Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Of Montreal - She's My Best Friend (Velvet Underground cover)

Here's a cover that I feel is superior to the original. Of Montreal's interpretation of "She's My Best Friend" is so good that it feels as if the song was written for them. If you weren't aware of it being a cover, it wouldn't stand out from any other Of Montreal track (specifically those from Satanic Panic in the Attic) as the song's melody and lyrics aren't too different than what you'd expect by them. Yet of course the song was written by the Velvet Underground. Though the original is a good song, the added pep that Of Montreal put in just makes it. Lou Reed's vocals just come off as a bit bored and apathetic which clashes with the cheerful nature of the song.

Of Montreal - She's My Best Friend

The Velvet Underground - She's My Best Friend

"She's my best friend, certainly not the average girl
She's my best friend, understands me when I'm falling down
Oh, it hurts to be that way
Oh, it hurts to know that you're that kinda fellow
Here's to Newspaper Joe, dropped his teeth on the floor
Caught his hand in the door
Guess that's the way the news goes

If you want to see me
Sorry, but I 'm not around
If you want to be me
Turn around, I'm by the window where the light is"

Of Montreal's version is from a long out of print Velvet Underground tribute album entitled Rapid Chords 002 which also featured The Olivia Tremor Control, Jim O'Rourke and the Ladybug Transistor to name a few. The Velvet Underground's is from the VU compilation released in 1985 which containted the songs that were intented from the unreleased fourth Velvet Underground LP. Later several were re-recorded for Lou Reed's solo releases, the most well known being "Andy's Chest" from Transformer.

Of Montreal @ Polyvinyl
The Velvet Underground - VU @

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Luna - Indian Summer (Beat Happening cover)

Oh Dean Wareham, how can you pull off so many consistently awesome covers? Today's Dean arrangement comes not from Galaxie 500, yet Luna, one of the two bands Galaxie 500 merged into after their 1991 break-up. The original Beat Happening version of "Indian Summer" succeeds as a marvel in simplicity- there's Calvin Johnson's monotone delivery and somewhat bizarre stream-of-consciousness-esque lyrics mixed with a simple two chord progression (C to G) that's consistent throughtout. (Grab a guitar- this is a fun one to play.) Luna's version is similar enough to the original at the beginning yet when the accompanying background melody enters the song starts to come into its own. When the solo breaks out at 3:10, well... it's fucking awesome that's what it is. In other words Luna's version won't be as easy to play along to. For an emphesis, look at Dean's guitar rig.
Luna's version comes from their 1993 Slide EP which also contained a cover of the Velvet Underground's "Ride into the Sun" as well as three originals. It was also compiled on the two disc version of the Best of Luna collection that was released last year.
Beat Happening's is from their short (under 25 minutes) yet definitely sweet 1988 album Jamboree.

Luna - Indian Summer

Beat Happening - Indian Summer

"Motorbike to cemetery
Picnic on wild berries
French toast with molasses
Croquet and Baked Alaskas

We'll come back for Indian Summer
We'll come back for Indian Summer
We'll come back for Indian Summer
And go our seperate ways

Cover me with rain
Walk me down the lane
I'll drink from your drain
We will never change
No matter what they say"

Luna @
Beat Happening - Jamboree

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sufjan Stevens - Holy, Holy, Holy

I had such a busy weekend. Right after my classes ended on Friday we flew out to Ohio for the funeral. Though the length of the flight itself only totalled about an hour and a half due to layovers we didn't arrive at the house until around 9 PM. The service itself began the next day at 11. It was in a tiny yet pretty church and processed pretty well. There was one mishap at the beginning yet it was actually pretty funny: on the sheet that gave the agenda rather than putting down "Martha", my grandmothers' name they put down "Mary", my aunt's. They also mispelled the last name. You'd think in the case of a funeral they'd double check things. It was probably for the better though, as the laugh took off some of the heat early on. I wasn't sure how I was going to react during the service. Turns out I didn't cry, nor even feel the need to. Instead I just was solemn thoughout. I find that it takes a bit for things to hit me, and rather than being emotionally tocuhed at times that try to prompt those feelings, after time and reflection and establishing a personal connection to the situation I then begin to feel.

That night after all the guests came and left her house for the funeral's reception was when I was grabbed by it all. It began to feel as it was the end of an era- this house that I've vistited for 20 years of my life would soon be sold and a new family would call it their own. I realized that this would probably be my last time in it and all the memories over the years began to flood in. There's the laundry chute connecting the top floor and the basement that along with my cousins we'd toss various objects (never actually laundry) down. Then there's trying to memorize which of the main steps creaked to aid in late night sneaking, the front lawn where many fireflies were caught, the backyard where the neighbors' kids had (and they still stand) a Mickey mouse club house and a swing set that with their permission we'd use, the mystery of the attic, setting up a tripod and recording movies on the living room's main couch.. the house was a crucial part of so many memories. It was one thing that you could rely on to remain consistent over the years, something that in retrospect that provided a great deal of comfort every time we'd return. You'd walk in and be greeted with that instantly recognizable musk and you'd know where you were.

Today's song will be Sufjan's version of "Holy, Holy, Holy" a song which was performed at the service. His version is absolutely gorgeous. It's from Noel, his fifth Christmas EP recorded last year and was then complied with his four previous EPs on Songs for Christmas. I adore the collection and It's one that I don't reserve for just only November/December listening. Christmas all year round.

Sufjan Stevens - Holy, Holy, Holy

Sufjan Stevens - Songs for Christmas @

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Arcade Fire - Born on a Train (Magnetic Fields cover)

"Born on a Train." Fantastic song. The Arcade Fire open their cover of this Magnetic Fields song with a brief story that states the existance of this song is the reason why they signed to Merge records. Their interpretation is great- turning it from a low-fi snyth-pop jem to a a full band affair. Multiple drums, piano, accordian, you know the deal. The Arcade Fire version comes from the KCRW Morning Becomes Electric program from about a year ago.

The Arcade Fire - Born on a Train

The original version is from the Magnetic Fields' 1994 album The Charm of the Highway Strip, a very solid release, though it
pales in comparison to Holiday which they also released that year. Stephin Merritt is a songwriting machine. I feel as he's easily one of this generation's greatest songwriters. His consistency...I can't wrap my mind around how he can be so good.

The Magnetic Fields - Born on a Train

"Some roads are only seen at night.
Ghost roads, nothing but neon signs.
But some nights the neon gas gets free,
And turns into walking dead like me.

And I’ve been making promises I know I’ll never keep.
One of these days I’m gonna leave you in your sleep.
I’ll have to go when the whistle blows;
The whistle knows my name.
Baby, I was born on a train.

Well I know that you were never young--
And I know you probably won’t get old--
But honey nobody’s gonna hurt you anymore,
And nobody’s gonna make you want to die.

And I’ve been making promises I know I’ll never keep.
One of these days I’m gonna leave you in your sleep.
I’ll have to go when the whistle blows;
The whistle knows my name.
Baby, I was born on a train".

I’ll go some cold and gray morning,
And you won’t remember anything.
But some people don’t believe in dying,
And some of us don’t believe in life.

And I’ve been making promises I know I’ll never keep.
One of these days I’m gonna leave you in your sleep.
I’ll have to go when the whistle blows;
The whistle knows my name.
Baby, I was born on a train.

The Magnetic Fields - The Charm of the Highway Strip
The Arcade Fire @

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Jenny Lewis, Ben Gibbard, Conor Oberst and M. Ward - Handle with Care (Traveling Wilburys cover)

Today's cover comes from Jenny Lewis' solo release Rabbit Fur Coat, released just about a year and a month ago or the same day as Cat Power's The Greatest. Oh the connections continue! Well the shared release date from two of biggest female stars in the indie rock world brought on many comparisons between the two, especially with Lewis' release being much more folk and country tinged than her typically indie-pop released with Rilo Kiley. For the record Rabbit Fur Coat is my pick of the two, as The Greatest and was just too inconsistent for me. The title track, "Lived in Bars" and "Love and Communication" however are pretty fantastic songs.

Well on the J. Lew album for one of the tracks she pulled together an indie wet dream of a collaboration for a cover of the Travelling Wilburys song "Handle with Care." However for a background first on the the Travelling Wilburys, they were a short lived supergroup from the late 80's featuring Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lyne (Electric Light Orchestra.) All the musicians came together to record the track as a b-side to a George Harrison single. However after they completed the track and realized how great it was, they decided to form a band and record an entire record. The Orbinson's death in 1988 cut the life of the band's original incarnation short, yet they recorded another album in 1990 without Roy, using the monikers Boo Wilbury (Dylan), Clayton Wilbury (Lynne), Muddy Wilbury (Petty), Spike Wilbury (Harrison).

The Jenny Lewis version of the song has her singing George Harrison's part, Ben Gibbard singing Roy Orbinson's part , M.Ward doing Tom Petty's, and Conor Oberst taking on Bob Dylan's (doing a lot to supress all the comments about him being the"New Dylan).
Musically they're both pretty consistent, though on the Jenny Lewis version the drum's tempo is a bit faster.

Jenny Lewis feat. Ben Gibbard, M. Ward, and Conor Oberst - Handle With Care

The Traveling Willburys - Handle With Care

(Harrison/ Lewis)
Been beat up and battered 'round.
Been sent up and I've been shot down.
You're the best thing that I've ever found.
Handle me with care.

Reputation's changeable.
Situation's tolerable.
Baby you're adorable.
Handle me with care.

(Orbinson/ Gibbard)
I'm so tired of being lonely.
I still have some love to give.
Wont you show me that you really care.

Everybody's got somebody to lean on.
Put your body next to mine and dream on.

I've been fucked off and I've been fooled.
I've been robbed and ridiculed.
In day care centers and night schools.
Handle me with care.

Been stuck in airports, terrorized.
Sent to meetings hypnotized.
Overexposed, commercialized.
Handle me with care.

I've been uptight and made a mess.
I'd clean it up myself I guess.
Oh the sweet smell of success.
Handle me with care.

Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
The Traveling Willbury's - Vol. 1 @

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Cat Power - Bathysphere (Smog cover)

Back to the covers spree. I now realize that yesterday could have been a covers entry, as M.Ward did a "Sadie" cover. However though good, his version pales in comparision to hers which would have taken away from the emphesis of the entry being her song. With that I can connect all three of these last entries: first being that Dylan cover featuring M.Ward who also relates to Sadie by Joanna Newsom which then relates to Smog in this entry as she's currently dating Bill Callahan and also to Chan Marshall as both her and Joanna are friends and toured together a while back. Plus Chan also dated Bill Callahan. Small world. Lucky guy.

Ok, today's cover is Cat Power doing the Smog song "Bathysphere." I feel like a lot of people aren't even aware that it's a cover, as it's just jammed in the middle of What Would the Community Think with otherwise all original songs besides "Talking People." Her cover acts like a precursor to her style on the Writers Block, er, Covers Album involving stripping a song down to the barest foundations and slowing down the tempo. It consists solely of guitar, vocals and some electronic hoo-hah in the background. It's a good representative of her sound on What Would the Community Think, an album that I feel is much less accessible that her later releases, yet more rewarding after numerous listens.
Cat Power - Bathysphere

Here's the Smog version. It's amazing how different the two are. It comes from his 1995 album Wild Love.

Smog - Bathysphere

"When I was seven
I asked my mother
To trip me to the bay
And put me on a ship
And lower me down
Lower me out of here

Because when I was seven
I wanted to live in a bathysphere

Between coral
Silent eel
Silver swordfish
I can't really feel or dream down here

And if the water should cut my line
And if the water should cut my line
Set me free
And if the water should cut my line
Set me free, I don't mind
I'll be the lost sailor, my home is the sea

When I was seven
My father said to me
"But you can't swim"
And I've never dreamed of the sea again"

Joanna Newsom - Sadie

This won't be a cover entry, yet instead will be devoted to what is frankly one of the most amazing songs I have ever heard, "Sadie." I began this blog with a Joanna Newsom track and expressed my love for her music and everything she stands for. However I cannot begin to describe the abundance of feelings her music makes me experience. It's impossible to describe, but this following excerpt from TinyMixTapes summed it up better than I'd expect anyone to. I wish I was this articulate...

"Her songs are stories that evoke fairy-tale melancholy and become the warmest part of your being upon first listen; they are a woven tapestry of child-like candor and sagely wisdom. Using the harp strings to seemingly endless depth and fullness, her voice coos and croons with an unabashed child-like timber as endearing as the first butterfly of the spring. Her music is that which makes us call forth a part of ourselves, that we have long neglected, and for this it sounds familiar as a sister’s gentle sigh, but it is also a vehicle to render us breathless at the beauty inherent in musical honesty".

Sadie is such a beautifully composed piece of art that on occasion it's sincerity will cause me to break down into tears, especially when watching a video of it live. I have not yet had the pleasure for that experience in person, but on the fateful day when I do, I'm sure it'll be like a near religious experience. Her vocal performance just reaches out inside of you in what feels like an attempt to affirm that you are living and have the ability to emote and experience feeling. The song's quality lyrically is breaktaking, with so many degrees that I wasn't fully aware of until I read an interview with her about the song itself. In its most simple basis it acts as a memoriam for Joanna's much beloved dog Sadie, with the hindsight advocation for the need to acknowledge our mortality and not put off things we want to do the most. It implies that a dog shouldn't bury a bone for a rainy day- it's just a material object. It's something best to be enjoyed at the moment while you still can. The bone can be anything in your life you've ever put off, all the things you've wanted to do but feel that you have all the rest of your live to complete them. It's also the connectedness you have with others and your feelings towards them, how relationships we gain in life are such a significant bond that we should never underestimate. It'd be tragic to die leaving all these left behind unfulfilled. Love, any form of it is what holds everything together and unlike its beholder it lives on forever.

Joanna Newsom on the meaning of "Sadie":

"There are actually three stories; as with almost all of my songs, there’s this recurring triumvirate structure that imposes itself without my even realizing it at first. The three subjects are always connected, but often in merely intuitive or symbolic ways. In this particular song, the most straightforward subject is my then-dog, Sadie, who passed on recently. She was a lovely white Labrador who liked nothing more in the whole world than to play fetch. And I’ve always been impatient about that; I’d look at the soggy pinecone dropped at my feet while I was trying to get into my car, and I’d say, "I’ll play with you later."

The second subject of the song is a friend, my age, who was diagnosed with cancer. I remember marveling at the reaction of people around me, the way they sprung to action, finally articulated to her their love and appreciation, finally made those lunch dates they’d always talked about...and I sheepishly include myself in this phenomenon. It wasn’t disingenuous; it was just that our collective illusion, that we have forever to let someone know how loved she is, had been shattered.

The third subject is one of my most beloved friends, whom I’ve grown apart from. We had this sort of running argument, or a running series of disagreements founded on the same fundamental points of divergence, and if we had been close at that point, talking every day or whatnot, then those disagreements would have seemed like nothing. But because our correspondence had fallen behind, and we’d developed insecurities and bitterness, these disagreements became all-consuming; we fixated on them, let resentments build around them, let a silence build between us. And I remember just having my breath taken from me in one sickening moment when I paused one day to imagine what I’d do if this friend fell ill with cancer, like my other friend. I knew that I would fly to be with her, stay by her side forever if I had to, and revel in her extraordinary rarity, intelligence, kindness, forget all the shitty stupid petty small points of contention between us, because they were so insignificant in light of our own inevitable mortality".

Joanna Newsom - Sadie

Sadie, white coat
you carry me home
and bury this bone
and take this pine cone

bury this bone
to gnaw on it later, gnawing on the telephone
and 'til then we pray and suspend
the notion that these lives do never end

and all day long we talk about mercy
lead me to water, Lord, I sure am thirsty
down in the ditch where I nearly served you
up in the clouds where he almost heard you

and all that we built
and all that we breathed
and all that we spilt
or pulled up like weeds
is piled up in back
and it burns irrevocably
and we spoke up in turns
'til the silence crept over me

and bless you
and I deeply do
no longer resolute
oh when I call to you

but the water
got so cold
and you do lose
what you don't hold

this is an old song
these are old blues
and this is not my tune
but it's mine to use

and the seabirds
where the fear once grew
will flock with a fury
and they will bury
what'd come for you

and down where I darn with the milk-eyed mender
you and I and a love so tender
stretched on a hoop where I stitch this adage
bless our house and its heart so savage

and all that I want
and all that I need
and all that I've got
is scattered like seed
and all that I knew
is moving away from me
and all that I know
is blowing like tumbleweed

and the mealy worms
in the brine will burn
in a salty pyre
among the fauns and the ferns

and the love we hold
and the love we spurn
will never grow cold
only taciturn

and I'll tell you tomorrow
oh Sadie, go on home, now
and bless those who've sickened below
and bless us who have chosen so

and all that I've got
and all that I need
I tie in a knot
and I lay at your feet
and I have not forgot
but a silence crept over me

so dig up your bone
exhume your pinecone, Sadie

I'll end this packed entry with a live performance video of "Sadie." I love how the first line is met with such roaring applause and cheers that Joanna giggles through "white coat."

Monday, February 19, 2007

M. Ward, Conor Oberst and Jim James - Girl from the North Country (Bob Dylan cover)

This week or so I'm going to be doing a cover theme. I'll start it off with a particularly excellent one- Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, M. Ward, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket performing the Dylan classic "Girl from the North Country." It certainly takes on a different form with a slower tempo, strummed chords rather than finger picking and the addition of slide guitar (by presumably Mike Mogis). Each vocalist then gets their own verse, until the final one where all three join in together. It then cascades into such a finale that if you don't catch yourself, you may just find yourself applauding along.

M.Ward, Conor Oberst, and Jim James - Girl from the North Country

Here's the Dylan version, though you should already have it. If not nab it and pick up the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan immediately. For serious.

Bob Dylan - Girl from the North Country

"If you're travelling in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

If you go when the snowflakes storm
When the rivers freeze and summer ends
Please see she has a coat so warm
To keep her from the howling winds

Please see if her hair hangs long
If it rolls and flows all down her breast
Please see for me if her hair is hanging long
That's the way I remember her best"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sonic Youth - Do You Believe in Rapture?

What an amazing show. I was surprised how different the show was from the time I saw them before. This time Kim was into it much more than Thurston- the polar opposite of last time. She often came out to sing on the moniters, inches in front of me. One time she put her hand on my head for support and did a little dance, then ruffled my hair and got back on stage. That certainly was something.

Wooden Wand opened the show, who I enjoyed. They normally do a full band thing, yet for this show it was just wand himself and one girl from the band, Heidi it could have been. It was chilly during their set so someone in the audience threw up on stage a pair of those Hot Hands chemical warmers. Those things are fascinating- I haven't seen them in a long time though. Where do you buy them, ski stores?

Around 10 PM Sonic Youth took the stage and blew everyone away. Like last time they had a projection screen with constantly rotating background footage, yet it was entirely new. They opened with a few Rather Ripped tracks, playing maybe about half the album over the show. The best of the bunch live was "Do You Believe in Rapture?" which was also my favorite of the album. The song itself is sparser than most Sonic Youth tracks, with the main guitar line just being two harmonic chords and Kim's bass reduced to a thumping with her fist. It works to their advantage in an unconventional way, and it gave an hypnotizing effect live. For older tracks they played: "Shaking Hell" and "World Looks Red" from Confusion is Sex, "Candle" "Providence" and "Silver Rocket" from Daydream Nation, "Mote" from Goo, "Bull in the Heather" from Experimental Jet Set... and then "The Empty Page" from Murray Street. I was incredibly surprised for the inclusion songs from Confusion is Sex. Over the encore when Kim announced that the next song would be "Shaking Hell" the previously steadfast crowd transformed into a tidal wave that continued through the next and final song of the night "Silver Rocket." With an encore that great, I was content with being smushed. Well maybe not during the noise breakdown session, that was lame. No need for pushing during that.. The crowd was typically decent, though there's the typical lame hecklers. There's such things as setlists...they don't get changed. If you yell for "Sunday" once and they don't play it, what makes you think by the fourth time they will? Another thing that pissed me off was one girl who was trying to give Thurston a CD. She was successful, but how she did it was so low and inconsiderate- basically pushing up to the front and waving the disc in the air. Your band or band you're promoting most likely sucks and will not be the next Be Your Own Pet. Shut up.

So today's song will be "Do You Believe in Rapture?" from Sonic Youth's latest. Enjoy.

Sonic Youth - Do You Believe in Rapture?


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sonic Youth - Death Valley '69

Sonic Youth - Death Valley '69
Tonight I'm seeing Sonic Youth! I'm incredibly excited- I saw them once in 2004 and it still is one of the best shows I've ever been to. Today's song will thus be Sonic Youth, a track from a very underrated SY album, Bad Moon Rising, that happens to be one of my favorites of theirs. "Death Valley '69" is a rather creepy song, often rumored to be about Charles Manson. While it's a great song in itself, in the context of the album it takes on a different form with the preeceding tracks almost seeming to build up to it. Right when the song starts, it climaxes, and all the tension built up erupts. Lyndia Lunch is a guest vocalist on the song, with her voice taking on a sinister tone that Kim Deal's couldn't quite achieve. She appears in the song's video as well, which I feel is the best video Sonic Youth have ever made. It a great example of a low budget being an advantage in terms of achieving a gritty and horrific feel. How many videos do you see where the band members are lying dead in an abandoned house gouged open and bleeding profusely?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Modest Mouse - Missed the Boat + Dramamine

So yesterday the new Modest Mouse album leaked. I feel like I've been waiting forever for it, especially as how the initial release date was aimed for October 2006. Also I wasn't sure why I was so excited for it, epecially how their last album Good News for People Who Love Bad News was in my opinion a piece of crap apart from a few select tracks. So with the new album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank I was not only surprised that I didn't hate it, but I found myself really enjoying it. My personal favorite song from it after my first two listens is called "Missed the Boat," and if you'd choose one track to best represent Johnny Marr's influence on the new record, this would be the one. Say what you will about the Healers, Marr is kicking ass right here. While We Were Dead... is still of course not on part with Modest Mouse's masterpiece The Lonesome Crowdest West (a record that holds a firm place in my top 10 ever) I feel it's what Modest Mouse should be sounding like in 2007. I applaud them for not just rehashing their past material as well as taking a step back from the uninspired gloss of Bad News for People Who Love Good Music.

Modest Mouse - Missed the Boat

For a second mp3 I'm talking it back to the era of '96 - '97, Modest Mouse's prime. "Dramamine" opens their 1996 release This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About. It's a fantastic song protypical of the "classic" Modest Mouse- extended dueling guitar instrumentals, plenty of string bends, driving bass and drums, plus Issac Brock's irregular vocals and philosophical (mostly existentialist) lyrics.

Modest Mouse - Dramamine

"Travelling swallowing Dramamine
Feeling spaced breathing out listerine
I'd said what I'd said that I'd tell ya
And that you'd killed the better part of me
If you could just milk it for everything
I've said what I'd said and you know what I mean
But I still can't focus on anything
We kiss on the mouth but still cough down our sleeves

Issac Brock once said that the main reason he entered the music scene was to try and write an album as good as the Pixies' Doolittle. Impossible? Perhaps- but the Lonesome Crowded West certainly would stick it out for a few rounds. The Doolittle of the 90's though... I could support that claim.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Galaxie 500 - Listen, the Snow is Falling

I'm really loving all this snow. Though getting back on schedule after a day off always sucks a bit more than normal, it's definitely worth the exchange. A few more inches were supposed to accumulate over the night, but apart from a few flurries that didn't happen. There's still over a foot worth of the wonderous white stuff outside.

Today's entry is another winter celebratory one. Though I already did a Galaxie 500 entry a few days ago, Naomi, Galaxie's bassist does the vocals on this one. This is one of only 2 songs where she provided the lead vocals. It's a John Lennon/ Yoko Ono cover. The original song is kinda obscure although it was the b-side to the Happy Xmas (War is Over) single. As expected they turn that initially "okay" song into a complete behemoth of song- almost reaching an epic 8 minutes in length. Though technically the cover lasts for 2:45, since after there's a guitar explosion. It's incredible, of course.

Galaxie 500 - Listen, the Snow is Falling

The song comes from Galaxie 500's third and final release This is Our Music which also contains a superb cover of the Velvet Underground's Here She Comes Now.

Oh and February 15th- Happy Birthday to Conor Oberst. Though I'd presume he's less than happy with this current weather, preferring to rather get past this dead and eternal snow... :)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snowy Love

Oh what a glorious day for a snow day. I would have enjoyed it more if I had known classes were cancelled before I woke up, showered, and got dressed. Still I plopped back into bed and slept for another three hours. Lovely. The theme for today is snowy love, love songs with a winter theme. I just kept it to those with a winter reference and a love reference in the title to narrow down. Plus there's a third occasion today- the 15th anniversary of Weezer. I even incorporated that into the two previous themes.
First up is the Halo Benders, a side project between Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening and Doug Martsch of Built to Spill. As you can see from the quality of this image, they didn't exactly go for many promo shots. The song I'm uploading, Snowfall is from their first release God Don't Make No Junk. It's a superb song; a duet between the two where neither are even singing the same thing simultaneously. If you fell asleep while making snow angels in Seattle in 1994, this is what you'd dream. Before deadly frostbite.
The Halo Benders - Snowfall

Why don't you come around?

We'll set the fire and get snowbound
Share our snowboots
And make soft snowy sounds
Snow falling down/snow on the ground

Stars -
What the Snowman Learned about Love

I really love the title of this song, perhaps more than the song itself. It's not quite a full fledged song, as it just opens the album up, but it's very pretty. At the beginning each member states their name and that "this is my heart." Kinda cute, kinda sappy, kinda whatever. Torque. Hahaha.

"How the heart bends

And summer she sends
A sky that refuses to die

With weeds of the sea
That wrap 'round our knees
And a sun too hot to go down
You come around"

As a bonus here's the video for the Stars song, Your Ex-Lover is Dead. It's a better song than this one and the video has a great wintery feel, albiet ripping off the ice rink part of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. That scene was so good though that why wouldn't you want to see a video paying tribute to it?

Animal Collective - Winters Love

Oh Animal Collective. Sung Tungs. That's the album. Solid
album. This song is probably about doin' it. Kinky kinky animal the snow.
"She’s warm underneath my pocket
Just a calm and modern day
In early, early morning
Rush to her, and rush to him,
Am I a better person?
even in the whole take on
the loss is better said
I pulled the boy out of above
She made that boy a man"

Homie - Lover in the Snow

Rivers Cuomo. What do you know? My knowledge of Weezer history isn't as sharp as it used to be, perhaps because I no longer live in a world where Weezer, The Rentals and Ozma are the only bands of any importance. From what I can remember Homie was a Rivers side project formed somewhere in the late 90's. They were best known for the song American Girls which was on the soundtrack for some crappy movie. (I googled. It was Meet the Deedles. You got me.) Well the lyrics to this song are your typical Weezer, not as good as The World Has Turned and Left Me Here yet not quite as low as We Are All on Drugs. The song itself is decent enough. I can guarantee today is the first time in 5 years that I've listened to it. Regardless, Happy Birthday Weezer. I may just have to whip out Pinkerton later today.

"What does he do?
What does he do to you that's so nice?
And how does it feel
When he takes your hand and kisses it twice?
Lying with you
Down in the snow
Letting him do
All of the things that he wants to".

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Feelies - The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness + Fa Cé-La

The Feelies! Oh how awesome! Oh how
underappreciated! In my opinion they were one of the most creative bands in the post-punk era. Their first album released in 1980, Crazy Rhythms, of which i'm including two songs from is a concoction of post-punk, funk, and pre-R.E.M jangle pop (The Feelies were actually one of R.E.M's biggest early influences.) Additionally the album title is quite representative- with multiple percussion instruments used on each track, the rhythm section is indeed crazy. Crazy Rhythms made both Pitchfork's and Rolling Stone's top 100 albums of the 80's lists, yet still the love they get is minimal. In my opinion the album is just as great as the first three Talking Heads records. The two songs I chose were The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness, the album's opener and Fa Cé-La, the attempted single.

"It doesn't seem like he does anything
He never helps out in the yard
He lets his mother carry in groceries
Cause he doesn't plan to work too hard

The boy next door is into better things
As far as I can see
The boy next door is into bigger things
The boy next door is me, all right

"Break the silence with the screaming head
Everything is alright
Break the scream with a silent void
Everything is alright

Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Cé-La
Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Cé-La

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Field Mice - If You Need Someone + Emma's House

The Field Mice are so overlooked it's almost criminal. They were a great late 80's twee pop band whose sound significantly helped define the indie pop bands of today. They were doing in 1988 what countless indie popsters are doing now. Though I'll be channeling allmusic with this statement, they really were a stepping stone from the Smiths to Belle & Sebastian.

The two songs I selected here are from their 2-disc retrospective Where'd You Learn to Kiss That Way, a compilation so consistently excellent that it was difficult to choose what I'd post here. I managed to narrow it down to two.

The Field Mice - Emma's House

"Early morning by the harbour
the clouds above form one sheet that's grey
Early morning by the harbour
Where you are
Where you now are
You have nothing to live up to
You have nothing to live down
Emma's house is empty
so why do I call it Emma's house?"

The Field Mice - If You Need Someone

"If you need someone
to tell you
is gonna be all right
I can do that
I can do that
I can"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Olivia Tremor Control - Hideaway + Love Athena

Today's Indie Selection is from one of my personal favorite bands, The Olivia Tremor Control. The first song, Hideaway is in my opinion the best song they have ever recorded. It's a perfect pop song- gorgeous melody, wonderful harmonies, great chord progression, nice lyrics and it doesn't end too soon nor overstay its welcome. I'd like to think if it were released in 1968 it would have topped the charts and if Brian Wilson heard it he'd wish it were his own. The "So long seku, goodbye wren" part near the end gets me everytime.

The Olivia Tremor Control - Hideaway

"Don't hideaway, hideaway from your imagery
Don't hideaway, hideaway from all your daydreams
(or your nightmares)
What is to fear when surrounded in apathy
when putting down words is just like pulling teeth away

And I know some kind of rain will fall
but it can't rain everyday"

Second comes Love Athena, an overlooked early single by the band. It comes from the Singles & Beyond compilation, and presents the band with a sound that both production wise and stylistically is more similar to Guided by Voices and Yo La Tengo than their better known experimental post-psychedelia sound. Still, the song is as catchy as ever with a killer guitar line that grows more and more affecting with multiple listens.

The Olivia Tremor Control - Love Athena

"Shining like Athena
in a silver suit of armor
Her love is like a nail
and now I'll bring down the hammer
Sprouting like a flower on a hill top
is where I'll find her
Where I'll plant a seed and watch it grow
into the streaming light of love".

And lastly as a bonus is a custom best-of OTC mix CD I made. Not to blow my own horn or whatever, but I listen to this all the time and it really gives you a new perspective of the songs. Though how on the albums all the songs floating on from one to another is a trip (as in a ride), the experimental pieces sometimes slightly smother the bits of pure pop and how great the songwriting truly is. If you had to write an essay arguing that the Olivia Tremor Control wrote some of the best pop melodies since the british invasion this disc would put up a hell of a fight. You wouldn't have written an essay though, so probably your grade wouldn't be so hot, but c'mon..
The Best of the Olivia Tremor Control

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pere Ubu - Modern Dance + Life Stinks + The Final Solution

Continuing the trend with overlooked bands, Pere Ubu were a strange avant-garde proto-punk band that was surprisingly enough not from the UK, but Ohio.

Their sound can be most likened to a blend of Krautrock influence (Can, Neu!) with art-punk aesthetics. Vocally, Pere Ubu couldn't really be pinpointed anywhere, though Black Francis (Charles Thompson) of the Pixies was certainly influenced by David Thomas' irregular style, frequently fluctuating with intensity.

First two songs I'm posting are from their 1978 debut album, The Modern Dance. The band however had been in exisitance since 1975, initially releasing only singles. They're still making music today, and their lastest album was released last year. The last and final song I'm uploading is perhaps their most definitive track, and is certainly their most well known: The Final Solution, their second single initally released in 1976. Over the years it has been covered by Nine Inch Nails, Peter Murphy, and TV on the Radio, one time all three at once.

Pere Ubu - Modern Dance

"Eight fifty-five
down at the show
she leaves early
He'll never know
Cuz our poor boy
believes in chance
he'll never get the modern dance"

Pere Ubu - Life Stinks
"I need a drink
I can't think
I like the Kinks
Life stinks"

Pere Ubu -
The Final Solution
"Buy me a ticket to a sonic reduction
Guitars gonna sound like a nuclear destruction
Seems I'm a victim of natural selection
Meet me on the other side, another direction

Don't need a cure
Need a final solution"

Friday, February 9, 2007

Galaxie 500 - Ceremony (New Order cover)

Galaxie 500 - Ceremony

Galaxie 500. Brilliant band. I love them incredibly, yet they never got the public recognition they deserved. It's okay though in a way, as when a fantastic band somehow remains underrated, when you meet someone who loves the band you just know you'll have a connection. Or maybe it's that it doesn't matter when a band doesn't reach the ears of the general public. They haven't been a failure. What matters is that all the right people have heard and love the music.

So this song comes from Galaxie 500's second and best release On Fire. Though all the songs Galaxie 500 covered were great and imaginative interpretations, their version of New Order's/ Joy Division's Cememony is tops for me. They transform the post-punk classic from a gloomy yet assertive piece to a sprawling epic, complete with an extensive minute long guitar solo to conclude the track. Ian Curtis certainly isn't rolling over in his grave over this one. Fall Out Boy's Love Will Tear Us Apart cover on the other hand....

"This is why events unnerve me,
They find it all, a different story,
Notice whom for wheels are turning,
Turn again and turn towards this time,
All she ask's the strength to hold me,
Then again the same old story,
World will travel, oh so quickly,
Travel first and lean towards this time"

Ceremony Live:

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Smiths + Sugarcubes + Bright Eyes + Sufjan Stevens

Today I turn 20! I'm officially no longer a teenager- something that's both exciting and a bit frightening. Well, today's selections will be a quadruple threat- 4 songs with "birthday" in the title. Huzzah!

The Smiths - Unhappy Birthday

Rumer has it is that this is one of the most hated Smiths songs. Why I ask? It's kinda oddly charming to hear Morrissey wish me an unhappy birthday. But get this- if I die he'll be slightly sad but won't cry. How sweet. Same for you, you big gay.

Oh I kid. Morrissey's sexuality is like that of a tree.

"I've come to wish you an unhappy birthday
'Cause you're evil
And you lie

And if you should die
I may feel slightly sad
(But I won't cry)"

The Sugarcubes -

Next here's the Sugarcubes, that band Bjork
was in before she went solo. I don't know much about the Sugarcubes though besides this song is awesome, and they reunited for a festival in Iceland this year. Lyrically...yeah i'm not gonna even touch this one.

"Today is a birthday
They're smoking cigars
He's got a chain of flowers

And sows a bird in her knickers"

Bright Eyes - Happ
y Birthday to Me (Feb 15th)

Here's an old Bright Eyes track...I believe Conor wrote it when he was 15. Impressive Oberst, impressive.

"I guess that it's typical
To cling to memories you'll never get back again
And to sort through old photographs
Of a summer lon
g ago or a friend that you used to know
And there below
His frozen face
You wrote the name and that ancient date,
That ancient date
And you can't believe that he's really gone
When all that's left is a fucking song and
I'm sorry about the phone call; and waking you

I know that it is late
But thank you for talking, because I needed to-
Some things just can't wait"

Sufjan Stevens - Happy Birthday

Lastly here's a early Sufjan Stevens song. Certainly more lo-fi and sparse than the Sufjan of today. Still it's pretty good and definitely shows potential. Or showed potential. The dude wrote Illinois. Sha boi!

"I'm happy, I'm happy
Your birthday brings a pardoning
I'm happy, I'm happy
You're like a bird that will not be"

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Zombies - Brief Candles

Yesterday my grandmother passed away. I'm was inevitable and we knew it would happen in a matter of months, even weeks. She died peacefully during her sleep during an afternoon nap. What really got me was that the night before (actually the day of, technically) I had a dream with her in it. I was in this unfamiliar room.. red and maroon blankets we scattered about, covering the floor and draping over various objects and the lighting itself gave the room an ethereal feel. My grandmother was extremely happy and she looked as she did when I was younger, long before she was taken into the home and her voice was diminished to a hoarse whisper. A white dog was scampering along the floor- it wasn't acknowledged but I presume it was her old dog Sophie. Something bit me on the heel and she told me it was a new bird she bought. The bird, tiny and yellow then hopped out from behind a piece of cloth and I held it.

I woke up from the dream fearing something bad had happened, but as it was still 5 AM or so I went back to sleep. I was on the edge through a lot of the day, fearing my dream had been a sort of premonition. Around 5 PM when enough of the day had passed for me to become less paranoid, my Mom called and gave me the news. I was incredibly distracted for the rest of the night... a coincidence? But I rarely remember having dreams involving my grandmother. And there was much more symbolism in that dream versus that I normally have. Like maroon and red draping: like a funeral home and the satin in a casket? Then the otherworldly lighting, dead pet and yellow bird. I researched the yellow bird a bit and found that it is indeed a common dream symbol. "To see a yellow bird flying about is an omen of good luck in financial affairs but not so good in affairs of the heart. Should the bird land on you in a friendly manner this denotes some ill fortune will cast a pall over your life for a short time. To see this bird dead or sick then it foretells disaster in your affairs." A pall? It's noun definition is
1.a cloth, often of velvet, for spreading over a coffin, bier, or tomb.
2.a coffin

What's going on here?
Dreams... i feel there's more to them than we think.

Well now for the music, as this is generally a music blog. I wanted to use a song that would fit the situation yet wouldn't be sappy or greeting-card sentimental. I went with the Zombies.

"Brief candles in her mind

Bright and tiny gems of memory
Brief candles burn so fine
Leaves a light inside where she can see
What makes it all worthwhile
Her sadness makes her smile..."

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Sigur Rós - Samskeyti (untitled #3)

Yesterday was absolutely frigid. It simply hurt to even be outside. As much as I love winter I absolutely loathe wind chills. Well that said while I was walking around campus with my Ipod on I played Sigur Rós' ( ), the perfect music for the cold. When this particular track came on, as cliche as it may seem, it made me feel warmer.

Sigur Rós - Samskeyti (Untitled #3)

The song itself is a gorgeous instrumental piece (apart from a few vocal harmonies) involving a swirling piano line complemented with ambient keyboard and guitar textures. It may initially seem relatively uniform throughout, but multiple listens yield subtle changes from part to part. It's generally a song that you'd get lost in, completely losing track of time with your attention focused on how the song and your environment blend together as one. Around the 5 minute mark the piano heads up one octave for a breathtaking transition that then begins to slowly fade into silence. Wondrous.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Talking Heads - Lifetime Piling Up

Today's song is a somewhat obscure Talking Heads track that I absolutely love. I'd even say it's one of my favorite Talking Heads songs in general.

Talking Heads - Lifetime Piling Up

Oddly enough it never appeared on one of the Heads' eight studio albums and was additionally neglected on the recent Brick collection , filled with b-sides and outtakes. It initially appeared on Sand in the Vaseline, a retrospective released in 1992. It's beyond me why they don't make the song more readily available. I mean- it begins with David describing drug induced paranoia, the only Talking Heads I believe to do so. Or at least so bluntly. Zing!

"I can see my lifetime piling up
I can see the days turn into nights
I can see the people on the street
Open those windows up
A hundred floors below me
Pilin' those houses up
Pilin' them higher, higher, higher
I can feel them swayin' back and forth
Building it higher, higher
This tower's learning over"

Sunday, February 4, 2007

First Post! Joanna Newsom - Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie

Today I created this mp3 blog. I spent a good bit of time of a name but after a while I just went with my first intuition- Indie Selections For Your Erections. But no don't be deceived by the name- this blog is directed at both sexes. Besides..girls can get musical erections too. I use "erection" metaphorically. Anyways let me begin with my first mp3:

Joanna Newsom - Clam, Crab, Cockle Cowrie

Joanna Newsom is an artist that I've been absolutely head over heels for lately. Her latest album Ys was easily my favorite record of 2006 and I have spent an immense amount time with the album over the last few months. However this selected song was from her previous release, 2004's The Milk-Eyed Mender, also a spectacular album. It closed the record with a beautiful yet somber tone that resonates within you long after the song finishes. In my opinion under all the vivid imagery there's a general feeling of longing and hope for the love of another, yet the affection you feel is overlooked and unreturned. "Oh will you just look at me?"

"There are some mornings when the sky looks like a road
There are some dragons who were built to have and hold
And some machines are dropped from great heights lovingly
and some great bellies ache with many bumblebees
(and they sting so terribly)"

The thing I love most about Joanna's music is how she is able to capture the curiosity and intrigue that a child feels about their surroundings in her lyrics yet they're far from child-like. It's a very difficult balance to achieve yet she does it impeccably. Oh, I love her so.