Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Few Summer Songs

I'm not going to get involved in any stupid arguments about what defines a summer song.
But here are a couple of older summer songs and and two that I've been playing recently. I know they're summer songs because they have the word "summer" in the title. (Check out the cool pop culture reference in the Johnny Rivers song.)
Johnny Rivers - Summer Rain
The Undertones - Here Comes the Summer
The Shermans - Summer In Your Heart
Lucky Soul - One Kiss Don't Make a Summer

The Undertones and The Johnny Rivers Anthology are both available at
The Shermans' Casual cd is available from Shelflife Records.
Lucky Soul's Add Your Light to Mine, Baby is available from

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lewis & Clarke's Blasts of Holy Birth etc.

Lewis & Clarke's new album Blasts of Holy Birth (about which I posted before it's release) is out now, on La Societe Expeditionaire. I recommend it highly.
As I have discussed before, Lewis & Clarke is the musical vehicle for the singer and writer named Lou Rogai, from Pennsylvania.
I have thought a lot about what makes his music so attractive to me, and last week, as I was walking home from work with the title song playing in my Ipod headphones, I realized that what I like best about the music is the fact that it swings. I hate that word, because it so directly references a type of music that I don't have any particular affinity for, but I figured out a long time ago that my love of music is very strongly related to my belief that there is a definite rhythm to the universe, and that if we can lock into that rhythm and live within it, it's like swimming with the current, and we can live harmoniously. And of course, if we fight the rhythm, as if we were trying to swim against the current, we are going to be exhausted, anxious and discontent.
I have found this applies to everything from physical activities like running to things a simple and basic as breathing. And, of course, it very much applies to music.
The sense of swing begins, superficially, in the rhythm section. Bass and drums. I can't explain technically what makes some musicians swing and others not swing, although I think there may be something about being just the slightest bit ahead of the beat. I do know that Charlie Watts could play the phone book and it would swing. And I remember seeing James McMurtrey at Mercury Lounge back in the 90's and thinking that he was very lucky that he had an Austin rhythm section backing him up, because without it his songs (at least in the arrangements he was then playing) would have been interminable.
However, I think there is a deeper kind of swing, which I hesitate to even try to define. It's one of those "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I hear (feel) it" things. I think there are musicians - artists - who innately and unconsciously swing. (For some reason, my paradigm for this is Duke Ellington. My image of being swingingly in sync is Duke Ellington in a tuxedo, conducting an orchestra as he floats down the river.)
Lewis and Clarke, and Lou Rogai, embody that type of swing.
What's interesting about Lewis and Clarke's music is the fact that there is something meditative - a melodic droning, a relaxed drawing out - that occurs simultaneously with its swing-ness. When I first noticed this, I thought that the two were antithetical, and that it didn't make sense that they were occurring at the same time. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to fit, in as much as one of the goals of meditation is to find that place in oneself where one is in sync with the universe.
So, in affect, the music is acting as a prod to help us find that place of harmony within ourselves, at the same time that it actually reflects that harmony.
Lewis and Clarke - Bare Bones and Branches (Live on WPRB)

All of Lewis and Clarke's albums are available at the Lewis and Clarke website.
Lewis and Clarke will be performing at a Ballroom Party to Benefit Common Ground
Friday June 15th at the Prince George Ballroom

15 East 27th St (btw. 5th & Madison)
Manhattan, NY
$20.00 (3 Free Beers with every Ticket Purchase [21+])
For more info, go here.

Welcome to the World, Conner Kirkpatrick Hall

Guy Clark - Come from the Heart
White Stripes - Hardest Button to Button

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Philip Rambow - Fallen

There isn't much to say about "Fallen." It's a great song by a singer/songwriter who never did anything else as interesting or exciting. You could call "Fallen" a one hit wonder, except it wasn't even a hit.
For a couple of months back in 1979, I played this song more often then all the other records I owned combined. And since I found it online last week, I've been playing it just as relentlessly. (One of the things I have found out about my music listening is that I still love everything that I loved at one time or another. But in addition, I now love a lot of things I didn't like at all at one time or another.)

Philp Rambow - Fallen

You can download the (now out-of-print) album from which "Fallen" is taken - Shooting Gallery - at a great sharity blog call Power Pop Criminals.

Marie et les Garcons - Re-Bop

Over the last couple of weeks I've been incredibly fortunate to find digital versions of several songs/albums that have been on my digital wish list for years.
First and foremost is the Beckies' album, about which I've already posted.
But there are a couple of other things I've found recently, and I'm happy to be able to write about them and offer them up as MP3's.
Marie et les Garcons was a French post-punk group. When I discovered the 12" of "Re-Bop" (in 1978 or '79)) I was working at Bleeker Bob's record store, and I brought it home only because it was on Ze Records and because John Cale produced it. At the time I was in a band called W-2, and we had just replaced out bass player, Shelby, with a guy who I remember only as William. "Re-Bop," which was disco punk overlayed with a thin veneer of Euro-pop, had a lot of elements that I thought were similar the things we were doing in W-2, and I wanted this guy William to listen and learn. So I loaned him the 12" (along with Jack Johnson and some obscure disco records). A week or so later, in the van on the way back from a disastrous gig in Philadelphia, W-2 broke up, and for whater reasons - mostly having to do with my own drug-addled lack of responsibility - I never saw William again, and I never got the records back. And I never replaced "Re-Bop." Every couple of years I would wake up singing the chorus, and that would make me heartsick. I made a couple of half-hearted attempts to locate another copy of the song, with no luck. It wasn't like the song had been a hit and was going to show up on Greatest Hits of the '70's. Finally, last week, I discovered it online.
Happily, it holds up extremely well.
Marie et Les Garcons - Re Bop

Believe it or not, Marie et les Garcons are still around; at least they have a MySpace site.

Ze Records deserves at least a post of its own, if not a whole book. In its heyday, it was one of the most innovative record companies in the world. Everyone from Lydia Lunch to Arto Lindsay released records on that label and none of them were boring.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Couple of Things I Found on MySpace

I've never had much to do with MySpace in terms of interacting with friends, but I've been a big fan of it as a source of music since I joined last spring. The first band I sent a Friend Request to was My Morning Jacket (don't ask me why). Soon after that, I learned about Lily Allen and I've been using MySpace to discover and keep up with music and musicians I like ever since.
In the past few days I have come across a couple of bands I would love to recommend:
My Cloud Mireya is from New York City and is made up of Claudia Deheza (ex- ON!AIR!LIBRARY!) and Guillermo S. Herren (Prefuse 73, Savath y Savalas, Piano Overlord, Zanzo plus the defunct Delarosa+Asora.) I don't know much else about them. I discovered them when I was checking out the "Top Friends" of a band I have been listening to for awhile called Daylight's for the Birds.
A Cloud Mireya - Wasted Time
A Cloud Mireya's album, Singular, is available from Insound.
My Cloud Mireya's MySpace site.

Le Futur Pompiste is from Finland. They were "Top Friends" of the Dreamers, a band I highly recommend and intend to post about more extensively in the near future.
Le Futur Pompiste - Seeds
Le Futur Pompiste's record, Your Stories and Your Thoughts, is available from Siesta Records.
Check out Le Futur Pompiste on Myspace.