Friday, October 29, 2010

Song of the Day: Small Faces - Long Agos and Worlds Apart

Ogden's Nut Gone Flake is often in the fringes of "best albums of all time" lists, despite the fact that it wasn't very popular in the US.  But its influence can be heard in many excellent UK bands, from Blur to Supergrass to Field Music.  It's very much a part of the psychedelic scene that brought us Sgt. Pepper, and in this track, you can hear instruments panning from one side to the other, handclaps, and some phenomenal drumming. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Song of the Day: Rogue Wave - Falcon Settles Me

Rogue Wave's Out of the Shadow and Animal Collective's Sung Tongs are the two records that come to mind when I think of my first few months in LA.  I was listening to these records religiously, and they are both still my favorite records in either band's catalog.

While Animal Collective took some time getting into, I loved Rogue Wave instantly.  There's very much "a guy and his four-track" feel to the album (though admittedly with much better production, and probably more tracks), and sure enough, Zach Rogue played all or most of the instruments himself.  This intimacy is missing from their later albums, which were recorded with a full band.  While there are still enjoyable moments in each, none of them is as consistent as the debut.  My favorite song changes every time I hear the album, from the solemnity of "Perfect" to the bounciness of "Kicking the Heart Out."  But today I feel like sharing "Falcon Settles Me," which features some great harmonizing from this one-man band.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Song of the Day: South - Keep Close

South's debut album, From Here on In, got a decent amount of buzz for being released on James Lavelle's (UNKLE) label, and despite good reviews for their subsequent albums, I don't know that I ever read anything about them anymore.  Admittedly, though I really love this album, I only recently purchased 2008's You Are Here.

The debut has a great sound to it - very atmospheric, likely due to Lavelle's production.  This track could be a Happy Mondays outtake, except that the singing is more clearly enunciated (not difficult to do).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Song of the Day: Highlife - F Kenya Rip

Man I have no idea why I added this song to my Grooveshark playlist, but the more I listen to it, the more I love it; in fact, I just ordered Highlife's Best Bless LP (EP?) yesterday, though this is the only song I've heard.  It reminds me a lot of Foreign Born and Fool's Gold, with the Afropop feel to it.  Really looking forward to hearing the entire record.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Song of the Day: Sufjan Stevens - They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!

My eighth concert in the last month was this past Saturday's Sufjan Stevens show at the Wiltern.  He's currently touring for his new The Age of Adz LP, and while I'd love to share a song from that album, I actually haven't heard it (long story short - I preordered it on vinyl and it's yet to arrive). 

Instead, I'll share my favorite song from his Illinois LP, which I actually played on Indie 103.1 when I was a guest DJ (my Indie 103.1 playlist can be listened to here).  I love the bassline in this song, and like most of his songs, the arrangements are spectacular - strings, keyboards, and of course the voices all sound wonderful.  After a couple of listens, I guarantee you'll be spelling Illinois the rest of the day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Song of the Day: Final Fantasy - This Lamb Sells Condos

I'm going to see Owen Pallett at the Echoplex tonight, so I figured it was time to share one of his best songs. He may be better known as Final Fantasy, before he had to change the name, or he may be even more well-known as an arranger for Arcade Fire and other bands.

I'm really looking forward to the show, as I understand that he plays and loops himself, as Liam Finn and Jon Brion do. He's also a terrific violin player, though this song ignores the violin in favor of showcasing his piano skills. I really like the female voices in the second half of the song, and it's just a very strange, mesmerizing track. It's also the only song I can think of that uses the phrase "massive genitals."  In fact, this is the real reason why I'm posting it here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Song of the Day: Belle and Sebastian - I Want the World to Stop

Well I repeated a band on Tuesday, so let's go ahead and do it again.  I've been listening to the new Belle and Sebastian a lot, and while it's not quite as eclectic as their last LP, The Life Pursuit (one of my favorite records of the 2000s), it's definitely on par with their earlier output.

In fact, I hadn't heard Write About Love when I saw B&S in concert a few weeks ago, and I had trouble discerning the new songs from the old ones.  Apparently I was about the only one with that problem, as they have a very faithful and excitable fan base (I should note I'm a pretty huge fan but don't know all their records inside and out.  Also, this was my second time seeing them, and both times they put on one hell of a show).

When I did finally hear the album, I instantly recognized this song as one of the best from the show.  The bassline is amazing, and it's probably the catchiest song on the LP.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Song of the Day: The Corin Tucker Band - 1,000 Years

I'm a huge Sleater-Kinney fan, though I'm a little embarrassed that I haven't yet posted a song of theirs on the blog.  I'm sure I will make amends shortly, but in the meantime, I wanted to post a track from Sleater-Kinney's lead singer, Corin Tucker.

I haven't yet heard the entire album, but the title track off of her band's recently released 1,000 Years LP is a great start.  It's a lot less frantic than most of Sleater-Kinney's output, but I love how the song slowly grows in intensity, and her voice still sounds terrific after a few years out of the spotlight.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Song of the Day: Deerhunter - Desire Lines

After roughly 240 songs, this is the first time I'm repeating a band (not counting a couple of "double features").  It was inevitable, and while I certainly haven't run out of bands to blog about, I can't ignore the fact that the new Deerhunter record, Halcyon Digest, is fantastic.

Upon first listen, I was a little disappointed to hear a lack of songs as catchy as "Never Stops" from Microcastle.  But after repeated listens, I'm enjoying this one almost as much.  Picking a favorite song is always tricky, but the "whoa-oh"s of this track have been stuck in my brain for days. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Song of the Day: Kid Cudi - Pursuit of Happiness

When I went to see Lissie a couple weeks ago, she ended her show with a song that I hadn't heard before. I noticed that for the first time all night, the Troubadour security guys were getting into the show, so I figured she must have been playing a cover (not to mention, it didn't really sound like her other songs).

The next day, I saw a tweet that mentioned it was Kid Cudi, so I tracked down this song on Grooveshark.  I listened to it a few times last week and ended up having it stuck in my head all weekend, so now I thought I'd share it on this blog.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Song of the Day: Fu Manchu - Boogie Van

After two concerts in two nights, I need something loud to keep me awake (I'm extremely old).  I don't listen to Fu Manchu often, and I'm not really sure why.  If you want big riffs that practically beg you to play air guitar, look no further than these guys.

Their King of the Road LP is my favorite, and as the name implies, it's a great album for a long car ride, with song titles such as "Hell on Wheels" and my favorite song, "Boogie Van."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Song of the Day: Killing Joke - Eighties

I had never heard of this song until I read this AV Club article that mentioned that a certain popular '90s band had pretty much ripped it off.  And you know what?  It's probably true - the riff sounds very, very similar.

I like this song, and it led me to check out more Killing Joke - specifically, their eponymous debut and a best of compilation. However, I have to say I didn't care for much of what I heard, but I'd be open to a recommendation.

Plus, if anyone can name the song that this inspired in the comments (without clicking the link above or peeking at the tags for this post), I'll be very impressed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Song of the Day: Gomez - We Haven't Turned Around

Gomez's Liquid Skin is one of my favorite albums of the 1990s.  The most immediately striking aspect of the band is the voice of the lead singer, Ben Ottewell.  His gravelly voice is particularly perplexing when you see him in person, as he looked like a tall, skinny nerd (at least he did in those days).  But the reason this album succeeds for me is the different voices in the band (three guys sing lead), and the almost rootsy approach the band takes in the studio.  There are a lot of acoustic guitars, and some of the songs almost feel like campfire renditions.

However, the production is way too professional to be mistaken for lo-fi.  My favorite song on the album, "We Haven't Turned Around," introduces strings and features some of Ottewell's best singing.  As a bonus, this song is playing in the background in a scene from the movie American Beauty.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Song of the Day: Donny Hathaway - Jealous Guy

A lot of John Lennon talk lately, given that it would have been his 70th birthday last week.  Rather than share one of his songs, I thought it might be fun to post one of my favorite covers of his songs.  I had never heard of Donny Hathaway before this post on Aquarium Drunkard, so many thanks to them for introducing me. His live album is really fantastic and would certainly appeal to fans of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.  Unfortunately, like Lennon, he passed away too young.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Song of the Day: Suede - We Are the Pigs

As I've written quite a few times, I'm quite a Britpop fan.  However, Suede, one of the bands often mentioned as the epitome of Britpop has, until recently, never made much of an impression on me.  I had made the same judgment about them that's often levied against one of my favorites, Morrissey and the Smiths - that they are too whiny.

You can hear it in this song, "We Are the Pigs," but I've come to enjoy Brett Anderson's voice, and the guitars in this song are amazing.  I'm still digging through the Suede catalog, but if other songs are this good, I have been grossly misinformed (by myself, mind you) about this band.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Song of the Day: Dirty Projectors - Gimme Gimme Gimme

After receiving my "Live at Other Music" Dirty Projectors LP in the mail yesterday, I felt that it was finally time to post a DP song.  They are without a doubt one of my favorite bands right now, and I've been lucky enough to see them in concert at four very different venues in the past two years.

My first exposure to the band was the Rise Above LP.  I knew it was an album of "covers" of Black Flag's Damaged, but that didn't really mean much to me - at the time, I had only a cursory experience with Black Flag's music, and I had never heard Damaged.  As it turns out, these really aren't covers, as much as they are re-imaginings, on par with the transformation Hendrix made of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower."

Rise Above took a few listens to absorb - for starters, Dave Longstreth's voice may be an acquired taste (I now love it, but upon first listen...).  Not an acquired taste, however, is the backing vocals, which are unbelievably beautiful throughout the album.  Even if you don't appreciate Longstreth's voice, you have to admire his arranging skills with not only the voices, but also the instruments.  Not only that, but his guitar playing is amazingly...distinct, for lack of a better word - I can hear a DP guitar part and immediately know who it is.

"Gimme Gimme Gimme" is the song that always comes to mind when I think of Rise Above, and after seeing the Dirty Projectors in concert, I'm even more in awe of this song.  The way that the two ladies, Amber and Angel, bounce the "oh ah"s back and forth is something that must be witnessed in person.  And now that they've enlisted an extra female voice, the vocal theatrics really take on a new level.

If you don't have the opportunity to see them live, give Rise Above or Bitte Orca a try - at least once with headphones for full effect.

I think you'll agree these two versions couldn't be more different. Here's Black Flag:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Song of the Day: 764-HERO - Oceanbound

The quality of 764-HERO's Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere LP is in spite of the unfortunate album title (a play on a Neil Young album).  It doesn't sound much like Neil Young, instead invoking a little bit of emo and a lot of indie rock.  The opening track has a great chorus and some of the raggedness of Crazy Horse; unfortunately, this 2002 album is the last these guys have released.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Song of the Day: Yes - Roundabout

Yup, prog!  OK, so I've noted that prog isn't really my thing - but a lot of the prog bands have some good songs amongst the wankery, and it's crazy to dismiss a whole genre just because most of it sucks (I believe that's called stereotyping, which is wrong).

Yes actually has quite a few good singles, and while it's hard to call an almost nine-minute song a single, "Roundabout" does get a lot of classic rock radio airplay (or at least it used to - it's been a while since I listened to the radio).  Granted, this song would be better if it were half as long, but the bass intro is really amazing, and the last minute could almost pass for Crosby, Stills and Nash. 

And like many prog albums, the cover art is pretty sweet:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Playlist: September 2010 songs

Have a favorite song from this playlist? Please let me know in the comments

Song of the Day: Brendan Benson - Tiny Spark

This is another song I was hearing a lot on Indie 103.1 when I first moved to LA.  There is something about it that sounded instantly familiar, even though I knew I hadn't heard it before.  It's such a catchy song, and much more of a Pop tune than Benson's work with The Raconteurs.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Song of the Day: Jenny and Johnny - Switchblade

I've already mentioned that Jenny Lewis is awesome, and I had high hopes for this record with her boyfriend and contributor, Jonathan Rice.  So much hope, in fact, that I bought tickets when they went on sale to see them at the Troubadour on Tuesday, even though I just saw them last night, opening for Belle & Sebastian.

After a couple listens, the album is definitely good, but this track is fantastic. I was riveted when they played it live, and I'm looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Song of the Day: Pavement - Trigger Cut

Last night I saw Pavement's reunion at the Hollywood Bowl (with Sonic Youth and No Age, no less), so today it's time for even more Pavement.  I was lucky enough to see Pavement a couple of times during their heyday, including a show at the Cat's Cradle and at Lollapallooza '95, where they were on the bill with Sonic Youth.  I bought all their CDs, then all the vinyl, and then all of the "redux" yeah, they're a big band for me.  But I honestly don't remember my first exposure to the band, but I think it was buying Crooked Rain after reading a positive review in Rolling Stone.  That quickly led to a Slanted & Enchanted purchase, and they became one of my favorite bands.

(Though admittedly, I was a little turned off by the Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots - two bands I enjoyed, and still do - disses in "Range Life."  At last night's show, they played that song, but Malkmus just sang, "dah dah dah Smashing Pumpkins dah dah" rather than the actual lyrics.  I'd love to know why)

It's damn near impossible to pick a favorite song, but today it's "Trigger Cut" off of Slanted, a song that showcases everything they do well - interesting guitar tunings, seemingly nonsensical lyrics, and catchy "choruses."