Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fire Woman-The Cult

Crazy animal skin wearing English dude and hatted guitar wielding ghoul doing their version of American metal, most certainly not the wankage of Brit New Wave of Heavy Metal, where did these guys come from? AOR cheese that you KNOW you rock out to, and god damn it are you aren’t pissed when they don’t have this one in your dream where you are “forced” to do karaoke. You just wait to get out of your car on the way to work until after the break down in the middle so you can do your rock dog moves, then after the chorus you grab your soy chai, close the door to your Corolla and head off to the cube. Your identity is safe with me, rock dog.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

***k the People-The Kills

From Keep on Your Mean Side, a spare rough lonely plugged in chord or two, then “there’s a monkey on my back…” and repeat in a cool, collected duet between a man and a woman, you can hear her voice much more easily, then the guitar again. Seemingly made for a powerful scene in a film (in fact it is in one, though I forget- possibly The Beat That My Heart Skipped -Played here for one week, may never play where you are- rent it). Awesome.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa-Sigur Ros

Icelandic orchestral swirling drama-prog. The key here is the almost but not quite clichéd building piano that reminds of the cloying Manic Street Preacher’s “If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next” but somehow is infinitely sad, but in that way like you are experiencing a virtual sad reality, but you’ll be able to get up and walk out of the movie theatre but you won’t want to talk about it because it wasn’t quite the sad you can shake off and the image of the sad thing will remain in your mind and you’ll feel a little tear, but you’ll hide it and pretend you’re cool. Then the guy starts singing in the weird language possibly not real and the illusion is busted, and you are secretly thankful, because you felt really, really sad. But when he stops singing he unleashes a bowed guitar with some violin and the sad of the piano is magnified a billion times. The false step is the ol’ nonsense string-y fade out. Beware if you buy this Svefn-G-Englar EP, it has that one song with the alien whale repeating squeal on it, and I totally hate that song.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Station Approach-Elbow

Out domestically maybe soon, maybe not. Pitchfork already crapped on the import. Elbow tend to be tasteful in the Doves/Radiohead/More proggy than Travis Englishy oeuvre. I happen to like a bunch of songs from their first one, namely "Newborn" which is great live. "Station Approach" is just a slowly building type of song that sneaks up on you from the OK to the good to the really good category, but it stays reined in, it doesn't reach the absolute crushing awesome slightly bombastic heights of "Newborn" but I'm happy I just heard it on sweet WOXY. Oh, same goes for the new My Morning Jacket and the new Calla. These are all worth not changing the station when they come on, or to look for a download from the bands' sites.

UPDATE: I just heard it again, and it was even better, key line: "goths and goons fill the streets..."

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ocean House-Parsley Sound

Whispered, ultra-retro English feeling neo-psychedelia. Sounds so old, yet new and tastefully lacking flute. Perfect for sliding into place in your Wes Anderson knockoff film in the Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack slot. Thing is this song is good enough to be in the real deal, but Wes would have to pretend it was some old band to do that. He is the master of affected retro. I have a never ending love affair with Bottle Rocket, a long distance crush on Rushmore, and off and on again restraining-order featuring thing with The Royal Tenenbaums (I’m just not that easy, but maybe I am) and I haven’t brought myself to call Steve Zissou’s number that I saw on the bathroom wall. I know if I had someone press some vinyl with this tune, put it in a distressed sleeve, and sent it to Wes, he’d love it with me, and we’d be able to share something again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lazy Line Painter Jane-Belle and Sebastian

Considering the number of songs I love by this band (not a huge amount), I seem to have a lot of their CDs. I think the reason is, their great songs are so great, you are compelled to buy the stuff, even if you have that oh so lamented ratio of two great songs on an album of a lot of songs. Great, that’s your license to steal, cuz that’s like oh so douchey! See, when I buy tons of CDs and I know someone that has two legit CDs and 1500 stolen ones I get pissed- they don’t even have the argument of “I hate paying for a CD with all that filler”- uh, they never did in the first place. I digress. This song is awesome. It’s on one of their early singles. Their deal used to be singles were always non-album tracks and this was rereleased with two other singles as a mini-box set (a cardboard sleeve around the original packaging- packaging that somehow managed to raise the ire of Douchefork). Now available on a different comp I think.

The point is, this is a song that is worth buying with 10 other forgettable songs and one other genius song “The State I Am In”. Oh, the song is a duet with a girl and has this swirling, driving whistling outro that is stunning. Scottish indie rock-pop, retro influences, songs about boys and girls and drama in a detached yet emotional Smiths type way.

Stutter-Elastica

Stutter-Elastica
2:25. Justine, etc. play Dr. Phil with your impotence, yeah they consider the fact that it could be her, but you know it’s you. They give you an out, maybe you’ve met someone else. You know that’s not the reason. And don’t try that “well, she’s hideous, I can’t bring myself…” You know that’s not true either. Here’s what true: your wallowing in patriarchy has led you to the point of abject decrepitude in the face of a liberated sexual dynamo. So when she sings:

Is there something you lack/
When I’m flat on my back?/
Is there something that I can do for you?/
It’s always something you hate/
Or maybe something you ate/
Or tell me is it the way that I touch you?
Have you found a new mate/
And is she really great/
Or is it just that I’m much to much for you?

It’s the latter, OK?

[Ed. With Atlas Shrugged, it’s that she’s totally crazy]

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Open Ended-Sebadoh

“Here’s an open-ended threat/
Subject to interpretation/
But I don’t want to fight just yet/
I wanted to see what would happen/”
And then the song really gets going. Not a happy song, but adult in a way, both accusatory and admissive of guilt, like an irrational fight in a relationship between two people that are smart and know better, but have to fight anyway because they know its over, and they’re human.

As opposed to some insane Randroids. How do they break up? “Honey, you must agree with me, as a rational person, that it’s over”
“Yes, honey you are right, it’s clear that I should move out directly.”
“I’ll keep the shared LGF log-in.”
“**** you, you ***-****** cobag.”
“Oh yeah? Eat lead!” BLAM BLAM BLAM!!!

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Mariner's Revenge Song-Decembrists

Yargh, me be swillin' rums, oh ho, so many bottles to be forgetting the pain oh my dear mum, and her ravishing by a scurvy dog. I shall be filling him up with musket shot and he be tasting the blad o' my cutlass, he be. It shall be the black spot for him!

And here I be weaving my tale for the sodden lot o' ye.
We are two mariners
Our ships' sole survivors
In this belly of a whale

Its ribs our ceiling beams
Its guts our carpeting
I guess we have some time to kill

You may not remember me
I was a child of three
And you, a lad of eighteen

But I remember you
And I will relate to you
How our histories interweave

At the time you were
A rake and a roustabout
Spending all your money
On the whores and hounds
Oh Ohhhhh

You had a charming air
All cheap and debonair
My widowed mother found so sweet

And so she took you in
Her sheets still warm with him
Now filled with filth and foul disease

As time wore on you proved
A debt-ridden drunken mess
Leaving my mother
A poor consumptive wretch
Oh Ohhhhh

And then you disappeared
Your gambling arrears
The only thing you left behind

And then the magistrate
Reclaimed our small estate
And my poor mother lost her mind

Then one day in spring
My dear sweet mother died
But before she did
I took her hand as she, dying, cried:
Oh Ohhhhh

"Find him, bind him
Tie him to a pole and break
His fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
Wakes up naked
Clawing at the ceiling
Of his grave
*sigh*"

It took me fifteen years
To swallow all my tears
Among the urchins in the street

Until a priory
Took pity and hired me
To keep their vestry nice and neat

But never once in the employ
Of these holy men
Did I ever once turn my mind
From the thought of revenge
Oh Ohhhhh

One night I overheard
The Prior exchanging words
With a penitent whaler from the sea

The captain of his ship
Who matched you toe to tip
Was known for wanton cruelty

The following day
I shipped to sea
With a privateer

And in the whistle
Of the wind
I could almost hear...
Oh Ohhhhh

"Find him, bind him
Tie him to a pole and break
His fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
Wakes up naked
Clawing at the ceiling
Of his grave

"There is one thing I must say to you
As you sail across the sea
Always, your mother will watch over you
As you avenge this wicked deed"

[haunting, sailor-esque musical interlude lead by mandolin, accordion and tuba]

And then that fateful night
We had you in our sight
After twenty months at sea

Your starboard flank abeam
I was getting my muskets clean
When came this rumbling from beneath

The ocean shook
The sky went black
And the captain quailed

And before us grew
The angry jaws
Of a giant whale

[instrumental noise]
Oh Ohhhhhhhhhh
[screaming]
Ohhhhh
[screaming]

Don't know how I survived
The crew all was chewed alive
I must have slipped between his teeth

But, O! What providence!
What divine intelligence!
That you should survive
As well as me

It gives my heart
Great joy
To see your eyes fill with fear

So lean in close
And I will whisper
The last words you'll hear
Ohh Ohhhhh

Ageless Beauty - Stars

Canadia has produced a lot of very good power pop. There's really nothing cultural about the music scene in Canada to suggest to me why this is predictable, but the number of bands like Sloan and New Pornographers and Stars - well there must be more than just three of them - impresses.

Ageless Beauty is the standout song from the latest CD by Stars, Set Yourself On Fire. The song catches your attention from the very beginning with its driving descending power chords and the prominent girl/boy harmonized chorus proclaiming "Ageless Beauty". That's all I need. Everything else in the song is great and interesting. This includes a subtle chorus of Woohoo that you have to listen for and some funky reverb effects. Lyrically, the song consitutes a most beautiful defiant poem, words available here.

This is a great song, and you don't need to take my word for it, since you can legally download it here. The rest of the CD is somewhat uneven, with about three other excellent tracks, and others good, but not memorable. I like this band. I will probably think about getting their previous CD, Heart, since I am no longer so queasy about the topic.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

No Joy In Mudville-Death Cab For Cutie

Right off the bat I'm not gonna talk about the OC or selling out or any of that crap. I don't love this band because he usually sounds like he's singing his diary to something that's not really a tune in a bad meandering way, worse the band usually seems like it is going in another direction. Many of their songs do not have an imposed sense of structure. Bands I like better also have this tendency, even my beloved Smiths, on their less successful tracks do this. Interpol does it as well (in fact they do it all over their boring newer album). This absolute GEM from DCFC does not do that. The song is a quiet builder that sounds like an amazing band showed up to open mic night at the empty coffee shop after the poetry slam let out. The room feels small, but he has just enough metallic reverb on his voice that you can feel the space perfectly and you hand on his amplfied breath. He does not sing about skin or touching which he always seems to be going on about. The song build with the feel of a plaintive, slow drunken waltz, yet it is the purpose and quiet charm of the band that makes you feel like you want to listen. With some amazing pop songs, you feel like all the notes are the right ones intuitively, this is the opposite, you can't predict where the song goes, but after you have been there, you can't think it could have been better otherwise.

Postscript: their new radio track sings about skin, faces, etc. and sounds like a diary entry, and many will claim it is too slick. It actually sounds incredibly well put together. Much better than the overcooked electronic noodling of The Postal Service which undercuts his voice and makes it sound more maudlin than you thought it could.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Bleeding Heart Show/Jackie Dressed in Cobras-The New Pornographers

When the NPs label released "Twin Cinema" and "Use It" as free MP3 downloads, they were fucking with us, saying these were two "standout tracks" from Twin Cinema, when in all actuality they could have picked anything they wanted. This album is a masterpiece of songcraft. What I mean by that is the songs save one or two seem as well constructed as possible. The sound on this album is much less dense and much more clear than on their previous two, yet it doesn't border on slick, it just sounds clear. Perhaps it is the slightly increased use of reverb, and the focus on guitar and piano. The first song "The Bleeding Heart Show" is almost a ballad for them, meaning mid-tempo, but filled with quiet strumming at the beginning, and you can feel it build toward something, and that something is a glorious coda filled with "Hey la hey la" and you want to cry, not because it is sad, but because it is so good.

"Jackie Dressed in Cobras" is a Dan Bejar contribution (the NPs have two main songwriters) and Dan is the more obscure and acquired taste. He is theatrical and offbeat, and this song is no exception, except he incorporates some incredibly catchy without being too hooky Buffalo Springfield guitar and Neko Case's voice and some totally insane lyrics. And he spits them out in staccato bursts and the band follows him. I can't explain it, this album is very mature, possibly a disappointment for some, but a revelation for me. These guys are at the top of their game, and the new album is an indie pop jewel. Treasure it, and BUY it- gives these guys enough support that they go back into the studio.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Sussudio-Phil Collins


pop renaissance guests. His band page here.

Ahhhh...set the way-back machine to the days of "night flight" on the usa network...

At a glance, merely the kind of lyrics you'd expect from someone who looks like phil collins: totally diggin' this girl's scene, and he's just got to figure out a way to get baby between the sheets. Problem is, baby ain't sendin' no signals and he ain't sure she's even down with a little phil (and let's face it, he IS a little phil). Typical boy-meets-girl, boy-wants-girl.

But then there's that name - sussudio. It's not merely the title. He says it about 94 fucking times in the song. As a matter of fact, we should have seen it coming cos he says in the chorus "i feel so good if i just say the word 'sussudio'". and he proves it...by saying it the remaining 83 times.

So what the fuck is it? We're led to believe it's a girl, but there is no one on this planet who would name a child sussudio (except, i imagine, a phil collins fan). Personally, i think ol' phil was pretty pissed up the night the band was jamming this and one of the horn players, who had been doing shots of scotch with phil since midday, pulled phil in the back to relive a bit of the old genesis days with a joint the size of a drumstick that was being passed around by the horn section. Phil deflected a couple of taunts but the pull of the reefer was too great - next thing you know he's high as a kite, scat singing for all he's worth, of which the term "sussudio" was a result. the rest of it, thankfully, was faded into oblivion.

I will tell you now, you do NOT want to suffer the extended version. my parents were big on phil collins and i can safely say there is nothing less necessary than a phil collins 12" mix.

Ed note: I heard this in the car the other day and actually turned it up. I know, I suck. But I rolled up the window first to hide my shame. You know you would have done the same thing. Don't lie.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Christopher Lydon-The Dresden Dolls

Guest post: mdhatter (a Sadly, No! ALL-STAR)

My favorite song of the moment, a moment being 18
hours +/-, is "Christopher Lydon" from 'A if for
Accident', by the Dresden Dolls. It's a shame their
one radio track is, well, that song you maybe heard.

I like this song today because I am lamenting the loss
of NPR as a leader in the news of my nation. When they
let this master of critical debate get away from their
radio network, chased him out, then Bob Edwards, then
others, then brought in Slate. Well, the pattern is
laid, and my money is going elsewhere. I wish there
were a smaller more independent affiliate with more
PRI, MPR, heck, even pacifica, but there isn't. 'XM'PR
ain't bad. But, the music is the point.

This is a song of the good old days. National radio
personalities that were good enough to play the muse
for massively talented artists.

Lyrics and info here.

Go buy their live album, or see them, their version of
"War Pigs" for Piano and Drum is UN-BE-LIEVABLE.

Editor's Note: Lydon was actually pushed out of WBUR Boston in a salary debate, and was known for difficulty and ego- info here. While derided by some as a pompous ass, others LOVED him.

Editor's other note: is mdhatter trying to make this page look exceedingly liberal? We remember people hating Lydon upon reflection, but we are massively intrigued by any song about him.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Dr. Baker-The Beta Band

A piano starts playing itself in an empty room. The vocals come in from halfway down a well. Some squeaky bits, then some chimes and marimba? Vocals floating in the window on the stiff breeze. The lonely piano again. Haunting, not sad, and that’s what makes you feel sad. Then some squeak, and some chimes. Something about Dr. Baker. All I want you to do is hear this song. I think it is the best Beta Band song, and it is worth a buck.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Three-Hope Chest

Song of the Day regular pop renaissance has a band! A band that is accomplished, and plays the kind of music that we like- called shoegaze by some, this tune available for download here. The band is reminiscent of the ringing sound of Cocteau Twins, slowdive and Ride. The voice is a little slowdive, but in another song I felt a little of the Church. I think it is tough to produce this sound without sounding tinny- let's just say that some shoegaze albums are among the most expensive of all time. I would be that the song sounds better live, but all in all a nice tune in my fave genre. I believe this is a demo track, so all in all a nice effort. Filled out a little ont he low end, and I think it would become more resonant. I like it, and I am glad that pop renaissance stops by, I can tell pr loves music, and his/her input is appreciated. Interestingly, my party shuffle hopped to My Bloody Valentine afterwards, and the drums sounded similar. Great job, pop ren.- we finally know someone in a band that plays music up our alley, and it doesn't suck!