New Releases - 6.26.07

[Note: These three releases are great and all, but to be quite honest, I anticipate that the new Kelly Clarkson and the new Ryan Adams will receive far more plays from me. But in the spirit of introducing more unknown artists, I thought it was better not to feature those two albums, excellent as they may be!]

You would never guess that these guys are from Brooklyn, but they are. The Morning Pages make retro-sounding alt-country that sounds like a mix of The Band and The Byrds. Their debut EP The Company You Keep definitely makes them a band to watch for the future.

The Morning Pages - Don't Ask Me

So, if you take The Pipettes and put them in Detriot, you'd have The Gore Gore Girls. This means that The Pipettes would be hardly recognizable as The Pipettes, much tougher, grittier and kick-ass. This song is like surf music meets The Detriot Cobras, and it's an awesome combination.

The Gore Gore Girls - All Grown Up

The band 27 is hindered by several things. First, they are on traditionally metal label Relapse. Second, 27 is an un-Google-able name. Ummm, no third. But that's enough to hold them back when they actually make lovely Mazzy Star-esque spaced out rock. Moody, sweet, and pretty are my unimaginative adjectives for you.

27 - Half Life

Other honorable mentions for today:

Kelly Clarkson - My December (Kelly-is-my-homegirl-and-can-do-no-wrong)
Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger (Ryan Adams is Ryan Adams Again!)
Kelly Willis - Translated From Love (twangy Texas goodness)
Marc Broussard - S.O.S. (kind-of-bland-but-I-like-it cover CD)
Carolina Chocolate Drops - Dona Got A Ramblin' Mind (makes me want to square dance)

The Format

I have a hard time writing about The Format. Because I know my love for them exceeds what is generally a normal amount of love for a band. In fact, I had to start a new account because The Format had about 500 plays, surpassing any other artist by at least threefold. My husband is also the culprit for a lot of those plays, but nevermind that we are a nerdy Format-loving couple. I'm not being eloquent at all here, so let me shut up and just copy and paste my favorite review of The Format's second album Dog Problems.

Tired of lamenting the split from a significant other locked in a dark room with Bright Eyes on repeat? Ready to turn that pain into a joyous singalong outside under the bright sun? Lucky for you, Arizona's the Format -- barely appearing phased at being dropped by Atlantic in 2005 -- have arrived with their self-released sophomore full-length, Dog Problems. Sure the album is mostly about singer Nate Ruess' most recent breakup and subsequent broken heart, but seriously, it's hands-down the feel-good album of the summer. After all, the heartache-induced lyrics of sarcasm and bitterness are in direct contrast to the sonic warmth emanating from every note-filled corner. Deftly elaborating on the sweet indie pop affair of 2003's Interventions and Lullabies, the guys have moved past straightforward ditties to craft songs that incorporate a wide range of instruments, tones, and occasionally, full-on orchestrations. "Time Bomb" immediately launches forth with exuberant vocal harmonies before the key-dancing chorus boogies to the front; the ironically catchy "The Compromise" -- which is the defiant result of Atlantic asking for a pop hit -- can be called radio-friendly in the best sense of the term. From a whimsical, carnival-esque air that appears sporadically throughout, the Format mix in horn sections, piano, banjo, handclaps and pretty much whatever else was lying around the studio when recording commenced. But every element is cleanly pulled off with such effortless charm, grace, and style that the songs in no way feel bogged down under the weight of the bands' ambition. The music never sounds forced or like the band is simply trying to be different through gimmicks; they've just matured into a new skin that fits as delightfully as their old. The Format were already showing obvious signs of being unable to write a bad song on Lullabies, but Dog Problems simply glows from beginning to end. It's like the music (both the gentle songs and high-energy ones) just can't help being fun and catchy, even if for some reason it didn't want to. The Format skirts cheesiness and cliché trappings by simply knowing how to make likable pop music that is entertaining and smart -- and they've absolutely never sounded better.
By Corey Apar, taken from

In celebration of the album's first full year in the marketplace, The Format is offering Dog Problems for free on their website (no strings attached). I urge everyone to download my favorite album of 2006 while you can (offer ends July 16th). If you love it, and I know you will, then go see them on their summer tour.

And as a bonus, here are some rare cover songs from The Format:

The Format - The Lottery Song (Bonus Track from Dog Problems - Harry Nilsson cover)
The Format - Apeman (Limited Edition CD Single - The Kinks cover)
The Format - Glutton of Symphony (Limited Edition Vinyl 7" Single - Jellyfish cover)
The Format - Movin' Out (Live at the Marquee Theater - Billy Joel cover)

And, finally, the song that will sell you, even if you refuse to be sold:

The Format - Janet (Studio Recording from the Snails EP)

P.S. Visit for a video and audio podcast from The Format, where you can hear their new song "Swans".

RIYL: The Beatles, XTC, The Shins, Limbeck, Steel Train


Farrah is a UK group that has been making ridiculously catchy power pop since 1999. I mean, completely and insanely catchy. They make the kind of music that you just know would be "big in Japan". "Fear of Flying" is a tribute to the girl that wants to see the world, but is hindered by... you guessed it... Her fear of flying! I love the airplane sound effect and how it whooshes through in stereo! Also, bass player Michelle Margherita shows up doing backing vocals here, and it really adds to the charm of the song. "No Reason Why" is big and fun and would be a hit on Top 40 Radio in a perfect world. Their newest release "Cut Out and Keep" is full of more pop anthems like these along with sweet slow songs.

Farrah - Fear of Flying
Farrah - No Reason Why

RIYL: Fountains of Wayne, Ben Folds, Weezer, Rooney

New Releases - 6.19.07

This album is all over blogland. Most folks say it's just okay, nothing great. But I diagree. It's perfect for what it is, which is beautifully crafted Americana rock a la Pneumonia-era Whiskeytown. His songs are helped by the fuller sound, complete with B-3, banjo, and harmonica.

Rocky Votolato - Silver Trees

There is such a thin line between electronica and pop music these days, and Misha is an act that blends the two perfectly. They take the beeps and blips and add warm vocals and pop hooks and memorable melodies, and it works so well. It's cute, but not overly so.

Misha - Delovedly

Arthur & Yu is comprised of Grant Olsen and Sonya Westcott from Seattle. Their lazy dream pop has a calming effect on me. It makes me want to ditch the office and head over to the local wave pool, something I haven't wanted to do... Since I was maybe 10? I'm sure I'd change my mind once I got there, but right now it sounds nice.

Arthur & Yu - There Are Too Many Birds

Other honorable mentions for today:

The White Stripes- Icky Thump (blues/rock goodness)
Mandy Moore - Wild Hope (can't-help-but-like-it singer/songwriter pop)
Crisette Michelle - I Am (Corinne Bailey Rae for 2007)
Art Brut - It's A Bit Complicated (tongue-in-cheek rock)
Xavier Rudd - White Moth (Australian Paul Simon sound-a-like)
Dimitri From Paris - Cocktail Disco (fabulous compilation)
Amiina - Kurr (Icelandic magic)
Chromeo - Fancy Footwork (synth-y fun)

So many great new releases this week! I have found that The Yellow Stereo has the best sampling of new releases (with MP3s too!), so check it out.

Back from Bonnaroo

Because I'm still tired & recovering from this past weekend, I'll just make a list of the highlights from my two days at Bonnaroo (Saturday & Sunday):

- Old Crow Medicine Show, foxy bluegrass boys!
- Regina Spektor, who could not be any more endearing (She made sure to tell the crowd to hydrate often)
- Franz Ferdinand & their excellent showmanship!
- The Police, who I thought would suck, but did not
- The Decemberists performing "The Weight" with Mavis Staples
- Meg White, and everything about her
- The White Stripes doing "Jolene"
- Free popsicles from The Ice Cream Man (My favorite being Mayfield Snow Cream Stix)
- Free Pirate's Booty
- Watching Beatle Bob dance
- No traffic problems
- Managing to NOT get sunburnt (usually I miss a spot or two)

My only complaint is that it was impossible to SEE The White Stripes, but at least we could hear... Also, we went to the wrong tent and saw Ween instead of Spoon (not fun). And, no one sells roasted corn at Bonnaroo. What's up with that? It's my second favorite "fair food" (the Walking Taco tops the list).

Some photos:

Old Crow Medicine Show

Regina Spektor

Damien Rice

Franz Ferdinand

Sting on the Jumbotron

The crowd enjoying The Police's set

The Police's police escort

The Bonnaroo Ferris Wheel

The center of Bonnaroo

The Decemberists

The crowd for the Decemberists

Meg White's drums!

Meg White's chair!



My only glimpse of Jack White

Bonnaroo Bound!

Yes, that is three guys urinating. I took that photo last year at Bonnaroo, and I'm quite proud of capturing an entire four day festival in just one simple picture. We are going again this year, and I have to admit I'm really looking forward to it. I refuse to do the whole camping thing, so we'll just drive back and forth each day. I'm most looking forward to seeing Regina Spektor, Wilco, Old Crow Medicine Show and Lily Allen.

I made a mix in preparation.

Track List
Regina Spektor - Fidelity
Sonya Kitchell - Let Me Go
Hot Chip - Over And Over
Lily Allen - Smile
Cold War Kids - We Used To Vacation
Xavier Rudd - Messages
The White Stripes - You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)
Wilco - Box Full Of Letters
The Decemberists - July, July!
Kings Of Leon - On Call
Damien Rice - Cannonball
Paolo Nutini - These Streets
Snow Patrol Feat. Martha Wainwright - Set The Fire To The Third Bar
Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel
Elvis Perkins - All The Night Without Love
The Little Ones - Lovers Who Uncover

Bonnaroo Bound!
(Download All The Songs In One Zip File!)

For more Bonnaroo info, check out the official site.

See you there!

New Releases - 6.12.07

I loved Polly's debut album Scissors In My Pocket, so I was extremely pleased to find out she has a new one out. The album was mostly written in response to the pain of two miscarriages, so it is intensely personal. Her delicate voice reminds me of Annika Norlin (Hello Saferide) and Gemma Hayes, two of my favorite female singer/songwriters.

Polly Paulusma - Back To The Start

Yet again, I am late on the train. I just started listening to this band, and I am already loving their infectious dance-rock. They have a Brit-rock sound, but are actually from San Francisco. I need to give the new Bravery CD a rest, and I think this will take its place.

Scissors For Lefty - Lay Down Your Weapons

Okay, I had to feature this song, because it shares its name with the radio show my friend Lisa & I had on WRVU a few years ago. The album was inspired by the simple, twinkly sounds of ice cream trucks, and who doesn't love The Ice Cream Truck? It features glockenspiel, melodica, a Casio Tone keyboard, etc. Magical!

Michael Hearst - The Popsicle Parade

Other honorable mentions for today:

Paramore - Riot! (ashamed-I-like-it girl-punk-emo)
Immaculate Machine - Fables (fantastic indie-pop)
Sarah Borges - Diamonds In The Dark (honky-tonk goodness)
Joan As Police Woman - Real Life (soulful singer/songwriter)

New Releases - 6.5.07

The Loose Salute hail from the UK but their music is straight out of California in the 60s. Very Mamas & Papas (except they have two hot girls instead of one). Formed by Mojave 3 drummer Ian McCutcheon. Fabulous summer music, in the vein of Lucky Soul. Best listened to on ipod poolside.

The Loose Salute - Turn The Radio Up

Matt Pond PA has been making lovely melodic pop for a little while now, even had a song featured on The O.C. This EP is a bit more upbeat, rocks a little harder than their previous stuff. This song sounds like Ben Kweller fronting the Avett Brothers. (Available only on iTunes until June 19.)

Matt Pond PA - Magic Boyfriend

You know, there is such an overload of "this band is the best thing ever" that you sometimes miss out on good, solid stuff. I think I heard "Chicken Payback" and thought The Bees were a novelty band, which they sort of are, but nevertheless make excellent retro music. This song is pure doo-wop goodness.

A Band Of Bees - Listening Man

Other honorable mentions for today:

Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full (blah blah blah)
Rihanna - Good Girl Gone Bad (my workout music)
Various Artists - Anchored in Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash (mixed bag)
Ladybug Transistor - Can't Wait Another Day (solid lo-fi pop)
Dappled Cities - Granddance (Australian indie-pop)


Adele, although just out of school and only 18, certainly has friends in the right places at the moment. Lily Allen recommended her song "Daydreamer" to Rolling Stone magazine, calling it "amazing". To show how very young she is, you can actually download her scat-flavored song "My Same" from her school project website from when she was a senior at The Brit School. Adele is like Amy Winehouse if Amy drank a bit less and grew up listening to more Etta (James and Fitzgerald). Her voice is the selling point here. It is jazzy, hypnotic and nuanced and no doubt rare for someone her age. I am definitely looking forward to hearing more from her. She has been signed to XL recently (along with her friend Jack Peñate).

Adele - Daydreamer
Adele - Hometown Glory (Live)

RIYL: Jill Scott, India.Arie, Norah Jones, Amy Winehouse

Jack Penate

I can't remember where I first read about Jack Peñate, but he seems to be destined for big things this year. He has a deal with XL Recordings and makes irresistibly catchy pop songs, if a bit hyper-active and all over the map. He has become known for his dance style, which is a little rockabilly and 100% cute if you swoon over British boys like I do. There is not a release date for a full-length yet but you can get the Spit at Stars EP, which I have been enjoying for a few weeks now. Just when you think you have him pegged, he surprises you with a tender ballad like "My Yvonne". I discovered my next featured artist, Adele, when I sought out the name of the female singing with him on "My Yvonne". I really dig the xylophone on "Spit At Stars" - a nice touch.

Jack Peñate - Spit At Stars
Jack Peñate - My Yvonne (w/ Adele on backing vocals)

RIYL: Jamie T, Good Shoes, Larrikin Love, Kid Harpoon

Sinful Sunday: Boy Meets Girl

Guilty Pleasure Time! You can either hate this song for its unabashed cheese factor, or you can choose to embrace it. I am in the latter camp, but then again I have always been able to appreciate a perfectly made pop song such as "Waiting For A Star To Fall". The duo of Boy Meets Girl consists of married couple Shannon Rubican and George Merrill. Not only did they write and perform this gem but they also wrote the Whitney Houston hits "How Will I Know" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)". I know it's crazy, because I was only ten years old, but I actually remember first hearing this song in the movie theater in the classic "Three Men and a Little Lady" (yes, the sequel to "Three Men and a Baby"). Tom Selleck is so dreamy, right? Anyway, this song is pure pop perfection in every way. Gives me goosebumps, honestly. I guess I'm not the only one who loves it... The song has been remixed and/or sampled three times in the past few years. My favorite one is by Mylo, because it manages to include a sample from "Bette Davis Eyes" and mix it seamlessly with "Waiting For A Star To Fall". You know you love it.

Boy Meets Girl - Waiting For A Star To Fall (from 1988's Reel Life)
Mylo - In My Arms (from the BBC Radio One Live Lounge)

New Releases - 5.29.06

I'm sorry for the lack of posts, oh Dear Reader (yes, you, my one lone reader). I've been out of town, work has been busy, I celebrated a birthday, etc. Excuses. But I do have loads of new music to write about, which I intend to catch up on over the weekend.

Mumm-Ra are a recent discovery for me, and a joyful one indeed. Their brand of shimmering indie pop is some of the most listenable music I've heard in a while. James New's vocals are sweet and innocent, and the music sounds a bit like Voxtrot mixed with The Kooks and The Killers.

Mumm-Ra - These Things Move In Threes

You might remember Cary Brothers (not brothers actually, one guy named Cary Brothers) from two Zach Braff movies. This album is full of gorgeous singer/songwriter fare for the quieter times. If you are hyper-cynical about your music, maybe this is not for you. But the rest of us are free to enjoy the lovely sounds of Cary Brothers.

Cary Brothers - Honestly

Country-fied version of Juliana Hatfield, playing here with Austin band Frank Smith. This six song EP is full of banjos and steel guitar and sounds like a more quirky, female fronted Whiskeytown. Basically, it's the Juliana Hatfield you would expect, but with twang.

Juliana Hatfield and Frank Smith - Don't Wanna Be The One

Other honorable mentions for today:

The Moonbabies - Moonbabies at the Ballroom (Swedish indie-pop)
The Magic Bullets - a CHILD but in life yet a DOCTOR in love (typical Smiths/Talking Heads/Joy Division-influenced post-punk)
Piano Magic - Part Monster (okay shoegaze)
Boy In Static - Violet (Death Cab-ish rock)