Conversational song has to be one of the most overlooked music genres ever, next to songs that mimic whale noises and songs that have no rhyming whatsoever. More than just duets and trios, these songs feature singers responding to one another in verse and usually a recognizable narrative arc. These are great songs to listen to if you are feeling alone or want to have an awesome sing-along with a friend (or two). Track listing after the jump!
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart released the video today for their single "The Body." In it, the quotidian tasks of the present-day band members (brushing teeth, making eggs) are juxtaposed with images of their child-selves frolicking on the beach. The beach scenes are so summery that you'll feel like you've been transplanted from your desk to the shore (almost), and the kids look so much like the adult band members that the video is worth watching just for that. Check it out:
Social Life (Last Bummer Records), Making Friendz' first album channeling punk, '80s pop, and R&B through a lo-fi filter, is a great time whether you're sharing it with your crush de jour or or having a lone sing-along pining sesh in your bedroom.
With lyrics like "Don't want to hurt nobody/just want to touch your body" ("Situation") and "Don't make me cry, I just want to be inside you" ("Don't Make Me Cry"), Tami Hart's songs are less about love and more about friends with benefits, and her beats are sharp but have a sloppy fuzziness that adds to the party appeal. This isn't cold, electronic-driven pop, Hart's inflections (and goofy flourishes from the 80s--cheesy synth takes on a new sincerity when it's about getting in someone's pants) give it warmth and personality that brings together dancefloor fun and hardcore longing.
To wrap up Black Music Month, I thought I'd feature just a few popular songs that were originally recorded by black artists...only to become more popular (and profitable) by white artists. I'm not advocating for any version over the other (okay, so Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog" blows Elvis's out of the water), and the spectrum of cover/standards/tributes/stealing is vast and complex, it's always worth noting who's making money from a song, who's name goes down in Ye Olde Annals of Pop Music, and what gets remembered and reified when it comes to attribution, popularity, and legacy. Track list after the jump!
There is, in my opinion, a right way and a wrong way to advertise Irish singer Susan McKeown's album Singing in the Dark. Calling it "a work exploring Creativity, Suffering and the Pursuit of Happiness," as her website does, is the wrong way. The project loses its power in those highfalutin capital letters, veering instead to the inspirational spoken-word side of the record aisle. The right way would be to say something more along the lines of, "If this album had existed six years ago, it could have changed the entire course of my life for the better."
I'm reading Woman on the Edge of Time for the Bitch Book Club (which meets next Tuesday night, if you're in the Portland area!), and it's got me thinking about the future. Most of it's not that bright-looking. Humans might be wrecking the planet, and nuclear catastrophe is one red button away. But then I thought: it's almost SUMMER here in the Northern Hemisphere! A future that's about to give us a couple months of sunshine, no matter how much other terrifying stuff it might hold, can't be all bad, right?! Plus, if futuristic music is any indication, at least we'll be groovin' toward apocalypse. This week's BitchTapes is full of music before its time.
Wildbirds & Peacedrums have been on the road for the last four years, performing, recording, and taking in the sights. The Swedish duo were kind enough to spare me a quick Q&A before their show in Portland on Saturday.
It's been 32 years since the music industry officially recognized June as American Black Music Month. But, ask any casual music fan and she'll tell you that popular black music has been pumping through the speaker box since long before 1979.