PHW Songs of the Month - 1/08

Yesterday I wrote about my favorite album of the month, and you should check it out if you haven’t already. On the songs front, January saw a bunch of good tunes come our way to kick off 2008 with a bang. Here are my 3 favorites as of this writing. A shimmering, desperate ballad from an unknown one-man band, a drunken sing along, and a sonic boom that comes from where Bee Thousand meets Sonic Youth.
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Bruce W. Derr
MP3 :: Banker Alcoholics
(from The Time Of Day. Listen here)
Previously on PHW: Introducing - Bruce W. Derr
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The Magnetic Fields
MP3 :: Too Drunk To Dream
(from Distortion. Buy here)
Previously on PHW: New Sounds Goin’ Round
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Times New Viking
MP3 :: (My Head)
(from Rip It Off. Buy here)
Previously on PHW: New Music: Times New Viking
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Could be a trend here - a song called "Banker Alcoholics", a song about being "too drunk to dream" with the line "sober, life is a prison, shitfaced, it is a blessing", and a another song with the line "I need more money cuz I need more drugs" as its thesis. I just want to make it clear that this is a family oriented mp3/music blog. Pop Headound does not condone the excess consumption of potentially harmful substances in any way, shape, or form. Unless said substances are a way for you to cope with stress and/or the only way you know how to have fun. In which case, indulge away.

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PHW Album of the Month - 1/08

The latest release from the Drive-By Truckers is PHW's Album of the Month for January. Brighter Than Creation's Dark is a dense, exhausting, complicated, diverse collection of songs (holy crow - 19 of ‘em totaling 75 minutes!) that play as the Truckers’ most eclectic release yet. Their passionate, fiery brand of literate Southern Rock is on full display on a trio of prime Mike Cooley rockers (“3 Dimes Down”, “Self Destructive Zones”, and “A Ghost To Most”) as well as a bunch of Patterson Hood contributions (“The Righteous Path” and “The Man I Shot” especially). Beyond those songs DBT dive head first into folk-rock, blues, soul, dub (just kidding), and classic country.

It’s not their best album (have to go with Decoration Day there), but it comes closer than you’d think after the disappointing A Blessing And A Curse. The best review I’ve seen is actually the one from Pitchfork - which focuses on the dual nature of Hood and Cooley’s songwriting, the former with a growing sense of home and family values, the latter still churning out tales of outlaws, alcohol, and loose women. They go back and forth over the album, Hood's values winning over Cooley's debauchery only because he writes more songs. Bassist Shonna Tucker contributes lead vocals for the first time on a DBT record, and on "I'm Sorry Huston" and "The Purgatory Line" sounds like she belongs with the boys.

Most negative reviewers have focused on the album's length - the damn thing takes an hour and 15 minutes to listen to (like I said, exhausting). But that is missing the point - DBT records have always been exercises in excess. Sure, the album would seem a lot tighter without stray tracks like the awkward “Home Field Advantage”, “Lisa’s Birthday”, and “You And Your Crystal Meth” (and maybe 1 or 2 others), but with this band you learn to take the mediocre with the stellar. And on Brighter Than Creation’s Dark there are more than enough incredible songs to fill a great album.

MP3 :: Two Daughters And A Beautiful Wife
MP3 :: A Ghost To Most
(from Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. Buy here)
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Spoolwork Remix Jens Lekman

I haven’t written much about Night Falls Over Kortedala, Jen Lekman’s 2007 album. It was one of those things that, for me, fell thru the cracks for a while. I’d heard a song or 2 here and there, but only picked up a copy of my own and listened straight through in late November or December. Shame, as it would have made my Top 20 easily. I’m sure Jens would be pissed to hear that my own negligence cost him dearly. Sorry man.

Anyway, an interesting remix has been going around lately that you may or may not have heard by this point. David Fischoff (pictured), a Secretly Canadian recording artist with 3 albums out under his own name, was asked by Lekman to produce musical accompaniment for the song “I’m Leaving You (Because I Don’t Love You)” based strictly on the vocal track. He was sent the track before ever hearing the finished song. The result, I think, improves the studio version - which is really the only song on Night Falls Over Kortedala that I ever find myself skipping. I like it well enough when it starts, I just get tired of it after a few minutes. Can’t explain it better than that. This remix is excellent though - check it out, and check out Fischoff’s new remix and production project, Spoolwork.

MP3 :: I’m Leaving You (Because I Don’t Love You) - Spoolwork remix
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Bonus MP3 :: The Opposite Of Hallelujah
Bonus MP3 :: Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo
(from Night Falls Over Kortedala. Buy here)
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Gold Soundz: "Lake Marie"

John Prine, first and foremost, is a songwriter. His most acclaimed period were the early years of the 1970s, during which time he released many of his most famous and lasting tunes, including “Angel From Montgomery”, which has been covered too many times to mention, “Sam Stone”, and “Souvenirs”. Prine’s songs displayed that special gift of taking very simple words and creating stories with layer upon layer of feeling and meaning. He was just as comfortable singing a heartfelt, earnest folk ballad as a bitingly cynical song of social protest. His influence is undeniable, and transcends the Americana genre his music would be classified as. He was an influence on his contemporaries (Springsteen is a big fan), and his songs have been covered by everyone from Johnny Cash to Bonnie Raitt to Evan Dando.

That being said, my favorite John Prine song is from the 1990s. Tucked into 1995’s Lost Dogs & Mixed Blessings is the beautiful, and beautifully weird, “Lake Marie”. The song tells a story where place is every bit as important, if not more so, than the people involved, taking different moments in the modern history of a pair of lakes on the Illinois/Wisconsin border and intertwining them. The verses of the song tell seemingly unrelated stories of an Indian tribe and 2 white babies, the highs and lows of a relationship, and a murder, all of which share the lakes as a setting. The chorus, a soaring rush of sweet harmony, ties the setting to the verses, letting us know that all of these folks were “standing by peaceful waters”, whether they found peace or not.

Prine has a solid voice for the type of music he plays, but it‘s probably not going to be your new favorite. He sounds like an old man recalling memories on the spoken word verses. What he masters throughout the song though is intonation and sharp lyricism. Honestly, I’m not 100% sure that I’m using that word correctly, but bare with me. He knows exactly when to emphasize a particular syllable or word for full dramatic effect. Listen to him drag out the ’S’ in “sssssssizzlin”, and later in “sshhhharp”, and tell me you can‘t hear those sausages on the grill, or feel that knife dig into your skin. Listen to the way he repeats “shadows” in the last verse in a higher register when describing what blood looks like on a black and white TV, or the way the line “the wind was blowing, especially through her hair” brings forth images far beyond just a windy day by the lake.

Each of the three stories in “Lake Marie”, if fleshed out a bit, would probably make for great songs on their own. Together though they tell a story in fragments that’s as alive and vivid as any traditional story song I can think of, save maybe “A Boy Named Sue”. I dare any fan of the Americana genre to not drown in good ol’ “Lake Marie”.

MP3 :: Lake Marie
(from Lost Dogs & Mixed Blessings. Buy here)
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This is the latest in a fairly new series of posts featuring some of my favorite songs of all time. “Gold Soundz” because it’s cool to have a “feature” that rips off a not-at-all obscure Pavement song.

Previously:
Gold Soundz - “Gimme Back My Dog”
Gold Soundz - “In The City”
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New Music - She & Him (M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel)


I’ve been a big fan of M. Ward for years now, and the 3 movies I’ve seen Zooey Deschanel in have all been top notch (Elf, All The Real Girls, and Almost Famous), especially this scene where Will Ferrell proves to be quite multi-talented. Now the new duo have a name, She & Him, and a forthcoming album from Merge called Volume 1. You probably knew that already. You may not have heard the fruits of their collaboration though. “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” proves the two make better music than band and album names. It’s sung entirely by Deschanel, and sounds as though Ward is manning the boards. Is it just me or does it seem reminiscent of some of Wilco’s recent poppier moments?

MP3 :: Why Do You Let Me Stay Here
(from Volume 1. Info here)
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Introducing: Bruce W. Derr

Last week I got an email from Earl Pickens suggesting I check out the music of Bruce W. Derr, a friend of his and fellow Central Pennsylvanian. Since Earl has a pretty good set of ears, I happily took him up on it. Turns out the 2 musicians share a zip code and have developed a mutual admiration for one another’s tunes as of late. Now they’re sharing live dates and blogging about one another. Who knows, maybe Earl will show him how to ride a unicycle?

Besides all that though, it was very apparent within a few seconds of the “Sunshine” stream over at his myspace that Derr’s got some serious talent. The guy would fall into the category of “rock star who’s not yet a rock star” - his songs have a seasoned, confident swagger you don‘t often find in undiscovered talent. The thing is, he’s not new to writing, performing, and recording….it’s just been awhile. Derr’s newly sober and played his first gig in 7 years back in October (opening up for Marah, no less), and currently seems to be in the middle of one of those wild bursts of prolificacy that you hear about artists going through when they’re peaking. I can’t even keep up with what’s going on over at his myspace - it seems like every time I check in there there are great new songs appearing, and other great ones gone just like that.

In this modern era where anyone can pick up a guitar, record their music via computer, and post it online, Derr still does things the old-fashioned way - straight to 24-track Tascam or 16-track Yamaha. No computers, no pro-tools. He records everything himself - guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, mandolin, banjo - basically anything he can get his hands on. A true one-man band. In one of the most ambitious uses of time I can think of, he recently recorded an entire album in one 24-hour burst of creativity. It sounds like a story in the making, and deservedly so. All parts were recorded, mixed, and mastered in one day, down to the minute. He then waited 2 weeks, listened again, and sequenced it. Voilà! A new record was born.

It’s called, appropriately, The Time Of Day, and it never once comes across as something haphazardly thrown together. Hints of 60’s pop, 90’s alternative rock, alt.country, and folk-rock coexist beautifully among the 12 songs. In fact, everything I’ve heard from him is exciting in the same way - he also has a 2007 record, Ship A Sail, that’s full of more sharply written, endlessly catchy tunes. As of right now, Derr is self-releasing his music through his own Midnite Birds Records. If you happen to pass through Lewisburg, PA you can pick up his CDs at The Lucky Lucky Giftshop. Otherwise you can pick them up by contacting him directly (brucewd@dejazzed.com) - so if you enjoy these tunes, please do. Bruce W. Derr is a name you could very well be hearing for years to come.

MP3 :: Banker Alcoholics (highly recommended!)
(from The Time Of Day)

MP3 :: Abilene
(from Ship A Sail)

MP3 :: Sunshine
(unreleased single)
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Band of Horses - "No One's Gonna Love You"

At this point I don’t know why you’d need further reason to pick up Band of Horses' excellent sophomore album, Cease To Begin. In case you do though Sub Pop has made available another track from the record for free download. “No One’s Gonna Love You” plays the part of the shimmering power ballad - it’s first half lilting and beautiful, its second building into an earnest mid-tempo anthem. Go ahead and sing along.

MP3 :: No One’s Gonna Love You
(from Cease To Begin. Buy here)
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Related :: Video - “Is There A Ghost”
Live Review - Band of Horses @ Terminal 5
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Video: Phosphorescent - "At Death, A Proclamation"

Phosphorescent’s Pride made a very nice first impression and found itself among my 10 favorite records of 2007, but it’s also proving to have some serious legs. Here’s the first video - for one of the album’s highlights, “At Death, A Proclamation”.


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MP3 :: A Picture Of Our Torn Up Praise
(from Pride. Buy here)
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Bonus MP3 :: At Death, A Proclamation
(from Daytrotter Sessions - 5/21/07. Hear more)
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Catch Phosphorescent in NY this winter:

02/02/08 Brooklyn, NY - Union Pool w/ Dodos
02/27/08 Brooklyn, NY - Union Hall w/ Bowerbirds
02/29/08 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge w/ Bowerbirds
(full tour dates)
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New Music - Kevin Drew

Yesterday’s Feist post led me over to her (I think) boyfriend and co-Broken Social Scene-ster Kevin Drew’s myspace. I was just looking around at the pictures and fancy blinking lights and such when I noticed a track streaming called “Love 5”. I didn’t remember it from his very solid 2007 album, Spirit If. After one listen I realized I was listening to either a brand new song or, very possibly, an unreleased gem. Further exploration led me to the Arts & Crafts merch page where I found the song is the b-side to the “Backed Out On The…” single. You remember, it’s the song with the J Mascis accompanied video that looks like everyone was having a blast filming.

“Love 5” is well worth seeking out, as it may just be better than anything from the actual album. It starts out as a gentle, almost lo-fi sounding acoustic ballad - full of coughing, background noises, and Drew’s hushed, echoed vocals. He’s reminding us, in very Drew-like fashion, of when “your best friend was your skin”. Piano, gentle noise effects, and drums enter the scene, helping to spotlight the melody and give the song a bit of an identifiable structure. Everything’s very calm and pretty until the 2 ½ minute mark. It’s then that, after Drew sighs out “the things I want, we’ll destroy”, a wall of sonic noise explodes almost out of nowhere and carries the song to a powerful, cinematic ending. “When It Begins” is a pleasant, if somewhat slight, way to end Spirit If, but it seems to me that songs like this were designed specifically to bring an album home in dramatic fashion, not toil in semi-obscurity as a damn myspace stream.

Stream :: Love 5
(from Backed Out On The…7”. Buy here)
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MP3 :: Backed Out On The….
(from Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew - Spirit If. Buy here)
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New Sounds Goin' Round....


Here are some other tracks that have been blaring in the background of the PHW headquarters lately. I can’t speak for my landlords downstairs, but I like them a whole bunch.

MP3 :: My Father - [Raise High The Roof Beam]
(from Family EP)

Thomas Fricilone (pictured) is the songwriter behind Raise High The Roof Beam. He emailed me recently and asked to check out his stuff. I did, and here’s a real good one. There’s a lot of really pretty things happening in this song. A lilting piano, a reliable banjo, some background harmonica (I think), and a some hard truth, like it or not, from Dad. The EP is available for free at his brand new website.
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MP3 :: Swell To Heaven - [The Vandelles]
(from EP. Info here)

Reminds me of The Ramones. Also reminds me of Phil Spector. Also reminds me of the shoe gaze genre. All good things to think about.
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MP3 :: The Sad Businessman - [Company]
(from Old Baby. Info here)

Company, but not Bad Company, this is more like having Gram Parsons or The Dead over for dinner. Maybe even The Silver Jews too if you’d prefer not to just have dead guys at the table. Originally posted over at Songs:Illinois. Well done. Looks to be released in February by Brah Records, under the Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian umbrella.
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Video: Feist - "I Feel It All"



All in all, 2007 wasn’t a bad year for Feist. There was an album that a lot of people seemed to enjoy (myself included, though more for a few choice cuts than the whole thing), a tour a lot of those same people went to go see, as well as a video that’s gone well beyond the usual “indie/YouTube” level of viewership. It's even inspired some, well, interesting fan video tributes.

Here is the former Broken Social Scenester and current indie-rock megastar’s latest true video, this one for the album highlight, at least in my opinion, “I Feel It All”. The video, like the song, is all kinetic energy and beautiful lights exploding in the dark.

MP3 :: I Feel It All
(from The Reminder. Buy here)
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New Music: Wakey!Wakey!

Between the shows, the press, the Family Records/Liberated Matter compilation, and the series of weekly covers released digitally, 2007 was a productive year for Mike Grubbs and his band, Wakey!Wakey! All of that though was just a precursor to the band’s official debut - the live Silent As A Movie, recorded at Pianos back in April and recently seeing wide release.
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If the sold out record release party last month at Mercury Lounge was any indication, WakeyWakey! is a band on the verge of much bigger things. That night Grubbs and his 16(!)-piece entourage of musicians and friends played before a rapturous crowd. From the start the show felt like the party it was intended to be. Musicians came and went from the stage, seemingly at will but more likely as a result of some careful choreography. And on “Honey Covered Hands”, which featured all 15 musicians playing together (full string and horn sections, an accordianist, and 2 extra guitarists joined the core band of keys, guitar, bass, and drums), the band reached for a huge sound and achieved it, somehow managing to keep everyone in time with the song’s take on carnivalesque piano-pop.

The live CD the show supported was well worth the wait. Wakey!Wakey! has come a long way since the album was recorded in April, but as a document of where this band came from, it works beautifully. Favorites like “Messy Girl” and “Cokehead” have never sounded more fleshed out and spacious, nor have “LGA” and “Car Crash Song” sounded more beautiful. And “Falling Apart”, already one of my favorite songs of 2007, really comes to life with the backing of a rhythm section as it kicks things off. Grubbs has promised even more for the coming year, including the recording of the first Wakey!Wakey! studio album, and continued touring. Silent As A Movie is more likely than not just the start for this guy, but oh what a way to begin.

MP3 :: Falling Apart
MP3 :: Cokehead
(from Silent As A Movie. Buy here)
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Here are some of the recent covers that I haven't yet posted:

MP3 :: For No One (Alicia Keys cover)
MP3 :: Letters Home (Joei DBG cover)
MP3 :: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (yes, that song)
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PHW :: Related (More Covers)
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New Music: Drive-By Truckers

There’s a few albums out today that I’m excited about (this one and this one particularly), but perhaps none more so than Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, the new Drive-By Truckers album. I think that stems from how deeply the vivid stories of their Southern trilogy (Southern Rock Opera, Decoration Day, & The Dirty South) hit me, and how much A Blessing & A Curse’s straightforward, dull Southern rock let me down. I guess I'm really curious about what's next. This is the first new Truckers record since the departure of Jason Isbell last year, a key member of the band over recent years and a big part of their success. It’s also the first time that bassist Shonna Tucker has contributed lead vocals to a DBT song. All of these factors, as well as the sprawling 19-song tracklist, have made my personal anticipation, and curiosity, pretty high.

I haven’t heard the album in its entirety yet. Instead, I’m listening to the stream over at AOL’s Spinner (link below) right now and hearing many of the songs for the first time. “Three Dimes Down” just wrapped up, and it’s a gritty, raunchy sounding Mike Cooley rocker that’s worthy of late-60s Stones. “The Righteous Path” is up now, and it’s much the same. Patterson Hood is singing, and I have to say this one sounds, although clearly the Truckers, very little like traditional DBT. Hood’s voice is full of echo and reverb, and there’s some really cool ethereal slide and pedal steel interplay going on. So, so far so very good….

Stream :: Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
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MP3 :: Two Daughters And A Beautiful Wife
(from Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. Buy here)
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And today Pitchfork has a very revealing interview with Hood on the site - especially for those looking for details into the songwriting process and the Isbell split.
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Catching Up w/ Califone

Not much to catch up with really. Things have been quiet on the Califone front as of late. The band just finished a European tour late last year, and hopefully will find their way into the studio in 2008 to record the follow up to one of my favorite albums of 2006, Roots & Crowns. That’s probably the best place to start exploring the band, as it is easily their most accessible record to date. 2003’s Quicksand/Cradlesnakes is another fine starting point.

Califone is a hard band to keep up with sometimes, because between every “major” release usually comes a handful of experimental albums, soundtracks, and side projects. Often these releases are tour only CDs. Their website has an interesting assortment of free mp3s of just such material, as well as highlights from their studio albums. Here’s your chance to catch up with the avant-garde roots music of Tim Rutili and company.

Proper Albums:

MP3 :: Spider’s House
MP3 :: The Orchids
(from Roots & Crowns. Buy here)

MP3 :: Wingbone
(from Heron King Blues. Buy here)

MP3 :: One
MP3 :: Horoscopic.Amputation.Honey
(from Quicksand/Cradlesnakes. Buy here)

MP3 :: Pastry Sharp
MP3 :: Electric Fence
(from Sometimes Bad Weather Follows Good People. Buy here)

MP3 :: Trout Silk
(from Roomsound. Buy here)
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Rarities:

MP3 :: No Expectations (live - Rolling Stones cover)
MP3 :: For The Turnstiles (live - Neil Young cover)

MP3 :: Quarter Horses (B-Slow)
(from Everybody’s Mother, Vol. 1. Buy here)

MP3 :: Slowness
(from Homesleep Singles Club 7. Buy here)

MP3 :: Ventilator Blues (Rolling Stones cover)
(from Amos House Collection, #3. Buy here)

MP3 :: Francis
(from Deceleration Two. Buy here)

MP3 :: Handpainted Halo/Ceiling
(from Deceleration One)

MP3 :: Mittens
(from The New Year’s Resolutions. Hup! Records, Italy)

MP3 :: Slower Twin (alt. ending)
(from Goodfellas Sampler)

MP3 :: Silver And Gold
(from Happy Holidays. Perishable Records)
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Music News - Centro-matic/South San Gabriel To Release Split "Dual Hawks" Double Album

Just last week I was talking to a friend of mine and we were both hoping for a new Centro-matic album this year, as it seems they'd be about due. It's been 2 solid years since Fort Recovery rocked our worlds in ‘06, and the band has always been consistent with their gaps between records. Looks like dreams do come true. Big news straight from the band’s website:

We been toilin and schemin' in our little world over the last little while, and I think it's gonna be a fun one this year. I'm proud to announce that this spring we will celebrate the release of our first double album, "Dual Hawks". It will not only be a double, but a split double that includes a Centro-matic side and a South San Gabriel side. It will come to you courtesy of Misra here in the US, and Cooking Vinyl and Houston Party Records in Europe. We are keeping costs as low as possible at many turns to ensure that it comes to you at a very fan-friendly price. There will also be a limited edition release of Dual Hawks with special packaging available. We're fine tuning all these things at the moment and will keep that info coming as release time nears. Healthy amounts of touring for both the US and Europe will follow. For now, here is the tracklisting for this release:

Centro-matic / Dual Hawks
Rat Patrol and DJ's
Two Seats Gold Reserved
Quality Strange
Remind Us Alive
Every Single Switch
I, The Kite
Strychnine, Breathless Ways
All Your Farewells
Counting The Scars
Twenty-Four
A Critical Display of Snakes

South San Gabriel / Dual Hawks
Emma Jane
Kept On The Sly
When The Angels Will Put Out Their Lights
Of Evil/For Evil
My Goodbyes
Senselessly
Corner Cross
Trust To Lose
The Arc And The Cusp
Alabama Crusade
Jornada Del Muerto #20
From This I Will Awake
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In case you aren’t yet familiar with one of America‘s finest rock bands, get that way quick with this little primer I posted a while back, courtesy of Misra Records and the band.
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MP3 :: Triggers And Trash Heaps
MP3 :: Calling Thermetico
(from Fort Recovery. Buy here)
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Gold Soundz: "In The City"


“In The City”, from The Jam’s debut album of the same name, is a bristling call to arms that overflows with youthful enthusiasm and probably more than its share of naivet√©. The band pounds out its simple chords with pinpoint accuracy, and Paul Weller scrambles through the taut 2:20 running time as if your life depends on it. Though never as prolific as mid-60s Who, when The Jam hit their mark they were every bit as powerful and ferocious.

If this was recorded during the video-era I could picture him parting a busy city street with a Moses-like single-mindedness. Like Richard Ashcroft in that Verve video, only with a fervor instead of apathy. Weller’s probably a foot shorter so he’d have to fight twice as hard to get half the distance. He’d be running, pushing, jumping, and he’d be yelling his song. It’d be like a Rocky-scene, every shining face chasing him down the street, singing along. Someone new to believe in.

MP3 - In The City
(from In The City. Buy here)
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This is the latest in a fairly new series of posts featuring songs among my favorites of all time. “Gold Soundz” because it’s cool to have a “feature” that rips off a not-at-all obscure Pavement song.

Previously: Gimme Back My Dog
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Marah - After the Implosion

Ah, happier days!

Marah, jokingly referred to once by lead singer Dave Bielenko as a band that “kills rhythm sections”, has done just that once again. On the eve of a tour to support the brand new, and very well received almost everywhere but here, Angels Of Destruction!, the band has imploded from within. Call it the eve of destruction.

All tour dates for January and February are cancelled, and it appears that drummer Dave Peterson, guitarist Adam Garbinski, and bassist Kirk “The Barber” Henderson are out of the band. This is certainly bad news for all involved, as the new album is generating the type of buzz they haven’t received since 2000’s Kids In Philly, including a ripping performance of the title track on Late Night With Conan O’Brien just last week. They look happy, don’t they?

Bielenko, his brother Serge, and keyboardist Christine Smith will soldier on, and have promised that the European tour later this year will happen. There's a new post on the band’s myspace blog today which is a lengthy attempt to explain what’s happening within the band, and despite the timing of this being so unfortunate, Dave sounds about as positive as he possibly could. Let’s hope one of America’s finest live bands sorts this out sooner rather than later, and gets back on a stage in front of a crowd where they thrive.

Yep Roc Records, the label behind the new record, had this to say today: We’ve spoken to the band and they are very excited to hit the road in support of what has been their most critically acclaimed album to date. Their top priority is to reorganize and get this music out to fans in a live setting, the setting where Marah truly shines.

MP3 :: Angels of Destruction
(from Angels of Destruction! Buy here)
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New Music - Flowers Forever

2007 was a splendid year for Team Love Records, what with solid releases from Capgun Coup, David Dondero, and McCarthy Trenching. The first release of the new year from the New York-by-way-of Omaha based label will be the self-titled debut of Flowers Forever, which features at least one member of Omaha’s most famous band to feature a tap-dancer, Tilly & The Wall.

The press release for Flowers Forever mentions a nervous breakdown suffered by main flower Derek Pressnall in early ’07, and you know how those always lead to creative resurgences. Apparently said breakdown triggered a whole series of messy/beautiful/tragic events in his life last year including a loss of faith in humanity, seeing the future, dancing, falling in love, burying friends, and giving up. Understandable then that those events have seeped into the music. Doesn't necessarily explain the naked baby on the cover of your record.

Sonically, these songs remind me quite a bit of Capgun Coup, whose “Bobby Chops And The Do-Gooders” found itself among my favorite songs of last year. I’m going to plug that list every chance I get. Get used to it. Back to the songs - lots of up-front drums, cranky organs, sporadic electric guitars, fuzzy call-and-response harmonies, and some good old-fashioned cursing. It all makes for a spirited, if endearingly disjointed, folk-rock listen, with more than a trace of 60’s pop and the B-52’s (their words, not mine). Check it out.

MP3 :: Beach Bums
MP3 :: Happy New Year
MP3 :: Black Rosary
(from Flowers Forever. Pre-order here)
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New Music - Ladyhawk


Jagjaguwar will release the new Ladyhawk record, Shots, on March 4. This first released track has been going around the web for a few days (weeks?) now, and it’s scary good. After last year’s fractured-folk military march that was “War”, from the Fight For Anarchy EP, the new song sees the band returning to the Crazy Horse/Southern Rock-styled electric guitar workout of “The Dugout”, from 2006’s self-titled debut album. They probably don’t know what you’re saying because their eardrums are buzzing like a blown amp.

MP3 :: I Don’t Always Know What You’re Saying
(from Shots. Info here)
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MP3 :: War
(from Fight For Anarchy EP. Buy here)

MP3 :: The Dugout
(from Ladyhawk. Buy here)
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Tour News :: Evangelicals

Dead Oceans will release The Evening Descends, the brand new album from Evangelicals, next Tuesday (1/22). I already said that. Now though comes word of a new extensive U.S. tour (dates below) with Headlights and a new digital single for the goth-pop anthem "The Skeleton Man". Visit the Other Music site to get your ears on the 2 exclusive, non-album tracks waiting there for you (to buy).

(from The Evening Descends. Pre-order here)
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Dates:
1/24/08 Norman, OK - Meacham Auditorium (Univ. of Oklahoma) FREE
02/15/08 Columbia, MO - Mojo's w/ Headlights
02/16/08 Lexington, KY - The Icehouse w/ Headlights
02/17/08 Nashville, TN - The End w/ Headlights
02/18/08 Athens, GA - The Caledonia Lounge w/ Headlights
02/19/08 Mt. Pleasant, SC - Village Tavern w/ Headlights
02/20/08 Norfolk, VA - The Boot w/ Headlights
02/21/08 Arlington, VA - Iota w/ Headlights
02/24/08 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge w/ Headlights
02/25/08 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's w/ Headlights
02/26/08 Hamden, CT - The Space w/ Headlights
02/27/08 Cambridge, MA - Middle East w/ Headlights
02/28/08 Princeton, NJ - Terrace Club w/ Headlights
02/29/08 Brooklyn, NY - Union Hall w/ Headlights
03/01/08 Buffalo, NY - Mohawk Place w/ Headlights
03/02/08 Toronto, ON - El Mocambo w/ Headlights
03/03/08 Cleveland, OH - Beachland w/ Headlights
03/04/08 Bloomington, IN - Waldron Arts Center w/ Headlights
03/06/08 Urbana, IL - Canopy Club w/ Headlights
03/07/08 Chicao, IL - Schuba's w/ Headlights
03/08/08 St. Louis, MO - Bilken Club w/ Headlights
03/09/08 Springfield, MO - Randy Beacon Gallery w/ Headlights
03/10/08 Norman, OK - Opolis w/ Headlights
03/11/08 Dallas, TX - The Cavern w/ Headlights
03/12/08 Austin, TX - SXSW
03/13/08 Austin, TX - SXSW
03/14/08 Austin, TX - SXSW
03/15/08 Austin, TX - SXSW
03/17/08 Tucson, AZ - Plush w/ Headlights
03/19/08 Los Angeles, CA - Silver Lake Lounge w/ Headlights
03/20/08 Visalia, CA - Howie & Sons w/ Headlights
03/21/08 San Francisco, CA - Hemlock Tavern w/ Headlights
03/23/08 Seattle, WA - Nectar Lounge w/ Headlights
03/24/08 Missoula, MT - Badlander w/ Headlights
03/26/08 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court w/ Headlights
03/27/08 Denver, CO - Hi Dive w/ Headlights
03/28/08 Omaha, NE - Waiting Room w/ Headlights
03/29/08 Minneapolis, MN - Nomad w/ Headlights
03/30/08 Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club w/ Headlights
04/01/08 Dekalb, IL - House Cafe w/ Headlights
04/02/08 Madison, WI - Club 770 w/ Headlights
04/03/08 Iowa City, IA - The Mill w/ Headlights
04/04/08 Lake Forest, IL - The Chapel w/ Headlights
04/05/08 Beloit, WI - Beloit College w/ Headlights
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New Music - Times New Viking

I’m new to Times New Viking. I heard their 2007 album The Paisley Reich after it turned up on numerous year-end lists and was impressed with the band’s explosive brand of pysch-pop. They have recently signed with Matador and are set to release Rip It Off on 1/22. Judging from these first few tracks to surface, the bigger label has asked them to hold nothing back in the studio. All the warped, fuzzy fun of previous songs is there, waiting to assault yer senses, with plenty of sparkling melodies bursting out of the noise.

MP3 :: (My Head) - R.I.P.
MP3 :: Drop-Out
(from Rip It Off. Pre-order here)
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The art:

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Tour News :: Phosphorescent

Phosphorescent’s Pride, #10 on PHW’s favorite albums of ‘07 list, just keeps getting better with each listen. The organic, nighttime hymns that comprise the record will be getting the live treatment with a full band U.S. tour (most of which will be with Bowerbirds), starting out in Brooklyn and culminating with several Austin shows for SXSW. Dates:

02/02/08 Brooklyn, NY - Union Pool w/ Dodos
02/08/08 Alfred, NY - Terra Cotta Coffee House
02/26/08 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's w/ Bowerbirds
02/27/08 Brooklyn, NY - Union Hall w/ Bowerbirds
02/29/08 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge w/ Bowerbirds
03/01/08 Northampton, MA - Iron Horse w/ Bowerbirds
03/03/08 Bloomington, IN - Waldron Arts Center w/ Bowerbirds
03/04/08 Chicago, IL - Schuba's w/ Bowerbirds
03/05/08 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue w/ Bowerbirds
03/06/08 Omaha, NE - Slowdown w/ Bowerbirds
03/07/08 Lawrence, KS - Jackpot w/ Bowerbirds
03/08/08 Norman, OK - Opolis w/ Bowerbirds + Bodies of Water
03/10/08 Dallas, TX - Good Records 7PM (free instore, solo performance)
03/10/08 Dallas, TX - Cavern w/ Bodies of Water + Bowerbirds
03/12/08-03/15/08 Austin, TX SXSW - shows TBA

MP3 :: A Picture Of Our Torn Up Praise
(from Pride. Buy here)
----------------------------------

Talkin' New York, Vol. 11 - Wynn Walent & The Folks

Since I’ve started this music blog a few days over a year ago I’ve heard a lot of artists that I consider among New York’s finest singer-songwriters. A lot of my favorite songs of 2007 were written by these folks. One of those songs, “A Question Of Water”, is by a recent discovery of mine - Wynn Walent. I haven’t been this excited about the music of a newly discovered local artist in a few months. That’s probably my fault - I’m not getting out as much lately. Working and sleeping. Writing and reading - The Road (for me) and To Kill A Mockingbird (again, and passing some knowledge on to kids who’ll likely claim it as their favorite in about 3 weeks). Drinking less sugar. Not grocery shopping at the 7-11. Fitter, happier, more productive. Growing up and settling in.

Maybe that’s why the songs on Walent’s new EP, Upon Leaving, are hitting me so hard. These are the songs of a young man living squarely in the present, but with the past close behind. But things are better now. It’s a record that manages to be painfully personal and endlessly universal at the same time. Modern and timeless. Ragged and beautiful. Songs that could score To Kill A Mockingbird (with its innocence in a time of struggle) as easily as The Road (with its innocence in a time of struggle).

To me, The Band is an obvious reference point for Walent’s music (he even looks like he could sneak into the cover of their second album and fit right in, amirite?). Like The Band, to hear Walent play his songs is to recall the long history of American music. I caught Walent a few weeks ago leading off a bill with 2 of my other favorite local artists - Matt Singer and Paul Basile. All 3 shared the stage at various points in the evening during each other’s sets. They sounded as if they were made for one another - strumming, picking, harmonizing, passing instruments, smiling, playing each other’s songs. Maybe even laying the seeds for a future collaboration. Their 3-way rendition of “Long Black Veil” to close the evening cemented the connection.

Walent usually plays with a band called The Folks though, and these folks accompany him on the new CD, providing banjo, mandolin, pedal steel, percussion, and backing vocals to his songs. There are 6 songs, and I bet each has been my favorite at some point since I first heard it . “A Question Of Water” is the one I go back to most - the haunting voice and lyrics struck me the first time I heard them, and immediately it became a song I know I'll go to for years to come. “Olivia, the Dear”, with its weepy pedal steel and shuffle beat, is probably the most immediate of the songs, and “On Being Young” the most beautiful. All are important, and if you come to this blog to discover music (um…why else would you?) then check Wynn Walent out. Guaranteed.

MP3 :: Olivia the Dear
MP3 :: A Question of Water
(from Upon Leaving. Buy here)

And I bet you didn’t know that Wynn Walent & The Folks have a full length album available as well. It’s from 2006 and is every bit as excellent as the new EP. Listen.

MP3 :: Where Are You Now
MP3 :: Paramedic
(from Wynn Walent. Buy here)
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New Music - Constantines

Show of hands. Who’s getting excited for a new record from The Constantines? That’s what I thought. Me too. It’s been a long time since the Canadian rockers released Tournament of Hearts (2005), and even longer since the release of their first 2 neo-classic albums - Constantines and Shine A Light. They are currently finishing up their as-of-yet untitled 4th album, and are looking at an April release through their new home at Arts & Crafts.

The band has decided to wet our appetites by releasing their first ever 7” single. Both songs, A-side “Hard Feelings” from the forthcoming album and an exclusive B-side called “Easy Money”, are streaming at their myspace. “Hard Feelings” is the band at their tense, angry best - a bold reaffirmation from one of the best working rock bands that they mean business.

Stream :: “Hard Feelings” and “Easy Money”

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And in case you are unfamiliar with the band, their former label, Sub Pop, has a whole bunch of free downloads available:

MP3 :: Soon Enough
MP3 :: Love In Fear
(from Tournament of Hearts. Buy here)

MP3 :: Nighttime, Anytime (It’s Alright)
MP3 :: On To You
(from Shine A Light. Buy here)

MP3 :: Arizona
(from Constantines. Buy here)
----------------------------------------------------

New Music - Evangelicals

Having already proven themselves to be quite adept at gothic, semi-creepy seasonal music, both for holidays where that would seem appropriate and not so much, Evangelicals are set to try out another avenue. The Evening Descends will, um, descend on January 22 via the venerable Dead Oceans label, and from the sound of things may be the first indie rock album of the year to get excited over. Part James (on the vocals. Gimme a break… Laid?…you know you like it), part U2 (on the chiming guitar and anthemic tendencies), and part wall-of-noise experimentation, Evangelicals seem poised to help 2008 get off to a great start.

MP3 :: Skeleton Man
(from The Evening Descends. Pre-order here)

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Marah :: Angels of Destruction!

The blazing folk-rock, dizzying street poetics, and vintage Philly soul of Marah’s Let’s Cut The Crap And Hook Up Later On Tonight and Kids In Philly, as well as their hard-earned reputation as a transcendent live act, set an early level of promise for the band that they’ve never fully lived up to. Those hoping the band’s brand new Angels Of Destruction! would change that are most likely going to be disappointed. I use the word “disappointed” with reservation, as any reader of this blog knows how much I adore this band, and each of their last 3 albums have had plenty of great moments. But that’s how I feel sitting here listening to these new songs. I guess first impressions filtered through crappy computer speakers from crappy audio streams don‘t necessarily last.

Angels Of Destruction!’s biggest problem is one that has hampered the band since Float Away With The Friday Night Gods - their arrangements are often cluttered and over-produced. Here, a newly sober Dave Bielenko and the band come storming out of the gates with the pulsing rocker “Coughing Up Blood” - a would-be thesis statement for the album with its allusions to angels, redemption, and sobriety. The flashing guitars and driving rhythm sound fantastic, but are layered against not one but two unfortunate backing vocal tracks. The arrangement actually made my girlfriend and I look at each other for a moment in stunned disbelief. Then we started laughing. Yes, laughing. Sorry Marah. Similar aesthetic mistakes haunt most of the potentially good songs on the first half of AOD!, with every good idea seemingly matched by a handful of poor ones.

There are a few other issues I have with this record, as well as Marah’s past few - the first being the emergence of Serge Bielenko as a co-lead singer. With an established vocalist as seasoned and dynamic as Dave Bielenko in the band, there’s no need to ever have someone else take the role, especially when said “singer” can’t carry a tune. I don’t care who wrote the lyrics. Also, the band’s odd tendency to invent words and/or phrases has become really distracting. First of all, the line “you kick in with the subtle of potassium”, from “The Apartment” on the last album, doesn’t make any sense. This album's otherwise pretty "Blue But Cool" uses the extremely clumsy "words" 'foreeverness', 'infatuationness', 'apartmentness', and 'familiness'. Excuse me? I know I’m no Bill Shakespeare here, but c’mon guys. You can, and have, done much better - older gems like “Faraway You” and “Round Eye Blues” are perfect examples of modern lyrical genius.

These gripes are tough love though, not disillusionment. Fortunately, hidden on the record’s back half are a handful of stand-out tracks that make the record worthwhile for long-time fans and beginners. “Santos de Madera” is to this record what “Spanish Bombs” was to London Calling - an unexpected and successful stab at Spanish sounding music incorporated into a near perfect rock n’ roll song. The title track (featured below) and “Can’t Take It With You” also do their parts to salvage the album’s messy beginning. The former is a soaring and melodic folk-rock anthem that captures everything the band does well, the latter a genuinely soulful street march that deftly intertwines horns and banjo. These songs show that Marah, when allowing their songs some much needed room to breathe, are as impressive as any band on the planet.

Marah left their Philadelphia hometown earlier this decade in search of inspiration, and not surprisingly have sounded somewhat lost ever since. They’ve always been at their best when keeping things simple. It’s not surprising that their best songs over the past 7 years, “Walt Whitman Bridge” and “Pigeon Heart”, are the ones with the fewest frills. Both are radiant folk-rock songs with soaring melodies. And no clutter. I respect the band's decision to consistently explore new sounds and toy with expectation, but maybe it’s time to move on home.

MP3 :: Angels of Destruction
(from Angels of Destruction! Buy here)

Stream :: Various Tracks
----------------------------------------------------

Gold Soundz: "Gimme Back My Dog"

I’m going to start a recurring series of posts here at PHW where I focus on my favorite songs of all time, share a few thoughts on said song, and host it as an mp3 so you can then love it too. And then you can buy the album it’s from. I actually have these posts all the time, most music bloggers do, but now the series will have an official name - “Gold Soundz” - you know, because it’s cool to have a “column” named after a not-at-all obscure Pavement song.
---------------------------------------

First entry on said list shall be Slobberbone’s neo-classic “Gimme Back My Dog”, and not because Stephen King called it one of the 3 best rock n’ roll songs ever written. And not because a few years ago I saw a Slobberbone t-shirt on a guy at a Steve Earle concert that I thought was the best shirt I’d ever seen in my life. It simply said “Ryan Adams is no Brent Best”. Damn straight.

It’s because a few weeks ago, on Christmas actually, I thought it would be funny (in an “I’m an ironic blogger” sort of way) to put up a collection of “Jesus” songs. Naturally “Trust Jesus” from Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today made the cut, and sparked my listening to that album a few times over the ensuing days. And I was reminded of the power of “Gimme Back My Dog”. Not that I’d ever forgotten, but it had been a while since I cranked it up. I have to say it’s about the hardest rocking song to ever feature a banjo that I can think of. It comes crashing out of the gate with a wall of beautiful feedback-laden noise before locking into a banjo-led groove. Back and forth it goes between these two poles, gradually building its tension and releasing it over and again over its five glorious minutes.

But as hard as the music is, this is not the best part of the song. No, that would be Brent Best’s pained declaration that, in the wake of a nasty break-up, the most important thing to him is the retrieval of his beloved pet. Nowhere in the history of songs about dogs is the idea of “man’s best friend” more fully realized than in this song’s brilliant verses (for example):

It was mine before you knew me
It was mine before you'd chose me and use me and lose me, refuse me
The way you're now refusing to

And a gruff chorus that is every bit as pained as one about losing your best friend should be:

Gimme back my dog…….

Hollered over and over and over by a voice that’s equal parts Jay Farrar and Paul Westerberg. Calling it one of the 3 best rock n’ roll songs of all time might be a hyperbolic extreme, but right now as it’s blasting out of my speakers you’d be hard pressed to convince me it’s not.

MP3 :: Gimme Back My Dog
(from Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today. Buy here)
----------------------------------------------

Talkin' New York, Vol. 10 - Yarn


Talkin’ New York is a semi-regular feature I like to include on Pop Headwound that focuses on the wealth of emerging local talent in the Brooklyn and Manhattan area. Some are touring bands getting buzz, others are folks I saw play at an open-mic who blew me away. All are artists who have struck me as incredibly talented musicians and songwriters who deserve to have their music heard on a wider scale.
*********************************************************

About a year ago Blake Christiana was growing tired of playing folk rock in Blake & The Family Dog and decided his musical career needed rethinking. So, he and bandmate Shane Spaulding made a change - they started writing acoustic based songs, formed Yarn, and recorded their self-titled debut record. The band has been gaining acclaim in the months since its release. They’ve been consistently moving their way up the AMA Chart, won the IMA award for best alt. country song of the year (“No Future Together”), and placed in the Freeform American Roots reporters Top 20 albums of the year. Not a bad year for a new band.

Yarn is New York in locale, but their sound and spirit ain’t from these parts. Led by the smooth vocals and guitar playing of Christiana, Yarn plays a form of alt. country music that seems born on the outskirts of Nashville, decidedly heavier on the “country” than the “alt”. The 15 songs that comprise the record are just pristine. I haven’t heard production this crisp on a country record in a long time - it reminds me of what M. Ward has achieved on his last few albums. I’m not comparing the 2 artists stylistically, but the crystal clear production here (warm, spacious, inviting) rivals that of Ward for some of the best I’ve heard.

The album itself is marked by fine playing and smart songs. The familiar country music themes and images referenced seem more alive than ever, and Christiana’s sturdy croon is as real as a warm breeze, as knowing as the weathervane. “No Future Together” is a heartbreaking confession of failure, “Madeline” a dusty ballad that sounds like it’s leftover from Stranger’s Almanac, and “Cat and Mouse” a shuffling sing-along worthy of a Hank comparison. The songs cuddle together with the others, seemless in their delivery, and by the rustic sway of “I Love The Way” you’ll be waiting for the CD to end so you can start it over. This is highly recommended music for fans of real country music with an outsider’s edge, and while that’s not always my thing, this is too good to ignore.

MP3 :: Listen Up Sweetheart
(from Yarn. Buy here)
--------------------------------

Stream :: The Early Show (and other assorted tracks)
(from Lone Gone Lonesome. Kill Buffalo compilation. Info here)
--------------------------------

Previously featured Talkin’ New York artists:

Wakey!Wakey!
Matt Singer
Creaky Boards
Chris Cubeta & The Liars Club
Brook Pridemore
The Cummies
Eric Wolfson
David Shane Smith
Soft Black
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New Sounds Goin' Round....

In 2005 The Mountain Goats released The Sunset Tree - a bruised and beautiful collection of songs documenting John Darnielle’s troubled early years. It turned out to be one of my favorite records of that year and still gets plenty of play around here. In 2006 they followed it with Get Lonely, an album that quickly got lonely at the bottom of a CD stack, hardly listened to beyond a few early spins. I can’t really explain the gaping difference in my reactions to these records other than saying one housed songs that spoke to me, the other didn’t.

This coming February 19th 4AD Records will release Heretic Pride, and album recorded with more outside help than the Goats have ever previously used - including Franklin Bruno, Annie Clark (yes, St. Vincent), Erik Friedlander, Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster, the Bright Mountain Choir, and was produced by Scott Solter & John Vanderslice. The first single has appeared online and finds Darnielle and company using those folks well - it‘s their most band-oriented song I can think of. Promising indeed.

MP3 :: Sax Rohmer #1
(from Heretic Pride. Pre-order here)

Bonus MP3 :: New Monster Avenue
(from Get Lonely)
Bonus MP3 :: Lion’s Teeth
(from The Sunset Tree)
Bonus MP3 :: Palmcorder Yajna
(from We Shall All Be Healed)
------------------------------------------------
To me, The Magnetic Fields has always been one of those bands that’s more heard of than actually heard. I think the first few tracks to surface from the upcoming Distortion (Nonesuch Records. 1/15) are the first I’ve heard, or at least the first I remember hearing, and based on this limited knowledge of the band, I’d say the album is well named. There are lots of pleasant melodies swirling around in here, but they’re layered under some good old-fashioned Psychocandy-styled noise (“Too Drunk To Dream”, especially, seems poised to become the next great drunken sing-along, if not for the wall of lovely dissonance). Plus there’s kick-ass artwork.

MP3 :: Old Fools
MP3 :: Too Drunk To Dream (link to RCRD LBL)
(from Distortion. Pre-order here)
------------------------------------------------

Bruce Springsteen :: Nebraska Demos

I don’t think I’m alone when I call Nebraska, an album of demos Bruce Springsteen recorded on a 4-track recorder, not only one of my favorite Springsteen albums, but one of my favorite albums period. Born To Run is always the sentimental favorite, and The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle is the go-to choice when I want to hear his vintage Jersey Shore exuberance, but more so than either of those, Nebraska is infallible proof of the man’s ability to tell a story. It documented a broken America as seen through the eyes of characters with little hope left in their lives. The relentlessly bleak tone of the music and lyrics was an instant turn off for many long time fans used to the positive, earnest messages at the heart of The Boss’s music. Despite its commercial failure though, Nebraska has stood as one of Springsteen’s most critically acclaimed releases. In fact, and I’ve mentioned this before on this blog, somehow not one of Bruce’s classic 1970s albums placed on Pitchfork’s Top Albums of the 1970s, but Nebraska did find its way to #60 on their list of the 1980s.

I recently came across a CD of additional songs recorded during this time period of Springsteen’s career (thanks Billy!). The differences in audio quality among the tracks leads me to believe that they weren’t all from the same sessions, but all are noteworthy nonetheless. Most of these songs have turned up elsewhere over the years in various incarnations - most notably to me the song included here called “Child Bride”. The story song was later completely revamped into Born In The USA’s somewhat forgettable “Working On The Highway”. You can’t really argue that “Downbound Train” was later improved in its E Street Band version, and “Born In The USA” is undeniably effective in both versions. To me though, “Child Bride” is much stronger here, perhaps even joining “The Promise”, “Be True”, and “Janey Don’t You Lose Heart” as the greatest of Springsteen’s unreleased (until Tracks) songs.

These songs all further the themes presented on Nebraska, and are worthy listens for both curious listeners and Springsteen aficionados.

MP3 :: Bye Bye Johnny
(previously unreleased, to my knowledge. Shares its title with a Chuck Berry song)

MP3 :: Born In The USA
MP3 :: Downbound Train
(both later appeared in different versions on Born In The USA)

MP3 :: Losin Kind
(previously unreleased anywhere, to my knowledge)

MP3 :: Child Bride
(given a chorus and an E Street backing to become “Working On The Highway”)

MP3 :: Pink Cadillac
(later recorded by the band and released as a b-side on the “Born In The USA” single)

MP3 :: Dream Baby
MP3 :: Vietnam
MP3 :: Untitled
(unreleased demos - leave me a comment about these if you are in the know….not sure if I have the titles correct. “Vietnam” seems to be an early version of “Born In the USA”)
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New Music - The Second Band

It seems appropriate to kick off my second year as a music blogger with new music from one of my favorite Swedish imports, The Second Band. Last year the very excellent (and lover of all things Swede) blog The Punk Guy provided the heads up about the band, and since that time their songs haven’t strayed from my ears for long. In the past the sound of The Second Band had such an American kick to it that recognizing them as Swedish may have been difficult if you didn’t know better. Gems like “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” (mp3) and “A Song I Can’t Recall” (mp3) bristled with a soulful, rustic charm more akin to Okkervil River or Bright Eyes than, say, Jens Lekman, and both come highly recommended.

With the new year comes a new album (their first full-length) from the band. The Definite Form will be released by Orange Grammofon at the end of January. The 3 new songs I’ve heard from The Definite Form, however, seem to be embracing the dreamier, more orchestral music of their homeland without sacrificing the rural warmth of the past. To be sure, they’re still filled with chiming guitars and blaring horns, but these new songs forge a distinct sound for the band that isn’t as instantly identifiable as sounding like good American music. I’m sure I’ll be spending a lot of time with these songs over the next few months.

MP3 :: The Urgency of Now
MP3 :: The Future
(from The Definite Form. Buy here)
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