Archive for April, 2012

April 30, 2012

Angel And The Badman

She gave him a voice, he gave her stories. He gave her street cred, she gave him access. She gave him sweetness, he gave her menace. It wasn’t a partnership that had any right to flourish, but disparate backgrounds made for some kind of elemental magic.

In this segment, from the 1967 TV special “Movin’ With Nancy,” how many times does Lee Hazlewood raise his fist as if to belt Nancy Sinatra for doing something as harmless and flirty as pinching his ass? Yet a sense of threat was present in almost all their duets, and in the compositions Hazlewood wrote strictly for Sinatra’s voice (“these boots are gonna walk all over you”) across their intermittent four-decade partnership. The song they’re assaying below is a Jerry Leiber relationship ballad that puts the fun in dysfunctional — dark but sweet, and fitting for the duo.

Then there was dark for darkness’ sake.

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April 25, 2012

A Million Ways to love OK Go — A Video Retrospective

I’ve been an OK Go fan since I saw them play with Arlo and Fountains of Wayne at the old Crocodile — which I guess must have been at least 10 years ago. Wait. WHAT? Maybe more like 8, I dunno. I’m old and can’t keep track of stuff like that.

Anyway. I was also lucky enough to see them at The Croc again when they were performing the “A Million Ways” dance LIVE on stage. Which was AWESOME. OMFG you guys. Seriously, so awesome. The next best thing though, is the video for it, which they filmed in Damien’s sister’s backyard:

Adorable, right? Love, love, love it. They followed that viral masterpiece up with a couple more traditional videos for “Don’t Ask Me” and “You’re So Damn Hot,” which were also great, but not as great as their dance-fest. So for “Do What You Want,” they came up with this crazy blend-in-to-the-walls concept:

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April 23, 2012

See yourself reflected in Jeff Beam’s ‘Be Your Own Mirror’

Earlier this year, I posted an article about the Telos EP by Henry Jamison of Portland, Maine, trio The Milkman’s Union. In another fun development, the band’s bassist Jeff Beam has offered up his own brand new solo album, Be Your Own Mirror, and I can’t help but feel drawn in by not only by its musicality, but feelings and concepts that hit close to home.

Beam dredges up the psychedelic ’60s in an artful display like mosaics made of sound. The prismatic quality to his songs is a perfect fit for this season — light and airy like a perfect spring day, yet punctuated by the seeping sadness of approaching a new beginning before you’d written your last ending.

With a philosophical heart, Beam explores the insignificance of living, the deceit of existence, and a growing distaste for city life on his album. I usually don’t pay much mind to lyrics, but I find a great connection to myself in these, such as in “Part One” which closes its vocal half with the line, “Don’t you know people see exactly what they believe me to be.”

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April 20, 2012

Band I Dislike, Song I Do Not: Soundgarden, ‘Outshined’

I’m kind of afraid to write this down, because I feel like I might get kicked out of my city, but I am not a Soundgarden fan. (Hopefully the fact that I do like Pearl Jam will save me from being stoned to death.)

In the ’90s, I had violent reactions to “Spoonman” (REALLY? IT’S ON THE RADIO AGAIN??) and “Black Hole Sun,” which left my grunge-loving friends scratching their heads. “But Amie! It’s SOUNDGARDEN! How can you not love them?” I don’t know, you guys, but I didn’t. I don’t. I recognize how important they were to the Seattle grunge scene, and Chris Cornell is amazing, and Kim Thayil is the best guitarist EVER … yada-yada-yada, but I have never been, and never will be, a Soundgarden fan.

BUT. There is one Soundgarden song that I really do love, and that’s “Outshined.” I can’t decide if it’s because Chris Cornell brings on the sex with his amazing hair-whipping, throaty screaming, and ridiculous chest muscles — or if it’s related to that time I watched a very drunk, very beautiful boy dance to it all alone at a club, mouth agape, while my friend mopped the drool up and closed my mouth gently, silently judging me. For whatever reason, it’s the one song by these guys that I can listen to over and over and not want to turn it off.

So there you go. I’m not grunge-heartless after all. Do I still get to keep my ’90s Seattle cred?

April 18, 2012

Swimming With The Current

Great Lake Swimmers‘ 2005 song “Various Stages” felt like a poem I had yet to write. The best complex pop songs have a way of doing that — introducing themselves as your own future ideas or unremembered dreams. (cf. Radiohead, Yo La Tengo.)

On the band’s latest album, New Wild Everywhere, GLS leader Tony Dekker has decided to allow little room for reverb, no patience for lyrical obscurity. (Maybe he just doesn’t want to be Bon Iver.) The result isn’t as radical and head-scratching as when My Morning Jacket gave up reverb and decided they were Prince, but as in MMJ’s case, it sounds little like the same band.

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April 16, 2012

April Mix: Late Night With Abby

I’m sure you all know by now how much I love a good mixtape. That’s why I’ve become so deeply enamored with the Late Night Tales series of compilations by selected artists such as MGMT and Belle & Sebastian. I listen to these albums not like a regular album, but like a mix carefully arranged from start to finish, meaning I don’t usually skip through to a song I want to hear because it would compromise the integrity of the mix.

Sounds vary from one mix to the next, with really wonderful offerings of everything from mid-20th century rock rarities to modern day electronic tunes. It’s always a nice surprise to see what they’ve managed to fit in, such as when Air’s compilation included Jeff Alexander’s “Come Wander With Me.” It’s certainly not always what you expect, but it always works. Though there are many differing genres, there’s a particular vibe that flows from one Late Night Tales to the next. It’s hard to define exactly, besides the series’ requisite to be the “ultimate late night mix.”  So instead of describing it to you, I decided to make my own Late Night Tales-esque mix. At 23 songs, it’s perfect CD length, so if you’re like me, do the proper thing and burn these to a disc.

If you like it and are like “Heck! Abby’s Late Night mix is so good I want her to keep making more and more!” then you are in luck. Because there will be more in the future as the initial playlist I formed for my Late Night Tales mix had like 200-something songs on it.

Late Night With Abby: 1

Spooky – Cat Fight

Flying Lotus – Camel

Sergei Prokofiev – ‘Montagnes and Capulets’ from ‘Romeo and Juliet’

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – Crazy

Little Bark – In the Forest

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