Song of the day: Sunshine Highway – "Baby Be Good"

January 31, 2010

And the requests continue!

I was recently contacted by a chap called Marc who’s the chief songwriter/main performer/head honcho of Sunrise Highway, a US band I’d never heard of before. (How come there are so many bands I’ve never heard of before? I really need to get out more…)

Marc asked me to perform my solemn duty* and have a listen to the band’s music. My response was a definite “A-OK, baby.” So Marc sent me some songs.

Well, I’ve spent some time with the songs that Marc sent, and I can safely say this: if you want to listen to them you’ll need to put on sunglasses first. This music is so bright, and the songs so dazzling, that it won’t matter what time of the day, week or year you play it – when you play it, it’ll be summer. You may also find yourself squinting while the music’s playing and wondering if you turned on too many lights where you are. (If you live on the beach, however, then you won’t notice much difference.)

The music of Sunrise Highway sounds to me as if it lives in the world of 70’s AM radio – a world full of sunny tunes, sunny harmonies, and just a few more sunny harmonies thrown in for good measure.

The first song I’ll play you is “Baby Be Good.” It’s as good an introduction to Sunrise Highway’s music as any of the other tracks Marc sent me:

Sunrise Highway – “Baby Be Good” (2010)

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And here are three more of ’em:

Sunrise Highway – “Magic” (2010)

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Sunrise Highway – “Roundabout” (2010)

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Sunrise Highway – “Life On Mars” (2010)

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I have to say that I think Marc is a brave man naming those songs “Magic,” “Roundabout,” and especially “Life On Mars” – all names of songs I’ve adored for years. That’s gutsy.

If you’re so inclined (and you may very well be after listening to those songs), you can buy the Sunrise Highway album from a variety of places:

Buy from CD Baby
Buy from Kool Kat Music
Buy from Not Lame

You can also buy it digitally from DigStation or that thing called iTunes, but I don’t recommend it.

(Don’t tell Marc, but I’ve never liked the idea of buying downloads. When you buy a CD, you end up with a round, shiny, plastic-and-aluminium thing and a little booklet to hold and look at. You also have the excitement of waiting eagerly by the letterbox so that when the CD does arrive you can gleefully rip open the packaging and marvel at that round, shiny plastic-and-aluminium thing you’re holding. Oh, and with the packaging itself there’s the possibility of getting bubblewrap you can pop. And, much later, when you’ve completely forgotten about buying it, you might find yourself one day walking past it on the CD shelf, spot it in the corner of your eye, smile and say to yourself, “Oh yeah, now I remember – I bought that.” You don’t get any of that when you pay for a download. All you get is a new filename in your media player. How anticlimactic…)

Sunrise Highway on MySpace

(*I must admit that Marc didn’t use those exact words. Actually, I don’t know of anyone who uses the phrase “solemn duty” nowadays.)

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Song of the day: Crowded House – "Locked Out"

January 30, 2010

Here’s Crowded House with one of their friskier songs:

Crowded House – “Locked Out (1993)

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Live

Crowded House official website


Song of the day: Johnny Young and Kompany – "Step Back"

January 29, 2010

It’s time to get groovy, so “Step Back” baby!

Johnny Young and Kompany – “Step Back” (1966)

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Fabulous.

“Step Back” was written by The EasybeatsStevie Wright and George Young – and sounds like it (I can easily picture The Easybeats playing it.)

As a bonus, here’s the equally fabulous B-side, “Cara-Lyn”:

Johnny Young and Kompany – “Cara-Lyn” (1966)

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Oh, before this posts ends I just wanted to let you know that the original version of “Cara-Lin” (spelled with an “i”) is by a band called The Strangeloves who, according to PopArchives, were “a New York band who pretended to be from outback Australia.”

No, I don’t know why either.


Song of the day: Choirboys – "Empire"

January 28, 2010

Here are the Choirboys with some good old-fashioned 80’s Stadium Rock:

Choirboys – “Empire” (1991)

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Just between you and me, I reckon that track wouldn’t have been out of place on a Cheap Trick album.


Song of the day: Research Turtles – "Let’s Get Carried Away"

January 27, 2010

I tell ya, this blogging caper sure can be surprising at times.

Not only was I emailed out of the blue by Couple, a Malaysian power pop band I’d never heard of before (see yesterday’s adventure), but I also received an email by another band I’d never heard of before. They’re an American band called Research Turtles, and they emailed me to ask if I could have a listen to their music on the band’s MySpace page. Yep, no problem.

However, as with yesterday’s encounter my initial surge of enthusiasm (yay! new music!) was suddenly replaced by trepidation. Was the Research Turtles’ music going to be good (yes, please), bad (I hope not), or maybe boring (please no, anything but that)?

Nowadays, you can sometimes tell the kind of band you’re going to listen to by their photos (standard music industry equation: Image = Terribly Important), and my heart sank a little when I saw a few photos of them on their MySpace page. They were all wearing shirts and skinny ties, like so:

My first thought was: “Oh-oh, it looks like they’re one of those bands.” In other words, I had a horrible feeling that they were going to sound like any number of bands that have, over the past five or so years, tried to sound exactly like The Strokes or Franz Ferdinand.

But then, because of the combination of skinny ties and youthfulness, they got me thinking that instead of a Strokes/Franz Ferdinand clone, they might be another Jonas Brothers. “No, not another Jonas Brothers!” I inwardly cried.

If you’re not familiar with any of those bands (it’s possible if you don’t follow the charts, listen to the radio, read newspapers, or watch television), The Strokes sound is über-cool garage rock, the Franz Ferdinand sound is all staccato Fender Telecasters and 2/4 drum beats à la early 80’s British art rockers, and the Jonas Brothers are a teenage rock band fostered by Disney. You can lump The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand together because there are hundreds of bands who sound just like them (or a combination thereof) – bands such as The Killers, The Hives, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, The Wombats, The Libertines, The Kooks, The Panics, and many many more ad infinitum. Unfortunately, none of them are terribly inspiring in the melody department. The Jonas Brothers, on the other hand, are different to The Strokes or Franz Ferdinand in that they have moderately catchy tunes. However, they’re straight off the teen pop production line which means that the tunes, although moderately catchy, are instantly forgettable.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah. I was at the Research Turtles MySpace page trying to ignore the photos as I repeated to myself “Open mind, open mind, open mind…”. I held my breath, pressed “play” and…

I was relieved. It wasn’t bad or boring. Yay!

So, what do the Research Turtles sound like? Well, I was originally going to coin a phrase and say that they were The Strokes, But With Tunes©, or maybe Franz Ferdinand, But With Tunes©, but the more I listened to them the more I realised that they don’t really sound like The Strokes or Franz Ferdinand. They actually sound like themselves. (Hooray! A band that doesn’t emulate what’s currently fashionable.) If you’re looking for a point of reference, I’d say that the RTs* sound like they’re influenced more by the British Invasion bands than anything else. Which is fine by me.

Rather than twisting my brain into a knot trying to describe their sound (see above), I thought I’d just play you some of their songs. Here are the first three tracks of their debut album. Hopefully, they’ll give you an idea of where they’re coming from:

Research Turtles – “Let’s Get Carried Away” (2009)

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Research Turtles – “Damn” (2009)

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Research Turtles – “Mission” (2009)
(Mild warning: this song contains some cussin’)

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By the way, I have a huge apology to make to the Turtlers. I was actually contacted by them a few weeks ago. I blithely told them at the time that I’d mention them on the blog – and then promptly forgot about it. Sorry about that, chaps.

But back to this overlong anecdote. After I had acquainted myself with their songs, I let the band know that I liked their non-Strokes, non-Franz Ferdinand music, and they told me that they’d send me their album. I thought, “You beauty!” (That’s Australian for “Top show, old bean!”). I also thought that was exceedingly generous of them, giving someone they don’t know at all (i.e., me) an album they could have sold to someone willing to pay for it (i.e., me).

Now, I don’t know if the band insists on going broke, but when a certain package from a band called the Research Turtles arrived in the post I discovered that they had sent me four copies of their album.

Because I’m keeping one of ’em (‘cos I like it), I have three that I’d like to give away.

I’m happy to send you a copy, but on one condition: you must actually like the music. I don’t want you to have a CD that sits on your shelf not being listened to. (Having a CD and not playing it is simply unacceptable.)

So, email me and I’ll post it to you. Bargain!

Research Turtles on MySpace
Buy Research Turtles – Research Turtles at CD Baby

(*When I typed “the RTs” I noticed the initials and thought about nicknaming them “The Arties.” The only trouble with that is that they don’t sound like a seriously arty band – so that idea went out the window.)


Song of the day: Couple – "Are You Ready?"

January 26, 2010

This is how amazing I think the Internet is…

I received an email a few days ago from a chap in a Malaysian power pop band asking me to plug their music. Someone I’d never met before, in a band I’d never heard of before. From Malaysia.

That’s how amazing I think the Internet is.

Aidil was the chap’s name (and still is, I presume), and he’s the chief singer-songwriter for Couple, a band from Kuala Lumpur. Aidil supplied me with links to the band’s three albums – Top Of The Pop (2006), Teenage Disc Fantastic (2008), and Pop Tak Masuk Radio (2009) – so I could have a listen to ’em and then asked if I wouldn’t mind mentioning them on this here blog.

My first reaction was “Great! Love to! I’m keen to help anyone!”

But almost immediately after that I thought “Oh, no. What if it’s horrible?”

So, I grabbed the albums. I put them very carefully in my media player. Then, with trembling fingers I pressed “play” and held my breath…

I breathed a huge sigh of relief. It wasn’t horrible.

I decided to listen to the albums chronologically (and present them to you that way, too), so I started with 2006’s Top Of The Pop.

Top Of The Pop (2006)

As I was listening, I thought “OK, it sounds pretty low-fi, and the singing’s dodgy in places – but that’s probably because they’re an indie band with no money and couldn’t afford lots of overdubs and retakes. I guess they did the best they could with what they had.”

When Top Of The Pop finished, I was very pleased to notice that I didn’t skip any tracks. (The sign of a non-horrible album: playing it all the way through). Overall, I thought that what the album lacked in polish it made up for in charm.

Here are a couple of tracks to give you an idea of what Couple’s songs actually sound like, as opposed to me trying to describe them:

Couple – “Are You Ready?” (2006)

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Couple – “Gotta Be My Gurl” (2006)

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(I like the little references to “You’re Going To Lose That Girl“.)

Teenage Disc Fantastic (2008)

As well as a great album name, the band plays enthusiastically here, and the songs are foot-tappers:

Couple – “C’mon Operator” (2008)

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Couple – “Menarilah Hey” (2008)

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Pop Tak Masuk Radio (2009)

I enjoyed this album, and I found the first three tracks very interesting. The first, “Radio,” sounded to me like Coldplay playing a power pop song:

Couple – “Radio” (2009)

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The second track, “Lagu Cinta Untukmu,” is a nice little power pop ditty. Vocally, it reminded me a little of The Wellingtons‘ “Song For Kim,” but it’s also a little Weezer-ish in places. Despite the resemblances, I like it:

Couple – “Lagu Cinta Untukmu” (2009)

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And track three, “Semua Tak Boleh,” sounded like an amalgam of every garage song I’ve ever heard. It starts off as “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” then goes into what sounds very much like a song that I can’t remember at the moment (maybe you can spot it):

Couple – “Semua Tak Boleh” (2009)

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Overall, I think that Couple aren’t too bad at all. (Warning: cheap joke alert) They’re certainly the best Malaysian power pop band I’ve ever heard.* At least there are a few songs for you to listen to so you can ignore me and make up your own mind.

And I was so pleased that they weren’t horrible.

Couple on MySpace

(*Sorry about that.)


Song of the day: Icecream Hands – "The Way She Drives"

January 25, 2010

Here are the Icecream Hands with something short and sweet:

Icecream Hands – “The Way She Drives” (1993)

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