Saturday, January 31, 2009

I wrote about my love for Cut Copy's In Ghost Colours a couple times last year, but could it be that my enthusiasm was built upon a falsehood? As it turns out, I have never heard the album in its "proper sequencing." I noticed a while back that my tracklisting for the album was in alphabetical order, which I found fishy, as Cut Copy don't strike me as a band that would go for gimmicky sequencing a la The Magnetic Fields. The solution was simple: no track number tags! This story is boring in and of itself, but there are two useful conclusions to be drawn:

1) The album is in decline. When an album geek like myself no longer pays attention to the all-important aspect of sequencing, something is terribly wrong.

2) In Ghost Colours is great however you listen to it, but best experienced in alphabetical order. I fell in love the moment "Eternity One Night Only" first gave way to "Far Away," and while front-loading is a problem on some albums, to have "Far Away," "Feel the Love" and "Hearts on Fire" all up front is a many-splendored thing ("Feel the Love" is the album's best moment, but not an ideal opener). Certainly the transitions are a bit smoother when the album is heard in the "proper order," and I always wondered why it ends in a burst of noise (what is now track #4, "We Fight for Diamonds"). But I also loved that ramshackle unpredictability, which is missing now.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

last december, during a bout of finals-time blues, i staggered into cheapo and stumbled upon the coolest find of my record-buying life: a copy of twin/tone's 1978 comp "big hits from mid-america volume 3". the title's a nod to two previous volumes put out in the sixties by twin cities label soma.

twin/tone, sadly defunct, was one of the great american indie labels. the label gained its modicum of fame in the eighties, putting out lps by the the replacements and soul asylum, but the 14 bands and 22 songs on "big hits" suggest twin/tone got off to a rip-roaring start as well (the comp was the label's ninth release).

the compilation is essentially a document of the late seventies twin cities scene (well, part of it; an equally strong minneapolis r&b scene would produce a certain lavender-loving lothario, among others), an angry, sinewy amalgamation of summer of hate punk, new wave-ish sounds and good old fashioned garage rock. the quality of the double lp—every song is good—is a testament to how inspiring punk was, how solid and adaptable its formula is, and the awesomeness of the mpls/stp scene.

a few favorites from the album (the mp3s are kinda quiet, so you'll want to turn your speakers up):

uruguay 1983--nnb
complicated fun--the commandos
swan lake, mn--the swan lake six
paper girl--the jets

Thursday, January 22, 2009

important events in american history aside, the most exciting news of the past week was, unsurprisingly, robyn hitchcock-related. the indefatigable merchant of surrealism has a new album out in february, “goodnight oslo”. new material from robyn is always cause for celebration, all the more so because the record will feature the excellent venus 3 backing him up. weak at the knees in response to this news, all i could do was to preorder the record, which comes with 3 bonus tracks.

among these is the superlative “up to our nex,” a song that will be familiar to viewers of the dreadful “rachel getting married”. “nex” is a jangle attack, punctuated by bursts of horn, and shows robyn and the boys in fine form. a different version of the track will appear on “goodnight oslo”.

mp3: robyn hitchcock & the venus 3--"up to our nex"

Monday, January 12, 2009

speaking of reissues and the like, this fall audika put out a collection of gorgeous bedroom-country by the late arthur russell. russell, an iowa native, will forever be associated with an avant-garde strain of disco, and while that’s all well and good, “love is overtaking me” (a title to die for) showcases the auteur’s outstanding talents as a singer and more traditional songwriter. the results are lovely and intimate—somewhere between gram parsons and daniel johnston, with vocals reminiscent of dylan’s “nashville skyline” croon.

the lovesick “i couldn’t say it to your face” is the standout on a disc of standouts, devastating in its simplicity and directness:

mp3: aruthur russell—“i couldn’t say it to your face”

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

show me
a word that rhymes with pavement
and i will kill your parents
and roast them on a spit
i’d be remiss if i let the recent reissue of pavement’s “brighten the corners” pass by unrecommended. it's the fourth in matador’s super-deluxe series of pavement reissues, which have to be the best reissues of anything ever.

as the alex ross essay in the booklet notes, “a pavement album is a series of small labyrinths.” “btc”, while merely the third stoned-est pavement disc, is no different in this respect, as baffling and mellifluous as the stone cold classics that preceded it, if a bit more paranoid and professional-sounding.

the album is bizarrely hated-on in some quarters, but the reissue’s wealth of b-sides, outtakes, radio sessions and slay tracks make a pretty convincing argument for “btc’s” awesomeness. particularly great is nigh-perfect “spit on a stranger” b-side “harness your hopes,” a song that should get its own chapter in indie-pop textbooks

mp3: pavement—“harness your hopes”

p.s. r.i.p. ron asheton, without whose guitar whose guitar punk, hardcore and indie might have never existed

Monday, January 05, 2009

Lloyd and Nolan nominated for a Twin Cities Hip Hop Award

DJs Lloyd and Nolan have been nominated for Best Radio Show at the Twin Cities Hip Hop Awards. You can vote by clicking here or going to:

Make sure you scroll down on the page and V-O-T-E!

Friday, January 02, 2009

My resolution: write even more for the blog than I usually do.

The Del Fuegos’ Boston, Mass. is the point where The Replacements (ah!) meet The Georgia Satellites (ugh). That might also indicate early Soul Asylum, but the description is especially apt here. The band has a ragged Westerbergian rock ‘n’ roll soul, but they’re not far from being a bona fide bar band extraordinaire (they almost made it big), the type that is only a few steps removed from hair metal. I wrote about their Embarrassment connection and their appearance in a line from a great Juliana Hatfield song in a post last year, but now I’ve actually started listening to them, and can say they’re most definitely allusion-worthy. Boston, Mass. is a great archetypal rock album full of glorious metronomic drumming and singer Dan Zanes vamping like Sky Saxon or Jimmie Dale Gilmore. It strikes me as fortuitous that the album was released in the same year as The Replacements’ Tim, and also Green on Red’s No Free Lunch, whose bluesy Americana it approaches on this one:

[mp3] The Del Fuegos – “Night on the Town”

Note: Much of The Del Fuegos’ output, long out of print on CD, has recently been reissued on Wounded Bird Records (excluding fourth and final album Smoking in the Fields, which I know there’s a copy of lurking somewhere in my sister’s house). Of course WMCN never had to worry, because Warner Bros. was sending us the band’s records back in the glory days.