Something brand new from Ben Kweller... (from filemp3.com): BK's first studio recordings since the 2006 critically-acclaimed self titled release. This limited edition 7-track EP provides an exclusive teaser / warm-up for Kweller's upcoming and highly-anticipated January 2009 full-length release entitled Changing Horses. Three of the songs on this EP, 'Fight', 'Things I Like To Do', and 'Sawdust Man' will appear on the January 09 release. Kweller is back in terrific form on this catchy and melodic offering: he stays true to his quirky folk-pop sensibilities. BK also stretches out and injects dusty, and charming twang and Americana into each composition. The EP was produced by Kweller in Austin, TX and recorded to all analog tape. It features his band 'The Great Lakes'...who turn in amazing harmonies, smoldering pedal steel and dobro performances, and lend Leon Russell-esque piano bounce. Also, BK managed to weave in some spooky and compelling field recordings that segue's a handful of songs. Sounds good, but I must warn you, if you hate country and western this might not be for you. The full length release in January will be a country album, but if you're a Kweller fan, this may change your mind about the genre. This is a tour-only EP, so I'm posting the whole EP for your listening pleasure, unless you can make it to one of his upcoming shows.
Something new and something from 2007 for this week's post. Both albums are on the mellow side, but in no way are they less powerful and creative.
THE WEEPIES- Hideaway All Their Beauty- The Weepies are an indie pop-folk band fronted by Deb Talan and Steve Tannen, their music has been described as "subtly intoxicating folk-pop". Hideaway is their third full length release, but it was their previous work, Say I Am You that captured mainstream attention with many of their songs appearing on popular TV shows such as Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill etc. Normally I would avoid bands like this, but after a (cautious) listen I was fairly impressed. The songs are intelligent and their sound is unique, I only wish is that their songs were a little more upbeat and less subdued.
THE POSTMARKS- Summers Never Seem To Last Goodbye- This album was actually released in 2007, but I just came upon this excellent debut album, the self-titled The Postmarks, while blog surfing last week. The Postmarks' Tim Yehezkely's wispy breathy vocal style is sweet and engaging that reminds me of french singers from the 60's or bossa nova girls of the same era. I love this disc, for the past few nights I've fallen asleep listening to this record (I usually listen to music in bed with headphones, it's a great way to relax and to listen intently), not because it's boring or sleep inducing, but because her voice is so soothing and it's shimmering strings and exquisitely beautiful melodies wisk me to sleep with a smile on my face.
Back in high school, the future members of the band, the Donnas were known as the Electrocutes. Actually both bands co-existed for a short time, the Donnas become their alter- ego, the Electrocutes were their "real" band, while the Donnas were the outlet "joke" band playing songs that didn't fit the band's repertoire. The band strived to keep the two identities separate as they took on new identities as the Donnas. Each of their first names became Donna (kind of like the Ramones), along with the initial of their last name...Donna A, Donna C, Donna F, Donna R and they each wore a t-shirt with their fictional name on it. The Donnas sound was influenced heavily by the Ramones and progressed to a more mainstream rock-pop sound. The Electrocutes sound was a raw unrefined sloppy punk, fast, mean and loud. Very different!
The Electrocutes actually recorded an album back in 1996, when the members were 14 or 15 years old, called, Steal Yer Lunch Money that wasn't released during the Electrocutes existance , but when the Donnas gained some indie success, in 1999, Sympathy for the Record Company cashed in by finally releasing SYLM. I'm posting the whole album (it's not that long..18 minutes) because it's kind of a funny listen and personally I love hearing early gestations of bands that make it big...or at least gain a cult following.
THE SHAZAM- Oh No THE SHAZAM- Everything- From 1997's debut album, The Shazam, this album is as close to a post-modern powerpop masterpiece as they come. The album buzzes and chimes with it's sweet harmonies and jangly guitars and proceeds to put a big smile on my face! This band went on to record a couple more, under-the-radar classics, but this one is where it began. The Shazam should have been bigger than they were, maybe if this was released in the mid-70's they might have been big...Cheap Trick big, perhaps. download: The Shazam pt1, pt2
SPINNING JENNIES- Carry On Attack SPINNING JENNIES- So Far So Good- From 2002's, Stratosphere, energetic hard driving powerpop with catchy hooks and soaring harmonies. Sounds similar to the Posies and I could have swore this was The Best Kissers In The World, a band that was produced by Jon Auer (of the Posies)...sweet! download: Stratosphere (password:password) THE EXCESSORIES- See In Me THE EXCESSORIES- Darla-From 2001, Pure Pop For Punk People is a fun poppy girl-fronted punk band. Their sound is super catchy, though the lyrics sound like they were written by a teenager, but don't be fooled this is a sassy punk-pop influenced record with buzz-saw guitars, fuzzed out surf-punk that is consistantly good, not some Avril Lavigne phony punk rock. download: Pure Pop for Punk People
THE TRIPWIRES- Lessonpony THE TRIPWIRES- I Hear This Music- This Seattle semi-super group consists of singer/guitarist John Ramberg (Model Rockets, Minus 5, Stumpy Joe), bassist Jim Sangster (Young Fresh Fellows, Sgt Major, Picketts), drummer Mark Pickerel (Screaming Trees) and guitarist Johnny Sangster (producer, engineer and session player). Makes You Look Around is a smart no nonsense rock'n'roll record that doesn't venture far from the Model Rockets. Their sound also recalls Rockpile with that great guitar interplay between Dave Edmonds and Billy Bremner and interestingly enough, Ramberg and Jim Sangster join Scott McCaughey in a Rockpile/Nick Lowe tribute band, The Lowe Beats. The Model Rocket's were very underrated and deserved a larger audience, so hopefully this project for Ramberg will give him an opportunity to showcase his talents to a larger audience. Unfortunately, this disc probably won't be heard by many, nor will this album be a big seller. download: Makes You Look Around
Last week was Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada, so I'm sorry for no post last week as I was indulging in turkey. I'll make it up as I promise to post something everyday this week.
ANGELA DESVEAUX- The Mighty Ship Other Side Hide From You- I talked about this CD briefly a few weeks ago, but I finally bought the rest of songs (from iTunes) and it's a fine album. In my mind, the first three songs are the best tracks (the two here and Sure Enough), as they really set the bar high for the rest of the disc. It drags a bit in the middle, but album closes with two more great songs, For Design and You Remind Me. In many ways she reminds me of Kathleen Edwards (without the sharp tongue and hockey references) when I listen to this or her first release, a little bit alt-country, a little bit alt-rock. Angela's voice is stronger and more confident on Mighty Ship and the band is tighter and the songs are more complex. Well worth buying or downloading!
DEERHOOF- Offend Maggie The Tears And Music Of Love Offend Maggie- I must admit I didn't know much about Deerhoof a few weeks ago, but they looked and sounded interesting enough to seek out their newest album, Offend Maggie. Deerhoof have been around over 10 years forming in San Francisco and have released ten full length albums and a couple of EP's. The band's vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki, had no prior musical experience when she joined the band and within a week of joining they toured. Their unconventional sound is hard to classify, their earlier work was much more frantic and heavier than Offend Maggie, which almost sounds melodic. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the band: Although typically classified as indie rock due to their having been on an indie rock label (Kill Rock Stars) for the entirety of their career, the unconventional nature of Deerhoof's music makes genre identification difficult. But several recurring features can be said to constitute Deerhoof's distinctive sound: unassuming vocal delivery set against hyper-expressive instrumental playing; an elastic approach to group dynamics and rhythm more akin to the rubato of classical music performance practice than rock; odd melodies; harmonic sophistication and dissonance; disjointed, condensed, asymmetrical and otherwise unconventional song structures; raw and at times strident sound surfaces; and improvisation. Sounds crazy, if you like this, do yourself a favour and seek out their earlier albums.
I finally bought some songs from iTunes and joined the millions that purchase their music as a digital file online instead as a physical CD. I have two gift cards totalling $100 in credit from our friends at Apple (iTunes) and I intend to use it on hard-to-find items. To be honest I get a lot of music already through the internet, scouring and surfing looking for free downloads or torrent sites that provide peer to peer sharing, but I have to admit I still love buying (new or used) CD's, cassettes and LP's that you can hold, read liner notes and display for all to see. Looking through someones record collection doesn't quite have the same effect if you're scrolling through virtual folders in their hard drive than it does with the real thing. I know young people that only own digital music mp3's!...what the hell's with that?
SHANNON McARDLE- Poison My Cup SHANNON McARDLE- This Longing- What happens when you marry and then divorce your bandmate? The first solo disc from the ex-Mendoza Line vocalist, Summer Of the Whore is dark, sparse, unhappy affair, a response perhaps from her marriage and band breakup and will ceremoniously be considered the "not feel-good" album of the year. For added misery, check out the Mendoza Line's last record, Thirty Year Low, which was written and recorded before her breakup, with hints of things to come...? Both highly recommended!
FRIGGS- Bad Word for A Good Thing FRIGGS- Friggs Theme- From 2007's, Today Is Tomorrow's Yesterday, a collection of early vinyl 7's, ep's and unreleased. From their myspace page, "The Troggs + the Fugs + the Shaggs = THE FRIGGS - One of the 90’s fave rockin’ girl bands! The Friggs play supercharged, harmony saturated, trashy pop with a dash of surf on the side the way Russ Meyer intended it to be... Nuff said!!