23 June 2010

The Smiths Project

 I stumbled onto Janice Whaley's Smiths Project last week (via Slicing Up Eyeballs, which is a cool 80s sorta alternative music blog). She's basically trying to cover every Smiths song by the end of this year, and it looks like she's on track to hit that goal. You can go to the blog and listen, and you also can download tracks here. As of this writing, there are 32 tracks for your downloading pleasure. I also grabbed her widget thingy (man, that sounds dirty) from which you can listen here, as well. That is, if you're lazy and don't want to navigate away from Pop Molecule. Anyway, I think her endeavor is very cool and anyone who is a fan of The Smiths should give it a listen. And really, who doesn't like The Smiths?

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17 June 2010

Trying to scrounge a dime

I've been listening quite a bit lately to Karen Elson's debut album, The Ghost Who Walks. The album has a kinda alt-country noir vibe to it which, for me, recalls Neko Case's classic album, Blacklisted (except without The Voice). Spare, haunting, eerie, dark and brooding. And I'm not saying they're equals, just that Elson is pointing in this direction. Mouths to Feed is one of my favorite tracks (so far) on the album. It seems to be a depression-era dust bowl story about the rich getting richer while the poor are left standing beside the road. I particularly love her voice on this track and the violins, for me, really round out the feel of the music. I could lose myself for days in a song like this.

Karen Elson > Mouths To Feed

15 June 2010

The Haunting of Ariel Pink

When my turn came to chime in on Before Today, the much-discussed but perhaps not very well understood new album by Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, I thought I'd try digging a little deeper than usual. Results at The Line of Best Fit here.

Here's the video for his/their cover of the Rockin' Ramrods' 1966 single "Bright Lit Blue Skies":

12 June 2010

Dock Ellis

Forty years ago today in 1970, Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres while under the influence of LSD.

Keven McAlester's excellent story about the incident and Ellis' life is here; the Baseball Reliquary's entry on the pitcher is here. Ellis died in 2008 at age 63.

In 1993, Barbara Manning's S.F. Seals (taking their name from San Francisco's legendary old Pacific Coast League team) released The Baseball Trilogy EP, from which this pretty kickass song is taken.

S.F. Seals - Dock Ellis

Image: Got Me Floating (2008) by Jay Kaplan.

06 June 2010

I don't know how to stop

I convinced D, the other day, to listen to some of the earlier Peter Gabriel albums. She was checking his new album, Scratch My Back, which is on my playlist. She had told me her dad used to listen to Genesis and Gabriel in the car when she was young, but she wasn't overly familiar with it. So I brought in a few albums for her to peruse. My favorite is the one with Peter Gabriel's melting face, which is his third self-titled solo album.

In any case, the point of this is that I listened to this album again, and it brought back a flood of memories. Lying on the bed and reading while listening. Studying the personnel list, which eventually and inevitably led to other exciting musical discoveries.Tony Levin and Robert Fripp pointed the way to King Crimson. Paul Weller opened the door to The Jam. In addition to producing this album, Steve Lillywhite produced U2, Big Country (laugh if you must, but I loved those first couple albums), and XTC, who were other bands I was getting into around that time.

Although I vaguely knew her name from singing backup on Gabriel's melty face album, a few years would pass before I discovered who Kate Bush really was. We didn't have cable television back then, my dad refused to pay for TV. I used to go over to Peter's, his mom was pretty cool and she worked nights which meant she was generally asleep during the day and we could watch whatever we wanted, usually some retarded horror flick or a baseball game. This one particular day, I think Peter was distracted by something. Maybe a girl on the phone, or whatever. I was flipping through the channels when I stumbled upon this gorgeous girl wearing chain mail and brandishing a sword. I was captivated, and when Peter was done with his distraction, I wouldn't let him change the channel until I found out the name of this warrior woman. The song was Babooshka, the name of the program was The Single File (which was a compilation of her videos), and the singer turned out to be Kate Bush. Amazing. I rushed out as soon as I could and picked up Hounds of Love, which was her current release at the time.

Strange how the mind works, this started out as an ode to Peter Gabriel, and I end up gushing over Kate Bush. Complete lack of discipline. I'm gonna leave it as it is, however, and I'll leave with these tunes. Peter Gabriel's No Self Control, on which you can hear Kate Bush singing backup. Kate Bush's Babooshka, which pretty much is the starting point of my lifelong Kate Bush odyssey. I actually have to belatedly thank the USA Network for airing that video. Who would have thought that one could see obscure Kate Bush videos on American network television?

And sometime soon, I will have to write up a little post on my favorite duet ever, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush singing Don't Give Up, which appears on Gabriel's 1986 album, So. I'll save that one for later.

Peter Gabriel > No Self Control

Kate Bush > Babooshka

Lastly, as a little bonus, here is the video for Kate Bush's spellbinding Babooshka: