Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

We're off for a well-needed ten-day winter brake in two cities I know and love, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.  

But not without one more Song of the Week.

Up this week: 'Old Gal,' an unusually poppy confection by a third-tier Seattle indie rock band known as The Blakes...  This was brought to my attention by our friend Andrew Benscko.

There's no video for 'Old Gal'... Here are the group live and acoustic on K-Rock, playing 'Lie Next To Me...'


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Sunday, December 09, 2012

Golden Light

This week's song, 'Golden Light,' is a compelling indie-pop anthem by one-man 'chillwave' band Twin Shadow, who was born George Lewis junior is the Dominican Republic and raised in Florida on influences as diverse as 60s rock, new jack swing, alt-rock and new wave.   Sharp lyrics, synthesizers, and mood pieces abound in his oeuvre.  

Twin Shadow, whose two albums have gained him critical acclaim, packed concerts in small venues, and modest but increasing revenues,  currently makes his home in Brooklyn's still-ungentrified Bushwick neighborhood.

Without further ado, here's Twin Shadow's live performance of 'Golden Light'...

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Sunday, December 02, 2012

Everything But The Kitchen Sink..

This week's song is 'Champion Sound,' a bouncy slice of 'world pop' by London-based British/Spanish quintet Crystal Fighters.  'World pop' may be the only way to describe, in two words, a 'folk-tronica' band that describes itself as "fast progressive dance music joined by the melodies and dances of traditional Basque folk, alongside synthesizers, bass-driven wonk-funk, and beats fuelled by early 1980s Spanish punk and experimental electronica."  Enough influences for you?  Don't worry about digesting the influences, just enjoy the delicious results... 

Or contemplate the band's live shows, in their own words:  "Our first show had props including two bottles of tequila, txalapartas (a traditional Basque instrument), signs explaining the plot of the opera, and loads of dramatic stage directions all to a soundtrack of wonky bass, latin percussion and enormous passionate hooks. It was chaotic and we've been trying to bring that sort of energy to every show since."

Here's the delightful video for 'Champion Sound':

Nearly every song on the album has been a single, each with a video, but an actual hit continues to elude them... Here's 'Swallow'...

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Perfect Little Indie Pop Song..

It's been a while, as SOTW was pre-empted by Hurricane Sandy, election week, jury duty (I got freed!), and other distractions..

But I'm back, with Benjamin Gibbard's 'Dream Song,' which has certainly been one of this fall's defining musical pleasures.  It's a thoughtful, playful, tuneful muse on that parallel life we call dreams, interesting territory that hasn't been explored much in pop, save by Heart, back in 1986..

Benjamin Gibbard is best known as the singer/songwriter, lead vocalist, and mastermind of Death Cab for Cutie, a quartet from Seattle that, despite its scary name, has released eight  mellow, melodic, and smart albums over the past 14 years  with lyrics that are clever, imaginative, and incisive.

Gibbard is also known as the husband of singer/movie-and-TV-actress Zoey Deschannel (herself an SOTW alumna via her duo She and Him), which seems to have to cheered him up substantially...

Before we video-walk through Gibbard's impressive career, with and without Death Cab, watch this great live clip for Benjamin's solo "Dream Song':

 Here's Ben's actual single, 'Teardrop Windows,' with a frame story satirizing the music biz...

Death Cab's SOTW from last year is a joy:  'You Are A Tourist is subtle but infectious..

Here's the wonderful live clip for 'I Will Possess You Heart..'

DCFC's last album had two wonderful singles, 'Soul Meets Body' and 'Crooked Teeth,' the latter imagery refers to a skyline... First, 'Soul'...

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Aaron Aaron Aaron

Wow, after a lifetime soaked in music and 258 Songs of the Week, I am thrilled to post a song that is my namesake!   'Aaron' was an uncommon name when I was born, but got considerably more popular about 20 years later... Today's 'Aaron' is a spare, bluesy, edgy ballad by Berlin-based Canadian singer/songwriter Dan Bodan.   It's a coming of a age song and I guess love song,  maybe platonic, maybe not...  'Aaron don't you see / I think we're growing up.'   I am so hooked!

The Guardian described him as " indier, more abstract Bryan Ferry" and " really a torch singer, wallowing in blue moods and the anguish of romance."   Bodan's a bit of a mystery, without a site or a Wikipedia page, but he plays DJ sets around Berlin and does gigs at galleries and in collaborations with visual artists.  Clearly influenced by James Blake, Antony and the Johnsons, Soft Cell and even Björk..  Perry Como in purgatory.

The 'Aaron' video is as spare and moody as its sonic döppelgänger...

'DP' is an even stronger song than 'Aaron' but how can you blame me, really, for choosing the latter? : - )     "If you want to read to me your poetry / I'll sleep with you..."

One more lovely tone in the same vein: 'What's So New..'

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Aging Well Head

'Youth is a gift, but aging is an art,'  a wise person once said, and by that token David Byrne is two times an artist.  With musical vision and surprising partners, the former Talking Heads frontman has turned his fifties into a golden age.  Today's Song of the Week',  'Who?,' is from his latest and most tantalizing joint venture to date: 'Love This Giant,'  a collaboration with Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, an avant garde singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist if there ever was one!
St Vincent's work is often as challenging as it is rewarding, but she can certainly pen instantly lovable tunes, this weeks single as the case in point.

The cinematic black & white video for 'Who' is as artful and innovative as the song it showcases....

St Vincent won my music heart on Day 1 with her beguiling 'Jesus Saves, I Spend,' a meditative, symphonic musing that I featured on Song of the Week back in 2008...

 One of David Byrne's best moments from his Talking Heads tenure was 'This Must Be The Place' from 1983....

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Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Dane Event

This week's song is the charming, off-beat gourmet bubble gum that is 'Mafia.'   Its delightful synth riffs and Cyndi Lauper-ish vocals belong to Danish pop duo Asteroids Galaxy Tour, with vocals by Metter Lindberg and production/writing by Lars Inversen.

On tour, the Copenhagen-based duo becomes a sextet. Their big break came when Amy Winehouse heard their demo disc; the band's first live show was warming up for Winehouse in Copenhagen. After releasing a debut to good reviews in 2009, they hit the road with Katy Perry.

There's no video for our SOTW, but there's an excellent psychedelic video for the group's current single, 'Heart Attack.'   I guess I could have chosen this song for SOTW, but I like 'Mafia' a smidgin better.   You be the judge....

There's no video for 'Mafia' but you can listen to it while admiring the group's groovy cover art... : - )

Here's the group live at Le Figaro in France performing 'Out of Frequency,' which I like even better acoustic than I do on the album:

The band's debut single was 'The Sun Ain't Shining No More..'

'Around The Bend' is yet another great tune and video from the band...

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Through The Pretty Haze 

This week's offering literally sounds like autumn to my ears.  It's the pretty, tuneful and low-fi 'So Hard To See' by New York based trio Violens, who sound is "influenced by such disparate elements as Zombies-style 60s psych-pop, early 90s shoegaze, post-punk, and Miami freestyle.  What I hear most is the 60s psych-pop and the trippy 90s shoegaze (which itself is trippy and psychedlic mutant dance music)...  

Violens, who derive their name from a combination of 'violence' and 'violins,' formed in 2007 and spent a few years focused on live shows while dabbling in remixing,  composing runway scores, and editing mix tapes.  Their tight debut album followed in 2010, but it's their sophomore release, 'True', that caught my ear.  It's the best album of its kind since Film School's miraculous 'Fission' in early 2011...

This group is new enough not to have a Wikipedia page - but I culled their bio data from Allmusic and the band's own website.

There's no video, alas, for 'So Hard To See,' but here's a pair of clips for equally strong recent songs 'When To Let Go' and 'All Night Low'.. Enjoy!

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