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!


  1. Kristine
    May 25, 2006 at 2:33pm
    Any chance you'll be getting Tammany Hall Nyc on here? They are in the folk genre, they're amazing, somewhat unknown with negative radio play and they have been featured on the TV show "Scrubs" which is also amazing.
  2. Tom
    May 25, 2006 at 3:27pm
    Hey guys, I think your program is the best free music service on the net. I love the huge selection of music you offer, and all the new songs I've discovered in the past half-year. Nearly half the music on my iPod is there because I heard it first on Pandora. In case you guys didn't already know, you were featured in a small article in last month's PopSci magazine. Getting down to business, you must add Angels & Airwaves new CD "We Don't Need to Whisper". The band features Tom DeLonge of Blink 182, and sounds quite similar to his older material. The record came out only a few days ago, so I wasn't expecting it to be in the system quite yet, but it needs to get entered soon. Keep rocking.
  3. Bobcat
    May 25, 2006 at 3:45pm
    Hey Gang- Bang up job with the site! Still waiting on the Mecca Bodega. While you're at it, how about some Michael Nicholi? Cheers!
  4. Ron Hoyt
    May 25, 2006 at 3:56pm
    Any chance of adding Brownie Mary to Pandora?
  5. Deidre
    May 25, 2006 at 4:30pm
    Check out my CD at CDBABY.com, Deidre Harston Dennis, "Intuitions". Maybe you'll add it to your site. Thanks, blessings, love, peace and light. dsioux.
  6. lydia
    May 26, 2006 at 2:57pm
    suburban kids with biblical names is indeed a good band. swedish music=overall incredible????!!! jag alska: the lovekevins erik hallden the loveninjas nanook of the north rough bunnies pendletones
  7. vivek
    May 28, 2006 at 6:16am
    i want more music to my ears & it is the most better than other
  8. Klasse
    May 28, 2006 at 7:55am
    I'm totally impressed by pandora.com... Revolutionized my music listening... But can you recommend a good channel for classical music... That would blow my mind away... Thanx again... Klasse.com
  9. Blaine
    May 28, 2006 at 1:38pm
    A lot of the non-mainstream music can be found on eMusic.com, which is a great service (and #2 behind iTunes). Seems like it would be good to link there, as right now I have to manually go see if a song is on eMusic. Thanks, great service!
  10. Blaine
    May 28, 2006 at 1:41pm
    Just a request - it'd be great if you could link to eMusic! Its the #2 legal download service, after all. I have to manually go see if songs are there.

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