Songs You May Have Missed #444

jason collett

Jason Collett: “We All Lose One Another” (2005)

From the Toronto native and Broken Social Scene guitarist’s critically-acclaimed 2005 LP.

It is pure coincidence that I’m posting this song on the same day I signed divorce papers.

Recommended Albums #51

modern skirts

Modern Skirts: Catalogue of Generous Men (2005)

This is a little elegy for another band that deserved a little more love. Athens, Georgia’s Modern Skirts were built around the vocals of guitarist Jay Gulley and the keyboards of JoJo Glidewell, and for a couple albums their winning melodic indie pop formula showed great promise. The Skirts could muster two disparate moods effectively, and both the affecting melancholy and the rollicking feel-good piano driven vibe are represented in the attached songs.

The band’s third album, Gramahawk, however, was a pointed musical retrenchment. They weren’t the same gentle folk pop band they had been–it was like having a Pet Sounds dropped on fans waiting for another “Help Me, Rhonda”. Except I’m not sure it was good.

But Catalogue of Generous Men, their full-length debut, is heartbreakingly so, and deserved to break them on a wider scale. The frustrations of being a fan of such a band–seeing the CDs go out of print, watching in vain for a concert tour that brings them out of their own region to a nearby town–culminated for me today when I read they’d broken up just a couple months ago.

A song like “City Lights” is the perfect soundtrack for the moment of losing a band you love. Pardon my wallowing for a moment.

I invite you to share the high point in the career of one more talented group–and by all accounts a great bunch of guys too–who never grabbed the brass ring, but left us with a few golden moments.

Don’t miss: “N.Y. Song”

Listen to: “Seventeen Dirty Magazines”

Listen to: “City Lights”

Listen to: “My Lost Soprano”

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/01/02/songs-you-may-have-missed-272/

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/08/14/songs-you-may-have-missed-463/

modern

Bad Vibrations: The 6 Worst Beach Boys Tracks

Beach Boys

The Beach Boys have a justified place among pop music’s pantheon of all-time greats, and Brian Wilson is one of the few songwriters of the past half-century who can be mentioned in the same breath as Lennon and McCartney and Burt Bacharach.

However…

Like most pop acts of the era (the Beatles being the notable exception) the Beach Boys were also a product of their time in that their early albums contained “filler” tracks. You see, until albums like Revolver began to focus listeners’ attention more on the long-play album as a potentially more significant pop music canvas, it was all about the 45″ single. The little records with the big holes were the measure of an artist’s success; albums were mostly an afterthought–a hit song, maybe two, served up along with a batch of sub-par, often rush-recorded tunes to take a little more cash from the more dedicated fans.

This is not to mention Capitol Records’ proclivities for packaging (and re-packaging, and re-re-packaging) the work of their roster of artists in the most egregious and artistically-demeaning ways to make an extra buck or three. One Beach Boys bootleg box set acknowledges this in its title, Capitol Punishment. That’s why they call it the record business I guess.

The Beach Boys recorded a staggering five albums within an eighteen-month span in the early-to-mid 60’s. Looking back, the results would have been better had it been four. Nestled between the “Don’t Worry Baby”s and the “Surfer Girl”s were some first class turds. They weren’t all songs per se, which is why the word “tracks” is used in this post’s title.

The excellence of their classic material has been justifiably lauded at length. It’s time someone focused on the lowest low points.

So, to borrow a phrase from Elvis Costello, let’s take a look at the other side of summer:

1) “‘Cassius’ Love Vs. ‘Sonny’ Wilson”

A mock studio battle breaks out between Mike Love and Brian Wilson. Nothing here sounds staged at all–just a little behind-the-curtain snapshot of a Beach Boys session.

This one’s positively painful to hear.

mike love

2) “Denny’s Drums”

Yeah, the Beach Boys had a drumming sibling. But there’s a reason Brian tended to employ ace Wrecking Crew drummers for sessions instead. This two-minute solo (thought to be the first recorded by a member of a vocal group) is something you’ll hear bettered by some 12-year-old the next time you walk through the drum section of your neighborhood music store.

3) “Our Favorite Recording Sessions”

Not half as embarrassing as “‘Cassius’ Love Vs. “Sonny” Wilson”, this track seems to depict actual candid studio banter. But that doesn’t mean it was a good idea to put it on an album. The Beatles kept the banter private, and so were able to heighten the mystery as to what the process of recording legendary albums was really like–and Capitolize (sorry) by releasing six CDs worth of the Anthology series to fans starved for anything unfamiliar. Oh, and the ‘Cassius’ Lennon Vs. ‘Sonny’ McCartney stuff was infused into really good songs like “Too Many People” and “How Do You Sleep”.

4) “Louie, Louie”

It was simply ill-advised and supremely unnecessary to cover a song that had been done in such definitive, ragged glory by the Kingsmen, not to mention a hundred other garagier bands than the ‘Boys.

5) “Bull Session with Big Daddy”

boys

Taken in context, this unfocused, rambling semi-interview with Teen Set magazine editor Earl Leaf–with food delivered mid-discussion apparently–is the most wince-inducing of all. The reason is that it closes what was side two of the Beach Boys Today album and follows five of the more sublime ballads in the band’s cannon. Whatever mood Brian’s gorgeous crooning and aching lyrics have induced is pulverized in about 2.5 seconds.

6) “County Fair”

With lines like “the most specialist girl I knew”, an annoying fair barker and a more annoying girlfriend whining about winning her a koala bear “Oooohh! Come on, baby!”, this is the opposite of “Fun, Fun, Fun” and serves to make a county fair sound like a teenage boy’s worst nightmare. Oddly enough, this one’s not a concert encore.

Songs You May Have Missed #443

fow

Fountains of Wayne: “This Better Be Good” (2007)

A band deserving of reappraisal from those given the wrong impression by their lone top 40 hit “Stacy’s Mom”.

This little nugget has it all: pointed and humorous lyrical detail, effective use of dynamics, a hook you could hang a side of beef on, and a dollop of creamy Beach Boys harmonies on top. Power pop perfection!

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/04/04/songs-you-may-have-missed-384/

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/04/12/songs-you-may-have-missed-75/

Songs You May Have Missed #442

citizen k

Citizen K: “Stichy’s Tune” (2009)

Klas Qvist’s tender acoustic “Stichy’s Tune” is one of the instrumental interludes among a varied and appealing set of 70’s-flavored folk pop.

Other songs bring to mind artists such as America or Gordon Lightfoot.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/11/21/songs-you-may-have-missed-250/

Songs You May Have Missed #441

hutch

Eric Hutchinson: “Not There Yet” (2012)

D.C. raised songwriter Eric Hutchinson specializes in the type of catchy, engaging pop songs Jason Mraz and Amos Lee are (better) known for. It’s rather slight, but enjoyable stuff.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2015/09/02/songs-you-may-have-missed-543/

Why Don’t We Do it in the Road: A Short Film on the Famous Crosswalk From the Beatles’ Abbey Road Album Cover

 

A lyrical portrait of one of London’s most peculiar tourist attractions – a humble pedestrian crossing in St John’s Wood. But this isn’t any ordinary piece of street furniture, a 10 minute photo session back in the 
summer of 1969 saw to that. A couple of weeks after Neil Armstrong took his giant leap, the Beatles took 
a few short steps across Abbey Road and the rest is history. Roughly timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first recording session at Abbey Road Studios, this quirky short film explores a tiny part of London that is, in the words of narrator Roger McGough, suffused with a sort of magic.
‘Best Super Short’ – NYC Independent Film Festival…    ‘Best Documentary’ – UK Film Festival

Songs You May Have Missed #440

batt

Mike Batt: “Railway Hotel” (1977)

In an unprecedented bit of second-guessing/heeding the opinion of a friend, I pulled the Justin Hayward cover version of this song from this space in favor of songwriter Mike Batt’s original. A bit less polished a singer, perhaps, but he seems a little more emotionally invested. And that’s usually worth more than a pretty voice.

The song itself achingly conveys the sweet sadness of new love forced to blossom on rough terrain.

Since this song was written by an Englishman, translation of a few words will be helpful, which I’ll now do with the help of my English-to-American dictionary:

Convector: a heating unit, usually referred to by Americans as a radiator.

Mains: of or relating to utility distribution

Savoy: a posh London hotel

(Posh: elegant, fashionable)

I think that’s enough to go on. Enjoy…

convector

Convector

We went to the room and we bolted the door,
The bass from the jukebox was coming through the floor,
And out through the walls we could still hear the roar of the trains.
Was this all the comfort we got for our sins?
No candles, no waiters, no soft violins?
A dirty electric convector plugged into the mains.

I had wanted much more for the first night with you,
But the railway hotel was the best I could do.
I knew the Savoy would have  suited you well,
But the best I could do was the railway hotel.

Away in the sky were the lights of a jet,
Burning in the night like a slow cigarette.
The lamp in the street threw a soft silhouette on the wall.
And though it was crumbling and rundown and dead
A chair and a sink and an old single bed,
The love we began and the things that we said, I recall.

I had wanted much more for the first night with you,
But the railway hotel was the best I could do.
I knew the Savoy would have suited you well,
But the  best I could do was the railway hotel 

Songs You May Have Missed #439

camera

Camera Obscura: “Tears for Affairs” (2006)

Tracyanne Campbell’s emotional delivery is enhanced with just the right measure of reverb to produce a brand of indie pop that goes straight to the heart.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/07/24/songs-you-may-have-missed-151/

Songs You May Have Missed #438

fisher

Jeremy Fisher: “Sula” (2007)

Another exercise in recreating the sound of a young Paul Simon and another chorus that invites you to sing along from Jeremy Fisher’s Goodbye Blue Monday LP of 2007.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/03/13/songs-you-may-have-missed-49/

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