Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I was going to get back to playing you Australian stuff (this is supposed to be an Australian power pop blog after all), but today's song from England is just so irresistible that I couldn't resist* keeping it away from the blog any longer.
Here are The Bees with "Chicken Payback", accompanied by an utterly demented video:
The Bees - "Chicken Payback" (2004)
The Bees official website
(*I guess that's the problem with irresistible things – you can't resist them.)
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I received an email from a tremendously enthusiastic musician by the name of Alejandra O'Leary. (Hi, Alejandra!)
Before I go on, I'd just like to say that I think Alejandra's full name is splendid. I love the unlikeliness of it. (Like "Franciscus Smyth-Biggins", or "Bjorn McSporran", or "Trevor M'bokopappamoko" etc etc).
Alejandra let me know about her latest album, Broken Mirror Baby, so I had a listen. I thought the songs were enjoyable. However, there's a huge but...*
...but I found Alejandra's voice problematic. I like the timbre of her voice – it's sort of a little-girl / girl-group / cute-cute-cute sound, and I like that kind of voice a lot – but it's the intonation that's not good news.
I don't want to criticise Alejandra's voice too much, because she's a better singer than I am (you really don't want to hear me sing) – but Alejandra has recorded this CD and I'm mildly surprised that she's allowed her singing as it currently sounds on the record to be presented to the public. I found the intonation (i.e., pitch) painfully insecure. With home recording nowadays, musicians have the luxury of being able to record take after take until they're happy with what they've done. (Of course, musicians can go overboard with their recordings, spending way too much time correcting tiny things until they've made something completely flawless, fault-free, polished and sterile, without a hint of humanity.) So I thought Alejandra may have had the chance to take her recording away and tinker with her vocals (doing a retake here, a retouch there) until they were all in tune – or perhaps slightly less out of tune. Maybe Alejandra was going for a rough'n'raucous vibe with her vocals. But I don't quite understand why, because the rest of the record (instrumentation, performance, recording) is neither rough nor raucous.
So the upshot of this gingerly offered review is that I liked the songs but I didn't like the singing.
I have a terrible confession to make (sorry about this, Alejandra – you can cover your eyes now if you want to): Whilst listening to the songs, I actually winced a few times. I don't know if I'm sensitive to vocal intonation or anything (I don't think I have perfect pitch, so it's not that), but I do have a problem when things aren't in tune, whether they be vocals or instruments. It makes no difference to me – if something's out of tune, I tend to cringe because to me it's incredibly noticeable, wherever it is.
I don't want to make a big deal out of this. Alejandra's vocals may not bother you anywhere near as much as they did me.
I also don't want to end this post on a sour note (yep, pun intended), because I really don't like bagging** people, so I'll mention the things I liked.
"What are the things you liked?" I hear you ask.
I'm glad you asked. I can say that what I liked about Alejandra's songs were the song structures, instrumentation, playing, and recording quality. Although I didn't think the vocal melodies were terribly strong, I thought they suited the songs. It all made for what I’d consider to be "relaxed songs" – songs that took their time unfolding.
How about I let you hear the songs for yourself? That way, you can decide whether the last few paragraphs were horrendously unfair to a tremendously enthusiastic musician...
Alejandra O'Leary - "@ The Club" (2011)
Alejandra O'Leary - "When Will They Learn?" (2011)
Alejandra O'Leary - "Broken Mirror Baby" (2011)
Alejandra O'Leary - Broken Mirror Baby - Album Promo from jfrey1 on Vimeo.
Alejandra O'Leary official website
Alejandra O'Leary on Facebook
Broken Mirror Baby sampler on Bandcamp
(*No jokes please.)
Monday, August 29, 2011
And now for something fun.
I was listening to a new power pop album the other day and not enjoying it much. But it did do one good thing for me – as I was listening to it I suddenly had the urge to play a track I hadn't heard in years:
The Sweet - "Peppermint Twist" (1974)
And here's the original:
Joey Dee and the Starliters - "Peppermint Twist" (1961)
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Now, here's a song where Australia's Greatest Living Songwriter© is near the top of his game. (See yesterday's post if that sentence made no sense to you.)
This brings me close to tears whenever I hear it:
Paul Kelly & The Messengers - "When I First Met Your Ma" (1992)
I think it's the ambiguity that just increases the sigh-factor in me. Is it about divorce? Death? Incarceration? Madness? Just why did the mother leave? Or maybe she didn't leave. Who knows? I guess the listener can decide what's what and who's who in this song.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Although I don't think today's song is anywhere near the best work by Australia's Greatest Living Songwriter©, I like it a lot because it's nice and bouncy, and because it reminds me of both Buddy Holly and The Beach Boys:
Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls - "Crosstown" (1987)
Incidentally, I was originally going to play you a different Paul Kelly song today but I thought it might have been a bit too low-key for you. It's an obscure single by Paul that didn't chart, but I absolutely adore it. Actually, I think I'll play it tomorrow anyway.
Yep, I'll play it tomorrow.
Friday, August 26, 2011
By now you're probably aware that, courtesy of the lover of most things Japanese – and soon to be in Japan* – Celeste (Hi, Celeste!), I've been exposed to a variety of Japanese pop and rock music. And because I have a blog, you have, too.
Believe it or not, I stumbled across this Japanese band without the aid of Celeste. I have no idea how, when, or where I saw them on the Intertubes, but I did, liked what I heard, and thought "Hmm – I wonder if I can put some of their songs on the blog and not have people running away screaming."
So here's Japanese rock band Cymbals. If you're wondering whether or not it's worth your time pressing "play" and listening to something you've never heard before for a few minutes, then I'll give you a short description and leave it up to you:
Cymbals sound like a cross between Jellyfish and Ben Folds Five.
Over to you, dear reader.
Cymbals - "8am Escape Plan" (2003)
I like that. It's fun.
And I like this, too:
Cymbals - "Rally" (2003)
Cymbals - "Do You Believe In Magic?" (2003)
(*Celeste will be studying there.)
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I'm going to do something I don't usually do: I'm going to ask you to play the video first, because it's that version of the song I'm featuring today. And it's a specific aspect of the performance in the video that I want you to experience.
I've chosen today's track specifically for the drumming, which is provided by premier session dude Simon Phillips (who also provided the drums on the studio version). I think it's astonishing drumming, and propels the song in a way that makes it an unstoppable force of nature:
Pete Townshend - "Give Blood" (1985)
Potentially snooze-inducing sidenote: Simon Phillips came to Australia in the 80's and held a drum clinic in Adelaide (the state capital of South Australia, where I live). I must admit that I don't remember exactly when that was, so I'll have to interrupt his reminiscence to find some dates...
Found it. According to this page, Simon Phillips was in Adelaide sometime in May 1988 for a clinic tour promoting Zildjian and Tama. (Drummers know what those mysterious words "Zildjian" and "Tama" mean.)
Anyway, I went off to this drum clinic*. Simon appeared, said "howdy" to everyone (he may not have actually used the word "howdy"), sat down at his drum kit, and proceeded to play "Give Blood" (see above). In its entirety. Completely solo. And my jaw dropped – for six minutes.
It was one of the most amazing musical performances I've ever experienced. Thanks, Simon, for drumming an entire song on your own and not making it boring.
(*It was at John Reynolds Music City. I remembered where it was! Woohoo!)
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I was listening to "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" on the weekend, and a bit of it got stuck in my head – this bit:
Meat Loaf - "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" (1977) (excerpt)
As I kept singing that bit to myself over and over again, it dawned on me that I've heard that tune somewhere before...
Rick Nelson - "Garden Party" (1972) (excerpt)
I hope you don't have any trouble hearing the similarity. The two songs make it pretty helpful by being both in the same key.
Now, ever since the weekend I find those parts of the songs interchangeable, and I can sing either lyrics in either song. Easy.
Meat Loaf - "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" (1977)
Rick Nelson - "Garden Party" (1972)
Today's post features yet another band from Perth.
(I already pestered you with Perth bands on Tuesday and Sunday. I think I might call this week's posts Attack Of The Perth Bands).
Here's Anodyne 500:
Anodyne 500 - "Temporarily Yours" (1998)
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Ah, the joys of op shops...
I was in an op shop the other day (I think they're called "thrift shops" in America and "junk* shops" in England – shops that aid charities by selling secondhand goods ultra-cheaply), and made a beeline straight for the books and CDs (as I always do). I was extremely pleased to find a Taxiride CD there for $2. I'd heard very little of Taxiride – only a couple of radio hits – but I remembered that one of the power pop blogs I visit regularly speaks highly of them from time to time. (I've forgotten which blog it is.) So I handed over a $2 coin (we have those in Australia), and I'm now the owner of Taxiride's 2002 album, Garage Mahal.
Now that I've heard an entire Taxiride album, I must admit that I'm underwhelmed. It's very slick modern rock, and seems as if it was designed specifically to be played on commercial radio. That in itself is not bad thing as far as I'm concerned, but the album doesn't sound terribly unique to me. It sounds like it could have been recorded by any number of other bands that sound like Taxiride. I didn't get the sense of "Oh yeah, that's Taxiride alright – it couldn't be anyone else."
Anyway, here's one of the songs from the album:
Taxiride - "Afraid To Fly" (2002)
And here's another track from the album. You might like it more than I did:
Taxiride - "Saffron" (2002)
Incidentally, Garage Mahal contains "Creepin' Up Slowly", the biggest hit the band ever had – it was a Top Ten hit in Australia (it got to number six):
Taxiride - "Creepin' Up Slowly" (2002)
Trivia time: Garage Mahal was produced by Jack Joseph Puig, the chap who engineered and co-produced Jellyfish's two albums, Bellybutton and Spilt Milk. Yes indeed.
Taxiride official website
Taxiride on MySpace
(*I hope they're not called junk shops in England, because I reckon most of the stuff sold in these shops are not junk at all.)
Monday, August 22, 2011
A few days ago, Living In The 70's, the 1974 debut album by Skyhooks, was inducted into Australia's National Film & Sound Archive for posterity, as it was deemed culturally important – or, as they put it: "...to immortalise iconic sound recordings that form a part of our history."
The album is now a museum piece.
I'm happy to visit a museum with this in it:
Skyhooks - "Whatever Happened To The Revolution?" (1974)
You can hear more about the album's entry into perpetuity on this ABC News page. It mentions that six out of the album's 10 songs were banned from radio airplay when it was released. Here's one of the banned songs:
Skyhooks - "You Just Like Me 'Cos I'm Good In Bed" (1974)
Incidentally, The Seekers' "I'll Never Find Another You" was also inducted into the Archive – and that's more than alright by me.
Skyhooks official website
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Sometimes it's just the phrasing in a song that makes you go "Hey, that sounds like..."
Here's the chain of events:
1. I was over at the Power Pop Criminals blog (Hi, Angelo!), and downloaded the latest in the blog's series of power pop cover version compilations, Tributes Or Not Tributes. (Thanks, Angelo!)
2. I was listening to the compilation, and enjoying most of it (some of those cover versions were... um, ah, um, well, er... let's just say I'd rather not hear them again).
3. One of the songs on it was "Still I'm Sad". I'd never heard the song before, and was amazed when I heard the opening phrase. I didn't know if its similarity to another song was that noticeable in the original version by The Yardbirds, so I found it and had a listen to that as well. Yep, that phrasing was just as noticeable. The cover did it instrumentally, but The Yardbirds did it vocally, Gregorian Chant-style. (Why???) Either way, its similarity to another piece of music was glaringly obvious to my ears. This is the bit:
The Yardbirds - "Still I'm Sad" (1965) (excerpt)
4. I was amazed at how much it reminded me of this:
The Tokens - "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (1961) (excerpt)
And that's the chain of events.
Yep, sometimes it's just the phrasing in a song that gets one part of your brain talking to another.
Here are the full versions:
The Yardbirds - "Still I'm Sad" (1965)
The Tokens - "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (1961)
And in case you're interested, here's the cover of "Still I'm Sad" that sparked this post:
The Jigsaw Seen - "Still I'm Sad" (2002)
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Here's a song requested by junior camper Natalie (Hi, Natalie!) who says it's her favourite song – ever!:
Right Said Fred - "I'm Too Sexy" (1991)
Up until I had a look at the year that song was released, I'd always thought that was an 80's song. (Well, maybe I can look at it as an 80's song released in the 90's. Or maybe I can call it an honorary 80's song.)
I must admit that at the time I preferred their follow-up single:
Right Said Fred - "Deeply Dippy" (1992)
Friday, August 19, 2011
Like yesterday (and the day before that), today's post will yet again feature the musings of the 20-year-old jetsetter of the household. (Hi, Celeste!)
Celeste has grown a little tired of the Japanese and Korean pop music she's been listening to, and has decided to delve into 1970s pop (or as Celeste put it: "I feel like listening to 70s pop. What do you recommend?"). It probably started last week when Celeste heard 10cc's "The Things We Do For Love" on the radio. She – like me a few decades ago – fell for the melodies, the harmonies, the variety within the song, and basically the overall loveliness of it all. Now, because Celeste wasn't especially familiar with 10cc I thought I'd play her a few of their songs to see what she thought of the band overall. I played "The Things We Do For Love" first, mainly because I wanted to hear it again. Because that song is on the band's fifth album, Deceptive Bends, I played Celeste a couple of other songs from it. I then played her a couple of songs from their second album, Sheet Music. I thought at the time that might be enough. But then I remembered some other 10cc songs that I love, and played those to Celeste, too. And then I remember some more, and played those as well.
Unfortunately for Celeste, after each track I thought to myself "Right, that'll be the last one" but as soon as it finished I wanted to play Celeste just one more. This lasted an hour. I was glad that Celeste didn't mind. The exceedingly perceptive 20-year-old said that she thoroughly enjoyed what she heard, and asked for those 10cc albums to go on her MP3 player. And after I'd played all those 10cc songs, Celeste said the words that music nerds love to hear: "What else do you recommend?"...
Celeste's MP3 player is now full of 70's pop.
Although "The Things We Do For Love" was suggested for the blog, I thought that might be a bit too 'soft', even though I love the song and would love everyone to hear it. Instead, I decided to go with something a little beefier from Deceptive Bends.
Here now is a song that isn't "The Things We Do For Love":
10cc - "You've Got A Cold" (1977)
As a bonus, here's Celeste's original request anyway (it's only fair):
10cc - "The Things We Do For Love" (1977)
Incidentally, the other young'un in the household, 15-year-old Natalie (Hi, Natalie!), requests songs for the blog from time to time, but the ones Natalie tends to ask for are by people such as Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus et al – i.e., Disney pop moppets. Unfortunately for Natalie, I don't like any of those songs by the pop moppets, and I really don't want to inflict 'em on you. However, Natalie did request a song that I didn't go "Eeewwww" when she suggested it. It's not power pop in the slightest (or even Australian), but it's a fun song from the 80's and I'll make it tomorrow's song. Brace yourself...
Thursday, August 18, 2011
And another Celeste-oriented post. (Which is fine by me, because Celeste will be leaving next month to study in Japan for 10 months, so I'm keen to spend as much time with her as possible before she goes – even time on a blog.)
When I played to Celeste a recent musical coincidence involving Cheap Trick's "The Flame", I happened to mention that I thought "The Flame" was a dreadful Cheap Trick song. Celeste responded with "Well, you should play one of their good ones on the blog."
Thanks for the suggestion, Celeste.
Here's what I think is a good Cheap Trick song:
Cheap Trick - "On Top Of The World" (1978)
For me there are plenty, but that was the first one that popped into my head.
As for that other song, I suppose in the interests of fairness that I remind you what it sounds like:
Cheap Trick - "The Flame" (1988)
PS: Celeste's MP3 player now has a fair bit of Cheap Trick on it.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I'm afraid that today's song has a bit of a back-story to it. I'll try not to take too long telling it...
Yesterday's song was "Only If You Wanna" by Perth band Team Jedi. When I played it to 20-year-old daughter Celeste (Hi, Celeste!), lover of all things J-Rock (i.e., Japanese pop and rock music), she said "That sounds like Plastic Tree." Thankfully, I knew what she was talking about.
Plastic Tree is a Japanese rock band. Musically, they're a moody bunch – probably because they idolise The Cure. However, Plastic Tree's songs don't actually sound much like The Cure. It's more a vibe thing. Plastic Tree have a sort of Cure sensibility. They have large unkempt hair and act all mopey when they're on stage. The singer has a lost puppy look (helped by his habit of wearing oversized cardigans and staring downward, appearing forlorn). I dare say this would drive his young female fans wild, as they dream of giving him a big hug and telling him that everything will be alright.
Anyway, I've heard quite a few Plastic Tree tracks (thanks, Celeste!) and enjoy most of them, but there's one in particular I like a lot. It's slow and moody, and the song features some extra moody drum work, specifically on the tom-toms. Whenever I think about Plastic Tree, the first track I want to hear again is the one with all the tom-toms in it. I can never remember the name of the song, so I just call it "The Tom-Tom Song."
When Celeste mentioned that yesterday's song sounded like Plastic Tree, my instant response was: "Hey Celeste, what's that tom-tom song of theirs? I really want to hear it again."
And here's The Tom-Tom Song:
Plastic Tree - "Kuuchuu Buranko" (2006)
Plastic Tree official website
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
I know approximately six things about today's song:
1) What it's called ("Only If You Wanna")
2) Who it's by (Team Jedi)
3) Where the band's from (Perth)
4) When it was released (2002)
5) How long it is (3:26)
6) I like it
Team Jedi - "Only If You Wanna" (2002)
By the way, I played today's song to the 20-year-old in the household (Hi, Celeste!), and her comment prompted tomorrow's song. Stay tuned, folks...
Monday, August 15, 2011
I don't know if I've told you this before (I probably haven't, because my memory's dreadful), but I love Boogie Woogie – love it with a passion. I find Boogie Woogie utterly irresistible. This is one reason why:
Albert Ammons - "Boogie Woogie Stomp" (2007)
Oh man. I gotta play that again.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
I must admit that I'm a wee bit shocked that nobody had noticed this coincidence until now. (Well, nobody on the Internet...)
Yesterday I was enjoying Steve Simels' (Hi, Steve!) post over at the PowerPop blog. One of the songs in Steve's List Of Six Songs You'd Like To See Covered More Often was Spirit's "Nature's Way". A part of it goes like this:
Spirit - "Nature's Way" (1970) (excerpt)
To me, that's unbelievably reminiscent of:
Cheap Trick - "The Flame" (1988) (excerpt)
Why hadn't anybody noticed that before?
Here are the full versions:
Spirit - "Nature's Way" (1970)
Cheap Trick - "The Flame" (1988)
Golly. Even the start of both songs is very similar.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Apart from the groovy tunes, the two main reasons I've posted today's video by New Zealand girl duo The Chicks are:
1. The girls' outfits. They're Space Girls.
2. The guitars. Those are some of the most bizarre guitars I've ever seen. And I love 'em.
The Chicks - "You Won't Forget Me" (1967)
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find an MP3 of the song.
I must thank internetter Nathan for unknowingly alerting me to The Chicks' existence. (Nathan posted a request for songs by The Chicks on a music newsgroup.) Thanks, Nathan, whoever* and wherever you are!
Update: My friend Stonefish (Hi, Stonefruit!) has supplied an MP3 of the song. Believe it or not, Stonemason got it from the elusive and mysterious Nathan. Thanks, Nathan! Thanks, Stonecrafty!
The Chicks - "You Won't Forget Me" (1967)
(*Or is that "whomever"? English. Grrr.)
Friday, August 12, 2011
After I played the James Gang's "Midnight Man" last week, commenter FD13NYC (Hi, FD!) mentioned how much he liked Joe Walsh, the band's leader (i.e., the James Gangleader, ho ho). FD's musings prompted me to present you with today's song, "Life's Been Good".
I've provided you with both the album version – all 8:56 of it – and the radio edit which is a slightly more manageable 4:41 in case you can't stomach the thought of 9 continuous minutes of Joe Walsh. The choice is yours...
Joe Walsh - "Life's Been Good" (1978) (album version)
Joe Walsh - "Life's Been Good" (1978) (radio edit)
Joe Walsh official website
Thursday, August 11, 2011
The ever-productive Scott Thurling, owner of Popboomerang Records, has produced another Popboomerang compilation. It's called Making A Big Sound! #2, and young Mr. Thurling has rather generously made the entire thing a free download. (Yay!)
Here's a track from it:
Celadore - "Kinks In Armour" (2011)
OK. Now that you've heard the song, what are you waiting for?
Celadore official website
Celadore on MySpace
Celadore on Facebook
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Here's Brisbane band Regurgitator with the first track from SuperHappyFuntimesFriends, an album they released five days ago:
Regurgitator - One Day (2011)
As a bonus, here's another song from the album. I chose this one because I think it's a pretty funny rip-off of The Church:
Regurgitator - "Into the Night" (2011)
Or maybe they're ripping off The Cure. I'm not sure which.
Regurgitator official website
Regurgitator at Bandcamp
Regurgitator on MySpace
Regurgitator on Facebook
Regurgitator on YouTube
Regurgitator on Twitter
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Yesterday I mentioned how I wake up every morning with a random song in my head, and then proceeded to play you the song I heard in me noggin' last Wednesday.
On Thursday it was a piece of classical music. I thought you might not be terribly interested in that, so I've refrained from posting it here.
But this is what I woke up hearing on Friday:
Ocean Grove - "So Cool" (2011)
Ocean Grove are an American band that I mentioned on the blog last month, so I guess that'd be why one of their songs is still hanging around in my head.
Ocean Grove official website
Ocean Grove on MySpace
Ocean Grove on Facebook
Ocean Grove on Twitter
Monday, August 8, 2011
Today's song is the result of yet another instance in a series I like to call: "Ah, the mysteries of the human mind..."
I don't know about you, but I wake up pretty much every morning with a song in my head. It's a different song every time, and I'm very glad about that. (I'd hate it to be the same song every day.) I don't know why I wake up with a song in my head – other than that I'm utterly besotted with music, can't get enough of it, and think about it a lot – because I don't listen to the radio (unless I'm out and about in an automobile), and I don't listen to the clock radio by the bed before I go to sleep. I don't even listen to it in the morning. Ah, the mysteries of the human mind.
This was what I had in my head when I woke up last Wednesday morning:
Ozark Mountain Daredevils - "Jackie Blue" (1975)
And I have no idea why.
That album cover hurts my eyes.
Ozark Mountain Daredevils official website