cake on cake

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This is all good news.

01. A new Cake On Cake album, due out Oct. 1st, with new songs to stream at her Myspace! I dance with Swedish glee!

Cake On Cake — Come On Rainbow

02. LAist has a nice new podcast called “Advanced Afrobeat For Beginners.”

03. I decided to suck it up and go see Flogging Molly at the House of Blues next month. Only Dave King & co. would get me out of the house in the face of Disneyland parking, traffic on the 5, and crazy kids wanting to mosh into me. I am waaaay too old to mosh. Get out of my personal space, you kids!

Flogging Molly — Black Friday Rule

04. More Decemberists! Now in handy pretentious three-volume set. Hey, I’ll take what I can get. Coincidentally (or not, maybe), YANP linked to some new live songs that Meloy has been playing lately. “Valery Plame” gets on my nerves, but maybe with some drums it will be better.

My favorite so far is definitely “Night/Rake.” No one gets the joke of this site’s title (Bon Ton is named after the Upper Ten Thousand of regency romance novels), but I love hearing songs about really nasty rakes, like the dubious character in the Mariner’s Revenge Song who leeches off the narrator’s mother and absconds, leaving all his debts for her to pay. This new guy sounds even worse, though. Whew.

05. My secret punk-rock boyfriend, Matt Pryor, has a new album out. I have a very soft spot for Mr. Pryor and his sweet, off-key singing, but it’s not everyone’s cuppa so I won’t go on for ages about it. It’s called “Confidence Man” and is put out by Vagrant records. I just missed Matt at the Troubadour too, sigh, so I will have to listen to the album in lieu of going down to WeHo to stare at his tattoos hear him sing.

The Get Up Kids — Mass Pike

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Well, personal concerns have kept me away from the internet for awhile (gasp) but ye olde show must go on. Ryan from Burly Time sent me some bright, beautiful instrumental pieces by a Detroit guitarist named Nick Schillace. Very laid back, exceptional listening for the stressful time I have had the last couple weeks. Of course today I was listening again and my brain said, “‘1976′ … wait, isn’t there a song called ‘1974′?” Which of course caused a mad scramble through my CDs, and this post.

[ed note -- tracks removed. contact me for a copy.]

01. Nick Schillace — 1976
02. Ryan Adams — 1974
03. Cake On Cake — 1981
04. Travis — 1922
05. Ox — 1913

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15.
St Vincent
Marry Me
Beggars Banquet
Landmines

The way Annie Clark handles an electric guitar is sheer magic. The first time I heard “Paris Is Burning,” a couple years ago, I said, I have to have more of this music. Finally, Clark came through for me and the result is excellent, layered rock and roll, bursting with sound and image: They gave me a medal for my valor / Leaden trumpets spit the soot of power.

When this album is on, it’s on in a big way; but some songs drag, and I get bored listening to the whole thing (which, I probably don’t need to mention, makes me sad. I wish every song were as good as “Paris.”). But between her physical beauty and presence, and the smart music, she lives up to the hype that surrounded the album and declared her a certified Indie Goddess.



14.
Bodies of Water
Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink

Our Friends Appear Like The Dawn

Everyone talks about Bodies of Water with a little awe; the sheer vocal power harnessed in this record simply makes war on your ears. And when the vocals pair up with the gospelesque lyrics, the result can be sheer beautiful bliss, as in “Doves Circled the Sky.” Even the most hardened blogger might unironically recommend music with such power, turning a blind eye to lyrics like Oh please do not forsake me / where is Your finger upon my lips / and though I sleep in the dirt and the leaves, please touch
my heart with Your tongue
. We’re talking religion like an 1820s tent revival here.

When the music goes wrong, it goes really really wrong. There are promises in songs on this album (one of the few that I bought in physical format) that the vocals simply cannot fulfill — the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak and can’t get to those high notes. So while listeners sometimes might find themselves screwing up their faces like they were eating lemons, the powerful songs like “These Are The Eyes” and “I Turned My Face” outweigh the lesser concerns of which tracks deserve the fast-forward.



13.
The Cinematic Orchestra
Ma Fleur
Domino
As The Stars Fall

Billed as the soundtrack to a movie that may never be made, “Ma Fleur” sets the imagination free to roam. It is a very sensual album, and it just builds up beautiful pictures in the listener’s mind. In places where Swinscoe sings, he just adds to the general ambience instead of trying to drown it out. And he’s got ambience in spades.

The music swoops from the melancholy “To Build A Home” to the jazzy stylings of “Child Song” and the old-timey sound of “Breathe.” “Prelude” really sounds like something that would play over opening credits, and as it zooms in from the crane shot, the viewer can see … your house. Or mine. Or someone you know. What are they doing as we look in the window? Only the
viewer knows for sure.



12.
Cake On Cake
I Guess I Was Daydreaming
Desolation
You Make My Heart Say Yes

Man, I do not care what anyone says about this album. I played it about a thousand times in my car, and it was perfect for LA. See, the thing about LA traffic is, people cut you off all the time for no reason. And so after a few years of it, you start thinking that everyone driving in the next lane is going to cut you off. You stare suspiciously at them, grinding your teeth. “GO AHEAD!” you yell, shaking your fist. “JUST GET IT OVER WITH!”

All this is to say that the pure simplicity of Cake On Cake soothed my road rage. If the song is called “Come On Rainbow,” that’s what the words say: come on, come on (x3) / come on, rainbow. For the entire song. Nothing more, nothing less, but with the sugar-sweet addition of Sundin’s instrumentals. Maybe it would make some people’s teeth ache, but screw ‘em. We want to be happy.



11.
Eisley
Combinations
Reprise
Come Clean

I already wrote paeans to Eisley earlier in the year, so this feels like overkill. OK, in case you weren’t listening before — beautiful pop, better than anything you can find on the radio, put out by a quartet of young’uns in Texas. Did I miss anything? Maybe just that the harmonies are spectacular with a capital Spec.

It’s outsize music; the whole eclipses the sum of its parts. I can listen all day to the soaring, effortless “you / you / you” on “Invasion” and, well, the effortless harmonies punctuating almost every other song. Other standouts: “Come Clean” and “Combinations,” with its wistful country music chorus: I went for so long and I was so wrong / and then I met you and
now I can’t live without you / and I don’t want to; I’ve done that all my life up till now.

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[Ed. note -- with the release of "Marry Me" tomorrow, this post will be partially invalidated. But I wrote it, so I'm gonna post it. Nyah.]

Catching up with my RSS, I’ve been noticing the half-year summary posts popping up. Sadly I’ve also noticed that many of those lists feature no female bands, no albums from the ladies’ side. I won’t single anyone out, because taste is taste, and there are many great male bands that of course should be noticed as well. I’ll just do my little part to remedy the sitchyation.

“But Zara,” you’ll say, “what female releases were there this year? Gosh, I can only think of ‘The Reminder,’ and Feist is all anyone talked about for three months, and we’re boooooored of hearing ‘1,2,3,4′.” To you I say, you tried ‘Sea-Lion Woman,’ right? But also, I found that the first half of 2007 was chock full of female acts. In fact, if I had a top ten, probably 7 of them would be female. Cassadaga? Boring. Neon Bible? Meh. Hissing Fauna? Don’t get me started. Here are some albums that you might have overlooked in your zeal to rush out and buy “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.” *

01. The Postmarks – The Postmarks | Myspace

All right, I’m fudging this one because it’s female fronted — I swear this band ought to be called the Postcards, because it reminds me of how you feel when you get a postcard from Hawaii. No, I don’t mean envious. I mean, you close your eyes and for a second you’re standing on the beach and palm trees are rustling and a hammock sways slightly in the breeze and the ocean is impossibly blue.

02. Essie Jain – We Made This Ourselves | Myspace

Sometimes the songs on this album start to blur together, but the harmonies alone keep Jain soaring. I could listen to her all day, and I do, since she’s what’s playing in my car. If you need a comparison, think Dido without the beats.

03. Kristin Hersh – Learn To Sing Like A Star | Myspace

For many a long year I have listened to Ms. Hersh — she’s a songwriting powerhouse, not just a pretty voice who has two other bands. The new album is her first (solo) in four years, and it’s just ridiculously good. Ridiculously!

04. Cake On Cake – I Guess I Was Daydreaming | Myspace

This Swedish band is basically Helena Sundin, and yeah, it’s about as sweet as it sounds (extra!). But I’m really fond of the harmonies, the languid melodies, the simple phrasing. Who wouldn’t want to turn on “The One I Say Goodnight To” right before bed — You are the one I say goodnight to / Goodnight, my love. In the absence of my mother tucking me in, I’ll take Cake On Cake.

05. Sara Bareilles – Little Voice | Myspace

Think “Little Voice” in the same sense that Robin Hood said “Little John.” Bareilles sings pop-friendly tunes with strong piano backing, and she’s sassy. I like sassy — plus she’s a local girl, so yay for that. I have not heard all the album but there’s enough music available on her site to get a good sense of whether you’d like it or not (and I do).

06. Charlotte Gainsbourg – 5:55 | Myspace

I guess I can apply the term “chanteuse” to Gainsbourg, since she’s French, right? OK good, seriously, because she is so beautiful, and is also one of those rare actors who can actually sing, and she’s even featured on “Pocket Symphony.” My favorite song, “5:55,” sounds very Air-esque (because they wrote the music) but could that possibly be a bad thing? No, no it couldn’t.

07. Au Revoir Simone – The Bird of Music | Myspace

Even when they’re singing something called “Sad Song,” these three don’t sound very sad. “The Bird of Music” alternates poppy electronica and more gentle ballads. Sometimes it drags but overall it’s accessible and fun.

Other albums released that I’ve already written about –

08. Angelique Kidjo – Djin Djin
09. The Detroit Cobras – Tied & True
10. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

Please give these albums a try! If I missed someone, you know where the comments button is.

*Or any other male-fronted band. Don’t get your boxers in a twist.

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