Musical coincidences # 53

August 31, 2010

I reckon this particular musical coincidence is definitely a case of Spot the Difference.

I read a review on Powerpopaholic some time ago about a new album by The Telepathic Butterflies, a band I’d never heard of before. Powerpopaholic’s enthusiastic revew piqued my interest. I then thought: “Hmm. Time to have a listen to some Telepathic Butterflies…”

I listened to the songs on offer at the band’s MySpace page, and when one of their songs came on, my jaw dropped.

(I just noticed that the above paragraphs – and this one – all started with “I”. How egotistical. Note to self: Talk about someone else for a change, you fool.)

Now, before we get to the song that made my jaw drop, here’s the start of “I Want You Back” by the Hoodoo Gurus:

Hoodoo Gurus – “I Want You Back” (excerpt) (1984)

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Now here’s the start of the song by those psychic insects:

The Telepathic Butterflies – “Between The Lines” (excerpt) (2009)

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Spot the difference.

As far as I can tell, it’s the same key, same chords, same rhythm, same tempo… same!

Here are the full versions:

Hoodoo Gurus – “I Want You Back” (1984)

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The Telepathic Butterflies – “Between The Lines” (2009)

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Hoodoo Gurus official website
Hoodoo Gurus on MySpace
The Telepathic Butterflies on MySpace


Song of the day: Icecream Hands – "Dodgy"

August 31, 2010

Today’s song is by Australian band Icecream Hands and it’s called “Dodgy”. Now, depending on where you live, the title may mean something not entirely intended by the makers of the song:

  • If you live in Australia: “dodgy” means untrustworthy, very suspicious etc.
  • If you live in England: “dodgy” (especially the phrase “well dodgy”, spoken with a Cockney accent) means extremely untrustworthy, incredibly suspicious.
  • If you live in America: “dodgy” could mean “related to Dodge automobiles”*.

And depending on how you personally feel about Dodge automobiles, all of the above may be applicable.

Anyway, here’s today’s song:

Icecream Hands – “Dodgy” (1999)

Link

Icecream Hands official website
Icecream Hands on MySpace

(*Not being American, I don’t know what “dodgy” does or doesn’t mean there. “Relating to Dodge automobiles” was the first thing I thought of. For all I know, “dodgy” could mean “fantastic” or “the best thing ever” or “oh, you wouldn’t believe how great this is” etc.)


Song of the day: The Offbeat – "She Can Make The Sun Shine"

August 30, 2010

I was contacted by chap in the UK called Darren who is the chief songwriter and drummer of The Offbeat. He asked if I’d please, please, please (actually, he didn’t use that many pleases) listen to his band’s latest album, In Love Field (2010).

Mr. “I’ll Listen To Anything New – Gimme Gimme Gimme!” (i.e., me) said “No problem.” Darren then sent me a copy of In Love Field and I put my listening ears on.

After listening to said album, I sent Darren an email telling him what I thought, and then Darren sent me an email telling me what he thought of what I thought. This went back and forth a few times, and was rather enjoyable.

Instead of trying to come up with a sparkling and witty album review (something I’m not particularly good at), I thought I’d just present you with our email conversations…

Darren the drummin’ dude from The Offbeat: Please could I mail you a copy of the new Offbeat album In Love Field?

Me: You certainly can. Thanks for the offer! I’m going to exercise some willpower and not listen to any of the album via MySpace (or elsewhere) so I can come to it fresh, fresh, fresh. Ah, the joys of discovering new music.

Darren: Won’t find this on MySpace!

Me: Excellent. It saves me accidentally stumbling across it.

…two weeks later…

Me: Thanks for In Love Field. It appeared in the mail a couple of days ago, looking very pleased that it’d travelled across the ocean, arriving safe and sound.

I must admit that I had completely forgotten that you were going to send me the album, and when it turned up in the mail box I was completely mystified. I opened it, saw the album and wondered, “What on Earth is this? Do I know any band called The Offbeat? And who on Earth sent it to me? It came from England, but it doesn’t say exactly who sent it. What’s going on here?”

I was totally baffled until this morning when I was sorting out some emails. I spotted yours from a couple weeks ago where you mentioned The Offbeat.

Eureka!

Many apologies, Darren, for completely forgetting that you were going to send me The Offbeat CD.

OK. Now that that awkwardness is out of the way, I’ll have a listen to the album. (I still don’t know anything at all about the band or the album, so I’ll be coming to it with incredibly fresh ears.)

Darren: Well I do hope you like it.

Me: I’ve now had a listen, and I’m happy to say that I do.

Darren: It’s our second album, the first one being called, imaginatively enough, “The Offbeat”…

Me (interrupting): I guess when it’s your first album, and you want people to notice you, there aren’t too many options for naming your debut. (Hint: name it after your band.)

Darren: …and would be fascinated to hear what you think of it.

Me: Here goes…

After studiously avoiding finding out anything about the band, its members, and its music, I put the CD in the drive, pressed “Play”, and hoped for the best…

My first reaction was one of surprise. I must admit that, before hearing a note, a tiny part of me was thinking that the music was going to be the kind that’s terribly popular at the moment which is simple garage rock à la The Strokes, The Killers, The Hives, etc etc etc etc etc. To me, that music has a whole lot of attitude but not a lot of melody.

Although I usually listen to something at least three times before forming an opinion about what I’ve heard, here are my first impressions. I’ll try not to provide a running commentary on each and every song (that can get boring real quick), but what’s what you’ll probably end up reading:

Track 1 (“She Can Make The Sun Shine”):

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When the track started my first reaction was “Beach Boys!”. And my second reaction was “It’s not horrible!”. I was relieved to hear that it wasn’t more Strokes, Killers, Hives et al.

Track 2 (“Someday Somehow”):

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I liked the out-of-tune guitar effect at 0:46. It made me laugh. I must admit that before I heard this track I had Marshall Crenshaw in my mind, only because the name of your song reminded me of Marshall’s “Someday, Someway“. I’m glad that “Someday Somehow” doesn’t sound anything like “Someday, Someway”. (For the record – no pun intended – I adore the music of Marshall Crenshaw. To me, he couldn’t write a bad song if he tried.)

Track 3 (“Something About The Girl”): Nice harmonies.

Track 4 (“Blue Sky”):

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Even nicer harmonies. I liked the false ending, followed by that long outtro. I also liked the very end of the song where the instruments just sort of stop playing when they felt like it, instead of all at the same time.

The more I listen to this album, the more I think that I’m going to enjoy listening to it again.

Track 5 (“You And Me”): This sounds a little like John Lennon when John went all domestic in the late 70’s. (“You And Me” reminds me of “Beautiful Boy“.)

Track 6 (“Where Is The Girl”): Now we’re back in Beach Boys territory. Boy, that singer* sure sounds like late-70’s John Lennon. That, to me, is A Good Thing. The chorus has just started. Yum. I’m definitely going to enjoy listening to this album again. The arpeggiated ostinato guitar part in the later choruses reminded me of the magnificent guitar part in “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)“. It sounds like you guys like The Beatles as well as The Beach Boys. By the way, I liked the little mistake at 1:40 (the bass drum hesitates very slightly). I don’t know why musicians try to make their music completely perfect, because I like little mistakes in recordings – it makes musicians sound human, not like machines. And I like this song. Truth be told, I like every other song I’ve heard so far. Next song, please.

(*Note to self: Find out the name of The Offbeat’s singer.)

Track 7 (“When You Got Love”): An acoustic-y, down-home, rustic kind of track. A nice break from the previous songs. I like the guitars, but I especially liked the guitar that sounds to me like a 12-string that’s had some audio processing to make it sound like a hammered dulcimer. (Well, that’s what I’m hearing anyway.)

Track 8 (“Word To The Wise”): I like the loose background vocals (they sound relaxed instead of sloppy). Another false ending. I have a feeling you like false endings.

Track 9 (“A Love To Last”): The singer in this song reminds me of Graham Gouldman. (I’m a huge fan of 10cc, so someone sounding like Graham Gouldman is a big plus for me). This song had me nodding my head in no time.

Track 10 (“Jennifer Sometimes”): A nice, slightly trippy track. Very 60’s. I liked it.

Right. That’s what I first thought of the album.

(Update: I found out, courtesy of the CD booklet, that Nigel Clark does all the singing. Hi, Nigel! I also found out that you wrote all the songs. Thanks, Darren, for writing songs I like.)

Darren: If you would like to know more info then just ask away.

Me: Can do. Thanks.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to the album again.

Darren: I maybe wrong, but I think you like the album?…

Me: Er, well, um, ah…

I’ve listened to the album my regulation minimum three times (so far, I’ve listened to it four times – and I’m about to play it again), so I’m now in a position to make a hideously pretentious announcement:

I officially Like This Album.

(I’ll try not to be that pretentious again.)

Darren: Ha! spot on with the deliberate artistic fluffs!

Me: Thanks. I’m glad they were deliberate (at least I was hoping they were deliberate…).

Incidentally, in “Someday Somehow”, was the bizarro chord somebody played in the right channel at 0:24 deliberate, too? (Just asking.)

(Update: I guess it was deliberate, considering it was played again at 0:32.)

Darren: Here are 5 facts you might not know:

1. All the songs are always recorded and mixed in one day.

Me: Wow.

Darren: 2. Blue Sky was written and recorded in less than 24 hours.

Me: Wow, Part 2.

(Although it does lead me to ask questions like “Why?”, and “What’s the hurry?”, and “Is studio time very expensive where you are?”.)

Darren: 3. The guitar solo on When You Got Love is a twelve-string with an effect added to it.

Me: Excellent. To me, it ended up sounding like a hammered dulcimer, but I suppose that’s not the specific sound you wanted. You probably weren’t looking for the “Hammered Dulcimer” setting on your Digital Signal Processor.

Darren: 4. The first album was called The Offbeat because I could not afford re packaging and used to send out the latest song under the same cover to record companies each time.

Me: Splendid. That’s what’s known as “thinkin’ with yer noggin”. I like a band that recycles.

Darren: 5. Your comments are very helpful!

Thanks. I’m happy to keep providing them until your band members start moaning “What? We got another email from him?”

Okey dokey. That was pretty much the electronic chinwag Darren and I had over the course of a few emails. By the way, Darren gave permission to reprint our conversations (His exact words were: “Please be my guest!”). Thanks, Darren.

And I’ve listen to the album eight times now. I like it.

POSTSCRIPT:

For making it all the way to the end of this post, you need to be rewarded.

Darren rashly sent me three copies of the album, which means I have two I can give away (I’m keeping one, ‘cos I like it).

So, send me an email and I’ll post it you. Easy.

As telemarketers like to say: Hurry now! Stocks are limited*!

(*To two.)

The Offbeat official website
Buy In Love Field at CD Baby ($8)
Buy In Love Field at Kool Kat Music ($8)
Buy In Love Field at CD Universe ($11.45) (!)


Song of the day: The Swingers – "Counting The Beat"

August 29, 2010

It’s occurred to me that there may still be some power pop fans who have never heard today’s song.

If you haven’t heard “Counting The Beat” by New Zealand Australian band The Swingers, then you’ve been missing out on what Kylie Minogue once quite accurately described as “the coolest song ever“:

(Gentle advice before playing the song: TURN IT UP)

The Swingers – “Counting The Beat (1981)

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Actually, I think that video could also classify as “coolest ever”, too. Great video.


Song of the day: Raspberries – "Tonight"

August 28, 2010

Yesterday’s Song of the day (“Tonight” by The Finkers) reminded me of another song called “Tonight”.

This is what I consider to be the best song called “Tonight” ever recorded in the entire history of absolutely everything:

Raspberries – “Tonight” (1973)

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Oh, baby.

Here are comments from the participants:

Eric Carmen: “Tonight” was my favorite rock track that we ever recorded. There was a little magic happening in the studio on that one. We were smokin’ that day. There was like flames coming out of the tape. I thought that was our most successful rock track. It was the one track where the band played and sounded on the record like what we sounded like live. That song captured what we sounded like live. If there was anybody in mind when we did that song it was The Small Faces. That was my version of “Tin Soldier“. I think I incorporated every Steve Marriott lick that I had ever thought about into that song. It was written fairly quickly. It was a combination of “Tin Soldier” and “I’m Only Dreaming” and a record called “Nothing But A Heartache.” It’s a great old record if you haven’t this. I don’t remember the group that did it but it was a girl singer and it also had kind of the same rhythm part.

Wally Bryson: I thought “Tonight” was incredible. That’s another one of intros that nobody knows how to play but me. I make up weird chords for different sounds. I thought we got a lot of balls on that record.

Jim Bonfanti: “Tonight” still stands up today. If it’s played on the radio today it doesn’t sound like a dated song.

Dave Smalley: That’s definitely a Raspberry classic. Even thought I had an attitude by that time, I still loved the music.

Those comments came from the liner notes in the indispensable-for-power-pop-fans album, Power Pop Volume Two, which gathers up the Raspberries’ third and fourth albums, Side 3 and Starting Over. Power Pop Volume One is just as indispensable (well, it has to be considering it contains the Raspberries first two albums, Raspberries and Fresh Raspberries.)


Frank’s Faves on Fridays

August 27, 2010

Tim Moore – “Rock & Roll Love Letter” (1975)

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Mighty good. (I was going to use the word “splendid”, but I think I’ve been using that way too often recently.) I was much more familiar with The Bay City Rollers version and only heard this (the original) a couple of years ago. For me, Tim’s recording sounds like it could have easily been by The Records. (When I first heard it I actually thought it was The Records.) I like “Rock & Roll Love Letter” in either version, but I prefer the one by the Rollers, not because I’ve heard it more often but because: 1) The Rollers version sounds more ‘glam’ (I love glam); and 2) I much prefer Les McKeown‘s singing to Tim Moore’s. I’ll leave it up to other people to decide whether this song is good or bad (or neither… it could be a “Meh” song for some people), but I like it a lot. Incidentally, I’d never paid attention to the lyrics before, but now that I have, I’m not entirely sure that it was wise thing to do. I think they’re monumentally silly. My favourite part was in the last verse:

“Cause I see an ancient rhythm
In a man’s genetic code
Gonna keep on rock and rollin’
Til my jeans explode”

Now, that‘s what I call silly lyrics. (Exploding jeans. Excellent.)

Sammy Davis, Jr. – “Don’t Shut Me Out” (1964)

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I remember a singer was once asked in an interview who he thought was the greatest entertainer who ever lived, and his answer was: “Sammy Davis Jr – without a doubt”. From what I’ve seen and heard of Sammy, I wouldn’t disagree. “Don’t Shut Me Out” is the first regular pop song I’ve heard from Mr. Davis Jr. (or is that Junior Mr. Davis?), and to me it’s weird. Enjoyable, but weird. That’s because I’m so used to watching and hearing Sammy doing his lounge act, either in The Rat Pack or on his own. (By the way, if you think that the “greatest entertainer who ever lived” comment is a bit of a stretch, try this out for size. I find it astounding.) I like “Don’t Shut Me Out” a lot. I really like the rhythm of it, and I really like the background vocals. Ah, those background vocals. Mmm. Cheesy.

ELO – “The Way Life’s Meant To Be (1981)

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I have a big problem with ELO. For me, there are two ELO’s: the ELO I love and the ELO I despise. The ELO I love is the Electric Light Orchestra up to and including Out Of The Blue (1977). After that, ELO released Discovery (1979) (which my group of friends in high school called “Disco Very”). It appeared to me that Jeff Lynne had discovered the formula for a successful sound and proceeded to flog it to death. As far as my ears were concerned, Jeff ended up applying The Patented Jeff Lynne Sound Template™ to absolutely everything he came in contact with, including production work he did for others (Olivia Newton-John, Traveling Wilburys, and even – shudderThe Beatles Threetles). To me, everything Jeff Lynne did after 1978 sounds like self-parody because the songs he produced all sound the same. The tunes, lyrics, song structures etc are different, but the actual sound of each song, as well as the instruments Jeff puts into them (i.e., lots of acoustic guitars, lots of background vocals, lots of synthesizers, and a monotonously steady drum beat), is remarkably similar to me. Feel free to tell me that I’m completely wrong, but that’s what I hear when I hear something from Jeff Lynne, post-1978. And while I’m burning some power pop bridges here, I might as well let you know that I found that recent all-star album, Alpacas Orgling (2006), annoying because it applied The Patented Jeff Lynne Sound Template™ to everything there, too. I know that power-pop lovers went into paroxysms of joy over Alpacas Orgling, but it left me cold because every song on it had The Patented Jeff Lynne Sound Template™ applied to it. Why, oh why, oh why? I know that imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery, but if I want to hear ELO I’ll listen to ELO, not a group of power pop musicians pretending to be ELO. Rant over. Now, to “The Way Life’s Meant To Be”. I’m not overly fond of it, precisely because it has The Patented Jeff Lynne Sound Template™ applied to it. I think the song itself is a perfectly good one, but the production pretty much ruins it for me. One of the main reasons I dislike The Patented Jeff Lynne Sound Template™ is that Mr. Lynne applies that sound to any song regardless of what kind of song it would rather be. If I ignore the production and just concentrate on the music and the lyrics, I’m guessing that “The Way Life’s Meant To Be” would suit a Fifties production more if given the chance (it sounds like a Fifties song to me). I can imagine enjoying it more with a lot less instruments, and without all those interjecting background vocals (boy, they’re annoying!). And I can imagine Roy Orbison singing it. But no, Lynne-ardo Da Vinci, with the palette of musical colours available in his Patented Jeff Lynne Sound Template™, throws everything he has into the song and it ends up with an incredibly polished sound (it has a sheen to it that makes it sound so glossy). Ruined! Nowadays, if I hear about a new song that has been, or is going to be, produced by Jeff Lynne, my first thought is “Oh, no!”.

The Inmates – “Dirty Water (1979)

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An enjoyable version of a song by The Standells, played by a pub rock band from Britain. (I didn’t know any of this until YouTube told me and then Wikipedia backed it up.) From what I’ve now heard of The Inmates (i.e., two songs), they remind me a lot of Doctor Feelgood. I can’t really offer much in the way of penetrating commentary on this particular song, partly because I spent so much time venting my spleen on Jeff Lynne’s production habits (see above), but also because there’s nothing much I can say about it. For me, the song is what it is – standard Sixties R&B, played by an R&B-loving band but with a slightly more modern sound. It’s the kind of song that I like only if I’m in the mood for it. It’s a good thing for you I was in the mood for some updated Sixties R&B.

Bonus Instrumental:

The Neville Brothers – “Saxafunk” (1992)

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Funky! This is also the kind of thing that I can only listen to if I’m in the mood for it. I thought it was OK, but didn’t light any Funk fires for me. I’d prefer to listen to something that was a bit livelier – such as Mezzoforte’s “Garden Party” or Level 42’s “Mr. Pink”. But I’m glad you suggested “Saxafunk”, if only for the drum beat. That’s a great drum beat.

Thanks for the variety yet again, Frank.


Song of the day: The Finkers – "Tonight"

August 27, 2010

Here are The Finkers with the self-referential “Tonight” (1999):

The Finkers – “Tonight” (1999)

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As a bonus, here’s an alternative recording which isn’t that much different from the original (it has someone else singing):

The Finkers – “Tonight” (with someone else singing) (1999)

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Both versions of “Tonight” appear on The Finkers’ compilation, Epilogue (2008), a double-CD of the band’s entire recorded output. You can buy that beastie from Off The Hip Records.

The Finkers on MySpace