Archive for December, 2008

Year end collection: compilation #13

Happy belated Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwaanza, Hannukah all. I finished putting compilation #13 together nearly two weeks ago, and have been handing out CD copies as party favors and Christmas tips (big spender, me). Now it’s here for your listening and downloading pleasure (click HERE to access it; right-click and “save target as” to download…as far as I know, you must download one song at a time; let me know if you find otherwise).

Now my year end compilation is not one of those “Best of the Year” sets (for that, you’ll want to get Buzz Biscuit’s “Cream of Eight” set, which I hope he’ll be blogging about here on the website soon); it simply reflects what I’m listening to since I wrapped up the last compilation, volume 12, back in August. Volume 13 does a little looking back, looking forward, and looking at right now.

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Sydney Australia’s Lenka starts of the set, with a song I mentioned in a September post, “Don’t Let Me Fall”. Trite, sweet pop, I’ll grant you, but nicely done. Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) of Sao Paulo is up next, with a song that reaches way back, “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex”. Probably familiar to you from the iPod Touch ads that have been airing for over a year (though I understand that it was in a Zune commercial a year before that!). I probably should have used their “new” tune, “Jager Yoga”, which I’m hearing a lot on Indie 103.1, but I missed the original boat on CSS and have some catching up to do. Santogold (first featured on these pages back in May) is next up with “Shove It”, featuring Spank Rock, another great track off her late April (2008) self-titled debut CD.

Not my typical Scandinavian find, Emiliana Torrini sparkles with “Me And Armini”. The Icelandic girl with the Italian name (and father, of course) might be known to viewers of Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, and Lord of The Rings, which have all featured her lovely voice. Not me….not till her CD dropped in September was I aware, and she’s been releasing music since 1994! (well, in Iceland, that is). Following Emiliana is Dan Black with “Yours”. Not much bio info on Dan, whose MySpace page lists London/Paris as his home. He’s a great example of that wry British take on hiphop, a la The Streets (they date back to compilations #1 and #2, circa 2004). Check his cover of Biggy’s “Hypnotize” when you have a sec.

The next two tracks, Nickel Eye‘s “Brandy Of The Damned” and “No One’s Better Sake” by Little Joy have in common that they’re each the result of side projects by members of The Strokes, Nikolai Fraiture and Fabrizio Moretti respectively. Add these to the two brilliant releases by Albert Hammond Jr., and Julian Casablancas starts to look like a slacker.

I’m not sure where I first heard new Zealand’s The Naked And Famous; probably on Passport Approved, since they don’t seem to have a MySpace page (?). “Serenade” is a beauty. Following that is my favorite (this week, anyway) of the bunch: “Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap. They’re from Australia, and I bet they get huge when they play SXSW next spring.

“Spendin Days” by Japanese Motors was in a late October post by Buzz Biscuits. Having a “co-conspirator” here on the blog has been a great way to learn about new stuff (“Which Way To Go” by Eddy Current Suppression Ring and “The Book Of Matches” by Gentleman Auction House also came to my attention via a Buzz Biscuits post.

Glasvegas was in a post earlier this month, and are among the bands I’ve learned about by listening to Passport Approved on Indie 103.1, along with Cockandbullkid, Ida Maria (she’ll remind you of Bjork), and Amazing Baby. Ditto The King Blues, who have a nice Rancid vibe.

Where I found Neon Neon’s “Dream Cars” and Dune’s “No Speed” is a mystery to me: I’ve been holding on to them for to long to remember where I got them. Copenhagen’s The Asteroids Galaxy Tour was yet another gift from Steve Jobs and an iPod commercial (kooky fun; check out their MySpace). Switches’ “Drama Queen”, posted in August, came from an old Spin magazine a friend “recycled” to me.

I was fortunate to hear about Simon Says No! via the band’s management, and posted about them in November. The Kaiser Chiefs haven’t been on a compilation of mine since spring 2005 (#3), but they’re new CD is terrific, and will be played everywhere I hope.

With 23 songs, volume 13 has no extra space, so some deserving tunes didn’t make the cut (I thought I had included Cut Off Your Hands’ “Oh Girl” until writing this post; maybe if I assemble #14 soon I’ll be able to use some of them. Anyway, happy listening….and Happy New Year!

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Tonsils, Surf City, and Deerhunter

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I could attribute my lack of recent contributions to the fact that I just had a tonsillectomy and the only song I could really relate to was Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out by The Replacements.  Fortunately it’s one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands, so it was an acceptable earworm.

The reality is that not much has hit me lately.  I had visions of using my sick-time to correct this and force myself to find something new and good.  So much for noble intentions.  I don’t know,  maybe everyone is too busy working on their end of year lists!  (ed. note: my year end comp is in the works – stay tuned).

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Fortunately it wasn’t all in vain.  Out of these efforts comes Surf City.  The distant, fuzzed out vocals of the first MySpace track, Records of a Flagpole Skater, sound like Jesus and Mary Chain… and with their original name (Kill Surf City) and its obvious JMC nod you might expect a Psycho-Candy rehash.  But the other songs here, 2 of which also show up on their current EP,  prove that reaction to be inaccurate.  They mix in quick, catchy rhythms and a little bit of new surf feel to make their own rave-ups.  They land somewhere in the realm of the previously blogged Underground Railroad to Candyland and…

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…Deerhunter.  Their newest album Microcastles has been getting high praise (I predict it will be Pitchfork’s #1).  The single Nothing Ever Happened provides one of the catches, as well as Never Stops – both can be heard on their MySpace page.   Much of the album is tougher to jump right into…. think OK Computer or any Sonic Youth offering… so if you like some complexity this could fit the bill.  Or if you want to go one step further, try prolific band leader Bradford Cox’s other project – Atlas Sound.

Here’s a grittier, live version of Nothing Ever Happened

too long, no post….VV Brown, Glasvegas, Cut Off Your Hands

oh….excuses, excuses….my job got demanding, I started a big home improvement project, computer crashed and got replaced, I quit the job and started another one….they’re all just excuses. I should still be bloggin’! (note the new flavicon). The truth is that when I’m not blogging about new music, I’m likely not listening to any. Between my recent compilation CDs and a bunch of 80’s stuff (my daughter recently became enamored with Donnie Darko, so I burned her an expanded soundtrack CD), I haven’t heard much new for a while. In an effort to remedy that, I fired up my Roku (http://www.roku.com/, get one) and got back to some internet radio.

VV Brown has been buzzed about for a few months, and Passport Approved refers to her in Amy Winehouse-ish terms. The single “Crying Blood” is an obvious radio-ready smash, just a question of when our so-called hip stations will get the memo. The video is on YouTube, but supposedly not embeddable; if it doesn’t appear below, go HERE to view it (make sure you come back!)

I don’t necessarily hear Amy in VV, more like Gabriella Cilmi (from compilation #12), but it’s fun. The excerpts of other cuts that are on her MySpace show additional promise.

Glasvegas is another band that other, more diligent bloggers have been musing about since the springtime. From Scotland (Glascow) and sporting a hefty portion of gloom and portense, they satisfy my 80s jones with  bit of freshness. They’ll be in Boston early in the new year, so it’ll be interesting to see if ‘FNX gets on them in time. “Geraldine” is the current single, not on their MySpace, but you can listen to it by clicking the not-so-visual video below.

It was exactly a year ago that I featured Cut Off Your Hands on compilation #10 with “Still Fond”, and the current single “Oh Girl” is just as tasty, and likely more accessible. While this New Zealand quartet exhibited that raw, garage-y sound I typically favor in previous tracks like “Fond”, “Expectations” and “You and I”, “Oh Girl” sports a cleaner mix, hearable vocals, and a slickish video. Oh, and that unfortunate band name? Seems they were originally Shaky Hands, but had to change it to avoid legal action from a Portland Oregon band with that name, a la Blink 182 and The English Beat, among many others. Check their MySpace for a few more samples, and enjoy the “Oh Girl” video below.