Thursday, November 30, 2006

Greetings from tropical BKLYN!
I am in my shirt-sleeves with the windows open on the last day of November! The perfect song for the day is certainly toytronica duo Psapp (one of the ps is silent--I'm not going to tell you which one.) From a cat and toy-filled studio in King's Cross London (note to Marty--I would have said that makes them "world music," but now I will never ever ever use the term again! I have been successfully re-educated,) they make a quirky and consistently engaging music that is almost folky in it's gentleness. Counter intuitively, they are startlingly popular, having composed the theme for Grey's Anatomy as well as having songs on The OC and Nip/Tuck.

Always in My Head

Psapp Live

Their MySpace
And website

Buy Psapp at Amazon

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Who Wanted Xmas Music?
Love is All, the name hangs there pregnantly, doesn't it? Yet another great band from Göteborg (which, btw, is "the best best city in Scandinavia at Christmas time!™.") LIA's ragged and belligerent vocals and off-kilter saxophone reminds me much of the great Romeo Void (one of my "favorite bands of all time™.") Also (though my memory is feeling a little ragged and belligerent,) I'm tempted to evoke the Suburban Lawns--anyone else hear that?

Kiss Kiss Kiss

Live in London

Their MySpace
Their website

Buy Love is All at Amazon

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Take Me Out Tonight
On the way to work today I was reading in the paper about the Lord of the Rings Online game that my brother in law is designing (you can see pictures of it here.) It sounds like it is poised to be a huge hit, but anyway it started me thinking what would be the perfect soundtrack for racing around figuring out fiendishly difficult puzzles and killing orcs and hobbits and saurons, and it might seem that the obvious choice would be bands like Clutch or Jethro Tull, but then, as though it were a rainy day and I was trying to figure out whether to go happy or sad, I thought of Loquat. Loquat are a band from San Francisco that has been deeply depressed since the Smiths broke up. They are certainly shoe or navel gazers and I'm sure would like to spend a lot of time playing video games as they appear to be utterly indifferent to success or even being at all productive. Quite in a way lovely if you like this kind of thing though.

Half-Assed Mechanic

Swing Set Chain

Their website

Their MySpace

Buy Loquat at Amazon
Bon Bon
Charlotte Gainsbourg is oh so French, though she sings in English after many years of learning it phonetically by listening to old records by Roxette and the Cardigans. A popular actress as well (she has sung the title song for several of her films,) she is the daughter of famed musician Serge Gainsbourg and actress Jane Birkin. Charmingly overwrought and over the top, think of it as a bon bon and just enjoy it.

The Operation

5:55 (Live)

Her MySpace

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Keep Breathing
Head on over to Untitled to hear a great track by Alexi Murdoch. Untitled is another blog--like Lost in Your Inbox and La Gringa--that you should be visiting regularly. So "Breathe" reminded me greatly of this by the incomparable Garbage.

The Trick is to Keep Breathing (Live)

Buy Garbage at Amazon
Turkey! Chicken! Turkey! Chicken!
Well I missed the boat on the Contrast Podcast again unfortunately. And it promises to be interesting (or awful) this week. Like Almanzo, I'm going to beat all the rest of you to it and let you know what I would have submitted. My main worry for the theme is that it will bring out a slew of jokey songs like Cibo Matto (and Phil Lesh has a song about a chicken--I bet that's got to be good.) I couldn't figure out why it was making me feel so anxious and hostile and then I remembered in sixth grade being hit repeatedly in the head with a box of snack crackers called "Chicken in a Bisquit" (a concept that now seems quite revolting.) Once I connected with this powerful emotion and had a good cry, I realized that all of those fine CP participants could be trusted to come up with another fantastic mix of songs, but I doubt anyone will pick something by Clutch (perhaps FiL.) "Animal Farm" is one of their best, tuneful, clever, funny, plus all about chickens.

Animal Farm

Wicker (Live)

Buy Clutch at Amazon

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Found In My Inbox

I've been meaning to send you over to Lost In Your Inbox for several days now. First to hear some great tunes from the wonderful Maria Taylor (with a bonus of Tegan & Sara,) second to hear K.D. Lang's version of Issa/Jane Siberry's "Love is Everything" from several days ago, and finally go over to check out some great EBTG! Anyway, you should just go there daily anyway every day!
Circling Red Square
To square yesterday's circle, or connect the dots, or whatever, THIS is The Devotchkas, and that is not a Turkey on the right side of the picture, it's a mohawk. To recap, The Devotchkas are not DeVotchKa, they ARE a punk rock band with NO odd Eastern European stylings, cellos, bouzoukis, accordions, men, or songs over two minutes. Loud and basic and loads of fun, they were also known as the '99s. There's a Pretty on the Inside-era Hole vibe I like a lot. So my suggestion would be to play this really really loud tomorrow for all your friends and family... Happy Thanksgiving!

Mr. School Psychology

Buy The Devotchkas at Amazon

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More Crazy Than Crazy
Alternately a crazy punk band and crazy Eastern European crooners, DeVotchKa broke through this fall with the soundtrack for Little Miss Sunshine (that is unless you caught them on tour with avant-burlesque star (as featured on ANTM,) Dita Von Teese.) Packed with the traditional punk rock instruments like bouzouki, cello, and sousaphone, this Denver based four-piece is adorably eclectic, though I am sure to some ears they are annoyingly annoying.

As a caveat, they are not actually the same band as The Devotchkas, which I had assumed they were when I wrote the above. So in light of that information, for "crazy punk band," substitute "pretentious academic poseurs" and for "punk rock," "quirky avant-garde ensemble" and then it still makes sense.

Viens Avec Moi

How it Ends (Live)

Their MySpace

Monday, November 20, 2006

She's Back...
After a brief break for sadness,
BookStud is back with a vengence!

She's got a great track by
Anggun, an Indonesian woman who records in French and English in Paris. I'm startled, I'm awed, I'm really quite impressed. And that she can do it without hyperbole or exaggeration (quick show of hands, how many of you really believed that Sinéad Lohan was related to Sinéad O'Connor and Lindsey Lohan?)

Etre Une Femme (Live)

Buy Anggun at Amazon
Yet another 20 year old from North London, Amy Winehouse is leading the charge for new British Jazz (was there old British Jazz?) Incorporating dub, hip-hop, and big '60s wall-of-sound girl group elements, it's quite smart and appealing and fierce. She twists her voice into an odd Macy Greyish contortion and then lets it loose into a glorious wave of quite lovely eager emotion. And you get the sense that she's just barely finding her way yet.

Wake Up Alone

Rehab (Live)

Her website:
Buy Amy Winehouse at Amazon

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Artist Formerly Known As Jane Siberry
Jane Siberry has sold her house and all her posessions except for one guitar and is now known as Issa. She also only sells downloads through her website (on the honor system) so that there are no CDs or packaging waste. Definitely an acquired taste, she's sometmes extraordinarily pretentious, other times lush and obtuse, occasionally chilly, and here and there confessional. I don't know that I'm quite up to conveying exactly why I like her music so much, since she does make such odd and "difficult music" (to quote another of my idols.) But give it a try, and try watching the video through to when she sings--it's worth it!

Love is Everything (Harmony Version)

Tootie Concerto (Live)

Her new MySpace
Her old MySpace
Buy songs at her website

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Since Marcy is taking the high road today, I figured I'd take the low. Before everything, Van Halen played the dances at my sister's high school. Am I wrong to think that there's a kind of poetry and beauty in this song?

Jamie's Cryin'

Running With The Devil Live

Buy Van Halen at Amazon

Thursday, November 16, 2006

That's A Pretty Good Love
One of Aretha Franklin's main inspirations, Big Maybelle was an amazing blues belter from Tennessee. After singing in swing bands during WWII, she crossed over into rock'n'roll in the early fifties. A very young Quincy Jones produced her earthy version of "Whole Lotta' Shakin' Goin' On," which predates Jerry Lee Lewis' by two years. Plagued by health problems, her career was unfortunately cut short soon after.

Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On

Buy Big Maybelle at Amazon
You know how you feel when you drink a little too much coffee and are just a bit over-wound and your fingers are itching and bouncing with an unfulfillable urge? That's what Sambassadeur is like. This quartet from Göteborg (who yes were SOD in the way way way distant past,) are overwhelmingly melancholy and bouncy at the same time. Traveling some of the same lush retro oddness that seems to mostly be exclusively Scottish (in a Camera Obscura/Belle & Sebastian rather than a Fratellis/Franz Ferdinand/Bay City Rollers kind of way.)

One Last Remark

New Moon Video

Their MySpace
Buy Sambassadeur at Amazon

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different
Who else made the Sullivan St. Bakery "no-knead bread" this weekend? I know at least one of you did.

This is how mine turned out--a little flat, with a big crater towards the top. I made two batches; the first had a slightly "cheesy" taste to it that I didn't love, so I added 1 tbl. malt powder to the second batch which ended up with a more appealingly balanced, sort of "nutty" flavor. The first batch I measured loosely, the second I weighed, but the feel and end result was almost the same--good, but not amazing.

Let me know how it went for you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Marcy at Lost in Your Inbox has a great disco-ish post today--esp. check out the Fibes.

There is an astonishingly odd Hallmark mini-series called
The Tenth Kingdom that features a group of trolls who travel to earth only to fall under the spell of the Brothers Gibb. I always think of them whenever I hear the amazing Scissor Sisters.

Don't Feel Like Dancing (Paper Faces Remix)

"We Will Shear You" from The Tenth Kingdom

Buy Scissor Sisters at Amazon
The Other of Both
Quite surprisingly, Sinéad Lohan is related, however distantly, to both Lindsey Lohan and Sinéad O'Connor. She's Irish (surprise!) and she put out two records that were successful in the UK, played in Lillith Fair, and put a single in the awful Kevin Costner/Elton John film Message in a Bottle. She will probably be a little misty and mystical for some, but I like to go there occasionally.

Who Do You Think I Am?

"Whatever it Takes" video

Buy Sinéad Lohan at Amazon
Track One
Tim has another Contrast Podcast up. This one is just fabulous, and not just because I'm on it. There's something for everyone (even Meg.) Go listen! Now!
I love Husky Rescue! Finnish angels is how I look at them. Listen and believe!

Buy Husky Rescue at Amazon

Monday, November 13, 2006

Libbie Linton is from that hotbed of pop, Logan, Utah. Actually, I should stop making fun of places I've never heard of. It's mostly just in the case of Libbie, she's someone I ran across on her MySpace and other than repeat that she says she's a scientist by day and a ninja by night, there's absolutely nothing I can tell you. I guess I could give you my feelings about her music... Well what I like is there is a fierceness to her voice and songwriting and guitar playing and a nice depth and mystery--I like it!

What's Left

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Long Hot Ride
Cowboy Mouth was a funny beast. Poised to be quite successful theoretically, they were swallowed by a group from New Orleans and never heard from again. Fronted by Roy Lichtenstein's son Dave (who owned a brownstone on King Street in the Village, which gives the whole "Livin' off the Land"-thing a somewhat
faux sheen,) they had been picked by Spin Magazine as indie band of the year. My friend Knut played the wonderfully eerie synths that wash over it all and famed producer Roger Moutenout was the original bass player. Anyway, here's one of my favorite songs off Cowboys & Indians.

Free Country

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rock'n'Roll Suicide
A clichéd story, made worse in the case of Darby Crash
of the Germs by timing. He killed himself the night before John Lennon was shot in 1980. So the next day, a bunch of middle-aged ex-hippies were walking around with black armbands. Sweetly baby-faced and surprisingly gay considering the context (that's Pat Smear who later played with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters on the right,) Darby and The Germs necessarily, but unfortunately exploded the L.A. music scene. Really listen to this song.


From the Decline of Western Civilization

Buy The Germs at Amazon
Great Taste
Lizz Wright is an amazing singer from rural Georgia. Soulful and jazzy with a voice that seems like it is limitless. Listen and you feel like she has barely begun to exercise her instrument. Huge huge hugely lovely! What more do I have to say to convince you?

A Taste of Honey

Her website

Live in Basel

Buy Lizz Wright at Amazon

Friday, November 10, 2006

Do you like silly French pop?

You know you do...

Tahiti 80 has a new single out.


Buy Tahiti 80 at Amazon
One Small Note of Disappointment
Rainer Maria broke up!

Awful awful awful! But maybe they will do great things as solo artists. Catastrophe Keeps us Together is really one of the best albums I've heard in years, packed with great great songs like this one that are sad and elating and tragic and triumphant and surprising.

They will have two last shows, Dec. 15th in Philly (Marcy...) and Dec. 16th here. Anyone want to go?

Already Lost

Life of Leisure live

Rainer Maria's MySpace

Buy Rainer Maria at Amazon

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What a Great Country
Baby Bash, formerly Baby Beesh, is a Latino rapper originally from Vallejo, California. He moved to Houston to work with South Park Mexican, with whom he released an independent record that catapulted him to a record deal, duets and guest shots with many other artists, and a number of songwriting credits. He has a laconic, almost gentle style that works amazingly well in his monster hit "Suga Suga."


Baby Bash Live

Baby Bash MySpace
Videos on YouTube

Buy Baby Bash at Amazon
Rumsfeld Resigns!

Yesterday was Pete Seeger, today Fear...

Let's Have a War

I already posted this, but I just wanted to put it in the context of today.

I was impressed by MRJC and FiL getting their respective soapboxes. And I would get on mine, but for the fact that mine feels a bit rickety. I don't understand war is I guess all I can say about it. I find trying to make sense of war in the context of what has happened in my lifetime, from the tail end of Vietnam through Iraq and Darfur, I can't figure out sensible versus risky, much less right and wrong. The cascade of mistakes is clear. But what should happen now?

Buy Fear at Amazon

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So glad you all voted! Good work!

I've been meaning to post something by Hem for some time. Both because they are fabulous and quite unique, as well as because they are from Brooklyn. Although she had no formal training as a singer, Sally Ellyson answered an ad in the Village Voice seven years ago and Hem was formed. Their new record Funnel Cloud was recorded with the 18-piece Gowanus Radio Orchestra and feels big and lush and Midwestern spacious, while maintaining the spare purity (quite an accomplishment of colliding adjectives there) of their earlier work. Regardless, very very beautiful!

Pacific Street (Live)

Redwing Music Video

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I know that for those of you in New York, your choices all were decided in September at the Primary, but there are plenty of people who read this blog from around the country.

So my call for election-related music brought out various interesting suggestions. From Tim McDonough a call for "Our Candidate" by World/Inferno Friendship Society (don't worry, I hadn't heard of them either.) From Andy at Circles of Concrete, "Policies" by Pete Yorn and "My Own Country" by Pennywise. And from the incomparable Thom Campbell, "President Gas" by the Psychedelic Furs and one of the finest songs ever written, "Beyond Belief" by Elvis Costello.

While I was thinking about old folk songs yesterday, I decided to just continue down that road with two by Pete Seeger.

What a Friend We Have in Congress


Beyond Belief

Step by Step

World/Inferno Friendship Society--"Our Candidate"

Pennywise--"My Own Country"

Psychedelic Furs--"President Gas"

Buy Pete Seeger at Amazon
Buy Pete Yorn at Amazon
Buy Elvis Costello at Amazon
Buy Pennywise at Amazon
Buy World/Inferno Friendship Society at Amazon
Buy The Psychedelic Furs at Amazon