Monday, October 31

A.K.A. "CHAN MARSHALL"

CAT POWER

The title track from Cat Power's upcoming album has been circulating through cyberspace for a while now, but it took Chris the Swiss over at Music of the Moment to get me thinking about posting some tracks from earlier in her career.

I've been smitten with Ms. Marshall's haunting, one-of-a-kind voice for quite some time now, though I've always secretly longed for fuller instrumentation and arrangements to occasionally buck that voice up. I have no idea what the bulk of the new record will sound like; I just know that I very much like the subdued strings that buoy the title track. Of course, just because the LP was recorded in Memphis doesn't mean that this'll be another Dusty in Memphis, but a boy can dream, can't he?

The Greatest will be released by Matador Records on January 24, 2006.

[MP3] [left-click] "The Greatest" [from the LP The Greatest, 2006]

[MP3] [left-click] "Free" [from the LP You Are Free, 2003]

[MP3] [left-click] "The Devil's Daughter" [from the LP The Covers Record, 2000]

[MP3] [left-click] "Cross Bones Style" [from the LP Moon Pix, 1998]

[MP3] [left-click] "Rockets" [from the LP Myra Lee, 1996]

Friday, October 28

WHERE YOU GET YOUR MUSIC... 4TH!

THE CARDIGANS

Other, better blogs (My Old Kentucky Blog, Scenestars, Said the Gramophone) have already been sharing some of the best tracks from the Cardigans' new CD - the somewhat surprisingly solid Super Extra Gravity. Still, I am not about to be dissuaded from offering yet another somewhat surprisingly solid track from it, as well as a sampler of previous Cardigans and Cardigans-related tunes.

Lead singer Nina Persson worked with Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous and Shudder to Think's Nathan Larson on a 2001 project credited to "A Camp." This LP included the Persson/Larson cover of "The Bluest Eyes in Texas" that appeared on the 1999 soundtrack to Boys Don't Cry, as well as the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazlewood-esque country-pop of "I Can Buy You."

[MP3] [left-click] "Overload" [from the LP Super Extra Gravity, 2005]

[MP3] [left-click] "Please Sister" [from the LP Long Gone Before Daylight, 2004]

[MP3] [left-click] "Erase/Rewind" [from the LP Gran Turismo, 1998]

[MP3] [left-click] "Lovefool" [from the LP First Band on the Moon, 1996]

[MP3] [left-click] "The Bluest Eyes in Texas"/Nina Persson & Nathan Larson

[MP3] [left-click] "I Can Buy You"/A Camp

Wednesday, October 26

WELL... HELLO, SAILOR...

STARSAILOR

Starsailor is one the countless single-word bands that followed in Radiohead's wake (Travis, Coldplay, Kent, South, Paloalto, Muse, Keane, on and on, on and on...). I liked a few of the songs on their first album, either didn't hear or didn't like the ones on their second, and have just now had the opportunity to listen to their third.

Can't say that I'm especially impressed, though I suppose it's not "bad," either. It's just not... you know... The Bends or OK Computer.

Regardless, I'm posting, as usual, my two favorites from it, as well as two of my favorites from their debut.

Starsailor's latest CD will be released on November 1st.

[MP3] [left-click] "This Time" [from the LP On the Outside, 2005]

[MP3] [left-click] "White Light" [from the LP On the Outside, 2005]

[MP3] [left-click] "Poor Misguided Fool" [from the LP Love is Here, 2002]

[MP3] [left-click] "Tie Up My Hands" [from the LP Love is Here, 2002]

Friday, October 21

INDIGENOUS TO LONG ISLAND OR BOCA RATON?

SILVER JEWS

Didn't know much about these folks before; don't know all that much more now. But... leader David Berman started this up back in the late '80s or early '90s with future Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus. Apparently, they enjoyed making noise.

In more recent years, Berman has reportedly struggled with substance abuse, depression, and suicide issues - three things I have more than a passing acquaintance with. Alas, I lack the ability to make music; I can only listen.

I've read at least one review of the Silver Jews' latest CD, Tanglewood Numbers, that suggests that longtime fans may be surprised by the disc's hi-fi sound. Can't really comment on that, other than to say that the songs, at least, still tend to be rather ragged and deliberately[?] anti-mainstream. My two favorites [below] may be the most "polished" of the lot, and I would also recommend the sly little charmer "How Can I Love You (If You Won't Lie Down)?".

For more info and stuff, try [here].

[MP3] [left-click] "Punks in the Beerlight" [from the LP Tanglewood Numbers, 2005]

[MP3] [left-click] "Sleeping is the Only Love" [from the LP Tanglewood Numbers, 2005]

[MP3] [left-click] "Random Rules" [from the LP American Water, 1998]

Buy it at Insound!

Thursday, October 20

GO THERE; IT'S BETTER THAN HERE (BUT THEN COME BACK)

KEEPIN' ON BEATIN' ON THAT INDIE DRUM

I've expressed my admiration of and appreciation for Matthew's operation over at Beat the Indie Drum before, but I figure it's high time I did it again. Not only does this guy offer an extensive archive of month-end compilations to comb through, he also regularly offers tons of other songs for download on pretty much a weekly basis. Combine that with his links to other interesting and off-the-beaten-path music sites, and you've got yourself a blog that all-but-demands daily visitation.

Offered below are five songs by artists that I'd never heard of before discovering them at BTID. Try them here, and then click on over to the site itself for further, fuller investigation.

[And be sure to drop Matthew a line if you like what you find there; his cat passed away recently (and that's inspiring me to post a last tune of my own as a respectful memorial).]

[MP3] [left-click] Stout/"Oh Happy Day"

[MP3] [left-click] Crosstide/"Opposite Day"

[MP3] [left-click] Cat-a-Tac/"Devil"

[MP3] [left-click] Flare/"This is the Sound of Good Music"

[MP3] [left-click] Memory Bank/"Bleed Like a Hero"

[MP3] [left-click] Jets to Brazil/"Cat Heaven"

Wednesday, October 19

MELANCHOLY DANES?

MEW


Chris the Swiss over at Music of the Moment has been all adrool over Mew's And the Glass Handed Kites for quite some time now, so I finally had to get around to giving it a listen.

I can't say that I'm quite as smitten by these Danish alterna-rockers as Chris, though I can certainly see/hear the appeal. At his highest range, the lead singer's voice is not altogether unreminiscent of the Sigur Ros guy's - albeit less whale-like and far more comprehensible (he sings in English, for one thing). As soundscapes, I find the songs quite effective, though I wish there was a bit more effort at traditional verse-chorus-verse catchiness here and there.

It might also be noted that the songs dissolve one to the next - concept-album-style - which makes for a nice, sinuous flow. In that regard, this effort reminds me somewhat of Mansun's Attack of the Grey Lantern, though - again - I think the songs on Lantern are stronger/tighter/catchier/etc. At the very least, the Mew effort makes for ideal background music to any number of activities, and I agree with Chris that the "Apocalypso"-"Special"-"The Zookeeper's Boy" is the record's best stretch. I also like "Chinaberry Tree," so I'm offering that up here as well.

And the Glass Handed Kites finally hit the U.S. marketplace on October 18th.

[MP3] [left-click] "Apocalypso"

[MP3] [left-click] "The Zookeeper's Boy"

[MP3] [left-click] "Chinaberry Tree"

Monday, October 17

MORE SONGS FOR FALL

MATT POND PA

Matt Pond PA, I have to imagine, is a relatively under-the-radar outfit. Appropriately enough, they are led by singer/songwriter Matt Pond and were once based in the state of Pennsylvania (now: Brooklyn). The band has existed in various incarnations for about seven years now, and has been rather prolific over that period.

The sound might be described as folk-inflected chamber pop. It's quite gentle. Autumnal. In other words, perfect for posting at this moment (at least, in theory).

[MP3] [left-click] "Brooklyn Stars" [from the LP Several Arrows Later, 2005]

[MP3] [left-click] "Fairlee" [from the LP The Nature of Maps, 2002]

[MP3] [left-click] "Closer" [from the LP The Nature of Maps, 2002]

[MP3] [left-click] "Measure 3" [from the LP The Green Fury, 2002]

[MP3] [left-click] "The Hollows" [from the LP Measure, 2000]

Saturday, October 15

SINGLE-ARTIST SATURDAY

THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS

I tend to be leery of bands that straddle the line between emo and pop-punk. Too often, that line all-but-guarantees a generic sameness in sound - a sound utterly white-washed, glossy, and embalmed.

I can't really say that the All-American Rejects succeed in transcending the genre, but they have to stand fairly high in the field. Certainly they know their way around a hook. And perhaps because they're so young (early-20's), they seem entirely unafraid of utilizing potentially cheesy, career-ending accoutrements - be they strings, synthesizers, or children's choirs.

To say the least, I'm not sure I'd want a steady diet of these guys. But if "lo-fi" = "no carbs," then I'm all for stuffing myself with bread, pasta, and potatoes every once in a while.

[MP3] [left-click] "Move Along" [from the LP Move Along, 2005]

[MP3] [left-click] "Top of the World" [from the LP Move Along, 2005]

[MP3] [left-click] "Swing Swing" [from their self-titled LP, 2003]

[MP3] [left-click] "Time Stands Still" [from their self-titled LP, 2003]
THE *REAL* ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS

Thursday, October 13

FALL-BACK SELECTIONS

MEMORIES OF SEPTEMBER

I just finished compiling my most recent quarterly best-of CD for 2005. Many of the songs I'd already posted here, but I thought I'd share the five below as well. I would certainly highly recommend them to anyone that occasionally enjoys the stuff that goes up in these here parts. Good hunting.

[MP3] [left-click] The Features/"The Idea of Growing Old"

[MP3] [left-click] Keri Noble/"Bartender"

[MP3] [left-click] Vigilantes of Love/"You Know That"

[MP3] [left-click] The Social Registry/"Bury Every Dream"

[MP3] [left-click] Columbus/"Christian Girls"

Tuesday, October 11

AH! LA MODE!

DEPECHE MODE

For me, it is a rare, rare thing when artists that I adored in my youth are able to resurrect themselves and release rock-solid albums in the present. In fact, Morrissey's You Are the Quarry is one of the only examples I can think of, at the moment.

Still, when Depeche Mode releases a new LP, I can't help but hope that they'll find a way to plug back in to their album-oriented prime (which is to say: Black Celebration/Music for the Masses/Violator).

Alas, Playing the Angel does not even come close to breathing that sort of rarified air. Nor, for that matter, can it match 1997's not-so-bad-on-second-thought Ultra. Even 2001's Exciter's top two tracks, "Dream On" and "Freelove," trump Playing the Angel's corresponding pair [see/download below].

Still and all, I hope these "grizzled" veterans will give it another go some two or three years hence. Then, as now, I will hope for the best, fear for the worst, and probably end up feeling pretty damned dissatisfied. But such is life...

Playing the Angel will be released in the U.S. on October 18th.

[MP3] [left-click] "Precious"

[MP3] [left-click] "Lillian"

Friday, October 7

HOLD THE "THE", PLEASE

EDITORS

Editors - a band from Birmingham, England - will no doubt be relegated by many to the Interpol knock-off bin, just as Interpol themselves are dismissed by some as shameless imitators of Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen. Fair enough in both cases, perhaps.

But I've been enjoying this '80s wave for quite some time now, and while Editors may be offering nothing particularly new or original with their debut LP, The Back Room, I'm still buying the vibe: dark and at least superficially delicious.

Anyway, at this late date in human history, I'm not entirely sure it's possible for an artist of any type to be truly original. Everything's been said, seen, expressed, and heard before. So, as we wait for the avian flu to come calling for all of us, we should probably find a way to be more forgiving of new artists attempting to carve out their own identities on this thoroughly second-hand planet.

[Unfortunately, at the moment, it would seem that The Back Room is only available to Americans as a predictably pricey import. But here are some songs in the meantime...]

[MP3] [left-click] "Blood"

[MP3] [left-click] "Lights"

[MP3] [left-click] "All Sparks"

Wednesday, October 5

WAY-BACK WEDNESDAY

Desperately searching for something to post today, I decided to reach back into my mix CD archives and pull out one of the first I ever burned, circa 2001. Truth be told, though, most of these tunes became favorites of mine during my three years in L.A., which means that most of them are probably about 10 years old. Egad! Where does the time go? Shoot me now, shoot me now.

Hope you'll enjoy these; they hold up for me quite well...

[MP3] [left-click] Elastica/"Stutter"

[MP3] [left-click] Fountains of Wayne/"Denise"

[MP3] [left-click] Magnapop/"Lay It Down"

[MP3] [left-click] Lush/"Ladykillers"

[MP3] [left-click] Goldfrapp/"Utopia"

Sunday, October 2

666: DAMIEN MIGHT SAY

THE MAGIC NUMBERS

I posted the Magic Numbers song "Love Me Like You" here not so very long ago - considering it as I did one of the catchier things I'd heard in the month of August. I've since had the opportunity to eavesdrop on the rest of their self-titled debut LP, and, well... I'm a bit smitten.

As always, I'm a sucker for girl/boy vocal interplay, and these folks come by it naturally. Which is to say, lead singer Romeo is backed and accented by his sisters, Angela and Michele. For the longest time, I couldn't decide whose voice Romeo's reminded me of. Oddly enough, it turned out to be Vic Chesnutt's - albeit smoothed out, sped up, and perked up a bit (sort of a "shot of amphetamines with a Paxil back" sort of thing).

The Magic Numbers' debut LP will be released in the U.S. on October 4th by Capitol Records. It might also be noted that this record was nominated in the U.K. for the rather prestigious Mercury Prize, which I believe was ultimately won by Antony and the Johnsons.

I hope you'll find the time to give these folks a listen and decide for yourself if there is indeed fire with that smoke.

[MP3] [left-click] "Forever Lost"

[MP3] [left-click] "Long Legs"
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