Thursday, August 31, 2006

Kasabian - "Empire"

Kasabian - "Empire": "Is it me or does this sound like Clinic on steroids? The vocals in the verses certainly sound like them, but the galloping synth-bass, followed by the near-Bollywood 'strings' in the chorus give this song a punch and a strength beyond Clinic's sometimes meek sound. I hope the full-length, coming soon, is at least this good."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Jackson Browne - "Somebody's Baby"

Jackson Browne - "Somebody's Baby": " yesterday's post, I realize what was supposed to come off as funny comes off more as scary instead. But it also reminds me of another track in the same, straight-forward pop-rock vein - 'Somebody's Baby.' The difference is that this song also doubles as the 'Jennifer Jason Leigh love theme' in Fast Times At Ridgemont High - a.k.a. the song that plays every time JJL's about to get busy. Which means that this song makes me think of somewhat groty teen-sex, but at least it makes me think of awesome 80s teen movies as well."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rick Springfield - "Jessie's Girl"

Rick Springfield - "Jessie's Girl": "I have never liked Rick Springfield...not even in the 80s. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled onto this song recently and found that it's a gumball of chewy pop goodness! He may be the dork version of a rock star and is still arguably very uncool...but when the group vocals kick in with 'why can't I find a woman like that?', Rick seduces me like I was on one of his soap operas."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Dinosaur Jr. - "Get Me"

Dinosaur Jr. - "Get Me": "J Mascis spreads his guitar all over this track - almost to the point of overkill - but it's the backing vocals from director Allison Anders' daughter Tiffani in the chorus that take the song to the next level, chiming in with J as he flows into his falsetto. Magic."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Pixies - "Velouria"

Pixies - "Velouria": "I've always found this song to have a strangely magestic and tragic quality about it. Married with the more polished sound of the Bossanova record, the Pixies come off as a less playful band than on previous releases, which only lends more weight to Frank Black's impassioned screams here. When Kim Deal keeps singing out 'V-E-L-O-U-R-I-A' throughout the song's outro, it comes across as being playfully wistful, but also oddly like a memorial. I love this song."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

John Davis - "I'll Burn"

John Davis - "I'll Burn": "So simple, yet so beguiling in its simplicity. John (who would later spend some time with Lou Barlow in Folk Implosion) blends his fey, hushed vocals with simple guitar and percussion, until the keyboards come in with a peppy lead melody."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Felix Da Housecat with Miss Kittin - "Silver Screen (Shower Scene)"

Felix Da Housecat with Miss Kittin - "Silver Screen (Shower Scene)": "...and if I'm going to blog about Miss Kittin, I have to include my other favorite collaboration of hers. This time, Kittin brings her same drone and the electro-keyboards remain, but new partner Felix Da Housecat adds a floor-shaking bass thump that maximizes the ass-shaking factor. I can't help but picture a room full of people dancing, but with Kittin still all cool and detached, lying on a lounge in the middle of the fray."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Miss Kittin And The Hacker - "L'homme Dans L'ombre"

Miss Kittin And The Hacker - "L'homme Dans L'ombre": "...but speaking of electroclash and European girls, I can't help but bring up this chestnut. Subsequent records would show that Miss Kittin was bent on dance domination, but on this record, she is a relative unknown in a nurse's outfit, listlessly mentioning that she is afraid to sing in the night (!) - and then repeats her monologue again in French. This is the kind of weirdness that 'alternative' stations would play at 2am in the 80s, when all the normal kids had gone to sleep, but transported into the 21st Century - more by release date, than by sound."

Monday, August 21, 2006

Visage - "Fade To Grey"

Visage - "Fade To Grey": "While electroclash was able to recreate the sound, it somehow never got the same mood as the original synth-pop, with Visage as a key example. The mood was cold, but the posing was real and free of irony, and the European girl speaking in French needed no justification."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gaunt - "Hit The Ground"

Gaunt - "Hit The Ground": "Another part of indie rock's appeal is in its simplicity, its off-kilter moments all part of its charm. Gaunt's 'Hit The Ground' embodies this perfectly, following up the pogo theme of yesterday's AoL track. Sadly, after this, Gaunt hopped to a major label to expand their sound - which they did solidly, albeit somewhat diluting their rock power - before their frontman was tragically killed in a car accident. Also good for posthumous exploration: Kryptonite, their one release with Thrill Jockey Records."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Archers of Loaf - "Backwash" (BBC)

Archers of Loaf - "Backwash" - (BBC): "It's funny to think how AoL's frontman Eric Bachmann is all alt-country-ish now, especially when you listen to rough rockers like this track from the `90s. This BBC version of 'Backwash' is indie rock at its finest - melodic, but raw - and damn if it doesn't make you want to pogo."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Wang Chung - "Don't Be My Enemy"

Wang Chung - "Don't Be My Enemy": "Before they jumped the shark by 'Wang Chung-ing tonight', Wang Chung actually made a very catchy, non-cheesy synth-flecked suave pop-rock album in the form of Points On A Curve. 'Dance Hall Days' will always have a special place in my heart (as will the video with the disco ball babe and the suitcase with hot legs), but it's songs like this that make the record hold up. The sharp but jangly guitar hidden under the driving beat layered with tin pan and Eastern-style percussion provides singer Jack Hues with the proper backing to his own Miami Vice episode."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Kim Carnes - "Bette Davis Eyes"

Kim Carnes - "Bette Davis Eyes": "If you really listen to the track, it's pretty clear how thin and raspy Kim's voice is, but yet this song makes her sound strong and bold. The real magic moment here is in the song's video, where the 80s club kids that Kim seems to hold court over lift their arms over their heads to firmly - but listlessly - match the handclaps in the song...despite the fact that they're synth handclaps, not real ones. Also: Madonna's empty roll-call of the ladies of Hollywood's golden age in 'Vogue' can't hold a candle to Kim's similar invocation here - which actually references many of the same women, just more effectively."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

R.E.M. - "Star Me Kitten [Featuring W.S. Burroughs]"

R.E.M. - "Star Me Kitten [Featuring W.S. Burroughs]": "William S. Burroughs joins R.E.M. on an alternate-world version of their own 'Star Me Kitten.' It's mainly a curiosa item, with the odd mix of spoken word and off-kilter caterwauling - until Mr. Burroughs starts repeating 'f*** me kitten!' in his battered, old man voice. Whoa..."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Imogen Heap "Clear The Area" (Rolling Stone Original)

Imogen Heap - "Clear The Area" (Rolling Stone Original Version): "On record, Imogen Heap's music is usually a wonderful blend of all kinds of synthesized noises, all layered on top of one another. Here, her song 'Clear The Area' gets an entirely different treatment, played solely on a mbira, a plucked metal instrument, kind of like a giant playable music box. It gives the music a strange dreamlike quality, while allowing Imogen's voice to take a more prominent space in the tune."

Monday, August 07, 2006

Public Enemy - "Hell No We Ain't All Right"

Public Enemy - "Hell No We Ain't All Right": "Today's post is not so much about this song - thought-provoking though it may be - but more about contrasting PE tracks like this with....Flavor of Love 2, which I saw for the first time last night. For those of you who don't know, FoL2 is a show about Flavor Flav from PE trying to find love with one of 20 a mansion...with a lot of booze. I think it's entirely possible that I bled brain cells during the viewing of the episode. I know there was a knock-down catfight within the first five minutes, then the girls were given nicknames like 'Payshyntz' (translation: Patience) and 'Deelishis' and then...uh, I don't even know. That show made me so stupid that I can't even remember the rest of it. Now I can see why Chuck D of PE is not amused by any of this. This show is so trashy I'm embarassed to have watched it."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Grandaddy - "Chartsengrafs"

Grandaddy - "Chartsengrafs": "This is a rockin' tune that features Grandaddy's signature elements - swirling synthesizers, high-pitched vocals and chord-based riffing - but still feels like plunging down a steep rollercoaster drop, laughing all the way."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

3 New Serge Gainsbourg Covers

Cat Power - "I Love You (Me Neither)"
James Iha & Kazu Makino - "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde"
Faultline, Brian Molko & Francoise Hardy - "Requiem For A Jerk"
: "In conjunction with yesterday's Serge post, I present these three new Serge covers. It's really weird hearing classic Serge tunes with modernized instrumentals and English lyrics, especially given the singers. Cat Power purring through 'I Love You (Me Neither)' ('Je t'aime...Moi Non Plus') is somewhat disconcerting because it seems like she would be holding a knife while singing it, no matter how sweet she sounds. Next, Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha steps up to the mike to tackle 'The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde.' His delivery is a little lacking, but co-vocalist Kazu Makino nails it and the musical update gives the song a different texture. Placebo frontman Brian Molko steps up to take on Serge for a second time, having already covered 'Melody Nelson,' joining Faultine for 'Requiem For A Jerk' ('requiem por un c...'). While his vocals are delivered in his usual shrill tone, the trip-hop+handclaps style applied to the music is fairly effective, plus Francoise Hardy helps out by adding a seductive air."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Serge Gainsbourg - "Ford Mustang"

Serge Gainsbourg - "Ford Mustang": "I love Serge's experiments with world beats, synths and otherwise, but this is the Serge that I love most. This is from the phase where he has a clear fascination with American pop culture, but which always comes across as vaguely sinister and dirty, along with a twist of dry humor. Here, he marries a shambling tack-piano-style melody with an Italian cinema string section, all the while trading his French lyrics with a Catwoman-like female vocal that consists solely of American brand names and consumer fascinations. It's all about America, but it's oh so French - and so Serge. You can practically picture his cigarette smoke trails swirling around as he sings."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jesus and Mary Chain - 3 Pack: "Birthday" + "Rollercoaster" + "Between Planets"

Jesus and Mary Chain - 3 Pack: "Birthday" + "Rollercoaster" + "Between Planets": "I'm so excited that the Jesus and Mary Chain are finally available for digital that I can't contain myself to just one song today. Instead, I offer you three tracks of theirs that I love, even though there are truly many more. When I was younger, it was so exciting for me to discover JAMC because they just seemed so bad-ass and 'adult' that simply listening to them seemed like a rebellious act. Even now, years later, they still just permeate 'cool' through their walls of guitar noise."