Image: Karen Casey Smith
San Solomon - Balmorhea
From Rivers Arms (eMusic, Amazon), Myspace
Image: Jake Dobkin
Outta Sight - Osborne
From Osborne (eMusic, Amazon), MyspaceImage: Lisa Kereszi
Now Til '69 - The Shortwave Set
From Replica Sun Machine (eMusic, Amazon), Myspace
Image: Travis Ruse
Wondrous Place - The Last Puppet Show
From The Age of the Understatement (Amazon), Myspace
Image: Estelle Hanania
Ruususuu - Lau Nau
From Nukkuu (eMusic, Amazon), Myspace
Image: Jan van Holleben
My Dunks - The Clik Clik
From My Dunks, Myspace
Image: Melanie Schiff
Working Bees - The Pinker TonesFrom Wild Animals (eMusic), MyspaceImage: Corey Arnold
Close the Lid- Port O'Brien
From All We Could Do Was Sing (eMusic, Amazon), MyspaceZip file of May mix
Introductions all around
Image: Irene CecileKnock Knock - The Accidental
Ali Smith wrote a novel called The Accidental about a stranger who insinuates herself into the lives of a fraught family. It came out a couple years ago and you might have heard of it; you might even have read it. I tried, but only got halfway through. The Accidental, the band, may have also (read the book, not succumbed to short attention-spanitis) and this sorta-supergroup may have taken their name from it. And if you've ever played the piano (me! But abandoned before I got very good. See a pattern?), you know that accidentals are the black keys on the board (an accidental is also a musical notation related to pitch). So maybe (ok, probably), that's what the band's referring to. Either way, it's a great name--solid, confident, totemic-sounding, but at the same time a little uneasy, a tad vulnerable.
"Knock Knock" is the first track on The Accidental's delightful first album, and it's the perfect meet n' greet, an introduction to their offhand harmonies, homemade percussion, barefoot la-di-da. It's also an introduction to one another. They start kind of tentative, like strangers meeting on a country road, slowly entering into polite conversation, then engaging more intensely, dropping the small talk for talk about what's real.
From There Were Wolves (Amazon, to be released in June in the US), Myspace
Image: Martina Mullaney
Pompeii - Indian Jewelry
Indian Jewelry didn't used to be this nice or good. They used to be noisy, vaguely threatening, willfully iconoclastic, difficult and interesting but very ... did I say noisy? Ok, they still sound like they're singing from the bottom of a well (or in the case of "Pompeii," choking on volcanic ash?), still spouting static, knitting dense nets of mild-to-moderate cacophony. And they continue to love a good coma-inducing drone. But for all intents and purposes, this here is a folky pop song, with clear, emphatic chord progressions draped in jingle-jangle and mope. Don't ask me what the guy's singing.
One of the best surprises of the year so far, you really should buy "Free Gold!" when it hits the street May 20 (preorder from Amazon).
Time to choose a side
Image: Erin TynerOh, Heaven Isn't Real - David Karsten DanielsWhy should Jesus get all the good music? It's not like it's for the devil or anything -- the song's just one great big secular humanist sigh of exasperation, as if Daniels has had it up to here with heaven this and hell that and will no longer hold his tongue. From the backyard of the Bible Belt, bluegrass swing, handclaps, holler and all, this one goes out to the atheists and undecideds.
From Fear of Flying (eMusic, Amazon), Myspace
Jesus Had a Sweet Girlfriend - Justice of the Unicorns
I suppose even to suggest Jesus had a girlfriend is blasphemy. But Justice of the Unicorns (dudes, you're gonna have to live with that--possibly for years!) means no harm I'm sure. They're just trying to humanize the deity and all that. How could shy, marble-mouthed singing and angelic girl back-ups be evil?
From Angels with Uzis (eMusic, Amazon), Myspace
I've been kinda out of the loop so this is a bit old, but Moistworks' collective post on that great indefinable, indie, is well worth reading (as are the comments).
Eleanor Jane ParsonsWe Carry On - Portishead
Carry on as in muddle through, grimly persevere, make do, endure-- it's all so characteristically English, though not uniquely so. These days, we Americans are muddling through til the next election, many of us holding our breath and crossing our fingers that the Dems don't fuck it up again. We carry on, despite economic news more dire by the day and the contradictory message that it's our patriotic duty to spend what we don't have. We grimly persevere waiting for the other shoe to drop. We make do, we endure. Portishead's got that limbo just right, its opaque face and hair-trigger nerves, its moody swings from boredom to emergency. I'd say Third is my fave 2008 album so far, but I keep getting stuck replaying replaying replaying just a couple songs.
Buy Third (Amazon), Myspace.
She's Gone - Langhorne Slim
It's like the closest country gets to Cab Calloway, hiccuped, hyperactive, jumpin jived, and so speedy it's rural meth lab to the typical highway roadhouse. Then there are the lyrics and music that wave at one another from opposite sides of the room.
Buy Langhorne Slim (Amazon), Myspace.
Falling Down - The Lodger
Careful as you pick up this amber-crisp lace cookie of a song--you might break it. Lucksmiths-lite (which is pretty darn lite) and The Smiths without the sexual subtext, "Falling Down" is also fresh as line-dried linen and welcome as the red and yellow tulips I see from my kitchen window (finally!).
Preorder Life is Sweet (Amazon), and def go to the band's Myspace to hear the super neato Slips remix of "The Good Old Days."