Sunday, November 30, 2008

2008 Quick Hits # 3 - Sera Cahoone, Glen Campbell, Hayes Carll & Cars Can Be Blue

Here's something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

Sera Cahoone - "Runnin' Your Way" (from Only As The Day Is Long)

Old soul Sera Cahoone spins warm, spare indie folk with a dash of hope added to larger doses of melancholy. Bonus points for the understated banjo and pedal steel sweeteners.

Glen Campbell - "These Days" (from Meet Glen Campbell)

Campbell's honey-dipped vocals get a sympathetic production on a welcome return to form, none better than this graceful take on Jackson Browne's ode to looking back.

Hayes Carll - "She Left Me For Jesus" (from Trouble In Mind)

Evoking the wide open spaces and crusty wit of Texan greats like Steve Earle, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and Joe Ely, Hayes Carll injects his alt-country with just enough droopy sincerity to make this coulda-been-a-joke song into an instant classic. Plays in Philadelphia this Wednesday (12/3) at World Cafe Live.

Cars Can Be Blue - "Sun Blows Up" (from Doubly Unbeatable)

Unbearably twee no-fi duo from Athens,GA notable for their manic energy and lyrical bitterness. But "Sun Blows Up" is two minutes of effervescent thrills that answers the question what would happen if The Shirelles made a record with The Waitresses about the cute guy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

David Byrne Speaks (To Me)

A few days ago, I got to talk to David Byrne about his collaborations with Brian Eno, his current tour, and the rumored origin of his famed arm-chopping motion. You can read the interview in the new edition of The Providence Phoenix.

2008 Tracks: The Canadians

Our neighbors to the north provided us with some fine releases in 2008, none more impressive than the latest from Kathleen Edwards, whose Asking for Flowers combines plaintive country, ass-kicking rock and roll, and just the right quotient of dirty words.

Kathleen Edwards, "The Cheapest Key"

Ron Sexsmith, uber-troubadour, went to Cuba to record Exit Strategy of the Soul. I'm not sure it quite measures up to the epic three album run of Blue Boy, Cobblestone Runway, and Retriever from a few years back, but few artists today can match his warm introspective soul.

Ron Sexsmith, "This is How I Know"

Jason Collett picked up where he left off on his solo debut with Here's to Being Here, another example of first-rate with a sharp eye and a caustic wit.

Jason Collett, "Through the Night These Days"

Sloan's 2008 release Parallel Play doesn't match last year's sterling Never Hear the End of It (not by a long shot), but it still features some quality power pop.

Sloan, "Believe in Me"

Monday, November 24, 2008

2008 Tracks: Show Me Songs

A couple of notable releases came this year from my home state of Missouri. Kansas City's Republic Tigers released Keep Color, the first album on Chop Shop, a spanking new Atlantic imprint. It's a lush collection of sculpted guitar pop recommended for fans of The Shins and Death Cab for Cutie. Gentleman Auction House hail from St. Louis, and their Alphabet Graveyard disc came out on Emergency Umbrella Records, a label you need a microscope to see. The songs, however, have a much bigger feel, with hooks galore. GAH occupy the space between Spoon and Modest Mouse.

Republic Tigers, "Buildings and Mountains"

Gentleman Auction House, "The Book of Matches"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Teenage Kicks Readers' Poll is Coming!

Just six weeks remain in 2008, and people's thoughts naturally turn to assigning numerical values to their favorite music. So start making a list of your ten favorite albums and five favorite songs of the year, and check back here soon to learn how to vote.

In the meantime, to stimulate the thinking, Trip has started posting some of his favorite songs of the year, and I'll be joining in that endeavor, which will continue over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2008 Quick Hits # 2 - Birdmonster, The Bittersweets, Bodeans & The Box Social

Four more from 2008 that you might have missed:

Birdmonster - "I Might Have Guessed" (from From The Mountain to The Sea)

A quirky, mandolin spackled bit of americana that makes me wish Ryan Adams still had the capability to conjure an effortless melody like this. Indie roots heartbreak for the aughts.

The Bittersweets - "Goodnight, San Francisco" (from Goodnight San Francisco)

Do we need another soul baring lament about leaving home to become a rock and roll star? I think we do - this wistful piano driven ballad is a slow burn that will appeal to Kim Richey and Tift Merritt fans.

Bodeans - "The First Time" (from Still)

Sam Llanas' nasal squawk and Kurt Neuman's warm, clear voice are still capable of providing Everlys inspired comfort food for the soul. Still may not rise to the heights of their magical 1986 debut, but there is still plenty to savor 20 years on.

The Box Social - "Hot Damn!" (from Get Going)

Starting off with a cowbell and a bubbling bass line, the Box Social's spiky "Hot Damn!" is full of a fuzzy, scuzzy Westerberg-ian ache that begs for more. Which apparently will not happen, as Teenage Kicks breaking news reports that The Box Social has broken up. Too bad.

That's Agitainment!

Rick Ross, a longtime friend of Teenage Kicks, is an artist, writer, filmmaker, philosopher, and formerly a physicist and chemist. His newest project is Agitainment Comics, an online graphic novel anthology, featuring his own work and creations by some of the best and brightest young writers and illustrators in the biz. I'm working on him to build a story about a couple of middle-aged rock and roll bloggers who fight crime by night (it could happen). Enjoy, and Ex Animo!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Indie Monday Free Download: The Riverboat Gamblers

"Rock and roll" plus "Denton, Texas" equals ass-kicking anthems, and that's just what you get from The Riverboat Gamblers. Mixing the Old 97's dust-caked combustion with a vintage punk sensibility - think Lone Star Calling - this five-piece is set to release the long-player Underneath the Owl in March. While you wait, enjoy the rip-snorting first single, "A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology." Go ahead, take it, it's free.

The Riverboat Gamblers, "A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

2008 Quick Hits - Airborne Toxic Event, Augastana, Backyard Tire Fire and The Bellfuries

As a prelude to some year-end list making and reviews, in the next few weeks Michael and I will be posting select mp3s from some of our favorite 2008 discs - a little peek into our ipods. We'll be asking you, discriminating reader, for your input also. Here at Teenage Kicks we belieive "everyone's a critic and most people are djs".

Airborne Toxic Event - "Gasoline" (from Airborne Toxic Event)

Pitchfork's scathing review piqued my interest. Their Arcade Fire/Strokes hybrid hit me hard - the sound of one crushed soul.

Augastana - "Meet You There" (from Can't Love, Can't Hurt)

The American Keane? Coldplay lite? Dunno, but sometimes a kid with a pop song is all it takes. Infectious.

Backyard Tire Fire - "Time With You" (from The Places We Lived)

Hearty, guitar driven alt pop from Bloomington, Illinois' finest. And frankly, how can you not love a band named Backyard Tire Fire?

Power pop lives!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Willy Deville... As You Wish

We all have a favorite artist that flies under the radar, with releases that go barely noticed, yet we'll continue flying the flag and telling anyone that listens how incredible this particular band or singer is and how y'all are nuts for not getting on board. Willy DeVille is one of those artists for me. His latest album, 2008's Pistola, didn't, to my knowledge, even get a proper release in the U.S. It's a hit and miss affair but the highs will keep me listening and the lows will never make the ipod.
DeVille's voice shows the wear and tear of years of hard living but summons the tough backstreet soul of spanish harlem with a raspy croak that can still thrill, especially on the first half of the record. The opener "So So Real" invokes the gritty urban charm of Mink DeVille's 1977 debut Return to Cabretta while "Louise" pitches it's sweet alt-country blues somewhere between John Prine and The Felice Brothers and is sweetened by the understated lilt of Chris Lawrence's subtle pedal steel guitar. "I Remember The First Time" is another in a long line of beautiful lovelorn, pleading ballads that have dotted DeVille's career.
The album takes an unfortunate turn into psuedo-Waits-ian talking blues of "Stars That Speak" that has none of Waits oddball charm or special brand of weirdness. And the less said about the spoken word piece "The Mountains of Manhattan", the better.
This post was inspired by an email exchange with my Teenage Kicks partner, the yin to my yang, the chocolate to my vanilla, the right to my left, the Boulevard Pale Ale to my Yeungling, Michael Atchison, who claimed he can't hear "Storybook Love", despite an avowed fondness for The Princess Bride.

Willy DeVille - Louise (from Pistola)

Willy DeVille - Storybook Love (from The Princess Bride OST)

Mink DeVille - Just Your Friends (from Return to Magenta)

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I doubt many folks come here for election news, and there are a lot of folks waxing Shakespearean around the web, so I'll spare you. Suffice it to say, it's a new day for America, one that has heartened me, and filled me with pride and relief. But there's an immense amount of work to do, and the new administration will need our patience, our support, and perhaps most importantly, our resolve to hold them to the best of American ideals. Their mettle must match our hope.

But before getting down to the hard work of governance, it's worth exhaling and savoring the moment. Yesterday, WFMU spent an hour playing 14 different versions of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," and you can hear them all here. A towering, utterly indestructible song.

(hat tip: Heather)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Election Day 2008! Get out and vote! Tell your friends.

Jerry Lawson - Hope
Bruce Springsteen - The Rising

Monday, November 03, 2008

Coldplay Live!

It was a big Saturday night date night in Philadelphia. Well-heeled yuppies and giddy-to-be-there teenagers were all gussied up for the big show. By the amount of bunnies on the arms of lunkheads singing along to "Yellow" - I proclaim Coldplay the biggest babe magnets since mid-70's Jackson Browne. I've lost sight of how much fun the big arena show can be. Flashing lights, smoke machines, big screens, real crowd anticipation and skinny pasty-faced Brits at the top of their game all added up to a spectaculary risk-free spectacle. Chris Martin was totally engaging as the boy next door frontman with grandiose rock star moves (along with giving Craig Finn a run for the coveted most awkward dancer title) and local market savvy (several Phillies references). But the band certianly gets gigged for their silly, psuedo-military outfits. My advice - go another direction there.

It really is an exceptional sight to see 20,000 fans explode as one to the opening chords of "Viva La Vida", "Speed of Sound" or "Yellow". I felt like part anthropologist, part proud papa as I surveyed not only the crowd but my 12 year old son Sean blissed out at his first big rock concert. He sang, he pantomimed, he danced (unfortunately my rhytmic genes did not skip a generation), he fist pumped... he was completely immersed in the music. And my very understanding wife was jumping around like a teenager and having a tremendous time.

So it was hard not to love for all those reasons (plus the tix were free), but still... the sound was your basic, bad, cavernous, echo-y hockey rink sludge we've endured forever at the local enormo-dome. You also had your $7.00 beers and $12.00 roast beef sandwiches (two waters - $8.50!!) and $35.00 t-shirts! Sean wouldn't even let us buy him one. That's how ridiculous a $35.00 t-shirt is.

But certainly Coldplay was better than I expected. All four of their cds reside in my house, yet I've never actively played a role in listening to any of them. Viva La Vida (at least 4 or 5 songs) has been my son's constant car companion for at least 2 months so I've heard those songs A LOT and enjoyed them. So I was surprised at how many other songs I recognized during the concert - I gotta assume that's mostly through exposure via local public radio station WXPN.

Coldplay has two speeds - ballad and mid-tempo. I'm never gonna love them and I'm never gonna hate them. But I'm always gonna dig them for giving my son his first hit of a big time rock show and giving my wife that rock and roll buzz that I get so often I sometimes take it for granted.