Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Another afternoon with the goats-head tunes and pilfered booze

Oh, man, it's all about The Shins this week, and rightly so. It's been years and years since I've been as blown away by a single as "Phantom Limb." The first few times I heard it, I thought it was so-so. For some reason, I didn't remove it from iPod rotation after the requisite two spins. It continued to come around with increasing frequency. Then I began seeking it out (no easy feat, sometimes, when you have a Shuffle).

It's impossible to sing along to a song you can't for the life of you figure out the words to, but I did the impossible.


It got its hooks into me. And such hooks!

The new record, Wincing the Night Away, after many delays, was released today. I was a good boy and didn't go find a bittorent leak of the album. I was a very good boy. Was the wait worth it? Well, I have a very handsome piece of vinyl to show for it (dig it, brothers and sisters, when you buy the LP, Sup Pop throws in digital downloads for you for free!). As for the music, given how much of a grower the single was, it's way too early to tell. On first hearing, it sounds like a bigger, broader Shins. Hail the bands that rise to heightened expectations.

In the meantime, put this bug in your ear and let it float there awhile. The terminally hip among you are probably sick of it already, but the rest of you could probably use a dose of this medicine.

•The Shins: Phantom Limb (MP3)

•The Shins home myspace

P.S. It's nice to have printed lyrics — a touch I didn't expect from this cryptic crew. The actual lyrics ("Foals in winter coats") are much more evocative than the misheard ones, and I'm coming to believe that they achieve a compression and inscrutable beauty that Ken Babstock would envy.

Monday, January 15, 2007

"We play the loudest music in Poland."

For fans of "Nuggets"-style '60s garage and psych, Poland's Czerwone Gitary are a must-hear. Sure, they kind of sound like Herman's Hermits, but when the penalty for being radical was death or gulag, you can't blame them for taking the easier road.

Introduced to the sounds of Pop Britain by sailors visiting their seaport hometown of Gdansk, CG became one of the greatest and most famous of all Eastern Bloc bands. They degenerated into folk-rock wimpitude by the mid-'70s (as, alas, so many did), but you can still imagine the excitement of Polish teenagers on speed and bad potato vodka in the following cuts, can't you?

•Czerwone Gitary: Takie Ĺ‚adne oczy (via RapidShare)
•Czerwone Gitary: Johnny Walker (via RapidShare)

Czerwone Gitary home

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Battle of the song titles, v. 3.1

In deference to astute comments, here are a couple more excellent takes on the Tufargonese national anthem.

A quick search reveals that this is a very popular anthem.

•Tammy Wynette: Too Far Gone (via RapidShare)
•Neil Young: Too Far Gone (Chrome Dreams version) (via RapidShare)

Monday, January 08, 2007

They can make you like them.

I've rarely felt as ambivalent about a band as I do about The Hold Steady. On one hand, their verbose yet repetitive lyrics, barked out by Bob-Mould-with-a-head-cold and backed by a crackerjack out-of-work Meat Loaf tribute band, can be alternately uplifting, grating, and embarrasing. I mean, "Those were massive nights / When every song was right"? There's a very Bryan Adams strain of hesher nostalgia underlying the junkie poetry, and I don't quite trust it.

On the other hand, they fucking rock ass, so shut up.

Anyhow, this will all be moot when they break big on rock radio, which inevitability is a mere 14 months away, by my reckoning.

In the meantime, get some (authorized) rare goods while they're still an underground sensation. If you're all very kind to me, I may post the NPR show as MP3 files someday. (And probably get my ass sued off by whatever mammoth label they'll be recording for at the time.)

Stuck Between Stations (live on The Current) (MP3)
Cattle and the Creeping Things (live on The Current)(MP3)
Killer Parties (remix) (MP3)

Listen to the gently fabulous NPR broadcast

The Hold Steady home myspace

Get 25 free MP3s and buy The Hold Steady (including exclusive tracks and an otherwise unavailable killer live album) at eMusic.com

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Battle of the song titles, v. 3.0

This week, two bands from the little-known country of Tufargon will present radically different interpretations of the Tufargonese national anthem.

•National Dust: Too Far Gone (via RapidShare)
•The Feelies: Too Far Gone (via RapidShare)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

They don't even know which side they're on...

One of the great side-benefits about having an iPod Shuffle is that when you're checking out new music, you often won't know who you're listening to until much later, when you get home, plug the thing in, and scan your playlist for the stuff that did/didn't work for you during your listening day.

I had completely forgotten about having downloaded a song off the Violet Archers' website until I stumbled across it for about the 10th time on my Shuffle. Dammit! EVERY TIME I HEAR THAT SONG IT GETS BETTER! WHAT IS IT?

•Download The Violet Archers: First the Wheel (MP3)
•Buy The End of Part One at Zunior

The Violet Archers home myspace

Monday, January 01, 2007

This just in!

From Sam Larkin, mentor to a million Toronto songwriters, lunatic extraordinaire, and author of exquisite toonz:


Happy New Year!

oh mah geeze i'm nervous i never sent no spam before. but hold on, this ain't spam because i have no spam list, no mailing list. i don't believe in it. but it's now 2 hours and 25 minutes into 2007 and things are happenin differently. or are they? i'm tryin to get to the point, here.

starting yesterday, Dec. 31, 2006, and going forward into the unknown, sam larkin now writes, records and publishes a new song each day at www.samlarkin.com. one click to the page "today's song", click on that player and ears receive. also you can follow the lyrics printed right there on the same page. is this ridiculous? this is ridiculous! but what can be done? -- it's 2007.

while we're at it, if you're around Toronto this coming Thursday, January 4th, 2007, sam is playing at the Cameron House, 408 Queen Street West, accompanied by Eric Newby on guitar and dobro. it's a triple bill, and also playing are two wonderful artists who have got it good: Mellisa Mills, and James Carroll. starts at 9 pm on the nose and a hat will be passed sometime.

okay, hold on, lemme just hold out my glass and receive another pour of, is that Drambuey? what the devil IS Drambuey, anyway, some kinda raki, or is zat ... woops, watch that cat, oh geeze, ra

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•Sam Larkin home
Songs from the new CD, Night Melts Chains
Songs from Ransom