Category Archives: Alternative

Psst…I’m Not Telling Everyone About “Bright Orange Air” by Inlets, But I Think You’re Cool Enough To Handle It (Note to Self: Why Am I Whispering?)

With my sleeping schedule all screwed up, I’m half watching the Olympics, half finishing up this song review that I started before my daughter was born in late January.  (Congrats to Ohno and Celski who earned silver and bronze, respectively, in short track skating.)

I wanted to come back to “Bright Orange Air” by Inlets because the song is so good.  To be released on the album, “Inter Arbiter,” on April 20 by Two Syllable Records, this track may end up being a well-kept lo-fi secret, but deserves a wider audience.

Here’s the video (released March 15, 2010 on Pitchfork).

Inlets' Sebastian Krueger

The Inlets music I have heard is so personal, it feels almost private…like the listener is poking in on an intimate concert for a few special friends.

Well, I’m here to tell you, go ahead and intrude, it’s worth it.

Why not give the song a listen, and we’ll talk about it afterword.

Listen to the song here

According to the Inlets press kit, “Bright Orange Air” is an ode to the psychotropic effects of municipal lighting. Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics.

Leading by a thumb
It’s still a branch of knots
That snagged into your hair
But you forgot where
Easy to get
Pressed into your photo books
It’s the way I’ll hold the face
Until the camera drops

Chorus

“Bright Orange Air
It’s the people’s lines below
I can read at night
In the outdoor light
And I’m waving, oh”

Like I said, this music is pretty personal. The songwriter may be the only person who completely understands the lyrics…but so be it. Supported by beefy guitar picking, Inlets leader Sebastian Krueger’s distinct vocals expertly straddle inspiration and angst. Through lovingly placed harmonies and a nice Brazilian-sounding groove placed here and there, the track takes me to a different world and makes me feel lucky to be there.

For more details about the upcoming Inlets album, check out this article from Stereogum, where the song originally debuted.

As an added bonus, here’s an Inlets video of the song, “Roots on Sidewalks,” which will give you a great feel for the intimate nature of Inlets’ music.

Inlets’ web sites include the following:

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A Proposal to Have Chazz Michael Michaels Star in a “Let’s Write a Book” Video by Field Music

Here’s the video to “Let’s Write a Book” released on May 11, 2010.

Not that the guys in British alt. pop group Field Music should listen to me, but here’s an idea for a Field Music video that’s sure to make the kids say “that’s beast!”

On Jan. 12, 2010, the group released the single, “Let’s Write a Book,” from the upcoming double-album, “Field Music (Measure).”

For me, the track evokes images of Prince writhing in funky purple accompanied by a leather-clad Terminator bodyguard (1984 vintage), while David “Burning Down the House” Byrne jumps up and down on stage. Add to the party what sounds like the Blue Man Group banging on those weird tubes, and you have a pretty good idea of how this song feels. It feels good…

Listen to Lets Write a Book Here

Brothers and co-front men David and Peter Brewis of Field Music

With that said, who could encompass all of the above to star in an epic music video for the song? With his ‘80s-big-hair-macho, my vote would be for Chazz Michael Michaels, co-lead character in the 2007 movie, “Blades of Glory.”

Here’s how this whole video thing could go down:

Verse 1
“Let’s not apologise
Let’s not assume blame
And if there’s a whisper of dissent
Send it to the library”

In a sleeveless shirt, terrycloth headband and red leather pants and boots, Chazz struts down an aisle of books at the library. He winks at a sexy librarian, and then spins to look into the camera with his index finger over his lips (shhhhhhhhh!)

During the ensuing xylophone barrage, we see Chazz pop-locking and doing the robot at the book return desk.

Verse 2
“Oh honey, dearest
We’re all panicking now
I’m minded to take it away
Oh honey, darling
Can we learn to take what’s coming?
Resounding with take, take, take, take”

Chazz raids the kids’ section of the library, taking books from children and shaking his head at them while they cry.

Verse 3
“Let’s write a book
Let’s paint the walls
And if that makes us forget where we are
We’ll always be somewhere else”

Chazz, Michelle Kwan and Oksana Baiul read the book, “The Complete Book of Figure Skating,” together, and then Michelle and Oksana spank Chazz with it.

Oh honey
Oh darling

More pop-locking

And there you have awesomeness.

Be sure to check out Field Music’s new album, which is due out on Feb. 15, 2010. Here’s a link to two free songs: “Each Time is a New Time” and “Measure.” (At the Field Music home page, see the sticker at the bottom middle of the screen that says “click here.”)

You’ll notice the free download songs, are totally different from “Let’s Write a Book,” which is one of the reasons why you should check out this exciting group.

By the way, here’s a video Field Music actually made.

Field Music’s Web sites include:

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No Lyme Disease or Blood Sucking Here: Deer Tick Just Wants You to Get Lucky with the New Song, “Dance of Love”

Deer ticks are nasty little arachnids whose mission is to suck the blood out of living creatures, all the while transmitting the horrible Lyme disease.

Well, in the summer of 2005, singer/songwriter John McCauley found one of the little buggers on his scalp on a camping trip and inspiration hit. His band would be “Deer Tick.”

(L to R, Deer Tick is John McCauley, Dennis Ryan, Chris Ryan and Andrew Tobiassen)

But don’t worry, this group is all about rocking your party – no blood sucking involved. (As far as I know, they can’t spread Lyme disease either.)

On the new song, “Dance of Love,” released Jan. 1, 2010, as part of the EP, “More Fuel for the Fire,” on Partisan Records, Deer Tick shares a road map for guys to get lucky…the old fashioned way.

Listen to Dance of Love Here

Here’s an excerpt from the lyrics:

“Well if I pull that chair out
Or maybe if I hold that door for you
If I do it cause my mother always told me to do
If I make a point to complement you
I’ll be feeling those legs already on mine

“Oh the dance of love
Well the dance of love
Is a wonderful dance”

Musically, “Dance of Love” is no lambada (the Brazilian dance of love). The song is wrapped in a Johnny Cash “Folsom Prison Blues” guitar groove, bolstered by some attitude from The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and uplifted by the spirit of the great Cajun bar bands such as the Pine Leaf Boys.

I love drummer Dennis Ryan’s driving beat on this tune. It’s busy, but in all the right places. On this track, Andrew Tobiassen’s lead vocals are a lot of fun. He’s no trained opera singer. This dude is just blurting out how guys feel about courting women, with all the raspy, hootin’ and hollerin’ that goes along with that.

So check out “Dance of Love” by Deer Tick. These guys will have you laughing, dancing and who knows what.

Deer Tick Extra: Here’s probably something you never imagined. Deer ticks singing soulful acapella.

Deer Tick is on Twitter (@deertickmusic) and the group’s Web sites include www.myspace.com/deertick , www.deertickmusic.com and www.facebook.com/deertick.

Sources:
American Lyme Disease Foundation
Deer Tick Biography on the Band’s Site

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Bees in Music – Sex, Violence and Social Reform: A Review of the Song, “Honeybees Falling,” by Alt-Folk’s Sean Hayes

From the Wu-Tang Killa Bees to indie-pop’s The Bird and the Bee, musicians are irresistibly drawn to bee references.  And why not? The bee’s stinger is ideal for violent or naughty metaphors, and romantic songs come to life with a little pollination/honey-making innuendo.

Here are a couple snippets from the Diana Ross and The Supremes song, “Honey Bee (Keep on Stinging Me)”: “You started a fever burnin’ deep inside of me, since you stung me with your sweet love… This taste of honey you’re givin’ me has sweetened all my bitterness.”

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=diana+ross+and+the+supremes&iid=4401624″ src=”a/a/a/1/The_Supremes_bdec.jpg?adImageId=8287268&imageId=4401624″ width=”380″ height=”291″ /] (Diana Ross and The Supremes know a thing or two about bee metaphors.)

Sean Hayes (the alt-folk singer/songwriter, not the actor from Will & Grace) takes musical bee references in a socially conscious direction with his single, “Honeybees Falling,” released on Dec. 8 from Sean Hayes Music.

Hear the song, which is a folky fusion of rock and reggae: http://hypem.com/search/sean+hayes

Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics:

“Who’s out chasin’ after money? Little mouse in a maze
Clouds above the buildings, pockets full of rain
Mystery surrounds us, mystery all around us….

“Go ask the birds, the birds, the birds
Listen to the wind, the wind, the wind
Go ask the honeybees falling
Listen to the breathing in…”

In a recent e-mail interview with Eleven’s Song Reviews, Hayes explained his reference to falling bees.

“Honeybee populations are dying… It has been happening for years and it’s getting worse. It is a very scary thing with huge consequences… Go ask the honeybees!” he said.

To Hayes’ point, in an August 2009 Time magazine article, “New Clues in the Mass Death of Bees,” author Bryan Walsh reports on colony collapse disorder (CCD), a phenomenon that has resulted in the reduction of nearly one-third of all American honeybees in recent years.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1918282,00.html#ixzz0ZRpeTznE

On a higher level, “Honeybees Falling” urges us to rethink our disconnection from nature and the sometimes harmful decisions we make as a result.

“Asking questions like scientists or mystics. Knowing we do not know. The grind, grind, grind, easy-to-forget money is a made-up magic, but honeybees are real,” says Hayes.

“Honeybees Falling” isn’t Hayes’ first venture into the world of bee imagery.

In the song, “All for Love,” from the album, “Flowering Spade,” Hayes sings, “I’ll gather your honey. I’ll plant your seed. I’ll be your harvest, leave you my sting.”

Listen to All for Love Here

He also released the song “Pollinating Toes,” on the album, “Big Black Hole and The Little Baby Star.”

Listen to Pollinating Toes Here

If you are interested in hearing more from Hayes, he is releasing a new album on March 2, 2010, called “Run Wolves Run.” Here’s a pre-released video from one of the tracks, “Garden.”

Additional Sources: www.seanhayesmusic.com/home and www.myspace.com/rattlesnakecharm

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Getting to Know the Music of Dave Davison, A ‘Bass Ackwards’ Guide – Starting with the Song, “Letters,” from Cast Spells

Cast Spells announced on March 26, 2010, that the group recorded a Daytrotter session.

My first exposure to singer/songwriter/guitarist Dave Davison was this Tuesday, when label Sargent House released a split EP with two songs from Cast Spells (a Davison side project) and Good Old War.

Listening to the moving, sentimental song, “Letters,” I assumed Davison was a folk singer. Check out this link to the EP: http://castspells.bandcamp.com.

Then, I searched Cast Spells on YouTube and watched the video, “A Badge, Glass Room Sessions.” Seeing Davison with his bushy hair and bare feet, playing his acoustic guitar, and I “knew” he was a folk singer.

Turns out I was only 31 percent right (approximately!) about Davison’s folk leanings.

He is best known for his work with Maps & Atlases, a Chicago-based math-rock, prog-rock, nerd-rock, post-rock, alt-punk group (pick your genre description). While the members of Maps & Atlases acknowledge a folk influence (in an MTV2 “On the Rise” segment), the group is pure technical chops and fireworks.

Listen to the song here (Every Place Is a Home by Maps & Atlases)

Davison is also involved in a project called HEY!TONAL, which is even more experimental: http://africantapegroup.bandcamp.com/album/hey-tonal-hey-tonal.

For those who are new to Dave Davison, I’m admittedly taking you on an ass backwards journey through his music. Don’t worry. “Letters” is a great place to start.

The honesty of Davison’s voice combined with his sweet but urgent guitar lines are powerful. Call it quiet confidence. His frenetic energy demonstrated with his other groups is subtler here.

Here’s an excerpt from the lyrics (couldn’t make out some of these):

“Dragonflies and gnats and their incisions in the water
……???
And I remember when you laughed, the rise and fall of your stomach
And the dirt and bark all over your skin
In lakes and spitting watermelon seeds
We planted a garden beneath our kicking feet
These are letters to you
These are letters to you”

If you are interested in getting to know Davison’s work better, check out the new split EP and his many other recordings. Also, he is currently on the road in select cities with Cast Spells, accompanied by Good Old War and Hezekiah Jones. According to Sargent House’s Twitter profile (@sargenthouse), audiences are loving it. Davison will perform with Cast Spells and HEY!TONAL in Europe starting in late February 2010.

Web sites of groups of which Dave Davison is a member include the following:

Sources:

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A Review of the Song, “Ambulance,” by Eisley: Soundtrack of Emotional Upheaval, Ready for Primetime

(Let me know what you think of this song by leaving a comment.)

To your dismay, the couple you follow on your favorite TV drama has a nasty blowup over infidelity. In a dress by Vera Wang, the distraught woman sobs alone in her dark apartment with her back against the bedroom door. Her scorned lover races off in his 2010 Camaro. He shakes his head in disbelief about the betrayal and then suddenly punches the dash.

In my view, the song, “Ambulance,” by Eisley on the new EP, “Fire Kite,” was born for moments like this.

Listen to the song here

The track explores the kind of emotional hurt that only a romantic relationship can inflict – when your broken heart aches so badly you may need to call an ambulance.

[picapp src=”1/5/4/5/39th_NAACP_Image_06b2.jpg?adImageId=7497018&imageId=1267784″ width=”500″ height=”320″ /](Eisley’s song, “Ambulance” – my vote for the next track featured on “Grey’s Anatomy”)

Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics, sung by the band’s keyboard player, Stacy Dupree:

“I need an ambulance, I took the worst of the blow
Send me a redeemer, let me know
If I’m gonna’ be alright, am I’m gonna’ be alright
Cause I know how it usually goes, I know how it usually goes

“I built a monument, for the love we used to know
But that is far removed, and you say
That I’m gonna’ be okay, and yeah I’m gonna’ be okay
But it doesn’t seem that way, no, love, not today

“Cause I was told to get out, told to leave
Told to have my things in the parking lot
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, baby, yeah
Just send me that ambulance, oh
Just send me that ambulance”

Intentionally or not, Eisley, a group from Tyler, Texas, made up of four sibling twenty-somethings and a cousin, has written a song that could fit nicely in the “Grey’s Anatomy” genre of music, an unlikely category that has emerged since the TV show debuted in 2005. Grey’s Anatomy has featured a who’s who of cool young artists, including KT Tunstall, Ingrid Michaelson, Anna Nalick, Brandi Carlile, Peter Bjorn and John, The Bird and the Bee and Feist.

In recent years, Eisley has toured with several well-known bands, including (you may have seen this coming) “Grey’s Anatomy” soundtrack alumni Coldplay, Snow Patrol, The Fray and Gomez.

To get a feel for the song, “Ambulance,” think of the emotional intensity of tunes like Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You,” along with the sweetness of Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories’ song, “Stay.”

So grab a box of napkins, a quart of ice cream and experience the song, “Ambulance,” by Eisley on the EP “Fire Kite” (Sire Records Company, released Oct. 9, 2009).

Eisley’s web sites include www.eisley.com and www.myspace.com/eisley. The group has a fan page on Facebook.

Sources: www.washingtonpost.com (Eisley: Rock and Relatives – These Four Siblings, Plus One Cousin, Are Truly at Home on the Road, April 18, 2008), www.purevolume.com/eisley, www.cbsnews.com (Grey’s Anatomy Music Revisited, May 17, 2007) and iTunes (Grey’s Anatomy search).

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A Review of Alec Ounsworth’s Song, ‘Bones In The Grave’: I Hope Alec is a Nice Serial Killer Like Dexter

(If you listen to this song, let me know in the comments if you like it or not.)

Every once in a while, usually while I’m driving in traffic, an awful, violent thought flashes through my mind. Then, I think, “Wow, that was unacceptable”; I pop another Lexapro; and I move on with my day. I can imagine singer/songwriter Alec Ounsworth having a similar experience, but instead thinking, “What a great idea for a song.”

[picapp src=”e/7/6/c/Lollapalooza_2007_36bc.jpg?adImageId=6420668&imageId=2449787″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /] [picapp src=”2/e/0/a/6f.jpg?adImageId=6420982&imageId=1626204″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /] (Left, Singer/Songwriter Alec Ounsworth; Right, Friendly Serial Killer, Dexter)

As an example, see an excerpt of his lyrics from the new song, “Bones in the Grave.”

Listen to an excerpt of the song here

(Help me out with the correct lyrics if you know them.)

“Bald head and John’s convict tattoos
Ice raining, ice for hours
Ready, see medicine boy
Leaps the ???
But the nurse has yet to arrive

“So I killed Johnny’s pregnant shadow
While he was fast asleep
The doctor says don’t let him go
He wants me six feet deep

“Gotta’ get them bones, in the grave
Get them bones, in the grave
Get them booooones…”

Disturbing! Is Alec a serial killer in the making? Nah. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s a creative guy who exorcises his demons through his art…or something like that.

Musically, I love everything about “Bones in the Grave,” on the album, “Mo Beauty,” which was recorded in New Orleans. Drummer Stanton Moore begins the song like he’s an animal in a cage, rattling noisy chains with his teeth. An organ, creeping like a spider, joins a guitar playing whatever the hell it wants, not necessarily in tune with anything else.

Ounsworth’s nasally voice is front and center, channeling 1982 Gordon Gano (singer of the Violent Femmes) to great effect.

By the time the band finishes the chorus, I’m clapping and singing along.

So just in time for Halloween and as the fourth season of Dexter is well underway, solo artist Alec Ounsworth (also from the musical projects Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Flashy Python) gives us a great song in a scary package.

Thanks, Alec, and take those meds, it helps!

To experience “Bones in the Grave” for yourself, listen to the album, “Mo Beauty,” released Oct. 20, 2009, Anti, Inc. Ounsworth’s Web sites include www.myspace.com/alecounsworth and www.anti.com/artists/view/73 .

Source: www.anti.com/artists/view/73 (Ounsworth’s artist page)

Second and Third Favorite Songs This Week: 2. Miguel Zenón – “Esta Plena” from the album, “Esta Plena” (Latin Jazz) and 3. Lyle Lovett – “Pantry” from the Album, “Natural Forces” (Country)

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