Every beautiful thing
Image: Suzy Poling
Reflection of the Sun - The Sheds
Even The Sun, it seems, needs help selling itself these days. As part of a comprehensive integrated marketing program (branding and positioning, advertising, website, media relations, more!) The Sheds assist The Sun in developing a key message (Your true glow is a reflection of the sun) that will speak to the needs of its prospective customer base (demographic research indicates both sexes of all ages and income levels, geographies and television viewing habits). Its client has the advantage of niche leadership (some might argue market domination), so the initial promotional piece of The Sheds' True Glow campaign is a "folksy," softer-sell ad that adopts the communication style of "real people." With its plain-spoke and spirited testimonials (courtesy of The Seedy Seeds, Uncle Smokin' Joe, Matthew Shelton), and a bam-bam beat ushering it from storyboard frame to frame, it's highly effective. It's also, in all seriousness, as random-whimsy as a dog parade, as stifled-giggle as a school play, as sweet as pink lemonade, as summer as the sun.
From You've Got a Light, which The Sheds offer as a free download on their website, along with their other albums.
Ms. June - Snowglobe
These are salad days for horn players. No longer do these session musicians watch the clock tick the hours, thumb blank diary pages, pray for mariachi-lite Mexican restaurant chain ad gigs. No, now every pop song needs a trumpet accent, if not a full brass section, and horn players are booked round the clock, feted as celebrities, too busy counting their cash to call their own mothers! (If I recall correctly) press materials say that the horn players who lent their talent to Snowglobe's reissued 2004 Doing the Distance, also performed on Cat Power's "Memphis" album The Greatest. That record, to be perfectly honest, did nothing for me. It was dull and sluggish and, I dunno, false sounding (tho that probably wasn't the horn players' fault). Snowglobe makes a different kind of music, for sure: hooked and jangly and even when it's wistful, laced with hope. The intersecting highways of horns in "Ms June" (sung, inexplicably, "Mrs. June" -- I'm sure there's a different kind of blog-post dissection there) are bright, lively and candid, even as the lyrics fret over regrets. It's a bittersweet track that quotes liberally (both lyrically and sonically) from "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea," but as with that song, you're left counting every beautiful thing.
Doing the Distance (Amazon, eMusic)
They Don't Know - Tara Jane O'Neil
The "They Don't Know" that most of us know -- Tracy Ullman's 80s hit -- was a Kirsty McColl cover (the original flopped). And the way most of us remember even Ullman's version is through her adorable and self-consciously performative (Ullman doesn't even pretend to try to sync her lips to the soundtrack) video. And if Tara Jane O'Neil's cover sits in conversation with the song's past, it's with that. The cover's lullaby-soft body empathizes with the video's spoilt-dreams rue and its comic touches (that yelped baby and the song's rocky landing) accords with its critique of the girl-group ethos.
From Bridging the Distance: A Portland OR Covers Compilation (Amazon, eMusic).
Tara Jane O'Neil's website