Aug 31, 2005

np: "st. petersburg" - supergrass

There aren't very many bands that exploded during the mid-nineties Britpop craze that are still around making albums, let alone making great albums. Blur is probably the first that comes to mind, but beyond that there aren't many choices. Pulp? Too missing. Oasis? Too spotty. Manic Street Preachers? Maybe. Supergrass, however, have managed to survive the decade just fine - cranking out solid albums like 1997's In It For The Money and 2002's Life On Other Planets. They were probably the least likely band of the bunch to progress as they have, seeing as how they were just snotty little punks when they burst onto the scene with "Caught By The Fuzz". But as Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day knows quite well, even the snottiest of punks has to grow up sometimes. Unfortunately most punks don't have the talent to write wonderful pop songs like "Sun Hits The Sky" and "Alright" (most Americans know the band from this song's inclusion on the Clueless soundtrack).
"St. Petersburg" is the first single from Supergrass' latest album, Road To Rouen. The album was just released in the UK, but unfortunately those of us in the States have to wait awhile before it hits our shelves. In the meantime, click on the link above and listen for yourself. Better yet, run out and pick yourself up a copy of Supergrass is 10: 1994-2004 and find out why this is one of the best singles bands of the past decade.

Aug 30, 2005

np: "birthday" - the junior boys

In case the song isn't enough of a hint for you - today is indeed my birthday, the 29th one in fact. Last year before I should start acting like a real grown-up... nah. That's the reason you see Tug's picture up there, the best celebrity I share my birthday with. Sure, Cameron Diaz and Andy Roddick also blow out the candles today - but who wouldn't be excited to share a birthday with a man who not only went by "Tug" in his professional career, but also gave birth to the man who grew up to marry Faith Hill and duet with Nelly? Rock.
I went shopping today to pick up a present to myself, two of my most anticipated albums of the summer - Death Cab for Cutie's Plans and Kanye West's Late Registration. I've managed to avoid downloading or streaming any of these tracks, sticking with only catching the respective singles on the radio or MTV in order to keep the anticipation high. Plus there's just something about holding out until I can get actual object in my hands, flipping through the liner notes while I give the album its first spin. That, and the fact that Kanye's going to sound a hell of a lot better blasting out of my car stereo on the way home than it will on my shitty computer speakers. I'll be sure to let you know what I think of both albums once I've spent ample time with them.
In the meantime, just want to send out some hopeful thoughts to any of you down on the Gulf Coast spending the day cleaning and recovering - I hope you and yours are all safe and sound today, if a little wet and waterlogged. For those of you that aren't, maybe you can lend a hand.

Aug 29, 2005

np: "bull's eye" - the barry harris sextet

Thanks to my wonderful girlfriend, I was lucky enough to check out Barry Harris and his trio at the Jazz Showcase on Saturday night - it was a wonderful time. I'll admit that I am far from an expert when it comes to jazz, but its something that I've always appreciated and wanted to learn more about. This was a great chance to catch a legend in the flesh and it left me in awe of both his work and the power of live jazz. The passion that flowed through his fingers could be felt throughout the room, it was simply amazing to watch a 75 year old with more energy and excitement than half the rock bands i've seen in my life. One particular highlight for me was the jam he put together by asking for random numbers from the audience, "4-3-7-5" was bouncing around my head for hours after the set.

Aug 25, 2005

np: "major label debut (live at intonation)" - broken social scene

So awesome - I think I've finally fallen head over heels in love with Broken Social Scene. Yes, You Forget It In People was always awesome, but it's only been the past week where my BSS obsession has gotten kicked up a notch or twelve. I suppose you could say it has more than a little to do with the leak of the forthcoming album or with the Intonation set i found online, but I like to think it goes beyond that. Since watching them at Intonation, I'd been finding myself pulling out YFiiP more and more often - digging into songs that hadn't been among my favorites initially. "Shampoo Suicide" and "Pitter Patter Goes My Heart" were two in particular that have recently grown in my favor after many repeated listenings. The whole album is just such a treat, one of those rare albums worthy of every ounce of hype thrown at it in the years since its release - and one that, rather than losing interest in over time, one that has continually grown on me.
Although I do have to admit that having the chance to listen to both the forthcoming self-titled disc and the Intonation set repeatedly over the past couple days have helped me appreciate the band even more. The new album is awesome, that's about all I can say at this point. I've made it through about five full listens so far and I'm very impressed. It's much too early to make proclamations like "album of the year" or anything of that sort, but let's just say I will be very surprised if it doesn't end up making my top twenty at the end of the year. Early favorite tracks include "Fire Eye'd Boy", "Superconnected", and the lush, whispery "Hotel" - but there's really not a single weak track to be found. I'll still be picking this one up the first day of release, however, because I want to hear the fast version of "Major Label Debut" included on the bonus EP that hopefully matches the awesomeness of the live version they've been playing.
Anyway, if you have yet to be exposed to the joy and excitement that this Canadian collective provides - by all means go pick up You Forget It In People at your favorite record store and enjoy. Or if you are already a charter member of the BSS fan club, get ready for October 4th.

* - For a limited time, you can click on the link at the beginning of this post to download the Intonation version of "Major Label Debut". Enjoy, and leave a comment to tell me what you think about the track or Broken Social Scene in general.

(BSS live photo courtest of Pitchfork)

Aug 24, 2005

np: "where cedar nouns and adverbs walk" - the most serene republic

alright, i know i've let you all down by not posting in several weeks - but i promise that its not all my fault. my internet connection at home went down for about a week, so that's partially to blame for the lack of updates. other than that though, i really don't have much of an excuse - i've just been out enjoying the summer and keeping busy with work.

i'm sure you've all been waiting for the report on the Ben & Rufus show at Ravinia earlier this month, so here's a brief rundown. opener Ben Lee sounded pretty good, i enjoyed his set much more than i expected to. Rufus was wonderful but i was a little disappointed that he didn't play "Oh What A World", i can't really complain beyond that. he sounded like he was having a good time and it came through in the songs, "Hallelujah" was a high point. Ben Folds also seemed to be having a good time playing with a band again, but the portion of his set i heard suffered from too many songs off the new album. it would have been great to have heard more Ben Folds Five classics, but i suppose he's still trying to distance himself from that a little. we ended up leaving about halfway through Ben's set, but we at least got to hear "Philosophy" before we hit the gates. overall i'd have to say i really enjoyed the night, the weather was fabulous but the overcrowded lawn definitely was not. i didn't realize Mr. Folds was pulling in such a huge teen following, but they were in full force at that night's show much to my dismay - as they were obviously there so see Folds and Folds only and used Rufus' set as an excuse for lots of loud talking on cell phones. it would be awesome if places like Ravinia would put up those cell phone scrambling devices that some stores use, because some of us go so we can actually hear the music. enough of the ranting though, it was a fun night and i'll probably be back to Ravinia again soon - maybe on a less crowded one.

other than that i'm just gearing up for a new batch of reviews over at Static, i'll be sure to link you once they are up on the site. things are kinda slow on the show circuit right now, but September looks to be exiciting as i've already got tickets to see Sufjan Stevens, Wolf Parade, Arcade Fire, The National, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Aug 8, 2005

np: "gay messiah" - rufus wainwright

everytime i listen to Rufus, i start to wonder why i don't do it more often. he's one of those artists that i rarely find myself "in the mood" for, but whenever i do - i kick myself for not getting in that mood more often. i could seriously listen to Rufus sing a telephone book and i would enjoy the hell out of it, there aren't many singers who i could say the same for. i used to think that i could listen to any song that Chris Cornell provided the vocals for (hell, i even bought that solo album) but it seems Audioslave has managed to wean me of that particular habit.
i can't say i've been a long-time fan of Rufus, though i'd always enjoyed what i'd heard of his work. last year a friend hooked me up with a great mix of his stuff and i realized how much i had been missing. many dismiss the overblown theatrics of his work, but i think he's one of the few artists out there that can pull those kinds of things off. from his more intimate moments to the full-blown orchestral showstoppers, Rufus can own any song he takes on. except maybe "Hallelujah", but really - who can touch Jeff?
anyway, i'm listening tonight to prepare for the Wainwright and Ben Folds show at Ravinia later this week. i'd much rather have caught Ben back in the "Five" days, but i hear he can still put on one hell of a show. totally not feeling that last album though dude, the Scissor Sisters can do Elton far better than you ever will - so don't even try. i haven't been to Ravinia for years, so i'm very excited to be hitting this wonderful venue up again. let's just hope for great weather.

Aug 7, 2005

np: "the day we caught the train" - ocean colour scene

i've been drowning myself in '90s Britpop over the past week or so, due to a poll i tried to initiate at a message board i frequent from time to time. unfortunately, the poll seems to be mired down in arguments of what is (and, more importantly it seems) what isn't considered "Britpop". so while that poll may never fully take off as i intended, i'll share the results of my hard work with you dear reader.

via//chicago's top 95 Britpop songs
95. Elastica - Waking Up
94. Kula Shaker - Hey Dude
93. Morrissey - Alma Matters
92. Black Grape - In the Name of the Father
91. Chemical Brothers - Life is Sweet
90. Super Furry Animals - The Man Don't Give a Fuck
89. Manic Street Preachers - Theme From M.A.S.H. (Suicide is Painless)
88. Rialto - Monday Morning 5:19
87. Ride - Twisterella
86. Cast - Finetime
85. Placebo - Nancy Boy
84. Sleeper - Inbetweener
83. The Verve - Lucky Man
82. Pulp - This is Hardcore
81. Charlatans - Can't Get Out of Bed
80. Seahorses - Blinded by the Sun
79. Catatonia - Mulder and Scully
78. Boo Radleys - Wake Up Boo
77. Cornershop - Sleep on the Left Side
76. Elastica - 2:1
75. Pulp - Do You Remember the First Time?
74. Supergrass - Caught by the Fuzz
73. Cranberries - Zombie
72. Travis - Driftwood
71. Lush - 500 (Shake Baby Shake)
70. Suede - Trash
69. Ocean Colour Scene - The Circle
68. Elastica - Line Up
67. Cast - Alright
66. Supergrass - Sun Hits the Sky
65. Dodgy - Staying Out for the Summer
64. Gene - For the Dead
63. Radiohead - Street Spirit (Fade Out)
62. The Bluetones - Slight Return
61. Tricky - Christiansands
60. Inspiral Carpets - This is How It Feels
59. Manic Street Preachers - Everything Must Go
58. The Verve - This is Music
57. Suede - Animal Nitrate
56. Kula Shaker - Hush
55. Oasis - Some Might Say
54. Dodgy - Good Enough
53. Charlatans - The Only One I Know
52. Reef - Place Your Hands
51. Travis - Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
50. Ocean Colour Scene - You've Got It Bad
49. Pulp - Sorted for E's & Wizz
48. Chemical Brothers - Let Forever Be
47. Blur - End of the Century
46. Super Furry Animals - Hermann Loves Pauline
45. Longpigs - On and On
44. Morrissey - The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get
43. The Verve - The Drugs Don't Work
42. Blur - Country House
41. Sleeper - Statuesque
40. Cranberries - Dreams
39. Blur - For Tomorrow
38. Boo Radleys - C'mon Kids
37. Space - Female of the Species
36. Seahorses - Love is the Law
35. Supergrass - Late in the Day
34. Manic Street Preachers - A Design For Life
33. Underworld - Born Slippy (NUXX)
32. Ash - Girl From Mars
31. Radiohead - Just
30. Kula Shaker - Tattva
29. Placebo - Every You Every Me
28. My Bloody Valentine - To Here Knows When
27. Lush - Ladykillers
26. Super Furry Animals - Something 4 The Weekend
25. Chumbawamba - Tubthumping
24. Oasis - Acquiesce
23. Radiohead - High and Dry
22. Cornershop - Brimful of Asha
21. Ride - Leave Them All Behind
20. Stone Roses - Love Spreads
19. Chemical Brothers - Setting Sun
18. Oasis - Don't Look Back in Anger
17. Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees
16. Pulp - Disco 2000
15. Primal Scream - Come Together
14. Elastica - Connection
13. Suede - So Young
12. Oasis - Wonderwall
11. Blur - To The End
10. Supergrass - Alright
9. Babybird - You're Gorgeous
8. Suede - The Drowners
7. Radiohead - Creep
6. The La's - There She Goes
5. Blur - Girls and Boys
4. Pulp - Common People
3. The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony
2. Stone Roses - I Wanna Be Adored
1. Oasis - Live Forever

as you can see, i decided to widen my definition of Britpop past the holy trinity of Oasis, Blur, and Pulp. i looked at bands that helped to launch and inspire the mid-90's scene - hence the inclusion of My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Inspiral Carpets, and Stone Roses. timeframe or no, i find that "I Wanna Be Adored" has come to define everything i look for in that era more than any other song, with the exception of Oasis' all-time classic. i also looked at bands that fit in with the overall spirit of Britpop, even if the sound was quite removed - see Chumbawamba, Cornershop, and Underworld for example. anyway, feel free to leave some thoughts below in the comments section.

Aug 4, 2005

np: "on the edge of" - low

after a couple of slow months in the new releases department, things are starting to heat up again as release dates are announced for some of 2005's more anticipated albums. here's a quick list of ones i am most excited for, with expected street dates:

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl (08.23.05)
stellastarr* - Harmonies for the Haunted (08.23.05)
Death Cab for Cutie - Plans (08.30.05)
Kanye West - Late Registration (08.30.05)
The Rolling Stones - A Bigger Bang (09.06.05)
Sonic Youth - Goo (reissue - 2xCD) (09.13.05)
Sigur Ros - Takk (09.13.05)
Wolf Parade - Apologies to Queen Mary (09.27.05)
Metric - Live It Out (10.04.05)
My Morning Jacket - Z (10.04.05)
Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have Had It So Much Better With... (10.04.05)
Broken Social Scene - Windsurfing Nation (10.04.05)
The Constantines - Tournament of Hearts (10.11.05)
DangerDoom - The Mouse and the Mask (10.11.05)
Boards of Canada - Title TBA (10.18.05)

its shaping up to be a great fall for new music, i'm imagining (and hoping) that many of these will place highly on my year-end lists.

Aug 2, 2005

np: "sjutton" - dungen

picked up the domestic reissue of last year's fantastic Ta Det Lugnt by this Swedish psych-rock group. the track i'm currently listening to comes from the bonus disc of five previously unreleased tunes, mostly instrumental. the original album itself is amazing, so the bonus stuff is like adding even more icing to the tasty cake. they surprised me at Intonation and continue to surprise me with every song i hear, i'm looking forward to a long career from Dungen. get your butt out to your favorite indie shop and pick this one up, or get it direct from the cool cats over at Kemado.