Wednesday, June 27, 2007

From the driving-with-the-top-down files

I recently got a gig writing music reviews for Web site Just Press Play. One of my first reviews is OK Go's Oh No, which coincidentally happens to be excellent summer music, particularly if you just got a sporty new car with a sunroof (as I did.)

Here's the first paragraph:

Chicago’s OK Go had built up a loyal fan following through their theatrical live shows long before the release of their self-titled debut album in 2002. That album combined unabashedly bright power-pop, campy, dramatic vocals, and a polished, high-energy studio sound reminiscent of the Cars...

For the rest, go here.

And because you can never see it too many times, here is that awesome homemade video for "Here It Goes Again" - the one with the treadmill choreography.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Where Cold War Kids meet Prince

I've posted a new LTF playlist at right - this one's called "Inspired by Bigelow" because I compiled it from a playlist distributed by upscale apothecary C.O. Bigelow Chemist. The list's compilers - Dineh Mohajer and Jeanne Chavez - seem to have combined 80s New Wave and cutting-edge indie rock. You'll hear Prince and New Order next to Arctic Monkeys and the Raveonettes, Joy Divison and the Smiths next to The Eels and Editors.

So sit back, flip through the jukebox and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bonnaroo Radio

If, like me, you missed music festival Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., last weekend, fret not. AT&T's Blue Room is currently streaming "Bonaroo radio" featuring live performances recorded backstage at Bonnaroo. (Click on "Listen Now" to the left and then toggle to "Bonnaroo."

There were TONS of great bands at the festival, including Wilco, Kings of Leon, Regina Spektor, Spoon, Fountains of Wayne, Feist, and Mavis Staples. The Police headlined.

I'm not seeing any archived video up on the Blue Room site yet, but I'll keep you updated. In the meantime, enjoy the stream.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A bit of 'Bubbly'

Colbie Caillat has a touch of the rock royalty about her (father Ken co-produced and co-engineered Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, among many other credits), but it's her stunning voice that won me over as soon as I heard her on Cities 97 this morning. No album out yet, but she has songs available for download on iTunes and you can listen to them on her MySpace page as well.

She's on tour opening for the Goo Goo Dolls right now - I'm toying with the idea of braving the crowds at Summerfest weekend after next to check her out.

The sound is warm, acoustic, jangly - and rising above it all is that honey-smooth voice that sounds both innocent and wise at the same time. Start with the single "Bubbly," but don't stop there - listen to all of it. Lovely.

Or check out this video of her performing "Realize" in LA:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Inspired by

I was attending Fleetwood Mac shows in utero, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that I am a huge Mac fan to this day.

Browsing around today, I noticed a cool feature on their music pages - Music You Should Hear, as recommended by other famous musicians. Basically, it's an artist's personal list of the music that has influenced them the most.

Fleetwood Mac lead guitarist Lindsey Buckingham is one of the featured artists, and his list is surprisingly eclectic, ranging from Chuck Berry to Eminem, and each selection features a very literate and thoughtful examination of that artist's place in the rock lexicon.

As always when I read a musician's list of favorites, I had more than a few moments of "I thought I was the only one!" The Drifters' "Save the Last Dance for Me," for instance, has always been a favorite of mine, even before I read, via LB, that its author was wheelchair-bound. (How unbelievably heartbreaking?)

After reading a recent Dave Barry column extolling the virtues of garage-rock paragon "Louie Louie," I wasn't surprised to see it make his list. And I am definitely in the camp that thinks that the late Beach Boys are VASTLY underrated, so I couldn't agree more with his assessment of "Surf's Up" as a piece of musical genius.

But the happiest moment for me was seeing my touchstone album, Joni Mitchell's Blue, listed as one of Buckingham's influences: "Joni Mitchell's genius was never more clear to me than on the album Blue," he says.

Other artists to compile lists include Elvis Costello, ">Rufus Wainwright, Patti Labelle , Mavis Staples and Maroon5.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Live and Feist-y

I've been hearing nothing but good things about the new Feist album. Haven't had a chance to check out the whole thing yet, but I am currently LOVING the song "1 2 3 4" on a mix, so I searched out a live set she did for KCRW.

This set is a little sleepier than the rest of the songs I've heard, but it should give you a good idea of her sound, which combines the best of female singer-songwriters and indie sonic textures.

Visit Feist's MySpace page to listen to "1 2 3 4" and three others.

And while I'm on the subject of Feist, check out this feature from Paste Magazine.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tom Petty bonus

Tom Petty's "American Girl" is one of my favorite cruising-around-in-the-summer songs, and with the weather hitting 90 today, it seemed like a good time to dig out some Tom Petty and dust it off for the season.

How fortuitous then that I checked my email today to discover that a new special edition of Petty's Highway Companion was released today. Click on this link to hear full songs and clips from the new special edition.

Or visit Petty's MySpace for a sneak preview and a couple of demos. (I recommend "Big Weekend.")

I'm pretty sure I will never forget hearing him perform "Free Fallin'" at Summerfest last year as I watched the Big Bang fireworks overheard... truly amazing.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Softsational Indeed

I haven't caught it yet, but I see that Vh1 is running "The 40 Greatest Softsational Soft-Rock Songs." Whitney over at Pop Candy has posted the full list.

I have to admit a deep and abiding love of some of these songs. (Hall and Oates' Abandoned Luncheonette is a desert-island disc for me.) I was reminded of this deep and abiding love after watching Anchorman a few months ago - that soundtrack is full of great 70s lite rock.

Inspired by all the soft rock love, I made my own playlist of favorites, which is now posted at right under the "LTF Playlist." It features several of the songs on Vh1's list as well as a few I feel they egregiously overlooked, including:

* "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" by Leo Sayer
* "She's Gone" by Hall & Oates
* "Dancing in the Moonlight" by King Harvest
* "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" by Looking Glass
* "On and On" by Stephen Bishop
* "Hello It's Me" by Todd Rundgren
* "Shining Star" by the Manhattans

Check it out and enjoy the soft-rock groove.