Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Plan for rain

Image: Susan Schwake

Children of the Polka - Children of the Wave

This being Chicago and me being half German, I've obviously heard and, more importantly, witnessed--in all its pink petticoated glory--polka. Trust me, this isn't polka proper. Generated by a clutch of conceptual-minded Australians, it's more like hearing polka's lusty shuffle and twirl through a thick wall as it bleeds into the lackadaisical murmur around you, winds through the hiss and sputter of espresso machine, clings to a car slow-rolling by with its windows down, pouring its sweet syrup of country radio onto the sidewalk. "Polka" is the most "pop" song on Children of the Wave's album, but if you like experimental folk with stretches of ambient and field recordings (who doesn't, you ask!) you'll be quite pleased with it, I think.

From Carapace (eMusic), Myspace

I Lost My Colour Vision - Burning Hearts

So that last track wasn't for everyone. But I don't even want to know you if you don't immediately love--or can't come to love--this song. Seriously: Don't ever speak to me again. Sounding for all the world like Swedish popsters, Burning Hearts are, in fact, Finns. Finns who memorized the Magnetic Fields' giddy, gaudy and oh-so-melancholy The Wayward Bus and perform it back at twice the tempo.

From Alboa Sleeping (Amazon), Myspace

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Retrofuturist fantasy

Image: Dark Roasted Blend

You know that 2008 best-of list? I take it back--not gonna happen. 2008 was a rotten year for music overall and I'm not motivated to extend it any longer than necessary. But 2009--shaping up to be awesome!!! Aw, just kidding. You know better than to expect ADDed enthusiasm round here. Read on for the usual hedged rah rah and ambivalent approbation.

Tunnelvision - Here We Go Magic

Didn't really expect this coming from Luke Temple, whose previous work struck me as alright but kind of plodding guy-with-a-guitar prime-time TV drama fare. But this and "Fangela" are two of my favorite songs this year (all 13 days of it), so go figure. Temple sings a Lindsay Buckinghamesque falsetto to divine syncopated folked-up pop, and coats it with ambient drone. To make a visual art analogy, it's like an Edward Hopper/Agnes Martin mashup. Any representational/abstract tensions get canceled out by a shared appreciation for geometry and the American perspective of hard, flat, infinite space.

From Here We Go Magic (preorder), Myspace

Woodfriend - Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

A con artist approached me recently while I was wrestling with one of those barely functioning parking garage ticket validation machines. He didn't start out as a con artist, of course--he started out as an 19-year-old or so kid who wanted directions to a Metra station. The tip-off (even before he produced the "police report" about his "stolen wallet")? He said his mom had told him to ask a nice lady for help. Lady, hee hee. Nice, har fucking har. First rule of the con: Know your mark. That's when I decided he was a) working a classic angle, and b) really, really bad at it. But I listened to his spiel with fake interest anyway and almost felt sorry for him when I asked if I actually seemed like someone who would hand over money to a stranger with a lame, completely illogical story. There's a sucker born every minute, etc. Now Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson recycles just as many chestnuts--of the guitar hero variety. But I'd slip him some cash to buy drugs, sure. He's that charming, in a slack-shifty sort of way. When he yells hey like a faded Gary Glitter and slurs something about everything being ok, to a ticking cowbell, you believe--because you want to. Good cons make you care.

from Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson (Amazon, eMusic), Myspace