Friday, January 30, 2009

Listen again: Sonya Kitchell

We're quickly approaching that time of year when my love of French jazz and pop ratchets into overdrive. (Hello, Valentine's Day - I've missed your delicious chocolate cheesecake and your love of all things pink and heart-shaped.)

To get into the spirit, I've been spinning Sonya Kitchell's Words Came Back to Me.

You may remember a couple of years ago when Starbucks was really pushing this teenage phenom - she was signed to their Hear Music label. I don't know why she didn't catch fire then - she's got a unique, bluesy voice not totally unlike a Duffy or an Amy Winehouse and a sound that segues gently between Madeleine Peyroux and Joss Stone. Absolutely perfect for soundtracks or quiet evenings at home with a honey. So it's the perfect time of year to revisit this underappreciated album.

To get an idea, check out this live performance of "Can't Get You Out of My Mind:"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pitch perfect: The Kinks

Long before there was a Vampire Weekend and their self-described "Upper West Side Soweto," there were the Kinks. The crazy, amazing Kinks:

Pete Townshend of the Who (a musical genius in his own right) once said of the Kinks' Ray Davies, "I've often thought he should be made a national treasure." The Kinks pioneered a grittier approach to the British Invasion, combining impeccable three-minute pop hits with dirty guitar licks and imperfect vocals - as a result, they sound pitch perfect among today's indie bands. (And it's not just because they have a song about gas being prohibitively expensive.)

In today's indiescape, bands seem to trip over themselves to prove that they are NOT professional singers, as if that somehow destroys the integrity of what they're trying to do. But long before it was hip to have a quirky-voiced lead singer, the Kinks had Ray Davies. He was far from golden-throated, but when he warbles above that irresistible guitar lick in "You Really Got Me," there is simply no resisting:

And from that inauspicious beginning has launched an entire modern genre in which the vocals are allowed, even expected, to be slightly off-kilter. But Ray Davies did it first, and he did it best:

So if you've somehow missed the Kinks, check out their greatest hits, aptly titled Come Dancing with the Kinks. You'll hear kernels that would eventually blossom into bands like the Eels, Vampire Weekend, even Flight of the Conchords.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Singular Obsession: Obsessed With You, the Orion Experience

It's been a while since I heard a single that inspired the kind of passion necessary to declare it an LTF "Singular Obsession," so it seems appropriate the song that finally makes the cut is a song about (what else?) obsession: "Obsessed with You" by the Orion Experience.

The Orion Experience has a neo-glam rock sound (a la Scissor Sisters) that combines with an almost Abba-like pop dynamism to create a totally infectious sound. On "Obsessed with You" all the elements combine to make 3 1/2 minutes of total blowout eargasm.

(By the way, it's worth mentioning that I discovered the song through Fred Flare awesome podcast, where you can hear a higher quality version of "Obsessed With You" on the Staff Picks mix.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Going the Distance

Now I know you've been wondering, "How did Lost Things Found ring in the new year?"

Thanks to the wonderful people who maintain the Pabst Theater's Website (though the show was technically at the Riverside,) I can share the whole awesomely wackadoodle night with you. (Click the link for tons of pictures and a show review.)

There were Polka Kings. There was a trick Chihuahua. There were Racing Sausages. There was a guy in a bird mask. There was an Elvis impersonator. And oh yeah... there was Cake. The first song I heard in 2009 was an EXCELLENT live version of "Short Skirt and Long Jacket." Any year that starts that way has to be good. Here, 9 minutes before we said goodbye to 2008 forever (phew!), we heard another Cake classic:

If you ever get a chance to party with Cake on New Year's Eve, take it.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Little Bit of Feel Good

Happy 2009! If you'd like to start your year with a little upbeat soul, check out Jamie Lidell's excellent album, Jim. This British electronic-music guru had a change of heart last year and made a retro soul album worthy of the masters. Just the latest in a long line of excellent retro soul to come out of the UK lately (see Joss Stone, Duffy, Adele, Amy Winehouse.)

Standouts include the impossibly catchy "Wait for Me," the minor-chord triumph "Little Bit of Feel Good," and the sunny album opener "Another Day:"