Category Archives: +++ 60s-influenced
They’ve been around for almost two decades, but I hate how these guys barely get any love….. I love their gorgeous music and it totally calms me down. Tremendously beautiful acoustic guitar layers and arrangements… stellar harmonies, great lyrics, too. “Quiet Is the New Loud”, indeed. Scandinavian songwriting…. is there anything better? Not usually.
I’d love to see these guys live someday… (sigh)
I’m listening to “Perfect In My Mind”…. and I keep forgetting how fucking good this band is. This is Greta Morgan from The Hush Sound‘s side project…. when The Hush Sound was on hiatus for a few years…. the dude formed the band Stamps… and released an album called “Stamps Play Tramps” (at least I think that’s what it was called). And Greta released the Gold Motel EP, then a full-length to follow. “Perfect In My Mind” is from the EP.
Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish…. pick it up. Oh, and you better own everything by the Hush Sound, because holy shit… they’re brilliant and always have been. I think I wrote about them before. Hell, come to think of it, I probably wrote about Gold Motel. I’ll find out as soon as I choose these categories and tags for this entry…. haha.
I discovered Arrogants (as many bands I absolutely LOVE) through my former student, Mazzy (yes, her real name, after Mazzy Star). She got me into soooo many great bands from 2010-2011…. it’s insane. Thank you, Mazzy.
Sadly, the music of Arrogants is no longer. They broke up, I believe way back in the mid-2000s…. but man, did they leave some great music behind.
I’m spinning all their stuff today, because the weather is in the mid-60s, and it is perfect music for a perfect-weather day, with the windows of my house fully open.
Amazingly, the band leaves all of their music to be freely downloaded and distributed, in the wake of their demise. Get it ALL here…. (two EPs and a gigantic, 23-song full-length).
What’s their music like? In a word, perfect. Fun, catchy, surfy, twee, power-pop, acoustic folk, etc… absolutely charming vocals and vocal melodies over perfectly-arranged, short indie-pop chords. Sometimes with fast drums, sometimes without… and oh yeah, the lyrics are PERFECT.
Some standouts-– “Why T.A.N.G. is my favorite band”, “The Incurables”, and “Nobody’s Cool” (all three are from the Nobody’s Cool EP). GET EVERY ONE OF THEIR SONGS. Seriously… it’s free! And you’ll be glad you grabbed it all, after you hear it.
“I Want You”
“The Distance Between Us”
I want to make music like this with my girlfriend. She’s got a similar voice, sorta…. I say this to everyone (including her)… when it comes to great music, it’s all about the melodies.
All I have to say is… how can you NOT like the first two songs below, from their first and only album “Lil’ Golden Book” (and yes, the album artwork and booklet actually reads LIKE a “Lil Golden Book”, those awesome children’s storybooks we loved as kids in the 70s and 80s)…
Interestingly, the first songs here feel like public-service announcements… as they’re pretty obviously anti-smoking and anti-drinking. The videos are pure genius AND funny…… not to mention how good the songs are.
My heart just gets gooey when I hear 50s/60s-influenced lo-fi/reverby pop stuff with female vocals. Perfect music. Perfect band. MANY thanks to my good friend Kira H. for introducing me to this brilliance.
I will say nothing about this band. You will first watch/listen to the video below, “Capricornia” and then you will watch and listen to the video below that, “Tallulah”.
And you will be convinced that great music still exists. And anyone who says that “all new music SUCKS! I hate everything after 1999” is a fucking idiot, and you should laugh at them, walk away, and revel in the fact that you have perfect taste in music, and they don’t.
“And the tug of a heartstring is the line that pulls you home.”
EDIT: I realize I haven’t posted anything new since Allo Darlin’, but that’s ok. Because their music is THAT good, and it deserves to be at the top of this blog, at least for another week or so.
I am depressed today, because I lost my voice again last night, and need to be silent for the next 10-14 days or else I’ll need another vocal cord surgery. So I’m listening to a lot of Warpaint today. Fucking love this band so much.
Their music is commonly described as “art rock” which to me, sounds pretentious. It’s dreamy, it’s a bit noisy, it’s a bit shoegaze, and its mood is overall…. dark. There’s a little folk here and there, like on the song “Billie Holiday” (from their Exquisite Corpse EP, which borrows some Motown lyrics/melodies and pays homage to Billie at the same time). One thing you can also always count on with the band is its glorious use of reverb on the lead vocals. Definitely sets the mood.
Another thing I love about the band is their constant vocal harmony or vocal unison on nearly all the lead vocals. Mmmm….
Included here is the big radio hit from 2010-2011 “Undertow”. Enjoy.
NOTE: this is a repost (originally posted Feb 7th).
And now, Jack Conte’s wonderful counterpart and musical equal, Nataly Dawn, the gorgeous voice behind Pomplamoose.
Nataly Dawn is one amazing, diverse vocalist. I won’t even mention how pretty this girl is, as it is quite obvious from any picture or YouTube video she’s in (*swoooooon*)… but yeah, back to her voice. It’s smooth as silk, jazzy yet poppy… soulful and subdued… hard to pinpoint, really… other than it’s one gorgeous, addictive sound that I can’t seem to get enough of.
I was lucky enough to meet Nataly and Jack in June 2011 when Pomplamoose played Philly, and got to talk with both of them briefly… they were (and are) exceptionally cool, REAL people. Nataly is extremely nice in real life… such a humble person…. humility so epic, it rivals her musical talents and equals them.
I didn’t even know who Nataly Dawn was until I saw Pomplamoose’s video for Lady Gaga’s “Telephone.” I could care less about Lady Gaga’s music, but after seeing that video, I had to know more about this lovely girl’s talent.
I’ll shut up about Pomplamoose now, and focus on Nataly’s solo stuff. Outside of Pomplamoose, Nataly Dawn is a singer/bassist and guitarist (and occasional pianist). And she is proficient and perfect at all four. If Pomplamoose never formed, it wouldn’t matter… this girl would have still gotten out there, musically, sooner or later…………. but, for the very reason I started this blog… I want the world to hear her.
Nataly is currently working on/recording her latest solo record (a solo album she wound up raising over $100,000 for, through Kickstarter, even though her goal was like 80% less….)– I’m so happy for her, and can’t wait to hear this undoubtedly amazing solo record (which will be produced by Jack Conte!)
Here are a few of my favorite videos and songs of hers:
I saw the Magnetic Fields for the first time last night, at Union Transfer in Philadelphia. And man, it was a holy experience. Ever see a show where, after the applause dies down after each song, you just let out a sigh, in complete bliss? Yeah, there aren’t too many shows like that… but when they happen… you know you’re in the presence of something great, and there’s no other place you’d rather be, then there, right then.
That’s how it was for me last night.
So let me tell you a little about the music of Magnetic Fields…. it’s quirky, it’s poppy, it’s quite strange at times… it’s simple, yet complex… it’s a little country, it’s a little folky, it’s a little new wave, it’s a little Broadway/show-tunes-ish…. it’s a little depressing… it’s a little uplifting… get the point? It’s a little of EVERYTHING GREAT about pop music.
To most fans of indie/underground music, Stephin Merritt (the main songwriter and singer in the band) is a god. There are REALLY good songwriters, and GREAT musical geniuses… and then there’s Stephin Merritt. He’s the cream of the crop, that’s how fuckin’ good this guy is.
Magnetic Fields songs are deceptively simple. I-IV-V pop chord changes, the dominant-tonic relationship (folk/country chord progressions), easy chord shapes in easy keys. Oh but there’s a lot more hiding underneath this simplicity…. I’ve noticed this in all the years I’ve been listening to the Magnetic Fields religiously…. but then as I saw the songs performed last night, and studied what each member of the band was doing… it was just blowing my mind. Such perfect songwriting, structure, arrangement…. not to mention the lyrics and vocal melodies on top of it all.
The Magnetic Fields have released many albums over the past 20 years, and Merritt is extremely prolific… as he has released many albums and EPs outside of Magnetic Fields with the side projects Future Bible Heroes, The Gothic Archies, the 6ths, and also, he’s released a bunch of solo music, as well.
Here is a Spotify playlist of everything Magnetic Fields/Stephin Merritt-related…. it’s pretty complete (full albums and EPs, and soundtracks):
And here is a Spotify playlist of the catchiest Magnetic Fields songs, if you’re a newbie.
Or, just take a listen to these YouTube videos (but chances are, when you hear these few, you’ll want much more… that’s what the Spotify playlists are for. If you don’t have Spotify yet, GET IT!!!
Check out Stephin Merritt’s main website at www.houseoftomorrow.com for all the info about Magnetic Fields and all his other works… also, definitely check out the fantastic documentary about him and Magnetic Fields called Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields (link to the official trailer). As of this writing, you can stream it on Netflix Instant Play if you’re a Netflix member!
I’ve been watching the movie Dan In Real Life on repeat for most of this afternoon. It’s one of my favorite movies… not just because the story and acting and characters are FANTASTIC, but also because of the soundtrack, written specially for the movie by Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche.
This guy’s music is so… gorgeous! It’s quirky at times, and a little bouncy at times, but overall, it’s just gorgeous. Timeless chord changes (some may say some songs of his use cliche chord progressions but even if that were the case, he just adds so much soul and passion to them). His lyrics are fantastic as well.
There’s a mini-documentary on the Dan In Real Life DVD about Sondre writing the music for each scene (basically while he was on set during shooting)… SO GREAT! This guy is such a sweetheart, genuine and passionate… the perfect mix in a singer/songwriter. Those Norwegians… can they get more perfect?
I love all of Sondre’s songs but I really love the songs on the Dan In Real Life soundtrack, including “My Hands Are Shaking”, “Modern Nature” (with Lillian Samdal) and “Family Theme”.
Check them all out below…. and check out www.sondrelerche.com for more info!
NOTE: For the first few posts on this blog, I’m going to write about all the YouTube people connected to the first band I blogged about (Pomplamoose)…. because I think these musicians (who all happen to be friends with Pomplamoose or related to them in some way) are all brilliant, talented, uber-catchy songwriters with a strong knack of melody and arrangement, and deserve our attention, ears, and support ($$$). If you aren’t immediately swooning upon the first few seconds of each of these videos, you have a deficiency in your soul.
So finally…. after Julia Nunes, Lauren O’Connell, Ryan Lerman, Louis Cole, Jack Conte, and Nataly Dawn… comes My Terrible Friend, a collaboration between Lauren O’Connell and Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose.
The best part about the sound of My Terrible Friend is the mixture of vocals and lyrics by Nataly and Lauren…. their voices and styles are completely different, but musically, they come together and create rich, textured folk, with a strong 60’s influence… just gorgeous songs with fantastic lyrics, especially the song “When I Decide.” Ultimately, I can describe My Terrible Friend’s music as timeless.
Here are a few of my favorite videos and songs of theirs: