Friday, June 23, 2006

Worthy Pursuits and Playlists - June 25, 2006

New music you should look (and listen!) for:

Keane -- East Sussex, England, UK - Interscope

This English trio is back with the follow up to their 2004 debut Hopes and Fears, from which we got the hit ballad "Somewhere Only We Know" (unfortunately it is being used right now to promote the Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves movie about that magical, time-defying "Lake House"... I digress). Keane's new single, "Is It Any Wonder?," is a complete change of pace -- it rocks... and the video reminds me of being on Space Mountain. Find it on the new album, Under the Iron Sea. It's got the same experiments with looping and analog synths as the debut release (Keane doesn't have a guitar player), but this time around, the band gives us a more depressing view of the world. Just look at some of the track titles -- "A Bad Dream," "Broken Toy," and "Put It Behind You"? But I guess everyone needs some songs like that for the low moments in life and to put things in perspective. Good Chance You'll Like This Artist If You Like: Coldplay, Travis, Doves, the last two U2 albums. Album out now.

Jim Noir - Manchester, England, UK - Barsuk Records

Something you may or may not know about me is that I watch TV for the commercials. Blame it on my advertising days, but I just love to know which agencies did which spots for which companies, and most importantly, which indie artists they're tapping for music. Case in point: Adidas ads running during the World Cup matches (you know -- with the little kids running around with the pro footballers?). Well listen closely and you'll hear "Eanie Meany" by 24-year-old Jim Noir. His music is a reminder of why I wish I'd grown up through the 60s music explosion -- it's very psychedelic, soothing, and easy on the ears. Good Chance You'll Like This Artist If You Like: The Kinks, Badly Drawn Boy, The Beatles (circa Rubber Soul). Visit for downloads, music videos, and a garden gnome. Debut album out in August.

My Brightest Diamond - Brooklyn, NY - Asthmatic Kitty

It's a bittersweet symphony, composed by Shana Worden (leading this project as My Brightest Diamond). The emotional complexity of the lyrics and music is pretty astounding. Not surprising, though, considering Shana was raised by a national accordion champion and a church organist, studied opera in college, and later went on to be an Illinoismaker for Sufjan Stevens. Don't go thinking, "Oh... so it's classical instrumental stuff... yawn...," because it's not. Listen to the first single, "Something of an End," on MySpace (NOTE: the link I provided in the email version of this post does not work... sorry! You can also go straight to the Asthmatic Kitty site and get it) When you hear her sing, "And then the earth started shaking, yeah it was crazy, heaven and hell came crashing down... it came crashing... it was beautiful and terrible" you might just know what she means. Good Chance You'll Like This Artist If You Like: PJ Harvey, Bjork, Portishead. Album out August 22.

Corinne Bailey Rae - Leeds, England, UK - EMI

I'd heard the name Corinne Bailey Rae coming up in conversations at my office, but didn't spend any time with the album. Recently I saw her on VH1s "You Oughta Know," though, and figured maybe you oughta know, too. She makes laid back neo-soul sound comfortable and confident -- perfect music for a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in the summer, when you don't feel like doing much at all. Catch some clips from the self-titled debut on her website, (NOTE: this was also listed wrong in the email version... and to that I say, some days are just better than others...). Good Chance You'll Like This Artist If You Like: Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Billie Holiday. Album out now.

And a playlist for the week (inspired by my trip with Jessica to Athfest)

New Music From Athens, Georgia -- Athfest Compilation CD
1. AN EPIC AT BEST - Weight Of Words
3. R.E.M. - Wanderlust (Clayton St. Studio Version)
4. VENICE IS SINKING - Undecided
5. LONA - February Rose
9. PATTERSON HOOD - Heavy And Hanging
10. THE WHIGS - Can't Hear You Coming
11. NATE NELSON - A Sing-Song Fashion
12. NUTRIA - Under The Clay
13. MODERN SKIRTS - Indiana Indian
14. THE PENDLETONS - Put That Record On
15. SUMMER HYMNS - What Kind Of Bird
16. THE BEARFOOT HOOKERS - I'd Rather Two-Step (Than Twelve-Step)
17. MICHAEL HOUSER - Can't Change The Past
18. GINGER ENVELOPE - Caretaker

Buy the CD at

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Worthy Pursuits and Playlists -- June 15, 2006

New music that you should look (and listen!) for

Butch Walker and the Let's-Go-Out-Tonites -- Atlanta, GA -- Red Ink

Indie... glam... crunk? ...Yeah, maybe so. Butch Walker is the former lead singer of Marvelous 3 (remember that song "Freak of the Week" from the 90s?) but traded that in for a stint at production (including work with SR-71) and a solo career. He may have the hipster haircut (you know -- black hair hanging in his eyes, parted in an oh-so-cool way?) but the music doesn't seem to be going out of style anytime soon. Vibrant, riff-based rock, dripping with reverb. His third solo album is out on July 11th. Hear some early cuts at

Tin Cup Prophette -- Athens, GA -- Independent

Tin Cup Prophette is really Amanda Kapousouz (and friends) creating lush arrangements with her violin, lots of looping, and a haunting voice. Her album, "Liar and the Thief," was brought to my attention by our two high school interns. I needed a change of music, and asked them to pull whatever looked good from the massive bin of CDs that came in. "Liar and the Thief" was one of those CDs -- they liked the album artwork and packaging (apparently homemade). But the music is the real treat. For fans of Imogen Heap (of Frou Frou), Hope For Agoldensummer, and Irish music.

Smoosh -- Seattle, WA -- Barsuk Records

This sister duo is made up of Chloe, 12 years old, and Asya, 14 years old... 12 and 14! When I was 12 I could barely write a sentence (okay...maybe more like a paragraph) but these girls are writing their own songs! It's no Disney Channel-type gimic. They're signed to Barsuk (one of my fav labels) and just released their first full-length. And the best part is that they look like nice pre-teen gals -- not sexed-up tween musicians that so many record labels are pushing these days.... The music is pretty simple (drums, keyboards, synth) and it will get stuck in your head for days at a time. You can listen to the whole album (I recommend "Find a Way" and "Rock Song") at Mammoth Press

And a playlist for the week...

Bonnaroo (i.e. Darn! I Wish I Could See This Amazing Lineup) Playlist 2006
Radiohead, "Karma Police"
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, "Refugee"
Beck, "New Pollution"
Son Volt, "Six String Belief"
Elvis Costello & The Imposters, w/Allen Toussaint, "Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further?"
David Ford, "I Don't Care What You Call Me"
Death Cab for Cutie, "Marching Bands of Manhattan"
Bright Eyes, "We Are Nowhere and It's Now"
Matisyahu, "King Without a Crown"
Ben Folds, "Trusted"
The Magic Numbers, "Forever Lost"
Common, "They Say"
Umphrey's McGee, "Women Wine & Song"
Brothers Past, "Exhale"
My Morning Jacket, "Anytime"
Nickel Creek, "When In Rome"

Worthy Pursuits and Playlists -- from June 8, 2006

New music that you should look (and listen!) for

Matt Costa -- Huntington Beach, CA -- Brushfire Records

He's Jack Johnson's buddy (the record is out on Jack's label), similarly armed with an acoustic guitar and earthy lyrics. His voice most resembles young indie-darling, Ben Kweller, though. Matt rocks on a few tracks -- "Sweet Thursday" and "Cold December" -- but the others are pretty pleasant and mellow -- "Astair" and "These Arms." For fans of... well, Jack Johnson and Ben Kweller.

The Rewinds -- Birmingham, AL -- Livewire Recordings

I found songs from The Rewinds self-titled album when I was pillaging from my friend Nate's iTunes library. "I like this band The Rewinds," I said. "I just found it randomly," he told me. Then I went to request to be their friend on MySpace, and found -- oops, I'm already their friend... I accepted their unsolicited request one day and never listened. That lapse in judgement aside... it's very slick power-pop-rock. You'll hear some Depeche Mode, Strokes, and Superdrag influences in there. -- "Ghostriders" and "Sentimental Flaw" are the best tracks on the album and they're up there.

Gomez -- Southport, England, UK -- ATO Records

You may already be familiar with this one (they've been around about 10 years) but the new album is out now. Creative mix of rough-around-the-edges rock and blues. Heavy on the percussion and harmonies (which are especially unique because the lead singer's voice has been described as "whiskey and gravel"). Very quotable lyrics on this album (ex. See the world / Find an old fashioned girl / And when all's been said and done / It's the things that are given, not won / Are the things that you earned). For fans of Pearl Jam, Beck, Wilco, Super Furry Animals.

Playlist of the week...

"Songs from the 1997 Mix Tape I Found When I Cleaned My Car Last Week"

Third Eye Blind, "Semi-Charmed Life"
Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Rascal King"
Oasis, "D'You Know What I Mean?"
Sugar Ray, "Fly"
Foo Fighters, "Everlong"
Shawn Colvin, "Sonny Came Home"
Verve Pipe, "The Freshman"
Blur, "Song 2"
Prodigy, "Breathe"
Sublime, "Wrong Way"
311, "Don't Stay Home"
Smashing Pumpkins, "1979"
Poe, "Angry Johnny"
Meredith Brooks, "Bitch"
White Town, "Your Woman"
Jimmie's Chicken Shack, "High"

Worthy Pursuits and Playlists -- from June 3, 2006

New music that you should look (and listen!) for

Rock Kills Kid -- Reprise Records

Their sound is what would've happened if Bono was an angst-ridden teen and collaborated with The Clash at a Euro-trash club one boring evening -- smoking cigarettes, drinking pints, wallowing about love gone wrong. They're gonna be big, folks... you heard it hear first... For fans of... Interpol, The Editors, The Bravery, She Wants Revenge, Jimmy Eat World. Visit

The Bees -- Independent (out of Nashville)

One day when I finish my unwritten movie, their song "Imaginary Girl" will be on the soundtrack. It's the perfect song for the woman (or man) you're still looking for. Look for the song on the upcoming Paste Sampler CD (August 2006)... to be honest, I was reluctant to share it with all our readers because then everyone will love it and it won't matter that I liked it first. Their sophomore release, "High Society," is out now.... the new material, particularly "Country Life," is a throwback to the 70s. Check them out at

Mat Kearney -- Aware Records/Columbia Records

I first learned about Mat Kearney because he was performing on The Rock Boat ( -- best vacation ever, by the way). I accepted his friend request on MySpace, then learned our intern from LSU was really his friend... now I'm hearing his name all over town. Let's be honest -- the lyrics are predictable and rhyme all too well ("in an unreliable world you shine like a star / it's unforgettable now that we've come this far")... BUT Mat's music reflects a range of influences, giving him mass appeal.... he wins my vote. Hear some samples at

Asobi Seksu -- Independent (out of Brooklyn, NY)

This is a Brooklyn-based band that I found by randomly pulling their CD out of a bin at work. Turns out the editorial staff at Paste loves them, too. Very sweet-and-sour... tender vocals and hard guitar riffs.. back and forth between English and Japanese throughout the new album, "Citrus"... "Thursday" and "Red Sea" are my fav songs. Check out the music at -- a music player will automatically pop up. For fans of Starflyer 59, My Bloody Valentine, and other experimental indies... I can't think of any other groups that sound like this...

Additions to Last Week's Playlist...

Thanks, Mike, for submitting these suggestions to the "For the Graduates" playlist... good ones...

Youth Group - Forever Young
Angels and Airwaves - The Adventure
Switchfoot - We Are One Tonight

Feel free to submit your suggestions at any time... I'll probably move this to a blog eventually.

This week's playlist...

Songs That Should be on THE OC
(you can find most on iTunes)

"Lookout Mountain" by Drive-By Truckers
"Brian Wilson's Room" by Harrod & Funck
"Play the Hits" by HAL
"Happy To Be So" by Over the Rhine
"Tell Me a Lie" by Griffin House
"Shapes" by The Long Winters
"One Big Holiday" by My Morning Jacket
"Rock and a Hard Place" by Supreme Beings of Leisure
"Gentle Moon" by Sun Kil Moon

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Worthy Pursuits and Playlists -- from May 27, 2006

So I'm no journalist or talent scout, but I know a good deal of music. And I also know how frustrating it can be to try and find good music. There are so many talented acts out there, but finding them is time consuming. At the same time, radio stations rotate the same 40 songs over and over and over.... So at the request of a handful of friends and acquaintances, I'm going to start putting together weekly emails and blogs that will help you sift through new music that is coming out. I'll try to include a variety of genres to cater to a variety of tastes.

Without further adieu...

Worthy Pursuits and Playlists:
new music that you should look (and listen) for

Mates of State -- Barsuk Records (former home to Death Cab)

Husband and wife duo, Kori and Jason, throw words back and forth at one another, just as any other married couple does. But these two do it on stage and strike the perfect harmony. Just drums and organ... you'll be amazed how much sound comes out of two people. The lyrics on "For the Actor" (off the new release "Bring It Back") are stellar... "Put your life on hold as we interest one another, two steps closer to a level I imagined, I remember when it poured and you came to me in summer, it's a fantasy." You can hear their new single "Fraud in the 80s" at -- "Bring it Back" is definitely an album to go out and buy -- it will probably make my top 20 of the year.

Gnarls Barkley -- Atlantic

Gnarls Barkley is the collaboration of Cee-Lo (of Atlanta's Goodie Mob) and Danger Mouse (famous for his mash-up of The Beatles' White Album and The Black Album by Jay Z). Their first single "Crazy" is my favorite song so far this year. That's all that needs to be said, just listen...

IV Thieves (formerly Nic Armstrong & the Thieves) -- New West Records

Riff-heavy rock from four relocated Brits (now hiding out in Austin, TX). ."Down Home Girl" will resonate with anyone who has lived in the South. Collard greens, grainy vocals, and blunt British observations about, well, a down home girl... You'll need to get this one on iTunes, but you can hear some more songs at

Anathallo -- independent; Artist Friendship

These boys (and girl) from Michigan may seem a bit chaotic, but they have a plan. I swear. To understand it, picture marching band practice in the fall -- everyone standing around in their zip-up hoodie sweatshirts and wool sweaters. There are big bass drums, trombones and trumpets, even some xylophones. Now take away the sheet music and conductor. Throw in some nontraditional instruments -- electric guitars, velcro, a deck of cards. Sing hymns in Japanese and march out of step.... Some would call it a marching band gone very wrong, but my colleagues and I think it's very right. -- Paste just put out a podcast with three live songs from the upcoming album, "Floating World," and the quality is pretty amazing. Visit or download the newest episode on iTunes (this was the lunchtime performance at my office)

Nathan Angelo -- independent

I was walking up the stairs to Smith's Olde Bar when I heard this powerful voice echoing out of the venue. I thought, this is the opening act? The guy I've never heard of? It seems Nathan Angelo just graduated from college and moved to Atlanta. For fans of Gavin DeGraw. It's been done before, but there's nothing wrong with that.

A Playlist for Graduates (Without the Cliche Songs by Green Day or Vitamin C)
(most titles available on iTunes)

"Twentysomething" Jamie Cullum
"Once In a Lifetime," Talking Heads
"22," Denison Witmer
"Me & Jiggs," Josh Ritter
"Under Pressure," Queen with David Bowie
"Logical Song," Supertramp
"Why Georgia," John Mayer
"What Am I Gonna Do," Dave Barnes
"This is Not an Exit," Saves the Day
"Around the Clock," The Rocket Summer
"Life," Josh Rouse
"First Day of My Life," Bright Eyes
"Meteor," Virginia Coalition
"Good," Better than Ezra
"Declaration Song," Jason Harwell

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Break-Up Letter

Dear Snow Patrol,

Wow, this is harder than I thought it would be. First, let me say that I am so thankful for all that you've given me over the past few years. We've shared so many wonderful memories together -- like that time we did that thing with those people? And all those songs you wrote? It's like you knew exactly what I was going through! The first time I said you were my favorite band was pretty special, too.

But something has changed. I think it started when you stood me up at the Roxy Theater. I honestly believed you when you said you were sick. Even when my friends told me that they saw you with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America earlier that day, I didn't care. They just didn't understand what we had...

Now you've canceled on me again. I'm beginning to think that you just don't want to see me... or anyone else in America, for that matter. You say you'll make it up to me in September, but I don't know if I can wait for you for that long. I'm tired of getting my hopes up.

What I'm trying to say is -- it's not me, it's you. I think we should break-up. I hope you understand.

Love always,