Archive for the 'Alt-country' Category

Out of the Blue-Julian Casablancas

Perfectly baroque new wave guitar pop dominates Julian Casablancas’ semi-ignored debut Phrazes for the Young. The album itself comes across as perfectly harmless and songs are relatively, but effortlessly bouncing in and out of different ideas. This one comes across as a country/New Wave hybrid with some cleanly Strokesy guitar- guitar that was never punk or new wave, but almost pop metal. One of four or five really good songs on the album (River of Brakelights, 11th Dimension, Tourist, Left and Right in the Dark). I’m glad I finally got it.

Euro-Trash Girl-Cracker

This is the video version, which I believe is clipped of a couple of verses. Just some David Lowery (Camper van Beethoven) and friends country-indie-rock romp around Europe. For whatever reason I remembered this the other day. A good un. I kind of feel that Cracker were always underrated. They always seemed to have the songs and just kind of do their own thing.

Euro-Trash Girl-Cracker (Single Edit)

Euro-Trash Girl-Cracker (live full version)

Modern Love – Last Town Chorus

Yep, it’s that Modern Love. Only this time, it’s slowed way down, and played by a really hot chick with a steel guitar. And she’s even prettier in person.

Last Town Chorus is pretty much Megan Hickey and whoever she happens to have playing with her at the time. She just finished a stint opening for Michael Penn (whom I saw tonight), but it’s my understanding that she’ll be on her own tour sometime next month, at least in select cities.

This is one of those weird covers in that, for it’s style, it stays fairly faithful to the original. It doesn’t get all weird or anything. Contrast that with Grant Lee Phillips’ cover of Wave of Mutilation, which isn’t really GLP style (all singer-songwritery), but more almost calypso, which actually really works for that song. Still, if you heard someone playing it, you’d probably do a double take after the first verse because it wouldn’t hit you right away. Unfortunately, the studio recording doesn’t really capture how overwhelming the steel guitar is in person.

This is really a plug more than anything, because not only was she pleasant to listen to, and pleasant to look at, and kinda funny, she was very nice in person. And she sold me her CD, and signed it for me, and chatted briefly. She’s my new ‘rock’ crush.

Battle of the Broken Hearts-Mojave 3

This is one of the greatest songs I have ever heard. Now, I realize that every SotD post I write might sound like that, but please don’t let it take anything away from how much I love this song, from the excellent CD Spoon and Rafter. There are so many things that make me love this song. I’ll do my best to describe them:

First, the song has movements and dramatic tempo changes arranged into an A-B-C-A-B-C form. Basically, medium tempo, up-tempo, and then dramatic down-tempo heart-wrenching beautiful, before returning to the original form. I like the changes and each part affects me in a different way. With clearly C being the best part.

Second, the song begins with that Shins-like sound of ooohs from New Slang. Great beginning

Third, theremin introducing down-tempo. Nuff said.

Fourth are the lyrics in the middle of the song:

She said
no one wants you when you’re broken
no one needs you when you’re hurt
you can’t love me ’cause I’m broken
you can’t know me while I’m hurt
no one wants you when you’re broken
they can’t love you and it’s sad

I mean dude, how can you possibly recover from that? (Ed. note, when we link to lyrics we attempt to link to band’s official or unofficial pages, not the spyware cobags that archive all the song lyrics).

Fifth, voice plus mallet percussion singing the tune that sounds kind of like from A Day in the Life that you always have to sing along to. You know the part with the oooh ooh oohs. The part that is impossible to not hum along to because it is the most beautiful melody ever.

In the world of iTunes musical rankings, you have two ways to go for perfect songs. Either give them a 13/5 or something like that. Or you can add significant figures to the 5. For example, 5.0000. A better song would be 5.00000. I don’t know the right way to do it, but I know that this is a song that brings up such dilemmas. Is that enough gushing?

The Trapeze Swinger-Iron and Wine

In Good Company was a pretty decent movie and featured surprisingly good ensemble acting. What also kept my attention throughout the movie was a very good soundtrack, prominently featuring the work of one of my favourite artists, Iron and Wine. Thus, the highlight of the movie for me was the previously unreleased Iron and Wine song played over the closing credits, “The Trapeze Swinger”. This song is probably the only good reason to buy the movie’s soundtrack. Realizing this, the evil people at iTunes made this the one track that couldn’t be individually purchased. That might have something to do with the 9:29 length of the song, but I’m sure it’s because of people like me.

The song itself is utterly crushing. It is the emotional equivalent of taking cyanide. Musically, this track nestles itself amongst the pieces of The Creek Drank the Cradle, most resembling the standout track, “Upward Over the Mountain”. The song carries the same painful nostalgia, constantly asking the woman of the song to “remember me”. In fact the poetry in the song is so beautiful that it is worth reading on its own here. The music of each stanza doesn’t change very much, but it actually serves to increase the sense of longing and regret. I don’t think it is remotely boring, and features a particularly lovely hymnal chorus in the background and beautiful sparse percussion. As the song progresses, it sounds like Sam Beam is joined by a female voice, but it’s subtle and distant. Like his lost love. The last musical change near the end of the song is a series of rising and descending whole notes by what sounds like a subdued piano that takes the listener to the final abrupt ending.

Even though this song is probably my favourite Iron and Wine song, I would urge a new listener to begin with The Creek Drank the Cradle, and wait to embrace this song only after falling in love with Iron and Wine’s delicate mastery.