Monday, July 28, 2008

Lykke Li - Little Bit

Here's a cute song and current favorite of both my kids, 22-year-old Lykke Li from Sweden (according to Wikipedia she's also lived in Portugal, Morocco, Nepal, India and New York City). Her debut album, Youth Novels, was co-produced by the Björn of Peter Björn and John. Like all the Swedish artists I can think of, she sings in English. I think I'm a little bit in love with you...but only if you're a little bit in love with me...

MP3 Lykke Li - Little Bit (from 2008's Youth Novels)

Friday, July 25, 2008

John Doe - Pressing On (Bob Dylan cover)

then and now

Oh, I do LOVE John Doe. He's been one of my biggest crushes since 1980 when I moved to Los Angeles and he and Exene were fronting X, the greatest of the LA punk bands. I was waitressing at the now long defunct Starwood, seeing bands like Fear, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, the Blasters, the Gun Club and the Minutemen all the time, but X were always in a league of their own.

Now of course Doe is one of our best contemporary folk singers (not to mention a fine actor). I am excited to be seeing him in August at a VERY intimate show in Freehold (capacity 55). The next afternoon he will be playing a free gig with the Knitters (most of X and some of the Blasters playing acoustic folk/alt-country) at Damrosch Park, NYC, as part of Lincoln's Center's Roots of American Music series. Patti Smith will also be appearing.

While watching I'm Not There I was thrilled to hear Doe doing the singing for the Christian Bale character (Dylan in his evangelical phase). Doe mentioned in a recent interview that covering the song required some acting on his part, since he is not a believer.

MP3 John Doe - Pressing On
(from the original soundtrack to I'm Not There, original released by Bob Dylan on 1980's Saved)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sebadoh - Think (Let Tomorrow Bee)

Here's the great Lou Barlow of Sebadoh (and Dinosaur Jr and Folk Implosion) doing a lovely solo version of Think during Pitchfork's Music Festival in Chicago this week. When he's finished playing this very quiet song all by himself the bassist for what some call the loudest indie band ever (Dinosaur) says "That was scary."

MP3 Sebadoh - Think (Let Tomorrow Bee) from 1993's Bubble and Scrape (band did the whole album at Pitchfork)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Congratulations to Björk

for getting herself and many others banned in China, well done! Nice to know SOMEBODY in this world has the balls not to suck up to the Chinese government, even if it's an eccentric 42-year-old rock star from Iceland.

Much respect to Björk who is a gigantic institution in her home country and now lives most of the time in Westchester County NY with her American avant garde artist boyfriend Matthew Barney. Björk is what the British call a "gap mother," with a 22-year-old son from her early relationship with the Sugarcubes' guitar player (who'd been her boyfriend since she was 15) and a five-year-old daughter with Barney.

Here's the song she was banned for (she started chanting Tibet Tibet! at the end of it during a recent show in Shanghai), as well as one of my favorite Björk songs ever.

MP3 Björk - Declare Independence
(from 2007's Volta)
MP3 Björk - Hyper-ballad (from 1995's Post)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Beck - Gamma Ray

the original hippie cowboy from outer space, Mr. Beck Hansen

Beck is one of those artists who can do no wrong. Sure he's got his better and his lesser albums, but that's the fate of anyone whose musical career lasts more than a few years. Beck has done enough fantastic stuff that I will always consider him a major figure and I'm always interested in what he's doing now.

That said, the new record is way better than The Information, about on the same level as Guero. I absolutely love Joey Waronker's drumming on Chemtrails, but here's one you may not have heard yet, Gamma Ray, a fun summer song.

MP3 Beck - Gamma Ray
(from 2008's Modern Guilt)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -
Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

This is not exactly background music. Actually it kind of takes over the room--just see if you can ignore this boffo opening number from one of the best-reviewed records of the year. Australian Nick Cave, born 1957, gets props from me for being PJ Harvey's ex-boyfriend (that can't be an easy job, and in fact he wrote a whole album about it when it was over).

MP3 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! from (2008's Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Born Ruffians - Hummingbird

Born Ruffians in their natural habitat of Toronto

Charming retro sound on this track by Canadian youngsters Born Ruffians (nice album title too). As one reviewer wrote, only party-poopers wouldn't like this.

MP3 Born Ruffians - Hummingbird
(from 2008's Red, Yellow and Blue)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Foals - Balloons

Foals are a very young (as in, they could be my children) band from Oxford; a couple of them even went to the same 800-year-old prep school as all five members of that other Oxford band. This is from their strong debut album Antidotes. They're opening for bands like REM and Bloc Party on the other side of the Atlantic. People always ask me how I find out about new bands. Watching who your favorites pick for opening acts is an excellent method!

MP3 Foals - Balloons (from 2008's Antidotes)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My Morning Jacket - Librarian

Their new album is not getting the rave reviews they're used to, but still a tonna people are downloading it off eMusic, and I think this is my favorite song ever by the Louisville, Kentucky band. Less reverby than usual. Syntax of Things has the lyrics and a live version from Bonnaroo. When God gave us mirrors, he had no idea...

I recently saw the Bob Dylan flick I'm Not There for the first time and had to Google it to find out who that was backing up Jim James cuz it didn't look my MMJ, and turns out it was Calexico, sweet. I gotta get me that soundtrack, I had no idea it was that great.

MP3 My Morning Jacket - Librarian (from 2008's Evil Urges)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Liz Phair - Soap Star Joe

It was certainly odd to be listening to Jake Vogelnest count down the Top Ten on Left of Center this week and hear Liz Phair (b. 1967) at #5, albeit with the reissue of her debut, the classic Exile in Guyville from 1993. In recent years Liz has taken quite a beating from the hipster music press for turning pop and trying to make some money.

But this year it's back to Liz-worship in connection with the 15th anniversary of Guyville. Reviews of her recent acoustic performances of the album in its entirety indicate she's still the lousy live act she's always been, but the debut holds up as a masterpiece of writing, no doubt.

MP3 Liz Phair - Soap Star Joe
(from 1993's Exile in Guyville, reissued 2008)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal

Shoring up my theory that an astounding amount of the best indie rock comes from just a handful of places--Brooklyn, Canada (Montreal/Toronto/Vancouver), Seattle, Minneapolis, Athens (GA), London, Glasgow, Sweden and Iceland--Seattle's Fleet Foxes give Vampire Weekend (who seem played out just six months after they were the next big thing) a run for their money in the debut-of-the-year category. Their sound is characterized by gorgeous three- and four-part harmonies and they sing a lot about nature, but they want you to know they're not hippies. This album will be on everybody's Top 10 list for sure.

MP3 Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal (from 2008's Fleet Foxes)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Duke Spirit - The Step and the Walk

Nice retro early 90s sound on this song, now in high rotation on Sirius 26 Left of Center, one of my main sources of new music. This is a young band from London. I'll see them at All Points West if I get there early enough!

MP3 The Duke Spirit - The Step and the Walk (from 2008's Neptune)