Favorited ex.fm Songs

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two weeks off seems like plenty

Sometimes it is hard to find time for this blogging thing. I figured Spring Break would be conducive to getting a bunch of posts written, but clearly that didn't happen.

One of the artists I've been meaning to write about for several weeks now is the Smith Westerns. Today only, Amazon is selling their 2011 album Dye It Blonde for only $3, so this seems like as good a time as any to finally get around to it. The band received a lot of buzz on various music blogs and garnered a bunch of positive album reviews from sites like Pitchfork, Paste Magazine, and The Onion's AV Club when their album came out, which is what led me to check them out. I didn't immediately warm up to the album, but repeated listens have really paid off as it's one of the few albums from this (admittedly young) year that I keep going back to.

For me, the first track on the album, Weekend, starts about as well as any album can kick off. Every time I listen to it, I love that guitar lick that really gets things going and gets me pumped for what is to follow. The sound of the band is pretty constant throughout, with not a lot of variation, but they do what they do well. Other highlights are the songs "All Die Young" and "Dance Away." Below is the official music video for the previously mentioned "Weekend":

As I mentioned, today only, their album Dye It Blonde is available for $2.99 here, so if you don't have the album yet, hurry up!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Absolutely wonderful and rockin' alt country from Middle Brother

There are few things better than discovering a new artist that you immediately love. I feel like it doesn't happen for me as often as I'd like, usually taking me a while to really get into someone new. However, last week I decided to check out an artist called Middle Brother, who released their self-titled debut album just over a week ago.

The band is comprised of members from three other groups (Deer Tick, Dawes, and Delta Spirit). I was aware of all three bands, but Deer Tick is the only one I had spent any amount of time listening to, and even with them my experience was limited. Despite this, I decided to give the album a listen (I think on Spinner.com/new-releases, which is one of my favorite sites for previewing new albums), and I only made it about 2 or 3 tracks in before I decided to just go buy the album. Since then, I've played the album probably 6 or 7 times in the last week, which is far more than I usually listen to one album in so short a time frame. I fully expect Middle Brother to be near the top of my favorite albums of the year list when 2011 wraps up. The one bad thing I can say about the band is that they may have one of the worst websites I have seen. Fortunately, their label picked up some of the slack with a more respectable page.

I can't decide on a favorite song from the album, but early possibilities are "Day Dreaming," "Thanks For Nothing," "Portland," and "Me, Me, Me." Below is a video of the band performing "Me, Me, Me" at a benefit concert for Invisible Children, a charity seeking to end the use of child soldiers in Uganda.

Middle Brother ♦ Me Me Me from Brandon Tauszik on Vimeo.

If, like me, you want to check out the three groups that led to this collaboration, the always amazing Daytrotter is your one-stop shop for all things pre-Middle Brother. They have multiple free sessions to download from all three groups. Links are below.

Deer Tick: May 2008, June 2009
Dawes: May 2009, July 2010
Delta Spirit: May 2007, April 2008, Feb 2009

Another music blog I read regularly, Everybody Taste, recently reviewed the album too and offered 2 of the songs for download. They seem to come to much the same conclusion that I did. The album is a treat even after repeated listens. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Don't Call Them Twinkies!

*If you don't care at all about baseball or the Minnesota Twins, you can probably skip this one, but I feel sorry for you.*

My plan was to hold off on posting this song until opening day of the baseball season, but Amazon currently has it available for free and at least Spring Training is underway, so I suppose there's no time like the present.

Twins fans may recognize the song, "Don't Call Them Twinkies" by The Baseball Project (featuring Craig Finn of The Hold Steady). It was recorded last year and made available to stream during the end of the season while the Twins were making a playoff push (and unfortunately subsequently getting pushed out of the playoffs far too quickly again). I may be biased since I am a huge Twins fan, but I don't think it's much of a stretch to call it one of the greatest songs ever to mention both Zoilo Versailles winning the MVP and Ron Gant foolishly falling off first in the '91 World Series.

Craig Finn, who guests on the track, is the lead singer for The Hold Steady. The rest of the group is from New York, but Finn grew up in Minnesota and liberally sprinkles Twin Cities references throughout his songs. I saw The Hold Steady perform here in Iowa City a few months ago and Finn even gave a shoutout to "AL Manager of the Year Ron Gardenhire".

The Baseball Project consists of Steve Wynn, Peter Buck of R.E.M., Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5, and Linda Pitmon of I'm not sure. They came together to write songs about baseball, which seems like a pretty easy idea to get behind. I didn't pay much attention to their first album, but their second album, Volume 2: High and Inside, was just released yesterday, and I definitely plan on checking out this one. ESPN had 6 of their songs available to stream before the release, and they were pretty enjoyable. But honestly, with song names like "Panda and The Freak" and "Ichiro Goes to the Moon" they are almost certain to be great.

Here's a video that a fan made with great pictures and videos to go along with the song. Play ball!

You can download the song free from Amazon here and pick up the rest of the album for $7.99 if you feel so inclined.

***UPDATE*** You can actually stream the whole album to give it a test run before you buy it at Spinner.com here

In 1965, I wasn't quite alive yet
But I'm told they gave the MVP to Zoilo Versalles
Oliva hit the singles and Harmon hit the homers
Mudcat Grant won twenty games and we didn't play in a dome yet
The Dodgers came to Bloomington to play for the World Series
The Twins took the first two, you can even ask Vin Scully
but Sandy Koufax proved to be a bit too much to crack
and the Twins went down in seven but they vowed that they'd be back

From Nicollet to Hennepin, from St. Paul to St. Cloud
The Minnesota Twins are making Minnesotans proud
and we don't buy our titles, so there's summers where we stink
But these are grown men, these are heroes
So please don't call them 'twinkies'

In the fall of '87 I was pretty much in heaven
I got my license and a girlfriend, the Twins had won the pennant
I prayed more in the dome than I ever did in church
Kirby Puckett had the smile, Kent Hrbek has the smirk
First we tamed the Tigers then we were dealt the Cards
And they came to the Twin Cities tried to make sense of our park
It was loud and it was close, and it went to seven games
But the Twins took home the title and that Sweet Music played

Edina to Duluth, from the south side of downtown
Minnesota Twins are making Minnesotans proud
so hear us make some noise, c'mon wave those Homer Hankies
These are grown men, these are heroes
please don't call them 'twinkies'

in 1991 the Twins were once again on top
we faced Atlanta in the series, and they thought that they were hot
And I ain't seen somethin' so lame as that Fonda-hawk Chop
But we were up against the ropes when Kirby called his shot
And as he ran around the bases, smilin', pumpin fist
We all knew that he had won it, and it was only just game six
And the next night Jack Morris came and made his hometown proud
You should watch it in slow motion:
Ron Gant was clearly out.

From Mankato up to Brainerd, from Burnsville to Bemidji
Now we're playing outdoor baseball and that's the way it should be
Raise a toast to Kirby Puckett, raise another to Tom Kelly
They're the Minnesota Twins
So let's not call 'em 'twinkies'

We got Justin, we got Joe, that's enough reason to party
We don't buy our titles but we still won two World Series
So grab yourself a 3.2 beer and raise a toast to Gardy
They're the Minnesota Twins
So please don't call them 'twinkies'