Sunday, February 28, 2010

Song of the Day: The Ponys - Another Wound

I'm not sure how I came across the Ponys' Celebration Castle, but this 2005 album is one of my favorites of the 2000s.  It reminds me of the '90s indie rock that I love - Pavement, Sebadoh, Archers of Loaf - and is a really consistent album.

This song, however, is my favorite, and while I wouldn't say that I've worn out the 45, it's definitely gotten quite a few spins.  I love the opening guitar part and the manic quality of the singer's voice in particular.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Song of the Day: The Coral - Dreaming of You

The Coral are another band I discovered through my NME subscription.  While they have some amazing singles, I wasn't able to really get into any of the albums outside of their debut.  This is a great one though - it has a '60s Motown feel to it, and the lead singer really has a great voice.  Reminds me a bit of Eric Burdon of the Animals.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Slash at 14 writes love letter to girlfriend, Michelle

According to this, she later dated Axel and became the subject of "My Michelle"

Song of the Day: The Human League - Don't You Want Me

Like any child of the '80s, I loved this song as a kid.  Then in high school I discovered "indie" (college rock?) music and disassociated myself with many of the one-hit-wonders, and in fact much of '80s music, of my adolescence.  Big mistake.

Neglecting an entire era or genre of music seems ridiculous to me now (unless you're getting into really specific genres, like post-chillwave hardcore indie or something that includes all of three bands), but there was a time when the '80s, to me, meant cheesy keyboards, big hair and bad music.  I'm still making amends and rediscovering a lot of stuff I liked as a kid but then disowned - Def Leppard, The Go-Go's, NKOTB (well...maybe not yet on that last one).

Which brings us to The Human League.  Cheesy keyboards?  Check.  Big hair?  Check.  Yet I was watching one of those VH1 countdown shows (probably 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders), and this song came on, and they were explaining the guy was singing from his point of view, but then the woman comes on and corrects him, and for some reason I decided this song is pure genius.  Sure, the woman is a pretty bad singer, but I actually really like the keyboards, and of course the chorus will get stuck in your head for days - not always a good thing, but for this song it works.  Prepare to hum this the rest of the day:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I can't even describe this

He indeed made my day and week

Song of the Day: The Stone Roses - I Wanna Be Adored

I would consider myself an Anglophile, and for a while in the late 90s/early 00s I was listening to almost anything that came out of the UK.  A subscription to NME eventually led me to the "Madchester" scene of the late '80s/early '90s, which thankfully brought The Stone Roses debut album into my life.

I probably don't appreciate this eponymous album as much as I should, but the opening track is one of my all-time favorites, and I was more than happy to fork over $15 to get the 12" single at the Pasadena flea market recently.

What's so great about this song?  The bassline is fantastic, and while there are only about 10 or so words in the entire song, I just love the sentiment.  If ever a song captured the rock and roll ideal - "you adore me" - it's this one.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Song of the Day: Janelle Monae - Tightrope

I heard about Janelle Monae from You Ain't No Picasso and was interested because she was appearing on stage with Of Montreal.  Then I saw Of Montreal open for Grace Jones at the Hollywood Bowl, and sure enough she showed up to sing on a song or two.

I wasn't sold after listening to her debut EP, but this new song off of her forthcoming album has me hooked.  She's got a great voice, and the production on this is top-notch - it's an excellent song for headphones. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Song of the Day: Joanna Newsom - Emily

In honor of her new triple (!) album coming out today, Joanna Newsom's "Emily" (off of her last album) is my song of the day. I think I first came to know about Joanna Newsom through Devendra Banhart's first album and the whole "freak folk" movement, which I find to be a ridiculous description of JN's music. Like Astral Weeks, her Ys album defies categorization - folk may be the most germane, but this isn't exactly Woody Guthrie or the Kingston Trio.

Some people might turn this off within about 10 seconds. Does she sound a bit like little orphan Annie at times? Yes. Does this song reference meteorites, midwifes and Pharisees? Yes. Is this really 12 minutes long? Yes. And finally, is that a harp? Yes. Really, a harp? Yes.

I'll admit I didn't "get" this at first, but frankly I now find this song to be amazing. The harp and the arrangements (the recorded version features banjo and jew's harp) sound fantastic, the lyrics paint vivid imagery ("And, Emily - I saw you last night by the river/I dreamed you were skipping little stones across the surface of the water/Frowning at the angle where they were lost, and slipped under forever/In a mud-cloud, mica-spangled, like the sky'd been breathing on a mirror"), and her voice, while an acquired taste, is amazingly flexible (I love the way she yelps through the last few minutes of the song). Oh, and she can play the shit out of that harp.

Unfortunately, none of her songs are available on, so I'm posting a live video of it that is fantastic.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Song of the Day: Sloan - C'mon C'mon (We're Gonna Get It Started)

Sloan is one of those bands that certainly should be more popular than they are.  Once I discovered Big Star, I tried to acquire as much "power-pop" as I could - Sloan, The Bigger Lovers, The Posies - and Sloan is far and above the most prolific and most consistent of any of the bands I found.  They also put on one of the most fun concerts I've ever seen - getting the crowd involved and just having a good time.

This is almost the antithesis of the last "song of the day," "Astral Weeks" by Van Morrison.  Like most Sloan songs, it's just pure Pop and catchy as hell.  It's one of my go-to songs to start a mix tape/CD (yet for some reason, they didn't start their album with it), and it seems like an appropriate song to kick off the week.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Song of the Day: Van Morrison - Astral Weeks

It is impossible to understate how amazing the album Astral Weeks is.  I have it in my "Top 10 of All-Time" list, and I'm pretty sure I came to own it because it's in everybody's top 10 list.  So while I'm hardly original, I find it interesting that a record so impossible to categorize - it's not Rock, it's not Jazz, it's certainly not Pop - is so widely adored.

While "The Way That Young Lovers Do" is probably the closest thing to a Pop song, the opening title track remains my favorite.  Just check out the first lyrics:

If I ventured in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dreams
Where the mobile steel rims crack
And the ditch and the backroads stop
Could you find me
Would you kiss my eyes
And lay me down
In silence easy
To be born again

Lester Bangs wrote the definitive review of this album, and I wish I could link to it, but I can't find it anywhere.  He calls it the "quality of a beacon" and a "mystical document," and if you've never been moved by an album review, you've never read Lester Bangs.  And at the risk of being melodramatic, if you've never heard Astral Weeks, you've never heard what music is capable of.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Song of the Day: Fishbone - Sunless Saturday

I don't know exactly how I came across Fishbone, but I've owned Reality of My Surroundings on cassette, CD and vinyl.  I still remember getting the cassette at Coconut Records, a chain which went out of business a long time ago, and I'm pretty sure my dad had to buy it for me, thanks to the Parental Advisory sticker on it (I was probably 15, and I think you had to either be 16 or 18 to buy albums with the sticker).  Despite a few clunkers, I still really like the album, though Truth and Soul is probably the stronger of the two.

Saturday Night Live was my first exposure to what Fishbone was like live, and it was quite an experience.  There weren't a lot of black rock bands at that time (and sadly, there seem to be even fewer now), and there certainly aren't many bands led by black guys with mohawks.  In fact, you can check out the song "Everyday Sunshine"

Fishbone - Everyday Sunshine Live at Saturday Night Live

daniele | MySpace Video

But the other song they performed, "Sunless Saturday," is my favorite (unfortunately, I can't find a video of it.) Why do I like it? The acoustic guitar intro, the "whoa"s, the apocalyptic lyrics and the trumpet solo at the end are first-rate. Fishbone were a great party band, but they also wrote some great serious songs (and many in-between). Without further ado:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Song of the Day: Pixies - Head On

When I was a youngster, I used to go to Long Island twice a year to visit family.  My grandparents had cable, which we did not have at home, so I took full advantage.  I remember the Christmas of 1991, when I was 15, watching MTV and seeing a video that would change my life - Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."  The album had only been out a few months but was starting to gain steam, and this video was repeating like crazy.  But this post is about another video I saw that impacted me - the Pixies' "Head On."

Two things I didn't know at the time - the Pixies were a huge influence on Nirvana (of course, Nirvana was new to me at the time too) and this is a cover of a Jesus and Mary Chain song (no idea who they were either, even though Frank Black/Black Francis says it at the beginning).  All I knew at the time is that this song was catchy as hell and the video that made them look like midgets was entertaining.  When I got home after Christmas, I immediately got the Nirvana CD (sidenote - it doesn't include the bonus track Endless Nameless, which means it was one of the first pressings...maybe 20,000 or so depending on who you ask) and the Pixies album, which of course would be there last.  But it led me to find their earlier, superior albums, although I have to say that Trompe Le Monde still sounds pretty great to me (but Doolittle and Surfer Rosa...I mean c'mon those are tough to beat).  While not the best song by any stretch, I still love it.  Bonus: the video also is included below.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Song of the Day: Grant Lee Buffalo - Mighty Joe Moon

I've been a voracious music collector since I was a sophomore in high school and got my first CD player (a 5-disc changer, nonetheless). In college, one of my roommates was a like-minded individual, and we both loved Neil Young.  I remember reading the review of Grant Lee Buffalo's Mighty Joe Moon album in Rolling Stone and it containing some NY references (in fact, I just looked it up, and it references a number of classics, including John Wesley Harding, The Band and Ziggy Stardust), and my roommate actually went out and bought it (this is the pre-Napster era, folks).

Needless to say, we both really liked this album.  The comparisons mentioned in the RS review are quite apt - like those records, it really has an acoustic, campfire songs vibe.  I could easily choose any song off the album, but the title track remains my favorite.

Why do I like it?  I absolutely love the "oh no" at the end of each verse - his voice sounds so full of longing.  Also, how his voice picks up for the second verse is genius.  The imagery in the lyrics is incredibly moving - sleeping in a log house, lying on a couch...

I got the chance to see him perform a few songs last weekend at Largo, and Grant Lee Phillips still has the voice.  And he's one helluva funny guy too, matching wits with Paul F. Tompkins.  But I digress.  Listen now:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Song of the Day: Local Natives - Sun Hands

One of my friends came into work a few months ago telling me they saw this awesome band the night before called Local Natives. I checked out their MySpace page and the song that immediately struck me was "Sun Hands."

The reviews have been really positive for the album, which just came out in the US yesterday despite being available in the UK last year. A lot of people are comparing them to Fleet Foxes and Dodos, which are apt comparisons, although nothing can touch Fleet Foxes right now for me.

In December, I decided I liked this band so much that I'd buy two 45s from the Rough Trade UK store, since I couldn't find them in the local Amoeba. They finally showed up a couple weeks ago, and one of the songs was Sun Hands.

Why do I like it? the intro could definitely be something from Dodos' Visiter album, but that's not a bad thing. The harmonizing is really strong, and I particularly like the background singing (sounds like the lead singer still) during the "Sun Hands" lyric. And of course the song totally rocks out for the bridge.

Check it out:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Song of the Day: Cass McCombs - Prima Donna

I figured Cass McCombs was a woman.  Maybe I was thinking of Mama Cass, but for some reason, when I first heard his Catacombs album, I was surprised to find that Cass was a dude.

This was an album that I had seen mentioned in a few blogs, but I didn't get the chance to listen to it until I started using Lala regularly.  I tend to keep my queue on Lala pretty full - it was up to about 600 songs but now sits at 238 - and I have it play on shuffle.  Every couple of days I'd hear a song that I really liked, and when I went to see who/what it was, it was something off of Catacombs.

Now that I own the album, I find myself continually playing the first side, mainly to hear Prima Donna (and in spite of the fact that the album is solid from front to back).  What do I like about it?  The repetition, which may bother some, completely sells the song for me.  I love how he sings along, sometimes drawing out the words to fit the melody, sometimes throwing out extra syllables.

I'm now totally an addict, having bought two other McCombs' records (though I'm still absorbing those) and really hoping he comes to LA sometime in the near future.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Song of the Day: Sonic Youth - Teenage Riot

My first experience with Sonic Youth was their Dirty album in 1992.  They were one of the many "alternative" bands that I discovered through Nirvana, and perhaps being on DGC had something to do with me buying Dirty.  I loved it, and to this day it might be my favorite SY album, despite being known for its "poppy" material (hey, it's all relative). 

It took me a lot longer to get into Daydream Nation.  I was in high school, my parents had company and gave me $20 and told me to get out of the house.  I had read that Daydream Nation was the penultimate SY record, so when I saw it at the local record chain (for a mere $18 on CD!!), I had to get it.

It took a few years before I could get past the first two songs, but now I recognize why this album is universally lauded.  Teenage Riot is probably one of the best opening tracks on any album.  Why do I like it?  The slow, shimmering guitar and Kim Gordon's voice that opens the track.  The guitar riff that really gets the song going.  And of course, the great lyric "it takes a teenage riot to get me out of bed right now."  To my sixteen year old self - and even now - this lyric still gets me excited.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Song of the Day: Yeasayer - 2080

The arrival of a new album by a band I like, no matter how good it is, always make me want to listen to the band's previous album.  In this case, I recently got Yeasayer's Odd Blood (or ODD BLOOD as I see it on some sites), which put "2080" squarely in the front of my brain.  I like the first album quite a bit, though I can probably only name about half the songs by title.

"2080," however, has been one of my favorite songs for a while.  When Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles was still being broadcast over the airwaves (sadly, it is only streaming via the web now), they let a listener take over the broadcast on the "Coup d'Etat" every Tuesday night.  To enter, you had to email a playlist of 12 songs to the station.  I started creating a list, spent weeks agonizing over it, and finally sent it in.  Within about 10 days, I received an email that I would get an opportunity to be on the show (I believe this was mid-October, 2008 - I can't find the date anywhere, and unfortunately the link to my playlist on the website has been taken down.  However, you can listen to the whole playlist through Lala - link in the right column.)

There were a couple songs that I knew right away would be included in my playlist, and "2080" was one of them.  I'm not sure where I first heard the song, but I would venture to guess that I was able to download a copy from Pitchfork.

What do I love about this song?
Very psychedelic beginning, then the drums and then the bass kicking in.  excellent guitar line throughout as well
The way the lead singer lets his voice get lower and lower during the line that ends "Sunday morning"
The chanting during the bridge is fantastic, and of course gets even better at the end, with the kids chanting too  

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Interesting read about the Pavement reunion on Relix.  I would completely agree that they're more popular now than they were when they were together.

I remember seeing them at Lollapalooza in '95, where they weren't even close to headlining, though they were on the main stage.  I think Sonic Youth or Hole (?!?!) headlined that year.  Beck played during the day too, as that was pre-Odelay.  Good times

Also saw Pavement at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC.  No idea what year it was, though I'm pretty sure it was for Wowee or Terror.  Hopefully I have that ticket somewhere.