Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Now we mean BUSINESS!

Have you seen this news article (US bans sale of iPods to North Korea) yet?
"The U.S. government's first-ever effort to use trade sanctions to personally aggravate a foreign president expressly targets items believed to be favored by Kim Jong Il or presented by him as gifts to the roughly 600 loyalist families who run the communist government."
Watch out Kim Jong Il, George means business now. No more Mr. Nice-Guy. It's time to play hardball. You want to build nukes, well no iPods for you buddy! Not only are we going to keep you from getting any iPods, but no plasma screen TVs, Segway scooters, cognac, OR jet skis!

Tahiti 80 - French Fun

I happened to first listen to Tahiti 80's newest album Fosbury while playing with my two and a half year old daughter and she LOVED it. From the first notes of the first track, she was dancing around the room non-stop. She even kept turning it up until it got to the point that I had to turn it down.

Tahiti 80 formed in France in 1993 and named themselves after a slogan on one of the band member's dad's t-shirts picked up on vacation. Since then they've been pumping out many albums and singles of pop-dance music. Singer Xavier Boyer backs up the beats using a voice that sounds like a missing Gibbs' brother, with backing melodies that feel like they'd be perfectly comfortable in an updated techno/electronica version of Saturday Night Fever.


Tahiti 80 - Big Day : Fosbury


Tahiti 80 - Alloveragain : Fosbury


And although the following song really is not representative of Tahiti 80's sound at all, it's still an enjoyable cover.

Tahiti 80 - Happy Together (Turtles Cover) : Fosbury

Monday, November 27, 2006

Buried Treasure - Josef K

To be completely honest with you, when I first received Entomology in the mail, I had never heard of Josef K. This of course intrigued me, so while putting it in for the first listen, I did some homework. Step one, liner notes:
Excerpted from the liner notes for Entomology, penned by the inimitable Paul Morley:

There needed to be a gloomy remotely intimate glam pop group named after a character created by Franz Kafka who detuned their pained, pining guitars like the Velvet Underground, who screwed up dance beats with as much nimble knowingness and/or amateurish exuberance as Devo, who faced up to long lasting reality with as much sad, mad grace as Magazine, who got stuck into logic as defiantly as Pere Ubu, who had spent a lot of time watching Television and listening to the first six or seven songs written by Buzzcocks.

They took themselves very seriously whilst circling the idea that fun was a very peculiar notion.

They were The Sound of Young Scotland, together with Orange Juice, whose guitars were also radiant and brittle, whose rhythms were also scrubbed and blunt, whose vocals were also proud and serious, but who sounded like another group completely.

A touch more rational. A little less glaring. A splinter less uptight. Lacking, perhaps, the art for art’s sake element that some of us swooned over, and which we see explicitly echoed in they way, say, the popular Franz Ferdinand express themselves.

Their own men.

In their own special time.

Who would know when it was time to quit.
Wow. Double Wow. If this disc lived up to this hype, it would be in heavy rotation for quite a long time.

Step two: visit Domino Records, the people we have to thank for re-issuing this collection of gems mined from various sources. Here I learn that Josef K was a member of the early 80's "Sound Of Young Scotland" scene. Now we're getting somewhere.

In the meantime, songs are coming out of my speakers that are giving me the vibe of Talking Heads meet The Clash. I'm liking what I'm hearing, and so far, it is in fact living up to the hype.

Step three: head over to Google for a search on Josef K. Number one on the list: a band biography from Epitonic which proves to be quite informative. Highlights include: 1.) defining Josef K as an ESSENTIAL part of the Scottish sound 2.) formed in Edinburgh in 1978 3.) ultimately released 6 singles, but only 1 official studio full length album that was released at the time (another was shelved and released in 1990) 4.) shortly after releasing their full length album The Only Fun In Town, the band broke up, feeling they had accomplished all they wanted. Talk about carpe diem, how good do you have to be to only release one album and then be credited for influencing such bands as The Smiths, The Vaselines, and The Wedding Present.

Yes, in fact, they are that good. So do yourself a favor and educate yourself by listening to the following songs, and then get yourself the full album, which while not being a complete collection, is one that draws upon a rich variety of sources to provide the listener with a vivid glimpse into the past.


Josef K - Sorry for Laughing (Postcard 7" version) : Entomology

Josef K - Forever Drone (from The Only Fun In Town) : Entomology

Josef K - Applebush (Peel session 6-22-81) : Entomology


Visit their unofficial website (last updated in 2000), or the latest label to claim them as kin; Domino Records, but unfortunately MySpace wasn't around in the 80's so you can't add them to your tally of friends.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Eastern Conference Champions

Although their name sounds a little presumptuous, their music is worth checking out. Not much is known about these enigmas...other than they cite The Who and Mozart as their influences...interesting combination to say the least. To my untrained ears Josh Ostrander, the lead vocalist, sounds fairly similar to an obscure singer by the name of Thom Yorke. That just might be me though. The first track, Nice Clean Shirt, is one to rock out to. The second, Hollywood, is more of a lush dreamy panorama to relax and immerse yourself in.


Eastern Conference Champions - Nice Clean Shirt : The Southampton Collection EP



Eastern Conference Champions - Hollywood (Featuring Maura Davis) : The Southampton Collection EP



Friday, November 24, 2006

Shopping Insanity

The day after Thanksgiving : the busiest shopping day of the year. Why do people subject themselves to the insanity? It truly reminds me of Lord of the Flies. Honest, good-hearted people who get sucked into the vortex of early morning sale prices, only to emerge as demonic scavengers ready to slit your throat for the last Tickle Me Elmo. God bless capitalism!

Ben Lee - Shoplifters of the World Unite (Smiths cover) : Live on KCRW (buy some Ben)

Franz Ferdinand - Shopping for Blood : Live in Seattle, WA 3-23-04 (studio version on Darts of Pleasure EP)

The Slits - Shoplifting : Cut

Duncan Sheik - Shopping : White Limousine

Nerio's Dubwork Meets Kathy Lee - K-Mart Shopping (Hi-Fi Mix) : Profound Sounds Vol. 1 (mixed by Josh Wink)

Benjy Ferree

Take one piece of Beatles harmonies, add some Americana instrumentation to back it up, and then some style all his own, and you end up with Benjy Ferree.

Benjy just recently re-released (November 7th) his debut album, Leaving the Nest, through Domino Records. Originally Benjy moved to L.A. with plans to make his mark in the arts through acting, but after that path didn't lead him where he was hoping he was persuaded to pursue personal expression via his music.

And what music it is. It seems that as soon as you get used to what Benjy is laying down, he switches up the pace, revealing a different side to his musicianship. It's simply impossible to label Benjy's style; It all depends on what song you're listening to at the moment. And for the next few moments, listen to the following songs:


Benjy Ferree - In the Countryside : Leaving the Nest

Benjy Ferree - Little At A Time : Leaving the Nest


Visit his website, or become his friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Odds n' Ends

Amongst all the music that gets sent my way, there are inevitably single tracks here and there that are enjoyable in themselves but for which it's difficult to write an entire post about. So instead of letting them fall through the cracks into obscurity, I'm throwing them all together like a bowl of Jambalaya (one of my favorite dishes) for your enjoyment.








Siobhan Donaghy

Formerly the founding member of the Sugerbabes, Siobhan Donaghy set out on her own in 2003 and is poised to release her second solo album, Ghosts, in March of 2007.

“I wanted emotive sounds,” says Siobhan, “but sounds that were universal. I wouldn’t wanna be some obscure, poncey artist y’know? I am still pop.”

I haven't the faintest idea what "poncey" means but I'm guessing it's some British slang term for "artist who only sells 300 albums, all to pre-pubescent boys who think she looks hot." This track is just a teaser of the UNobscure, NON-poncey music that Siobhan offers.

Siobhan Donaghy - Ghost : Ghosts

Visit her website, or become her friend on MySpace

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Robbers on High Street

These blokes just released a digital 4 track EP (THE FATALIST AND FRIENDS EP) in anticipation of their upcoming full length release in the spring of 2007. This track has a swanky sound to it that will make you feel hipper than you really are. It's got an Oasis meets The Strokes feel to it. Check it out at your leisure.


Robbers on High Street - The Fatalist : The Fatalist and Friends EP (get it on iTunes)

Visit their website, or become their friend on MySpace.

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Tiny Dancers

Not to be confused with the Elton John song, Tiny Dancers is fivesome that hails from the West Yorkshire countryside between Doncaster and Wakefield (you know the place, don't you?). Their latest release, an EP titled Lions and Tigers and Lions, was released on the 20th and is available for your consumption.



Visit their website, or become their friend on MySpace.

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BONUS TRACK

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The SLIP - Simply Catchy

A lot of intricate and layered music carries a density that sweeps over you like a solid wave, requiring you to pick at the layers one by one, revealing the pieces with many listens. Certainly music like this has its attraction, ageing like fine wine...better with time. But sometimes it's nice to hear music that you can grasp on the very first try. The SLIP's latest album Eisenhower is like that. The first listen made me bop my head with the beat and want to play air guitar.

The SLIP is a trio that hails from Boston with a story that's straight out of a movie. The band includes two brothers and a childhood friend from high school who dropped out of college to start touring the country. Their sound includes light and airy instrumentation which lets the music breath, sweeping around you allowing you to get into the music from the very beginning. This isn't to say that their music is simplistic or formulaic. It does have a very summery feel to it, also.

The first song I'm offering up to you is Children Of December, the first track on the album. I have to be honest with you, this is one of the strongest and catchiest openers that I've heard in a long time. (It also doesn't hurt that it's about people born in December, like me, or that it mentions Autobots and Decepticons...anyone able to mention the Transformers in their lyrics earns bonus points in my book) The second, If One Of Us Should Fall, is a torch burning balladesque song that was just made to be put on a mix tape for a significant other.

The SLIP - Children Of December : Eisenhower


The SLIP - If One Of Us Should Fall : Eisenhower



Visit their website, or
become their friend on MySpace.


And make sure to catch them on tour with My Morning Jacket.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Congratulations!


Congratulations to Michelle for winning the first annual Mainstream Isn't So Bad Jeremy Enigk CD Give-a-way Contest! (try saying that 10 times fast) She'll be getting a signed copy personally delivered to her by a mailman that I've never met but who I'm sure will do a wonderful job of it. Hope you enjoy the album as much as I do Michelle...and don't forget to thank the kind folks over at Filter Magazine.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pinebender - Indie metal

Considering how crucial it usually is to hook a listener from the get-go, it takes a lot of balls to start an album off with a song that is close to 14 minutes long, but Pinebender has those cahones. Their latest release, Working Nine To Wolf, only runs 8 tracks long, but the band really packs a punch in those tracks, with the album running over an hour long.

Formed in 1997, Pinebender is a trio hailing from Chicago that uses a fairly simple formula to make some pretty good music: long, loud, compelling, melodic tracks that slowly build and build until you don't think they can go any farther, and then they do. And when I saw loud, I'm talking about tracks that rock like a hair band minus the glam and hair-spray. This is not music to play while studying for a final exam or when performing soothing exercises to start your yoga routine.

Check out these two tracks and see for yourself. The first, She Destroys the Light, I include because it (and the final track) stands out as a little unique (somewhat quieter, although only when compared to the throbbing energy of the other 6 tracks). The second, Polly Gray, is a little more indicative of the overall feel of the album.


Pinebender - She Destroys the Light : Working Nine to Wolf


Pinebender - Polly Gray : Working Nine to Wolf



Visit their website or become their friend on MySpace

For a great live recording of some of their older material,
check out this live set from eMusic.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Jeremy Enigk signed CD Contest

After 10 years of waiting for another solo outing, Jeremy Enigk fans have reason to rejoice. Released just a few weeks ago, World Waits reminds fans what they've missed. If you haven't picked up a copy for yourself yet, then here's your chance to have one shipped to your own mailbox (mucho thanks to friends over at Filter Magazine).

That's right,
you could have one of these

<------------

signed by Jeremy,
if you can answer the following question:

What band was Jeremy the lead singer for before releasing his first solo album in 1996?

If you know the answer, e-mail it to me (with your name and astrological sign...OK, maybe just your name is fine). I will randomly select a winner from all correct entries submitted to me by 11:59 PM (Eastern Standard Time) on Wednesday, November 15th, and notify the winner soon after.

Good luck, and may the force be with you!


Jeremy Enigk - Been Here Before : World Waits

The Fire Theft - Summertime : The Fire Theft

Visit his label, Lewis Hollow Recordings.
or
Become his friend in MySpace.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Have Fun, Stay Single

Today I was home with a horrible headache. So long as I stayed still, I was OK, but any sudden movement resulted in stinging barbs of pain lashing through my head. Inbetween lieing in bed trying to sleep, I watched some TV...and of course daytime TV is simply lacking. Luckily, I have On Demand, and one of the movies available (ending today amazingly) was Singles.

It's been a long time since I've seen the movie, but it's still just as good as the first time I saw it. For those of you young-uns who haven't seen it...or GASP...haven't heard of it, do yourself a favor and rent it some night this week.

Singles was released in 1992, following the wave of the Seattle sound, and features guest appearances by Eddie Vedder / Pearl Jam, Chris Cornell / Soundgarden, and Jerry Cantrell / Alice In Chains. It's a sharply astute portrayal of the single scene, and it focuses on the inter-related stories of six 20-something friends as they navigate the ups and downs of dating. What I really like about the film is that none of the six characters are played by ridiculously good looking actors, lending it a sense of believability.

As a personal aside to the whole grunge thing, I remember that the summer Pearl Jam/etc.. hit it big I was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina for basic training. Needless to say, you don't have time to stay current with what's going on in the real world while at basic training, so upon returning home I was shocked at an entirely new shift in the direction of music. I might as well have been still listening to 8-tracks.


Anywho, the movie is chock full of some super quotes:

Janet Livermore: People need people, Steve. It has nothing to do with sex. OK, maybe 40 percent. 60 percent. Forget it.
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Linda Powell: I think that, a) you have an act, and that, b) not having an act is your act.
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Steve Dunne: My dad left home when I was eight. You know what he said to me? Have fun, stay single. I was eight.
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Club Interviewer: Talking here with Cliff Poncier. Cliff, any comments on the "Seattle Sound" and Citizen Dick's place in it?
Cliff Poncier: Well, I don't like to reduce us to just being part of the "Seattle Sound." I'd like to think of us as expanding more. Like, we're huge in Europe right now. I mean, we've got records... uh, a big record just broke in Belgium.
Club Interviewer: Now, a song like "Touch Me, I'm Dick" is about... what?
Cliff Poncier: Well, I think "Touch Me, I'm Dick," in essence, speaks for itself, you know. I think that, you know, that's basically what the song is, um... about... is about, you know... I-I think a lot of people might think it's actually about, you know,"My name is Dick, and, you know, you can touch me," but, I think, you know, it can be seen either way.
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Steve Dunne: [calling Linda] Linda Powell? Steve Dunne. Hey, yeah, I met you... 61 hours ago. Yeah, that was me. Listen, uh, do you want to get some dinner? Uh, how about some lunch? No lunch. Coffee? Water? How about some water? I'll meet you where you're already having lunch, and we'll have some water.

And now for some tunes from a classic soundtrack (personally, I think Paul Westerberg has the two best tracks on the CD):

Paul Westerberg - Dyslexic Heart : Singles Soundtrack

Soundgarden - Birth Ritual
: Singles Soundtrack

Pearl Jam - State Of Love And Trust
: Singles Soundtrack

Smashing Pumpkins - Drown : Singles Soundtrack

Paul Westerberg -Waiting For Somebody
: Singles Soundtrack

And, added by popular demand (i.e. Sally)...

The Lovemongers - Battle of Evermore (Led Zeppelin cover) : Singles Soundtrack

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The R.E.M. Decemberists Ninjas - Live

The Decemberists - Live at the Calvin Theater, Northampton, MA 10-31-06
(If anyone has pictures from the show, please be a kind soul and share!)

What better night to see a concert than Halloween, and what better band to see on Halloween than the Decemberists?

Unfortunately, I arrived during the break between bands and missed the opening act Lavender Diamond because I was out trick-or-treating with my daughter, but I overheard several people comment on enjoying their performance. The stage was decorated with a Japanese mural background (available here on their website as wallpaper for your monitor) and large, appropriately colored orange paper lantern globes ornamenting the stage. As the break drew to a close, the lights went down, and six black clad ninjas, stealthily brandishing wooden swords, furtively took the stage. As they began the opening number, it became clear that these uber-assassins were in fact Colin Meloy and crew who had assumed the ninja garb in celebration of Halloween!

The performance was exquisite in every sense; the band was playful throughout the evening and clearly enjoyed itself, the instrumentation was sharp and clearly discernable, and the setlist was a pleasing mix of older tunes (The Legionnaire's Lament), newer tunes (Sons and Daughters), and crowd pleasers (16 Military Wives).

Upon returning for their encore, the band proceeded to conduct a costume contest (that Colin described as "poorly organized and grossly unfair") involving members of the audience, with the winners being allowed to accompany the band on stage for the remainder of the evening as well as earning some hokey prizes (a dreamcatcher, a fake plastic hunting knife, a back scratcher, etc...) Unfortunately Jesus didn't fare well, and first place went to a chimney sweep.

Following the "grossly unfair" costume contest, the band proceeded to play not one, not two, but three R.E.M. covers! (Begin the Begin, Cuyahoga, and Superman) Even though Colin coyly prefaced the song by saying they barely knew them and were going to try their best, the band easily pulled them off, even motivating the crowd in front of the stage to bounce up and down with Superman.

The Decemberists - The Legionnaire's Lament : Castaways And Cutouts

The Decemberists - 16 Military Wives : Picaresque

The Decemberists - Sons and Daughters : The Crane Wife

R.E.M. - Superman : Lifes Rich Pageant

For a great live recording of their show at the 9:30 Club in D.C. on 10/30/06, head over to Culture Bully
and
For a great recent interview with Colin Meloy, head over to Pitchfork.
and
Check out The Decemberist tourzine over at Filter Magazine.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Fiery Furnaces - Live

Last Thursday I was able to see The Fiery Furnaces live in Northampon, MA at Pearl Street. Before the show, I figured there were two possibilities based on the Furnaces wildly erratic musical style:

1.) the show would be one of the most entertaining, inventive, and unique live musical performances I have ever attended, possibily even the MOST unique, or...

2.) the show would be a cacophony of sounds that were hard to interpret, understand, or even handle.

I would love to say that it turned out to be #1, but... luckily it also wasn't #2.

The current tour is in support of their last album, Bitter Tea, which compared to some of their previous products (Rehearsing the Choir jumps to mind) is quirky but listenable. Much of the music they played at the show was from their newest release, but they didn't fail to share a few older tracks as well (Single Again struck out as especially enjoyable to me). Don't get me wrong; I love the Furnaces and their music, but their tunes just didn't translate well into a live performance. It was loud, which hid the charming quirkiness, and Eleanor didn't seem quite into it this evening. About half-way through the show she even apologized. That sort of summed up the show for me...loud music, but very little band interaction with the crowd, almost as if they wanted to get through their set and on to the after-party.

I was impressed, however, by the backing band and their stamina, particularly one of the percussionists who I believe was Bob D'Amico (there were 2). Many of the songs were strung together, medley like, resulting in some of the musicians continuously playing for 20 minutes at a time.

Will I see them next time they come around? Ask me then. In the meantime, here's a wonderfully charming, acoustic, live short set recorded last year on KEXP with just Eleanor and Matthew playing. (Someone else posted these earlier this year, but I forget who. I apologize in advance)

The Fiery Furnaces - Intro : Live on KEXP 4-6-05

The Fiery Furnaces - Teach Me, Sweetheart
: Live on KEXP 4-6-05

The Fiery Furnaces - Here Comes the Summer
: Live on KEXP 4-6-05

The Fiery Furnaces - Interview : Live on KEXP 4-6-05

The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Waiting to Know You
: Live on KEXP 4-6-05

The Fiery Furnaces - Police Sweater Blood Vow : Live on KEXP 4-6-05


Get Bitter Tea here or here, if you haven't already.