Monday, May 23, 2011

I had two guys every morning

SOTW May 8!
So I went to see a rare solo show by Jane Wiedlin a few weeks ago, when she was a special guest performer with the Les Paul Trio at the Iridium Jazz Club here in New York. It was a short set, with Jane performing seven songs, including Keith Urban's number-one hit "But for the Grace of God" that she and Urban co-wrote with fellow Go-Go Charlotte Caffey, and a set-closing "Our Lips Are Sealed" with the Magnetic Field's Stephin Merritt "singing" the iconic "Hush my darling..." part Jane usually tackles. The other songs were standards including "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and Julie London's "Cry Me a River." The best song of the set, though, was a jaunty proto-feminist tune called "Thirteen Men" originally sung by Ann-Margret in 1962, a sort of response song to a chauvanistic 1950s song called "Thirteen Women" (that had the same tune). Jane's adorable voice handled the song admirably, and she really worked the humorous angle.

Here's Jane doing her version from 2006.

Here's Ann-Margret's original version of "Thirteen Men" from 1962.

I could die here right here in your arms

SOTW for May 1! We're nearly a month behind so I think we're just going to post the videos, and maybe write more after we get off our asses. Here's mine for May 1, "Starlight" by Sophie Ellis Bextor from her electro-poptastic new album, Make a Scene. As it took more than a year to be released, I was expecting a problematic album. But in fact, every song sounds like a single, apart from the disappointing title track.

Sophie really is unlike any other singer around these days. She's always seemed older than age and is definitely an old-school popstar (she doesn't do choreography or lipsynch). But she seems in total control of her career, and has amassed a number of impressive singles that range from indie (her work with former band theaudience), dance ("Murder on the Dancefloor"), rock ("Catch You") and pop ("Me and My Imagination").

"Starlight" is dancey ballad, and while I'm not exactly sure how I would describe her voice—smoky? bleating? raspy?—she manages to wring every bit of emotion out of the song.

Apparently she's already hard at work on her next album, reportedly writing with Bernard Butler from Suede, in what she claims will be a synth-free record. Imagine that!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I miss the scrach of your unshaven face

Brace yourself. There’s not much that I can write about my song of the week for April 24th, apart from the fact that it’s Ke$ha again. I’m not so proud to admit that; two Ke$ha songs in three weeks. But it’s New York in spring, and the mindless songs on Animal and Cannibal energized me through rainy-day commutes to and from the office. Of course, being me, I wallowed in the drizzle and overdosed on the surprisingly sentimental “The Harold Song,” a simple tale of lost love and relationship regrets. And who can't relate to that?

Here’s a fan-made video for “The Harold Song.”

Life, it leaves you full of arrows

Few new artists have excited me more in the past few years than Erik Hassle, and I bet Jason would agree. It seems just yesterday he released his first single, “Hurtful,” but was actually late 2008 (my iTunes shows I added it on March 9, 2009). His Swedish album, Hassle, subsequent 2010 release (with new songs) retitled Pieces, and his Taken EP have kept him on steady rotation since.

Jason recently blogged about his latest effort, Mariefred Sessions, which is an appetizer before a to-be-released second album. Mariefred is an EP of songs he wrote and recorded with members of Kent, one of my favorite bands. Kent mainly record in Swedish, which makes it nearly impossible for me to understand, although there’s a small, rabid fan community online that translates songs. I was excited about them working with Hassle, and adored the single, “Are You Leaving?” And after a few weeks with the rest of the EP, the other songs’ quiet brilliance has emerged.

My SOTW for April 17 (I know, weeks late!) is "Arrows," the closing track. It has a particular Kent-ness—tense, tightly wound verses juxtaposed with choruses full of emotional release. Unfortunately, I can't find "Arrows" anywhere online—not even a Soundcloud! But if you want to hear some of Erik Hassle's greatness, try here:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Couldn't Shake Loose, Not From You, Not From You

The 30th of May sees the release of Nerina Pallot's new album "Year Of The Wolf." From this, her fourth album, we have her lead single. "Put Your Hands Up" as my Song Of The Week. I usually have an mp3 way before I ever decide to watch a song's video, but in this case, a HQ mp3 hadn't leaked yet, so I just settled on watching the video instead. I've been a fan of Nerina since her 1st album dropped back in 2001, LOVING songs like "Patience" and "Blood Is Blood," which still get a fair amount of play on my ipod. She even did a dance track with Delerium, which left me all sorts of excited cuz you KNOW how I love me some remixes. Anyways, one viewing of this video had me hooked, as usual the simple context of people breaking into song/dance in everyday life oft will for me. The fact that the lyrics tell tale of a "I didn't know I was looking for love until I found you" sorta situation even better. For awhile there, I would find myself singing a mash-up of Nerina with Kylie Minogue's own "Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love) [From the album APHRODITE, where Nerina wrote both the title track and one other], but not Nerina's in the one "Put Your Hands Up" that's got A List playing in my head right now.

ALTHOUGH, you will be Hand-Pressed not to fall in love with Kylie's tune after watching this PS22 duet.

And while I'm at it, here's the Nerina penned Kylie track "Aphrodite"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

This Isn't Easy, This Isn't Clear

'Twas a big week for concerts for me. Got to see Robyn do an awesome mini set at Jimmy Kimmel, and most recently saw Ellie Goulding and The Knocks rock it at The Music Box. Sandwiched in between those dance-pop shows, was Ben Rector and Matt Werzt at The Troubadour. I've loved the Ben album for months now and was super excited to see him. He looks like hes about 18 but his voice sounds way older than that. Even with the Jesus reference in the song, this one really stood out. Beautifully sung and heart-wrenching, "When A Heart Breaks" by Ben Rector.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I am starstruck...

So it's my turn to be ridiculously late with a post. Jason's been hounding me to get something up here, so I finally kicked myself in the ass. I'm known for choosing more than my fair share of embarrassing songs, but this one is shameful I suppose for a different reason. Released a year and a half ago, the song was unknown to me until last week, when a guy I once dated posted the video for Ke$ha's "Animal" to Facebook.

Ke$ha kind of slipped by me. I of course knew "Tic Toc," and loved "Take It Off" because my gay-as-a-goose spin instructor played it every week—it was the highlight of his class. I even watched her SNL performance and thought she wasn't bad. But I never bought the album, and each subsequent single ("Your Love Is My Drug," "We R Who We R") confirmed her bratty talk-singing was enjoyable but disposable.

Then I'm introduced to "Animal," something that actually showcases Ke$ha's singing ability and musically is aligned more with the Euro dance-pop I favor. And I like her attitude, or specifically, the lack of attitude—I'm a sucker for a sappy, sentimental lyric.

What can I say, the ratty-haired bitchy girl in the ripped spandex and glow-in-the-dark face paint finally charmed me.