Monday Music Roundup
I went skiing this weekend, a rare occurrence for me despite living in Colorado. My body doth protest heartily today, after using muscles near-forgotten. I am a novice skier but by the end of the day Saturday I was hitting a stride where I wasn't fighting against the giant contraptions buckled to my feet and I could just glide down the mountain (almost) naturally. It felt at times like flying, silently.
It was a gorgeous day and occasionally the sun would break through the clouds and shimmer across Lake Dillon in the distance. Even though I was listening to things like The Strokes and The Darkness, I couldn't help but think of the Josh Ritter lyric, "The lake was a diamond in the valley's hand." A few times I stopped dumbfounded on the edge of the run and said out loud to no one in particular, "Man alive, that's gorgeous" -- all I have is a cell phone snap that doesn't do it justice.
We also saw a free Girl Talk concert outside at Keystone Friday night (part of the impetus for the original trip) and it was short but fantastic. Gillis could have held the stage for another two hours and I think we would have all been happy as cold little clams. Due to the fact that we were dancing outside on snow, it never got as hot and sweaty as your standard Girl Talk concert, leaving us all wanting more and more.
Here are a few new tunes in these waning weeks of the year:
This is a fantastically sloppy, raucous track from Jersey's Titus Andronicus. Like the band's live shows, the song is loose and unhinged, with frustrated lyrics about the creative pressures like "throw my guitar down on the floor, no one cares what I've got to say anymore." Frontman Patrick Stickles vows to write his masterpiece another day, but it sounds like they capture a fine visceral slice of their lives right at this moment. The band is named for the bloodiest of Shakespeare's plays, and the re-release of their debut album The Airing of Grievances is due January 19 (XL Recordings). They hit the road next month with Los Campesinos!.
A dear friend is currently out of these snowy Colorado climes and spending a month in New Zealand and Australia. She regales me with emails about how humid it is there, while I am watching snow twirl outside my window right this minute. Fittingly, in the dead of winter New Zealand band Surf City (formerly Kill Surf City) brings a hot and feisty slice of July back into my music life this week. With an opening riff that sounds like the Jesus & Mary Chain channeling Dick Dale, they tie up the classic pop sound with "the simple structure meets raw energy" of punk. Their self-titled EP is out now on Morr Music.
Deep within Ben Kweller's gawky indie-rocker heart, which normally beats with sublime pop harmonies and sunny construction, there lies a downhome country fella. We've heard hints of it spun marvelously in 2006's self-titled album and more recently on his How Ya Lookin', Southbound? EP. But this new slide-guitar laden song from his forthcoming Changing Horses full length (ATO Records, February '09) just consummates the ongoing flirtation once and for all. And I'm glad.
One of the coolest girls ever to wield a keytar, the fearless Juliette Commagére fronts the L.A. band Hello Stranger, sometimes in knee-high red boots. Now embarking on a solo jaunt, Juliette gives me chills in the opening moments of this pristine song with cascading harmonies that sound more at home in a Tibetan monastery, but then breaks into a fine, loud Blondie-type rock. Ry Cooder guests on her enticing album Queens Die Proudly, out now on Aeronaut Records.
Girl Ain't Preggers
The world might be a better place if every song came complete with a video game where you can jump over babies while the song discusses the protagonist's conflicting feelings about the girl not being pregnant (starting with "I need some money right now, I can't pay for no baby," then moving into a surprisingly sentimental line of thinking about how cute tiny baby hands are, and ending with, "Don't it make you feel bad that the girl ain't preggers?"). Despite two of my guy friends each feeding over 25 babies on this game and being praised for their superior parenting skills, I regret to inform that I kept landing on the babies. Sigh. Grampall Jookabox's new album Ropechain is out now on Asthmatic Kitty.