Each month's CMJ New Music Monthly (aka "The Best Magazine You Ever Heard") includes a handy-dandy mix tape, and each month I review its contents.* (Or at least have the best intentions to.... LOL)
(Links to free, artist-sanctioned MP3s provided wherever available.)
1. Beirut - "A Sunday Smile"
Right away I thought Rufus Wainwright knockoff, but, then, "artsy-fartsy" quickly came to mind. Like the group's earlier records, I think they're going for that "recommended if you like Neutral Milk Hotel" point of reference a little too much.
2. PJ Olsson - "A.D.D. (People Stop Running)" (listen here)
From the man who brought us the delectable "The Whistle Song" comes another safe-for-even-gramma pop shiner. (In the best way possible, of course.)
3. Castanets - "This is the Early Game"
Sleepy, country-tinged Bob Dylan throwback ... pass.
4. Eldar - "I Remember When"
Oh, boy, a "magical" piano odyssey ... ugh. For fans of Vanessa Carlton or Keri Noble -- but you can forget about all the sass and I'm-cuter-than-thou 'tude.
5. Mud - "Should've Known" (listen here)
Hey, remember the mid-'90s, when every single female-fronted group sounded like Compulsion? Well, so does Mud.... Heck, even the band's name is unimaginative! (I'm sorry to sound so bitter tonight, but I've heard better CMJ mix tapes. Much better.)
6. Mason Proper - "Life's Cornucopia"** (some MP3s available here)
Now we're onto something. Fresh off a performance at the Monolith Festival at Red Rocks (where they were joined by personal faves Cloud Cult), Mason Proper is quickly becoming the new indieground "it" band. And I can see why; this has "Don't Tell a Soul" written all over its beautiful melodies and moody, midtempo atmospherics.
7. The Dirty Secrets - "Five Feet of Snow"
Hey, what do you know? Just in time for the Northland's first display of "the white stuff." Recommended if you like the Killers -- and I really, really mean that. One smarmy question, though: A Killers knockoff group ... so soon?
Nevermind, disregard that last comment: I'm really starting to dig "Five Feet of Snow." I don't want the Dirty Secrets hating yours truly from the get-go.
8. The Forms - "Red Gun"
For fans of Pinback or any one of Rob Crow's assorted outfits. Pretty decent.
9. Blood Red Sun - "All at Once" (listen here)
The best of early-'80s pop rock meets the best of late-'90s college rock. Rick Springfield meets Creeper Lagoon, if you will. I'm impressed so far.
10. Little Birdy - "Come On, Come On" (listen here)
Timing reminiscent of early Weezer, and the synths are warm and inviting, but the female vocalist is a little too cover band-sounding. She needs to do a little more to stand out, I guess.
11. Ben Jelen - "Where Do We Go" (listen here)
Jelen is a talented singer/songwriter for sure, but a little too safe and predictable for my tastes. (The strings are a nice touch, though.)
12. The Shapes - "Escape from New York"** (some MP3s available here)
Yes! The raw rock 'n' roll sound w/o all of that unnecessary bloodshed. (Coming soon on an upcoming "DTAS," believe you me.)
13. Tulipomania - "The Bum"
This is awful ... just awful. I don't even know what they're going for -> it's that awful.
14. Demetra - "Beam Me Up (Scotty)"** (some MP3s available here)
Remember what I said about Little Birdy's singer? Take that and multiply it by, like ... a lot.
15. The Panda Band - "Sleepy Little Deathtoll Town"
Very cool -- I'm in love with the Panda Band! Like the Weakerthans, the Eels and fellow countrymen Augie March combined, but much, much poppier. My new favorite group of Aussies (well, after the Avalanches, that is).
16. Shotgun Honeymoon - "13" (listen here)
If INXS was reinvented as an indie rock group. (I know; it's like, Whoa, what's with all the Australia references?! he he he)
17. Fruitkey - "Stand" (listen here)
OK, remember what I wrote about Mud. (No, it's not what you're thinking....) This, too, has mid-'90s female-fronted action revival written all over it, but Fruitkey does so by way of the Amps/the Breeders/Throwing Muses. Much, much cooler.
18. Macon Greyson - "Minnesota Weather Map" (listen here)
Pandering to the locals -- both by composition title and by the fact that this kind of sounds like a bad Mr. Highway 61 impersonator fronting a less-quirky Giljunko (early Little Black Books, perhaps?).
19. Biography of Ferns - "John the Barber"*** (pictured)
Definitive "DTAS" fodder. This group definitely has a lot of potential.
20. Eskimo Joe - "Black Fingernails Red Wine" (listen here)
For fans of the Standard, late-period R.E.M., Live (before they really started sucking...).
21. The Matt Truman Ego Trip - "Industry Standard"** (listen here)
Hey, you like "Nuggets"? Really, you do??
22. Modico - "Hills"** (free MP3s here)
Sort of aggressive power pop straight outta Oklahoma.
23. Two Loons for Tea - "Marietta"
All you need to know: On the Two Loons for Tea Web site, you'll find a contest called "Show the World Your Monkey." Do you really even want to know? Not really....
*And, no, I'm not kidding ... this is my life. (However sad it is!)
**Denotes OurStage contest winner.
***Denotes CMJ SonicBids Spotlight winner.