May 28, 2009

The Knife//Got 2 Let U, We Share Our Mother's Health, You Make Me Like Charity

Friends, I’ve been slacking. Things have been A LITTLE crazy and so I’ve been a little unreliable about getting you your OSSs (no post tomorrow, thanks to a conference that will keep me from being at a computer). Shit. I feel bad about it. But I want to make amends with not one, not two, but THREE sweet ass songs from one sweet ass group, Sweden’s favorite masked brother-and-sister duo, The Knife.

Ali and Ange brought me The Knife, and I will always think of them when I listen to their songs. As I am gearing up to go visit those two incredible moms, I think of them even more. I believe it all started with this awesome video back in Ann Arbor. I thought it was cool, but I wasn’t that impressed until I finally got the whole Deep Cuts album, which kind of blew me away. I remember sitting in the back back of Ange’s car, driving around Chicago, blasting this thing; the weird vox-effects making me feel engaged, if disturbed and the bass permanently damaging my hearing in a way that reminded me of the joy of BEING ALIVE!...Pondering just who exactly was singing under all that pitch-manipulation...Wondering if that was a bad translation or did they really mean to say that?!...Yelling “HUH!” (see “Got 2 Let U”). Yes!

The Knife is cool because they hate playing ball with the mainstream music machine and the media. They are mostly photographed in masks and rarely play concerts. They also have a record label, Rabid Records, which releases a slew of awesome Swedish music, including the truly lovely Jenny Wilson (featured on "You Take My Breath Away" off Deep Cuts).

Also, it strikes me (especially when listening on headphones) that The Knife has formulated a way to almost bottle certain emotions, specifically a disturbing mix of human joy and despair which flows freely in the music. Almost like a sonic car crash, it's kind of shocking, adrenaline-pumping and transfixing to behold.

This first song might be slightly relevant to certain aspects the last few days; take it as you will…

Got 2 Let U.mp3

We Share Our Mother's Health.mp3

You Make Me Like Charity.mp3

I got to got to let you down
But in an hour I will change my mind.
I got to got to let you down
But in an hour I will change my mind.
It taste like magic to me,
Making mistakes and be forgiven easily.

May 26, 2009

Charles Spearin//Anna

Hey guys! How was your looooong weekend? Mine was AWESOME! I saw tons of friends and family, went to many bbqs and played lots of music. I hope everyone had a great trio of days.

On to business: Canadian musician Charles Spearin, of Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think, made what really amounts to a quite remarkable collection of music. Inspired by Buddhism and his own blind father, he became interested in how normal speech carries musical qualities (am I the only one who thought of this Radio Lab?). The resulting album is comprised of interviews Spearin conducted with his neighbors about happiness set to composed music…And it’s actually really, really cool. In addition to just being a very engaging and highly varied arrangement, it’s been getting stuck in my head like a champ, in a good way.

Spearin’s explanation of the concept:

A year or so ago, I began inviting some of them over to the house for a casual interview vaguely centered around the subject of happiness. In some cases we never broached the subject directly but nonetheless my friends began to call it my 'Happiness Project.' After each interview I would listen back to the recording for moments that were interesting in both meaning and melody. By meaning I mean the thoughts expressed, by melody I mean the cadence and inflection that give the voice a singsong quality. It has always been interesting to me how we use sounds to convey concepts. Normally, we don’t pay any attention to the movement of our lips and tongue, and the rising and falling of our voices as we toss our thoughts back and forth, just as we don’t pay attention to the curl and swing of the letters as we read. I wanted to see if I could blur the line between speaking and singing and write music based on these accidental melodies. So, I had some musician friends play these neighborhood melodies as close as they could on different instruments (the tenor saxophone as Mrs. Morris, the harp as Marisa, etc.) and then I arranged them as though they were songs. The result is a beautiful and unique collection of songs, blissfully blurring the lines between jazz, folk, indie rock, and inspirational improvisation.


You can hear more happiness project here and learn more here.

It’s like they don’t ask beyond of what’s present.

May 22, 2009

The Dumb and Ugly Club//Red Dust

Dumb, Ugly and Local.
Tell me...what is this Local Music Fridays?

Here I am doing this again, but it feels ok, because honestly, it’s been so long since I was in this band that it truly feels like ancient history at this point (sadly). Also, there’s a reason!

This is a band that Michael Beauchamp and I started our freshman year of college. We decided to name ourselves The Dumb and Ugly Club after Liz Bair made some crack about us being dumb and ugly in the East Quad caf (something along the lines of, guess who’s the dumb one; guess who’s the ugly one).

Michael holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons. One is just that he’s a remarkable human being. Another is that he’s the only other person I’ve ever been able to actually write songs with, which turns out, when it works is a super cool experience. We wrote and wrote and wrote and then went to Chicago to recorded an EP in this friend of my aunt’s (same aunt as yesterday, guys) basement. We called it Dead in Chicago. Get it?

A little time passed and we decided to write another album, but we also decided to give ourselves some parameters. Here are the parameters:
1. The album is set in 1967.
2. In this version of 1967, JFK has not been assassinated.
3. In this version of 1967, we are fighting a war on the mars

What emerged was a retro-sounding space-themed sci-fi-esque album, with a cultural storyline told song by song from vastly different perspectives (the child who watches her father leave for war, the veteran who sees his life desimated, the citizen who waits for his lover to return, or in the case of this song, the soldier drafted into the Martian fiasco). Copies of the album, called Mars, 1967, probably exist in numbers around the mid-70s. Most of them are likely floating around Michigan

Red Dust.mp3

If you're around for this holiday weekend, Michael and I are playing a show together, with our respective bands, this Saturday at The Sidewalk. As for a reunion...oh, hmmm. Who knows?

Oh the red dust eats me whole,
Smoke a bowl.
They tell me it’s for freedom,
But they mean rich guys.

May 21, 2009

John Vanderslice//Fetal Horses

John Vanderslice released a new record, Romanian Names, yesterday. While I basically agree with Tiny Mix Tape’s review, there are plenty of great tracks on this album, which of course has been on repeat for me since I got it. And, although the songwriting has turned slightly back toward the personal/fictional and away from the political, there are still touches of awareness thrown in (DIALO, for example) and as always, many of the stories are set clearly against the background of our modern globalized American landscape. This is something that JV has always been good at.

I was first introduced to Mr. Vanderslice somewhat by accident. My aunt, who is a music reviewer, is often giving me piles of cast-off discs. One year, probably freshman year of college, she sent me a package full of cut-outs and Life and Death of an American Fourtracker was inside, along with plenty of whatever albums, I’m sure. I was instantly smitten and made a point to collect everything else I could find (including some weird old MK Ultra stuff).

I really don’t think this man can be beat by ANYONE for his combination of skills. He’s a fantastic recordist, an incredible song-writer and quite strong at putting on a live show. Speaking of seeing him live, JV is on tour now with a five-piece band. I highly, highly recommend you go see him wherever you can. All the info you need to do so is here.

Fetal Horses.mp3

I live with another.
I stole her from her lover.

May 20, 2009

Tom Waits//Picture in a Frame

When I was a kid, I had a giant crush on Tom Waits. Not like the “get behind the mule” slightly creepy but still awesome Tom Waits of today, but the late’70s/early 80s Down By Law version of Tom Waits, complete with blond ringlets and a boyish smirk (see dreamy below).

When I was 12 or 13, we went to visit my cousins in Italy. One of them was OBSESSED with Tom Waits, so we went over with a pile of CDs for him. He kept saying over and over again, “Tuom Whhaitsa! Tuom Whhaitsa! Thank You!” After that, my dad went on a bit of a jag and played a few albums over and over again, which was probably my real introduction to the music.

My favorite TW album is Closing Time. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to find it on a relatively unscathed vinyl record. It’s an AWESOME album. Actually, if I’m ever on vacation for two whole weeks, maybe I’ll just post every song from that album up, because there really isn’t a bad one.

That said, I only really heard this song for the first time yesterday evening (some previous attempts to get all the way through Mule Variations have been fruitless for me—see what I was missing!), when Michael Beauchamp (who is in town and on tour) played it in my backyard. I think I might like his version better, but it led me to seek out this recording (thanks, internetz).

I’m actually about to put someone’s picture in a frame, so his performance made me feel pretty personally touched, as I fully echo the sentiment expressed. It’s like Mr. Waits spoke to me directly through the embodiment of Michael Beauchamp. Freaky, but true.

Picture in a Frame.mp3

Sun come up, it was blue and gold.
Sun come up, it was blue and gold.
Sun come up, it was blue and gold,
Ever since I put your picture in a frame.

May 19, 2009


When Kid A came out, I was a senior in high school. My core group of friends and I had been rapidly devouring Radiohead albums (independently and together) since The Bends. While I don’t think anything in their canon has really surpassed OK Computer, Kid A/Amnesiac (which, I will point out, I liked more) represented a serious shift in popular rock music production (toward electronics) and really marked the beginning of Radiohead as a MEGABAND.

I had the pleasure of seeing them outdoors at Liberty State Park in the summer of 2001 with Kid Koala and it was probably one of the best shows of my life. While the show itself was awesome, what really made the evening amazing was the surrounding story of how we got in.

Sean, Jon and some other friends had made the decision to attend months before and thus, had secured tickets through the usual channels (ie. Ticketbastard). Kenny and I had not (surprise) and decided to attend last minute, thus relying on the sketchiness of scalpers.

The show was heavily sold out and there had already been reports on the radio that there were plenty of fake tickets floating around. We drove in my teal green Ford Escort station wagon (RIP Omar the Wonder Car) up the dirt road to the entrance of the park, which happened to be lined with scalpers. One approached us:

“How many?”
“$90 each. $180.”
“No. Way.”
“Ok. $80 each. $160.”
“I don’t think so…”
“$70 each. $140.”
“Uhm. OK. Fine.”

We handed the man our grubby money and he handed us some tickets. I was driving. I turned to Kenny:

“How do they look?”
“Let me see,” said Sean, who was sitting in the backseat.
“How do they look?!” I asked again.
“Uh…good…I think.”
“Let me see,” I said.
Sean handed me the tickets.
“I don’t know guys.”

We parked and met up with the other members of our party, who had real tickets we could compare to. They looked remarkably not the same.

“Let’s try this,” said a friend, holding up a lighter to the edge of one. Counterfeit trick: Ticketmaster tickets don’t burn; they turn black. Ours was burning.

“Shit!” said Kenny, licking his fingers. He swiped a finger across the face of the ticket and the ink actually bled. We had been had.

After a lot of consideration, we decided to try to get in anyways. We lined up at the gate, interspersing fake ticket-holders with real ones. It worked like a charm. Once we were past the gate, I literally tackled Kenny with glee and, I believe, knocked him over.

The sun faded and Radiohead took the stage. The Statue of Liberty loomed giant and bright in the background, the perfect backdrop for a band whose songs were always depressive anti-consumerist rants at heart. It was summer and we were all about to go to college. I was with my best friends and we had everything to look forward to. The band started playing this song.


Big fish eat the little ones.
Big fish eat the little ones.
Not my problem,
Give me some.

May 18, 2009

Deleted Scenes//Fake IDs

I’m having a moody Monday. How about you?
What is Monday Mail?

So, Dave at Fanatic says:

Washington, DC-based band Deleted Scenes recently released its debut album Birdseed Shirt to much critical praise. Notably, the album recently received an 8.0 rating from tastemaking culture website, Pitchfork Media. The band is currently walking through that opened door by shining a brighter light on its album – one that reveals a record with a style that has already been referred to to as “an acid-trip that is absolutely habit forming” (Madison Isthmus)…

I’m not sure how much anybody really cares about Pitchfork these days. Actually, does anybody even read Pitchfork? If you read Pitchfork, raise your digital hand.

Regardless, I like this song a lot. It’s got pretty sounds. And I’m feeling a little sad today. I spent yesterday evening and this morning listening to Cat Power, Elliott Smith and Chris Garneau, to give you an idea. If you’re feeling like me, this should compliment your case of the Mondays nicely.

Also, I would like to mention, I’ve never owned a fake ID. Phew. I'm really glad I got that off my chest.

Fake IDs.mp3

Dave says Deleted Scenes play Pianos tonight (although, theres’s strangely no mention of this on their myspace).

May 15, 2009

Sharon Shattuck//Uncertain Futures

H! A! P! P! Y! L! O! C! A! L!
Tell me...what is this Local Music Fridays?

Sharon Shattuck seems to me to be extremely creatively driven and highly diversified. She’s just finishing her masters at NYU in documentary video, interning at BBC radio and still finding time to make music.

I’m not sure when I met Sharon, or how I know her (my best guess is through Karl), or how I managed to not meet her until I moved to NYC (we lived in Ann Arbor at the same time and ran in many of the same circles, but never met there), but I do know that it’s rare to just randomly meet someone as genuine and interesting as she is.

When she posted up this new song, I was instantly pretty into it. The chorus is lyrically meaningfully for anyone who aspires to live the life more examined, and of course musically catchy, which never hurts. Anyone who’s fond of the pizzicato of Andrew Bird or the pretty builds of Mirah will definitely find much to love in this track, which features another A2 acquaintance, Ronen Goldstein.

Uncertain Futures.mp3

Hear more of Sharon’s music here. Or watch her videos here.
Or come see the perfect marriage of her music and video live when they’re screened together during Bushwick Open Studios, June 6th and 7th.

How many more today are here to say and gone tomorrow?
How many shy away when they are faced with their uncertain futures?

May 14, 2009


Cornelius is interesting. For one thing, the soundscapes he creates are so lush and vast that you feel like you’ve been transported to a dense and green tropical jungle. For another, he’s got a real knack for employing untraditional instruments for rhythm purposes, like the hard slap of an acoustic guitar. Also cool, the fact that he pairs more jarring electronic elements against beautiful harmonies. From Wikipedia:

The music of Japanese superstar Cornelius could be described as experimental and exploratory, and often incorporates dissonant elements alongside more familiar harmonically "pleasing" sounds. This tension, plus his practice of bringing in sounds and samples from mass culture, pure electronic tones, and sounds from nature (such as on his Point album), lead him to being sometimes categorized as an "acquired taste."

The only bit I disagree with here is the acquired taste part. I think Point is an instantly accessible album, with everything from auditory puns to innovative writing.


Also worthwhile, the weird video.

May 13, 2009

David Bowie//Suffragette City

Another song my dad liked singing to me as a child…
Where is Suffragette City? Some people have claimed that it’s San Fransisco—although I’m not sure why and the internet has yet to substantiate this. Lucretia Mott? Alice Paul? Elizabeth Caty Stanton? ANYBODY? If no one can give me the history lesson, I’m just going to have to keep believing that it’s a fictional city in David Bowie’s mind.

Do I have to say anything about David Bowie. You guys know who he is, right? Right?

This song is a 70s glam classic, by the freaking King of Glam, himself. Although, just because it catches the spirit of protopunk and glitter, we shouldn’t discount the awesome Little Richard-esque piano line. And bonus points for the Clockwork Orange reference!

Bottom line: It’s catchy. It’s got fucking incredible guitar tone and super 70s tape sounds. It’s weird like an unlikely image you find yourself fixated on and so, decide to post on your wall, and it makes your room look way better.

Suffragette City.mp3

Oh, don't lean on me, man,
'Cause you can't afford the ticket
Back from Suffragette City.
Oh, don't lean on me, man,
'Cause you ain't got time to check it.
You know my Suffragette City
Is outta sight,
She's all right.

May 12, 2009

Cat Power//Nude as the News

Today I decided to channel my inner-snobby record store clerk and mash it with my favorite 2nd grade take-home assignment. Picture: construction paper, picture: inane facts*, picture: polaroids. Thus, I bring you:

My Cat Power Timeline

January 21, 1972 – Cat Power (Chan Marshall) is born in Atlanta, Georgia.
June 19, 1983—I am born in Hackensack, NJ.
1992—Cat Power moves to NYC and plays her first show here in a Brooklyn warehouse. She also plays a show using a two stringed guitar while singing the word “no” over and over again for 15 minutes. This is most probably significant foreshadowing for future Cat Power shows.
1994—Cat Power opens for Liz Phair.
1996What Would the Community Think? released. CP moves to farmhouse with then boyfriend Bill Callahan (Smog)
1998-1999—Released Moon Pix and The Covers Record. Everyone everywhere is talking about Cat Power. I am reading about her in various magazines and hearing about her from various friends, but, despite my dedicating all extra teenage money to the purchase of albums, never listening to her.
September 2001—I move into East Quad at the University of Michigan. My down-the-hall-dorm-neighbor/soon-to-be best friend/soon-to-be bandmate Michael Beauchamp and I do a CD swap. He gives me 30 of his favorites to burn and I give him 30 of mine. What Would the Community Think? is in the pile. I fall in love.
2001-2003—Michael and I play this song together late, late one night post-party. It sticks and we begin playing the cover live.
2003You Are Free released.
April 15, 2003—Michael and I, along with a number of other friends, see CP live in Detroit at the Majestic. She is a total wreck. Here is my actual 2003 Livejournal account of the show, from April 16th:

the cat power show was the weirdest experience ever. here is a series of events that made it weird:
-we leave at 6:30pm
-e locks keys in car.
-doors supposedly open at 8, acccording to the ticket, but they don't really open until 9.
-1st opening band=lullabye.
-2nd opening band=worst thing i have ever seen in my life.
-cat power: huge black workboots, huge plaid shirt, huge aviator sunglasses.
-cat power: marching along with songs.
-cat power: cheers the audience and gulps down some alchololic beverage in between every song.
-cat power: so drunk she cannot put her sunglasses on.
-cat power: stops midway through two songs saying, "i'm fucking this up. i need to stop. it's gone."
-cat power+drunken asshole guitarist: attempts to lead audience in a screaming contest.
-band leaves: cat power plays a string of songs that she apparently makes up on stage for the next hour.
-after 6 hours of standing and no sign of cat power halting her drunken serenade or at least bringing the band back on, i finally decide i have had enough. having no attention span or will to stand, i leave with kot, ange and emma.
-we listen to team dresch. loud.
-the end-
ps. ange informed me via ali that chan played until 2:30 am and that she played songs over and over again, and covers...after that she tried to engage the audience in a dance party.

And in a comment on that entry from Ali:
a brief summary of what happened after you left:
-the band comes back on in an effort to stop chan from continuing her drunken serenade, and they play a cover of "dead leaves and the dirty ground"
-"good woman" is played for the second time.
-chan begins singing to herself. the band attempts to play along. for at least 8 minutes. the band stops. chan continues singing until the guitarist walks over and has a word with her.
-chan starts singing "she's lost control" in an ian curtis voice. doesn't appear to remember most of the words. throws in a few "JACKSON! JESSE!"s, after which the band tries to play "nude as the news". but chan's not having it.
-things get a little blurry here in my memory. there are several more attempts to play another song, any song.
-a dance party is suggested. the guitarist asks for "track 5", loud rap comes on, chan jumps into the audience. chan goes behind the dj booth to smoke pot rather than dance. the show is over at 2.30.
-michael and i attempt to find an explanation for what we've just witnessed, fail miserably, and fall into a troubled sleep in the backseat of ethan's car.

Wikipedia lists this time period as Personal Struggles: 2000-2006.

2004: I meet Sean SC for the first time at a show that DUC is playing with him. He covers Metal Heart. Meanwhile, CP releases the experimental performance film Speaking for Trees.
2006: CP sobers up and releases The Greatest. I don’t think it’s The Greatest. My friends and I lament the effect the death of her alcoholism has had on her art and drink PBR.**

*Facts brought to you by Wikipedia.
**Inner-record store clerk inappropriate dark comment.


Nude as the News.mp3

Jackson, Jesse,
I’ve got a son in me.
Jackson, Jesse,
I’ve got the son in me.
And he's related to you,
He's related to you,
He is waiting to meet you.
He's related to you,
He's related to you,
He is dying to meet you.

May 11, 2009

Wild Years//I'm Not Coming Out

Good Morning. And what hast the postman wrought?
What is Monday Mail?

Now if you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m a sucker for the Ace Deuce (for those out of the know, Ann Arbor), thanks to my five+ year tenure. Of course, that made me pay a little extra attention to this email from Alex, who wrote this:

We're Wild Years. A folksy/indie band from Ann Arbor, Michigan. We just self released a new EP and unlike our last ones, which we gave away for free, we're trying to sell them.
Here I'm sending you a digital copy along with some art work in hope that maybe you'll like it, and maybe will want to post one of the songs one day. Anyways, I like the songs you post. You got good tastes.

Flattery will get you nowhere, Alex. Er. Wait…

KIDDING. Wild Years is here because they’re good, not because they’re from Ann Arbor (where I had a number of wild years! haha. ha. uh.) and like OSS. When Alex says folksy/indie, you should be thinking folksy/indie/lofi/melancholy, like Sebadoh or Smog; pretty double-tracked vox music to hang your head and shuffle your feet by.

This track is on their new EP, Where’d You Go?

I’m Not Coming Out.mp3

If I still lived in the mitten, I’d be heading to their Trumbellplex show, for sure! If you’d like to know more, you can find it all out here. Also, you heard the man. They’re trying to sell some albums, so help them out with that.

I’m not coming out
Until there is a crowd
Out there waiting for me.

May 8, 2009

Pursesnatchers//Library Date

Sweet, cute and local.
Tell me...what is this Local Music Fridays?

We had the pleasure of playing with these guys at Death by Audio when we were on tour. They were great!

The band Pursesnatchers doesn’t much seem like they’d snatch your purse. In fact, we stacked our equipment up next to theirs for hours that night and they didn’t snatch any of our guitars or amps or other stuff. Although, come to think of it, I am missing two patch chords from that night. I’m looking at you guys.

I especially liked this song live.
Awesome things about it:
1. It sounds cute, just like a library date.
2. It accurately captures the sweet nostalgia of college and “college love.”
3. Is that a farfisa? It’s making me die with happiness.

Also I really admire that, according to their myspace page, the band is “bracing [itself] for Yo La Tengo comparisons.” Apt. But not like that’s a bad thing!

Library Date.mp3

Our love was a product of particular times.
And we can’t go back.
No, not that.

May 7, 2009

Elliott Smith//Baby Britain

It’s rainy. It’s dour. It’s Elliott Smith time.

I want to say that this is not my favorite Elliott Smith song because how can you have just one favorite Elliott Smith song? You can’t. What I will say about Baby Britain is that it holds giant significance for me namely because it was the first Smith song I ever heard, and as such, I consider it as a major gateway to the rest of the Smith cannon as well as a number of other artists I found through my enjoyment of Smith.

I can remember the exact moment when I first heard this. It was rainy and grey, just like today. It was likely 1999. I was sitting in the office of my parent’s house listening to WFUV, my middle school/early high school favorite radio station, on the antique radio that sounds all warm and sweet and old timey. This song came on and blew my mind.

When they announced that this was a new song from a new album by Elliott Smith, I remembered that my recent ex-boyfriend had been talking this dude up. I immediately went onto…wait for it...NAPSTER (don’t tell my parents I had NAPSTER installed on the home computer—are you guys reading this? I have no idea what I’m typing right now) and grabbed everything I could find, which was roughly six tracks, including a few from Roman Candle. I’m sure each track also took roughly five hours to download. YOU KIDS DON’T KNOW HOW GOOD YOU HAVE IT! I HAD TO TRUDGE THREE MILES TO SCHOOL IN THE SNOW AND USE DIAL-UP 56KB INTERNETS!!!!

Smith is a melodic genius and a lyrical craftsman whose bizarre and premature death made him into an indie rock legend. It sounds over-the-top, but I don’t think many would argue that each song and album he created in his too-short life was highly exceptional in its own way. Of course, this track follows suit.

Baby Britain.mp3

We knocked another couple back,
The dead soldiers lined up on the table,
Still prepared for an attack.
They didn't know they'd been disabled.

May 6, 2009

Fleet Foxes//Mykonos

Just when you think that the Animal Band Names trend might FINALLY be dying… the next thing you know your best friend is telling you that Crocodiles (who sound, much or not much to their dismay, exactly like JAMC) is the new new. In the spirit of this strange and undeniable happening, we here at OSS are introducing a brand new and extremely useful tag: Animal Band Names Trend.

In one of my King’s film classes, we spent a lot of time talking about how popular cinema was almost universally reflective of the societal fears and anxieties of the time. For example, Cold War-era movies focus a lot on the covert threat of the other (see: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Rebel Without a Cause). Could this recent slew of Animal Names have something to do with our disconnection from the natural world (ahem, you are reading a MUSIC BLOG right now)? Or does it have more to do with unimaginative twenty-somethings who have grown tired of inventing absurd names for their abundant bands? Methinks the former holds more weight. When has anyone ever had trouble coming up with a weird name for a band? Never.

This reminds me of the time when my college friends and I decided to start a band called “Tracy Chapman” just so we could say, “Hi, we’re Tracy Chapman. We wanted to thank Fleet Foxes for letting us open up for them.” In fact, once you come up with a clever band name, it’s almost certain that your band won’t ever actually exist (Tracy Chapman never even had a rehearsal, let alone a firm lineup). Some other bands my friends and I named and never started: our quintessential emo band, The Sweater Chain; the devo cover band, Emoticon; the as-of-yet-genre-unknown-but-I’m-guessing-either-late-70s-inspired-yacht-rock-or-80s-popish, Sweetie….

Anyway, I’ve digressed. Whatever the cause of this beast moniker indie frenzy, in celebration of our embracing this somewhat annoying/somewhat endearing habit of all the hottest indie bands, whether they be experimentally fresh or delightfully derivative, please welcome Animal-Name-of-the-Day Fleet Foxes.

Fleet Foxes, where do I begin? This band started getting major buzz last year. I found their records to be lovely, pleasant and for the most part kind of homogenous. Not to say I didn’t enjoy listening to them and not to say that some songs didn’t stand out. Their sound is laden with layered vocal harmonies and rich folk sounds, augmented by dramatic builds. What’s not to like? Enjoyable.

For a while I noticed when their songs would pop up in my iTunes or that their album would be on in the background when grabbing a meal with friends at our favorite neighborhood Mexican joint. Then, like so many over-hyped bands, they faded away to make room for the next over-hyped (possible Animal Named) band to take their place. They might have been lost to me almost forever if not for my internet friend (who has strangely disappeared from the internet lately—you ok, Megan?), who posted this amazing video which sparked a resurgence in my consciousness.

Going out of my way to listen to them again, this song is what I get stuck on. The lyrics are mysterious and suggestive of ancient mythological tales (hello, Greece!). Having had the experience recently, I would like to suggest that everyone listen to this song on decent headphones while walking uptown from the World Trade Center through Tribecca (either along Church or West Broadway) and into Chinatown on a grey but temperate day. It’s perfect.

As for Animal Names, expect more in the future. It’s been a few years now; I don’t think this one is going anywhere anytime soon.


Brother, you don't need to turn me away.
I was waiting down at the ancient gate.

May 5, 2009

Liz Phair//Cinco De Mayo

Happy holiday!

Cinco De Mayo.mp3

Cinco De Mayo,
Burn out Ohio,
It wasn’t me this time
Letting you go.

May 4, 2009

Story of the Sea//Smoking

Save it for a rainy Monday (Mail).
What is Monday Mail?

Publicists bombarding you with emails about their 58973 bands can get a little overwhelming. That said, Ian from Vitriol has yet to disappoint me, as a much higher percentage of his bands are worth the while. Story of the Sea appears to be no exception. From the band’s bio:

Do brothers make bands better?
The Beach Boys? Sure. Oasis? Wellll...
No matter the verdict, in the case of Minneapolis' Story of the Sea, whatever patented sibling telekinesis a quartet can benefit from, the Prince brothers have it in spades.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for Minneapolis (and Michigan!) exports, but I’m down with these guys. The brothers Prince (presumably no relation to the other Minneapolis-based Prince of fame) make reference to genre-hopping, but what I hear in Story of the Sea is a straightforward well-executed hybrid of power pop and indie rock, which I love. The vocal quality and melodies remind me of a Jason Falkner or a Josh Clayton Felt or even a more upbeat Rufus Wainwright.

Additionally, musical composition and style aside, I think we can all identify with the idea of one stupid decision changing the course of your life. Inhale. Exhale. Empty bank account.


If I didn’t start smoking, I might have been a millionaire.

May 1, 2009

Press Color//Like Cancer

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

In August of 2006, my friend Cayden put on a local music festival in Ann Arbor called Lawnaroo. I played one of the shows (in a weird church space, maybe?) on the same night as a band then called Novel Citizen. Although 2006 is a while ago now, this band is still kicking and even has a snazzy new band name, Press Color.

Yes, the summer of ’06—that was a great one. It was my last summer in A2 and as a result, I was crazy. I spent most of my time hanging out with friends, drinking, bbqing and setting off fireworks. Actually, we were known to take monthly trips down to Ohio to eat a Waffle House and purchase cheap fireworks. Ohio, you are good for something.

This was also the summer where Emily housesat for some bougie ex-hippies out in Chelsea and we scheduled our lives around being at their gorgeous country house, outfitted with two pups, a tire swing, an ATV and a pond for swimming and kayaking, as much as possible. Golden, golden summer.

Anyway, at Lawneroo, I remember being impressed with how these guys sounded, especially for how young they seemed to me (I’M OLD). Now, getting a chance to listen to some of their newer recordings, I’m even more impressed. Press Color effectively blends funk and punk (pfunk? fpunk? ?unk?) into something pretty avant garde and new, not unlike the sound sometimes delivered by The Fall (although a bit more formal in presentation).

Like Cancer.mp3

Press Color is coming to NYC in June. Stay tuned for more info on dates.

Summer Jam: In the Summer of 2006, Cuban president Fidel Castro temporarily relinquished power to his brother Raúl after health issues. Also, Spinach contaminated with E. coli killed 2 and poisoned over 100 others in 20 states.