Monthly Archives: July 2008

#29 the pains of being pure at heart – everything with you

one of mozart’s most famous works is “seranade no. 13 for strings in g minor”, or more commonly known as “eine kleine nachtmusik” (literally, “a little night music” in german). i’m sure you’ve heard it before. well, some of you have mentioned to me that a lot of the music featured here isn’t exactly music you’d wake up to. that’s true in a way, since i’ve used the blog title a lot more loosely to encompass anything i’ve been listening to lately. it’s also of course a tribute to one of my favorite bands belle and sebastian, who’ve released an ep called i’m waking up to us. anyway, i reckon there’s room to occasionally feature music i’d really wake up to, and i’ve decided to hijack mozart’s title to call this series [eine kleine morgenmusik]. first up is this delightfully fuzzy pop tune by the pains of being pure at heart, a sunny side up with lots of pepper on top.

mp3: the pains of being pure at heart – everything with you

#28 grampall jookabox – the girl ain’t preggers

while sufjan stevens has been on a rather long hiatus, his asthmatic kitty label has been keeping itself busy with new signings, the latest of which is grampall jookabox – songwriter david adamson’s self-proclaimed “jungle folk” project. a new album ropechain is due this november, the fruit of a spontaneously intense week of composing and arranging, featuring among other songs the stomping “the girl ain’t preggers”. a direct pounding tribal structure forms the backbone for the narrator’s ironic tale of the woes of finding his girl pregnant, and the loss he subsequently rues upon realizing it was a false alarm. delightfully candid and powerfully raw, this is a promising preview for the upcoming album, and an honest account of the laughable contradictions of the human condition.

mp3: grampall jookabox – the girl ain’t preggers

#27 portishead – small

my portishead third album has been lying around for months, a victim of owner neglect save for a couple of background listens. but what’s a couple of months of dormancy if this has been a record more than ten years in the making? tonight seemed like the right evening to give it a real spin, and i’m convinced if a decade is what it takes for this band to compose itself for an album that doesn’t merely reproduce the genre it arguably kickstarted, then so be it. while third should really be listened to as a whole, “small” is an undeniable highlight in it that rewards your patience with a generously expanding soundscape that ebbs and flows with impeccable timing, eventually leaving you hanging at the cliff thirsting for more.

mp3: portishead – small

#26 wire – one of us

i owe sue a long overdue “music to drive to” mix. i know it would probably begin with jonathan richman‘s “roadrunner” and end off with r.e.m.‘s “drive”, although everything in between’s just a haze. after listening to wire‘s “one of us”, taken off their newly released object 47 album available at pink flag, i think this song will definitely sit well in the mix, maybe as a fitting companion to kraftwerk’s “autobahn”, but perhaps more appropriately as simply a breath of fresh air.

mp3: wire – one of us

#25 mercury rev – snowflake in a hot world

another band with an upcoming release this september is mercury rev with their new album snowflake midnight. although i started listening to them at the surprisingly sweet deserter’s songs, what i really like is their earlier work which was full-on noise and melody in unequal parts (in which way i cannot say – they were delightfully unpredictable that way). sadly, i haven’t enjoyed their later releases as much, especially the frustratingly new-agey secret migration. that’s why my only lament for their otherwise perfect concert at the esplanade last year was probably the absence of all pre-deserter’s material. what made up for it was the introduction of two new songs, one of which was “snowflake in a hot world”. now featuring as the new album opener, this curious melding of old school psych-fairy tale with out-of-place electronic beats is blowing both hot and cold for me, but i’ve come to accept that as a necessary part of mercury rev. i’ll tell you some time later which way this one finally goes. or perhaps tonite it’ll show.

mp3: mercury rev – snowflake in a hot world

#24 okkervil river – john allyn smith sails

last year, okkervil river released the stage names, which was one of my favorite albums of 2007. this september, the follow-up to that album the stand-ins will be out, and after the first couple of preview listens, i still feel it pales in comparison to its predecessor. i’ll definitely give it a chance to grow on me, but for the time being, here’s the awesome album closer from the stage names. i remember the first time i heard it when i nearly choked on my lunch hearing the beach boys’ pet sounds classic “sloop john b” creep its way into the rousing finale of this song.

mp3: okkervil river – john allyn smith sails

#23 the dutchess and the duke – reservoir park

i’ve never been to reservoir park, but i sure know what it’s like not knowing what i’m gonna do, just as the world keeps turning and the clouds keep rolling on. this song, taken off the newly released debut album by the dutchess and the duke, seems to read what’s weighing on my mind right now with every surrounding handclap and knowingly produced harmony. comparisons to dylan often crop up probably because of some resemblance in song structure and delivery right down to jesse lortz’s tail-end drawl, but maybe it’s a weight a little too heavy to bear for this freewheelin’ duo, who remain pretty comfortable sharing their simple stories with common people like me and you.

mp3: the dutchess and the duke – reservoir park

#22 man man – van helsing boombox

i love whistling songs (high on the list: andrew bird‘s “a nervous tick motion to the head”. nobody whistles better than him.) and i can’t explain why. whatever it is, when i heard the first whistles on man man‘s appearance in the latest issue of la blogothèque‘s the take-away shows, i got really interested. i happen to love the take-away shows a lot too (also high on the list: the elevator sequence for the arcade fire, the staircase orchestra for beirut, and the metro sing-a-long party for yeasayer). by the end of the man man episode, i had placed an order for their latest album rabbit habits released earlier this year on anti-. oh, and for that first take-away show song they did? it’s an older song called “van helsing boombox”, a little paradox with a big heart that’s got a bit of something for everybody to have.

mp3: man man – van helsing boombox

#21 crystal antlers – parting song for the torn sky

i’ve always had a love-hate affair with prog rock. it’s generally not quite my cup of tea, but i can’t explain why i like bands like dungen so much, and yet just can’t quite appreciate the mars volta. anyhow, it’s with this questionable track record that i picked up crystal antlers‘ new self-released ep from my mailbox bearing much apprehension, which of course was mixed with much curiosity as well considering the rave reviews it’s been receiving all round. i’ve also got to admit my first spin was a rough one, something to the equivalent of a splitting headache. but there’s something excessive about this record that kept me listening more, as neatly summed up in the psychadellically overblown album closer “parting song for the torn sky”. i don’t think i’ve come any much closer to being a prog rock convert after listening to this, though i don’t mind being a fellow traveler for the time being.

mp3: crystal antlers – parting song for the torn sky

#20 elephant9 – i cover the mountain top

mention the rune grammofone label, and you’ll think right away of the bustling experimental music scene in norway. sometimes, that can be an intimidating impression, since experimental must mean serious and difficult right? wrong, especially if it’s elephant9 you’re listening to, the newly formed psych-prog-jazz-rock (feel free to add more labels) band comprising ståle storløkken (supersilent) on keyboards, nikolai eilertsen (the national bank) on bass, and torstein lofthus (shining) on drums. established musicians in their respective bands, the trio sound perfectly comfortable playing with each other, their impeccably tight performance and lively improvisation evident in their energetic debut album dodovoodoo, which was recorded live on analog tape. the second song off that record, “i cover the mountain top” is a sprawling monster of a track, taking its time with a patient build up towards an intense acid-soaked, electric miles davis homage.

mp3: elephant9 – i cover the mountain top