Sunday, December 26, 2010

Show #262--12/26/10

World Where You Live—Crowded House
I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)—Sandi Thom
I’m on Fire—Dwight Twilley Band
This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide—The Kings 
Who’s Gonna Save My Soul—Gnarls Barkley
You’ll Never Learn—Daryl Hall & John Oates
Paranoia Blues—Paul Simon
O’Light—Robb Kunkel
Here’s to the Next Time—Elton John

Hour 2—70s A’s and B’s

Stop Breaking My Heart—Tom Jones
I (Who Have Nothing)—Tom Jones
She’s Good—The Jackson 5
Never Can Say Goodbye—The Jackson 5
Who Has Seen the Wind?—Yoko Ono Lennon
Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)—John Ono Lennon
Knife-Edge—Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Lucky Man—Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Ballroom Blitz—Sweet
Just Like This Train—Joni Mitchell
Help Me—Joni Mitchell
Harmony—Elton John
Bennie and the Jets—Elton John 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Show #261--12/19/10

Kind and Generous—Natalie Merchant
Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas)—The Free Design
Sound of Love—The Five Americans
The Spirits and I—Royal Wood
Get Out of London—Intaferon
Ready for Love/After Lights—Mott the Hoople
Bulletproof—La Roux
Don’t Pass Me By—The Beatles
Drink to Me, Babe, Then—A.C. Newman
Over Rusty Water—XTC
White Christmas—Corporal Blossom

Hour 2—Best of 2010 with Dr. Gonzo

Tune in for a hearty listening session of stuff that impressed us this year. 
(See below for hearty commentary).  
P.S.  The titles and artists listed are in reverse (and  incorrect!) order.  

The Bird and the Bee-Heard it on the Radio
Zeus-The Renegade
Local Natives-Sun Hands
Yeasayer-Ambling Alp
The Books-A Cold Freezin' Night
Surfer Blood-Floating Vibes
Spoon-Who Makes Your Money
Twin Sister-Lady Daydream
The Mynabirds-Let the Record Go
The New Pornographers-Crash Years
She & Him-Thieves
Maps & Atlases-Living Decorations
Grinderman-Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man
The Dead Weather-No Horse
Broken Bells-The High Road
Miniature Tigers-Bullfighter Jacket
Vampire Weekend-Giving Up the Gun
Field Music-Measure
Beach House-Zebra
The Soft Pack-Pull Out
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti-Round and Round
LCD Soundsystem-I Can Change
Robyn-Dancehall Queen
New Young Pony Club-Lost a Girl
Sleigh Bells-Infinity Guitars
Crystal Castles-Vietnam
Chromeo-Night by Night

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Year in Music: Marc's Favorites of 2010 (Part Two)

Although I like to tout that my Sunday show is eclectic, I’m well aware that the kind of music I like most is definitely pop-oriented.  Always looking for someone to add a creative twist, an indelible melody, a unique and interesting arrangement, etc. to work some magic with the ol’ diatonic scale.  Here are some of those extra efforts I was lucky enough to hear this year:

I’m only moderately familiar with Hot Chip, but the reviews say their newest CD One Life Stand is a little mellower, more midtempo stuff than normal, and I have to say, the midtempo stuff is perhaps not their forte.  But there are two especially danceable tracks that were just aces with me—“Take It In” and the title track “One Life Stand.”  They exhibit a nice mix of everyman vulnerability and sincerity with a giddy thump, especially the breakdown in “Life.” 

Been a fan of the Sunderland band Field Music ever since playing catch up with their first album in 2005.  They’re natural-born tunesmiths who are ambitious to boot, and I have to hand it to their label Memphis Industries for giving them the freedom to stretch out and release what is essentially a double album, “Field Music (Measure).”  It ranges from the meditative “Curves of the Needle,” which remembers that silence can be so effective to the drama of a song)  to the out-of-character dance-like track “Let’s Write a Book” to their seemingly effortless guitar pop.  It’s a lot to digest in one sitting, but a very worthwhile endeavor for fans of excellent music.  I cringed a little when I read that Peter and David Brewis (the core of the group) said they felt sympathy for the other members of the group, while intimating that they thought their musical ideas were difficult to grasp and execute.  My thought is, if it was, it’s very well worth it for what you get here. 

I need to immerse myself in Canadian band Zeus’s “Say Us” album a lot more in the coming weeks, because I think end-to-end it’s a solid musical effort, a loose and relaxed set of 70’s-influenced rock.  The music has a very comfy-cozy feel to it, but it moves and sways and rocks quite nicely, thank you.  “The Renegade” or some other track will definitely be heard on Sunday night.

“Boyfriend” by Best Coast, featuring those yearning, echoey vocals from Bethany Cosentino and those great lyrics about being jealous of the supposedly prettier and better-educated rival for her guy’s affections…It’s like a modern-day slacker version of a Ronettes tune.  So sweet.  The rest of the “Crazy For You” album follows in that lovelorn mold to a lesser degree, but this single’s a killer. 

Maps & Atlases’ debut full-length “Perch Patchwork” is a distinctive mix of folk and progressive-type music.  Led by the part yowl-part croon of Dave Davison (you have to hear him to know what I mean—it works), and it’s a low-fi gem, smart and compelling, with arrangements that pay attention to the up-close strum and chirp of guitars, a flute floating in here, a toy piano there, and the click and the tap the thump of percussion.   If there’s such a thing as a modern hippie vibe, this kinda has it (and they’re from Chicago!).   Wordless vocals and pleasingly angular beats and melodies all part of the mix at times, creating a consistently interesting musical landscape throughout.  There are even moments of dare I say, music you could dance or jerk spastically around to.  Love it. 

The New Pornographers are probably one of the most talented ‘collectives’ in pop music today, if you consider that most if not all of its members came together from other bands or projects, and still go back and forth between them.   The songwriting’s mainly done by A.C. Newman with a smattering of Dan Bejar.   “Together,” their 5th album since 2010 continues the trend from 2007’s “Challengers” of more balladry (though nontraditional) creeping in betwixt the uptempo hookmonsters.  For me, the album does bog down in the second half with these meditations, which I can take or leave.  But the opening trio of tunes are everything you could hope for from your shoulda-been popular music.  And, I love the wistful waltz “Daughters of Sorrow”—lots. 

I was pleased to see that other people think Sara Lucas, lead singer of Callers sounds like Phoebe Snow (hello, WNYC).  That wonderful voice is a perfect match for this frankly lovely music, mellow and slightly inscrutable (who knows what “You are an Arc” means?).   No matter.  Intimate music with moments of sudden aggressiveness/assertiveness.   Mellow, but watch it.   I love how “Glow” seamlessly transforms from one song into another, two different moods.  With its spare, elegant settings for these songs, it’s a refreshing switch from a lot of the overstuffed & cranked up music that gets a lot of airplay. 

I won’t lie; legacy artist they may be, but I was not disappointed in Devo’s return this year.  Their “Something for Everybody” continues their sly way of both celebrating and critiquing modern ‘devolution’ with tuneful and clever songs (they show their hand on “No Place Like Home,” I suppose.  I don’t detect much irony on that one).  And the guys seem in good voice, too!  It’s like it’s 1980 all over again.  Contemporary hitmaker producers keep the band ‘up to date,’ but it’s nothing so radical that old fans will protest. 

The Soft Pack has a debut that blazes through 10 slices of garage/surf rock.  Most enjoyable.  Direct and immediate.  And it rocks.  Simple as that.    

Guards is Richie James Follin, basically, sometimes his sister, too, and a few other guests.  He calls his 2010 EP’s sound as “pop wave doom.”  I don’t know about that as a whole (though I’ve said “Sail it Slow” is a pretty melodically pleasing dirge with a great lumbering guitar riff as its spine).   It’s kind of low-fi pop, otherwise.  It has that sort of subdued, echoey feel about it.  That churchy organ can’t help but add to the austerity of it all.  Also, Guards is on Bandcamp, a great website for independent music.  Check it out!

The Books, and their album “The Way Out.”  Collage artists, I guess.  Raiding thrift stores for choice bits of people’s discarded answering machine tapes and whatnot, looking for a narrative or bits of interesting stuff they can sample and wedge into their (mostly) laid-back musical tapestries.  Helps remind us that the human voice is an important part of ‘music,’ even if we’re not singing.  (“A Cold Freezin’ Night” was the first track that caught my attention.  I can’t help but be reminded of my duties at my ‘new’ job associated with that song.  Listened to it while in a studio monitoring a baseball broadcast.)  Probably unlike most other music you’ve probably heard, it’s more of an aural experience than aimed at any pop sensibility, though it’s by no means difficult listening.

And…Miniature Tigers.  Their album “Fortress” I would recommend to those who were perhaps disappointed in Vampire Weekend’s 2nd album.  Sounds great, and won’t insult your intelligence.   I could write more, but I’m tired (aw).  But it’s great stuff all around. 

Choice tracks:  “Heart That’s Pounding” by Sally Seltmann, “Every Little Bit Hurts” by Title Tracks, “On the Sly” by The Bamboos, “I Learned the Hard Way” by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, “Buster Keaton” by Quadron, “My Time” by Minus the Bear, “Lewis Takes Action” by Owen Pallett, “Bootstraps” by Drew Grow & the Pastors’ Wives, “Whatever You Like” by Joan as Police Woman, “Ungrateful Little Father” by Broken Social Scene, “Burn it Down” by Los Lobos, “All Around and Away We Go” by Twin Sister, “They Don’t Want” by Electric Wire Hustle, “Aminals” by Baths, “It is Not Meant to Me” by Tame Impala, “China Steps” by Women, “Stylo” by Gorillaz, “MCs Can Kiss” by Uffie, “Who Makes Your Money” by Spoon, “Lover of Mine” (Roman Ruins remix) by Beach House, “Logic” by Operator Please, “Numbers Don’t Lie” by The Mynabirds, assorted tracks by Das Racist

Um, thanks for reading!

Some of these songs’ll be featured on Sunday night’s hybrid Sunday Sampler/Gonzo’s Music-o-Rama show, beginning at 9:00 PM eastern, and of course Dr. G will be there with me as we profile our Best of 2010 picks.

Join us, won’t you? 

90.1 FM in Indiana, PA 


Live streaming online at

Friday, December 17, 2010

Year in Music: Marc's Favorites of 2010 (Part One)

Time to ramble on a bit about my top picks for 2010, as a sort of companion to the “Best of 2010” show that Dr. G and I are going to present this Sunday evening.

Let’s just jump in and talk about albums as a whole that I thought were very good listening experiences from end to end. Listening to an entire album is something I find I have to often discipline myself to do nowadays. I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way, as most music consumers that skew younger today are more of a download generation, and I think this trend allows people to pick and choose a la carte what they want and not bother with the rest, so the idea of an album that is conceived as a piece may be harder to put over to listeners. In any case, what I’m getting at from my point of view is, I count myself as a part of that group, so if a singer/group inspired me to pick up the disc or download the entire album, I think that’s saying something about the general excellence of the product. I’m also chagrined to say that even with this commitment of sorts, that (for me) I still haven’t spent enough time with a lot of these albums to know and love them inside out, which I think they deserve. But further exploration is always on the horizon.

After thinking about it a bit, if you asked me what my personal #1 album pick of the year would be, I would have to say it is “Before Today” by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. I had stolen a line from someone else’s music blog or whatnot that the music reminds me of “70’s AM radio filtered through a windowless dungeon.” While there are some slight stylistic variations (garage rock remake, goth rock homage), the entire album has a kind of twisted easy-listening vibe with old synthy sounds and mellow groove that I really like. “Round and Round” is easily my favorite track. Even if this is not its intention (they could be playing all this ironically for all I know), it comes off as earnestly anthemic, in its opaque way.

Probably wouldn’t have paid all that much attention to The Dead Weather’s “Sea of Cowards” if not for G. picking it as an early choice on our “First Impressions” record review show over the summer. But, it’s a solid chunk of what I hear as Led Zeppelin/Black Sabbath-y guitar rock, only streamlined for maximum hook appeal. No wanker solos here, just lean mean killer riffage and appropriately wailed vocals from Alison Mosshart and Jack White. So vocally in sync with each other, too, that when they’re in their upper registers it’s tricky for me to figure out who’s wailing. Highlights for me are the opening one-two punch of “Blue Blood Blues” and “Hustle and Cuss,” as well as “Gasoline,” “No Horse,” “Jawbreaker,” and “Old Mary.” (a great coda to it all…Supposedly there’s some overarching narrative to the whole thing, but I don’t think it’s necessary to enjoy the album fully). But it’s all pretty kick-ass, immediate stuff.  I'm very glad it was put in front of me!

That’s pretty much as heavy as it gets for me on my list, although there are a few stray tracks from other artists this year that rocked convincingly enough for me (I listen to some of this ‘heavy’ music today that’s overly self-conscious of being ‘heavy' and ponderous and 'life is hell' and I just think, ‘wankers.'):

One of my fave tracks of this year “Art Czars” by Japandroids kinda addresses this, the words of the song seemingly addressing disappointed fans that the group isn’t ‘hard’ enough for their fans (they could be making this up, sure, or maybe not). “I’m really sorry if you want more screaming. You missed my heart, but you’ve got my ears bleeding. Here’s your money back, here’s your punk rock back.” Ironically, despite their contrariness, this things smacks very much of punk to me. And the refrain burrows its way in.

I can’t say I’m over the moon about Ty Segall’s album “Melted” —though very well executed, it’s a bit too one-note for me, the garagey-fuzz-noise pop, but there are two tracks that have received a good number of plays for me throughout the year, and that’s two more than the majority of albums that were released this year. I love “Finger”s surprise chord changes, like someone suddenly put their hand on a turntable and slowed it down a whole step or so. And “Sad Fuzz” is a great singalong, if only I could make out the words.

Crystal Castles’ “I Am Made of Chalk” is of course its own kind of ‘hard,’ and while perhaps it’s not really representative of their newest album as a whole (more people probably like the dancy stuff than the noisy stuff, maybe?), it made an impression of me, Alice Glass’s deliberately muddied and desperate-sounding vocals drowning in an electronic soup. Sorta unforgettable, if you’re into that sort of thing. I admired the rest of the album dance and experimental pieces alike, even if it wasn’t something I spun a lot.

Surely one of the coolest album covers of the year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Sampler takes a week off

No show this week, as IUP Basketball will be on the air Sunday evening.  Dr. Gonzo's Music-o-Rama follows IUP Basketball after its completion.

Tune in next Sunday, when me and Dr. G do our 2nd Annual "Best of 2010" show where we'll play a lot of great new music that hit shelves, racks, websites, blogs, etc. this year.  Plus, as an added bonus, our sterling commentary on what impressed us most.  The Sampler starts at 8:00 PM, "Best of 2010" at 9:00.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Show #260--12/5/10

Faron—Prefab Sprout
Tokyo—The Books
Muesli—Minotaur Shock
Balboa—Downtown Harvest
Shine—Collective Soul
Hypnotized—Fleetwood Mac
Shelter—The xx

Hour 2—A Round of Remakes

Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You—The Lettermen
I Won’t Last a Day Without You/Let Me Be the One—Al Wilson
The Letter—The Nirvana Sitar & String Group
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)—Anju Ramapriyam
The Back of Love—Burning Airlines
3 is a Magic Number—Blind Melon
Easy—Faith No More
That’s All—Zeus
Baby, Now That I’ve Found You—Alison Krauss
You Really Got Me—Oingo Boingo
Gone Daddy Gone—Gnarls Barkley
I Can’t Tell You Why—Chromeo