We're back to singing in English this week. Aren't you glad? Cover design by my friend Carly who is a genius soundperson when not being half of the Daed Pizza label/partythrowers. It reminds me of old school Peanuts for some reason, though I'm not sure there was a lot of smoking in Charles Schultz's world, though maybe Snoopy's wayward brother, Spike, did. Carly likes power pop, so I designed this week's mix with that in mind. I miss rotary phones.
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- The Nerves – Hanging on the Telephone
- The Goodnight Loving – Into a Grape
- Yuck – Georgia
- Rooftop Vigilantes – Aliens for Breakfast
- Superdrag – Phaser
- The dB's – Amplifier
- Dolly Mixture – Everything and More
- Betty & the Werewolves – Paper Thin
- The Undertones – True Confessions
- Sloan – C'mon C'mon
- Jaill – Everyone's Hip
- Hefner – Hymn for the Cigarettes
- Herzog – Town to Town
- Julian Cope – Sunspots
- Tim Cohen – A Mind of Thier Own
- Brilliant Colors – Walk Into the World
- Unnatural Helpers - Sunshine / Pretty Girls
- Nada Surf – Electrocution
- R.E.M. – Life and How to Live It
- Standard Fare – Philadelphia
By this point you know what's next but I keep saying it. These songs are put in a particular order on purpose and are mixed together, so if you listen on shuffle it's gonna sound like crap. So don't do that. Click through for insightful liner notes.
The Nerves – Hanging on the Telephone
Carly is a big Paul Collins fan, and there's a telephone on the cover she made so opening this mix with "Hanging on the Telephone" was a no-brainer. Yes, you probably know this better as a Blondie song but this is the original. As a big English Beat fan, I refused to listen to Paul Collins' Beat for years out of spite, but, hey, the hooks are undeniable.
The Goodnight Loving – Into a Grape
Criminally overlooked band from Milwaukee. These guys have toe-tapping gem after toe-tapping gem. Buying their new album, The Goodnight Loving Supper Club, would help get them out of their day jobs at the Shotz Brewery.
Yuck – Georgia
All band's first singles should be this good. The chorus… jeebus, I mean, so catchy. If you like Teenage Fanclub and Pains of Being Pure at Heart, here's your next favorite band. They're heading over from the UK to pay us a visit in October, at least in NYC for CMJ, so keep an ear out for what's next.
Rooftop Vigilantes – Aliens for Breakfast
Anthemic pop geniuses from Lawrence, KS, Rooftop Vigilantes also seem to have really shitty luck but I think when folks get to hear their new album, Real Pony Glue, all will change. It's called "Seventeen" on the actual mix because it's track 17 and didn't have a name, and was too lazy to re-up to the server but am told this is the right name. It was produced by J. Robbins of Jawbox and recalls a lot of mid=90s indie…
Superdrag – Phaser
…especially Superdrag whose debut, Regretfully, Yours, doesn't get the credit it deserves. People remember "Sucked Out," but the whole thing is pretty great. "Phaser" is a real air guitar classic, my favorite from the album.
The dB's – Amplifier
Peter Holsapple must've had one helluva breakup, as it seemed to fuel every song he wrote on the first two dB's albums. This one, a morbidly funny suicide fantasy, sees the protagonist finally deciding to off himself after his bitch of a girlfriend took everything… the straw being his amplifier. Great pop song.
Dolly Mixture – Everything and More
The bands that release the least amount of music are often the most loved in a cult way. Take Dolly Mixture, who only put out a few singles (and sang backup on Captain Sensible's two UK hits) but are fondly remembered by anorak 20-something of all ages. This was their best song. Think how much people might've loved The Alarm if they'd stopped after "The Stand." Maybe not. Dolly Mixture are finally getting the deluxe reissue treatment in the form of a three CD comp of everything they ever did, which was just released. Do you love them as much now?
Betty & the Werewolves – Paper Thin
Dolly Mixture are surely an influence on Betty & the Werewolves who just released their debut LP after a couple well-received indiepop 7"s. Bands like this, for me, are best taken in small doses lest their cuteness wear thin like the elbows in vintage cardigans. But singles like this can stay on repeat.
The Undertones – True Confessions
I was reading in the AV Club recently an article that brings up Sleater Kinney, specifically the "natural vibrato" of Corin Tucker's voice. This is bullshit. You choose to sing like a goat or to not sing like a goat. Which has always been my big problem with the much loved Undertones… Feargal Sharkey's goat singing. So many people love this band, I've forced myself to listen and have warmed to it, somewhat. Their best songs, the music overtakes the the downsides. Like in this case.
Sloan – C'mon C'mon
Love the guitar solo in this one. Actually I love everything about this one which was penned by Jay Ferguson, from the band's 1998 Thin Lizzy loving album Navy Blues.
Jaill – Everyone's Hip
So ends the four song set of bands with one word names. More rock from Milwaukee. These guys don't have to work at the Shotz Brewery anymore 'cause they got the fat rock star contract from Sub Pop who's putting out their excellent new album, That's How We Burn, in about a week. This reminds me of Hoodoo Gurus for some reason.
Hefner – Hymn for the Cigarettes
Twitter has shortened the distance between artist and fan. Former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman tweeted about how he was opening for the Wedding Present, and I replied that I always thought the Weddoes should cover "Hymn for the Cigarettes." He replied to me, "Or maybe one of my good songs." Well, I think this is one of Hefner's best, a quintessential song of theirs — all sex and comedy.
Herzog – Town to Town
Despite what the big music museum might have you think, Cleveland does rock. Herzog are flying the '90s flame, and remind me more than a little of Number One Cup. Fidelity could be just a scootch higher, but as always the good songs ring out.
Julian Cope – Sunspots
One of the true weirdos of (somewhat) recent pop music, Julian Cope has made super-slick pop and totally out there psychedelic whatever. And when he's not personally being strange, he's championing those who are. "Sunspots" is the sound of a burnout being forced into a new romantic shape. It's 1969 with modern synths.
Tim Cohen – A Mind of Thier Own
When he's not occupied by putting out 27 releases a year with his band The Fresh & Onlys, Tim Cohen makes solo records. Laugh Tracks just came out on Captured Tracks. I'm not exactly sure what makes one song a F&O track and what makes another for this record. Nearly everything this guy releases is worth hearing if you can keep up. Tim: don't stop. Record and release as long as the songs flow free.
Brilliant Colors – Walk Into the World
This all-girl trio isn't quite as prolific as their SF pals Fresh & Onlys but the quality is pretty high. This new 7" is out on Make a Mess which puts out some of Grass Widow's records. (Well, one of them.) Love that major/minor chord thing going on here.
Unnatural Helpers - Sunshine / Pretty Girls
Apparently in Seattle indie circles, "Sunshine / Pretty Girls" is the 2010 summer jam official, crushing the likes of Kate Perry, The-Dream or whoever. Like bands are already releasing covers of this song and it just came out in March. It is pretty f-ing catchy.
Nada Surf – Electrocution
This is from Nada Surf's all-covers album, If I Had a Hi-Fi, which is pretty good as far as these type albums go. It works best with super powerpoppy songs like this one by '90s band The Mice. Matthew Caws is at his best with honeyed vocals like here. He's at his worst when it comes to returning movies on time.
R.E.M. – Life and How to Live It
This was the first R.E.M. album I ever heard, so it holds a special place to me. A lot of fans don't love this one, say it's murky sounding but this new remastered 25th anniversary edition shows maybe it was more a mastering problem than Joe Boyd's production. So many great songs, that's for sure. This one maybe one of the list "classic REM" songs they ever did.
Standard Fare – Philadelphia
Lovely heartfelt song from UK band Standard Fare. Thier album, The Noyelle Beat, should be sought out immediately. Great lyrics.