"Four Strong Winds" was originally written in 1961 by a Canadian
songwriter named Ian Tyson of the group The Brothers Four, but I'll
always consider Neil Young's version to be the definitive one.
This song holds a special place in my heart. It was what we used to sing at closing campfire at my childhood summer camp. At the end of the final session of every summer, all the campers and counselors would gather around a giant bonfire and sing together off crumpled or many-times-folded photo-copied lyric sheets. Everyone, from the oldest camp director to the youngest camper, would be weeping, cuddled up to their closest friends as the impending fall chill crept silent through Catskills air.
When I hear the first chords of this song, the memories I have of singing it summer and after summer all through my youth still instantly bring tears to my eyes. I have been programmed in a Pavlovian manner to respond to this melody with big, sloppy, nostalgic tears. I think I can safely say that this is the song I want played at my funeral. But not played. I want everyone to sing it. Take note, God forbid.
It seems a bit silly to say it, but this blog has been with me through thick and thin, through the fat and the lean of the past four years of my life. While I may have never met many of you who read it, I felt a genuine connection to you through our shared love of songwriting, music and the people who make it. While I know that it's time for the sun to set on One Sweet Song, I'll miss sharing songs with you.
Now, I want you to imagine that we are all huddled around a campfire together. Crickets are chipping softly in the background. Lightening bugs are twinkling in the trees. Someone is quietly strumming a single acoustic guitar. We put our arms around each others' shoulders and start singing:
Actually, it's for the same reason that I hestitate, that I post—this track is insanely catchy. The bass is great, the horns are great and the singer's got a good 90s sound going on, a little like The Innocence Mission, yes? And of course, there's the idea of friends, friends and new friends, friends, friends that are old friends...well, we can all relate, can't we?
What else has been happening? Well, I don't know. Reading, writing, making music at home and applying to lots of jobs. Getting better at living here. Not driving to LA. Making new friends and keeping the old, one is silver and the other's gold.
Oh, somewhat related, are you as excited about this as I am?
Lately, I've been waking up with this song in my head a lot. It's weird, because I haven't listened to this album since I was about 16 years old. And yet, there it is, each morning, almost perfectly formed in my memory. Even the words of the chorus, impeccably preserved as if in some kind of ancient teenage amber.
These particular mainstream pop hits are not shining examples of lyrical composition. But then again, which era's mainstream pop hits are really? OK, I can think of some. But they're not the majority by any means. Hey. You. Get offa my cloud.
That said, there's something about the pop music of the 90s that's so innocent and insular and sheltered. You can tell this is pre-9/11, but more than that, it's almost as if you can hear that soft, off-the-cuff, 90s way of working through distasteful, sad or emotional matters in these songs. It's like listening to the beginnings of the country trying to be PC or racially aware or maybe catching a faint hint of the dot com boom picking up. I close my eyes and see the "issues" as presented in My So-Called Life: fake edgy...which actually was real edgy in that time. Instead of actual homelessness, wouldn't it be better to just show Juliana Hatfield as a homessless angel? Great idea!
Aptly, this song actually references a number of mid-90s hits and at the same time manages to be just as earnest, retouched, saccharine and dated (not the Devil's Haircut was ever really any of these things, but Beck was always kind of an exception to that rule, probably on account of his Scientologist Fluxus roots).
Anyway, innocent and dated as it is, I still love this fucking song. It brings me back to a precise moment, sitting in the back seat of my parent's car listening to this album on my Discman. That's right, DISCMAN.
I also can't help but wonder if waking up every morning with this in my head is supposed to mean something. Maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me to be more earnest? Or to embrace the trend and go back to the 90s? To feel entitled and stupid and pure? To dress in floral prints?
An album I've been really loving lately is the new one by The War on Drugs. Although it sounds more like a Kurt Vile album than any previous release from the band (despite the absence of actual Kurt Vile from the band). I've still found a different, amorous spot in my heart for it. Half Dylan, half Springsteen: the vocal sound and lyrical themes are familiar, set against music that's more modern.
There are a lot of standout tracks on Slave Ambient, but the first one continues to pull at me extra hard. It's so sad and lonely, outcast and downtrodden. I imagine Adam Granduciel singing the song directly to his own feet. At this moment, there's something I can really identify with about that.
I drive by the behemoth factories and oil rigs on the beaches of Southern California, and there's something not so different from that old "New Jersey Turnpike/riding on a wet night/'neath the refinery's glow" vibe. It's all America after all, isn't it?
Have you heard of Brit School, the Croydon arts & tech. high school that's churning out many of today's most talented musicians? I stumbled upon it last night, after a pal posted the following song on FB. I have decided to go back in time and redo high school there. Is that something we can make happen?
Already having gone through two band names (he now performs as Kid Krule), Archy Marshall aka Zoo Kid was born in, get this, 1994! Can you believe that small teenager is coming at us with this voice and these lyrics and that guitar tone? "16 is the new 21," someone on the FB comment chain posted. Someone else chimed in with, "He sounds like he's been married 4 times..." Maybe the kids aren't actually getting younger after all.
The song is stunning, the video seductively simple:
I've been feeling pretty conflicted lately. On one hand, in the words of the great Jackson Browne, "All good things gotta come to an end." On the other, in the words of my constantly approximating generation, "All good things kind of like might have to come to an end, sorta."
Me: You should stop writing OSS. You haven't even posted for over a month. Me: Shutup. No. I love OSS. Me: Then why have you abandoned it? Me: I guess I just haven't really felt super motivated to write there for a while. I just got married! I'm focused on other things...like making money and creating new kinds of frozen desserts. Me: Total sell out. You are no longer cool. Me: I am definitely still cool. Me: You're only resistant to shuttering OSS because you know you'll no longer be able to say that you write a music blog at parties. Me: That is NOT true. I can stop whenever I want to. Me: Whatever. It's not even relevant anymore anyway. Look at the new world we're living in. Spotify. Turntable. Nobody reads music blogs anymore, least of all your weird ramblings about weird shit. And you don't even listen to punk rock anymore. Me: No way! I'm still totally relevant. And I do too listen to punk rock! Me: Do not! Me: Do too! Me: Do not! Me: Shut up! Me: No, you shut up!
As you can see, this was all very distressing. I was eager to compromise with myself and settle the thing once and for all. So this is what we...I mean I...came up with:
I am not killing OSS. But I am moving it to a greener pasture. No more daily posts, but hey, that hasn't been true in months anyway. Instead, I'll occasionally post links or videos for songs that I think are relevant or just awesome. And if you're still here reading, I'll still be here once-in-a while, writing. And if you're just looking for something to listen to, in between the static of the post web.0 world of Spotifies and Rdios and other music sites that have unpronounceable names, I'll still be here posting jams, a mere human being, capable of arguing with myself.
On another note, did you guys see this? Some good stuff there.
Of course, this song is still 100% relevant. Maybe now more than any other time in the last few decades or so:
I am getting married in one month minus one day. At this moment, my life roughly breaks down into these percentages:
30%: Doing Wedding Shit/Obsessing About Doing Wedding Shit/Not Sleeping While Thinking About Wedding 29%: Sleeping 26%: Day Job 6%: Eating 4%: Playing Music 3%: Obsessing in a Debilitating Way About Everything Else I Need to Get Done 2%: Exercising
Not that I'm losing it or anything. Not losing it. I am not losing it.
On another note, those glorious days of summer have reached their peak and are now descending, as they do each year, into earlier and earlier darkness. It's not over yet, but the time has come where we remember that the end is near. Not that that means anything here in California, where I see girls walking city streets in bikinis and cover-ups at all times, regardless of temperature or season (on cooler days, these outfits are often, curiously, paired with Uggs).
This song has been on heavy rotation on KCRW. I think it serves as a good reminder to capture as much of that late summer light as possible.
From what I can tell, LA's own Fool's Gold sound like what Vampire Weekend would sound like if they were a little less lame and a little more experimental from time to time. African-inspired guitar licks paired with indie rock guitar tone. Big hooks and muddy vocals. Feeling weird and confused on a bright, sunny day.
Apologies for the fact that this track cuts off. This album isn't out yet. But I'm sure you'll want to buy it when it comes out, which you can do here. Coincidentally, these guys play LA for FYF Fest, which just happens to be…you guessed it…the day of my wedding.
Hello and good Tuesday to you. It seems like we all survived the great 405 shutdown of 2011. I spent the weekend mixing bizness with wedding planning, as I so often do these days. Six weeks and counting…wish me luck.
Ethan was playing me this new tUnE-YarDs record when he was here visiting a few months ago. I was liking it, but didn't get hooked in a way that made me want to seek it out immediately. In these situations, I usually add the band name to the list of band names I keep in my actual day planner book (because I am an actual dinosaur).
FF to now. This video's been popping up on various feeds (the face, the plus). And honestly, it's amazing. It's a really beautiful video that adds a lot to the song. It's almost like I couldn't fully listen to tUnE-YarDs until I saw this video, which is a weird thing to say, I know, because shouldn't the music stand on its own? The thing is, it totally does. It's just that, in this case, for me, it needed a little kickstart or something.
The sound sets are good. The bass line delivers. The build is a well-crafted mix of Animal Collective and Afrobeat. The lyrics are great. But what's the best? Merrill Garbus's voice, which is sometimes growling (ala Yaz's Alison Moyet), sometimes howling, sometimes pretty and always SO for real. Girl means it. We feel it. And isn't that the point?
tYs hits LA on 11/2. I will be there.
Here are two videos of the song, one official, one live:
Continuing in yesterday's tradition of bands with ampersands, I've been hearing about Amadou & Mariam for a while now. Although the duo's been performing since the 70s, this is really the first song I've heard from them that truly grabbed me. The song's obviously got a political bent, which does a lot to give it some serious soul (from my now-limited understanding of the French language, I would say the song is focused on corrupt political leadership). That said, it's the use of varied soundscapes that really grabbed my attention.
Amadou & Mariam met at Mali's Institute for the Young Blind, married, and have been playing music, often described as "afro-blues" or "Malian blues," ever since. They've also supported acts as (weirdly) diverse as Blur, Scissor Sisters, U2 and Coldplay.
This jam is from their 2008 album Welcome to Mali.
Have you ever noticed how many Iron & Wine songs are about death? I mean, honestly guys, it's a lot. Here are three of my favorites. The first two are from the fantastic album Our Endless Numbered Days (even the title is about death) and the last one (which is maybe only about death in the abstract) is from the new(ish) Walking Far From Home single (thanks, Tash).
Some artists just write songs that are so inherently emotional. The drama of the music and the sentimental nature of the lyrics in all three of these songs can bring me to tears. And I'm not always sure why it is that I'm crying. Maybe it's just because even though our days can feel endless, we know deep down that they are numbered. We are mortal. We are fragile. We are vulnerable. Samuel Beam is just reminding us.
She says, if I leave before you, darlin, Don't you waste me in the ground. I'll lay smiling like our sleeping children. One of us will die inside these arms, Eyes wide open, Naked as we came. One will spread our ashes round the yard.
Dear old friend and general mountain-of-a-man Michael Beauchamp's new(est) band Red Tail Ring (you may remember their introduction here) recently released a two-disc set of songs, Middlewest Chant (mostly originals) and Mountain Shout (hardcore trad). You probably just realized that I was looking for an excuse to actually pair the word "hardcore" with "trad." Ok, you're right.
I'm really enjoying both discs for different reasons.
The highlights of Mountain Shout are the incredible arrangements, dark takes on the classics and insanely amazing feats of performance by both Michael and his partner in crime, Laurel Premo. Speaking of excellent driving music (see: yesterday), "Talk About Suffering/Going to Cairo" is the absolute perfect jam for that moment when you break out of traffic and start speeding at a rate that your mother would probably...ahem...not care to hear about on this blog. There's an outlaw feeling to the songs on Mountain Shout and, despite the concrete futuristic dystopia-ness of the the southbound 405, I can almost imagine that I am a gold prospector, out to seek my fortune...or at very least, part of a maniacal Bonnie and Clyde-type duo, on my way to rob a bank.
Middlewest Chant has some beautiful original tunes. The ones I find most resonance with are the solem, slow ones. "Skyway" is a classic Beauchamp tune, one that reminds me of more innocent times with my old friend and songwriting partner. It's sad and poetic and resigned and it makes your heart ache in a way that only he can.
Wow. Between now and last we spoke, I rode some roller coasters and turned 28. Well, that wasn’t all…but those are the highlights.
I’ve also become something of a road warrior, making the 45-mile-per-way quest from Costa Mesa to Los Angeles each day for work. Intense commute times are particularly fertile ground for album obsession and that is exactly what has happened here.
I heard this song while listening to KCRW (another maintaining-sanity-whilst-driving mainstay). At first, I didn’t think much of it. The awkward lyrics were kind of a turn off…but then, a few hours passed and I found that I still had it in my head. I looked it up and found that it was by a band called Midlake from an album called The Trials of Van Occupanther.
The sounds and structures of the songs on this collection conjure a pleasant mash of a few bands I never exactly got hooked on (Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull,Jackson Browne) and then re-contextualizes in a way that I love. Of course, all with a dash of Radiohead. Radiohead: the spice of life?
I really hope you love this as much as me. But if you don't, that's ok.
Guys, I am just going to stop making promises about post frequency/quantity/etc. We both know I can't keep them. With the moving and the wedding planning and the new (sort of demanding) job, I'm like a deadbeat dad with a million shitty excuses. Not cool. So from now on, you'll hear from me when you hear from me. The only thing I can completely guarantee is that the jams will stay totally real and top notch. Quality, not quantity, amiright?
I've hung out with Anni Rossi a handful of entertaining times. We are strictly the kind of acquaintances who make plans to hang out when we see each other without following through on them. Honestly though, sometimes these are totally awesome relationships, I think. It's always good to run into these folks at shows/on the street/whatever and of course you do legitimately want to hang out, but you get busy, they get busy, you move across the country...you know how it goes.
Regardless, Anni is rad and her music is, as evidenced by the track below, also rad. This recording is super rich. The tones of all the string instruments are impeccable. The arrangement, especially with respect to the use of rhythm, manages to be interesting, original and catchy all at once. Not an easy feat. Have I mentioned that the lyrics are kind of heartbreaking (in case you missed them)? Have we all not been there?
Buy Heavy Meadow, the album from whence this came, here.
I'm not sure how this one slipped through the OSS cracks, but this song was IT right around when I was leaving NYC. I first heard it while driving to a gig at Party Xpo in Bushwick with Karl and Patrice. Everyone knows that the only station to listen to when driving to shows is Hot 97. I suppose I'll have to find a West Coast replacement soon.
The second the song came on we were fucking entranced. Oh, that glorious synth line. Oh, that incredible flow. Oh, that hilarious line about shoe-i-cide. Oh, Fabolous, be still my heart. You truly are fabolous.
From that tender moment, this song became a staple at basement dance parties and divey bars with those shitty digital jukeboxes. People flocked to dance to it at the final 50/50 show. I also unabashedly still listen to it when I get homesick for NYC.
Let me note here that even a cursory read of the lyrics reveals a number of things I find generally deplorable ie. this is not a feminist-friendly anti-capitalist rhyme, if you know what I'm saying. Still, let's just try to let that be what it is and love it for how catchy and clever certain lines are. OK?
OK, dudes--you have to forgive me. This is a TOTAL guilty pleasure situation, but I just can't get the sample from this song out of my head. One big room! Full of bad bitches!
I will freely admit that I am having some difficultly fully getting my head around Oakland rapper/phenomenon/thing Kreayshawn, although I do have plenty of speculative hypotheses. One thing I know for sure is that there's almost nothing I could say that this video couldn't. Thus:
I can't thank my good pal Tash enough for introducing me to this amazing set of comps, LA Burnout and LA Burnout 2. I've become completely addicted to these catchy, somewhat forgotten odes to the city of angels.
These jams are teaching me that I might have gotten it wrong. When I first got here, I was convinced that LA had no soul. Now I think that LA does in fact have a soul. It may be a sleazy, washed-out, drug-addled, sun-baked soul, but it's a soul, nonetheless. I also find it amusing that the songs on these comps fall into two major categories:
1. I love LA. It's so pretty and sunny. I left New York City, which is a mean town, and came here to live in a canyon. Ohhh, flowers. 2. I hate LA. It's a moral cesspit filled with fake people. And an earthquake is going to destroy us all any minute now.
There's also a little bit of overlap, if you can believe it. Of course, I tend to fall more into the second camp, although I tend to fall into the second camp in general. Maybe that's why I can't stop playing this particular song. Who ever thought I'd like a Monkey? Clearly, Dolenz was the coolest Monkey. He played Arrow in the stage production Harry Nilsson's The Point! in London. WHAT?! I didn't even know there WAS a stage production. I wish someone would bring that back.
ANYway, love it or hate it, LA has inspired some awesome jams. Coming back from a weekend trip to Mpls yesterday, I realized something had changed about how I viewed the city. As the plane touched down in LAX, I actually felt relieved. It might not ever be home, but it is where I live right now, sleazy soul and all.
A situation came up tonight that reminded me of this song. In fact, it's probably a bad sign that there are a few ongoing situations in the general vicinity of my life that correlate well to this song. Of course, it would be incriminating for me to tell you who "daddy" is (hint: not my dad) and what the "Thunderbird" is, but I will say that in at least one of the aforementioned scenarios, I may be referring to an actual car.
Is it just me or does, "Your dad took your car away? It's ok. I'll take care of you now..." feel closely related to the ownership/dependancy that transfers from father to son-in-law in traditional ideas about marriage? I'm not even going to touch the extreme patriarchal subcontext of this song with a ten foot pole of post-wave feminist criticism . It was a different time. But let's just say this: girl was not going to work and save her money so she could buy her own T-bird. Girl was just gonna let Boyfriend drive her around and take her out to burgers. Unrelated Sidenote: I imagine them to be In 'N' Out Burgers. Thoughts?
Apparently this song was based on a true story. From Wikipedia:
The song was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love about Shirley England, the daughter of the owner of radio station KNAK in Salt Lake City, Utah (not to be confused with the call letters now assigned to a station in Delta, Utah) where she worked as a teenager. She borrowed her father's Ford Thunderbird to go study at the library. Instead of driving to the library, she ended up at a hamburger stand. When her father found out, he took the car away. The next day she was at the radio station complaining about it to the staff while The Beach Boys were visiting and they were inspired to write this song.
On a lighter note, I think this may actually be one of my favorite Beach Boys songs. That killer Chuck Berry homage riff at the beginning. Makes me want to surf on a golden wave of rock n roll.
Well, the girls can't stand her, cause she walks and looks and drives like an ace, now. She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race, now. A lot of guys try to catch her, but she leads them on a wild goose chase, now. And she'll have fun, fun, fun til her daddy takes the T-bird away.
OK, so I know I'm a few days late on this...ok...a week and a half. But I really wanted to post this song in honor of Easter. Because I think we all deserve a new Jesus at least once a year, regardless of our religious upbringings/beliefs.
As a person of Catholic and Jewish lineage, I have the maximum amount of guilt humanly possible encoded into my DNA. This is why one year I gave up guilt for lent. This year though, much like this Jesus post, I totally messed up my give-up-something-for-lent timing. Anika and I are currently not eating processed sugar, which is proving to be...let's just say...rough.
Seriously, did you know that there's sugar in EVERYTHING? I mean everything. Yogurt? Sugar. Tomato sauce? Sugar. All breakfast cereals besides Shredded Wheat? Sugar.
Back to Jesus, this song is about...well...it's about getting a new Jesus. Joy Zipper is a sweet little couple band from The Island. I guess someone compared their songs to a candy apple with a razor blade inside, which seems about right to me. Actually, most of my favorite music falls into this variety, or something like it. If it's not a candy apple/razor blade then it's a something else with a something else inside. Catch my drift?
Anyway, now I've waited so long to post this that another holiday has eclipsed the holiday about which I've been writing. Thanks, Cinco De Mayo. I hope you have fun drinking Coronas and eating Churros, two things I can't have due to obvious sugar content.
This is not a Monday, it's a volcano: Monday Mail What is Monday Mail?
Yesterday's news provided one of those moments. You know, the kind where you used to call up your friends, but now you just watch your FB/Twitter feeds for clever things people are posting online? There were links to Al-Jazeera live feeds, NYT articles, Family Guy clips, Star Wars references, declarations of general anxiety about killing anyone for any reason, even an Obama macro that featured the kind of badassness that we haven't seen since the 2008 Election. I, myself, posted this: "So this is like that part in Lost when the alternate reality rejoins the actual reality?" Nobody liked it. Actually, one severely awesome Sarah G. liked it. But nobody else. Thanks, Sarah, for saving my FB pride.
I'm not going to go into the cliche that is, "let's think back to 10 years ago and reprocess," because the fact of the matter is, just cause we killed some guy doesn't mean we can close the Pandora's box that is terrorism. It also doesn't mean we can undue the mortgage crisis or the credit crisis or the Iraq War or the Afghanistan War or the Japanese nuclear disaster or Katrina or any of the other dozens of truly shitty things that have happened between 2001 and 2000now. There are still people signing up to be Scientologists and dedicating their lives to actualizing The Singularity. What's done is done and the world is weird. I still feel like we're in a particularly precarious place both culturally and environmentally.
A few months ago, Justin, a member of Eureka Birds, sent me a new EP along with a shoutout:
Even though we're from Baltimore, we recorded the whole thing with production help from Tyler of Margot and the Nuclear so and so's out in Indiana.
This particular song, which describes various ways the world might end (volcanoes, rogue waves, earthquakes, tornadoes, environmental disaster) reminds us that we probably won't know what's going on when the big one blows. So let's all celebrate that we managed to find and kill OBL before the 10 year anniversary of 9-11 (though we still haven't managed to rebuild WTC)...then, let's not forget that some guy hiding out in a million dollar house in the suburbs of Islamabad isn't our only problem.
Man, I am having a hard time getting going on today. Chalk it up to a too-late bedtime last night or a weird dream or this strange three-day stretch of overcast weather we're having in LA...who knows? I just can't seem to wake up or do anything truly productive.
This jangley baby about doing nothing always seems to help a little. I first got into this song, appropriately, in college where I often was doing a lot of nothing. Or at least it felt like that sometimes. I had to review this album for The Michigan Daily. These articles always tended to be butchered in ways that I could never understand by editors (ie. weird cuts that didn't make sense or changing my "disc" to "disk"...come on, guys). What wasn't fucked up by the higher-ups was a testament to my own limited adolescent writing abilities.
Still, I basically stand by this review. The best thing about Of Montreal is that they don't take themselves too seriously. We should probably all try to follow their advice, at least from time to time..
I've been thinking a lot lately about technology. And the endtimes. Haven't we all?
I've especially been thinking about how in all the old Sci Fi movies and tv shows, everyone had some kind of personal communication device. These sleek little gadgets are not unlike the actual gadgets we have today. In fact, it seems like the modern smartphone is practically modeled on something imagined as "the future" and thrown onto the props table.
Here's where I think this gets really funny: whether it's a Communicator Pin or a more complicated device that can pull information out of the air, characters on these fictional imaginings of the future never overuse their gadgets. Sure, if Character A needs to get in touch with Character B, they call. If a space explorer needs some important information on the quick, they'll use their retro equivalent of Google, get the facts and get out. Texting and email never got written into the script. Sci Fi didn't think to account for Facebook and Foursquare and Twitter and Blogs and Social Media, which is hilarious, really. If we were so interested in getting these magical little gadgets in the first place, why wouldn't we have trouble ungluing our eyes/fingers from them once we got them? If these mind-blowing little guys open up all kinds of new ways to interact socially and gather obscure information, why wouldn't we treat them like any new toy? Why wouldn't we simply move all of our human ways of being into the technological realm, instead of letting the technology be a helpful addition to our daily lives in reality? Sci Fi fail.
Which brings me to the endtimes...
I don't know about you guys, but I feel like I can barely even remember anything anymore, having outsourced all my information to the long-term receptacles of the web. Shit, guys. AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO FEELS LIKE THIS?
But, I also don't want you to take away Angry Birds.
This song is about the apocalypse. It comes complete with a scary theremin, analog synth and eerie lyrics, mainly because of how relatable they are to right now.
Also, I've exhausted myself with this technology rant, but you should really know more about Young Marble Giants. There, I saved you the search.
Earth Girl Helen Brown's biography reads like a Lifetime made-for-tv movie waiting to happen. Don't believe me? Check out this note from Tyler at Banter:
Helen Brown was born in Vancouver, Canada, but raised in an Athens, Georgia-based religious cult, and was blinded in one eye from a childhood baseball injury. As an adult, she dropped out of Evergreen and traveled the country for a while as a nomadic psychedelic folksinger, before forming her first band One Eyed Tramps. For years, she lived alone in a mountaintop in southern Alaska, where she befriended a Cherokee Shaman (later revealed as a fake) who encouraged her to pursue a frustrating academic career. Rampant drug use, frequent fainting on stage, and occasional self-inflicted knife wounds on stage led to more interest in her stage antics than her music. However, a few sides did emerge in the late ’90s (recording dates unknown), which feature a unique mix of country, girl group, R&B, and ghoulishness. Crude and amateurish at best, these recordings are appreciated for their sincerity and intensity of feeling.
Earth Girl Helen Brown comes to us from Sonny Smith's (Sonny & the Sunsets) uber-ambitious 100 Records project.
If it seems like something is shady about all this, it's because it is. Earth Girl Helen Brown is actually a fake band brought to life as part of Sonny Smith's (of Sonny and The Sunets) 100 Records project. More on Smith and his own band at a later date. From Pitchfork:
He made up names and song titles for 100 fictitious bands, then sent them out to 100 different visual artists, who made up fake record covers for all the fake artists. Then Smith recorded 200 different songs (A-sides and B-sides) for each of these fake artists. Which is nuts.
This sounds exactly how you'd think: two parts Grace Slick, one part The Mamas and The Papas, one part subdued Aretha. The vibe is psychedelic cultish spooky with a sprinkle of backwoodsy mountain weirdness. Tape hiss and analog fuzz run alongside the recording as a constant backdrop to the melody. Weird as this hoax/art project might be, this turned out mighty fine. So fine, in fact, that the real players behind EGHB, Smith and Heidi Alexander of the Sandwitches, decided to live on as an actual group. This song, from their first EP Story of an Earth Girl, was released about a month ago. Learn more here.
Wow, where does the time go? Mine went to New York for the week to hang out with good friends, take care of wedding loose-ends and eat/drink my way through the city.
Just before I left, I had the pleasure of attending a new friend's album release show at the lovely Hotel Cafe in Hollywood.
You guys know that I have the tendency to get down on LA. More and more, I'm feeling like my fate is sealed. I may just not be a "Southern California person," whatever that means. And yet, I've really met some amazing, smart, talented people in the two short months I've been here. Bryan Master is, without a doubt, one of them.
Bryan just released a beautiful, sometimes twangy, sometimes a little ambient record. The songs have big, strong hooks that pull you right along. The production is immaculate--at times a little cleaner than my ideal--but it really works with the way the songs build and disintegrate.
Here, harmonies fall right in over the perfect crackle of heavy tremolo, which at first makes me wonder if I'm about to hear the voice of Lucinda Williams. Instead Master is joined by an old favorite, Liz Phair, sounding weirdly...is that sweet? Yes, I think it's sweet.
The whole album is worth checking out. Get more info here.
I really cannot tell you what made this song pop into my head recently, but once it got there it was hard to make it leave.
Here, Mississippi John Hurt teaches us how to spell "Chicken" and not the state for which he is named, bane of grade school spelling tests from coast to American coast.
Hurt, whose real name was John Smith Hurt and who definitely is from Mississippi (in fact, he lived and died in Mississippi), was a sharecropper by occupation, in addition to a blues singer. Despite his obvious brilliance, his music was a commercial failure for much of his life. Of course, as is so often the case, his posthumous influence has spanned several music genres including blues, country, bluegrass, folk and contemporary rock and roll.
Here is a short, simple ode to a bird we all know and love:
Oh, chicken, chicken, you can't roost too high for me. Oh, chicken, chicken, come on out of that tree. Oh, chicken, chicken, chicken, you can't roost too high for me. C is the way it begins. H, the next letter then, I am the third. C, what a seasonly bird. K is to fill him in. E, I'm near the end. C-H-I-C-K-E-N, That's the way you spell chicken.
Life can try but the music keeps us afloat: Monday Mail What is Monday Mail?
I like a good story, which is one of the reasons I immediately clicked through after Hank from Grip Tapes sent me this description, written by one of the band's members:
ABOUT GROSS GHOST:
Chapter 1: EBONY & IVORY I used to have bands play at this house I lived at with some crust freaks a couple of years ago. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes garbage, these shows attracted randoms from all over. I first met Tre when his friends gave me their band's demo at one of these parties and I checked it out. The production was incredible. I started hanging out with Tre and he soon became a fixture around our house shows, always stealing my booze and falling asleep in really awkward places/positions. He would usually wake up around dawn and kind of stumble around the kitchen of our house, lurking for food. I saw him doing this once and said to myself, "That guy looks dead. A real gross ghost. We should start a band together."
Chapter 2: TROUBLE IN PARADISE We started messing around with stoned jams in the basement and eventually he moved in. Later, we got evicted. Never date an arsonist. Tre and I ended up living out in the sticks, far away from our previous worlds. Our nights consisted of a tape machine and alcohol. It was cathartic, but chaos quickly turns to boredom if it happens all the time. The sense of trying to capture the fleeting moments of our minds and indiscretions from nights previous had been preserved. But the cabin fever had gotten to us and we went our own ways. We still passed demos to each other and the sounds began to mutate into something else.
Chapter 3: MENTAL RADIO Lately, a series of comic tragedies mixed with a dash of lethargy has been threatening to knock us down. Life can try but the music keep us afloat. We are inspired by the highs and lows we see on the day to day. Our lives are how you survive when you're waiting for bigger, better, stranger, more exciting things to happen. You have to find a nice place to go, wherever it is, to find a balance. Gross Ghost is our escape.
Not sure what else to say about this, except that it carries a bit of that raw weirdness of some of the best Elephant 6 offerings along with a bit more of what I think is levity. For that alone, it's worth a spin.
Interested in advertising with One Sweet Song?
Email for information and rates.
justonesweetsong [at] gmail [dot] com
What's the Deal?
One Sweet Song is a music blog written by Gina Pensiero, of band Palmyra.
High quality and fully eclectic, this music-blog-as-radio-station doesn't get down with payola and was started as a means to dish up One Sweet Song per business day. Life got a little crazy, which means posts got a little more sporadic, but we're sticking with the magical one song/post formula.
No fuss. No bullshit. Just one sweet song.
You'll also get context--cultural and personal--around why the song is so rad. Editorials are kept short and sweet (no pun intended).
Learn bits of music trivia. Hear funny stories. Discover sweet new jams. Rediscover older jams you forgot you loved.
Songs will run the gamut of genres. One day, it's indie pop, the next, electronic. Hip hop, post punk, tropicalia, indie rock, riotgrrrl, lo fi, dance punk, folk; 33s, 45s and 78s from the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and TODAY--the possiblities are endless. Each song is a little surprise wrapped in digital information. Anything could happen.
The views expressed on this website/weblog are mine alone and do not reflect the views of my employer. Wahn Wahn.
sr_widget_id = 1000000212272;
sr_widget_width = 160;
sr_widget_height = 300;
All files posted on OSS are intended only for sampling. The only way artists get paid and indie labels survive is if you go buy their music. Please do that. If your song/the song of someone you represent is up and you don't want it to be, please let me know and I will remove it immediately.
I'm open to submissions, but I get A LOT. Please don't be mad at me when I don't write back immediately. I am not a heartless bastard.
When submitting to OSS, please send me a single. I love albums. I think albums are the shit. I'm sure your album is awesome. But this blog is about songs, so please just send me one of those. Mp3 attachments or links are fine. No downloadable single means I won't hear your music.