Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fab Four Echoes

Well, summer has arrived in New York, for real, socially and climatically, if not astronomically.  

Up this week:  a suitably summery and melodic pastiche of Late Beatles served up by Philadelphia-based indie trio Jukebox The Ghost.

Formed in college (GWU) in 2003 as The Sunday Mail, the threesome took a 2-year hiatus before reforming as Jukebox with a clearer musical vision.   Their two albums have won favor with critics and other bands, if not yet the public.   They've warmed up for the similarly quirky and late-60s-inflected Tally Hall as well as Ben Folds and Barenaked Ladies..

Gimme Ice Cream! A modest request from Jukebox before playing 'Mistletoe' live at The Hunt in Ithaca, NY. The video for 'Before The Bridge' is every bit as atmospheric as the song...

What could be more Song of the Week that appearing on Letterman? Here they are performing their other single, 'Schizophrenic'

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

More Bounce To The Ounce 

This week I'll indulge my weakness for the theatrical vocals and snappy synth lines of early "new romantic" new wave, as reincarnated by Future Islands, a fairly low-key trio who met in college at East Carolina University and settled in Baltimore.  

It took me about two listens, but 'Before The Bridge' is fiendishly catchy besides being atmospheric.

The band's original name, inexplicably, is Art Lord and the Self-Portraits.  They record in their living room.  'On The Water,' from whence this single came, is their sophomore outing...

The video for 'Before The Bridge' is every bit as atmospheric as the song...

From the group's first album, 'In Evening Air':.... 'Inch of Dust'...

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Maus In The Haus 

SOTW is slowly learning to use Blogger in its new incarnation...  Since we're behind in our Songs of the Week, here's 'Believer' a cavernous lo-fi new-wave mid-week treat from the hard-to-categorize John Maus.   This 32-year-old Minnesota composer-performer-producer has a distinctly avant-garde and artsy take on synth pop,,,,

It was Pitchfork's Top 100 Tracks of 2011 that brought Mr Maus to my attention... that, and his memorable album title, 'We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves,'   When I ponied up 10 bucks for the whole album, I was not disappointed!

Maus' 'Believer' video is as distinctive visually as the song is aurally...  "Created using a mixture of rare vintage video equipment and experimental techniques the new video for Believer takes us deep into the often blurry yet always determined world of John Maus."

 More Maus-adelica from 'Pitless Censors':'Head For The Country'

 John Maus live at The Dome in London: 'And The Rain'...

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

More Music With Merritt

SOTW welcomes back salutes Stephen Merritt,  arguably America's most clever songwriter-lyricist, who's back, as Magnetic Fields, with a thoroughly delightful new album, ' Love At The Bottom of the Sea.'  Up today, that CD's terrific lead-off single, 'Andrew In Drag, ' a wry, rhyme-laden tale of fleeting love found in unexpected places....

Merritt has assembled an extraordinary songbook both through his main vehicle, The Magnetic Fields (immediate left), and through other projects such as Future Bible Heroes and The Sixths. Merritt's deep, droll voice are perfect for his balance of cynicism and vulnerability; he's the intersection of burned fingers, a hungry heart, and a sharp tongue... Icing on the cake: he's gay, 40-something, and enamored of synthesizers....

Imagine a gay, new wave Cole Porter, and you begin to get the idea....  Merritt's memorable song titles include: "(It's A Good Thing) I Don't Have Any Feelings," "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend," "(My Heart's Like) A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off..."

The 'Andrew In Drag' video does not disappoint!:

On stage in Vancouver, the group shines with the spiteful 'Your Girlfriend's Face..., '
'a pleasant song that will make you laugh...

You may remember Merritt's last appearance on SOTW, back in February 2008, with the awesome ' Too Drunk to Dream.'

'Quick' will be the album's next single:

Favorite Merritt couplet:

"In Las Vegas where the electric bills are staggering;
the decor, hog wild and the entertainment, saccharine;
What a golden age, what a time of right and reason;
the consumer's king, and unhappiness is treason

and I can't sleep / 'cause you've got strange powers
you're in my dreams... stranger powers'
- from 'Strange Powers'

More examples of Merritt-ian cleverness:

"Eligible, not too stupid
Intelligible, and cute as Cupid
knowledgable, but not always right,
salvageable, and free for the night"

- 'Chicken With It's Head Cut Off', from '69 Love Songs'

"Since you went away / it's nighttime all day
and it's usually raining, too "
- 'I Don't Believe In the Sun," also from '69 Love Songs'

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Sunday, May 06, 2012

Doing The Trick

Today's Song of the Week is the sweet, plaintive 'Do The Trick' by Dr Dog, a five-man band from West Grove, Pennsylvania that sounds like harmonic 60s guitar-pop-rock and even do-woop filtered through garage-rock and lo-fi sounds of the 90s.  It's a charming combination.  Each band member has a nickname beginning with a 'T,' drawn from some aspect of their lives.  Former member Andrew 'Trial' Jones, for example, is a licensed attorney.  The current members go by Taxi, Tables, Text, Teach, and Thanks.. After 7 years of plugging away, Dr Dog is finally gaining attention, and even acclaim, with their latest album, 'Be The Void.'  

Another surprise:  Blogger completely changed everything and it's going to take a while before I figure out how it all works - until then, my posts will look less pristine....

Enjoy the 'Do The Trick' video:

 Early Dog is very bluesy - check out : 'The Beach' live at Paste Studios..

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