tunes you need Tuesday on Thursday: The Drums

Shut up.

I love this new band.  The Drums are a band from Brooklyn who released their first full-length self-titled album on Tuesday.  They've managed to take parts of the Smiths, The Cure, Joy Division and mix it with the sounds of summertime and they sound like this: 

I just adore that.

And this should be the song of summer 2010.

"I'll Never Drop My Sword" is superfantastic.  I've played this one 42 times.

And "Forever and Ever Amen" may be my favorite, although it's hard to pick.  The video is all kinds of fun. 

So, The Drums new album is available at the iTunes store, so get it.  It's your summer theme music.  

tunes you need Tuesday: Elliot Smith

Sometimes a songwriter comes along and is only around a short time, but the impression they leave is undeniable.  Elliot Smith was that kind of songwriter.  He recorded six albums before his death at 34 in 2003 and is probably most well known for performing half the songs on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack (his song "Miss Misery" was Oscar nominated and lost to Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On").  

If you're not familiar with Elliot Smith, he has a tragic story.  After a mostly indie career and drug and alcohol abuse, then reportedly getting clean, he died of two stab wounds to the chest.  Despite a found Post-it suicide note, his death was not ruled a suicide and his death remains a mystery.  Several musician friends have released tribute songs about Smith; Ben Folds' "Late" and Rhett Miller's "The Believer" are two that come to mind.  

My favorite Elliot Smith song has always been the song that made me a fan, "Miss Misery."

"Between the Bars" was also in Good Will Hunting.  Good song.

Here is Elliot on Letterman singing "Stupidity Tries."

If you're a Wes Anderson fan,  "Needle in the Hay" may be familiar from The Royal Tennenbaums.

Lastly, "Say Yes" is a great little song.  

I hope you enjoyed the Elliott Smith Tunes Tuesday.  I love some Elliot Smith.  Perfect for a Tunes Tuesday, don't you think?

tunes you need Tuesday: OK Go

At least two months ago, when Of the Colour of the Blue Sky came out, I promised an OK Go Tunes You Need Tuesday and here it is.  You know OK Go from their video a couple of years ago with the treadmills, but they're more than fun videos, they're a very talented band and this is a superb album.  You should get it.

The End.

Not really.  But I could end it there, that's how much I like this album.  It's supergood and hard to describe.  OK Go calls it a dance album, but it's a mix of rock and pop and fun.  The songs are catchy and funky, the band's sound is fantastic, and well, maybe I should let the first track, "WTF?" speak to what OK Go sounds like.

So, that's good stuff.  OK Go is great at doing good stuff.  They're a phenomenal band.  This is from their bio on their website:

 

Some of the other cool shit they’ve made lately: a record accompanied only by trombones, a play, an essay in the best-selling collection Things I’ve Learned From Women Who Dumped Me, op-eds in the New York Times and Huffington Post. They’ve testified before Congress and played in the Senate chambers. I repeat: they played music in the chambers of the United States Senate. They’ve been commentators on All Things Considered. They interviewed a member of N’Sync in the bathroom of Radio City Music Hall. They have a project where they walk the streets with fans handing out burritos to the homeless. They raised most of the money to buy a house for soul legend Al Johnson, so he could move home to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

And they make music too, like "Needing/Getting."  

04 Needing_Getting

I mentioned the OK Go website, but it's worth more than a mention.  It is what a band website should be.  OK Go goes beyond what most bands do and posts video of performances on tv shows, embeddable official videos, and streams live performances.  It's because they care about their fans and about making cool stuff, lead singer Damian Kulash said it on The Colbert Report last night.  

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
OK Go
www.colbertnation.com

Back to the music.  I'll leave you with my two favorite songs from Of the Colour of the Blue Sky, "Back From Kathmandu" and "Louisiana Land."  Enjoy.

11 Back from Kathmandu

14 Louisiana Land

tunes you need Tuesday: the bird and the bee

Every once in a while a band comes along and does something so genius that I feel is worth sharing with you people.  The Bird and The Bee have done that.  

Last week The Bird and The Bee released Interpreting The Masters Volume 1 (A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates).  Genius.  I can only hope they cover all of the bands I love from the '80s because this album is simply fantastic.  It's good times.  

Here are are a few songs for your listening pleasure.  Enjoy.

06 Maneater

03 Rich Girl

07 She's Gone

Here they are doing "I Can't Go for That" on Ellen last week.  Love it.

This is from The BIrd and The Bee's Wikipedia page:

The Bird and the Bee is an indie/Synthpop/alternative musical duo from Los Angeles, consisting of musicians Inara George ("the bird") and Greg Kurstin ("the bee"). Kurstin, a producer and keyboardist who has worked with Lily AllenSophie Ellis-BextorBeckThe Flaming LipsKylie Minogue and Red Hot Chili Peppers, is also a member of the band Geggy Tah. George and Kurstin met while the two were working on her debut album and they decided to collaborate on a jazz-influenced electro pop project. Their debut EPAgain and Again and Again and Again, was released on October 2006 and their debut album was released on January 23, 2007 on Blue Note Records.

So, you're going to download the album on iTunes, right?  Good.

ANDLETMETELLYOUANOTHERTHING!

So, another ScrapFest! is over and soon I'll begin the website revamp to start getting ready for the September event.  It was a very cold weekend.  I was getting over bronchitis, had just gotten my voice back in time to be Mistress of Ceremonies, and now I'm coughing again.  Yea me!  Of course, I'm an idiot, and didn't bring my inhaler, so that didn't help Saturday night when we were loading up the vehicles in the cold (thanks to Frugal Beth, Sarah, and Michele who mostly loaded my car).  My car had ice on it at 1am.  It was cold, people.  And I literally sold the hoodie off my back.  Last September, I designed hoodies that we sold and of course I'd left mine at the house.  On Thursday I wore a jean jacket.  Friday I didn't wear a jacket and froze, so I pulled a hoodie off the pile and wore it that evening and wore it home because it was so dang cold.  So, Saturday night, one of our fabulous croppers asks if we have any 2x hoodies left, and I say, "well, honestly, the only one we have is the one I was wearing last night, but I promise I only wore it last night because I was freezing to death."  She said she'd take it.  That's right, people, I will sell the hoodie off my back.  

That's the ScrapFest! wrap-up.  Oh, and I ran off some skate-punk teenagers who walked into the Castine Center with skateboards under their arms.  They said they were looking for concessions.  Oh, and some guy came in and asked if I knew anything about the dance party.  ANSWER: hell yeah!  Break out the disco ball, baby!

Other things going on in Kerryworld are:  

  • I'm currently trying to be suckered into a massive project I've already turned down once.  This time the party doing the asking has gotten my hubs involved, asking him to ask me.  LIKE THAT WILL WORK! HA!  I LAUGH IN YOUR FACE!  
  • I am taking on another project because I was clearly drunk on cough medicine when I agreed to said project.  Note to friends: hit Kerry up for stuff when she's sick!  Kidding.
  • I bought a keyboard that will not work on a Mac when I was drunk on cough medicine.  Note to self: do not shop online while sick.
  • I think a certain Etsy seller is holding one of my purchases hostage.  I am not positive, but we have had a lot of communication back and forth and finally she says she mailed it Saturday.  It has been two months since I ordered the item.  We shall see.  
  • For very different reasons, I've been disappointed in a few people lately.  My feelings have been hurt and I'm not sure what can be done to remedy the problem except for letting time pass.  Time takes time.  But what I want to do is say something very different.  What I want to say is in the words of Morrissey, "nothing's changed, I still love you, oh, I still love you only slightly less than I used to."  You know, or something like that.  There are things I would like to say that I can't say.  I would like to yell "ANDLETMETELLYOUANOTHERTHING!"  But I can't.  And the thing is that the people who have hurt me probably don't realize their trespasses.  But they should.  If it were me, I would have.  But then again, I have feelings.  

And so, that's it for tonight.  I'm taking a a week or so off now that ScrapFest! is over before I start the site. Who knows what's next.  I thought I'd let you know what I'm listening to right now, something I'm finding a little solace in.  Ingrid Michaelson reminds me a little of one of my faves, Regina Spektor.  This song is called "Keep Breathing," and I first heard it on Grey's Anatomy.  

06 Keep Breathing

This one is "Be OK" and it's just how I feel.  So, thanks Ingrid.  

01 Be OK

This isn't a real Tunes Tuesday post, but do yourself a favor and go get Ingrid's album Girls and Boys and these two songs from Be OK.  She's a great young singer/songwriter and is indie and supergood.  

because I forgot it was Tuesday

I forgot it was Tuesday.  

How does one forget Tuesday?  

In lieu of a proper Tunes Tuesday post, here are some of my favorite Ben Folds songs.  First up is "Annie Waits" because I love it.  Because the clock never stops, never stops, never stops, never waits, she's growing old, and it's getting late.  And that's why.

Here's a much younger Ben with Ben Folds Five singing "Selfless, Cold, and Composed."  Love the lyric "you just smile like a bank teller, blankly telling me 'have a nice life.'"  It's a break-up song.  A bad break-up song.

And now for something completely different, this clip is from a real British morning show that obviously didn't know what kind of guy Ben was.  Ben and band lipsynched to the album track, a roadie sat in on drums, the drummer was a back-up singer, and Ben was awesomely cheesetastic.  Love it, makes me laugh.

And for those of you who may not be big Ben Fold Fans, there is one special song, a song you have to hear live.  Fortunately for you, it's on the You Tubes.  You see, Ben plays live A LOT.  Once in Chicago in 2001, a fan yelled out "Rock this bitch!" and being Ben, he busted out a song improv-style called "Rock This Bitch," and it became a running thing at his concerts for years until he retired it.  Here is the masterpiece with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.  

tunes you need Tuesday: more Regina Spektor

Just because.  

Regina Spektor is probably the most unique woman in music today.  I can't get enough of her stuff.  She is a talented songwriter and pianist I wrote about in a previous post, but here are a few more songs, just because. 

"Field Below" is the reason I decided to do Spektor for the post today.  It's melancholy, like my mood, and the lyric "I am awake and feel the ache" is quite appropriate, since it's 2:42 am and sleep eludes me once again for reasons beyond this post.  Here's a good live performance.  

This one is the jam.  "The Consequence Of Sounds."  Because white Jewish chicks should rap more.  For some reason this isn't on iTunes, but it's fantastic.  Listen.  

Because I love this song, bought the entire album on iTunes because the song was one of those "album only" songs — from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Soundtrack, "The Call."  It's a great song about friendship.

13 The Call

Finally, it's "Music Box."  I choose to believe this song is about the monotony of motherhood, but I'm sure I'm wrong.  You tell me– "Life inside the musicbox ain't easy/The mallets hit/The gears are always turning/And everyone inside the mechanism/Is yearning to get out/And sing another melody completely/So different from the one they're always singing/I close my eyes and think that I have found me/But then I feel mortality surround me/I want to sing another melody/So different from the one I always sing."  Anyway, it's sweet and silly and also has the line "the greatest voyage in the history of plastic," so you know that's fun.

tunes you need Tuesday: R.E.M. Document

If I had and actual plan for Tunes You Need Tuesday, I would have started with Murmur, then either Fables of the Reconstruction or Lifes Rich Pageant (haven't decided which), then Document, and end with Green.  

But The Kerry Blog doesn't often follow a plan and the author often flies by the seat of her (capri) pants.  If you've been reading for any length of time, you're probably aware of this.  

So, let's take a look at Document, the last album R.E.M. released under the I.R.S. label.  If you read last week's Tunes, you know that Green was the first album the band made under Warner Bros. and how different that album was from previous albums.  Document is a great album for many reasons.  It has more of a rock feel, more mainstream than the earlier albums that have that college rock sound they were known for previously. 

And now for the "Page" side of Document, from back in the day when albums had sides. 

The first song on the album is "Finest Worksong," a great song that I've always liked, particularly for the way Michael Stipe sings the word "rearranged."  You'll find a fab different version of this song with horns on the compilation album Eponymous as well.  I've always thought "Finest Worksong" to be the perfect first song because the energy is great and I find it hard to sit still while listening.  Here's the only way to kick off our listening party, "Finest Worksong."

01 Finest Worksong

Next on Document is "Welcome To The Occupation," a darker song before the upbeat "Exhuming McCarthy."  "Exhuming McCarthy" starts with the click-clack of typewriter keys, features fantastic horns, and the sound clip from the McCarthy hearings ("have you no sense of decency, sir?") which makes it sound unlike other R.E.M. songs.  This song is enjoyable.  

03 Exhuming McCarthy

"Disturbance At The Heron House" is another good song in the upbeat vain of "Exhuming McCarthy."  There's something I love about the line "the call came in to Party Central" that I love, as well as the refrain "to try to tell us something we don't know."  I really like the beginning guitar part of this song.  A real gem on Document is "Strange."  I've always liked this little song, and after checking out Wikipedia, I found out "Strange" was first recorded by a band called Wire (who I've never heard of).  It's a fun song and isn't found on any of R.E.M.'s compilations, so naturally I gravitate toward songs like that.  Take a listen.

05 Strange

The last song on the "Page" side of Document is "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)."  I'm assuming everyone knows this song, it's a classic.  I thought I'd throw in the video because I hadn't seen it in a while and thought maybe some of you haven't either.  Fun stuff.  

R.E.M. – It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – Watch more Music Videos at Vodpod.

The "Leaf" side of the album begins with "The One I Love," which was R.E.M.'s first hit single.  It reached #9 on Billboard and had a visually stunning video to accompany it.  The song is an interesting one, it has three verses, nearly identical and the word "fire" as the chorus.  Speaking of fire, on the original sleeve of the album, were the words "File Under Fire."  The second part of the album has a lot of fire imagery with "The One I Love,""Fireplace," and "Oddfellows Local 151."  

As I've said before, R.E.M. really doesn't do love songs and "The One I Love" isn't a love song, it's an admission that the person in the song was only a prop and has been replaced with another prop "to occupy my time."  That's cold.  Here's the video.  By the way, the Director of Photography was Food Network's Alton Brown.


R.E.M. – The One I Love – Watch more Music Videos at Vodpod.

The remaining songs on Document are kind of a mishmash of odd songs, but "King of Birds" really stands out. The video I've included is from Tour Film, a superfantastic tour video.  I adore the percussion in this version.  

R.E.M. King of Birds – Watch more Music Videos at Vodpod.

So, that's more or less what I love about R.E.M.'s fifth album, Document.  If you only have compilations of the earlier R.E.M. stuff, I highly recommend getting the album, it's quite special.  

tunes you need Tuesday: R.E.M. Green

I'm on an R.E.M. kick.  I've been listening to them a lot lately and I'm thinking of doing an album every Tuesday this month because it has nothing to do with the holidays and there's only so much "Jingle Bell Rock" one can take.

200px-Green_REM One of my favorite albums is R.E.M.'s Green.  It's one that I still own my original vinyl copy of (that has aged beautifully in the past 20 years) and I believe it's an album that is overshadowed by Out Of Time and Automatic For The People.  Green was the first album recorded once the band left IRS and signed with Warner Bros and I think its serves as a fantastic and definite bridge between a different and more mainstream sound the band developed.  It's also the first album guitarist Peter Buck used the mandolin on and that wacky Michael Stipe sang through a megapone on several songs.  And so, this is a different kind of album, maybe that's why I've always liked it so much.  Or it could just be that the album cover is orange and the title is Green and that's something my mother commented on when I bought it in 1989.  No idea what the band sounded like or that I loved them so much, just "why would they call it Green, it's orange."

 So, we have a band that was mostly considered college rock and had success with previous songs like "The One I Love" and "It's The End of The World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" and they come out with Green.  R.E.M. had a hit with a very poppy pop song, "Stand," a song you all know and could most likely sing along to. The other big hit off the album, "Orange Crush," a song about the use of Agent Orange, the herbicide used in the Vietnam War, which led to the deaths and disabilities of more than 400,000 people, as well as the 500,000 babies born with birth defects in Vietnam.  You didn't think it was about the soft drink, now did you? 

  

Orange Crush – R.E.M.

"Pop Song '89" is a stand out for me.  You may remember the video (which I'm far too prudish to put on the old blog) that featured Stipe and three dancing girls topless with black bars across their chests.  Well, now the bars are off and whoa, that's some nekkidness.  So, here's a great concert version for you (and I know you're going to Google the nekkid version, so go ahead).


The song "You Are The Everything" is haunting and beautiful and I love it.  I love everything about it: the mandolin, the accordion, the line "you're drifting off to sleep with your teeth in your mouth," and the "say, say the light" refrain, just the whole song.  Here it is for you.

 

You Are The Everything – R.E.M…

Back in the day, I remember opening Green and seeing that there was only one song with printed lyrics.  That song was "World Leader Pretend."  That struck me as odd as a teenager and I hadn't thought about it until tonight when I decided to write about the album.  Here's what I found out about the song from Wikipedia: 

Michael Stipe said in a 2008 interview with Rolling Stone looking back on Green: "For me the big moment was 'World Leader Pretend'. It's a tribute to Leonard Cohen, using millitary terms to describe a battle within. I was so proud of my lyrics and my vocal take that I refused to sing it a second time. I did it once. That was it."

Here's "World Leader Pretend" from 1991 and part of an interview about the folk sound in the instruments. 


That's good stuff. 

After "Orange Crush" on the album comes a rockin' good song, "Turn You Inside Out."  It's a good choice to follow a heavy song.  It features a few things I love about R.E.M. — neat lyrics ("divide your cultured pearls in haste"), great guitar, Stipe's voice, and fun backing vocals.  


Turn You Inside-Out – R.E.M.

Maybe one of the best things on Green is the last song on the album.  It's one of my favorites, simply titled "eleventh" on the original  album, as it was the 11th song.  If you buy it on iTunes you'll see that it's just "Untitled."  It's one of those songs I can't really put my finger on why I like it so much, but I adore this one.  Here it is with the lyrics, because I think it's a special little song. 


Untitled – R.E.M.

This world is big and so-awake
I stayed up late to hear your voice
This light is here to keep you warm
This song is here to keep you strong

I made a list of things to say
But all I really want to say
All I really want to say is
Hold her and keep him strong
While I'm away from here
Hold her and keep her strong
While I'm away from here
Hold her and keep him strong
While I'm away from here

I've seen the world and so-awake
And stay up late to hear me sing
Just hold her
I've seen the world and so-awake
And stay up late to hear me sing
Just hold him
Hold her and keep her strong
While I'm away from here
Hold him and keep him strong
While I'm away from here


So, that's the Green post.  I hope you enjoyed it, that maybe it brought back some memories from'89, that you liked some of the lesser-known R.E.M. songs that I think are superfantastic, and that it gave you a break from a mundane Tuesday.  


tunes you need Tuesday: unplugged R.E.M

So, I was up late last night, unable to sleep for no reason and when I woke up at 6:15 this morning (after 3 hours of sleep) the song "Daysleeper" was in my head.  When I get a song in my head I usually fire up the iPod and play it, oh, I don't know — 42 times.  I enjoy that.  With all the R.E.M. on my iPod, I looked for another version of "Daysleeper" because I thought I had an acoustic version, but I couldn't find one.  I just knew there was an acoustic album, but it was the 2001 MTV Unplugged  I was thinking about.  This afternoon I set out to find video from the episode and I do believe I hit the motherload.  

When a band does an unplugged set  it shows what they can do, strips away the fancy studio fixes and you have a pure performance.  That's great for music fans.  If a band is really talented you'll hear that in the song, it shines through.  What Michael Stipe does here is fantastic — he has a voice that can easily overpower a song, but he is great at controlling it in an acoustic setting and the instruments aren't drowned out.  

And now for some "Daysleeper."  

One of the things that's different about R.E.M. is that they really don't do love songs.  I kind of love that.  Of course, they do love songs, but they're not typical, they're not sappy, they're honest.  That's why "At My Most Beautiful" is one of my favorite R.E.M. songs.  It's sweet, but not saccharin.  The piano in the song is wonderfully done and the melody is fantastic.  

"I'll Take The Rain" is done very well here.  I'll say what I always say while listening to my own iPod: I love this song.

I've adored "Find The River" since first hearing it on 1992's Automatic For the People, which is a fantastic album.   Let me explain what that means to the iTunes generation.  You see, back in the day, bands made albums.  Albums were meant to be  listened to as a whole, meaning the songs were connected, not necessarily a theme, but there was usually a flow and it was harmonious.  These days, artists release a couple of songs and they're lucky if someone hears the entire album with the invention of iTunes.  That's a sad thing because you miss those gems that aren't released as singles.  "Find The River" didn't chart in the U.S. so you probably didn't hear it unless you bought the album.  Here's the acoustic version.

Sadly, you can't get these acoustic takes on some of R.E.M.'s best songs on an album.  In what I consider to be a great travesty, they didn't put out an accompanying album.  I KNOW!  I couldn't believe it either.  Very sad.  I'm glad that at least for now, the videos are available on You Tube, so if you enjoyed the blog today, go watch the rest and you won't be disappointed.  R.E.M. is a fantastic band with music that holds up unbelievably well.  And by the way, the band is currently 30 minutes away from me, in New Orleans recording their new album.  Don't think I'm not working on finding out where they're recording.  If we're lucky there will be a part two to this post entitled "Kerry meets R.E.M. (and they didn't have her arrested for stalking)."