Thursday, March 31, 2011

Listen to Another New Song From Feelies

Believe it or not, it's been two months since I posted anything about the new Feelies album. I deserve a medal for that kind of restraint. Well, 'Here Before' will finally be out in a mere two weeks, and the band has given us all a gift of a second song to fill the gap. Unlike their first present, the very cool download of "Should Be Gone," this one is only for streaming. Give "Way Down" a listen as you pre-order the first Feelies album in
two decades.

Way Down by The Feelies

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Can Guillemots Ever Live Up to First Single?

Back in late 2005 I heard a single from a new band that absolutely blew my mind. The song was "Trains to Brazil" from Guillemots. In fact, the tune was No. 6 on my list of favorite tracks from the entire last decade. Unfortunately, the Birmingham, UK group has underwhelmed me since then, but I welcome each new release with hope. The Guillemots third album, 'Walk the River,' will be out on April 18 in the UK and May 17 in America, and what I have heard so far shows some of that promise I have been patiently waiting for. Here is a somewhat creepy video for a new song called "The Basket." If you like that one, click here to find out how to get a free download of the title track to 'Walk the River.'

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hear New Song From the High Llamas

It has been four long years since Sean O'Hagan and his blokes have graced the new-releases board, but the wait is almost over. 'Talahomi Way' comes our way April 19 via Drag City, and I couldn't be more excited. Two of High Llamas' albums, 'Hawaii' and 'Beet, Maize & Corn,' are among my favorite albums of all time. I still haven't got around to assembling a best records of the '90s list, but I can say with confidence that 'Hawaii' would make my top 10. As for 'Beet, Maize & Corn,' well, you can
see for yourself how much I love that one. These days, I seem to like the less electronic side of the band, and I'm hoping the new one follows this trend like their last couple of albums. You can already pre-order 'Talahomi Way' right here. While we wait for the April 19 release, Drag City has given us the following song to sample. Enjoy.

The High Llamas - Fly Baby, Fly (mp3)

'Talahomi Way' Tracklist
1. Berry Adams
2. Wander, Jack Wander
3. Take My Hand
4. Woven and Rolled
5. The Ring of Gold
6. Talahomi Way
7. Fly Baby, Fly
8. Angel Connector
9. To the Abbey
10. A Rock in May
11. Crazy Connector
12. Calling Up, Ringing Down

Friday, March 25, 2011

OMD Goes Hollywood... Again

For those like me who aren't within even 800 miles of a tour stop by the reunited Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, you'll find this video pretty special. Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys stopped by Amoeba Music in Hollywood on Thursday for an in-store performance before their Los Angeles concert tonight. Thankfully, the legendary record store recorded and posted the show. As Andy put it, the appearance is a seven-song history of the band. In case you want to skip around (but you shouldn't), here is the setlist. It's perfect. The headline above refers to Andy's reminder before performing OMD's biggest U.S. hit that they once went Hollywood, and it made them lots of money.

1. Electricity
2. History of Modern (Part 1)
3. If You Leave
4. Souvenir
5. Joan of Arc
6. Sister Marie Says
7. Enola Gay

Aztec Camera Gets Another Compilation

To celebrate this week's release of Aztec Camera's double-disc import compilation 'Walk Out to Winter,' I thought it would be fun to pull out some old vinyl from the band that won't appear on this best-of collection. I'm a big fan of Roddy Frame, but there is no doubt his best moment was 'High Land, Hard Rain.' The following songs are taken from that prolific time period. All of these can be found on the long out-of-print "Oblivious" maxi-single, released in 1984, or at the following places. As for the new best-of collection, artwork aside this is a big step up from the 1999 import 'The Best of Aztec Camera.' If you don't own the band's six studio albums, this is a must buy.

This is producer Ted Templeman's March 1984 version. It sounds an awful lot like the version we all know.
Aztec Camera - Oblivious (Remix) (mp3)

This appeared in Feb. 1983 on the B-side of the English version of the "Oblivious" single. It was recorded during the 'High Land, Hard Rain' sessions in Aug. 1982.
Aztec Camera - Orchid Girl (mp3)

Released in Oct. 1982, "Pillar to Post" was the first UK single from 'High Land, Hard Rain.' This was the B-side.
Aztec Camera - Queen's Tattoos (mp3)

This was a bonus track of the English 12-inch pressing of "Oblivious."
Aztec Camera - Haywire (mp3)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Second Music Video From Reunited Cars

Just one month after the Cars gave us the video for "Blue Tip," the first full new song any of us had heard from them in 24 years, we are now treated to "Sad Song." It is thought that this one will be the first official single from their upcoming album, 'Move Like This,' out May 10. You can already pre-order it here. It will only take about 10 seconds of "Sad Song" before you say to yourself, "yep, no doubt about it, that's the Cars."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Magic Bullets Hit the Bull's-Eye

Music bloggers, every once in a while, wish they could turn back the clock to revise their "best-of" lists. This happened to me the other day when I heard a release from 2010 that completely captured my heart. Last June, San Francisco's own Magic Bullets released a self-titled sophomore album on Mon Amie Records and, it is clear, they take a page right out of the Orange Juice playbook. They probably take at least a paragraph from the Smiths as well. Fortunately, wearing their influences on their sleeves isn't too derivative. If I could do it all over again, "Sigh the Day Away" would be on my best songs of 2010 list, and 'Magic Bullets' would have been on my best albums of 2010 list as well. The important thing, I guess, is I finally discovered them. I love moments like these. Here are a couple of songs from their fine LP, and you can buy it here.

Magic Bullets - Lying Around (mp3)

Sigh The Day Away by New Music

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Exene Cervenka Belts Out a Beauty

I have been pretty ill the past couple of weeks. So, I didn't get to write about a new album that came out last week that is certainly worth a mention. Exene Cervenka may be 55 years old and hampered with serious health issues herself, but I find her latest album to be inspirational work. Don't expect 'The Excitement of Maybe' to get you moving like 'Los Angeles' or 'Wild Gift' did decades ago when she was producing her best work with X, but take a step back and realize she, along with her music, is maturing with grace. For those of you who have followed her solo work, this album will seem like a logical next step from her 2009 album,'Somewhere Gone.' The big difference from that fine record is this one has more studio production and is not quite as raw. The album opener, found below, is a pretty good example of this sound... horns and all. Find 'The Excitement of Maybe' over at Bloodshot, or buy here. Well done, Ms. Cervenka.

Exene Cervenka - Already in Love (mp3)

'The Excitement of Maybe' Tracklist
1. Already In Love
2. Brand New Memory
3. Alone In Arizona
4. Falling
5. I Wish It Would Stop Raining
6. Turning With The World
7. Dirty Snow
8. Beyond You
9. Someday I'll Forget
10. Half Past Forever
11. I'll Admit It Now
12. Love And Haight
13. Long Time Ago (bonus track)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nick Lowe's Second LP Reissued

Yep Roc has been a great steward of the Nick Lowe catalog. The label was behind his last two releases ('The Convincer' and 'At My Age'), and it has reissued a few others ('The Impossible Bird,' 'Dig My Mood' and 'Jesus of Cool'). And let's not forget the live 'Untouched Takeaway' album those folks put out several years ago. The best part is, I believe, all but the live album are available on vinyl. So, Yep Roc's next step is to give Lowe's second solo album, 'Labour of Lust,' the same treatment as his debut, 'Jesus of Cool.' The big day arrives tomorrow, and you can pick it up
right here. If you want it on wax, try here.

Now, I have owned 'Labour of Lust' on CD since the early '90s. I have the UK version that Demon released in 1990, and I always considered myself quite lucky to have picked it up when I lived in Japan. This is the one with the UK-only song "Endless Grey Ribbon." It doesn't, however, have the U.S.-only song "American Squirm," but that didn't bother me since I had that tune on the Stiff Records box set and on Lowe's first best-of compilation. Both of these songs are found on Yep Roc's new take. The real win for me, though, is the new set ends with the B-side bonus track "Basing Street." Not only do I not have this song, but I have never even heard it. That song would be enough to get me off my duff to get the new 'Labour of Lust,' but the added bonus of a 12-page booklet puts it over the top. My Demon version has four photos of Lowe and almost no information about the record.

I imagine most Lowe fans have heard almost all of 'Labour of Lust.' It's probably the best Rockpile ever sounded. Yes, all of Rockpile played on this one. Six of the original 11 songs from the record would show up later on 'Basher: The Best of Nick Lowe.' For a little taste of this record, I have decided to go a little deeper to play one of my favorites. For more on 'Labour of Lust,' enjoy this interview Lowe did for Yep Roc.

Nick Lowe - Dose of You (mp3)

'Labour of Lust' Tracklist
1. Cruel To Be Kind
2. Cracking Up
3. Big Kick, Plain Scrap
4. American Squirm
5. Born Fighter 3:08
6. You Make Me
7. Skin Deep
8. Switchboard Susan
9. Endless Grey Ribbon
10. Without Love
11. Dose Of You
12. Love So Fine
13. Basing Street (Bonus Track)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Top Soundtracks: Many on Cutting-Room Floor

I love lists, and I think it's because I like to debate. This morning, I noticed NME released a top 50 soundtracks of the last 50 years list. Before I opened the link I gave myself 60 seconds to jot down the soundtracks that I felt had to make my list. A few of my favorites, indeed, did make the cut. Ultimately, however, I was pretty disappointed with NME's picks. In fact, there are a few soundtracks on the list that were just released in the past few months ('127 Days,' 'Black Swan' and 'The Social Network'). That's too soon and very lazy. Did they put this thing together as they watched the Academy Awards the other day? NME's top 10, in particular, is pretty rough. Here is part of what the publication came up with:

1. 'Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me'
2. 'Dazed And Confused'
3. 'Trainspotting'
4. 'Natural Born Killers'
5. 'Garden State'
6. 'The Life Aquatic'
7. 'Blade Runner'
8. 'A Clockwork Orange'
9. 'Reservoir Dogs'
10. 'The Blues Brothers'

I can almost guarantee none of the top four would make my top 50 at all. The list isn't all bad. There are a few inspired picks, such as 'Blade Runner,' 'Dancer in the Dark,' 'Goodfellas' and 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,' to name a few, but there are an awful lot of head scratchers. If you are trying to round out a list by inserting iconic films from past generations, such as 'Easy Rider,' then where is 'Saturday Night Fever?' And no, for the record, neither one of these soundtracks would have made my list.

There are some films that are little more than long-running music videos. One of NME's selections, 'Purple Rain,' comes to mind. What an awful film. If you are going to include films that double as music videos, then you had better have 'A Hard Day's Night' and 'Once' on there long before 'Purple Rain.'

In case you're curious, this is what I came up with in 60 seconds. Keep in mind they weren't ranked, but I will list them in the order they came to me. An asterisk means the selection made NME's list.

'That Summer!'
'Repo Man'
'High Fidelity'
'(500) Days of Summer'*
'The Royal Tenenbaums'*
'The Life Aquatic'*
'Fantastic Mr. Fox'
'The Virgin Suicides'*
'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'*
'Lost in Translation'
'Xanadu' (my one guilty pleasure... love me some ELO)

In one minute I found at least six soundtracks (I'll exclude 'Xanadu') that should be on NME's list. Even if you don't agree with my very quick picks, I'll guarantee you will find plenty on NME's list to get your blood boiling. Check it out. That's a wrap.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Mike Watt Album Out Today

None of the 30 songs on Mike Watt's 'Hyphenated-Man' clock in at more than 124 seconds, and many of them are about a minute long. Sounds a lot like classic Minutemen, eh? That's because Watt got inspired when he went back and listened to the work of his old band for the first time in many years. He was impressed with the bare-bones "econo" sound. Now, I am a huge fan of his two old groups, Minutemen and fIREHOSE. In fact, I believe fIREHOSE may be my most seen live band. But sometime after 'Ball Hog or Tugboat,' Watt's first "solo" album was released, I sort of lost track of the bass god. This new album, however, could bring me back in the fold. The only song I have heard so far is the one below, but I like it a lot. I'll be giving 'Hyphenated-Man' a go.

Mike Watt - Arrow-Pierced-Egg-Man (mp3)

'Hyphenated-Man' Tracklist
1. Arrow-Pierced-Egg-Man
2. Beak-Holding-Letter-Man
3. Hammering-Castle-Bird-Man
4. Bird-in-the-Helmet-Man
5. Belly-Stabbed-Man
6. Stuffed-in-the-Drum-Man
7. Baby-Cradling-Tree-Man
8. Hollowed-Out-Man
9. Finger-Pointing-Man
10. Own-Horn-Blowing-Man
11. Fryingpan-Man
12. Head-and-Feet-Only-Man
13. Shield-Shouldered-Man
14. Cherry-Head-Lover-Man
15. Mouse-Headed-Man
16. Antlered-Man
17. Pinned-to-the-Table-Man
18. Confused-Parts-Man
19. Bell-Rung-Man
20. Boot-Wearing-Fish-Man
21. Thistle-Headed-Man
22. Funnel-Capped-Man
23. Blowing-It-Out-Both-Ends-Man
24. Jug-Footed-Man
25. Lute-and-Dagger-Man
26. Mockery-Robed-Man
27. Hill-Man
28. Hell-Building-Man
29. Man-Shitting-Man
30. Wheel-Bound-Man