Top of the Month – August

August 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

Too lazy to do the week things so maybe these month lists are pointless enough:

TOP ALBUMS:

1. The Duke & The King: Nothing Gold Can Stay
2. Brendan Benson: My Old, Familiar Friend
3. Emitt Rhodes: The Emitt Rhodes Recordings
4. Kaspar: Kaspar
5. Magnolia Electric Co.: Josephine
6. The Jayhawks Anthology
7. Astrid Swan: Better Than Wages
8. Haruko: Wild Geese
9. Rhett Miller: Rhett Miller
10. The Shazam: Meteor

TOP SONGS:

1. The Duke & The King: One More American Song
2. The Duke & The King: If You Ever Get Famous
3. The Duke & The King: Union Street
4. The Duke & The King: Water Spider
5. Brendan Benson: A Whole Lot Better

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The Emitt Rhodes Recordings (1969 – 1973)

August 31, 2009 § 2 Comments

emittrhodes-recordings

Emitt Rhodes: The Emitt Rhodes Recordings (1969 – 1973) (Hip-O-Select, 2009)

Now here is a release that deserves one of those imaginary onechord culture awards. Most of Emitt Rhodes‘ material has been out-of-print for years and it has been a real struggle to find his amazing pop albums. Thankfully Hip-O-Select saw the light and released his four solo albums The American Dream, Emitt Rhodes, Mirror and Farewell To Paradise on this beautiful 2-CD set.  It really is one of the most important reissues of the year. For me, it will probably be the reissue of the year.. well unless rumours about that The Left Banke anthology is true. Then we will have a tie.

Emitt Rhodes first entered into the general knowledge as the frontman of The Merry-Go-Round. A great pop group from Los Angeles that never gained a huge success but did release one album that contained  a bunch of great songs (Rev-Ola have released a great The Merry-Go-Round compilation, well worth picking up eventhough if I would have to choose I’d say that I prefer Emitt’s solo albums over The Merry-Go-Round. But both are absolutely great). After The Merry-Go-Round split up Emitt Rhodes became a solo artist who recorded four fabulous albums that are now available on this wonderful release. All albums are excellent, but the biggest treasure is the somewhat legendary self-titled album Emitt Rhodes that is one of the greatest albums ever released.  To write such a stunning pop masterpiece at the age of 20 is quite an achievement. Unfortunately the critical success of the record didn’t turn into money and Emitt didn’t got the big break he so much deserved.  On top of that, his record contract stated that he needs to be able to write two albums every year and because he wasn’t able to do it, the label  ABC-Dunhill started a law suit against him. Now there’s a bloody good way to support a young pop genius who was just starting out and had the talent to become one of the best pop singer-songwriters. Despite all this  Emitt Rhodes still managed to write two excellent albums Mirror and Farewell To Paradise before vanishing from the spotlight he was never on.  It really is a huge shame that some bad contract signings and the cruelty of the music business drove such a talented songwriter away from the world of pop music at the age of 23-24.

However, now is not the time to think about what could-have-beens and just celebrate his brief but wonderful career by listening to his beautiful albums.  Emitt was a multitalented artist who wrote all the songs, played every instrument and recorded the albums in his home studio. He gave birth to a huge amount of perfect pop songs that still sound fresh and melodically rich. A lot of his music does sound very “McCartneysque” eventhough I shouldn’t bring it up, because it easily gives the feeling that he was some kind of second grade Paul McCartney which was not the case. Emitt Rhodes was the real deal and made better music than any Beatle did in the seventies. The Emitt Rhodes Recordings is one of the most important releases of the year and it contains beautifully crafted melodic and sensitive pop music that still sound fresh as a daisy.

(if you want album grades separetely it would probably be five hearts for Emitt Rhodes and The American Dream, 4 1/2 hearts for Mirror and Farewell To Paradise)

Emitt Rhodes at myspace

P.S The great news is that Emitt Rhodes is back in the studio and making new music again. Hopefully this will lead to a brand new Emitt Rhodes album.

Radio City: Class Of ’77

August 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

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Radio City: Class Of ’77 (Radio Heartbeat, 2009)

This is a lost power pop gem from the late seventies.. or can you lose something that was never released. Radio City was too pop for the punk scene of New York and never got the break they would have deserved, but they did record a fantastic bunch of songs that finally thirty years later see the light of the day.  Especially the opening tracks Don’t Mistake Love (recorded 1980) and Little Runaway (recorded 1978) are really wonderful pop songs that should be listed among power pop classics. The next eight songs are from Radio City’s demo tape that was recorded live in winter 1977.  It still sounds good to me and there’s some really good songs like Tomorrow, It’s Ok, Bleecker Street and She’s A Heartbreaker among them. Class Of ’77 ends with three songs from their live rehearsal tape. I’m not 100%  sure was it a good idea to add them, because eventhough the songs are good the sound quality isn’t and it doesn’t make it that enjoyable to listen to them. However, the first one So Easy is such a great song that I suppose it would have been criminal to leave it out. Not as criminal as not giving this great band a record deal back in the seventies though.

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Radio City at myspace

The Lemonheads: Varshons

August 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

the_lemonheads

The Lemonheads: Varshons (Bad Taste, 2009)

I’m a big fan of The Lemonheads and Evan Dando. The Lemonheads have given us several great cover versions in the past and therefore making a cover record might seem like a good idea. Usually it’s a horrible idea and eventhough for The Lemonheads the idea doesn’t sound too bad, the end result is still  rather dissapointing. Varshons does contain some really good stuff, but there’s just isn’t enough of it for a full-lenght album.

A good thing is that Evan Dando haven’t selected the obvious songs to cover and instead have made some obscure choices.  For example picking a rare Gram Parsons song I Just Can’t Take It Anymore instead of a Gram classic is great idea. Gram’s shadow isn’t hanging too close above and the song sounds almost exactly like 90’s The Lemonheads (okay, I admit I’m a fanboy stuck in the past and one of the reasons I’m not so into this cover disc is that overall, it doesn’t sound like The Lemonheads I fell in love with).  Too bad Evan didn’t do the same thing with Townes Van Zandt and selected Waiting Around To Die. He might have pulled of some rare Townes number, but now I’m just left wondering how is it possible to make one of the best songs ever written sound so lame. I admit it’s a bit personal thing as well. If I had to choose the 10 greatest songs ever, this would be one of them. I love it to bits and I probably wouldn’t approve any other versions than the original. Dirty Robot is probably painfully bad, but how would I know for sure. I really can’t even listen to it. I refuse to even think about it. On a positive note, Wire cover Fragile is a great one and garage classic Green Fuz is another treat. How about 7″ inch cover EP with I Just Can’t It Anymore as A-side and those to as the b-sides. Now that would be worth all five hearts..

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The Duke & The King: Nothing Gold Can Stay

August 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

theDukeandtheKing

The Duke & The King: Nothing Gold Can Stay (Loose Records, 2009)

One more american record… or maybe the american record of the year. Okay, some treasures like The Avett Brothers album haven’t been released yet, so let’s not start making those end of the year lists now. However, The Duke & The King have really created an almost perfect album and I have completely fallen in love with it.

The Duke & The King are Simone Felice & Robert “Chicken” Burke. Simone Felice was the drummer for The Felice Brothers which is one of my favourite bands and therefore I had really high hopes for The Duke & The King, but I still wouldn’t have guessed I would end up loving this even more than any The Felice Brothers album (that’s a lot of love, almost like an overdoze). Simone Felice is also an author and it’s no wonder that  Nothing Gold Can Stay is lyrically strong and contains heartbreaking storytelling wrapped into beautiful americana, folk and even country-soul songs.  The characters of the songs have met the darker corners of life, but there’s a sense of vulnerable optimism around. I kind of love the simplicity of the record. It might even sound lazy, but this bare and sensitive approach is always the best way to go.. if you can write songs, you don’t need to hire the royal philharmonic orchestra. Especially If You Ever Get Famous, The Morning I Get To Hell, Union Street, Water Spider, Summer  Morning Rain and One More American Song are utterly wonderful songs and Nothing Gold Can Stay is one of the finest albums of the year.

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The Duke & The King at myspace
 

Astrid Swan album stream..

August 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

is now available exclusively at allscandinavian.com. Album Better Than Wages is due out on 2nd of september.

Stream album at allscandinavian.com
Astrid Swan at myspace
Astrid Swan at blogspot

The Micragirls

August 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

the_micragirls_summersgone_web

The Micragirls is about to release their second album Wild Girl Walk on 9th of september. I’m looking forward to this garage rock’n’roll blast. It should be a whole lot of fun. Summer’s gone/Girl Go Crazy download single is out now exclusively at Bone Voyage Shop. You can listen the a-side (can you say that about download-single) also on their myspace. It’s actually a great pop song and should appeal to pop fans as well. No wonder I think it’s absolutely gorgeous and perhaps my favourite The Micragirls song so far. I do like that garage rock stuff a lot as well, but well pop music is the thing that is closest to my heart and therefore I wouldn’t mind if there were more songs like Summer’s Gone on Wild Girl Walk. However, I promise not to be too dissapointed, if there aren’t because I’m fairly confident it will be a really good record no matter what.

The Micragirls Website
The Micragirls at myspace
Bone Voyage shop

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