Wednesday, January 30, 2008
There are many ways to win my heart; among them flowers, mix cds, and breakfast in bed. If you're a band, it can be a little harder to secure my affections. However, it took Austin's Corto Maltese approximately two seconds into the first song of their three-song demo. Why am I in such deep smit with this Texan fivesome, you might wonder? "Man Alive" features a "Sound and Vision" era Bowie vocal thing, along with the ever-present (and oft-commented on) Arcade Fire-alikeness that pervades the Corto Maltese sound. "Never a Waver" is full of all things loud and wonderful, and at times reminds me the Pixies' "No. 13 Baby" (seriously, listen to both of them and you'll hear what I mean). "Providence" might be my favorite, but it's a tough call. It sounds like summer, shimmery and exciting.
Corto Maltese makes the kind of music you can't help falling in love with. It's intoxicating, sophisticated, and hot damn is it ever catchy. If these are demos, I can only imagine how unbearably good an LP is going to be.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Hey Venus! has been out for months upon months in the rest of the world (and digitally), but for various reasons was only recently released on American soil. Unlike SFA’s previous album Love Kraft, which took quite a while to grow on me, I was immediately smitten. I fell further in love with the transcendent “Run-Away,” which begins with singer Gruff Rhys’ intro, “This song is based on a true story/which would be fine/if it wasn’t autobiographical,” and also appeals to my love of a good, fluffy pop song masking lyrics which are anything but. “Neo Consumer” begins with lots of yelling Super Furries and much electrobleeping, somewhere along the lines of early SFA (think a slightly toned-down “God! Show Me Magic!”). “Into the Night” has a little sauce to the bassline, and some 70s-inspired keyboard effects to boot. In my head, the Furries perform this song against a backdrop of oriental rugs in a room heavily scented with incense and peppermints. And are those bongos I hear? “Suckers” is a blissfully barbed track, sharp as brass tacks but with instrumentation that’s warm and fuzzy with feedback. Hey Venus! is a spot-on LP, sure to make the long-standing SFA fans grin with glee and make believers out of the doubters.
Sure, they’ve grown up (a wee bit) since Fuzzy Logic hit the scene in 1995, but they’re probably younger at heart than most. I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that no one does far-outness like SFA, none can match their quirky prowess, and they are untouchable in the fields of spacecakery, ridiculousness, and fascinating oddities. And with that, I rest my case.
Ladies and gents, I present to you such a song. Take a gander at “Saints,” the latest single by Left Coast rising stars Army Navy.
Jaunty and playful, "Saints” sounds like the best of Teenage Fanclub filtered through the glorious sunrays of a Southern California summer afternoon, replete with the appropriate amounts of jangling guitars and cheeky lyrics (“believe me when I call and I say/the next girl that I love won’t be a saint/now go away”) masked by sunny vocals. It’s an early 1990s Britpop beach party, and who doesn’t love that? Army Navy does, and so do I.
You can proceed immediately here to purchase the Saints EP. Run, don’t walk.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Our lead-off vixen is the adorable Calvin Harris and his video for "The Girls." I only recently became acquainted with Calvin courtesy of my roommate, who downloaded his album I Created Disco on a whim. "The Girls" is on said album, and is quite possibly the most ridiculously entertaining, catchiest, most fun song I've heard in at least a year. It combines unbearable bravado with impossible beats that render you powerless against the need to shake your tail feathers until you can shake no more. It's hypnotic. The video itself features Calvin, a bevy of dancing ladies, and a wig selection colorful enough to rival that of Jennifer Garner's Alias character, "Sydney." And don't you just want to pinch Calvin's cheeks when he stands there, pouting at the camera and doing his little white boy lean? Ok, maybe that's just me.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
One of the nice things about having one's own music blog is the ability to write about friends in the industry. It is with such lack of descrepancy that today I'm going to tell you about my friend, Deron Baker. I've known Deron for years and his musical career is taking off, going so far as to allow him to quit his day job and perform full-time. He's garnered quite a Floridian following and the below tracks gave an indication as to why.
Deron is a singer-songwriter/guitarist in the vein of such luminaries as the Elected or Chris Robinson's solo stuff. On "June," he's handed over the vocal duties to Drew Dixon, but that's him in his full glory on "The Morning Song." Heartfelt, with a touch of the alt-country vibe, Deron undoubtedly has great things ahead of him and we here at Les Enfants Terribles certainly wish him the best.
I’ve never been to a proper festival before (HFStivals from the 90s don’t count, as they were a) one day, b) at RFK Stadium, and c) not usually all that good). The idea of spending time in a dusty, desert-ish polo field in some small town really hadn’t appealed to me before, at least not enough to make me consider going with any amount of certainty. Throw in a few dozen good bands and some booze, however, and I’m bound to be on various internet travel sites researching flights faster than you can say “Verve Reunion.” But let’s talk about who’s going to be there, day by day, and why you should care.
FRIDAY, APRIL 25
Not being a fan of his, I’m going to ignore the fact that Day 1 is being headlined by Jack Johnson. The rest of the day is choc-full of hot to trot music, of which the Verve is of the most import. It’s been an unfathomable ten years since they broke up, and I swoon at the idea of seeing Richard Ashcroft and Nick McCabe playing nice (onstage, at least) again. If you’ve never seen them live, you needn’t even finish reading this post, but should instead be buying your ticket to LA. Day 1 also features bigger names in the Raconteurs, Madness, and the National. Hipster favorites Animal Collective, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Stars, Minus the Bear, Rogue Wave, and Jens Lekman are also scheduled. And buzzed bands Vampire Weekend and the Black Lips will also be in attendance. All told, Day 1 has the potential to be pretty exciting.
SATURDAY, APRIL 26
Not to be outdone by Day 1, Day 2 has some tricks up its sleeve. Headlining duties fall with Portishead, whose miserable beauty I have wanted to see live for years. Also pulling rank on Day 2 are Kraftwerk and Death Cab for Cutie, who are both sure to get the great scenester hordes worked up to a lather. Other causes for enthusiasm include Rilo Kiley, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, M.I.A., Hot Chip, DeVotchKa, Mark Ronson, Islands, VHS or Beta, Bonde do Role, St. Vincent, Akron/Family, the Bird & the Bee, and New Young Pony Club. Some bands I’ve seen before and would love to see again (M.I.A., Hot Chip, Islands), and the others I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing for the first time. Plus, Mark Ronson is not only talented but also nice to look at, so bonus points for Day 2 for his appearance on the schedule.
SUNDAY, APRIL 27
The festival wraps up with another day full of good bands. Headlined by Roger Waters Dark Side of the Moon, the day features some pretty impressive talent. Love and Rockets and My Morning Jacket are a couple of the biggies, but for me the Biggest Deal of the day is Spiritualized. Perennial spacecake Jason Pierce was really ill a few years ago, and it’s nice to see him well enough to perform again (though there have been Spiritualized shows before this one). I’ve seen Jason and his revolving door of other band members several times now, and for the most part I haven’t been disappointed. Come for Spiritualized, but stick around for Justice, the Streets, Metric, Simian Mobile Disco, Dimitri from Paris, Autolux, Les Savy Fav, Sons & Daughters, Holy Fuck, Sia, Black Mountain, Man Man, and my favorite Swedes, the Shout Out Louds.
While it’s not quite a dynamite lineup across the board, the folks at Coachella have done a good job putting together a pretty diverse group of artists that should make the 2008 festival pretty enjoyable. Some bands are kind of predictable, but getting some Big Brits like the Verve, Portishead, and Spiritualized might get a bunch of folks (including me) thinking about getting out the suncreen and flying to the warm climes of Southern California. Head over to the Coachella site for the full lineup, and helpful hints about all things Coachella.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
My wait has been duly rewarded with the new single, Idiot Check/You Got the Love. “Idiot Check” is instantly recognizable as being a Longcut song, thanks to Stuart Ogilvie’s piercing monotone and the instrumental racket backing it up. It’s perfect for thrashing around your bedroom to while listening to at ear-splitting volume. The guitar crescendo about four minutes in is one of many reasons to love the track. “You Got the Love” is three furious minutes featuring a throbbing opening bass line and some wickedly jagged guitars, as well as some typical bleeps and knob-twiddling. A Longcut love song couldn’t be anything but as deliciously raging as this.
In addition to the two new tracks, two remixes are included. The James Rutledge remix of “Idiot Check” takes a little mud out of the vocals without compromising any of the song’s original intensity. The Shadow Dancer remix of “You Got the Love” sounds a bit like Richard X, dark and sinister, yet geared towards crowded dancefloors. All together, it’s a great set of songs, and it’s cause for celebration that the band is picking up right where they left off.
The Longcut is truly a special band, and I look forward to hearing much more from them. While their debut was released by Deltasonic, the two parties have since parted ways. Here’s hoping some other label will prove themselves smarter than the average bear by snapping these lads up, and soon.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
The Clear Tear marks a noticeable shift in the Deadbeat sound. Whereas once upon a time their clever lyrics and bouncy riffs were verging on menacing (not that there’s anything wrong with that), these four songs present at times an even more sinister, distinctly grittier sound without losing any of the saucy danceability. Think of it as more substance to go along with the style. Deadbeat Descendant: now with 60% more bite!
“Journeys Around My Room” starts things off with a bang, highlighted by Jez Norton’s feisty guitars and a Dean Marchant bassline that hearkens back to the best of the Swinging 1960s. “Death is a Painter” is at once morbid and ridiculously catchy, and features a terrific parting shot: “Death is a Painter/and God is a critic”. “East European Lighter” is probably the most addictive of the four, which believe you me is saying something. The song features further fine guitar playing courtesy of Mr. Norton, along with singer Raal Harris indulging in some noisemaking that sounds a bit akin to Arrested Development’s Gob Bluth’s hilarious chicken noises, which is just all sorts of fantastic. Oh, and his voice when he’s not clucking is not bad, either. “Midweek Rebellion” serves as the EP’s cool-down moment, after the three intense, uproarious songs before it. Through it all Raal croons, Jez shreds, Dean resonates, and Rosco pummels, each with swaggering panache.
All in all, Deadbeat Descendant continue to hold a special place in my heart for their wry wit, tight pants, and proclivity for making killer music. To check out their stuff for yourself, head over to their official site or their Myspace page.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Here now is part two of the Baltimore show. I have to admit, I have no idea what the last two tracks are and I'm not even positive it's from the same show. It might not even be Morphine. But when I picked up the entire show, this was on disc two, so now you can have it, too.
It is also with great pleasure that I inform everyone that saxophonist extraordinaire Dana Colley has formed yet another new band, AKACOD. He's teamed up with the lead singer of Bourbon Princess and the guy that played drums on Morphine's "Like Swimming." They're about to embark on a predominantly East Coast tour and you know I'm going to catch the band when it hits DC on February 16. Learn more about the band and/or pick up their debut CD here.
Without further ado, here's some more Morphine for what ails ya'.
I Know You pt. 2
Mysterious Track 7
Mysterious Track 8
Monday, January 14, 2008
OK, kiddies, it's time for a new, hopefully recurring addition to the LET line-up. That's right, it's time for "Live and Direct," an on-going series of concerts we've stumbled upon. In some cases, we'll have been at these shows. Other times, it will just be a kick-ass performance we've fortunately found. In all cases, it's going to be a band we hold dear for whatever reason.
I'm going to kick this off with one of my favorite bands of all times, the incomparable Morphine. If you don't know these cats, shame on you. Sadly, the band ended in the late 90s with the unexpected death of lead singer and bassist, Mark Sandman, when he collapsed on stage in Rome due to a congenital heart condition. Two of the remaining members, saxophonist Dana Colley and drummer Billy Conway, reformed with Laurie Sargent as Twinemen, named after a cartoon originally drawn by Sandman.
Morphine's sound is smoky, sexy and hep cat cool. With jazz sensibilities, this was THE college band back in the early to mid-90s. When I first heard their debut CD, "Good," I knew this group was something special. Follow-up "Cure for Pain" cemented the deal for me. With tracks such as, "You Speak My Language," Thursday," "Let's Take a Trip Together," and "You Look Like Rain," the first two albums were critically acclaimed and remain favorites of mine to this day. Their next two albums produced additional songs for the ages, like "Super Sex," "French Fries w/ Pepper," and "Whisper," but then the aforementioned untimely death of Mark Sandman struck. One more album followed, the truly magical, "The Night." This album deviated somewhat from the traditional Morphine sound, going beyond their normally minimalist set-up to incorporate additional players and instruments. Essentially completed before his death, the remaining members put together a tribute band made up of various people who had played with Sandman throughout his career to form Orchestra Morphine.
I was fortunate enough to see Morphine twice, once in Chicago and once in Philly. Ditto for Orchestra Morphine for both of their shows in DC at the Black Cat. I see Twinemen every opportunity I get, a couple of times at IOTA, a couple of times at the Black Cat. And I'll be damned if I don't see them the next time they come through town again.
And now it's time to share the love and magic. For your listening enjoyment, here is part one of Morphine playing in Baltimore on April 13, 1996. I wasn't at this show, but came across it on a Morphine fan site. Sit back, lower the lights, indulge in your favorite intoxicant and get ready to experience Morphine in all their glory.Early to Bed - Sharks
I Know You Pt. 3
Cure for Pain
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Friday, January 4, 2008
I would hope you’re already familiar with Radiohead, so we’ll skip right over the bio and background information. For those of you that don’t yet know, there are ten tracks on this album. They’re all unfathomably awesome, ridiculously remarkable, and majestically stunning. There are so many sounds and textures on this album it almost overwhelms, but being that Radiohead know how to make a record it never quite becomes too much. It’s the kind of album that makes you shut your eyes, turn the volume up as loud as your eardrums can stand, and wish you could drown in the music. In Rainbows will take you to a haunting yet ultimately beautiful place. Already it has sent shivers down my spine, given me goosebumps, and made my heart ache with joy. That’s not me blowing smoke up anyone’s ass, them’s just the facts, folks.
Sure, Radiohead have become one of the World’s Biggest Bands, and it’s probably even trendy to scoff at them. If it was any other band, I might just be among the scoffers. But let’s not kid ourselves, Radiohead has been a steady source of heart-breakingly magnificent music for over ten years now, and In Rainbows is no exception. While The Bends remains my personal favorite album, I will always passionately love Mister Yorke and co. for continuing to twist and mutate their sound, shape-shifting and metamorphosizing all the while managing to remain unmistakably Radiohead. If you don’t already own In Rainbows, please take whatever steps necessary to immediately rectify the situation. You owe it to yourself, your eardrums, and your soul.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
From a recent interview of Reitman:
"At one point, I asked Ellen Page before we started shooting, 'what do you think Juno listens to?' And she said 'The Moldy Peaches'. She went on my computer, played the songs, and I fell in love with it. Diablo and I discussed putting a Moldy Peaches song in it where the characters would sing to each other. I got in touch with Kimya Dawson of The Moldy Peaches and she started sending me her work, which was beautiful, and that became a lot of the soundtrack."
Suffice to say, Ms. Page has excellent taste and Ms. Dawson is a kick-ass performer. Part of the anti-folk movement of the 90s, Dawson's voice is somehow instantly captivating in spite of its somewhat monotone delivery. It certainly doesn't hurt that she's a brilliant lyricist and provides an intimacy in her work that's sadly missing in a lot of other stuff these days, quite possibly because she records in places like her family kitchen.
Learn more about Ms. Dawson at her website or her live journal. I'm warning you now, though, be careful when you Google her name. It's Kimya, not Kim. Your eyes may never recover from Kim's unsettling pr0n. Consider yourself warned.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
2008: Year of the Witch? Quite possibly.
Continuing on with our love of bands with American transplants, I’d like you to meet Oli Walker and Dan Danby, otherwise known as Mississippi Witch. I’ve already fallen head over heels for them, and now it’s your turn. The duo’s long and winding road brought them from Mississippi (Walker) and New Mexico (Danby) many thousands of miles to London, and thence to Bristol. Mississippi Witch has proven a reasonably apt moniker, as there is something spellbinding in the music. Formed in 2005, there’s a distinct 1970s vintage to their sound; heavy, heady swoons of unadulterated bluesy Southern rock with a dash of desert mysticism filtered through the misty rain and refined antiquity of London Town. Walker’s vocals and guitar bombast wouldn’t sound out of place on the mid-70s albums of many a great Southern rock band, and Danby bangs the drums with such abandon that it could be considered a minor miracle he doesn’t destroy his kit each time he plays.
Black Gamble is a monster of a debut album, and will most certainly get the blood pumping. It begins with the towering inferno otherwise known as “Just for Roosevelt,” all grit and grime resplendent with some of the dirtiest guitar riffage you’re likely to hear all year. “Alligator Mechanics” showcase some nasty banjo playing, with Walker’s voice taking an exaggerated, molasses-like tone. The title track, “Black Gamble,” shows where some English punk has seeped in to the Witch sound, with ferociously fraught guitars and a break-neck pace to oblivion. The dozen tracks are all so glutted and teeming with noise that at times it’s hard to imagine that there are only two people making such a racket.
The bottom line? This album is staggeringly good, and 2008 could be annus mirabilis for these wandering, transplanted souls of Mississippi Witch. After a few listens to Black Gamble, you’ll join me in expecting big things from Misters Walker and Danby. Head over to their website to listen to some album tracks (and then purchase it, naturally).
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Hoax Funeral formed when an American-born interloper to the English countryside, Anjy Hall, happened to cross paths with an English bloke, Chris Gregory. As I understand it, the two quickly discovered a shared love of sounds both exotic and familiar, and thus formed an endearing four-piece band that sounds otherworldly, yet tinged with down home goodness. Hoax Funeral is comprised of Al Jordan (various stringy instruments) and Cherish Burk (things banged upon), with Hall (vox/strings/penner of lyrical magic) and Gregory (too many instruments to name/further song craftsmanship) rounding things out nicely. Sporting an amalgam of sounds that rely heavily on alt-country and folk traditions, the band quickly conjures images of forlorn country nights beneath a cold, pale moon. Throughout it all, though, a sense of beauty pervades in just the right way.
With successful stints at numerous musical gatherings throughout England, including the Riverside Festival in Stamford, Hoax Funeral is leaving a devoted fan base in their wake. Following acclaimed radio play on BBC1 and in the US and Italy, reviews have been favorable for the band's full-length debut produced by Owen Turner (Broken Family Band, Magoo, Rory McVicar), on the band's own Sacred Crow label.
"Amsterdam" is perhaps my favorite track on the debut. "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" may or may not be one of their finest, but, damn, I do love me some Leadbelly covers. For more on the band or to pick up their CD, visit their website.
And so, we welcome you to our little piece of the internet. Bon appetit. -MP
I do believe my erstwhile partner pretty much summed up our mutual thoughts on this blog, so I'll keep my few cents extra short and sweet. You can't swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting a blog these days and you probably are wondering why we are cluttering up the Interwebs with yet another. Our goal is simple--to hopefully introduce you folks to some great tunes you might otherwise have missed. We plan to scour the planet to bring you music that either floats our boat or blows wind up our skirt. The notions that we're doing this to get lucky, score free music, make money or that we lost a bet are highly exaggerated, at best.
Here, you'll find some music to check out for yourself, concert reviews, recommended shows to see and hopefully some other interesting stuff, too.
So leave your pants at the door, sit back and enjoy. -CD