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. Theresa
    May 19, 2006 at 6:19pm
    New Chili Peppers?
    Reply
  2. Zaphod Beeblebrox
    May 20, 2006 at 4:17am
    I have just tested Pandora on my Pocket PC. The setup is: - Flash Player 7 (the latest) - Windows Mobile 5 OS (the latest) - Pocket Internet Explorer - HTC Universal Pocket PC with 640x480 screen - WiFi connection capable of about 100 KBytes/s to my Pocket PC - GSM 3G connection (about 40 KBytes/s) Unfortunately Pandora doesn't work in this setup at all. The player doesn't appear on the screen. A white rectangle appears in the place on the web page where the player should be. Most of other Flash sites work. It would be great if Pandora worked on my Pocket PC.
    Reply
  3. mei juinjie
    May 20, 2006 at 10:17am
    HI~~ i'm a young listener here!! from a far away country" Taiwan " Pandora is a great place !! i told to all my friend ^^ hope next time i'll say more better English >< because i'm really happy to find here!! but i'm poor at using English~~sorry hope one day our Chinese market will do the same thing like what you guys do!!
    Reply
  4. Amanda
    May 21, 2006 at 12:46am
    did you by chance hit Cincinnati, Ohio? one of my fave bands right now, The Times, is from there,and i am in love. check them out at: http://www.myspace.com/thetimesband or http://www.stretchtheskies.com/?goto=wallet&direct=store&artist_key=1291&album_key=189&aid=16 swear to god i should be on their publicity team or something. that's how great. yeah, that's right anyhow, thanks so much for Pandora!!!!! it's the best thing i've stumbled across in ages!
    Reply
  5. slimboychance
    May 21, 2006 at 5:07am
    i just seen eurovision 2006 @ i dont know what it means either
    Reply
  6. Larry-bob
    May 21, 2006 at 11:18pm
    Interesting to hear Steven Fromholz' version of "Bears" -- I was only famiar with Mark Weigle's cover version.
    Reply
  7. Michael Zapruder
    May 22, 2006 at 10:45am
    hi folks! theresa - hmmm. hi. "new chili peppers?" is a bit unclear, but we do have it, if that's what you're asking. if you're asking why it's not on my list this week, that's just because it's on lots of other lists already and it'd be redundant. in any case, you can craft a "new chili peppers" playlist by making a station from one of the songs on the new record. cool? zaphod b - try sending that message to pandora-support[AT]pandora.com - they'll help you out more than I ever could! mei juinjie - your english is better than my chinese. thanks for the note and for listening. good luck over there. amanda - don't think we've been through cincinnati yet. thanks for the tip. slimboy - ok! larry-bob - haven't heard weigle's version. will have to check it out. thanks for listening! mz
    Reply
  8. Emil
    May 23, 2006 at 12:59pm
    i am a new listener, and i love pandora. but i just want to tip you about two kick ass swedish band, because i'm from sweden and i like them... those band are The Embassy and Suburban Kids With Biblical Names.
    Reply
  9. Renee
    May 23, 2006 at 2:50pm
    You should look into adding Wax on Radio to Pandora... they'll blow your mind. I've heard some people actually cry at their shows, it's just so moving. Alas. I'm a big fan. http://www.myspace.com/waxonradio http://www.waxonradio.com So yeah. Check 'em out. :) Thanks for Pandora! It's pretty amazing.
    Reply
  10. Charles Martin
    May 24, 2006 at 10:00am
    Dunno if anyone's suggested this before, but it would be cool to have all of these songs on one channel so we could hear the entire set. Understand the issues with that, but it would still be cool.
    Reply

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