Information Please: Summer Fridays 4.11

5 Aug

How is it August already? (I think I ask this every year.) Anyway, we’re back with this week’s mix which is a little more hodgepodge than I’ve done this year. We’ve got dance, soul, ’70s obscurities, and the requisite whiteboy indie. But I think it works pretty well and there’s some great new music this week and hopefully some crate digging you’ll dig as well. Art this week by Ben Smith who is pals with famed tagger KOTS and I met at this year’s SXSW Festival where we talked music and neti pots. Yes, it’s a drawing of me. Ben, you’ve got a career on 42nd St. if you ever tire of the West Coast.

DOWNLOAD SUMMER FRIDAYS 4.11*

Tracklist:

1. TV Girl – Benny and the Jetts
2. Pilot – January
3. Zoos of Berlin – Haven’t Eyes
4. The Supremes – It’s Time to Break Down
5. Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go for That
6. Röyksopp – Eple
7. The Drums – Money
8. The Raveonettes – Ignite
9. Widowspeak – Fir Coat
10. The Sneetches – From an Empty Sea
11. The Tyde – Henry VIII
12. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Tigers
13. The Research – The Way You Used to Smile
14. Sly & the Family Stone – Runnin’ Away
15. The Experimental Pop Band – James Remains
16. Erika Spring – Six More Weeks
17. Casiokids - Det haster!
18. US 69 – Yesterday’s Folks
19. Scritti Politti – Cooking

You know the rules — no shuffling. Liner notes are below.

PS: about the download. Over at the Sendspace download page, after clicking the “Regular Download” button, it takes you to a new page. Scroll down and click the “Click here to start download from sendspace” link and not the big DOWNLOAD or PLAY thing at the top…that’s an ad.

1. TV Girl – Benny and the Jetts
This San Diego duo got some notice for their song “If You Want It” that blatantly sampled Todd Rundgren’s “Hello It’s Me” and then got a cease-and-desist from his lawyers. As the song was being given away, he doesn’t really have a case but they also don’t have Kanye West/Jay-Z money to pay lawyers to make their case. (I think I’m the only person who thinks that new Kanye/Jay-Z song sucks, btw. It does.) Anyway, I think it taught these two to be a little more subtle in their sampling. This is apparently all samples but I can’t quite put my finger on any of them. (Don’t think Elton John are among them, they’re not that obvious.) Sure is catchy. Like all their work, TV Girl’s new EP is a free download.

2. Pilot – January
Oh oh oh, it’s Pilot! You know? One hit wonders in America with their #5 1974 smash “Magic,” this song hit the top spot in the UK the following year but completely failed to chart over here. The Scottish group released four albums in the ’70s and they’re all pretty good, if you like Raspberries style glossy pop.

3. Zoos of Berlin – Haven’t Eyes
Detroit’s finest purveyors of regal prog pop are back, finally, with a new EP that finds them veering away from odd time signatures and difficult chord progressions, and aiming more for the groove they found on “Electrical Way.” But even when they try to be normal, it’s still odd. Which is why they’re so good. I imagine knights on horses when I hear this song. (I’m also reading the Song of Ice and Fire books, so that could be that.) New EP, Pallister Chant, is a free download, like all their records.

4. The Supremes – It’s Time to Break Down
Diana Ross was The Supremes to a lot of people, but they kept going after she went solo in 1970. This is from that year’s New Ways But Love Stays when Jean Terell took over lead vocals. Evocative of its era of changing times, the album still has that Supremes sound but allows grooves to stretch out and get comfortable in the shag.

5. Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go for That
This is pretty much everyone’s favorite Hall & Oates song, right? Michael Jackson stole the bassline for “Billie Jean,” and De La Soul sampled it on their hit “Say No Go.” It’s the chintzy drum machine (Roland CompuRhythm on the Rock and Roll 1 preset) that sounds like it was recorded underwater that makes this song a bit odd and magical. Proto-chillwave?

6. Röyksopp – Eple
Still my favorite Röyksopp song, it sounds like a candy bar commercial. It means Apple in Norwegian and actually Apple computers licensed this for the boot-up music for its Panther OS. Which I just learned while writing this so I hope this song doesn’t have bad connotations for some of you out there. I use a Dell.

7. The Drums – Money
First single from the new Drums album Portamento — a musical term for the vocal slide between two notes. It still sounds like a housewife on speed but there are some cool little production touches. I dig the little piano hit in the versus and the “hey!” in the chorus. And the bassline is nuts.

8. The Raveonettes – Ignite
A rocker on an album that prefers to stretch out and vibe. The Raveonettes basically do the same thing on every album but damn if they aren’ t really good at it.

9. Widowspeak – Fir Coat
These Brooklynites get compared to Mazzy Star out the wazoo but, David Roback and Kendra Smith were never as peppy as this song. Molly Hamilton has an amazing voice and they write a good hook.

10. The Sneetches – From an Empty Sea
One of my favorite “cult” bands of the late ’80s and early ’90s, The Sneetches were the downer version of the Turtles — bright tunes but with lyrics that were frequently despondent. Which is a favorite combination of mine. (Actually, Flo & Eddie weren’t that cheerful either, “Happy Together” is a majorly misunderstood hit.) The melodies and arrangements are pretty sparkling. This is from their first album, Sometimes It’s All We Have.

11. The Tyde – Henry VIII
A lot of groups these days are siting Felt as an influence but few groups wore it on their sleeves quite as blatantly as The Tyde. While projecting a beachy look and vibe, the arpeggiated guitars and organ parts screamed Lawrence (and Maurice Deebank and Martin Duffy). Of course it’s good in its theft in its own right.

12. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Tigers
Though he’s prone to the extended jam these days, Stephen Malkmus can still produce terrific two-minute pop. This is quintessential Malkmus, a great, great single and has some choice couplets like the opening salvo of “I caught you streaking in your Birkenstocks / A scary thought…in the 2Ks.” I hope his new album, Mirror Traffic, is mostly like this and not too much guitar wanking.

13. The Research – The Way You Used to Smile
An obscurity from the mid-’00s, The Research’s Breaking Up is one of my favorite albums of that era. At least favorite that nobody else remembers. It’s all cute melodies, sweet harmony and some of the tinniest organ ever put to tape.

14. Sly & the Family Stone – Runnin’ Away
My friend Steve who books the Seaport Music Festival is a DJ on East Village Radio (I sometimes fill in for him when I’m lucky) plays this often on his shift and it was always one of those “hey, what’s this!?” songs. My first introduction to Sly & the Family Stone was via the Pee Wee Herman Show and it’s still pretty much what I think of. No “arrgh” sound on this one.

15. The Experimental Pop Band – James Remains
I’ve gone to this well before for Summer Fridays. This was Davie Woodward and Chris Galvin’s sample-centric, post-Brilliant Corners band. Early on, at least, they fit into the exotica/lounge thing that was happening in the mid-’90s, though they were closer in spirit to Saint Etienne or Black Box Recorder than Mike Flowers or Combustible Edison.

16. Erika Spring – Six More Weeks
First solo single from Erika of Au Revoir Simone. Don’t worry, ARS have not broken up…I think they’re working on a new album as we speak. (I think.) While you can see the through-line, it doesn’t really sound like her songs with her band —  much more rhythmic and lush. Produced by Jorge of Violens and you can hear it I think.

17. Casiokids – Det haster!
Brand new single from Casiokids’ forthcoming album Aabenbaringen over aaskammen. I think it’s weird that Norway doesn’t seem to use title case at all. At least Casiokids don’t. If I ever interview them, I’m going to ask them about it. This song’s title means “It’s Urgent!” though it’s a pretty midtempo groove for them.

18. US 69 – Yesterday’s Folks
I’m not sure where I learned about US 69 — I think it was from The Soundcarriers’ Facebook page, they posted a YouTube video or something. This is the title track to their only album (released in 1969, a pretty good year). It’s a bonkers mix of funk, soul, psychedelia, hippie love, you name it. Love the horns on this track. Out of print since basically its release, this is screaming for a Light in the Attic reissue… until then it’s pretty easily found if you know where to look.

19. Scritti Politti – Cooking
I never appreciated Scritti Politti till I read Simon Reynolds’ fantastic post punk chronicle Rip it Up and Start Again which came out around the same time as the band’s early work got reissued. All I’d heard was the the Big ’80s hits — “Boom There She Was” and “Word Girl” — songs I still can’t quite stomach. The production too glossy, Green Gartside’s vocals way too honeyed for my taste. But I really like 2006’s Brown Bread Black Beer which has a more organic feel which makes Gartside’s still sweet vocals much more palatable.

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