Palomar are one of those bands I can't believe I haven't written about yet! I absolutely love this band. They are a 4 piece from Brooklyn, and in my opinion they should have achieved more acclaim by this point. They write incredibly catchy yet bitingly smart songs. Rachel handles most of the lead vocals, though on occasion Christina takes over and on one song all 4 members switch off on lead. There are a lot of backing vocals, some call and response, some harmonies - all of this helps them to stand out a bit from other bands mining similar territory.

Another interesting thing is their evolution. The first record (which was incredibly difficult to find but can now be downloaded via their myspace page) was a good introduction with snarky and witty pop songs but the songs weren't as catchy as they were capable of writing. Rachel's singing voice has changed quite a bit over the years. This is definitely the least accessible record of theirs partially due to the vocals - an acquired taste sort of thing.

The second record finds them hitting the jackpot of melody, attitude, and fun! Probably one of the most all out fun records I own. It was incredibly difficult for me to pick just one song to post but the song I'm posting wins for this lyric - "I used to go to the punk shows, they're not like they used to be, no, they're different, and they're not getting better, no" - I think that the lyric sums up the attitude of the record. Musically it sounds similar to their first but a bit more polished and thought out - fast paced guitar driven pop that edges towards punk. The vocal take is similar to the first as well, but they are dialed back a bit. That being said, I have friends who still couldn't stand the vocals on this record. This is the last record with the rhythm section of Matt and Sasha.

Their third record was the biggest leap. All polished up, no abrasive vocals, more mature songwriting themes lyrically, and with the addition of Sarah and Dale in the rhythm section a much more solid (and much less ramshackle) base for the songs. (I love the second record and definitely am not knocking Matt and Sasha! It's just a noticeable difference.) All of this was announced immediately from the first song on the record.
The Planeiac
I think that this record is their most solid - every song on this record is great. Their harmonies sound the best they've ever sounded and Christina's songs are just as good as Rachel's. I know I talk about this a lot but I'm most impressed when a bands sound evolves. Most bands are happy to stay in the rut of what works. This record proved that Palomar was not that band.

Their most recent record continued on in the mature vein. Lyrically it's the most mature thing they've ever done. For me though, the second and third records are Palomar at their best. I'm curious to see if they make another record - there's been some grown up stuff going on in their lives so I'm not sure how the band fits anymore. I'm certainly crossing my fingers though!


Julie Ocean

Julie Ocean fit quite nicely in the theme of my last post - a current band rehashing the sweet sounds of mid 90s indie rock. One of my favorite new bands! All of the members hail from some fine bands, most notably Jim Spellman who played drums for one of my favorites, Velocity Girl. In Julie Ocean he handles guitar and vocals and has an extremely likable voice perfectly suited for some indie rock/pop singing.

One of my favorite sites to read (Aquarium Drunkard) did a nice interview with one of the members back in June. If you care to read that you can find it here. I commented on the post at the time saying that I couldn't find the cd. After exhausting all of the small indie stores I found myself in Virgin one day and they had it. Odd and a bit upsetting!

Anyhow, two very fine songs from Julie Ocean!
Bright Idea
#1 Song


Fast Bird

Fast Bird are a new band from Brooklyn. Sean handles guitar and vocals, Jenny is on bass, and Ludis plays drums. (Full disclosure - me and Jenny have been in a couple of bands together.) While they are a new band I think they fit quite nicely amongst the posts I've done. They have that certain mid 90s indie rock sound I go on and on about, you see. That sound just seems to be good songs, no? I mean, there is nothing wrong and everything right with guitars. Guitars that have a little jingle jangle to them are even better. That is exactly what Fast Bird have going for them. Originally I was going to post 2 songs but noticed that if you direct yourself to the link above you can download all of their available songs from their myspace page. However, below, a taste...
Dance Monkey


I'm Through With White Girls

Last night me and my girlfriend went to the Afropunk Festival at BAM in Brooklyn. We saw a very funny film (the title of the film is inspired by The Dirtbombs!) that I would like to encourage you netflix users to save. I'm Through With White Girls.

After the film there was a Q & A with the writer, director, and one of the producers. An interesting thing came up when the producer asked about the audiences feelings on the name of the film. A woman said she would blog about the movie but not mention the name. She felt like she couldn't say the title to her (white) girlfriends! I was taken aback a bit. Funny is funny is funny. If someone is that uptight or fears that their friends are that uptight I think that we're in trouble. It's a comedy. It is funny. The title of the film is funny. Who the hell would be offended by that??? I'm white and I have zero problem with it. In fact, the title was a selling point! Anyway, I generally do not like comedies but this one stood out and I highly recommend it.


The Carrots

The Carrots are a 60s inspired girl (and 2 guys, I think) group. I got hip to them only recently and only because the singer for YellowFever plays keyboards with them. I grew up listening to Motown with my mother so I kind of love/kind of hate this resurgence. The Carrots fall on the love side for me. They do what they're doing very well. I'm guessing because what they do feels authentic; it feels real and not manufactured. That has everything to do with the fact that it's coming from the heart. I can totally get behind that.

I am also interested in the fact that the original music from the 60s was so heterosexual and concerned with keeping up gender roles but the song "Beverly" turns that inside out. So while the song sounds authentic to the genre it is a very modern lyrical take since it's about girl/girl stuff. I think that is brilliant! It's also brilliant that the other songs are about boys. I appreciate a modern take!

I love Jennifer's vocals in YellowFever so it's no surprise that I would be equally fond of them in the context of The Carrots. I think she has a rich voice that's suited for many different types of music.
Doing Our Part


New Musik

My story is a fairly typical one for someone my age who had open ears. I grew up in a musical household—there was usually music on somewhere, at least when the TV wasn’t. Much classical, opera, and rootsy American stuff—my father was into Western folk and labor/protest music. My parents also had many of the requisite 60s pop LPs—Peter Paul & Mary, Dylan, Beatles, 5th Dimension, Simon & Garfunkle—which I glommed onto as a kid and memorized. This was on Long Island, where I came of age in the 70s in what was a genuine cultural wasteland, as much as it’s become a cutesy cliché now [“OMG! I love the 70s!”]. As a tween/teen, when I started to identify personally with music, not a lot was available to me. Most kids in school listened to the absolute worst shit imaginable like CSN, Fleetwood Mac, Pure Prairie League, Loggins & Messina, Eagles, Jackson Browne, The Outlaws, etc. My friends and I—all out of our heads on drugs from age 13 on—gravitated backward to tougher music: classic rock like Stones, Who, Hendrix, but also stranger, druggier stuff where we could find it—Sabbath, King Crimson, Blue Cheer, Jefferson Airplane. What was still alive and vibrant for us was the Grateful Dead, and I’ll freely confess now that I was a teenage Deadhead. The Dead were not quite absolutely God-awful yet in the late 70s, and some of those Dead shows I went to back then were among the brightest and highest experiences of my life. I could [and have done] write about those days forever, but shan’t here.

So the 70s are winding up. Through the miasma of psychedelics and pharmaceuticals I was adrift in, new music started to penetrate once in a while. People on TV talked about the Sex Pistols, “punk rock.” The Cars, Blondie, Talking Heads, Elvis, and Police started to make inroads into radio, however feebly. A stoner girl lent me Lou Reed’s Transformer, which woke my ass up for a minute. The husband of one of my father’s colleagues taped me a couple of Eno albums, 801 Live... Then in 1979 a kid in my class took me with his older sister to see Talking Heads and B52s at Stony Brook University gymnasium. [My take on the Talking Heads then, between More Songs... and Fear of Music: minimal Grateful Dead meets James Brown. I’ve yet to hear a better nutshellism!] I woke up some more, and the next summer that same kid, and sister [with boyfriend now], and I traveled into NYC to see the Talking Heads play in Central Park, premiering their big band and the material from Remain In Light. Now, this fully woke me up. The park was crawling with every kind of weirdo imaginable, and everybody...was happy. I’d never been in a public space like that. People drinking and messed-up, but COMPLETELY tolerant of one another. I felt at home for the first time in a long time. More than the Talking Heads that day I remember the opening act, a Japanese band called Plastics. They were ridiculously fun and energetic and great—I never wanted to go home!

But go home I did, and somehow I managed to graduate and matriculate to SUNY Buffalo. Leaving home was wonderful; saved my life getting away from Long Island. And so it was in Buffalo, in 1980, that my world really opened up to music. Without parents around, all I had to do was drink a lot, take drugs, and listen to music [I excelled not in college]. I made friends, good real friends for the first time in my life or at least since childhood. And these friends loved this new music. They loved British punk but moreover “new wave” music. What’s now lumped under the ungainly moniker of “post-punk” was not so easy to pigeonhole back then. It was new psychedelic, new romantic, dance pop, new folk, synthwave, gothic, agitprop, minimal, electrofunk—whatever. What it all was, more than any other thing, was NEW.

But enough about me! All this back-story was meant to get me to this point: I made two great friends that year, Danny and Paul. Paul was from a very dink town in uppermost upstate New York and Danny was from New York City, but Paul was the new-wave cool cat and Danny the hapless goober [I was the weird Long Island stoner kid in between the two, you see]. Danny and Paul were both music nuts—they raced out to buy the British music papers the day they hit the record shops, and from them I learned to comb the NME, Melody Maker, and the Face. And together we spent the next few years accumulating piles of music and obsessing over all of it. I’ve kept on obsessing over music for the rest of my life, but for my purposes here I’m just going to cover those years, and I’ll likely reference Danny and Paul a good bit.

[Sorry for this huge post! I promise this is a one-time indulgence. I wanted to provide a bit of context. From now on I’ll keep it short and about the musik.]

Straight Lines
I think this is a good song to begin with, as I’ll be posting music that was brand new to me at the time, new to popular culture like nothing before it, and will hopefully be new to you. Straight Lines was released in 1979, the first single from New Musik’s first LP, From A to B. New Musik sadly failed to hold an audience on either side of the Atlantic, and quickly disappeared from view. Very sadly, because they were a terrific band—new, shiny, smart, poppy, strange—and Straight Lines is a wonderful song. They made a couple of albums, both of which are very much worth obtaining if you happen upon ‘em [I think it’s all out of print]. Singer Tony Mansfield went on to produce lots of music in the 80s.

And a Plastics song, just because this got me thinking about them!
Diamond Head


Sonic Youth

I am not a patriotic person - I generally dislike the 4th of July. In fact, my favorite 4th of July was spent in Europe where it is obviously a non-event. However, today I am excited. Why? I am seeing Sonic Youth for free. I love SY and I love free so it's a very good situation. I haven't seen SY in 13 long years so I'm really looking forward to it. Of course, as the weather goes here it is overcast and thunderstorms are predicted throughout the day.

I'm extremely fond of demo versions of songs that are true demos! This is a great example of a song still being figured out. The wording and phrasing, the tempo, hearing this and then the band version really gives you the full picture of what it must mean to be Sonic Youth. I do like that this version can stand on its own.
Eric's Trip (Demo Version)

Initially I was going to post "Teenage Riot" as the second song but thought about the fact that a lot of people seem less excited about newer SY. I actually really loved the last record so figured I should post one of my favorites from that. Kim Gordon is the coolest. The fact that this band has so many songwriters and singers is part of what keeps them interesting. The fact that I can do a post and not put up a song that Thurston sings lead on is pretty telling and awesome.
What A Waste