Hello and welcome to Volume 5 of “No Mainstream Fridays,” my weekly listing of songs that are:
1. worth listening to
2. probably not being featured elsewhere at the moment
3. would be mainstream if there were such a thing…
Go here to see the great stuff featured in Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, and Volume 4.
Ezra Pound said “poetry is news that stays news.” So is music, and in that spirit, here are some songs and bands from past and present that merit headlines…
This week’s news:
Hoover Factory by Elvis Costello & the Attractions. Somehow, amidst all the others, Elvis C has sort of been my center of the wheel, and this 1:46 song was (and maybe still is) my favorite choice gem of them all. When I was in my early teens, this song fascinated me endlessly. It sounds faster to me now than it did then (how trite and symbolic!) A slice of b-side heaven for everyone….


The Spirits And I by Royal Wood. This is a new record from a new artist who sings like Andrew Bird and writes pop songs that are both endearing and good. Melodies and hooks, people. I love the phrasing in this one.
Drink To Sher by Tanakh. Getting into some deeper waters here, this is a beautiful song that combines the sensibilities of orchestrated indie rock with larger, more grandiose rock idioms. Somehow, it’s both dry and lush, and always very tasteful. A lovely balancing act that just needs repeat listens, not in order to be enjoyed, but in order to be savored.
Bazooka Tooth by Aesop Rock. Changing course, here’s the brainy and zany Aesop Rock with some deliciously cluttered and crazy wordplay over gritty samples and beats. More killer hip hop from Def Jux. Warning: Contains “embargo piggybackers… bumper bolt monster mash… tim libby’s lava lamp… lobster hands… nocturnally orchestrated car alarms…”
Degradation of Tapes by Merzbow. Merzbow is the most important artist in noise music, a fearless pioneer, invincible genius, sonic wizard, and crafter of slabs of hideous, grating, hellish pieces like this 19 minute crusher. The beauty of this music requires faith and dedication in order to be discerned. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that it isn’t there….
Manzanita (First Variation) by The Tony Rice Unit. From the storm to the calm, here’s the flatpicking titan Tony Rice with a bit of newgrass. A breezy intro of typically crisp picking detours into some modern bluegrass. As always, the appeal here is greatly connected to the instrumental facility of the players, which makes it seem a bit technical to some. Decide for yourself!
Cowboys Lost At Sea by For Stars. When I first heard this record, it was maybe the first thing that a friend of mine had done that really worked as a record from start to finish. It stands up, with gorgeous melodies and a commitment to mood and focus that can teach any record-maker important lessons about how to eliminate everything but the essence. And the songs kill, too.
Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow by Strawberry Alarm Clock. Ah, my sunshine psych pop (maybe people are starting to figure out that I have a bit of a sweet tooth for this stuff…). Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow?? Are you kidding? I’m SO listening to a song called that! This one has some great harmonies, and the usual charming innocence and technicolor instrumentation that characterize the genre. We have lots of this stuff in Pandora, so make a station with this one and see what you find!
Indian Giver by 1910 Fruitgum Company. This song is borderline offensive (I do like to provoke you now and then – you know that, right?). It’s called “Indian Giver,” which is really unfortunate, because it’s an interesting song. But it’s kind of cool because 1) it’s by the 1910 Fruitgum Company for cry eye! and 2) it somehow sounds a lot like mid-period Elvis Costello even though it’s from 1968. Wonder if he ever listened to these guys.
Metallic Sonata No. 1 by The Lothars. Just when you thought it was safe to start singing along… here are The Lothars, with 3 theremins, one electric guitar, and great patience. This is drone-licious. Dark. Beautiful. A great new world of sound awaits you, should you choose to enter here…
Lost Diamond by Gregory Paul. This is a solo record by the man behind The Autumndivers, and this particular song is epic, mysterious and very very cool. The narcotic melody and good singing lead the soft charge here. Touches of strings make it even heavieer, and the reckless use of reverbs somehow manages to avoid cheesiness entirely. Right on!
Bears by Steven Fromholz. I guess Lyle Lovett covered this song, but this is the original, with banjo and (in an inspired moment of wacky genius), clavinet. It’s always interesting to listen to the songwriter’s version of a song that someone else made famous, so here ya go. Love that clavinet.
Whatcha Gonna Do by Peter Tosh. Love that clavinet so much it reminded me of the classic Peter Tosh sound from back when – I wore this record out when I was in high school in the 80’s.
Five Years by David Bowie. And finally, as a closer, here’s the classic Bowie tune that opens Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. This was on the other side of the tape that had the Peter Tosh on it. I will forever associate the two records with each other, and with my walkman, backpack, and long walks through my beloved suburban Maryland commercial and residential wastelands.
happy listening!
mz

Comments

  1. Dembliotic
    May 30, 2006 at 11:42am
    Wow, this Pandora blows my mind, thanks to Pandora I found a cool band named 'Nonpoint', and I wouldn't have known about them at all if it wasn't for pandora.
    Reply
  2. Dembliotic
    May 30, 2006 at 11:45am
    Me again, do you guys even know who the 'Headstones' are?, I asked Pandora, but didn't receive, so please add some 'Headstones'
    Reply
  3. abdallah
    May 31, 2006 at 2:30am
    wanna get as much as possible of your total and much interesting information concerning all type of music............ tnx
    Reply
  4. abdallah
    May 31, 2006 at 2:31am
    hello your radio is the best.....
    Reply
  5. Henri Niskala
    May 31, 2006 at 6:01am
    Hello there, staff of Pandora Radio! Thank you very much for launching this kind of radio. I have been looking for something like this for a long time, but nowI've found what I'm looking for. Keep up the good work. Thank God you exist! - Henri Niskala, Helsinki, Finland.
    Reply
  6. Phil
    June 02, 2006 at 12:42am
    Pandora rocks! this is an amazing project. I'm full of respect for you guys launching this great idea. Here is one I'm missing: Joel Streeter / Heart me out jung guy with loads of potential. Looking forward to here him soon on pandora- the only radio I hear and never get sick of :-)
    Reply
  7. Clay
    June 02, 2006 at 6:36am
    A great band I'd like to hear in Pandora is Sorta. They have a CD called "Strange and Sad but True" available on their myspace page. They were recently chosen as the best local act at the Dallas Observer Music Awards. Thanks, Clay
    Reply
  8. Dembliotic
    June 04, 2006 at 1:30pm
    Here is one of the Headstones albums i would like to see, it's called "Picture of Health", pretty good album, check it out.
    Reply
  9. KRISTIE
    June 20, 2006 at 5:19pm
    I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR MUSIC BY SMOOV-E AND OUT OF 60 SONG TITLES HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND ANY. IF IT'S NOT TO MUCH COULD YOU MAYBE ADD SMOOV-E TO THE MUSIC. IF SOMEONE LOOKS AROUND THEY WILL FIND HIM. I WOULD PUT HIM IN THE SAME TYPE OF MUSIC CATAGORY AS MAC DRE, AND ANDRE NICKATINA. MAC DRE IS FEATURED ON A COUPLE OF HIS SONGS. I KNOW YOUR ALWAYS LOOKING FOR NEW MUSIC SO I THOUGHT I'D MAYBE BE A PERSON THAT CAN HELP YOU AT PANDORA FIND SOME. A FEW SONG TITLES ARE, P.F.B.B., SUPER COLLOSAL, SEVEN DAYS OF LUST, AND LACED WITH HASH. YOU AT PANDORA ARE EXECELLENT AND IT IS JUST A SUGGESTION FROM SOMEONE WHO LOVES PANDORA AND DOES NOT EVEN LISTEN TO THE RADIO OR CD'S ANYMORE SINCE I HEARD OF PANDORA. THANK YOU
    Reply

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