the bees

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In handy table format!



20.
Essie Jain
We Made This Ourselves
Ba Da Bing
Disgrace

This year for me was all about harmony. I discarded almost everything that wasn’t in tune, and if there was a good harmony, I jumped on it with both feet. Which is not an appropriate metaphor for the delicate songs on an album with butterflies on it. But still.

Jain most closely resembles Dido without the beats; probably another reason I like her. But though her harmonies are sparing, they are transcendent. I’m not as fond of the lyrics, which are fairly ambiguous (perhaps punctuation would help), i.e. You’re a worthless thing / that is everything / but precisely / what I asked for. Still and all, the beauty of such songs as “Haze” tend to overshadow the weak lyrics.



19.
Angelique Kidjo
Djin Djin
Razor & Tie
Ae Ae

Representative of all the so-called world music that I picked up this year, but with celebrity status. Kidjo apparently toured with Josh Groban this year and gained legions of fans, so congrats to her. But I didn’t need Groban’s approbation to love the album, since it is gorgeous from the first chord of “Ae Ae” to the last clear note of “Lonlon,” Kidjo’s version of “Bolero.”

Readers of this blog will have already noticed that I wrote about Kidjo earlier in the year, so I won’t say more than, this is what Afropop is all about for me. I don’t understand the language so I can’t follow a message, and I’ll admit it; I’m just here for the sound, which Kidjo has in spades.



18.
Rocky Votolato
The Brag & Cuss
Barsuk
Whiskey Straight

You all know how I love me some Rocky. That said, I was not as enthused about this record as I was about “Makers.” Most of the songs sounded Rockyesque, but tired. Maybe all that tourin’ has been wearing him out a bit.

Standout tracks are “The Wrong Side of Reno,” which has a little bounce, and “Whiskey Straight,” which showcases his trademark stripped, straight-up lyric: Why do you keep running? The pace is hurried but you’re never closer to what it was you thought you wanted. It all keeps changing — and now something else is missing. Ain’t that the truth.



17.
The Bees (Band of Bees)
Octopus
Virgin
(This Is For the) Better Days

Half this album is so spot on with its poppy craziness. I chair-danced madly to “Who Cares What the Question Is,” probably about a thousand times. And when they stay in the footsteps of their predecessors, these guys hit the nail on the head. It took me two weeks and my husband to figure out what was nagging me about “Love In the Harbour” — it’s a dead ringer for something off of “On the Threshold Of A Dream.” Groovy! Not many people outside the Simpsons reference the Moody Blues anymore.

The Bees do a lot of genre switching, adding a sexy bass swing to “(This Is For the) Better Days” and a sitar (and a boingy-boingy thing, who knows what that is) to “The Ocularist.” And “End of the Street” is chock full of wicked weird noises. The album’s not perfect, and some of it fails, but honestly, it’s just so nice to hear a band having fun with music and all the genres that comprise it.



16.
PJ Harvey
White Chalk
Island
Silence

Everyone who’s anyone spent a lot of time with PJ in the 90s. She rang my earphones, growling even through my crummy walkman, and I growled right along with her. “Rid of Me” was my album of catharsis — I’m one fifty foot queenie; sheela-na-gig, you exhibitionist. So even though I couldn’t really expect the same of her, fourteen years later, I was still disappointed at the understatement of “White Chalk.” Excepting the heartbeat in “When Under Ether,” there is almost no beat, no growl. I missed the growl. Then I listened again to “White Chalk,” and I heard it.

I know these chalk hills will rot my bones, she says like a curse. Scratch my palms / there’s blood on my hands. It’s understated to the point of nonexistence, but it’s running through the songs just the same — the same loneliness, the same search for forgiveness and love. It’s the PJ I remember, docile perhaps on the outside in her white dress, but still growling.

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Before I start, check out Blender Mag’s list of the best music cameos on the Simpsons. Maybe you agree and maybe not — but heck, it’s a ton of awesome clips (Barry White on Whacking Day, anyone?). YouTube proves its usefulness once again.

And now! Music. I was cleaning out some of my old folders and found some good stuff. Download it all … every single one is worth at least 30 seconds of your listening time.

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

01. Fujiya & Miyagi – Collarbone
02. Yo La Tengo – Tears Are In Your Eyes
03. Okkervil River – He Passes Number Thirty-Three
04. The Real Tuesday Weld – I Love the Rain
05. Veruca Salt – Forsythia
06. Peter and the Wolf – Silent Movies
07. Pop Levi – Dollar Bill Rock
08. The Bees (aka A Band of Bees) – Love In the Harbour
09. Cafe Tacuba – Ojalá Que Llueva Cafe (Juan Luis Guerra)
10. Gillian Welch – Elvis Presley Blues

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Isn’t it weird that in spite of all the fun YouTube videos I watch, that I don’t like embedding them in my own blog? I think it’s so ugly to scroll down past a ton of mini-tvs … they all look the same when nothing’s playing. Nonetheless, I have found some wicked good videos, so open ‘em all in a new tab (you are using Firefox, right? RIGHT?).

Before I start, for those of you who hate videos, don’t scroll away yet! Nerd Litter interviewed Greg Goldberg of The Ballet (almost a month ago, but it’s still great!). This interview is so interesting and Goldberg just seems so smart and likeable. And oh, the Ballet has, you know, some awesome music too. (part 2 of the interview is slightly NSFW (text, no photos).)

And a little bit of the delicious eye candy! At I Am Fuel, Heather posted up the new Easy Tiger cover art. Oh Ryan, why do you have to be so hot? It makes it very difficult to stay mad at you.

OK, on to the brain melting video goodness.

01. The jammin’ video for “Bathtime in Clerkenwell,” by the Real Tuesday Weld. This is the kind of song that was made for Monday mornings. Or Friday afternoons. So get jamming with the cute cartoon birds! Jam, I tell you! Jam!

02. In case you haven’t seen them in a million other places, the new Feist videos – starting with 1,2,3,4. That pantsuit is so very very … unfortunate. Because Feist is awesome (that’s “My Moon, My Man”).

03. Jackie Greene, “I’m So Gone.” It’s like Ryan Adams lite, but I do love the first lines.

04. Snow Patrol, “Signal Fire,” for Spiderman 3. Love the cute li’l evil spiderman.

05. Air, “Once Upon A Time” from “Pocket Symphony.” Speaking of slick and sophisticated, check out those red drums.

06. The Go! Team, “Junior Kickstart,” a nice little instrumental. This sort of video is why I could waste all day on YouTube. Run, Ms. Pacman, run!

07. Dawn Landes & the WST Band, “Young Folks” (Peter, Bjorn & John). I like the whistling original better, but bluegrass, played by real people and not the wretched beauties of VH-1, is also completely awesome.

08. And speaking of wretched beauties … Beyonce ft. Shakira, “Beautiful Liar.” Don’t know where this came from or how old it is, but in my opinion it’s a comedown for Shakira to be in a Beyonce vid. Shakira is like Beyonce to the 10,000,000th power. But of course they both look fabulous, and I approve of the sentiment :D

09. The Bees, “Who Cares What the Question Is” — the Magical Mystery Tour meets, I don’t know, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I bet the Beatles wish they’d thought of this song. It’s awesome! Listen to it right now right now!

10. The Zimmers, “My Generation.” I don’t know where Some Velvet Blog found this, but I love it. It speaks directly to my disgust for how our culture casts off its elderly and acts like life ends as soon as you get a wrinkle. We are self-absorbed, we get more and more silicon injected into our bodies in hopes that we’ll live forever, and we scorn the people that gave us birth. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

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