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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Best of July 2014 (hint, it ain't peace in the Middle East)

Tove Lo, Yet Another Swedish songstress

Strand of Oaks "Goshen '97"

Having gone to school in Wilkes-Barre, PA it should come as no surprise I have a fondness for the place.  I met my wife there.  I met great friends there.  It is a beautiful place with stunning mountains and a surplus of big hearted people.  When I heard Tom Showalter, nee: Strand of Oaks, ended up living in Wilkes-Barre after a nasty breakup, I was intrigued.  Born in Indiana, he became Philly based during his formative years.  This gritty coming-of-age rocker is nostalgic for all the right reason.  For me, it brings back my college years, as Showalter details picking up a guitar for the first time and listening to "The Pumpkins" and playing on his Casio.   1991-1998 approx.  The birth of Grunge and for lots of us, the rudimentary entry into adulthood.  Goshen, Indiana is Wilkes-Barre, PA without the mountains.  It's Allentown, PA.  Buffalo, NY.  Country folk getting their shit together, if ever so slowly.  Let's call this a summer song for all of us hitting middle age.  And not wanting to forget some simpler times.  Hey, its better than hearing Iggy Azalea 10 times in a day.  If you were so "fancy" you wouldn't be telling us how "fancy" you are.  That's kinda "douchey."

Jenny Lewis "Just One Of The Guys"

Lewis has been in show business for a long time.  She started on television and was on her way to a nice career.  Good for us she can sing too.  She was the primary vocalist for indie band Rilo Kiley.  You might remember their song "Portions for Foxes".  They also had songs appear WB drama's Dawson's Creek or Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.  Her solo record, The Voyager, will be released July 29th.  It has been taken Lewis 5 years to bring this record to fruition.  The first single is a soothing mediation on feminism, gender roles and social convention.  The video shows Kristen Stewart and Anne Hathaway in drag which is interesting for about a minute.  Those two ladies individually are a lot to take.  Together, it plays like the opposite of a Viagra ad.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart "Until the Sun Explodes" live from KEXP

This New York based noise/indie pop act might have my least favorite band name- it's taken from an Augustus Steed novel.  It's just awkward, and frankly difficult to say.  The song on the other hand, is an airy ode to 80s The Cure.   Kip Berman is the captain of the ship as he writes, plays guitar, synths and sings.  When I searched for a live clip (to see how all this happy go lucky Danny Elfman meets Thomas Dolby diddy played without the assistance of studio magic.)  It does.
Tove Lo "Habits (Stay High)"

What is it with these Swedish songstresses?  Lykke Li, First Aid Kit, Robyn, Icona Pop are just a few that entered our record charts in recent years.  Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson, or Tove Lo, is the latest to find commercial and critical success.  She boasts a big voice and funny, if not dangerous, message in her coming out party.  "I have to stay high/all the time/to keep you off my mind."  Bad habits indeed. Is this how the milennials plan on digging us out of this shit show we call 2014?  No time for weeping about an ex kid!  And you can get high, but only at night or weekends.  All the time?  How are you going to make a living?  And how will you be able to pay for Doritos?  Tove Lo has written songs for Icona Pop, but here she steps up to the mic and has provided a legitimate commercial and alt hit.  A song with no format limitations right out of the gate a la Lorde.  Sisters are doing it for themselves.

Cold War Kids

Cold War Kids "All This Could Be Yours"

I have been compiling a list of "Bands I need to see" for a while now.  Arena acts like U2, Radiohead, Arcade Fire and maybe, just maybe Coldplay, are on the list.  There are several others that I will probably never see, although I should.  Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and a few like them, have always escaped me.  I mean, I get it.  But will I be a lesser person if I do not see them live?  I kinda think I know what to expect.  Its the younger bands that intrigue me.  They are hungrier.  They are more motivated.  And they need me, and people like me, to come see their shows to validate what they are doing- so hopefully they carry on.  Of those club bands perhaps Long Beach, California rockers Cold War Kids top my list of bands I NEED to see.  Spoon is up there too if you are scoring at home.  Let me know if I am missing anyone?  In October they will release their 5th studio album.  That will likely include a fall tour that I MUST attend.  Piano, guitar and a whole lot of fun on this teaser track.

Panama "Always"

Aussie soft rockers also suffer from a poor band name.  Let's put it this way, if I have to type "band" after your name on Google, you are doing something wrong.  They band has released two EP's, including Always, where this track is found.   Very, very easy listening.  If you like their countrymen Cut/Copy or Foster the People, please give this a try.

Kishi Bashi "Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!

This is a great, great story.  Kaoro Ishibashi is a Seattle born, Virginia raised multi-instrumentalist who has toured and performed with the likes of Regina Spektor and Of Montreal.  This song has made the rounds through commercials and other media outlets.  Picture a male, violin playing Enya who is both optimistic and ironic.

Little Daylight "Overdose"

New York trio Little Daylight- ok, when I say New York you assume Brooklyn right?, fall under the Chvrches category.  Add 2 parts synth and 1 frail, angry and angelic white girl vocalist.  The result can be very rewarding if the ingredients play well together- and carry a big hook.  "Overdose" is that kind of song.

Bob Mould "I Don't Know You Anymore"

Bob Mould has been making music since 1979.  In this video for his latest single he pokes fun at himself, with the help of The Decemberists Colin Meloy, for not knowing how the business works.  He is busy peddling vinyl to anyone who will listen.  Meloy tells him it is all done with social media these days.  "You got to tweet it, Instagram that shit, tumble it."
Ironic then that this humble blog will do all it can to promote Mr Mould for not only this song, but his entire career.  He never made millions like REM or The Pixies (from the heyday of college rock- 1982-1995.  Yet here he stands, doing the same thing he has been doing forever.  And better still, he is doing it just as good if not better.  No nonsense, guitar driven ROCK and ROLL.

Ryan Adams "Gimmie Something Good"

Ryan Adams has not been around nearly as long.  But he has been pretty darn prolific for a 30 something.  Later this year he will release his 15th (!!!!) solo record.  This after performing and recording with Whiskeytown (where he also released 3 records.)  He has been married to the actress Mandy Moore for several years now.  He had a memorable cameo in the Judd Apatow film This is 40 a few years back.  It has been years since he showed up in the blogs and gossip pages due to erratic behavior and general unpleasantness.  Could he have matured?  Will that alter (negatively) his overall work?  After all, perhaps it was his anger and disposition that allowed him such creativity?  This release would argue otherwise.  The howling guitars and signature voice are very much present.  Dawes and The Head and The Heart try to mirror this sound, I just know it.  It comes as no surprise I love those two bands.  But sometimes the original is essential.  Ryan Adams is indeed an American original.  This will be a tour I look forward to as well.

What is on your summer playlist?  What was the best show/song/album of 2014 (so far?)  Give a yell and let's get the conversation going.

Or is reading the news a better alternative?

Wars?  Yeah

Planes falling from the skies?  Yeah

Flags bleached on the Brooklyn Bridge?  Yeah

People giving a rats ass about a King turning 1?  Yeah



Shia Lebouf.

Super Storms.

What am I missing?

Oh right, nothing.  That is all a huge downer.  Stay positive out there folks!  I dare you to only post funny and light things for a week.  No abused pets...  no complaining...  no religion or politics!!

I can do it.  Can you???