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Saturday, June 30, 2012

What You Should Know, Summer 2012 Part 2

School is out.  Baseball is headed toward the All Star break.  The 4th of July is next week!  Geez, just like that we are fully immersed in summer.  You ready?  You already vacationing?  What is on your playlist?  When the top down what do you HAVE to hear?  Maroon 5's "Payphone" on your radar?  Train's "Drive By?"  One Direction?  Kimbra?  Nicky Minaj?

That's all fine and dandy.  The alt world is alive and kicking too.  And don't look now, but the 90s are back and in full gear.  Over the past few weeks Garbage, Lit, Smashing Pumpkins and even Marcy Playground have put out new records.  That's a welcome relief from all the synth/tech/hipster deluge that has dominated the indie world for the past few years.  Dive into some of these familiar sounds and dust off the flannels.  Oh, and take a listen to some other tracks that may have escaped you too.

And for God's sake re apply that sunscreen.  Have you learned nothing at your advanced age??  Like Woody Allen said "Everything our parents told us was good is bad...  sun, red meat, college."  Happy listening!

Garbage: "Blood for Poppies"  Shirley Manson personified the 90s grunge/rock chick.  She was a little messy, a little angry and a little hot.  Your mom would have been mortified if you brought her home for dinner, but your dad totally understood.   Is she still only happy when it rains?  That is unclear.  She does still have a solid voice and here she brings an almost Everclear feel to the proceedings.  Fun stuff.

Fiona Apple "Werewolf"  Call her what you will, and there are several adjectives that fit, but do NOT discount her voice,  piano chops, or raw talent.   Oh, and she can write a song too.  Nevermind the pretension (which is evident in her LP's endless title.)  This song is a stand out and deserves some respect (or at least a download.)

Smashing Pumpkins "Oceania"  Like Apple, Billy Corgan was/is a polarizing figure from the 90s.  Do you love him?  Hate him?  No one is ever ambivalent toward him.  Just look at the former band members who can't even speak to him.  Weird.  Especially considering Corgan, like Apple, writes rich and smart material that evokes emotion and raw energy.  The new record keeps his reputation intact.  It is great to have him back.

Marcy Playground "Hallelujah"  It's always good to hear a cover.  And this Leonard Cohen track has been covered roughly a million times.  Jeff Buckley and Mike Myers have both done admirable jobs to name a few.  But there is something to be said about singer John Wozniak belting it out.  After all, he was the guy who smelled sex and candy.  They just released a new record (mixing some new material with their hits/B sides and rarities- titled Lunch, Recess and Detention.)  Good to see they have not lost their sense of humor.  And good for you for remembering how good they were/are.

Lit "You Tonight"  There is something to be said for simply staying together as a band.  For Lit, that means over 20 years playing, recording and touring with (3!) of the original members.  And that includes brothers!  Think Kings of Leon will be together in 20 years?  Listen up to some good old fashioned West Coast rock and roll.

Keane "Silenced By the Night"  Last month the English rockers released their 4th LP, Strangeland.  They are driven primarily by lead singer Tom Chaplin's bold vocals and catchy hooks.  In this song he hits on these points quite well.  They are not as popular as their peers Coldplay, Snow Patrol or Muse.  Chaplin has had problems with booze.  It is an underdog story worth rooting for.  Can they stand the test of time?   Will we continue to care?  Time will tell.

Of Monsters and Men "Mountain Sound"  Iceland is most definitely in the house.  The second single from this group's debut record My Head is an Animal is as good (probably better than) "Little Talks." There is a richness and depth in their sound many kids would not be able to create.  Again, the trend of men and women trading vocals (Givers, Grouplove, Naked and Famous, etc...) is alive and well.  This cut is from an April performance in Williamsburg.  Beyond Worthy!!!

Walk the Moon "Next in Line"  Ohio boys have a knack for creating catchy hooks.  They are also out promoting their debut record (self titled.)  They may have some underlying identity issues, what with the face paint and attitude.  But they capture an 80s nostalgia better than most.  And the line "Won't you stay shotgun til the day I die" remains an early favorite for best of 2012.  They have all the synths, echo and harmony of a young Dream Academy.  Added bonus:  acoustic impromptu performance in NYC's Madison Square Park of Anna Sun:  Watch Here  Loving the sirens blaring behind them!!!

Cat Power "Ruin"  It has been over 6 years since Chan Marshall, otherwise known as Cat Power, put out new material.  If this single is any indication of what to expect from her LP Sun (due out in September) we should all be most grateful.  She produced this record all by herself and, reading up on her tumultuous times since The Greatest came out in 2006, lots has happened!   Chan is a tortured artist.  And as we have seen with Adele sometimes heartbreak and depression can lead to amazing creativity.  She also happens to be super sexy as Richard Avedon captured for the New Yorker several years ago: Cat Power photo

Jimmy Fallon "Reading Rainbow"  This is about a year old, but the editors here rarely stay up for the 11:30pm talk shows, let alone 12:30!!  Fallon promoted his new LP on Howard Stern a few weeks back and this particular number stands out.  His Neil Young, Bowie and Bob Dylan are all amazing...  but this parody of Jim Morrison and The Doors is both pitch perfect and laugh out loud funny.  Enjoy!!

Keep rocking this summer and please join the discussion.  What is on your playlist this summer?  What song can you not get enough of?

Check out the first edition of summer 2012 here:  What You Should Know Part 1

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