Thursday, November 26, 2009
... 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
(Return to playlists.)
A Thanksgiving special! Spinning whatever kinds of music happen to
stike my fancy, and, for a lark, I'm putting the results into this
old format. Feels pretty good to be back in this more free-form
vibe (Wordpress is easier, but more restrictive).
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.
Tim Berne -- "Huevos" -- Science Friction (Screwgun, 2002)
An old standby, to kick things off.
Briefly mentioned here.
* My First Earthquake -- "Sleep in the Sea" -- Downstairs (self-released, 2009)
Setting the stage for what would be a mostly indie-pop show.
An upbeat midtempo number that ends this particular album, in
* Sunset -- "Garden of Eden" -- Gold Dissolves to Gray (Autobus, 2008)
A spoken little ditty riffing on the beginning of mankind,
backed by fun, old-timey jazz music. Sunset is mostly singer-songwriter stuff
with occasional piano, and a couple of outlier tracks like this one;
great stuff that shows a depth of musical knowledge.
Sparks -- "Strange Animal" -- Exotic Creatures of the Deep (Li'l Beethoven, 2008)
Previously noted here. Their newest work is a radio play (released as
a double vinyl album!) having to do with Ingmar Bergman coming to Hollywood.
* Wiretree -- "Rail" -- Luck (self-released, 2009)
A driven, chugging, breezy rocker of a song. It's good, but it's
got the kind of sheen that would make it good for a banking or airline
* The Assistants -- "Stop Dead" -- Fiction (self-released, 2009)
Nicely energetic pop, a bit breezy/wistful, with a nice horn
riff to the chorus. Sung with an indie-rock accent that makes the
title line sound like "I stopped it" rather than "I stop dead,"
which is a pity -- this is the kind of song you'd seek out after
hearing on the radio.
*! Steuart Liebig -- "All Gone" -- Angel City Dust (pfMentum, 2009)
A serious chamber jazzist's bar band. I blogged about this
particular album here,
and it's gotten a too-brief mention before on this site.
* Amusement Parks on Fire -- "In Our Eyes" -- Young Fight EP (Filter, 2009)
More pop (I let pop dominate the first hour). A very easy pop
sound scrunched under thick layers of guitars, very wall-of-sound.
* Manic Street Preachers -- "All Is Vanity" -- Journal for Plague Lovers (Columbia, 2009)
Snappy pop, hard-driven in the chorus. Maybe there's a touch of
'80s goth in the guitar sound during the verses, but that's not the
dominant mode here.
Mates of State -- "Halves and Have-Nots" -- Our Constant Concern (Polyvinyl, 2002)
From the second album of this boy/girl, keyboards/drums duet.
Already exhibits the spare sound and tight harmonies that have been
their signature. In picking possible music for the show, I let myself
grab familiar pop names more than I usually do. Don't know why, but a
lot of them piled into this set.
The Cucumbers -- "My Birthday" -- Total Vegetility (Home Office, 1999)
OK, you wouldn't count this as "familiar," but it's a
fave discovery of mine from the library. Crisp, straightforward
pop with strong vocals like a more forceful Natalie Merchant.
I gave this a listen about a year ago and was immediately itching to
get it on the air. Evidence here.
* Mission of Burma -- "One Day We Will Live There" -- The Sound the Speed the Light (Matador, 2009)
Gloriously messy; mid/fast, throttling rock. I didn't dip into
the punk/metal bin this time, like I usually do, but this came
kind of close, right?
Guided by Voices -- "Skills Like This" -- Isolation Drills (TVT, 2002)
Oh come on, I don't have to explain this one, do I? Yes, GbV had
their lo-fi glory days in the late '90s and all, but I discovered them
circa 2000 and got to see some amazing shows with some wonderful new
friends. It's not Bee Thousand good, but it's still good.
* Knock Knock -- "Michael" -- Girls on the Run (Wilde, 2007)
Guitar pop again, with a strong pulsing beat. Fast stuff, relatively
light, like someone's been influenced by lots of late '60s music.
It's a toss-up between this track, The Assistants (above), and
Pet Lions (below) for the
best find of the show.
-- 5:00 p.m. --
* Pet Lions -- "Roman History" -- Soft Right (self-released, 2009)
Hook-laden pop, fast, with a rich melody. Irresistably catchy,
the kind of song that gets stuck in your head even though the
lyrics are too speedy to remember.
* The Grass Cats -- "The Right Place" -- A Good Way To Get the Blues (New Time, 2009)
Introducing some of the genre-hopping that I normally infuse into
these "pop" shows. Bluegrass! Strings, banjo, a country-fried melody,
and tight harmonies, from an all-male band.
The Curtains -- "Brunswick Stew" -- Calamity (Asthmatic Kitty, 2006)
A Deerhoof-related band that does avant-gardish guitar
instrumentals. This particular one is a sly, funky little number,
90 seconds of good fun.
-- "Honey Key Jamboree" -- Vehicle (Altrock, 2009)
Yes! A bouncy, jazzy number with vocals, from a prog band
that sports the usual guitar histrionics and complex written parts,
but adds an earnest horn section (bass clarinet and sax, usually)
and doesn't take itself too seriously. More people need to
hear these guys. I blogged this one over here.
Death by Chocolate -- "El Graphic" -- Zap the World (Jetset, 2002)
A go-to CD whenever I want to break with something different,
yet still poppy. Retro '60s instrumentals, real go-go stuff with
lots of keyboards, and some spoken vocals by a British
girl (adding to the whole retro environment). You can find them on
old, un-annotated playlists here
and here, if you
really want to.
* Mac Arnold and Plate Full o' Blues -- "Country Man" -- Country Man (Plantation #1, 2009)
Like I have to tell you what kind of music this is.
Big, burly blues, with lyrics about wanting to live in the country --
not a pairing you hear every day.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists -- "Under the Hedge" -- The Tyranny of Distance (Lookout, 2001)
Gotta love Ted Leo. This one's got a big, anthemic opening that
made for a nice transition out of the rockin' blues.
* The Crystal Method -- "Smile?" -- Divided by Night (Tiny E, 2009)
Dance/rave music, upbeat enough to mesh with Ted Leo,
spacey enough to serve as intro to ...
? Circus Devils -- "Alien" -- Pinball Mars (Fading Captain Series, 2003?)
Robert Pollard shows off his weird side. Actually, the music for
Circus Devils is mostly by Todd Tobias, who produced the last few
Guided by Voices albums and infused them with odd, sometimes shrill
sound effects. (Tim Tobias, Todd's brother and a GbV alumnus, rounds
out the band and probably contributes some music as well.)
Circus Devils builds from those effects first --
abrasive, distorted sounds -- adding some recognizable guitar and
Pollard's melodies. The result is strange and twisted.
Circus Devils has enough of an output that there's apparently a
limited-edition box set of their four or five CDs now.
* Rose Melberg -- "Moon Singer" -- Homemade Ship (self-released, 2009)
Spare singer-songwriter stuff with mostly a lone or overdubbed
vocal and a guitar. Melberg's got a quiet, sweet voice that makes for
a peaceful acoustic listen. This is an undiscovered gem in rotation
right now; part of what I love to do is look up the least-played items
in rotation and give them a chance. This album's a gem, but its
stillness makes it a difficult fit with a lot of shows, admittedly.
Here, Melberg's placid voice made a perfect contrast with the
other-dimensional Circus Devils sound. Odd lyrics, too: "You are
the moon singer / And I am only a raccoon."
? Jess Rowland -- "The Problem with the Soda Machine" -- The Problem with the Soda Machine (Edgetone, 2008)
Very '70s-sounding piano pop, with even a touch of drama ... but
then you realize it's literally about the soda machine at work.
For what seems like a goofy one-off project on the surface, Rowland
came up with some admittedly catchy songs.
? The Flying Luttenbachers -- "Violent Shade" -- Incarceration by Abstraction (ugEXPLODE, 2007?)
Big loud thrashing stuff, angry prog/metal.
Gave it a spin after reading the news that Weasel Walter
is leaving the Bay Area, as noted here.
* Upsilon Acrux -- "Prelude to Foreshadow'n" -- Radian Futura (Cuneiform, 2009)
More prog! On the more melodic side this time, but still
instrumental and six minutes long. Wonder how many people stopped
listening at this point (their loss; this track is
* Violet Vector and the Lovely Lovelies -- "Grass Is Glowing" -- EP II (Color Wheel, 2009)
Back into straight pop. Upbeat, with a female lead singer.
The EP we got is apparently a prelude to an upcoming full-length.
Kristin Hersh -- "Sundrops" -- Strings (Sire, 1994)
Here's an interesting one: A set of Hersh songs backed by
a string quartet (or some set of strings, anyway). Makes for a spare,
dramatic sound, but the music stays catchy and rocking; they did a
good job matching the (probably pathetically easy) string arrangements
to the music.
Dealership -- "Endless Affair" -- Action/Adventure (Turn, 2004)
Ending the show with a local pop favorite. I don't know if
Dealership is still active, but their work is worth seeking out
in any event. Very poppy with traces of punk attitude and some
great male/female harmony vocals.
* = Item in KZSU rotation
! = Jazz anomaly
? = Item not in KZSU library
-- Go back to Memory Select playlists.
-- Bay Area free/improv music calendar: http://www.bayimproviser.com.