Generals and Majors-XTC

As I mentioned at the 3B!, I was simply astounded that this song was playing in the entryway Korean Market in sprawling Big Texas Megalopolis. My experience with the Korean Market soundtrack is that it tends very much to Asian or American ultra light Adult Contemporary, so this was incredibly surreal. I had to get out of there before they blew my mind with Capt. Sensible or something.

I think we all agree that XTC deserves more space that we currently give in on our collective zeitgeist hard drive.

Growing up in Deseret we had the ol’ new wave/modern rock station that played on occasion:

Generals and Majors
Making Plans for Nigel
Senses Working Overtime
Towers of London
Life Begins at the Hop
No Thugs in Our House
Love on a Farmboy’s Wages
King for a Day
Dear God
Mayor of Simpleton
Ballad of Peter Pumkinhead

And it wasn’t as if they were all that popular, but it of course was the time when you felt like you could play more that two songs by a band. I don’t think Talking Heads, who got much more play, had as many songs that would get pulled off the shelf.

UPDATE:

I think I must have also heard “Respectable Street” too

Telephones – The Headlights

Don’t know too much about this band (Seitz???), but I like the happy retropoppy feel of what I’ve heard. I think the sound is probably closest to Los Campesinos, but I do alert the readers to the super awesome organ at the beginning of this song, and the almost sense that they are going to be doing an extended Boy with the Arab Strap outro. This is super fun music. I would probably want to dance to this, especially the parts that get more into Arcade Fire territory.

Possum Dixon – Watch the Girl Destroy Me

[PP Ed note- I also kind of love this song from back in the day, and even if Pitchfork uses this to pigeonhole the shit out of us, I don’t care- we have editorial freedom at 3B. Date us away. Make fun of the flannel we never wore!]

A radical departure from El Seitzo at SOTD. For once I’m not posting a song from a recently discovered artist/artist of the moment. This is from an album I bought at some point in the early 90s. In fact, I may have had this on cassette, and then later picked up a copy on a used CD, but to this to day it is one of the most underrated albums I own (along with probably Chance from the Rave Ups). I think I got it at a used CD fair at UC Riverside at some point after my freshman year.

This album kind of sounds like a combination of Violent Femmes (contemporaries) and Art Brut (just kids at the time), one of which I like, and one of which I love like few others (that would be Art Brut).

This is the best of a bevy of fantastic songs. The album is chock full of great stuff from art rock, to Dick Dale style surf guitar, to power pop. Unfortunately, they tried to get serious for their second album, it wasn’t as good, and that was pretty much that. Rob Zabrecky is now a magician performing at the Magic Castle. But every so often I cue this album up in the ‘ol iTunes, because it’s really pretty fantastic from start to finish. Standout tracks include Nerves, In Buildings, Regina, and Elevators, in addition to the track below. Especially Regina and Elevators. But this song is just a terrific straightforward pop song. Enjoy!

Jason Lytle – I Am Lost

The return of Jason Lytle was almost completely unheralded, but now that I’ve finally listened to his post-Grandaddy album, Yours Truly, The Commuter, I can say that it is a massive norepinephrine rush of nostalgia tinged with post-Pink Floyd sensibility and sprinkles of utter brilliance.

I picked this particular track for Pinko Punko, since it is super Jeddy-like and it evokes Lawn and So On from Under The Western Freeway. Short, sweet, and kind of melancholy. The beginning is so Dark Side of the Moon, I almost laughed out loud, but then it settled into a replica of old Grandaddy and I got really sad for Jed.

You’ll Disappear-The Phenomenal Handclap Band

Likely a dance punk outfit that realized it would be more fun to be a groove/minimalist funk/space disco band than a rock band pretending to play techno, these guys I might guess are a fun show. I saw this vid at Amandagon, and this particular track makes me want to take fake pills and fake smoke but everything else can be very real. The lead vocalist on this track is only guesting and I haven’t listened to the rest of the album yet, so no info there.

It Made You Dumb-Modey Lemon

One of the joys of Pandora, is that even with an imperfect algorithm, you will be served up bands that you either never had time for or had never heard of, or had heard of only to the extent that you knew Pitchfork might have reviewed one of their albums at some point, meaning you could assign some probability that they might be an indie rock band. I haven’t had time to full explore Modey Lemon’s 2008 offering Season of Sweets, but I really do love this cut. I loved this song from the first listen, rawish yet clean right down the road indie rock, but really well done and you’d imagine it would be great in a little club. There is so much music out there these days that I feel for smaller bands that just slog through- I hope they know that people appreciate just how good hearing a new, good song makes them feel. I’d put this up there with our previously reviewed Snowden track in the pleasant surprises category.

Hello to the Floor-The Duke Spirit

Pandora served this up to me, and they are available on eMusic. They fit my retro, nostalgic pseudo hippyish bar band longings, while also I realize now reminding me a little bit of Heartless Bastards, another Pandora serve that eMusic allowed me to get into. I suspect this will be enjoyed by Zombies.

6669 (I Don’t Know if You Know)-Neon Indian

Both Richard Armitage and Marc Hogan at Pitchfork note what I picked up on first listen of Neon Indian’s Psychic Chasms, the washed out mix tape sound. What could strike as a cynical, and cheap unearned nostalgia is cleared away by the quality of some of the songs. The songs mine that 80s new wave sensitive emo melancholy. They play as tracks from a sub one hit wonder, but the B-sides of those band’s 12 inches that were just so good that the Saturday night DJ would play them on the request show along with Peter Godwin and Intaferon and the kids would tape it off the radio because you just couldn’t buy it.

God damn I always hated it when the cool kids looked cool in their pre-distressed jeans. That’s this album. The songs aren’t quite so under water on headphones, but it stands out on the old fashioned speakers. MGMT would be Neon Indian if MGMT weren’t completely manufactured shitheads.

No One Said That This Would Be Easy – The Postmarks

I heard this song on XM radio when I was on a Jet Blue flight from Long Beach to Chicago, and it made an impression. It sounded like an American version of some stuff I’ve heard from Broadcast. It’s the opening track from their new album Memoirs at the End of the Word. Interestingly, when you rip this CD and import it into iTunes, the genre tag is “Soundtrack”, which is kind of funny since I don’t think any of these songs appear on any soundtracks. But the whole album sounds like it’s full of songs that could be on movie soundtracks, and this song in particular has a real early James Bond feel to it.

I saw these guys in concert last night with Brookville, which is one of the side projects of Andy Chase (Ivy, Paco). Great show. Only about 50 people there, and Tim Yehezkely, the lead singer for the Postmarks (yes, she’s a girl and her name is Tim, and no, that’s not her on the video/album cover actually, I take that back, I think that is her) was kind of dancing by herself through the whole Brookville set. This was going on about five feet in front of me. It was just a cool atmosphere. I feel guilty at those shows, because I kinda like when they aren’t crowded, but at the same time I feel bad for the bands that more people didn’t show up. And if the crowd is like that for a Chicago show, what’s it going to be like when they play Omaha?

Anyway, this whole album is really good, but this is my favorite song from it so far.

Gone Forever-Raveonettes

Denmark’s Raveonettes hit their fave influences again on their latest In and Out of Control (Jesus and Mary Chain, Stereolab, girl group sound) but what do I care, that is a recipe for my heart’s desire. I think this is the wormiest track in its “this is the end” refrain for getting into your head. A very listenable album, with many tracks much more retro than this, but they all work because it is clear the bad are having such a good time doing what they do.

Vacationing People – Foreign Born

So about a month or so ago, I decided to make a fairly short list of bands whose names I kept hearing/reading, whether it be from friends, or on Pitchfork, or whatever. I have a Rhapsody subscription, so the plan was to start listening to those bands to see if there was stuff out there that I was missing. I still have a few to get to, but the list includes things like Dirty Projectors, Phoenix, Passion Pit, etc.

So far, the band that scores the highest on the “how much I like them vs. how much buzz I’ve heard” scale is Foreign Born (note that I also love Phoenix and Dirty Projectors, but they get a lot more pub). This is the third track off their latest album Person to Person. They’re like a more musically polished version of the Broken West, who I’ve discussed here before. So far this is my favorite song off this album. Unfortunately, this is the best version of this song on Youtube, but I’d suggest going to their myspace page and checking out the studio version as well, which is excellent.

I Knew-Lightning Dust

Lightning Dust has some members from the Pink Mountaintops/Black Mountain collective that are very beloved in these parts. Once this one gets going I can’t help but think of an 80’s movie montage where the characters implement their plan or enjoy a day of hijinks compressed into 2.5 minutes.

This is from their latest Infinite Light.

Marrow-St. Vincent

St. Vincent (Annie Clark) is only into her second album and I am starting to have angst about maybe never seeing her live. UC prefers the more delicate but still theatrical numbers while I lean to the angular, fuzzy, mathy virtuosity ones. We previously had “Your Lips Are Red” from her here, and “Marrow” is in the same vein. Phenomenal.

There is also an extended intro version of this same song from a different angle at the same show on the Tuber should you wish to get into it more, also it seems more songs from this set as well (good quality).

Checking In, Checking Out – The High Llamas

Sean O’Hagan has been a large, yet somewhat unsung part of two of my favorite bands. He’s done a lot of work with both Stereolab and the Super Furry Animals. In fact, if his best work with SFA (“Frequency”, from the album Love Kraft) was available on Youtube, I’d be posting that instead, but such is life.

So having heard his name over and over, I decided to check out the High Llamas a few years ago. And while it’s taking time to get myself sold on the whole catalog, the first song I ever checked out was this one from a collection of b-sides and rarities. And since being all “Beach Boys-esque” is really cool these days, I figured this was a good time to post a Sean O’Hagan song.

But seriously, search for and listen to “Frequency” by SFA. It’s probably my favorite SFA song, and the strings are a huge part of that. Or, in the alternative, if Pinko will let me send him the track to do the plug-in thing, I can do that too.

The Boy With the Arab Strap

One of my favorite songs ever. This version is exceptionally good. While it is quite similar to the album version, in this case the execution of such a facsimile enhances the feeling of vibrancy and connection. Certain songs can make your spine tingle a bit when you hear a live version that hits the tiny parts that you treasure, and because you are hanging on waiting for those brief moments, when they arrive they are that much more powerful.

Key aspect of this version is the faithful reproduction of the outro, which can be ad-libbed in other renditions. Also the volume gets pretty low on the album fade out so it can be very hard to catch, but here it is right there.

Summertime Clothes-Animal Collective

I needed to wait until posting this wasn’t seen as hipster, then I needed to avoid the accusation of bandwagon, then there was the minefield of the inevitable backlash. I hope I am in the realm of indifference/old news, but am likely in the land of poseur.

Creepy and psychedelic video for a surprisingly 80s-esque experimental art-wave straight up lovey dovey song about walking around at night in the city when it is too hot to sleep in your unstated 4th floor Brooklyn walk-up or some such. Works best for our Northeastern urban areas, 80s Sprite commercial type zones and from the Loop up to Wrigleyville. It is really a good tune.

Poker Face-Lady Gaga

Motion.

Item the first: it seems abundantly clear that fish is not immune to the charms of this. And by fish, I mean fish. And by I mean fish, I mean fish and also maybe myself.

Item the second: she is rocking a blue, zardoesque number that cannot but charm Sir Jen.

It is a window roller-upper no doubt, but it is also a lonely car robot, wherein I do the robot to the song by myself in the car.

Modern Art – Art Brut

This is the first in a series. The series will document songs that I didn’t care much about until I saw the song performed live, after which the song totally blew my mind. I won’t give away the others just yet, but the first is Modern Art, by Art Brut.

Let me first explain that if you’ve never seen Art Brut live, consider yourself deprived. I’m no aficionado, but I’ve seen somewhere between 100 and 150 live shows, and never have I seen a band that delivered a performance more fun than Art Brut. They recently played a five night residency in Chicago, and I was lucky enough to catch them twice at Schuba’s, a venue that holds less than 200 people. My only regret is that I didn’t buy the five night pass. They were that good. Fortunately I’ll be on vacation in L.A. next week, and I’ll be catching them yet again at Spaceland in Silverlake.

Modern Art, off of their first LP Bang, Bang, Rock and Roll was not a stand out track for me, until I saw them last Monday. Eddie Argos, master storyteller, walks into the crowd, back and forth, putting a tremendous strain on the guy manning the microphone cord. But he wants us all to really understand how much he loves the blues of David Hockney (I do too) and the pieces of Matisse. It’s a head banging, crowd rocking four minutes.

Their latest album Art Brut vs. Satan is something I simply can’t stop listening to. Don’t let the spoken word lyrics get you down. Yes, that is his real singing voice, it’s not irony, it’s not rock and roll. They’re just talking….to the kids. The musicality is fantastic and fun. In fact, I think F.U. and N. are the three best letters that describe Art Brut.

Car Radio-Spoon

Pandora birthed this effortless Spoon guitar triumphalism it’s so easy everything is perfect we are Spoon suck it talentless audience were are awesome Spoon who are you you are sad yeah I am but Spoon doesn’t even break a sweat it is so easy hey want to be pals really yeah wow you we be pals with me yeah we are Spoon we love everyone doesn’t everyone?

WARNING: Fan video.

NOTE: They won me over with the ol’ glass of milk gambit. Plus Spoon.

Michael-Knock Knock

Sactown bar band power poppers. Pandora popped this one out a couple of times, and I was first struck by a little bit of Wrens-y “Surprise Honeycomb” guitar weaving through, but then the boy/girl double tracking popped in and the woo-ooh-oohs and I just thought it was quality Spring-time pop. It builds toward the end. For some unclear reason I am reminded of Imperial Teen. Also, I am intrigued by the mystery of why Mr. Michael seems so guilty.