Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Soul Bird


My, oh my. This song is ebullience. There's a lively bass line, enthusiastic brass, and a hot rhythm section. It's the background vocals, though, that give Soul Bird that push over the line that crosses from the soulful into the spiritual. This is from the reissue of Jackie Mittoo's 1971 Canadian debut, Wishbone.


Jackie Mittoo

Light In The Attic

Download "Soul Bird" (MP3, 192kbps)

Benjy Plays Black Cat Black Cat.

My new theory is that you can't be a bartender at the Black Cat for any length of time, exposed to night after night of great music, and then make songs that suck. That would be akin to hanging out with Shakespeare and friends for a while, and then resorting to using descriptive words like "suck," "fantastic," and "amazing."Benjy Ferree, who probably served me, Randy, Uncle Tom & His Artist Wife Sugarduck spirits during his time at El Gato Negro, is proving my theory with fantastic songs like the ones below. Benjy returned to the Black Cat yesterday, where he shared the stage with Archie Bronson Outfit and Apples In Stereo. If you were there, please let us know how amazing it was.

In The Countryside
Why Bother

Own Leaving The Nest (Full-length due Nov 7th (U.S.)).

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sunshine Soul

Fire & Ice Cream

What you will hear in these songs: Earth Wind & Fire. The Brothers Johnson. What you won't: sarcasm, irony, cleverness & wit. These are all sunshine and groove. Boost the bass and forget your thinking cap. You won't be needing it.

Fire & Ice Cream

Bing Ji Ling

Kreme Kul Records

Download "What Went Wrong" (MP3, 192kbps)

Download "Can't We Be Friends" (MP3, 192kbps)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Seventh Man (excerpt)

"A huge wave nearly swept me away," said the seventh man, almost whispering. "It happened one September afternoon when I was ten years old."


"It was the biggest wave I had ever seen in my life," he said. "A strange wave. An absolute giant."

He paused.

"It just barely missed me, but in my place it swallowed everything that mattered most to me and swept it off to another world. I took years to find it again and to recover from the experience--precious years that can never be replaced."


He cleared his throat, and for a moment or two his words were lost in silence. The others waited for him to go on.

"In my case, it was a wave," he said. "There's no way for me to tell, of course, what it will be for each of you. But in my case it just happened to take the form of a gigantic wave. It presented itself to me all of a sudden one day, without warning, in the shape of a giant wave. And it was devastating."

- from Murakami's short story The Seventh Man, available in his new collection, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Yo La Tengo - Live on KEXP 10-24-2006

Once upon a time, I told someone I was dating that I was going to a Yo La Tengo show. She said, "Yo La Tengo?? That doesn't make any sense. It means 'I The Have.' Stupid name for a band." And that's when I knew we were totally incompatible.

I The Have played four live songs, including a Zombies cover, in the KEXP studio on Tuesday. It was a priceless performance, and I Have It to share with you:

Yo La Tengo - Live on KEXP, 10-24-2006 (mp3s):

The Summer
The Weakest Part
You Make Me Feel Good
I Should've Known Better

Own I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Beirut, Live on KEXP 10-24-2006

Beirut played five songs in the KEXP studio on Monday. It was as magnificent as you'd expect: damn near perfect.

Beirut - Live KEXP 10-24-2006 (mp3s):

Mt. Wroclai (idle days)
Elephant Gun
After the Curtain
Closing Song

Own Gulag Orkestar.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Take The Boyskout Oath.

Boyskout can rock your face off as you dance your inhibitions away. On their solid Three Ring Records release, Another Life, Boyskout's infectious pop hooks are deceptively sweet; they belie their bad girl punk attitude. Let me take that back: "attitude" implies acting a certain way. Boyskout really are deliciously dangerous. You see it in the videos (below), and in the lyrics:

I am Napoleon.
You are my Josephine.
I'll start a Revolution for your love.

I am your Romeo
You are my Juliet
I'll swallow poison if you swallow first.

They don't push you into decadence so much as bring you to the precipice to let you decide whether or not to self-degenerate. You will. Once you play these, there's no turning back.

Boyskout mp3s:
Everybody Knew
Happy Yet?

Stream the entire album on their e-card, where you can also buy the very highly recommended album. There's not a disappointing moment on

This is the best video in the cosmos, which features hardcore face sucking:

And this one has the ladies crossing pistols, and a sizzling synth line:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Alice Smith

Listening to her album, I imagine Alice Smith late at night in a Takoma Park or Washington, D.C. bar, reaching out to and into the people with her voice, as if there's no stage, no space, between them and her, and leaving all of them with the certainty that there is no limit to how far this girl can go. She has range, slinkiness, and raw power in a classic voice that's perfect for soul music. Most impressive is the way she changes her stylistic delivery to fit the song - this lady can shout it like Tina, she can do sexy-strong like Fiona Apple, she can do sultry jazz or country with equal ease. She does all of that on her debut album, For Lovers, Dreamers, & Me, which I can't recommend highly enough.

Alice Smith - Do I (mp3)
Alice Smith - Desert Song (mp3)

There's more, even better stuff, here.

Monday, October 23, 2006

On, On.

It's hard to believe this is from 25 years ago.

Anyway, happy Monday. Smile.

Come to my room, I need you
You're living proof, make your move

On and on we will come
There are scores of us
On and on, here we come
There are more of us

You are the youth, we're with you
We're living proof what we can do
On and on we will come
There are scores of us

Tom Tom Club - On, On, On, On (12") (mp3)

Own Tom Tom Club CDs.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Spanky Wilson & The Quantic Soul Orchestra

On I'm Thankful, Spanky Wilson, with Will Quantic's full Quantic Soul Orchestra, bring on the hot funk, and Lordy, it is gooooood, and I am truly thankful for the way the trumpet wails in You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover, and lyrics like these:

If I'm not the woman for you baby
You'll find another
But a woman like me
Don't grow on no trees

- from A Woman Like Me

Spanky Wilson & The Quantic Soul Orchestra (mp3s):
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover
A Woman Like Me

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Haiku of Many Syllables

Chicago MC Haiku mixes classic lo-fi atmospheric soul sounds with his intense modern beats. Refreshingly, his writing is evocative rather than provocative. While big ticket rappers operate by making brash, boastful statements, Haiku's rule of engagement is to get the listener to ask himself questions. In For That, the question is: was it worth it? "That," for you, might be money, an object, a lover, a bad habit, or an idea. Whatever it is, you lost something to get it.

Haiku - For That (mp3)
Haiku - Betty Blue (mp3)

Stream the entire album on the e-card.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Matt Pond, PA, Live on MPR's The Current, 10-16-2006

Mp3 blog darling Matt Pond, with band, with cello, played a stirring three-song in-studio set at MPR's The Current on Monday.

Matt Pond PA (Live at MPR's The Current, 10-16-2006) (mp3s):

Is It Safe
From Debris

Own Matt Pond PA.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bossanova The Band

Chris Storrow (with guest players from Black Mountain and New Pornographers) is the one-man band called Bossanova, whose TeenBeat release, Hey Sugar, is confident and polished. Storrow understands where his songs want to go, and he helps them get there - the guitar and synth are controlled and measured, but the songs are given the liberty to escalate and erupt, punctuated with piercing rhythms, as in In The Immortal Words Of You. Nothing is forced, and nothing wanders. Everything flows, and that timeless voice is just right for the music. The album sounds like it could have been imported from Britain two decades ago, yet it fits right in on today's college radio.

Bossanova - In The Immortal Words Of You (mp3)
Bossanova - Calvary (mp3)

Listen to the entire album on the Bossanova e-card.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Grizzly Bear, Live on MPR's The Current, 10-8-2006

In the past month, Grizzly Bear has played two arresting in-studio sessions on KEXP, and this equally time-halting one on Minnesota Public Radio's The Current. They played last night at the 9:30, and I'm kicking myself for having missed it. Now it's my mission to hear "Shift" and "Knife" live in either Baltimore or Philadelphia next weekend, which are their last listed U.S. live dates.

Grizzly Bear - Live on MPR's The Current, 10-8-2006 (mp3s):


Own Yellow House.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Cassettes' Radio Hour

Washington, D.C.'s The Cassettes have included their entire 'Neath The Pale Moon album in their Radio Hour podcast, as an AM radio broadcast.

The Cassettes - Radio Hour Podcast (mp3)

Also, their 2003 album, O'er The Mountain, is available on iTunes with Bonus Tracks.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bliss In The District

As if there's nothing ugly and nothing to be cynical about in their native Washington, D.C., as if there's no war and no backpack searches at National Mall events, and as if politicians don't shoot sexually explicit instant messages to minors, The Positions crafted an album of innocent, upbeat diner-jukebox girl band pop (though they're not all girls), worthy of being blasted on your car stereo as you're served greasy food and an ice cream soda by a waitress on roller skates. The best part is, they're not trying to transcend the times through regression, or to achieve Pipettes-style irony and cleverness. They're stargazingly sincere. You hear it in the jubilant brass, and you feel it in Nicole Stoops' unwavering, confident voice, and the harmonies and rhythm section dare you to think "revolution" or "reform," and though the songs are sometimes about personal regret, what comes through in them is hope.

The Positions - I Need You (mp3)
The Positions - Back To Me (mp3)

From Bliss!

Friday, October 13, 2006

WTF? (Where The Funk?)

It's Friday already, and by now you're surely wondering: Hey, where the funk at? Indeed, the funk is overdue. Let me get it out to you:

Freddy Wilson - What Would It Be Like? (Part 1) (mp3)
Sundia - Stand Up And Be A Man (Part 1) (mp3)

From Absolute Funk, Vol. 2

But don't stop there. Go ahead and make this funky couple a threesome with Funkadelic's true No Head, No Backstage Pass, over at WFMU's Beware of the Blog.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cold War Kids, Live In-Studio @ KCRW, 10-11-2006

Cold War Kids are all Hype-d up and rising. They soulfully rocked the KCRW studio yesterday, and in their generous 7-song set, they deliver you from nowhere with a brave cover of Springsteen's State Trooper.

Cold War Kids (Live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic) (mp3s):

06 State Trooper (Springsteen)

01 We Used To Vacation
02 Passing The Hat
03 Robbers
04 Hospital Beds
05 God, Make Up Your Mind
07 Harmony In Silver

Own Robbers and Cowards.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Yo La Tengo, Live on MPR's The Current, 10-7-2006

I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass is among Yo La Tengo's best, and is one of the year's best albums as well. It will remain among your regular rotation as you trade most of the year's offerings in. Ira, Georgia, and James played some of it in-studio yesterday for Minnesota Public Radio's The Current. It was among my favorite in-studios of the year. All 3 of these are essential - tack them onto the album's playlist.

Yo La Tengo, Live on MPR's The Current, 10-7-2006 (mp3s):
Beanbag Chair
Mr. Tough
I Feel Like Going Home

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Turnpike Glow on 75orLess

75orLess Records recently put out a special hand-silkscreened limited edition EP Rush Home, from Italy's Turnpike Glow. Fantastic, but guitar melodies like these deserve a larger audience than the 150-copy release. The hooks are irresistable, and the multilayered melodies won't let you walk away. Turnpike Glow have no small measure of aural charisma. Get the EP, and anticipate the full length soon.

Turnpike Glow mp3s:

Dirty Rain

Monday, October 09, 2006

Amy Millan, Live on MPR's The Current,

Last week, Stars' Amy Millan played three beautiful songs in-studio for Minnesota Public Radio's The Current.

According to MPR:

...Millan thinks of herself as a country music girl at heart.

Her idol is Johnny Cash. For her solo album, she recorded songs about drinking and heartbreak that she wrote when she was still in her early twenties.

Amy Millan (Live on MPR, 9-29-2006)(mp3s):

Losing You
Look Up (Stars)
Into The Dark

Own Honey From The Tombs.

Friday, October 06, 2006

TV On The Radio On The Radio

TVOTR have been making their through the college radio studio circuit, haven't they?

I'm not complaining. This show aired the same day that their tourmates and good friends, Grizzly Bear, played at KEXP.

TV On The Radio (Live on KEXP, 10-4-2006) (mp3s):

Blues From Down Here
Wolf Like Me

Own Return to Cookie Mountain.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's Raining Grizzly Bear (Hallelujah).

Grizzly Bear just played a live in-studio set for KEXP a couple of weeks ago. They did it again yesterday. This time around, Grizzly Bear played Service Bell and Little Brother instead of Shift and On A Neck, On A Spit. There's a palpable intimacy in the strumming and fingerpicking in these; you feel the knife.

Grizzly Bear - Live on KEXP, 10-4-2006 (mp3s)

Service Bell
Little Brother

Invest in Yellow House.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Calexico, Live on The Current, 9-28-2006

The southwest Americana of Calexico's Garden Ruin was just the thing for summer evenings this year, wasn't it? But you know what? Listen again: It works just as well as summer slips into fall. These songs have a kind of lazy urgency, the anxiety at the edge of a season. It's still warm, but we know those days are running out.

Calexico, Live in studio at Minnesota Public Radio's The Current, 9-28-2006 (mp3s):

Bisbee Blue

Georgie James finishes recording

As reported on their website:

9/25/06 - We finish mixing the record this week, hopefully, and we're really excited to get it out so people can hear it. As far as I can tell, it's turned out even better than we'd hoped and we're really glad we were able to put some time into it. As of now, there are thirteen songs and that's probably the amount that will be on the finished product. We'll announce more news as it comes along. Hopefully we'll know soon who is putting it out and when. Once the recording is wrapped up, we'll get back to playing shows. We're setting some up for the fall now and we'll announce them as they're confirmed. Thanks. - JD

We'll keep you updated. You're going to want to buy it as soon as it's available. Their Demos at Dance Place is fantastic, and enduring. I still listen to it as much as I did when I got it early this year.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Gospel According to Chris Richards.

In the latest edition of the Washington Post's Sunday Source, Hamil Harris and Q and Not U's Chris Richards suggest eight gospel "Songs to stir the spirit," as part of this article on where to find good gospel choirs in D.C. Their choices are:

F.C. Barnes and Janice Brown - Rough Side Of The Mountain
James Cleveland - Peace Be Still (mp3)
Thomas Dorsey - Take My Hand, Precious Lord (mp3)
Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace
Mahalia Jackson - Move On Up A Little Higher (mp3)
Mississippi Mass Choir - Near The Cross
Edwin Hawkins Singers - Oh Happy Day
Richard Smallwood - Total Praise

This wasn't on the list, but it's revelant:
Mahalia Jackson - Take My Hand, Precious Lord (mp3)