Sunday, December 31, 2006

Five Songs I'm Loving This Week

Okay, yeah, so that little experiment I did last week? Incorporating the songs into my random rambling instead of creating proper paragraphs about each song? Yeah, that kind of sucked. It took almost as long to do the post and it ended up reading like I was composing the post while being threatened with death by plunging from an airplane.

So, this week I'll do a proper post. Tomorrow, I'll probably do a podcast. I meant to do it today, but I've messed around too much today. Laundry, cleaning, etc. I'll try to do the podcast tonight, but if not, I'll aim for tomorrow.

Hope everyone has a great New Year's Eve!

Asobi Seksu, "New Year's Eve"

This is from their latest album, Citrus, and I can't think of a better time to post it than now. Every New Year's needs a song, just as it needs a ball to drop somewhere, just as it needs a stuffed bear with a top hat, a mini-suit and a cane. Just as it needs...okay, so I'm describing almost every New Year's Eve I've had. The song is new, though. What a bouncy song, too! Makes me wish I were seeing a band like this live instead of watching Dawn of the Dead and drinking raspberry beer (hey, we all have our own ways to celebrate).

Oh, and don't tear your hair out trying to figure out what she's says, unless you know Japanese. The band's from Brooklyn, but she's originally from Japan.

What a gorgeous picture! Asobi Seksu's Myspace and Website.

The Ballet, "I Hate The War"

This is a very cute song about a very serious subject. It's hard to say that anything relating to Iraq is cute, but maybe we need a little levity when referring to such a heartbreaking, seemingly never-ending situation. I certainly prefer something like this to something heavy-handed, written by 20-something year-old hipsters who've barely ever left their home coffeeshop, trying to earn street cred. I don't know how old these guys are, but it doesn't seem like they wrote this for any cred. Like the actual art of ballet, this song is elegant. The lyrics are amazingly simplistic: "I can't believe this thing is still going on". I'll lift my glass of raspberry lambic beer to that sentiment, and let's hope this time next year any war involving us will be past-tense.

Dude! The guy in the white shirt totally looks like what the doctor on Lost will look like after about three years on the island, if he never finds another berry or piece of food again.What a nice website The Ballet has! Gotta love anything with "Pirateship" in the title. They also have a Myspace.

Benoit Pioulard, "Palimend"

In the "I get what I deserve" department, I had a paragraph written about how this doesn't sound French, it sounds more North American, ya da ya da. I compared him to Canadian bands such as Arcade Fire and The New Pornographers. Heh-that's what I get for writing before Googling. The dude's not French! He's from Michigan! Explains why it doesn't sound like a French song.

The comparisons still remain, though. He belongs with some of the really good Indie bands coming out today, such as the bands I just mentioned. He's got some cool polaroids on his website too; I guess they're just random locations he took pictures of.

My name is French for Thomas Meluch. Pioulard's Website, Myspace and Wiki entry.

Radio 4, "Save Your City"

There's no doubt this band is a New York City band. Something about the sound is intrinsic to that city. It's the same energy The Secret Machines have, and they're New York (by way of Texas, which I believe is a great route to take--the best of both worlds). This song livens up any place it plays. It livens me up even on the draggiest of days, and that's saying a lot.

Fedoras are always awesome. Radio 4's new album is called Enemies Like This; they have a website and a Myspace.

We Have Soldiers, We Have Guns, "Songs That No One Will Hear"

Despite the name of the band, I wasn't going for a theme. These are honestly songs I've been listening to this week. I've been listening to this one for a few weeks, actually. The lead singer sounds like she could be in Asobi Seksu or The Aisler's Set. It sounds more like a lullabye than anything involving guns or soldiers. I can't understand the lyrics (part of the casualties of a sing-songy lullabye), but the overall sound of the song isn't confrontational. It's the type of song I could go to sleep to, and dream dreams of new years and new possibilities. Of course the only lyric I can understand-- "let's keep singing songs that no one will hear" isn't overtly positive, but her voice turns it into something hopeful.

Heh! How meta! On their website, they say their favorite song at the moment is Asobi Seksu's "Thursday". I guess the bands I like are all related to each other in some way. We Are Soldiers, We Have Guns new album is called To Meet Is Murder. Nice misanthropic take on The Smiths' Meat Is Murder! I bet Morrissey would be proud.

Soldiers' Myspace. I love how they describe their music.

Happy New Years, everyone!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

"To Those Of This World",

Okay. Remember how last week I was feeling a bit under the weather and may not do a post? Well, I'm going to do a blog entry, but it's going to be a little different.

I still feel very ill--I had a few crises happen (one of which is still going on--I love my cat Quatsch and hope she gets through this crisis) and I'm just drained. It's "Gone Beyond" my ability to deal with solo. I spent the whole day cleaning and doing laundry because it needed to be done. Seriously, my apartment was so dirty that I worried I might get gangrene or something. So, the floors are swept, mopped and all that good stuff.

Anyhoo, so I'm really tired and don't have the energy to lovingly craft a description for each song, so this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to insert the songs into this conversation. I'll allude to song titles in this very set of paragraphs. Can you spot them? C'mon! It'll be fun! The"Children of December" are doing it! Children of December reminds me of Children of the Corn. Creepy. I have no clever segueway for this, but "Goodbye Little New York!"

If you don't like this method of delivering the five songs, then talk to management. I just work here.

But just know--"I Will Not Leave You Alone".

Oh yeah, and "Hey Guys! It's Christmas Time"! (Bonus)

Akron/Family ("Gone Beyond") is on Michael Gira's (formerly of The Swans) label, Young God Records. Look! Myspace!

Akron/Family. Yup, they look like family.

I've actually seen Bernard ("To Those Of This World"--sorry I only have the version with talking in the beginning) play before. They opened for another band I saw (don't ask me to remember what band--different shows blend into different shows). The website listed for them transfers directly to their Myspace. They also have a song available on Pure Volume.

Bernard, A View Beyond The Cave

I'd never heard of The Slip ("Children of December") before, but this song made a very strong impression on me. They're signed to the prestigious indie label "Bar None". The name of the album is Eisenhower, and this is The Slip's Myspace.

The Slip ask "Whatchoo lookin' at?"

I heard the song "Goodbye Little New York", by Helicopters, on Insomnia Radio Double Shots, and I looked and looked for my very own mp3 copy. I looked, looked, looked--to the point that Google almost called last call. But there it was. All tiny and alone (unlike the next song suggests), the last link in the Google search. I found it on a site called "Green Music Blog". Nice of them guys, huh?

Helicopters say "Whip it, Whip it good".

I downloaded North Atlantic Explorers ("I Will Not Leave You Alone") because I love the name of the band. I love anything that evokes the starkness of the great North, and also the name reminds me of another band I love: Nanook of the North. I was happy to find that I liked the songs as much as I liked the name. Their Myspace.


And of course, anyone paying attention (I would guess at least one person) knows I love Sufjan Stevens. I listen to everything I find by him. I don't always like it (Enjoy Your Rabbit, I'm talking to you. I just don't go for screechy wannabe Chinese experimental instrumentation), but when I like it, I worship it and tell people to play it at my funeral (that's important: I want "Chicago", the album version, played at my funeral). Actually, if at all possible, I want it played as I'm dying, but I know we don't always have control at that moment. Seriously, though, if it's possible, "Chicago" as I'm slipping from the world and at the funeral. I ask for that and for my cats, if they're still around, to go to a good home. (I'm not trying to freak anyone out: I have no plans to check out anytime soon).

The Sufjan, he is a dreamy man.

Anyhi, that's the Five Song post for this week. It's still taken me over two hours, though usually it can be between 3-5 hours.

Oh, and two videos I've been playing a lot recently: (I'm more attached to the songs than the actual videos, and I'd post the mp3s, but they're major label, and I don't feel like getting a cease and desist note for Christmas). I tried to embed these, but I couldn't get it to work, so I posted the links to the Youtube videos.

Secret Machines, "Lightning Blue Eyes"

Sigur Ros, "HoppĂ­polla"

Merry Christmas :)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Five Songs I'm Loving This Week

Anathallo, "O Holy Night"

This may be my favorite non-traditional version of this song. I've posted the band before--they're one of my favorite current bands (what a coincidence--band I love, song I love). Like all the Anathallo songs I'm fond of (don't think I don't know there's a drinking game for every time I say "love"), this one is long, ambles, and changes so much you'd swear there was another song in there: precisely why I think they're such geniuses. Their songs are epic in a Queen way, if Queen had been a folk band.

Anathallo's Website and Myspace. They even have a Wikipedia entry. It's never occured to me to look in Wikepedia for a band's info. Luckily Google was thinking for me! (I'm afraid of a world where Google thinks for me.)

Junip, "Official"

I've been going around for a few weeks listening to this song, thinking "man, this sounds just like Jose Gonzalez". Of course when I looked up information about the band today, I found out that Junip is Jose Gonzalez' band! I feel a little silly now, but that's okay. I usually feel really silly--"a little silly" is an improvement. Much like Gonzalez' solo work, this song is sparse, haunting and beautifully crafted. If you want to hear more Jose Gonzalez, this is my favorite of his songs.

Junip's Website and Myspace.

Tokyo Police Club, "Citizens of Tomorrow"

I love the handclapping in this song. I love the expansive keyboard sound. The Greek chorus chant of "no we can't" reminds me of Arcade Fire, while the rest of the song reminds me of nothing I can pinpoint. The singer's delivery is low-key most of the time, but goes into a kind of emo, pleading state mid-way through the song with the lyrics "this is not how we planned it", like a Death Cab For Cutie song hijacked by Bright Eyes mid-way. Aside from the emo-bridge, though, this is a very good mix of guitar-rock, spacey keyboard music (they mention robots!) and shouty indie music (a la Arcade Fire). Go to their Myspace to listen to a stripped-down version of the song. (From the album A Lesson In Crime) Tokyo Police Club's Myspace and Website

What? Someone stole a speaker? *Whistles* I have no idea where it could be...

Tap Tap, "100,000 Thoughts"

I'm a sucker for guitars-played-as-ukelules, especially when they're smack in the middle of really punchy songs. Punchy song this is, though I'm not sure if an actual ukulele is used (I tried to find song credits, but none were to be found). The rhythm of this song seems to be made by guitars, bass and the singer's plaintive voice (and a good 'ole dose of hand-clapping). These few things come together, steadily ascending and forming a wholly realized piece of pop music. The album LanzaFame is mostly sold-out, but can be ordered through their label.

Hey--let's form a band. Dude, can you play guitar? Tap Tap's Myspace and Website.

The Orange Peels, "April Come She Will"

I just heard of The Orange Peels a few days ago. Literally about three or four days ago. I don't remember how I heard about them, but now I have several of their songs and podcasts (podcasts!). I also feel like I've been listening to them for years. They do a wholly different take on Simon and Garfunkel's "April Come She Will". They've altered the melody enough to where it's recognizable, but removed from the original. The band took the song and dispersed its elements, regrouping them into a completely new song. That's what I look for in a cover: still obviously the same song, but rebranded. Their Myspace and Website.

The Orange Peels squint into the camera.

Oh yeah! Podcast!

By the by: I found out that EZArchive only lets me have 100MBs. How did I find out? Several minutes spent "posting" the Orange Peels song, only to have it freeze. I restarted the computer and it still didn't work. That's when it occured to me to check my stats. Even after deleting enough music to get ti down to 97MBs (the song's less than 3), it still wan't having it, so I dusted off Libsyn again (Libsyn which I'd wanted to reserve solely for podcasts) the lesson is I still can't keep songs posted for more than a few weeks. Get them while they're up!

I plan on doing a post next week, unless something prevents me (I have been feeling under the weather).

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Five Songs I'm Loving This Week

Otay, I think I've finally got EZArchive working, so I can hopefully leave Libsyn for my podcasts.

According to EZArchive, the songs will be posted at reduced quality. If you notice a marked difference between the quality of the songs I've been posting the last few months on Libsyn and the ones I'm posting this week, please let me know. It could be that the songs I'm posting now are just plain low-quality to begin with (I got them free, after-all), but if enough people say the quality is noticeably poor, I'll consider using only Libsyn. I want EZA to work, though, so I can save Libs. for podcasting, and I can podcast more often. Podcasting's the future, y'know.

Five Songs I'm Loving This Week

Track A Tiger, "Sound As Ever"

I don't know what the phrase "sound as ever" means in this song; are they saying they're as sound of mind as ever? sound of body as ever? Is someone named Sound playing a character named Ever in a school play? There is a person named Ever--Ever Carradine is Robert Carradine's daughter. She was in the short-lived show "Lucky". I loved her and John Corbett's hot, but that show got on my nerves after awhile.

Isn't this a lovely alt-country song, though? It reminds me of Hem or Pulaski Heights. I love the violin. I love all violin. That may be a cello, though--It's hard for me to tell. There's no violin credited on their site; only cello. The guitar's beautiful, too. Very strummy, as is a fitting adjective for a guitar. I love the description on their website: "The sound is a little heavier and atmospheric with some extended jams. Maybe Richard and Linda Thompson and the Sea and Cake having drinks in the living room while Low and Sonic Youth make dinner in the kitchen. Fleetwood Mac is out getting more ice." I so want to be in that apartment. The quality of the mp3 may be better on their website. They also have a Myspace. They also have one of the best album-titles I've ever heard, Woke up early the day I died. I think the day I die I want to sleep in. No alarm clocks on that day.

Would number three please step forward?

Young Sportsmen, "Chavez"

This song reminds me of a Foo Fighters song, which is a positive thing in my world-view. It has that quick, driving kind of rock and roll the Foos use. Maybe Young Sportsmen's CD won't take over your computer like The Foo Fighters' In Your Honor does (did? I don't know if they changed it) if you play it in your disc drive. I played their song "Under Rocks and Stars" on my podcast--what a frikkin' awesome song, too. Both songs are from the album The Familiar Glow of Colliding Particles. This song and others are available on their website, and they also have a Myspace.

Young Sportsmen

Early Day Miners, "Return of the Native"

Early Day Miners are on one of my favorite labels, Secretly Canadian, so I've known about them for a few years. This song is hazy and lightly Western, much like the 90's band Mazzy Star, or maybe Cowboy Junkies. Yeah, Cowboy Junkies. The song has just enough percussion to keep us awake, but enough steel pedal to make us want to sleep under stars.

The original mp3 is from their Secretly Canadian page--it's from their recent album Offshore. I also found it on Salon's audio file page (you'll have to go through an ad). The bio on their Myspace likens their music to 80's 4AD, which definitely holds true on some of the Myspace songs, particularly "Sans Revival". Early Day Miners' website.

It's okay, I don't trust the camera either.

El Perro Del Mar, "God Knows (You gotta give to get)"

Despite their name, El Perro Del Mar is not from a predominantly Spanish-speaking country, they're not even a "they". El Perro Del Mar is actually one woman, and she's from Sweden--meaning my fascination with Swedish musicians is allowed to continue. I was beginning to worry--it'd been weeks since I'd downloaded any Swedish musicans' songs.

This song is markedly different than any of the other songs by Swedish musicians I've heard. It's not psychedelic like Soundtrack of Our Lives, not comedic like so many of Jens Lekman's. There's no mention of dancing queens or winners taking it all (sorry I had to). No one saw the sign (sorry--stopping now). It's skips all that and goes straight back to the sixties. In fact, Sarah (the lone member of the band) looks like a pixie from the sixties--a Twiggy for the 2000s. Pitchfork says it all better than I do. The song is from the self-titled LP, and I first heard it on Relevant TV. She has a Myspace and Website.

Sarah Assbring from El Perro Del Mar

The Diggs, "Everyone's Starting Over" (Cassettes Won't Listen remix)

This is all blippy and bleepy--it reminds me of Postal Service or that song I posted a few weeks ago--"Not In Love". I love blippy bleepy things, as long as it's light. I don't care for really loud, really pulsing techno songs. If I start getting flashbacks to the gay clubs I used to go to in the early nineties, then it's too techno. The guy sings in this song that "everything's getting louder". If everything starts to get louder, I start to feel older. Much like a line in this song, I'm tired and it shows...I don't know why I'm always so tired. I guess just working so much, and working at such a tiring job. I'm even too tired to look up the complete name of that "Not In Love" song. Okay, I feel guilty now. It's "Not In Love (Not True)" by Wolfgang. None of this has anything to do with The Diggs, but I like to digress sometimes. "Everyone's Starting Over" is really great--it's light, low-volume electronic music, which is the way I like electronic music. The original version of the song is from the album Commute. A possibly better quality version of the Cassettes Won't Listen mix can be found on the news page of their website under the 8/24 listing. The Diggs also have a Myspace.

The Diggs look like really nice guys.

Neat online radio station I found while looking for the set The Diggs played.

What a great download site.

If this EZArchive thing works out, I may post a podcast next weekend. We'll see. I'm not ugly, but I'm tired and it shows.

Monday, December 04, 2006


It's all evil. EZArchive is all evil and mean. I hate it.

I reuploaded the songs using Libsyn. It should work now.
Oh freakin' boo! Everything's letting me down! I'm sorry I used EZArchive.

if anyone knows how EZArchive is supposed to work, please enlighten me.

I'll reupload the songs tonight.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Five Songs I'm Loving This Week

Edited 12/4/06 EZArchive sucks sucks sucks! It didn't upload any of the songs I posted. I'm going to go throw a tantrum and scream into a pillow!

I've reuploaded the songs into Libsyn. They should work now.


I'm in a pissy mood tonight. I apologize for any tirade I may lunge into. I just had a brief moment where I got really frustrated because I couldn't find the mp3s on my computer, and I couldn't get EZArchive to work (I want to try using that so I can leave Libsyn for my podcasts) and yes, I will admit, I cried a little. Plus I cried because I've been writing/looking up music all day and I'm just now getting started on the post at almost six p.m.

Anyways, I'll be alright. I want to go on vacation. Is phasing into another dimension a viable travel plan? 'Cause that's what I want to do.

I'm also mad at Musicmatch. I'm one of the last non-Ipod owning portable-music playing aficianados out there, and I've been trying to prop up the support for the underdog(s) myself, which includes using a non-Apple player and Musicmatch's downloading service (I sometimes use Napster, too).

I want a video player b/c sometime soon audio podcasts are going to be a thing of the past, and video will be the norm. So, I figured I need a video player. I studied the main IPod competitors. The Zune is a joke (if I "disappear", go looking at Microsoft), the Creative Zen seems like the best option, but it's incredibly bulky. The Gigabeat, while great in some ways, in other ways apparently sucks (the battery life, the tech support). So, honestly, the IPod is looking to be the superior product in every way. Damn me. I am a puppet of the great God of Apple.

So, Musicmatch letting me down today really upset me. I supposedly downloaded a song, but it didn't download properly. I spent almost an hour trying to send a request for assistance to their support site. It was a joke and very frustrating.

Anyways, so IPod is already looking like my best option. I use ITunes to download some podcasts, but I also use Juice. Juice has been screwing up lately. I'm being let down from all sides by non-Apple products.

Anyways, whining's over. On to my five songs:

Morning State, "Must Go Up"

This has been one of my favorite songs to listen to this week. I mean, not just regular fondness, but this song is one of my favorites forever kind of fondness. This is the reason that even though I couldn't find a non-podcasted version of the song, I'm posting it anyways. I'm sorry I could only find a version with a talkie part at the beginning, bu I lost a little more of my sanity trying to find a copy (and I ain't going to Musicmatch).

The singer's voice is rich, deeply expressive and capable of supporting the emotional demand of lyrics like "there's a part of me that wants to be unseen, that wants to be alone in the dark". You can't have a boppy, sunshiny voice with a lyric like that. Well, you can, but it's totally incongruous (which works sometimes). The music is stark, consisting of staccato guitar notes and a thumping drum. According to the podcast-y bit, the song is about one of the member's dog. If they ever run out of ideas for songs, they can write a song about my cat Quatsch. She has cancer, so she deserves to be in a song.

This is their website (where the song is available, though I originally got it from Paste) and this is their Myspace. They have an EP called Retreat!!!, but as far as I can tell, the song I posted is unreleased. They e-mailed me to say they appreciate my interest. That rules :) Oh yeah, they're from Atlanta (my favorite Southern city) and Athens. I'm a Georgia girl, so I notice things like that.

Awww! Morning State look so humble!

Palisades, "Architecture"

This is an awesome song. I love the "ahuh, ahuh" vocals. I don't know what the heck the song is about--something about buildings and t.v. It's ultra-cute, though, and that's what matters. They also play with two other musicians I adore: Damien Jurado and The Blow. This song is actually a few years old, but you know how it goes in the Indie world. It takes time for word of blog to spread, sometimes. This song is from their self-titled EP.

Palisades' Website and Myspace.

The Palisades. I'm suspicious of the one guy looking at the camera. He knows something vital; I can just tell.

Mazarin, "Your Advice"

Whimper! Whimper! Mazarin have been coerced into retiring their beautiful and destinctive name. I love their name. It sounds so cool. It reminds me of marzapin, and that's really cool. They say they'll go on recording under another name, but it's a shame that they have to start over after they've built a name for themselves, and a website, a Myspace, and several CDs...

They're one of my favorite bands of all time, and they're offering this song as consolation for us. I'd rather have the band back as it was, but this song is good and I'm happy to share it with you. I believe it's unreleased, but their most recent album is from 2005 and is great.

Mazarin's Website and Myspace (this Mazarin has 82,000 views while the other Mazarin has 3,000...hmmm...who should defer?)

If Jesus had made an appearance in the 70's (and who knows--maybe he did),
his followers might've looked something like Mazarin.

Jonathon Coulton, "Ikea"

Oh my God! I've never heard a song about furniture! This wins the cute and inventive title of the week (and that ain't easy with the competition in this post). It's a song about Ikea furniture! Apparently it folds up. If you don't have a home you can buy one at Ikea. How awesome! "Ikea" originally appeared on the album Smoking Monkey.

Coulton's website offers a lot more songs for free, and he specifically states that there is no copyright restrictions on any of them; he's just asking for donations. He's awesome!! Once I get through this period of vet bills, etc., I will send him money just 'cause I really appreciate what he's doing). If you want any of his offered songs, just click on the smiley face for the free download. He also has a podcast from Popular Science. He's triple-awesome! (I've officially tripped some wire in my brain. I think it's going to pop soon). I tried to find a Myspace for him, but couldn't. Here's his press release, though.

Jonathon Coulton is wearing a dark maroon-colored shirt. He must be broody.

Mindy Smith, "Outloud"

I don't know why, but for some reason the copy I have of this is very low quality--40kb (or whatever). I apologize for that.

I posted Mindy Smith's "Come To Jesus" quite awhile ago, and I'm happy to report that this song is as good as that one. I'm always worried that if I love one song from an artist I won't like others. Sometimes it happens that way, which is disappointing. I haven't heard many of her songs, but I'm not at all disappointed in this one. Being a devoted fan of alt-country and folk music, I expect matters of God and religion to be a part of many of the songs I listen to. I'm not religious (though I am spiritual), but I don't mind religious matters in music as long as I'm not being preached to; in fact, if it's included honestly, it can give a song resonance that might not've been there, and it can make a song even more moving. She evokes God in an indirect way, imploring him through prayer, singing "I think about it, I pray about it, out loud". Melodic and melancholy, this song makes me want to pray right along with her. This is from her new album, Long Island Shores.

Mindy Smith's Website and Myspace


Thank you for reading, especially through my bad mood tirade ;) I need yogurt and wine, now.
The Pretenders, Pretenders 2
Reissue, 2006, Rhino Records

This isn't the album with that famous song—the one that Scarlett Johansson karoakes in Lost In Translation. Teenagers in 50 years may not sidestep to any of these songs (okay, well a few may) as they do even now to “Brass In Pocket”, but that doesn't mean these aren't classic songs. The Pretenders had a lot of hit songs, but they had even more good songs, and some of the best are on this album.

Rhino has remastered the original 12 tracks along with 15 live songs (including the famous one I mentioned), a demo of “Talk of the Town” (one of the loveliest pop songs ever written) an outtake of “I Go To Sleep” and the radio outtake of “Pack It Up” (the originals being from Pretenders 2).

The Pretenders will long be known, along with Blondie, as one of the most influential pop/punk/rock hybrid bands. Chrissie Hynde's songwriting and vocal range assured that each album would be a mix of the three genres, and the Pretenders 2 features a little of each one.

Her voice can howl and catapult with the fierceness of Patti Smith. “Bad Boys Get Spanked”, “Message of Love” (a song definitely showing Chrissie Hynde's Ray Davies influence, which is understandable considering A) she was a fan of his and B) she was in a relationship with him) are, relative to the rest of the songs, hard-core rockers. “Pack It Up”, while also fast and frenzied, always seemed like it was packaged to fill the need of “one more rock song”, though I do love the lyrics. She really lets someone have it towards the end: she asserts that she hates the person's insepid music collection, his (?) trousers, and his appalling taste in women. Ha! It's obvious she's talking about a former lover (or maybe just a skanky man she knows), but she ends by throwing the guy in with all the “scumbags”.

While much of the music is squarely in the rock genre, Chrissie Hynde effortlessly flows into a softer, romantic mode (though I still wouldn't want to make her mad). Much like the newer band The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Pretenders, in addition to having a gift for raucous rockers, also perform haunting, beautiful ballads. “Birds of Paradise” is a gorgeous, melancholy and delicate song. I love the way her voice scales through five notes on the word “about”. The melody of “I Go To Sleep”, a Ray Davies cover, is lovely, but the music is a bit too schmaltzy for me.

“Talk of the Town” exists somewhere between rock and balladry. It has always been the stand-out track of the original album for me. The song as a whole fits together so well. Her voice glides along the beautiful melody and the music is perfectly composed. It never loses focus and never seems cobbled together. The gorgeous “Day After Day” similarly exists between genre boundaries.

The Rhino notes list that the live songs are drawn from their appearance at the Santa Monica Civic Center in 1981, with some of the tracks being collected on the live album Pretenders Live At The Santa Monica Civic (Warner Bros., 1982). The “Talk of The Town” demo is from 1979, dating the song as being composed before their debut.

The live songs are well-produced and very clear. It sounds like we're right up there on the stage with them, but without any interference or feedback. We can hear the audience clearly, too. Almost all of the live songs originate from Pretenders 2, with a few exceptions. We have “Brass In Pocket” (a song I love, but has been way overplayed); however, the playfulness of the original doesn't translate live. The song's lost some of its punchiness, instead being played more like a straight-up rock song. “Up The Neck” and “Kid”, both originally on their debut album, are also played more raucously than the originals. “Kid” loses its delicacy live, but that's understandable: it's easier to be subtle in a recording studio than in an arena-type environment. The already hard-rocking songs like “Adulteress” and “Message of Love” translate the most effectively live. They require more attitude and very little subtlety. The musician's playing on all of the tracks is excellent, and for being a 25 year old recording of a live show, the remastering makes the set sound new and immediate.

The demo version of “Talk of the Town" is identical in composition to the released version, but the quality is muted due to the constrictions of (probably) not having an adequate studio or equipment to record with. It's obviously a demo, but it's a demo of one of the band's most perfect songs. The outtake of “I Go To Sleep” isn't all that much different than the original-- we don't get to hear the band mess up and yell profanities, or any of the off-the-record moments associated with outtakes. Nothing torrid from the outtake of “Pack It Up” either; it's an instrumental version of the song with the talking originally relegated to the background taking the forefront. I'd rather have the vocals back; that's the best part of the song.

It's important to remember that Pretenders 2 is the last time this band compliment plays together. After this album, one member died of a drug overdose and another left because of a drug problem (later fatally overdosing, also), and while Chrissie Hynde carried on, employing various musicians to fill-out the lineup over the years, this particular iteration of The Pretenders wouldn't be heard again.

The casual listener of The Pretenders may stick to the greatest hits (which has a few of these songs), but the real fan will appreciate this enhanced version. If you don't already have the album, it's definitely worth paying a little extra for this double, remastered edition. I wouldn't say the $25 is worth it for the demo and the outtakes, but if you're a fan, you'll want to own the remastered versions. The new production has made the songs come alive again, 25 years later.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

New Podcast!

and web-published review!

(New Five Songs post tomorrow)