Archive | February, 2009

New Recruit: Portland Cello Project

17 Feb


Portland Cello ProjectIndependent label Kill Rock Stars announced late last week that they had added a new act to their roster, namely the Portland Cello Project. A self described “independent orchestra” the PCP (heh) is deft if not occasionally loosely bound bunch of well, yes, obviously, portland based cellists. Anyway, this is all way way way awesome. Mostly because cello’s make sweet, sweet music, but also because they have a pension for covering interesting songs and collaborating with a barrage of talented musicians.  The record, to be released this summer, will include tracks by Thao Nguyen and Justin Power.

If you are not swayed weak in the knee’s with excitement based on this clip of the Portland Cello Project backing up Mirah doing a cover of the Kate Bush song “Hounds of Love”… (breath)… then theres really no hope for you is there?


It’s Blitz

14 Feb

© Autumn De Wilde

NYC based art/punk/pop(?) band Yeah Yeah Yeah’s recently announced the official release dates of their 3rd full length studio album and its first single. The album, to be called It’s Blitz, was produced by Nick Launay (Arcade Fire, Talking Heads) and Dave Sitek (of TV on the Radio) and is rumored to be swapping Nick’s signature guitar lines for a more synth heavy sound.

I want to say I’m not sure how I feel about this, but the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s have always struck me as a band that would have far more success if they stuck with playing new versions of “Maps” and “Date With The Night” over and over again. Which is not to say that they are not successful. However it was a welcome surprise, and one that garnered new respect for them, when I first heard “Gold Lion” the opening track from their 2006 release Show Your Bones. The addition of accoustic guitar and key was welcome then as I hope synths will be welcome now.

It’s Blitz will be released on April 14th and the first single Zero will be release Feb 24th.  In the meantime their cover of The Ramones song “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” is worth checking out.  And, for those that have not seen it, please enjoy the video co-directed/choreographed by Karen O for the Tiny Masters of Today‘s song “Hologram World.”  It is one of my favorite ever.

Credit Check: Mad Men

13 Feb

Mad Men

I have soft spot for well done TV shows.  I may have mentioned this before.  AMC’s Mad Men is my most recent fix.  Despite the enormous amount of praise it has received it wasn’t until the last month or so that I finally started watching.  Now I’m grateful for that lengthy delay of the inevitable cuz it means that I now have 2 seasons worth of episodes to watch at my leisure.  Oh awesomeness.  Anyway, the topic of the day is not so much the quality of the show, but that of its title sequence.  

The use of contemporary band RJD2‘s song “A Beautiful Mine” for the credits is at first surprising given its retro setting, but the choice couldn’t be a better fit.  It lets you know that in spite of our preconceptions about the so-called “glory days” of our recent american past, this will be a much more modern approach.  This is a show that dares to be honest rather than candy coat.  The visuals reaffirm this with an interesting, if not slightly simplistic blend of era specific advertising and modern rotoscoping.  But what I find the most interesting is the apparent allusion to suicide.  It’s no secret that the ad execs on madison avenue had a rather surprisingly high pension for offing themselves from office towers, and I was convinced that Pete Campbell was gonna take the leap when he was nearly fired in the fourth episode.  Which leads me to think that one of the characters will in the end kick their own bucket.   But, even if it proves to be a far less overt metaphor, the image of the man smoking in a chair is remarkably iconic and emblematic of the show.  In other words, I think its pretty tops.  And now I REALLY want to watch another episode.

Hello Seahorse

11 Feb

Hello SeahorseNew find of the week is Mexican band Hello Seahorse.  I know virtually nothing about this band other than that I need more of their music in my life.  Also their myspace page is almost completely in spanish so apparently I should really get on learning that language already, so as to better decipher it.  The U.S. release of “Hoy A Las Ocho” was released on indie label Magic Marker last year and I apparently missed the whole thing.  It’s OK though, I’m with it now.  Oh so very with it.  Their music is amazingly catchy and wonderful, just the thing for summer fun – or for that last gasp of winter when you’re dreaming of summer fun, as is more accurately my current situation.  At any rate, I need to find myself a copy of their album pronto, and if you don’t feel the same after watching the video for “Won’t Say Anything” then I think we need to have a serious talk.

Loving Takes This Course

10 Feb

Kath Bloom and Loren ConnorsI don’t know about anyone else but I love it when artists of any sort pay homage to those that inspired them. It can be an intriquing task no doubt, to try honor but not outdue, show humility without showing yourself to be less-than. This is certainly true when the artist in question is of the brand name status of The Beatles, Zepplin, Joplin etc. But when the tributee is relatively unknown it takes on new importance. There is a level of verite to it that is perhaps lost with those bigger artists, some sense that those who appear on the album are not just there for the de-facto boost in sales. If done right the tribute to an under appreciated musician can force the intoxicating feeling of discovery on someone who may not have been looking for it.

Why am I going on about this? Because I recently stumbled across news of a new tribute album to folk artist Kath Bloom called “Loving Takes This Course” due out in early April.  Despite being in the music business for more than 30 years Bloom (pictured above with guitarist Loren Connors) remains largely unknown, the most notable exception being the use of her song “Come Here” in one of my favorite movies ever, Before Sunrise.  Yes, yes, I know, hopeless romantic am I.  Anyway, the fact that so many of the freak-folk scene and otherwise are gathering together to give her some props is pretty awesome.  What’s even more awesome to me is the decision by record company Chapter Music to release the album as a 2 disc set.  The first side being the cover songs, and on the second, presented in the same track order, are the original versions leaving listeners with no excuses, at least not good ones, for not taking the next step and appreciating Bloom’s music in its own right.  Could just be me, but I think thats pretty cool.   

For the complete list of contributers, including Devendra Banhart, Mia Doi Todd, The Concretes, and Scout Niblett, as well as the full track list go here.  And to see whether or not you DO know which scene I am referring to – watch below.

Record Release: Emmy The Great

9 Feb

Emmy The Great
Emmy The Great is the moniker, euphemism, or boisterous claim (depending on how you look at it) of Emma Lee-Moss.  I have been looking forward to the release of her debut full length album First Love for only about a month or two now… but I can assure you it felt longer.  The refreshingly simple pop music is made irresistible by Emmy’s wonderfully unassuming use of language.  Her lyrics are hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-book smart, while still being relatable and endearing.  

My first introduction to her greatness was the video for the eponymous first single, that is itself a nice compliment to her songwriting.  Equally simple the video relies on one homemade set with swing drops and light bulbs for its special effects.  It reminds me of the feeling you would have if the best play of your life was witnessed in your best friends basement, in spite, or perhaps because, of its humility.  Which is rather how I feel about the artist as well.  At any rate here’s the video with a special cheers to Leonard Cohen fans.

Emmy is playing a release show tonight at the Arts Centre in Norwich which is nowhere close to me on the globe but if it happens to be near you… Go!

Thursday = Flannel Pajamas?

5 Feb

Asobi Seksu

Sophomore effort “Citrus” by the NYC based band Asobi Seksu has recently made a come back on my ipod.  The wonderfully textured album had inadvertently gotten buried in the last couple of years.  Aside from a few tracks that I find short sighted (“Mizu Asobi”) it is, as a whole, kaleidoscopic and brilliant, and may well find itself in a future Rewind Review.  

For now however, my point is not so much about the album, but about the use of the song “Thursday” in the trailer for the film “Flannel Pajamas“. My fondness for opening credit sequences spreads, unsurprisingly, to film trailers as well. I remember seeing this particular teaser a few years ago and, though I still have yet to see the film, images from it have since remained vividly etched in my brain.  This got me wondering about what happens to the life and innate story of a song when it gets co-opted by another medium.  Does it enhance or detract?  Do you think less of a song based on its involvement with a bad project?  The trailer does, I believe, use the song well as a sort of envelope for small clips from the film to fit into.  Yet now it seems, because of this, all I can think of when I listen to “Thursday” is a movie I have never seen. A phenomenon I find to be strange indeed, yet not so far removed from say a music video.

Flannel Pajamas

The film itself always looked like a movie I should see, it does after all start two of my favorite actors, though I was initially put off by a bad review from a friend.  Still, given the recent mental fascination, I feel I should add it to my Netflix queue post haste.  And while I wait for that to arrive I guess I’ll have to settle for watching the trailer again.