Last weekend at Target, I bought a really cool Spin Magazine special 2-CD song sampler for the irresistible price of $4.99. Thirty-two songs by an impressive diversity of artists for dirt cheap.
You know what? Having listened to those CDs a couple of times... the BOTG Music Mailbox is a damn good bargain. It's free, and the music you'll find here is every bit as good as the stuff you'll find on those CDs. The SPIN collection is a little harder on the edges. More screamo and more intensity, but not more musical awesomeness.
That's my take, anyway. Onto the music...
Kill the Killjoy - The DiSCiPLiNES
This is the lead single off their album, Virgins of Menace, a 12-song, 33-minute collection of potent pop. If I'd had the choice of any of their tracks to post, it would have taken me a long time to pick between five really impressive songs, and the rest of the album is plenty impressive as well. Then I went and found out from the promotional materials that the lead singer, Ken Stringfellow, has a past that includes The Posies, REM, and Big Star. Well, duh. Makes perfect sense. Impressive stuff, this. Band "mini-site"
Pharmacist - COYOL
This song sticks out like a sore thumb. Like, a thumb you hit with a hammer. Like, a thumb Mags Bennett hammered into ground beef on “Justified.” The dude’s voice... it’s impossible to ignore and tough to like. I’m not sure how much I could tolerate an entire album of it. But for one song, and when colliding at high speed with these lyrics and Celeigh Chapman's ballsy badass lady voice, it’s worth listening to a few hundred times. This song is art. It’s a collection of less-than-perfect weapons all combined into one big show-stopper. I don't know where these guys are going, but the potential is dizzying. Bandcamp site (with lyrics!)
Puzzle Pieces - Saint Motel
A much lighter piece than some. A little bit of group shouting. A little bit of well-timed falsetto. I dig the piano riff recurring through the song, and all the elements come together to form an impressive and bombastic little pop song that kinda begs your head to loll and bob left and right. Good stuff. Official web site.
One By One - The Trews
Of the many musical genres coming through our mailbox, "good ol' roots rock" seems the least popular, but that's what The Trews deliver. Some aggressive acoustic riffs and a band that appreciates strong harmonizing as much as the occasional single voice rising above it all with a passionate chorus. Hell, it even has a nice little guitar solo moment in there. I didn't even know those were allowed anymore. I was kind of surprised that these guys have four albums, but it makes sense, because this has the sound of experience. Official web site.
Would You Be So Kind - Lotte Mullan
What a great change of pace for this collection! A folksy chanteuse!! Coming off the album Plain Jane. "I just want to take you out and get you drunk so I can have my wicked way with you." These are the lines from another song from this lady. How can you not be intrigued by a woman whose introductory biographical fun fact is that she almost ruined her voice trying to sound like Tom Waits?? Listen to her voice! WTF would she want to sound like Tom Waits?! Clearly she ain't right in the head. Which usually makes for stunning musicianship. She's worth some attention. Soundcloud album sampler
Take Me Home - Germany Germany
Another great song for a commercial. I actually looked this one up, trying to find what commercial it's already been in. It's nothing earth-shaking, just a healthy 3-minute dose of synthesized dreamy bliss. You can get a whole album from him for $5 at Bandcamp sometime in mid-May.
Let's Get Loaded - The Fervor
This Louisville-based band is coming out with a second album, Arise, Great Warrior. Of course I was going to include any song with this title, but it's nice when a catchy title has the benefit of supporting a decent song. Female lead vocals with punch and some nice piano carrying through the song. They'll probably hate me for saying it, but I totally get this feeling I'm listening to a modern sequel to The Waitresses' "I Know What Boys Like" when I hear this. Official web site
Oceans of the Heart - Architects of Grace
Love + Rockets. Psychadelic Furs. This is the general idea. If you like that kind of darker-edged syntho-based semi-goth thing, then this song's worth a listen. Off their newly-debuted album Moments In Time. This isn't generally the music I swim in, but once in a while it's fun to dip a big toe into these waters, and this ain't a bad song to do it. Official web site
So High - Ringo Deathstarr
Sometimes a band comes along that picked such a perfect name it's destined to get a certain level of attention no matter what they do. This particular song and the others I've heard bring one word to mind: "drenched." The reverb and distortion are strong, the vocals all bleed into one another. These are the bastard children of bands like My Bloody Valentine, and they are doing their relatives proud. Their album is called Colour Trip. CNN story on them
This is the New Year - Ian Axel
Sometimes a new kid shows up on the block so polished and squeaky clean that critics are all suspicious and bitter. Like it's his fault he's a nerd whose mom won't let him leave the house without a pocket protector. It seems a little like Ian Axel has met this fate. His music is all Ben Foldy, and this particular song is just about the sunniest and most hopeful thing that will invade your ears this month. And if this song makes you smile and hug yourself, wait 'til you watch the video, a video that's clearly improved the mood of hundreds of thousands of people, because it's been watched over 800,000 times. His album is This is the New Year, and although few songs quite match the level of this tune, I noted at least four that were close to its equal.
My Sea - CALLmeKAT
It's not her fault she's attractive. She emerged from the Denmark music scene, three words that when combined I know absolutely nothing about. All I know is this is a cute catchy little pop song, and she apparently has a very large collection of keyboards and synthesizers. She's also clearly much younger than I, because when referring to her collection of '80s-esque keyboards, she described their sound as "organic." Interview with Spinner
Cold Hands Warm Heart - Pose Victorious
Scottish band. Pop rock. Or rock pop. Catchy. Can't wait to hear more from them. Worth a listen. Their EP Beneath the Lighthouse comes out in June.
Light from a Dying Star - Skypilot
Another damn band from Australia. Something about the climate down there pisses me off, because those folks Down Under still love them some rock music, and I'm jealous. This is another band that deserves being compared to U2, among others. They're still polishing off their soon-to-emerge EP, so I'll be interested to see how their sound develops.
Don't Let Go - The Windupdeads
It's always good to end on a strong note. I really really like this song. It's from their second album, Army of Invisible Men, and it's catchy and heartfelt and cheesy and just about everything I like about music. Official web site