Friday, June 30, 2006

The Long Winters - Putting the Days to Bed

The Long Winters' Putting the Days to Bed has been growing on me for weeks now, and I wish I knew why. There's something about John Roderick's voice that is instantly familiar, but I can't nail it down exactly. Maybe it's in the way he skips and holds syllables to break the constraints of verse, to blur the distance between lines and give an intimate, sincere feel. Or it might be the way the instruments meld together and build smoothly into synchronized climaxes. Then again, it could just be because Roderick's delivery just reminds me of Counting Crows' Adam Duritz at his most passionate.

One of these days I might nail it. For now, it doesn't matter. It's a fantastic album that keeps me company on long drives, and I'll just enjoy it whether there's anyone pulling levers behind the curtain or not.

The Long Winters mp3s (from Putting the Days to Bed)


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Latin Soul Orchestra

Look no further for the perfect weekend driving music.

If you let me love you for a while
Whoah, baby, I'll give you my chile
If you let me love you for a while
Whoah, baby, I'll make you smile

Latin Soul Orchestra - Let Me Love You (mp3)
Latin Soul Orchestra - Puerto Rico Illama (mp3)

From Latin Soul Orchestra

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Jim Noir - Tower of Love

Let me get this out of the way: Jim Noir's Tower of Love is the most ear-pleasing album of the year. Let me get this out of the way as well: It has been out (in Britain) since last year. The Barsuk American release, which contains two extra tracks, is going to send it over the tipping point, in the same way that the Postal Service's Give Up exploded after it pretty much sat there like unopened junk mail for about a year, or the way Arcade Fire's Funeral caught fire after the Pitchfork review. Yeah, it's like that.

The opening track, "My Patch," immediately reveals his Brian Wilsonesque tendencies, with short piano and vocal pulses harmonizing underneath the repeating "If you ever step on my patch, I'll bring you down, bring you down." After a short pause, the beats come in to give the song the feel of a light remix of a Beach Boys song. But the thing that tops it all off is what sounds like a children's guitar, all out of tune, with no sustain, which doesn't diminish its shine, but adds a certain innocence and brings the song even closer to perfection. It's like he built a lush song around a recording of the first time you ever tried to play guitar.

I Me You I'm Your (mp3) keeps the melodic momentum, but the acoustic guitar slyly strums itself into prominence. The vocal harmonies are spellbinding.

The Key of C is, again, melodic showboating, but Noir knows when to interrupt the ecstacy with the tone of an old music box, and how to heighten it with the unexpected electric guitar, heavy on the wah. Crazy, man.

You'll see other reviews calling these songs sunshine-y, bright, shimmery, luminous, bubblegum, psychedelic summery pop and whatnot, but don't buy into that so fast. Noir, after all, is French for Black. My Patch seems to be a self-pitying lament about personal isolationism. Computer Song might be about the failings of technology, but it might also be about the inherent unreliability in everything. In Key of C, he sings "I want to be/in the key of C/It's easier to play it." Something so familiar, so stable, something that the singer can't be because he wavers.

The quality of the songs on Tower of Love doesn't waver, though. The rest of the CD is as brilliant as the tracks posted here. They'll find their way to a large audience.

Tower of Love is due out 8 Aug 06. Sign up for the pre-release here.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mp3s that move me.

I don't need to say much about this. It's a moving alternate take of Dylan's Outlaw Blues, recorded in mid-January 1965 (the original version is on Bringing It All Back Home).

Dylan - Outlaw Blues (alternate take) (mp3)

Speaking of "moving:"

Slide your bo-tay
Next to mine
Sugar's running
Up and down my spine

You cannot resist: Chicken Lips - Bad Skin (DJ Kicks) (mp3) (from DJ Kicks: The Exclusives)

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Modern Mixtape

...sadly, might be a CD of mashups. Not exactly the stuff of a Thurston Moore or Kurt Cobain mixtape.

But sometimes mashups can be wicked fun.

Years ago, my friends and I played this "Name That Tune" kind of game on road trips. We'd hit the "seek" button on the stereo, and the first person that named the artist and song got a point. Country and classical didn't count. You can't listen to Girl Talk without playing that game. In the two tracks below, you'll hear Black Eyed Peas, Paula Abdul, Kansas' Carry On My Wayward Son, Smokey Robinson, Smashing Pumpkins, Young M.C., Laid Back's Don't Ride the White Horse, Fleetwood get the idea. If GT were a poster, it would be a photomosaic.

Both are from Girl Talk's new CD, Night Ripper. It's a hell of a lot of fun. Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) thanks 164 artists in his liner notes. I dare you not to peek.

Girl Talk - Overtime (mp3)

Girl Talk - Give and Go (mp3)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Bottleneck Friday

The archive seems to be down.

When it comes back up again, here's some dusty old bottleneck blues for a sweltering Friday afternoon. Grab an ice-cold lemonade or iced tea, pop open the guitar case, and let that six-string breathe.

Casey Bill Weldon - Back Door Blues (mp3)
Casey Bill Weldon - Hitch Me To Your Buggy and Drive Me Like a Mule (mp3)
Kokomo Arnold - Feels So Good (mp3)

From Bottleneck Guitar Trendsetters of the 1930s.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Groping for Luna at the Hexenhaus


Lunafied, the digital-only Luna covers compilation, is out now. It will hold me over until the new Dean & Britta album comes out early next year.

Luna - Outdoor Miner (Wire) (mp3)

By the way, they put up a cover of Adam Green's "We're Not Supposed to Be Lovers" up on their myspace a couple of weeks ago. And check out the e-card for the Tell Me Do You Miss Me DVD.

and Second...

A short quiz:

Hexenhaus (mp3), a gorgeous cello-decorated song by Michigan band Canada, has as its subject the following:

A) A thrash metal band from Sweden.
B) Hexenhaus: Der Swingerclub, in Germany.
C) A witch's cottage.
D) All of the above.
E) None of the above.


Their Beige Stationwagon (mp3) is equally beautiful.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Power + Pop

Guitar speedwork in the form of rapidly arpeggiated ascending chords, yeah, been there, done that, don't need to hear it anymore, right? Right. But when it's done with electronic blips instead of guitar, in a song that blows up into a sonic orgy with heavy beats, like a hard Death From Above remix that happens to be neither Death From Above, nor remixed, then it's something worth listening to.

What Made Milwaukee Famous - I Decide (mp3)

-from Trying to Never Catch Up, soon available for preorder at Barsuk.

Speaking of Barsuk, Viva Voce do not fuck around. Well, they do at first, with the EZ piano for beginners, but they get serious at about the 1:30 mark.

Viva Voce - We Do Not Fuck Around (mp3)

-from Get Yr Blood Sucked Out

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Jose Gonzalez, Live on MBE, 6-15-2006

Jose Gonzalez played these songs in the KCRW studio last Thursday, but I like to imagine him playing them in my living room.

Jose Gonzalez (Live on MBE, 6-15-2006)(mp3s):

Deadweight on Velveteen
Slow Moves
Sensing Owls
All You Deliver
Stay in the Shade
Hand On Your Heart

Own Veneer.

Watch the stunning video for the heartbreaking "Hand On Your Heart" here (quicktime).

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sonic Youth, Live at the 9:30 Club, 6-15-2006

As a Sonic Youth fan for twenty-something years, I've become used to being confounded by the piercing anarchic tangents of their live shows. They're not a band to give the audience exactly what they're looking for, because they know what the audience needs. So it was kind of weird to hear people calling out their favorite songs from the SY catalog, as though that might influence what they play next. Who expects a best-of-SY show to happen, ever? These guys have always been about pushing forward, not reminiscing, and creating, rather than chasing, the zeitgeist.

At last Thursday's early 9:30 Club show, fans got what they probably never imagined from a Sonic Youth show - clarity. The show was straightforward and accessible, complete with two near-lullabys ("Lights Out" and "Or"), and audible lyrics. There wasn't a wrinkled brow in the room. Thurston even teased the crowd at one point, asking if we wanted it louder, faster--"Do you want total violence?", and then introduced the mellow, inspiring "Rapture."

Don't get me wrong. "Drunken Butterfly," "100%," and "Incinerate" all reminded us that Thurston Moore might be the greatest of guitar gods, who creates a tension that nobody--nobody else can approach. He still has great hair, and his six-foot-something silhouette has more presence and is more imposing than Lincoln's ghost. When he stands at the edge of the stage in the platonic ideal of a guitar stance, he's not a band member - he's a damn superhero.

No, the violence was still there. It was simply a violence that you could understand. Violence for pop fans.

These mp3s are not from the NPR stream, which you can listen to here. They're from another recording.

Sonic Youth (Live at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC)(mp3s):

Do You Believe in Rapture?
Drunken Butterfly
Pink Steam
Lights Out

Buy Rather Ripped.

These were taken by my friend Randy:


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Camp Radio

I love the name of this band. It's ambiguous, and requires interpretation. Expectations of their music change as your ideas of their name change. Maybe they sound like some sort of strange, warped folk band who sing about zombies. Or maybe they're a lo-fi pop band who sing of comforting things as the fire crackles. The possibilities go on, maybe you could suggest a few.

What surprised me when I finally played the songs is the muscle. These songs grab you and yank you around. They've got confidence and momentum. The guitar hooks and the driving beat are perfect for the drive home after a late concert.

But I'm still trying to figure out the name.

Camp Radio mp3s from their self-titled debut:

Landing Strip
Cons at the New Moon
The Julie Rationale

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Psapp on MBE

Pitchfork gave the new Psapp CD a 7.0, which is not bad--at the very least, it's psychologically an order of magnitude higher than a 6.9. The reviewer blames technology and production in muffling the "well-constructed" songs and singer Galia Durant's "knowing, confident, sly, and sexy" voice. Wonder how he would rate the in-studio Morning Becomes Eclectic performance, without all the production and laptops. Pitchfork says the music on The Only Thing I Ever Wanted "cries out for warmth and space." I think the music gets both in these live songs, maybe even enough to break the 7.9 Pitchfork barrier.

Psapp - Live on KCRW's MBE (6-14-2006)(mp3s)

Needle & Thread
The Words
About Fun
King Kong
Rear Moth

Own The Only Thing I Ever Wanted

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Juana Molina on MBE

Juana Molina's in-studio performance at KCRW is hypnotic, repetitious, and psychedelic at times, and I could listen to the set from here into the weekend without food or drink. It disorients and grounds the listener simultaneously; her songs touch both the spirit and the bones. Take Salvese Quien Pueda. It begins what could almost pass for Tibetan chant, then she sings a stunning folk song over the repeating chant loops, and eventually electronic hums replace the vocal ones. This one song is easily one of the best in-studio performances of the year.

Juana Molina (Live on KCRW, 13 June 2006)(mp3s):
Un Beso Llega
El Desconfiado
La Verdad
Sólvese Quien Pueda

Buy Son.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cibelle & Devendra Heart NY

I confess that I didn't even open this video for Cibelle & Devendra Banhart's London, London when someone sent me the link. I mean, I posted the mp3 and said nice things about the album way back here. Isn't the music enough? It is, but today I got a titanic message from the same person with gargantuan widescreen screen shots of the video, and being the audiovisual creature that I am, I opened the vid. It's fun. Cibelle and Devendra really bring you into their stroll and dance. Definitely watch it. Besides, the song is brilliant. And Crammed says:
London, London is Cibelle and Devendra's playful rendition of a song written by major Brazilian artist (and co-founder of the Tropicalia movement) Caetano Veloso while he was living in forced exile in London during the early '70s.

There are more videos by Cibelle here, as well as vids from Bebel Gilberto, Konono No. 1, and from the Congotronics 2 comp.

And then there's this:

Cibelle - About a Girl (Nirvana Cover) (mp3) (From the About a Girl EP)

Own The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves.

Monday, June 12, 2006

KT Live on MPR

Singer-songwriter K.T. Tunstall performed these songs live in studio for Minnesota Public Radio last week. From the MPR news story, "It might sound like she brought along a band to play 'Black Horse and the Cherry Tree' with her, but it is just her, a guitar and some loop pedals." And there she is with the loop pedal again on "Suddenly I See," singing her own background vocals. It's like Final Fantasy meets the Lilith Fair. Hmmm...

K.T. Tunstall (Live on The Current, 6-6-2006) (mp3s):
Black Horse and the Cherry Tree
Suddenly I See

Friday, June 09, 2006

Straight, No Avant-

Sonic Youth play these songs straight, no experimentation. They're damn near radio-friendly. Not quite, but damn near. These are at least as good as the album versions.

Sonic Youth - Incinerate (Live) (mp3)
Sonic Youth - Rapture (mp3)

Motorcity Roots

These motown covers are from Jamaica Jazz's Motorcity Roots. They're not your everyday motown covers--they're a unique blend of jazz and reggae, and they preserve the energy of the originals.

Jamaica Jazz - War (mp3)
Jamaica Jazz - Tears of a Clown (mp3)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Lady Has Spoken

...or actually, rapped, in Seattle, yesterday, with The Streets. Wish I were there.
Lady Sovereign - Public Warning (Live on KEXP) (mp3)

At least I'm seeing Sonic Youth next week at the 9:30. Rather Ripped is my favorite CD of the year so far. Check out this SY interview with Mike D, where you will learn crucial information about the new songs. For instance, Mike D cleverly coaxes Thurston to disclose that the song Rapture is not "a concerted attempt to get involved with the Christian Rock movement, which is very popular;" its agenda is to get us all to unite in some sort of faith-based insanity.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

More Live PJ

I know I just posted some live PJ Harvey the other day, but I didn't know that I was going to have these songs today. They're too good not to post.

PJ Harvey, live at Hay-on-Wye (mp3s):

New Song (Unknown Title)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Epic Viva Voce

Anita Lotta Guitar

That's right, epic (eight minutes and twenty-one seconds epic), hard, and noisy. Anti-twee. This Viva Voce chews up and swallows the old one, like Saturn devouring his child. It's made for amps and stacks, not earbuds. I could go on and on and on, but instead, I'll let them do that for you.

Viva Voce - So Many Miles (mp3)

So Many Miles is from Get Yr Blood Sucked Out, due out September 12. Info on pre-ordering available here.

and a little something extra:

Micah P. Hinson & Viva Voce - Pleasant Street (mp3)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Death Metal Visits Conan

The Eagles of Death Metal kicked ass on Conan this April. The two drummer, two drumset set was too much. It was ecstacy, it was euphoria, it was bliss. It didn't have Jack Black, like the best damn video on earth this year does, but I'll still take a DVD of the live performance over the vid.

Eagles of Death Metal - I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News) (Live on Conan 4-28-2006)(mp3)

Here they are playing the same song on Letterman (sorry, only one drummer here).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

See you in July.

I heart Georgie James.

I heart Camera Obscura.

They're touring together next month. I tremble with anticipation.

You know what's special about all this? The Georgie James mp3s I posted will be gone before opening night. The night that young lovers start to dance to a novel groove is the night before they search the Hype Machine for the Georgie James, only to find broken links, and having to resort to faint memories of strong melodies. I'll be in the crowd, smiling at those young lovers. Beautiful, isn't it?

Good thing the band is recording again this month, and with luck, you'll have a record in your hands while the leaves are still green.

Georgie James - Need Your Needs (mp3) (from Demos at Dance Place)

By the way, check out this Q & Not U You Tube video, with the less sexy half of Georgie James on the drums. It's sickeningly good. Ah, memories.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Jose Gonzales (Live on Conan)

Here's Jose Gonzales' cover of The Knife's Heartbeats, as performed on Conan a couple of months ago. It's beautiful, and you're going to love it.

Jose Gonzales - Heartbeats (Live on Conan 3-29-2006) (mp3)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Lord. Lord. Lord.

We post like we eat: a little bit of everything.

To achieve balance after yesterday's disturbing Nick Cave cover, here is some aged gospel. If this actually sounds creepier than the Cave...well, that would be ironic, wouldn't it.

Two Gospel Keys - Can't No Grave Hold My Body Down (mp3)

Professor Alex Bradford - Lord, Lord, Lord (mp3)