Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Forgotten Gem: Liz Phair - 'Supernova'

On the heels of her breakthrough Exile in Guyville, Liz Phair released follow-up Whip-Smart just a year later.  'Supernova' was the sophomore album's flagship single, but it oozed of perfunctory pop hooks and formulaic production value when compared to the Exile collective.

Nevertheless, for as much as 'Supernova' seemed to mimic the alternative radio shtick of the time, it sounds refreshingly underground by today's standards.   Modern "Alternative" often sounds too polished, and modern "Indie" often gets lost in its own digital abstraction.  'Supernova,' on the other hand, is a back-to-basics ode to garage punk and songwriting.  It stands on its own merits.  And for that, I find 'Supernova' quite endearing.

Check out the video to 'Supernova' below.  (Try not to laugh too hard at all the nineties tropes):

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Joss Stone - 'The High Road'

Joss Stone killed it on Jimmy Fallon Thursday night when she belted her silky smooth rendition of Broken Bells' 'The High Road.'  Dare I say, I enjoy this version better than the original.

Although I wasn't able to locate the Jimmy Fallon video clip for posting here, I've done the next best thing and embedded the SoundCloud stream to Joss' studio cut of 'The High Road' below:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Forgotten Gems: Archers of Loaf - 'Harnessed in Slums'

The Archers of Loaf may not have garnered the same level of indie-rock stardom as many of their early-'90s counterparts, but that didn't stop the influential Chapel Hill, NC band from making a lot of noise.

With a sound as angular and pop-centric as Pavement, but owing equal credit to the pure noise of Sonic Youth and the raw energy of the Pixies, the Archers strutted the line between melody and discordance like few of their contemporaries.

While the band's 1993 debut, Icky Mettle could still be considered their best and most important album, I have an affinity for their follow-up, Vee Vee.  On Vee Vee, the band plowed straight ahead with such a genuine lack of restraint that songs come off as contorted and misshapen, yet strangely and perfectly balanced.  "Harnessed in Slums" is a great example of the group's ethos, and an often overlooked indie-rock gem.

Watch the video for Archers of Loaf's joyfully raucus, "Harnessed in Slums" below:

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Natalie Duncan - 'Sky is Falling'

Upcoming pop songstress Natalie Duncan advances torchy, bluesy jazz with her slow burner, 'Sky is Falling.'  Delicately searching, Duncan brings forth a credible sense of melancholy amidst a backdrop of optimistic expectation.  Her first album, Devil in Me, is set to drop July 24.       

In the meantime, watch the music video to 'Sky is Falling' below:

Childish Gambino - 'Heartbeat'

Like most folks, I first encountered Donald Glover as "Troy," the jock character on NBC's groundbreaking comedy, Community.  On the show, Glover plays a goofy, silly guy who's into playing in imaginariums and treating the "real world" with genuine contempt.

I had heard for awhile that Donald Glover had a side project rapping under his alter-ego, Childish Gambino, but I was never real motivated to listen to his stuff because of typecasting:  I couldn't separate the serious rapper allegedly portrayed by Childish Gambino from the totally not-very-serious character of "Troy" from Community.

This all changed when I had the pleasure of catching at random the video to 'Heartbeat' on CoolTV, the only television station that actually seems interested in playing music videos right now.  When I watched the vid I was, surprisingly, pretty darned impressed.

Unlike the absurd "Troy," Childish Gambino in 'Heartbeat' lays down lyrics with a distinct viciousness not replicated by other rappers.  Certainly, the overall cadence is akin to Kanye, but the emotional delivery is undoubtedly reminiscent of Mr. Slim Shady, himself.  The hook is auto-tuned enhanced, but the artificiality is mitigated by the mean lines Glover drops all throughout the song.

Stream the video to 'Heartbeat' by Childish Gambino below:

Monday, July 02, 2012

Father John Misty - 'Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings'

'Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings' has really struck a chord with me as of late.  Sung by J. Tillman--pseudonym Father John Misty-- the tune is wistful and soothing and folksy and generously proclaims "Jesus Christ" all throughout.

You can watch the video for 'Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings' below:

The Wombats - 'Jump Into the Fog'

'Jump Into the Fog' has steadily earwormed its way into the playlists of many alt-rock radio stations as of late.  To be sure, the looping keyboard riff has a lot to do with it.  But the song is also solid, containing a manic melody.

Check out the video to 'Jump Into the Fog' by The Wombats below: