Dan Sartain, “Atheist Funeral”

I haven’t had a chance to hear the new (out now for download, on the 31st on CD) Dan Sartain album, Dan Sartain Lives yet, but his new single is out and about, making the rounds. And just as we expect from Dan Sartain, it’s fast and furious. No, it’s not really a change for Sartain, he pretty much always sounds the way he does. But for a very few artists, that’s actually ok – I don’t really need him to be anything but rockabilly mayhem, as long as he continues to do that as well as he has in the past. And if you like what he does, you won’t be disappointed in “Atheist Funeral” (though I think I actually find the instrumental b-side, “Crimson Cinema Of Death (Dan Sartain Lives Motion Picture Version)” more intriguing) and I’m sure you’ll, like me, be anxious as hell to hear the new album.

Dan Sartain – Atheist Funeral

In The Merry Merry Month Of … August

Julian Plenti Is ... Skyscraper

Well, it’s that time again (a little late, but nevermind), and I’ll just be honest here: I didn’t get many new albums in August and the ones I got didn’t exactly knock my socks off. I’ll start with the only ‘big’ release I’ve got to talk about: Julian Plenti (otherwise known as Paul Banks) is … Skyscraper. There are two totally unfair things against this album right from the start: 1.) It’s always going to be compared to Interpol, though it really shouldn’t because, in theory at least, they’re two separate things. But there’s no stopping it. 2.) Paul Banks’ voice is incredibly distinctive and everything he sings is going to sound like him – which, to most listeners, means like Interpol. Which takes us back to point #1. I don’t know if it’s because of one or both of those problems, but to me, … Skyscraper pretty much sounds like a less powerful Interpol. If more songs had at least something a little different going for them, like “Unwind” (below), which I like very much, this album might have been a lot more interesting. As it is, I’ll probably just stick with Interpol.

Julian Plenti – Unwind

As if August was the month for unexplained pseudonyms, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James has called himself Yim Yames on his “Tribute To [George Harrison]” EP. James hasn’t done anything drastic or unexpected with these songs, but that’s exactly what makes them so effective. He’s basically just let them speak for themselves, in his gentle, haunting voice. “My Sweet Lord” and “Love You To” are almost spooky, in the loveliest way possible.

There are a handful of albums I’ve only just sampled or listened to once, The Antlers’ Hospice among them. I went into it having no idea what to expect, and the truth is that it was so very mellow, I kind of forgot I had it on. It started to catch my attention a bit more in the second half, but Hospice is definitely an album I’m going to have to keep around for a while before I can really decide what I think of it. I only just this minute downloaded Cast Spells’ “Bright Works and Baton” EP from emusic – it sounds promising so far. And I was really looking forward to checking out The Drums‘ EP, “Summertime!”, when my emusic downloads refresh in a few days, but it is suddenly not available in my country although it was two days ago. Wha’ happen, emusic? It sounds like a lot of fun though – post-punk surf music – from the available samples, so I’ll keep my eye out for it to reappear.

And now it’s time to round up the singles! There were some exciting releases this month, but some songs that came highly recommended made me so impatient I started fast-forwarding to try to find “a point” to it all. Which is when I decided that the definition of a good song should be that it doesn’t need a point, it just is, and it is good. More and more, I find myself puzzled by songs that are supposed to be by an exciting new band. I’m scared that in a few years, all the ultra hip new music will make me quote my crazy uncle when he first heard Yeah Yeah Yeahs: “Oh awful, that’s just noise and screaming, nooooise and screeeaming!” In spite of me prematurely turning into a Grumpy Old Woman, we have a good list of exquisite songs this month:

A fun, upbeat single, reminiscent of Hot Chip and early Police. But honestly, all I’m thinking is: how do you pronounce Miike, is it anything like Hawaii??

The XX – Basic Space (mp3)

You can’t get around this band, not unless you’re not connected to the intertubes and have no head. In this case, I fully embrace the hype, I love this hype, henceforth I will be part of the hype. This song is amazing. Sensually slow, it’ll creep right under your skin until you’re not only jumping on the bandwagon of accolades, but driving the damn wagon, whipping the horses up into a frenzy. (I always imagine the bandwagon’s drawn by horses and looks a lot like a Victorian coach…)

Big, rowdy MAN-rawk, yet surprisingly hard to sing along to. I think it celebrates us girls … or it’s about strippers? Meh, either way, what’s not to like.

The Molotovs – Come To Grief

A sweet, layered song that I love more the more I listen to it. If you wait long enough it might just become my favorite. Check out an acoustic version, which I think works even better than the original:

The lyrics in this particular song are a little too literal for my taste. Nonetheless, yet another great pop song by Lilly Allen.

Black Lips – Drugs

This one is so Rock ‘n Roll, it’s almost a parody of itself. That’s not a bad thing! This band just plays great, old skool, garage rock with updated lyrics. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

I still love Chaka Demus & Pliers and as far as we’re concerned, Jamie T can do no wrong. So there is no way this tune could be anything but superb and it is, yet again, a thing of beauty. It’s a bit more catchy, which is NOT code for “he sold out”. It just means that there are woohoos to sing along with even if you can’t follow the lyrics yet. The lyrics are more serious than the easy-breezy music might lead you to believe, but even at his most political, his straight-forward but sweetly melodic eloquence will still charm and disarm anyone.

Sigh. Apparently, this song was written “on the spot” because Davis Guggenheim, the director of a new guitar documentary, asked him to. The whole backstory makes it all the more obnoxious how freaking good this song is. I’m always blown away by how little time The White Stripes need to finish an album, and this is just a small demonstration why that is. If anyone went to that crossroads to sell his soul, surely it has to have been Jack White, right?

Dan Sartain – Bohemian Grove / Atheist Funeral

Speaking of Jack White, he also produced these songs by the wonderful Dan Sartain (put your hands together…). This is one of those magical collaborations that I thought could only happen in a more perfect world. Needless to say, they’re amazing. Oh, and if you’re looking for a spooky but swinging song for upcoming Halloween celebrations, look no further than “Atheist Funeral”. It creeps me out while I’m doing a little chair dance. Sadly, there’s no video (yet?) so if you want to hear it, you’re gonna have to go to Third Man Records and get it yourself.

Backtrack: Gaskets, Russians, Cash & Sartain

We at 100b buy a lot of music. Sometimes it gets all backed up and great albums get lost in the black hole of our collections. And sometimes there’s something wonderful from way back in the day that we haven’t listened to in years. So we decided to set up a day to explore those lost albums. In honor of the first Backtrack post I set out to pick one album every day from my still-not-listened-to pile. Which is quite large, by the way, and ever-growing. This worked out rather well as a diversion from spending a depressing amount of time packing boxes this week (and not getting all that much done).

So to start the week off right, I went for The Gaskets’ Loose Change, an album I’ve tried to listen to several times but have only managed to get through the first few tracks. (Which is absolutely not a reflection of the quality of the album, only crappy timing on my part.) If you’re not aware of The Gaskets, they are described on their official site as “a duo … who make electronic music with a rock attitude. While many ‘hip’ two-pieces are influenced by punk and cleverly combine its aesthetic with dance music, Gaskets listen exclusively to Michael Jackson.” So there. I think “Left Hand”, the track that got me interested in the first place, is still my favorite, but the whole album is pretty great. Check out “Deportees” (below), “The Easy Life”, and “A Movie About You” if you need some convincing.

   The Gaskets – Deportees

The Russian Futurists’ Our Thickness was up on Tuesday. This album was by far the highlight of the whole exercise. I first heard “Paul Simon” on a mix the Tamboosh made me a very, very long time ago, which may be one of the most perfect, fun, danceable songs ever. I loved Our Thickness so much, I don’t even know how to explain it to you. It’s got this incredible mix of sounds and beats that makes everything feel like a sunny day. Just listen to this, one of my favorites, and see for yourself. (And if you’re new to The Russian Futurists, be sure to get yourself Me Myself & Rye: An Introduction To The Russian Futurists.)

   The Russian Futurists – Three Seven Notes

Those bleedin’ boxes had gotten to me by Wednesday. I had to resort to The Sweet to sort me out.

On Thursday, I finally cracked open my copy of Johnny Cash, At San Quentin. Yes, it’s shocking that I’ve had this for ages and still haven’t listened to it, I know. But I actually found it a little underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, of course I enjoyed it, it’s Johnny Cash – I’m not a communist or anything. But At Folsom Prison is one of my all-time favorite albums and I feel like At San Quentin lacks a lot of the belly fire that makes At Folsom Prison so exciting to listen to. But like I said, it’s still The Man In Black, so it’s all relative.

   Johnny Cash – San Quentin (live at San Quentin)

Today I found a CD I’d been looking for all week, Dan Sartain Vs. The Serpientes. I’m a huge fan of Dan Sartain, and I picked Join Dan Sartain as one of my top albums of 2006, but I forgot I had his previous album sitting right here. This man is a rockabilly whirlwind, his maniacal energy is totally contagious – excellent music to pack boxes to.

   Dan Sartain – Tryin’ To Say

Just think – all that great music just wasting away on a shelf. What’s in your pile?

100best: Bean’s Picks For 2006

  •   15. The Long Blondes, Someone To Drive You Home
            essential tracks: “Giddy Stratospheres”, “Swallow Tattoo”
  • We’d all been waiting for The Long Blondes’ debut album for so long, it was beginning to feel like it would never get to us. But, even though we’d all heard a lot of the songs before, it’s as good as we all hoped it would be. Sassy and sultry, like a 50s movie come to life.

  •   14. Beirut, Gulag Orkestar
            “Postcards From Italy”, “Bratislava”
  • Beirut is definitely one of the most original bands of 2006. I’ve never heard anything like this album before. Old world gypsy folk music, done up all indie. It’s beautiful and haunting. The only reason Gulag Orkestar isn’t higher on this list is that it’s not really an album that can be listened to at any time. It’s a specific mood album, but when you’re feeling a bit dark or sad, it’s perfect.

  •   13. The Black Keys, Magic Potion
            “Your Touch”, “Modern Times”
  • The Black Keys just keep getting better and better. This album is a little moodier and harder than their previous releases – a bit more Jimi Hendrix than they’ve been in the past. Between Dan Auerbach’s amazing voice and Patrick Carney’s ass-busting drumming, they really get into your guts.

  •   12. Dan Sartain, Join Dan Sartain
            “World Is Gonna Break Your Little Heart”, “Replacement Man”
  • I once read a description of Dan Sartain as a ‘one man hurricane’. Whoever said that wasn’t wrong. He charges through this album, leaving you wondering what just happened. It takes a few listens to realize that what you just heard really is as good as you thought it was.

  •   11. The Magic Numbers, Those The Brokes
            “Most Of The Time”, “Undecided”
  • I love The Magic Numbers. I just love them.

  •   10. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones
            “Honeybear”, “Cheated Hearts”
  • As good as Fever To Tell is, Show Your Bones might be even better. Yeah Yeah Yeahs have expanded their sound a little, and given us the chance to see Karen O’s enormous heart. Not that they’ve lost the edge that makes her a little bit scary, just that they’ve let us hear what else they can do.

  •   9. Two Gallants, What The Toll Tells
            “Steady Rollin'”, “Long Summer Day”
  • Tam turned me on to Two Gallants but, as I’ve said before, I actually liked The Throes better than this album. That is, until we saw them live in November. Hearing the songs from What The Toll Tells live made me realize exactly how great they really are. Almost nothing beats the anger you feel listening to “Long Summer Day”, I reckon it’s the most emotionally powerful song of the year.

  •   8. The Fratellis, Costello Music
            “Chelsea Dagger”, “Creepin’ Up The Backstairs”
  • I realize this one may be an unpopular choice, seeing as how The Fratellis aren’t ‘indie’ enough to be considered good by a lot of people. But those people are just silly. I triple dog dare them to find a better party album from 2006.

  •   7. The Bicycles, The Good, The Bad, And The Cuddly
            “Luck Of Love”, “Paris Be Mine”
  • I didn’t expect to fall so in love with The Bicycles, I just thought theirs would be a fun, charming album. It is, but if you give it a chance, it’ll dig it’s sweet, fluffy little claws right into you and won’t let go. It’s one of those rare albums that makes you feel so good about the world, you just want to play it again the minute it ends.

  •   6. Brakes, The Beatific Visions
            “If I Should Die Tonight”, “Spring Chicken”
  • Beatific Visions was my choice for Album Of The Month back in November, so you already know what I think about this one. They somehow manage to put everything you want from the world into one short album, it’s amazing.

  •   5. Tapes n Tapes, The Loon
            “Cowbell”, “Omaha”
  • In theory, a band’s debut album really shouldn’t be this good and interesting. I honestly couldn’t even describe them if I wanted to. Like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah last year, Tapes n Tapes rocked the world of (nearly) every music dork around by sounding completely different. Which is pretty much the highest complement I can give a band.

  •   4. Belle And Sebastian, The Life Pursuit
            “Sukie In The Graveyard”, “For The Price Of A Cup Of Tea”
  • I’ve quite liked Belle And Sebastian for a while now, but this is the album that made me really love them. They still sound like they always have, but hearing bits of glam and other funkiness creep into their sound made me very happy indeed.

  •   3. The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers
            “Broken Boy Soldier”, “Intimate Secretary”, “Call It A Day”
  • I spent most of the year expecting Broken Boy Soldiers to be at the top of this list, it’s that good. I’m a huge fan of just about everything that Jack White touches and when he teamed up with the lovely Brendan Benson, we all knew it would be awesome. This is even better than I’d hoped it would be. They’ve got some Rubber Soul and Magical Mystery Tour all wrapped up in Brendan Benson’s buttery voice, which fits perfectly with Jack White’s howl. It sounds like everything good from pop music history all at once.

  •   2. Cold War Kids, Robbers & Cowards
            “Hang Me Up To Dry”, “Saint John”, “Hospital Beds”
  • Cold War Kids’ Robbers & Cowards was the greatest surprise of the year. I was interested enough in them, based on the few mp3s I’d heard, to write about them for New Band Day back in May. But I have to admit I’d sort of forgotten about them until I saw their debut album was out. It immediately became the CD that never leaves my stereo – all funky, danceable gut-wrenching songs about drunks, death row, broken promises and loneliness.

  •   1. The Decemberists, The Crane Wife
  • The truth is, I would’ve been happy to have those last three in any order. They all could’ve been my Number One. But The Decemberists ended up making their way to the top by default when I tried to pick the three ‘essential tracks’. With a bit of struggle, I could just about manage to narrow The Crane Wife down to maybe 7 tracks (out of 10). And I always say: if you’re physically unable to pick out essential tracks, that’s the Album Of The Year. I’m sure we’ll gush about them some more when we share our top concerts of 2006 with you, but for now just know that they are one of the most original bands I’ve ever heard and that every album they release is better than the last.

    So there we have it. Another year of music come and gone. I’d be sad, but there’s new albums by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Shins out in a few weeks, so at least we have something to look forward to.