...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Music Roundup

Well, the mercury finally crested the mid-80s mark this weekend, just in time for Father's Day BBQs. I was laughing out loud on a hot Saturday as I discovered the fabulous Tremble.com blog and read his post about the first bare-chested male subway rider signifying that summer is truly here, like a red-breasted robin announcing the spring. Tell me, where else on the web can you read a recounting of a story that includes the sentence: "Say how would you like to get your dance card punched by [fists] Savion Glover and Alfonso Ribeiro? Let's bring in the noise as well as the funk, except with punches and kicks to the face and kidneys." It's terrifically funny reading.

Heck, no bare-chested, bleeding males 'round these parts lately, but some excellent new tunes can be considered almost as good...

The Old Days
Dr. Dog

This song feels eminently summery to me, a shiny new one from Philly's excellent Dr. Dog (still not the children's book). We've got banjos and sparkling vocals here, all swelling into a Nilsson-worthy symphony. The folks at FADER have seen Dr Dog perform much of their new material live, and wrote that "every new song they played was wilder, thicker, more willing to chop up the jam into smaller jam particles that smash into each other to create a wormhole directly to the best summer of your life." Can't complain. Fate is out July 22 on Park The Van -- and make sure to catch Dr. Dog on a crazy amount of tour dates in the coming months, including a roll through Denver's Hi-Dive September 27th.

A Change Is Gonna Come
Ben Sollee

I recently had an intensely-defended (and possibly liquor fueled) argument while in Washington DC about which version of this song was the best, Sam Cooke's silky original or Otis Redding's howling soul-filled cover. Now this goes and adds a new facet to the discussion. Ben Sollee is a white guy from Kentucky who takes a wholly good-natured, spirited stab at this formidable song -- and unfortunately leaves me cold. I've written before that Otis' version (the side I argued) "fairly drips with aching as [he] sings about the thick swelter of racial oppression in the South. You can almost feel and see the tension, like heat rising up off the August sidewalks." On the other hand, this sounds like a pleasant skip through the daisies. Sollee is a talented guy though, and I really do like the sweetly dusty acoustic soul in the other tracks I've heard off his Learning to Bend (out last week on SonaBLAST! Records).

My Drive Thru

In this golden age of media tie-ins, a shoe company commissions an original song bringing together three artists we like: Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Brooklyn glitter girl Santogold, and Pharrell project N.E.R.D. Whew. Quite the mouthful of folks involved, but I think this works surprisingly well from the opening bell peals, largely because of Pharrell's funky production and golden touch. I enjoy hearing Casablancas' drawl over the top of such a dance-ready beat. Santogold says that "working across musical genres was like creating a patchwork where I got to weave together various influences and allow them to co-exist in a fresh and original way." Now what to do about the Kurt Cobain Chucks?

Bargain of the Century
(song removed, stream it here)
Albert Hammond Jr

And while we're on the topic of "projects that take away from precious time the Strokes could be spending making new music for us," let's also broach the new songs from Albert Hammond Jr that have made their way onto the interwebs in recent weeks. This cut starts with a bit more aggressive drumming than the lackadaisical start of "GfC," but really, we keep ending up in the same hammock with Al, wine glass on our chest, unable to move with any real gusto in the summer heat. Sounds like we may be in for another collection of laid-back retro-pop melodies with this one. Incidentally I wore my AHJr shirt out to breakfast on Saturday morning (okay, so maybe I'd also slept in it) and I actually got a nod from the IHOP waitress about Al's new album. I was mostly just excited to find out that I am not the only person in Colorado Springs who would know what that three-bunny silhouette meant. Hammond's second solo album Como Te Llama is out July 7 on Scratchie.

Soul and Fire (acoustic demo)

Not to be confused with that anthemic "Soul on Fire" from Spiritualized that I posted last week (and cannot stop singing out loud), this demo is the closing track on Sebadoh's 15-year reissue of their seminal Bubble and Scrape. The double-disc opens with the original, and closes with this small and humble demo, which sounds like it was recorded at the kitchen table of a mountain cabin, while waiting for water to boil or for snow to quietly stop falling. Barely two minutes, this demo is much less heartless than the album version, as it wanders through thoughts like, "If you walk away we may never meet again," and aches to a close with a phrase that sits on my chest: "Call me if you ever want to start again." The reissue is out July 8th on Domino/Sub Pop, and Sebadoh will be performing the album in full at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago this July.

[top image via]

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At June 16, 2008 11:27 AM, Blogger Matty D said...

Granted Otis' version is absolutely phenomenal & your analysis was spot on, but no version compares to Sam Cooke's. It's brilliant. The pain is so much more evident in Sam's voice. He sounds like a man who has been beaten down by life, but has not given up. A preacher. The trumpets signaling his trials and tribulations. The gentle melody follows his struggles, much like many of his songs he draws subtle correlations between himself and Moses (Born by the river in a little tent). He sings it almost like an old Negro Spiritual. The final crescendo beings when he starts to sing about going to his brother, the pounding of the drum, the violins pick up. This is the voice of a man who has been knocked down, has thought about taking his place at the back of the bus & not making waves, but he realizes that nothing will happen without hope, without getting up and fighting. Perhaps then he can stop running, perhaps then he can feel the equality he wants so badly.

At June 16, 2008 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post! so nice to hear from the strokes again. Any chance you could post on the new Mason Jennings ep Morning Train? Gotta love when he records in a cabin in the woods. Thanks!

At June 16, 2008 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool stuff -- thanks!

Any chance you can post Pearl Jam's Baonnarroo show from this weekend? Three hours of goodness according to the reports!

At June 18, 2008 9:43 PM, Blogger heather said...

Hey anonymous #1 - I'll look into the EP, thanks for the tip. Even after all, I can still kinda tell when it's you. Nice to hear from ya.

At June 19, 2008 8:02 AM, Blogger sean broom said...

Heather-- You *were* my online music crush. Such great taste, an awesome website that I could read daily.

And then you have to go and argue that Otis Redding's version of "A Change Is Gonna Come" is better than Sam Cooke's.

I will give you that in an argument over who is the better soul singer you could go either way, but I think you have gone bananas b-a-n-a-n-a-s if you think that Otis' is better. The song, written by Cooke contained so much personal conviction for him, defined by his own fight with civil rights and the death of his son-- it is a eulogy and an autobiography and he sings it with such amazing conviction that isn't there with Otis'.

And finally, like Sitting On The Dock of the bay, Change's place in Cooke's mythology makes it 'his'.

But yes, I have to agree with you and go one better-- that guy's cover blew. There is a reason why Dave Matthews has never covered Change-- and this shows why, it just doesn't have any of the soul or the gravity that is in the song. While "The Times They Are A Changin'" has some light in it (it is inherently an optimistic song) A Change Is Gonna Come is wrought not with optimism and light but is instead about some heavy shit-- and deserves to be sung as such.

*sigh* I guess you'll still be my online music crush.


At June 19, 2008 8:39 AM, Anonymous b said...


At June 20, 2008 7:31 PM, Anonymous kurt said...

You keep posting the perfect posts... The 3 gin and tonics I have had, say you are the best.... No one reads these posts right? Anyway, your blog and Aquarium Drunkard and Ninebullets keep me up on everything I need to know about musically every week. If you have never been to their sites, check them out. They may not be your cup of tea, but the combo of your 3 sites really works for a mid-30's music addict. Ohh yeah, if you make chile ever, use New Mexican chiles, and only use the spices you find in the Mexican area of your grocery store. Never use chile powder. Also, corn tortillas not corn bread yankee.


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