I remember distinctly how I first discovered Jag Star. I was snooping around on eMusic for new bands and was using the old triangulation method – who sounds like band X? One of my favorite bands is VAST, and Jag Star turned up as a “Similar Artist.”
That was both a great moment and a confusing one. On the one hand, I immediately liked Jag Star’s music. I’ve long loved Power Pop, and while you wouldn’t exactly slot Jag Star in with other bands in the contemporary disciples of The Beatles / Raspberries / Who / Big Star / Badfinger Pop Underground scene, they write great hooks, play really well and aren’t at all afraid to turn up the volume. Not only that, they’re doing it on their terms, the establishment and labels be damned.
On the other hand, I can’t for the life of me figure out how they got into the “Sounds Like VAST” queue. Read more
Lilac, lovelace / remind me of / your true grace
About four years ago I tripped across a band called The Lost Patrol. Since then I’ve noted their work a number of times: they made my best CDs for 2007 and 2008 reviews; their music served as a key element in a piece on the nonlinearity of influence; and they were the subject of a TunesDay post on the band’s “epic retro-futurism.”
Their lead singer when I found them was one Danielle Kimak Stauss, a woman whose hypnotic vocals haunted Steven Masucci’s vast, empty musical landscapes with an ice-cold passion that bordered on the transcendent. After 2007’s superb Launch & Landing Stauss and the band parted ways, and while LP has produced two wonderful CDs in the interim (featuring new singer Mollie Israel), Danielle was nowhere to be heard. Read more
2009 was arguably the best year for new music since 1979, and that’s saying a lot, even if I’m wrong. For whatever reason, this year was just packed with incredibly great CDs from bands we knew were great, bands we didn’t know were this good, bands we hadn’t heard from in a long time and bands we’d never heard of, period. The result – it was all I could do to keep up, and I fully expect to spend the next couple of years tripping over even more awesome releases from 2009 that I missed this year. So in advance, apologies to those artists I didn’t find my way to in 2k9.
So here’s the format. There are usually three tiers: Gold LP, Platinum LP and CD of the Year. (The LP is taken from my personal site, Lullaby Pit, which is where this annual tradition started several years ago. And the fact that albums used to be LPs. Get it?) This year the glut of outstanding CDs have necessitated the addition of a new level – SuperPlatinum – because a few of those platinum discs are a notch above the rest. Over the next few days, then, the Scholars & Rogues/Lullaby Pit Best CDs of 2009 will be rolled out in four installments.
Up first, in roughly alphabetical order… Read more
The results of last week’s Name Those Bands contest are in. In first place we have … a disqualification, sorta. Our friend Ubertramp logged in with an impressive 47 of 53. Seriously, that’s pretty damned good. But he has disqualified himself because I’m the one who turned him onto most of these outstanding artists and he felt like he might as well be cheating under the circumstances.
Wow – sportsmanship. What a concept.
So our next highest scorer, and the official winner, is … Read more
If you pay attention to my music entries, you may have noticed a recurrent theme. It seems a lot of the bands I hear these days, many of which I really like, remind me of bands from the past. Like The Mary Onettes:
I recently tripped across one such example, Sweden’s The Mary Onettes. They can’t seem to make up their minds whether they want to be The Church, Echo & the Bunnymen, or maybe something along the Joy Division/New Order continuum.
And The Flaws:
In a nutshell, The Flaws are [Joy Division] meets The Killers with a smattering of Johnny Marr. Read more
Here’s how the blurb at CD Baby puts it:
Cinematic ethereal, spaghetti western flavored retro-futuristic music with powerful female vocals. // A sweeping, cinematic, wide-screen journey that combines ethereal sound scapes with surf-tinged guitar. Perfect for those late night rides across the desert with the top down.
Uniquely original retro-futurism.
Yeah, that’s fair. But there’s a lot more to say about The Lost Patrol and their new CD, Midnight Matinee, which has quickly vaulted onto my list of likely 2008 platinum awards. Read more
“I’m interested in what motivates you, and how you understand the world.” He glanced sideways at her. “Rausch tells me you’ve written about music.”
“Sixties garage bands. I started writing about them when I was still in the Curfew.””Were they an inspiration?”
She was watching a fourteen-inch display on the Maybach’s dash, the red cursor that was the car proceeding along the green line that was Sunset. She looked up at him. “Not in any linear way, musically. They were my favorite bands. Are,” she corrected herself.
– William Gibson, Spook Country
I’ve always been intrigued by the curious dynamic of influence. Read more
Welcome back to part two of our annual music wrap-up. Today we award the Platinum LPs, given for superior achievement. (If you missed part one, click here to review the Gold LP winners, updated to include three inadvertent omissions.) These appear in no particular order.
The Birthday Massacre: Walking with Strangers
Torontoâ€™s The Birthday Massacre is a study in contradictions. Read more
One of the reasons our mission here at S&R is as broad as it is – our writers address cultural forms like literature and popular music as well as the hardball political issues that directly shape our public lives – emerges in part from my own feeling that too much politics is tough on the soul. It’s necessary, of course, and eminently worthy, but even the good fight leaves an essential part of me hollow. Dry. Barren. So I seek balance between mind and spirit and try to seduce those around me into doing the same.
I’ve been doing a lot of ranting lately about politics and policy, so the part of me that’s been edging toward empty was feeling tremendous anticipation for last night’s Boulder tour stop by VAST. Read more