Saturday, January 15, 2005

SXSW 2005: Lost in Austin

Thinking about next month's Noise Pop Festival got me thinking even more about the South by Southwest music festival, which takes place in Austin this March. Every year, I take time off and head down to Austin with friends for a week of pure musical indulgence. It's a great way to hear great new music and enjoy Texas barbeque and beer; more than 1,000 bands and 30,000 music fans from all over the world converge on Austin to play over the course of 5 days.

The SXSW site site has an abbreviated list of bands already confirmed to play; This playlist includes music from some of the bands making the trek to Austin this year, including The Raveonettes, Ambulance Ltd., The Donnas, Hot Hot Heat, and Billy Idol. Yes, I said Billy Idol. Enjoy the music!

Flowwmaster: Undiscovered Hip-Hop

Flowwmaster Playlist Link As regular visitors to the Rhapsody Radish know, I have invited independent musicians to submit their work for review. The majority is crap. 20% is good, but in need of refinement. But every once in awhile you stumble upon that $100 bill amongst the garbage on the side of the road. It makes it all worth it. Flowwmaster has mad skills, you need to check it out. (Via: Rhapsody Radish)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Mary Lou Lord: an appreciation

All of these singer-songwriter playlists got me thinking about Mary Lou Lord, a Boston-based singer and guitarist who has several albums available through Rhapsody.

After putting out several singles (most notably 1993's "Western Union Desperate") and a highly-recommended self-titled EP through the Kill Rock Stars label (where her acoustic strumming stood in stark contrast to the punk stylings of her labelmates), Lord was the subject of a major label bidding war. Ultimately, Sony's WORK Group won the bidding, and the label released Lord's debut album, Got No Shadow in 1998. In time, Lord was dropped from the label and returned to the indie world, releasing several albums on Rubric Records.

This playlist includes some of my favorite Mary Lou Lord songs from her later releases; her first EP and early singles are, sadly, not available yet through Rhapsody.

The 2nd Song of the Day? - Cannonball/Amelia

I'm not really a music cognoscenti - I just know what I like and I really like this band called Amelia, which in the way of it doesn't have anyone named Amelia in it. They are from Portland, OR and I found this album, After All, when a friend of mine made an old fashioned custom CD with his favorite songs. This was the song he put on it and when the Wiggles are taking up the gray matter, I just think about this song and it all calms down in there. (wiggles for you non parents are well, you will either find out or you won't - Rhapsody actually has some but I wouldn't say it's the best - so that means it is the BOTTOM of the barrell Wiggles style) Try out Cannonball and see what you think.

Song of the day: Nada Surf/"Hi-Speed Soul"

It's hard to live down a hit. Rock history is rife with bands who had a hit single early in their career but never quite managed to outrun the shadow of their own success. Nada Surf could easily have been one of those bands. For better or worse, the group's 1996 single, "Popular," became a staple of alternative and modern rock stations in the mid-1990s.

Despite that initial success, the band was summarily dropped by Elektra Records and subsequently signed by indie label Barsuk. Barsuk re-released the band's second album, The Proximity Effect, in 2000, and followed it up in 2003 with the album Let Go. That album was one of my happy Rhapsody discoveries in 2003, particularly the song "Hi-Speed Soul," which features an infectious chorus backed by chiming guitars. As a whole, Let Go is an enjoyable listen (check out "Inside of Love") and proof that so-called one-hit wonders can make quiet comebacks. Enjoy!

NoisePop 2005 -- update!

Although the folks at NoisePop HQ haven't made any official announcements since last month about the lineup for the upcoming NoisePop Festival, I've been scouring the show calendars for venues to see who's playing where and when. NoisePop 2005 (now in its thirteenth year) takes place in San Francisco next month from the 22nd-27th.

So far, I know that Joanna Newsom, Rogue Wave, Amon Tobin, Ted Leo + Pharmacists, Hot Hot Heat, Mates of State, Portastatic, Comets on Fire, The Velvet Teen, Bettie Serveert, Les Georges Lenigrad, Nada Surf, High on Fire, Nicolai Dunger, the Fucking Champs, Damon & Naomi, Vetiver, Chow Nasty, The Flying Luttenbachers, Post Coitus, The Phenomenauts, Big D & The Kids Table, River City Rebels, Alexi Murdoch, A Girl Called Eddy, Keren Ann, Two Gallants, Golden Republic, The Comas, and Film School are slated to perform, with additional shows expected to be announced soon.

This playlist includes music from many of these artists. Enjoy the music -- and support the Noise Pop Festival and these bands, if you can. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Song of the day: The Softies/"It's Love"

Circa 1995/1996, I began to get into some of the more twee bands in the then-bustling world of indiepop, and The Softies were one of my favorites. Rose Melberg and Jen Sbragia sang delicate, intertwining harmonies over sparse guitar. The duo released a series of singles and albums on K Records (notice a trend in my picks this week?) and Slumberland Records, the most recent of which was released in 2000.

This song reminds me of seeing The Softies play an afternoon show in a Georgetown University cafeteria in 1996, with Elliott Smith opening up. Rose had the coolest hand-decorated pink amp, and their singing was astoundingly beautiful.

Rose Melberg, twee love you. ;)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Song of the day: Small Faces/"Bad 'N' Ruin"

This song is a badass piece of boogie swamp rock, courtesy of The Faces, the bluesy early-70s British band that featured Rod Stewart and current Rolling Stone Ron Wood. You may know some of the band's songs --"Ooh La La" was prominently featured at the end of Wes Anderson's film Rushmore-- but it's well worth it to dive into the band's ouevre and check out the rest. Click here to hear "Bad 'N' Ruin" off of The Faces' 1971 album Long Player.

(thanks to The Sound of Music for pointing this out)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Now in Rhapsody: Le Tigre

I just noticed that over the past couple of weeks, we've added Le Tigre's first few EPs and albums (on their Mr. Lady label) to Rhapsody. Click here to listen to a playlist of songs by these masters of laptop punk. Programmed beats, yelped vocals, buzzing guitars -- Le Tigre's got it going on.

(ps -- the remix of "Deceptacon" is out of this world)

I Miss 1993

All this rain is making me think of Florida, and that makes me think of 1993. This was some of the music I listened to during that fine year. It wasn't all released in 1993, but when I was blowing off class and listening to tunes -- these were at the top of the list.

What are some of your favorite songs from the early 90s?

I Miss 1993.

Jigga what? Jigga who?

I launched Rhapsody today and found an awesome surprise... almost all of Jay-Z's discography has been added to Rhapsody!

I'm stoked Jay-Z has finally released his albums' digital rights -- and that Rhapsody was right on the ball in adding them to our growing collection of over 880K songs.

While a lot of his albums' individual tracks are still unavailable, we did manage to get a lot of HOVA's best songs and hits. Here's a quick playlist of some of Jigga's best... including dimes from superstars such as Eminem ("Renegade" and "Moment of Clarity"), Kanye West ("Encore"), Dr. Dre ("The Watcher"), Rakim, The Neptunes ("Excuse Me Miss"), and The Roots ("Jigga What Unplugged").

Take a listen and make sure you turn the volume up for maximum bass.

The Delfonics -- Love Songs

One of my favorite moments in Quentin Tarantino's underrated film Jackie Brown is when Robert Forster is driving in his car and singing along to the classic Delfonics song "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)" as it plays on his car stereo.

In looking at the list of "Just Added" albums today on Rhapsody, I saw that the Delfonics' catalog has been repackaged in yet another new compilation, Love Songs. If you've never listened to anything by the much-revered Philly soul group, you're really missing out, and Love Songs is a good place to start. I highly recommend checking it out.

Song of the day: Lemon Jelly/"The Staunton Lick"

The 2001 album by UK DJ duo Lemon Jelly flew low on the radar here in the U.S. The group make downtempo dance music that's perfect for late nights and early mornings -- their Rhapsody review encourages listeners to "Sit back, relax, and be ready to float with the monarch on fluffy clouds of chill-out sounds." Check out the song "The Staunton Lick" for a great example of their sound.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Song of the day: Halo Benders/"Don't Touch My Bikini"

The Halo Benders were a sort of indie supergroup featuring Beat Happening frontman Calvin Johnson and Built to Spill guitarist Doug Martsch. The combo of Johnson's distinctive, croaky voice and Martch's wild guitar make for some interesting listening, particularly on the song "Don't Touch My Bikini," a stream-of-consciousness piece of unadulterated noise-pop bliss. Enjoy!

Now in Rhapsody: Lois

Lois Maffeo was my hero in the mid-1990s, proving that enthusiasm, good melodies and simple chords together make great pop music. Recording as simply "Lois" -- and early on, as The Lois -- she released a number of albums on K Records, including Butterfly Kiss, Strumpet (my personal favorite), and Bet the Sky.

Lois' sound is simple, featuring catchy acoustic guitar, endearing vocals, and sloppily beautiful drumming (listen to the song "Hey Antoinette for an example). This playlist includes some of my favorite Lois songs, including "Strumpet," "Shy Town," and Lois' a capella take on the Zombies song "The Way I Feel Inside."

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Song of the day: U2/"Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own"

The wait is over for U2 fans. The band's new album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, was added to Rhapsody last Thursday, after an extensive period of exclusivity on Apple's iTunes Music Store. While I'm not a fan (*at all*) of the kind of hype this album has received, the song "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" has been on my mind since seeing U2 perform it live on Saturday Night Live last fall. At the time, I was blown away by the Edge's guitar lick at the start of the song, which recalled his sound on some of his best work -- songs like "Some Sort of Homecoming" (from The Unforgettable Fire) and "With or Without You" (from The Joshua Tree). Throw in the emotional content of the lyrics, which Bono wrote about the death of his father, and you've got a winner. Enjoy the music!

Now in Rhapsody: Heavenly!!

Wow -- this week we added a bunch of K Records releases to Rhapsody, including almost every release by dreamy UK indiepop band Heavenly. If you like punky guitars, shambling beats and sha-la girl vocals (courtesy of Ms. Amelia Fletcher), then Heavenly is essential listening. This playlist includes some of my favorite Heavenly songs, including "Atta Girl," which I think is one of the best songs to come out of the early 90s indiepop scene. Enjoy!