Wednesday, January 31, 2007

God's Atomic Bomb

The Swan Silvertones move me. I was just reading their page on the Vocal Hall of Fame website (they were inducted in 2002), which says:

THE SWAN SILVERTONES are a premiere gospel group and one of the great music experiences awaiting anyone who has never heard them. If you are not a fan of gospel music or "religious" music of any kind, don't let that fact deter you from having this unique listening experience. This is pure music at the highest level.

The a cappella quartet Four Harmony Kings was created by tenor Claude Jeter in 1938 in Coalwood, West Virginia, but the name was changed to the Swan Silvertones when they began a 15-minute radio show sponsored by the Swan Bakery Company on the Knoxville station WBIR in 1942.

Perhaps their greatest hit was "Oh Mary Don't You Weep," released in 1959 -- an incredible listening experience. It is in this song that Claude Jeter intones the phrase "I'll be a bridge over deep water, if you trust in my name" that inspired Paul Simon to compose "Bridge Over Troubled Water" some years later...

Again, these guys never fail to move me. These three tracks do it in different ways.

The Swan Silvertones mp3s:

Oh Mary, Don't You Weep

If You Believe Your God Is Dead (Try Mine)

Jesus is God's Atomic Bomb has a treasury of Swan Silvertones.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

2 Spooky

Doubly Spooky.

Cal Tjader - Spooky (mp3)
(from Mambo Sangria)

REM - Spooky (Live, 1991) (mp3)(from KCRW Studios, Santa Monica, California, April 3, 1991.)

...and here are a couple more tracks from the same REM performance.

Love Is All Around (Live, 1991) (mp3)
Fall On Me (Live, 1991) (mp3)

Monday, January 29, 2007

We Might Not Sleep At All This Year

I just noticed that 75 or Less Records released the full-length follow-up to Rhode Island's A Passing Feeling's self-titled EP. For a mere 5 bucks, you get a limited edition, numbered disc with a hand screen-printed cover. Inside, you'll find a band who memorized and could probably rewrite the Guitar Grimoire, with chord progressions and hooks that are backed by a driving rhythm section.

A Passing Feeling mp3s:

From We Might Not Sleep At All This Year:


From the A Passing Feeling EP:

Book of Matches

Buy their stuff at 75 Or Less.

Gary Young - Plantman (video)

A classic. The quality is poor, but wasn't it always, sorta?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Theme.

Art Blakey drummed so mindlessly and efficiently that he appeared inseparable from his set. It's that kind of intimacy that turns talent into art, earns one the title 'late great,' and guarantees that people will still be listening to this long after most of our names have been forgotten.

Art Blakey (with these Jazz Messengers: Billy Harper – tenor sax, Julian Preister – trombone, Ronnie Matthews – piano, Bill Hardman – trumpet, Lawrence Evans – bass)- Theme (Live at Slug's, NYC) (mp3)

From the essential Live! At Slug's NYC.

Watch this Art Blakey drum solo:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Shins (With Anita Robinson) - Turn On Me, Live on Letterman 1-23-2007

The Shins scintillated on Letterman last night, with Anita Robinson of Viva Voce on accompanying vocals. I hope you were able to pick up their new CD yesterday - I could be wrong, I haven't checked my facts - but I think it's the latest Maslow's need. Here's reason for you to pick up concert tickets as well.

The Shins (w/Anita Robinson) - Turn On Me (Live on Letterman 1-23-2007) (mp3)

Own Wincing the Night Away.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Nellie McKay - Live on Letterman 1-22-2007

Just as Nellie McKay falls off the radar, she works her way back in with a late show appearance, and looks and sounds fabulous. Last night she refreshed her status as a blip on Letterman.

...and a couple of weeks ago, she had NPR's Song Of The Day.

Nellie McKay - Happy Flower (Live on Letterman 1-22-2007) (mp3)

Own the Pretty Little Head 2-disc set.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Annuals, Live on Conan 1-18-2007

Annuals made their network TV debut on Conan last Thursday. This is how good they were:

And, of course, the mp3:

Annuals - Carry Around (Live on Conan, 1-18-2007)

Own the acclaimed Be He Me.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Emily Haines, Live on The Current, 1-13-2007

...and then she played a Neil Young cover and two other songs for Minnesota Public Radio's The Current on a snowy January afternoon. I think it was snowy, anyway. That voice, though, could melt an ice cap.

Emily Haines, Live on The Current, 1-13-2007 (mp3s):

Expecting To Fly (Neil Young)
The Last Page
Reading In Bed

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Live at the 9:30, 1-10-2007

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton played the 9:30 Club last week. NPR and the 9:30 Club have made the show available as an mp3 download. This is how she introduces Winning:
I can just tell that you know that my record is not's another sing-along,'s a song for people who cry in the bathtub, where no one can see your tears.

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Live at the 9:30, 1-10-2007 (mp3s):

Our Hell

Own Knives Don't Have Your Back.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Robyn Hitchcock with REM (Live, Oxford, 1-7-2007)

Michael [Stipe] and Mike [Mills] joined Peter [Buck], Scott, Bill Reiflin and Robyn Hitchcock during an encore from Robyn and the Venus 3's set in Oxford, England tonight. The band (basically the touring party minus Ken) played Hitchcock's Arms of Love, I'm Gonna DJ, and Byrds standard Eight Miles High.

Thom Yorke, an Oxford native, was in attendance.


Robyn Hitchcock with R.E.M. (Live at The Zodiac, Oxford, 1-7-2007)(mp3s):

Mills on Peter Buck's Rickenbacker:
Arms Of Love

Mills on base:
I'm Gonna DJ

Mills on guitar, minus Stipe:
Listening To The Higsons
Give It To The Soft Boys

The entire concert can be found at

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Live R.E.M.

On REM HQ last week:

Excitement is already beginning to build for a Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe performance in New York City on March 12th with yesterday's announcement of R.E.M's selection as one of five inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In other news, the band surprised Oxford Sunday night with a couple of songs at the Zodiac during a Robyn Hitchcock gig. It also appears that recording plans are shaping up. Mike and MIchael have spent a few days in London where they met up with Peter (playing with R. Hitchcock) to discuss the things bands tend to discuss prior to rehearsals, which, according to Bertis who is also in the UK with the guys, incidentally appear to be taking place in late January/early February.

It's exciting, but it would be even more so if Berry worked with the band in studio.

Here are two live classics. The first is twangy and fun, and the second indisputably rocks.

R.E.M. - (Don't Go Back To) Rockville (Live on IRS' The Cutting Edge, 1984) (mp3)

R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe (Live on The Tube, January 1983) (mp3)

And the Radio Free Europe live clip:

Own the When The Light Is Mine DVD.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Two Pianists In Paris.

It's a natural fact that when you put two piano greats together in the same room, only good things can happen. Memphis Slim and Jean-Paul Amouroux prove it with these songs recorded in Paris, November 1981.

Memphis Slim & Jean-Paul Amouroux - Boogie For Two Pianos (mp3)
Memphis Slim & Jean-Paul Amouroux - Low Down Harpsichord (mp3)

From Boogie For 2 Pianos, Vol. 1, available on emusic.

Samples of Everything.

So this is what happens when jazz, blues, old school soul, and underground hip-hop merge. Sure, that was said about Arrested Development 15 years ago, and De La Soul almost 20 years ago. And yes, post-Licensed to Ill Beastie Boys. No matter. It's always refreshing to hear samples like the ones in these tracks in the context of hip-hop songs. Nightshift offers slick, smooth keyboard improv, and lyrics that come across as just as much blues as rap. The socially conscious Learn achieves a classic feel with heavy effects and deeply soulful female vocal accompaniment, and is a beautiful lament on making mistakes, minus the learning that should come with it.

Finale/Thaione Davis - Nightshift (mp3)
One Be Lo/Longshot - Learn (mp3)

Both songs from EV Records [Chicago] Presents: Everything, out 30 Jan.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

You Is One Black Rat.

Remember the part in Almost Famous, where Russell pines at the high school party for something "real?" This is real.

Lighnin' Hopkins mp3s:

You Is One Black Rat (from Straight Blues)
I'm A Crawling Black Snake (from Soul Blues)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Without Nipple.

Franco-American duo The Berg Sans Nipple's Along The Quai arrived in my mailbox last night, and I immersed myself in its rhythms until I went to sleep. The melodies are simple and solemn, the beats are heavy, and the within-song transitions have a mysterious seamlessness about them. The lyrics are translucent; in Ghost, the band laments, "are there no roots or is there just nothing to cling to/liberty is a ghost who hasn't severed his shadow..." Penetrating.

The Berg Sans Nipple mp3s:

Mystic Song

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Grizzly Bear Live Smorgasbord

I don't do reposts, but I've been getting requests for these since EZ Archive went down. Grizzly Bear has also been getting e-mail requests, so I'm leaving them up indefinitely.

These are the best live in-studio performances of last year from the band that released one of the best albums of the year.

Grizzly Bear mp3s - Live, in Studio, at:

KEXP (9-14-2006)
On a Neck, On a Spit

KEXP (10-4-2006)
Service Bell
Little Brother

Minnesota Public Radio's The Current (10-8-2006)

Own Yellow House.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Book Of Knots

Traineater, The Book Of Knots' follow-up to their 2005 self-titled debut, will be out in March on Anti-. It features appearances from Tom Waits, Mike Watt, John Langford, and others. On it you'll find waves of dissonance, bursts of noise, spoken word, and things that sound like the kitchen sink. That's not to say that it doesn't have tender moments, though.

Traineater (mp3) reveals the result of an angelic voice paired with acoustic guitar chords from beyond the grave. It's a marriage of the sweet and the bizarre, the same elements that characterize the rest of the album, except that "sweet" is mostly replaced by "harsh."

At first listen, Pray (mp3), which features the great Tom Waits, comes across as impressively ugly, but let it play for a little while, and you realize that it's damn catchy. The song has a rhythm and force that drive you past the harsh note combinations. Part of you will want to turn it off. But you won't. It's like drinking hard liquor. None of it goes down easy, yet you keep raising the glass.

Own Traineater in March.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Lily Allen, Live on Kimmel, 12-5-06

Was 2006 Lily Allen's year? Will she have the staying power to remain popular through 2007? I hope so.

She played on Kimmel last month. Here' the mp3:

Lily Allen - Smile (Live on Kimmel, 12-5-2006) (mp3)

And here's the YouTube vid.

Own Alright, Still.