Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's not summer without Fountains of Wayne

It appears I am going to have to make my peace with my least-favorite month of the year, because on Aug. 2, the new Fountains of Wayne album, Sky Full of Holes, will be released by Yep Roc (love that band, love that label!). Thanks to the ever-wonderful NPR Music, you can listen to a track from the new album right now here.

In the meantime, I highly recommend listening to every other Fountains of Wayne song ever recorded, as they are all little triumphs of power pop confection ideally suited to the summertime.

Need help getting started? Dig deeper than "Stacy's Mom" and "Hey Julie" (though those are both great) with one of my favorites, "Red Dragon Tattoo:"

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Live from George, Washington

If you're anything like me, the music part of the summer music festivals sounds great, but the heat, crowds and camping is enough to make you barricade yourself in your air-conditioned apartment for three months. Thanks to NPR, those of us with nature aversions don't have to miss out on last weekend's Sasquatch Festival in George, Washington (yes, it's really called that.) NPR has archived many of the live performances on this page.

I'm particularly excited about Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, Iron and Wine, and Sharon Jones, but with so many to choose from, you're bound to find something you love. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cameron Crowe on Bob Dylan

Today is Bob Dylan's 70th birthday. To honor the man who transformed popular music, Rolling Stone devoted an entire issue to him, including a piece on the "70 Greatest Dylan Songs" in honor of his milestone birthday.

My favorite Dylan song, hands down, is "Buckets of Rain":

And who did Rolling Stone tap to do the write-up on my favorite Dylan song? Why, my favorite filmmaker, writer and music lover - Cameron Crowe! You can read the full write-up on his website here. Cameron is insightful and eloquent, as always, but I particularly love the simple way he explains his love of this song: "Any room I’ve ever played it in has changed as a result." I feel exactly the same way.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Where Soul Meets Body

I fell in love with Death Cab for Cutie the same way I fell in love with Wilco: at first I heard them in passing and thought they were totally nice, but we ended up going our separate ways. And then, years later, I woke up with one of their songs turning pages in my brain over and over again, so I looked them up again and fell madly, deeply, passionately in love.

I am eagerly awaiting the release of their newest album at the end of this month (see previous post), but while we wait...

Today for one day only, you can download their debut album Plans at Amazon for only $3.99. This includes arguably their first hit (if you can call any of their impeccably crafted songs "hits"), Soul Meets Body, as well as the darkly liminal I Will Follow You Into the Dark. I think my favorite from this album might be Crooked Teeth, however:

Friday, April 29, 2011

This fire grows higher

Eagerly awaiting the release of the new Death Cab for Cutie album at the end of May - only one more month to wait! In the meantime, I've had the early-release single "You Are a Tourist" on repeat.

In case you missed it a couple of weeks ago, they shot a video for this song in a rather ingenious way - they did the entire video (replete with laser light show, confetti and Busby Berkely-esque showgirls) in one take and simultaneously broadcast it via their website. The result is whimsical, witty and infused with a certain live-theater energy:

Pre-order the new album here, if you're so inclined.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

All the other kids

Foster The People - EP

Sometimes, dear invisible followers, I give you measured, fascinating music history or carefully researched reviews or advice on festivals and touring bands. And sometimes I just tell you, "Listen to this song. It's wonderful." This is one of those times.

Check out Foster the People singing "Pumped Up Kicks":

Buy the EP here. And special thanks to WXRT, where I heard it first.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Radio Louisville

I have to confess I've been in a bit of a musical rut lately. It happens to the best of us - you hit a point where everything you hear suddenly sounds unremarkable and uninspired and you can't figure out what genre of music you're craving, you just know nothing is quite right. Indie seems too lo-fi or quirky or groove-less; classic rock feels too familiar, expected, predictable; singer/songwriter is too cliche, chamber pop is too cacophonous... and on and on.

As is often the case with ruts of any kind, sometimes the cure is simply a change of scenery. Which is why I was so happy to re-discover 91.9 WFPK Radio Louisville on a recent trip to the bluegrass state.

If you agree with my theory that all music is local, then you'll understand what I mean when I say that WFPK just sounds like Kentucky. Their DJs create the perfect playlists of Americana, roots rock, bluegrass, indie, jazz, folk... endless combinations of music and yet everything flows beautifully from one song to the next. As a wise friend explained it to me, "WFPK is just always perfect for every moment. They're like your own personal soundtrack, and they are never wrong."

And suddenly, listening to these perfect playlists, my musical rut disappeared. I once again found myself hastily scribbling the names of songs or bands while stopped at stoplights, desperate to hear more from every band that caught my ear - Walk the Moon, Wild Sweet Orange, the new TV on the Radio, Foster the People. I once again have a whole mental queue of music to investigate.

Even better, WFPK is a listener-supported station, which means that in non-pledge times, it is almost completely ad-free. And you're in luck - they stream online as well. If you're in need of new inspiration, this is an excellent place to start. And then if you love it as I do, consider becoming one of those listeners that supports. Because no matter where you live, Radio Louisville makes the world a better place, and we should all be so lucky as to be able to keep it around for a long time.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

I just wanna let it shine

100 Miles From Memphis

Songcrush confession: Sheryl Crow's "Summer Day" is like pure honey on a sunshine-y day, and I just can't get enough of it right now:

In fact, the whole album is great. 100 Miles from Memphis was released last summer and feels like a timeless classic rock gem. You'll hear the influence of the Rolling Stones, Bob Marley, Motown and Mellencamp, among others, but always in that inimitable Sheryl Crow style, which often doesn't get enough respect in my opinion. This is a very smooth, solid record and the perfect complement to warmer weather. Need a backyard barbecue soundtrack, perhaps?