27.12.11

Occupy Pop Songs


So, 2011 has just about ended and I inevitably made up a mix of some stuff I liked this year. I tried to keep it short, but it just ended up ballooning into what it is now, 50 tracks that clock in at 3+ hours. I actually started working on this in September; tweaking, tweaking, tweaking.

25.12.11

Baby, please come home

Darlene Love's Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home), from A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, which is arguably the best Christmas album ever. If you don't have it, seriously, order a copy now and thank me later.

Merry Christmas, peeps!

Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)

19.12.11

Free Christmas

The legendary Johnny Marr posted a free Christmas song, an instrumental with the imaginative title of Free Christmas. Way to really put your heart into it, Johnny. Just kidding, it's actually kinda cool. You can listen to it below or download it from his site, here.

Johnny Marr & The Healers - Free Christmas

17.12.11

Baby, I'm done

Aimee Mann's I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas appears to tell a story from a drug (heroin?) addict's point of view. She wants to kick her habit and then end her life. Bittersweet, in true Aimee Mann fashion. Funnily enough, this is not on her Christmas album, One More Drifter in the Snow; it can be found on 2005's The Forgotten Arm.

Aimee Mann - I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas

15.12.11

Come on, girl, let's go

I'm posting another Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler song just because I really like this album. Just because it's so freaking cold outside. I mean, I know it's not that cold compared to, say, the east coast, but it's been pretty damn cold for San Francisco. Nights have been in the high 30s and low 40s. Days haven't been too bad when it gets up to 55ish. I just don't like it, and I'm totally feeling the sentiment in this song right now.

Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler - Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing)

13.12.11

You're pissing me off

Mayer Hawthorne's The Walk has hooks for days and days and days. Fantastic song and an amusing video, to boot. I finally got around to listening to his new album, How Do You Do, and it's really, really good.

8.12.11

Yuletide advice from Johnny Cash

Gasoline and Christmas trees don't mix. Truer words were never spoken. I think this is a radio spot, but I'm not sure. It's on a compilation called Xmas is Cancelled; it's labeled only as "Interlude."

6.12.11

Xmas Twist

I don't really know much about the Twistin' Kings, but everybody is doin' the Xmas twist and it's pretty awesome!

Twistin' Kings - Xmas Twist

I will love you on your birthday

From ROBOT HERO

Taking a quick break from the Xmas songs. I sometimes try to do a self-portrait on my birthday, but I forgot. Instead, here's a pic I took tonight while I was standing on the corner of Sacramento and Front streets, waiting for a friend. I was only trying out the camera on my new phone. Truly, the height of birthday excitement.

The Bird and the Bee - Birthday

4.12.11

Someone stole my record player

Okay, on to better songs. I thought I posted this one before, but I can't seem to find it. In any case, here is the always wonderful Neko Case covering the Tom Waits' 1978 classic, Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis. You can find this on the Tom Waits tribute album called New Coat of Paint. Ms. Case takes on an already great song and makes it her own. It's definitely worth seeking out.

Neko Case - Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis

This could be the worst Xmas song ever

I never thought I'd post something by Toby Keith, or even Sammy Hagar. I'm just not a fan of either. This is just so cringe-inducing, I can't even like it ironically. I bet this will be a big hit in the midwest and the south, you know, where they thank God that Santa Claus is white and that Toby Keith is an American.

PS - Make sure your pop-ups are enabled for this page, I had to grab an embed code from Mspxxx. I oddly couldn't find any mp3s or videos for this track.

Toby Keith & Sammy Hagar - Santa's Goin' South

Santa's Going South

Christmas Wish

It's been a long, busy week, but we're still here. This time, bring you Christmas wishes from the super cool, Takako Minekawa. Sadly, it doesn't look like she'll be gracing us with new music anymore. At least we still have the gifts she has given us, including her Xmas EP, (A Little Touch of) Baroque in the Winter, upon which you can find this track.

Takako Minekawa - Christmas Wish

27.11.11

If we make it though December

Merle Haggard's 1974 track, If We Make It Through December (from the album with the same name), tells an all too familiar tale of a man who's been laid off from his job just before Christmas. He's obviously have a rough go of it, he wants to do Christmas right by his daughter but now he's just hoping she'll understand if it doesn't happen the way it should. Timeless, this song could easily have been written today. The backup vocals, the violin (fiddle?) and the piano flourishes really make the song for me. No doubt that Haggard could have played it as a "fuck you" to The Man, with the narrator going on a drunken and destructive binge; he takes the high road instead, it's poignant, elegant and understated, with a dash of optimism.

Merle Haggard - If We Make It Through December

26.11.11

Repost: No One Makes Me Feel The Way You Do

A repost from a couple years ago. Seeing as how Kate Bush just released an album of new material for the first time in 6 years (and before that album, there was a 12 year gap; so 2 albums in 18 years), I thought I'd bring this one back.

Say hello to the magical, Kate Bush. I love the sweet and lilting feel of this track, it's a perfect little gem. Songs like this are the reason that b-sides were invented.

Home For Christmas is a b-side from the Rubberband Girl single, which was taken from her 1993 album, The Red Shoes.

Kate Bush > Home For Christmas

22.11.11

My heart froze many years ago

Today, I stumbled upon This is Christmas, by Emmy The Great and Tim Wheeler. These are mostly original tunes and it's a really catchy pop album. If you know me, then you know I like my Christmas tinted blue and served up with a side of heartbreak. This tune couldn't be more catchy, perfect or fitting.

Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler - (Don't Call Me) Mrs. Christmas

20.11.11

All alone at Christmas time

I once saw Aimee Mann and Michael Penn perform this, but I can't remember if it was on one of their Acoustic Vaudeville tours or one of Aimee Mann's Christmas shows that she did for a few years straight. It had to be an AV show. It was originally recorded for Paul Thomas Anderson's Hard Eight, which I believe was scored by Michael Penn and Jon Brion. Anderson later wrote the screenplay for the film, Magnolia, based, in part, upon hearing Aimee Mann's Deathly, which would also be featured on the soundtrack. In any case, it's a cool song; kinda bittersweet, by a couple of my favorite musicians.

Aimee Mann & Michael Penn - Christmastime

18.11.11

Repost: Come On, Santa

This is a repost from a couple years ago. Way back when, I was young and I used to want to write; I used to think I could do it, but I'm actually terrible and full of cliches. If I'd actually kept at it, I'd more than likely be labeled a hack. Maybe I'd have gotten good, who knows, I just didn't have the patience to wade through all of the crap that pours out of my brain. Blog and Twitter posts, however, are a different sort of animal and I feel more comfortable in these mediums.

Every once in a while, however, inspiration strikes and this is one of the more interesting posts I've written of late. I even received a really nice compliment on it, from someone whose opinion I hold in high regard, no less, and it made me feel all fuzzy. It's late right now, nearly 2am on a Friday morning, and I don't feel up to a new post, so I thought I'd push this back out into the world.


You're sitting in a booth in an old greasy spoon, eyes staring into the eternal darkness of the coffee that sits before you. It's Christmas eve and there's a sad little Charlie Brown Christmas tree by the door. There's one other patron, a man sitting at the counter, wearing a faded baseball cap, ignoring his plate of sausage and eggs while he drinks from a flask of Wild Turkey that he intermittently pulls from his shirt pocket.

She walks through the doorway and the open doors momentarily allow the wind to announce her presence. She slowly drifts to your booth and the music starts as if it were cued for this moment. For a second she's standing there, staring down at you with big blue eyes shrink-wrapped in tears, and it feels like forever. You give a barely perceptible nod and start to get up. As your frame unfolds, she takes your hand and leads you for a few steps and then stops. She whirls in slow motion to face you and takes a hold of your hips, pulls you close and you both begin to slowly sway to the music. Her arms snake their way up and drape themselves around your neck, her head resting on your shoulders while she breathes sighs into your ears. "Come on, Santa..."

The Raveonettes > Come On, Santa

15.11.11

Christmas is a rockin' time

Good ol' Tom Petty steps in with Christmas All Over again. This was on the soundtrack of the godawful Four Christmases, which I've never seen and I never want to see it, based on the terrible trailers. Despite not having seen it, I have no problem judging this film. Vince Vaughn? C'mon. Reese Witherspoon? Please. If the best thing about your movie is a Tom Petty Christmas song, then you'd better get back to the drawing board. Either that or just go remake Miracle on 34th Street, since you can't write your own movie.

Tom Petty - Christmas All Over Again

14.11.11

I make all the little girls happy

Since Thanksgiving crept up on me and is now just over a week away, I figure it's time to bust out the Christmas tunes. We're gonna start off old school with Clarence Carter's Back Door Santa; smokin' hot. The horns from this song were sampled in another Christmas classic, Run-DMC's Christmas in Hollis.

Clarence Carter - Back Door Santa

50 Words for Snow

As anyone around here knows, I am a huge fan of Kate Bush. I thought I'd let whomever is around that NPR has the new album, 50 Words for Snow, streaming right now. The album itself will be released in a week, on the 21st, but you can get a head start on the listening, if you so desire. I've listened a few times already and I seriously had chills; it's that good. But don't take my word for it, listen for yourself!

10.11.11

Adieu

I just stumbled upon a new Coeur de Pirate track, it's really great. She has a new album out called Blonde. I'm so all over this.

17.10.11

Coming into a dark world

I wanted to check out Chrysta Bell's This Train because I'd heard that David Lynch was involved with the album. I don't know how much of this story is true, but from what I've read, Lynch met Bell when she was 19 or 20ish and wanted to work with her on a long term project. He wanted to turn her into a chanteuse or something. She's a bit over 30 now; this album is finally seeing the light of day and it's a pretty good one.

If you're familiar with Lynch at all, you'll immediately be able to tell that his fingerprints are all over this album. Apparently, he wrote all of the music and lyrics; all that's missing are Angelo Badalamenti arrangements.

Chrysta Bell - Bird of Flames

16.10.11

When I was seventeen

I've only just discovered Youth Lagoon's The Year of Hibernation, but it feels like I've known these songs forever. There's a child-like sense of wonder, a haunting quality and a hanging sadness (or maybe a feeling of longing) that pervades each track. I like the way the vocals are pushed back into the mix. You have to fight to make out the words, sorta like catching fleeting glimpses when you're looking for something and trying not to blink so you won't miss it.

Another aspect of this album I really like is that it's just over half an hour long. Some artists really don't know how to self-edit (Hello, Tori Amos) and put out albums that become endurance tests. Just because you can fit an hour and twenty minutes on a disc doesn't mean that you should. The Year of Hibernation is already one of my favorite albums of the year. Viva, Youth Lagoon.

Youth Lagoon - Seventeen

27.9.11

Sing a song for me

I recently, and randomly, came across The Great Book of John. I really like them, they have this sound that kinda conjures up an expansive American countryside; gritty, earthy and rural. To me, it sounds like the south. Their self-titled (second?) album just released last month, I'm hoping to pick up a copy on vinyl (I've been wanting to buy more vinyl lately). Whet your appetite with this gorgeous track, Ashes Over Manhattan.

The Great Book of John - Ashes Over Manhattan

24.9.11

REM: An American band

REM called it quits this week. This band meant a lot to me for a long, long time. I engaged in a couple little email conversations regarding them, so I decided to sorta piece them together into a longer post, which is what follows.

The first time I saw REM, they were on this TV show called Solid Gold. Marilyn McCoo hosted. Andy Gibb shared hosting duties at one point. Some of you Americans might remember it.

The premise of the show was to countdown the week's top ten hits, they'd play parts of the songs which featured interpretive dancing by the Solid Gold Dancers. They had the odd musical performance from whatever artist/band was hot that week. I saw Blondie on there once, playing Heart of Glass.

In any case, REM came on, Stipe was wearing this ridiculous paisley shirt, I remember wondering if it was a pajama top, and they played South Central Rain. I couldn't make out the lyrics except for when he wailed I'M SORRYYYYYYY, I'M SORRYYYYYYY.

I kinda forgot about them after that, but started listening more when Fables of the Reconstruction hit, so I had time to enjoy that mysterious weird kinda Americana. Document, was the first one where you could make out everything Stipe was singing. It sounded cleaner and bigger, but it was still REM. Document got them notice, Green put them in orbit, and Out of Time sent them into another dimension.

Just as an aside, U2 had that same 3-album explosion. I wanna say it was roughly around the same time, but I'm too lazy to research it. War kinda made everyone sit up and take notice, The Unforgettable Fire shot them into space, then Joshua Tree opened up another galaxy for them. Kinda weird, huh.

The moment I noticed they had changed for me was when I bought Out of Time. This was back when I was still going to the record store every Tuesday and grabbing the new releases I wanted. So I grabbed OOT, went home and listened to it and was promptly blown away. I remember telling my roommate, this guy named Rick who once subpoenaed me (after which, we had a huge and very public falling out in a courthouse waiting room), that this album was gonna make REM monolithic huge. It's just such a great album and it has a little something for everyone.

They put out a few more really good albums after that; Automatic for the People, Monster and New Adventures in Hi-Fi (the latter two were/are very underrated, I thought). The turning point came when Bill Berry left the band and the others decided to continue on. They had some very good moments (I'd rate At My Most Beautiful easily with any of their best songs) but it was never really the same.

These guys are one of my all-time favorite bands, one of the best American bands, and one of the best bands, period. Despite the last 10-15 years, even if I wasn't really a fan of the post-Berry stuff, they had a really fucking good run and I wish I could thank them for being there.

This is probably my favorite REM tune, check it out. And if you don't have any album and perhaps were curious, start at the beginning with the IRS stuff. It's really, really good. There's also a very good compilation album called
And I Feel Fine... The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987, which is worth it if you want to start off with a sampler.

REM - Fall On Me

8.9.11

Swinging with the old stars

The other day, I stumbled across Lana del Rey's Video Games and I was simply stunned. This song is ten kinds of wonderful. Haunting, aching, longing, pining; the whole nine yards. I love it. The 7" single hits next month, pick it up here if you're so inclined. Check out the video here, it's pretty cool.

Lana del Rey - Video Games

5.9.11

Someone still loves you



So, today is the birthday of Freddie Mercury. Queen is one of the bands I wish I'd seen in their heyday. The first time I'd heard of them was around 75-76ish, around the time of A Night at the Opera. Bohemian Rhapsody, of course, was all over the radio. I bought the You're My Best Friend 45 and '39 was the flipside. My god, I loved those songs and I played that record to death. I remember they came through the Bay Area when Jazz was released, that must have been sometime in 78 or 79, but my dad wouldn't let me go. The Game came out after that and I loved it, but I somehow missed that tour as well. I probably would not have been allowed to go, anyways; dad wasn't into that scene.

I lost track of Queen for a good chunk of the 80s; The Flash Gordon, Hot Space and The Works era. A Kind of Magic came out in 86, they had a couple songs in the movie, Highlander, and that made me take notice again.

So yeah, Queen is probably my biggest musical regret, as in not having seen them live. For some people, it might be Led Zeppelin before John Bonham died, or The Who with Keith Moon. Mine is Queen with Freddie Mercury. A few years ago, they came through here with Paul Rodgers, but I couldn't convince myself to attend. It's just not the same without Freddie Mercury. Thankfully, we still have the music.

30.8.11

Everything looks like a giant cupcake

This song is so cute. It's from the upcoming M83 album, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. Part of the music reminds me of something by Jean Michel Jarre, but no matter. I really like this. I could listen to this kid all day.

M83 - Raconte-Moi Histoire

28.8.11

They cut out her heart when she was a little girl

Bat For Lashes' Sarah, from her stellar album, Fur and Gold, has a brooding sing-song kind of feel, with the bass line and the drums guiding the listener along. Other instruments and voices join in along the way for brief periods of time and then fade and show up again. It's sort of akin to driving on a lonely two-lane road in the black of night. The rhythm section is the highway, it's always there, twisting and turning. The other voices and instruments are like billboards, popping up every now and again. Natasha is the driver and her voice is the headlamps, illuminating what's in front of us. Shine on, Bat For Lashes, shine on.

Bat For Lashes - Sarah

21.8.11

If you need a friend

It's funny, the first time I saw Napoleon Dynamite, I hated it. I had flown to Denver to hang out with my friend, Rick. Neko Case was playing a couple nights at the Bluebird Theater and we were planning to go. So I get to Rick's in the evening, we chat and have a few beers, blah blah. Right? He's someone who goes to bed at a fairly "normal" hour, so he recommends ND to me as he's off to bed. I put it in and watch it. In the words of Napoleon himself, "This is pretty much the worst video ever made." I don't know if I was tired from the flight or whatever, but the movie didn't click with me at all.

Fast forward to a random weekend, ND is on Comedy Central, I believe, and I'm too lazy to change the channel. The movie is brilliant. Now, it's one of my favorites.

One of my favorite scenes is the tetherball scene with Deb at the end. It's just so perfect.


You wanna play me?

When In Rome - The Promise

I never knew what I had

I had a Bob Dylan evening yesterday. That dude, he sings about life. Somehow, he just knew about everything. This is one of my favorite songs.

Bob Dylan - I Threw It All Away

7.8.11

Dial up

A friend posted this on FB, it's really bizarre. It's the sound of a dial-up connection that's been slowed to a crawl. It sounds like a lost demo from Brian Eno and Robert Fripp's No Pussyfooting album.

It's like we've never met


Wilco's You and I features a guest vocal from Feist, and is one of the prettiest songs I've come across in recent years. I love the sentiment, it almost makes me wish I could fall in love.

Wilco - You and I


Also, make sure you check out the video of their performance on Letterman here, from which the above image is taken.

4.8.11

Today could be the end of me


I've been going through a Blondie phase this week. During the past few days, I listened to everything up to and including Autoamerican, and I must say that there's not too much reason to really own Autoamerican. Everything before it, though, is pretty damn good, to my ears. Reunion aside, it was too bad they went out the way they did. Autoamerican was okay at best. The Hunter was so awful, it was laughable. I actually used to have that one on vinyl and I didn't even bother purchasing it when the Blondie catalog was reissued. At least I still can get a lot of mileage out of those first four albums.

Blondie - 11:59

27.7.11

Going round and round


Last night, I drank what I'm fairly certain was some bad tequila. It's the kind of tequila that you can get for $2 a shot when you go to a local bar for happy hour after work. I had 3 shots and 2 beers, I wasn't even close to drunk. Later in the evening, after I'd been home for a while, I felt sick to my stomach. Majorly queasy. The kind of feeling where you set a bucket next to where you're going to lie down. I'm not a lightweight drinker, I've been able to hold my own for quite some time now. I might even go as far to describe myself as borderline alcoholic. I think this was just really bad booze. Rotgut, or something like that.

So I slept it off, thankfully, without further incident. I seem to remember my dreams being of the past. For some reason, I think my high school girlfriend showed up in one of the dreams. She broke my heart the year after we finished high school, but I still wonder about her every now and then. It's only natural, right?

I think the reason she popped into my head is because I was listening to The Cars the other day. She absolutely adored that band, it was her favorite. I had their first album, which I thought was great, but hadn't gone further than that for whatever reasons. I'm sure I would have listened to the rest of the catalog at some point, but knowing a fan like that sped up that decision, and I really liked the band. Great pop songs.

Listening to The Cars, after she had ditched me, became an exercise in torture, so I gave them up for a long time. Luckily, I am old now and so much time has passed that I can appreciate them now without feeling ten kinds of suicidal. Sometimes, though, just sometimes, I'll wonder whatever happened to that girl.

The Cars - I'm Not The One

23.7.11

RIP Amy Winehouse



*Edit* There is a very well-written obituary from the Onion's AV Club here. I felt like I was seeing a lot of tsk-tsk'ing and "I told you so" wherever I was on the internet and it just felt like snarky barbed-wire cheap shots. I'm probably no better, but I dunno, it seemed overwhelming to me. In any case, I feel the AV Club post has righted the ship somewhat.

16.7.11

I've been a temptress for too long

After all these years, I'll be seeing Portishead on American soil this fall. I saw them in 97 at the Warfield and they were phenomenal.



Also, it's a good reason to post my favorite Beth Gibbons pic.



16.6.11

Come and get a smile


I recently discovered Ringo Deathstarr for myself and wish I had been there from the start. I'd seen their name around, but didn't really give them the time of day due to the novelty band name. Someone posted a clip on Twitter and I reluctantly decided to give them a try and my jaw dropped when the song began to play. Great pop songs with lots of fuzzy guitars. This one reminds me of The Primitives, whom I adored, from way back when. Short, sweet and leaves me begging for more.

I've read posts/articles here and there talking about how they sound like this band or that band, and yeah, they do. Speaking for myself, I don't really care too much about who is borrowing from whom. This is the sort of sound I love and if it's done well, then so what? I don't know, maybe it's just me but I don't care...this stuff cooks.

Ringo Deathstarr - So High

8.6.11

It's okay if you scream like a girl

Cutest video I've seen in a while. Donora's The Chorus. The song is pretty catchy, too.

16.5.11

Pray god you can cope


Kate Bush is back, and in half the time it took to deliver her last album, 2005's Aerial. This go round, however, doesn't really bring about any new material, but re-imaginings of old songs. Hence the title, Director's Cut. I wasn't sure what to think, all of the songs are taken from two albums, The Sensual World and The Red Shoes. I can honestly say that The Red Shoes, for a long time, was my least favorite Kate album, if I were to rank it at all.

Then, when the first single, Deeper Understanding, was announced, excitement gave way to puzzlement as I listened to the shock of an auto-tuned Kate Bush. I liked the original well enough and, oddly, this update is starting to grow on me, for better or worse. Upon first listen, though, I was pretty much wondering...WTF? Has she completely lost it?

As I listen to that, and the rest of the album, I find myself enjoying it, for the most part. The past couple years has seen my stance soften regarding The Red Shoes. I had read some different articles and posts that gave me a different perspective on the album, and I tried to open up to it a little bit more. Maybe she had changed while I kept expecting her to make The Dreaming or Hounds of Love over and over again. Maybe it's up to me to change with the artist and join her on her journey.

In any case, I feel like Director's Cut is a worthwhile excursion on the whole. A couple of her experiments I'm not on board with at the time of this posting:

1) The "wop bam boom" bit in Song of Solomon. Listen to the song, you can't miss it. I have no idea what that's all about and I feel like it detracts from what is a pretty good song.

2) The auto tune part of Deeper Understanding still trips me out but, as I mentioned, it's kinda growing on me. I guess it just felt so unexpected at first, maybe the shock is wearing off.

3) The last thing is the re-working of Rubberband Girl. That was one of the two or three songs from The Red Shoes that I did enjoy. This version totally strips it down and turns it into a 70s style excursion. It almost sounds like that dude from Canned Heat is fronting The Rolling Stones, complete with harmonica. Now, that combination may not be a bad thing in itself, but coming from Kate Bush? I dunno, perhaps I'll come around to like/love it at some point, but right now it just sounds so out of place.

Not to dwell on the negative, I will leave you with her re-imagining of This Woman's Work. After the surprise of Deeper Understanding, I was initially afraid to listen to this one. I think, if you ask around, most Kate Bush fans will highly rate This Woman's Work. Well, I rate it, anyway. It's simply a gorgeous song with heartbreaking lyrics and a melody that will have tears welling up in your eyes. A classic, for sure; so why tamper with perfection?

Surprise, surprise, this new version works, in my ears. It's twice as long as the original, even more subdued and has a kinda ambient Music for Airports feel to it. She almost whispers the lyrics at some points, her voice trailing off as if she's weary from an emotional battle that has finally broken her. I really, really like this version. Seriously, I got chills listening to it the other day. It totally makes up for whatever it is that I don't like about the album. Which leads me to think that she probably hasn't lost it at all. I'm just not on her plane of existence. Viva Kate.

Kate Bush - This Woman's Work (Director's Cut version)

14.5.11

Prizewinning

I went with a friend to see Esben and The Witch a couple months ago. I wasn't too fussed about seeing the support bands, but we ended up catching them regardless. One of the acts was Julianna Barwick, and I'm totally glad we were there. Her set was ethereal, captivating and so very cool. I don't know the specifics of it, but she sings into something that keeps looping her voice until it sounds like you're listening to a heavenly choir. Believe me, it sounds much, much better than my description of it. Although the music is mainly driven by her voice, but there is some instrumentation to be found. Her album is called The Magic Place, and it more than lives up to that title.

Julianna Barwick - Prizewinning

30.4.11

The silence inside the tomb

I came across Agalloch last year with their 2010 album, Marrow of the Spirit. I had decided that I wanted to get back to listening to more metal. I'd been reading a lot of year end lists, as I tend to do, and Agalloch's album was atop many of those lists, so I decided to check it out. I really like the album as a whole, it's solid from start to finish. The album's centerpiece, and my favorite track, is Black Lake Nidstång.

A quick aside, perhaps it's just me, but I really, really, really detest the way people throw the word "epic" around these days. That said, I can't come up with a better word to describe this song. It's like a long journey, an odyssey, a fucking epic, as suggested by the album cover above. The song is 17 and a half minutes long and I love every second of it. I dunno, it's that powerful to me. The vocals in the second verse give me chills every time I hear it. Try it, maybe you'll like it. Have a little patience, though, it's nearly 20 minutes long. I feel like it's worth it. And if you like that, the album is worth obtaining.

Agalloch - Black Lake Nidstång

16.4.11

The fruit is deformed children

I caught PJ Harvey's traveling road show the other night. She looked magnificent, decked out in a full length white gown with a raven perched atop her head. This is my favorite song from her new album, Let England Shake. I'm not sure what she means by "the fruit is deformed children," but I'm guessing it's the aftereffects of war.

PJ Harvey - The Glorious Land

10.4.11

Christopher Johnson

Another fictional character inspired mix. This time, it's District 9's Christopher Johnson. I like that the alien has adopted a perfectly average English name. I'd guess it's because the stranded aliens are all worker class. Anyway, I liked his story, how he's trying to collect enough fuel to get his people back home and the outrage he feels when he realizes the humans are experimenting on the "prawns." Very enjoyable film.

For the mix, I was just going for feel. The crushing weight of his situation, but with a tiny glimmer of light off in the distance. Press play, maybe you'll like it.

29.3.11

Lisbeth Salander

An 8tracks mix inspired by Lisbeth Salander, who is the main character in Stieg Larsson's Millennium series of books. I really enjoyed the books, but the movies are a bit uneven. It's all one story, each title picks up right where the previous one left off, but the first movie definitely is the best of the bunch. I liked the second and third films, but they lacked the intensity of the first. The books were much better.

27.3.11

The King Crimson Barber Shop


It's nice to know that a band can have a little fun at their own expense. When I think of King Crimson, they're such amazing musicians that I tend to think of them as "serious artists" (whatever that means), despite Adrian Belew's whacked out and sometimes whimsical lyrics. The King Crimson Barber Shop gives me a good chuckle. The first time I had heard it, on the Frame By Frame box set, it was so unexpected. I remember looking at the box set track list, The King Crimson Barber Shop kinda stuck out and I wondered what the hell it could be. According to the liner notes, Tony Levin came up with it. After its appearance on the box set,  the track showed up on the reissue of Three of a Perfect Pair, so I'm guessing it's a b-side from those sessions.

King Crimson - The King Crimson Barber Shop

26.3.11

Love Letter To Japan


Get well soon, Japan.
The Bird and the Bee - Love Letter To Japan



Image above and text below are from Pink Tentacle:

In the meantime, if you would like to support the ongoing disaster relief efforts, please consider making a much-needed donation to the Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Fund. (Small contributions are appreciated, and credit card payments are accepted.)

You can also help by purchasing any of the Japan Earthquake Relief prints by underground artists at the Poster Cause Project. 75% of profits from these prints will be donated to the Doctors Without Borders' earthquake and relief efforts in Japan.

7.3.11

Lost in blackness

I love this track, Marching Song, by Esben and the Witch. It sounds like impending doom approaching underneath a starless sky on a cold winter night. I'm loving the rest of their album, Violet Cries, as well. I came across it a couple weeks ago and I haven't been able to put it down. Looks like they're gonna hit San Francisco in a couple weeks, I think I might like to attend. Oh, and check out the video for Marching Song, it's kinda disturbing.

Esben and the Witch - Marching Song

28.2.11

The only time I miss you is every single day

I first came across Jessica Lea Mayfield a couple years ago. She covered Buddy Holly's Words of Love, one of the few bright spots on a mostly crappy Starbucks Valentine's Day compilation disc. I know, I know, what else would I expect from a Starbucks comp? On the strength of that track, however, I picked up her then current first album, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt. It took a bit, but her bittersweet and damaged love songs have grown on me. For someone so young (she's 21 now, with two albums under her belt), she certainly sounds world-weary, like she's slogging through yet another twisted relationship. Also, there's something about her delivery that I really like, the sound of the south in her voice. Anyway, her new album, Tell Me, is out now and I think it's pretty good.

Jessica Lea Mayfield - Our Hearts Are Wrong

27.2.11

10 gods, 10 queens

Originally, I wasn't planning on going to see PJ Harvey this coming April. Nothing she did would ever top this show I saw her play. My cousin has an extra ticket, though, and her boyf isn't too keen on Polly Jean. Plus Let England Shake is really, really great...so I'm there.

In 2004, to mark the end of the Uh Huh Her tour, PJ Harvey played a semi-acoustic gig at London's Royal Court Theatre. It sounds like it was recorded for a radio broadcast (BBC, I presume), there's an intro and interview at the beginning. This show has one of my favorite renditions of 50ft Queenie. It's toned down due to the acoustic instrumentation, but still smolders with intensity, almost like she's waiting to erupt. I'm really looking forward to her tearing it up again.

PJ Harvey - 50ft Queenie

24.2.11

Sadness, I'm your girl

Here is Lykke Li's ode to melancholy, Sadness is a Blessing. Earlier this week, I ran into a copy of her new album, Wounded Rhymes, and I've been enjoying it a great deal. This is probably my favorite song from the album at the moment.

Lykke Li - Sadness is a Blessing (acoustic)

22.2.11

It's just a fairytale



I've been a fan of The Smiths enough that I have all the albums and I can probably quote more than a handful of Morrissey's great lines, or at least my favorite ones. I was never hardcore, though, the albums were good enough for me and I didn't really delve much further. Tonight, I'm sorta surprised to discover, thanks to the good folks over at Extra Track (and a tacky badge), that they did a 4-track single with Sandie Shaw. I recognize the name and I know she's English, but I really only know of her through a song or two from a couple girl-group compilations. I don't think her singing is that great, but it's interesting enough to give it a couple listens. The writer from the Extra Track Smiths blog pretty much sums it up for me, click here if you want to read his post regarding this release.

Sandie Shaw > Jeane


PS - Also, I didn't know how to list the artists. Is it Sandie Shaw with The Smiths? The Smiths with Sandie Shaw? or how about The Smiths featuring Sandie Shaw? The artwork on the front cover reads only Sandie Shaw, so I guess I'll go with that.