Pomegranates, one of 2009’s success stories (you know how it goes: band releases debut album, gets blog attention, goes on tour, etc. …) have a new album, One of Us, coming out on October 26. “Skull Cakin'” is one my favorite songs off the album: it’s energetic, it’s fun, it lets me channel my inner (imaginary) cool kid. Pomegranates are touring with Oh No! Oh My! this fall, which I’d be more excited about if they hadn’t neglected to include a DC date (grumble grumble grumble). I’m so bitter. Catch them on tour.
We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves claim to be from Brooklyn but, honestly, I don’t believe them: Giovanni Saldarriaga, their lead singer, has that British invasion lilt. They play what they term “post-Thatcherite Pop” (hilarious!), though I think it’s more like The Smiths on Prozac. Their debut album, One Belongs Here More Than You, is pretty freaking fantastic, so you’d better go give it a listen (or several).
Q: Write About Love (2010) is to Belle & Sebastian as ______________ is to Wilco
A: Sky Blue Sky (2007)
Listening to Write About Love, I’ve haven’t felt like I’ve lost a dear friend nor that Belle & Sebastian has betrayed the twee pop cause (not that there ever was one). But I don’t feel the silly excitement I usually associate with a new album from one of my favorite bands either. The album is underwhelming.
As Matthew (aka Mr. Toad) has pointed out, the Norah Jones cameo (on “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John”) gives the album a bit of an adult alternative feel, and makes you wonder if B&S is trying to improve its non-existent reputation with the U.S. market. I don’t sense that type of ulterior motive: in theory, Norah Jones, who sort of doubles as a slow-pop/soul artist, is actually not a terrible fit for a Belle & Sebastian album. Maybe she’s even trying to improve her credibility with indie kids? In practice, it makes what could have been one of my favorite songs on the album booooring.
This is where the Wilco analogy comes in. The problem with Write About Love isn’t that Belle & Sebastian has gone in a new and terrible direction, the problem is that the band sounds middle-aged in the most uninteresting way possible (NYMag and I can agree to disagree on this). Clearly, the band have come together as masters of their craft since the days of say, Storytelling. Maybe it’s this that makes the album feel so languid: it’s expertly put together, and takes very few risks. But the best part of the Wilco analogy: there’s always an opportunity for a grand comeback, Wilco (The Album) style.
This song opens mid-scene, in the middle of a lyrical montage that I still can’t quite make out. Lisa Jaeggi’s unique perspective and confidence are refreshing to listen to, as she slides into the well-worn genre of folk with a little edge of a soul sound (see: Feist and — I can’t believe I’m saying this — Norah Jones). I even took a break from listening to the new B&S album (more on that later) to listen to her: a sure sign of excellence.
Lisa Jaeggi self-released her debut album, Oh Lady You Shot Me!, either this past spring or in 2009 (not too sure about the date).
On a scale of one to fantastic, you should be able to guess where this cover falls.
For a look back in time to the days of Dear Catastrophe Waitress:
P.S. – This post is going up because I’ve been having trouble with the internet(z) and haven’t been able to put up any new posts for the past few days. Hopefully, I’ll be able to amend this by Wednesday of this week.
The self-denial of this song is priceless. It passes through day-to-day existence and asks, “Will you love me as I wither?” And Amy Bezunartea delivers it all in a sweet, unconcerned voice, with backing instrumentals that have that pop feel I’m a sucker for.
Amy Bezunartea is a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter, whose debut record, Restaurants & Bars, will be released on November 2 of this year. She’s signed to Jennifer O’Connor’s label Kiam Records.
Hailing from Nashville, TN, Big Surr play high-energy, punk-flavored pop, though that description sounds a little off. It’s somewhere between Shop Assistants, Dum Dum Girls, and Riot Grrrl punk. They dropped their first-ever EP in August (it’s free), appear to be boycotting myspace (good move), and are currently playing gigs around Nashville.
One of the only nice things about being perpetually short-sighted and behind on the blogging front is finding little gems like this after everyone else has heard them (Hat Tip). Maybe this song is an antidote to the mixtape earlier today? Back on topic (I was never on):
We belong together, this song and I. Its eyes are wide open, they’re full of wonder, and I hope everything is not-too-soon to collapse. It’s an effervescent moment in time well-spent, it’s still looking at me with these doe-eyes and I can’t speak. I think I’ve described something else as well as this song, but I’m keeping lips shut tight and will wait for release. Meanwhile, my descriptive powers continue to leak.
Avi Buffalo is the brainchild of Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, a Long Beach, CA native. The band released their self-titled debut album in April of this year and, of course, I missed it. Catch them on tour before it’s too late (they’re playing a DC date!).
This post comes to you courtesy of Katy Perry. Ever since watching this interview where she explains why she decided to contribute to the already-existing musical treasure trove of pro-California songs, I’ve had this mixtape in mind. Moreover, since I was in New York (specifically, Park Slope!) this weekend the timing felt right.
As a disclaimer I should note that this mixtape is incredibly biased, in no way comprehensive, and involves a highly arbitrary point system. And, in the end, the rage isn’t really about California, but the girl up at the top, who hails from Santa Barbara, CA.
ROUND ONE: California Songs
The Magnetic Fields – California Girls (West Coast: -10, due to quality lines like, “They come on like squares / then get off like squirrels / I hate California girls”)
Katy Perry – California Gurls (Baretta Remix) (West Coast: +5, ten points for Snoop Dog, minus five for the lack of substance, kind of like cotton candy actually…)
ROUND TWO: Generic East/West Coast Songs
Good Charlotte – East Coast Anthem (East Coast: +12, ten points for quality, five-point bonus due to the DC shout out, three point deduction because they’re a terrible band)
Coconut Records – West Coast (West Coast: +5, eight points for quality, with a two-point deduction due to the fact that he’s only going back to West Coast because he misses his girl)
ROUND THREE: New York Songs
LCD Soundsystem – New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down (East Coast: -30, this song is super harsh in an understated way)
Ryan Adams – New York, New York (East Coast: +10, it would get more if not for the lyrics “love won’t play any games with you / anymore if you don’t want ’em to.” So untrue.)
Harry Nillson – I Guess The Lord Must Be in New York City (East Coast: +10, this song is a classic)
Jay-Z Feat. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind (East Coast: +30, Katy Perry just can’t compete with this level of greatness. Even Sesame Street doesn’t want her.)
West Coast = 0 points
East Coast = 32 points
THE EAST COAST WINS! Victory Lap: