Here's side B from my 'mix tape'. Imagine it wrapped in a cassette liner printout generated in HyperCard and run on a dot-matrix printer.
24 Hours - The Sounds
A band that's hard to Google, since you tend to get a lot of stuff about Jack Bauer. Another great anthemic chorus from a Swedish pop-rock band that are doing really well in the trying to look like Blondie competition. I heard this first on Fluxblog.
Police and the Private - Metric
Metric are also doing well in the look-like-Blondie competition. They also sound quite a bit like Blondie, too. The added bonus is that Emily Haines can actually speak French, so it doesn't quite sound as silly as when Debbie Harry says 'Appel-moi' - Emily repeats whole verses of 'Poster of a Girl' in both official languages. This track isn't so Blondie-ish, but I really like its paranoid lyrics mixed with authentic new-wave synthesizers.
Vertebrae - Christine Fellows
I've blogged this track before. I'm not sure why I've put a song on a 'play me often' disc that makes me want to cry every time I hear it. It's about loss and what happens afterwards. I've been there - I know what it's like. This was another CBC Radio 3 discovery.
Feel Good About It - Marching Band
Once you've had a good cry, here's a pretty song about how life sucks but you should still try to enjoy it. Gee, find the Scandinavians in this picture. Found out about this from Music (for Robots).
Live In A Hiding Place - Idlewild
Glenn McDonald, from TWAS, wrote so enthusiastically about this band and album, and shares my past enthusiasms for Rush, Marillion, and Big Country, that I had to check it out. It's a pretty song with a nice piano part in the Grand Anthemic Chorus. I guess Idlewild are sort of Emo, but it seems more authentic when it's sung by an earnest scotsman than a whiny midwesterner. Actually, they're probably not that earnest - and the midwesterners may not really be that whiny. Whatever.
My Alcoholic Friends- The Dresden Dolls
Amanda Palmer likes to act out her issues (didn't I know her at Oberlin? No, she went to Wesleyan - close enough!) - but she can't really be that crazy if she's able to put together cheeky and catchy well-crafted tunes like this. I blogged their first album, and their second album picks up from where that one left off - fewer meandering piano indulgences, and more dark fun.
Me and the Mini Bar - The Dresden Dolls
In case we were getting too cheerful today, here's a track that, on the title alone, instantly went into my 'Late Night Drinking' playlist next to a lot of Tom Waits and the Pogues. This is actually close to being one of those 'meandering piano indulgences' but the bleak charm shines right through. The sample here is from the climax of the song, but you're missing the build up, which is a shame. Get the album to hear the rest. The previous album was about messed up relationships - this one is mostly about being alone. Life on the road must suck. "Happy birthday to us," indeed.
Sunset - Kate Bush
From the Dresden Dolls back to the root and then forward again on another branch. This is from Kate Bush's latest album Aerial. I was a huge Kate Bush fan - the 'Ninth Wave' song cycle (he said 'song cycle' - ooh pretentious!) on the B side of her Hounds of Love album is still one of my favorite sets of music. The new album is good, but tends towards slickly-produced loop-based songs that don't seem to have a lot of structure. I originally felt that about Peter Gabriel's 'UP' so perhaps I should just give it more time.
This track is the highlight for me - the lyrics hit me right between the eyes for some reason, and the music has a latin/jazz tinge to it that's a different direction for Kate Bush. She used to be be sexy in a precious Bronte-nymph sort of way in her early albums, but this is a quiet tango about death, which is sexy in a much more grown-up way.
New Grass- Talk Talk
I often discover music from the past that I really wish I had known when it came out, but I just wasn't paying attention. My childhood cravings for Grand Anthemic Choruses really missed out on getting enough Meatloaf and Boston. I knew that I liked techno in the early 90s, but didn't know where to find the good stuff and so ended up with 'Dance Mix 93' instead of Underworld and Plastikman. Here's another missed opportunity - by 1991/1992 I was getting into ambient sound spaces, but I never heard this. This is also fantastic 'College Dorm Room Late At Night' music.
I remember Talk Talk from all the massive critical acclaim they got for 'It's My Life' back in the 80s. I didn't even know they had done other albums into the 90s, until a few months ago I read back-to-back 'my favorite music ever' recommendations from some musicians that both included this track. It's a long way from the Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry sound they had in their earlier albums - this is all open spaces and musical fragments. Coming from just before grunge, it's remarkably post-rock.