Wednesday, November 30, 2005

You Would Be Nothing Without Me. I Could Be Nothing. Said The Waves To The Sand. I Could Be Nothing Without You.

Long on atmosphere and packed with sweet, 70's styled harmonies Great Lake Swimmers' sophmore album Bodies And Minds is a magnificent display of songwriting and gentle production. If you like My Morning Jacket or Iron And Wine, do yourself a favor and check these guys out. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Great Lake Swimmers: Various Stages

Great Lake Swimmers: Bodies And Minds

On the pop-ish stylee tip, dig Portugal The Man. From Fearless Records press release: "From the desolate post apocalyptic wasteland future of Wasilla, Alaska roams the nomads of Portugal. the Man. Presenting some odd times (and milldly famous faces featuring members of Anatomy of a Ghost and Mash Potato Mitch and the jet puff marshmellow men) to mess with your noodle and some real good times that will smile your faces." For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Porugal The Man: Stables And Chairs

Portugal The Man: Marching With Six

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Anybody Ever Seen A Heart? Anybody Got A Point Of View? Would Anybody Care To Leave A Card? I Really Don't Mind Who I Love.

Let's get one thing straight. This is not your older brother's House Of Love. Well, not really anyway. On 2005's release Days Run Away, Britain's The House Of Love sound more like a mash up between Cracker and Ride over anything else. While their signature sound of shiny ringing guitars and pseudo-psychedelic melodies remain; gone are the bursts of noise and veering guitar lines of past gems like Christine and Shine off of their debut album. Opting to utilize a more rustic approach on a handful of tracks, THOL have partly managed to make themselves relevant for new fans as well as old. And this was no easy task, having spent the better part of the last decade out of public view and off of listener's stereos. All in all, a decent return to the incendiary sound of their Creation Records years and the chemistry that ignited their first two albums. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

The House Of Love: Love You Too Much

The House Of Love: Gotta Be That Way

The House Of Love: Kinda Love

The House Of Love: Money And Time

Monday, November 28, 2005

You Are What You Love. And Not What Loves You Back.

I wasn't planning on posting any tracks off of Jenny Lewis' upcoming fantastic solo debut Rabbit Fur Coat. I mean I'd seen at least 3 other blogs gush about her already and here at Indoor Fireworks I really try hard to present bands/singers that I like as opposed to what's trendy at the moment. But I just couldn't resist this time. Her full time gig in Rilo Kiley always straddled the line between indie pop and alt. country, but on RFC Miss Lewis fully embraces her countrified pop roots. A stunning display of songwriting coupled with a soft touch on production has lead to a near perfect debut and a guaranteed spot on next year's top album list. Watch for the Top 15 albums of 2005 coming this week! For your listening (dis)pleasure, my favorite 3 songs off of RFC:

Jenny Lewis: Happy

Jenny Lewis: You Are What You Love

Jenny Lewis: Big Guns

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Check It. Since Fifteen Hunderd And Sixteen. Minds Attacked And Overseen. Now Crawl Amidst The Ruins Of This Empty Dream.

Before 3/4 of them joined Chris Cornell to form the plodding & pointless Audioslave, and before lead singer Zach de la Rocha pulled a Houdini and fell off the face of the earth there was the unstoppable juggernaut of sound that was Rage Against The Machine. Mixing together politically charged raps with funky and often bone crushing grooves, these 4 Los Angelinos managed to, in the course of 6 years or so change the face of rock radio. With sporadic album releases and live shows fretted with tension, RATM perfectly mixed their emotions into a Molotov cocktail of punk, hip-hop, and thrash before splitting up in late 2000. I had the pleasure of seeing them perform in 1993; my ears are still ringing. For your listening (dis)pleasure, here are select tracks from their appearance at Coachella in 1999:

Rage Against The Machine
Live At Coachella
Indio, CA

Rage Against The Machine: Testify

Rage Against The Machine: Killing In The Name

Rage Against The Machine: Guerilla Radio

Rage Against The Machine: Bombtrack

Rage Against The Machine: People Of The Sun

Rage Against The Machine: Bullet In The Head

Friday, November 25, 2005

This Ain't No Funky Reggae Party. Five Dollars At The Door.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, tribute albums aren't usually my bag, baby. Case in point, the barely average Look At All The Love We Found: A Tribute To Sublime. I have a very personal relationship with Sublime. Growing up in So Cal I was fortunate enough to have seen Bradley & Co. play live a couple dozen times. Their shows were either erratic brilliance or utter messes. That was the chance you took when you opted to see Sublime play. Last time I saw them, it was a double bill with No Doubt at The World Beat Center. It was 1993. Before "What I Got." Before "I'm Just A Girl." And it was a great show. Full of laughter, jamming, and broken guitar strings. That's how I like to remember Sublime. So, bottom line? This is half of a good album. Half the songs suck, the other half are OK. Dig some of the better ones. And I use the term "better" loosely. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Jack Johnson: Badfish/Boss DJ

Fishbone: Date Rape

No Doubt: DJ's

Greyboy Allstars: Doin' Time

Camper Van Beethoven: Garden Grove

Ozomatli: April, 29th (Miami)

EDIT: This is possibly the sickest thing I've heard in long while. Either that, or it's the Tryptophan talking:

Radiohead vs. Jungle Brothers: How Ya Want It (Punch Up At A Wedding)

Go here for all the crazy details.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

And In My Best Behavior. I Am Really Just Like Him. Look Beneath The Floorboards. For The Secrets I Have Hid.

So in all honesty, I'm not the biggest Sufjan fan. Not by a long shot. That title is bestowed to Chris. Last time we hung out I kinda gave him a hard time about being a Sufjan Stevens fan because let's face it, the man can be difficult. Sort of like an enigma. People have called me that before, but I'm quite sure it wasn't in the same context. Anyhoo, these tracks; culled from a live show he played in Denver in June of 2005 in support of his latest release Illinoise really got me thinking: Would I rather SJ be a difficult listen or someone I causally dismiss? I still don't have a concrete answer for you, but I nonetheless am enjoying these live joints. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Sufjan Stevens: The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders

Sufjan Stevens: John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

Sufjan Stevens: They Are Night Zombies! They Are Neighbors! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh!

Sufjan Stevens: Jacksonville Cheer

Sufjan Stevens: Jacksonville

Sufjan Stevens: Chicago Cheer

Sufjan Stevens: Chicago

Sufjan Stevens: Come On! Feel The Illinoise!!

Sufjan Stevens: A Good Man Is Hard To Find

Monday, November 21, 2005

No Matter How I May Wish For A Coffin So Clean Or These Trees To Undress All Their Leaves Onto Me...

On his/their third full length release Fever And Mirrors, Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes perfectly captured their own cadence of loose indie rock and shaky, emotional vocals. Wrapped up in a neat, lo-fi package, songs stagger and crash into each other yet manage not to distract the listener from it's underliying pop beauty. The results amount to a catchy collection of elaborate songs that's been perfectly captured on a nickel budget. I've been known to blather on about this band before; hope you all can see why with these selections. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Bright Eyes: A Spindle, A Darkness, A Fever, And A Necklace

Bright Eyes: A Poetic Retelling Of An Unfortunate Seduction

Bright Eyes: When The Curious Girl Realizes She Is Under Glass

Bright Eyes: The Calendar Hung Itself

Saturday, November 19, 2005

This Bird Has Flown.

Usually I'm not the biggest fan of tribute albums. I mean really. What's the point of hearing someone cover something that 9 times out of 10 was fine to begin with? Do I really need to hear Korn covering "Behind The Wheel" By Depeche Mode? Probably not. However, on the recently released Beatles tribute This Bird Has Flown, a respectable group of musicians and bands more than aptly cover/tweak some of the more familiar songs from the Fab Four's catalogue. Check out Ben Harper's skanked-out version of "Michelle" & Ted Leo's manic take of "I'm Looking Through You" to see what I'm talking about. For your listening (dis)pleasure, here are my favorites. All files are You Send It (follow link):

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals: Michelle

Ted Leo: I'm Looking Through You

Ben Lee: In My Life

Nellie McKay: If I Needed Someone

Friday, November 18, 2005

Your Face Is Made Of Glass. Who Shattered It?

Blending a light, bouncy pop sound remeniscent of The 88, Squeeze, The Shins, and aspects of The Police with a sometimes angular sound, Chicago's The Changes have managed to craft a sound that is at once recognizable but still unique. I'm a sucker for jangly guitars, keys and hooky choruses' & The Changes have loads of all. If you're in the Chicago area for New Year's Eve, buy your tickets to see them at Schubas. I have a feeling 2005 will be the last time you'll be able to pay only $15 to see them play. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

The Changes: Her You and I

The Changes: When I Wake

The Changes: When I Sleep

The Changes: The Machine

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Phone My Family, Tell Them I'm Lost On The Sidewalk.

I'm not firing on all cylinders this morning, so why don't you just enjoy Wilco's slightly kooky yet inherently neccessary More Like The Moon e.p. by, in my honest opinion, the real American version of Radiohead. Sorta. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Wilco: Kamera (remix)

Wilco: Handshake Drugs

Wilco: Woodgrain

Wilco: Magazine Called Sunset

Wilco: Bob Dylan's 49th Beard

Wilco: More Like The Moon

Monday, November 14, 2005

But You Were Just Friends. At Least That's What You Said. Now I Know Better From His Fingers In Your Hair.

I'm sure I'll lose whatever street cred I have left after this post, but fuck it. I don't care. I like Gavin Degraw's album Chariot. Rather, I like the stripped version which comes as a nifty bonus disc on the re-released version. He's got a great soulful wail and is a pretty ace piano player to boot. His songwriting style covers elements of pop and soul, and he really seems to be trying to bring some integrity back to music. Even though his lyrics aren't particularily great, his musicianship is so much further advanced, so that songs like the title track carry DeGraw up and beyond the company of others in the market. Gavin Degraw's "Chariot" is a first record made by a young man with good intentions and a promising future in the pop music industry. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Gavin DeGraw: (Nice To Meet You) Anyways (stripped)

Gavin DeGraw: Follow Through (stripped)

Gavin DeGraw: Just Friends (stripped)

Gavin Degraw: Chemical Party (stripped)

Gavin DeGraw: Change Is Gonna Come (stripped) (Sam Cooke cover)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

That's A Fuckin' Love Song, Son.

I love a good mash up. Really. Truly. I love it when the tracks are perfectly laid on top of one another and end up forming this completely new song. When it's done properly, it's an art. For your listening (dis)pleasure, 4 of my favorite mash ups:

Elvis Presley vs. The Wailers: Crying In The Chapel

50 Cent vs. David Bowie: 21 Questions About Fame

War vs. The Thompson Twins: Lie Rider

The Beatles vs. The Beastie Boys: Pass The Word

Friday, November 11, 2005

My Books Are Sitting At The Top Of The Stack Now. The Longer Words Are Really Breaking My Back Now.

It's Friday and I feel like rocking out today. Peppermint-stylee. Dig the juggernaut of sound that is The White Stripes live. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

The White Stripes
Merriweather Post Pavilion, Coloumbia MD

The White Stripes: Blue Orchid

The White Stripes: Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground

The White Stripes: I Think I Smell A Rat

The White Stripes: Jolene

The White Stripes: My Doorbell

The White Stripes: Black Math

The White Stripes: Death Letter

The White Stripes: Hotel Yorba

The White Stripes: The Denial Twist

The White Stripes: Ball And Biscuit

The White Stripes: The Hardest Button To Button

The White Stripes: Seven Nation Army

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

This Puppet's Lonely Without You. It's Tough To Walk Without Strings.

Most of you are aware by now of the love jones I have for The Cardigans; and on their excellent new release Super Extra Gravity the love fest continues. Reuniting with producer Torre Johannson for the first time since Gran Turismo, The Cardigans have woven together an album of spacious, sharp, and gritty pop gems. This is a lush album with slight experimental flourishes, but yet it doesn't sound too complicated. And that's the beauty of it. Personally, I could get lost for days in some of the soundscapes and vocals that have been laid down on this record. However, simple tunes and choruses aren't forgotten amidst the mix. Most of the songs explore complex relationship dynamics and their after effects which makes this a natural sequel to 2003's warmer, more intimate Long Gone Before Daylight. The band's ability to provide catchy and polished backdrops for frontwoman Nina Persson's angsty, and often very dark lyrics makes this one of the best alternative pop albums of the year. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

The Cardigans: Drip Drop Teardrop

The Cardigans: In The Round

The Cardigans: And Then You Kissed Me Pt.2

The Cardigans: I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Well This Is It, I'm Running Out Of Space. Here Is My Address And Number Just In Case.

Often billed as the female Nick Drake, Emiliana Torrini is, to me, more like Björk filtered through Roland Orzabal's refined pop eardrums. On her warmly intimate 2005 release Fisherman's Woman, it almost seems as though the engineers stumbled across a wood nymph with a six-string guitar sighing gently on the banks of a tumbling brook, set up their recording equipment, and then came back an hour later to hear what they had captured. This album is that intimate and hushed. These are songs that sneak into the listener's subconscious, lying in wait until the perfect spring day to surface in the form of a quiet hum or low whistle, sounding for all the world like a lullaby long forgotten or a folk song never written down. For your listening (dis)pleasure; the following are tracks culled from her XFM Live Session in June 2005

Emiliana Torrini: At Least It Was Me

Emiliana Torrini: Sunny Road

Emiliana Torrini: Heartstopper

Monday, November 07, 2005

Gothic Flavor. How I Miss You. If I Only Once Could Kiss You.

It seems all anyone ever does these days is bag on Weezer. Their last album sucked blah blah blah. Rivers is turning into a buddhist freak of nature blah blah blah. Why did they work with Rick Rubin? blah blah blah. Are they gonna break up? And so on and so forth. I say fuck the naysayers `cause they don't mean a thing. I love Weezer. I will always love Weezer. Wanna know why? Mainly because Ric Ocasek produced two of their albums; and seeing as how he holds the crown of 80's pop design and has influenced a ton of bands, really, who am I to argue with that. Plus, they made Pinkerton. Here's a little gem from June 2001 when Rivers and Co. spent time with the late, great John Peel @ The BBC Sessions. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Weezer: Take Control

Weezer: December

Weezer: Burndt Jamb

Weezer: December (L.A. Retouch)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

It Is By The Grace Of Me You Never Learned What I Could See

Fiona Apple and her music mean many different things to me. She means love. She means revenge and raw emotions. She is fragile. Kind of like the wounded bird you desperately want to nurse back to health. But on the recently released, critically acclaimed Extraordinary Machine she is anything but. She is determined. Forceful. Sensual. Sexy. I'm not going to bore you with the now oft told story of Extraordinary Machine's conception and subsequent painful birth. I'd rather just let you experience it for yourself. If you have the "leaked" version then you are aware what a different album this turned out to be. And ultimately for the better I now realize. Breaking away from longtime producer Jon Brion into the arms of Mike Elizondo; a producer best known for his work with Dr. Dre than anyone of Ms. Apple's caliber; Fiona allowed Elizondo to tinker with her sound. Processed beats here. A touch of brass there. But sometimes it takes a quirky pairing to achieve another level of creativity. And that's exactly what this album is: a brilliant piece of work. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Fiona Apple: Better Version Of Me

Fiona Apple: O` Sailor

Fiona Apple: Parting Gift

Fiona Apple: Please Please Please