Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 47 - Danny And The Champions of The World - Streets of Our Time

I loved this album based on the cover alone. Danny George Wilson (former Grand Drive kingpin) leads the Champions of the World (might as well aim big) through nine freewheeling folk spirituals that sound like they were recorded in one room, with one mic, in one take. Wilson sings like a less adenoidal Neil Young fronting Room to Roam-era Waterboys and each song is gently flecked with plonky banjo, luscious pedal steel and it all seems effortless.

Those who loved Ronnie Lane's Faces contributions and especially his solo stuff will recognize kindred spirits - there's a ramshackle, raggle-taggle feel to the Champions' gentle nostalgia that is hypnotic and life-affirming. So far not available in the U.S., Danny And The Champions of The World's Streets of Our Time is available from U.K.'s Loose Records.

Danny And The Champions of The World - "Henry The Van" (from Streets of Our Time)

Danny And The Champions of The World - "These Days" (from Danny And The Champions of The World)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 46 - The Postelles!

Due out in the fall on Astralwerks/Capitol, it seems impossible to find out much about The Postelles and their self titled debut, and that is wonderful. We need more mystery - too much access dilutes the rock star-ness of our rock stars. But from their The Kids Are Alright pose to their Knack-y skinny ties, you know you're in for short spasms of teenage symphonies to mod.
I stumbled upon these guys in their primo SXSW slot opening for the Big Star tribute, and they brought merseybeat via New York City to Austin. There's the staccato guitar, the ecstatic call and response vocals and an extra helping of fab, all wrapped up in 2:40, which I think we can all agree is the exact perfect length for a pop song.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 45 - "Waterloo Sunset"

Original Kinks bassist Pete Quaife died last week at age 66, another rock and roll pioneer gone in what seems like an unending procession of recent passings. Rock and roll can be hard but few songs were as perfect as "Waterloo Sunset". It captures the moment when you feel you're home, where loneliness or the world passing you by ceases to matter. Buffalo Tom main man Bill Janovitz, in his fantastic blog Part Time Man of Rock, reminisces about Pete Quaife and his "descending intro line on one of pop music's most beautiful songs" and offers up a heartfelt, bare bones cover of the Kinks greatest song.
If you're only having one, make it a "Waterloo Sunset".

Bill Janovitz - "Waterloo Sunset"
The Kinks - "Waterloo Sunset"
Elliott Smith - "Waterloo Sunset"
Robyn Hitchcock - "Waterloo Sunset"
Islands - "Waterloo Sunset"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 44 - Anders Osborne - "Call on Me"

In a digital age that rewards the shortest of attention spans and 70 minute magnum opuses are written off as impenetrable and unwieldy, I can only say... BRAVO! Please songwriters, get to the point. Give us your story, give it to us quickly and wrap it up in a gorgeous melody.

Anders Osborne has done just that with the final song on his latest album, American Patchwork. "Call on Me" conjures up the simplicity and magic that can be conjured by one man, one guitar, one voice. It's a mournful road song whose saving grace is the good woman who awaits a thousand miles away. This one evokes the plaintive ballads of Jesse Winchester, Darden Smith, David Halley and Jackson Browne at his least political (you know, the good stuff).

"Four days short of your sweet arms
And a thousand miles away
Three more shows, three lonely nights
'Fore I'll see your pretty face
Won't you call on me, call on me
Can't wait to hear you say my name, baby
Won't you call on me"

Anders Osborne - "Call on Me"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 43 - Single Ladies

Noted curmudgeon and indie avatar Jeff Tweedy reveals sense of humor. Next up, Jay Farrar will tell a joke. Followed by world ending.

Beyonce - "Single Ladies"
Peculiar Gentlemen - "Single Ladies"
Mr. Little Jeans - "Single Ladies"
Erin McKeown - "Single Ladies"
McCarthy Trenching - "Single Ladies"

God damn this is a great pop song.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Freakin' Out

I have this theory, and I’m not even sure if I believe it, but I think it’s pretty close to the mark: There is so much good music in the world – and so much good music that you’ve never heard – that you could construct an alternate universe where you throw out every song you own and replace them all with great songs you’ve never heard, and that you could come out at least even in the deal. Forget all the orthodox narratives about how we got here, from Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters to Chuck Berry to the Rolling Stones to you know the rest. I’m just talking about the things we enjoy. Every song the Beatles ever wrote might be more important than anything the Tom Robinson Band ever recorded, but I’m not sure that any song would be more pleasing to my ears right now than “2-4-6-8 Motorway.”

I’m a relatively big fan of the band Blur, but I came to them late, long after they’d made their initial big splash in their native England and considerably smaller splash over here. And I’ve followed bandleader Damon Albarn’s subsequent projects (most notably Gorillaz) with equal fervor. But until a few moments ago, I’d never paid any notice to the solo efforts of Graham Coxon, Blur’s guitarist. And then I browsed through So Many Records, So Little Time (seriously, one of the great blogs ever) and stumbled on to “Freakin’ Out” from Coxon’s 2004 album Happiness in Magazines. It was one of those moments where you’re teleported to another time (in this case, it seemed, 1979). How did I ever live without that song? And how many more are there out there like that?

Graham Coxon, “Freakin’ Out”

Day 42 - Eminem - "Not Afraid" (NSFW)

My son tells me this is the song of the summer and the best song he's heard all year. I can't say I agree, but I might if I was 13. No matter where you stand on Eminem, the guy has a real gift for wordplay and "Not Afraid" is as anthemic as anything I've heard from the new Arcade Fire. And for those who think Eminem is not a pop culture force of nature, this video has been on youtube for 3 weeks and has over 28 million views.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 41 - Jesse Mailn - "St. Mark's Social"

I have been remiss in not extolling the (many) virtues of Jesse Mailn's latest, Love It To Life. Malin keeps making excellent records without moving the commercial needle. He sings tough but tender songs of living the rock and roll life, scarred but smarter. In all his various iterations - hardcore (Heart Attack), glam punk (D Generation), FORA, cover boy and currently singer-songwriter - Malin never fails to be anything less than 100% convincing that this is what he has to do.

"St. Mark's Sunset" is at once nostalgic and immediate, recounting how the misfits "from the outskirts in the suburbs seeking shelter in each other's eyes" made fun of everyone else as they just hung around doing nothing much at all. Malin believes in the redemptive power of rock and roll, even when all his friend are "dead or in business". Lovers of classic Tom Petty or Jersey greasers Gaslight Anthem - Jesse Malin is there for your discovery. Buy or die.

Jesse Malin - "St. Mark's Sunset" (From Love It to Life)

Jesse Malin - "Black Haired Girl" (from Glitter in The Gutter)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 39 - Jenny And Johnny

Finally a few details on Jenny and Johnny, the new girlfriend/boyfriend group that features massively crush-worthy Jenny Lewis and her jackpot-lucky paramour, Johnathan Rice.
The new album, I'm Having Fun Now, will drop 8/31. They are scheduled to begin a tour that starts the next day, 9/1, in Santa Cruz, CA and includes opening slots for indie wet dreamers Pavement (9/18 and 9/19), Superchunk (9/22 in Philly) and Belle And Sebastian (10/3 in LA).
The first single, "Scissor Runner", is an airy, upbeat love song about taking chances. But speaking for all Jenny Lewis lovers, we need more Jenny and less Johnathan on the rest of the record. And spell check doesn't like that extra h, either.
Jenny and Johnny - "Scissor Runner"
Jenny Lewis & Johnathan Lewis - "Love Hurts"
You can learn more here and here

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 38 - Otis Gibbs Walks A Crooked Line

What would you say to a combination of Woody Guthrie and Waylon Jennings who sounds like an acoustic big-hat wearin' Lucero? One for the alt-country geeks.

Otis Gibbs - "The Ballad of Johnny Crooked Tree" (from Joe Hill's Ashes)

Otis Gibbs - "Bury Me On A Rainy Day" (from Grandpa Walked A Picketline)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 37 - Jesus Was A Crossmaker

I received an email the other day whose subject line teased "Grizzlybear24 has shared a song with you on Grooveshark!" Well, it was my friend Michael linking me to a recent cover of a decades old song by Judee Sill, "Jesus Was A Cross Maker". The cover was by the Swedish singer Frida Hyvonen and it's a bruised and battered song of trying to hold on to a tempestuous and doomed relationship that is melting away.

"Blinding me his song remains reminding me
he's a bandit and a heartbreaker
Oh but Jesus was a crossmaker"

Judee Sill was a troubled (armed robbery, drug addiction, prostitution) but touched-by-greatness songwriter whose self-titled debut album was the first release on David Geffen's Asylum label 40 years ago. And a few years ago my friend Pat gave me a copy of that debut, which 35 years later didn't sound dated one bit and seemed to be lost in some myth-busting Bermuda triangle whose clutches had eluded contemporaries like Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and Carole King.

But what really got me thinking is the way songs and people influence each other and how the truly wonderful songs seem to seep deep into our musical fabric and resurface from time to time. Last year Judee Sill was feted with a tribute album, Crayon Angel: A Tribute to The Music of Judee Sill, which featured Hyvonen's cover. The Fleet Foxes played her "Crayon Angel" nightly to rapturous audiences on their summer 2008 tour. And now two friends (decades apart chronologically) recommend the same obscure song.

And, for you Laurel Canyon fetishists, Graham Nash produced the original "Jesus Was A Cross Maker", written about his friend JD Souther and covered later by the Nash-less Hollies, then also covered by Warren Zevon, whose self-lacerating version was the high point of 1985's Mutineer. And listen below to Zevon's stunning (definitive?) take on his friend Souther's "Simple Man, Simple Dreams".

Here's what Judee Sill had to say about this song a few days after it's release, and although he's given a shout out in the title, it's got nothing to do with Jesus:
"I wanted to write a song about this principle - the lower down you go to gain your momentum from, the higher up it will propel you. I couldn't think of a way to say that poetically, and I happened to stumble across this real obscure theological fact, and that is that Jesus was a cross maker. That really got me and when I heard that I knew I had to write a song about it. At the same time I was having a real unhappy romance with this guy who was a bandit and a heart breaker, so one morning I woke up and realized that he's a bandit and a heart breaker rhymes with but Jesus is a cross maker, and I knew that even that wretched bastard was not beyond redemption."

Not exactly "Poker Face", is it?

Judee Sill - "Jesus Was A Cross Maker" (from Judee Sill)
Judee Sill - "Jesus Was A Cross Maker" (Live on BBC)
Frida Hyvonen - "Jesus Was A Cross Maker" (from Crayon Angel: A Tribute to The Music of Judee Sill)
Warren Zevon - "Jesus Was A Cross Maker" (from Mutineer)
Warren Zevon - "Simple Man, Simple Dreams" (WMMS - Cleveland 1976)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 36 - Who Wouldn't Like Bubblegum Lemonade?

Bubblegum Lemonade's "Caroline's Radio" take three chords, jangly guitars, winsome sad-eyed vocals, Beach Boys references, a little fuzz and music crush lyrics (here it's famed English pirate radio station Radio Caroline) and create a breezy power pop summer anthem, that's heavy on the pop. Bubblegum Lemonade is the nom-de-band of one Lawrence "Laz" McCluskey, who named his sweet tooth project after a Mama Cass album, 1969's Bubble Gum, Lemonade and Something For Mama.

Apparently every current Scottish band is required to be impossibly adorable. Laz - you had me at Bubblegum.

Bubblegum Lemonade - "I'll Never Be Yours"

Bubblegum Lemonade - "Caroline's Radio"
You can order Bubblegum Lemon stuff here

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 35 - Inside All of Us There's A Big Charlie

Today we bring you Big Charlie from Italy. I hear a little Jarvis Cocker, a little Beck, mix in some classic Motown backbeat and set to an irresistible lounge-y arrangement. Shake and stir. Sip slowly. This shouldn't work, but it does. Love the cold ending, but this video gives me the willies.

Big Charlie - Roses from Director Kobayashi on Vimeo.

Big Charlie - "Roses"

Here's Big Charlie on Big Charlie:

Big Charlie is everyone who identifies himself in it.

Big Charlie is white like a New One.

It has big ears to listen all voices, all sounds, all notes.

Big Charlie is the Big Jump.

It is watching everything from above.

..In the frenetic rhythm, in the beat of the Charleston, in the jerking movements...

Big Charlie can't scare you...

It is a synchronized step dance.

Inside all of us there's irreverence.

Inside all of us there's fear.

Inside all of us there's a Big Charlie"

Day 34 - Mean Streets

There are a million bands. Mean Streets is a band. So I guess you could say that Mean Streets is one in a million. And right now they are a band carrying the torch for the unassailable spirit of rock and roll. These are scruffy South Jersey punks, marauding sons of Billy, and you need a face full of this.

Splattering gloriously loud power chords and vein busting vocals in the spittle flying tradition of patron saint Joe Strummer, Mean Streets sound like motorcycle exhaust with start-a-revolution mid pipes. I caught these guys last month opening for Ike Reilly at The Khyber and they punched a hole in the wall with a 45 minute set that was pure adrenaline.

I had to badger their dad to find their music, which showed up last week in an unmarked envelope with stuff crossed out on the cd, a photocopied list of songs and a myspace address. This is DIY grass roots stuff, and I guarantee that fans of The Clash, Ike Reilly, Social Distortion, Black Flag and The Dictators will not be disappointed.

Mean Streets - "Not For Long"
Mean Streets
- "On My Own"
For vinyl loves, Mean Streets have 2 7" singles available. You can order them from:
Longshot Music has a 7" picture disc of "That Day"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 33 - Ike Reilly's "Good Work" Video

If there is an algorithm to calculate artistic merit versus commercial clout, Ike Reilly would score somewhere between a nonillion and a vigintillion. Reilly has been making gritty, spastic, hook-laden classics for a decade now in relative anonymity, except for a fanatical few... there are no casual Ike Reilly fans. I just can't figure out why there are not more of them.

Earlier this year we got the latest cd, Hard Luck Stories, and it's easily one of the year's best. Today brings an honest-to-goodness music video for "Good Work (If You Can Get It)", a greasy, slow burning vamp that levels the high school caste system.

Tomorrow - tell a friend about Ike Reilly. Or better yet, buy them a copy of Hard Luck Stories.

Ike Reilly - "Good Work (If You Can Get It)"
Ike Reilly - "Last Time" (from Salesmen And Racists)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 32 - It's A Boy

Rocco Robert Rappe - 7 lbs., 2 oz... he's a good boy!

The Who - It's A Boy

My partner calls this one the "roll-down-the-windows-and-crank-it song of the summer. Party like it’s 1973."

Tom Petty - "I Should Have Known It"

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 31 - Joanna Newsom and Beach House - Homework from Michael

My friend Michael is 23 years old, can drive past me in a blur on the hoop court and is an absolute obsessive music sponge (just a few of the many reasons he is great and I am not). He swears that Animal Collective is the best thing since The Beatles (we can't even begin to bridge that critical gap), and in a recent facebook posting following some heated back and forth on the basketball court, tasked me with some fact-finding homework (he's a grammar school teacher, of course) - to check out specific songs by heavily hyped hipster hotshots Joanna Newsom and Beach House. I put on my thinking cap and got to work.

First up - Joanna Newsom. To say I find her voice grating is like saying BP has a spill in aisle 5 to clean up. And in a recent interview with The Guardian, she had this to say about Lady Gaga: " She just happens to wear slightly weirder outfits than Britney Spears." And this: " And, meanwhile, she seems to take herself so oddly seriously, the way she talks about her music in the third person, like she's Brecht or something." Hey Joanna, you dress like a Middle Earth fairie and you play a harp while singing in a range somewhat higher than a dog whistle. You're basically the female Sting. Ms. Kettle, meet Mrs. Pot.

So my homework was to listen to her "Good Intentions Paving Company". And I found her voice not nearly as shrill as I remembered but she still sounds like a frightened Tori Amos (not a good sign) and I had difficulty making much sense of her abundant, rambling lyrics. And the song is seven minutes long. And feels like seventy. Grade: F+

Next up was "Zebra" by Beach House. The breathless hype and words like "ethereal" and "woozy synths" had initially scared me off these guys. But I've played "Zebra" about a dozen times now and I gotta say Michael was right on with this one. It's a total vibe song, with impenetrable lyrics, but the song positively glistens with ghostly Beach Boys background vocals, gently plucked guitar and Mazzy Star gauzy beauty. Grade: A-
"Teenage Kicks received a request to remove the mp3s from this post 6/17/10"

Next assignment?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 30 - The Candles

Let's call day 30 a gift from the official scorer. The Candles are a New York based band centered around the melodic songwriting of Josh Lattanzi, who has sharpened his skills through gigs with the Lemonheads, Ben Kweller and Albert Hammond Jr. Fans of Teenage Fanclub, Crowded House, Dawes and "Into Your Arms" era Lemonheads should take notice. This has Feeney written all over it.

The Candles - "Here or Gone"
The Candles - "Anywhere Tonight"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day 29 - The Shins Cover Squeeze

Levi's has put together a series of cover songs by current indie, pop and rap artists (plus whatever category that dreck offered up by Jason Mraz is) paying tribute to their inspirations. This Shins cover brought to mind three thoughts:

1. Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook sure could write a pop song.

2. It's time for a Squeeze reissue campaign. Or at least a box set.

3. Broken Bells could have used more pop smarts and hooks like James Mercer (and Squeeze) exhibit here, rather than the studio bells and whistles they served up on their debut disc.

The Shins - "Goodbye Girl"

Squeeze -"Goodbye Girl"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 28 - Weezer, The World Cup And Rod Stewart


Weezer today released "Represent", their "unofficial theme song for U.S. Men's National Team" as they prepare to begin their World Cup 2010 quest with an opening round match against heavy favorite England tomorrow afternoon. The good news is the song is available for free download from itunes, the bad news is that it's a bit of lukewarm alt-schlock.
I prefer my World Cup schlock all-out, as only Rod Stewart can provide, courtesy of this 1978 disaster.


Weezer - "Represent"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 27 - Go See The Trashcan Sinatras This Sunday, 6/13 at World Cafe Live!

Besides being blessed with one of the all-time perfect band names, the Trashcan Sinatras also have one of the great Brit-pop vocalists in Francis Reader, whose early choirboy vocals have morphed into a lower register, beatific purr over the years. They have also unknowingly provided (along with fellow Scots Aztec Camera) the soundtrack as the go-to album in my house for many "special" moments. Thank you Trashcans.

The unstoppable one-two opening of "Obscurity Knocks" and "Maybe I Should Drive" on their 1990 debut Cake trumpeted a band destined for years of gold albums, decadent limo rides, fashion models and empty record company promises. With only five records in 20 years, it seems only the empty promises were delivered. But they have returned (six years after 2004's mostly terrific Weightlifting) with the gorgeously sketched In The Music, which manages the deft trick of often sounding sunny and downbeat at the same time.

The hallmark irresistible refrains from earlier records remain in such standouts as the love-affirming valentine "Morning Rain", whose sentiments couldn't be clearer ("And the finest thing that I've ever done / Was say "I do"/ And have it whispered in return"), and the Cake-like folk bounce of the hit-in-waiting "Prisons". But my favorite track is the lovely and heartbreaking closer "I Wish You'd Met Her", a lump-in-the-throater for a lost but constantly remembered love. This is grown-up pop music for music lovers who have found their way to Coldplay, Travis, Keane, Crowded House and The Smiths but somehow missed one the most expert practitioners of Brit-folk-pop. Given In The Music's long gestation period (these songs were recorded mostly in 2007 and 2008), The Trashcan Sinatras seem destined to remain great for only the devoted few.

What can you do to change this? Call up your local AAA radio station and tell them to play the first single, "People". Harass Alexandra Patsavas, who has placed scores of Trashcan Sinatras-sounding songs in just about every relationship drama on TV, and tell her to start using the real thing. And lastly, go see them when they come to your town. And if your town is Philadelphia, then go see them Sunday night at World Cafe Live. Maybe you'll have your own "special" moment.

Traschcan Sinatras - People
Traschcan Sinatras - Obscurity Knocks

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Day 26 - More Mumford And Sons Rare Stuff!

Mumford And Sons have somehow convinced a young indie folk crowd weaned on David Gray, Coldplay and Damien Rice that banjos are hip. Their recent Philly show at the TLA was a crowd pleasing mix of old-time folk, CSN-style harmonies, audience sing-alongs and tried and true showmanship. I'm betting their best days are ahead. Who ever thought the Too-Rye-Ay Dexy's look would ever come back in vogue?

And is it me, or does Marcus Mumford look like Kyle Chandler, who plays coach Eric Taylor on the brilliant Friday Night Lights?

Mumford And Sons - "But My Heart Told My Head" (from The Cave And The Open Sea EP)
Mumford And Sons - "Untitled" (unreleased song from Toad session)
Mumford And Sons - "Sister" (new version)
Mumford And Sons - "I Gave You All" (from Live @ WOXY Lunge Act)

Mumford And Sons - "Dance, Dance, Dance" (Neil Young cover)
Mumford And Sons - "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight" (Beatles cover)
Mumford And Sons - "Cousins" (Vampire Weekend cover)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Day 25 - Mumford And Sons First 2 EP Rarities!

Current indie folk darlings recorded two now impossible to find 10" EPs for the tiny British label Chess Club in 2008 - the Chess Club EP and the Love Your Ground EP. To celebrate Day 25 of our streak, we offer the songs not found on Sigh No More. Great stuff.

Mumford & Sons - "Liar" (Chess Club EP)
Mumford & Sons - "Awake My Soul" (Chess Club EP - short version)

Mumford & Sons - "Feel The Tide" (Love Your Ground EP)
Mumford & Sons - "Hold On To What You Believe" (Love Your Ground EP)
Mumford & Sons - "The Banjolin Song" (Love Your Ground EP)

Monday, June 07, 2010

Day 24 - Kansas City Star

I heard this song for the very first time today. It was recorded 45 years ago, several years before my partner was born. Maybe Roger Miller was Nostradamus.

Roger Miller - Kansas City Star
Roger Miller - King of The Road

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Day 23 - The Henry Clay People

“We want our music to be accessible, but still mean something. That’s the spirit of this band—nothing we’re doing is rocket science, but we’re playing the music we love. And if some people recognize that, great. Rock ’n’ roll is rock ’n’ roll.”

The above quote is from Joey Siara, who along with his brother Andy are the driving forces behind The Henry Clay People, the L.A. based band that sounds like (and is) a band that has slogged out a couple hundred clubs gigs over the last few years. For some reason, these guys seem to open up for every third band that comes through town. Their performances are sloppy, scuzzy, loose-limbed affairs peppered with shouted vocals and greasy, jagged guitars that feel like the bastard spawn from the ill-fated 1989 Tom Petty and The Replacements tour. They have a new album out this week, Somewhere on the Golden Coast, that (based on the three songs I've heard) is a huge leap forward for the band. I can't wait to hear the rest of it.

For those who need more guitar (but not more guitar wankery), The Henry Clay People deliver - simply, directly and without fuss. As the song says, these guys prefer the slow burn.

The Henry Clay People - "End of An Empire" (Live at Savvy Saloon - Indianapolis, IN)
The Henry CLay People - "Slow Burn"

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Day 22 - Roky Erickson with Okkervil River - True Love Cast Out All Evil

Roky Erickson's back-story is well documented - teenage success, life long struggles with mental illness, stays in various public facilities (most notably the Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane), peer accolades, a multitude of official and unofficial releases (with varying quality control) and then in 2001, his brother being awarded custody as Roky's sole guardian.

It seemed he'd be trotted out every so often as a curio in Texas, greeted with rapturous praise as well as examined as a cautionary tale of wasted possibilities. Stories of erratic, troubling behavior seemed to relegate Erickson to the lost-in-the-margins mad genius bin. But the visage that graces the cover of his new collaboration with Okkervil River is less mad genius, and more iconic myth maker, similar in feel to Johnny Cash's American Recordings phase. And that would make Will Sheff Roky Erickson's Rick Rubin.

True Love Cast Out All Evil is an impassioned valentine to faith, perseverance and family. Some of it can be rough listening - especially the opening and closing numbers ("Devotional Number One" and "God is Everywhere" that are older, rudimentary recordings left untouched - complete with tape hiss, clattering backgrounds and often inaudible lyrics. This framework works well as this story is not often a pretty one.

Erickson's voice is a roadmap of pain and grace, from the hymn-like title track and devastating bleak "Goodbye Sweet Dream", to the rootsy Byrds-ian rush of "Bring Back the Past" and the anguished plea of "Please Judge". Erickson's Texas-ness also shines through as your hear echoes of Townes, Doug Sahm, Willie and the Lubbock mafia all through the disc. A gold star for Will Sheff for a fantastic job of letting the (mostly decades-old) songs breathe in 2010 air, and keeping the focus on Erickson and this most surprising but successful return.

Roky Erickson with Okkervil River - "Bring Back The Past"
Roky Erickson with Okkervil River - "Please Judge"

Friday, June 04, 2010

Day 21 - Someone Still Love You Boris Yeltsin

Bad band name, great song.

Someone Still Love You Boris Yeltsin - "Sink/Let It Sway"

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Day 20 - Keeping The Streak Alive

In keeping with recent baseball posts, here's a ninth inning bunt to keep the hitting streak alive. One of my favorite covers I've heard this year, Robert Earl Keen via Todd Snider.

Robert Earl Keen - "Corpus Christi Bay"
"He said he finally gave up drinkin'.
Then he ordered me a beer"

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Day 19 - Detroit Rob City (28 Up, 28 Down)

Two perfect games in a week? Three perfect games in a month? Well, yes and no. Unfortunately for Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers, umpire Jim Joyce blew an incredibly easy call with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to cost Galarraga a perfect game. And cost center fielder Austin Jackson his Willie Mays moment.

Much outrage will ensue, but that's baseball. Joyce immediately after the game admitted he got the call wrong, and to his credit Galarraga is handling the whole incident like a gentleman. But it is time for instant replay in baseball, using something similar to the challenge system currently used by the NFL.

Mumford And Sons - Little Lion Man

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Day 18 - The Futureheads - "Heartbeat Song"

[Editor's note: At the request of The Futureheads' record label, "Heartbeat Song" has been replaced in this post by "Struck Dumb," the only mp3 currently available from the album]

To celebrate the new Futureheads cd, The Chaos, out today, here's a heartbeat playlist. The Futureheads "Heartbeat Song" takes a well-worn lyrical road of a mis-matched pair that still want to make beautiful music together, all set to a propulsive beat cut with '77 Weller spiky guitar and hard-earned harmonies, topped with an insta-smash chorus. Bonus points - song clocks in in a courteous 2:30.

The Futureheads - "Struck Dumb"
Roman Candle - "A Heartbeat"
Buddy Holly - "Heartbeat"

Scott Kempner - "Heartbeat of Time"
DeFranco Family - "Heartbeat (It's A Lovebeat)"