Sunday, February 26, 2006

Five Songs I'm Loving This Week

One of my favorite bands in the 90's was His Name is Alive. Actually, you could've shot a dart at any row of cds in my apartment and hit a 4AD cd--I loved that label that much. These days I don't keep up with the label like I used to (I wonder if I'm missing anything) and I'd sort of lost track of this band, also. In truth the man behind the band (William Defever) had started doing his own solo "Detroit Blues" projects and I wasn't interested in that side of his music. Once again, I could've been missing out on something, but I only have so much time in a day and very little money. So I sat out those cds.

I'd heard there was a new cd, and I was very interested to hear how it sounded. Would it be like Fort Lake? I liked that later 90's album alright, but it had a different singer and the music was less ethereal. Would it be like the ghost-music of their early albums? Before I knew the band was basically one guy from Livonia, Michigan I actually thought maybe the band was made up of aliens--the music was that strange (Strange is good).

I was pleasantly surprised. Of course I didn't expect it to be exactly like the earlier albums--those albums were 13-16 years ago. There's no way he could/would want to recreate those. However I was hoping that I would love the music as much as I did those older songs. The songs I've heard from Detrola send chills up my spine just like the old songs. For a comparison, I'm posting one of the new songs and a few of the older ones. The new song will count as Song 1 of this post, but the other two are being included as extras.

His Name is Alive, "The Darkest Night" (Originally obtained through The Camera as Pen, but it's gone now. (From the album Detrola)

His Name is Alive, "Are We Still Married", from the album Home is in the Head, 1991
His Name is Alive, "Ear", from Mouth By Mouth, 1993

I first heard Lake Holiday a few months ago, and immediately loved them. The first song I heard was "Love Vigilantes", but also on the same download page is "American Summer". It got my attention because, well, they're a Canadian band and I was all "but they're Canadian--why are they talking about America?" But then I remembered that people do travel, even if I've been stuck in the same town for most of six years. Anyways, the song is awesome. It's one of those songs that just builds and feels so complete that there's no possible way it could be any better of a song.

Another cool song I've been listening to lately is Loch Lamond, "Stripe". It starts very dirge-like, which of course is how I like my music. It uses a dragging repetition to drive in the heavy, dire feeling of the song. The singer's voice does get a bit emo, but I'm willing to forgive that because I like the song so much, and the song has violin in it. Utilizing the violin (or a wind instrument) will earn much goodwill credit with me. Also, according to their bio, one of the members is from another band I like, The Standard.

Dan Israel is going home. I can't say I blame him. I'm tired and I am home. I like this song alot, though. His voice reminds me of Jacob Dylan's and the music is acoustic and Western in feel. It's what I like to call "Cowboy acoustic" (or if it's Tim Easton, "Drunk Cowboy acoustic"). "Going Home" (scroll down) is my current favorite, but I'm also fond of Good Times (no, not the t.v. show, though I did like that also). **Random observation: I had a song last week called "Not Going Home" and this week I have a song called "Going Home". I wish the artists would make up their mind. No wonder people think musicians are so fickle.

Another one of my favorite bands is The Perishers. His voice is so plaintive, and the lyrics are heartbreakingly honest. I'm the queen of crying, and I almost get a little embarrassed hearing the honesty so plainly displayed. I just heard "Trouble Sleeping" on MTV2's Subterranean recently. I've been listening to the band for months though, and would recommend any song of theirs. (FYI: this is a WMA file--I just finished downloading it from Musicmatch. I'd found copies on two different websites, but neither one worked. I was miffed 'cause I wanted to include it, and i'd already written this paragraph)

The video for "Trouble Sleeping" is on their site. Huh. I'd forgotten they were Swedish. Just proves once again that my favorite music is Swedish. Maybe I should move there. It'd be cold, though. Maybe I shouldn't. Also, I highly recommend "Sway" by them.

Bonus stuff:

Also, I like what I've heard of this band, but Myspace is acting all crazy and downloading takes an eternity.

Also, (I love the word "also") I just posted on Rogue Wave last week, so it's a little early to posting on them again, but I did want to include a link for the video to their song "Publish My Love". It's a great song, and I really like the video.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

I love honesty. Also, I'm working on a "portal" for all my websites. This is the beginning of it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

...Just to read my diary
...Just to read my diary

Wow...this is the best remix I've ever heard in my life. I've heard a lot of remixes; I started collecting 12 inches back when there were still records. This goes beyond the standard cut-up rehash of 12" past, though. This is a total reworking of the song. It's like taking a fence that was familiar and sturdy--strong, serviceable, but no longer surprising--and turning it into a beautifully wrought iron fence. Huh. was a good lay, good lay was a good lay, good lay

I wrote about The Elected a year or so ago; "Greetings in Braille" is a great song that I still get in my head every few weeks--especially when I'm walking along the street I used to walk down all the time when I first heard it. The singer and writer of the songs (I try to avoid saying "singer/songwriter" out of desire not to sound lame) is Blake Sennett, half of the well-known (for us indie fans, anyway) band Rilo Kiley.

The music he makes for The Elected is less alt-country; instead it's still as genial and wistful, but poppier (?? Would I describe it as pop?? It's better than pop. I don't know what it is.) Their new album is called Sun, Sun, Sun and the first song I heard from it is "Not Going Home". I understand the sentiment; today I was out for two hours because I just didn't want to be home. I'm with ya on that, Blake.

Also on the same label, Sup Pop, is a band I just heard of about a month ago, Rogue Wave. I thank my friend Tony for introducing me. Turns out Rogue Wave is touring with a lot of bands I like--it's weird that I didn't know of them--like finding out you have a cousin that everyone in your family knows except you. I like all the songs I've heard by them, but the one that makes me tear up a little (okay, a lot) is "Salesman at the Day of the Parade (scroll down to #3). He really sounds sorry for what he's done.

Next we have a cool song from a band named The Owls. Yes, I do think of Harry Potter when I say that, but wizard connotations or no, this is a pretty awesome song. It's called "Air" The verses go by quickly, but the chorus slows down. She says "there's only air...where I used to care.." That mirrors my state of mind most days. (Warning: Hot link. I hope Fingertips forgives me; I can't remember how to get a relatively isolated version of the song.)

One of my favorite bands for years now has been Hem; they make some of the most beautiful alt-country music in this country. They have a new album out called No Word from Tom, and while I haven't heard any of it (I'm not cool enough yet to get advanced copies of a lot of music ) I have heard their version of REM's South Central Rain. Unfortunately, after 1/2 hour of searching, the only mp3 version I could find was from a podcast and had a whole lot of exposition. So I made the tough decision to link to a streaming version. I know--I'm an evil, bad mp3 blog mistress.

What Hem has done with the song is exquisite to say the least. It's available for streaming on their Myspace site.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Wow. I've heard of the Music Genome project, but I didn't realize they'd gotten so far as to create a music interface. So far it's pretty awesome. The music player is right in the browser--nothing to download. The first band I put in was the perishers.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lots of Songs I'm Loving This Week

Okay, let's get started. Yes, you. In the back! Pay attention! I have alot of ground to cover tonight. I usually only do 5 songs because frankly remembering where the hell I parked five songs, writing the post and actually posting it takes me a few hours and I always end up exhausted. Tonight I have alot more than five songs, and I'm going to go ahead and post as many as I can before death or tiredness consumes me; as it is I'm posting some songs I've had for a few months--some of them I got back in August (I have almost 4,000 songs. Sometimes it takes awhile for a song to come up on my player).

The first song was posted on My Old Kentucky Blog in August of 2005. It's been waiting patiently for it's turn. It's called "Heart of Snow" and it's by Black Mountain (right click on the link and choose "save as" because directly clicking on it won't save it). It starts out with a very low guitar line and within a few seconds other instruments, along with the singer's trembling voice, come sneaking in behind it. The soft dirge quality is abandoned a few minutes into the song for a bit of thrashiness, which I don't mind, but I'm all about the quiet moroseness. The moroseness does come back, and in all it's a very quiet, meditative and sad song.

I play folk music probably more than any other type, and there's a really good reason: I love it. The genre is more assured and complete than it was in the sixties and certainly more abundant now than at any time since then. I heard the next song for the first time today but I immediately loved it. I got it from Said the Gramophone but it can also be found at the band's Myspace site. The song is called "Joanna"; it's beautiful and it's by Peasant. The guy even e-mailed me at Myspace! How cool is that?

Also from Myspace is a musician named Paul Weinfield. He plays under the name Tam Lin, and I'm in love with his song "Porcelain Boy." I would say the song is as beautiful as porcelain, but not at all fragile.

To download the songs in myspace, just click on "download" under each song. It takes Myspace a little while to download. I don't really blame Myspace for the lag; afterall, thousands of horny single/single for the night people are using it at any given moment. I'm just greatful Myspace can withstand the pressure of all the hooking up.

Vigilantes of Love say we're going to be alright. Personally, I'm choosing to believe them. They're vigilantes, and vigilantes always have a purpose. I like that in a band. Anyways, he also says "put on your coat when it's bitter cold" and that's excellent advice, because it is as cold as Antartica out there. Okay, so that's an exaggeration, but the amount I like the song "Galaxy" by Bill Mallonnee and Vigilantes of Love is not exaggerated. It's an excellent song and worthy of being downloaded and played over and over again. Once again it's a song I've had since August. It looks like the band is no more (or the singer's part in it is no more.) Here's his website.

One of my favorite folk singers is the ex-singer of 'Til Tuesday, Aimee Mann. The music she's written and performed since the 80's has only gotten more perfect. As much as I liked Til Tuesday in the day (and I did--I tried to get my hair like hers) those songs never could have the impact her newer ones do. Lately I've been playing her song "River" everyday, and I'm still amazed by it.

I've mentioned the band July 26th Movement about a thousand times since I started this blog. I love them. It's no secret. They are one of the most perfect bands in my opinion. Well, as I've also mentioned before they've changed their name and they're now known as The Coast. Same music, different name. The band was kind enough (of course they were--they're Canadian. I would expect no less) and generous enough to send me one of the last copies of the July 26th Movement EP "Take A Walk Outside". It's just five songs (a few of which they said would make it to the new cd) but the songs are perfect. They get inside my head and they don't leave. I don't want them to leave. Lately I've always had some lyric of theirs as the signature in my e-mail. Yes, I love them that much.

Since I did get one of the last copies of the EP, I'd like to post my two current favorite songs from it. It's "Take A Walk Outside and "Landscape". I'm serious--if you haven't already heard them, listen to them.

The next song is from a cd I got from the library. Yes, the library. You read me right. I rarely (read: never) get music cds from the library--I just never think to. I get movies from the library and even occasionally books, but never music cds. Audiobooks, yes. Anyway, I was at the new library downtown a few weeks ago and I decided to look around the cds a bit. I saw some interesting things--some cds I have that I know if the wrong parent actually paid attention to would be gone. I sure as hell ain't gonna snitch.

Anyways, this cd is not one of the ones that would be banned, though I think it's cooler than the ones that would. I can only describe it as world trip-hop music. The CD is over ten years old--I can't believe I'd never heard of it. I'm just going to post one song now; it's called "Move On" and it's by Mouth Music. The name of the CD is Shoreline. I'm going to post a few more of the songs in the future because the whole CD to me is fantastic.

And of course I don't have to say I love Belle & Sebastian. I believe that is understood by my obsession with Scottish music and Sixties-sounding bands. Yes, I love the Belle and Sebastian. Aquarium Drunk had two songs for download; the songs are awesome; they're new. They're "Act of the Apostle" and "Sukie in the Graveyard". Man, that Sukie gets in a lot of trouble.

More next week. Bed now.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Five Songs I'm Loving This Week

It doesn't take much to make me sad (just ask anyone who knows my name) but one of the saddest and rawest songs I've ever heard is Cat Steven's "Trouble". I'll never forget hearing his mournful voice over the last few minutes of Harold and Maude, as the inevitable conclusion comes and Harold drives his sporty hearse along California roads. From then on that song became a staple of mine. While the original version is heartbreaking, I haven't heard a version as devastating as Elliot Smith's, only because it must've been so connected with his state of mind at the time. It was recorded right before his death, and if you know any of the details of what happened, then you will understand that these words were vividly real to him, as I'm sure they are real to Cat and as they are to me.

I will warn you, however, that if you leave the song on repeat and go do household chores for 20 minutes, you may find yourself inexplicably crying and possibly making mistakes like pouring the tea directly into the cup of hot water instead of into the filter.

A song I heard recently on MTV's Subterranean (I'm old school--I almost wrote 120 Minutes. I wish.) is "Number 1" by Goldfrapp. I had a horrible time finding a posted mp3, but my friend sent me a copy. The name of the band is very appropriate because the song shines and glitters like some of the best early 80's synthesizer new wave (think Missing Persons) and makes me want to wear a huge white blonde wig and go to a German disco, or something. I used to have a wig that wouldve been perfect.

I've had Cavalier King's "The Unprotected" in my head since I first heard it Friday night. I woke up this morning singing it. Singing in my sleep is not unusual for me, but it is a sign that a song has made a deep impression on me. This song has made a very good impression on me and despite my chronic poverty I may attempt to buy his EP. It would be considered indie music, I suppose, but indie in the way that it's it's own music--not easily categorized. If I had to pick a category, I'd say it's closest to folk-rock.

The last two songs are extremely different. Very different--to the point where I feel weird putting them together. But hey, we all need to make weird associations once in awhile. I've made a ton of weird associations in my life, but whatever...

The first song is guitar-based ambient music. It's the kind of music that makes a pretty decent go at actually clearing my mind and straightening out some of my many errant neural pathways. It's called "Into the Light" (scroll down just a little bit) and it's by Billy McLaughlin.

After much brain-cleaning, it's ready to be messed up again. Here with an oddly hypnotic and just plain jaunty cabaret song is Dresden Dolls with "Coin-Operated Boy" (I have searched but can't find an mp3 of the studio version, but there's a live version under "full performances" that's very indicative of the way the released version sounds). I want to see a Vaudeville show with the Coin-Operated Boy as the star. I bet he'd get a lot of groupies :)

**Listen to some of the covers they have on that site too--I'm listening to "Such Great Heights" now. Simply awesome :)

ETA: I did get a copy of the studio version of the song. Thanks Shane!