Monday, November 30, 2009

Greatest Mix You Will Ever Hear Series: Bizarre Comic Book Songs

LET fave and friend ekko over at the always wonderful Berkeley Place was bitching and moaning, er, mentioning the sad, sad fact that bloggers seldom seem to show love to one another anymore. As the LET crew still is waiting to celebrate its second birthday in about a month, we can't really say how things were "back in the good, old days," but we certainly can agree with the sentiment that we could all use a little bit more love in our lives, so today is all about BP. Well, maybe, but kind-of, sort-of, in a not really kind of way.

For those of you not in the know, BP focuses on a bit of this and a bit of that, but the two primary "functions" of his wonderful blog are music and comic books. Clearly, a man after my own heart. Perhaps foolishly of him, ekko even has me write the occasional piece for him. Speaking of which, assuming you read this, ekko, i swear to Kitty Pryde's corpse that I'm going to finish that X-Men piece as soon as humanly possible.

Any which way but loose, today we "officially" are starting a new feature here at LET, The Greatest ____ Mix You Will Ever Hear" series. You've already got most of the zombie triumvirate and you tasted the beauty of that which is the finest in breakfast raps, but today's launch is in tribute to the Wise and Sagacious ekko. May I present to you, the Greatest Bizarre Comic Book Songs Mix You Will Ever Hear. Pay no attention to the fact that most of these tracks probably came from BP in the first place; I'M the Mixmaster here, and that's all you need to worry about regarding that.

You're going to notice inclusion of folks that correctly character name drop in their songs. This would be one such example. What's more, and my geeks out there can back me up here, every single comic book guy out there has had this conversation at least once with at least one loved one.

I believe I found this one on some "uber-obscure songs that never should have been made" website. Either that, or this was used in someone's trial to prove psychopathic tendencies were, in fact, a mitigating circumstance and I copied it from Court TV. What we have hear is the one and only Burt Ward of "...& Robin" fame reading fan letters he's received. Could be the most creepy, inappropriate thing ever set to wax. Oh, and who's that backing band, you ask? Goddamn Mothers of Invention. I shit you not.

mp3: Spiderman (Tenacious D from a live show; if I had to guess, I say it was from a Largo show, but that's because EVERYTHING from their early career seems to come from a Largo show)

I've seen the D do this song live once or twice, so let me see if I can set the stage appropriately. Kyle and Jack start out doing a straight cover of the old cartoon theme song before a guy comes out dressed in a Sasquatch costume. At this point, things devolve into a sort of improv gross-out comedy fest that cracks me up every time I hear it. Essentially, JB simply describes what's happening on-stage. I am fairly confident this is the only song on the planet that discusses chodas and Bigfoot in the same verse.

ekko is one of the few cats out there that seems to like Metal Face as much, if not more, than i do. Beyond the fact that Doom's entire persona is based on the Fantastic Four's premier villain, he often samples old FF records from the 60s and 70s into his music, clearly making him a perfect addition to this list. While you have to wait for the end of the track for the FF record sample, you should notice immediately that, yes, this motherfucker sampled Sesame Street as the back beat for the entire track. GENIUS, I tell you!

Sure, having an orchestra and full choir substitute "pig" for "man" in the classic theme song would be enough for inclusion here. More importantly, i'd like to say we're the first and only mp3 blog out there today with multiple Hans Zimmer posts. LET Rules, bitches!

Alright, I'll be the first to admit I'm really stretching it on this one, but there is a full verse about Superman losing in a DJ battle, so there's list placement justification right there. To be honest, though, I just freaking love this song and wanted to put it in here. Don't question the Mixmaster, son, just go with it.

mp3: Who's a Hero? (MF Doom & Trunks from Unicron)
Between these two tracks, damn near every major comic book character from the past three or more decades is mentioned. Major props for these cats even knowing all these names, yet alone for their ability to actually make raps out of that knowledge. Geek, geek, yo!

The one true "comedy" inclusion in the bunch, I've seen Stephen live a couple of times now, and this one always is a crowd pleaser. For the part of the show where he asks the audience to shout out names of potential superheros, the last time I saw him someone yelled out "Bukake Boy!" You can't make this stuff up, folks. Well, I suppose you could, but why bother?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's Covered: Brazil

Long weekends get me to thinking about taking a real vacation. Either that, or i'm really coming up short for a better segue for today's It's Covered.

Today's track is Brazil, written in 1939 by Ary Barroso. Go figure, it's a pretty beloved track in Brazil, where it was penned and goes by the full name of "Aquarela do Brasil."

But, of course, that's not what i'm here to talk about today. i'm going to tell a little story about my vacation down there a few years back. My second youngest brother, The World Traveler, and i moseyed down for Carnival. That brother has an ever expanding list of Things To Do, and i decided to tag along for that one.

We stayed in Ipanema, and yes, most of the locals were of Deity-like beauty. Other than that, i was not impressed. i've been more than a couple of places, but i've never been approached by more hookers and pan handlers in my life. In and of itself, OK, these things happen, it is practically a third world country, after all. If you're going to try to sell your body for ducats, though, can we all agree that there are things that are appropriate and things that are not during your sales pitch to me? Honestly, i'm not into working girls, but i see no reason why it should be illegal. That being said, i'm fairly confident no John wants to hear about your kids in the opening monologue. As if that weren't an uncomfortable incident to last me the entire vacation, it remains to this day the one time i actually saw a condom floating perilously close to me in a goddamn ocean. And i lived in South Jersey for a lot of the 80s, so that's really saying something. We had dolphin AIDS, for chrissakes, and i never once almost got flacked by a jimmy cap whilst doing some body surfing.* Finally, while it may seem nectar-like when you are first offered it by the natives, i'm telling you right now that caipirinha actually is the devil's semen. Pardon my French, but that shit will fuck your day up. i just referred to them as chupacabras and every single bartender knew immediately what i meant.

And that's enough pain med-induced rambling about that, i do believe.

Today's sample platter includes the following lunchtime specials:

1. Arcade Fire's version, which might be most least fave here. Don't get me wrong, AF is one of my top 10 bands of the past decade, but this one kind of just falls flat on my ears. i dunno. You tell me.

2. Conversely, Asylum Street Spanker's take might maybe be my most fave on this small smattering. That clarinet, quite frankly, is just money. And their old timey, small club jazz vibe simply nails it for me.

3. If ASS's version doesn't deserve top billing here, Pink Martini's does. They blow it up much larger than any of the others here, nearly opting for the big band route. And to further belabor my clearly mismatched and possibly contradictory use of metaphors, they, too, knock it out of the park.

4. Last but certainly not least, Geoff Muldaur's take from the movie of the same name by Terry Gilliam. Damnation, but i loves me some Terry Gilliam. For those of you not in the know, this is the second movie in his life of man trilogy, along with Time Bandits, this one and closing with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. While they weren't billed as a trilogy as such, the way i heard it, each movie is meant to depict man in a certain stage of his life (youth, middle-age or "grown up" and old age. Seen in that lens, his already trippy works seem that much more incredible).

And that's all i gots for now. We'll see what happens after i take my next does of meds.

*Ed. note--i saw to Tummi Gummi, such a thing as dolphin AIDS existed. i had to do a report on it in the 8th grade. It's wasn't actually AIDS, but it was similar enough in symptoms and transmission that that's what the local media called it. Of course, Google is not backing my ass up at all here. Bastards. Just remember, though, your Uncle Terrible would never knowingly lie to your face. So there's that.

mp3: Brazil (Arcade Fire from Rebellion (Lies) Single)

mp3: Brazil (Asylum Street Spankers from Spanks for the Memories)

mp3: Brazil (Pink Martini from Sympathique)

mp3: Brazil (Geoff Muldaur from Brazil Soundtrack)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Mix Post

By this time, i have come to learn that the great unwashed masses now realize that when it comes to the Greatest Mixes You Will Ever Hear, they're not going to find any place else that stuff 1/100th as good as the junk they'll find here at LET. Arguably not the clearest of wording aside, i get it, folks. A holiday comes around, and all y'all need a mix to help you with decorating/eating/drinking/avoiding suicide/etc. And you want some really good shit. i can dig it. No worries, even. Truth be told, though, Thanksgiving isn't exactly the easiest holiday for which to make a mix to blow your mind AND stuff your turkey. Aside from that Adam Sandler track, what's a Mix Master Supreme to do? Well, whip out your three ring binders and start taking notes, kids, because this is how its done.

Don't ask me why, but this was one of my absolute favorite tracks when i was about five. Probably had something to do with that infectious fiddlin'. Or maybe because i associated JD with the Muppets, and that's reason enough for any kid to love a tune.

Who doesn't love songs that verge on blatant pedophilia by old French dudes? You know NAMBLA wishes they had a theme song this catchy.

If i have to explain the inclusion of DOOM into any of my mixes, you need to either move along to a different site or do some more research on where you've ended up, suckafish.

mp3: Thank You (Pearl Jam with Robert Plant from 10-5-05 Concert)

You would have felt cheated if this Zep track wasn't on your Thanksgiving mix, then i would have felt either bad and/or annoyed with your whining, and then nobody wins. So here it is, and everyone can go about their merry way, no muss, no fuss.

This one is for The Missus and her plentiful, er, cornucopias. That's huge tracts of land to you and me, kids.

It's short, sweet, jazzy and somehow catchy as hell. What's not to be thankful about all that?

This track is both bizarre and entertaining. It's about a chance backstage encounter between Jack White and the Flaming Lips wherein the White Striped Raconteur gives a gift of love to his heroes--a light-up Christ figurine. i wish i could get some rockstar drugs.

One of my favorite MD tunes from his best solo work to date. The fact that i've waited for that train and thought those same things certainly endears it further to me, but don't let the fact that you've somehow managed to fortunately avoid Brooklyn up until this point in your life deter you from loving it just a little bit yourself.

Sure, it's about overcoming addiction, but goddamn, that bass line could be the funkiest drug i've ever heard. And those horns? Somebody call Betty Ford's for me now because i have a problem turning this one off repeat on ye olde iPod.

i had to get one absolutely legit Thanksgiving track in here, so i used this chestnut. Bust out the jelly beans and popcorn, folks, it's party time!

And with that, you're welcome.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Singles Club: Sia's You've Changed and Lykke Li's Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

I was in the car with The Missus yesterday when I mentioned to her that two of my favorite pixies (no, not those Pixies) had just unleashed some free mp3 love on the world. As a great many conversations with The Missus go, she asked me what the hell I was talking about. I then informed her that Sia had dropped "You've Changed" from her upcoming CD, We Are Born, via Twitter, and that Lykke Li, apparently apropos of nothing, gave away her take on the Shirelles classic, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"

As is also the case with many conversations with The Missus, this led to a complete non sequitur regarding "actual" pixies. "I can see you calling Sia a pixie, but not Lykke. Pixies can't have long hair." While I still have no idea where that notion came from, I did agree that LL was not necessarily the first person that would come to mind when one thought of pixies.

"However," I retorted, "if we use the X-Man Pixie as our baseline, it's absolutely the right word. Sia would be your early Pixie before she lost part of her soul to the demon Belasco and effectively became Dark Pixie during X-Infernus. I think it's more than fair to think of Lykke Li as a very credible Dark Pixie." And then I was met with the blank stare that a lot of women give me when I start trying to reduce everything to comic books. Such is the story of my life, I suppose.

Regardless, these are two great tracks. You might possibly recognize Sia's track, as she did an earlier version with Lauren Flax. This new version is a lot less dance floor-y and better showcases her vocals as opposed to Ms. Flax's production skills. LL similarly comports herself quite nicely on this Motown gem.

Pixies, indeed, says I.

mp3: You've Changed (Sia from the forthcoming We Are Born)

mp3: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (Lykke Li from her website)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Live Review: Amanda Palmer & Nervous Cabaret, 11-19-09, State Theatre

More on a whim than much else, I snagged tickets to see Amanda Fucking Palmer last night at the State Theatre. I'll be honest, I knew virtually nothing about her. I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan, and he had recommended following her on Twitter a few months ago, so I did. I dug her tweets, but far more interesting to me, they way she used social media to truly create a new career for herself showed that this chick was pushing the boundaries of interacting with fans in a way that I believe is going to be the blueprint of how musicians survive and thrive as the old system of big corporate labels die a none-to-soon death. How she made essentially goose egg from sales of her CD, and yet was able to make a fairly hefty sum via Twitter and the like was revelatory to me. Anyway, it was enough to get me to buy tickets having only heard a handful of her tracks.

As I left the crib with The Missus, I told her we might literally only stay for a song or two before bouncing back home. Luckily, The Missus was in no rush, as it turned out to be one of the more enjoyable shows I've seen in a while.

Opening act Nervous Cabaret (who also played the role of AP's backing band) might well have put on a "better" show than Ms. Palmer herself. It seems to me that Amanda's strengths lie in her stage presence and lyrics as opposed to her vocal depth. NC's lead singer, however, had a damn impressive set of pipes. And that band ain't got no dust on it, I tell you what.

Both acts music has been described to me as Gothic punk cabaret, and that seems a perfect sobriquet. Both were slightly jazzy, slightly funky, very theatrical, but most importantly, were damn fine musicians. And when the bassist donned a goat mask for no apparent reason just before they left the stage, I knew they had made a new fan.

Amanda eventually took the stage just before 10 pm to fairly thunderous applause from a crowd made up of an assorted lot you're not going to find just anywhere. We had some aging Goths (that 6' 6", 250 lbs dude in the top hat and white face paint, the numerous middle agers wearing black stockings, more than a couple of females who dig females dressed as dapper dons, etc.) and various other folks who might have been freaks back in the day, but seemed rather subdued in this setting. Again, I know virtually nothing of her music, so I can't really say what songs she played. I later learned she played a few Dresden Dolls tracks and a bunch of tunes from her solo career. I did recognize her cover tunes, of course, including House of the Rising Sun and a snippet of Twist and Shout. In the middle of her set, she had an audience Q&A (her second session of the night, but we got there too late to see the first) that gave insight into why she shaves her eyebrows and her apparent utter disdain for the Twilight movies (I guess old school Goths hate the new school posers; and thus, it all comes back to footwear), amongst other personal insights. Her encore was particularly compelling, when she brought out her father to play guitar and duet on a Leonard Cohen tune before bringing Nervous Cabaret back onstage to reach the most rocking points of the evening.

More than just a music performance, this seemed much more like theater to me. The crowd apparently felt the same way, as far as I could tell. Of the hundreds, if not thousands, of concerts I've seen, never before have I actually heard an entire house go silent during the ballads and dirges that burbled forth from AP's pipes. I don't know why, exactly, but that impressed me on some deep level. Fans actually respecting an artist...will wonders never cease?

Towards the end of the night, Ms. Palmer mentioned she's been playing the area quite a bit lately. The next time she does come to town, I plan on being in the audience again.
(Complete side note: I snagged both of NC's CDs from the merch table, but took too long to grab Who Killed Amanda Palmer. That's a pisser. If AP ever happens to stumble upon this review, I certainly wouldn't hold it against her if she saw to it that a copy made its way into my greedy little hands so I can continue to share the love. It's all about the love, after all. I'm not saying, I'm just saying. You know what I'm saying?)

mp3: Coin-Operate Boy (The Dresden Dolls from The Dresden Dolls)

mp3: Missed Me (The Dresden Dolls from The Dresden Dolls)

mp3: I Google You (Amanda Palmer, live, 8-5-08)

mp3: Mel Gibson (Nervous Cabaret from Nervous Cabaret)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's Covered: Lovefool

OK, at this point, even i'm tired of hearing about what a shitty, tiring week i'm having. So what do we all need in this instance? That's right, a little levity never hurt nothing, as my less than grammatically correct friends are apt to say.

With that, let's take a few listens to a few different takes on everyone's favorite song about the political collapse of third world micronauts during the decline of omniversal mining rights. No, i'm just fucking with you. Lovefool was written by Peter Svensson and Nina Persson (gotta love those Scandinavian names) for the Cardigan's third studio album, First Band on the Moon, way back in 1996. Like most kids at the time, though, I was hipped to that track by the soundtrack for William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. Whether you feel Claire Danes and Leo DeCrappy did the Bard's work justice, the OST had a number of money tracks, this one included.

We're going to start with the original and then follow that with a pretty kick ass acoustic take, again by the Cardigans, called "The Puck Version." Then we've got a slightly more techno/bossa nova take from Just Jack, followed by an even techno-ier version by Jolin Tsai. And to round things out, a kind of sing-along version by The Morning Benders.

And while we're enjoying the hell out of this thing, who remembers when Jim couldn't stop singing it on the Office?

mp3: Lovefool (The Cardigans from First Band on the Moon)

mp3: Lovefool (The Cardigans from Best Of)

mp3: Lovefool (Just Jack from Radio 1 Established 1967)

mp3: Lovefool (Jolin Tsai from Love Exercise)

mp3: Lovefool (The Morning Benders from The Bedroom Covers)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All She Wanted Was a Quickie

You know what? It has been a long, goddamn day. More doctor appointments, a crazy day at the office, and somebody bid on my condo. Quite frankly, I am beat. What this post needs to be is short and sweet. That's right, we need a quickie.

And so I bring to you the greatest song of all times regarding such things. I believe the lyrics pretty much speak for themselves:

She said to make me happy
You gotta make it snappy
Gotta do it right
It won't take all night

Good Lord and Butter, I love the Dogfather.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Live Show Reviews: Dan Auerbach at Sonar on 11-13-09; White Denim at Rock N Roll Hotel on 11-14-09

Well, I was right, my weekend did kick ass, and I've got the bruises to prove it. A few quick notes about the two incredible bands and their shows this past weekend.

1. Dan Auerbach continues to shred with the best of 'em. At one point, he mentioned that he wasn't feeling so well, so if he just passed out on stage, we'd know why. As much as I love everything Black Keys, if I end up with the swine flu, I will not be a happy camper. If I do catch it, I damn well better get a free copy of Blakroc. I'm just saying.

2. This is the second time I've seen Dan doing the solo tour for Keep It Hid. It's clear that he's spent time honing the sound, as it's progressed into a swampy mixture that isn't necessarily obvious on the CD. Whatever it is, it sounds incredible.

3. Have you ever been to Sonar? That place is in one sketchy neighborhood. I don't like to make assumptions, but when there's a full contingent of private security AND cops patrolling the parking lot, I feel like maybe I'm not in the safest of places.

4. That being said, the club itself was pretty nice. I think I saw Jason Lytle play there right after Grandaddy broke up. The acoustics are strong, and the staff seemed friendly to me. If you don't mind potentially being shot outside, it didn't seem like a bad club.

5. I wish my iPhone camera took better pictures, as both bands have doppelgangers. Dan's rhythm guitarist is a dead ringer for a young Steve Cropper and the bassist for White Denim could pass for a young Jerry O'Connell (not quite that pudgy, but he did have a baby face going on something fierce). Neither of these opinions have anything to do with the music, I'm just saying these are some of the things that jump out at me from the audience. Could be all the pain killers I'm on these days.

6. I believe I've said it before, but the sound at the Rock N Roll Hotel is some of the worst I've ever experienced. I've heard better noise production at college keggers. Not only does the place lack decent speakers, the ones they do have are all jammed up front, horrendously distorting the sound in the back. Plus, with all due respect to whoever they have manning the sound booth, you really need to find a new occupation. Every show I've seen there it's the same thing--vocals are terribly underplayed while the instruments drown out everything else. It's a shame, because some otherwise brilliant vocals have been lost in the murk.

7. White Denim was a lot more jam band-y that I would have figured from just hearing their CDs. While they were by no means Phish-like, there was some open free form action going on up onstage that kind of surprised me. Not saying this is good or bad, just saying it surprised me.

Both shows, as I predicted, rocked my socks off, questionable neighborhoods and sound quality notwithstanding. If you missed these shows, you actually did miss out.

mp3: The Prowl (Dan Auerbach, live on KCRW, 3-16-09)

mp3: Regina Holding Hands (White Denim from Fits)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekend Plans

Sorry in advance for today's short post, but I had doctor and business appointments today, so I haven't really had much time to ponder the complexities of mp3 blogging this afternoon. Since it's been a long week, and I'm not only exhausted but beaten and battered from my various medical ailments, I've decided to do what any sane person needing rest would do: I've got tickets to see two hopefully kick-ass concerts this weekend.

To celebrate Friday the 13th, I'm headed to Baltimore tonight to catch Dan Auerbach, quite possibly the greatest axe man in the game today. Sure, he's doing his solo thing right now, but that don't make no never mind to yours truly. Tomorrow night, White Denim rolls into town. I reviewed their new CD here and am thinking this could be one of the best shows I see this year. My buddy over at R&G claims they're life-changing, and the new CD, Fits, easily is one of my top five (maybe even number one) faves of 2009.

Not that I have any extra time to spare, but are there any other kick ass shows this weekend of which the LET fambly should be made aware?

Now I have to worry about taking a nap so that my old bones can deal with this musical cornucopia of awesome excellence I have laid out before me.

mp3: Money & Trouble (Dan Auerbach, unreleased live track from 3-16-09 KCRW show)

mp3: I Start to Run (White Denim from Fits)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Old Skool Review: Doriella Du Fontaine

Today, kids, we're going to have possibly the oldest Old Skool Review possible. Depending on who you ask, a lot of folks credit the Sugar Hill Gang's Rappers Delight as the first "true" rap record.

But I'm here to tell ya, there's something else.

Rapper's Delight came out in 1979 . The much lesser known Doriella Du Fontaine was recorded in 1969. You do the math.

Enter one Lightnin' Rod aka Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin aka Alafia Pudim. He of the many handles was a member of the seminal The Last Poets. Many folks now argue that The Last Poets actually started hip hop, and if Doriella Du Fontaine is any example, well, that argument seems to hold a lot of water.

What's so big about an even older rap song, you might be asking yourself. How about the backing band? Um, yeah, that's Jimi Hendrix on guitar and bass and Buddy Miles on skins and organ. The story goes that this recording was a one-take jam session. Rod came in and started laying pimp rhymes over Miles' beats when Hendrix overheard the two and stepped into the room to start recording. While the bass and organ were added to the mix later, it's still one funktastic groove from beginning to end. This may not be the explosive Jimi that a lot of folks are used to, but damnation, the man could play a funk lick like nobody's business.

And that's your Ancient Hip Hop Lesson for today.

mp3: Doriella Du Fontaine (Lightnin' Rod, Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Miles from the Doriella Du Fontaine maxi-single)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Live Review: Darker My Love @ DC9, October 5, 2009

Fact: Darker My Love is one of LET's pet bands (see here, here, and here). Not only is this one hell of a band, they're also one hell of a bunch of nice dudes. Sure, I'd still love their music if they were assholes, they're just that good. Digressions aside, Darker My Love is a band worth checking out, and keep those feelers up because I've been assured a new record is in the works (the sooner the better, my loves). Also, they're pretty killer when it comes to the whole playing live thing, as I have been fortunate to learn not once but twice, most recently last month at the delightfully cozy DC9. They were one piece of a rather excellent bill, sandwiched between All The Saints and A Place To Bury Strangers (note to bands: extra points for using dry ice). Darker My Love doesn't go for dry ice, but it's of no consequence.

The last time I saw these Los Angelinos live, they were seriously stealing The Dandy Warhol's psych-addled thunder at the 9:30 Club. While they certainly did well on such a large stage, I'd been dying to see them somewhere like DC9, all up close and personal like. I knew it would be special, and lo and behold, I was right. It's a miracle the five of them and all their gear fit on the stage, but despite the cramped quarters it was rock'n'roll from the word go. They overcame some initial soundboard difficulties and played a solid, saucy little set. It felt much more rock, somehow, than my first Darker My Love experience. Perhaps it was the lack of that wacky gooey projection or something, but the slightly more stripped-down sound was incredible, and really demonstrated how great a band this really is. Sure, they left "Two Ways Out" off the setlist, but I'll forgive them. The set was heavy with new songs, heightening expectations for a quick release (please?) of even more retrodelica. Happily, a couple songs from their debut made it onto the setlist, too. Sometimes you have to see a band live to really appreciate the sounds they make, and a live Darker My Love show proves just how gifted these guys are as musicians. They are simply compelling live, and command your attention. Which, of course, you'll readily oblige them with.

All in all, I left DC9 feeling totally impressed by the entire show, but especially by Darker My Love. This is a band that not only can wow you on record, but also knows how to put on a live show.

Setlist above written out by DMLer Will Canzoneri, who has so much musical knowledge it will knock your socks off. "Talking Words" is below for your enjoyment. And believe you me, you will enjoy it. For all you Euro kids out there, make sure you keep a close eye on DML, as they are on your side of the Atlantic as we speak.

mp3: Talking Words (Buy: Darker My Love)

Album Review: The Phantom Band - Checkmate Savage

Ok, so The Phantom Band is Scottish, thereby giving them an unfair edge for earning my undying love and affection. But before you start worrying that my vision is blurred by saltires and sporrans, fear not. I love The Phantom Band for a whole lot more than the mere accident of nationality.

For instance, earlier this year the band happened to put out on a record, Checkmate Savage, on the most excellent label Chemikal Underground (home to various other excellent bands of the past and current day such as Arab Strap, Mogwai, and Sluts of Trust). As a general point of reference, I like to think of The Phantom Band as being a sort of British Sea Power with a brogue, adding a little bith more northerly darkness to an already heavy and intellectual brand of music. I for one would maim to see those two bands share a stage (BSP + TPB = Happy Megan).

But what makes the record so good, you might ask? The easy answer is everything, of course, but I'll expand a little. As with British Sea Power, The Phantom Band just exudes more intelligence than most bands out there. Clinic, too, shares this smartypants, highly-educated and infinitely quirky sound. Looking at the album cover, it makes me think that maybe there's some deep symbolism behind the Shaker chairs and upside down doorways. Perhaps it's the unconventional lyrics that go well beyond the lovelorn moping or angst of many a band. And, of course, they've got fantastic lyrics. "Leave my spirit/cuz lust and sin/is all that I want" might just be my new (unofficial) motto.
The first song on the album, "The Howling," the song from whence the aforementioned lyric comes, was my introduction to the album. When I first heard it, I stopped what I was doing and just sat still. It's such a curious song, layered with unexpected sounds and ghostly choruses and driven by a very distinct, powerful voice. It's just over six minutes long and it feels like an odyssey, so much musical ground does it cover. So too can be said of the entire album. It's a mish-mash of so much that it nearly bursts at the seams. My absolute favorite track on the album is "Halfhound, " posted below for your listening pleasure (you're welcome). It's several songs in one, as with just about every song on Checkmate Savage. I love the taut riff that serves as the spine of parts of the song, bordering as it does on sounding slightly sinister. But damned if I don't adore each and every one of the nine songs on this disc. Another one to pay close personal attention to is "Island," a slower, gentler (longer) number than most of the others. But again, this is a fantastic record. Buy it now.

If the above hadn't already convinced you of the fact, you can consider it a safe bet that Checkmate Savage will be in my top ten albums of this great year 2009. Give it a few listens, and it just might make its way into yours.

mp3: Halfhound (Buy: The Phantom Band)

It's Covered: Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?

Ed. Note--It's been brought to my attention there's a problem w/ the remix track below, and I'm afraid I don't know how to fix it. Hence, it has been removed, but I'm too lazy to go back and re-write the existing paragraph. Sorry about that.

While there are individual reasons for each "It's Covered" post, the one overarching theme seems to be songs from my early childhood, most notably those found in various cartoons. It is with this in mind that I bring today's offering, "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?" or, as I like to refer to it, "that song from Tom & Jerry."

"Is You Is" probably the first song I ever enjoyed specifically as a cover. When I first heard it outside of the T&J classic, I loved it for being a variation on a theme. Long story short, while I was raised on Joe Cocker and others who made entire careers out of cover songs, this was the first "cover tune" I appreciated for being itself.

Originally released as a B-side to "G.I. Jive" by Louis Jordan in 1944, the song enjoyed its own success before eventually being covered by everyone from B.B. King to Saffire, the Uppity Blues Women.

Today's versions include Louis' original, as well as takes by Bing Crosby & the Andrew Sisters (please pardon the few glitches; it's an OLD track) and Cab Calloway (for the criminally under-educated musically, that old dude in The Blues Brothers). To keep things interesting, we've also got Dinah Washington's original stab, as well as the Rae & Christian Remix of the same piece from the wonderful Verve Remixed series.

And, of course, the version that got this whole ball of wax started in the first place from Solid Serenade.

mp3: Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby (Louis Jordan)

mp3: Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby (Bing Crosby & the Andrew Sisters)

mp3: Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby (Cab Calloway)

mp3: Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby (Dinah Washington)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Newsflash: Jerry Fuchs Dead at 34

Perhaps it's an occupational hazard when you're a musician. But it just seems like far too many bright, bright lights of music leave this world far too soon, before they've contributed nearly as much as they might have done.

Sadly, add drummer Jerry (Gerhardt) Fuchs, member of !!!, The Juan McLean, LCD Soundsystem and Maserati to name a few to this tragic list. According to multiple reports, Fuchs was killed early Sunday morning in the elevator shaft of a building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he was attending a benefit party. He and a friend got stuck in an elevator, and tried to jump to the landing, which is where things went horribly wrong. Fuchs' jacket got stuck, and instead of leaping to safety, he fell down the shaft, and was pronounced dead soon after. He was 34.

I'm just so saddened by this. It breaks my heart to hear about such tragic accidents. Fuchs will be missed by many. Rest in peace, dear sir.

The Greatest Zombie Mix Update You Will Ever Hear, Part the First

Well, what have you Bumpuses been up to lately? Not that you asked, you selfish bastard, but guess who honest to Dolomite almost died week before last? No shit, Chet. No shit. Seem I suffered a renal artery thrombosis and a resulting blood clot, which essentially fucked my right kidney all sorts of over, meaning i now have about half a right kidney. The rest is necrotic, so to answer your obvious question, yes, I am now part zombie. While the docs still are running a batter of tests and then re-testing the results of those, the way I figure it, since I've been out of the hospital for a bit over a week now and still appear to be predominately live and kickin', I'm giving myself pretty much a B+ on the whole recovery process, further proving just how awesomely excellent and excellently awesome I remain.

As part of the whole recovery from emergency invasive surgery process (did I mention they had to insert a stent in me to fix the aforementioned collapsed artery? Still checking to see if this qualifies me as a half human/half cyborg zombie or not.), I pretty much unplugged from the world until today. Well, I'm back now, you vultures, and I'm sure you're wondering where the hell the rest of your Mecha-Mix is. Keep your damn pants on, as here's The Update, Part the First. I wanted to get this all up prior to Halloween, but if you haven't had half your kidney strangled to death while you think you're merely suppressing the mother of all farts, you probably wouldn't understand.

Did I mention the pain meds? Remind me to later then.

Without further ado, the Update I keep going on and on about. A couple of you mentioned that the original submission was a tad lacking here and there, so I decided to complete the project and make you look like an asshole for ever questioning my by now obvious skills as the World's Greatest Mixtape Master in the Universe. Yeah, I know that's a borderline oxymoron, but guess what? I'm that fucking good.

mp3: Re: Your Brains (Jonathan Coulton from Thing-a-Week Two)

Longtime readers have long heard me rant rhapsodic on how great I think the Berkley Place blog is, but let's be serious for a second here. Chief muckety muck Ekko put together a zombie mix of his own. Did anyone on the planet really think he or she had the ability to compete against this one? Apparently Ekko did, and, of course, ours is far, far superior. Except maybe for this one song they posted, quite possibly the greatest inner-office memo on zombies ever set to music. Damn that bastard for beating me to the punch there. Guess what, though? Now it's in my mix, too, so I clearly continue to win.

mp3: Zombie Dance (The Cramps from Songs the Lord Taught Us)

As was pointed out in the comments section of the first part of the Zombie Mix Triumvirate, this was kind of a glaring omission. Well, problem solved now.

mp3: Walking with a Zombie (Army of Lovers from Massive Luxury Overdose)

The problem with zombie music in general is that it tends to fall into either the death metal or techno categories. Since this is the greatest zombie mix you will ever hear, however, I've avoided those pitfalls and bring to you the finest nut meat from the finest genres worldwide. This would be zombie music if zombie music were written by a Santana cover band.

mp3: She Was a Teenage Zombie (Murderdolls from Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls)

Did someone ask for some ever so slightly hardcore zombie psychobilly? Well, tough shit, 'cuz that's what you're getting here regardless.

mp3: Infidel Zombie (The Dickies from the Nights in White Satin 7")

A. You wanted some actual early punk on this thing. B. The name "The Dickies" is funny to me.

mp3: El Zombie (Fauna from La Manita De Fauna)

Remember how I mentioned I was scouring the world for the finest and sometimes most obscure zombie music I could find? That's probably because I never said it, but still, if you wanted Latin electro dance hall music about the Undead, I've got your back right here.

mp3: Walk Like a Zombie (HorrorPops from Bring It On!)

I'm not entirely sure what accent she's using here, but it's close enough to We Were Promised Jetpacks to make me smile and that's good enough for this mix. I fucking love the Scots.

mp3: I Feel Like a Zombie (Modex from the I Feel Like a Zombie single)

For some reason, this reminds me of Ca Plane Pour Moi, otherwise known as the tune in European Vacation when the Griswolds are checking out the museum. See the aforementioned comment about the complete arbitrariness of my mix. And yet never, NEVER, question the fact that it is, in fact, the greatest one about zombies you will ever hear.

mp3: Zombie 13 (The Antique Toys from A Halloween Treat website freebie)

This is just a cover of the Cranberries tune, so I'm not entirely sure where the "13" comes into play, but anyone who gives away zombie goodies for free on their website definitely is going to get some love from me. It may or may not be of the goat variety, but you understand what I'm saying. Oh, and I really dig the cover art. Reminds me of this stuff, the collecting of which is one of my latest hobbies. And since guys missing half a kidney and on blood thinners apparently aren't encouraged to play hockey, I'm looking for all the new hobbies I can get.

mp3: Golden Spaceship Vs. Zombie Aliens (Captain Credible from NRK P3 Urørt)mp3: Zombie Pirates from Outer Space (The Swellers from End of Discussion)

And now you're going to realize just why this is the greatest zombie mix you will ever hear. I'm putting together musical suites for you here, bitches. Multiple songs about undead ETs. That's right, there were multiple songs about them out there, and I found them for you. Think about it, did either of your parents ever show you that kind of devotion? Of course not. Kneel before Zod, peeps. You dig what I'm saying.

mp3: Zombie Molestation (Raped by the Dead) (Lord Gore from The Autophagous Orgy)

mp3: Rape Zombie (The Bronx from The Bronx)

Yes, I did put together a zombie rape suite. More distrubing than that should be the fact that there are a minimum of two bands out there that had a meeting wherein everyone agreed that these were good ideas for songs.

mp3: Zomby Woof (Frank Zappa from Over-Nite Sensation)

It's Zappa, dude. 'Nuff said.

mp3: Bowray Zamurai (Samurai Zombies) (Sabbat from Karisma)

mp3: Night of the Samurai Zombies (Robot Ninja Dinosaur Bastards from Subhumanoid Meltdown)

mp3: Zombies Everywhere (Karate High School from Invaders)

mp3: Iron Zombie (Breakbot from Happy Rabbit)

Take a second and put your hand on the back of your head. Feel that hole there? Sorry about that, but that's where I just fucking blew your mind with a fucking KUNG-FU ZOMBIE SUITE. Alright, a track by Karate High School and one called Iron Zombie probably are pushing things, but you get the point. And I feel obligated to mention that the Sabbat here is the Japanese death metal band, not the English thrash band. And now you know, half the battle, etc.

mp3: Everybody's Got Some Time to Die Unless You're a Zombie (The Coke Dares from Feelin' Up)

Kind of hard to argue with logic like that.

mp3: Zombie Limbo Time (Beat Happening from Music to Climb the Apple Tree By)

I think we can all agree it simply was time for a bit of lo-fi.

mp3: Les Zombis Et Les Loups-Garous (Raffi from Corner Grocery Store)

Who else is going to end the first part of an update for the greatest zombie mix you will ever hear with a track by motherfucking Raffi but me? Nobody. Not even your grandfather. And that's why the mixtape title says it all, really.

While you're absorbing all the above, make sure to take deep breaths and drugs when necessary to try to keep your place in the universe intact. Don't say you haven't been warned throughout the entire process about just how damn good this thing was going to be.

And there's more to follow, so try not to let your heart explode or anything whilst you wait. Since I'm back in the saddle at least for the time being, expect my posts to get back to their near daily dosage, too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Myspace or Yours #1: The Sumner Brothers

While a good many of us have moved on from Myspace for our social networking needs, I still pay attention to the bands that frequent that site. You never know where and when your new favorite band will come from, and I've found enough quality bands via Myspace that I felt the site warranted closer examination. I've been toying with the idea of doing a Myspace-based feature for quite some time now, but wanted to wait until I had the right band to kick things off with. And then, one day, my wish was granted when a friend request from the British Columbia-based Sumner Brothers popped up in my inbox.

The Sumner Brothers, Brian and Bob, along with their friends Michael and Mike, sound like remnants of a time long since turned to dust, a sepia-hued time when music was simple and soulful and made by friends gathered in whatever space they could find, and not touched by computer enhancements and fancy effect pedals and studio magic. Not only that, but the foursome sounds like they should be sitting on the front porch of an ancient, rickety wooden farmouse nestled in the spectacular, magical valleys of the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia. If you've never been there, well, it's the perfect place for a band like the Sumner Brothers. There's a hint of fall to their songs, traces of burning fires in the hearth, and a stark, austere beauty the likes of which you won't hear very often. The Sumner Brothers are as precious and rare as can be, so dang good you almost can't believe it.

The band is working their way through a small West Coast tour, so all you Washington Staters and British Columbians, get yourselves to these shows. More details on the band's Myspace page, naturally.

mp3: Pain (Buy: The Sumner Brothers)

Live Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart @ Black Cat, September 30, 2009

Little-known fact about me: I love perfect pop songs. Perhaps it's a little-known fact because there are so few perfect pop songs in this world, and the bands that can craft such poppy perfection are few and far between. But one of the best, and perhaps even THE best at churning out piles of such concoctions, in my humble opinion, is the bunch of young NYC scamps known as The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. And finally, finally, finally, I managed to see this delightful band live, at DC's venerable Black Cat. It was nigh on magnificent.

After ambling onstage, singer/guitarist/nice guy Kip opens with the greeting "Hey, what's up, we gonna fall in love tonight?" before launching into "This Love is Fucking Right!" The song set the tone for the evening, pulsating powerpop with less of an emphasis on fuzz and feedback than you'll hear on POBPAH records. In my notes I wrote "so so cute this band is," and it's just so true. They're so, dare I say, pure. They seem to just emit kittens and hearts and flowers wherever they go. "It's great to be back in DC," they opine, and DC seems to agree with this sentiment. Everyone is either bobbing their head, tapping their leg, or just flat out making out with their neighbor.

Songs that I already loved, like "The Tenure Itch" and "Stay Alive," sound crisp and clear, minus the fuzz the utter poppiness really shines through. Sweetly feisty, the band powers through song after song, like the jingle jangle of "Teenager in Love." Quite simply, and pardon me if I've said this before, but it's music to pinch cheeks to. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. This band is a ray of sunshine, that's for damn sure. Happily, the encore includes "Gentle Sons," quite possibly my favorite of all POBPAH songs. Sweet, sweet heaven do I love this song. When it's all said and done, I feel quite confident being able to state as fact that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are a sensational live band, and that you should absolutely, definitely, positively go and see them live whenever possible.

mp3: Gentle Sons (Buy: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart)