Monday, August 31, 2009

Dreaming of Oceans and Pink Lemonade

Liam Finn - Champagne in SeashellsLiam Finn's new EP collaboration with Eliza-Jane called Champagne in Seashells is officially released tomorrow. You can download the single Plane Crash right now - it's invigorating! Check out the BBC review here. This is the follow-up to his acclaimed but seemingly forgotten debut I'll Be Lightning. Ok, forgotten by me - I haven't given it much of a listen since first acquiring it.

Good genes though.

Fellow Iowans, note that Liam is opening for Wilco at the Oct 1 show in Iowa City. That just might get me there!

Come Trip on a Stereo Song

It's a curious holdover from the music industry's past that we still call best-of compilations "greatest hits." The tunes included on the new greatest hits compilation from Apples in Stereo could hardly be called hits by traditional standards, yet here we are with the cheekily-titled #1 Hits Explosion - out tomorrow. Methinks the band understands the irony.

Regardless, this is probably the right dose for casual fans of the group, or at least a manageable introduction. All Music Guide says "the collection focuses mostly on the ultra-hooky, power pop-influenced side of the band." If that doesn't scream Too Poppy I don't know what else does.


By the way, if you sign up for their official mailing list you'll get a free MP3! Who doesn't love free? Go here.

The Clarity is Chilling

This is not indicative of my mood or in any way explanatory of my absence this past week - and it most definitely is not an endorsement of the general idea - but the AV Club has put together a provocative list of suicide songs and it's too good not to share. Matthew Sweet's Someone to Pull the Trigger should probably be added to the list, but you'd expect that from me.

Sometimes pain begets beautiful art.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Make it easy, Take your time

Check out this video from Grizzly Bear for Two Weeks. Not only is the song great, the video is great. I don't think I've seen a good music video in at least a decade. The interesting thing about this video is it's fan made. Yep, you heard that right - a fan, Gabe Askew, put this together. Incredible. Enjoy.

Interview with Gabe about the video
Two Weeks on iTunes
Grizzly Bear on iTunes
Their website

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Wonder of Wonders

Tim Christensen - SuperiorA simple Twitter request garnered one response, but it was a doozy! A couple weeks ago I tweeted for any new music recommendations for an upcoming road trip. The one and only Brandon Schott replied I should pick up Tim Christensen's Superior. Who? What? Ok.

Hands down this is the best album I've heard yet this year. It is remarkably free of the trappings of any certain genre or era. Christensen fearlessly takes on power pop, folk, rock, pop and transcends his singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist label. In other words, it is absolutely timeless.

With such deliberate attention to melody, instruments, lyrics, and album flow, and with a simple voice that is both appealing and interesting, comparisons to the likes of Michael Penn are all too easy. Mike Viola's appearance on the title track is also not lost on someone who is casually obsessed with pop music. And naturally I'm not surprised that Brandon Schott is a fan. But after listening to the album several times through, I can't help but think Superior reaches as high as the Finnosphere, where Mr. Crowded House himself must smile with approval. In other words, Superior leaves me feeling as satisfied as I do after spending quality time with the House's high-water mark Woodface. Yes indeed, it is that good.

The pop blast of Hard to Make You Mine and the sentimentality of Wonder of Wonders anchors the spectrum of quality and variety in this one album, but I have become extremely partial to the haunting India. When you experience a deep visceral response to an album you know you're dealing with something extraordinary.

Superior is extraordinary.

That's All I Want

You want to download a cover of the Split Enz classic I Got You by the Connells? Of course you do.

MP3: The Connells - I Got You (Split Enz cover via Retro Music Snob)

I Wanna Live a Life From a New Perspective

Panic! at the Disco - New PerspectiveSo of course by now we all know Panic! at the Disco has not broken up, they've just been downsized. Read about the survivors here and check out their new single New Perspective from the Jennifer's Body soundtrack here. It sounds like it's balancing on that very tricky see-saw between Rooney and Third Eye Blind. I haven't decided which way it will ultimately fall, but let's just say one way is good and the other isn't.

MP3: Panic! at the Disco - New Perspective (via !Viva! La Mainstream)

Download via iTunes

The Slayer T-shirt Fit the Scene Just Right

Weezer - (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You ToBack in high school - don't you love posts that start this way?

Anyway, back in high school I lunched with a guy with a righteous mullet - even righteouser than mine - who always wore ridiculous metal shirts. My favorite was one that sported the advice: "Cop a vicious raditude!" I enjoyed how nonsensical and contrived it seemed. My buddy never heard the end of it until we parted ways at graduation.

Now we all know Rivers Cuomo is a bit of a metal guy so I can't help but wonder if he has been inspired by said shirt, especially given the lyrics to the first single (hear below and note the title of this post). The new Weezer album will be called Raditude.

"The sound of "Raditude" is fun, high energy pop rock," Cuomo tells
Fine with me. I'll give it a shot. There's something cool about the shared experience of being aware of what might be the very same t-shirt. But let's be honest - I mostly stopped paying attention to the band after the green album, although admittedly the blue album is a 90s classic.

Raditude is due out October 27. Cop your own vicious raditude by previewing the first single from the album - Stereogum has the new tune with a mouthful of a title: (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To. It's a promising piece of power pop.

One More for the Listmakers

Around election time last year Michael Penn made available a tune call The Count of Pennsylvania. It's a twofer - free and political. Here you go...

MP3: Michael Penn - The Count of Pennsylvania (via A Rubber Door)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In The Town Where I Was Born

Wow, Robert Zemeckis in a remake of Yellow Submarine? Normally I'd say don't mess with it, but if there is anyone that might be able to pull it off, it would be Zemeckis. Will definitely be interesting to watch. Variety has the details.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hear the Bells Ring Again

R.E.M. Live at the OlympiaR.E.M. is releasing a new live album October 26. Live at the Olympia was recorded in 2007 - uh - at the Olympia in Ireland when the band was rehearsing new tunes for what would become Accelerate, a great album upon first listen that unfortunately decelerated out of my consciousness soon thereafter.

In addition to the new material, the band also served up twenty-nine other songs, many of them rarely if ever played, culled mainly from the band's storied IRS years, ranging from the 1982 e.p. Chronic Town to 1983's Murmur up through 1988's Document.
DVD deluxe set will also be available for you hardcore fans - hardcore R.E.M. fans that is - I don't think hardcore music fans would be too interested. Perhaps. Maybe I underestimate the variety you seek in music. Ok. Moving on.

Stream Driver 8 live here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

These Are My Twisted Words

Radiohead - These Are My Twisted WordsRumors are often based on truth or at least some bit of truth. This is the case with the Radiohead rumor from last week. They have indeed announced the release of new music today, albeit not an EP. These Are My Twisted Words has been officially released via Radiohead's official site and can be downloaded free of charge! Only one song, but it's free. Enjoy.

MP3: Radiohead - These Are My Twisted Words (zip or torrent)

via Billboard and Pitchfork. Thanks, JBro.

It's Driving Me Mad

The Beatles - RemasteredIncredible details about the upcoming Beatles' remastered CDs have emerged:

Bruce Spizer said, "These new CDs sound significantly better than what was first mastered 22 years ago. You will notice the difference. And, if you think about it, re-buying the same albums is something we, as Beatles fans, have been doing all our lives. I bought the albums when they came out in the sixties. I re-bought many of the albums in the early seventies because I had worn out my old copies from excessive play. Many fans re-bought the albums in the cassette and eight-track format. In less than 20 years, many fans had purchased the albums three to four times. Now, for the first time in 22 years, it's time to re-buy these albums again. And remember, you will be getting enhancements beyond dramatically improved sound, such as better packaging."

Mr. Spizer, who has heard the actual remasters, added, "I was impressed with how great everything sounded. Of course I expected the remasters to sound better the releases from 22 years ago, but they exceeded my expectations. The engineers at Abbey Road captured the spirit of the original recordings. They resisted the temptation to drastically boost the bass to make it sound more contemporary. There is none of the harshness and muddiness that was often found on CDs mastered in the eighties. The vocals and instruments have stunning clarity. You'll hear details in the music that you've never heard before. The remasters provide a fabulous listening experience."
Can't wait. Read all the nitty gritty here. Pre-order here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Let It Burn Through You

Brandon Schott - DandelionThe first review for Brandon Schott's upcoming Dandelion has hit the web via Clicks and Pops:

His new album Dandelion (coming on September 29, 2009) is a rare collection of 13 gorgeous, hopeful, piano-based pop songs shimmering with melodic hooks and heartfelt vocals. The music is spiritual but inviting, clever but not self-conscious, hopeful without being sappy, and melancholy but uplifting. These are the kind of songs that remind you of the simple power and glory of music.
Wow. Nicely said. Can't wait to get my grubby paws on it! Fire Season is phenomenal and available for your streaming pleasure at HisSpace.

Don't forget to check out the latest Homegrown Recording here!

One More Stop To Go

David Mead's new album Almost and Always was released last year via NoiseTrade, but now it's getting a more conventional indie release on 8/25. NPR is previewing the lovely tune Last Train Home...

When Are You Coming Back?

Radiohead may have a new EP called Wall of Ice coming out as early as Monday. Plenty of leaks lately and In Rainbows showed up out of nowhere so you should come to expect the unexpected from them.

Waking Up With Urine in Your Bed

Modern Skirts are working on a new album and here are the latest notes from their most recent recording session:

American Gothic - The solo in the middle is air horns and bees

Man of the Cloth - About a DUI; the live version requires we all play drums

Bumper Car - 80’s coke rock; “Dictionary good, really good”

Sudafed - “Sunday morning, waking up with urine in your bed”

Hot Nights - Smells like Copenhagen and White Rain; maybe a hint of Drakkar Noir

Waco, TX - Sexy love song about two people who grew up in the Branch Dividian compound

Happy 81 - “Old bones hug old bones, forgive, let’s take a bubble bath”

Tape Deck - Old style Skirts harmonies drizzled over electric thrusting, like pouring caramel syrup over a jackhammer set on low-n-slow

Ship Shape - “Party girl can party”

Jane Child - Love song to an 80’s one hit wonder

Hitler on Wheels - A bad man contemplates bad things

Bridges and Overpasses - King of the hobos leads a chorus of his minions; it’s good to be king

2.5 Kids - There's no such thing as ordinary people; just ask Jesus when he gets to the party

Glass of Water - It hurts in the 21st century; it hurts just this way
Man, I really hope some of these make the cut! No release date set. Download Modern Skirts via iTunes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Still See You As You Are

Works Progress AdministrationGood news for Toad the Wet Sprocket fans like me. Sure, they've been touring but unfortunately no new music from the band. Nonetheless, Glen Phillips keeps his prolific career moving with Works Progress Administration, a new fairly super group of known commodities:

Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek)

Luke Bulla (Lyle Lovett, Ricky Skaggs)

Greg Leisz (Joni Mitchell, Bill Frizell)

Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)

Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello & The Imposters)

Davey Faragher (Elvis Costello & The Imposters)

Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek)
You wouldn't be wrong in expecting a folksy twinge to the tunes. The self-titled effort will be in stores September 15. Love the artwork. Preview three tunes below.
<a href="">Always Have My Love by Works Progress Administration</a>

You Don't Relate to Me

The first video documenting Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johannson's collaborative musical effort is for the tune Relator and you can see it below if Yahoo! Music cooperates for a change. Both artists are sitting on a bed singing, but it's hardly seductive. It is in black and white, though. Arty.

The album is out September 15 and you can pre-order it from

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

R.I.P. Guitar legend and music inventor Les Paul (shown here with Sir Paul McCartney). He died today at the ripe age of 94. In addition to earning 36 gold records and 11 number one hits, he is known for his guitar and many other inventions.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Brandon Schott - Homegrown Recordings Vol. 7Brandon Schott - Homegrown Recordings
Vol. 7 - Be My Downfall

This one makes me extremely happy. Little did Brandon know how important Del Amitri's Change Everything is to me. It is one of the core albums in the soundtrack of my life and Be My Downfall represents a very specific relationship that would fulfill my life in all the best ways. Sure, that experience may not necessarily gel lyrically with the song, but music is complicated. Well done, Brandon. Well done.

"Hey everyone! Hope you are all having a wonderful wonderful summer, keeping cool and taking time to enjoy the sun! This month's mp3 is a live in the studio version of Del Amitri's "BE MY DOWNFALL" performed on baritone ukulele during the summer of 2006. Hope you enjoy! And be sure to check out this month's Homegrown Video performance of "PAPER WINGS" as well - featuring a special double surprise instrumental turn at around the 2:10 mark! :) Until our paths cross again, be well, take care of each other and have a beautiful and inspired rest of your summer. Much love...B"
MP3: Brandon Schott - Be My Downfall
Video: Brandon Schott - Paper Wings

New album DANDELION out September 29.

All of Brandon Schott's singles and albums via iTunes
Brandon Schott - RELEASE (2003) via iTunes, Not Lame, CD Baby
Brandon Schott - Golden State (2007) via iTunes, Not Lame

Brandon Schott MySpace
Brandon Schott Official Site


I Think You're Just So Pleasant

To promote their new flick (500) Days of Summer, Zooey Deschanel (of She & Him) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (of, uh, 3rd Rock from the Sun) filmed a fantastical new video of the She & Him tune Why Do You Let Me Stay Here.

Cutesy, but I like the original better. Flick has been getting good reviews - looking forward to seeing it myself.

Everything Has a Name

The Ghost of a Saber Toothed TigerAnd so it goes Sean Lennon's new band shall be deemed The Ghost of a Saber Toothed Tiger.

In the immortal tone of brother Way2Poppy, "ohhhhh kaaay."

Album comes out on Sean and Yoko's new label Chimera later this year. You can hear a tune at the official Chimera site and read more about The GOASTT here. Sounds pleasant enough as Sean often does. Not much meat there, though. Also, The GOASTT is playing LA tomorrow night:

August 13th 2009
Los Angeles, CA. The Largo
Tickets $25

Turn to Find Our Destiny

Dan Wilson is headed home to Minneapolis for a special week of intimate shows in September.

September 22 - Bryant Lake Bowl

September 23 - 318 Cafe

September 24 - Acadia Cafe

September 25 -26 Dakota

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Feel Like Taking You Home

Brendan Benson - My Old, Familiar FriendBrendan Benson didn't get deserved exposure much until he teamed up with Jack White in the Raconteurs. Something about the project didn't quite click for me and I was unimpressed with their performance last year at Lollapalooza - I wanted to like them much more than I did. Being a fan of Benson's earlier solo work, I knew there was much more to him than that.

Enter his new solo album My Old, Familiar Friend, officially released August 18. Thanks to online music hotspot NPR, you can stream the whole thing now!

UPDATE: Pre-order the album from and as always they'll throw in an autographed booklet.

If We Must Start Again

Rumors about a "new" Beatles tune are starting to surface again. Two and a half years ago, we reported on the story of Now and Then, formerly known as I Don't Want to Lose You. It was another Lennon demo considered for release with Free As a Bird and Real Love when the Anthology series came out. The story was that the living Beatles couldn't really get it quite right so they abandoned efforts. Cynical minds may blame the tepid reception of the two other "new" Beatles tunes, which I enjoyed nonetheless. Who knows for sure.

Evidently McCartney won't let this one drop. is suggesting it is quite ready for release. No one can definitively confirm it so my hopes aren't high. Unless they're looking to overshadow each on its own merits, it certainly won't come out in time to compete with the CD reissues and Rockband. Stranger things have happened in the business of the Beatles, though.

Thanks, My hmphs. He also shared this fan-created version of Now and Then to get a sense of what it may sound like. Upon first listen it makes me think someone asked the Flaming Lips to record a fictional Beatles tune. Me likey.

Monday, August 03, 2009

I Will Study What Is Real

A beautiful band name. A beautiful band. Two beautiful men, in balance with each other. Savage flowers of masculinity.
So goes the Facebook introduction of The Twilight Hours.The Twilight Hours - Dreams from Stereo Night
They are John Munson and Matt Wilson of Minneapolis.
Better. That's helpful and quite worthy of my attention.
They are the world’s foremost connoisseurs, students and historians of their own music.

The Twilight Hours is a must listen for any fan of Trip Shakespeare, Semisonic, or Bread (again information from Facebook). You can officially download Dreams via Amazon or iTunes; or listen to Forget Me Now and Stay With Me at their official site. These are songs seemingly from their album Stereo Night, but an official release date remains elusive. A certain friend of mine who shall remain nameless but was once infested with ringworm tells me September, but I'm a journalist at heart and wouldn't feel right reporting that as definitive without a second source. Let's hope, though, because I'd love to hear the rest!

Thanks, Sexy S!

UPDATE: Said ringworm friend has shared the following with me, allegedly from Mr. Munson's Facebook status:
John Munson The Twilight Hours, continuing in their FACEBOOK ONLY publicity campaign, want to announce they are playing The 400 BAR Friday night July 31! That's it til the big record release Sept. 18th at The Cedar.
I will leave you to come to your own conclusions.

Add Up the Sum of the Slights

The Posies were recently featured on NPR about how they make money.

Help them out by helping yourself out by downloading their stellar tunes.

Thanks, @fatelions!