November 22, 2017

The Mallorys.

Every morning when I wake up
and I realize I failed to die,
I look at my phone to see who called,
to see who cared

And I can’t help but always notice … 
your name is never there

My goodness, here’s something out of the blue, rather unique, and quite able to knock a listener completely off his/her feet ... but where in holy heck did this come from?!  Apparently, a gentleman named Danny Robles, who would seem to be the leader and chief songwriter, with help from a few friends in the Chicago area, choosing a perfectly twee band name, aptly serving as the release title:  The Mallorys.
But how best to describe it?  Well, most (but not all) of the tracks fall neatly into the ubiquitous "Post-Smiths Jangle-Twee" category, resembling a cross between, say, Cats on Fire and The Felt Tips, with pleasantly spiraling guitar arpeggios and witty, gleefully self-obsessed, 'literary' lyrics delivered in a meter firmly in the Moz mold and nearly all describing a suicidal level of infatuation, gloriously unrequited.

November 16, 2017

The Innocence Mission - The Snow on Pi Day EP


This snow on Pi Day was not called for at all

We’ll make today’s, laid in our arms
universe of sky and the deep, deep streets,
perfect and clean

I wish I was starting over
A sign is a sign and the patterns of science
cannot be, be always right

After a smooth, decade-long shift from prog-indie beginnings in ’89 to acoustic folk heroes by 2000 (as Karen Peris’ vocals morphed from unbelievably powerful Kate Bush-isms to an expressive, ethereal fragility that can produce tears faster than slicing a bag of Spanish onions), The Innocence Mission made a more subtle shift, just after Befriended (2003) and We Walked in Song (2007), which both straddled the fence between acoustic singer-songwriter and the indie-folk meld of Glow (1995), to a more spare approach starting with 2009’s Street Map EP that seems more expansive, at times darn near ‘psychedelic’ in the lyric word-painting, emphasis on mood over obvious hooks (particularly the tasteful piano filigrees) and frequent instrumentals.

November 12, 2017

Snail Mail

If you like your modern indie slow-burning, lo-fi and modestly abrasive, with thoughtful, memorable guitar-playing and up-front, expressive vocals that seem at least a second cousin to past ‘Emo’ styles, then Snail Mail (Lindsey Jordan’s 3-piece solo project) should be the first place you look.  In the process, you’ll also discover perhaps the most precocious example in the history of the genre – though that shouldn’t be your main focus.  Let me explain …

November 9, 2017

Black Tambourine - Throw Aggi Off The Bridge

Eclectic MixTape:  Track-of-the-Day

So throw her off the bridge
Just toss her in the drink
She's coming in between us
You know the girl I mean
. . . We both know it's got to be done

Perhaps the noisiest entry in the 90s ‘twee’ category (likely because the group was American), infamous not only due to the pithy lyric and later influence on noise-pop bands such as the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, but perhaps even more from the legendary, repetitive drum riff, an insanely quick “BAP BAP ba-BAP ba-BAP CRASH !” which I’m always inclined to play along with whenever I’ve had a caffeine overdose.

Unfortunately, as I don’t own a drum kit, I’ve destroyed 4 ½ Black & Decker toasters, as well as the muffler from a 2009 Honda Accord LX, trying to replicate this, rubber mallet in one hand, tree-pruning shears in the other.  In the event this might have a similar effect on you, you may want to completely enclose any nearby delicate objects (Tiffany lamps, wife, children) in a quality, commercial grade bubble wrap before clicking the PLAY button above.  Consider yourself warned …

(Silver Spring, MD – 1992)

November 7, 2017

Goat Explosion - Why Don't You Say

Eclectic MixTape:  Track-of-the-Day

Somebody tell me
is there a way for me
to destroy my reality?
Kiss me or kill me,
cause I've waited so long

Do you believe me?
Oh, can you see me?

The Drums founding members (and childhood friends) Jonny Pierce and Jacob Graham, even before a prior incarnation as ‘Elkland,’ were making synth-driven indie-pop, sans both the guitars and Smiths-Joy Division-Surf/Math Rock influences that would come later, under the short-lived name 'Goat Explosion.' 

Though that sounds quite messy, this particular track is rather tight, and punchy and infectious as influenza-A, taking nods from New Order (if first administered a case of 5-hour ENERGY), 90s dance club sensibilities and even a bit of late-80s MTV.  If better known, one suspects this might have wide appeal, both to synth- and indie-pop mavens.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear any GE tracks are available for purchase, but thanks to diligent You-Tubers, this one, at least for now, has been preserved.

(Brooklyn, NY - 2004)

November 5, 2017

The Softies - Me and the Bees

Eclectic MixTape:  Track-of-the-Day

Take it downstairs, no one here cares
Take it outside, find someplace good to hide

Now it's just me … and the bees
In a cyclone of falling leaves

A track that wraps the listener in thick gauze that still allows shards of light, perhaps through half-barren branches as described by the narrator, as it shuffles and lopes along with an almost reluctant inevitability.  The distancing, insular effect makes it appear you’re eavesdropping, but before long you may find yourself deep in thought under a nearby tree (hopefully with no gas-driven leaf-blowers within earshot).

The band, usually just two gals, two guitars and two voices, here fleshes out the sound with drums (tastefully brushed) and softly hovering, reticent piano spirals, making it perhaps the most ‘sophisticated’ entry in an oeuvre that helped them attain sainthood amongst twee-pop cognoscenti.

(Olympia, WA – 2000)

November 3, 2017

Peggy Lee/Benny Goodman - Why Don't You Do Right?

Eclectic MixTape:   Track-of-the-Day

Why don't you do right, like some other men do?
Get out of here and get me some money too

One wonders how the PC crowd would view this today:  a creepy older gentleman, Mr. Goodman, checks out 21-yr-old Peggy Lee, quite lasciviously, shaking his tuckus, as she delivers the verses, a lyric that dares to suggest women must depend on men for money, while periodically whipping out his phallic clarinet to blow the chorus into her microphone. 

Well, guess what – NO ONE CARES !   This is a timeless classic that will be enjoyed many hundreds of years hence, largely for the stylish solos of Benny Goodman and the understated (and underrated) vocal from Lee, precociously incorporating lessons learned from Billie Holiday re: tone/phrasing, albeit ‘smoothed’ a bit (e.g., not hanging out behind the beat quite so much).

New York - July 27, 1942

November 2, 2017

The National - Secret Meeting

Eclectic MixTape:  Track-of-the-Day

… I'm sorry I missed you
I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain

A band that successfully made the treacherous journey from Cincinnati to New York, carrying a box of demons.  That ‘difficult’ lyrical stance, rather than hurting, was arguably most responsible for their becoming indie stalwarts.  This track is drawn from more than a decade ago, when critical notice was just beginning to amass.

(2005 - Brooklyn)