Back in 2001, Nina Persson of The Cardigans and Nicolas Frisk of Atomic Swing collaborated on a little side project called A Camp. They kicked out a really cool album, but unless you were already a card-carrying Cardigans fan, it went pretty much unnoticed, so when I heard they were doing a second go-round, I had to check it out. Unlike the folky vibe of the earlier release, Colonia has a retro-60’s, wonderfully melodramatic, Petulla Clark-backed-by-the-London-Philharmonic thing goin’ on! The album was produced by Persson’s husband, Nathan Larson (soundtrack composer, formerly of Shudder To Think), and had some pretty impressive studio help with Guided By Voices drummer Kevin March, Joan Wasser (aka Joan As Police Woman), Swedish singer-songwriter Nikolai Dunger and former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha all pitching in. The result is a collection of theatrical, lush, well crafted songs that showcase Persson’s distinctive vocals. Check out more of A Camp on MySpace or on the A Camp website
I like 64-track, lavishly produced music as much as the next guy, but when you hear a piece of good old-fashioned, low-fi, grungey garage rock as nicely done as the new EP from The Boy Koan it kinda puts things in perspective. Sure, ‘Write It On A Postcard’ might lack the high priced producer, multi-platinum guest artists and a big label ad budget…but it’s got all the heart and soul and feedback-heavy guitar riffs you need to get dirty! Let’s champion the little guy for a change and head over to their MySpace page and show ’em some love…they’ve only got 146 friends!
It’s been a long time (3+ years) since Portland-based renaissance woman Tara Jane ONeill has graced The List, but after a quick scan of the ‘net this morning I see she’s just dropped her eighth album and I couldn’t resist. I’ve been listening to it for a couple of hours now and her beautiful, fragile vocals and the dirge-like quality of the music has washed over me…kinda what I needed after the past couple of days. See, I had to say goodbye to an old friend…the oldest of our cats, Baby, left us yesterday after 21 years. They say misery loves company and I guess I just wanted to hear something that sort of matches my mood. You can hear more from Ms. ONeill on her MySpace page.
Just in time for summer, everybody’s favorite freaky dirty girl, Peaches, dropped her fourth album, I Feel Cream, and while it’s hardly a surprise that it’s all about sex, who knew Merrill could push out a track so completely danceable as ‘Talk To Me’…?!! The thumping bass riff that drives this song almost makes me wish I liked going to the kinda clubs that will undoubtedly have this thing on heavy rotation…just so that I could experience slinking among a sweaty crowd of hot 20-somethings! Check out Peaches Rocks or her MySpace page for more slippery fun!
Last week we had a pretty good time making something outta nothing with Jeff Gomez, the CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, for BusinessWeek. Who is Jeff and what is Starlight Runner? Well, after asking both my editors and the people who work at Starlight Runner, I still don’t really know, but as best as I can explain, he cooks up back stories and alternate realities for existing products in order to push the brand further with pretty huge clients like the Disney and Coca-Cola! Yeah…I know, it doesn’t make much sense to me either, but since their offices didn’t offer much in the way of ambience and I figured that with all the monster posters around the place he might be a bit of a comic-book aficionado, we decided to get creative and conjure up an alternate reality of our own. The main shot is simply Jeff standing behind a back-lit glass partition and for the second, I liked the grid pattern on their freight elevator door so we slapped him up against it…and as happens a lot, I backed up as far as I could in the cramped space and left my lights in the shot.
Nothing too major…but I’ve changed up a couple of the rotating Home Page images and the portfolios have been newly categorized as well as getting some new stuff…most notably the Audrye Sessions shoot and some recent portraits I did for BusinessWeek and Barron’s…..check it out HERE!!!
Whenever I hear a Liechtenstein song I always think these are the kinda girls who should have hooked up with the Ramones. Their raggedly raw, unfussy, slightly apathetic, Bananarama-on-drugs pop songs worm their way into my brain and I can’t help but find myself humming along like a dumb monkey…but in a good way! I was kinda bummed to find out that they played Don Hills last week and I missed it, but they’re gonna be back in Brooklyn at Bruar Falls tomorrow night. ‘Roses In The Park’ is off of their new album, Survival Strategies In A Modern World and you can listen to more on MySpace
I’m deskbound today, retouching…retouching…retouching…and in desperate need of something to wake my ass up, so I was heartened see that the oldest men in indie rock, J Mascis, Murph and Lou Barlow, better known as Dinosaur Jr., are primed and ready to drop their first album on Jagjaguwar next month. The first leak off the new disc, ‘I Want You To Know’, is chocked full of the feedback, fuzzy distortion and Crazy Horse-era Neil Young guitar flourishes you want (and expect) from a Dinosaur Jr. song and just what I needed to give me a mid-afternoon kick in the pants. Farm drops June 23rd, but you can head over to MySpace or their website for more info…
Today I’m posting a new song…from 1981! Back in that long-ago time there was once a Belgian quartet going by the name AA (“Anarchists Anonymous”) that played only five shows, put their music to tape only twice (the first time being their first rehearsal) and then like so many young bands, blew up, never to be heard from again. Well…not exactly…..somebody at the Brooklyn indie label Softspot Music stumbled across the recordings from that rehearsal and a second, 4-hour session, and decided to reissue their one and only record. Originally pressed as a copy 900 seven-inch on “Sexy Robot Records” (that’s what the band called their made-up label), the resulting record had all the appeal of kids just learning the music as they were going along and their stripped-down, strangely hypnotic sound borrows from other ‘No Wave’ bands of the time like Joy Division, The Bush Tetras, DNA and Television. So even though they really didn’t know where a tune should start or stop and with lyrics cobbled together from bits and pieces written by everyone in the group, the surprising thing was the EP was getting good reviews and airplay on pirate radio stations…they were in danger of becoming a “real” band…so they did the obvious thing and packed it in! But almost three decades later, like all the kids, they’ve got a MySpace Page where you can hear more from the Essential Entertainment EP…..
Finally, we went back down to the studio, but even though we were running late and the band had to get back into Manhattan for a radio interview, I had one more idea I wanted to pull off…and a ‘mistake’ made it even better. When we were setting up the shot, my first exposure was overexposed about three stops and the grey balance was all effed up…but it was cool, so we left it alone…
I haven’t heard anything from the Easy Star All-Stars, the New York collective who specialize in covering popular albums in a reggae/dub style, since their 2006 release of Radiodread, a ‘re-envisioning’ of Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’, but I found out today they’ve returned with Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band…a reggae retelling of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band! This time round they’ve invited reggae, dancehall and dub superstars such as Steel Pulse, Matisyahu, Michael Rose of Black Uhuru, Luciano, U-Roy, Bunny Rugs from Third World, Ranking Roger of The English Beat, Sugar Minott, Max Romeo, The Mighty Diamonds and the guest vocalist on this track, Frankie Paul, to pay homage to one of the greatest records in Rock & Roll. I guess if you’re gonna take on a Beatles classic, you had better load up with that kinda talent. If you like this, you might wanna check out an even earlier re-do…Dub Side of the Moon…their dub reggae tribute to Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’, and of course, you can always head on over to MySpace to listen to more!
It’s been quiet here at Damn Ugly for the past week. Sometimes work actually gets in the way of havin’ fun, but I’ll be gettin’ back to tossing out songs and filling you in on what I’ve been doing presently…
Minneapolis is starting to look like a new breeding ground for edgy indie bands and one of the better ones that has suddenly become a must-see act if you find yourself in the greater Twin Cities area, Story of the Sea, caught my ear this morning with a couple of cuts off of their second album, Lunar Co. I wonder, is it too soon to coin the phrase, ”90’s revival”?!! ‘Cuz that’s kinda the feeling I get when I listen to Own Devices, with it’s slightly Pixies-esque arrangements complete with perky guitar riffs, thumpy bass runs and I-don’t-give-a-shit lyrical phrasings. I’m not sayin’ a 90’s revival is a bad thing, but the thought of it just kinda makes me feel old. But I’m diggin’ this regardless, and you can check ’em out on MySpace for some more.
It’s been almost two years since The Morning Stars have been featured on The List when I sent out ‘Don’t Waste Time’ off of their amazing debut album You Can’t Change The World, but the other day Michael Ivic sent me a leak off of their new release, Radiation. As with the earlier album, there are elements here that bring to mind bands like Oasis, Love and Rockets and even The Beatles…especially the way the vocals & airy psychedelic guitars are layered together in the voluptuous mix. This song has a lot more of an easy-going, shoegazey vibe than anything off of the earlier album, but there’s also a level of sophistication and worldliness that is drawing me in. No news on when the album drops, but you can head on over to their MySpace page for updates.