Thursday, May 29, 2014

New Compilation Album -- I Saved Latin! A Tribute to Wes Anderson by American Laundromat Records

American Laundromat Records has released its latest compilation of indie music, all based on the soundtracks of Wes Anderson films. As a devoted fan of the director, I also appreciate the vital role of music in his artistic vision for each story line.  Each song is carefully chosen and placed accordingly, so listening to this compilation had movie scenes flashing in my mind as well.  It also had me yearning for a listen to those classical music moments inserted by Anderson, for example Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune" in The Darjeeling Limited and Benjamin Britten's "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" plus more in Moonrise Kingdom.

Returning to this double CD selection of 23 tracks, I was reminded how the best covers succeed in keeping the essence of a song while providing another life for it at the same time. A good example is how the band in my last post, Dr. Dog, gave "Heart It Races" its signature, laid-back jam approach to this quirky, angular tune by Architecture In Helsinki.  My favorite one here is "This Time Tomorrow," by Telekenisis. I heard it first on KEXP and rightly so, as the artist a.k.a. Michael Benjamin Lerner is from Seattle.  But I wonder how much of the attraction is based on how much I have enjoyed the original by The Kinks, along with the new treatment here, yet also the use of this sweet tune in The Darjeeling Limited?  There's also a hypnotic version of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" by Margaret & the Nuclear So and Sos and The Ghost In You finds a mellow vibe for John Lennon's "Oh Yoko!"

Check out the Telekinesis song below and much more on iTunes or Amazon -- better yet buy it directly from the American Laundromat Records website here and pick up some sweet merch, such as a Sam & Suzy Tee, Rushmore-inspired lapel pins or that ubiquitous red beanie from Team Zissou!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dr. Dog @ Greenwich Town Party CT May 24

Toby Leaman & Scott McMicken
Dr. Dog appeared twice at the Greenwich Town Party last Saturday, as the event courted the idea of two stages.  The first one in a parking lot by the water always sells out quickly, so a second stage was created up the road behind the Town Hall (once serving as Greenwich High School, way before I attended the new California style cement campus further up the hill).  Scouring the schedule I noticed that Dr. Dog would be playing a longer set at the new "North" stage anyway, so a last minute plan was easily put into place. I had been wanting to catch this band for a while now, even contemplating a trip to Philadelphia to see Dr. Dog on their home turf.  But here they were in my area, and they rocked it hard for the sparse, mid-afternoon crowd spread out over the plastic-covered grid protecting the field.

The band kicked off with a rollicking tune called "These Days," the exact song that was in my head all day as I looked forward to the concert.  This group is anchored by Toby Leaman (bass) and Scott McMicken (lead guitar), who have been making original music together since middle school.  Dr. Dog songs are at once familiar with the country twang and psych rock roots, but also sweetly straight forward in beckoning new territory.  Lyrics complement this credo for instant sing alongs, for example in "Lonesome," Leaman sings "What does it take to be lonesome -- nothing at all!" Leaman and McMicken trade lead vocals, with Frank McElroy adding a third part on harmonies while playing rhythm guitar. Zach Miller came out from behind the keyboard to gamely strap on a guitar in the middle of the set, as did multi-instrumentalist Dimitri Manos (otherwise in charge of hand percussion, electronics and various effects).  It was clear that the produced songs needed little embellishment in studio, effortlessly recreated on stage with that infectious live vibe that permeates everything Dr. Dog. New songs mixed readily with older tunes, and when an acoustic guitar wouldn't cooperate, McMicken gamely picked up his electric for a solo while making a crack about uncharted waters.

I became a fan of the band back in 2010, captivated by the song "Shadow People" (released as a single with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and a pick on my Winter 2011 New Music Playlist). Then that song some "These Days" was featured on my Early Spring 2012 New Music Playlist, along with "Lonesome" from the 2012 album Be the Void, since I couldn't pick just one! The latest -- and supposedly most collaborative -- album came out last fall, number eight titled B-Room after the group's own recording space, and again another favorite song "The Truth" found its way on another playlist (Fall 2013 New Music Playlist).  I also proudly cited Dr. Dog as a "solid rocker" in my post New Bands To Update Any Musical Collection.

Thanks to the organizers of the Greenwich Town Party for selecting Dr. Dog for this year's lineup, enabling me to check off another band I've been wanting to see for so long.  I even nabbed the set list afterwards, although I'm stumped by the note for FATE? (It's the title of an early album from 2008, so I'm not sure what song!) Check out the video clip from the gig along with the original official one for "That Old Black Hole" to see what I mean about the fine line between studio vs. live versions of Dr. Dog songs, and if you're not a fan already, you have some catching up to do...

With the setlist afterwards

Paul with Town Hall in background

Frank McElroy adds in harmonies
Scott McMicken

These Days
Ain't It Strange
Do the Trick
Too Weak To Ramble
The Truth
FATE -- title of 2008 album but not sure what song?
Jackie Wants a Black Eye
Broken Heart
That Old Black Hole
County Line
Shadow People
Heart It Races -- Architecture In Helsinki (cover)
The Way the Lazy Do

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Elbow @ Webster Hall NYC May 16

Elbow's Guy Garvey
The draw of a live concert is not just to hear the music -- according to Tom Jackson there are unique human experiences lurking within each show that he calls "moments." (Read more about his principals in this post about the 2012 New Music Seminar here.) U.K. alt rock band Elbow's show at Webster Hall on a very rainy spring night was going strong when singer Guy Garvey noticed a man on one knee, a full fledged marriage proposal right in the front row.  Mid-song he announced it to the audience, with huge cheers erupting as everyone was thrilled to be part of this special event. So glad Nick Mann was able to capture it all on video along with the entire majestic song "Mirrorball," complete with swirling lights making things even more magical and perhaps the most romantic lyric ever, "we kissed like we invented it."

I have Elbow's epic song "One Day Like This" on my funeral playlist (an ever-evolving but still ready to roll selection that is a constant conversation around the household along with the usual desert island mix), but this night was all about new beginnings.  The band sounded solid without overwhelming the space, and Garvey's emotionally earnest vocals commanded our attention even when chatting between songs, usually with a very British "Cheers!" He reminded the crowd that the new album, The Take Off and Landing of Everything which is number six since 2001, was filled with new tunes written in our "fair city"of New York. (Read more about it in an earlier post here.) Older songs such as "The Bones of You" and "Grounds for Divorce" from The Seldom Seen Kid (2008), along with "The Night Will Always Win" and "The Birds" from Build a Rocket Boys (2011), anchored the new ones nicely, for example "New York Morning" and "My Sad Captains." As I eagerly anticipated hearing my favorite Elbow song live,  it turned out that was saved for the very end of the evening. With grand gestures to usher everyone in a sing along, fans were treated to a fitting finale for an amazing night which will never be replicated.  Check out that video and one my camera guy Paul captured plus some photos below, with the newly-engaged couple Tim and Lisa holding the set list. Check out that rock -- it's an heirloom from her family!

**UPDATE - NYC station WFUV has posted a nice interview with Guy Garvey and bassist Pete Turner along with some live tunes from gigs across the pond, however you can hear the crowd participation which explains why my date Paul called their show a religious experience!) Listen here.

Tim & Lisa
Me & my spouse of decades Paul

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New Song by Jimi Goodwin of Doves "Oh! Whiskey" (Debut Solo Album Out)

Jimi Goodwin (Photo via Heavenly Recordings)
I heard a familiar voice on KEXP recently and thought perhaps it was a Doves song I didn't know well, but it was a new song by Jimi Goodwin.  The singer/frontman for this beloved UK band (recently cited as one I'd love to resurrect) has released his first solo album, Odludek, which means loner or pilgrim in Polish.  Goodwin still stands by the notion that the Doves are on hiatus, saying that they just need time for other projects. "I'd never rule out us coming back together again either," Goodwin explains.  "Never say never. But this is what I'm concentrating on at the moment... and I'm loving it."

The tune "Oh! Whiskey" is getting good airplay and while I'm not a fan of harmonica, the expansive composition changes tempos into deviations that remind me of the best from the Doves. And of course it's all anchored by Goodwin's ragged, heartwarming delivery and his let's-get-personal lyrics. He wrote and played almost everything on Odludek himself, being very protective of the new solo experience. Goodwin says, "I feel like I've been in hibernation, and now I'm emerging out in to the sunlight again, and it feels great." Take a listen to "Oh! Whiskey" at the widget below.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Playlist of Songs In Honor of Mother's Day (Bands Heard In the Background Over the Years as a Family)

With fond memories of homemade gifts...
Here's a rather personal playlist honoring the Mother's Day holiday - 22 songs encountered along the way during my own days fulfilling a maternal role in the family.  It's a nurturing list of fave bands over the years, musical accompaniment to household activities or even sing alongs, providing that collective pull of related spirits with mouths wide open.  I've especially enjoyed sharing so much new music discovery, as band names were passed about until it became not mine or yours, but simply ours. 

I've never wanted anything festooned with the "World's Best Mom" on it, but I am extremely proud of the simple fact that both of my kids value the arts as something necessary and ever evolving in their lives. You can argue the nature vs. nurture possibilities, but I'd rather think this is also the result of my own mother continuing her role as cultural ambassador. She gladly squired the grandkids to concerts, museums and plays, while having a house with a piano and other instruments at the ready, along with a personal collection of music and books everywhere (plus passing down a wonderful habit of listening to music at full volume.) These are all things I was exposed to growing up as well and continued in my own life as an adult -- taking it all for granted until I found out this was not always the case in other families. 

Link to listen here and remember you can always listen to my new music playlists here!

1. "Stay Up Late" – Talking Heads
2. "Kid"– The Pretenders
3. "Modern Art" – Art Brut
4. "The Youth" – MGMT
5. "Loser" – Beck
6. "Song 2" – Blur
7. "Dirty Harry" – Gorillaz
8. "Home" – Brian Eno & David Byrne
9. "Home" – Dan Croll
10. "The Man Who Love the World" – Nirvana (From MTV Unplugged)
11. "Life On Mars?" – Arcade Fire & David Bowie (From Fashion Rocks)
12. "The Dark of the Matineé" – Franz Ferdinand
13. "What would I want? Sky" – Animal Collective
14. "Stickshifts and Safetybealts" – CAKE
15. "Roam" – The B-52s
16. "Beautiful World" – Devo
17. "Sticks & Stone" – Jónsi
18. " The Perfect Life" (featuring Wayne Coyne) – Moby
19. "Undone (The Sweater Song)" – Weezer
20. "No Surprises"  – Radiohead
21. "Louise Louisa"  – Mew
22. "On Your Way" – The Album Leaf

Thursday, May 1, 2014

New Song by Woods "Moving To the Left" (Tour Date in NYC May 16)

Woods (Image via Woodist)
Recently, I was breezing through old playlists on the family computer and found one my son made long ago called, "I Just Really Need Some Acoustic Right Now." I had to smile at the thought, since it's so true how there are plenty of moments when only unplugged music perfectly completes the void.  The band Woods has been a go-to group for filling this requirement in my own music collection (see Late Fall 2012 New Music Playlist) and have just released another album called With Light and With Love. 

Their new song "Moving To the Left" instantly become another favorite for mellowing out, with its easy jam and fuzzy psychedelic vibe. Along the way, there's a synth-like solo in the middle (perhaps a Theremin?) and some wah-wah guitar lines lingering at the end. Take a listen and check out your elevated mood by the end of the tune.

This Brooklyn trio has been around since 2005, with singer/songwriter Jeremy Earl running the label Woodist for releasing their music and more. Also, Woods has just embarked on a extensive tour (full dates here) with a stop at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC Friday, May 16.