Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Liz Phair, revisited

You can find Liz Phair's classic debut, Exile in Guyville, for less than 8 bucks. I wish there were a Deluxe Edition available. I revisited it for the first time in a couple of years this week, and it is still as raw, provocative, sexually charged, and honest as I remembered. Take Glory, a minute-and-a-half shock of a song:

He's got a really big tongue
It rolls way out
Snaking around in the club
It slicks you down
Scratching his face like a bum
He pulls you back
Circa nineteen eighty-one
He pulls you back

You are, you are, shining some glory
You are, you are, shining some glory
On me, on me
You are, you are, shining some glory
You are, you are, shining some glory on me

Liz Phair - Glory (mp3)
Liz Phair - Girls! Girls! Girls! (mp3)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Drop $60 Tuesday

Hope you've been saving up, because there are at least three must-buy new releases tomorrow:

Vampire Weekend - Self-Titled. At the moment, there's no other live act that I'm anticipating more.
Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (mp3)

Chris Walla - Field Manual. The Death Cab For Cutie guitarist and producer's new album lives up to the anticipation, and scratches the melodic and lyrical itches that DCFC fans may feel in the space between albums. Despite the upbeat, Matthew Sweet-worthy guitar hooks on Field Manual, the lyrics are dense and serious, and Walla ends each song with the most lingering lines. Here are those last lines or couplets, listed in order:

Let's move forward, Alan! Let's move on.
No light for any company to see. This is the score.
A life packed full of mindless joy: it is not easy to enjoy.
Keep your feathers clean and dry.
Let your heart keep the time.
I'll fall asleep with the love of my life.
It is uneasy here, but we need everybody on.
We are stories in stories in stories.
Oh, dear sir, I'm a librarian, and I am not always right,
but ours is the story of the archer and the light.
You were the power cord that made the light.
It's not unstustainable, don't say it; it's not unsustainable.
Strength is hard to find, but when your post and guard resign,
we will seal all your little holes.

Chris Walla - Sing Again (mp3)

And, of course:
Beck - Odelay (Deluxe Edition)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Kimya Dawson & Adam Green on The Interface

Kimya Dawson and Adam Green played on for AOL's The Interface, posted today!

Download the performance as an mp3 podcast (from Spinner.com)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Just Ted Leo, Live on Fair Game

In his interview with Faith Salie, Ted Leo said that he doesn't play solo often, and it feels good to strip it down. It's just him and his electric guitar on this Fair Game performance. His songs may not be as hard or as loud as they are when he plays with the Pharmacists, but they're every bit as raw and electric.

Ted Leo - Live on Fair Game (1-23-2008)(mp3s):

Nothing Much To Say
The High Party
A Bottle of Buckie
Bleeding Powers

Own Living with the Living

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Evangelicals' Bloodstream Dream

The Evangelicals' The Evening Descendsis a long-playing dream state, but it also includes the crossing into dreams - the dark chasms and little whirlpools of space and time that appear and disappear in the moments between consciousness and descent, or ascent, depending on whether you fall or rise into a dream. The band has been clearly influenced by and compared to Flaming Lips, and yes, the album superabounds with psychic space trash. That's the delight. Take this song, in which the dream state is, for the first time ever, induced with guitar and keyboard shredding, with a whiff in the background of - call me a blasphemer - the Moody Blues.

Evangelicals - Bloodstream (mp3)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Joy Denalane.

German-born Joy Denalane's Born & Raised was released in 2006. So why is it in the #1 position on the Emusic powercharts today?

For the same reason that Numero & Dusty Groove will probably have another great year, and the same reason that Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings will keep packing clubs: People are craving good soul, and this is just the thing...

Joy Denalane - Let Go (mp3)
Joy Denalane - Start Over (mp3)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Brisa Roché

The woman in the photograph is Paris-based pop singer Brisa Roché, originally from northern California. After dabbling in roots and emo, she discovered jazz, and developed her voice in Paris. Her first album, Chase, was released on Blue Note in 2005, but she is now on Discograph, playing pop with attitude.

She was recently featured in one of my favorite podcasts, French Vibes, which alternates monthly between classical, world music & jazz, electronic & urban, and pop, rock & chanson.

Brisa Roché - Breathe In Speak Out (mp3)
Brisa Roché - Heavy Dreaming (mp3)

Order Takes on vinyl.

Let's Blow Off Work Next Week

Chairs in the Arno's songs are pop at its brightest, with playful, rhythmic synth summoning the carefree ignorance of youth.

Maybe you were right
These pants fit a little tight
I don't want to [sound tiny?]
Size 30 is too thin for a guy

Don't feel bad
You're not the smallest guy I've had
So just relax
We could still have fun in bed.

- from Size Thirty

But a self-consciousness pervades the fun:

Let's go play hide and seek
Let's blow off work next week
Having fun didn't seem so hard
When I was ten years old

- from Winter Song

Chairs In The Arno - Size Thirty (mp3)
Chairs In The Arno - Winter Song (mp3)
Chairs In The Arno - I Never Loved You Anyways (mp3)

Download File Folder

Saturday, January 19, 2008

From Leaf To Feather. Scene From An Imaginary Winter.

The singer is alone in a vast empty room. Her smoky voice, unwavering, drowns out the steady sound of cold rain tapping its way in as she waits for the sun to break through. And at two minutes, the determined jazz drum and vintage staccato keys give way to a break of sunlight, a bright melody, a steady pop beat, bright acoustic chords. The sun shines through the window, lights her face, and dissolves the melancholy in her eyes, albeit for a moment. The clouds return after the momentary break, and the beautiful young woman returns to waiting.

From Leaf To Feather - Albeit (mp3)

Themes on an Imaginary Winter is out January 29th. Full review coming once I get my copy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Aster's Some Things Seldom Heard Of will be just one of those things as it competes with a motherload of new releases next week.

If a strangely smooth marriage between Postal Service-flavored electropop and edgy, restless keyboard rock, a la Menomena, sounds like something for you, then make sure you stop by the A section and give Aster a listen.

Aster - Attempting to Multiply (mp3)
Aster - Some Things Seldom Heard Of (mp3)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Maxi Geil! and Playcolt, Live on Fair Game

...and then the next day, Fair Game hosted Maxi Geil! and Playcolt, who played four enthusiastic and totally erect songs. Faith Salie is making my January.

Maxi Geil & Playcolt, Live on Fair Game (1-10-2008)(mp3s):

You Can't Kill Us, Man
Making Love In The Sunshine
Strange Sensation
Your Best Won't Be Enough

Own Strange Sensation.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Au Revoir Simone, Live on Fair Game, 1-9-2008

Au Revoir Simone, who are hard at work on their next record, brought their keyboards and melancholy voices to Faith Salie's Fair Game studio last week, and performed a live haunting in the form of three beautiful songs for us.

Au Revoir Simone - Live on Fair Game (1-9-2008)(mp3s):

Don't See The Sorrow
Through The Backyards

Own The Bird of Music, Verses of Comfort, Assurance & Salvation, and their DVD, Au Revoir Simone.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Bird And The Bee - Live on MPR (1-10-2008)

The Bird and The Bee visited Minnesota Public Radio and played three songs for us in The Current studio earlier today. They also announced a Valentine's Day EP with three new songs and the classic "Tonight, You Belong To Me."

The Bird And The Bee - Live on The Current (mp3s):

Again And Again
Polite Dance Song
How Deep Is Your Love (Bee Gees)

Own the Please Clap Your Hands EP.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

There was music, even back when John McCain was born.

This came out in 1937, a year after John McCain was born. McCain, by the way, was just over a week older than Buddy Holly.
Teddy Grace - Hey Lawdy Papa (mp3)
(from mound city blue blowers:teddy grace)

...and this was released the same year that Hillary Rodham gave her commencement speech at Wellesley College, in which she expresses her thoughts on integrity, trust, and respect. Oh yeah, and reality.

Mayo Thompson - The Lesson (mp3)
(from Corky's Debt to His Father)

Both songs taken from Oxford American's 9th Annual Southern Music Issue (sold out)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

You're not cool until you've had Spock in your video.

I don't remember thinking that these Bangles songs would be timeless the first time I heard them in the early 80's, and I didn't care. They were good fun. Who thinks of immortality in their youth, anyway? It's just assumed. Listening to them now, I don't think that they would be entirely out of place if they were released today. And they were, sort of, on the reissue of All Over the Place.

The Bangles - Hero Takes A Fall (mp3)
The Bangles - Going Down To Liverpool (Katrina & The Waves)(mp3)

Monday, January 07, 2008

An Orgone Accumulation

Orgone's The Killion Floor brims with overwhelming funk, drawn from the history the great funk pioneers, masters and mistresses alike. There should be more of this for our gyrating pleasure. The time is now. Let's make 2008 the year funk broke.

Orgone - Who Knows Who (mp3)
Orgone - Do Your Thing (mp3)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Bloc Party Plays Live (Still)

...meanwhile, somewehere on Planet Earth: Bloc Party delights ecstatic fans with an electrifying live show.

From last weekend's Austin City Limits show on PBS:

From XFM Winter Wonderland at Brixton Academy, London, 9 December 2007:

Bloc Party - The Prayer (live)(mp3)
Bloc Party - Uniform (live)(mp3)

Both songs from A Weekend in the City

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper - Live On Fair Game, 1-2-2008

Blitzen Trapper's Eric Earley played four songs for Faith Salie's Fair Game on Wednesday, with nothing but his voice, with nothing but acoustic guitar, piano, harmonica, and heart. Sounds like Dylan.

Eric Earley - Live on Fair Game (mp3s):

Wild Mountain Nation
Country Caravan
Not Your Lover
Spiritual Tramp

Own Wild Mountain Nation

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Meredith Bragg, Defined.

Bob Dylan, in his 2006 Rolling Stone interview, said "You do the best you can, you fight that technology in all kinds of ways, but I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past twenty years, really. You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like -- static." This quote has been used generously to make the case that modern mp3-ready music is manufactured for the undiscerning ear.

Meredith Bragg might have been inspired by this quote as he recorded the songs on Silver Sonya, not so much to make an album without "sound all over," but to use that static and sound to enhance the definition of other elements. That static and sound, by the way, is ironically created from the minimal elements of Meredith's voice and guitar only. The reshaped sounds in Ballad of An Opportunist, for example, take nothing away from the vocals and clean fingerpicking, with that double pedal point on the high strings enhanced and showcased by gentle waves of noise. The pulsations in Twin Arrows create an undercurrent that contrasts with the grounded, organic guitar chords, giving the listener the feeling that something is amiss underfoot, and a collapse looms.

As quoted on MeredithBragg.com:

"I want to make a record with just voice and acoustic guitar, but I don't want it to sound anything like a regular voice-and-guitar record." So we made a rule: our sound source palette had to be strictly limited to these two colors, but the results could be as psychedelic as we wanted. Any technique was fair game, so long as we never broke the one rule. Yes! Fun!

Here are a couple of tracks from Silver Sonya, mp3 player-ready:

Meredith Bragg - Ballad Of An Opportunist (mp3)
Meredith Bragg - Twin Arrows (mp3)