Tuesday, August 31, 2010

See It Written On My Face

In an alternate, Too Poppy universe, you might hear Mark Bacino's latest album Queens English soundtracking the latest Meg Ryan-Nora Ephron rom-com or maybe the biggest animated hit of 2020: Toy Story NYC; chronicling Andy's post-college adventures in the big city and his burgeoning domestication as he hunts down his favorite plastic friends so his own kids can experience the magic. You might see Mark on the piano singing his newest single Happy surrounding by furry monsters on Sesame Street - a better fit than say Camp Elmo despite the title. Most excitingly in this wishful-thinking universe, we'd seen Mark open up for a reunited Jellyfish for a match made in Too Poppy heaven.

I'm not trying to be flippant about Mark's new album. I'm trying to convey the images and feelings it evokes through its sounds, lyrics, and infinite hooks. It's a love story (or better yet, a romantic comedy) to New York with a sonic accompaniment you'd expect from Harry Nilsson. It's a reflection of that inevitable jump from a carefree lifestyle of smoky clubs and debilitating hangovers to one of diapers, stability, and responsibility. It's playful and clever yet pensive and substantive. Mostly, it's respectful of its musical heritage with seemingly deliberate nods to Nilsson, Bacharach, Newman, and Costello while joyfully blazing its own modern path fearlessly void of hipster trappings.

Queens English is a record in its purest sense - 11 songs in 26 minutes - and it's a welcome relief from the format-less bloating we tend to see too often in a digital world. You know every second and every note is there for a specific purpose; a precision the purest pop fans can appreciate.

I'm late to the Mark Bacino party. Not only was Queens English released this spring, Mark has forged a strong fanbase with his previous, so-called bubblegum releases. So be it because I'm so happy to have bumped into him.

Amazon.com MP3

Standout tracks: Middle Town, Happy, Bridge & Tunnel

Official Site

Stop Pretending

It appears The Charlatans have a bit of an alternative radio hit on their hands. Love is Ending has debuted at number one on some alt charts a couple weeks in advance of the new full-length Who We Touch out September 14. It's the biggest, loudest song we've heard from The Charlatans in a while - a nice feat 20 years after their debut album Some Friendly was released. I'm geeked.

Album and tour details

The Times Had Already Changed

The Wilderness Downtown - an extraordinary new interactive video by Arcade Fire set to their tune We Used to Wait. It's extraordinary on several different levels. It uses the power of HTML5, Google Chrome, and Google Maps to deliver a visual experience unlike any other yet experienced in the post-Music Television world. It's gimmicky, but it's not a gimmick. Thematically the "video" fits the song and really the entire Arcade Fire album The Suburbs. Fantastic.

Close your other programs and open Chrome if you're not already using it (Firefox would likely work too). MTV be damned!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Waste the Boring Days Away

Pete Yorn offers another free track from his upcoming self-titled, Frank-Black-produced album (available 9/28). Take a stroll back to your childhood in your Velcro Shoes!

MP3: Pete Yorn - Velcro Shoes (via Spin.com)

I Don't Have to Sell My Soul

It seems appropriate on a day I wear my Dr. Martens I would happen to come across a video and MP3 of The Raveonettes covering The Stone Roses' I Wanna Be Adored. This very faithful cover version is in honor of the iconic footwear maker's 50th Anniversary. Enjoy.

MP3: The Raveonettes - I Wanna Be Adored (Stone Roses' cover, via Dr. Martens)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ignorance Can Leave an Awful Bruise

I never set out for Too Poppy to be a music review blog, but when something trips my trigger I feel the urge to share it. Here are just two I've neglected sharing for too long now with more coming soon!

Jeremy Messersmith - The Reluctant Graveyard
The stellar third album from the Minneapolis singer-songwriter. Definite Beatley / Brit Invasion vibe, particularly on the first few tracks, yet tempered with an edgy folksiness you might hear on a Jon Auer solo release. A macabre delight set to the cheeriest of tunage. 

Amazon.com MP3

Highest recommended tracks: Violet!, Dillinger Eyes, Lazy Bones

Official Site

The Big Bong FiascoGidgets Ga Ga - The Big Bong Fiasco
Chicago-based power pop trio - need I say more? As a music lover who spent my formative years in Chicagoland at the height of Material Issue's brilliance I must say more and to do so I will employ several Too Poppy approved adjectives: catchy, crunchy, rollicking! GGG delivers catchy three-minute gems filled with crunchy guitars that will leave you rollicking. I gotta believe they put on a helluva live show. This is a must listen for fans of The Replacements and even Nirvana who occasionally lust for pure pop amid the din. The album comes in a bit long at 18 songs and would have made an incredible 10-song, 30-minute album, but kudos for ambition, boys.

Amazon.com MP3

Highest recommended tracks: Lullaby, The Sorry Song, Baby You're a Star

Official Site

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Maybe It Comes From Where We Are

Fistful of Mercy is Joseph Arthur, Ben Harper & Dhani Harrison. Wow, what an embarrassing wealth of talent wrapped into one entity.

Fistful of Mercy from Fistful of Mercy on Vimeo.

Still can't get over how much Dhani looks like his pop.


Official Site

8/27 UPDATE via Rolling Stone

Monday, August 23, 2010

We Should Set It For Sometime Now

The Posies are touring with Brendan Benson in what is most certainly a match made in Too Poppy heaven!

Nov 5 Fri. Turner Hall Ballroom Milwaukee, WI
Nov 6 Sat. Bottom Lounge Chicago, IL
Nov 7, Sun Southgate House Newport, KY
Nov 9 Tues. The Majestic Theatre Detroit, MI
Nov 10 Wed. Outland Live Columbus, OH
Nov 11 Thu. Mr. Small's Theatre Millvale, PA
Nov 12 Fri. Water Street Music Hall Rochester, NY
Nov 13 Sat. The Highline Ballroom New York, NY
Nov 14 Sun. The Trocadero Theater Philadelphia, PA
Nov 16 Tues. Royale Boston, MA
Nov 17 Wed. 9:30 Club Washington, DC
Nov 18 Thu. Cat's Cradle Carrboro, NC
Nov 19 Fri. Exit/In Nashville, TN
Nov 20 Sat The Loft Atlanta, GA
Nov 21 Sun. Minglewood Hall Memphis, TN
Nov 24 Wed. Granada Theater Dallas, TX (No Brendan Benson)
Nov 26 Fri. La Zona Rosa Austin, TX
Nov 27 Sat. The Argentum Houston, TX
Dec 1 Wed. Gothic Theatre Englewood, CO
Dec 3 Fri. Club Nokia @ LA Live Los Angeles, CA
Dec 5 Sun. The Independent San Francisco, CA
Dec 8 Wed. Aladdin Theater Portland, OR
Dec 11 Sat. Showbox at the Market Seattle, WA
via Brooklyn Vegan

The Posies' Blood/Candy is out September 28.

Til The Next One There'll Be One More

Check out a new U2 song called Every Breaking Wave performed live in Helsinki a couple nights ago. The new album Songs of Ascent is somewhat of a companion album to No Line on the Horizon. It's still unclear when it'll be released.

Rolling Stone reports U2 is also working on a "rock album" and a "club-sounding" album in addition to Songs of Ascent and some Spider-Man musical nonsense.

U2 also announced today U2:DUALS, a collection of collaborations exclusive to subscribers to U2.com. Give 'em credit, they seem to deliver on the paid subscription for hard-core fans.

Like Looking at the Deep Night Sky

Stream Eels' new album Tomorrow Morning at TheirSpace until you can buy it - tomorrow morning!

Monday, August 16, 2010

And Their Window Gives Them The Prettiest Picture

Ben Folds' collaboration with author Nick Hornby is now available to pre-order in different versions: Standard, Vinyl, and Deluxe:
This special deluxe edition of Lonely Avenue includes the album on CD, four short stories by Nick Hornby, and 15 images by acclaimed photographer Joel Meyerowitz, all in a hardbound, 152-page book. Orders include downloads of the album as high-quality, 320-kbps MP3s starting release day. Pre-orders include an exclusive, limited-edition Folds/Hornby-penned manuscript score from the album track "Picture Window," a number of which will be signed by Ben and Nick.
Check out the preview video below. I'm liking what I'm hearing!

Lonely Avenue is out September 28.

Rock 'n' Roll Is Here to Stay

One of the greatest joys in life is "discovering" a band no matter how old or new. Do you remember the first time you heard The Beatles? How about Jellyfish? Two defining bands in my life and I remember vividly those first few moments of discovery.

The A.V. Club's Better Late Than Never? column documents such discoveries that arguably should have come much sooner in life. The latest is Big Star, a band I didn't discover until college when I realized virtually every band I loved called Big Star a primary musical influence. This author was turned on to them for tragic reasons, but gives us a glimpse into what it's like to discover.

I've listened to a lot of music through the years so discoveries of past greats are becoming rare. Thankfully my son is ripe for learning the ways of Too Poppy so I can live vicariously through his ears. Nothing is more amazing than seeing your 7-year-old's eyes light up while listening to the music you love on his iPod! I'm not sure he's up for Big Star quite yet, but he'll get there!

Living in the Sprawl

Man, talk about the dog days of summer. My absence from Too Poppy has less to do with being out of town for nearly a week and much more to do with generally being uninspired to write about anything - until now anyway.

The iPod is unexpectedly being dominated by Arcade Fire's The Suburbs this month. I say it's unexpected because this is my third attempt at trying them out and the first time it's stuck. Previously I've just found them to be over-hyped and too pretentious. It's not that they're no longer over-hyped (they do have the #1 album after all) or pretentious, but the power of the music and subject matter breaks through on The Suburbs.

It is an investment at first. Although there are catchy tunes scattered throughout the diatribes on the suburban life, we're not talking three-minute perfect pop gems. Listen closely and repeatedly though and it'll catch. Oh, it'll catch. Modern Man is a great example. Try to shake it after the second or third listen.

The Suburbs times out at 60 minutes plus. In the age of the digital single this is a heavy ask for the casual listener. But as much as The Suburbs is a soundtrack for the suburban coming-of-age story, it is also an entirely convincing argument for the on-going relevance of the album as an art form. The Suburbs is best listened to in its entirety. The superb Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) is a stunner in its own right (finding its groove somewhere between Blondie and The Sugarcubes while even teetering unashamedly into Abbaland), but as the musical and thematic climax of the album, it transcends to glory. There have been few goosebump moments like this in recent years so when we have them we should exploit them. Over and over again.

You've likely read up on Arcade Fire and maybe you're even a hardcore fan. This is the first time though they've found a place in the Too Poppy universe. Let's enjoy.

Amazon.com MP3

Friday, August 06, 2010

I'm Feeling So Upset

Well not that this is a shock to anyone, but Yoko Ono is the holdout on the Beatles' digital distribution.  "We are holding out," Yoko Ono, told Reuters Thursday. "Steve Jobs has his own idea and he's a brilliant guy. There's just an element that we're not very happy about, as people."

She further told people to not "hold their breath" for anything.  I wonder what the story is on the element she's not happy about.  You've got to believe Steve Jobs is pitching something really different and innovative around a digital launch of the Beatles' music.

I have the recently released boxed sets so a digital release for me is about letting the younger generations discover their music.  It will happen eventually.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

And His Hunger Burns

Weezer releases their new album Hurley on September 14. Haven't heard much about it until now...

Hurley will focus on the melodies and major chords of traditional '60s pop. In addition to the planned first single "Memories," other new tracks include "Ruling Me" and "Hang On," another pop-rock track that "sounds like Frankie Valli but mixed with Metallica guitars."
Love the sound of all that. Love the old Weezer and the occasional new flash of brilliance, but this has Too Poppy potential all over it!

I'm Feeling So Old, So Old

Chills! The first tune from The Posies' upcoming Blood/Candy has emerged courtesy of Spin and it is epic.
"Licenses to Hide" is emblematic of the new album's adventurous attitude, with a dizzying amalgamation of parts, not unlike a piece of musical theater. After opening with a somber, piano-led musing, where Stringfellow delivers a line about "feeling so old" backed by the Posies' trademark, chill-inducing harmonies (with an assist from Broken Social Scene's Lisa Lobsinger), the track veers into both '70s arena rock (think Styx, in a very complimentary way) and a Billy Joel-like, storyteller-style chorus.
Hmm, Styx? Billy Joel? How about Jellyfish?! Seems to have a totally different sound than what you'd expect from The Posies, but really, it's not that far off. Now I'm very excited about Blood/Candy - out September 28.

Stream it only at Spin.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Not Everyone Can Carry the Weight of the World

The Posies' Ken Stringfellow has heard R.E.M.'s new album and calls it "very old school."

"It had a very live feel. It's really quite beautiful, some of the recordings were a little bit dark and had just the kind of murk that you would hear on an old REM record. I thought that was a great thing to bring back." via NME
Accelerate seemed to be somewhat of a throwback as well but it just never stuck. We'll see about the new one!


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

You Can Feel It Now

Guster wants us to get psyched about the new album Easy Wonderful out October 5. Guster has already given - yes, given - us one new, awesome tune: Bad, Bad World. Guster is now offering the first official single from the album: Do You Love Me?

Guster has me psyched. Me gusta Guster.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Memory of Late Nights

Squeeze has taken a cue right from the pages of Highlights Magazine for their newest album Spot the Difference due out tomorrow. Yes, the band is asking you to spot the difference between these new recordings and their classic, original counterparts. I think the point is to prove to the masses that they've still got it and I'll give them points for creativity, but this collection seems to be for the hard-core fans only. How about a greatest hits package instead?

Their North American tour has pretty much come and gone. It would've been a blast to see them with Cheap Trick or The English Beat. Let's hope this is the start of another phase of their glorious career.

Amazon.com MP3