Thursday, August 18, 2005

Free Songs of Astounding and True Beauty

To keep you occupied while we go off to Green Man this weekend our guest blogger Sean Michaels of Said The Gramophone fame has some tasty MP3s for you to chew on. See you next week with tales of hippies, cider and mud.

Okkervil River – For Real
A song full of such roaring life, covered in such black and flashing fur, that it’s hard to imagine it as a thing composed, the work of men in a room trying out parts and kicking at pedals. Okkervil River were a band of rustic mountain-men, Austin’s lonesome hermit poets, but here Will Robinson Sheff’s got teeth and a fever, he’s got claws, he’s got an electric guitar that shorts the lights. This is rock music for after you realise what you’ve done, or a song for running panicked through a field. It’s a track that requires a lantern – hold yours high.

Bishop Allen – Little Black Ache
Oh, the blues. The blues are so blue that sometimes they’re even black. And if we’re going to sing about the black-and-blues, not sing the blues but sing about them, - well, let’s make sure it’s a pop-song of modest majesty, of unabashed fun, of hip-hip-hooray. Bishop Allen are passing around Polaroids with The Kinks, Modest Mouse, The Shins; they’ve got mussed hair not from the stylist but from sleeping in; they’ve got a bathtub of tunes that could power a Volkswagen convertible. They’re from Brooklyn and they’re the best unsigned band in America.

Devin Davis – Iron Woman
If we bang the drums loud enough, the mics will clip. If we get a big enough choir, the roof will blow off. If we sing our hearts out, well then maybe we’ll explode. In some worlds, each of these would be bad things. Here, however, with only two minutes to run over a parade, with only two minutes to save Neutral Milk Hotel, The Flaming Lips and Ray Davies from an avalanche, well – it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Davis sings of “three ... weeks spent throwing matchsticks at the sun”, and I can imagine that, the matches thrown overhand into the sky. But I can imagine them, too, flaring into flame, fireworks, glad little explosions to accompany the electric guitar, the feedback, the maracas, the saxophones, the piano, Devin Davis’s fantastic Rube Goldberg machine.

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