Is For Giallo (a Giallo article I wrote)

Giallo Meltdown (a Giallo movie marathon I documented)

Giallo Fever (great blog)

Bloody Italiana (another great blog)

Euro Fever (yet another great blog)

Morricone Lover (awesome Ennio Morricone soundtrack blog)

Giallo trailers (warning: include nudity and violence):














05 June 2008

Miyavi

All right, let's discuss the music-gasm. It is a cousin of the food-gasm, the honest and visceral reaction to something that is not sexual, and yet the only thing it really compares to is sex. The music-gasm happens when something you listen to excites you to the extent that you hold your breath, and your head tingles, and your hands shake. Or at least, that's what happens to me, and did while I gorged myself on Miyavi (wiki) videos for the last half hour. That's just how much I loved it--Miyavi's music, that is.

I don't know if it's possible to write something that does justice to the way Miyavi plays guitar. I have never seen anything quite like it. At least, not with quite as much variation and speed. It does remind me of skilled and traditional flamenco guitar, but put on speed. His unique rhythmic playing and accomplished mastering of the guitar have earned him a reputation as one of the top guitar players in Japan.



And then, there is the ridiculous variation among songs, the theatricality, and that, to me, Miyavi appears almost unbearably cool.





--LeEtta

'Murmaider'/'Go Into The Water'



Foresight, that's the key.

So I was roped in to seeing the new Sex And The City film for V's birthday. She wanted to see a girly film and I had a free pass to something so at least I know I didn't pay for my ticket. To be fair, I do watch the show sometimes and find it amusing but I am by no means what you would call a fan. However, I'm in a very small minority of those people going in willingly to see the film because:

a) I have a penis.
b) I'm straight.

Sitting in the film I realize that it's much easier to look at Charlotte (the cute one) at home where you don't have to listen to her. In a theater there's no escaping the dialog. Surprisingly, there was a fairly inescapable poop joke. And Kim Catrall just creeps me out--I wouldn't touch her with Rosie O'Donnell's dick. I was trying my best to sit through the entire film (which was unbelievably long, like almost 2-and-a-half hours), but an hour into it I knew I something had to give. Sleep was no option because the seats were too uncomfortable and, unlike what was presented at the MTV Movie Awards two nights prior, Jennifer Hudson's prominently displayed breasts were no where to be seen.



This is where foresight came in to play.

You see, before we left I loaded my MP3 player up with some new music I had been meaning to listen to and one familiar album--Dëthkløk's Dethalbum. Foresight. *SPOILER ALERT* At the scene where Big gets cold feet and leaves the wedding only to decide to come back and then Carrie flips out (oy vey), I had decided I'd had enough. I quietly slipped on my earbuds and hit play.




While Carrie and Miranda and Charlotte and...erm...who's the forth?...Mrs. Garrett were blabbering away, their words were lost to the strains of Murmaider (listen to the repeating third and forth lines of the chorus and tell me that isn't the greatest thing you've ever heard in music!) and Go Into The Water. Foresight is salvation and this 20 minute respite (which also included Awaken, Go Forth And Die, Face Fisted, and Hatredcopter) was exactly what I needed to remain seated and carry on through the rest of the film. Removing the audio from the film and replacing it with Dëthkløk gave me a whole new perspective and dare I say appreciation for the movie. In fact, I can't wait to watch it on TBS tonight...while listening to Castratikron and Bloodrocuted of course.



All hail Dëthkløk!

-N.
05.06.08

Dëthkløk - Murmaider
Dëthkløk - Go Into The Water

03 June 2008

Versailles

In the Autumn of 2006, Kamijo (from Lareine) and Hizaki (from Sulfuric Acid) decided to create a band based on the “The absolute Youshikibi (beauty of form) sound and extremes of aestheticism." Six months later Versailles was formed. The combinations of their musicianship, costuming, and make up with their on-stage energy makes Versailles seem truly other-worldly. Part of the Japanese Visual Kei movement among musicians, Versailles message is more than music.



Versailles Myspace
Visual Kei on the Bean

--LeEtta

28 May 2008

"Dead Beat Strategy"



I have to write about Gauge. This band, early Braid, and Cap’n Jazz make we wish that I had grown up in Chicago instead of stupid old Jupiter, Florida. Gauge is the centerpiece band in a number of various and awesome side projects and other bands. Find these things and you will be happy: Radio Flyer, Traluma, Sweater Weather, Haymarket Riot, Rollo Tomasi, Red Villain, Euphone, Heroic Doses, and The Sky Corvair. Anyway, Gauge’s 1995 album, Fire Tongue Burning Stomach, is absolutely essential for everyone. Whenever I put this album on, I get stuck on one quintessential Gauge track that I’m helpless against.

The song in question is “Dead Beat Strategy”. As soon as this song starts, I’m confused. Then the vocals, streamlined and raspy, start rolling in. If I could just stop the guitars from entering my pores for a second, I could probably analyze them better. They’re like shades being drawn when something really good is about to happen. The drummer is in total control the whole time, knowing when to hold back and when to cut loose. And that’s where the brilliance of this song lies; in its ability to hold back until the last 20 seconds. Jump directly to 3:10 and witness the chorus which is delivered once and only once and fuck me, it’s over.

Grab the song

More about Gauge

A Myspace page

22 May 2008

'Cold Rockin' Au Graten'


Richard Missile and Nafa Missile of The Missiles


What can be said about The Missiles that hasn’t already been written in the anals of history?

This duo from the backwoods of East Virginia began as the Missiles Brothers Musical Cliche' and started playing church socials and forcibly playing random talent shows of the various elementary schools in the area. It was after one of their subsequent arrests that they were discovered by a big time Hollywood producer who immediately booked them for the Sunday evening variety show, Hey Hey, We’re The Missiles!:


The show was a huge success and they won many, many accolades and developed a huge fan base. They started experimenting with other styles of music, eventually settling on a hybrid of Enuff Znuff, Saigon Kick, and Creamsicle, the all-star children’s choir consisting of singers with Asperger’s syndrome. The result was the timeless album, Lipstick Panda Squared:


Becoming disillusioned with their fame, the boys spent the next few years living quietly in a small town in Beirut working as Mexican chefs. This was the core inspiration behind their seminal work, the edgy and sweet The Missiles Is Duder:


The world had thought they had heard the last of The Missiles but a new track appeared showing a new direction. The track is a raw live mix of Cold Rockin’ Au Graten and this gem is like a stream of bat’s piss—it shines out golden when all around is dark (thank you, MPFC).

Get it, love it, eat it, vomit it, eat it again, digest it, and get another one.

-N.
22.05.08

The Missiles - Cold Rockin' Au Graten

20 May 2008

'The Seventh Stranger'



First, watch this:


The year was 1989 and Kid-N-Play were in full swing. These were my heroes, the mighty Duran Duran who had been close to my heart since I was about 11, and here 8 years later on how the fashionable had become fashion victims. They had survived the loss of two core members (drummer Roger Taylor, who went on to live a farm life, and guitarist Andy Taylor, who went on to be a 'rocker'), but at what cost? Though they would re-emerge 3 years later to regain some past glory several years later they would become completely Taylor-less with the departure of John Taylor (none of them are related, by the way). And a some years after that all five would be back together and charting once more, but this was the end of the Eighties. This is where the pinups, the icons, the plastic gods had settled. On the whole, the Big Thing album wasn't bad and had some pretty spectacular moments (though by just listening to the singles you couldn't tell). But the Golden Years were over. This was the dubiously named Big Thing tour.

And, with my luck the way it is, this would be the only era I'd get to see them perform live for 19 years.

The show was great--fuck, it was Duran Duran. These were the not-so-young men I had spent ages 11 to 17 trying to dress like, wear my hair like, play music like, sound like, smell like, dance like, eat like. I had the wide brimmed Stetsons that John favoured. I had the black and white suit similar to Simon's in the video for The Reflex. I used Colgate and Vidal Sassoon like Nick. Since I went to private school I had to keep my hair short so I would take a picture of Roger Taylor with me as a guide for the barber. And I would jump around with my string-less Rexina Strat-knockoff trying to time the strumming with the jumping like Andy did. I learned to play bass and drums to their cassettes. Hell, I even had a blond streak in my hair until 2001 because of them.

Our friend Tracy bought two tickets for us to see Duran Duran on the Red Carpet Massacre tour two nights ago in Orlando. While forever in debt to her kindness, at first my heart wasn't really in going to the show. Over the past few years I have given Tracy every piece of Duran Duran memorabilia that I owned, from the 1982 calendar to posters to tour programs to books, videos, and the import 12" singles that I had saved my allowance for and went to Bullfrog Records and ordered. She is a much more dedicated fan with an entire room dedicated to the band. I should have been ecstatic, but even once inside the arena I wasn't feeling the excitement I should. There was a distinct scent of Rogaine and estrogen well past it's sell-by date. Then the lights went down and they hit the stage. It only took a song or two for me to feel like I was that early teenager once again. Maybe it was that Roger was with them again, maybe it was that they are just that damn good still, but they seemed to be more animated than they had been nearly two decades before. I was most impressed that at 50 years old Simon's voice has held up beautifully, almost indistinguishable from his younger years--it was amazing. They played for over two solid hours. I was sold once again and regret even thinking that I wasn't into seeing the show. How wrong I was--I needed this. Thank you so much, Tracy. They are still my icons.

Hungry Like The Wolf
Orlando, FL - 18 May 2008




Red Carpet Massacre/Nite Runner
Orlando, FL - 18 May 2008



I am a born again Duranie.

For your consideration, my song selection is The Seventh Stranger, the closing track from the 1983 album Seven And The Ragged Tiger. [Miriam Lopez bought me this album for my 14th birthday and I won the 8th grade talent show singing this song (I was in it twice, the first time playing the drums to Big Country's In A Big Country).] A staple slow dance at all our junior dances, it's the closing track of the album and signifies the last time the band was truly unified. The next album was a live album with one new track (Wild Boys) and after that the band wouldn't be a quintet again until the next century. This ballad was the end of an era, of some type of innocence. It's beautiful and sad. And fitting.

Keep the faith,

-N.
20.05.08

Duran Duran - The Seventh Stranger

24 April 2008

'Jesus, I/Mary Star Of The Sea'



OK, after a brief hiatus with a steady diet of nothing but Dëthkløk and Viva La Bam, I'm back and ready for action so on to business.

Billy Corgan--Svengali, fan of pro wrestling, lover of comely female bassists (I mention that only because I'm jealous). He is an accomplished lyricist, poet, and musician with a keen sense of melding Prog Rock vastness with saccharine-laced Pop melodies. He is also notoriously difficult to work with, and the fact that all of the incarnations (save a one album) of the Smashing Pumpkins, Zwan, and Corgan's solo material were just variations of Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain are a huge testament to that fact. Still, the man knows his craft.

Zwan, a mini-Alt super group, was a brilliantly jubilatious (if that's not a word it should be) band and much too short-lived. In less than a two year period between Pumpkincarnations (another word that should be) Zwan formed, recorded, toured, began in-fighting, and broke up. They spawned one album, the amazing Mary Star Of The Sea, which produced at least one radio-friendly single, Honestly (plus it has the wonderful Paz Lenchantin):
The album featured several other songs in a similar vein (Lyric, El Sol) that reflected Corgan's new found spiritual enlightenment.

The highlight came in the form of the titular track, Jesus, I/Mary Star Of The Sea, which is really two songs in one. At over 14 minutes, the song is epic to say the least. The first part, Jesus, I, is paraphrased from a 1833 hymn by Henry F. Lyte (and Matthew 16:24).

Jesus, I've taken my cross
All to leave and follow Thee...
I'm destitute, despised, forsaken
All to leave and follow Thee...

After several minutes of a chiming guitar loop, the music starts to swell into the religious frenzy of a mosh pit with the repeating lines, Jesus...reborn..., which give way to the rest of the hymn:

So perish every fond ambition
God and trouble are all I've known
Yet how rich is my condition
God and heaven are all my own...

The music continues with an onslaught of soloing guitars in an almost free form jam. This continues (perhaps a bit too long) until it reaches a plateau of beautiful chord construct. The tempo shifts to a slower pace but once more explodes though this time with more restraint and purpose. Corgan returns to vocals once again at almost 9 minutes into the song with some of the best lyrics he's ever penned (well, at least they are my favourite):

Rooms full of salt, fault my pluck
And a poets charm so far, ever far
Little stars that burn the holes in my soul...
And everything just feels like rain
The road we're on, the things we crave
And everything just feels like rain
The nights i sleep, what's left to dream
When everything feels like rain...
Drift as I dive, find the deep
Out of reach of all light
Stars, ever far
Listless tides along the changing shore...

The song's languid rush finally gives way and seems to fly off into space or drift out in the tide. This track is certainly a journey.

And just because, here are those comely female bassists and their Fender P-basses:


D'arcy Wretzky



Melissa Auf Der Maur



Paz Lenchantin



Ginger Reyes



-N.
24.04.2008

Zwan - Jesus, I/Mary Star Of The Sea

Don Caballero ruined me (but it's my fault)



My heart runneth over with the Don Cab. I've spent several years trying to recover from my obsession with this band. Well, it ain't working. Here's three tracks from various live bootlegs to demonstrate why I couldn't give up the ghost.

When I think about it, there's nothing like plundering the deepest and darkest corners of your music collection. It is important to listen to live bootlegs of your favorite band, whoever they are. They might play your favorite song in a way that differs drastically from the album. Or, if they're like Don Caballero, you're just wondering if they ever pulled this shit off in a live environment.

Once I got over the flashy drums of Don Caballero, the guitars started to seep into my mind. They changed my whole sensibility on what I expect from a guitar player and how I listen to them. And of course, they influenced what kind of guitar pedals I bought (Akai Headrush, I miss you) and how I (try to) play. I think I just heard some hipster-eyes rolling. Anyway...

Their music is irrational therapy for me. There is something about Don Caballero that causes me to fold, unfold, and level off. I don't care what happens to me when I hear this stuff because I know that nothing will ever go wrong ever again. Sometimes, you just have to give in and realize that life really is this good.

I recommend all of their albums but my favorites are American Don and What Burns Never Returns (Mike Jolley told me I would hate this album (he was wrong (dead wrong!))). Nothing can stop this band, I tells ya. Not even a 75% lineup change. Thank God they're still good and still out there touring and recording. It helps me sleep at night.

Don Fanallero - an excellent resource



Another video - "Railroad Cancellation"

Hey look - it's yours truly (from 2001):



-Richard

Sarah Harmer "Around this corner"

I was a band geek in middle school, I admit it. And though I did not continue my band geek career any further, the ridiculously advanced classes at my middle school and private tutoring made me comfortably companionable with my instrument and not a bad clarinet player, if I do say so myself. As what happens when I start hanging out with someone new, my relationship with my first rented clarinet inspired me to find out all there was to know about clarinets and clarinet players. So the result was the permanent seed in me tuned to listening for a clarinet, and that alone may be the first reason why I was hooked on Sarah Harmer's "Around this corner" the very first time I heard it.


Perhaps the second reason "Around this corner" alone made me buy the album was that I imagined the song fit that part of my life perfectly. But then, isn't that the reason so many songs become precious? The smooth, round clarinet tones permeate the album 'You Were Here,' and add breathy interest to well composed songs. Harmer's following album 'I'm a Mountain' loses the clarinet and focuses more on an acoustic guitar sound that sells itself a little short, I think. Maybe I was just expecting something more smooth and round once again. Choice of instrument is not all that 'You Were Here' and 'I'm a Mountain' have going for them, however. Harmer's music composition skills continue to impress, even without the clarinet. Yeah, I just cannot let that go.

Interestingly enough, all the songs on the Sarah Harmer myspace music profile come from the 'You Were Here' album. Alas, "Around this corner" is not there.



I did eventually own my clarinet, by the way, and I sporadically, maybe not so often, get it out and play it lovingly.

--LeE.

09 April 2008

Searching for Caviar


Anyone who has seen the Charlie's Angels movie or happened to listen to the radio at the time the movie was out will have heard Caviar's "Tangerine Speedo." They may not, however, have heard anything else from this band. Based in Chicago, they manage to create exceptional music without having any locatable presence in the news, on the radio, or online. They're myspace page is frustrating to me, with an overlay of traditional style Asian music that cannot be turned off. Though I suppose the layering of different sounds and inputs is what makes their first album one of my favorites.

Their self-titled first album is filled with everything that would make a band humongous if they wanted to take advantage. Instrumentally, their skills are amazing; and, though they don't need it, they generously overlay superb playing with layers of overdubbing, synthesized sounds, and generated drum beats. On top of all this geniusness are clever, memorable, and often filthy lyrics that tickle the brain in the best way possible.

I am not proud to say that I have not yet heard their second album. The Eagles' article about it makes me question why my obsessive enjoyment of the first didn't become fanatic impatience for and consumption of the second. Overall, it seems as though they are a very hard band to pin down, and perhaps that is best if the non-existence of a public persona makes for music like this.

Hmmm, 'embedding disabled by request' means y'all will have to go and look for your own selves.

--LeEtta

07 April 2008

Fastbacks



Shortly after high school, I begrudgingly started community college and began working as a sad sack security guard. Fastbacks are a prime example of the music that kept me from suiciding. One day while killing time at Sound Exchange (R.I.P.) in Jupiter, Florida, a promo copy of their 1994 album, Answer The Phone Dummy, caught my eye. I remember guarding this car dealership all day one Sunday and I’d brought this album along. Sometime around 6:30am, while I was eating stale Oreos from the gas station, I put Fastbacks on while watching the sunrise. Magic!

And here it is, 13 or so years later, and this band still gets to me. How I ever got by without this record is a mystery to me. I need everyone to dig on this album. It saved me and LeEtta’s lives the other night while we were driving on the highway at night in the rain. The songs I picked are “Went For A Swim” and “And You”. You need to know that dueling female pop punk vocalists are on a list of things to live for.

Songs:

Went For A Swim” and “And You”

Videos:

Fastbacks – “Waste Of Time”

and...



-Richard

21 March 2008

'Addicted'



For me 1998 was a great year for discovering music. Actually, 1998 was a great year for discovering familiar music. Ten years on they still hold true.

Blink 182 was in the process of recording their mega-hit album Enema Of The State, which is truly a technically brilliant album. There is no finer drummer than Travis Barker at that point (say what you will about Neil Peart, Barker was a refreshing new sound to the familiar and intricate riffs we all grew up with, not to diminish Peart).

Bic Runga, New Zealand chanteuse and all around goddess of all she vocalizes released her first single (Sway, which is mostly known by the American audiences as the sex song from American Pie) and the brilliant debut album, Drive. I say 'brilliant', but that stands because we are talking about 1998. Her albums have progressively gotten more and more amazing, piquing with 2005's transcendent Birds.

And finally, also from New Zealand, a man who needs no introduction but will get one. He assumed the lead guitar role and eventually headed New Zealand's top band and musical export of the 1970s and 1980s, Split Enz, and wrote some of their biggest hits including the 80s international staple I Got You; he founded the international hit band Crowded House and penned one of the most recognizable pop ballads even today with Don't Dream It's Over; he frequently collaborated with his older brother Tim in almost every musical endeavor the tow of them have ever participated in; he is father to Liam who's band Betchadupa has also received international recognition in the past few years; he has drawn the likes of Eddie Vedder, Johnny Marr, members of Radiohead, Wendy and Lisa of Prince's Revolution, Sheryl Crow, Sinead O'Connor, and Lisa Germano among the many into his backing band; he co-wrote hits for other people including Every Day Is A Winding Road by Sheryl Crow (on which he also sings back up) and Silent House by the Dixie Chicks; and his most recent role has been fairly low key touring pianist and backing vocalist for Bic Runga's band.

Of course, he is the great Neil Finn.


Neil Finn at age 22 changing pop music history
with Split Enz and I Got You.



5 years later with Crowded House
and an even bigger success.



With friends (see the list above)
and her first solo hit.



The unassuming piano man and perfection herself
in 2005.


After 21 years as a professional musician (not counting when he would open for his brother Tim's band Split Enz at age 13 as a solo act) Neil Finn finally decided to release an official solo album. The result was 1998's beautiful Try Whistling This. The album is incredible. It begins like a railway station and ends with a dream. In between he dabbles in undying romance(Try Whistling This), the carnal (King Tide--I swear to this day this song is about oral sex), redemption (Sinner), the perfect pop song (She Will Have Her Way), and barren, wind-swept emptiness of the soul (the eerie yet enrapturing Astro). The dreaming begins around track 9 (Truth) and ends with track 14 on a moving dream train to other places ('feels like this train might never stop...', Addicted).

It would be another 3 years until Finn would continue the journey with 2001's One Nil (and the American version, 2002's One All. In a strange note, the track Turn And Run was an chilling lyrical premonition of the events of 9/11 that didn't go unnoticed by the Frenz (Split Enz and all related music fans), though nothing was ever mentioned officially about it. The song itself was written months, even years prior to that tragic day.

Whatever the case, I've decided to include the last track of Try Whistling This, Addicted. You can hear where the journey ends. This is an album I highly recommend you go out and find for yourself and get keyed in to how it all got to this point.

Thank you, Neil Finn.


-N.
20.03.2008

Neil Finn - Addicted

17 March 2008

"Mary Had a Little Lamb"

When I set out to my own apartment and college life, my parents opened up with a stream of memories from when I was a baby. I heard stories I never knew before. It was as if my impending absence resurrected the past in their minds, and from that came a song. In a tiny nursery with yellow and green butterfly wallpaper, my Dad sat in a rocker holding a little me and sang Wings' version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Who knows why he picked that song? He was quick to qualify that he never really followed Paul McCartney's work outside the Beatles. But because he picked that song and sang it to me when I was just a tiny helpless thing, the song became precious to him. And when I finally found the song (he never had a copy) and listened to it with that picture in my mind, remembering the emotion in Dad's voice when he related the story to me, the song became precious to me as well.

It's not a groundbreaking version of the song; there are no new lyrics or altered rhymes, but the thing that Dad remembered setting it apart was the la la las, and they do add something almost imperceptible to a familiar tune.



I've made sure that Dad has a copy of the song now--the internets is an amazing place that way. One day maybe I will share it with other tiny helpless children like he did.

--LeEtta

05 March 2008

'This Means Anything'/'I Was In Chains'

Last night I was in a migraine haze, sitting on the couch and watching Tivo'd episodes of Chef Stories, No Reservations, and Bizarre Foods, and trying to read my Apocalypse 2012 book. I had just taken a small handful of pills that I hoped were Ibuprofen, though I couldn’t be exactly sure since my girlfriend tends to throw all her meds into the same bottle for when we travel and this was one of the bottles, and washed it down with the last 32-ounces of the 5-gallon drum of tea that I had nearly single-handedly put away over the past 2-and-a-half days. (At least I had the sense to make sure all the pills matched.) The laptop was on and I was ready to be creative and post amazing new things.

I woke up a few hours later in time to hear V’s key turning in the lock, be on the receiving end of claws as the sleeping cat on my chest sprang to life and leapt to the door, and having Bullet Tooth Tony yelling at me from Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels on TV. So suffice it to say, little got written. However, I did jolt awake with a song still ringing in my brain. It was something that was left over from the unconscious state, the soundtrack to my dreamless-dreaming. It seems to be a song... rather ‘songs’ that transition from waking to sleeping well. From the 1985 LP Secret Of Association, it’s This Means Anything/I Was In Chains by the spiky haired hero of my youth, Paul Young.

For those who need a refresher:

Everything Must Change


Yes, this was his big album with hit singles like the cover of Every Time You Go Away, Tomb Of Memories, and Everything Must Change. Chock full of blue-eyed soul the album was about as close as the Luton-born Mr. Young ever got to being a fully fledged Detroit soulster. It had the definite sway from three male back up vocalists, the funkiest organ riffs heard in those days, and—one of my favourite tricks of the 80s—the warm, mournful cry of a well played fretless bass. Much like a Vegas crooner Mr. Young’s career depended a lot on cover songs (Love Will Tear Us Apart, Love Of the Common People, I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, Oh Girl, Wherever I Lay My Hat Is Home, A Soldiers Things, Don’t Dream It’s Over, etc.), though that’s not to say that he was in any way sub-par. In fact, he has a beautifully gruff voice. But towards the end of this soulful album there are two tracks that bleed from one to the other. And one is, surprisingly, an original.

This Means Anything is a sad, sweet song with still that plaintive soul edge that made Every Time You Go Away such a huge hit. Of the two I’ve always preferred this song because of its simplicity and earnestness. Perhaps it's because Mr. Young is singing something that he wrote and can express it with deeper conviction than the lyrics of another. Jangly, reverb-drenched, and shiningly 80s, the song fades with the repeating roundelay I'll be with you again, words without credence, oh and segues into windchimes and a sparse rhythm. Enter I Was In Chains. His Eastern take on the Sutherland Brothers classic conjures images of deserts, ships, open skies, and travels. Lonely deserts, lonely ships, lonely open skies, and lonely travels. I was in chains and bound for Australia... Though it creeps up on you the instrumentation is full. The lyrics and delivery compliment the sentiment of This Means Anything, the natural progression. It is not until the last ambient 20 seconds of the track do you become aware that it's over (and for the full effects listen to it through headphones, panning-o-philes, but I have to admit that I was much more impressed when I was 15).

As I mentioned, this is a drowsy pair of songs. Songs for the heartbroken, the traveling, and those of you who have hopefully taken only Ibuprofen.

-N.
05.03.08

Paul Young - This Means Anything/I Was In Chains

"Highschool Stalker" Hello Saferide

"I've been looking for you baby
any way that I can find
I've been searching for your sweet name
'cause you never leave my mind
I've been on the Altavista
I went twice on the Yahoo
And every where I go
There is always a clue
Always something about you
That may help me get my hands on you."

Hello Saferide was one of those awesome Myspace discoveries for me when I was so bored the only thing I could think of to fill the time was to friend hop band pages. When I heard "Highschool stalker" I was hooked. Annika Norlin's cleaver lyrics and sweet voice make the somewhat disturbing, but infinitely familiar message in "Highschool stalker" all the more poignant. Who hasn't searched the internet for a high school crush, accidentally walked down the street they live on the weekend, or changed their dental records? Ok so maybe not the last one.

"hacked into the school computer
changed all of your Ds to As,
broke into the dentists office,
no you never needed braces"

I have been informed, by a friend, that this song is creepy; and I have to agree that imagining a person really going to all this trouble under the weight of their obsession is a bit much, but there is a feeling there that reminds me of me. Am I admitting too much? Aren't we all prone to fall prey to the crazy obsessive first hints of love and infatuation? Where some people stay up into the night staring out on to their back yard wondering what the object of their affection is doing--some other people prank call, and walk by their house, and start eating the foods their crush likes the best. The all permeating feeling underneath either reaction is the same and indescribable. Judging by the vast popularity that the song enjoyed from its internet debut--I cannot be alone in thinking so. And somehow the self effacing blurb by the band about the song makes it all the better.

"'Highschool stalker' was an instant Internet hit with all of your favorite twee elements: handclaps, a Shangri-Las ask-and-tell chorus, a scrunched-up trumpet, and a weak guitar. Hello Saferide immediately got a record deal..."



Listen to it and other awesome songs by Hello Saferide.

--LeEtta

03 March 2008

Storm & Stress



Disdain. That was the look on my friend Mike Fusco’s face when I showed him my purchase. In my hands was Storm & Stress’s 2000 album, Under Thunder And Fluorescent Lights, and I couldn’t have been happier. Being a huge Don Caballero fan, this side project was the next logical step for me. I try not to let people’s gray faces sway me when I’m making musical purchases. I’ve discovered a few friends who are gaga over Storm & Stress but they are few and far between. When I approached my future bandmate, Nafa, back in 2001, Storm & Stress was one of the things I passed along as one of my influences.

I quickly backtracked to 1997 with Storm & Stress’s self-titled album and was fairly confused at first. This is not easy listening. It took a while for this album to sink in but once it did, I could be found wasting away, with headphones on, in my local library. The constant absorption of this stuff (which I could barely understand) probably did irreparable damage to me but I doubt I’d be the same without it.

The last track on the self-titled album (not to ruin the finale for you or anything) is called “Orange Cone Made No Noise”. The rambling vocals let me know I’m in trouble. Then the eruption of instruments makes me shake and I get nostalgic for good old days that never happened. Deceivingly alienating, this is actually the warmest and most loving music in the world.

If you can make it to 2 and half minutes then you’ll be rewarded with a soft, soaked, and sinking life preserver. The guitar (played by Ian T. Williams) and the bass (M Eric Topolsky) spend a great deal of this song turning around too quickly and bumping into each other. And I wasn’t aware that drums could tease, rumble, sputter, and romp before I heard drummer Kevin Shea. I am in love with the 8 minute mark.

It just dawned on me that this track is over ten minutes. For some reason that’s funny to me. Ian Williams mentioned in an interview I read somewhere that there is a great deal of humor and tongue-in-cheekiness to Storm & Stress. Pretentious? Sure. Why not? I feel surprisingly levelheaded about this positive noise and it still reels me in and destroys me with smiles.

Tuba City interview with Ian Williams



"Orange Cone Made No Noise"

-Richard

29 February 2008

'The Crossing'

I remember first getting the full album The Crossing on my 14th birthday from Sean Wheeler. Or rather, he gave me $10US to get the album. Months earlier we had both procured his brother's LP but eventually had to give it back. Here were four talented musicians--featuring a rhythm section that was favoured by the likes of Pete Townshend and many others, an ex-member of the seminal Scottish punk band The Skids, and a guitar wunderkind--who wrote and performed unconventional and lush compositions about landscapes and adventure tales in a time when pop music was all about androgyny and power ballads. The album was brilliant, full of amazing epics (The Storm, Porrohman), Scottish melodrama (Chance), and blazing guitars-as-bagpipes, also known as the E-Bow (Fields Of Fire, 1,000 Stars). Also here is one of my all time favourite Big Country tracks, Close Action. Shortly after The Crossing was released, they also released a 4-song EP called Wonderland, and it was every bit as brilliant as the previous album. Wonderland, All Fall Together, Angle Park, and The Crossing. Of course they continued with their plaid and be-sweatered, spiky haired image but the music and lyrics were timeless. No one since dear Robbie Burns wrote with such scenic Highland eloquence. And this all reached it's peak with Stuart Adamson's (may he rest in peace) lyrics to The Crossing, the 7:10 long finale of The Crossing/Wonderland period:

Maps on the back of your hands point to the cross
Scratches on walls in a room draw out your loss
Your islands are conquered and you are returned to the throne
Martyrs take penance and fill up the mattress with stones

Pull straws with holy men, stain all the atlas pink
And let us find a beach where we can cross our hearts

Stand in the wind as the carousels spin, wear out your welcome again
Stand in the silence of mountains and wear out your welcome again

Mornings hit hard with an uncontrollable light
Piercing the senses that click deep in the night
Crouched in a pillow of straw feet on the floor
Creeping a path to the mat that holds back the door

Stand in the wind as the carousels spin, wear out your welcome again
Stand in the silence of mountains and wear out your welcome again

Build up great railways that run through the horns of the moon
Hold up a city with cast-iron museum walls
Explain your machines to the boys feed them with tools
Bring out the skill in your skin polish your hair

Stand in the wind as the carousels spin, wear out your welcome again
Stand in the silence of mountains and wear out your welcome again

Stand in the wind as the carousels spin, wear out your welcome again
Stand on the silence of mountains and take your rib down to the sea...


The following year would see the release of Steeltown which closed with the amazing Just A Shadow, the first of my personal 'New Years Songs':

Just A Shadow

1986 saw the release of The Seer, which was truly the last Big Country album that had that 'Big Country' sound. As did most of the artists of the 1980s, they fell into the trap of over-production and traded in their soaring uniqueness for a too polished sound. It was a great half-album with the rest being just OK. Unfortunately, the rest of the story concludes with Stuart Adamson's disappearing act that resulted in his untimely demise by his own hand alone in a hotel room in Honolulu just before Christmas 2001.

They were amazing at a time when no one would even dare to sound or write the way they did. And no one has even come close since. To this day I still wear my plaid shirts and penny loafers with Scottish pride.

-N.
29.02.2008

Big Country - The Crossing

"Two Way Action"

Back in the days when Borders books store's late evening hours were still relatively dead, and I had time to hang around for hours, I would monopolize a set of headphones in their music section and listen to as many featured artists as possible. This was long before you could scan any barcode in the CD section and listen to a sample. Only those albums featured on the top display row of the wooden cabinets got play time.

I had a very late exposure to musicians and bands. Though I could easily pick up lyrics of any song I'd heard two or three times, I could never tell you who sang it or from whence it came. Most of the CDs I owned were given to me by well intentioned neighbors, one actually, and a music obsessed father. All this changed when I got to college. Perhaps as a way to be out of the dorm, I spent massive amounts of time at books stores and local restaurants, which eventually lead me to Andrew Bird. Although, I am sure that the Borders recommended listening list was a sponsored by money paying industries, it was here that I found The Swimming Hour album by Andrew Bird's bowl of Fire.


Now, the tricky part about listening to a recommended CD on those headphones at Borders is not getting so bored with the beginning of the song or album that you miss the good bits. This is where "Two Way Action," the first song on the album, won my heart. It is the perfect driving song--as that is what I did the most while listening to it in the subsequent months and years after I bought the CD (and now that it has just popped up through the earphones of my mp3 player--I remember, it also speaks of driving--how funny). Not to knock songs that have a slow and easy beginning, but "Two Way Action" draws you in fast from the very beginning guitar notes.

The violin, by the way, is the instrument that Andrew Bird is most associated with. It is not the only instrument he plays however. His experimentation with instruments, voice, whistling and various musical influences is what keeps me buying his albums, many since the first. They are all interesting in their own right, completely different than the last, without straying too much from what his fans have come to know and love.

If you ascribe to the solidity of Wikipedia, then you will see that Andrew Bird has appeared as a guest musician on many other albums besides his own. Quite a few of these albums belong to the Squirrel Nut Zippers, which may be the reason I believed he had originally been part of the band and had broken off. I have been corrected since.

You can sample some of his newest songs and work solo of his Bowl of Fire companions on his web site and on Myspace.

--LeEtta

28 February 2008

3 From The .99 Bin



I've spent so many precious hours of my life digging around in the .99 bin at various records stores that I almost feel a twinge of regret. I'm sure vinyl scavengers go through the same thing. Sometimes it goes like this: for every 10 .99 purchases, there is at least one good song buried in there somewhere. And once in a great while, there is not just a good song, but a great album, and just possibly, an amazing band. Here are three bands' CDs I found that are both hits and misses.



The Tom Collins – “One Day Krush”

Did someone just kick me in the face? Wasn’t expecting much from this band’s 1999 self-titled album and I didn’t get it. However, this one track managed to steamroll its way into my mind. “One Day Krush” shows two kinds of promise: good and very bad as this is probably the heaviest and tightest song on the entire CD. I’m glad I took a chance but things got ugly. The band turned into something awful by their 2005 album, Daylight Tonight. Think of Black Crowes meets The Toadies. Ohhhhh!

The Tom Collins Site



The Planet The – “Arty Movie”

The one track on Physical Angel that isn’t a prog/math rock attack is the creepy “Arty Movie”. I remember playing this for LeEtta and she handed the headphones back to me saying that the vocals were making her nauseous. Hmm… I can’t let that stop me, right? There is something amazing about “Arty Movie” and I can’t help but get swept up in its twisting and churning urban horrors. My favorite part:

It makes me nervous at night
It makes me nervous at night
It makes me nervous
So nervous nervous nervous nervous

The Planet The Myspace

Judging by this video, I’d say The Planet The are excellent live:





The Dying Californian - "Springtime Is For Suckers"

“Springtime Is For Suckers” is the kind of song that insidiously reminds me that I haven’t grown up at all. Suddenly, it’s 1998 all over again and I’m driving around West Palm Beach aimlessly to Boys Life or The Van Pelt. The rest of The Dying Californian’s 2002 EP is quite good but none of it gets me like this track. It never really screams “EMO!” but it is enough to get me instantly nostalgic (not like that’s difficult). “Springtime Is For Suckers” sways easily back and forth, building nicely to a somewhat restrained fervor, then pulls back, and is gone.

The Dying Californian Site

And you should...

Grab These 3 Songs

-Richard