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David Gray picks Paul Westerberg- “Vampires & Failures”
David Gray was in the studio yesterday. He was a great talker. After he introduced, "Vampires and Failures" by Paul Westerberg, I told him that his description reminded me of a Nick Cave song. After explaining to him that I just saw 20,000 Days on Earth at the Milwaukee Film Festival he launched into a huge story about a four day music festival in 1997 in Ireland that he and Nick Cave played together. He said that Nick was a great guy who loved to laugh and tell stories, but couldn’t start a fire to save his life.
Paul Westerberg released this song under the pseudonym Grandpaboy on an album called Dead Man’s Shake, in 2003.
Listen if you like: The Replacements, Nick Cave, The Rolling Stones.
Screaming Females- “Wishing Well”
This song hits a real musical comfort zone for me. The song structure is verse chorus verse chorus, bridge, chorus chorus. And each one of those elements is really distinct and self containted. And I love that. In the verses the guitars are twinkling, understated, and kind of moody. The chorus is big and loud, its something that you can yell if your frustrated, or sing joyously outloud at the top of your lungs.
It brings me into a musical comfort zone because I grew up listening to a lot of bands that worked in this kind of traditional pop structure. Bands like The Beatles and Weezer. And you probably did too. So when I hear a song like this, it takes me to that place, that musical comfort zone.
Screaming Females’ new album, Rose Mountain, is due in February.
Listen if you like: twinkling guitars, great pop structure, Weezer.
mr. Gnome- “Rise & Shine”
Rise & Shine starts off with an alarm clock. In the groggyness of the morning, three voices sing in a harmony that exists in the place between the dream state and the daylight, and you’re trying to get up, and then BAM. It jumps on the bed, grabs you by your pajama neck collar and shakes you into a panicked alertness. And when you come to you realize that you are in Middle Earth and you’re in the middle of some kind of sick hoedown between the orks and the elves and that you are not actually awake at all, you are in some kind of twisted nightmare. And then you realize that you’re lucid dreaming, and it’s kinda cool. You’re partying on Middle earth, so you grab a hobbit by the arm and dosey doe.
Mr. Gnome’s new album, The Heart of a Dark Star, will be released on November 18.
Listen if you like: Demented ho-downs, three part harmonies, a song that gains energy as it goes along
Girlpool- “Blah Blah Blah”
I recently read an article that argued that critics and listeners, prefer females voices that reflect their own views on gender. And that leads to preferences for female voices that are passive, soft, and pretty preferred over voices that are edgier, stronger, or unorthodox.
I agree that there is a double standard. Male singers like Bob Dylan, Colin Meloy, Neil Young and many others are lauded for their non-traditional voices, and if a female can’t hit every note on the scale or sing softly she is often criticized for not having enough range or delicacy.
Well, Girlpool is fighting against this. Girlpool’s voices are shrill, they’re aggressive, there not afraid to tell you off. And I love that.
Girlpool’s self titled debut EP will be available on November 17.
roya.band- “Mod with Feelings”
The Mods was a name given to the British subculture in the early 1960’s that defined itself by style. Mods wore sharp Italian clothes, tailored, primed, proper. Mods watched French and Italian art films, popped amphetamines, rode in elaborately decorated scooters, and listened to R&B music. The Who, identified themselves as a Mod band.
In this song, roya.band recalls the sub-culture that once existed, describing a mod, with feelings, delivered in a way that opposes that idea. Cut and dry, with no emotion at all. Delivering it in a way that I imagine a mod with feelings would deliver it, a cool and aloof mask, hiding what’s underneath.
Listen if you like: lo-fi, girl rock, flat deliveries.
BONUS TRACK: Franz Liszt- “Le Mal Du Pays”
Recently I have been reading Haruki Murakami’s new book, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.” The book is about a man who looks to reconcile a lost relationship with a group of four friends that he had when he was a younger man. "Le mal du pays" translates to “homesickness” and in a way it is a metaphor for the reason that the main character wants to reconnect with his old group of friends. They felt like home, and he wants to feel that again. This song comes into the plot over and over again and I have found myself listening to it every time I read the book. It’s a beautiful track in itself and wonderful for reading, or just having on at any time.