A daily song: GLEE cast – “Somebody to Love”

I seem to have a different song and/or melody stuck in my head on a daily basis. I will try to post them here as often as possible.

God damn it, I fucking love GLEE. This Queen cover makes me almost pee myself.

It’s not really the same in this streaming mode, but this is all that’s currently available. If you’ve been watching the show, you know what I’m talking about. You can watch the full episode (until it gets taken down, probably within a couple of weeks) via Hulu.

A daily song: Interpol – “Evil”

Interpol - Antics

I seem to have a different song and/or melody stuck in my head on a daily basis. I will try to post them here as often as possible.

Indeed. By no means an album that I’ve listened to all that much, but this song makes me want to jump in all sorts of directions.

Interpol – “Evil”

Vivian Girls are rad

As originally published here on the Owl Mag.

All-girl bands face a significant amount of pressure. There aren’t many of them, so the general public (often unconsciously) can be more critical than need be, and their behavior as both musicians and human beings are usually viewed under a much stronger microscope than their male counterparts (no “boys will be boys”-type excuses to be made, for example). It’s also easy to pigeonhole new girl bands as either Sleater-Kinney ripoffs or too-precious commodities not to be taken seriously.

Vivian Girls are so rad because they’ve managed to slyly and quietly work themselves up the hype machine, releasing their self-titled debut to critical acclaim (they even got P4K’s seal of approval) and avoiding the dreaded Girl Band Black Hole. Instead of comments about bra size and sex appeal, it seems that instead, people are just talking about how much they rock (though we did see one review that made mention of “cute bangs” – ugh). The appreciation of the band’s talent appears strong, untainted, and widespread – let’s just hope it stays that way.

Take a jab at “Where Do You Run To,” and you’ll get a taste of Vivian Girls’ lo-fi, infectious, garage-y, shoegaze-y rock and roll [<—so many adjectives! how can you resist?]: Vivian Girls – \”Where Do You Run To\”

Tour dates:

Tue-Oct-21 Brooklyn, NY CMJ Red Bull Space
Thu-Oct-23 New York, NY CMJ Don Pedro’s
Fri-Oct-24 New York, NY CMJ Cake Shop
Sat-Oct-25 New York, NY CMJ Bowery Ballroom
Sun-Oct-26 New York, NY Santo’s Party House !
Thu-Oct-30 Toronto, ONT FU Fest – Sneaky Dee’s $
Sat-Nov-08 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom &@
Mon-Nov-10 Boston, MA Paradise &@
Sun-Nov-16 Los Angeles, CA Echoplex/Part-Time Punks Fest #
Mon-Nov-17 San Diego, CA Casbah #
Tue-Nov-18 Los Angeles, CA The Smell #
Thu-Nov-20 San Francisco, CA Bottom Of The Hill #
Fri-Nov-21 Sacramento, CA Luigi’s Fun Garden #
Sat-Nov-22 Portland, OR Backspace #
Sun-Nov-23 Seattle, WA Nectar Lounge #
Fri-Nov-28 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda’s +
Sun-Nov-30 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom +
Wed-Dec-31 Montclair, NJ Wellmont Theatre *

$ = w/ F***ED UP
& = w/ Deerhunter
@ = w/ Times New Viking
! = w/ Jay Reatard
+ = w/ King Khan
* = w/ Yo La Tengo, The Feelies
# = w/ Love is All

Marykate O’Neil – “Green Streets”

As originally published here on the Owl Mag.

The first 45 or so seconds of Marykate O’Neil’s “Green Street” draws an odd comparison to the initial twangs of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” Right before it starts to feel like a dated ripoff, however, the song becomes an excellent demonstration in layered melody, and all is forgiven. A well-rounded, sweet pop song led by O’Neil’s bright and steady vocals, “Green Street” comes from the Brooklyn singer-songwriter’s mkULTRA EP, out on October 28th:

1. Green Street
2. Man
3. Nothing I Say or Do
4. Trouble
5. Without You
6. Happy

Marykate O\’Neil – \”Green Streets\”

Tour dates:

09/27 The Brass Cat – Easthampton, MA (with Lloyd Cole)
10/09 World Cafe Live- Philadelphia, PA (with Jill Sobule)
10/10 The Space – Hampden, CT (with Jim Boggia)
10/11 The Lizard Lounge – Cambridge, MA (with Jim Boggia)
10/13 The Red Door – Portsmouth, NH
10/14 The Living Room – New York, NY (mkULTRA CD RELEASE PARTY)
10/16 The Goldhawk – Hoboken, NJ (with Jim Boggia)
10/23 Largo – Los Angeles, CA (with Jill Sobule & Julia Sweeney)
11/22 The Brass Cat – Easthampton, MA (with Mark Schwaber)
12/08 Maxwell’s – Hoboken, NJ (Nada Surf)

Video: Marnie Stern

As originally published here on The Owl Mag.

Marnie Stern is not gentle. In fact, she wields both her guitar and her voice as tools of major shred action, wherein she creates music full of hard chops and unseemly rhythms. She rocks big and she rocks hard, without regard for the traditional pop canon. At the same time, her music is quite intricate, subtly constructed from energetic hooks and buoyant vocal/guitar trade-offs. Her music does not go down easy; once digested, however, it’s hard to get enough.

Last year’s In Advance of the Broken Arm will be followed in 2008 with This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That, which comes out tomorrow (October 7th), so start attempting to memorize that ungodly title now (rumor has it that this title is in reference to one Alan Watts). You can get a preview of said complicatedly-titled album by viewing the video for “Transformer” – it’s short and sweet (well, maybe not so sweet), and has a nutty outer-space, 80’s vibe the whole way through:

Shannon Wright – oh so lovely

I downloaded Shannon Wright’s Let in the Light back in 2007 not long after it came out, and then only listened in passing. Re-visiting the songs as of late, however, I’ve discovered the lovely and haunting elements of her music. Her voice is hushed and light, but she creates an overall intricate sound by adding in-depth instrumentation – sprawling piano, jazzy percussion, and catchy guitar. Her music seems like a subtle take on cabaret/baroque pop, wherein simple melody becomes more complex with flurried yet graceful songwriting.

Shannon Wright – \”Hinterland\”

This song (more theatrical than the tunes on Let in the Light, but just as lovely) is actually from 2001’s Dyed in the Wool, as her website is (unfortunately) a bit out of date. Her MySpace appears to be the most updated source of information.

Sleater-Kinney – The Hot Rock

As originally published here on Treble’s Best Albums of the ’90s.

One of my favorite stories about Sleater-Kinney involves Corin Tucker being interviewed by Joe Heim at Salon.com. According to Maria Raha’s Cinderella’s Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground (which you should read, by the way), his first question for Tucker was “How does it feel to be ‘women in rock’?” When she refused to answer, he asked the question again. At that point, she simply hung up.

Sleater-Kinney were iconic in their historical defiance of such ridiculously antiquated perceptions, and this incident succinctly represents the Portland, Ore. band for what they were: an intelligent, political, inherently feminist trio of women who made truly excellent rock and roll. Their “indefinite hiatus” in 2005 was not only sad because it meant no more albums like Call the Doctor or Dig Me Out; it also meant that most likely, one of the few all-female rock bands was going to fade into the ether.

One factor to take from Sleater-Kinney’s stretch of existence is how the three-piece managed to release seven noteworthy albums during their time, starting with their self-titled debut in 1995 and ending with their superb The Woods in 2005. Smack dab in the middle was 1999’s The Hot Rock, coming out at a time when they’d found themselves as critical darlings as well as potential mainstream contenders. Seven albums as a set is tough to swallow, especially when you try to really separate each and every one.

What I love about The Hot Rock, however, is the thread of melody that keeps it together. Song by song, the record places softness to the band’s typically raw edges, each one leading into each other seamlessly and with a touch of grace. This of course does not take away from the fact that The Hot Rock still rocks really hard, with every garage-y hook and wailing vocal that makes the signature Sleater-Kinney sound. The title track, in particular, is quintessential: dueling vocals and instrumentation, a feeling of vulnerability paired with femme-punk noise. Sleater-Kinney demonstrated their growth as songwriters on this album, and as The Hot Rock was released right in the middle of their career as a band, there was no better time for such a development. Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss proved that they could do what they wanted for the duration of their well-respected career, marking their territory as both musicians and socially significant women, and The Hot Rock was simply another step in that journey.

Similar albums/ Albums Influenced:
The Gossip – Standing in the Way of Control
New Order – Power, Corruption, and Lies
Husker Du – New Day Rising

Anna Gazdowicz

Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville

As originally published here on Treble’s Best Albums of the ’90s.

For all intents and purposes, someone like me should not really know the real Liz Phair. Or, I should say, a more typical version of me should not really know the real Liz Phair. If I were not a person that also happens to be a bit of an indie music geek, then suffice it to say that I would only know Liz Phair as the glamorous, more watered-down shell that she became in the post-Y2K era. Not to discount her still-existent talent and candor – but we can’t deny that the development of Phair circa 2000 was more streamlined for, well, the mainstream.

Throttle back to 1993, however, and we take a closer look at Exile in Guyville. The theme is obvious simply from the title of this debut album: Phair’s existence and self-recognition as a talented female musician trying to make it in the emerging indie rock movement that was dominated by bands of the male variety (particularly in Chicago at that time). And while the legitimate talent and groundbreaking ability of this male majority should not be undermined, the absence of female also cannot be ignored.

Flash forward to today – 2008, when the rock and roll landscape is in a wholly different place. Is the argument and ethos of Exile in Guyville still relevant? I would personally say that, yes, it is, and that indie rock is still a boys’ club. Like the concept of feminism and gender equality in general, things are of course better than they were less than 100 years ago when women were first granted suffrage (a right to vote that was awarded, with hesitance, after extensive efforts). But at the end of the day, progress is still slight. And I’d hope that slight is not something that we’d consider acceptable, but, well, what do I know? At least we have Exile in Guyville in its 15th year of existence: a record that can be enjoyed as a lesson in pop music, but also understood as a keystone within our social development (or lack there of). And just in time for Exile‘s deluxe re-release after being so long out of print, it appears that Phair’s message is not lost, nor is the excellence of this album any less respected.

The burgeoning rocker successfully fused indie rock and pop into 18 significant tracks on Exile, which, as quoted by Phair herself in interviews, was a song-by-song reply to the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street. At the very least, it’s a loose tribute to that album, and ultimately the final version of what had surfaced under Phair’s original moniker of Girly Sound in 1991. The lyrics are shamelessly sexual and self-effacingly bitter, running like a dialogue from a scorned yet unequivocally confident woman. She was already strong during a time when women were learning to be strong; she sets an example of an unapologetic exterior and a dirtier version of the feminine sex appeal that was not yet the norm. “Fuck and Run”? “Girls! Girls! Girls!”? “Stratford-On-Guy”? She wants to be your “blowjob queen”? These songs are all unabashed, elegantly structured, infectious, and undoubtedly real. In particular, “Flower” is so intensely awesome and powerful that it’ll give you chills.

It’s striking to think that we’re examining the debut from the very same artist whose 2004 self-titled album received the infamous 0.0 rating on Pitchfork. And perhaps it was the subsequent period after Guyville that managed to break Phair: the higher-up men in the industry who either loved her or hated her and ultimately took credit for her, grand expectations for a live show that fell flat, demands from the media over the years for female musicians to fit a particular mold in order to “make it.” It was all there, and at the end of the day, Liz Phair is still human. But she’s still got plenty of fight left in her, and I can’t wait to see her use it.

Similar Albums:
The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
Martha Wainwright – Martha Wainwright
Fiona Apple – Tidal

Anna Gazdowicz