20. Smith Westerns, Dye it Blonde A gently sparkling record of blithe, '60s-influenced radio rock, Dye it Blonde finds Chicago's the Smith Westerns perfecting their brand of breezy, lovelorn pop -- from the lush harmonies and yearning of single "Weekend" to the church-y psychedelics and guitar twang of "All Die Young." Think music for first dates and mix-tapes -- cuz "Love is lovely when you are young." Truer words were never sung.
19. Real Estate, Days I like to think of Real Estate as this generation's Yo La Tengo (not to imply the real YLT, who are still one of my all-time faves -- aren't just as awesome and relevant as ever) -- a Jersey band making gentle, fuzzy records about everything and nothing at the same time. Days is a laid-back listen of low-key summertime melodies that are both understated and bittersweet -- all "wasted hours," "aimless drives" and "years passed by." I see a Wes Anderson soundtrack in their future.
18. Mayer Hawthorne, How Do You Do? I love most of How Do You Do?, the sophomore record from Mayer Hawthorne, so much that sometimes I forget that there are 2 songs on this record that are practically unlistenable -- the cheesy, Al Green-esque opener "Get to Know You" and awkward Snoop Dog appearance on "Can't Stop." But the rest is pure retro goodness -- from the falsetto-laced groove of "A Long Time" (a tribute to Detroit!) to the lush vocals and piano bounce of "Dreaming" and the Temptations-worthy hook of "The Walk." Makes me reminisce about listening to oldies radio in my parent's minivan, on the way to soccer practice or whatever.
17. The Vaccines, What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? A rousing record of jangly pop-punk from British buzz band The Vaccines, What Did You Expect from the Vaccines is fun, accessible and a little bit snarky -- from the tongue-in-cheek title (what should one expect from a breakout band's debut?) to lyrics that reference break-up sex, religious hypocrisy, ego and self-destruction. That and opener "Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra)" is prob my fave song from the past decade that clocks in at under 90 seconds.
16. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Mirror Traffic Stephen Malkmus -- former Pavement front man and purveyor of all things awesome -- is one of my favorite musicians still making records today and Mirror Traffic proves he's absolutely still got it. Produced by Beck (another one of my faves!), MT is a playful romp through wordy lyrics (I can't even do one sit-up...sit-ups are so bourgeoisie), twisted chord progressions, and understated rock anthems.
15. Veronica Falls, Veronica Falls A melancholy record of twisted retro pop, Scottish quartet Veronica Falls offer their own take on '60s girl groups, beach pop and C86 -- adding reverb and dark imagery for a result that feels instantly familiar and yet very much rooted in the now. From the haunted folk-pop of "Bad Feeling" to the perverted surf beat of "Beachy Head," Veronica Falls is a darkly intense listen that reels you in to its gloomy underbelly.
14. Cut Copy, Zonoscope An exuberant record of lush vocals, poppy chord progressions and starry-eyed dancefloor jamz, Zonoscope is the feel-good record of the year, incorporating both the '60s A.M. pop sounds I love so much and glittering electronic flourishes. From the brilliant pop bounce and scintillating layers of "Where I'm Going" to the sweeping, '80s feel of "Hanging on to Every Heartbeat," Zonoscope is at once playful, celebratory, stylish and sweet -- perfect for party soundtracking, or listening to on headphones and rocking out.
13. Spectrals, Bad Penny A jangly, jazzy record of classically-influenced piano-based charmers, Spectrals' Bad Penny is wistful, dreamy, and low-key: music for Sunday mornings or perhaps Sunday evenings at the supper club, wine glasses clinking as Louis Jones softly croons. From the surf undertones on opener "Get a Grip" to the lively bounce of "Confetti," this is makes me want to don red lipstick and high heels and waltz around my living room.
12. The Black Keys, El Camino El Camino, the 7th full-length from Akron, OH's the Black Keys is rollicking romp through 11 bluesy rockers which finds the burgeoning stars (who went from recording records in their basement to selling out stadiums) cleaning up their sound and adding glammy touches -- from the female back-up singers on "Lonely Boy" and "Gold on the Ceiling" to the '80s synths on "Sister." The result is an insatiable celebration that still rocks just as hard as ever.
11. Mazes, A Thousand Heys A Malkmus-y record that's more accessible than Malkmus himself, A Thousand Heys is a fun, jangly journey that incorporates so many of my favorite things: from shambling, '90s lo-fi and pop-punk to garage rock and Beatles-esque pop. Front man Jack Cooper has a sort of lazy, drunken way of singing, and a slacker mentality that shines through in lyrics like "I never want to get out bed" or "I wanna sit at home without a job." Still, this doesn't stop songs from exploding with free-wheeling energy and indeed Heys offers 13 tunes in a little more than 13 minutes. Fun! See also: Best New Music: Mazes
And there you have it! Stay tuned for the final ten next week.
30. The Go! Team, Rolling Blackouts There is no one in the biz making records quite like The Go! Team and Rolling Blackouts is a fun, variegated romp through hip-hop beats, kitchen-sink percussion, and joyful party-rock anthems. (No, not like that.) "Secretary Song" is a sweet, sparkling gem of indie pop, while "Ready to Go Steady" hearkens back to '60s girl groups. Did I mention there's a guest appearance from Best Coast too? Awesome.
29. Dom, Family of Love I've seen Dom preform twice this year and both times front man Dom stood with his hair covering his face, seemingly too cool to even make eye contact. It's the type of gesture that might piss me off...if Dom (the band) weren't purveyors of a new breed of lazy, snot-nosed electro-pop that holds too cool to care as its mantra. That being said, Family of Love is a surprisingly dense record of lush synths and catchy melodies that might be vapid in content, but still sounds damn good.
28. Xylos, Xylos The self-titled debut from Brooklyn band Xylos, Xylos is a shimmering record of crepuscular pop, ranging from breezy and light to scintillating and dance-y. Front woman Monika Heidemann has a deep, rich voice which lends a sense of balance to otherwise blithe, floaty concoctions. It's only a matter of time before these guys make it big.
27. Man Man, Life Fantastic The 4th full-length from Philly gypsy-punk collective Man Man, Life Fantastic is perhaps their most nuanced yet, as the band employs their trademark oompah beats and bar band keys to paint a portrait of something dark, and foreboding. The title track is a swinging, skulking account of children discovering a dead body at a picnic (yes, really) -- while "Dark Arts" is a spooky escapade through guitar runs and front man Honus Honus's growly vocals. And of course, "Piranha's Club" -- with its mischievous lyrics and upbeat feel -- provides some much needed levity.
26. Dominant Legs, Invitation A quirky, glittery record of Talking Heads-inspired pop, Invitation is a feel-good listen meant for sunny days, open roads, first kisses and running through sprinklers giggling. Band creators Ryan Lynch and Hannah Hunt hail from San Francisco, where the gorgeous weather and laid-back lifestyle must have rubbed off on their songwriting. I'm not complaining.
25. Hunx and his Punx, Too Love To Be in Love A jangly record of vintage-inspired garage rock jamz, Too Love To Be in Love both pays tribute to and subverts early '60s stereotypes with song titles like "He's Coming Back" (that would be "my boyfriend," of course), "Bad Boy" and "The Curse of Being Young" -- re-imagining these classical tropes with a punk bent. Front man Seth Bogart has a talk-y, winking way of singing that's more playful than sarcastic, while Shannon Shaw (of Clams fame) contributes smoky vocals and bass skillz.
24. St. Vincent, Strange Mercy A darkly elegant, and at times harshly creative record, Annie Clark -- the quirky force behind St. Vincent -- offers a twisted, seductive collection of intimate, electro-rock anthems, from the bouncy, orchestral "Cruel" to the lush, slinky "Surgeon" ("Must find a surgeon....come cut me open," croons Clark serenely.) Occasionally discomforting and yet bewitching.
23. The Rosebuds, Loud Planes Fly Low So Kelly Crisp and Ivan Howard -- formerly married, and making music together as the Rosebuds -- split up. Luckily, their band didn't, and Loud Planes Fly Low -- their first post-break-up record -- is a stunning collection of dark, dreamy melodies to get lost in, from wistful, otherworldly opener "Go Ahead" to clanking, strings-laced lullaby "Second Bird of Paradise" and head-y release "Woods."
22. Mister Heavenly, Out of Love A collaboration between two of my fave zany music makers -- that would be Islands' Nick Diamonds and Man Man's Honus Honus -- along with veteran drummer Joe Plummer -- Mister Heavenly offers a unique amalgam of old-skool doo wop, circus rock and neo-psychedelia that is rollicking, playful, giddy and instantly recognizeable. They even invented a new word for it: doom wop. Let's hope this album isn't a one-off!
21. The Horrors, Skying The third full-length from Britain's most capricious buzz band, Skying sees the Horrors abandoning past styles to create a lush, sweeping record of gorgeous '80s synths and visceral post-punk anthems. From the Interpol-meets-arena-rock grandeur of "Endless Blue" to the poppy, Simple Minds feel of "Still Life," Skying is a trippy journey through the best of the era many of hope to forget.
21 down...10 more to go. Here's my breakdown of my 10 favorite songs of the year!
10. Bodies of Water, "Like a Stranger" The sleeper hit of 2011, Bodies of Water's "Like a Stranger" has a skulking, vamp-y beat and theatrical feel, like a duet in a Broadway musical. Husband-wife duo David and Meredith Metcalf alternate between hushed intensity and soulful crooning, but always with a playful wink, and as the horns join in, the whole thing feels like a celebration.
9. Unknown Mortal Orchestra, "How Can You Luv Me" A funky, quirky jam that resonates with old-skool funk sensibilities, UMO's "How Can You Luv Me" has a catchy chorus that burrows in your skull, and lithe, spring-y beat that inspires bad dancing. Ruban Neilson has an impassioned, skitterish way of singing, and when he belts out the refrain, you feel like he's truly singing for love.
8. The War on Drugs, "Baby Missiles" The tour-de-force of War on Drugs front man Adam Granduciel, "Baby Missiles" is the anthem of a wandering soul, and perfect music for blasting while rolling down the highway. A repeated motorik beat lends it a sense of forward-motion, while Granduciel's twangy vocals and impassioned harmonica-playing posit him as the new Springsteen, a relatable everyman trying to figure things out.
7. The Babies, "Breakin' the Law" The great thing about "Breakin' the Law," the breezy single from Vivian Girls' Cassie Ramone and Woods' Kevin Morby, is that it feels like a classic punk jam -- so much so that it's come on shuffle a few times when I wasn't paying attention, and I could have sworn it was Joe Doe and Exene Cervenka crooning. This a tune about reflecting on youthful craziness with a smile, and a little alt-country lilt.
6. Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi feat. Jack White, "Two Against One" A tune from the Rome album, the soundtrack to a spaghetti Western that doesn't exist -- "Two Against One" is sinister, windswept, and atmospheric, all handpicked guitar and Jack White's warbly vocals, as he paints a world of showdowns and masked avengers, where one keeps their enemies "closer than a mirror ever gets to me." Chilling.
5. YACHT, "Dystopia" A gutsy, snarky diatribe about the end of the world, "Dystopia" serves its pseudo-apocalyptic vision with nervy, DFA-style electro-pop, Claire Evans crying out vehemently, "The earth, the earth, the earth is on fire" and "Let the Motherfucker burn!" It's a rager for smart kids, and the video (shown here along with counterpart jam "Utopia") is just so fantastically nerdy (Evans and front man Jona Bechtolt running/biking through space, trying to avoid being sucked into a black hole) it makes me love it even more.
4. The Black Lips, "Time" On the surface, this is such a simple, straightforward punk song and yet...it's pretty much dead on in its execution. Guitars are jangly and brash, drums are steady and the vocals are imbued with a sort of drunken honesty as the band -- now less rapscallious hooligans and more an established force on the scene -- encapsulate their growth and future with no frills lyrics: "Time is moving on....But I keep on moving, moving...moving right along." love it.
3. Mayer Hawthorne, "The Walk" How perfect is this song? A poppy, sunshine-y nugget of retro-inspired joy, Mayer Hawthorne's "The Walk" is ear candy for people who grew up listening to Motown on oldies radio and feel instantly lighter when they hear The Temptations' "My Girl." "The Walk" is nearly as good as "My Girl," with an infectious piano line, breezy chorus of "Shoops" and Hawthorne's (/Andrew Cohen's) smooooth falsetto. Plus the video is kick-ass.
2. Foster the People, "Pumped Up Kicks" In some ways, "Pumped Up Kicks" IS the song of the year -- it's certainly the song I heard most this year blaring from car speakers / rando stores / the soundtrack to Gossip Girl (who were actually a little late on this one.) It's a funny song in some ways -- a sort of sassy, electronic dance groove with a skulking bass line and semi messed-up lyrics about kids with cool sneakers running away from a gun-wielding psycho. And yet it is absolutely infectious, so much so that hearing just the first few notes will get my head bobbing.
1. Cults, "Go Outside" An internet sensation turned lead single on one of my fave records of the year -- Cults' "Go Outside" is a pure gem of sparkling pop goodness, and its online popularity is especially awesome (/ironic!) given its lyrics insist on outdoor activity (rather than indoor Internet-browsing.) But mostly I love this song because it's so well done -- the intro sample from cult leader Jim Jones ("To me death is not a fearful thing; it's living that is treacherous..."), the crisp xylophone and sweet-as-honey vocals, and the fact that "Go Outside" -- despite its dainty charm -- ultimately turns out to be precisely non-romantic, as front woman Madeline Follin concludes "I want to live my life and you're just in my way." Subvert your expectations, go outside, and live.
Stream tunes 10-1 right here-- thanks for listening!
Ahhh year-end madness! I've already posted 20 of my top 30 favorite songs of the year (see here, and also here), and I'm brainstorming my fave records as I speak (as I type?) But before we all get carried away declaring this record or this record (M83? Bon Iver?) the year's best...why not take a step back and remember some of those albums that WEREN'T Pitchfork Best New Music/the subject of 1,000,000 blog posts?
Google image result #1 for "1,000,000 Pitchfork blog posts." Is that Zooey Deschanel? (From this site.)
Over at Phrequency.com, I review 4 records that may have been lost in the shuffle...and are def worth a second spin. Head over there to check it out...then stay tuned next week for another helping of 2011's best overlooked bands.
I've already shared with you songs 31-21 of my fave songs of the year (check 'em out here)...here's my breakdown of numbers 20 through 11.
20. Shannon and the Clams, "The Cult Song" Shannon and the Clams are a West Coast garage band, who write simple, 3-chord punk songs that are somehow livelier and more raucous than ordinary 3-chord punk songs, thanks to front woman Shannon Shaw's off-kilter song-writing and a healthy dose of "Ooga Boogas." "The Cult Song" sounds a little bit like a bunch of drunk muppets doing a capella, but in a good way.
19. The Horrors, "Moving Further Away" By far the longest tune on the countdown, clocking in at 8 1/2 minutes, "Moving Further Away" is an epic exploration of fuzzy synths and danceable grooves, examining the inevitability of growing older and friends "moving further away." Segueing from melody to fade-out (seagulls chirping in the background) to exuberant, morbid reprise -- "Moving Further Away" belies its long running time by keeping intensity levels high -- then cuts out suddenly, leaving you hoping you for more.
18. Tennis, "Marathon" A breezy, effortless gem, "Marathon" is a blissful piece of twee pop, as sweet as a Popsicle on a summer day. Set against a backdrop of finger snaps and gently strummed guitar, Alaina Moore's vocals resonate with unadulterated innocence as she weaves the tale of an ocean journey, all "shifting shoals" and "high tides." Precious.
17. I Break Horses, "Wired" On I Break Horses' "Wired," the band creates an alternative world of swirling layers, wispy vocals and flowing, circular keys that cushion and engulf you like a cloud. One part dreamy shoegaze, one part eletro-pop, one part downtempo Starbucks lobby music, "Wired" manages to be both strikingly gorgeous and slightly dischordant, minor chord progressions undercutting Maria Lindén's airy vocals.
16. Grimes, "Vanessa" Claire Boucher, the mysterious and beautiful force behind Grimes, is a master at creating atmosphere. "Vanessa" is trance-y, moody, seductive and slightly discomforting, as if propelled by sexy, dark forces. Plus how oddly beguiling is this video? I know this is what MY friends and I do during our girls-only sleepovers. (Not really.)
15. Spectrals, "Get a Grip" Spectrals founder Louis Jones writes sunny, '60s-influenced, surf rock charmers not dissimilar from many pop acts today (see: Surfer Blood, Best Coast, the Morning Benders.) But unlike the aforementioned, Jones imbues his tunes with a classical influence, incorporating bits of jazz piano and tin-pan alley for a result that feels effortless and timeless.
14. Craft Spells, “After the Moment” Craft Spells' "After the Moment" is one of those songs that feels like you've heard it a million times, its swirling synths and deep vocals reminiscent of the best of New Order. Creator Justin Vallesteros negotiates the fine line between vapid '80s dance tracks and emotionally-invested bedroom pop with absolute finesses, creating a tune that makes you want to bob your head along, but also reminisce fondly about magical nights with past loves.
13. Cut Copy, “Where I’m Going” Cut Copy's 2011 album Zonoscope is a thrilling listen of colorful psych pop -- and "Where I'm Going" is amongst its best...a hazy slice of exuberance complete with twinkling keys, pulsing beats, and full, echo-y, vocal harmonies punctuated with ardent "Yeahs!" This is music to listen to in the summer, outside, dancing barefoot in an open field. As soon as June arrives I will do just this!
12. The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy” God this song is infectious! Less fuzzy and more focused than past releases, "Lonely Boy" is a rollicking, toe-tapping rocker about a guy who...can't get any from his prude girlfriend. But he doesn't care because he's rocking too hard! Dan Auberbach's guitar line here is positively staggering. Pretty sure they'll still be playing this on the radio a decade from now.
11. Dum Dum Girls, “He Gets Me High” The Dum Dum Girls are one of my favorite bands making music right now, and this song (from the EP of the same name) might be my favorite. Dee Dee's voice is dark, smoky, and emotive and..the reverb! the guitars! To me, "He Gets Me High" evokes images of dark bars in seedy neighborhoods and falling for guys who you know are no good because they are sexy and have access to drugs. Except after listening to "He Gets Me High" a couple times...I feel no need to seek out a seedy bar, because hearing Dee Dee sing about it feels debaucherous enough.
And there you have it...another 10 down. Stream songs 20-11 for free right here -- then stay tuned for the final 10 on Friday!
It's hard to believe another year is nearly gone, and yet here we are on the brink of 2012. There was so much good music this year, even if I found myself wishing chillwave would go away (it's time). And to celebrate, I'll be hosting my very own YEAR IN REVIEW show tonight (Monday) from 6 to 8 on XPN2, where I'll be counting down my 31 favorite songs of the year. (Why 31 you ask? Because that's how many fit in a 2-hour show.) Check out the first installment of the list here, then listen in tonight to catch the whole thing live.
Piranhas Club member
31. Garden & Villa, “Black Hills” The opening to G&V’s self-titled record, “Black Hills” is a perfect introduction to the band…which is to say, space-y, atmospheric, and a little bit chilling. But what really drove it home for me was hearing this tune in Gossip Girl (yes, I’m serious) where it proved an elegant and seductive backdrop to the Masked Ball scene, where Blaire stalks Chuck and Elizabeth Hurley plots. (You know the one.)
30. Girls, “Honey Bunny” Ok, so it’s not as unique and thrilling as last year’s “Lust for Life” (my fave song of 2010!) but there is something breezy and charming about this tune, which resonates with ‘60s pop-cheeriness. That and the line about girls hating Christopher Owens’ “bony body” and “greasy hair” is SO self-deprecating (except not really, since he still [ostensibly] gets laid)—and might just be this year’s “I wanna pizza and a bottle of wine.”
29. Boat, “When Frank Black Says (No. 14 Baby)” Frank Black, Pixies front man, is certainly an icon for some of my bearded, plaid-claid intellectual friends and this tune—from sloppy Seattle punks Boat—both pays tribute to and pokes fun at that fact. Plus I can never resist an awesome jangle. This is a tune to get drunk to and nod your head really fast. “In time you will become a cynic!”
28. tUnE-yArDs, “Bizness” I’m pretty sure there’s no one out there making music quite like tUnE-yArDs, the bizarre, percussive project of ukulele master Merrill Garbus. “Bizness” rules because it’s creative without being jarring, with a structure that seems like it’s threatening to fall apart at any moment, only to press on with increasing power. The video is equally thrilling and bizarre. (Also check out this video I shot of her live during the 2nd Street Festival!)
27. WILD FLAG, “Romance” The raging debut single from ‘90s supergroup WILD FLAG, “Romance” is awesome for many reasons: it’s catchy, rocking, and shows off the mad skillz of each member, from Carrie Brownstein’s empowered vocals to Mary Timony’s guitar shredding to Rebecca Cole’s lively organ bounce to Janet Weiss’s turbo drumming. Plus how awesome is the music video? This song makes me want to rage. “We dance to free ourselves from the room!” sing the ladies. Damn straight!
26. Lykke Li, “Youth Knows No Pain” Another tune prominently featured in Gossip Girl (god they do such a good job choosing music); Lykke Li’s “Youth Knows No Pain” encapsulates the fearless determination of young people who are not afraid to put themselves out there; who go out dancing and drinking and partying and experiencing heartbreak over and over again because they are young, and the world is their oyster. The dark, shuffling beat and organ glitches lend this tune an almost seedy, urban feel—the type of music you’d expect to hear blaring from speakers at 2 a.m. at some hipster dive under the Brooklyn Bridge.
25. Sonny and the Sunsets, “She Plays Yo-Yo With My Mind” The great thing about Sonny and the Sunset’s “She Plays Yo-Yo With My Mind” is how effortless it feels. This totally sounds like a ‘60s garage rock single, recorded in someone’s basement and released on 45. And knowing front man Sonny Smith’s DIY background and penchant for lo-fi—perhaps it was. Plus, how can you NOT dig that guitar line? Positively skulking.
24. Man Man, “Piranha’s Club” I adore the video for this jangly gem, which features children going crazy and generally getting into mischief. And that’s kinda what this song is about—releasing stress and getting into trouble—smashing plates and punching your dad in the face. (“Think about it,” chirps Honus Honus.) It’s a welcome respite on an album that mostly deals with death and dying, with a circus bounce that you can’t help but bob along to. And it has a surprisingly sweet ending, when Honus admits—plates smashed around him, no doubt—“I don’t want to be the stranger in your rearview mirror; I just want to be the man you bring home to dinner.” Even piranhas need love you know.
23. Yuck, “Georgia” British rockers Yuck craft hazy, fuzzy, ‘90s-influenced guitar rock that feels instantly familiar and warm and “Georgia” is the warmest and most familiar of all. Major chords, boy-girl harmonies, and a swing-y, sing-along beat make this tune an easy-going favorite that doesn’t have to try too hard.
22. The Rosebuds, “Woods” 2 years ago, The Rosebuds were another married couple, making cute, upbeat, indie poppers that were actually great. Then they broke up, and I worried their tunes would become dark and mope-y. And they sorta did…but I didn’t mind, because the result was songs like “Woods” which is twittering and uneasy and cathartic and striking. Kelly Crisp’s keyboards are skitterish like the soundtrack to a horror movie while Ivan Howard wails like a man heart-broken. This is a song about dealing with emotions by running away and getting high, which is about as un-cute and un-romantic as you can get.
21. Dominant Legs, “Hoop of Love” San Francisco’s Dominant Legs write sunny, summery exuberant pop and “Hoop of Love” is perhaps their most sunny and shimmering. Combining a ‘60s pop influence with just the right amount of ‘80s bounce, this is song for blasting from the car stereo, windows down, much like the video suggests. This will be on the soundtrack for every party I host for the next 5 years (maybe).
Stream songs 31-21 for freeright here -- then check back here later this week as I break down songs 20-11 and 10-1.
It just dropped yesterday, and already it's on everyone's lips, blaring from ipods and car speakers and the stereo at Rittenhouse sports bars (don't ask.) Its draw is immense -- hipsters! their parents! people who still listen to Kings of Leon! -- and even though you kinda WANT to hate it for being so popular, you just CAN'T, because it's really THAT GOOD. I'm talking of course about El Camino, the new record from Akron, OH bluesmasters The Black Keys, which will have you dancing and flailing with glee.
Cooks King Alon, Pete Band, Josh Band at PhilaMOCA (Click any photo to enlarge)
There's a lot you can say about local pysch-rock foursome The Really Cooks -- just don't accuse them of not being fun. In fact, "fun" is probably the first word that comes to mind when describing these West Philly hooligans -- well, "fun" and maybe "wacky," or perhaps "raucous." A fixture on the scene for 3+ years now (prior to forming The Really Cooks they performed as The Josh and Pete Band) The Cooks understand that music is meant to be enjoyed -- and help facilitate said enjoyment with costumes, cartoons, and seriously catchy tunes.
Cook Pete Band
On new record Dr. Lemonade Stand(released this past weekend) the band takes fun to a whole new level, with an energy-fueled romp through 11 '60s-influenced charmers, full of zany characters, vocal harmonies, and Josh's formidable bar-band keyboard-playing. The band celebrated its release this past Saturday with a full-on musical carnival at PhilaMOCA, playing Dr. Lemonade Stand in its entirety for eager crowds.
The record kicks off with quirky dance number "Dance in High Heels," a intriguing and creative cavort about a chic who -- like myself -- experiences problems walking in heels. Could this trait really be endearing, as the band suggests? For my sake, let's hope so. Follower "Porter" is a psych-tinged, circus-y gambol, complete with cartoon voices -- while "All Up in the Air" is a punchy, sunny rollick, choral vocals resonating like CSNY. "Claude Monet" is a skulking, Eastern-tinged charmer about -- you guessed it -- Claude Monet ("Forget Michelangelo," croons the band) -- while "Patio" is a rollicking toe-tapper about making out with a girl on the patio, until her dad gets angry and threatens to hurt you. ("We tried to write a love song, and this is what we came up," explains the band.) But my fave track? The slinky, psychedelic "Mr. Badman," an insatiably dark romp with Queen-like levels of drama.
Alon sings along
And while Dr. Lemonade Stand sounds certainly sounds awesome on record -- live, it felt imbued with extra specialness, courtesy of the band's energy and antics, from audience participation to cotton candy-flinging to drummer Lem "Lemonade"'s goofy, charming grin. Add to the mixture a ridiculously impressive collection of cartoon videos (Pete Band moonlights as an animator) AND a willingness to commit completely -- and you have yourself a force be reckoned with. Def one of MY fave up-and-coming bands this side of Philly-- now that's cookin'.