Saturday, December 31, 2011
Here's a boppy little ditty from The Turnback that's entirely appropriate for today:
The Turnback - "I've Been Good This Year" (2011)
See you next year!
Buy Drawn In Chalk at Amazon.com
Buy Drawn In Chalk at Digstation
Buy Drawn In Chalk at iTunes
Buy Drawn In Chalk at CD Baby
The movie Drawing With Chalk official website
Buy the movie Drawing With Chalk
The Turnback official website
The Turnback on Facebook
The Turnback YouTube channel
Friday, December 30, 2011
I'm fully aware that I pestered you very recently about my brother's new band (Hi, Anthony!), but they have a new video for one of the songs on their new album, so I thought I'd sneak in one more Sun Theory song before the end of the year:
Sun Theory - "Paint To Water" (2011)
Sun Theory on Bandcamp
Sun Theory on Facebook
Sun Theory on MySpace
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Here's another song from the Wiggles tribute album I mentioned yesterday. This one is nice 'n' powerpoppy:
Sons Of Rico - "Shaky Shaky" (2011)
And the original:
The Wiggles - "Shaky Shaky" (1994)
The Wiggles - Shaky Shaky by dcelano
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
For some reason I can't figure out, somebody somewhere decided to make a tribute album to The Wiggles. Yes, The Wiggles. A number of Australian musicians (20 to be precise) contributed their versions of Wiggles songs to the project, and the result was released last month. I'm still slightly mystified as to why somebody would think of compiling a Wiggles tribute album. Despite a few tracks that I'd quite cheerfully put on the what-were-they-thinking pile, it's a lot o' fun. I really like this one:
Washington - "The Monkey Dance" (2011)
And here's the original:
The Wiggles - "The Monkey Dance" (1994)
The Wiggles - The Monkey Dance by dcelano
And the original original:
The Cockroaches - "Do The Monkey" (1994)
This is the second time The Beatles' "I Feel Fine" has been mentioned in a Musical coincidence on this blog. The last time it was mentioned, it involved five songs.
Now we can make that six. And it's thanks to the astute wife of commenter J. Loslo (Hi, unnamed partner of J. Loslo!) over at the PowerPop blog. On the blog, my non-Australian friend Steve (Hi, Steve!) had posted the backing track of "I Feel Fine" and related the dubious tale of Bernard Purdie who claimed to have played the drums on the song.
I don't know why Bernard Purdie would make such a claim, because as far as I'm concerned he had no need to pretend to be Ringo Starr, as he's been pretty much immortalised for his session work over the years with virtually everyone associated with funk and R&B.
I became a fan of Bernard when I saw him explain his "Purdie Shuffle" on the Classic Albums episode featuring Steely Dan's Aja (still my favourite episode of that sterling series). In this clip, Bernard describes how fabulous he is (as someone once said: "If you can do it, it ain't braggin'"). Also in this clip, Donald Fagen mentions the signs that Bernard displayed in the studio when he was hired for recording sessions. It made me laugh out loud:
Now, that's confidence.
And I'm still a fan, despite Bernard's assertions. What a drummer.
Now, back to today's coincidence involving "I Feel Fine". (Sorry about sidetracking you there.)
J. Loslo's comment was this:
"For what it's worth, I started playing the backing track & my wife commented that it reminded her of "Buckaroo," the Buck Owens instrumental that came out the year after "I Feel Fine." I knew The Beatles were influenced by Buck Owens, but maybe it went both ways."
I don't know the name of J. Loslo's wife, so for the purposes of this post I'll call her Clytemnestra.
Being a curious fellow, I hunted down "Buckaroo" and had a listen.
I think that Cytemnestra is completely correct about the resemblance:
The Beatles - "I Feel Fine" (1964) (backing track)
(No link because I pinched it from Steve's blog. Thanks, Steve!)
Buck Owens - "Buckaroo" (1965)
The Beatles - "I Feel Fine" (1964)
Thanks to Clytemnestra and J. Loslo* for letting people know about the Beatles/Buck coincidence.
(*When I see the name "J. Loslo", I keep wanting to burst into song, sung to the tune of Barry Manilow's "Copacabana": "His name was Loslo, he came from Oslo...")
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
A lovely lady by the name of Sarah (Hi, Sarah!) emailed me to let me know that she's in a band with her sister Stephanie, and the band's called Deer Park Avenue.
Sarah pointed me in the direction of what they've recorded. The Music page on their website has two media player thingies (one from Bandcamp and one from ReverbNation). I'll put 'em both here and then add some impertinent comments that you're free to ignore in case you just want to listen to the songs without the distraction of a rambling Australian blogger.
Incidentally, the two media players have different track listings. I'll concentrate on the Bandcamp one, and when that's finished I'll switch to the ReverbNation one (it has some songs that aren't in the Bandcamp one).
Overall, I thought the songs were fine. The band describes itself as "rock/powerpop/alternative". I'd disagree with two of those terms. First of all, it doesn't sound "alternative" to me at all. I can imagine any of these songs being played on the radio with no trouble at all. And I'd disagree with the term "powerpop". I hear the power, but I don't hear much "pop". I found the songs to be mostly minor-key moody things. I know there are plenty of minor-key power pop songs out there in Power Pop Land, but they're usually full of ultra-catchy, poppy tunes. To me, the songs I heard do have tunes, but they're rock-song tunes. And I think that I'm probably being terribly picky. Maybe I'm way off beam here, and it's just a matter of semantics. Depending on who you talk to, this may very well be power pop. I just don't hear it as power pop. I hear it as rock. Sorry, Sarah and Stephanie, for gettin' picky.
Right, on to the songs...
1. "Hey Maria"
The song's melodies and structure are a little too non-unique for my liking (I'm trying not to use the word "generic" here). But one thing I do find unusual about the recording is the sound of the snare drum. It's refreshingly different to the snare drum sounds you hear on virtually all modern rock songs. (They're usually cavernous, or explosive – or both.) The snare here hass a nice dry, small-room sound, and I like it. Viva la différence!
Unhelpful criticism (considering you've already recorded the song): at 1:52 (the phrase "...and yet the brightest smile..."), the background harmony singing sounded flat to me. I thought it a little odd, because the harmony singing is fine (i.e. it's in tune) everywhere else in the song.
2. "Darkness Hides Me"
At the start of this brooding ditty there's an acoustic guitar that, when it changes chords (from E minor to C major), produces a wonderfully loud squeak. (Ah, those pesky steel strings.) I liked it enormously, because it reminded me of an anecdote I once read in Guitar Player magazine about the world-renowned classical guitarist Andrés Segovia. (This will only be funny to guitarists.) Studio guitarist Tommy Tedesco talked about how he was recording a session for a TV show in the 1970s. The session called for a classical acoustic guitar. As Tommy was playing, some of his finger movements caused a little squeaking. The producer was thoroughly annoyed, saying things like "Can't you get rid of those squeaks?" Tommy replied by saying that even Segovia produced squeaks. "Yeah," said the producer, "and that's why we don't hire him!" I enjoyed the squeaks in "Darkness Hides Me" because musicians usually do their darnedest to eliminate string squeaks from recordings. Say it loud, say it proud: "Squeak!" By the way, I liked the drumming in this song. Nice brush work.
I like the moody drumming in this one.
4. "Waiting For You"
Oops. I wasn't paying attention to this song. (I was on the Internet whilst listening to these songs. Boy, the Internet can be distracting.) I don't remember what it sounded like. Ah well. I'll pay attention to it the second and third time around.
Update: I've listened to it again, and I like it – especially the chorus.
5. "Say Goodbye"
A Big Ballad. I'm not much of a fan of Big Ballads, but I thought this was OK. I liked the hand claps.
6. "A Long Way Down"
Another slow one. Nice background vocals. I can't think of much else to say about this one because it's dangerously close to a Big Ballad. (See above about Big Ballads.) However, in its favour I will say that the vocals are earnest. (Weak Joke Alert: And we all know The Importance Of Being Earnest.) However, I wasn't especially keen on the pointlessly low C bass note at 3:32, playing an octave lower than every other bass note nearby. But I did like the background vocals.
7. "Over Again"
Now this is more like it. Those guitar sounds: yummy. The drum beat: mighty fine. The avalanche of extra guitars in the chorus: extra yummy. Those guitar sounds are fabulous. Unless I like one of the other songs more, I think this'll be the Song of the day.
Update: Yep. This is the Song of the day. I've listened to it about six times now, and I can't stay away from those guitars.
Update II: I mentioned to Sarah and Stephanie that "Over Again" has become my favourite of all the Deer Park Avenue tracks I heard, and they graciously sent me the MP3 of it to share. Thanks, Sarephanie!
Deer Park Avenue - "Over Again" (2011)
8. "Rescue Me"
Excellent: a musical coincidence. Please compare the start of this song to the start of a well-known John Lennon song. "Rescue Me" sounds more to me like a country-ish song. I can imagine a country-pop singer recording this. All they need to do is add a lap steel, and maybe a dobro or two. Yep, I can imagine this as a country-pop song.
7 (in the ReverbNation player). "Everywhere"
I liked this, but I noticed that it started in the key of D major. I'm only mentioning this because I heard it in the ReverbNation player, and the previous song in that player ("Rescue Me") was also in the key of D major. I remember that a producer (I've forgotten who) once advised a band who were about to make an album that one of the golden rules of album track sequencing is that you never have two songs in a row in the same key. Deer Park Avenue: Rule Breakers! But back to the song. I like it. And it's vying for the position of Song of the day. A couple more listens and I'll hopefully be able decide. (Update: I decided. See above.)
8 (in the ReverbNation player). "You Live"
This is one of those not-quite-a-ballad, slow-ish songs that's played at a tempo that always – and I mean always – reminds me of Coldplay's "Yellow". Unfortunately, that's not something I like to be reminded of every time I hear a slowish rock song. Apart from that unfortunate association, I don't mind "You Live". I didn't love it, but I didn't go "grrr" while it was playing. It does contain a few vocal mannerisms that unfailingly irritate me (the little groans and breathiness that modern pop/rock singers indulge in), but for me it was tolerable. There were some weird 'blk-blk' sounds in between the second chorus and the middle 8 (I think it was a guitar – maybe) that took a bit of getting used to. But I liked the jangly guitar at the end of the song when the vocals finished.
And that's what I thought of Deep Park Avenue's music. You're more than welcome to disagree.
Thanks, Sarah, for letting me know about Deer Park Avenue.
Deer Park Avenue official website
Deer Park Avenue on Facebook
Deer Park Avenue on Twitter
Deer Park Avenue on ReverbNation
Monday, December 26, 2011
Here in the Southern Hemisphere it's Boxing Day. Depending on your Hemisphere, you may still be unwrapping presents where you are.
Be that as it may, because it's Boxing Day I thought I'd play you something in my music collection related to the day. I looked for something that refers to boxing (the "beautiful box full of lovely things" kind of boxing, not the "punching people in the groin" variety), or gifts, or presents, that kind of thing.
I couldn't find anything that was power-poppy, or even poppy, so I settled on a piece of classical music. I think this is eminently suitable (apart from it not being power pop):
Aaron Copland - Appalachian Spring (orchestral suite) - VI: Doppio movimento: Variations on a Shaker Hymn ("Simple Gifts")
[Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta]
If you're game enough, here's the whole thing:
Aaron Copland - Appalachian Spring (orchestral suite)
[Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta]
Trivia of interest to no-one but me: For years, Appalachian Spring was my favourite piece of classical music.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
I'm currently listening to Atlantic Rhythm And Blues 1947-1974. It's an 8-CD, 203-song, 10-hour behemoth of a set, and I'm having a ball listening to so many songs I haven't heard before. Up until now, I was only familiar with those Atlantic songs that are regularly played on the radio or end up on compilation CDs. (Either way, it tends to be the same 10 or 20 songs.) In other words, I've never been a connoisseur of R&B from the Atlantic label (or R&B from any label for that matter).
As I'm listening to the songs (I started last week, and I've nearly finished), I'm amazed by how consistently great they are (but you probably knew that already), especially in the performances. What singing!
Anyway, one of the songs on the compilation is almost entirely appropriate for this time of the year.
Take it away, chaps:
Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters - "White Christmas" (1954)
I mentioned earlier that the song was almost appropriate. The Christmas part is right, but here in Australia it's the height of summer, so I'm afraid there won't be too much snow* around these parts during the festivities.
(*I've calculated it to be approximately zero.)
The riff that opens Seals & Crofts' "Summer Breeze" sure is popular. I mentioned in a previous Musical coincidence that something very similar to it appeared in a Hollies song ("Touch") released in the same year (1972), but I've just discovered it in another song, this time a more recent one, by an Australian band.
First, a recap. Here's that Seals & Crofts tune:
Seals & Crofts - "Summer Breeze" (1972) (opening tune)
And now for the Australian song:
The Whitlams - "I Make Hamburgers" (1995) (excerpt)
Here are the full versions:
Seals & Crofts - "Summer Breeze" (1972)
The Whitlams - "I Make Hamburgers" (1995) (excerpt)
Thursday, December 22, 2011
My favourite active* band of the 21st century, Field Music, are about to release their next album, Plumb. (Note to self: That's poor grammar, Peter. They're not about to release their previous album, are they?)
As far as I'm concerned, Field Music releasing a new album is cause for shouts of "Huzzah!" and general rejoicing across the land. I'm terribly excited.
The reason I'm mentioning all of this is that although the album is scheduled for release in, er, February (grrr), the band is promoting one of its tracks now.
So for your elucidation, felicitation, emancipation etc, here's a song from the released-in-February-but-that's-too-far-away-I-want-it-now Plumb:
Field Music - "(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing" (2011)
By the way, someone left a comment on YouTube saying that "(I Keep Thinking..." sounded a lot like "AEIOU" by The Necessaries. After listening to "AEIOU", I'd be inclined to agree...
Field Music official website
Field Music on MySpace
(*My favourite band that made music this century is Sugarbomb. In 2001 they released Bully, my favourite album of the last 10 years, but the band split up shortly after, never to be heard from again. Field Music, on the other hand, keep making music. So it's more accurate for me to say that Field Music are my favourite active band of the 21st century. And it's just occurred to me that you didn't need to read any of this paragraph. Sorry about that.)
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I'll try not to make today's post a long one (you've read more than enough of those here already), but I have a couple of things I want to mention before I get to the song. (Note to self: it's more than a couple, Peter.) But hopefully it won't take too long.
Today's song is by The Feeling, an English band that – in England, at least – is apparently loved and reviled in equal proportions. In 2006 they were the darlings of English radio, because radio programmers were bowled over by a band that apparently travelled back in time to when songs were full of melody. Consequently, radio programmers played them repeatedly. (I think in radio-speak it's called "high rotation".) As a result of this bombardment, the English radio listening population became polarised. People had very definite opinions about the music, one way or the another. ("They're fantastic!"/"They're utter shite!")
When I heard The Feeling, I immediately fell into the "They're fantastic!" camp.
Before we actually get to today's song ("Yes please", I hear you say impatiently), I'll just let you know about the album the song appears on. The album is called Twelve Stops And Home. It was The Feeling's debut album, and is effortlessly recommendable. I find it incredibly easy to recommend because if you're a power pop fan and you haven't heard it, there's an extremely high chance you're going to like it. Extremely high. However, before you race off to buy it I must issue a warning: Twelve Stops And Home was released in the UK in 2006 and in the US in 2007. The US version is dreadful because the track listing was changed – and not for the better. It puts all the softer songs at the start and the rockier songs towards the end of the album. I bought both versions (I love this album), and was mightily disappointed when I heard the US one, with its complete mangling of the track listing. The original UK version is the one to get, as it has the songs in (what sounds to me like) the right order.
Here, finally, is today's song:
The Feeling - "I Want You Now" (2006)
Incidentally (and this is very trivial), Twelve Stops From Home was released on a label called Universal Island. My guess is that Island Records was bought by Universal Records, but the combined name confuses me no end. A universal island? How can an island be universal? That phrase messes with my mind. Or, as Cockneys might say: "It duz me ed in."
Yesterday's coincidence involved 70's glam kings Sweet. I'm pleased to say that today's coincidence also involves Sweet, although it's not musical this time – today it's purely about the song titles:
Sweet - "I Wanna Be Committed" (1974)
Ramones - "I Wanna Be Sedated" (1978)
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Just in time for Christmas (or maybe it's late from last Christmas), here are Australia's globe-trotting power poppers The Wellingtons with a Yuletide ditty for y'all:
The Wellingtons - "A Christmas Toast" (2011)
More Christmas toast:
Not Christmas toast, but it does involve toast (and a stoat):
As a bonus, here are The Wellingtons teaming up with Japanese techno duo Paraele Stripes for a dance-floor version of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer":
The Wellingtons (with Paraele Stripes) - "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" (2011)
The Wellingtons official Australian website
The Wellingtons official UK website
The Wellingtons on Facebook
The Wellingtons on MySpace
The Wellingtons on Twitter
The Wellingtons on Lojinx
The Wellingtons at Bandcamp
The Wellingtons on YouTube
Paraele Stripes official website
Paraele Stripes on MySpace
Admittedly, this is a tiny coincidence – but it gives me an excuse to play you a Sweet song.
Tally Hall - "Turn The Lights Off" (2011) (excerpt)
Sweet - "Action" (1975) (excerpt)
And here the full versions:
Tally Hall - "Turn The Lights Off" (2011)
Sweet - "Action" (1975)
Monday, December 19, 2011
I watch an Australian TV rock music quiz show called RocKwiz. It's shown every Saturday night, and I love it.
At the end of each episode the two musician guests perform a duet. The most recent episode (last Saturday night) had Australian musicians Amy Findlay and Nick Barker who performed "Itchycoo Park". I liked how their version stripped it back to the essentials (i.e., no psychedelic baggage), leaving you to focus on the melodies and song structure. As a result, I liked the song more than I have in years:
(Incidentally, there's a bit of chat by the host before the song starts, but I left that in the video because I liked the joke.)
(Also incidentally, if you press "play" and the video looks all green and weird, just stop it and start it again. That fixes the problem – and I have no idea why. And I recommend choosing the 480p video setting. Unfortunately, the default is 360p.)
And the original:
Small Faces - "Itchycoo Park" (1967)
The full RocKwiz episode:
A few days ago, fellow blogger Powerpopulist (Hi, big P!) posted a song by The Resonars called "She Did". There's a bit in it that reminded me of something very well known. In the Resonars' song it's the accented phrase at the end of the bar where the backing vocals sing "yeah yeah". You can hear it at the end of this excerpt:
The Resonars - "She Did" (2008) (excerpt)
That reminds me of the accented bit in The Hollies' "Look Through Any Window" where they sing "the highways and the byways":
The Hollies - "Look Through Any Window" (1965) (excerpt)
Here are the full versions:
The Resonars - "She Did" (2008)
The Hollies - "Look Through Any Window" (1965)
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
I received an email from a Finnish gentleman by the name of Esa Linna (Hi, Esa!), and it began with:
"Hello! This one's for Peter's Power Pop!"
I like that enthusiasm.
Esa mentioned his new song, "She's Not A Human Being":
Roger Joseph Manning Jr. featuring in Finnish artist Esa Linna's just released solo single and upcoming debut album
Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (of The Jellyfish, Moog Cookbook, TV Eyes, Imperial Drag) sings backing vocals and plays keyboards in debut album and debut single "She's Not a Human Being" by Esa Linna, from Finland.
"She's Not A Human Being" is a straight-forward powerpop song, like a combination of The Buzzcocks and The Beatles. The single is released as digital download, and in CD format next year.
The song is mastered by Ty Tabor of King's X.
I had a listen to the song, and I'm glad I did. For the record (ho ho), I think it's a cute song. Thanks, Esa!
Esa Linna featuring Roger Joseph Manning Jr. - "She's Not A Human Being" (2011)
If you have an aversion to Soundcloud, you can also hear the song on YouTube or on iTunes.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Calling all Jellyfish fans, calling all XTC fans, calling all Queen fans, and calling all fans of Psychedelic Baroque Power Pop (that's a style of music, not a band name):
Your ship has come in.
The splendidly splendid Australian band, Skeleton Staff, has released its second album, Psychomorphism – and I like it.
(Sorry about the "I like it" bit at the end of that sentence. I know that has nothing to do how you might feel about the album, but it's something I just blurted out. I'll try not to be so rash and hasty from now on. I'll try not to be, er, rashty.)
If you want to know what the album sounds like, it sounds like this:
Skeleton Staff - Psychomorphism (2011)
Admittedly, that's only five seconds of the album. And admittedly it's all of the songs at the same time. (That is a bit of a mess, so maybe it wasn't such a good idea to play you all of Psychomorphism at the same time.)
How about I play you one song on its own? (Imaginary response from an imaginary reader: "That sounds reasonable to me, Peter.")
I've chosen the following track solely because it contains a decent amount of jangly 12-string guitar. I know that, for power pop fans, jangly 12-string guitars are catnip, so if any track's going to entice you to listen to the album it's gonna be this:
Skeleton Staff - "The World In 7 Days" (2011)
Before you embark on a Psychomorphism listening spree, I must issue a couple of "beware"s to help you prepare for the album.
Beware # 1: There's a lot more music in this album compared to the previous one. I don't mean that they've added more songs, I mean they've packed more music into each song. There are definitely more vocal harmonies (A Good Thing), and the instrumental backing is much more ornate.
Beware # 2: You may laugh out loud (as I did) when you hear track 8, "Turnstyle".
Now that I've heard the album a few times, I think it's grand. It's chock full of positives.
And now for a couple of negatives:
1. No lyric sheet. Grrr.
2. As with the previous album, I'm still not overly fond of a lot of the guitar sounds. (It sounds to me like the band played around with the guitar's parametric equalizer settings a little too much.) Whatever was used to manipulate the sounds of the guitar, I wouldn't mind at all if the band stopped using it.
Where was I? Oh, yeah..
Now that I hopefully have your attention, here's the whole album:
Footnote (although it was typed using hands):
Skeleton Staff's first album is called Solipsism. This new album is called Psychomorphism. I have to ask: Is someone doing a degree in psychology?
Another Footnote (well, it makes sense to have two feet):
There's a musical coincidence in track 8, "Turnstyle". I don't know if the band wants me to make it public or not, so I'll just have a quiet word to the guys here. (A quiet word: Psst, guys – was that coincidence in track 8 deliberate?)
Postscript (I didn't want another footnote):
The guitar part at the start of "The World In 7 Days" reminds me a lot of a piece of classical music, but I can't for the life of me remember what that classical piece is. Grrr*.
Post-Postscript (this is getting ridiculous):
I found two more musical coincidences in the album, one I reckon might be deliberate and the other probably accidental. I might just email the band...
Buy Psychomorphism at Bandcamp ($10 – well, what are you waiting for?)
Buy Psychomorphism CD at Skeleton Staff's website ($15 – where you waiting for the CD?)
Skeleton Staff official website
Skeleton Staff on Facebook
Skeleton Staff at Bandcamp
(*I thought it may have been one of the themes in George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue", or "An American in Paris", but I checked both of those and the tune wasn't in either of them. However, I finally realised where I'd heard that before, and it is in a piece by Gershwin, but not those. The tune also appears in a heavy metal song. I feel a Musical coincidence coming on...)
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Here's one of my most favouritest-ever live bands doing enjoyable things with an A chord:
Matt Finish - "Ganmain Brain" (1981)
Buy Matt Finish - Live At The Musician's Club 1981 at the Matt Finish Shop
Buy Matt Finish - Live At The Musician's Club 1981 on eBay
Matt Finish official website
Matt Finish on MySpace
Today's coincidence comes to you courtesy of my friend Mr. Fabulous (aka Dr. Keats), with a little addition. (I couldn't help myself.)
The astute Mr./Dr. noted the similarity between these two songs:
Fleetwood Mac - "Rhiannon" (1975)
John Stewart - "Gold" (1979)
One factor that contributes to those two songs sounding related is the fact that John Stewart employed the services of two-fifths of Fleetwood Mac (the Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham fifths) to record "Gold".
And when I listened to "Rhiannon" again, I remembered an Australian song that also messed around with the A minor chord:
Goanna - "Solid Rock" (1982)
Thanks, Mr. F, for supplying that coincidence.