THIS WEEK'S FINDS
SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2004
THIS WEEK'S FINDS
week of Sept. 5-11
"As Far As I Know" - Paul Westerberg
Last heard channeling Keith Richards, Paul Westerberg is back wearing Beatle-ier clothing this time. What at first sounded to me like a competent bit of neo-McCartney-ism has revealed itself, after three or four listens, to be a deeply endearing pop song. The charm is all around the edges: the ringing guitars offset by a ragged wash of fuzz; the '60s-perfect melody deconstructed by Westerberg's exquisitely unpolished voice; the whole thing driven by an earnest drumbeat as relentless as it is borderline goofy. And you want to hear subtle? Listen to the chords he works up to during that distinct, repeated melody featured near the end of each verse. In the introductory section, with just the guitar playing, the words are "that doesn't get kissed, that doesn't exist"; the second time we get to that point he's backed by the full band and sings "that never took place, that's easy to trace." Now listen as he's there the third time, singing "that doesn't resist, that doesn't exist," this time with a wondrous, elusive chord progression that augments the unfolding poignancy of the lyrics. At the same time, the song's ramshackle momentum has by now become utterly infectious, its tumbling percussiveness revealing a refreshing, solidly human presence in this age of loops and programs. The lyrics build to reinforce the impression, closing with: "I'm in love with a dream I had as a kid/I wait up the street until you show/That dream it came true/But you never do, no you never did/As far as I know." The song is on Westerberg's new album Folker, due out tomorrow on Vagrant Records.
"From the Station" - Soltero
Neil Young meets Elliott Smith meets the Kinks in this loping, loopy, quick-pulsed ballad. I like how the song starts right in, both musically and lyrically; I like even more how it keeps going: "From the Station" features an unusually long melody line, fully 16 measures (actually 14 in the first verse, then 16 in the other two). Most pop songs give out at eight measures, and lots of these only survive that long with a good amount of internal repetition, with measures three and five mimicking measure one, for instance. Here the melody descends and extends, aided marvelously by Tim Howard's appealing, high-pitched vocals, ghostly organ flourishes, and tasteful guitar distortions. While the Boston-based Howard does play all the instruments on this track, Soltero is in fact a four-piece band. They just haven't recorded a full-band album yet; previous Soltero releases (beginning with 2001's wonderfully titled Science Will Figure You Out) have been largely Howard's work. "From the Station" will be on the next Soltero CD, entitled Hell Train, to be released later this year. The band will be featured on most of that one. The MP3 is on the band's web site.
"Ugly Man" - Rickie Lee Jones NO LONGER AVAILABLE [buy MP3 via Amazon]
A jazzy shuffle, leisurely melody, and layered harmonies disguise an almost painfully personal protest song. Never mind the specifics of policies and decisions, Rickie Lee slices to the heart of the matter, which is GWB's inability to access his own (heart, that is). Maybe, like the Tin Man, he simply doesn't realize he has one.
Look: thousands of years of human culture and spiritual wisdom tell us what living and acting from a heart-based center entails, and it has little to do with the appointed president's resolute disinterest in learning and growing as an adult human being, never mind his crippling inability to connect to the entirety of humanity rather than simply those similarly uninterested in learning and growing. "Ugly Man" comes from Rickie Lee's most recent CD, The Evening of My Best Day, which was released last year on V2 Records. The MP3 can be found for free on Salon, where Thomas Bartlett last week did a wonderful, Republican National Convention-inspired job gathering free and legal protest songs from a wide variety of notable artists. (As with most content on Salon, you'll have to watch a short commercial before being able to access this page, unless you are already a subscriber or decide on the spot to subscribe.)
THIS WEEK'S FINDS
week of Sept. 12-18
"Welcome Back" - The Trashcan Sinatras
There's something to be said for experience. So, sure, I had no idea the Trashcan Sinatras--a band I vaguely associate with the early '90s--were still around, but the fact that they are means that when they want to, the Scottish quintet can sound like this: crystal-clear, swaggery-assured, and quirky-pop-gorgeous. After making a minor splash with their debut CD, Cake, in 1990 (not to be confused with the band Cake, which I'll admit I've done)(or Sea and the Cake, for that matter), they proceeded to lie low through most of the decade, releasing only two other CDs, in 1993 and 1996, before re-emerging with Weightlifting (Spin Art Records) last month. Biding their time may have made sense, since their shiny, well-crafted, jangly Brit-pop is much more aligned (praise the lord) with the current music scene than it was in the middle '90s. I love this song's offbeat drive, an effect amplified by the insertion of two extra beats at the end of each verse. The chorus, for its part, acquires a keen hook simply by modulating through three great chords, underscored by a wall of full-tilt, almost Edge-like electric guitar. I like how even in a short (2:24) song, they let the guitar open out into a sly, wailing solo that might be mistaken for a heavy metal cliche if you don't listen closely. Vocalist Frank Reader (brother of the marvelous Eddi Reader) has an open quality to his voice that brings you back in time, managing to sound yearning without any over-acting. The song opens Weightlifting; the MP3 can be found on Filter Magazine.
"Isn't the Sun" - Cordalene NO LONGER AVAILABLE
On the heels of last week's wonderful Paul Westerberg song comes another faux-'60s piece of perfect, slightly skewed pop, this from a little-known Philadelphia band. I'm loving the way the intro takes a bass line as old as the '50s and segues it into an itchy guitar riff, and that's really what makes the song so spiffy all the way through--that dusty bass line keeps knocking against the itchy guitars, and when they settle in together in the chorus with a kick that is somehow almost (but not really) swing-like, the result is all but swoon-full. Halfway through, the instrumental section works this out in a particularly charming way, as the guitar itself does a squonky riff on the bass melody. But I think my favorite moment of all is a lyrical one, when Mike Kiley (who's got a really nice power-pop voice by the way) sings, "And she looked at me with a breathtaking stare," breaking up "breath" and "taking" so resolutely as to give new shades of meaning to the word. The song comes from a release known simply as The Red EP; the MP3 is on the band's web site. Thanks again to Oddio Overplay for the head's up.
"Retour A Vega" - the Stills
I find this irresistible: the acoustic-guitar driven minor key beat, the tasteful use of violins, the French lyrics, and then, putting it completely over the top for me, the octave harmonies. Gotta love the octave harmonies. They were a great pop weapon in Squeeze's arsenal, and with the Kinks before that. As if this weren't enough, there's a crunchy little electric guitar bit in the middle. Put this on in the background with a crowd of people and everyone will start to smile without knowing why. Better yet, be the owner of a small record store, put it on with a store full of customers, and see how many people (remember that scene in High Fidelity with the Beta Band song?) come up and ask about it and buy the CD. The CD in question, by the way, is the soundtrack to the movie Wicker Park, and while I can't say anything about the movie itself (doesn't look like one I'm heading quickly to see), the soundtrack has a positively "ooh! pick me, pick me!" sensibility in terms of seeking to appear very of-the-moment in an almost-but-not-quite mainstream way. (Think Singles soundtrack, back in the early '90s.) In addition to the Stills, this one has the Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Mates of State, and Stereophonics, among others. The MP3 comes courtesy of Vice Records.
THIS WEEK'S FINDS
week of Sept. 19-25
"The Science of Your Mind" - The Comas NO LONGER AVAILABLE [buy MP3 via Amazon]
This song begins with the unlikely but immediately appealing combination of a Middle Eastern synthesizer line topped by a jazzy acoustic guitar noodle, then churns without hesitation into a swift, minor-key tale of love gone sour. Along the way are some tasty finger-snaps, spy-movie bass riffs, echoey drumbeats, and a nifty guitar solo. What's more, even as the screed of a spurned lover (cliche-ridden territory to be sure), the song yields some intriguing lyrics--I especially like the second verse, where the rejectee offers a series of reverse blessings ("May your days be long and cold" etc.).
All in all, an accomplished effort. "The Science of Your Mind" is the lead track on Conductor, the band's third album, released last month on Yep Roc Records; the MP3 is on the Yep Roc web site.
"Pelz Komet" - The Kingsbury Manx NO LONGER AVAILABLE [buy MP3 via Amazon]
This North Carolina band is channeling an elusive '60s vibe--not Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson, as quite a number of indie outfits seem to be doing these days (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but some weird space in which early Pink Floyd and later Simon & Garfunkel dance to the same drummer, or at least acoustic guitarist. There is something timelessly hand-made and organic about this sound; if they are building on the past, they are creating their own structure, not just rearranging someone else's bricks, as it were. Notably more assertive than the band's previous TWF entry, the dreamy "Porchlight," this song has three distinct but interrelated sections. The first is driven by acoustic guitar riffs and is anchored by a simple, plaintive chorus ("Here I stand/Still waiting on you") that manages beyond expectation to stick in my head. The second section is instrumental, bringing in one electric guitar, and then two, for an intertwining series of snaky, perhaps even Beatle-y descending melody lines which establish a syncopated sort of presence only to dissolve into the third section: a piano-fueled, double-time coda. "Pelz Komet" comes from the band's third CD, Aztec Discipline, which emerged rather too quietly last October on Overcoat Recordings; the MP3 is on the band's web site.
"Nightly Cares" - Múm
So once and for all we should realize that Björk is not the only female singer in Iceland. Although when you first hear Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir's whispery, baby-girl voice, you may wish she were. This voice is probably an acquired taste. The song is an acquired taste, maybe, as well--building with almost painful slowness at the beginning, a distant-foghorn-like synthesizer repeating, without hurry, over atmospheric background noises of one sort or another, also distant-sounding. It's a minute and a half before the song moves into the foreground, acquires a solid--if slow--beat, and then, careful, here comes Kristín Anna, in all her whispery glory. But the band works with the sonic fabric so attentively that over time, the voice somehow begins to make sense. For all the trip-hoppy clickings and clackings around the edges, the music here has a warm and human feel--the drums are real (you can hear the wire brushes), a muted trumpet and a melodica (!) trade licks along the way, and, if I'm not mistaken (although lord knows I could be), that's an actual bowed saw in the background adding to the spooky majesty. The song is from the band's third CD, Summer Make Good, which came out in May on Fat Cat Records.
THIS WEEK'S FINDS
week of Sept. 26-Oct. 2
"Indian Summer" - Maplewood
One of a surprising number of current bands that are grooving, against all odds, to a very '70s mellow-rock vibe, Maplewood even has the one-word band name to seal the deal (think America, think Bread). But Maplewood brings more than nostalgia and anti-hip-hipness to the table here; the music is not only groovy, it's intelligent, brisk, and crisp. Both briskness and crispness are crucial if the mellow thing is going to work for me: a certain sort of clean and upbeat strumminess is necessary to keep the music from stewing its own sappy juices, while crispness--both of sound and arrangement--is probably what lends an air of intelligence to the effort in the first place. Listen, for instance, to the three-part harmonies, which kick in with the second verse: the two background voices are mixed perfectly, with just enough oomph to give the song a wash of beauty, while avoiding the "look at us singing in three-part harmony" effect one usually hears whenever a band has the cajones to try it in the first place. "Indian Summer" leads off Maplewood's self-titled debut CD, released earlier this month on Tee Pee Records. You'll find the MP3 on the band web's site.
"No Danger" - Inouk
Unfolding with singular style, "No Danger" offers the ear a series of intriguing, mysteriously slippery hooks at every bend. An opening, repeated, siren-like call of the guitar gives way to a twitchingly percussive second guitar, which is then joined by a third guitar, playing a churning, repeated melody line before a now-acoustic guitar punctuates the intro and the vocals start. The interweaving of the three electric guitars serves as an undercurrent against which the song develops in a very hard to describe manner, driven as it is by an almost compositional sense of complexity. By the time the chorus is repeated (and it's hard to hear as a chorus the first time around) I'm completely engaged: by the chugging major-minor fluctuation of the guitar, the literally offbeat call-and-response section (we suddenly lose a beat in the measure after the word "anyone" is repeated, but get it right back again), and then, in the literal last minute, the seamless introduction of new elements, including a new melody, a noodly new guitar sound, and (particularly unexpected and charming) a chorus of ghostly female back-up singers. "No Danger" is the title track to the band's first full-length CD, released in August on Say Hey Records. The MP3 is on the Say Hey site. A NYC band with roots in Philadelphia, Inouk is worth knowing about and keeping an eye on.
"What's Your New Thing?" - Walking Concert
Kinda chunky, kinda poppy, and kinda edgy, just the way a good two-and-a-half-minute song should be. Walking Concert's founder, Walter Schreifels, has a long indie-rock history behind him by now, having started the bands Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, and Rival Schools before launching Walking Concert. Um, don't worry, I never heard of them before either, as I have never been musically drawn to the so-called "hard core" side of alternative rock. But apparently Schreifels was well-regarded in those circles, and something of a wunderkind, as he was but 16 when Gorilla Biscuits launched; the guy's still in his early 30s at this point.
His background, in any case, brings an undeniable energy-burst to this likable little song, which displays an affectionate awareness of some of rock'n'roll's best pop, both older (early Who and Kinks and even David Bowie) and newer (the Replacements, Guided By Voices). "What's Your New Thing?" is found on the band's debut CD, Run To Be Born, released earlier this month on Some Records; the MP3 is on the label's web site. Thanks to 3hive for the head's up on this one.
THIS WEEK'S FINDS
week of Oct. 3-9
"How's It Gonna End" - Tom Waits
Take the songs Tom Waits was writing for albums like Rain Dogs and Frank's Wild Years strip them of their darkly exuberant carnivalia--the raggedy clankings and tootings and snarlings--and you're left with something slinky and creaky like "How's It Gonna End." The song is a fascinating study in minimalist production; driven by little more than a plucked bass, intermittent tom-tom, and what sounds like a small section of staccato, barely-blown horns, Waits delivers a grumbly series of bleak, vaguely surreal scenarios, tied together by the repetition of the title phrase. Every now and then something else happens musically--a tuba plays one note; ghostly background singers emerge for a few lines; fingers screech on metal guitar strings--but the song plunks along all but unaware. It's almost as if he's playing in a room full of musicians, most of whom are simply listening. The effect is at once comic and tragic, bolstered by the lyrics' characteristic mix of skeletal storytelling and cryptic pronouncements ("The reptiles blend in with the color of the street/Life is sweet at the edge of a razor"). If you don't love Tom Waits you might consider learning to love him. The song is found on Real Gone, to be released tomorrow on Anti Records. The MP3 is available via Anti Records.
"Heaven or Las Vegas" - Cocteau Twins
Vast, cascading beauty, as sparkling-sounding today as when it was released 14 years ago. Guitarist Robin Guthrie has an unearthly ability to make a droning guitar shimmer with joy, and singer Elizabeth Fraser's fetching incomprehensibility works its usual magic, even as you can in this case actually understand words here and there. The Cocteau Twins weren't always as accessible as this, but surely this illustrates that accessible is not always a bad thing. The song (in a longer version) was the title track of the group's 1990 release, on 4AD Records. The MP3 is on the band's site.
"Bush Must Be Defeated" - Dan Bern
In the spirit of debate week, here is without a doubt the goofiest angry protest song I've ever heard. Talk about "on message": Dan Bern does not relent, but even as I'm positive that I do not need to hear him sing the refrain any longer (alright already! I get it!), it begins to sink in that the wacky rhymes that spill from his mouth ("Bush must be defeated/His goodbye coffee heated/His inaugural spats uncleated/His White House bed short-sheeted") work doubly well because of the inevitability of the refrain. This is not a subtle song, but there are only a few weeks left; those inclined to agree with the message need it in the air. "Bush Must Be Defeated" comes from an EP released last month entitled My Country II (Messenger Records); the MP3 is on the Messenger Records site. For those unfamiliar with his work, Bern is worthwhile getting to know. He's a bit erratic, but indomitable, fearless, and more than a little gifted as a Dylan-infused singer/songwriter.
THIS WEEK'S FINDS
week of Oct. 10-16
"36" - Christina Rosenvinge
Singing accented English with a sweet sort of weariness, Christina Rosenvinge muses whisperily on the strains of growing older. Against a quiet guitar lick that sounds like the Nutcracker's "Waltz of the Flowers" theme turned sad and lonely, "36" is a lullaby for grownups, propelled by a sing-song rhythm and an exquisitely intimate accompaniment; I particularly love the desolate, distant, slightly dissonant background tones between verses, embodying time's doleful passage. The song comes from the Madrid-born Rosenvinge's second English-language CD, Foreign Land, released two years ago in Europe and slated for a U.S. release on Smells Like Records "soon," according to the SLR web site. Her first CD in English was 2001's charming, bittersweet Frozen Pool, also on SLR. The intimate sound of these two recent CDs represents a prodigious break from her past; you'd never know that in the late '80s, Rosenvinge was a huge pop star in Spain and Latin America as one half of the duo Alex y Christina. But she quickly tired of both the media attention and the musical constraints imposed by mass-market pop success. She left Alex behind to record three solo albums in the '90s, the last of which was produced in Sonic Youth's studio in New York City in 1996. Captivated by Manhattan, Rosenvinge eventually moved there and hooked back up with Steve Shelley and Lee Renaldo of Sonic Youth, who ultimately helped her create Frozen Pool. The "36" MP3 can be found on the distribution/label site Midheaven.com; thanks to Sixeyes for the head's up.
"Queen of Verlaine" - High Water Marks
Satisfying, buzzy-fuzzy pop from an unusual collaboration between American and Norwegian indie stars. Drummer Hilarie Sidney from the Apples in Stereo and Per Ole Bratset, of the Oslo-based band Palermo, began a long-distance songwriting relationship after the two met during an Apples in Stereo tour in 2002. Eventually Sidney, from Lexington, Kentucky, went to Norway to record with Bratset, in a hotel room of all places. The end result was so apparently gratifying that Bratset has since relocated to Lexington to turn the High Water Marks into a real band (the two other members also live in Kentucky). I like a lot of things about this song, beginning with the cheery, churning vibe, and including distinct elements like Bratset's appealing voice (and geez it's really really hard to describe voices in concrete words; that's probably why writers often resort to comparisons to other voices) and the use of a distorted guitar wave underneath the basic drive of the song. "Queen of Verlaine" comes from the band's debut CD, Songs About the Ocean, released last month on Eenie Meenie Records; the MP3 is on the Eenie Meenie web site.
"Did I Let You Down?" - Folksongs for the Afterlife NO LONGER AVAILABLE
This duo from New York City creates an unexpectedly rich and effective sonic stew; don't let the group's name mislead you into expecting a simple strumming acoustic guitar and sappy lyrics. Out of the gate the song engages me with its trip-hop-meets-salsa-at-the-movies stylishness. Then Caroline Schutz's clear and airy voice takes over, and watch out--I don't think I've ever heard the word "fuck" sung with such offhanded beauty. Wait for the chorus and you'll see what I mean. This song also highlights the timeless appeal of a well-placed xylophone solo. "Did I Let You Down?" can be found on the group's sole full-length CD--Put Danger Back in Your Life, released last year on Parasol/Hidden Agenda. The MP3 is on the band's site.
THIS WEEK'S FINDS
week of Oct. 17-23
"Lucky Jam" - Soft
A brand new band from Brooklyn, Soft has emerged Athena-like, fully-formed from the head of the internet. According to the band's John Reineck, Soft spent a year writing, rehearsing, and recording in their practice space without once playing in public or playing for anyone else at all. Not an approach that's going to work for everyone, but I for one am enjoying the payoff in Soft's case. It takes a certain amount of gumption and know-how to craft a compelling hook from a syncopated beat, but that's exactly what "Lucky Jam" does from its opening notes, as a lovely, Edge-like guitar rings out against a stuttering drum beat. After that, singer Reineck barely has to open his mouth to have me completely engaged, his voice channeling a bygone time of power-pop innocence (does the band Shoes still ring a bell to anyone?) even as the musical drive feels fully of the current 21st-century moment and the band's sophistication--for starters, listen to how guitarists Vincent Perini and Samuel Wheeler wind their instruments around one another--gives the song a subtle depth at every turn. "Lucky Jam" is posted on the band's web site. Soft expects to have a full-length CD ready by January.
"Jody Said" - Farma NO LONGER AVAILABLE
Here's a beautiful, restrained, and idiosyncratic Americana-ish ballad from the formidable San Francisco quintet Farma. From a twinkly, slightly psychedelic start, "Jody Said" proceeds with great assurance over territory that would feel downright quirky if it didn't likewise seem so familiar. The song combines the gruff delicacy of Son Volt with the jazz-inflected chord flavors of Steely Dan, fleshing out the strong melody with a lazy, soaring steel guitar and noodly keyboards. When the verse returns after an instrumental break in the middle, everything coalesces, and as the melody gets to that place where it modulates and extends beyond the frame ("I'll be dreaming in this bar, eternally"), the enterprise levitates to that place where the effect of a song transcends the particulars of its construction. "Jody Said" will be found on the band's self-titled EP, soon to be released on Wishing Tree Records.
"Second Winter" - Patty Moon
Right away the tremulous flute and drama-queen chords tell you this is borderline kitsch, and that's even before the cinematic wash of pop-electronica sweeps in to create an eye-opening Lulu-meets-Portishead vibe. (I'll quickly note that there's nothing wrong with borderline kitsch; Blondie has always walked that line to great effect as well.) When Patty Moon, the singer (Patty Moon is also the name of the band; they're from Germany) intones "I've been waiting all this winter for a true emotion"--gee, I hope Morrissey gets a royalty check for that line--the song defeats my resistance, winning me over on its own glorious-wacky terms: like any good pop song, it creates its own kind eternity from the forces that swirl around it here in this moment. And it will always do that. "To Sir With Love," after all, wasn't necessarily a great song, but it's always listenable, and it will always evoke the British mid-'60s pop scene in a way little else will. With enough exposure (and this is not necessarily likely to get that exposure), "Second Winter" could one day evoke the mid-'00s Euro-global pop scene in a similar way. The MP3 arrives via the worthwhile German MP3 hub Tonspion; the song is on the band's CD Clouds Inside, released this month in Europe on the Berlin-based Traumton Records.
THIS WEEK'S FINDS
week of Oct. 24-30
"Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" - the Arcade Fire
A gut-satisfying drumbeat, sleighbells, and a distinctively plucked guitar concoct a great introduction here, and that's even before the bandoneon enters. I think this is a bandoneon; in any case, it's a charming, plaintive accordion riff, and it goes on to form the backbone of a compelling song from an eccentric Montreal quintet. With a prominent amount of shouting and/or fuzzy-megaphone vocalizing, this song is not a smooth listen; I needed to hear it a number of times before I began to like it, so hang in there before jumping to conclusions. "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" is one of four numbered "Neighborhood" songs on the band's Funeral album, released last month on Merge Records, to wide acclaim. I should note that the Arcade Fire's emergence as one of the "it" bands of 2004 made me more than a little suspicious before I even heard them. I'm not normally prone to cynicism, but I mistrust pop music criticism's flavor-of-the-month tendencies, which are prompted by fashion rather than sound. (One critic, for instance, wrote, of the Arcade Fire, that "though the band utilizes nice melodies and lively arrangements, the nostalgia-steeped-indie-rock-orchestra pool was pretty much drained before The Arcade Fire dove in." Silly! Fashion designers may feel that a certain look is "done" once it's been too widely adopted, but musicians? An outlandish and elitist criticism. But I digress.) The MP3 is on Better Propaganda, a site which does not allow direct links, so you'll have to click on the "Free MP3" button in the "Selected MP3s" box to grab this one.
"The Dirt-Bike Option" - the Fauves
Gruff but lovable guitar pop from an underappreciated Australian band. That is, in Australia they're underappreciated; here in the U.S., they're completely unknown. But there's no way I for one am not going to like the heck out of a song with a sing-along chorus featuring this lyric: "Ooh, the dirt-bike option paid off/We never settled with the workers that we laid off." The rumbly guitars balanced by spiffy harmonies in the chorus and a wonderfully cheesy organ line are further merits. Plus I am bound to be partial to a song that arose as follows: "The title came from listening to Terry [Cleaver; the bass player] bang on backstage at a gig in Bateman's Bay about a new computer game he'd been playing; one in which he had 'exercised the dirt-bike option'. Songs about computer games are boring so the main lyric dealt with the somewhat unrelated topic of messiah complexes and cults living in fortified compounds." It seems poetic justic, somehow, that the world-weary, self-deprecating Fauves have now lasted longer than the early 20th-century art movement after which they named themselves. Formed in Melbourne in the late '80s, the band scored some commercial successes in Australia in the mid-'90s, but have struggled more recently to get themselves heard--a reality implied by the name of the 2000 single ("Celebrate the Failure") which contained "The Dirt-Bike Option" as a B-side.
The MP3 is available on the band's web site, along with a number of other enjoyable B-sides and rarities.
"Graceland" - the New Pornographers NO LONGER AVAILABLE [buy MP3 via Amazon]
Big and exuberant, this likable rocker showcases the New Pornographers' enviable capacity to channel the sounds of bygone eras while still sounding fresh and catchy. "Graceland" (not the Paul Simon song) has the irrepressible drive and gleeful harmonies of, I don't know, an old Grass Roots song maybe. Built on top of a shuffly pair of ever-irresistible four-note intervals, the whole thing brings back the early '70s in some ineffable way. "Graceland" is posted on Insound; the song can be found on the Matador at 15 CD, which features 35 tracks spanning the 15-year history of Matador Records, released late last month.
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