April 30, 2009

Beck//Where It's At

Awkward Angsty Adolescent SUMMER JAMS!!!

When I was 13 (1996 OH MY GOD), I went on this family trip with my mom, my stepdad and my (cooler, older) stepbrother Joel. I’m pretty sure we went to Massachusetts..or was it upstate New York? It’s all foggy. Here’s what I can remember from this trip:

1. Joel rented a car. It was a bright purple Neon. It was hilarious.
2. We spent a lot of time driving (and walking) around graveyards. Morbid fun! I think this may have been the best time we had.
3. We visited my 2nd cousin’s ice cream store. They let me make the bubblegum ice cream. I can remember pouring a bucket of rainbow Chiclets into a giant cold mixing machine.
4. At one point, Joel and I shared a hotel room. We were watching MTV when the (weird/awesome) video for this song came on. I changed the channel. Joel said, “Hey. Go back to that. That’s Beck. He’s cool.”

Although we’re not super close, I’ve always really enjoyed spending time with Joel, not to mention the fact that he has been pretty influential to my musical tastes. He has given me plenty of interesting albums and mixes over the years. He’s responsible for my discovery of Aimee Mann, Jon Brion, Jason Faulkner, The Greys and Ron Sexsmith. Oh, and uh…Beck?

Maybe it’s just that this song is inextricably linked to that weird ass summer (because, let’s face it, being 13 is odd), but whenever I hear Odelay (released in June of ’96, album name trivia), I literally SEE the summer. Glittery shimmery heat waves rise up off the asphalt, just like in that one part of the “Devil’s Haircut” video. The weird sonic pallet and the old school beat is crystallized as a quintessential summer sound to me.

Where It’s At.mp3

I got two turn tables and a microphone.

Summer Jam: In the summer of 1996, The Nintendo 64 video game system was released in Japan and The British rock band Oasis played the biggest free-standing concert in UK history at Knebworth, Hertfordshire.

April 29, 2009

Outkast//Hey Ya

It was the summer of SUMMMER JAMSSS!

So yesterday we were revisiting summer 2003. Today, let’s fast forward one year to summer 2004, in which I returned to the states after a long and weird time in Europe.

This was another song that hit the scene in the fall/winter season (of ’03). Even so, I’ll still always think of it as the jam of 2004, as it showed up at every dance party and bar that I hit that season.

“Hey Ya,” by classic ATL hip hop legends (and style mavens) Andre 3000 and Big Boi of Outkast, is one of those rare tracks that you feel genuinely excited to hear every time it starts bumpin’. The whole thing is brilliant. Outkast has always been known for pushing the envelope, so it’s no surprise that in terms of structure, rhythm and production, it (in addition from the song’s experimental parent album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below) was a real step forward for the genre. Of course, not to mention it’s just a solidly catchy track.

Like many summer jams, after the 516th time played, it’s magical charm starts to wear off. Even so, listening to it now after a fairly decent break kind of does make me want to jump up and dance. But that would be very inappropriate considering where I am now. So…I’m not going to do that. Although, it doesn’t mean you can’t.

Hey Ya.mp3

Now I wanna see y'all on y'all baddest behavior--
Lend me some sugar. I am your neighbor.
Shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it,
Shake it, shake it, shake, shake it, shake it, shake it ,
Shake it, shake it like a Polaroid Picture!

Summer Jam: In the summer of 2004, Ronald Regan died and my parents kept their American flag at half mast for like three weeks, which I thought was kinda creepy (and an extra weird way to return to the states from the UK). Saddam Hussein was also on trial for war crimes. Remember that? And they finally broke ground on the “Freedom Tower” at 9/11 (my daily commute gives me an update on how much progress has been made in five years on that one) and I watched from suburban NJ as James McGreevey got outed in BIG GAY SCANDAL and made a slimey fool of himself, which may have leant new meaning to “Don’t wanna meet your Daddy. Just want you in my Caddy.”Just a thought...?

April 28, 2009

Missy Elliott//Work It

It’s 90 today and we’re heating things up with a seaonsal preview: SUMMER JAMS!!!

While Missy’s Under Construction came out in the fall of ’02, I’ll always think of this song as a quintessential track of the summer of ’03. Yep, that summer.

Ali tried to buy a new Stereolab album. The cover and packaging looked fine, but the record inside was actually the single for this song. That and the fact that it was blaring out of every passing car on East U. contributed to it ending up on our summer mix.

I was recently telling the story of how in that particular summer, Ali and I attempted to cover up our previous tenant’s acid trip wall scribbles with pages of vintage books we pasted up. This was a brilliant plan, until the weather got hot enough to losen the art-school glue we used to affix our homemade wallpaper. Page by page, they slid from over our heads onto our faces while we slept. Rude awakening.

Not rude awakening: this song, which spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts and served as a soundtrack to many drunken college-era evenings. Missy is the damn coolest. Besides helping to popularize the term “Badonkadonk,” (Urban Dictionary, eat your heart out) she and Timbaland have serious beat and production chops, with this track serving as a shining example. In fact, Missy and Timbaland got their start as a production/songwriting team, crafting material for groups like SWV, Destiny’s Child and Aaliyah. All that know-how shows, especially on an album like Under Construction, which relied heavily on the “old school” hiphop sound. What also shows is how each track is a “MISSSSY. ELLLLLIOOTTTT. (sometimes ONE TIME!) EXCLUSSSSIVE.”

The video for this track won plenty of awards and attention, but I’ll always still love the video for “The Rain” most, with that awesome, awesome giant garbage bag-looking getup. Dude. What was that?

Work It.mp3

Picture Lil' Kim dating a pastor.
Minute Man Big Red can outlast ya.
Who is the best? I don't have to ask ya.
When I come out, you won't even matter.
Why you act dumb like, "ughhh, duh?"
So you act dumb like, "ughhh, duh?"
And the drummer boy go pa rum pum pum pum,
Give ya some some some of this Cinnabon.

Summer Jam:In the summer of 2003, 101.3 degrees in Kent became the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK and a sweltering heat wave took all of Europe by storm, causing the heat to rise to over 112 degrees in Paris. In other news, Martha Stewart and her broker were indicted for insider trading and (somewhat ironically) SARS (totally, totally) was declared to be contained by the Worth Health Organization. Did somebody say “Swine Flu”?

April 27, 2009


Golden rays, ocean breezes, Monday Mail.
What is Monday Mail?

I don’t know about where you are, but here in NYC, the weather was beautiful ALL WEEKEND LONG! I had a lovely time outside at a rooftop bbq, a backyard houseshow and the Brooklyn Botantical Garden. With that in mind, I officially declare it Summer Jams Week at OSS. To help you gear up for Memorial Day Weekend, all week we’ll be featuring quintessential jams from summers past as well as warm-weather-themed new jams.

This M!M! comes from a band whose new album makes reference to the nice weather (Everybody, Come Outside!) and whose sweetest song is called Beachcomber! It’s Monday. It’s 80. If you’re not stuck inside, break out the sunblock!

This from Clyde at Fanatic:

Artists such as French Kicks and Islands responded to Pomegranates’ dynamic live set by inviting them out on the road. Everybody, Come Outside! shows a marked improvement both creatively and sonically from its predecessor, channeling influences that range from Talking Heads and Brian Eno, to French Kicks and Fela Kuti.


Pomegranates play Mercury Lounge on May 13th.

Summer Jam: The hottest summer on record in the USA was that of dust bowly 1936, when the average nationwide temperature was 74.6 degrees.

April 24, 2009

White Pines//Our Things in the Street

Basement House Show Style [Local! Music! Friday!]!
Tell me...what is this Local Music Fridays?

Back when I lived in Ann Arbor, my friend Travis played a show with a band called That’s Him, That’s the Guy! After the show (which I missed), T-Rav (that’s a pet name) insisted that I check them out. Life got in the way and I never did.

Fast forward to 2007ish, when Joe Scott started appearing in my social circle and I put two and two together. “Oh, that’s him, that’s the guy from That’s Him, That’s the Guy!” Ha Ha. Ha...I think it’s funny that despite my numerous near run-ins with Mr. Scott, including multiple wasted Half Ass Shows featuring Canada (he was a also a member), I didn’t get to know him much until he moved out to NYC. But, I suppose that can be said of many of my current dearest friends…

Anyway, White Pines is Joe’s solo gig and the songs are predictably lushly well-recorded and touchingly well-written. Heavy with feeling, “Our Things in the Street” is just a small taste of what this guy can do with a words, music and emotion.

Our Things In The Street.mp3

White Pines plays tomorrow night at The 50/50.
You can hear and learn more here.

For what it's worth,
It was worth it.

April 23, 2009

Menomena//Wet and Rusting

Let’s all put aside our (MANY) mixed feelings about #AmazonFail for a moment and take a minute to rejoice in their totally free indie music bonanaza. So far I’ve nabbed the Barsuk, Bar/None, Secretly Canadian, Arts and Crafts and Saddle Creek Samplers…and I might go get some more today.

Predictably, I’ve been loving on Barsuk the most so far, as their roster includes many artists I already admire (Hello, John Vanderslice, Mates of State and Death Cab). I’m also enjoying some of the other bands on their comp that I was less familiar with.

Menomena is one of those bands I’ve been trying to like for a while now, but none of their music has successfully captured my attention…until now. This song is so good! I love how the arrangement keeps taking unexpected turns. I love how the melody and the chorus keeps coming back in unexpected ways. I love how I keep hearing unexpected instruments pulling in and out. Word of this song: unexpected! I made you a present/You'll never expect it? Thanks, guys.

And, although the band claims their name is unrelated, who can avoid the cute warm and fuzzy feeling that is elicited by all those happy childhood memories of this?
Certainly, not I.

Wet and Rusting.mp3

It’s hard to take risks
With a pessimist.

April 22, 2009

Blondie//Hanging on the Telephone

Yeah, I know I’m not the only one who adores Debbie Harry. Still, does her veritable parade of ultra-fans mean I have to stop loving her? Or that I love her any less? Helllllllls No!

Of course, Blondie’s been all over my life for years. From a childhood full of North Jersey FM radio replays to a classic tape of “The Greatest Hits,” the band will always represent inescapable “funtimes” car music. However, it wasn’t until I read Please Kill Me (fifty billion thumbs up) , the quintessential written record of the oral history of all things punk (ACTUAL punk—as in the late 70s/early 80s real deal, NOT as in the pop punk of the 90s), that I fully indentified the band right in the ranks of the radical “forefathers” of a million new music forms, from the aforementioned Punk right up into New Wave. HOLY RUN-ON SENTENCE, BATMAN; HOW DO YOU REALLY FEEL?!?! Ms. Harry and her Blondie bandmates make many an amazing appearance in this book (just see page 204) and certainly established themselves as a fresh voice in this experimental scene and subsequently in music history. Of course, the cool thing about Blondie is that they also fused the Punk and New Wave sounds with Pop, Disco and Reggae. More on the band’s history here.

This track, off the legendary Parallel Lines, was one of the first two singles, the other being “Picture This.” Of course, you’ll probably know the most famous song off PL, the band’s first US hit, “Heart of Glass.” Really, there aren’t many bad tracks on this disc.

Anyway, I’ll say it again: I <3 You, Debbie Harry!!!
Blondie rocked so fucking hard in the 70s and 80s that I’m even willing to forgive them for their horrendous 90s reunion single, “Maria.”
If that’s not true love, I’m not sure what is.

Hanging on the Telephone.mp3

It's good to hear your voice, you know it's been so long.
If I don't get your call then everything goes wrong.
I want to tell you something you've known all along.
Don't leave me hanging on the telephone.

April 21, 2009

The Futureheads//Hounds of Love

I once saw The Futureheads in a tiny, crowded and sweaty pub in Bristol, UK with my dear friend Matt. It was 2004 and I was living in London and I was so fucking depressed. I missed my friends and strangely, my homeland. The whole experience actually gave me a much greater appreciation for America. It took me months to adjust to the idea that there weren’t any 24-hour establishments (not even grocery stores…oh…I guess there was that one shady Tesco out by Surrey Quay...) and that I had to literally beg waiters to make my Indian food spicy (and even then, they still didn’t).

Anyway, I heard The Futureheads on a comp and really liked them, so we checked them out. I was endeared by what I had read about the band (that two members had met working together with disadvantaged youth). Of course, the curiosity paid off--the show was great and the band was super tight. Within a year, I was seeing them everywhere.

Hopefully, this cover won’t offend any hardcore Kate Bush devotees or take away from the fact that The Futureheads write plenty of their own hyper-catchy great-fun material. I honestly think this particular track is very well done, especially in regards to the vocal arrangements and the instrumental builds.

Hounds of Love.mp3

The hounds of love are calling.
I've always been a coward
And I don't know what's good for me.

April 20, 2009

Hurray for the Riff Raff//Bricks

It's springtime! It's Monday Mail!
What is Monday Mail?

How was your weekend? Mine was awesome. After a long, cold winter, it finally felt like spring here in the northeast. I spent lots of time outside and it was delicious.

Now, to business. This week’s MM comes from Kevin over at Cul-de-sac. He writes:

I cannot talk up Hurray for the Riff Raff enough. They're incredible. Thought I'd toss this your way and see what you think.

I think I like it! I always appreciate when a band can give me some unique influences. Per their myspace:

townes van zandt, bob dylan, amelia jackie, barnabus jones, stalker texas ranger, shaye cohn, gillian welsch, jerry lewis, the beatles, judy garland, bessie smith, wire, neil young, the velvet underground, billie holiday, angela davis, audre lorde, kathleen hannah, daniel johnston, kiowa wells, pauly lingerfelt, drop dead fred

How weird. How awesome. All this old timey folksyness + new timey folksyness + general rad + beautiful vox + interesting lyrics = a win. And if you know me, you know I’m a sucker for clarinet solos. Something about the sound is also uniquely New Orleans flavored, which supplies just the added spice needed. Bravo.


Now thank Kevin and check them out.

We stand tall
Together like towers.
Well, together like towers
We fall,
We fall,
We fall.

April 17, 2009

Purple Rhinestone Eagle//Sleep, Golden Sleep

ROCK AND ROLL TOUR STYLE [Local! Music! Friday!]!
Tell me...what is this Local Music Fridays?

Tour, besides being a total blast, also gave me so much new fodder for L!M!F!s, since we played so many shows with such a wide array of Interesting and Talented Bands (and of course, some shows with some not-so-I&TBs, but hey—you win some, you lose some).

Our West Philly show was one of my favorites. Philadelphia house shows almost always feel like party-central, and this was no exception. Both band we played with (the fabulous Dangerous Ponies were also on the bill) were lots of raucous fun.

While I had never heard of them before, Emily tells me Purple Rhinestone Eagle have a somewhat cultish following in the West Philly scene (they used to be local), which was part of why the show was so great. But don’t get me wrong—most of why the show was so great was the fact that this band just rocks. Hard. There’s nothing like seeing intense musical energy in a small closed space, like The Mitten’s sweaty basement. Listening to them, I was hearing tons of weird influences: 60s Psychedelia, 90s Riotgrrl, Sludgy Proto-Metal. PRE sounds like Led Zeppelin meets Bikini Kill and it’s awesome. It was nice to finally hear a band take the Riotgrrl sound forward into the next generation in a way that wasn’t totally derivative. Well done.

All the songs on their newest EP, Amorum Tali, are pretty worth it, but the first track and this one stand out to me. Besides, it’s the weekend. Everyone could use some extra sleep, golden sleep.

Sleep, Golden Sleep.mp3

Purple Rhinestone Eagle’s on tour now, although their NYC date at DBA was a few weeks ago. If you’re in the Midwest or the PacNW, see if you can catch them because their live show is totally sweet.

The shadow passes you,
The shadow passes me.
The darkness falls on us.
We’re drowing in the sea.
Golden sleep falls upon us again.

April 16, 2009

Wiskey Biscuit//Stoner Girl

Last night, I went to a show in Bushwick with some friends. While I was mostly there to see Hospitality (who were pretty awesome), I caught some of the first band too. They reminded me quite a bit of faster, less-countryfied Wiskey Biscuit, so we’re going back in time today to my junior year of high school.

The year was 2000 and I was at Irving Plaza with two friends seeing Elliott Smith on his Figure 8 tour. The show was great. Elliott was a little weird and shy and hiding behind one of those Gilligan-of-Gilligan’s-Island style hats, but he sounded great and I fell in love with his keyboardist.
I didn’t have super high standards in high school.

Wiskey Biscuit was the opening band and although I don’t think they were anything super, super special, I loved them. The lead singer seemed to be on drugs and had really weird hair.
I didn’t have super high standards in high school.

I bought their album and grew obsessed with it. This was one of my favorite tracks and I used to sing it to any of my friends who knew it/had also seen Smith on that tour. Stonnnner Girlllll….

WB was an innocent victim of the mid-90s record label fiascos. Picked up by Geffen in ’93, they were dropped before their debut was even released. Although there’s a claim that they’re releasing a new album in 2006 on their myspace, where they are now, I’m not sure. My first guess is somewhere in LA, wasted.


A girl like that could take advantage.
A girl like that could do some damage.

April 15, 2009

Edith Piaf//Milord

A few nights ago, Anika and I finished watching La Vie en Rose, the stunning and oft-depressing movie about Edith Piaf. It’s fair to say that since watching it, I’ve had some Piaf song or another on constant repeat in my brain. If her song choices weren’t so enjoyable or her vocal quality weren’t so incredible, this would be annoying. But, since Piaf was such a remarkable performer with such incredible presence, it’s not.

And Jeez, did this woman have a crazy-ass life! I had trouble following the film at points, since it seemed that the form of the movie echoed the chaotic and uncertain nature of Piaf’s own existence. Her life began with a drunk penniless street-singing mom, a circus contortionist dad and a madam grandma whose whores were her care-givers. Amazingly, it only got crazier from there, so it’s no wonder that Piaf selected songs that reflected her hard street life, and blew them out of the water with such intense performances.

It’s hard to chose just one song to feature here, but this is the one that sticks with me most, even if it’s not her most well-known or heartbreaking (Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien or La Vie en Rose). I love how this song is so French (duh), from the sound-sets to the rhythm. A composition of her longtime collaborator Marguerite Monnot, the song fits perfectly with Piaf’s style.


J'en ai froid dans le coeur.

(I am cold in my heart.)

April 14, 2009

Grizzly Bear//Easier

I think Grizzly Bear was initially an Ali find. She told me I would love them and she was right.

This band’s sound is so pretty and fuzzy (not unlike an American Analog Set or a Beach House). The texture adds much feeling to the already flowing and sentimentally-heavy songwriting.

I was recently reminded of this album last week while on tour. We were driving through naturally pristine New Hampshire on a truly gorgeous sun-soaked day. I was trying to come up with the perfect thing to blast through the (somewhat broken) Volvo speakers and Yellow House came to mind. The warm lofi sound quality combined with the easy lifts and falls were just right for the winding roads, sparkling lakes and fresh spring afternoon. The band recorded this collection in Ed Droste's mother's house (hence the title) in Brooklyn and the home-recording only enriches the feeling you get from listening. Of course, this album would also be perfect for a cold day sitting by a bright rich fire.

Throwing this on the car stereo sparked a conversation between Karl and I about collaborative songwriting.
“I don’t know how to write songs like this,” he said.
I agreed.
I think it might have something to do with a lot of people in a room with lots of ideas, none of them too concrete. Maybe we could all take a lesson from GB about relaxing in regards to our creativity.


Lucky for us, Grizzly Bear’s next full length, Veckatimest, comes out May 26 on Warp Records.

I still care for you.

April 3, 2009


It doesn't get any more [Local! Music! Friday!], than this.
Tell me...what is this Local Music Fridays?

This has something I’ve shied away from from the start of the blog, but I think I’m going to go ahead with some 100% shameless self-promotion, so I hope you’ll forgive me and bear with me this time.

I will be taking a week-long hiatus from OSS while I go on tour. And to celebrate, today, on this Local! Music! Friday!, I am going to post a band which couldn’t get any more local to me: my band—Palmyra.

A little history: While I’ve been playing shows, solo and in bands, and recording, home and in studios, since I was about 16, Palmyra is now my main squeeze. The band has been working hard to create a unique sound that’s representative to all its parts, while also striving to be greater than. Jon Lango (drums, percussion) and Sean Lango (synth, bass) bring a lot of Jazz knowledge and rare sound-sets to the group. Kenny Roebuck (trumpet, background vox) contributes great horn hooks and a diverse palette. Of course, Karl Sturk (guitar) is a driving force of rock and roll, and his electric guitar lines make the songs come to life in a new way. I write the songs, play acoustic guitar and sing the main vocals. I try to write music that is my own, while also being up-front about a wide range of personal influences.

I wanted to be square on songs with you for next week, so I’m posting five here. Two are Mp3s, the first of which is our single from our first album, Mis-en-Scene and the second of which is a remix (by an upcoming L!M!F!er Canary in the Cave) from the accompanying bonus disc. The other three (an unreleased demo, another track off Mis and a new live track) are in a zip file along with information on a Coloring Contest that we’re running. If you like coloring, this is right up your small-road-between-two-buildings!


Wool Remix.mp3

Coloring Contest Info and Tracks.zip

Our tour is covering these cities:
-Philadelphia, PA
-Jersey City, NJ
-Brooklyn, NY
-Boston, MA
-Burlington, VT
-Worchester, MA
If you live in any of these cities, we would love to see you at a show! All the info is here and more on the band is here.

See you next week!

April 2, 2009

Billy Joel//It's Still Rock and Roll to Me

I sure have been going retro this week. Admit it, you love it.

Without giving too much away, Palmyra had a rehearsal last night and we decided on a last minute cover. That cover brought this song to mind.

I love Billy Joel. I love this song. I love this song’s guitar tone. It’s a great addition to any driving mix. I could say a whole lot more about it, if I wasn’t totally fried right now, but I am, so I won’t. Just sit back, imagine it’s 1980 and you’re driving around Long Island wearing some old tab collars in a car with white wall tires. Hot.

It's Still Rock and Roll to Me.mp3

It's the next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways
It's still rock & roll to me.
Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new sound
Funny, but it's still rock and roll to me

April 1, 2009

Rod Stewart//Young Turks

Although I HATE Rod Stewart, I LOVE this song with total abandon (I also love "Maggie May," with lesser intensity). Anyway, I’ve been considering this as an OSS post probably since the inception of the blog. Many of my friends can vouch for my dedication to this track, as I am an adamant lobbyist for its inclusion on any dance party playlist (I’m looking at you Jill, Karl, Emily and of course, Ryan).

Really, I owe my awakening to the brilliance of this track to Ryan and countless hours spent playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas with him and various characters, mostly Ann Arbor in nature. This song was on one of the radio stations—probably classic rock—the same one that featured “Free Bird” (which is really great to “listen to” while driving around in one of the low-rider Harley-type motorcycles or “flying around” (poorly in my case) in a prop plane). RAISE UP, MARK!

Despite the fact that I’ve been deathly ill for the last week, I’m starting to get really excited about going on tour. Music is IT. It’s what I want to fill my life with. I like that this song is all about going out and doing what you want to do, approaching your life goals and dreams with youthful enthusiasm and not with defeated lowness.

What really made me think about this song yesterday is that I was listening to a Terry Gross interview with another of my least favorite gravely-throated singer-songwriters, John Mellencamp (someone who I can’t remember made this awesome joke when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: “John Mellencamp inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; John Cougar and John Cougar Mellencamp overlooked”). He played a little snippet of “Jack and Diane,” a song which I guiltily like a lot, totally totally despise and know will be stuck in my head for weeks on end each time I hear it. Anyway, while these songs came out roughly at the exact same time ("Young Turks" was ’81, "Jack and Diane," ’82), the chorus of that song (“Oh yeah, life goes on/Long after the thrill of living is gone") is a stark and depressing opposite to the chorus and message of this song (“YOUNG HEARTS BE FREE TONIGHT!!!!”). That song is about letting life beat your dreams down. This song is about having one shot at life and taking it, while you’re still not afraid!

Young Turks.mp3

Don't forget to listen for the killer synth line and the awesome part at the end where he seriously breaks it down.

We got just one shot of life, let’s take it while we’re still not afraid.
Because life is so brief, and time is a thief when you’re undecided.
And like a fistful of sand, it can slip right through your hands.

Young hearts be free tonight!
Time is on your side!
Don’t let them put you down!
Don’t let ‘em push you around!
Dont let ‘em ever change your point of view!