January 29, 2010

Boards of Canada//1969

Friends, Time Travel Week is coming to an end and my grand plan is to strand us somewhere in the summer of 1969, maybe in some kind of commune, probably on some hallucinogenic drugs. Maybe Altamont? Maybe Woodstock?

Speaking of Altamont, yesterday A. and I went to the Brooklyn Museum to catch Who Shot Rock and Roll? before it closed. There is an awesome picture of The Rolling Stones playing to adoring, if distressed, looking fans, while a Hell's Angel Security Guard pushes crowds back in the background.

Soundscapes presented by BoC are strange, deeply analogue and pretty. This song is from Geogaddi, which was released in 2002. One member of the band, Sandison, described the album as "a record for some sort of trial-by-fire, a claustrophobic, twisting journey that takes you into some pretty dark experiences before you reach the open air again." From Wikipedia: "Geogaddi's development allegedly involved the creation of 400 song fragments and 64 complete songs, of which 22 were selected."


1969, in the sunshine.

The Year in Music, 1969: In addition to Woodstock and Altamont, 1969 saw the formation of Black Sabbath, Mott the Hopple and ZZ Top. The Beatles released Abbey Road. The two highest charting singles were "Get Back" by the Beatles and "Honkey Tonk Woman" by The Rolling Stones.

January 28, 2010


Now let's go forward 17-18 years, to roughly 2000, which is what I think is implied by the title of this song.

Gorillaz was a kind of strange animated "virtual" supergroup featuring, among others, Blur's Damon Albarn, CIbo Matto's Miho Hatori, rapper Del tha Funkee Homosapien (who is amazing, and sadly absent from this track). Instead of the musicians, the band was portrayed as weird cartoon gorillas animated by Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl). It was weird, but it worked.

This is one of the rare songs that was actually written/released in/around the year after which it was named. What can we surmise from the lyrics about 2000?

-Things are starting to feel like they are moving too quickly.
-Nike shoes are popular.
-Monkeys easily get confused.
-Get the cool shoeshine.

Ok, so at least half of this song is nonsense, but I was alive in the year 2000 and I'm sure at least half of that year was nonsense too. Dig it?


And if time's elimination,
Then we got nothing to lose.
Please repeat the message,
It's the music that we choose.

Time Travel Definition: Per wikipedia, a Time Loop "is a common plot device in science fiction (especially in universes where time travel is commonplace) in which time runs normally for a set period (usually a day or a few hours) but then skips back like a broken record. When the time loop "resets", the memories of most characters are reset (i.e. they forget all that happened). This situation resembles the mythological punishment of Sisyphus, condemned to repeatedly push a stone uphill only to have it roll back down once he reached the top, and Prometheus, condemned to have his liver torn out and eaten by an eagle each morning," aka Groundhog Day.

January 27, 2010


Now, let's travel just a few years into the future, to 1982, where future K Records all star Mirah (who has been mentioned before) is playing Atari in her living room, probably in Bala Cynwyd*, PA, just outside of Philly.
*Sidenote: I really love when people not familiar with the Philadelphia metro area attempt to pronounce "Bala Cynwyd." It's "Ba La Kin Wood," for the record, homies.

A year later, in 1983, THE HUMBLE NARRATOR OF THIS BLOG will be born in Hackensack, NJ. A few years after that, my family would frequently travel to see family friends who had, awesomely, an Atari (ready for home use in, really?, 1977) AND a pinball machine in their basement. Some particularly bright childhood memories for me were the mornings spent in their old Pennsylvania farmhouse in PJs with the family's oldest son and still dear friend Matt, playing Pac Man, Donkey Kong and some military-ish shooting game that I can't remember the name of. Matt?

Old school video games are awesome. Did you know that you can now download emulators for computers and play all your favorite games from childhood. I recently did this at the urging of some friends/bandmates and my life hasn't been the same, not necessarily in a good way. Mostly, I've been glued to a chair listening to the audio version of Game Change (which is completely cheap and salacious) while frantically trying to defeat pixelated viruses with pixelated pills in Dr. Mario.
Also, if you live in NY, you can go play all the arcade versions of these old games in person, while drinking overpriced microbrews, at Barcade in Williamsburg. I have a friend coming to town from LA this weekend and I am thinking about putting this on our list of places to hit up.

Anyway, video game digression aside, the point of this is that if you were a child of the 80s, like I was, life was pretty rad. We had the fun of video games (and, as Mirah points out, the fun drama of destroying our friends and siblings at them), Saturday morning cartoons and the Sunday funnies, but not the electronic time-suck of the internet and cell phones. We played outside a lot and would later be excited by things like snap bracelets. Public Enemy and Faith No More were just forming, while ABBA and The Eagles were breaking up. Life was good.


Frogger, I'm a frog.
Breakout, you're a dog.
You're a dog for trying to run me over.
1982, I'm playing Atari
In my living room.

Time Travel Prep: Now that we're in 1982, you should probably know some key facts so you can blend in, BTTF style. In the US, we're having a recession and Toyota just came out with a new kind of car. It's called the Camry. Cal Ripken JR. is going to break records, the St. Louis Cardinals are going to win the World Series and Time Magazine's Man of the Year is going to be, for the first time, non-human: the computer. Very interesting, considering that Apple's about to introduce it's much-hyped Tablet-of-the-Future today. 1982, how far we've come.

January 26, 2010

The Smashing Pumpkins//1979

Now, my time-travelling friends, let’s go back to 1979, or at least to 1995 when this song was released on mammoth chart-topping double album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins.

I have to say, I was never really a Pumpkins fan. As a kid, I found Corgan’s voice whiney and grating. In spite of that, I always liked this song and the video that went with it. Also, strangely, I think I like the band’s sound now, as an adult, more than I ever did when they were popular. In fact, just writing this makes me want to revisit their entire body of work.

Regardless of how I feel about the band, this album was an incredible success, with five singles, four of which went Top 40. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," anybody?

Between the lyrics and the video, Corgan and co. paint 1979 as at once brightly youthful and boringly suburban. Populated by “poured cement,” mild drug use, “the vacant and the bored,” lonely afternoons and a general feeling of aimlessness, the teenage angst in the song is kind of beautiful. In a way, it sucks and the narrator feels isolated from/confused by society as a whole. On the other hand, the ties formed between the narrator and other isolated kids in the scene are perfect, intense and interesting.

Of course, in the greater world, outside of the universe of the song, lots of things were happening in 1979. In Iran, the Islamic Revolution swept through the country. China invaded Northern Vietnam. In Montenegro and Albania, a completely destructive 7.0 earthquake struck. In the UK, the IRA was bombing things left and right--Margaret Thatcher also became prime minister. In America, there were riots in San Fransisco over the verdict for Dan White, who shot Harvey Milk. Beyond that, in the states, we got the Susan B. Anthony dollar, Skylab and the death of famed sitcom horse Mr. Ed. I guess we can understand what Corgan was writing about, after all.

As for 1995, when the song was released, the year was a turning point for music and technology. Corgan stated that “1979” was the most personally important song on his band’s new record, indicating that it would be a forbearer for a new sound, “something that combines technology, and a rock sensibility, and pop, and whatever, and hopefully clicks.”

In 1996, just a year later, a girl would be killed in a wild mosh pit at a Pumpkin’s show in Ireland and SP keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin would OD on heroin and die, marking the beginning of the end for the band.

But, for now, let’s not think about that. Instead, let’s think about our friends rolling us through artificially green fields of subdivisions in giant old tires:


We don't even care, as restless as we are.
We feel the pull in the land of a thousand guilts
And poured cement, lamented and assured
To the lights and towns below.

Time Travel Definition:Acording to Wikipedia: "A time slip (also called a timeslip) is an alleged paranormal phenomenon in which a person, or group of people, travel through time through supernatural (rather than technological) means. ...Many time slip witnesses report that, at the start of their experience of the phenomena, their immediate surroundings take on an oddly flat, underlit and lifeless appearance, and normal sounds seem muffled. This is sometimes accompanied by feelings of depression and unease." Learn more.

January 25, 2010


Before we kick off the week: OSS finally jumped on the social networking bandwagon (about 1-4 years late, but oh well). You can now follow the jams on Twitter and Facebook.

Speaking of technology, I would like to officially welcome you to Time Travel Week here on OSS. Prepare to be jostled around as we move between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space!

Last week, I had dinner with a friend and we got into a long, intense conversation about what would happen if we lost the grid. This is one of my favorite conversations and usually leads me to fantasize about the hell that would occur when post-digital information age, we realize that no one in our society actually knows how to do anything anymore and we are hurdled into another dark age. I have a few friends who are carpenters and farmers. I am looking at you guys. If this ever happens, I will be showing up at your doors.

With that in mind, let’s travel to the future. Brooklyn buzz band Yeasayer just released a new album that sounds, from what I’ve heard of it so far, great. On their previous release, All Hour Cymbals, they wrote about 2080.

The version of the future (and the resistance to thinking about it too much) described in the song feels pretty bleak. The narrator suggests that we “grab at the chance to be handsome farmers,” implying that our current situation likely won’t hold long. The way the song sounds, I can’t help but imagine post-apocalyptic urban hells taking over our once-thriving cities and small farming communities dotting our countrysides, with people returning to old ways as lack of resources leads civilization to revert to simpler times. The narrator also acknowledges that he’ll “surely be dead” by the time any of this comes to pass.

Until tomorrow, enjoy your stay in 2080. If you get bored, you can always get back in the DeLorean for some more.


I can't sleep when I think about the times we're living in.
I can't sleep when I think about the future I was born into.

Time Travel Fact: It’s unclear where the idea of time travel first emerge, although some point to an early example around 700 BC. From Wikipedia: Ancient folk tales and myths sometimes involved something akin to travelling forward in time; for example, in Hindu mythology, the Mahabharatha mentions the story of the King Revaita, who travels to heaven to meet the creator Brahma and is shocked to learn that many ages have passed when he returns to Earth.

January 22, 2010

Modern Medical Miracle//Right By Your Side

Stop Motion. Fridaytime. Local Music Friday.
Tell me...what is this Local Music Fridays?

Alan Markley, a friend of a friend, has a band called Modern Medical Miracle, who we played a show with at one of my least favorite (and now thankfully defunct) NYC spaces, The Annex. Of course, the crappiness of the venue doesn't have anything to do with Markley's songs, which are fun and upbeat.

Alan sent along this video last week and it's really too cute not to put up here. The video and the song correctly capture that rapturous moment when you feel yourself falling in love. It's impossible to avoid being precious, saccharine and a tad cheesy when venturing into this subject matter, but MMM embraces it (think: that ridiculous but perfect Hall and Oates-backed dance sequence in 500 Days of Summer) and comes out on the other end endearing and intact. Besides, it's hard to take a stop-motion stick figure made of bent paper clips dancing around in a teacup TOO seriously.

Right By Your Side.mp3

It's feeling right,
Right by your side.

January 21, 2010

The Fugees//The Mask

As I'm sure you know, last week Haiti had one hell of an earthquake and shit is seriously fucked up there right now. In the wake of that disaster, I wanted to remind everyone to donate to relief efforts via text (or other means) and that the man making this all possible is none other than WYCLEF, member of one of my favorite '90s NJ (W.O.!) hip hop outfits, The Fugees.

On a lighter note, when this album came out, I was in 7th grade, and The Fugees BLEW UP. They were on the radio, on MTV. I went to a house party in London and the English kids were even playing them there. The Score is one of the jammiest albums, with some of the best rhymes. Hits like "Ready or Not," "How Many Mics?" and "Fu-gee-la" are completely bumpin', but I find that this song, about the mask that everyone is sometimes forced to hide behind, is consistently my favorite.

Once, some friends and I were listening to it and decided that someone should start a reality TV show based on one of the song's lyrics, "How would you like a quarter raise? Step up to the register?" The show, which would obviously be called "Quarter Raise," would revolve around a diverse cast of characters from around the country. It's too complicated to explain the rest, so I'm just gonna stop.

Also, another friend and I have had many conversations about Wyclef's frequent use of the term, "Haitian Sicilians." Usually, they start with the question, "dude, Wyclef, what ARE Haitian Sicilians?" The best guess I have is that it's a slangy way to refer to Haitian organized crime. If you know for sure, I would love it if you told me.

Back to the heavy stuff, I've heard both Pras (who made some pretty controversial statements about benevolent dictators on NPR) and Wyclef raising a lot of consciousness about Haiti (pre- and post- quake) and I think it's so awesome that they have always represented so hardcore.

Apparently The Fugees all kind of hate each other now, so don't hold your breath for a reunion...but please do enjoy this jam and give Haiti a hand.

The Mask.mp3

"How would you like a quarter raise? Move up the register?
Large in charge, but ya gotta be a spy,
Come back and tell me who's baggin my fries,
Getting high on company time."
Hell no sirree, wrong M.C.
Why should I be a spy, when you spying me,
And you see what ya thought ya saw but never seen.
Ya missed ya last move,
Checkmate! Crown me king!
Hold my 22, pistol whipped him in the face.
Hired, now I'm fired,
Sold bud, now I'm wired,
Eyes pitch red, but the beat bop my head.
Hit the streets for relief, I bumped into the Feds.
I got kidnapped, they took me to D.C.,
Had me working underground building missiles for World War III.

January 20, 2010

Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil//Cada Macaco no Seu Galho

I just figured, since you were already dancing, I'd let you keep dancing.

Caetano Veloso, singer, songwriter and political activist, is amazing across the board. He's from the state of Bahia (mentioned in this song), which is the heartland of awesome Brazilian music and rhythm (and a place I would really like to visit someday). He moved to Rio in the late 60s, in hopes of breaking into the Bossa Nova scene. Instead, he helped find The Tropicalismo Movement (Tropicalia). Thanks, guy. That was a way more awesome thing for you to do.

In 1968, Veloso was arrested for "disrespect(ing) the national anthem and the Brazilian flag." In 1969, Veloso (and Gilberto Gil, who is also featured on this song) went into exile after threats by Brazil's then-totalitarian government about what would happen if they played music in the country. They moved to London and did not return to Brazil until 1973, when the political situation had eased.

I think the dedication shown by this man to his art is really outstanding. When someone told him he was not able to compose and perform (political) music, he left the country instead of backing down. Admirable and courageous. It's so interesting to contrast the craft and politics of Bob Dylans and the Caetanos with the sleazy fame-seeking drama of American Idol Winners; perfect representations in the never-ending battle of art vs. entertainment.

According to babelfish, the title of this song translates to "Each Monkey in Its Twig." I'm thinking this is wrong and that it probably translates to "Each Monkey in Its Branch" or "Tree." I used to have many full translations of Tropicalia songs and I really wish I still had them, because the lyrics of these tracks are as sharp and clever as the music is original and engaging.

Cada Macaco no Seu Galho.mp3

Each monkey in its own twig?

January 19, 2010

Antibalas Ft. Mayra Vega//Che Che Cole Makossa

A.’s mom got this for me for Christmas and it is SO, SO AWESOME. I think Daptone is by far the coolest label in existence today. Every track is completely flawless; written, performed, recorded, mixed and mastered perfectly. Their artists really are that good.

This is one of my favorites right now. I hadn’t really listened to much Antibalas (which is Spanish for “bulletproof”) before. They’re from Bushwick and they’re modeled on Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 band (Femi has subsequently played with them). They’ve got plenty of chops and accolades, but if you’re the kind of person who pays even a mild attention to theater, you might know them as the backing band from the broadway smash “Fela.”

"Che Che Cole Makossa" seriously brings it. It’s features an awesomely funky beat and Mayra Vega’s energetic vocals. I was falling asleep on the PATH train this morning and when this song came on, it made me want to dance around (don’t worry, I didn’t).

I can’t recommend this comp enough. Just go buy it already. Get it on vinyl if you can.

Che Che Cole Makossa.mp3

The band's on tour in Australia in March, but you can catch them now in Fela.

January 18, 2010

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes//Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back)

Monday Mail: A Letter from Dad
What is Monday Mail?

How was your weekend? Mine was busy, but good. On Saturday I had a recording session in NJ, so I decided to stop at my parent’s house afterwards to say hi to my family, have dinner and play two rousing games of Scrabble.

When I got home, my dad started in about how I should definitely post a song to commemorate the life and passing of Teddy Pendergrass, who died on Wednesday. He reminded me that I had grown up listening to this album (I was raised with a strong allegiance to "Philly Soul") and then proceeded to play it through three to four times over the course of dinner and Scrabble (to be fair, by Scrabble we had mostly moved on to The Stylistics and The Supremes).

From the deep eye-rolls of the rest of my family (especially my younger sister, who seems to be particularly wounded by dad’s music jags), I could tell that since “Teddy Bear’s” passing, Harold & The Blue Notes had been in heavy rotation in the house.

“All his songs go on about three minutes too long” –my sister.

And so, from a true HM&TBNs enthusiast who continues to show unwavering support in the face of mild familial disapproval, at my request for song suggestions, dad writes:

You wanted Satisfaction Guaranteed and you can't go wrong with that one. Or any of the others. Personally, on reflection, the one that truly reflects the band's skills, Teddy's skill and the Disco Age is Don't Leave Me This Way. But if you use, note that the popular one that the woman turned into a big hit was a cover of the Blue Notes and not the other way around. Baby please!

Pendergrass had a rather amazing story. He started as a drummer and quickly became a very successful heartthrob of a lead singer (girls threw panties, he sometimes performed to female-audience-only shows). In 1982, a car accident left him paralyzed, which led him to do much charity work for spinal chord injuries. He died of colon cancer.

RIP Teddy. Your masculine voice and sexy live shows will be missed.

Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back).mp3 *

You ain’t got no reason to be nervous
Cuz Teddy Bear's gonna give you the best of service.

*This file skips a little. I am sorry about this. All the more reason to go buy the aforementioned album.

January 15, 2010


Set up on a Saturday: Local Music Friday.
Tell me...what is this Local Music Fridays?

Ok, so, while I've never actually met anyone in this band, their former bassist (who appears on this recording) is my BFF's girlfriend. AND, while I haven't met her either, I feel confident that I will, and thus, this music is local.

I've never been to Portland but if I were to go, I would probably try to time my visit with a Play/Start show because I can only imagine the kind of raucous fun they'd be live. On their facebook page, they describe themselves as "like rage against the machine on crack... and ecstasy!" On their myspace page, they describe themselves as "hella gay." I love the idea of these elements in combination.

The band released their first EP in late November and it contains five solid and fully-charged tracks. I like this one in particular because the hook is strong and catchy. The whole song is also supported by a choppy guitar line that empties out in a fast, thrashy build-up. Again, I can only imagine how awesome and fun this band is to watch live.


Everything you wanted to know about Play/Start is here.

January 14, 2010

Patti Smith//Gloria

I would like to introduce a brand new tag to the OSS tag universe today. Joining the ranks of such classics as Animal Band Names and Superlative Band Names, please welcome Classic Rock/R+B Songs Covered by Punk/Post-Punk Girls. There are more of these then you'd think there'd be.

From my perspective, Patti Smith is the crown jewel of New Jersey cultural exports (move over, Bruce). There's been quite a resurgence of interest in this poet/musician/artist/activist/general queen-of-the-downtown-scene recently thanks to a new documentary about her.

When I first got Horses, I listened to it obsessively on repeat. It is a beautiful, beautiful masterpiece of an album that sounded completely different than anything that had come before it at the time. Additionally, Smith is an incredibly influential songwriter/musician, especially to other female artists, with a legacy that stretches from Cat Power to REM to Kate Bush to Tori Amos to The Smiths to (no matter how much she denies it) PJ Harvey.

Smith has also worked with a to-die-for list of collaborators and punk greats, including John Cale (see: yesterday), The (aforementioned) Boss, Alan Ginsberg, Michael Stipe, Robert Mapplethorpe and Tom Verlaine (of Television; look forward to that post, guys). She was also married to Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5. OK. I'm totally done now. Patti Smith is basically the coolest person ever. Over.

This song was written by Van Morrison for his band Them...but honestly, who even cares? It's not that it's bad, but the sheer energy of this version knocks the original out of the park.


Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine.

January 13, 2010

The Velvet Underground//There She Goes Again

Since we're just taking the obvious route this week, here's a song by The Velvet Underground, who everyone said The Strokes copied/sounded like when they came out. I'm not sure that that's actually true. The Strokes met in prep school in the late 90s. The Velvets were formed in the mid-60s by Lou Reed, a heroin addict who was interested in avant-garde classical music and received electroconvulsive therapy to cure him of his homosexual tendencies as a child. Uhm? Casablancas kind of tries to sound like Reed sometimes. The Strokes drew on punk influences; The Velvets helped to create punk. They both formed in New York City, I guess. I'm out of ideas here.

My uncle gave me a homemade Velvet Underground mixtape in high school. Sometimes I played it in my room. My dad would come up and tell me that "they were bums!" but then, he would still admit to liking them anyway.

Also, for some reason, at the beginning of college, my friends and I all became obsessed with "I'm Sticking With You." I guess that reason is just because it's hilarious.

According to Wikipedia, "There She Goes Again" is pretty much lifted:
The syncopated guitar riff is taken from the 1962 Marvin Gaye song, "Hitch Hike", but is most likely influenced by The Rolling Stones' cover version, from their 1965 album Out of Our Heads.

There's a lot more I could write about The Velvet Underground here, but I'm sure you already know it. Right?

There She Goes Again.mp3

Take a look,
There's no tears in her eyes.
Like a bird,
You know she will fly.
What can you do?
(There she goes)
You see her walkin' on down the street.
(There she goes)
Look at all your friends that she gonna meet.
(There she goes)

January 12, 2010

The Strokes//Barely Legal

Ok. I just don’t know how not to do this. So, I’m going to do it. Let’s disregard the fact that, with a few little exceptions, I’ve pretty much hated everything The Strokes have done post Is This It?

Yesterday’s song just made me think and think about The Strokes and when I think and think about The Strokes, I think and think about this certain time and this certain little EP that my highschool boyfriend gave me in the summer of 2001. Class? Paying attention? We’ve covered this before. I’LL WAIT!

This 3-song EP has rawer, badder and just plain better versions of songs that would all end up on the band’s debut album, Is This It?, which arguably ushered in a new era of mainstream rock (one that at first would make stars out of previously smalltime garage and punk outfits like The White Stripes and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and later (read: now) would pave the way for the not-so-great “fuzzing of everything” trend).

Play these tracks alongside their Is This It? almost-twin sisters and you might not hear a huge difference…but listen closely. For example, in this song, the tempo’s slower. The production’s shittier (in a good way). The guitar’s sitting closer to the front in the mix. That I-really-don’t-give-a-fuck-at-all attitude is also sitting closer to the tip of singer Julian Casablancas’s tongue. The difference between MA and ITI? and all that followed: he really didn’t give a shit then. And hey, that’s just cooler. It’s fucking rock and roll, right?!

Barely Legal.mp3

I didn’t take no shortcuts.
I spent the money that I saved up.
Oh, mama, running out of luck
But like my sister don’t give a fuck.

January 11, 2010

The Octagon//Suicide Kings

Octagonal Trio, Monday Mail!
What is Monday Mail?

Good morning. Before we kick of the week with our regularly scheduled Monday Mail, I would like to remind you that today is the last day to nominate OSS (and all your other favorite blogs like Meals for Moderns, Brokelyn, Breeder's Digest, Daily Beatz and How Fucking Romantic) for Bloggies! Not to proverbially toot our own horns too much, but may I remind you that last year we almost won one of these things? If you enjoy OSS every day, every week or every once in a while, give us a shout-out and show us some love. We’d do that for you!

Meanwhile, Josh from Fanatic says:

The Octagon’s Will Glass and Zachary Mexico met as kids in boarding school when Glass made fun of Mexico’s Green Day t-shirt. The guys huddled together in dorm rooms, late at night, drinking from warm 40’s of St. Ides and handles of Captain Morgan, listening to Motown, Astral Weeks, Guided by Voices, Dead Kennedys, and The Grateful Dead. Eventually landing in NYC, Glass and Mexico met up with bass player The Bunny, forming The Octagon and touring behind two albums.
Other pursuits came calling and Mexico relocated to China - where he still spends part of the year - to write his first book, “China Underground” (Soft Skull Press, 2009) which became a bestseller in Singapore. Glass went on the road as the touring drummer for Dirty Projectors and The Bunny languished in Williamsburg, spending his days begging for money outside the Bedford Avenue L stop to support his gourmet sandwich habit.

And then, in the dark winter days of February 2009, the members of The Octagon found themselves back together and working on a new batch of songs in their dimly lit practice space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Led by the lo-fi recording expertise of Glass, the band spent three days laying down thirty tunes to analog cassette tape on two Tascam four-track recorders. The result is Warm Love and Cool Dreams Forever, an album full of Mexico’s warm Fender Mustang, Bunny’s full bass tones, and the clean and crisp jazz-inflected drumming of Glass.

The songs are concise bursts of energy – short and to the point -- showing off the band’s gift for penning simple, catchy melodies mixed with sonic and structural experimentation. It’s a cool enough sound to be represented on a boarding school kid’s t-shirt... and catchy enough for another one to make fun of him for.

Josh kinda said it all, huh? This song is awesome and the sound reminds me of a dirtier, lazier Strokes, when The Strokes were brand new. LoFi in that old school way. Strong melody. Good lyrics. I’m sold.

Also, I should add that as a kid, we played a few different variations of schoolyard handball. Weirdly, the names of these two varieties (always involving the school’s brick wall and a neon yellow/green tennis ball) were “Suicide” and “Kings.” Coincidence? I think not.

Catch The Octagon on 1/22 at Bruar Falls for their album release. They're also on an American tour right now AS WE SPEAK!

Suicide Kings.mp3

From New York to Chicago,
You’re the first one to be alone.
You’re the first one to turn me on.

January 8, 2010

Zoos of Berlin//Electrical Way

Enjoy this Local Music Friday at the Zoologischer Garten.
Tell me...what is this Local Music Fridays?

We had the pleasure of playing with these guys last month at Cake Shop. It's not that often that I go to a show and actually want to dance to the live music being played. While Zoos were playing, I couldn't keep still. Their tracks have a way of entering with an upbeat, danceable bang and then emptying out into a mellow jam.

Zoos has been around for a while and many of the group's members have played in other bands, including Red Shirt Brigade, Pas/Cal and The Pop Project (who I can remember seeing many times at The Halfass). They recently released a new album, Taxis, which is awesome through-and-through. Best CD trade I ever did. Buy it here.

This song is one of my favorites on the album (along with "Black in the Sun Room") and gives you a good idea of why it would be hard not to dance at one of their shows.

Electrical Way.mp3

And it's all about personal control.

January 7, 2010

The Whitest Boy Alive//Burning

Once, I played this song for Sean and Jon (the fraternal jazz-inclined rhythm section of my band) and asked them what they thought the name of the band was.
Sean thought for a second and then replied, "We're Really White."
"Close!" I said.

Racial stereotyping aside, Sean answered this way because The Whitest Boy Alive is really "white," in that they play things that could be funk in a really uptight staccato way. The band obviously understands this because they chose a particularly self-deprecating name.

The group started as a Berlin electronic outfit but has since become one comprised of all live instruments. There's also a familiar and much-loved face handling guitar and vox duties. That guy really keeps busy, huh?

This song is insanely catchy and good.

On another note, burning is also what I'm going to be if the bill in the NJ State Senate to legalize gay marriage fails. People think it will. Please direct your rage here.


So many people telling me one way.
So many people telling me to stay.
Never had time to have my mind made up,
Caught in a motion that I don't wanna stop.

January 6, 2010

Elvis Costello//You Belong to Me

I was DJing on New Year’s Eve at a restaurant in Park Slope, which was actually really fun. I spent a lot of the night talking to a group of people who had stopped in after the Dean and Britta show at Southpaw. They were kind of a DJ’s dream in terms of moral support—they kept cheering me on and asking questions about my selections.

At one point, one of the women in the group asked that I not play any Elvis Costello. I told her that I was thinking about playing “Watching the Detectives,” because it’s so awesome. But generally, I understand the pushback. I think This Year’s Model is one of the best albums ever Ever EVER, but I’ve also played it roughly 88 million times and may have played it out. Also, once you’ve got a talkshow (even if it is on Sundance), it’s over.

That said, GOD, I love this song with such abandon that I can’t resist putting it up here. Costello (whose real name is Declan Patrick MacManus—good move on that change) is one of the original school of punks—the kind featured in this essential book (a must read if you haven’t yet). He also pranked SNL in 1977, a stunt for which he should be lauded.

You Belong to Me.mp3

What are you girls gonna tell your mother?
I don't want to hear another word about young lovers
Or hiding your boyfriend in the cupboard.
She's been to see the doctor, so you hope that she recovers.

January 5, 2010

The Innocence Mission//Brave

On my way to work this morning, an Innocence Mission song from a friend’s mix popped onto my iPod. I was suddenly sent reeling down the rabbit hole of nostalgia.

People talk about smell being the most visceral sense memory and I believe that they’ve scientifically proven it to be so. That said, certain old songs can really tug me to very specific places and times in my life. The Innocence Mission’s album Glow brings me straight back to 1999. I remember listening to it in my room while lying on my bed staring at the ceiling. I remember listening to it in my friend Liz’s car as we drove to school on cold mornings or home from volleyball games with the sunroof open. It brings me back to a time when I didn’t really have much to worry about and for that reason, I am finding revisiting this album kind of addictive. I’ve been listening to it all morning.

A friend informed me that IM is a Christian band. I was slightly shocked, largely because I could never understand the lyrics—when I looked them up for this song, it became very apparent. I went to investigate further. Exhibit A: In 2000, they released an album containing their favorite hymns called Christ Is My Hope. Exhibit B: Perhaps even more “damning,” the band met during their Catholic school's production of Godspell. Yeek. That said, I don’t really have anything against subtly Christan bands (see: Pedro the Lion) and definitely don’t have anything against Christians (actual Christians, not right wing wingnuts who think we’re all (seriously ALL of us) going to hell).

A few quick interesting tidbits about IM—if you think they sound a little like Joni Mitchell, it might be because their first few records were produced by Larry Klien AKA Joni's ex-husband who also produced many of her records. Also, if you were culturally aware in the 90s, they may sound familiar to you because of their extremely successful commercial placement. Their songs were on the soundtracks of two 90s classics—the film Empire Records and the TV show Party of Five.


You cannot still your limbs.
Somehow, knowing what you do know
still you tremble out and in.

January 4, 2010

EP Island//Heart Fit

The First Monday Mail of 2010!
What is Monday Mail?

Hello OSS and welcome to the fourth day of the not-aughts! I missed you! It’s been a long and somewhat restful break. My holidays involved a mix lots of snow, drum lessons, pagan ceremonies, airports, hotel-dwelling, sight-seeing and bar-drinkin’ that spanned over three American cities. How were yours?

At the height of the “giving season,” LL from Down the Lees and EP Island wrote:

Guess what?? We are full of the giving spirit. So we are giving away free downloads for both EP Island albums! That's 6 songs (plus a bonus track) absolutely free! No catch - just free. So go to our bandcamp site and download Good'ish and Rad'ish - on us!

EP Island is an interesting concept. From the “band’s” page:

LL Schultz and Melanie Covey are EP Island, which is a home-studio-based songwriting and recording project, executed over intensive periods. They wanted to work together musically, but without the usual format of a band with weekly practices.

Basically, the group gets together and records EPs. This sounds way fun to me.

As you can probably imagine, the tracks coming out of these sessions are more raw than they are polished. That said, there’s something refreshing about listening to music that’s been conceived this way. Unprocessed and unpretentious, the songs capture some of the experimentation and spontaneity that come from jamming (for lack of a better word).

This song, “Heart Fit”—for those of you on New Year’s Diets, mixes the vox a bit to the back, which I enjoy. This, combined with the overlapping guitar lines, makes for something a bit like Sleater-Kinney lite. Not a bad start to the year at all.

Heart Fit.mp3

You can download both EP Island albums for free here.