An ocean of tunes for Wednesday

Last night I made the effort to go out and watch the Celtics crap away a game they could have won. It was especially frustrating because with the exception of Ray Allen the team played intensely poor basketball. Lackluster defense and poor execution of the offensive end. And still, they could have won the ball game if they played a modicum better in the fourth quarter.

It’s apparent, more than anything else, that the Lakers are not the better team in this series. But that in no way guarantees the Celtics will wrap this thing up for banner #17.

I watched the game from a pizza place with a poor reception and me thinks I should have stayed home to stream the radio feed from my computer. Oh well.

Here’s some tunes that have been getting me through the past week and a half. I know there’s a heat wave going on back east, but out here in Portland it’s the middle of June and I’m wearing a winter coat in the morning and using a bit of heat when I get up. Ridonkulous.

The Hold Steady are streaming their new LP Stay Positive. It’s a doozy of an album. Similar to their past efforts but satisfying like Linus’s comfort blanket. Give a listen on their Myspace page.

Mp3: Sigur Ros – “Gobbledigook”

You’ve got to love a band that is self aware enough to title one of their songs after what it sounds like to listen to them, if you don’t speak Hopelandic, that is. But the Icelandic band has created a sound that defies language or location or time. An almost impossible feat. This one has a Dave Matthews guitar line, as if “Grey Street” were remixed by Animal Collective.

Mp3: Last Town Chorus – “Loud and Clear”

I had the chance to see Last Town Chorus open up for Kathleen Edwards a few weeks back. I didn’t care much for Kathleen Edwards, but was completely blown away by the one woman band of Last Town Chorus – otherwise known as Megan Hickey.

The band is Megan and her lap steel guitar and she uses it like a gut wrenching weapon; bending and twisting notes to wring every ounce of heartbreak and love from them. It is a simultaneously beautiful and frightening thing to watch. Her performance was like dark magic in that regard. There is nothing more spectacular than listening to music that is played in the silences between notes.

Also, the crowd was mostly made up of NPR listeners, seriously I was the youngest person in the audience, and they had no idea what to make of Megan Hickey. Sure, some clapped out of respect or being an automaton, but honestly I think most were scratching their heads in bemusement.

Mp3: Travis – “J Smith”

Scottish rockers Travis are one of the best going. For whatever reason they’ve slid below the radar, even after the superb 2007 album The Boy With No Name. They’re back in the studio working on a follow-up already, tentatively titled An Ode to J Smith. Word on the street is that this could be a concept album of sorts or at the very least the band’s stretching their musical chops. The first song from that album is a heartier rock affair and has drawn comparisons to Queen, though I don’t hear that. Still, the final half of the song is killer, with an excellent guitar solo leading into an operatic outro that is just chilling. It’ll be great to hear this one in context.

Mp3: Mason Jennings – “Soldier Boy”

There are two modes where Minnesota troubadour Mason Jennings shines: when he’s penning sensitive long songs or rocking out like a railroad busker. Isn’t that really all we want him to do? I’ve resigned myself to knowing that Mason will never be anything more than this, that the greatness I had hoped for him might be beyond his reach. Still, this is an ebulliently bouncy tune in the railroad busker tradition. There’s a line in this song that goes, “She broke my heart with my best friend’s name and my mind still works, but it’s not the same.” It’s odd phrasing, but somehow Mason makes it work.

Mp3: Love Psychedelico – “Standing Bird”

I had never even heard of this band until some promo material came across my way. BUT. I haven’t been able to stop listening to this song for about two weeks now. With it’s crunchy keyboards and full on attitude, this is one addictive song.

The band is a Japanese pop outfit and something tells me I’ll be digging deeper into their catalogue. I have no doubt that this will be my summer jam in 2008.

Mp3: Parenthetical Girls – “Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)”

I saw Parenthetical Girls (a Portland band) open up for Los Compesinos! last week and though they came off as taking themselves waaaaaay too serious, that is until the cloyingly cute keyboardist opened up her deadpan wit and sarcasm. I will begrudgingly admit that they have the chops and the sound to make a name for themselves. Their theatrical arty rock seems destined for the Pitchfork crowd and a good barometer for whether or not you might enjoy them is Sunset Rubdown – adventurous, unstructured songs, that have the ability to transform your world. And when they occasionally added a structured melody it was a thing to behold.

Still, though I danced like a crazy guy during Los Campesinos!, it’s been this band that I haven’t stopped thinking about. I’m intensely curious to hear what they sound like recorded and wonder where their career will take them. I could see it go either way – flame out or make it big.

Mp3: Tilly and the Wall – “Pot Kettle Black”

Tilly and the Wall hail from Omaha and are most noted for having a tap dancer as their percussionist rather than your standard drummer. Cool, but a gimmick like that only works if you can back it up and they certainly can. “Pot Kettle Black” comes roaring out of the gate and is a rave-up rock tune. It’s like a call to arms from start to finish.

Mp3: The Sweet Serenades – “I Can Never Die”
Mp3: The Sweet Serenades – “First Taste of Trouble”
Mp3: The Sweet Serenades – “Coming Closer”

You know sometimes you get strange emails and it’s like huh? Well, a while ago I got an email from this dude named Martin Nordvall. He was from Sweden. And though I’m sure he sent the email to like 500 other blogs he took the time to personalize it a bit so I was charmed.

And then I was floored by his band’s music. So much so I included three tracks to listen to! There is something in the water in Sweden. But The Sweet Serenades are Nordvall and his friend Mathias Naslund. And together they create some badass rock and roll. They obviously owe a huge debt to The Boss and The Stones, but also Kings of Leon and The Strokes. Think crunchy garage-riffs, hand claps, lots of ooh and aahs and shout backs.

The duo only has one EP under their belt, 2007’s First Taste [buy] and they should be coming out with an album in the fall of 2008. If this early taste is any indication I’ll be lapping up the full meal.

Shifting Gears

Things have been getting pretty busy around these parts for me and so I’m not quite sure the direction the site is going to take over the coming months. Though I’m sure for like the five people who check in everyday what it means is that I’ll probably be scaling back and maybe doing one giant post with some news, Mp3s, videos, trailers, etc. It’ll be like a Sly Oyster variety hour only you’ll get it in 10 minutes. We’ll see, just thinking out loud here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Girl March 19, 2009, 8:31 pm

    The quality of the info is what keeps me on this site, thanks!

  • Scotty D. June 12, 2008, 2:50 pm

    Don’t leave us Jimmy!!

  • Eve Isk June 12, 2008, 12:11 am

    wow, that was great music…thanx for sharing the same…