Darlene Love

I'm not a fan of x-mas particularly. I especially hate being aurally assaulted over and over by Jose Feliciano's version of "Feliz Navidad" which seems to be the most popular x-mas song played in NYC. I'm not even sure I had ever heard his version before moving here. There is one x-mas song that I never tire of though. I just spent a few minutes thinking about why I love Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), aside from the fact that it's just fantastic, of course. Rather predictably I've come to the conclusion that I love it because it's sad. X-mas makes me sad so it's unsurprising that I like melancholy x-mas songs.

I will say that if you live in NYC I cannot recommend enough taking the M7 up from 6th Ave and 15th Street up to 72nd and Amsterdam. Even the scroogiest of scrooges (yours truly) felt in the x-mas spirit while doing so last weekend. You go by Macy's at Herald Square (Miracle on 34th Street, people) and Rockefeller Center. Trees on the street are lighted. Many businesses have big decorated trees out. Even I can recognize that x-mas time here is a pretty magical affair.


The Kinks

While on the subway yesterday my iPod shuffled to The Kinks and I was immediately put into a better mood when the distorted chords of All Day and All of the Night were ringing out into my ears. It occurred to me that this may be one of the best love songs ever written. It seems that most bands feel that to write a love song they have to slow down the tempo, get rid of the distortion, and be really sensitive and emotional. No. This song proves otherwise. Yes, we get that he wants to bone his lady. We also get that the only time he feels good is when he's with her and he believes that they'll last forever. It's actually kind of perfect. Romantic love can't exist without sexual attraction, can it? Not in my world! The dirtiness of the guitar with the nasty distortion only enhances the message of the song. You feel the sexual tension bubbling under the surface... it's just brilliant song crafting! I think that it's easy to forget how great some of the songs from the 60s are because we've heard them so many times. It was a nice 2 and a half minutes spent focusing on this song yesterday.


Let It Be Me

I wonder how many songs get their own wikipedia page? The song Let It Be Me has quite a history that I only learned of fairly recently. The internet is magical in that way! My own history with the song is simple - my mom had a cassette tape in her car that had the version I'm posting on it. I must have heard the Everly Brothers singing it and probably the Elvis rendition as well while growing up but I have no recollection of this. It was as a twenty-something that I first remember hearing it, not just hearing it but becoming obsessed with it. A few years back I thought of this song and did a search on iTunes for it. This version was not available. I ended up with the live version done by Elvis which was okay but I really felt like it was missing the emotion behind this cover. In fact, all of the other versions that I listened to were missing something for me. So I kept searching for this particular release. Since I only recently found it and am overjoyed I decided to share my joy with you! This is the Betty Everett and Jerry Butler version of Let It Be Me - in my opinion, the definitive version.

The Feelies

Over the last year and a half I happened to see The Feelies twice - once opening for Sonic Youth (way back on the 4th of July in 2008) and again opening for Yo La Tengo on New Years Eve. They've been getting the reissue treatment and rightfully so! I love many of their songs but lately this one has been hitting me in all the right places. While maybe not as interesting or exciting as some of their songs I think it's a straightforward enough song for even the casual listener to attach themselves to. Especially if said casual listener is feeling a little down...
It's Only Life



This post will only be meaningful to one other person on the planet but that's ok.

It's Bastille Day today. There was an uprising of emotions in a person on this day 4 years ago. Their emotions almost killed them. It was a coincidence that it happened on the French holiday. Though, in retrospect, seems fitting. I didn't know this little tidbit until a couple of days ago when it came through a text message. I didn't know about this song until just a bit ago. It all coalesces. Sometimes you owe people more than you'll ever be able to repay. Sometimes you have to let that go because the weight of that will do you in. The best is when you can let that go and find your way back to the beginning.

Ribbons are currently on tour across the U.S. right now. Check out their myspace page for dates.


Lord Cut Glass

On June 23 the debut album from former Delgado Alun Woodward (under the Lord Cut Glass moniker) will be released. I've been waiting for years for this date and can't believe that it is almost here! Look After Your Wife is the first single from the album. It may seem like an odd choice for the uninitiated but I think it's perfect. Enjoy!

In other news, this will quite possibly be my last post here for awhile. I've become overwhelmed by real life which you may have suspected due to the lack of regular posting. I've decided to do an easier blog - easier because I can write it while on the subway. I present to you i haiku, do you?


Yo La Tengo

I've been going to shows since I was 11 years old. My first show was the Beastie Boys/Run DMC "Together Forever" tour. I LOVED both groups and would spend hours spinning the vinyl on my record player in my room. The show was at Cal Expo in Sacramento - an outdoor ampitheater. Not a super loud concert experience. In fact, of all the shows I've ever seen the loudest show ever was this past New Year's Eve.

I had never seen Yo La Tengo before. My girlfriend had several times but didn't warn me of the sound levels they could achieve. When I think of Yo La Tengo I think of pretty, often sprawling, songs. I imagined a celebration with some pop songs, some love songs, and some stretched out numbers. What we got was the Ira guitar freak out set! It was awesome! By the end of the night I had my fingers jammed in my ears! Unbelievable! I usually wear earplugs but didn't think I'd need them for this show. Before I used to wear earplugs I was never forced to put my fingers in my ears because of noise. This was a first.

Now I will share a song with you that will make you think that I must be making the above up. Madeline is a great little mellow pop song. Quite enjoyable. No reason to think you'd be plugging your ears at a show by this band! However, have you heard the Condo Fucks record? Here's a sampling for you - What'cha Gonna Do About It? Yes, the members of Yo La Tengo covering some of their favorite garage rockers. You can see how I was deceived. You would be deceived as well, no? If only I had heard the Condo Fucks record before that show I would have had an inkling...


Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse are one of those bands that at one time meant a whole lot to me. I haven't heard their last 2 or 3 records. The last one I picked up was The Moon and Antarctica and I just kind of lost interest after that. To be fair, that record has such a strong association in my mind of a person, time, and place that it's maybe more due to that than anything that I moved on from the Mouse. After that record I actually stopped listening to them for many years and only recently did I rekindle my interest in them.

Many bands from that era were a joy to watch evolve from small club band to decent sized theater (and sometimes beyond) sized audiences. I was an avid show goer back then and have an enviable roster of bands I got to see. One of the only joys of being of a certain age! I first saw them at Bottom of the Hill and progressed with them to their multi-night stands at the Great American Music Hall. This was also the evolution of Sleater-Kinney, but i digress.

The appeal of the band is fairly clear in the same way that the Mountain Goats appeal is clear. Sad and angry songs for emotional misfits. People that have had rough lives, seen some shit, and use music as catharsis. In thinking back on Modest Mouse show going experiences I would say that it's similar to a Mountain Goats show going experience. The song Trailer Trash is a good example of the emotional side of Modest Mouse. This song always had a high level of crowd participation. A favorite of many, including me.



Rather embarrassingly I dropped the ball on a post I wanted to do. This post! Over a month ago I received an email from Darren who is behind
Filthy Little Angels. Very nice email exchange we had and he turned me onto some great stuff! So first up will be Horowitz who have put stuff out on various labels, including Filthy Little Angels.

Horowitz are an indie pop band from England. This song, Sweetness, I Could Die in Your Arms, has fuzzy guitar running throughout which really saves it from being too cute or twee. However, vocally and lyrically it is firmly in the twee camp. You like indie pop? You like twee? You will like this. Wonder if there's any chance of them playing with One Happy Island and the Smittens later this summer at the Indie Tracks festival in Derbyshire?

I encourage each of you to poke around the Filthy Little Angels site. There's some good stuff there.


The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Sorry for the lack of posts. I recently acquired not one but two computers to replace my incredibly slow older computer. It took me some time to get motivated to transfer music from my external hard drive to the new computers. Also, as you can probably tell, my motivation level varies and when I don't feel it, I don't feel it. I like to write about music when I feel super excited about it in hopes that my excitement is palpable and inspires those of you who read to give music you haven't heard or are curious about a shot.

I had a shocking realization recently. This song, Come Saturday, is my current favorite. Why the shock? Well, when I first heard The Pains of Being Pure at Heart around the time of their first release I thought that they were okay but nothing to write home about. When I learned that they got a drummer I decided to give them another chance. Then when I found out that Slumberland was making a comeback and releasing the record I became a bit excited. See, I was buying Slumberland releases when the label was in it's heyday. Definitely one of my favorite labels. Very happy they are on a roll!

Back to the song - this is one of those songs that I find to be perfect. Starting with a bit of feedback and going into a quick snare roll you know that the song is going somewhere quickly and with much exuberance! The chorus is pure pop perfection and refuses to leave my head. No complaints from me! The second verse does a fantastic job of capturing young love and the uncertainty of it all combined with the sheer joy of it. I anticipate that this song will make a lot of "Sprung in Spring" mixes this year... I'm not the only one who gets a little crazy in Spring, am I?


Lord Cut Glass update

From a Chemikal Underground Records e-mail update:

Lord Cut Glass - June 22nd!!!

For those of you waiting over four years for a new body of work from Delgado-extraordinaire Alun T. Woodward, then rub the sleep out of your eyes - the wait is over.

Twelve songs of theatrical, acerbic, poignant brilliance lie in wait with the release of the eponymously titled Lord Cut Glass on June 22nd. The track listing is as follows...

01. Even Jesus Couldn't Love You
02. Look After Your Wife
03. Holy Fuck!
04. I'm A Great Example To The Dogs
05. Monster Face
06. You Know
07. Be careful What You Wish For
08. Picasso
09. A Pulse
10. Big Time Teddy
11. Toot Toot

Previews, exclusives and interviews to follow once we get a minute to collect ourselves...

HELLO, CAN YOU TELL THAT I'M EXCITED?! I have indeed been waiting since the demise of The Delgados for this record!


R.I.P. Uriel Jones

Uriel Jones, one of the legendary Funk Brothers, has passed away. My love of Motown has been documented here before. My love of the Motown drummers and bassists is also pretty well known amongst my fellow music nerd friends. I think the Temptations song below will tell you everything you need to know about Uriel's drumming style. The perfect pick-up, not too busy, but putting every hit in the perfect place. He could hang back and let the song breathe which is more difficult than overplaying. Every time one of these guys dies we lose an important piece of American musical history. Thank the heavens we have the recordings.
Ain't Too Proud To Beg


reasons to be pretty

If you live in the NYC area or will be here visiting and would like some culture that isn't music related I would like to recommend Neil LaBute's reasons to be pretty which is now playing at the Lyceum Theatre. Went with a friend and saw it Friday night. Very funny and well written. I was surprised because I have not previously enjoyed his work. The cast was fantastic and really kept the audience engaged.

This marks the third play I've seen Marin Ireland in (the others being The Beebo Brinker Chronicles and more recently Blasted) and I must admit that I never thought I'd have a favorite stage actress but can now say solidly that I do. She is excellent and has been in all of the roles I've seen her in. The entire cast was wonderful but Marin is the one to keep your eyes on.


National Beekeepers Society

I was recently sent a few tracks by National Beekeepers Society and have to tell you that Look at Me grabbed me and shook me right out of whatever bad mood I was in. I was nodding my head and tapping my toes which is about as animated as I get. A fun, snotty, blink and you'll miss it sort of song. In other words, it says and does everything it needs to to get you hooked in less that 2 minutes. Sort of reminds me of The Buzzcocks, take that as you will.
Surprisingly, their other stuff did not sound like this so much. They seem to cover a lot of territory for one band. Admirable since a lot of bands these days just find one thing and do it to death. Why not check some of their other songs out as well?


Projekt A-ko

I received a very nice e-mail from Darren who runs Filthy Little Angels in the UK. He not only wrote to me regarding his own label but also mentioned a band that I might like. It's like this guy knows me! He gave me a heads up about Projekt A-ko featuring three former members of Urusei Yatsura who happen to be a band I enjoyed quite a bit in their day. Now I have a new band to enjoy! Frankly, I think we all need new bands to enjoy.

I was sent three songs and it was incredibly difficult for me to choose which to post. I love all three! It came down to putting the music on shuffle and posting the first one that got played. With that I give you Molten Hearts. This is for the best as it is probably the catchiest of the three though they're all stuck in my head now. I hear the poppy aspects of Pavement and Sonic Youth in this song. Who can argue with that? If you direct yourself to their myspace page (linked above) you will find information on their upcoming debut release. I will have to get my hands on it for sure! May I suggest you do the same.


My Teenage Stride

I realized that I've never posted about My Teenage Stride (though I have mentioned them) and now is as good of time as any. They are playing a really fantastic show this Saturday at Cake Shop that has an incredibly strong line up. I definitely recommend getting there early at 8 pm for the first band, The Human Hearts. I've never seen Knight School or A Classic Education but based on their myspace pages I am looking forward to a pretty damn solid night of music!

Back to the band at hand. I first heard MTS in 2001, I believe. Both of us were on a compilation that launched a record label that we both ended up being on. I first met Jed in 2002 on a visit to nyc a few years before I ended up moving here. I've been a fan of ever record he's put out and I'm happy to report that the music is as catchy as ever. Not only is it as catchy as ever, it is also better than ever.

One thing I find interesting is the fact that his songs will often change from the demo version to the final version. He has a studio set up which gives him the luxury of doing this, I suppose. Before Ears Like Golden Bats was recorded he gave me a cdr of some demos of the songs that ended up being on the record. Some of them changed slightly from the demo version to the final version and some more drastically. I still prefer some of the earlier versions to the album versions but that just may be because I got so used to hearing them. Overall, the third record is by far the strongest and I totally recognize that! When he went into the studio to make that record he recorded more than enough songs to choose from and my favorite song didn't make the record. Here is the earlier previously unreleased version of easily one of my favorite songs ever. The Loud Confessor (alternate version) (A note, it's tagged "demo" but really this is more than a demo. It's a studio recording that truly is an alternate version of the song.)

Before posting the above I e-mailed Jed to ask him if it would be alright. He responded that it was and apparently the song was re-recorded so the band had a chance to play on it. I'm thinking that the band at the time consisted of Jed, Brett, Mat, Jeff, and Dak but I'm not positive about that. MTS released the ep Lesser Demons which was another very strong release. I was surprised to hear a new version of my favorite song! I think that it's very interesting to hear a song change over time. Hopefully you will feel the same.
The Loud Confessor

If you go to the My Teenage Stride myspace page you can learn more about their song a month series for eMusic that they are doing. I will leave you with the song that started my love for My Teenage Stride all of those years ago. It was released on a 7" single but I don't have that. In fact, that may be a different version! This is the compilation version. Can anyone tell me if they're the same? I'm curious now!
I'm Sorry


Todd Urick

A friend I've known longer than most is having some health issues. His insurance isn't covering some treatments that he needs quite badly. This should matter to you because Mr. Todd Urick is a saint of college and community radio. If you live on the west coast you may very well have him to thank for having great radio. He's a longtime DJ at KDVS in Davis and also the broadcast consultant at Common Frequency. He's also been in some fantastic bands over the years, including one with yours truly. You can read more about his health issues and what he needs here. Anything you can donate would be greatly appreciated.



I'm on a video kick apparently...

Zumpano this time. The Party Rages On. This video sold me on the band!



Never a huge Seaweed fan but I always loved the video for Kid Candy. Was telling my girlfriend about it today when talking about having a few of my bikes stolen as a kid. Thought I would share it with some of you who may not have ever seen it.


Three Kings Tattoo & Jawbreaker

I had a birthday this week and one of my gifts was some tattoo work. I'm a huge fan and hope to pretty much be covered one day. I've been getting work done for over 15 years and my mother actually got me my first tattoo as a birthday gift when I was underage. I'm not even sure if parents can still do that! I had an artist I liked very much back in California but after moving I knew the search would be on for a new artist.

When I first moved here I went to a shop that has a great reputation but found the experience to be underwhelming. A girl I used to know got some really great work done so I asked her for the artist's information and she pointed me in the direction of Alex McWatt. Not only is he an amazing and talented artist but he is also an incredibly nice and funny guy, and he is the only tattoo artist I will go to now. Alex is one of the owners of Three Kings Tattoo located in Brooklyn. He certainly doesn't need my help in getting business (he's booked solid all the time with at least a month long wait right now) but I'm always so happy with the work that he does that I feel I should spread the word even more. He's currently doing a graffiti piece for me that is in progress. Perhaps, once finished, I will post a photo. It looks awesome half done which I think says quite a lot.

One time while getting some work done (or maybe I was with a friend getting work done, I don't recall) we somehow ended up talking about Jawbreaker. While there on Tuesday night we discussed his love of Brooklyn. I thought it would be nice to post my favorite Jawbreaker song, Do You Still Hate Me?, in honor of my favorite tattoo artist. I haven't heard the new Blake Schwarzenbach fronted band yet but have heard it's more Jawbreaker than Jets To Brazil. I should track down some songs!


The Polyphonic Spree

I must start this by saying that I hate a band with a shtick. Especially costumes. Or too many members. Or a band that has too many members wearing costumes. These are the things that turned me off of this band. I know that the singer was in Tripping Daisy and Sonic Bloom is credited as a cover, but I've never heard the original and though I remember the band name I cannot tell you if I have ever even heard them before. I've probably only heard 4 Polyphonic Spree songs and for whatever reason this is the only one that grabs me. It really grabs me though! Just pure exuberance. The chorus of people in costumes is not annoying, it is necessary for this song. It propels itself forward and takes you on a 4 minute long ride of joy. I usually post bummer songs but this is a little pick me up from all that being sad music.


Holiday Flyer

Sad twee kids rejoice! Holiday Flyer started out as a brother/sister duo before later expanding and then changing into a different band. They are also from my hometown. In fact, they used to do instores at the record store I worked at fairly frequently or at least what felt like fairly frequently. They also got the nod to open for the Red House Painters every time they came through town it seemed. They had a few songs I liked and two I love. This is the cream of the crop though. Runaround is the classic story of having a crush on somebody but getting the feeling that you're their little secret that they're ashamed of. It's written well enough that you can apply it to any crush situation! I know, I've done it! If you're feeling sad about love you may have a new song to enjoy here.


Roxy Music

I have NO IDEA how I got into Roxy Music. It's kind of bizarre given my memory for how I first heard a band. I think it was jr high though. Seems like a band my friend Chasz would have liked. Oh! I know! I think we got into Roxy Music from our interest in Concrete Blonde. Now that I have that sorted... I will say that seeing Bryan Ferry in concert was the only time I have ever teared up because of a vocal performance. His cover of Jealous Guy (the John Lennon classic) had me covertly wiping tears.

So, Roxy Music. Between 1972 and 1975 they released five records. They released three after that but I don't think that they are very good. The gold is in those first five. My all time favorite Roxy Music song comes from their third record, Stranded. That song is Mother of Pearl, a six and a half minute long masterpiece. Generally I am not a fan of long songs. This song has no filler and doesn't get boring which are my usual complaints for long songs. It starts off with lead guitar, rock drums, and Ferry whooping it up on vocals. Then it totally segues into a slower piano part before the drums and vocals come back in. This makes more sense when you're taking in the lyrics as well. Lyrically it's masterful storytelling which is not easy to sustain in a song this long. Ferry wasn't afraid to use real language to convey what he wanted. Really though, there is no way to describe this song - you just have to hear it. Preferably on vinyl with headphones on. So if you enjoy this mp3 please do go out and find a vinyl copy.



I recently did a post on my friend Sara's covers blog Blowin' Your Cover and I actually intended to do a post where I could talk about my love of this cover. I got sidetracked by some Beat Happening covers so I thought I would go ahead and post this song here.

I first remember seeing the video for the Bauhaus cover of Ziggy Stardust on 120 Minutes. Seems like I probably heard my older sister play it when we shared a room but for whatever reason the visual is the memory. I thought their version was better than Bowie's! The blasphemy! By happenstance I found a post punk/goth leaning show on KDVS that was on in the middle of the night around the time I discovered Bauhaus. (I've suffered from insomnia/being a night owl since I was a child - I am writing this at 4:42 a.m. as I write most all of my posts at an hour close to this) I thought some of the songs were silly (Bela Lugosi's Dead is just not that good!) and some were awesome (Crowds) but never got into the whole goth subculture. As easy as the internet makes things like discovering music I wouldn't trade those late Sunday nights watching 120 Minutes or listening to the static of the low wattage college radio station through headphones.

I keep losing the plot here. The only real point here is that I still consider this to be one of the all time great covers. If you have not heard it you should give it a listen.


The Bananas

I think that I've mentioned here before that I'm originally from Sacramento. In my opinion, the best part of Sac is the music scene. It's a city not exactly supportive of the arts or live music really. However, a group of people make sure that great bands still come through town there and have a venue or house to play in. For a city that size it's fairly ridiculous the lack of venue and the scrambling that has to be done to put on a show. It looks like things have stabilized a bit with Luigi's Fun Garden getting the brunt of the shows now. Throw in a few houses and the occasional wild card venue and you can catch a decent show there pretty often. Plus, KDVS! If somebody were to ask me what I miss most about Sac I would definitely say the music scene. A lot of bands have come up since I left town but today I will post my favorite song by one of the long standing Sacramento bands.

The Bananas are practically legends at this point. Releasing consistently great songs since the early 90s they have also toured around the U.S. and even went to Japan a few years ago. I didn't quite grasp how popular they are outside of Sac until I went to see them last summer in Brooklyn. Tons of kids singing along to every song and just having so much fun. A packed room full of people that reminded me of seeing the band back home. It was a really good time and I got the chance to catch up with Scott, Mike, and Marie plus their trusty tour companion, Mr. Smith. Anyway, My Charmed Life is just full of great snotty lyrics. I often find myself singing it for no reason other than it's a great song to sing when you're feeling apathetic. Since I mentioned him in the last post I will note that this is an early Chris Woodhouse recording - predating that A-Frames song by 10 years or more!



Out in the unsafe face to face real world I have a reputation for being very cranky, sort of heartless, and a lot of people I know have the idea that I discard people easily. None of this is true. Well, I am pretty cranky. However, I am actually too sensitive for my own good and not remotely heartless or cold. Further, I don't discard people easily. Maybe partially because I am eaten alive by memory. I can usually excuse atrocities if I can find a particularly good memory of somebody in my brain. I find it more troubling when I can have a fond memory of somebody but know that a relationship is irreparably damaged. Welcome to Chemical by the A-Frames.

I had this group of friends for a number of years that I think of as saviors. We went thru some shit together, we had a lot of fun together, and now most of it is all fucked up never to be fixed. Which is fine, ultimately, because people change and I guess memory is to remind you of good things and having that is better than having some shitty friend albatross around your neck. Anyway, this song in particular reminds me of a night spent drunken robot dancing to this A-Frames record. It was recorded by Chris Woodhouse who I have had the pleasure of knowing for over a decade and who has recorded a couple of bands I was in. (He is currently playing music in a band called Mayyors that I say good luck to you in tracking down their 7"s which seem to go like hotcakes!) If I recall correctly, when one of the bands I was in was recording with him he previewed us a few tracks before this record was even released. Maybe it was just out. I don't exactly recall. All I know is that it is the best drunken robot dancing record ever made. When I listen I think of that and it's bittersweet.


The Beach Boys

So it occurred to me recently that I kind of got away from something I wanted to do here. Originally I think I wanted to write about songs more than bands. I fixate on songs, on very minute things in songs, and while I don't think it's worth analyzing or anything, I do like to mention such things. Sometimes it's lyrics, phrasing, the way something is delivered, and sometimes it's the music itself. I plan on focusing more (exclusively?) on this now.

While on a road trip this summer I got Fun, Fun, Fun by The Beach Boys in my head. I was trying to explain to my girlfriend why I love it so. It comes down to this - it contains one of the most ridiculous yet awesome and funny lyrics ever.
"She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race"
The best part of it all is that I ejected the cd we were listening to and started scanning the radio. I knew if I could find an oldies station that chances were decent we would hear the song. Probably within 30 minutes of the conversation it came on. I don't think anyone I know finds this lyric as amusing as I do. Perhaps one of you will?

I'm a native Californian surviving my 4th NYC winter. I love living here but The Beach Boys always make me miss California. I am clearly a sucker for the marketing genius that was The Beach Boys. Also, I prefer the stupid surf related songs to the drug songs which I blame on my mother who is fond of oldies radio. It's probably in my DNA that I like The Beach Boys so I blame that as well. 2009 - the year of blaming others.