October 30, 2008

Fairport Convention//Tam Lin, Crazy Man Michael

A little off-topic SSP, Palmyra got a really nice review on The Odd Notes yesterday. Can I in good conscience tell you to check it out? Not sure. But I am, anyway.

Moving on, to shift gears a little (Punk: no, British: yes), here’s a band I really loved when I was in middle school, in part to my dad’s influence (Leif and Liege is one of those albums I plan to steal from my parent’s basement, as soon as they’re not looking), and that I still somehow love now. Also, it’s Mischief Night, so let’s get back to our weird pagan roots with a couple of songs (yep—today’s a two-fer. I’m taking tomorrow off from the internets to prep for my Halloween party) from Fairport Convention.

Fairport Convention is a weird happening, because their sound combines elements of folk (almost all the songs they play are old English folk songs that tell amazing stories), psychedelia (twas the time for trippiness) and what I think is really proto-heavy metal (do you hear that chord prog in “Tam Lin”?!). Combined with the skillful arrangement and instrumentation of the band members (including Richard Thompson) and Sandy Denny’s totally killer voice, this style is overwhelmingly original.

Tam Lin.mp3

Crazy Man Michael.mp3

Mp3s down by request.

Also, I can’t help but note that bands like previous OSS feature White Magic owe a lot to bands like Fairport, and others of this time and style, including Pentangle.

But tonight is Hallowe'en,
And the faery folk ride.

Get your costume on! Send me pictures! Furthermore, will I really pull Morrissey off? Yet to be seen.

October 29, 2008

Gang of Four//I Found That Essence Rare

Like the economy, I’m feeling a little punky this week—like I’m in the mood to thrash around my apartment yelling poorly enunciated “lyrics.”
Yes, I was doing this last night to “Beer For Breakfast” on repeat. No, I am not ashamed.

Enter Gang of Four, a 70s British post punk group that lifted their name from a leftist political faction composed of four Chinese Communist party officials.

This song, stripped down as the sound is, delivers big post-punk edge with cynical post-punk lyrics. GOF was heavily influenced by Television, so you can tell why I’m into it. Entertainment, the album from which this song comes, is consistently named essential in critical music circles.

I first heard this song when I was living in London. Getting back to that context thing, it made perfect sense with the grey depressing weather and the somewhat downtrodden angst of everyone I met.

I Found That Essence Rare.mp3

Feel the Wednesday? Feeling that 70s malaise?
Hopefully the current financial crisis will spur a musical movement as weird and angry as punk. Fingers crossed. But it’s not like I care or anything.

The worst thing in 1954 was the bikini!
See the girl on the TV dressed in a bikini!
She doesn’t think so, but she’s dressed for the H bomb!
Look at the world through your Polaroid glasses!
Things don’t look a whole lot better for the working classes!

October 28, 2008

The Replacements//Beer for Breakfast

Can you believe that I just started listening to the replacements like…a week ago!? WHY!? They’re so good!

Here’s why: I read this book called Petal Pusher, who is incidentally by Laurie Lindeen, now wife of Paul Westerberg, then founder of Zuzu’s Petals. Anyway, I wanted to like this book, but I didn’t. I wanted to like Laurie’s band, but I didn’t really (they’re not too bad, just not exactly my cup’a). The positive outcome of this situation is that I was moved to check out some Minneapolis music (the early 90s Minneapolis scene probably could be its own character in the book) and turns out, it’s great! Let me tell you, Minn-e-apolis! I barely even knew where Minnesota was for all of my childhood existence and much of my adult life.

Anyway, I got some Replacements and I’m totally into it. They seem like a band I should have started loving roughly 9 years ago. And Paul Westerberg IS totally cute. Yeah, he is.

Bonus: all I want to do IS drink beer for breakfast!!! But I could take or leave the BBQ chips.
Bonus Bonus: Wikipedia tells me that actress Wynona Ryder was a big fan of The Replacements and that in Heathers, she supposedly convinced the director to name the high school "Westerberg High" after Paul Westerberg. Funny, because when I first started reading about them, that’s immediately what came to mind. But we all know how I love Heathers!!!

Beer for Breakfast.mp3

Baby boy’s fine!
Baby boy’s drunk!

October 27, 2008

Ladytron//Ghosts [Modwheelmood Remix]

I heard this song on Sirius on the way to work last week and was confused, since it seemed to me at the time that there was no way it could actually be Ladytron, despite what the little digital readout said. The lyrics were too good; the arrangement too sparse.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a torrid love affair with Ladytron when I was about 18. But this was the stuff of drugged-out Eurotrashy 80s nightclubs; big electro beats with vapid lyrics about being too old to have a successful modeling career—lyrics that sounded like they were rooted in ESL, whether they were or not. Both 604 and Light and Magic had the air of pleasure, but it was definitely a little guilty.

I realized that part of the reason this song is genuinely so good is that the production and arrangement styles have shifted from the original effort as a result of a remix by Modwheelmood, an outfit with ties to Nine Inch Nails and Abandoned Pools. This version is more spacious, with wider sounds asserting themselves in the mix, and most importantly, with improved dynamic shift that highlights the emotional hook—the choral lyric. This is all very sexy and almost makes me want to get the new Ladytron album, although I’d probably be more interested in the next Ladytron album completely remixed by Modwheelmood. Seriously, when’s that side project happening?

Ghosts.mp3 [Modwheelmood Remix]

There’s a ghost in me who wants to say,
I’m sorry;
Doesn’t mean I’m sorry.

October 24, 2008

The Magnetic Fields//Too Drunk To Dream

Last night, Krand and I went to see The Magnetic Fields and Shugo Tokumaru at Jersey Lowes. It was amazing. That venue is gorgeous…and this might officially mark the end of me seeing music in the city. The show wasn’t empty, but it wasn’t full either and, as a result, we ended up with amazing seats, which got me even closer than ever to my one and only true love, Claudia Gonson.

If I’ve been a little light and California here lately, let this be my step back into the cold, sardonic New York reality. The mildly depressive, if off-the-cuff funny, Magnetic Fields are definitely a New York band, singing about the beaten down feelings of love, the absurdity of the world and cool (and sometimes, not-so-cool) West Village gay bars. They even have a song called “I Hate California Girls.” ‘Nuff said.

Choosing just one Magnetic Fields song to put here is very, very difficult, because there are so many flawless ones. I have a particular affinity for Get Lost, since that was the first album I got. After hearing about them in high school, from Maria’s cooler older cousin (whose friend was the web guy from Matador and took us up to the office to load us up with promos one night), it was the first record I picked up at Underground Sounds (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!?). I got back to East Quad, put it on and freaked out. It was so good. I rounded up all my friends and turned the volume all the way up on "You and Me and the Moon." Everyone was blown away. It was like the gay electro-y 80s coming back in the 90s with more sardonic sneers and snark. That said, I’ve yet to find an album I dislike. The spanning 69 Love Songs collection (actually, hilariously referenced in a Beulah song: “I heard he wrote you a song. So what? Some guy wrote 69 and one just ain’t enough”) is a compendium of wonderful songs. Albums oscillate between themey (I, where each song starts with “I”; Distortion, where soundscape is unified by, well, distortion) to just solidly good collections of songs. Merritt might be the greatest songwriter of our time, with his knack for the combo of depressed sarcasm, word play, self-deprecation, eloquence and sadness.

Anyway, I selected this song off of their latest album, Distortion, because it probably speaks best to my situation at the moment. Have I mentioned I’ve been out at the bar a bit more than usual? I’m sure you can understand.

Too Drunk To Dream.mp3

Magnetic Fields are currently on a US Tour. Their shows are totally incredible--definitely well worth the sometimes steep ticket prices. See where you can catch them next here.

I gotta get too drunk to dream
Because I only dream of you
I gotta get too pissed to miss you
or I'll never get to sleep
I gotta drink wine after pint for you
and god knows that ain't cheap

October 23, 2008

Beulah//Hey Brother

Alright, so—give me a break! Beulah is another California-heavy sound. Sometimes things just sound better in context. When I lived in London, there was nothing better than walking around the grey streets listening to The Smiths or Belle and Sebastian. On my BART ride to the airport, there was nothing better than listening to SF's own Beulah deliver poppy, shiny, sunny, beachy goodness.

This song is amazing. Production is on; lyrics are great; it’s catchy as hell. Pay special attention to the amazing lead guitar walkdown on the chorus, the superb horn arrangement and those gorgeous strings. It’s not surprising that Beulah had ties to two stellar indie rock institutions, Elephant Six and John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone Recording Studio. All-around awesome.

Hey Brother.mp3

Sadly, Beulah is no more. They broke up in 2004 and I cried (not really), because I never got to see them live.

There is a chance that I'll keep trying
To tell you the truth and end up lying to you.
So you held your breathe and you cursed the west
Said you had no choice--
You're moving back east where men are men.

October 22, 2008

Joni Mitchell//California

Guys, I’m sorry but I’m probably going to be talking about California for quite a while, because it was SO AMAZING! I think I’m having a love affair with San Francisco. It’s like all that silly stuff Frank Sinatra said all over again.

On the first full day I was in town, Annie and I drove the Muir Woods, which was incredible, even in spite of almost running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. The sun was shining and the day was clear. The weather was a perfect 73 degrees. We got dizzying gorgeous views driving out of the city and over The Golden Gate bridge. I was overwhelmed with joy.

We had a great time exploring the woods and the trees, talking about lots of things. Here’s a picture of Annie with a giant fallen tree:

On our way home from our walk around the woods, we wound through California countryside, over hills, mountains, through weird little towns. I said, “Annie, don’t hate me for this,” and I popped in Ladies of the Canyon by Joni Mitchell. I just had to! It was too perfect.

Annie intelligently remarked that the quality of Mitchell’s voice is perfectly matched for the California air. I nerdily remarked that I had a childhood obsession with her extensive and inventive use of alternate tunings and rich production values, while bemoaning the absence of Blue from Annie’s car CD collection.


It’s too old,
And cold,
And settled in its ways here.

October 17, 2008

REM//So. Central Rain, Morrissey//Hairdresser on Fire

Hey baby. How's it going? Turns out it's OSS’s Queer Week!!! So, can I buy you a beer?

Reader, I am so dedicated to you that I am finishing Queer Week live from my vacation. I didn't have time to post yesterday because I totally misread my plane ticket and had to do a slightly mad dash to the airport. But I got here; yes, yes, I did.

Second report in the feature!!!:

My Super Queer Rock and Roll Crushes Countdown, Part 2: The Boys

2. Michael Stipe of REM

My early love of Michael Stipe should have been (and probably was) a red flag to many. He was my first rock and roll crush. Oh, how I loved him. I remember sleep overs where I would profess my sincere desire to be on this man's arm. This was often met with shrieks of, "he's gay!" I remember covering my ears and chanting my mantra over and over again to try to calm my frazzled adolescent dreams: "He's not gay. He's not gay. He's not gay. He is NOT GAY!" Well, for ages, he won't come out and say it, but dude is gay. And of course, my youthful obsession, who took his own sweet time about coming out in one of those everyone-already-knew situations, speaks volumes about my own orientation. Only difference: I wasted no time!

I was really obsessed with the picture of Michael Stipe that was on the back of Eponymous. For some reason, the internet doesn't own that image! It was Michael with beautiful blond curly locks and giant text that read, "THEY AIRBRUSHED MY FACE." Love. Love, I tell you.

Similar era, at least:

So. Central Rain.mp3
by REM

1. Morrissey of The Smiths, Morrissey

Of course, it's Morrissey. Who the fuck else would it be?!

Not his best song; just his gayest:
Hairdresser on Fire.mp3
by Morrissey

One Gay Fact: A dandy (also known as a beau, gallant or flamboyant person) is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies.

You are repressed,
but you're remarkably dressed!

October 15, 2008

The Gossip//Fire Sign, Bikini Kill//Rebel Girl, Sleater Kinney//Get Up

Hi darling! You look fabulous. It's OSS’s Queer Week!!!!

First and foremost, I would like to apologize for breaking format a lot this week. I’ll be taking three days off over the next two weeks, and I want to make sure the tune-to-biz day ratio stays on the up-and-up, so I’m throwing in some extra sweet songs this week. That said, without further delay, I present to you a feature:

My Super Queer Rock and Roll Crushes Countdown, Part 1: The Ladies

3. Beth Ditto of The Gossip

Beth Ditto is pretty damn sexy. She has one of the most entrancing stage presences of any performer I’ve ever seen. Bonus points for her On Our Backs spread with her tranny boyfriend. Hell yeah! Unrelated and weird sidenote: Ditto and Kate Moss have somehow become BFFs .

Fire Sign.mp3
by The Gossip

2. Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin and Le Tigre

OMG, Kathleen Hanna. This ultrasexy godmother of riotgirl is one pretty hot topic (get it!?!?!). Jokes. Yeah, Kathleen Hanna is gorgeous in every sense of the word and each of her musical projects kicks ass in a new way.

Rebel Girl.mp3
by Bikini Kill

1. Carrie Brownstein of Sleater Kinney and The Spells

Yeah, I know. I'm predictable. My biggest rock and roll crush http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifever is Carrie Brownstein. And she has been ever since I first bought The Hot Rock and fell head over heals for both her and SK (my previous favorite band, knocked out of position only recently by FFs). Carrie is an amazing guitarist and singer, a great performer and friends with Miranda July. Also, she's totally the finest human being ever. Did I mention she blogs for NPR? REPEAT: BLOGS FOR NPR. What else could a girl want?

Get Up.mp3
by Sleater Kinney

One Gay Fact: The word "dyke," originally a derogatory label for a masculine or butch woman, has been reappropriated as a positive term implying assertiveness and toughness, or simply as a neutral synonym for lesbian.

Rebel girl, rebel girl,
Rebel girl you are the queen of my world!

October 14, 2008

The Hidden Cameras//Ban Marriage

Yo fools! It's OSS’s Queer Week.

Un-coincidentally , I first heard The Hidden Cameras, Canada's very own "gay church folk music" band, on one of my trips to Toronto.

This was the trip when I went with Ali, Stevie and Anjeanette. It was sort of a haphazard tour of south east Ontario, where we made stops with random friends/acquaintances in Waterloo, Guelph and Toronto. We met and immediately loved Andrew in Toronto and he took us around to coffee shops, record stores and thrift stores.

This was also the trip where I was picked up by a random girl at a gay bar and ended up returning to the strange apartment she shared with her friends in the Toronto suburbs. As I began sobering up, I realized that everyone around me was on massive amounts of cocaine and I was had absolutely no idea where I was or what the fuck was going on. It was awesome. Why Ali and Andrew let me stumble away with these people, I still do not know, however they proved their true dedication to me as a friend when, after a harrowed and expensive (international, after all) 4 am phone call, they came to rescue me in a cab.

The next morning we were sacked out from all the adventure, so we laid around and listened to records. The Smell of Our Own was one of them. From there, the obsession with this one song in particular, Ban Marriage, was only natural.

Ban Marriage is an awesome song because it's an awesome statement, on a two key levels:

1. Marriage for queers is already banned, so why not flip the concept around and ban it for everyone else? If we're going to discriminate and say certain people can't have the right, we ought to just take it away from everyone. This is the approach that high school principals and prison wardens have been using across our great land for generations.

2. We should ban marriage. For everyone. It's incredibly useless in our modern existence.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the song is catchy as hell.


Ban Marriage.mp3

One Gay Fact: Same sex marriage is legally recognized in Belgium, Norway, The Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and of course, Canada.

It was him or my fag hag.
Oh well, I guess she was never that good of a friend.

October 13, 2008

The Raincoats, The Kinks//Lola

To celebrate my upcoming trip to San Francisco, America’s very own homo Mecca, One Sweet Song is getting totally gay this week. Yes, please welcome (with loving arms and lots of alcohol) OSS’s Queer Week.
Expect: raucous fun, queer action, FABULOUS!!!!!, gender bending jams, all-night parties, gay shame, hard liquor, miller high life (champagne of beers, btw).
Don’t Expect: rainbow stickers, pink triangles, the color purple, u-haul jokes, gay pride, clay aiken, miller lite.
I'll also be giving you bonus songs on some posts to make up for my upcoming "days off" from blogging.

Getting down to business:
I attended an impromptu dance party last night and, I have to say, this song about falling for a tranny woman in gay, gay ol’ Soho (this could lead to a whole world of other stories for me, so I’ll refrain) was woefully missing from the playlist (take a note on that, Mitch). While the Kinks version can definitely stand just fine on its own, it’s this version by late 70s proto-riotgrrl/post-punk group The Raincoats, that truly does the song justice. The cover relies on a more disjointed rhythm, injecting a jagged aesthetic and adding even more gender bending confusion. What better way to kick this gay week off?

Unsurprisingly, The Raincoats have big ties to that other pillar of London’s late 70s proto-riotgrrl/post-punk/new wave scene, The Slits. (remind me to tell you about my “ariupisgod” screen name from 2003). They’ve also inspired a host of much-esteemed indie/grunge icons, from Chicks on Speed to Kurt Cobain to Sonic Youth.

Lola.mp3 [Raincoats]

As an aside, Karl, his dad and I really rocked out to some Kinks in the car pre-Palmyra show on Saturday, so it makes me happy to be able to give them a shout-out today. We are the village green preservation society.

Lola.mp3 [Kinks]

You can get The Kitchen Tapes, recorded live in '82 at NYC's The Kitchen, at Other Music Digital here.

One Gay Fact: Ray Davies says that he was inspired to write this song after the band manager Robert Wace had spent the night dancing with a transvestite.

Well, I’m not the world’s most masculine man,
But I know what I am,
And I’m glad I’m a man,
And so is Lola.

October 10, 2008

Michael Beauchamp//Do What You Could

[Local! Music! Friday!]
Tell me...what is this Local Music Fridays?

Although I rarely see him these days (damn you, too-large America), Michael Beauchamp remains extremely dear to my heart. Michael was one of my very first and very best friends from the Michigan portion of my life. When we first met (back in the days of burning CDs), we traded selections from our music collections. His highlights, a 30 disk stack of Modest Mouse, Cat Power, Leonard Cohen, etc for my highlights, a 30 disk stack of Sleater-Kinney, Liz Phair, The Smiths, REM, etc. This is where we had a startling revelation that we were the only two people in the United States of America who owned the album, Tales of Great Notch Glory, by a strange mostly unknown band called Sammy. We had both bought it used. We drove around listening to it on many occasions. There was also one particularly amazing evening of walking around the Arb. Oh A2, I miss you some days.

Michael and I were in a band together called The Dumb and Ugly Club. It was so fun. I miss writing and playing music with this man, dearly. He is a beautiful man with a beautiful voice who writes beautiful, beautiful songs.

Thank god for all of us, he’s still at it. He released his first stellar solo album, My Northern Voices, earlier this year. It was great how I got this album. I was on a train going from Ann Arbor to Chicago. The train stopped at Kalamazoo. I got off the train and Michael was there. He gave me a hug, handed me the album and then I got back on the train. It was very romantic.

This song was one we used to play together. It is a heartbreakingly good song about heartbreak.

Do What You Could.mp3

You can hear more from Mike on his myspace and you can purchase his album at CDBaby or at iTunes.

I ain’t your problem no more, problem no more.
Lord, how I miss being your problem.

October 9, 2008

Neutral Milk Hotel//Holland, 1945

In 2001, I took an overnight Greyhound bus trip from Detroit to New York listening only to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. And I was happy. That’s how good this album is.

In the Aeroplane is easily one of the most perfect albums ever created (and probably the only indie rock ever created that’s mostly about Anne Frank). The songs are simple, but that quality only enhances the appeal (and the drunken sing-along ability). The lyrics are so strong, with depth that comes off sounding pleasantly skewed, and the soundscapes are rich and innovative. Many of the songs on the album blend into each other, making the it more of a symphony with distinct movements, rather than just a random collection of songs.

Unfortunately, this sophomore effort from Neutral Milk Hotel was the short-lived band’s last, as the central songwriter and force behind the group, Jeff Magnum, strangely dropped off the face of the earth. His seclusion was so dramatic and complete that Slate has touted him as the Salinger of indie rock, which I don’t think is too terribly far off.

Holland, 1945.mp3

Now she's a little boy in Spain, playing pianos filled with flames.

October 8, 2008

Jean Grae//A-Alikes

Helllls yeah. It’s another sweet jam from a mixtape of sweet hip hop connoisseur Angie!

Jean Grae may not have the most inventive beats, but she sure as hell has the smoothest most amazing flow. Hot damn, that girl can RHYME.


Urban Dictionary informs us that an A-Alike is “someone who is your carbon copy.”

October 7, 2008

The Loud Family//Spot the Setup

Every few years I fall head over heals all over again for The Loud Family’s (yes, that is a reference to THE Loud Family) Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things (yes, that is a reference to America’s (NOT NEIL YOUNG’s) “Horse with No Name”). I guess my two years is up, because I’ve been listening on repeat again and also forcing people (like my poor friend Emily) to listen to them as well (if I'm going down, I'm taking you with me).

While there are a lot of amazing tracks on the album (including two personal favorites, “Inverness” and “Jimmy’s On Drugs Again”), this time around I’ve become increasingly fascinated with “Spot the Setup.”

Spot the Setup.mp3

I used to go out with supermodels,
But that didn’t make my life ok.

October 6, 2008

Mirah//Mt. St. Helens

You know the albums you play so much that you kind of can't even listen to them anymore? These are the ones that are so good, so burned into you, that you just OD on them. This is how I feel about Mirah's Advisory Committee.

I first encountered Mirah on one of my epic roadtrips with Stevie. He described her to me as "your new favorite band." And he was right. It was definitely love at first listen. I kept rewinding the tape and queuing it up again, as Stevie slept in the passenger seat.

After that, I had a number of funny Mirah experiences, including traveling to strange places (like Canada) to see her, friends opening up for her, friends letting her stay in their rooms. Mirah, you are everywhere.

Mt. St. Helens is a beautiful song, which showcases all her talents: great songwriting, beautiful lyrics and amazing Phil Elvrum-produced sounds and builds.

Mt. St.Helens.mp3

I could never come back home again.

October 3, 2008

Fred Thomas//Holland Tunnel

[Local! Music! Friday!]
Tell me...what is this Local Music Fridays?

Fred Thomas is super nice, super talented and super prolific. I have a great memory of the first time I met him in Encore. I traded him a Bob Dylan pin for a Flashpapr record. Good times. Fred also used to work at the best store in Ann Arbor circa 2001 and that store was Boss Guitars. Remember?

Fred has lots of other projects, including City Center and Saturday Looks Good to Me.

I like this song, because it’s a good song and because it’s about the Holland Tunnel, which connects the city in which I live with the state I grew up in/work in. I go through the glorious Holland Tunnel about twice a day 5 days a week. Maybe one day I can listen to this song while going through. I wonder if the world would implode?

Holland Tunnel.mp3

More here .

You don’t have to believe every angry thing everybody says.
No, you don’t believe ever stupid thing.

October 2, 2008

Le Tigre//Deceptacon

There are a couple things I absolutely cannot do unless I’ve had a few two many beers. One is karaoke. Another is dancing at dance parties.

What makes this song so special is that no matter how much alcohol I’ve consumed, I can ALWAYS dance to it, and I seemingly never tire of it in the dj queue. My theory is that when Kathleen Hanna is at the helm of a danceable track, all bets are off.

Something else about this song is that it reminds me of freshman year. Kot used to set different songs as our alarm clock on her computer. Sometimes, it was really pleasant (waking up to “Havalina” by The Pixies is some kind of perfect). Other times, it was really jarring and horrifying (waking up to “Deceptacon” is jarring and horrifying, like waking up to a Post Wave Feminist Electro Punk Fire Drill).

Also, I should note that this song, like all of Le Tigre’s best songs, comes from the pre-JD era (no offense, JD, but you are no fucking Sadie Benning).


Your lyrics are dumb like a linoleum floor.

October 1, 2008

Jason Falkner//My Lucky Day

I love Jason Falkner.

Joel had a lot of influence over my childhood listening habits. This album (used) was either a Christmas or a birthday gift that I continue to wholeheartedly enjoy.

This is also (ding ding ding!) a JB connection (Faulkner played in The Grays, another oft overlooked 90s power pop thing, with Mr. Brion). You also may remember him from Jellyfish.

My Lucky Day.mp3

Everyone knows
How the end goes
If you don’t know
Here it goes