Saturday, October 29, 2011

Three Shrieking Good Halloween Songs

Halloween is this week and I was thinking I've never done a post on Halloween music. So, here goes three songs for the holiday. If you can't make it out this year to do whatever it is you do on Halloween, there's no shortage of creepy tunes to keep you company.

This is Halloween : The Nightmare Before Christmas came out when I was a wee one, and instead of being scared, I was totally taken with the claymation movie that featured this intensely orchestrated and theatrical ode to Oct. 31. 

My Body's a Zombie for You : Nothing says "Halloween" like Ryan Gosling and a childrens choir. Nevertheless, Gosling's 2009 goofy-ass side project Dead Man's Bones was pretty amusing, especially because of tunes like "My Body's a Zombie for You" and its unexpected doo-wop-iness.

Tubular Bells : I used to have a CD of "scary music" that I would bust out every year. It was something like the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra covering Halloween/horror tunes and a few others like "Thriller" and the Ghostbusters theme. "Tubular Bells" was on it and when the song started, I didn't get what was so scary about it, until it started building in such an unsettling way with all those sudden jabs. Spooky stuff.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Spin Doctors at the Westcott

Here's my latest for The Newshouse. I got to see the Spin Doctors on Friday night at the Westcott Theater here in Syracuse. It was so much better than I expected, and after a crazy week and a stressful day, really loud 90s music was the best possible way to spend the evening. P.S. Somehow I managed to memorize the complete trajectory of their career, so if you have Spin Doctors questions.... I'm your girl. Also, here's a link to their appearance on Sesame Street back in the day because I think you need that.

Spin Doctors bring 20 years of Kryptonite to Syracuse

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Frabbit for Free

And here I was thinking I'd be left blogging about the new Coldplay video today.

Scottish band Frightened Rabbit is offering a 3-song EP, free for download on their website. The EP is simply called A Frightened Rabbit EP. It includes "Fuck this Place" featuring Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell, which TMI posted about a while back, "The Work," and "Scottish Winds."

Why should you be excited about this? Because Frabbit was giving away this very same EP during their tour with Death Cab for Cutie this fall and you were stuck in a city that loves metal and barely ever gets anyone interesting while Frabbit and DCfC traipsed through your hometown the week after you were home.

Well. Maybe.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spit it Out : Brendan Benson

I'm glad there's finally a video on Youtube for this song, because I've been wanting to post about it since late May. It's "Spit it Out" by Detroiter (well, Royal Oak actually) Brendan Benson. You might be familiar with Benson as a solo artist who debuted in 1996 and saw some commercial success in the UK with 2005's Alternative to Love. More likely, you're inadvertently familiar with him as one of the dudes in the Raconteurs.

I caught him at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville in 2010 as part of a tribute to Alex Chilton and Big Star, so about a year later when I ran across Alternative to Love on vinyl at Grimey's New and Preloved Music, I bought it, put it it on and fell in love with track one: "Spit it Out."

I like musicians from Detroit generally because I can hear the city in what they do (Kid Rock exempted). The riff in "Spit it Out" is loose and sort of messy, but something about it evokes yesteryears– kind of like Detroit.

Anyway, take it for a spin.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nobody Said it Was Easy: Willie Nelson Covers Coldplay

I live in a world where Willie Nelson has no awareness of Coldplay, which is why this post is somewhat confounding.

Adweek posted a story not long ago about an animated Chipoltle ad where Willie Nelson lends his signature warble to "The Scientist" by Coldplay. It's definitely worth hearing, and the ad's message of sustainable farming is a worthy one.

Of course, if there's one thing I love, it's a burrito with a cause.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Import: Gotye Will Mess You Up

Excuse me while I obsess. This weekend one of my friends sent me links to a couple music videos by an Australian (by way of Belgium) artist named Gotye (Gore-ti-yeah. Né Wally De Backer).

Said friend should know he blew my weekend to bits because I spent the entire time toggling between the two videos. Let's talk about why.

Gotye is self-described alt-pop. In his previous albums, he's worked a lot with samples of old vinyl records and cassette tapes. He seems to have major knack for getting strange and awesome sounds from unusual places. "Somebody That I Used to Know" and "Heart's a Mess" are two cuts off his third and most recent release, Making Mirrors. On both songs, I was immediately drawn in by the sounds. I still don't totally know what they are, but to give you an idea of how he works, in a 10-minute documentary he released on Youtube, De Backer talked about how he essentially made a virtual version of an autoharp, playing every single note and storing them as files that could be played back through his keyboard. The sound of the autoharp was a bit unexpected because you either strum an autoharp or play single notes slowly, not play them as you would keys.

And it just goes on. On De Backer's website, he talks about doing spur of the moment field recordings of "sound sources" and turning them in to different aspects of his songs. He raids the local thrift store for records and does crazy things horn intros from obscure Australian 60's albums.

But enough about the sound. I'd be remiss not to mention the lyrics. Sticking with the two previously mentioned songs, you can't really go wrong. I love the phrase "heart's a mess." I also love the chorus on "Somebody That I Used to Know," especially because De Backer's voice has this Sting thing going on and it leaves me wanting to run to the window and burst into "Roxanne." His writing has a very natural flow. "You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness." Killer, yeah?

Anyhoodle, when I get jealous of musicians as creative people who get to build every aspect of their projects from creating the sounds on the albums to designing album artwork (De Backer modified an old painting of his dad's with photoshop for the cover), Gotye is now the face I will put with that thought.

I will now go back to obsessing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jack White Covers Hank Williams

Speaking of Jack White, he's been working with Bob Dylan, Levon Helms and others on The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams. I know. We should all be so lucky to have projects like that. Anyhoodle, Rolling Stone is streaming "You Know That I Know," a track off said project.

It's pretty good. White goes for those Hank vocal quivers and manages to pull it off pretty well without being cloying. Besides that, the coolest thing is that it sounds like a Hank Williams song and it's good to hear "new" Hank after all this time.

Apparently, the songs off the album came from notebooks Williams left behind before he died and the ripe old age of 29. The tunes were unfinished, so White & co. stepped in. The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams comes out tomorrow.

Whose Casio Did You Steal?

One of the great things about having your own blog is that you have no obligation to write about things don't want to write about. For me, that means my general intent is to say "Hey, I heard this and thought it was cool. You might like it too."

This is not one of those posts. It might be because I'm sick and haven't left my apartment in four days. Maybe it's because I was genuinely disappointed this cover wasn't better. Let me just  introduce you to a song that is not really worth three minutes of your time. It's Bright Eyes covering "We're Going to Be Friends" by the White Stripes. I'll just leave it there and say I don't dig the instrumentation. After all, this is for a charity album and there's only so critical I can bring myself to be in that situation.