Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2008 Unsung - Titus Andronicus

Imagine a singer that sounds like Paul Westerberg, Shane MacGowan, Mick Jones AND Joe Strummer fronting a blazing freight train of unhinged punk rock fury with the parting shot "Your life is over". Holy shit!

This may be the greatest song ever recorded. Or not.

Titus Andronicus - "Titus Andronicus"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

2008 Unsung - The Weeks

The Weeks' debut, Comeback Cadillac, is a schizophrenic affair that open with a borderline hardcore screamo blast of fury ("Comeback Cadillac"), and then alternates bewtween the greasy, southern fried scuzz rock of Kings of Leon (the young love bluster of "Buttons") and wistful alt-country ballads (the old love luster of the wondeful "Sailor Song"). The best news is that this Jackson, MS band's average age is under 20, so better things are sure to come. And just to show you there is hope for today's whippersnappers - this disc was my 17 year old nephew's # 1 album for 2008... otherwise I would have never heard it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

2008 Unsung - Jason Heath & The Greedy Souls

I think anyone that listens to a ton of music develops a bullshit detector. So when I hear something new by, let's say Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson or even Springsteen's brand new lyrical turd "Queen of The Supermarket", I immediately cry "bullshit". I just know when I hear something that seems forced or strained. With Jason Heath and The Greedy Souls' The Vain Hope of Horse, the detector is off. Not everything is a bullseye, but the record has a pitch perfect bare bones production that allows the acoustic mix of violins, acoustic guitars, standup bass, piano, accordian, harmonica and slide guitar to effortlessly complement Heath's tough guy country punk rock loser broken hearted tales of dusty dreams and despair.

The sound reminds me of the wide open spaces on Uncle Tupelo's Anodyne, like it was recorded right in your living room. Heath's vocals have a little of Ike Reilly's bite and Jeff Tweedy's angst and they convey the scufflin' life of nothing but bad luck or worse in "Thunderstruck" ("don't stand next to me unless you want to be stuck by lightning") or falling in love with an "Anarchist Girl" ("she throws a kiss as good as she can throw a brick") complete with "boh-boh" chorus.

If it wasn't was for Hayes Carll, I'd say this was the best alt-country record released in 2008. And it's been pretty hard to dig up much on these guys other than they got some cool friends (Nels Cline, Wayne Kramer, Tom Morello) who guest on the record and they seem like bad-asses from L.A. who have all the right influences. If anyone who's reading this can shed more light on these guys, I'd appreciate it.

Fans of The Band, Jayhawks, Lucero, Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle, The Pogues and Paul Westerberg - you need this record.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Message From Neko

And here's a free download of Neko's first single "People Got A Lotta Nerve", available March 3rd on the sure to be great Middle Cyclone.

Don't forget to catch Neko on tour this spring.

Oh Neko, Neko, because Neko...

Neko Case - "People Got A Lotta Nerve"

2008 Unsung - Bruce Robison

Best known for writing chart-topping hits for The Dixie Chicks ("Travellin' Soldier") and Tim McGraw & Faith Hill ("Angry All The Time"), Bruce Robison crafts deeply felt, sly vignettes on sweet little records in a Claritan clear voice that is apparently only heard by country superstars. And he's married to Texas bunny Kelly Willis.

Where do you sign up for that gig?

2008 Unsung - Bodeans

Even if they ever were on your radar, I'm sure over the years the Bodeans had fallen off of it. And that'd be a shame because 2008's Still and 2004's Resolution are the best Bodeans albums not named Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams. Close knit harmonies, a great big acoustic guitar sound, melodies that seep into your noggin and implant themselves there permanently... plus who doesn't love mimicing Sammy Bodean's nasal croak?

Working on a Stream

You can hear Bruce Springsteen's new album Working on a Dream here. You can read Rolling Stone's five-star review of said recording here. You can discuss amongst yourselves how embarrassed Jann Wenner ought to be about that.

Monday, January 19, 2009

2008 Unsung - Attic Lights

Glasvegas is the Glaswegian band of the moment getting all the love (and hate), but Attic Lights debut disc Friday Night Lights (great cd and TV show!) combines the guitar fuzz of Teenage Club with the melodic pop-ability of ... well, Teenage Fanclub. I don't think this one has even received a U.S. release so thanks to Feeney for the heads up. Recommended for all you melody whores.

2008 Unsung - Alphabeat

Best Danish band ever? Better whistling than "Young Folks"? More fun than a barrel of Ting-Tings? Mix the new wave bounce of the B-52's and the gurgling beats and deadpan delivery of Human League and you've got one zippy little party starter in an unlikely cover of PIL's "Public Image". And hat tip to FOTK Mary Z for the heads up.

2008 Unsung Heroes - The Unheard Music

I'm almost finished that delicious and confounding task of assembling my favorite tracks from 2008 into a one disc (for the curmudgeons) or two disc (for everyone else) mix where I attempt to dazzle, infuriate, or plain bewilder unsuspecting friends with the breadth of my music obsession.

There's so much out there that it is truly overwhelming. It seems like nothing can be the best, but everything can be a favorite (I mean, there are people who actually want to listen to The Flight of The Conchords). I've pored over numerous year-end lists and found that many artists who made some of my favorite 2008 music are nowhere to be found.

So for the next few days (weeks?) I'll post a song apiece by some of the great unwashed who comprise part of the vast cattle call of what X deemed "The Unheard Music".

I'd make one large post but you never know when Those Who Seek to Kill Music will send in their goons.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Singin' & Drinkin' @ The Blinkin Lincoln (1/14)

January blues got you down? Haven't seen live music for a while? Dying to spend a night in Roxborough? Enjoy the occasional libation with Pat Feeney? If you even answered ANY of those questions, come on out this Wednesday (1/14) to the brand new and comfortably cozy confines of Roxborough's Blinkin Lincoln for a night of free music, free music trivia, free giveaways and beer (alas, not free). It's the debut of Main Street Music Night at The Blinkin Lincoln!

The music starts at 9:30 with power pop maestro Frank Brown doing an acoustic set sure to thrill fans of The Replacements, Cheap Trick and NRBQ. Frank was the guiding light behind Philly favorites Flight of Mavis and Buzz Zeemer. God damn those bands had some great songs. And you can still purchase all their cds (plus Frank's sparkling 2005 solo cd) at CD Baby ( Get 'em before they're gone.

Buzz Zeemer - "Crush"

Next up (around 10:30) is British roots rock troubadour James Maddock, whom you might recognize as the leader of Wood (Songs From Stamford Hill), whose "Stay You" was a staple on AAA radio and was featured on the Top 10 album Songs From Dawson's Creek. Maddock has been busy recording a new record (due later this year) and will appear with keyboardist and Ryko signee Leslie Mendelson. Maddock's soulful, craggy voice and heart-on-his-sleeve songwriting will make this intimate appearance one not to be missed.

Wood - "Stay You"

James Maddock - "Chance" (demo)

So come on out, hoist a few and show your E-A-G-L-E-S spirit!

Five Minutes From Now They'll Rule the World

Bold prediction here in the second week of the year: A band of British kids barely old enough to drink is going to become a very big deal in 2009. They're called Late of the Pier, and they ride terrain already trod by MGMT, LCD Soundsystem, Gary Numan and The Killers, cranking out electronic rock that fully lives up to the description. The album Fantasy Black Channel is just out in the States. Hear some tracks here. Do not attempt to resist.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Deerhunter... Meet Mitch Ryder

It is my firm belief that most great rock and roll should sound something like this:

Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels - Sock It To Me Baby!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ron Asheton

The Stooges were a brutal, beautiful, writhing, visceral, explosive beast of a band. Iggy Pop gave the band its face, but guitarist Ron Asheton gave The Stooges their scuzzy, squealing backbone. He died this week. But here he is, completely alive:

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Greatest Short Song Ever... or Death to Prog

On Saturday my favorite radio station, WXPN, devoted eight hours of programming to 70's prog rock. While I understand that prog had its mind-expanding, chemically shaped followers back in the early 70's, I can't understand why anyone would still listen to it in 2009 when the recorded works of The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Mitch Ryder, Bob Marley, Hank Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pavement and The Grass Roots remain available for your listening pleasure. And I tried to listen, like a car wreck it was difficult to turn away (or turn the station) as hairy, gnomic, viking helmeted men dressed in the finest wizard robes performed endless tributes to Ommadawn, pilgrimages, voyages, journeys, euphoric hysteria, pharoh kings, small furry animals and brain salad surgeries.

The singers had airy, pinched voices and while the road goes on forever, the song it never ends. The average song seemed to be nine to fifteen minutes of celestial noodling with 77 time changes wrapped in endless soloing... how can that be fun? Yes I'm sure these guys were excellent musicians but I've found that (courtesy of my pre 1991-wary 17 year old nephew) rock and roll can be distilled into 13 seconds, and it sounds like this:

Big D & The Kids Table - "What The Hell Are You Going To Do?"

I say the movement starts here... death to prog and all its unseemly descendants. Who's with me?