Friday, July 29, 2011

Hanging By a String Quartet

Weirdly, I've always had an affinity for off beat instrumental covers of songs. Evidence: Jazz group The Bad Plus's awesome version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." (Because if there are two things that go together, it's jazz and grunge.) Also, I'd like to submit The Section Quartet's cover of Postal Service's "Such Great Heights."

That said, I have more glad tidings. Whilst screwing around on, I came across something called The Vitamin String Quartet. In short, they're from LA and they put together tribute albums for groups like Death Cab for Cutie, Oasis, Foo Fighters, Interpol, Radiohead and many others.

Their cover of "The Sound of Settling" is great, partly because with strings it sounds like the melancholic song that it probably should be, and that's fascinating because I can't think of a time when I've been gloomy hearing it.

Also, The Vitamin String Quartet outdoes themselves on Journey's "Don't Believin'." (Yeah, got your attention now, don't I?)

In any case, let me direct you to the Rhapsody Player on the Yahoo music page. It has a nice sampling of their work. Also, check out the video above. It's "Don't Panic" by Coldplay, and man was it hard to chose which video to post. It seems like they've covered everything (and yes, that includes "Hallelujah," lest you be concerned.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Green Album, A Tribute to the Muppet Songbook

I learned all my best reporting practices from Kermit the Frog of Sesame Street News.

That's part of the reason why a tribute album to the Muppets will be the best part of the month of August this year. On the 23rd, artists like Andrew Bird, the Fray, Ok Go, Mat Kearny, My Morning Jacket and more will present The Green Album. And while I would love to see Rivers Cuomo challenge Miss Piggy to a cage fight for rights to the name, apparently Weezer is in on the project as well.

The track listing is as follows. Mark you calendars accordingly.

01. Muppet Show Theme Song : OK Go
02. Rainbow Connection : Weezer and Hayley Williams
03. Mahna Mahna : The Fray
04. Movin' Right Along : Alkaline Trio
05. Our World : My Morning Jacket
06. Halfway Down the Stairs : Amy Lee
07. Mr. Bassman : Sondre Lerche
08. Wishing Song : The Airborne Toxic Event
09. Night Life : Brandon Saller of Atreyu and Billy Martin
10. Bein' Green : Andrew Bird
11. I Hope That Something Better Comes Along : Matt Nathanson
12. I'm Going To Go Back There Someday : Rachael Yamagata

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Always Summertime : The Gregory Brothers

I've chronicled my love of The Gregory Brothers here before, but wanted to take a second to post one of their non-Auto Tuned songs. It's "Always Summertime." Technically the tune was out about a year ago. Still, it's every bit and lovely as quirky as it was last July and you should check it out. Oh, and if you haven't heard about/downloaded/spent have the afternoon reading entries from the AP Stylebook into the Gregory Brothers' new Songify app, well... I don't really know what to say to you.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Storify: Amy Winehouse, Dead at 27

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dashboard : Modest Mouse

This is probably one of my favorite music videos of all time. It's "Dashboard" off of Modest Mouse's 2007 album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. I remember the first time I heard this song was when they performed it on Letterman. It was a definite "WTF" moment. I did not dig at all. Of course, that's usually the beginning of a huge song crush.

Anyway, take a few moments to appreciate this nautical interpretation. Brilliant. And weird.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer : War

When it's not blazing hot and outside and stickier than an preschooler's building blocks, summer is pretty great. The evenings are the best. It's not like during the winter when it gets dark and you feel like the only sensible thing to do is hole up and watch Law & Order. No, summer evenings beg for activity. So, if you've got it in your head to take a spin around town with the windows down, consider this fine summer time song. It's "Summer" by 70's funk/reggae/latin group War. For reference, they're the group responsible for "Why Can't We Be Friends" and "Low Rider." And now you will watch the video above.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rivers and Roads : The Head and the Heart

Just a quick post tonight– and this one's live from Syracuse! I'm up here in the great white north, researching for a story involving (stay tuned and cross your fingers for me) and "Rivers and Roads" by The Head and the Heart comes on. It's beautiful, perfectly in the vein of what I've been listening to the past year or so.

The Head and the Heart is an Americana/indie folk-type band from Seattle. They're signed to Sup Pop. What really struck me about the song was the strong, powerful vocal harmonies. If you like Mumford and Fleet Foxes, you might dig this.

The other part that struck me were the lyrics. They speak of friends moving away and things in life changing. The best line of the song is "I miss your face like hell," which is a really spot on way to put some of my sentiments as of late. In any case, definitely keep an eye on The Head and the Heart. Good stuff happening here.

Until then, it's "rivers and roads 'til I reach you."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tighten Up : Black Keys

Some random whistling today reminded me of "Tighten Up" by the Black Keys, a break out tune of sorts that was out in 2010. Happily, I found the music video on Youtube and it's pretty great. I don't know what's better, the little boy lip syncing, the other little boy flipping him the bird, or how unconcerned the dads (the Black Keys) are that their kids are pummeling each other. And then it gets better.

Please note what's happening in the frame above. Patrick Carney (the guy with the glasses) pulls a doughnut out of his pocket and hands it to Dan Auerbach (the one without). Yes.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Music Journalism, Onion Style

Rod Stewart Easily Passes For An Elderly Aunt

As someone who writes and reads a lot about music, I really have to stop and appreciate The Onion's latest effort (post Pulitzer campaign, I guess), which happens to be their Summer Music Issue - Digitally Remastered Journalism.

They have absolutely skewered everything and it's been hilarious. These are the headlines that you wish you could write/read (Fully Validated Kanye West Retires to Quiet Farm in Iowa) and the headlines you know probably should be written (Pitchfork Gives Music 6.8). They're brutal (Sugar Ray Thrilled to be Playing in Man's Head), ridiculous (Nation's Rappers Down to Last Two Samples or Lifelong Love Affair with Music Ends at Age 35) and many of them have a distinct air of truth (Open-Minded Music Lover Like All Kinds of Metal).

Check it out. The Onion is definitely on a roll. Also, it's your golden opportunity to hear Blues Singer's Woman Permitted to Tell her Side.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lyric Appreciation: Steamroller Blues by James Taylor

"I'm a churning urn of burning funk."
- Steamroller Blues by James Taylor, off Sweet Baby James, 1970

Monday, July 4, 2011

Music: Another Use for Pants

I don't know where one finds the inspiration to pull a hip hop beat out of a mountain of 1,000 pairs of jeans, but this guy is obviously channeling something I'm not.

And yes, there's some kind of joke in here about making music with your pants. Calm down, Michael Scott.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Casa Castile: Umbra

You might not expect a band with a name like Casa Castile to be from Nashville, Tenn., You also might not think that something labeled "bedroom pop" could be as finely crafted as the band's latest album, Umbra. You'd be wrong on both counts. In brief, Casa Castile is another reason to be proud of the music that comes out of our fair city.

For background, it's the project of a guy named Andrew Nabuco (also a fellow Belmont student, to which I say "wooo!"). Anyway, the album took nine month to complete and was released last month amid many complementary mentions in the Nashville Scene.

But enough bio. This album has got a sound and a vibe I think Brian Wilson would really dig. It's ethereal and intricately layered. Songs spill out and expand. You get some banjo, some synth and a whole lot of gorgeous, textured melodies.

Pile on track names like "Mango Tunnel" and "Desert Cat" (one of my favorites), and this is the summer album you've been searching for.

Check out Casa Castile's Bandcamp site and give it a spin. While you're there, you can also check out September's six-track album, Vake. That should be enough to convince you that Nabuco's got a solid musical sensibility.