Friday, December 31, 2010

What Scruffy Loved Listening to This Year, Pt. 2

Everyone's got a best of the year list. Sorry, not here. But you do get a bunch of music that I loved this year (some of which may have been released prior to 2010, I don't care), some of which I've blogged about already, and some of which I didn't get to sharing. So here it is, Part Two, come on back for the next parts.

The Decemberists' new one The King is Dead ain't out until January 18, but single Down By the Water is already giving out goosebumps. Colin Meloy has been showing off his knack for melody for years, but add on Peter Buck imitating himself circa Fables and then Gillian Welch lending vocals? Nicely done.

The Decemberists -- Down By The Water by JoshApos

Nada Surf are always worth a listen, power pop for now people like you. An album of covers can be dodgy, but not this band's.

Nada Surf - Electrocution by Royalty Central

Winnipeg's Royal Canoe brought the humour, the falsettos, and the hip-shakin' back.

Royal Canoe - Kasparov by scruffy the yak

Sanford finally released songs I've had in my head for years, and actually they were better than I remembered them live. 'Pegger Rob Pachol is Sanford, and he told me he just recorded these tunes to get 'em out and done with. So no shows, no promo, and probably not a big following for this project, which is a shame.

Sanford - Complicated Shoes by scruffy the yak

School of Seven Bells told me I missed shoegaze. Huh. Guess I did.

School of Seven Bells - Babelonia by VagrantRecords

School Of Seven Bells - 'I L U' by stripeyjumper

Shout out Louds make passionate, classy pop. Unapologetically catchy, not joining the forced artiness brigade. Hard not to enjoy Shout Out Louds, don't you think?

04 Shout Out Louds Fall Hard by djeddieo

Shout Out Louds - Can't Explain by barbabajs

Shout Out Louds - Walls by The Muse In Music

Shout Out Louds - Show Me Something New from Ted Malmros on Vimeo.

Come oooooooooooooonnnnnn, leave a comment or two. come back for Part 3, too.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Scruffy Loved Listening to This Year, Pt. 1

Everyone's got a best of the year list. Sorry, not here. But you do get a bunch of music that I loved this year (some of which may have been released prior to 2010, I don't care), some of which I've blogged about already, and some of which I didn't get to sharing. So here it is, Part One, come on back for the next parts.

Apex Manor's album, The Year of Magical Drinking, comes out January 25 on Merge. Apex Manor is Ross Flournoy's first project since the break-up of The Broken West, who were pretty much brilliant (download Perfect Games here or Daytrotter version here. Here's Under the Gun from the upcoming Apex Manor record.

Under The Gun by C3 Artist mgmt

The debut album North Hills by Dawes came out before 2010, but it's still on high rotation. Sunny, gentle music that is guaranteed to evoke good feeling. I'll probably still be playing this beautiful music regularly next year, too. So should you. The band will give you an mp3 of When My Time Comes if you surrender your email address and stuff.

Drivin' N Cryin' finally put out a record of new music, The Great American Bubble Machine. Not too many bands can combine big dumb southern rock 'n' roll with intelligence, but Kevn Kinney and his merry men manage it. Punk, country, glam rock, folk - these guys can throw anything into their mix and make it work. I remember when Michael Stipe threw in an a capella snippet of a Drivin' N Cryin' song live, I thought, Yes! Now more people will get how great the songs were, hearing a different interpretation. Didn't seem to happen, for some reason. As a bonus I tacked on an old live version of one of the best songs ever, Straight to Hell (no, it's not The Clash song).

Drivin' N' Cryin - Straight To Hell (Live) by Spicoli9000

Brian Dunn quietly released my favourite record of the year, Examining the Fallout, which as far as I know can still only be purchased at shows or by emailing Mark Browning at Better than Ryan Adams, cooler than Jeff Tweedy, more stylish than Neil Young? You decide. Remember, he's from Sudbury.

Listen to him play solo and try not to admit he's the bee's knees.

Brian Dunn - Listening To Myself Die by scruffy the yak

Brian Dunn - Boston Bars by scruffy the yak

Brian Dunn - Irish Sundays by scruffy the yak

Broken by Brian Dunn by scruffy the yak

Lawrence Arabia - I don't know much about this New Zealander, but this is one of the catchiest songs I've heard. Brilliant pop sensibilities. And he cuts such a dashing figure - look at that photo!

Lawrence Arabia - Apple Pie Bed by partyontadpole

Leave a comment, come back tomorrow for Part 2.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Duran Duran: Lucky 13?

I still remember seeing Duran Duran open for David Bowie and being underwhelmed; The Georgia Satellites came on before DD and blew them away. But the boys are still plugging away, original drummer Roger Taylor is back in the fold, Andy Taylor came back but has left again, and Kelis and Owen Pallett played a role on the new one, All You Need is Now. Album number 13 is out now on iTunes, while the hard copy disc will be out in February. Producer Mark Ronson has indicated that they've returned to the early 80's sound that won kids over. I haven't heard the whole thing yet, but there are certainly echoes of the early years, from the whiny balladry of Leave a Light On, to the shiny vocals and bubbling keyboards of Being Followed, and the popping bass of The Man Who Stole a Leopard (shouldn't that be a ragged tiger or something?). According to the band's website, the album became the number one pop download in countries such as the U.S., the U.K., and Canada, so somebody's interested. Yet the first official video for All You Need is Now seems dull visually and the vocals a little too Auto-tuned. The live version below sounds better to me.

The earlier teasers Mark Ronson shared clips of on his radio show sounded much more like the 80's hit monsters. Blame the Machine has the most old-school top pop sound, at least from the short clip Ronson has shared.

Here's a clip of the band playing Planet Earth live.

Duran Duran by Duran Duran

Duran Duran - Instant Karma by radiosamana

Duran Duran by AndyTaylor

An interesting remix.

ThC - xx on film (The XX vs. Duran Duran) by ThE hOmOgnIc ChAoS

Leave a comment. I double dare you. Dare Dare.

Robyn Hitchcock Streams for You: Bowie, Dylan, Cash, Nick Drake Covers

For your holiday pleasure, Robyn Hitchcock has made a whack of covers available for streaming on his website. A bunch of Bowie songs (recorded live at the annual Medecins sans Frontieres benefit show, Changes is my favorite Bowie cover ever), Bill Monroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky featuring Nick Lowe, and much more. None of the tracks below are included in Hitchcock's stream, it's just a weird hodgepodge of old and new Hitchcock and Lowe, old Bowie (because there IS no new Bowie), or some amusing covers, because I'm still in a giving mood.

Robyn Hitchcock - Ordinary Millionaire by charmfactory

Robyn Hitchcock - Adoration Of The City by charmfactory

Robyn Hitchcock - I Saw Nick Drake by charmfactory

Robyn Hitchcock - Luckiness by lighthouseflashing

Robyn Hitchcock -Vibrating by cristalette

"I Trained Her To Love Me" by Nick Lowe by Rogboy

Nick Lowe - So It Goes by ARCHERS

Nick Lowe - I love the sound of breaking glass by Little Geoff


The song below translates as The Sound of Breaking Glass (from the original Swedish). It doesn't sound like a cover of the Nick Lowe tune, so I don't know what it is, I'm hoping one of you can enlighten me.

Ljudet av krossat glas(Nick Lowe) by Charlie Persson

Massive Attack & David Bowie - Nature Boy by Latitudinarian

Keren Ann - Life on Mars (David Bowie Cover) by bangkokerror

Franz Ferdinand - Sound & Vision (David Bowie Cover) by microfideu

Changes (David Bowie) by manolodivago

Buy Robyn Hitchcock and Nick Lowe at Yep Roc. Buy Bowie anywhere. And tell him to make some new music, it's been far too long.

Leave a comment below. Aren't you still in a giving mood?

R.E.M. - New Album Songbites: You're Still Full Anyway, Right?

A teaser for the new album. Brief snippets of songs usually annoy me more than anything (I wanna hear full tunes, not thirty seconds!), but these have only served to intrigue me further. I got the impression some people thought R.E.M. dumbed it down with songs like Supernatural Superserious on the last record, or perhaps were forcing it a little bit. I think those complaints should be quietened with this one.

It Happened Today (Featuring Eddie Vedder) is one of those cameos I was talking about last post, and I can barely hear Eddie at all, so maybe my worries were unfounded. So far, the song sounds okay, R.E.M.'s always been good at those wordless choruses (such as Belong from Out of Time), seems to me it might be a grower.

R.E.M. - It Happened Today (Feat. Eddie Vedder) by weallwantsome1

If you haven't heard the first single, here it is, Discoverer:

R.E.M. - Discoverer by abrecaminos

An unusual cover of an unusual R.E.M. song to cover.

Lotus (r.e.m. cover) by tinyblueboxes

Monday, December 20, 2010

R.E.M. Give You a Free MP3: Discoverer

I threw R.E.M.'s name into my last post nonsensically, but anyone who knows me well knows I loved them for years, was bitterly disappointed after Bill Berry left, and was stoked when the band made a rock record with Accelerate. So I'm hopeful about the new one, Collapse Into Now, but I'm also wary. Inviting star cameos also lights up my Spidey-sense, so inviting Eddie Vedder, Peaches and Patti Smith to join in on the reindeer games makes me a little suspicious too. We'll see, right? But I like the new one, has a bit of a Monster-meets-New-Adventures vibe to me so far. Collapse into Now is out March 8 in the U.S. (and Canada, too, methinks) and March 7 internationally.

REM - Discoverer by statemagazine

Below is the Christmas song you would have already if you were a fan club member, as well as a teaser for the new album.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home by Cover Me

02 - IHT->U->EDIYTW (Dubmix) by Cover Me

Here is the track listing for Collapse Into Now. I like the title of track 7, it reminds me of the time I met Stipe (I'm too polite to elaborate).
1. Discoverer
2. All The Best
3. Überlin
4. Oh My Heart
5. It Happened Today
6. Every Day Is Yours To Win
7. Mine Smell Like Honey
8. Walk It Back
9. Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter
10. That Someone Is You
11. Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I
12. Blue

Because I can, here's some covers (Richard Thompson, John Lennon), R.E.M. does Sesame Street, some remixes, and what-have-you. Happy holidays.

R.E.M. - Wall of Death by danpoage

R.E.M. - Furry Happy Monsters by dazzian

R.E.M. - #9 Dream by Tom//Shine

R.E.M - Tighten Up by Harry Callahan

R.E.M. - Indian Summer by ElectroMoonLite

Letter Seventeen - Burning Hell (R.E.M. cover) by letterseventeen

R.E.M vs. Fink - Losing my religion [soso mashup] by soso

The One I Love Is Gone (REM, RATM, David Guetta, Bliix) by Robin Skouteris

LeeDM101 - The One I Looped (R.E.M / The Doors) by LeeDM101

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Getting There From Here: The Hatcher-Briggs Collective and the Genius of Jeffrey Hatcher

Maybe R.E.M was wrong when Stipe sang Can't Get There From Here. Jeffrey Hatcher has finally resurfaced and released some new material with The Hatcher-Briggs Collective. Getting There From Here is the album title, and although it's not available on iTunes or at all of your local record stores yet (see bottom of this post), it's worth seeking out, as is everything Hatcher has been involved with. Back when Hatcher and the Big Beat released the Cross our Hearts album in 1987, it was on heavy rotation in the record store where I toiled. I always thought it was good, but forgot about it until last week when I ran across a copy. You know what? The album's full of roots-rock genius! At that point in time, Hatcher was out-Costello-ing Elvis, dare I say making Bruce music almost as well as Springsteen (Tunnel of Love is one of my favourites, but Human Touch and Lucky Town are just okay, and yeah, I own Blood and Chocolate and King of America, this one's more essential).

In My Hand - Jeffrey Hatcher and the Big Beat by scruffy the yak

Frozen in Place - Jeffrey Hatcher and the Big Beat by scruffy the yak

The Jeffrey Hatcher and the Big Beat videos from the 80s have not necessarily dated well, but it's the songs that count.

You can read more about Jeffrey Hatcher and his road from The Fuse to the Big Beat to Blue Shadows and beyond in Paul Cantin's excellent article from 2009 entitled "Jeffrey Hatcher's Songs of Healing" in No Depression #77 bookazine (excerpted here), and you can hear excerpts from songs taken from throughout Hatcher's career here (Cantin also wrote the liner notes for The Blue Shadows' On the Floor of Heaven reissue).

Here's a few Hatcher-Briggs Colective videos posted by the amazing Stu Reid, if you want to promote a show in Winnipeg, you need him to create your posters, and if you have anything to do with roots rock, he might put you on his radio show. In fact, if you want to know about Jeffrey Hatcher, ask him, I'm just learning what I missed myself and we're only skimming the surface here. You can also check out Teenage Dogs in Trouble Blog, where you might find some goodies on Hatcher-Briggs for you to enjoy.

Many videos by the Blue Shadows have embedding disabled so I can't put 'em on here for ya. That makes lots of sense (is there a dripping-with-sarcasm font?), since the band has been gone for many years, Billy Cowsill is no longer around, and there absolutely no reason that people should learn more about the underrated timeless music of Hatcher and Cowsill.

The Blue Shadows-When Will This Heartache End by scruffy the yak

The Six was a pretty fine Hatcher and Briggs project, don't you think?
Warning - some prime examples of eighties dancing styles are contained in one or more of the following, do not watch if you are weak of heart, are currently taking medication, et cetera.

To buy the new Hatcher-Briggs Collective cd you must send an e-mail to Listen to and purchase The Blue Shadows' On the Floor of Heaven deluxe 2-Cd reissue here. And hey. Leave a comment. It's the seasonal thing to do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Liptonians - You Know I Did mp3

A few years back, a singer and a drummer I knew lived in an old house on Lipton Street in Winnipeg. They had monster parties there, the kind that spill out onto the street, make new friends and enemies, give birth to outlandish know. Sometimes it seemed like anyone who had ever been to the Albert was at every party there. Of course, there was always good music at these shindigs. So when I heard there was a rock band going by the name of The Liptonians, I knew we were in for some memorable music and good times. The Liptonians are getting set to celebrate the impending February 8 release of a new long-playing record album, Let's All March Back Into the Sea. A CD release party will happen sadly not on Lipton Street, but at the West End Cultural Centre on Feb. 6. Here's an acoustic version of one of the songs off the new one:

The Liptonians - Perfect Swimmers (Album Fundraiser) from Nice! Productions on Vimeo.

The Liptonians may have seemed like one of those sweet little finds coming outta nowhere for their first record, but now that the group's garnered some fine press and won a Western Canadian Music Award for Outstanding Pop Recording ("Outstanding" sounds so much better than "Best", it brings up an image of a person standing alone, head held high, in the middle of a wheat field), lots of folks will be expecting good things from the new one. Coming out on the Head in the Sand label and the fine Sonic Unyon label, distribution by Universal, promoted by Killbeat - seems like the ducks are in a row for this one. And since Liptonian founding members Matt Schellenberg and Bucky Driedger are part of the Head in the Sand collective and have played and recorded with Winnipeg bright lights such as Royal Canoe, Courier News, Flying Fox and the Hunter Gatherers and Les Jupes, an extra buzz is being generated already, two months before the official release date. Can't you hear it?

"Earnestly delivered music for fans of Wilco and Spoon", the band's website proclaims. Not that the band will be frequently confused with either of those bands, but like them, The Liptonians have no problem taking elements of classic rock and pop and messing with them just enough to make 'em sound kinda newfangled. Here's You Know I Did from Let's All March Back Into the Sea, it's a pretty good example of that sweet messin'.

The Liptonians-You Know I Did by scruffy the yak

Here's the tracklist. I haven't heard the whole thing yet (Ahem! Killbeat!), but I can't wait to hear tracks 5 and 8 just based on their titles. You can listen to a few more tunes on the band's website, as well as a few more on the Facebook page, where you can also enter a contest to win shiny vinyl and CD copies of the album before it comes out and two tickets to the Liptonians Dec. 19th show at the Pyramid. You can also download another Liptonians tune, along with tracks from Boats, Les Jupes, Holy Fuck, Japandroids and more, from the Pop ETC. festival.

1. Terrell's Dream
2. You Know I Did
3. Hey! Hey! Help Is On Its Way Now!
4. Growing Old In The City
5. The Privatest Parts
6. Perfect Swimmers
7. Calling You Out
8. Ghosts In My Garden
9. Lesage
10. Roller Coaster
11. March Back Into The Sea

The album is not available for pre-order, at least not at the moment, but it should be available at all fine music stores as well as the Head in the Sand site. This video explains the creation of the new album pretty well, and if you want you can see more "making of" footage here.

The Liptonians from Eric Sung on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Cars Offer Second Song Preview for Sad Song

The Cars have delivered another song preview for Sad Song via their Facebook page (a clip of another new one, Blue Tip was offered on Facebook with no explanation a while back). Still no further info, no comment on the song clip, and the official website is under construction. I'm hoping there's a new album coming in the new year, but no one seems to be spilling the beans so far. Sad Song sounds like a classic Cars song to me. Many have copied that chunky guitar, keyboard wash and even the cool vocal delivery, but nobody does it better.

The Cars - Let's Go by TaffyLafaguz

Please leave a comment below, it may give you good karma.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Watchmen Will Sell You Their New Doc...If You're Quick

photo by Clay Devoute
Watchmen drummer Sammy Kohn revealed that while the Watchmen DVD documentary, All Uncovered, will be on sale at show(s?) this weekend, he also told the Winnipeg Free Press's Rob Williams that there are less than 100 of them to be purchased. Since both shows are sold out, the chances of every fan walking away with a disc are about as good as Joey Serlin rocking the long hair he had in the photo above. Here's a couple more Watchmen tunes that didn't make it onto one of their albums.

I'm Blind - The Watchmen by scruffy the yak

I'm not sure if the name of this one is right, maybe someone out there can correct me.

Seven Times - The Watchmen by scruffy the yak

This song, Painted Ladies, is just a different videorecording of the same performance in the last Watchmen post. You can find a review of that show at The Panic Manual. If you missed that last post of mine on the band, there may have been a couple of other unreleased songs for your edification. Check out this article about what Daniel Greaves has been doing lately, which includes making what he terms "atmospheric pop" among other things.