Saturday, November 25, 2006

Five (and More) Songs I'm Loving This Week

Today's gone by fast. I had intended to start on this post this morning, but I didn't, and it's no longer morning. It's not even afternoon yet; though I wouldn't call it night yet. It's solidly in the middle of evening.

I'm glad I waited 'cause a few of the songs I'm posting tonight I just found today.

For instance:

Susan Enan, "Bring On The Wonder"

I first heard this song on an episode of Bones a few months ago. It played in a moment already in a very poignant, sad episode about a young boy who had been found and had been murdered. The song sets a tone of remorse tinged with relief; a balance that's difficult to strike without trivializing the song. She sings "We pushed you down deep in our souls for so long"; in the episode the boy had been pushed down for a long time, but the details of his death were finally coming out. The singer never says what she's referring to that's hidden, but the regret and determination to make it right is evident in her voice and the lyrics. The song isn't available on cd yet, but there's a notice on her Myspace that it will be included in her first released album. She also has a website.

Susan Enan, framed by Bright Lights and a Big City

Tilly and the Wall, "Freest Man"

I found this today, though I'd heard it a few days ago (yay podcasts!). It's boppy! It's not boppy subject matter, though. The singer has the utmost respect for the boy in the song, and is genuinely concerned that's he's "too drunk to find his apartment". She says he keeps making mistakes, but the name of the song is "Freest Man", and she is telling him that he has the power to be that man instead of the boy who "lives in a bell jar".

Tilly and the Wall's Website and Myspace. They even have a You Tube channel; that shows they're truly keeping up with the times. "Freest Man" is from the album Bottom of the Barrels.

Wait--Chrissie Hynde joined Ace of Bace? How did that happen? (I'm joking. This is the fabulous Tilly and the Wall).

Cold War Kids, "We Used To Vacation"

Wow. The subject matter of this song is remarkably similar to that of the previous song. This song is explicitly about a man's struggle with alcoholism, from the perspective of the alcohilic. It's sad but it's inspiring. I hope this guy makes it. The song sounds very mature to be made by a band called Cold War Kids. There's nothing kid-like about this song. I originally found this through KEXP's Song of the Day, which rules, by the way. I rarely remember where I get songs, but I try to include a mention of the source if I do remember.

Cold War Kids, despite being children and living in the 50's, have a Myspace and a Website. This song is from the album Robbers and Cowards.

Cold War Kids do look very cold.

Darren Smith with Douglas Cameron, "Last Drive" (live, Inhouse With Jeremy Petersen)

A very pretty alt-country song; reminds me of riding through rural parts of Alabama all throughout the night. I miss doing stuff like that. I don't miss getting lost--or maybe I do miss getting lost. I miss looking up at the stars at 4 in the morning. I miss that feeling of connection you get when you talk to someone for hours. This song reminds me of all of that. I hope those weren't my last drives, though! (Or rather last rides 'cause I don't drive). This song seems to have a similar feel; he's talking about driving far to be with someone. I'm thinking of driving far just to go somewhere. The song is from Darren Smith's album Last Drive.

Darren Smith's Website
Douglas Cameron's Website (Cameron has his own album available, Remedies)
Darren Smith's Myspace
Douglas Cameron's Myspace

Yup. Darren and Douglas are just hangin' out by the water, y'know. Just shootin' it, waiting for their show that night.

The Solids, "Hey Beautiful"

Squee! Squeesqueesquee!

Hate me now? Okay, then:


It's the theme song from How I Met Your Mother! I love this song! I love that show! The theme is actually the last few seconds of that song, but the whole song is fantastic to me. And get this: two of the members of the band are the creators of How I Met Your Mother (on of the few funny comedies on TV nowadays)! Is that nepotism? Eh, who cares. It's an awesome theme and no one could've done better!

Hee! Their website says they're "world leaders in rock and roll since 1996". The world leaders are conquering Myspace, too.

The, at least this photo is on their Myspace. I guess it's them...

Bonuses!!! Don't say Mama Lola didn't do nothing for ya!

(Okay, Lola promises never to use the phrase "Mama Lola". It makes her feel old and grandmotherly and she ain't that old!)

The Friendly Indians, "I Know You Know"

I was talking about finding out the theme for HIMYM is done by the creators; my friend Shane on livejournal pointed out that the theme to Psych (a great theme and also a show I adore) is also done by Psych's creators. What weird parallel universes we live in! Anyways, the name of the song is "I Know You Know" and it's by The Friendly Indians. It's a short song, but it's just as it is on their site. Heh--in a turn-around from The Solids, The Friendly Indian's website has a disclaimer that The Friendly Indians are "mostly interesting since 1991". Heh! (I don't see a Myspace for them. C'mon people! Just 'cause you're mostly interesting doesn't mean you're dead!)

The Friendly Indians refused to post a picture of all of them together, so I posted this goofy picture of one of the members who also co-created Psych :)

Guilty Pleasure songs:

These songs will never be known by 98% of NPR listeners. Pitchfork Media will never review them. That's alright, though, 'cause all that matters is I sing them incessantly, bothering other people while making myself insanely happy. That's becoming increasingly important to me.

Chugga Chugga, "I Saw The Sign" (thanks to Liza's blog Copy, right?)

I loved the original. I watched the video when it came on VH-1, as enthralled as when Sarah McClachlan or The Cranberries came on.

I didn't tell anyone, though. I was young, naive...I had a small group of friends and I didn't know how they'd react. I'd grown up being different; I wasn't sure I wanted to be different even to my different friends. Of course now I don't think of stuff like that. I know that other people will have different tastes than I do and my concern starts and ends with my taste and not other people's. It wasn't so clear cut back then. It was the 90' was just a weird time...a lot of experimentation---

*runs out crying*

Anyway, this is a cover of the song. I've been listening to it incessantly (I even tried to get it on my voicemail, but it didn't work) but I'm not posting it as an official "Five Songs" pick because this version has a major flaw. The singer has difficulty reaching the high notes; her voice cracks a lot. Oh well. From what I read they were a high school act and I don't think they're together anymore. They have a Myspace and their website is their livejournal :) How cute! They have a song about carbs and how they're important to give you energy. Heh heh! I love them.

Chugga Chugga (they're so cute!)

Finally, last but not least:

Robin Sparkles, "Let's Go To The Mall"

Even in 1993 my music radar was up. Yep, not many Americans knew about Robin Sparkles. We were too busy with out Kurt Cobains and our Eddie Vedders to go to the mall. We were too cool, I guess. Well, Canada wasn't too cool! Canada wanted to rock our body all the way to Canada Day! In 1993 the likes of Tiffany and Debbie Gibson were just hitting the Northern border (though Sarah McClachlan was around then and I don't remember her wearing sparkly jackets...huh...) Anyway, Robin Sparkles made a splash in the malls of Canada in 1993 (literally--I think they used a lot of splatter paint) and I just can't get the song out of my head since I was reintroduced to it through the miracle of You tube (a better version of the video is on her Myspace).

There's a Myspace, for Robin, but it's fan-driven. I don't think Robin's making music anymore. Does anyone know what she's doing now? I know she modeled before this song hit big.

The jacket made Robin Sparkles famous (in Canada, anyway. And maybe Germany).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I've got yer Five Songs! I've got yer Five songs!

(I've also got internet access again, which makes me happy. Something my cable company did killed my internet for six days, but it's back now).

I won't be having a podcast this week, though. The main reason is since I haven't had internet access this week, I haven't downloaded much, so I barely have enough to make my five songs post. Another very good reason is I'm already at 97% of my web storage capacity. I remarked on this last week: apparently $5 doesn't buy much storage. So, since doing a podcast is kind of a byline of my Five Songs post, I decided to let a little more time go between installments. I'm thinking either two or three weeks. I'll try not to let more than three weeks go by without a new podcast. Maybe at some point I'll either be able to afford more money for the Libsyn service or I'll check out other storage sources.

For now, though, I'm going to let the Five Songs post take precedence. The podcast will continue to be more what it was before; an occasional augment of the music blog.

More news: the review I wrote last week has been posted at Urban Jacksonville. Yay me! My next project for them will be a review of the Ted Leo show this coming Wednesday. It just occured to me that for me to do a thorough review, I actually have to see the opening bands too, grumble grumble.

I will say this: for having no internet access (except for what I got from the coffee shop) I still managed to find some great songs. I'm head over heels for every one of these.

Five Songs I'm Loving This Week

Palace Fires, "Nothing Comes Close"

Once again, I'm in love with the guitar. I'm also in love with the smooth, romantic vocals. The gauziness of the vocal part reminds me of another song from a few years ago, "Talking To Myself" by Cousteau. It's the same kind of romaticism that drew me to the 80's New Ronantic movement. In fact, a few of the songs in this post share that same quality. Unlike some of the following bands, though, I can't say they're "kinda British" 'cause they are British (from the "Nothing Comes Close" single).

Palace Fires investigate something interesting near the ground

Palace Fires' Myspace and Website

Peter and the Wolf, "Safe Travels"

I'm sure musicians hate to hear their music called "cute". I hate to call anything cute. The word cute implies something demure; something less than the rest.

This song is dang cute, though. It's his fault for putting the "ahahah"s in there! How can he put that in there without thinking someone would think it's adorable? I don't know why, but the background vocals make me feel like I'm at a luau. Maybe it's 'cause the instrument playing sounds like a ukelele. Is it a ukelele? I have no idea. It sounds like one, though. Maybe someone's going to Hawaii, hence the "safe travels" thing. That's pretty far to go no matter where you're starting from. (from the album Lightness)

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Peter and the Wolf's Myspace and Website

French Kicks, "Go On"

I've heard a few of their songs, and I've liked them all (especially another song called "One More Time"). You might think from their name that they're Euro-electronic music (or Euro-something), but they're not. They're American and their sound is British via America, in a New-New Wave Walkman or Killers way. They're even from New York, like The Walkmen. They share a lot with that other NYC band: a city, a sound (kinda British, kinda Romantic in a Talk Talk kinda way). If the guy from The Walkman sang this song, I would probably think it was one of their songs.

Comparisons are not a bad thing if they remain in the correct context: I love kinda British, kinda Romantic (in a Talk Talk kind of way) music. I'm fully aware though, that, that these are completely different bands and the comparisons may start and end with this one song. The song's what hooked me--regardless of who or what it might remind me of. (from the album Two Thousand)

The French Kicks wonder what the one guy's tea leaves say. The tea leaves say "you guys play really cool music".

French Kicks' Myspace and Website

Longcut, "A Tried and Tested Method"

I love the guitar in this. It's very clear and sharp. The vocals are a little repetitive, but I like the song so much (especially the aforementioned guitar) that I can deal with a little imperfection (and it really is slight to me). From the album A Call and Response.

The version of this song on their Myspace is much different; the vocals are more full; more like singing instead of shouting :) I like the guitar on the version I posted better, though.

The Longcut's Website.

Touriste, "Your Move"

I first heard this band on KEXP, which is a great resource for the kind of music I like. They have a podcast called "Music That Matters" and the particular episode that played this band and also Palace Fires was #29 hosted by DJ Shannon. The song I'm posting here isn't the song on the podcast; I desperately (read: used every source I knew of) to find a copy of "Shannon's Cannon"--that song is spectacular, in my opinion. I only found it through ITunes. I downloaded it, but I'm sorry I did; I forgot that ITunes won't let me convert it to mp3 format so I can't even put it on my mp3 player. I'll probably end up buying the actual cd, though I'm getting away from buying physical music media. I have enough stuff in my apartment. I tried Musicmatch, but they didn't have it available.

Though this isn't the song I'd intended to post, it's still a great song. I got it from their Myspace. I hate the term "power-pop", but this song is very powerful, and a little on the poppish side (though if you download from my blog for awhile, you'll figure out that "poppish" can be good, as long as it's done in a mature fashion with real craft behind it. This is a very well-crafted pop song, and it shows that the band behind the song has true talent (from the album Hope and Faith).

Much like Palace Fires, Touriste have found something interesting to investigate.

You can listen to the other song, "Shannon's Cannon" on their Myspace. Their Website.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Something's wrong with my podcast. I'm recasting the pod now.

Edit: It's working now. Here's the mp3.

By the by: did we know Google was buying blogger? I knew they bought You Tube...huh. Weird.
Five Songs I'm Loving This Week, November 12th, 2006

** In addition to this post, I have a podcast** (RSS Feed)

On to the post:

It's theme night at The Apollo!!!

What are you talking about, you say? Oh, I'm just trying to find a clever way to say I inadvertantly stumbled on a theme. Wake me when I begin being clever.

Okay, wake me now regardless of my clever status--I need to do this post.

Anyways, I inadvertantly stumbled onto a theme. Turns out I've been listening to a lot of covers, so the majority of this post will features covers. Part of the reason is I downloaded alot of stuff from Copy, Right? (Too bad I failed to notice the Ok Go song before it was taken down, though). I love the Sheena Easton cover, but it didn't quite make the cut. I adore the Ace of Bace cover, too--to the point of trying to put it on my voice mail (my phone didn't pick up my headphones very well), but I won't put you all through the screechiness.

(Speaking of covers, this is a cool website. I remember I told someone about it once and they asked me what a cover was. I know--whatever.)

Anyways, lots of covers.

Devotchka, "The Last Beat of My Heart"

My favorite gypsy-led multi-instrumental, multi-genre band has covered one of the songs from my favorite gothic punk 80's banshee-led multi-make-up hued bands. Wow! Who'd a thunk?

My favorite gypsy-led band,Devotchka, has covered one of Siouxsie's most majestic songs, "The Last Beat of My Heart", from Siouxsie's 1988 album Peepshow. Devotchka's version appears on their newly released E.P. Curse Your Little Heart. Put this band together with this song and we get a romantic, haunting, jarring and gorgeous procession. I couldn't have picked a better song for them to do (unless they decide to cover Siouxsie's "Dazzle"). I want this version of "The Last Beat..." played at my wedding. Seriously. It's one of the few love songs I adore that doesn't involve some sort of tragedy, so the pool I have to pick from isn't very deep anyway.

Devotchka's Website and Myspace.

I couldn't find any photos of the whole band together, but this is okay...Nick's so pretty, anyway...

Jon Auer, "Beautiful Stranger"

I swear I don't post a lot of covers. I really don't. This is a particularly excellent discovery, though, 'cause I love the original song and I adore Jon Auer (I posted his cover of The Cars' "Misfit Kid" a year or so ago). I'm not shy about my love for MLVC (AKA Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone) and this is one of my favorite of hers.

The violin in this version fits the song perfectly. His vocals are delicate (with apologies to Auer's masculinity) enough to not overpower the sweetness of the song, though it is weird to hear a guy do the skippy "da da da da" part. "Beautiful Stranger" is from Auer's album 6 & 1/ 2. Hey look! He does "Baby Bitch" by Ween! Awesome!

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Jon Auer's Website and Myspace.

Thea Gilmore, "Ever Fallen In Love"

A cover! How novel of me! This is a Buzzcocks song. Exhaustively despairing, haunting, hopeless--excuse me while I go plunge my head in water or some similarly fatal action (just kidding, but man, this song makes me sad..)

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Thea Gilmore
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Thea's cat Satchmo. Isn't Satchmo adorable?

Thea's Website and Myspace

Anyways, the song's a pretty kind of sad, though, much like---

Tanya Donelly's song, "Long, Long, Long"

I've been a fan of Tanya Donelly's since she and her stepsister Kristen Hersh founded Throwing Muses, then on through Tanya's band Belly and her solo-work. Her latest album is This Hungry Life, and "Long, Long, Long" is from it. The song is brutally emotional, begging the subject to acknowledge her devotion and despairing the loss of the person. The singer eventually found the person again, though she doesn't seem too elated. Maybe she's just tired--I would be, too. The violin mirrors the emotion; it's deep, dark and matches Tanya's mood of lingering pain bouyed by relief.

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Tanya Donelly's Website and Myspace


The White Birch, "Love Is So Real" (2002)

Not a cover! (I don't think)

Gorgeous piano brings this song in, forming an upper melody and splitting off to provide a low undercurrent. Above the music, a man's voice slides in, solemn and reverent. A woman's voices takes over later in the song, sounding like she came from another plane of existance, like Julee Cruise's even spookier doppelganger.

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The White Birch wonder if trees can grow on water.

The White Birch's Myspace and Website

Bonus! I accidentally picked out six songs and wrote about six songs, so dang if I ain't gonna post six songs!

My Latest Novel, "The Reputation of Ross Francis".

I have no idea who Ross Francis is. Maybe it's a Scottish thing. Maybe it's something every person in the world knows, but I don't. Maybe Thea Gilmore's cat Satcho knows.

The lead singer's Glaswegian accent is strong (to a non-Scotswoman it sounds strong anyway), and it's distinctive even among the other voices singing concurrently. Layering several voices kind of makes it sound like a rustier, non-culty, Scottish version of the Polyphonic Spree, minus the robes. It's not sappy like the Spree, though (I'm not too keen on them). Like the Spree, though, they tend to get a little too chorus-y, especially towards the end. Other than that, though, it's a pretty rousing song. Whatever they're singing about, it makes me want to lift my glass to it (from their album Wolves).

My Latest Novel's Label Site, Myspace and Website.

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A really nice picture of My Latest Novel.

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I wanted to use this picture of My Latest Novel because I want to ask them if they're going out to look for those White Birch fellas. How far is from Scotland to Norway, anyway? Won't they get cold?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Five Songs I'm Loving This Week

This week's blog post is very alt-country-leaning. It's got some twang to it. I didn't mean for it to be 3/5ths down-home. It's really just what I've been listening to--what I happened to download through other blogs and podcasts. Maybe that means that alt-country is making a major surgence. I can only hope :)

Anyhoo, so yeah, plenty of cowgirls and cowboys in this post. One dark horse (er, bird) in Andrew Bird's "Dark Matter".

Also, Podcast!!! Here's the raw MP3 and this is the RSS feed.

David Mead, "Choosing Teams" (live in Atlanta)

This is a soft meandering piano song. I love these kinds of songs. Especially when it's cold outside and I'm inside a coffeeshop because I'm too cheap to run my own heat (I love the coffee shop, but it is true: I am too cheap to run my heat).

David Mead's vocal style reminds me of Andrew Bird's (someone I'll write about later in the post). It's hushed but kind of detached, yet sing-songy simultaneously. Like an adult nursery rhyme. The piano accompaniment drags a little behind the vocals. He pounds the keys a little too hard, in a slightly exaggerated manner. That may be his way of toughening up what could be considered a very light, almost "twee" song.

I'm not the best at deciphering lyrics (and I was an English major. Leave me alone), but the song seems to be about growing up. He says he's no longer going to school because he's got bills to pay and later he says there's a bun in the oven (I'm assuming not in his oven--to the best of my knowledge guys don't have ovens). My guess is the song is about life after school. I could be wrong, though. It could be about exotic, endangered animals. It could be about the state of nuclear tensions in the Far East. I dunno; I just like the way it sounds.

David Mead is the most polite student at the boy's school.

David Mead's Website, his Myspace and his "Library Thing".

The Last Town Chorus, "Modern Love"

Ah! A David Bowie cover! I love me some D.B.! Y'know, a lot of people don't like his 80's songs, but I hit puberty smack-dab in the middle of those songs, so they stuck to me like glitter did to Ziggy Stardust. They're part of my teenaged-psyche. Since I'm not so far from my teenaged-psyche, I'm never too far from my love of 80's music.

This version is slowed-down; almost alt-country (actually, there ain't no "almost" about it--I do believe that be a steel pedal I hear). This rendition is so different from the original that when I first heard it I honestly couldn't figure out what it was. I heard the "church in time" line and I was all "I know that! What the heck is it?!" I was amazed when it finally hit me what it was (okay, so I looked at the title scrolling across my mp3 player and that's how I got clued in). Her voice kind of reminds me of Liz Frazier from The Cocteau Twins, if the Cocteau Twins were a little bit country (and only slightly ethereal cloud music).

The Last Town Chorus' Myspace and Website

Andrew Bird, "Dark Matter"

I've posted about Andrew Bird before. He's awesome.

How to describe his music?


Andrew Bird (photo by Adam Berry)

(Andrew Bird has a Myspace and an Official Site)

The Duhks, "Heaven's My Home"


If you don't feel some sort of emotion during this song, then phooey on you! Her determination and defiance in this song breaks my heart. The emotion in her voice unsteadies me and makes me hang my head in shame over every time I've complained about something silly like my boyfriend forgetting my birthday.

The lyrics tear me apart: she says her dad told her she was "born broken" and she was taught to work the system. She sings "Life's hard, I've always known that; I've never been handed no welcome mat". Amen, lady. Amen. Her voice has real fight in it. She's got the conviction in her voice and the talent of any of the best country has to offer: Loretta Lynn, Reba McIntyre...I don't say that lightly.

'Course like alot of country songs, this could be just a story. Maybe it never happened to her or maybe it did. Doesn't make it any less sad and grueling.

Lola is speechless (in a good way) due to this picture of The Duhks. I have one tattoo, and it does not cover my whole arm. It covers maybe three inches.

The Duhk's Website and Myspace

Jill Sobule, "Texas"

Don't let the twanginess of this song fool ya. This ain't no honky-tonk song about cowboy's losin' their women and their lives to drink. This is about people losing their lives, though. It's about the death penalty and the hypocricy of some of those who preach values and life but often employ the ultimate punishment.

Jill Sobule

Jill Sobule's Website and Myspace ("Lucy At The Gym" makes me think of my LJ friend HunterXTC, only because he goes to the gym alot). She's also a featured columnest at The Huffington Post.