Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Gaslight Anthem: "People Wanted Something Honest"

I recently chatted with Ben Horowitz, drummer for Teenage Kicks faves The Gaslight Anthem. The fruits of that conversation are in the new issue of The Providence Phoenix.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Here Today

One of the most remarkable things about Paul McCartney’s astonishing show on Saturday is that it told just half a story.

All of the songs that McCartney and/or John Lennon wrote for the Beatles are credited to both of them, but most are regarded as either Paul Songs or John Songs, and with a couple of exceptions (including “A Day in the Life,” which is a Paul Song and a John Song welded together), Saturday’s set consisted entirely of Paul Songs:

Venus and Mars/Rock Show; Jet; All My Loving; Letting Go; Drive My Car; Highway; Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady; The Long and Winding Road; Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five; Let 'Em In; My Love; I've Just Seen A Face; And I Love Her; Blackbird; Here Today; Dance Tonight; Mrs. Vanderbilt; Eleanor Rigby; Something; Sing the Changes; Band on the Run; Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da; Back in the USSR; I’ve Got A Feeling; Paperback Writer; A Day In The Life/Give Peace A Chance; Let It Be; Live and Let Die; Hey Jude. First encore: Day Tripper; Lady Madonna; Get Back. Second encore: Yesterday, Helter Skelter, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)/The End.

In the early days of this blog, in a brief rumination about John Lennon, I wrote “Every once in a while, don’t you stop to wonder what he might have done these past twenty-six years? And doesn’t it break your heart a little every time?” Watching Paul play, I had those thoughts again, and I wondered what a comparable Lennon show in 2010 might be like.

Your first reaction might be that Lennon wouldn’t do a comparable show, that he had little interest in visiting his past. But there’s no telling how his thinking might have changed over the past three decades. He clearly was more at peace with himself and his past just before his death at age 40 than he had been ten years earlier. So, if you have disbelief, suspend it for a moment.

In my imagination, this is the set of John Songs that he would have played, and it is as titanic as the show Paul performed. How is it possible that these two men were in the same band?

Power to the People; Whatever Gets You Thru the Night; The Ballad of John and Yoko: Eight Days a Week; A Hard’s Day’s Night; If I Fell; Help!; And Your Bird Can Sing; Come Together; Jealous Guy; Working Class Hero; Norwegian Wood; Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds; Dear Prudence; #9 Dream; You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away; Mind Games; Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey; (Just Like) Starting Over; Nobody Told Me; I’m a Loser; Ticket to Ride; Happiness is a Warm Gun; Across the Universe; A Day in the Life; Watching the Wheels; Strawberry Fields Forever; Revolution; I am the Walrus; Instant Karma! First encore: Imagine; Nowhere Man; Tomorrow Never Knows. Second encore: In My Life; All You Need Is Love; Twist and Shout.

In this fantasy, John is alive, but George is not, so just as Paul played “Something” as a tribute to the Quiet Beatle, John might slip in “Here Comes the Sun.” And at some show, somewhere, John’s friend Paul emerges unannounced during the first encore for a duet on “Two of Us.”

If I’m going to dream, let me have big dreams.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Universal

About an hour into his show Saturday night in Kansas City, Paul McCartney’s band retreated from the stage, leaving the man alone with an acoustic guitar to play the Beatles’ classic “Blackbird” and “Here Today,” the open letter he wrote to John Lennon’s memory. Without tricks or adornment, McCartney strummed and sang simple melodies and words, and it was spellbinding, the mystery of music encapsulated in six minutes. How can something so stark be so stirring?

The whole night was like that, though most of it was appreciably louder. Three hours of some of the best and most famous songs ever written, each mangifiying the power of the one that preceded it.

I was born in 1968, just old enough to remember “Silly Love Songs” and “Let ‘Em In” as hit singles on the radio. But I don’t recall a time without most of the songs that Paul played. For me, the Beatles catalog is like the oceans and mountains, things that help define the earth. There is no hyperbole when it comes to this stuff. A recital of Beatles songs in 2010 is nothing more or less than a performance of the great cultural artifacts of the past half-century. Some of it, like “All My Loving” and “Drive My Car,” brought a smile, and much of it was pure majesty – “Eleanor Rigby,” “Let It Be,” the monstrous sing along to “Hey Jude.” And I’ve never felt my heart swell at a rock show the way it did during the opening chords to “A Day in the Life.”

Three songs from the set – “Dance Tonight,” from Memory Almost Full, and “Highway” and “Sing the Changes” by Macca’s alter ego The Fireman – earned their first release within the past three years, but most were three or four decades old. Still, the show was no more an act of nostalgia than a performance of Hamlet is. These are important songs, living things, and they stand on their own without need for any personal context.

The fact that there’s no one else left to play them made the evening feel even more poignant, as did the easy intimacy McCartney shared with the audience. He mentioned three people by their first names only – Linda, George and John – and 15,000 strangers knew who he meant and that they are all gone, lending him a humanity that’s sometimes hard to appreciate. Yes, he’s a titan, but he’s also a man who has known more than his share of loss. Beatles songs have long represented myriad things, and now they also represent the finite nature of life.

The depth of that cache of songs was further revealed when Paul came out for his first encore, after a murder’s row of classic to close the set. I thought “what else can he play?” and he pulled out “Yesterday.” Oh yes, that one.

Very few can make any claim to being McCartney’s peers, and all of them come with obstacles to appreciation. The Rolling Stones carry a hint of menace, with a junkie vampire guitarist and songs that have not always reflected the most enlightened attitude toward women. Bob Dylan is the definition of inscrutable, with his blown-speaker voice and labyrinthine lyrics making for disciples more than fans. And a Bruce Springsteeen show, joyous as it is, can have a clubby feel, as die-hards work to one-up one another by getting the Boss to play the most obscure requests. But there is no obstacle to McCartney. He is the last universal in music, with the best songs and the broadest appeal. Saturday may mark the only time I ever see him, and it was a privilege to be there.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 69 - Gimme, Gimme, Gimme Pop Music

I haven't seen this commercial on TV (I'm pretty sure I haven't seen a commercial since April when I got a DVR, except maybe during ballgames) but this song is yet another example of why the three minute pop song is king. Sounds like the Juno theme song crossed with my boy Jeremy Fisher. I love it, but those who have a low tolerance for sunshine pop should sit this one out.

And check out the remix, which actually doesn't ruin the song.

Kyle Andrews - "You Always Make Me Smile" (from the Kangaroo EP)

Kyle Andrews - "You Always Make Me Smile" (remix)

Jeremy Fisher - "Scar That Never Heals" (from Goodbye Blue Monday)

The Moldy Peaches - "Anyone Else But You" (from the Juno soundtrack)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 68 - Digging The New Superchunk

Superchunk have a new album, Majesty Shredding, due out on Merge on September 14. I would like to nominate them as the band I should know more about because everything I hear by them seems to be pop genius. I would also like to publicly flog DJ Mertter for failing to deliver his long-promised Superchunk Supermix. Boo DJ Mertter!

Anyway, "Digging For Something" is 3 1/2 minutes of why music matters. Dig it.

Superchunk - "Digging For Something" (from Majesty Shredding)

Superchunk - "Learned To Surf" (from Leaves in The Gutter EP)

Day 67 - Twelve Random Thoughts While Thoroughly Enjoying Deer Tick and Kenzingers on A Sweltering Hot Night at Johnny Brenda's

1. Beer + Music = Bliss.

2. Fat, bearded drummers are the best.

3. Why does every single band have at least one quite serviceable 3-4 minute song that they feel must be extended into a ten minute jam. And why do audiences inevitably cheer wildly for this excruciating number?

4. Deer Tick is much better live than on record. And they are very good on record.

5. Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia is the best rock club in the country.

6. The $3.00 PBC Kenzinger draught beer at Johnny Brenda's is manna from heaven.

7. "Everybody loves a cover" - John McCauley of Deer Tick on 7/20/10. He is absolutely right. Every band should have at least three cover songs in their set.

8. Usually skinny-ass, shirtless, tatooed, sunglass-wearing frontmen are insufferable. Deer Tick's John McCauley pulled off that quite unfashionable look with aplomb.

9. The fat, bearded drummer's show-closing encore cover of "Let's Get It On" brought to mind the cover by Barry Jive and His Uptown Five in High Fidelity, and was equally impressive.
Speaking of which - Jack Black is almost 100% insufferable.

10. A band with a sense of humor is quite appealing.

11. Deer Tick also covered the Replacements "Can't Hardly Wait" (impossible to go wrong with that one) and Chuck Berry's "Maybelline". Apparently every Chuck Berry song except "Johnny B. Goode" sounds great in a bar. And "Johnny B. Goode" only fails the acid test because it's been played over a billion times by bar bands large and small. Please stop playing "Johnny B. Goode". Thank you.

12. Chuck Berry's The Great Twenty-Eight is probably the greatest greatest hits collection ever assembled. It is the Ten Commandments of rock and roll.

Deer Tick - "When She Comes Home" (from The Black Dirt Sessions)

Deer Tick - "Little White Lies" (from Born on Flag Day)

Chuck Berry - "Maybelline" (from The Great Twenty-Eight)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 66 - Little Richard

Has rock and roll ever sounded more primal, urgent and alive than 1950's Little Richard? And dig the Stepford audience.

Until yesterday, I had never heard Little Richard's "Poor Boy Paul", "I Got It" or "Heeby Jeebies" (a "Tutti Frutti" knockoff). At 55 years and counting, there is no end to the rock and roll gems that wait patiently to be discovered. All three are part of The Specialty Sessions, an essential touchstone of unadulterated rock and roll (nowwww I know!).

Little Richard - "Heebie Jeebies"

Little Richard - "I Got It"

Little Richard - "Poor Boy Paul"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 65 - The District Attorneys - "Splitsville"

Everything about The District Attorneys screams "FUN", from their cheeky name , to their myspace info (sounds like "Plain Cheese Pizza" and influences "Love Wars Baby"), to the goofball facebook pictures. And indie rock fun is an elusive and tricky commodity that seems to be in short supply these days. But FUN plus songwriting chops and a slapdash production that includes gang vocals (and why don't more bands use them?), a little banjo, wooooaaaahs aplenty, and guitar sounds borrowed form the late, great Rave-Ups make "Splitsville" a freewheeling feel-good anthem for the relationship-challenged that walk among us.

And since it's 2010 and impossible to overcome internet overload, promising young bands (actually bands of all age) are forced to share their songs for free. And that's just what the D.A.'s have done, throwing y'all a bone by giving away their spiffy 7 song EP, Orders From..." for free right here. You've been served.

The District Attorneys - "Splitsville"

The District Attorneys - "The Deep End of You And Me"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 63 - Alejandro Escovedo

Yesterday we told you about the XPoNential Fest in Camden,NJ and picked our highlights for the three day AAA gathering of greybeards and aspiring greybeards. Well the early (and I imagine post-fest) pick for the undisputed champ is Alejandro Escovedo, who six months shy of sixty, burns with the fire of a man half his age.

He has survived punk rock (the Nuns), alternative country (Rank And File), glam-roots-rock (True Believers), hard rock (Buick MacKane) and even a critical bout with Hepatitis C, but it's his solo records starting with 1992's Gravity that have made him one the most revered artists of the last two decades.

Maybe because he's never come close to anything resembling mass market success, Alejandro Escovedo is still making records filled with passion, rage, anger, tenderness and an unquenched hunger for the truth. He is nowhere near that soft white overbelly most legacy artists settle for once they get past their first taste of success.

His new album, Street Songs of Love, is filled, quite simply, with songs of love from the street, a rare case of truth in packaging. And according to his 18 year old rebel-punk-graffiti artist son, it's filled with "old music for old people". Alejandro took that shot as a compliment that he had instilled in his son a healthy distaste for the status quo. That uncompromising spirit is captured poignantly ("I hope you live long enough to forget half the stuff they taught you") and proudly ("I want to see you out on the street making a scene for everybody") on the set's highlight "Down in The Bowery", but ultimately looks to the kid to tear it all down and build it back up his way.

The show opened and closed with songs Escovedo has performed on record with Bruce Springsteen - "Always A Friend" from 2008's Real Animal and the blistering encore "Faith" from his new record. Like Springsteen, Escovedo operates a false move free environment, with uncommon grace and dignity, an artist whose career by sales standards may seem slight, but whose creative output ranks among the best of the last 30 years.

Go see him while you still can.
Alejandro Escovedo - "Down In The Bowery" (from Street Songs of Love)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 62 - The Sun Machine Is Coming Down...

and we're gonna have a party.

Here's a plug for WXPN's annual XPoNential Music Festival that runs Friday through Sunday. There are over 40 bands (some of them aren't even granola singer-songwriters!) that will share three stages in a pretty Camden setting overlooking the Delaware River. All three days offer must sees and you can't beat the festival price (although early bird XPN members got the best deal - three day pass for $35.00).

Get there by dinner on Friday to make sure you catch the never less than fantastic Alejandro Escovedo (6:45) and skip over to the smaller Marina Stage for local folk rocker Ben Arnold (&:40) and current buzz band, power pop throwbacks Free Energy (8:55). Leave after their set and head out early to avoid MOR jam band bores Big Head Todd and The Monsters and the inevitable barf-a-rama that will accompany the mass exodus of the Warped Tour's baked cookies.

On Saturday, must sees include the best-of-weekend murderer's row of The Walkmen (3:45), Yo La Tengo (5:20), Roseanne Cash (6:55) and scumbag folkies The Felice Brothers (8:50), all on the big Camden County River Stage. But make sure you get over to the Marina Stage at 8:00 for an ultra-rare 21st century appearance by Jersey homeboy Ben Vaughn.

Sunday's highlights include early in the day appearances by classic rockers Blood Feathers (1:00) and the rising Laurel Canyon lilt of Dawes (2:15). Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes' weird hippie folk is set for 5:20 and local psych popsters Dr. Dog follow at 6:55.

There's loads more, plus sunburn, $8.00 beers and old hippies. See you there.

Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeroes - "Memory of A Free Festival" (David Bowie cover)
Dawes - "When My Time Comes"
Blood Feathers - "The Same Mad Part"
Free Energy - "Bang Pop"
The Walkmen - "Stranded"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 61 - Another New One From Jenny And Johnny - "Big Wave"

Jenny Lewis (and Johnathan Rice) ride the "Big Wave", but this time it's mostly TK heartthrob Jenny. A sweet slice of americana-surf-indie-pop that's a little Bangle-y in all the right places. It's the second track to surface from their debut disc, I'm Having Fun Now, out 8/31 on Warner Bros.

Jenny... call me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 60 - Take Me Out to The Ball Game (Or It's On, Joe Wilhoit!)

For those of you keeping score at home, Teenage Kicks passed DiMaggio on Saturday with Day 57's "Lust For Life". Now it's on to the great Joe Wilhoit, who in 1919 set the minor league baseball record with a 69 game hitting streak for the unforgettable Wichita Jobbers of the Western League. Guess who has the second longest minor league hitting streak? Joltin Joe, of course - 61 games in 1933 playing for the San Francisco Seals.

By the way, how about that National League? I think it's wonderful that the Braves' Brian McCann just helped clinch home field advantage for my Philadelphia Phillies in the 2010 World Series.

The Hold Steady - "Take Me Out To The Ball Game"

Eddie Vedder - "Take Me Out to The Ball Game"

Steve Goodman - "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

Bruce Springstone - "Take Me Out to The Ball Game"

Obligatory 2010 track, Today's most popular search on the wonderful Hype Machine:

Local Natives - "Wide Eyes (Fool's Gold Remix feat. Aristotle Pop A Bottle)"

One comment: Is it me, or are 98% of all remixes needless exercises in knob twiddling?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 59 - HELEN STELLaR - "Telescope Eyes"

In recent weeks, no song has made me do the ipod double take more than HELEN STELLaR's "Telescope Eyes", whose addictive "I'm standing right in front of you, why can't you see" chorus is an end credits soundtrack closer waiting to happen. Which shouldn't be a surprise since these guys have placed songs on Friday Night Lights (best show on TV over the last 5 years!), the L Word and Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown soundtrack.

Opening with a 30 second hypnotic tribal thump, "Telescope Eyes" soars on ringing guitars and a pleading vocal that would find a comfortable home next to Coldplay or The Verve on your local AAA or alt-rock station. It seems destined to appear 15 years from now on one those groovy, righting past oversights comps that will help a new generation discover unjustly ignored guitar bands from the early 10's.

HELEN STELLaR - "Telescope Eyes"

Day 58 - The Head And The Heart

The Head and The Heart are a loose collective of indie folkies whose "Sounds Like Hallelujah" sounds like Rufus Wainwright leading a midnight reverie with Mumford and Sons. The Seattle group join a growing list of young bands (Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Avett Brothers, Felice Brothers) who sound like old souls blending acoustic roots music and heavenly harmonies to create nu-folk sounds that can reach across generations.

They apparently have a self-titled debut that was released at the end of June, but dang me if I can find any way on the interent to order the thing. Can anyone help out with a link?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 57 - Lust For Life

Last year the google-phobic Girls released one of the year's best debuts with the equally search engine unfriendly title Album. In addition to the fantastic "Hellhole Ratrace", "Ghost Mouth", "Laura", Album also featured the narcotically ringing wish list, plea for love and mission statement that is "Lust For Life", no relation to Iggy's classic of the same name. The above video would have made these guys stars back when MTV had actually had something to do with music.

Now American actress C.C. Sheffield has released a throbbing, Gaga-riffic cover that should be filling dancefloors all over the world. You probably know Ms. Sheffield from her sterling one episode turn as Sienna in the 2007 "Devil in Disguise" episode in the low water mark for situation comedy that is According to Jim. (Yeah, I know, I never heard of her either, but she does possess many qualities treasured by the shallow male - see photo).

C.C. Sheffield - "Lust For Life"

Girls - "Lust For Life"

Friday, July 09, 2010

Day 56 - Three Greatest Alison Songs EVER!

The first two you know but the last one is by (relative) newcomer Justin Kline, whose "Alison, We Cannot Be Friends" makes me think of Mungo Jerry, The Fountains of Wayne, Superdrag, Pilot, The Beach Boys, sunny days at the beach and those faded jeans with holes in the knee and the crotch - you know you should toss them but you can't because they fit just right and feel so-o-o--o--o good.

Elvis Costello - Alison (from My Aim Is True)

The Lemonheads - Alison's Starting to Happen (from It's A Shame About Ray)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Day 55 - Frightened Rabbit Covers The Lemonheads

Frightened Rabbit covers The Lemonheads

Every Tuesday since March 16th, the kind folks at The A.V. Club have had a battle of the songs as they have invited the hipperati to cover a predetermined list of 25 songs, each band getting to choose a song until there's only one left. I wonder what poor saps will get stuck with Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You"?

It's an inspired idea that started with the odd pairing of Ted Leo covering Tears For Fears, the more natural matchup of Justin Townes Earle covering Springsteen, the righteous hookup of Rise Against covering Nirvana and last week the opposites attract combination of Frightened Rabbit taking on the Lemonheads. Scott Hutchinson's sad sack world weary melancholia would seem to be miles away from Evan Dando's zippy pop tunes, but Hutchinson finds the deeper blue on Dando's shoulda-sorta-woulda unrequited love story.

Don't forget to check out Frightened Rabbit's Winter of Mixed Drinks, one of 2010's best.

Frightened Rabbit - "Confetti"

The Lemonheads - "Confetti" (from It's A Shame About Ray)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Day 54 - A Garage Grows in Harlem

There is a certain purity in songs that sound like Harlem's "Friendly Ghost" that make them almost unassailable. It's the old three chords and the truth - bang it out... and move on. Harlem was recommended to me by Jersey Bob with this pithy overview of the band's music - "garage band sounding, short songs". On the band's myspace page, they list their influences as: "the only band we like is Nirvana. the only album we like is nevermind. the only song we like is smells like teen spirit." Ok... I'm sold.

This Austin band marries the anything-goes shang-a-lang of the early Kinks with the yelping franticism of Richard Hell lost inside Lenny Kaye's Nuggets compilation, all wrapped in a goofball delivery that is more ingratiating than annoying. And god damn if they don't bash out 16 breakneck songs, with only three breaking the 3 minute barrier. And they've got an unreleased song called "Psychedelic Tits". They have to be good!

Harlem - "Friendly Ghost"
Harlem - "Gay Human Bones"

Day 53 - Robbie Fulks Does Michael Jackson

Robbie Fulks gives Michael Jackson the full tribute treatment, and as so often is not the case with Mr. Fulks, this is (mostly) no joke. The arrangements are mostly countrypolitan, with a feeling of genuine warmth, and in the end, there are the songs, which are lay bare the talent of both Jackson and Fulks. While it can get a little too over-the-top (the hoedown of "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough", the clatttering noise of "Privacy"), the highlights (Black and White", "Ben" and especially "Mama's Pearl") are mile wide smiles of cover songs done right.

And of course no Robbie Fulks blogpost would be complete without the genius of "Fountains of Wayne Hotline".


Monday, July 05, 2010

Day 52 - The Thermals - "I Don't Believe You"

The Thermals don't knock every song out of the park, but when they do get a hold of one, they can create quite the adrenaline rush. Their new single, "I Don't Believe You" will make you happy you still care about music. It marries a perfect power pop riff to many glorious oh-oh-oh's, adds snotty lyrics to Hutch Harris' eternally teenage yelp, and tops it off with an exhilarating refrain that makes clear the belief defecit belonging to the ever-popular you.

Has anyone else noticed the vocal similarity bewtween The Thermal's Hutch Harris and the late, lamented Pooh Sticks' Hue Pooh?

The Pooh Sticks - "Young People"

"I Don't Believe You" will be available as a 7" single or digitial download (with b-side "There's Nothing You Can't Learn") on August 10th. Their new album, Personal Life, lands September 7th. Both on Kill Rock Stars.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Day 51 - Jason And The Scorchers

Jason And The Scorchers have no business making a record as good as Halcyon Times in 2010. Jason Ringenberg still sounds like an escaped nutjob from Deliverance with a heart as big as his ever-present cowboy hat. Warner Hodges is still one of the five best guitarists alive. And the record includes a made-in-alt-country-heaven Dan Baird collaboration on the classic country regret "When Did It Get So Easy (To Lie To Me)".

This record is steeped in unapologetic nostalgia for the good times, no regrets for the roads not taken and blasts off with the best opening song you'll hear all year, sporting the unwieldy title "Moonshine Guy/Releasing Celtic Prisoners" and featuring what may well be the Scorcher credo in this hard-to-top chorus:

"And he yells, and he roars
Loves the Stones, hates the Doors
Thinks the Beatles sing for girls
He's a moonshine guy in a six-pack world"

Why this band consistently fell through the cracks is an on-going mystery. Buy this record so they get to make another. And go see them before they go on permanent hiatus. Because there are only so many GREAT rock and roll bands, and this one will sweat on you and thrill you with amazing feats like Jason's rebel yell and Warner Hodges' oft-imitated, never better around-the-horn guitar flip.

Jason and The Scorchers - "Moonshine Guy/Releasing Celtic Prisoners"

Jason and The Scorchers - "Absolutely Sweet Marie" (from the Fervor EP, and without a doubt the greatest of all Dylan covers)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Day 50 - Seth Swirsky's Summer Rainbow

Seth Swirsky, half of the great Red Button, returns with Watercolor Day, a fragile pop song cycle bursting with great arrangements and melodies. Where the Red Button finds its inspiration in Beatle-y power pop, Watercolor Day oozes Brother-era Beach Boys and the ambitious orch-pop of the Zombies.

While some songs seem like lyric fragments, the gentle strum of "Watercolor Day" is bolstered by gentle pedal steel and a horn blast that wouldn't sound out of place on a Los Lobos jam. The "Summer In Her Hair" is what I'd hope The Shins aspire to - simple, direct songwriting that wafts through the speakers like a rainbow over a hammock. There is little to no negativity on these album except the odd plea of "Twenty Minutes to Myself" with its "I love the silence" refrain. The gorgeous "She's Doing Fine" sounds like it could have been the flip side of the Beach Boys "Caroline No" and the Nilsson tribute "(I Never Knew You) Harry" pays respect to an unsung inspiration (love the vocals on this one).

But what really stands out and elevates the album are the sterling arrangements - it's one of the finest produced albums I've heard all year. If you swoon to the Bacharach-David catalog, the Walker Brothers regal pop or just need a dose of west coast sun-splashed magic for you summer soundtrack, look no further than Seth Swirsky's Watercolor Day.

And keep an eye out for the second album by the Red Button, due in February 2011.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Day 49 - Two Cow Garage

The pride of Columbus, OH covers Bruce Springsteen - it's the sound of nicotine on concrete.

Two Cow Garage - "No Surrender"

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Day 48 - J Roddy Walston & The Business

Saw these guys at SXSW, and I remember thinking Jerry Lee Lewis fronting Lynyrd Skynyrd. So yeah... I dug them.

J Roddy Walston & The Business - Brave Man's Death