Archive for February, 2010

Ice Black Birds, Best Coast, Strange Boys

I don’t know if I’m ready to endorse any of these bands’ complete bodies of work, but these three songs really have my attention lately.

The most current sounding of the bunch is As Birds We’d Be Free by Ice Black Birds, a four piece from London, via Brighton, UK.  For some reason this song is unfortunately no longer on their MySpace page, in favor of their more blues-rock offerings.  The arpeggiated guitar line in this tune is crisp enough to keep it tight and modern, but not so tight that it feels overproduced and emotionless.

LA’s Best Coast add a shoegazy smudge to the 60’s girl group sound with When I’m With You.  I’m not sure if this is the official video, or just someone’s clever dubbing of the song over a 60’s French beach movie musical – whichever, it fits.

Continuing to show that retro is current, the Strange Boys from Austin bring the old-fashioned garage rock R&B that the Black Lips and King Khan have been championing the last few years with their song Be Brave. 


Nneka, The Heavy

I gotta blog more. I do hear a fair amount of stuff i like, but do you really need me to tell you to go listen to the new Vampire Weekend (do that, by the way…the new Spoon, not so much). Anyway, let’s talk briefly about Nigerian singer Nneka.


She’s been performing since 2003 (she’s 28) but it’s her third album, Concrete Jungle, which has caught my attention. She cites Lauryn Hill as an influence, but I and others hear more Erykah Badu.  Check out Heartbeat, which has already reached #9 in Portugal, #20 in UK, and #49 in Germany (she’s half German and lives part time in Hamburg).

More good info at her website and her MySpace page. The video’s nice as well:

If you’re like me (a little slow, that is), you first heard The Heavy during the Super Bowl, on a Kia commercial with a cute sock monkey, and you assumed it was a James Brown sample. Well, man am I happy to be wrong about that! Much as I love the Godfather of Soul, it’s much better to have a new band that rocks!

The Heavy

Their second album, The House That Dirt Built, came out in October 2009 and the song “How You Like Me Now?” was used on the show Entourage, which I do watch, but I musta missed it. I even missed their insanely great appearance on Letterman a month ago, but I’ve seen the video. They appear to be Dave’s new favorite band, as he seemed spellbound by them and said “play it again!!”, which they did. Their MySpace page shows them as a four piece, but there are five of them in the photo above, and a good dirty dozen showed up for Letterman. This, my friends, is (finally) the male version of the Amy Winehouse phenomenon, whereby classic sixties R&B-flavored rock and roll get’s the 21st Century upgraded experience. Vocalist Kelvin Swaby brings it in a way that, for me, Eli “Paperboy” Reed or James Hunter never have. The video plays automatically when you go to their website, or you can see it here:

What you really gotta see, though, is the Letterman performance:

Miss Li

I try to note exactly where I first hear an artist, so I can report that here. Often, it’s another, better blog, or Internet radio, like Indie 103.1 or BBC6. This time, however, I’m stumped. I must’ve received an email with a link to the mp3, ‘cuz I downloaded it to my Blackberry, but now I can’t find the email. That’s the bad news…..the GOOD news is that I love the song.

Miss Li

The song is “Bourgeois Shangri La”, and it’s what I like to call a “djeddieo song”: quirky, gritty, hard to define, and not like much else out there.  I have read that it’s on an iPod commercial, but I don’t recall hearing it there, and other tunes of hers have been featured on “Grey’s Anatomy” and Showtime’s “Weeds”, shows I don’t watch. A Stockholm native, Miss Li is 27 year old Linda Carlsson, and she does tend towards a somewhat retro vibe, but it’s hard to pin down just what period (what period does Tom Waits evoke?) She brings  to mind Ida Maria and Gin Wigmore, and I look forward to adding her to my quirky female vocal compilation discs soon. She’s got a MySpace page, and an older one HERE, and a website, of course. Here’s the song; please tell us what you think.