Tuesday, March 30, 2010

march tweeness minimix

I made this mix last week but forgot to post it. It's just a bunch of cool slamma jammas from March. Here's the 30-second breakdown on each team before the action starts:

Free Energy - "Light Love" (Total good time, half-shirt Rock & Roll swagger fronted by SM's little brah.)

The Apples In Stereo - "Dance Floor" (After 32 years in the biz, the Apples finally got around to updating Xanadu. Their upcoming album is going to surprise some people.)  

Club 8 - "My Pessimistic Heart" (Club 8 records always sound about the same. The People's Record sounds different. Very different, very West African and percussive. I think I like it alot.)

Love Is All - "Never Now" (Predictably great, insightful, and lovely sounds from Love is All's predictably great, insightful and lovely new LP.)    

Standard Fare - "Nuit Avec Une Ami" (These guys sound like Small Factory and Papas Fritas and the Wedding Present all mashed together. If you are old like me, these words might actually signify something amazing!) 

The Go Find - "It's Automatic" (It could have gone all NPR coffeetable but somehow it doesn't. Could be the synths, maybe it's just a hella good song.)  

Walter Schreifels - "Arthur Lee's Lullaby" (I could listen to good ol' Walter sing just about anything and I'd be thrilled, this is a nice folk pop tune with all the wit and warmth of a mid-period Dylan who didn't suck.)   

Meow Meow! - "I Wonder What Went Wrong" (Meow Meow!? Really?!? Who signed off on that? Too bad the name dooms them to a life of being written about by losers like me because they are actually quite good. They also sound like Small Factory and Papas Fritas - what the heck is going on!?)  

A Smile and a Ribbon - "Den Lille Havfrue" (Ultra-cute group with lots of ultra-cute songs. This one sounds like a lost Pet Clark single. Don't you love it when someone says "lost single"? It really makes it seem like there's something exclusive and wonderful going on. It's one of the tricks of the trade - feel free to use it sometime.)

Cults - "Most Wanted" (Actual music writers seems to think these guys are good. I threw them on here to make it seem like I knew what I was doing for a change. Their murky GG stylings are nice.)    

Get the mix here!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

malt shop melancholy: a 50s/60s tweepop mixtape

C86 was not the beginning of twee, Stephen Pastel wasn't the first guy to mumble into a microphone, and the Shop Assistants weren't the first semi-competent girl band to cause hearts to flutter. It goes back way further than that. Probably the first time a caveman did something like throw a rock at a dinosaur thereby causing all the female cavemen to ooh and aah, there was another guy sitting around in a sweater with too-long sleeves feeling melancholy because the girls didn't notice him. There must be some cave paintings of girls in Hepburn bangs too, a version of "Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" scored for sabertooth tiger bones and coconut shells, or maybe a caveman who used his record label's name for his surname. Jumping ahead to the late 1950s and early 60s, there was a whole bunch of ultra-twee pop music around. Mistakenly derided as the lamest period of rock & roll history by a succession of music critic fools and tools, a good look at what was really going on after the first wave of rock & roll washed out and before the Beatles came around to wreck everything, reveals a ton of brilliant and ridiculous malt shop pop. Sure, a lot of it may sound pretty vanilla on the surface, (and a lot of it is truly terrible) but if you spend anytime at all digging around, you'll find some great songs buried beneath the dust, songs filled with weirdness, heartbreak, and plenty of twee soul. I mean what could be more twee than eating a sad hamburger alone, crying bitter tears into your milkshake, right? (Poor Ricky.) No date from the prom, a lonely night spent waiting for a call,  a day spent under the spell of new love (doomed) with a dreamy boy preferably named Johnny...it's all pretty damn twee and pretty wonderful too. Please enjoy this small sampling of songs from the dawn of twee pop.

Earl Jean - "I'm Into Something"
The Four Coquettes - "Sparkle and Shine"     
The Georgettes - "Oh Tonight"      
Rick Nelson - "Fools Rush In"   
Andrea Carroll - "It Hurts To Be Sixteen"      
Shelley Fabares - "Telephone (Won't You Ring)"   
The Starlettes - "Please Ring My Phone"     
The Sensations - "Please Mr. Disc Jockey" 
Carole King - "Crying In The Rain"  
Del Shannon - "That's The Way Love Is" 
Gloria Dennis - "Richie"    
Paul Petersen - "Mama, Your Little Boy Fell"  
The Paris Sisters - "Be My Boy"  
The Everly Brothers - "Always It's You"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

reasons to love nyc popfest: the wake

What good would a festival be without a reunion? I suppose you could try but no matter how amazing the bands all were, some joker would say "yeah, but why didn't they get so and so to do a reunion show". That joker may be reading these very words. Heck, he might even be writing them. I suppose when it was all over I would have lamented the lack of a Shop Assistants or Flatmates reunion. Ooh, wait!! Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes!! SOMEONE MAKE THAT HAPPEN!! Oh well...The Wake is pretty great though, and I'm super stoked to see them. They made some really good records for Sarah, they were weird and never compromised, they recorded for Factory, they are working on a new album! Sure, Bobby Gillespie was in the band for awhile but we won't hold that against them. I liked them best just as they were outgrowing their New Order fixation and heading in a poppier, lusher direction. The four tracks below come from their finest moment as a band, 1987's Something That No-One Else Could Bring ep on Factory. Factory 178 to be precise.

If they play any one of these songs, I'll be walking on air. If not, I'll be happy anyway. Let's just thank our lucky stars it's not a Cud reunion!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

reasons to love nyc popfest: amelia fletcher

Reason #9 why the NYC Popfest is going to be awesmoe this year is simple. Amelia Fletcher is going to be there with the Tender Trap. For longer than many of us would care to think about, Amelia has been the voice of indie pop. Whether as part of Talulah Gosh, singing backups for the Wedding Present, the Pooh Sticks and Hefner, or leading her own bands Marine Research, the Tender Trap and Heavenly, the band who (along with the Orchids) soundtracked many of my happiest moments in the early 90s, her voice, her image, her toughness and her unerring ability to craft great pop songs has been nothing short of inspirational. I saw her about six zillion years ago with the Pooh Sticks, singing backup, throwing candy to the crowd, and writing on Hue's chest with lipstick but this is the first time I'll be able to see her singing her own songs. I'll be the guy down front in the striped shirt and the moony expression....oh wait, that's surely no help at all! We'll all be down there dressed to cuddle, right guys? To celebrate Amelia's awesmoeness, I put together a little mix of a bunch of her finest moments. Stick around for the last track to experience Amelia's alternate universe attempt to become Kylie. Call me nuts but it may be the best thing she's ever done.

Heavenly - "Starshy" 
Talulah Gosh - "I Can't Get No Satisfaction (Thank God)"
Marine Research - "Parallel Horizontal"
Tender Trap - "Oh Katrina"
Heavenly - "Modestic"
Hefner - "Good Fruit"   
The Pooh Sticks - "Sweet Baby James"
Heavenly - "C Is The Heavenly Option"  
Heavenly - "Over And Over"  
The 6ths - "Looking for Love (in the Hall of Mirrors)"
The Tender Trap - "Talking Backwards"
Heavenly - "Nous Ne Sommes Pas Des Anges"  
Amelia Fletcher - "Wrap My Arms Around Him"

As a bonus here's the 12" mix of  "Can You Keep A Secret?", the other song from Amelia's spectacularly short career as a disco dolly.

Monday, March 1, 2010

nyc popfest 2010 - the embassy

Okay, we are totally stoked about the NYC Popfest this year.  Here's Reason #10. Though they don't get the same amount of hype other groups get, the Embassy are one of the finest Swedish synth pop bands around. They've been peddling their warmly synthetic update on the sound of the Field Mice for like a decade now and they will be a highlight of the weekend for sure! Here's a video from the their 2002 album Futile Crimes:

Here's their excellent single from 2009:
"You Tend to Forget."