Monday, June 30, 2008

Meg Hentges - "This Kind Of Love"

Meg Hentges - "This Kind Of Love": "New wave power pop with a Fountains of Wayne vibe, but the chorus is catchy and that's what you really need to know. The song is also appropriate for closing out this particular month."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Club 8 - "The Friend I Once Had"

Club 8 - "The Friend I Once Had": "Sweet and pretty, but also sad - you get the gist from the title. Kind of like a strummy Smiths song, but with soft female vocals."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Liz Phair - "6'1""

Liz Phair - "6'1"": "I got to see Liz Phair doing Exile on Guyvile live in its entirety last night (thanks ATO!) and it reminded me how much I missed listening to this record. It came out when I still made mixtapes for myself and I swear that I must have put half of this album on various ones. It also made me realize that I never did the 'song-by-song' comparison between this album and the Stones' Exile on Main Street (which Guyville is a response to) - which is kind of odd, since that's one of my favorite records. Regardless, last night was a pleasant moment of nostalgia, even if it freaked me out that the record is 15 years old already."

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Foxglove Hunt - "A Concealed Weapon"

The Foxglove Hunt - "A Concealed Weapon": "The music is so New Order, it's insane - but I mean that in the best possible way. The vocals are different, so it doesn't feel like a total NO knock-off, but it does glean some of their best elements from them. (No surprise that this band involves Joy Electric's frontman, Ronnie Martin, who made similar New Order-y grooves in the Brothers Martin project.)
Thanks to Matt Graves for this one."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Helium - "Silver Strings"

Helium - "Silver Strings": "Even though I seem to recall the rest of this EP being overwhelmed with RenFaire Prog touches, this song doesn't share that baggage. Mary Timony's guitar leads spread magic across the song, the bass and drums propel her along and synth handclaps are just the frosting on top."

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Order - "Crystal"

New Order - "Crystal": "Get Ready may not be the best New Order album, but I think this track stands up with some of their best. Many of the guitar parts are classic New Order (even the ones buried in the mix - some of those at the end deserve their own song!), but the production and programming makes the track feel fresh, especially with a harder vibe not seen much since "Blue Monday"."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Butter 08 - "Butter of 69"

Butter 08 - "Butter of 69": "It's funny how much I enjoy what's essentially a throw-away, one-off album from a veritable who's who of quirky alt/indie rockers from the 90s. Russell Simins brings the grooves of Blues Explosion (without Jon Spencer's overbearing swagger), while Miho and Yuka (of Cibo Matto) offer quirky touches associated with their main band, except in a much more rough and electric setting. It's all in good fun, wrapped in a strange butter obsession."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Twilight Sad - "Some Things Last a Long Time"

The Twilight Sad - "Some Things Last a Long Time": "Uber-Scottish band The Twilight Sad take on the Jad Fair/Daniel Johnston melancholy classic (which has also been covered, with equal but different magic, by Built To Spill). Here, the vocals are impassioned, while the music is minimal and ghostly, creating a powerful - if fragile - dirge."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Marvin Pontiac - "Runnin' Round"

Marvin Pontiac - "Runnin' Round": "John Lurie masquerading as a slightly unhinged bluesman (the imaginary Marvin Pontiac) leads to great grooves and off-kilter lyrics - which is actually not that surprising, factoring in his offbeat acting roles. The album kind of got buried because it came from someone who didn't actually exist, but that doesn't mean it's not captivating in its blend of bar blues-rock and head-scratching lyrics - see also "Bring Me Rocks"."

Monday, June 09, 2008

David Bowie - "After Today"

David Bowie - "After Today": "This Bowie outtake from Young Americans overcomes its safe sax and sometimes-strained falsetto with a casually swinging vibe and a bit more earthiness than most of the other YA tracks. It feels like a refreshingly naked view at what were, otherwise, very polished sessions (albeit amazing, polished sessions)."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Joy Division - "Transmission"

Joy Division - "Transmission": "What an awesomely kinetic song! I especially love the drums, the guitar lead that kicks in at the 1:42 mark and the vocals/chanting at the song's end ("and we can daaaaaaaaaaaance!") - all bursting with energy. Never fails to feel electric, no matter how many times I've heard this."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Radiohead - "Myxomatosis"

Radiohead - "Myxomatosis": "Great later-period Radiohead - The drums are off-kilter and a bit frantic, the keyboards are aggressive and ominous, and Thom Yorke's vocals run the gamut from disaffected to panicked. It's a dark number filled with unease - not unlike falling down a long staircase - but it shakes the arty detachment that is often the downside of their recent work."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Aimee Mann - "Long Shot"

Aimee Mann - "Long Shot": "Great power-pop guitar riffs tempered with cool-but-sweet vocals and pretty guitar leads equal a more subtle take on alt rock - appropriately catchy and crunchy, but with better restraint."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Two Versions of Yo La Tengo's "Blue Line Swinger" - Your Choice!

"It's strange to find two very different, but almost equally perfect versions of the same song, but if anyone's done it, Yo La Tengo has.

Yo La Tengo - "Blue Line Swinger"

In the Original version, from Electr-o-pura, "Blue Line Swinger" is a sprawling 9+ minute epic that grows gradually until the cymbals and guitars crash like building ocean waves. By the time you reach the sweetly reverbed "ba ba ba ba"s at the song's conclusion, they're the candy-coated life preservers in an ocean of sound. (In fact, few do "ba ba ba"s as well as YTL - especially on this record - and, here, they're freaking perfect.)

Yo La Tengo - "(thin) Blue Line Swinger"

In the "thin" version, from the Camp Yo La Tengo EP, the song has been edited and remixed down to a roughly four-minute version. While one could argue that the song has definitely been reined in, it somehow segues together key parts of the original, but in new ways. This is most notable in the intro, which strips the instrumentation to the acoustic guitar largely buried in the chaos of the original, building up musically from that instead of the multi-minute intro jam that originally birthed it.

It always amazes me that YTL were able to craft a new song out of their own work - as opposed to a third party remixer finding the different pieces for themselves.

It's a great song either way, so it just depends on which version you're in the mood for."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Marilyn Manson - "Long Hard Road Out Of Hell"

Marilyn Manson - "Long Hard Road Out Of Hell": ""Not that different than many other Manson rock numbers, but the female backing vocals (which I think come from the Sneaker Pimps??*) definitely provide a nice contrast to Marilyn's brooding, especially the "doo doo doo" part after the chorus. The "I wanna LIVE! I wanna LOVE!" delivery building up to the explosive, thrashy chorus, also provides the song with a great dramatic flow. Highly enjoyable.

* - As well as debuted on the Spawn movie soundtrack"