Song of the Day Number 196
Owen Pallett - “Hard To Explain” (The Strokes cover)
Owen Pallett’s string-laden take on The Strokes’ classic 2001 single “Hard To Explain” is definitely one of the standout tracks on Stereogum’s Is This It 10th anniversary tribute album. While tribute albums have always been pretty hit or miss, I find myself returning to a number of songs from this particular album from time to time. These songs really lend themselves to experimentation, as long as the original meaning of the song isn’t obscured too much. Pallett’s gentle voice and lush strings bring out a hidden beauty in the song that the rough-hewn garage rock original does not possess. I never thought I would let myself get so lost in a Strokes song.
The full album, which features covers by other artists including Real Estate and The Morning Benders can be downloaded for free HERE.
Song of the Day Number 195
The Magnetic Fields - “No One Will Ever Love You”
I’m sorry for not posting as much as I should be in the past few days. Between trying out twitter (you can follow me HERE) and being preoccupied with real life things, I haven’t had much time to make very many substantial posts lately. One thing that I haven’t stopped doing, however, is listening to tons of music.
Ever since I heard it for the first time over two years ago, The Magnetic Fields’ 1999 opus 69 Love Songs has been one of my favorite albums. Although simple and self-explanatory, the album’s concept is impressively ambitious. Even more impressively, the band succeeds in making the vast majority of the 69 songs great.
One of my favorite tracks is “No One Will Ever Love You”, off the album’s second disc. Set against a cold, synthesizer-led musical backdrop, “No One Will Ever Love You” explores rather blatantly the more painful side of the album’s titular concept. With vocals by longtime Magnetic Fields collaborator Shirley Simms, it might be among the most bitingly honest and harsh songs that Stephin Merritt ever wrote, and certainly one of his most literal. No time is wasted with literary devices, setting the track apart from many of the album’s other gems. Perhaps this, combined with Simms’ apathetic vocals, is what makes the song stand out so much.
On a more personal note, this song feels kind of relevant sometimes. As a whole, the album is probably better suited for somebody who doesn’t feel loved rather than someone who does. Stephin Merritt sure does have a knack for irony. Ha.. ha… ha…
Song of the Day Number 194
Animal Collective - “Banshee Beat”
Every time I listen to “Banshee Beat” these days, I think, “Wow, there are very few songs that I know that are better than this one.”
In the car today, this song came on while we were pulling into the driveway, and I made my mom leave the keys in the ignition when she got out, so that I could sit in the car for the next eight minutes listening to it. It was worth it.
Song of the Day Number 193
Carissa’s Wierd - “Meredith & Iris”
Am I the only one freaking out about this? Seattle sad-core legends Carissa’s Wierd have been one of my favorite depressing bands ever since I first listened to them, which was well after they broke up back in 2003. Last year they played a reunion show (pictured above) which was supposed to be a one-off, but apparently they debuted some new material at the show. Now, seemingly out of the blue, the band has “returned”, so to speak, with their first new material in over seven years.
This track “Meredith & Iris” is going to be the b-side to a 7” single that is being released by Hardly Art records on September 13th. With a more confident sound than earlier Carissa’s Wierd material, this song is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve missed the harmonizing vocals of Jenn Ghetto and Matt Brooke so much, so this new song is incredibly satiating. The lyrics are incredibly sad, but beautiful, as we should expect from Carissa’s Wierd.
The band will be playing some shows soon as well in Seattle and New York. I think that this “reunion” has a lot of potential.
Of course, Hardly Art is not going so far as to call whatever this is a full-on reunion…
“It is too soon to say whether or not Carissa’s Wierd is “back,” but for the time being, we can certainly say that they are here.”
Read the full press release from Hardly Art below:
“Carissa’s Wierd “Tucson” 7”/digital September 13, 2011 A. Tucson B. Meredith & Iris
Hardly Art is proud to share the first new material from Carissa’s Wierd in over seven years. The seminal northwest group - whose members went on to form Band of Horses and Grand Archives, and spawned the solo projects of Jenn Ghetto (S) and Sera Cahoone - has recorded two new tracks, which will be released on a 7” and digitally on September 13. It is fitting that these tracks are presented as odes, both of which pack a wistful wallop that has come to be expected from the group. The first, to “Tucson,” the birthplace of Carissa’s Wierd, with the violin lines of Sarah Standard beaming through the adage “you can never go home again” before things get a bit metal. The second, to “Meredith & Iris,” a dramatic waltz number delivered with an intensity that implies it has been marinating for the past decade. Both tracks feature Mat Brooke (Grand Archives, Band of Horses) and Jenn Ghetto (S) on vocals, and both songs are exclusive to this 7”. Stream the b-side, “Meredith & Iris,” here. Carissa’s Wierd will play a show at Neumos in Seattle on September 24 in support of the 7”, with plans to book a future show in New York. It is too soon to say whether or not Carissa’s Wierd is “back,” but for the time being, we can certainly say that they are here.”
Song of the Day Number 192
Titus Andronicus - “Titus Andronicus”
There’ll be no more cigarettes
No more having sex
No more drinking until you fall on the floor
No more indie rock
Just a ticking clock
You have no time for that anymore
You better watch where you run your mouth
Because you know what they’ll say to you
Happy birthday Patrick Stickles. Yr life is over.
Song of the Day Number 191
Link Wray - “Deuces Wild”
As luck would have it, I recently came into possession of a used drumset that is notable for having once been owned by none other than Mitch Dubey. I mostly play guitar, but I’ve always been interested in playing drums. Since I have very little experience doing that, I’ve found that I’m not a great player. Ever since I finished putting the set together after finding and assembling all the parts that were missing from it originally, I’ve been playing a lot, listening to some of my favorite percussion-supported music and trying to replicate the drum sounds on my own set.
One particular artist that I love to play along with is Link Wray, the famous rockabilly guitarist whose blown out, distorted guitar tones set the stage for punk and hard rock all the way back in the 50s. He didn’t do it alone, though, as he was supported by a stellar rock & roll backing band on the majority of his classic songs. The percussion on those tracks strikes the perfect balance between fun and relatively easy to play.
Take the track “Deuces Wild”, for instance. The drums have that classic shuffle stomp blues sound with just enough variation from the formula to keep things interesting. It must be hard to stand out in the mix under Wray’s reverb-heavy guitar, but whoever played drums on this track clearly managed to do just that.
Song of the Day Number 190
Nana Grizol - “Circles ‘Round The Moon”
This track from Nana Grizol’s 2008 punkish debut record Love It! Love It! might be my second favorite song under 2 minutes ever. The first is definitely “Game of Pricks” by Guided By Voices.
The only problem with this track is that it really could be longer, and it always makes me upset that it isn’t.
Highlights include the part in the chorus where singer Theo Hilton double-times his vocals. The guy could probably be a rapper if he actually was inclined to do so, but I think he should stick to life affirming folk punk music.
Song of the Day Number 189
Mister Heavenly - “Bronx Sniper”
I’ve posted about the hyped up new indie rock supergroup Mister Heavenly before, but fans have still yet to hear any recorded music from the band with the exception of the two songs released last year. That all changes now, as the band has finally released some new music as a taster from their forthcoming debut LP Out of Love. The band is comprised of Islands’ Nick Thonburn, Man Man’s Honus Honus, and Modest Mouse’s Joe Plummer, but it is Thorburn who takes center stage on this track, a stomping number called “Bronx Sniper”, which will be the opening track on the album. Honus Honus’ characteristically growly vocals show up in the song’s middle, harmonizing with Thorburn to match the salacious beats. The song seems to take influence from all of its members’ main bands, which produces a really interesting sound. Stream it above, and grab the album when it comes out next month on Sub Pop.
Weekly Needle Drops:
Song of the Day Number 188
House of Wolves - “50’s”
Originally posted on The Needle Drop HERE
When I was first introduced to House of Wolves, I was confused. According to his facebook page, House of Wolves is a solo project of Rey Villalobos, a singer-songwriter from California. Although he’s a man, I could have sworn that the vocals I was hearing when listening to House of Wolves’ new album Fold In The Wind were female. They weren’t, as it turns out.
Rather, like his contemporaries Sufjan Stevens and Mike Hadreas (a.k.a. Perfume Genius), Villalobos just happens to possess such an incredibly tender and fragile voice that he almost sounds feminine at times. This is by no means an insult, as it adds a formidable layer of humility and general personality to his songs, most of which are gentle indie folk musings culled from loss and personal sadness.
On “50′s”, the opening track from Fold In The Wind, Villalobos sets a nostalgic tone with his heartbreaking lyrics and reedy voice. On this song, which is available to download for free on the House of Wolves Bandcamp, the Perfume Genius comparison is particularly apt. While this track has a lot going for it musically, it is the impenetrably dark sound of the piano that really stands out. Like Perfume Genius did beautifully on last year’s Learning, House of Wolves uses the piano and distant horns on “50′s” to accentuate and complement the lyrics, leaving Villalobos’ voice in the center.
The self-released album is available to download on Bandcamp for $8.
Song of the Day Number 187
High Pop - “Concrete Surfer”
Lewis and his Blog and the dudes in Connecticut’s High Pop wish my American followers a happy music-filled Fourth of July today! Blast some High Pop tonight and make the song’s subject date a skate-filled occasion too.
Concrete Surfer Concrete Surfer yea!
A video post about the records I bought in New York this weekend is coming tomorrow. Now I’m off to watch some fireworks.
Song of the Day Number 186
Owls - “Everyone Is My Friend”
I saw this on my dash just now and couldn’t help but reblog it. Say what you will about Tim Kinsella’s work outside of Cap’n Jazz, but I will always love the Owls LP. Hearing Joan of Arc perform a number of songs from this record back in February was a pleasant surprise. This song is a particular highlight for me, as it convey a mood of joy and exuberance that few math rock/emo bands can tap into. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a summer day out in the city, which is appropriate for me as I’ll be going into New York in a couple hours. I think I’ll be headed over to Other Music and possibly Bleecker Street Records (two of my favorite record stores ever), so I’ll make a vinyl video post when I get back. Have a fun weekend and a happy fourth of July to my American followers!
Here’s a video of Joan of Arc’s surprise performance of “Everyone Is My Friend” live at BAR in New Haven, Connecticut on February 2nd. The post includes links to videos of their entire set if you’re interested in watching that. The photo above was taken by me at that show, so even though it’s technically not a picture of Owls, it basically is. Joan of Arc’s touring lineup then included three former members of Cap’n Jazz/Owls.
Song of the Day Number 185
Football, etc. - “Incomplete”
Football, etc. are an indie rock band from Houston, Texas, with strong ties to the emo revival movement that’s been going strong for nearly three years now. Even more so than many of the other bands in the scene, Football, etc.’s music bears a strong resemblance to that of 90s indie emo bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate and Mineral, with dashes of American Football coming through in their affinity for intricate vocal melodies and guitar leads. Based on sound alone, this band could easily have been a part of that indie emo scene fifteen years ago. Although that could either be taken as a compliment or a criticism, fans of 90s emo will undoubtedly find something to like in Football, etc.
The band released a new record in March called The Draft that is essentially a continuation of the sound that they established on their excellent EP First Down (they really seem to like football-related album/song titles…), their 7”, and their split with Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate). Although the record lacks the consistency of the EP, it’s quite good nonetheless, and features a number of solid standout tracks. Among those is “Incomplete”, the album’s second track, which showcases some dexterous drumming and some appropriately twinkly guitar harmonization. Singer Lindsay Minton is on point with her relatively deep voice, channelling the likes of The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan with a knack for unique melody.
Stream “Incomplete” above, and come out to New Haven, Connecticut tonight to see them play with Sleeping Spiders, Dagwood, End of A Year, and The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. More information about that show can be found HERE.
Song of the Day Number 184
Low - “Everybody’s Song”
If a Low fan from 1995 were transported ten years in the future to hear what his or her favorite band was doing, I doubt that he would recognize what he was hearing. In 2005, the Duluth slowcore pioneers, who were previously known for their slow tempos, spacious, empty recordings, and achingly gorgeous vocal harmonies, released The Great Destroyer, an art rock record that bears more resemblance to the work of Nine Inch Nails and other grungey 90s rock acts than their earlier work. The change is so jarring that it undoubtedly put a lot of listeners off when it was originally released, but in the hindsight of six years, The Great Destroyer’s undeniable quality has shown through. While there are some somber moments on the record, such as “Silver Rider”, which could have been on Things We Lost In the Fire, a distorted guitar rock sound dominates the majority of it.
In fact, there is no song on The Great Destroyer more destructive and heavy than “Everybody’s Song”, today’s song of the day. Singer/guitarist Alan Sparhawk seems to borrow his guitar tone on this song from Neil Young, and layers multiple tracks on top of one another to create a loud and disorienting wall of guitar noise. The song is so volatile that the only thing that seems to really keep it together is the percussion, which itself is distorted and hollow sounding, with a snare that sounds like someone banging on a metal trash can lid. The one thing about “Everybody’s Song” that recalls the earlier work of Low at all is the vocals, which harmonize beautifully somewhere underneath the squalls of noise.
Interestingly, the band would go on to follow up The Great Destroyer with an even weirder record, 2007’s political stomper Drums and Guns, which was comprised mostly of looped percussion and minimalist keyboard sounds. This band is clearly not afraid to try new things, but they know better than to scare their fans away… earlier this year, they released their new record C’mon, which features a much more traditional Low sound.
Song of the Day Number 183
Diarrhea Planet - “Ghost With A Boner”
I want this on my blog forever and ever
I GUARANTEE YOU WILL LIKE THIS JAM IF NOT I WILL GO TO WHEREVER YOU LIVE AND YOU CAN PERSONALLY PUNCH ME IN MY STUPID FACE.
It’s hard to argue with that. Listen to the album’s gloriously-titled, exuberant standout track “Ghost With A Boner” above.
Weekly Needle Drops:
Song of the Day Number 182
Woods - “Find Them Empty”
Originally posted on The Needle Drop HERE
Brooklyn’s Woods has a new track out, “Find Them Empty.” This track finds the folk rock band moving towards a style that I’ve always wished they would explore more directly: The stormy psychedelic rock sounds of the 1960s. With brazen electric guitars signaling a deviation from their freak folk past, the band wastes no time in delivering this slice of lo-fi 60s-style garage rock. In addition to those heavily reverbed guitars, singer Jeremy Earl’s multi-tracked vocals really sell the retro sound. Although it lacks the odd keyboard sounds and experimental tape manipulation that defined earlier Woods releases, the jangly “Find Them Empty” is too good to pass up.
This track will be released as a 7″ single on Sacred Bones on July 19th. Head over to their site to pre-order it. The release include another new song, “Be There”, as the b-side.