The Rich Girls Are Weeping: January 2006

31 January 2006

Quick news: Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's new website is up, and it's very, very nice. Catch them on tour this spring -- I will totally be at the Austin show in March. After years of not ever being able to see them on tour, I'll have done so twice in six months -- that's totally awesome.

(Previous post on CftPA).
More, more, more: How do you like it, how do you like it? More. Note to self: don't forget to pick up your dress from the dry cleaners, and shoes from the cobbler after work today. Okay, now that's out of the way, here's the slighty more edgy follow-up to this rather popular post! I have yet another one of the lovely, mellow Feist remixes -- this time from DoRight (sorry, the quality isn't the best, I didn't do the vinyl rip). There's a Go! Team b-side from the Ladyflash EP, one of the New Order b-side remixes of their classics (I've posted "Temptation," natch, but there were new versions of "Everything's Gone Green" and "Bizzare Love Triangle" too) from the 7-inch release of "Waiting for the Sirens' Call," as interpreted by the fantastic Secret Machines (who have a new album out this spring), an absolutely killer DFA remix of Hot Chip, and the glitchy, anvil smashing, typewriter tapping Four Tet remix of Boom Bip's "Third Steam" (I think there's a dot matrix printer and some sleigh bells in there too. Sleigh bells!). Enjoy, and pls. support the artists whose tracks you enjoy. Hey, I just realized that I saw all these artists play live in 2005 -- in some form or another -- as in the case of Feist (with Broken Social Scene) and the DFA (LCD Soundsystem and The Juan Maclean), save Hot Chip -- whom I hope to see at SXSW this year.

Feist -- Gatekeeper (DoRight Remix Vocal)

The Go! Team -- The Wrath of Mikey
New Order -- Temptation (Secret Machines Remix Full Length)
Hot Chip -- Just Like We (Breakdown) (DFA Remix)
Boom Bip -- Third Steam (Four Tet Remix)

30 January 2006

Oh, buzzworthy? You know it. I'm exceedingly impressed with what I've heard of the latest out-of-Sweden hot property, Jeniferever. It's kind of weird to think of a band that's been around since 2000 as an exciting, new act. But there you have it, welcome to the vagaries of "Internet buzz." Thanks to Drowned in Sound, the sort of UK equivalent of Pitchfork (only sweeter and wya more enthusiastic), with the release of the "From Across the Sea" single on Feb. 13, Jeniferever poised to make it out of Upsala.

Kids on the Internets compare Jeniferever to Mogwai (they're quieter) and Low (they're a little louder) and The Album Leaf (they're not as boring) and Explosions in the Sky (they're not as ... Texan) and The Appleseed Cast (they're way less emo). But it's true, Jeniferever's earlier works do contain very, very long songs that encapsulate that moody, atmospheric feeling that's heavy on the instrumentals, guitar effects and whispered, far-off vocals. However, their new tracks illustrate how they're on a similar road to Calla -- over the past few years Jenifever has quietly whittled their epic tracks down to around a cozy 6 minutes each (down from the near-painfully epic 10-18 minute mark) and morphed into something new -- shoegaze-tinged with a splash of emo, with one foot firmly planted in folk and prog rock and the other in the weird realm of experimental music. From what I've heard, things are still quiet and mellow, and the lyrics live somewhere between Jens Lekman and Ben Gibbard. But yeah, apparently, they totally tour with two bassists and unleash a pretty wicked wall of sound.

Jeniferever -- From Across The Sea

(A few of Jeniferever's older tracks are available to download at their site. "For The World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" is particulaly fantastic. And yes, they are apparently named after an early Smashing Pumpkins song, "Jennifer Ever." And hey, if you're in Glasgow (yes, Scotland), you can see them play with Beerjacket, a nice young man who plays lovely folk music and who coincidentally recently contacted me about his music.)

Bonus: Everyone wants more Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins, yes? From her split 7" with Rickie Lee Jones soundalike Whispertown 2000 (they're on tour together, yay!), here's a previously unreleased track.

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins -- Paradise

Also, isn't it weird how things float around in the collective consciousness? I was just thinking about The Lesser Birds of Paradise yesterday, who I saw open for my darlings The Wrens at the Empty Bottle in Chicago in September 2004 (yes, for the record, that was the one where I kind of wept uncontrollably through The Wrens' whole set -- don't ask...), and whaddya know, Sixeyes has a whole bunch of tracks up this morning. The best thing about TLBoP is that they have a saw, and if you've been listening to the advance of Neko Case's entire back catalog all weekend (see previous entry), as I have, you might be in the right place to give them a right proper listen.

28 January 2006

It's what every girl wants to see after a long night out on the town -- a secret gift of the Neko Case album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. I've been waiting for a recorded version of "Maybe Sparrow" ever since I saw Neko play it about three (four?) years ago, and she confessed to only having finshed writing it earlier that day.

It was worth the wait. And oh, lands, that's Kelly Hogan -- only my favorite, favorite singer of all time (and yes, someday I'll post about her) -- on backing vocals!

I hope you won't mind that I'm about to tell you that I'm literally weeping over how beautiful this is. If you know me personally, you'll know why I so dearly love this song after hearing it.

Neko Case -- Maybe Sparrow

Fox Confessor Brings the Flood will be released on March 7, 2006.
More Neko Case at See You in the Pit.

27 January 2006

Friday dance party action! I swear, I didn't plan this, but it's totally like unoffical The Kills week here at TRGAW. We all love Feist, but Feist remixed by VV (a/k/a Alison Mosshart) of The Kills, even better! She repositions "Mushaboom" in a swirling, dippy, trippy mix that only hints at the original but preserves the hook of the bouncy chorus (can't you just see the glowsticks spinning?); the remix of "One Evening," on the other hand, cuts to the marrow of the song and throbs with the promise of resolved sexual tension. [Wow, I stand corrected. Thanks to an anonymous poster for pointing out that the VV in question here is not she of The Kills, but Renaud Letang & Gonzales, the arranger/producer team behind Feist's album Let it Die. I still stand by what I said above about the actual substance of the tracks. Never fear, our fact checker's off-campus lunch privledges have been revoked. Apologies for the error! Carry on!] Want more? Okay! The Go! Team remix of Bloc Party's "Positive Tension" turns into a stoop party with dancing in the street; Franz Ferdinand are tiny Scots robots in the Max Tundra remix of "Do You Want To?" that echoes with shades of Van Halen's "Jump" and Animotion's "Obsession." It makes me feel eight years old all over again, which is always appreciated. The ultra drony, ultra mellow, ABBA-from-another-dimension Patrick Wolf remix of Annie's "Hopeless Fool for Love" rounds things out. Chill out, mix up a Negroni, put your feet up, and have a lovely weekend! Feist -- Mushaboom (VV Remix) Feist -- One Evening (VV Remix) Bloc Party -- Positive Tension (Go! Team Remix) Franz Ferdinand -- Do You Want To (Max Tundra Remix) Annie -- Hopeless Fool For Love (Patrick Wolf Remix) (links removed due to DCMA complaint)

26 January 2006

Brian Eno in the collective consciousness. I went to see Shearwater (with Mi and L'au and Akron/Family -- who I didn't stay for -- not my thing) at Emo's last night. They have a new album coming out in May and this was the first show they'd played out in quite some time -- but you'd never know it. They sounded just fantastic, which bodes excellent for their upcoming tour dates and SXSW appearance. "Turn Your Transmitters Off" has a new name now (which I can't remember) as well as a slick New Wave drum part that made me squeal with delight and just completely blew me away. But what really made me happy was that they pulled out an unexpected and wicked (if slightly and understandably shaky as they'd learnt it two days ago) cover of Brian Eno's "Baby's On Fire."

The song is everywhere lately, it seems! When I was paying for my double iced latte at my favorite coffee shop last weekend (Jo's on South Congress), I heard those unmistakable first few bars of cascading drums over the sound system, and without a second thought, just started singing along as I finished the transaction, much to the amusement of the baristas and the people in line with me. I was slightly mortifed, but also amazed that the song is so imbedded in my brain that I would just start singing along like that -- in public. I suppose I shouldn't be that surprised -- sometimes I think that
Here Come the Warm Jets is my favorite record of all time. I mean, I did name this blog after the lyrics of one of the songs on the album and all.

As an added bonus, I'm including the equally brilliant "Needle in the Camel's Eye," which
Calla covered with amazing aplomb on their last tour. I saw them do it twice, locally and at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC, and both times there I couldn't help but giggle every time bassist Pete Gannon would play that rollicking bass line with the most amazingly satisfied look on his face.

Brian Eno -- Baby's on Fire

Brian Eno -- Needles in the Camel's Eye

(If you don't have
Here Come the Warm Jets, you totally need a copy. And probably one of Another Green World and Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) as well. Just sayin'.)

Oh, and speaking of covers, the Four Tet cover of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" over at Rock Insider has totally made my day. Wow.

25 January 2006

It's all of the good that won't come out of me, and all the stupid lies I've left behind. Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett released albums from their side projects yesterday -- the former, a solo album with the assistance of the sweet and eerie harmonies of the Watson twins and the latter, Sun Sun Sun, the second album from The Elected. I've been a long, long time fan of Rilo Kiley, and have watched their ascent to the upper eschelons of indie rockdom with a little bit of pride. Sometimes it's nice to have your taste validated that way!

But I digress -- the fact that both these albums are pretty darn good are a testament to Jenny and Blake's overabundant talents, and I'm pleased that they have outlets for their material that don't quite fit with the artistic agenda of Rilo Kiley. My only beef is that Jenny's album doesn't include the amazing "Somebody Else's Clothes," which I first heard on a live recording about a year and a half ago. I've included it below for your listening pleasure (along with a live version of the album's title track.) The Elected songs below are from a limited ep from Sub Pop given out with preorders of Sun Sun Sun.

Jenny Lewis -- Somebody Else's Clothes (live)
Jenny Lewis -- Rabbit Fur Coat (live)

The Elected -- I Don't Care
The Elected -- Not Me
The Elected -- For You

24 January 2006

Hey, y'all know about See You in the Pit, the SXSW preview blog, right? If you're not reading it, you totally should be. Seriously. I'm really looking forward to SXSW this year, though I imagine I'm going to be very, very exhausted when it's all over, seeing as I'm going to interactive, film, and music.
"This song could be 20 years old! And that's not a bad thing!" I've been keeping track of how often my best friend has been saying that about all the new music we've heard so far in 2006. VHS or Beta's new single "You Got Me" falls squarely into that category, and how! It sounds like the best of the 80's withtout reducing it all to cheezy cliche; this is something I've found myself drawn to more and more lately. I just can't believe a bunch of dirty boys from Kentucky, who often play with My Morning Jacket (of all people!), have unleashed this moody, danceable business on the world. Well, I can, actually -- especially after seeing them on tour with the Scissor Sisters in late '04. The boys of VHS or Beta had my heart after their amazing set, but when they drunkenly sang "Filthy/Gorgeous" in naughty falsetto at the merch booth, well -- I knew it was a love affair that was gonna last.

VHS or Beta -- You Got Me

bonus: VHS or Beta -- You Got Me (Baby Daddy Dub). I adore Scissor Sisters' Baby Daddy, even though I know that's the biggest lost cause in the world. (*sigh*)

Oh! And here's another one that made me really happy -- VV from The Kills guests on the title track of the fantastically dark new Placebo album Meds. There's some harsh and almost ugly moments in this new collection of songs, and but there's also a few of those lovely little love songs the boys of Placebo do so well. It's music for the gothed out adolescent that lives inside all of us. Try and deny that when you're alone.

Placebo (with VV of The Kills) -- Meds

And yes, I know just last week I swore I'd only post tracks MWF and all that, but these were too good not to share with you immediately. I hope you'll agree.

23 January 2006

Ever since I saw the Townes Van Zant documentary, Be Here to Love Me, I've been meaning to do a post here about the film and Townes' music. (Dammit, it's Townes Van Zandt, but I can't correct the spelling in the first sentence, or it messes up the links from my feed.) The kids over at La Blogotheque had a great post about his work over the weekend; it's in French though, which means I should probably still post about him eventually!

Anyway, here's a hodgepodge of things I found over the weekend. First up, I learned that Win and Will Butler of The Arcade Fire's grandfather was Alvino Rey (born Alvin Henry McBurney, he passed away in 2004), who led a big band in the 1940's and later went on to develop the steel guitar, have a career in the Exotica scene, and appear on the completely benign variety show, "The King Family Hour," with his wife, Luise King (of the King Singers) and something like 40 members of her massive musically inclined, Mormon family in the 60's. The most adorable thing about all this is that Win is the spitting image of his grandfather; I was quite amused by all the old pictures I found surfing around. Naturally, I've included the Alvino Rey Band's chart hit of 1942, "Deep in the Heart of Texas" (complete with the banter and advertisments) -- because even though The Arcade Fire is known as one of the lumiaries Montreal scene, we know that the Butlers are originally from the suburbs of Houston.

And now, for a complete 180, you must forgive me, but I'm really stuck on Missy Elliott's remix of Ashlee Simpson's "L.O.V.E." The song is so clearly some kind of bizzare "Let's stick together, girls!" response to Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl," and yet it has an appeal I can't quite put my finger on. Please don't mock me -- it really is a great remix. I swear!

And I'm also including yet another MSTRKRFT remix for you, of The Kills' "No Wow." I have a soft spot for VV and Hotel of The Kills; their music like the sonic equivalent of ... a spartan arthouse film about a dysfunctional relationship that has lots of tight interior shots and cold and distancing long exterior shots of the couple walking through the empty streets of an otherwise busy city, and this MSTRKRFT remix really enhances that uncomfortable tension.

Alvino Rey Orchestra -- Deep in the Heart of Texas
Ashlee Simpson feat. Missy Elliott -- L.O.V.E. (Missy's Underground Mix)
The Kills -- No Wow (MSTRKRFT Remix)

20 January 2006

It can never be said that head Decemberist Colin Meloy doesn't have fantastic taste in music -- especially when it comes to the things that really influenced him. On his latest solo EP -- limited to 2000 copies, most of which I imagine are gone now, even though he just set out on his latest solo tour -- Colin pays tribute to one of the most important figures in the English folk revival of the '60's, Shirley Collins. In addition to having a fantastic career as a performer (with her sister Dolly), Collins is a champion of the preservation of the English folk song tradition and has pretty much devoted her life to gathering, cataloging, and arranging those songs, much in the same way that Martin Carthy and Nic Jones did as well. (She also accompanied Alan Lomax on his song collection foray into the Appalachians -- and whatever you may think of that, its importance in preserving the folk tradition cannot be denied.)

But I digress. Matt on You Ain't No Picasso scooped me here by posting Colin and Shirley's versions of "Charlie." I just listened to the entirety of Colin's EP and came to the conclusion that it's not nearly as interesting as his first solo EP, a tribute to Morrissey, which is unfortunate as Shirley Collins certainly deserves more exposure, especially to fans of The Decemberists who may not otherwise know about her work. I was particularly disappointed with his version of one of my favorite folk songs, "Barbara Allen," but that makes me feel very crumudgeonly -- it's electric! Unfortunately, I don't have an mp3 of Collins' version to post for comparison, so instead of a repeat of yesterday's crabby posting of a sub-par cover and its inspiration, I'll instead post one of the tracks from Colin's EP I did like!

Colin Meloy -- Dance to Your Daddy
Shirley Collins -- Dance to Your Daddy

Shirley Collins -- Just As the Tide Was Flowing
10,000 Maniacs -- Just As the Tide Was A Flowing

(Highly recommended, the Shirley Collins box set, Within Sound.)

19 January 2006

There's absolutely only one reason to post about latest NME-blessed flash-in-the-pan "saviours of rock'n'roll," The Arctic Monkeys -- and that's when they cover Girls Aloud's "Love Machine." I ganked this off the Interschitzel, it was recorded live on the BBC's RadioOne. The Arctic Monkeys' interpretation of this er, classic cements the fact that they really are the most overrated band in the entire universe right now. So, I'm including the original, as a palate cleanser. (My suggestion: someone really needs to do this as a bluegrass cover, obvs.) But I digress -- long live Girls Aloud, the best prefab pop band around. And you can quote me on that.

Arctic Monkeys - Love Machine (Live on Radio One)
Girls Aloud - Love Machine

18 January 2006

They buy me all these ices. Here's some tracks to move your lady and/or man lumps to on this er, hump day. Damn. This intro sounded so much better in my head, really. (And some kind of apologies are due to the Black Eyed Peas, but I'm not sure I want to say that either.) Forgive me, I haven't had my morning coffee yet.

Madonna - Sorry (Pet Shop Boys Maxi Remix)
MSTRKRFT -- Easy Love
The Gossip -- Standing in the Way of Control (Le Tigre Remix)

And, in case you're having a more gloomy/cathartic Wednesday, maybe you need Xiu Xiu's cover of Joy Division's "Ceremony" from the Chapel of the Chimes EP instead (via Mocking Music).

17 January 2006

If you cut into the past, the future falls out. I've been reading Paul Morley's Words and Music. It's easily one of the oddest and most interesting books about popular music that I've ever read. If I get through it, I think I'll throw myself a goddamn party. Anyway, the point of this entry is that Mr. Morley starts the book by taking about his two favorite pieces of music: Alvin Lucier's seminal and ultra-experimental acoustic-electro-noise piece "I Am Sitting in a Room" [ETA: mp3 here] and Kylie Minogue's "I Can't Get You Out of My Head." He then spends a good chunk of text discussing the first time he heard Tangerine Dream's Phaedra as an impressionable teenager. I'm only on like, page 25 and I think my brain has officially melted.

Needless to say, Mr. Morley's little-c catholic taste is staggeringly heartwarming. Makes me feel a little less weird, you know?

(And thanx to DJ Food for introducing me to the work of Mr. Morley and Mr. Lucier in Raiding the 20th Century.)

16 January 2006

Lazy Monday. As promised like, ages ago, and per some requests, I'm totally gonna start writing about some of the bands and albums that we here at TRGAW are excited about in 2006. As a matter of fact, I think I heard the first great record of the year this weekend, but I don't want to jinx it and I don't think I'm ready to post about it quite yet.

So, first up is Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. I've been a long-time fan of Owen Ashworth's dour ouevre (obvious influenes are the lo-fi eras of both The Magnetic Fields and The Mountain Goats), and his latest album, Etiquette, due out in March from Tomlab, is full of his signature gloomy piano-based, Tom Waits-ish tracks and gloomy little narratives underscored by the icy beats of yes, his myriad of hotrodded Casio synthesizers. Some of the best tracks on the album, including "Holly Hobby (version)" and "Grandmother's Pearls," feature guest vocals by Dear Nora's Katy Davidson, who toured with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone in the Fall of 2005.

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone -- Don't They Have Payphones Where You Wherever You Were Last Night
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone -- Scattered Pearls

Buy Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's albums and EPs at Insound.

13 January 2006

Isn't it weird how sometimes you can listen to a record you totally hated a few months after the fact, just on a whim, and find that your opinion has completely changed? When ...and You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead's latest effort, Worlds Apart, came out in early 2005, I dismissed it as an over-produced, bombastic mess.

And yet... I was channel surfing the other night and happened to catch
the video for "And The Rest Will Follow," on M-E TV (the sort of sad, slick-ish replacement for scrappy The Austin Music Network) and suddenly, this light went off in my brain. I finally got what the band was going for with this heady (and critically thrashed) concept album. Yeah, it's self-indulgent and a little clunky. (What concept album isn't, though?) Yeah, it's no Source Tags and Codes. Yeah the title track is not the best song, and a little out of place on the album. But if you blew off Worlds Apart, give it another listen away from the anti-hype and stinging blows of the Pitchfork review. What you hear may surprise you. Or I don't know, maybe not -- just humor me, yeah?

Another pleasant surprise was that I'd somehow also missed virtuoso violinist
Hilary Hahn's guest appearance on the album. She's definitely a favorite as well; her interpretations of modern classics are fresh and thrilling without being irreverent or insousciant. And she brings just the right amount of bleeding-heart pathos to the so-familiar-it's-almost-trite Elgar Violin Concerto, of which I've posted the first movement below.

...and You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead -- And The Rest Will Follow

...and You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead -- Russia My Homeland (featuring Hilary Hahn)

Hilary Hahn -- Elgar Violin Concerto, Op.61, I. Allegro

(You can find
Trail of Dead's entire ouevre at Insound. Hilary Hahn's take on Elgar's Violin Concerto & Vaughn Williams' A Lark Ascending with The London Symphony, Sir Colin Davis conducting, is available from Amazon.)

12 January 2006

Thursday recommendations. A big chunk of my time will be taken up by another project on the Interschnitzel for a little bit, so I'm switching over to a schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for mp3 posts, Tuesday and Thursday for general fodder posts. Here's a couple of bands I've found via other mp3 blogs that have caught my attention recently: The chamber pop and glam stomp collision offered by Lincoln, Nebraska's rather unfortunately named Eagle*Seagull (they've garnered comparisons to the Arcade Fire, I'm not necessarily sure I agree -- the similarities seem mostly superficial ones) and the delightful electrotweepop of Belfast residents Oppenheimer. Links, for your pleasure: you ain't no picasso on Eagle*Seagull gorilla vs. bear on Oppenheimer (removed dead links)

11 January 2006

Quick post: old favorite, new album. I saw Josh Ritter open for John Wesley Harding in November 2002 at Austin's Cactus Cafe. I was struck by Mr. Ritter's awkward grace, charming exuberance, and gorgeous songs. I was not surprised to discover he was big in Ireland (just like The Frames!), despite being a relative unknown here in the US. Mr. Ritter's latest album, The Animal Years, is due out in March. His utter sincerity and rough-hewn voice should take that pipsqueak James Blount to school. Seriously. Below is one of my favorites from The Animal Years, the first song I've heard in ages that's a tribute to a silent film star.

Josh Ritter -- Lilian, Egypt

And here's an old favorite, from his 1999 self-titled debut album:

Josh Ritter -- Angels On Her Shoulders

...and one from 2003's
Hello Starling that I always seem to find myself putting on mix cds:

Josh Ritter -- Kathleen

(You can find
Josh Ritter's albums at Insound.)

10 January 2006

We're having a sick day over here at TRGAW HQ, so a short entry for you today.

The most highly anticpated new album this month is probably Cat Power's The Greatest. I myself have had a weird relationship with Chan Marshall and her music over the years. We clashed and I resisted for a long time; I thought she was insufferably dull and pretentious -- her performance persona really bothered me. Every tale of shows she walked out of playing turned me off even more. But 2003's You Are Free finally reached me. I still can't explain why Ms. Marshall's music affects me -- her melancholy voice and weary, detatched delievery cut right to the heart of things. Her melodies are not complex, as a matter of fact, they're almost excessively repetitve (as all good blues songs are), which I think is what leads people to accuse her of phoning it in -- a critique I've already seen of The Greatest from a few quarters. That couldn't be further from the truth, though -- there's actually some, dare I say it, upbeat (but still bluesy) numbers on The Greatest, even more so than on any of her previous albums. It's an interesting direction, and it was even a little unexpected. But welcome nonetheless.

Anyway, here's one of those famous Cat Power covers (she really can interpret a song like no one else in indie rock); this one appears on the Japanese release of
The Greatest.

Cat Power -- Dreams (Everly Brothers cover)

The Greatest at Insound. It will be released on January 26, 2005.)

...and now for something completely different.
Bootie San Francisco, by far the best dance party in the country and the playground of bootleg mashup maestros Party Ben and A plus D, has compiled the best mashups of the year in one convenient location, The Best of Bootie 2005. Enjoy!

09 January 2006

You like me, you really, really like me! Checking the referral logs over coffee this morning, I was happy to discover that I've been added to The Hype Machine, which is fantastic. So, welcome to anyone arriving via that route, hope you like what you see here.

Relatedly, I changed up the design a bit over the weekend between bouts of cleaning, only to discover that I'd inadvertently used the same typeface for the header that The Like used on the cover of their 2005 debut album, Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? This is amusing as I've been a fan of The Like for years, and pushed them on everyone in my little Livejournal, long before mp3 blogs were in vogue. (I'd read about Charlotte, Tennessee, and Z in an issue of Interview a few years ago that wasn't afraid to present the fact that they're all daughters of successful music industry types. I suppose they wanted to get those accusations of nepotism out of the way early.)

Anyway, at first, I wasn't a huge fan of the new album as my favorite tracks from the band's little EPs over the years were tarted up with what I felt was a ton of unnecessary production. After spending some quality time with Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? this weekend, though, I've changed my mind, and I'm impressed with the overall effort. (Plus, the discovery that it was produced by Wendy Melvoin certainly re-piqued my interest. Yes. Wendy of Prince's backup sirens Wendy & Lisa.) Anyway, I've posted both versions for your consideration.

I'm also quite smitten with "Under the Paving Stones" -- I love how the song take a left turn from shimmery California pop into NYC territory -- then again, I think the ladies of The Like love their New Order records as much as their well-worn Fleetwood Mac records. Which is something I can totally relate to.

The Like -- (So I'll Sit Here) Waiting (EP version)
The Like -- Falling Away (EP version)

The Like -- (So I'll Sit Here) Waiting (album version)
The Like -- Falling Away (album version)

Bonus: The Like -- Under the Paving Stones

(Buy The Like's Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? from Amazon. Sadly, their 3 homemade EPs are out of print.)

06 January 2006

Just a quickie post today. It's one of those days, you know? Lots going on.

The New Pornographers (or, as someone on ILX suggested calling them, The 'Nups -- I like that!) have had a banner year. New album
Twin Cinema claimed spots on an array of best of 2005 lists and was a fantastic breakout record. Not everyone agrees, though -- I have a friend who likens listening to the multi-layered, cacophonous pop insanity of The New Pornographers as something akin to going slightly mad. I myself do not think this is a bad thing.

Here's two b-sides for you from the "Letter From an Occupant" single, circa the Mass Romantic era.

The New Pornographers -- When I Was a Baby
The New Pornographers -- The End of Medicine (early version)

(The entire New Pornographers discography is available at
Insound. Look for them on tour this spring with label-mates Belle and Sebastian.)

05 January 2006

I just ain't that high. Goodness, I'm a posting machine today! The Hold Steady have posted a tossed-out track from the Seperation Sunday recording sessions, "Hot Fries," on their Myspace page. As is the Hold Steady's specialty, the song is an indictment of, well, everything: insipid humor, clever people, trite music, you name it.

"It's my party, and I'll die if I want to."

Well, all right then! I'll keep that in mind...

Hey, guess what I just did? I checked the server stats, and fixed all the bad file names, so if you tried to download something on previous entries and got an error message (Nellie McKay, Tilly and the Wall, Les Mouches) -- they're all fixed now. Sorry about that, I'll be more diligent about checking file names in the future.

As a token of my regret, a few more treats for you. I discovered Sambassadeur in mid-2005, and was totally smitten. How could I not be -- bittersweet Swedish pop (
a la Jens Lekmman and The Concretes) with boy/girl vocals and a heavy '60s pop influence as well? (To me they sound quite a bit like early Magnetic Fields or early Spoon from an alternate universe -- must be that shared Wire influence.) Anyway, I think Sambassadeur is just fantastic.

Sambassadeur -- New Moon
(from the Sambassadeur's self-titled debut LP)

Sambassadeur -- Still Life Ahead
(from the Sambassadeur's self-titled debut LP)
Sambassadeur -- The Only Living Girl
(from the New Moon EP)

(more mp3s available at the
Sambassadeur site; buy their albums from Darla -- just search on the band's name for available LP and EPs. There's more sample tracks there too!)
J'aime le jazz hot. Today's selection looks back a bit and comes from my mom's impressive music collection. When I was home for the holidays, I asked her if she had any interesting music I could post, and she immediately directed me to Les Double Six. The group, a vocalese jazz sextet highly influenced by the American vocalese trio Lambert, Hedricks, and Ross (...who deserve a post of their own at some point!), was active in France in the early 60's. These tracks are from a collection released in 1999 that showcases the group's recordings from 1959-1962. The group's core structure was always the same (two sopranos, an alto, a tenor, a baritone, and a bass accompanied by a rhythm section of piano, bass, and drums), though the personnel sometimes changed. The most interesting aspect of these songs is that the six voices were overdubbed, giving the impression of 12 voices (hence the group's name!), thus expanding the potential of the singers to reproduce the sound of the sax section of a big band orchestra.

Founding member Mimi Perrin arranged most of the the songs (the remainder were Quincy Jones' arrangements of his tunes for the Count Basie Orchestra) and translated them into French. Her arrangment technique was to assign each voice an instrument to emulate, and the effect is pretty darn stunning -- vocalese in en Francais is a lot speedier than its English-language counterpart.

Future members of the Swingle Singers (later famous for their bebop take on Bach), Ward Swingle and Christiane Legrand (she of the insanely high voice that you'll hear here), were part of Les Double Six as well.

Les Double Six -- Meet Benny Bailey (Au bout du fil)
Les Double Six -- Boplicity (La l├ęgende du troubadour)
Les Double Six -- Rat Race (La course au rat)

(Bonus: Mimi Perrin interviewed on NPR's Weekend Edition.)
(buy Les Double Six from Amazon.)

Also for your listening pleasure, WFMU has 61 versions of "Tico Tico" online. I can't tell you why I find this so wonderful, I just do. I especially love the Andrews Sisters' version.

BTW, the Nellie McKay tracks from the soundrack to Rumour Has It mentioned the other day can be found at Ze Paramour.

In other news, I'm in the process of deciding the bands that comprise "ones to watch in 06," and I believe that's what's coming next 'round these parts.

04 January 2006

Once upon a time, I told Get Him Eat Him that they sounded like like the love child of ELO and Giorgio Moroder. They're so young and adorable, I don't think they got just how great a compliment that is coming from me!

On their new EP, Do As I Tell You, coming out next week from Catbird Records, they've take a turn around the power pop corner by way of Sloan and early Weezer, which is also just fine with me. Take a taste and listen to "Exposure." This song is getting major play in the blogosphere, and for good reason. I'm just adding to the accolades.

Whilst on winter break from Brown, GHEH are on tour. Catch them when they pass through your fair city!

03 January 2006

...In which I play (Z-list) celebrity DJ. This entry comes with a creative visualization exercise. I am throwing a New Year's Eve party, and you've arrived with a bottle of cheap champers and tasty hors d'ouvres. I mix you up a Negroni, because in a perfect world, everyone drinks Campari cocktails with me. And this is the mix that's playing on the stereo -- the best 37 songs of the year. (I just love odd prime numbers, don't you?)

First, there's the chipper songs that back the introductions and small talk, then the dance party bit, then moody come downs, then the super hipster indie girl section when it gets late and we all play Seven Minutes in Heaven. Ok, maybe not, but it would be fun, right?

There's easily another 37 great songs from 2005 that I could add, but really, odds are you'd only stay at my party for about 2.5 hours anyway, so there you go.

(BTW, There's a tiny duplication from my New Year's Eve post, but it's negligable. There's also one old, long-lost song that finally saw release in 2005.)

Presented for your consideration as a .zip file, this mix will only be available for a few days. Don't break the server, please! (And please let me know if you have problems downloading or playing any of the files. This is going out without a beta, so apologies if there's any funky business.)

And that's it for the 2005 recapping activities. From now on, it's all about looking forward. Promise.

Cindy Hotpoint's Best of 2005 Mix. (206 MB!! **BOTH LINKS FIXED NOW**) (Playlist. Please play in this order!) (Here's the playlist as an .xml file for iTunes users.)

By the time you read this, it's become clear that the first truly highly anticipated release of 2006, kooky and talented chanteuse Nellie McKay's Pretty Little Head, will not hit stores today. (It's also no longer available to pre-order on Amazon, and her personal site seems to have gone black, though the mini-site hosted by Columbia/Sony is still up.) A NYC-dwelling ex-boyfriend told me about Ms. McKay in 2003, but I didn't have a chance to see her until I (literally) sat at her feet at the very first showcase of SXSW 2004, an event that was the front end of the publicity blitz (which positioned her as the anti-Norah Jones) that powered her first release, Get Away From Me. She was nervous, which surprised me, having heard sparkling live bootlegs, but she charmed us anyway, giving a tight and rather long-ish set for a SXSW slot. I spent a rather fruitless amount of time last night trying to track down hard copies of her songs that appear on the Rumour Has It soundtrack, which was supposedly to be released exclusively on iTunes on December 27, but that didn't happen either as she and label Columbia officially called it quits on December 23, supposedly over the length of Pretty Little Head, which Nellie wanted to be another double album like her debut, with 23 tracks. Colombia, apparently, had other ideas -- so much so that they only sent out a 16-track promo. We have really tentative plans to go see the previews of Nellie's appearance in a new Broadway production of the Brecht/Weill masterpiece The Threepenny Opera (along with Alan Cumming and Cyndi Lauper --who's replacing Edie Falco) as Polly Peachum this spring, but that's reallytentative at this point because of cash liquidity issues. So, in the immortal words of the old district attorney on "Law and Order:" So whaddya gonna do about it? Well, how about sharing some tracks from that promo? It took me a while to warm to these new songs, but then I remembered that the key thing to keep in mind when listening to Ms. McKay is that she resides in her own musical universe, where influences (pop, jazz, hip-hop, showtunes) collide deliriously with her sense of humor and political ideology. Sometimes things work, and sometimes they don't -- I'd be interested to hear what you all think. Personally, I'm addicted. Meanwhile, maybe I'll work the fact that I have one degree of separation from Ms. McKay and see if we can get some kind of Fiona Apple action going and "leak" the missing tracks. No really! I will. No promises, though... Nellie McKay -- Cupcake. Nellie McKay -- Columbia is Bleeding. Nellie McKay -- Long and Lazy River. Nellie McKay -- There You Are in Me. Nellie McKay -- The Big One. Nellie McKay (with KD Lang) -- We Got it Right. Nellie McKay (with Cyndi Lauper) Bee Charmer. (links removed due to DMCA complaint) Bonus: Nellie interviewed on NPR, with live tracks. (Buy Get Away From Me at Insound.)

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