Lana Del Rey: you’ve been warned! And while we’re at it: Roshambo…..

I didn’t “discover” Amy Winehouse until I read a review of “Frank” (in a newspaper, of all places), and I didn’t blog about Florence + the Machine until hearing “Dog Days…” a few months in advance of the Summer 2009 official release. Still, I was able to be the first to tell friends and readers about those incredible talents, and most paid no attention until mainstream crossover success put their music in constant radio rotation (then they asked me what the stories were….) Let’s not let that happen with Lana Del Rey!

25 year old Elizabeth Grant’s stage name is a mash-up of 40’s film siren Lana Turner and the 80’s-era Ford Del Rey cooked up by a management team assembled by her millionaire New Yorker dad (I’m guessing they liked the  Brazilian car’s name more than the model itself.)

In early 2010, her first EP “Kill Kill” was briefly available on iTunes before it was inexplicably pulled. What followed was likely some fine-tuning, grooming, 21st Century music marketing and the resulting critical acclaim. Still, her appeal is plainly evident in that first effort, video below, and in a gushing review from her hometown lake Placid Newspaper HERE.

I’d imagine it was via that EP producer’s connections that she ended up in Berlin in September 2010 for an MTV Unplugged session with Mando Diao (I yakked about them in 2005). The band’s other guests at that session included Ray Davies and Juliette Lewis, and Lana did their little heard B-side, “Chet Baker.”

Over the year that followed, she recorded a two song EP,  “Video Games/Blue Jeans” which hit the top ten on iTunes Albums Chart within hours of its release this past October.  A performance on Later… with Jools Holland, followed by some strategic song placement on TV (CW’s  Ringer and Gossip Girl, as well as a British reality show and soap opera) has established “Video Games” as the song you will be finding (and turning up) on radio stations all over the dial (“Best New Track” by Pitchfork Media.)

“Blue Jeans,” IMHO, is even better:

“Born To Die,” the title track of her new LP due January 23, 2012, was released on video last week:

My favorite track however is “Kinda Outta Luck,” the over-the-top film references notwithstanding. Now you know everything I do.

Swedish trio Roshambo was not the easiest band to Google, as they share their name with a number of lame cover bands in the US and abroad (quick; someone TM that name!!) Like The Hives before them, these kids pay homage to American garage rock, in all its spartan glory. How new are they? Well, I got to be the 208th “Like” on their Facebook page (which is in Swedish); the childhood friends from Karlskoga started the band in 2009. You can listen to all three of their tracks there, but they’re streamable and downloadable (for now) at Bandcamp. The EP “Stress Me” came out in September. No official videos yet, but here’s a live performance video of my favorite track “Cigarette Lemonade” (I got to be the first comment there!).

compilation #24, now on Mixpod…..


Florence + The Machine “Shake It Out”: unabashedly bombastic! Big ups for bringing it to my attention to my cousin Amber Caparas, a talented singer/songwriter in her own right (click HERE)

All Mankind “Simple Desire”: U2-influenced and lovely

Founds “Gypsy Horse”; Brisbane Australia sextet evokes Siouxsie And The Banshees by way of Taken By Trees

mailman john “Stop This Song”: just when the creepy tale get’s interesting, they “Stop This Song!!”

Mates of State “Maracas”: this band has gotten very slick in the 5 years since I first heard them….why it’s called “Maracas,” IDK…

Fallulah “Only Human”: yet another Scandinavian chanteuse, this one from Denmark. Has that hiccup that calls to mind Martha Davis of The Motels

Wild Flag “Romance”: a female indie supergroup, representing Sleater-Kinney, the Minders and Helium. 80’s-ish garage.

St. Vincent “Cruel”: much bouncier and more lively that her trippy “Surgeon,” which I also loved.

Remi Nicole “Rock N Roll”: an old one, from 2007, cuz it hit me just the right way…..

French Films “Convict”: quintet from Finland puts “French” in their name and sounds like California surf music.

Matt & Kim (w/ Soulja Boy and Andrew WK) “I’m a Goner”: you had me at Matt & Kim; now I have a fave Soulja Boy song and a favorite Andrew WK song!

ZakeE “Snakes”: he’s a DJ, so he “remixed” the ‘ish out of his own track. Give it a try or two.

Blitzen Trapper “Astronaut”: people think I’ve lost my mind; I didn’t like this 70’s country rock in the 70’s, but this Portland, OR six-piece soars.

Birdy “People Help The People”: a cover of a song I didn’t know with an angelic vocal by an unknown 15 year old. not unknown for long.

Gotye w/ Kimbra “Somebody That I used To Know”: this song tells a story like a movie, and now I want to see the movie! Kimbra triples an already great song.

Feist “How Come You Never Go There”: Feist. ’nuff said.

Ryan Adams “Chains of Love”: the most prolific recording artist of our time revisits his alt-folk/country origins…..

Cameras “Defeatist”: Joy Division -> Interpol -> Editors -> Cameras (from Australia)

Long Lost Sun “Right Light”: yet another boy/girl electronic duo, this one from South England. She sounds like Ellie Goulding, not a bad thing….

Feist “Metals” out 10/4/11; Ryan Adams “Ashes & Fire” out 10/11/11

Sometimes nice, quiet, gentle music is what hits the spot, and this month offers two terrific new CDs chock full of it.

Ryan Adams

Back around 1980, I remember saying “I like all kinds of music, except country and Irish.” Then Elvis Costello released “Different Finger” (and later the “Almost Blue” LP) and I could no longer rule out country music with a blanket decree (The Pogues soon did the same for Irish). Granted, any country you’ll find on my iPod is of the “alt-” category, like Brett Dennen or Ryan Adams. Adams originally won me over with “III/IV”, the massive set of only slightly country-flavored rock and roll he put out last year with his band The Cardinals. Only then did I go back and check out his awesome “New York, New York” which I had somehow missed during the 9/11 aftermath, when, I understand, it played in a fairly nonstop loop on MTV and VH1. That that song received a Grammy nomination in the rock category shows just how “country” he was, but he countrys it up a few notches on the soon to be released “Ashes & Fire.”

It’s a quiet, rainy day kind of album, appropriately starting with “Dirty Rain,” a melancholy tale of gunfire, broken glass and gasoline-fueled fire that somehow is still a pretty love ballad. I’ve read elsewhere that you’d think going home at night to Mandy Moore would cheer a guy up, but Ryan seems to focusing on the melancholy with “Come Home”, “Rocks”, and “Do I Wait”, all gorgeous tales of missing the one you love, supporting the one you love, and waiting for the one you love, respectively. There’s a generally sad but beautiful tone in all of them, even while their messages are pretty happy (though she’s “never coming back” by the end of “Do I Wait,” but he seems content to wait forever…then again, he may be rethinking that in the melancholy “Save Me” with “….by the morning, I will be gone.”) “Come Home” and “Save Me” feature background vocals by Norah Jones.

That tone is also evident in LP closer “I Love You But I Don’t Know What To Say,” the title of which is a lie, since the lyrics more than say it profoundly. I predict this will be a favorite wedding “first dance” song throughout most of America’s heartland. “Invisible Riverside” would also make a fine choice in that regard, with lines like “I wanna lay my head forever on your shoulder, stay with me my love now and when we’re older, standing on the ocean we got nothing now but time.” “Kindness” (also featuring backing vocals by Jones) seems simultaneously an open letter to society (“If you’re so strong can you shelter the weak?”) and intimate love letter (“When it goes wrong, days come and gone, and it’s been said and been done, I will shelter you with my love and my forgiveness.”)
It’s nice to get an occasional break from serenades and soul searching, and the upbeat title track (in tone and tempo if not message) more than obliges, with honky-tonk piano and gee-tar twang. “Chains of Love” (no, it’s not an Erasure cover) is my favorite track and it’s pure pop, with lush strings and sparse piano notes. The lead single “Lucky Now”, released this summer, quickly becomes a breezy, strummy mid-tempo pleaser as well.


Leslie Feist may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I was a fan from the instant I heard her, which I’m sad to say was well into her career with 2007’s “The Reminder” (she had me at “one….”) Her newest,”Metals,” never gets as peppy as her biggest singles, but there are some gems in there along with plenty of that quiet, pensive stuff. “The Bad in Each Other” starts the LP off with kick drum and hand claps, and buzzes with minor-key drone that borders on creepy. Somehow it’s very pleasant nonetheless. “Graveyard” is, simply enough, an ode to cemeteries, and it’s surprisingly cheery, with “Dirt and grass, a shadow heart; the moon sails past” leading to “Whoa-ah-ah-ah ah-ah, bring ’em all back to life.” “Caught a Long Wind” is another pretty tune, with Feist evoking the freedom of a soaring bird. “How Come You Never Go There,” leaked this summer, is classic Feist: a smiley, peppy reading of a sad story: “The room is full of eyes and empty like your letters never sent me; words like a lasso, you’re an instrumental tune.” It’s my favorite track of the set.

“A Commotion” sounds like an action movie soundtrack, which makes it somewhat out of place with the rest of the LP. Still, the pounding chorus guarantees that it will find its way to indie radio playlists. She channels Kate Bush beautifully in “The Circle Married The Line,” the track you’ll want to put on repeat when you first listen. Aptly titled “Bittersweet Melodies” satisfies as well, with a beautiful multi-tracked harmony and a neo-Burt Bacharach quality. Don’t ask me what Feist is selling in “Anti-Pioneer” with “Start with colours, they always get away with attitude but they’ll try to convince you of your mood. What you want they’ll give it to you but it’s only therapy; that’s all they do” and “When the flag changes colours the language knows; when the month changes numbers it’s time to go” but I’m buying it. This twangy dirge of a song would not be out of place in a David Lynch film, and that’s high praise as I see it. She’s been performing it in concert for years (see below, Vancouver 2007) but this is it’s first studio version. I’m hoping my yoga instructor adds it to her mix.

“Undiscovered First” starts out tentative, almost as if it’s a take they should have tossed, but it chugs along to become like a New Orleans funeral march with tambourine that’s actually played, not just shaken. “Cicadas and Gulls” is a lovely ode to two of the most annoying creatures on earth if you ask me! A simply plucked lone guitar and the multi-layered, much reverbed vocal combine beautifully. “Comfort Me” starts with a haiku, then deviates as soon as she calls attention to that fact. Still, it’s poetic and melodic in a Regina Spektor-ish way. LP closer “Get It Wrong, Get It Right” leaves you wanting more with its sparse but polished beauty. “Wind on the fields blowing your hair weaving gold…hand to hold.” Another one for the yoga mix I hope!

volume 23… on Mixpod!

I’ve certainly been remiss with posting about new music. Chalk that up to the mainstream outlets doing a pretty good job lately and needing less of my help 😉

Volume 23 was compiled in July 2011, and served as the soundtrack to my summer vacation. As such, it’s a bit looser and poppier than usual, and even includes a Lady Gaga song! Hope you enjoy…….


compilation volume 22 now on

click HERE

British Sea Power, Death Valley Sleepers

First of, I hope you like the fresh new spring look here at (if you just read your email alerts, you should check out the site).

British Sea Power

I don’t know where I first read of British Sea Power, but whatever I read impressed me enough to download half a dozen songs. For the most part, they aim for that “epic” sound: effect-pedals on, amps at eleven, vocals bellowing to be heard over soaring guitars….you know the type. As it turns out, I like the song that’s an exception, “Living Is So Easy”, which has a lounge-lizard-like swagger not unlike Louis XIV. Over much restrained instrumentation (more gentle, more synth-y),  vocalist Yan channels a bit of Bryan Ferry, but not too seriously, while teaching us something about consumerism and priorities (sample lyric: “LVMH in the HLM”…that got me googlin’.) Maybe Bryan Ferry with a buzz on…yeah, that’s it: Ray Davies! Anyway, give a listen and you tell me. Video’s witty as well….

Death Valley Sleepers

More shoe-gaze, this time from Denmark, from Death Valley Sleepers, which is only one person, Tobias Winberg. It was no stroke of genius on my part when I identified Jesus and Mary Chain as an influence. I wish I could remember which blogger it was that DID exhibit genius with something like “Jesus and Mary Chain and The Raveonettes go back in time and jam with Velvet Underground” (how my doin’ Matt, with the comps??) Anyway, everything I’ve heard from him/them is fab, and much of it is rippable around the web. My fave track is “Left Me High”:

Gold Motel, Craft Spells, Minitel Rose

Gold Motel

Gold Motel‘s “Cold Shoulders” brought vintage Blondie to my mind when I first heard it, and it has remained a favorite (that LW–lovely wife—also likes it seems to support the Blondie connection).  The Chicago 5-piece is built around Greta Morgan, formerly of The Hush Sound (yeah, I never heard of them either). They claim to have come up with the name by pulling words out of a hat. Plenty of videos on YouTube, but they’re all live versions or remixes. Hear the original version and/or buy it for a buck at BandCamp.

Craft Spells

Craft Spells is another of those bands with vocals that sound like they were recorded from a payphone in new Jersey while the rest of the band was in the studio. The track “After The Moment” evokes a Morrissey impersonator who has jumped on stage with a jaded disco wedding band, by which I mean to say it’s fabulous (a la The pains of Being Pure at Heart). I read that they are duo of Justin Vallesteros and Frankie Soto of Seatle via Stockton California, which leads me to wonder which of the five above they are, not to mention who are the other three! I’m open to any updates!

Minitel Rose

Like most French electropop, you’ll either love or hate Minitel Rose. From the opening synth riff (heard on Passport Approved, BTW) , I thought I might be listening to new Teddybears track. Whichever memeber of this trio (Raphael, Romain and Quentin) is doing the main vocal, he’s got that vaguely robotic quality to his English that I, for one, love (there was a German prog-rock trio called Triumvirat that I listened to in the 70s whose vocalist learned his English phonetically — he didn’t understand a word of what he was singing— that had this same quality, but that’s a story for another time).