Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sky Saxon

He died Thursday as well, as I'm sure that most of you who are reading this already know. I've never heard any of his solo material, and I'm not exorbitantly familiar with the Seeds save for a few songs. I haven't listened to the Seeds in at least a year and a half. Still, the news of his death made me a bit sad. He was a very talented Los Angeles based artist, and I had really hoped to see a live performance from the Seeds one of these days. Anyway, I really don't much to offer in the way of a comment. I just thought that it deserved a mention. I heard "Pushing Too Hard" twice this weekend at dance nights, and it was greeted with a mild response of gratitude. Hearing Michael Jackson on Friday night garnered serious cheering. Although, when a DJ played "Rock With You" on Saturday night one of our friends came up with an impromtu "Sky Jaxon" mash-up by singing "Pushing Too Hard" over the Michael Jackson song. It seems that the entire group of friends I was with determined this to be an extraordinary display of splitting the difference.

Oh, and Sky Saxon was also name checked in the classic Pooh Sticks song, "On Tape." You really can't get much cooler than that, now can you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Listening Too Long to One Song: Pocketbooks "Footsteps"

How is it that certain songs can be so sincere, and so convincing that they not only change your general mood, but almost make you believe that whatever is detailed within the song is absolutely possible no matter how implausible the concept? I've had to stop myself several times to give this some serious thought. Do I believe that there is anyone out there whose footsteps I could imagine in perfect sync with mine, forever? Absolutely not. Do I believe that it's possible when the Pocketbooks sing about it? Absolutely.

The song is like a perfectly crafted miniature film in that regard. The type whereupon going in you know that suspension of disbelief will be inevitable, but you just don't care because the story unfolds in such a way that you're simply thrilled to escape into it for it's entire duration. Surely you can imagine how that precise concept just gets better when compressed into a perfect, three and a half minute, "feel good hit of the summer" ready pop song. The cheery keyboard line, and tambourine punctuate this sweet love story flawlessly. The melodica solo that emerges halfway through to play over the aforementioned through line is a pleasant surprise until you realize that of course this song would be somewhat incomplete without such a thing. It would be no less good without it, but it's the little details like that one that elevate this single from great song, to amazing song.

The single is available as a free download from the band's Myspace page, but I would also strongly urge you to pick up a copy of the full length, Flight Paths, to which it belongs. The CD will not be officially released until July 13, but the How Does it Feel to be Loved Record Label is selling advance copies here. I've had mine for about a week now, and it's already shaping up to be the official soundtrack to a good portion of my summer.

Monday, June 8, 2009

With the Clip of an I.V. Drip

I've had the most recent EP from Swedish band Suburban Kids With Biblical Names in my posession for just under a week and a half now. I'm fairly certain that within that relatively short time span I've listened to the for songs contained on that EP more than I've listened to anything else all year. There is even a pretty good chance that I've listened to each one of these songs more times than probably half of the songs that were on my top twenty list from last year.

While I was driving to work the other day (listening to #4 for what was probably the 75th time) my mind began to wander, and it was to my horror that I could no longer remember any of the words to the song that Suburban Kids With Biblical Names took their band name from. The song is "People," and the band that wrote that song is Silver Jews, and when I discovered SKWBN I was probably most inclined to listen to them based on that title. I'm pretty certain that the obsession with American Water (the album that contains that song) that I was coincidentally so deep into at the time of the American release of the SKWBN record that put them on my radar was actually due to repeat listens to "People," and then letting the brilliance of the rest of the record inevitably unfold around me. Needless to say, I used to know every word of that song. When I tried to remember this past Friday I could not get any further than "Moments can be monuments to you." I've pieced together most of the song from memory (which was way more fun than reading the lyrics online), and once I have my computer back then I will likely be spending a few days with American Water, and absolutely nothing else on my headphones. In the meantime, it's given me a nice topic to explore for my next "Not Quite Punk" column on Web in Front.

I'll also be typing many more glowing words of praise about Suburban Kids With Biblical Names when I finally publish my top ten highlights from New York and San Francisco Popfests. They were my number one highlight at both festivals. For now though, I really just wanted an excuse to share this video for one of the songs on the new EP, "Europa." I do greatly wish that there was a video for "1999" which in my mind is THE dance party single for the summer of 2009. Whether or not the rest of the world catches on sadly remains to be seen. "Europa" is quite interesting though. It's probably the most melodic, and reflective song on the EP, and it contains one of my favorite examples of word play to date: "You said that you wanted some more bass and drum machine in your mon-i-tor (No money, no tour...)" And it's lines like that make me realize that while sonically they are in quite a different part of the pop music spectrum than the space within that spectrum that's inhabitted by Silver Jews, David Berman's dry wit has likely had more of an influence on this band than merely their name.

It appears that you can (and should) purchase the #4 EP as an MP3 download here.

You'd also be smart to pick up a copy of the band's sole full length #3 if you don't already own that record. You can do that here

Suburban Kids With Biblical Names - Europa from Bo Mikael Hall on Vimeo.