November 30, 2010

Wolfie//Rachel Carson

So, a few days ago, I was out to Dim Sum with some friends. You should probably know that I am OBSESSED with Dim Sum and am feeling sad about losing my favorite spot for it, Jing Fong, when I leave NYC in Jan. So, I’m trying to squeeze as much Dim Sum in as possible right now.

I was explaining to Ethan and Emily about how our friends Sharon and Jon couldn’t come along on this particular outing last minute. I said, “Boing Boing wrote up their Etsy and now they have to stay home all day babysitting the laser.”

“Did that sentence really just come out of your mouth?” quipped Ethan.

“I know, it’s ridiculous, right?”

But it’s true. Keeping in the spirit of yesterday’s post, I want to tell you about Sharon and Jon’s awesome project, Heroes of Science, which, yes, was written up on Boing Boing.

When this project was in its early stages, I was over brainstorming about a Kickstarter video with Sharon (more on that later). They showed me their original designs and I immediately started humming this song.

“Rachel Carson” is by a band called Wolfie. It’s not actually about Rachel Carson all that much. Wolfie broke up about 10 years ago and never really had any hits. Still, I fucking love this track. It’s a perfect little nugget of pop.

As you can imagine, there is a Hero of Science ornament featuring Rachel Carson, although you might have to wait a few days to order—pretty sure Mr. Eavesmade and his giant laser from the 90s is a bit overrun at the moment. Lucky for me, I got sent home with a prototype.

Rachel Carson.mp3

Rachel Carson, she wrote a book
Informed everyone all about the past.

November 29, 2010

Laura Barrett//Robot Ponies

Cyber Monday Mail
What is Monday Mail?

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was spent with family and good friends, and was fantastic as usual. Thanksgiving is a great American holiday. For the most part, it transcends religion, race and a lot of the other kinds of identity bullshit that can often trip us up. It unites us as people who all live together in this weird country. It reminds us to really give thanks for all our blessings.

Granted Thanksgiving also comes with some issues—mainly Black Friday/Cyber Monday, the beginning of the holiday shopping season. It’s as if it’s not enough just to be happy with what we have, WE NEED MORE! WE NEED DEALS! YEAH!

I would be derelict in my duties if I didn’t mention that I spent some of my Thanksgiving working, writing retail copy for various emails going out on Cyber Monday. And in celebration of this Cyber Monday, I thought I would post a song that fits with the theme.

You might remember Doug Hoyer from a few weeks ago. Well, in our email exchange, he sent me this:

I was going to ask:

Have you heard of Laura Barrett? Since we're talking about sci-fi songs...

She's a friend of mine from the Toronto area, who does her own thing but also plays in a Canadian group called The Hidden Cameras. For her solo output, she mostly plays kalimba, and honestly reminds me of Kate Bush.

But she has this song called Robot Ponies, about Christmas time for children in the year 2053. It's both beautiful and a bit spooky, I find.

She has a video here:

Also, on her first full length she has lots of sci-fi titled songs (sometimes the theme isn't as obvious). I remember calling her out on the instrumental she named after a Ray Bradbury short story, "Escape to the Sun Dome" (along side other futuristic numbers like "To the Stars!" and "Star Seed: the Musical"

It might not be up your alley, but I think you might dig/appreciate it!

I have to say, since I first listened to this song, I have been completely obsessed with it. It’s so atmospheric. Spooky is the right word. Those kalimba sounds deliver a stark , sad feeling, perfect for a song about the consumerism of the future.

The lyrics are basically an advertisement for, well, robot ponies—the dream toy of all children in 2053. They ponies have a variety of functions. Some can swim (“we made those babies airtight”). Some are useful for cheering up old people (“the robot pony geriatric ranch”). The best part: they all whisper the affirming, “you know best.”

Witty and melancholy, wryly funny like a Vonnegut novel, this song is an amazing comment on American consumerism. You know best.

Robot Ponies.mp3

Tennis, golf and basketball,
These robot ponies do it all,
The fucking love it all.
They’ll tuck you in at night and sing to you,
“You know best.”

November 22, 2010

The Green Door Kids//Moody

Feelin' Moody: Monday Mail
What is Monday Mail?

I know, I know. MIA again. What can I say? WHIRLWIND!

Last week, I went upstate to the town where we're getting married to do some wedding stuff. Over the weekend, E. and I drove out to Pennsylvania to visit some dear friends. I've been working a lot, taking care of move logistics (at a two-steps-forward-one-step-back pace), gearing up for a big/awesome/involved cross-country art project, working on getting the last Palmyra EP together, doing my best to hang out with EVERYONE and starting to brace for the holidays. AHHHHH!

But lest you think all I do is bitch, I want to say that life is pretty rad, even if it's moving a little too fast and I'm feeling a little...well...moody about it. I wanted to choose a song that kind of embodies that feeling for today.

You probably know that I generally shy away from covers here, unless it's something really special and unique. Well, this is a great candidate. Of course, the original (by ESG) is phenomenal, but this is also pretty awesome. Andy at Optimo Music says:

Ever wanted to hear a bunch of kids tearing into the Stooges “I Wanna be
your Dog” and the sublime garage classic “Louie Louie”? Ever wondered what
it would sound like if you let an assortment of talented young musicians
from some of Glasgow finest new bands let loose in a studio to record
whatever they liked? And how about two 10 year old twins from Possil (via
Ghana) covering the infectious minimal dance grooves of New York's finest,

Hells bells… your wait is over!

The Green Door Studio opened its (confusingly black) doors to Glasgow's
vibrant music community at the end of 2007. Set up by three Glasgow-based
musicians Emily MacLaren (Michael Dracula/The Lady Vanishes), Sam Smith
(Mother & The Addicts) and Jamie Greer (Park Attack), who, sick of using
other people’s clinical digital studios and being told by engineers “You
can't do that..”, decided to create a musician-friendly space where
“Actually you can...”.

Having filled the studio with the creakiest and crankiest analogue gear,
the studio splits its time between recording commercial clients...and free music production workshops and recording opportunities for young people and unsigned musicians sponsored by The
Scottish Arts Council.

The recordings on this album are the results of these workshops and are
split between the Green Door Kids (aged 10-16) involved in the Youth Music
Summer School and their slightly more grown up counterparts (aged 18-25)
enrolled on the Song-Crafters Production Course. The young musicians
involved helped to engineer their own sessions and were all involved in
the mixing and production - the results are staggering.

Optimo Music will be releasing a vinyl of these recordings - 'Muzikal
Yooth' on the 23rd November.

This song is upbeat, a little out of control...also, well, moody. Feeling moody, yeah yeah. Very moody, yeah yeah. Trust me. This is worth it. More info here.


Can make you feel high, feel low
Feeling, feel like, like this...


November 16, 2010

Joy Division//They Walked in Line

Ok. I am going to admit it. I am overwhelmed. It's 75% good overwhelmed and 25% bad overwhelmed. I'm leaving New York in January and trying to tie up numerous creative, logistic and relationship loose ends. CRUNCH TIME.

Whenever I feel desperation start to set in, I just listen to Joy Division, because that shit is seriously depressing...and it can't be as bad as all that, can it?

The jams are, of course, also seriously awesome. This song is from 1978's Warsaw (which was also an early name for the band, along with Stiff Kittens, which sounds like a great name for a grunge band from the 90s). Warsaw, which is rough and raw and more solidly punk then most of what came after it, is an incredible album top to bottom. There's a story behind the record, which was never actually released. It was meant to be Joy Division's first album, but the band was unhappy with the post work done by RCA, so the whole thing was scrapped. Even before the internet, that didn't keep it from being circulated as bootlegs and that's what this is. It wasn't commercially released until 1994. And that's also why this track, and the others on the album, sound kinda rough. More about the album here.

As per usual, the subject matter's dark, and about the Nazis.

The weather that's been occurring over the last few days has been an exact replica of British winter. Grey, a little damp, a subtle chill in the air. If you close your eyes and sip some tea, you can almost convince yourself you're in Manchester. Do that, for me, whilst I run around like a chicken with its head cut off.

They Walked in Line.mp3

Wearing the shame of all their crimes,
With measured steps,
They walked in line.

November 11, 2010

Jamiroquai//Virtual Insanity

I drank a Starbucks coffee at 6pm last night and ended up being totally wired until 6am this morning. The result is that I'm totally weird and spacey right now, so if this makes no sense at all, that's why. Pick-me-up? Why, yes, please.

How about this classic hit from the 90s? It's smooth. It's funky. It was predictive of what was coming at the time, and what is now here. Actually, some of the lyrics are downright dystopian, touching on genetic modification and our technologies changing the way that we live and interact with others. It was kind of hard to notice how serious the song was while watching Jay Kay dancing around on that moving floor, surrounded by cockroaches, moving couches around with his mind...and that...hat? I love the 90s.

Also, did you guys know that Jamiroquai was named by combining the word "Jam" with the word "Iroquois"? I actually don't know what to say about this.

This song was an ultimate one-hit-wonder. I mean, has anyone even heard this album? Was it any good? Even if it's not, who cares? This track is amazing.

Virtual Insanity.mp3

Futures made of virtual insanity
Now always seem to be governed by this love we have
For useless, twisting, all our new technology.
Oh, now there is no sound,
For we all live underground.

November 9, 2010

Al Green//Tired of Being Alone

I'm back, again, from California. I arrived yesterday on the red eye and was met immediately with cold grey sleet. Welcome home. No coincidence that my friend who works at the neighborhood coffee shop asked me, "are you gonna make it?" when I went in to order my afternoon cuppa.

I thought I'd let America's own soul reverend express this feeling for me, as only he can.

I've had many a sweet memory to which "The Rev." has provided the soundtrack--washing dishes at the co.op where many friends lived in Ann Arbor, slow dances at late night dance parties, silly evenings at home with my family, roadtrips, the list goes on...

Green got his start as part of the Arkansas/Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Gospel quartet, The Green Brothers. In a sort of bizzare twist, his own father kicked him out of the group when he was caught listening to Jackie Wilson. From there, he formed a group called Al Green & the Creations, which eventually lead him to R+B/Soul stardom. That said, his early Gospel roots never disappeared, and after a strange domestic violence incident in the mid-70s, he returned to the church and became ordained. He has gone back and forth a few times regarding his musical style, sometimes singing Gospel, other times R+B/Soul. Regardless, it's good.

This song, released in 1971, came in at #293 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. I do tend to believe that Rolling Stone is generally irrelevant to what's going on in the music world at this time, but, I do have to acknowledge that this list is pretty awesome. Although I wasn't aware of it when I started OSS, I agree with a number of their selections which have been independently featured here.

I'm So Tired of Being Alone.mp3

I'm so tired of being alone.
I'm so tired of on-my-own.
Won't you help me, girl,
Just as soon as you can?

November 5, 2010

Red Tail Ring//Woods That I Know

Northern Music for a SoCal Friday: Local Music Friday
What's up with Local Music Fridays?

It's been a while since I was able to deliver a proper Local Music Friday and I don't want to keep you waiting any longer.

It seems a little wrong to be posting this from where I'm sitting in this Orange County 90 degree heat, since this music is so, well, northern. It's right for tbe cold-weather, perfect for cozying up in a cabin in the woods.

Dear friend Michael Beauchamp and his lady Laurel Premo have conceived of a project that provides some updates on the content of old timey folk songs, while keeping the feeling of the music perfectly intact. Indeed, the project is so dead on in execution that if not for the high recording quality, you might wonder if Michael and Laurel were singing to us directly from some remote appalachian hill in the 1930s. Keep on the sunny side. Or, maybe not. A lot of these songs are deliciously dark or at very least recontextualized in a thought-provoking way.

The song included here is actually a Premo-original, the only one on their first (and recently released) EP, August Roads. Picking a song was hard, as many of the tracks have a lot going for them. This one was selected because it's one of those songs that I cannot get out of my head once it's there. It's just there forever and ever and there's a reason for that. It's a well constructed song with a infectious banjo hook that's mirrored by the vocal melody. Laurel's banjo work constantly stands out as a highlight in the band. It's totally amazing to listen to (and watch live). I'm going to stop typing about it now. I will give you fair warning though. If you listen to it, you're going to want to listen to it again. And then you're going to be listening to it in your head for the rest of the day.

Red Tail Ring tours ferociously all over their home state of Michigan, so if you're lucky enough to live there, check 'em out. They occasionally make it out of the midwest too. You can get updates on their dates here.

Woods That I Know.mp3

I'll take my hand,
Lead myself to places only I know.

November 2, 2010

Nickodemus and Quantic featuring Tempo and Candela All-Stars//Mi Swing Es Tropical

By the explicit request of my righteous sister, I present this song, "Mi Swing Es Tropical," a collab between Quantic (AKA Will Holland, a British expat now based in Colombia) and New York DJ Nickodemus.

I'm not sure how the song first came to my attention. It was featured in an iPod ad with a particularly Latin flavor. It was also included on a mix that was given to me.

It really is a sweet song, proven by the fact that everyone I play it for instantly loves it. The drums, the trumpet, the sweet guitar lick, the general groove--it's the kind of song that makes you long for the beach, which is a bittersweet kind of song to listen to as the weather turns chilly.

Considering how awesome this track is and all the incredible hype it received, it is remarkably difficult to find information about it. It features Hector "Tempo" Alomar, presumably on vox and The Candela All-Stars (a Latin music collective), who I can only imagine supplied the original music.

Mi Swing Es Tropical.mp3

Google Translate comes up with this for the meaning of the chorus:
You dance well, he rejoices more.

The song seems to be about someone trying to teach someone else to dance and imploring them to do with with a little more passion. Within that context, it makes sense. Although I do think it sounds better in Spanish.