Gold Sounds (Carter, Chestnut, Jackson & Veal) -- Cut Yr Hair.
The entire album is fantastic, but this is still the standout track. Maybe that's because it's the only Pavement song that I really like. Featuring James Carter on sax, Cyrus Chestnut on keys, Ali Jackson on drums, and Reginald Veal on bass, they take indie dude-rock to dizzying heights of unparalleled joy.
Ted Leo + Pharmacists -- I'm Looking Through You
Last night, related to yesterday's entry, I came up with the analogy that in the indie rock world Ben Gibbard:Paul McCartney::Britt Daniel:John Lennon. And yet -- my favorite intellectual punk, Ted Leo, manages to embody the best qualities of both Beatles here. Taken from This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to The Beatles' Rubber Soul, which includes tracks from Nellie McKay, Ben Lee, Low, Sufjan Stevens and The Fiery Furnaces.
Okkervil River -- Black Sheep Boy
Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff channels Tim Hardin, joining the venerable company of Wilson Phillips and Rod Stewart. Oh, I kid, I kid. This is the lead track and thematic lynchpin for one of the best albums of 2005. Okkervil River, a long time favorite, is finally coming into their own. I expect even bigger and better things from these fellows in the future.
Bette Midler -- Is That All There Is?
Remember how when The Divine Miss M covered Ben Folds' "Boxing," and we realized a) that she was still a hell of a song stylist, and b) that Ben Folds was seriously one hell of a songwriter? Well, she kind of even blows that out of the water here. The world-weary Bette has seen it all, and she lets you know that with just a sardonic twirl of her still-golden voice. From her excellent album of standards from the Rosemary Clooney songbook.
Nouvelle Vague -- Friday Night, Saturday Morning (feat. Daniella D'Ambrosio)
Speaking of world-weary, Daniella D'Ambrosio, one of the jeunes chanteuses of the Nouvelle Vague project (New Wave hits as interpreted by French, American, and Canadian vocalists in the bossa nova and Yé-yé style, masterminded by producers Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux) brings new levels of ennui to The Specials' hymn of weekend depravity.
(to-buy links forthcoming; I need to go do some real work, for the money, now.)