30 September 2013

30 September 2013 - Belle and Sebastian - Step Into My Office, Baby

Ah, the ultimate ode to office harassment....

Seriously, this Welsh folky group came up with a creative way to communicate the complexity of inter-office romance, using as many double entendres as possible.  And it's a riot, complete with appropriate horns.

27 September 2013

27 September 2013 - Charli XCX - Superlove

Yesterday - 26 September 2013 - Charli XCX released her new video to YouTube.  And since then, it's been on heavy rotation in my office.  Which mean that, even though I was quite cognizant of the fact that I've posted an awful lot of Charli XCX over the last few months (and Scott posted one, too, but that song was popularly misbilled.....), I knew what I had to do.

It's a public service.

To be fair, it was not expected - the single, the first off her second album, isn't out until 1 December on iTunes (unless it gets moved up like I think it will), and she just released her excellent debut album in April.  But it's just SO GOOD!!!!  Not nearly as dark as anything off the first album - or even as much as "I Love It (I Don't Care)" - yeah, I said it! - she still shows off her electronic pop chops and a love of minor chords.

If I'm being totally honest, Charli XCX is clearly heavily influenced by (onetime collaborator and close friend) Marina and the Diamonds.  Gee, we like that electronic grunge-pop music on here, don't we?

I was serious when I said they collaborated...... Now tell me where Charli stops and Marina starts.  It's hard to tell in parts.

UPDATE: (30 September 2013):  This post has been so hugely popular - about twice as much as any prior - that I added some bonus footage.  Here is Charli performing this song, live.  I was a little surprised to see this already.  The biggest surprise: the performance is from September 20th, a full week before the video was released.

UPDATE: (28 June 2014). Yes, I am updating this post. Because I am, for the time being, denying the existence of "Boom Clap".   And this performance from "The Fault In Our Stars" premiere is brilliant without losing the energy of the song.

26 September 2013

26 September 2013 - Madness - One Step Beyond

Yeah, I know it's 80s Thursday, but I was in the mood for some Madness today and One Step Beyond released in 1979 will always beat out 1982's Our House. So click play, crank it up and start skankin'!

25 September 2013

25 September 2013 - The Bangles - Hero Takes A Fall (and Gilmore Girls)

The Bangles are one of my favorite bands of all time.  Those four women are among the most underrated musicians of all time.  This early song, which isn't as big a hit as some of their others, including ones we might have featured on this blog previously, but it's a fun, off-kilter romp with clever wordplay.

Those of you who don't know me so well are going to be a little surprised by this next statement. Those who do know that I think Gilmore Girls is the greatest television show of all time.  I will argue that point with anyone.  Neatly walked the line between drama and comedy better than any other show in history.  Expertly and complexly developed and imperfect characters.  Lauren Freaking Graham!

Anyway, the Bangles appeared on the show, and performed two songs - this one, and, coincidentally, Eternal Flame. From Season 1, Episode 13.  And yeah.  I just knew that.

By the way, here they are on Letterman performing the song live in 1984.  You know, when music on TV was actually live.

24 September 2013

24 September 2013 - Danielle Bradbery - The Heart of Dixie

Season 5 of The Voice started last night and I got totally sucked in within the first 15 minutes. It's good to see that we're starting to see some "payoff" from the show as Season 3 winner Cassadee Pope is climbing the charts with her first single Wasting All These Tears. I have a feeling Season 4 winner Danielle Bradbery will be joining her very soon as her first single Heart of Dixie has recently hit radio and the video was just released yesterday. Check out this refreshing young talent.

23 September 2013

23 September 2013 - Huey Lewis and The News - I Want A New Drug

The story is, this was supposed to be an anti-drug song.  Because NO DRUG could do all this.

The video is a mess.  The story of the video is Huey Lewis racing across San Francisco to get to a concert.  So, why, after racing across San Francisco, does Huey Lewis hop on a ferry in Marin County toward San Francisco? And then catch a helicopter back to Marin County?!

Really, I am probably overthinking that.

The song was a #6 hit for the band in 1984.  And it's still a lot of fun today!  I'm no longer ashamed to admit that I love this song.  Because I was in 1984.

20 September 2013

20 September 2013 - Kylie Minogue - WOW & I Should Be So Lucky & Timebomb

It amazes me how some people who are stars when they are really young - Kylie started acting when she was 11, and recording when she was 18, instantly making hits - can continue to be such huge hitmakers so many years later - Kylie is 45 now.

It amazes me how someone who is such a HUGE star in just about every other country has only had 2 Top 10 hits in the US (2 additional top 40 hits), and neither of them are this, a worldwide hit from 2008.  It's funky, it's danceable, and it lends itself to really good remixes.

It amazes me how much some songs lend themselves so easily to really good remixes.

It amazes me how much Kylie has changed since she was 18.....This song was a US Top 30 hit, but #1 just about everywhere else.

It amazes me that Kylie is still making music. Good electronic dance music.  And she still has time to join the next season of The Voice UK!

19 September 2013

19 September 2013 - Groovie Ghoulies - Running With Bigfoot

I know I usually do an 80s post on Thursdays, but I was in desperate need of a good laugh and this song never fails to cheer me up. So here's Sacramento pop punkers the Groovie Ghoulies and their fun video for Running With Bigfoot off of their World Contact Day album from 1996.

18 September 2013

18 September 2013 - Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball

I know, I know, we did a Miley post not so long ago.  However:

  1. Since that post, Miley twerked all over Robin Thicke.
  2. I'm really lazy, and
  3. Miley really redeeemed herself musically with this song (although she did still see fit to ride a wrecking ball in the nude).
And, in all seriousness, this song is a deep, passionate, well-performed song.  As showy and seemingly out of control that Miley gets, no one can deny that.

17 September 2013

17 September 2013 - INXS - Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)

When I first bought the Listen Like Thieves album in 1985 or 1986, this was instantly my favorite song.  It remains one of my favorites to this day.  The jangly guitar, Michael Hutchence and his powerful vocal.

But what makes this a classic is the sudden tempo change at about 2:15.  It's a completely different song - more urgent.  The new tempo lasts for about a minute and then returns you to the original speed and mood.  It's expertly done, and it's a shame this song wasn't a bigger hit.

16 September 2013

16 September 2013 - Hall & Oates - I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)

Really surprised I hadn't done this one yet, but here we are.

A lot of you know that I had a very good friend growing up.  His name was Mark Whittier.  He was funny, and mostly kind, and sarcastic, and all around a really nice guy.

I believe it was August 31, 1995 that was the last time I spoke with Mark.  I had lost touch with him, and had just recently found him.  Which is good, because I was getting married in a couple of weeks and really wanted to make sure he was not only there, but a part of the wedding (he was going to do a reading).  He asked me to point him to campgrounds in the Rochester, NY area - I, of course, made sure he knew he was staying with me as much as he could.

We talked about music - his favorite artists, Hall & Oates, for sure, and others.  We talked about some experiences we had over the years prior.  He talked about having a flu that he was having trouble shaking, but he thought he would be OK for my wedding. It was a great conversation, a natural conversation.

Those who know Mark know that he passed on September 14th, 1995.  So I am really thankful I had that conversation with him when I did.  I found out September 15th, at my rehearsal dinner - I had gotten word that he was ill and in the hospital previously, so I did find an excellent friend to take his place.  Dan Deyell, thank you - that he had passed away. And on September 16th, I was married.  Mark pretty much had the only acceptable excuse not to show up.  In all seriousness, he was missed by me and by others that day.  And we paid tribute during the ceremony, remembering him.

And so it seems appropriate to me today that I post some Hall and Oates.  Perhaps their most iconic song, but, really, that's not the point today.  Still, great tune.

If you want to read more about the great young man that Mark was, and how he passed, you can check that out here. And please, consider giving to the Wilson Disease Association - the disease that took him from us far, far, far too soon - in Mark's name.

13 September 2013

13 September 2013 - Brooke Candy - Everybody Does

There's so, so many things I could say about this song. I could talk about the tiny little chameleons, most of which I think are CGI, but I cannot confirm.  I could talk about the outrageous outfits and super-long dreadlocks.  I could talk about Brooke Candy's connections to other artists we've featured on this blog.

I could talk about how Wikipedia states that Brooke Candy - her real name, by the way - is best known for appearing in a Grimes video. ("Genesis".  Another day for that song)

Or I could talk about the over-sexualized music and this clearly censored video. And yet, despite the fact that she's talking about clubbing and stripping (she is a former stripper, after all) and having sex, and despite the fact that she's clearly topless in parts of this video.... this video doesn't seem quite as whoreish as it could have.  In fact, this foul-mouthed woman comes off as smart and empowered.

Plus, she's got skills.

12 September 2013

12 August 2013 - Buckner & Garcia - Pac-Man Fever

I'm fairly certain that a song called The Grand Theft Auto Blues would not be a hit in 2013. But if the game existed in the 80s the song would have totally happened, Buckner & Garcia would have written it, and it would have been freakin' awesome. Just try to tell me that The Grand Theft Auto Blues would not have fit in perfectly on an album with Froggy's Lament, Ode to a Centipede, Do the Donkey Kong, Goin' Berzerk, and of course Pac-Man Fever.

11 September 2013

11 September 2013 - Tasmin Archer - Sleeping Satellite

You were thisclose to forgetting this song, right?

Not to worry - this #1 UK single - top 40 in the US - wasn't forgotten by us.  It's a simple song - starts with a jangly guitar, builds with drums, keyboards and Fairlight - with strong references to the moon landing.  The titular satellite, in fact, is the Moon.

So, remember.  And enjoy.

10 September 2013

10 August 2013 - Sheryl Crow - All I Wanna Do

Sheryl Crow's eighth album Feels Like Home came out today. I'm looking forward to playing it on a long sunny walk this afternoon that will no doubt end up with me visiting my favorite tavern for what I like to call "Office Hours." (*I've since listened to it, and it's up there with her finest albums).

But let's go back to where it all began. The first time I heard her remarkable debut Tuesday Night Music Club I became an instant fan. It's such a perfect summer album that I still play often. I finally got to see her perform about five or six years ago and it was a blast singing along to all of her hits. Well, I'm happy to say I'm going to see Sheryl again next month as I just got tickets to see her in Baltimore for WPOC's annual Girls With Guitars benefit show along with Jennifer Nettles, Kellie Pickler and Cassadee Pope. I'm thinking there's a pretty good chance that Sheryl will play this classic.


You can see the first video from Feels Like Home right here.

09 September 2013

9 September 2013 - The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name

Katie.  Her name is Katie.

And this song by 2 people is a lot of fun.  I love two piece bands, and maybe the Ting Tings most of all.  They keep the energy high, the beat strong, and the names unknown.  In fact, even though there is a little musical accompaniment, the song is mostly bass drum and vocal, with Katie harmonizing with herself at points.

06 September 2013

6 September 2013 - Ashlee Simpson - L.O.V.E.

It's been a good week.  You've been very good to this blog.  You've earned yourself some Ashlee Simpson.

You know, for someone who lived in the shadow of her supposedly prettier (whatever), more talented (not true), bigger hitmaker (who actually had exactly as many top 10 hits as her), reality show (who had exactly as many MTV reality shows as her sister (we aren't counting Fashion Star)) acting superstar (Big deal. Jessica did "The Dukes of Hazzard" terrible piece of crap movie. Ashlee was on "Melrose Place" and "7th Heaven"!), we think Ashlee's done pretty well for herself.   Besides, we aren't putting any Jessica Simpson on here..... yet.

So let's listen to the slightly funky Gwen Stefani influence in this song, a minor hit in 2005, and celebrate the great talent that is Ashlee Simpson.

Trust me.  This isn't the last time we're featuring Ms. Simpson on here.

05 September 2013

5 September 2013 - 808 State (featuring Bjork) - Oops

Believe it or not I used to actually like electronic music in the 90s and Manchester's 808 State were one of my favorites. I saw them live twice when they toured for their fourth album Gorgeous in 1993 (one show they opened for New Order and the other they opened for Meat Beat Manifesto). Sadly, I never saw them play my favorite song Oops, which featured vocals by Bjork, but I'm equally relieved that bands back in the day had the sense not to play a tacky video of the not present vocalist which is all the rage these days . . . well that and holograms. OK, maybe a Bjork hologram would be cool. Or not. I really don't know. Just watch the video.

04 September 2013

4 September 2013 - Nu Shooz - I Can't Wait

This remix was a hit for one hit wonders Nu Shooz in 1986, and a boon for Casio keyboards everywhere.

And now the song is stuck in your head, too.  You're welcome.

Seriously, this is a song that has always made me smile, and I hope it does the same for you.

Did you know that Nu Shooz were actually a husband and wife team?  And that they're still together? Here they are, performing the song live, and still sounding great and happy and upbeat.

03 September 2013

3 September 2013 - One Direction - Best Song Ever

The 2013 VMA Award Winner for Song of the Summer.  And this angered a lot of people.  I don't understand why.  And so, I am going to embark upon my defense of One Direction.

When I was a kid, we had boy bands.  Specifically, we had a singing group named New Kids on The Block.  Those five kids from Boston made boy bands a little cool.  The next generation of kids had N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees and Take That and a whole bunch of boy bands that will probably all be featured on this blog sometime.

These boy bands all had two things in common.  First of all, they were made up of a bunch of mates who harmonized well together, VOCALLY, but were primarily vocal groups.  Second, they sang nice, quiet, sanitized pop songs, with little variation.

These five guys who just barely beat Cher Lloyd on X Factor (she came in 4th, they came in 3rd) have become a huge worldwide sensation, for real.  But they did it a little differently than boy bands that came before.  There's a pop sensibility -sure - but these guys clearly have a stronger rock influence than the boy bands that came before them. I'm not saying they're AC/DC here, but there is more of an edge than we've seen before.

More to the point, though - these guys are five very powerful vocalists who advanced on X Factor as soloists in their own right.  And some of them even played and play instruments.  They aren't just a vocal group.  They've got musical talent.

I mean, there's no doubt they were a little manufactured by Simon Cowell.  But they've grown much better than that.

And if you doubt my claim on them playing instruments.... well, here they are, some of them with instruments.  That they are actually playing.

Now that you've seen this, go over to Totally Covered and check out a cover by these guys.

02 September 2013

2 September 2013 - Grimes - Oblivion

My path to discovering this artist, who has been around for a few years, is a bit of a convoluted one.  You see, this post started off life as a post by another artist.  That artist's name is Brooke Candy.  She's quite the character, with long pink dreadlocks, a wild wardrobe, and a foul mouth.   And, in my research about her, I found out that she is best known for appearing in a video by Grimes.

Well, that got me thinking - who is Grimes?  And I checked out that video - the song is called "Genesis", and it's a decent song in its own right, but it's not the song we're posting today - and it was good.  Then I found out she was signed to 4AD Records.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a 4AD junkie.  (There's a special post coming someday dedicated just to that record label.  But that's for another day)

That got me investigating more music by Grimes, and it led me to our song today.  Born Claire Boucher, and raised in Vancouver, meet your 2013 Juno Award winner for Electronic Album of the Year.  This video was filmed at McGill University, in Montreal, where the artist attended. And yes, this is a real football game and a real motocross exhibition, where she's walking around with headphones and a keyboard and singing.

And now that you've enjoyed Grimes, check out Totally Covered today for an acoustic version of this song by Franz Ferdiannd

(Update: 10 Jan 2014): I had the song stuck in my head.  So here's a live version.