Monday, April 27, 2009

Assessment! Tinted Windows

I'll admit it: one of the first albums I ever bought was Hanson's "Middle of Nowhere" and I definitely swooned over the Hanson bros hardcore. I'll also say that I am not a fan of Smashing Pumpkins nor have I ever really listened to Cheap Trick (besides "I Want You to Want Me"). Fountains of Wayne's "Prom Theme" definitely made me shed a single tear while their video for "Stacy's Mom" caused me to erupt in laughter.

So when I heard about the new mega-group, Tinted Windows, bringing together the middle-Hanson brother, Taylor, with former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger and Cheap Trick's Bun E. Carlos, my initial response was "Whaaaat?" followed by "Ummm."

But I decided to give it a chance because, ever since I was dragged by my sophomore year roommate Amanda to see them in 2008 at The Calvin Theater in Northampton, I believe the Hanson brothers are actually legitimate musicians with way more to offer than just their 1997 debut album. "Middle of Nowhere," and wildly popular single, "Mmmbop."

I found myself bobbing my head and tapping my foot during several of the songs. With the tight vocals, T. Hanson shows his skills. The other musicians blend together and really make it happen. The first track, "Kind of Girl," is reminiscent of a Fountains of Wayne song with all of the 'oh oh's" and "woah woah"s. The second track is much of the same. "Messing With My Head" has an abundance of joyous "c'mon, c'mon"s between a simple verse: "Well you've been messing with my head/ for oh so long now."

The song titles are obvious. There are some ballads in there. It is full of strong pop-sensibilities, especially the third track, "Dead Serious," which has sincere harmonies. "Nothing to Me" is just what one would assume a song with that title would be about: someone who means nothing to whoever wrote the song.

"Cha Cha" is one of the lamer songs, but it still has that catchy and carefree vibe, even though it seems to be about someone who needs someone, explained through the lyric "I just want you to hear me./ I just want you to heal me./ You're my cha cha."

In the end, people need to put aside their assumptions when it comes to any project associated with any one of the Hanson brothers and let themselves enjoy this rocking album. It is laced with some musical skill and catchy melodies. It would definitely translate well into a live setting, a live, fun-loving, carefree setting.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Word of the Week: Myriad

For this week's installment of "Word of the Week" I am going to explore one of my favorite words, "myriad." This word originally came into my repertoire of words when I was listening to Interpol's "Antics." Interpol is known for a unique brand of morbid but intelligently worded songs. Their lyrics are laden with five-dollar words. For example "stealth," "salacious," and "cadaverous" appear in "C'mere," "Length of Love" and "A Time To Be Small," respectively.



Pronunciation: \ˈmir-ē-əd\
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek myriad-, myrias, from myrioi countless, ten thousand
Date: 1555

1 : ten thousand
: a great number myriad of ideas>

Function: adjective
Date: 1765

(definition courtesy of

Synonyms: countless, endless, heaping, immeasurable, incalculable, multitudinous, no end of, numberless, oodles, slew, uncounted

Antonyms: limited, measurable

Used in a sentence: When Catherine entered Marcus's apartment, she noticed a myriad of records stacked in milk crates lining the walls.

Used in a song: "But I am married to your charms and grace./ I go crazy like the good old days./ You make me want to pick up a guitar/ and celebrate the myriad ways that I love you." Interpol "Slow Hands" mp3

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Appreciation! Covers We Covet, Volume 1

The art of the cover song is a delicate subject. Many people believe it is impossible to achieve a perfect rendition of a song already recorded by another artist. Others believe that a band's ability (and chutzpah) to play a classic song is the true test of their strength as a group.

I have a love/hate relationship with cover songs. In many cases, I believe the cover song is one of the best parts of a band's live set (ie. The Decemberists/Death Cab for Cutie/Stars performing Fleetwood Mac's "You Can Go Your Own Way" to close the Central Park Summerstage show in 2005). In some other cases, I find the cover song an overdone and unnecessary practice (especially if it is cliche ::cough cough Every Indie Act Covering "Womanizer").

In order to make a cover song work, as far as I am concerned, the artist has to inject their own style into the song instead of just playing the song exactly as it originally appeared. The artist has to believe in the original as well as taking steps towards exercising some artistic license.

Here is a list of some notable cover songs (with corresponding mp3s)...

  • Matt Pond PA covering Neutral Milk Hotel's "In The Aeroplane Over the Sea" mp3
Recently I have realized that Neutral Milk Hotel's songs are very often covered by my favorite artists. (Jesse Lacey of Brand New, for one, has been known to cover "Two Headed Boy" in his solo show set list). The song, "Aeroplane," is one of my favorite songs off the album by the same name. This cover is a beautiful acoustic piece sort of close to the original version. From listening to so much Matt Pond PA recently, it is a fair assumption that MPPA is heavily influenced by Neutral Milk. But injecting violins into the melody, he adds a sense of softness and romanticism to the song. It is what MPPA does best.

  • Bats for Lashes covering Kings of Leon's"Use Somebody" mp3
Recently posted on Stereogum, this cover features many of the things that I love about cover songs. First off, it is a female vocalist singing a song originally recorded (and performed) by a male-fronted band. Secondly, the tempo is slowed down slightly. Thirdly, one or more instruments are added (an organ and a tambourine). Although I don't listen to much Bat for Lashes (and am a casual KOL fan), this cover is a great example of a cover where the song is softened up successfully.

  • Stars covering The Smiths' "This Charming Man" mp3
What? A Smiths cover? Someone attempted to cover the Smiths! That is preposterous! No. I am just kidding (even though many think - Morrissey included - The Smiths are one of those untouchable bands). Stars fuses the melody with electronica sounds. The whispering vocals of Torqui Campbell accompanied with the ever-so-charming (haha) Amy Milan is a new spin on Morrissey's signature style found in this song. Yes, it is possible to appropriately cover The Smiths. Stars have done it. Death Cab for Cutie too (in a version of the same song - download here).

  • Peter Gabriel and Hot Chip covering Vampire Weekend's "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" mp3
When I originally heard that this cover existed, I thought it would be one of those cover songs that came off silly. I mean, a 59-year-old famous English musician who is name-dropped in an indie song covering said indie song as a duet with an electronica-dance-pop band? However it is one of the greatest things I've heard in a while. He covers the song with a bit of humor and even inserts, "But this feels so unnatural to sing your own name" at the part where one would expect to hear "But this feels so unnatural, Peter Gabriel too."

  • She and Him covering The Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better" mp3
When a female vocalist covers a song written from the point of view of a man, it is expected that any "her" pronouns will be turned into "him." In this case, "girl" is replaced with "guy." This version has a country twang and slow finger-picking tone, unlike the original (which is only slightly twangy due to the harmonicas). The tone is casual yet dreamy. In addition, it is one of the few times on "Volume One" where M. Ward actually takes a verse (in this case, the chorus). There is even a bit where Zooey lets out a giggle. Too cute Zooey, too cute.

Coming soon: Top 10 Bruce Springsteen cover songs...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Word of the Week: dapper

A few weeks ago, I befriended an awesome Norwegian girl named Celine, while we were being photographed for a top-secret project. It will surely reshape the hair salon industry as we know it, but I can’t tell you anything about it because I signed one of those non-disclosure agreements. Too bad! Since our fated meeting, Celine has been nice enough to visit me in TriBeCa during my lunch break and of course, I dragged Allie along with me! Over smoothies, salads, and sandwiches, an idea was born. Word of the week! Celine’s English is exceptional and she has an adorable accent to boot, but Allie and I decided to teach her a few of our favorite words to spice it up a bit.

We were brainstorming about what new words we could pepper into Celine’s already impeccable vocabulary. I looked down at my new Gunmetal tweed kicks, an incredible thrift store find, and it dawned on me. The word of the week is “dapper”.

Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English dapyr, from Middle Dutch dapper quick, strong; akin to Old High German tapfar heavy, Old Church Slavic debelu thick
Date: 15th century

1a : neat and trim in appearance
2 : alert and lively in movement and manners

Related forms:
dap・per・ly, adverb
dap・per・ness, noun

dashing, spruce, modish, jaunty, natty.

Used in a sentence: Ezra Koenig was looking very dapper in a button down shirt and an argyle sweater vest.

Used in a song: “I'm no high society man/ No suit and tie, no Dapper Dan” – from the song Caveman, by Cursive  mp3

Dapper website: Check out my pal, Lily's Etsy, Supper Club. With neckties like these, you'll be looking dapper in no time.

Examples of some of our favorite dapper fellows:

*Special thanks to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary,,, and for the images and definitions used in this post.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Five Fantastic Songs for Fun-Filled Friday

So why is this week different from all other weeks?  Well, yes, it is Passover (and during this week we only eat unleavened bread, etc).  But that was not what I was referring to.  The true difference between this week and others is that this week my music listening has been dominated by a small pool of artists, some new and some older.  As a result, I am going to list my favorite tracks this week.  Enjoy!  

1. Matt Pond PA "Halloween" mp3
Okay. I might be kind of late on the MPPA train (woo woo).  I've listened to "Halloween" over 14 times in the past week. This song is the opener of "Several Arrows Later" and in many ways it is the perfect starting point for a spectacular album. From the beginning, something about this song screams uncertainity and anxiety.  The piano along with Matt Pond's voice lends itself to a romantic yet realistic mood, with dimmed lights and whispering closely.  The chorus is one of the strongest parts of the song: "Pardon the intrusion/ Could we leave before it gets bad?" It is personal yet general and perfect.  It is the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to get into Matt Pond PA.

2. Death Cab for Cutie "A Diamond and A Tether" mp3
One thing that DCFC does so well is write introspective tunes.  This one, from their new release, "The Open Door EP," is one of the best I've heard in a while.  As Gibbard sings,"I make the same mistakes at each familiar turn," the listener believes him.  He goes on to spin the tale of someone with serious commitment issues who is perfectly satisfied with being alone.  At the same time, he is not alone but always gazing around to see what else is out there.   He makes "empty promises" and "countless bluffs."  This song, lyrically and musically, seems like  a throwback to old-school Death Cab and I like it.    

3. Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band "Slowly (Oh So Slowly)" mp3
It is no secret that I love just about everything Conor Oberst does. With the latest album"Outer South" (which will be released on May 5, 2009), is a collective effort by the Mystic Valley Band.  The opening guitar riffs "Slowly" feature a big band sound similar to the one found on "Four Winds" (from 2007's "Cassadaga" record). This opening track starts off with an incredibly profound yet simple lyric: "Potential, well you're a loaded line." The song has a lot of the same themes from "Cassadaga" but goes steps further to claim the necessity of a vacation from life.  

4. The Gaslight Anthem "The Navesink Banks" mp3
On April 24th, I went to see Gaslight at Webster Hall. I had only seen Brian Fallon solo at the Court Tavern in New Jersey and really did not know what to expect. What I came to notice was that the concert was much like the pop-punk shows of yesteryear. There were kids moshing, fist pumping and the like. I hadn't been to a show like that in years. It sure was something.

Anyways, in the days leading up to the show, I reviewed their discography and found myself instantly drawn to "The Navesink Banks." This acoustic gem, off of "Sink or Swim," is one of those songs that derive directly from a singular situation or experience: growing up in New Jersey. (Navesink is an actual location in Jersey).  This retrospective song talks about childhood and teenage mistakes that were made.  For example, contained in the lyrics are three lines that talk about "sins" in judgement made during the younger years. Although, as always, Fallon has a positive outlook and has learned from those situations to a full extent.  

5. Bishop Allen "The Chinatown Bus" mp3
For me, Bishop Allen is a newish discovery, even though I heard them on KEXP in 2007.  Bishop Allen, from Brooklyn, is one of those bands with great lyrical and musical talent. And I love bands that refernece the place that they are from (like the Hold Steady does in all of their songs).  From 2007's "This Broken String," this song is fully laden with New York references.  It takes about going up the I-95 on the Chinatown bus after New Years Day.  It takes of taxi cabs and being a passenger, watching the world go by. The quiet vocals and guitars along with the trumpets and tambourines create a dreamy and calm mood.          

On a related note, they will be playing at the Northside Festival in Brooklyn, with The Dodos, Vivian Girls, John Vanderslice, and more (which takes place June 11-14).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Appreciation: Malcolm McDowell: A Musical Journey

If you have been paying close attention, you may have realized by now that Laurie is a tad bit obsessed with Bob Dylan, Allie has a thing for Ryan Adams, and I have an affinity for Lou Reed (yeah, Adventureland!). However, there is someone else nearer and dearer to my heart. He was the star of a little known film called “A Clockwork Orange.” Yes, I confess, I hold a candle in my heart for Malcolm McDowell. I haven’t forgotten that this is primarily a music blog though, so here’s what I’m going to do about it: I’m going to take you on a musical journey through his acting career and it is going to be epic.

On June 13, 1943 McDowell was born in Horsforth, Leeds to Charles and Edna Taylor. He was sent to the Cannock House School at age 11 to be disciplined and it was there that he was encouraged to act. He had the opportunity to portray many Shakespearian roles which bolstered up his confidence. It also didn't hurt that he was the team captain of the Rugby team. After graduating, he went on to study acting at the London Academy of Music and Art, yet he claims it was his work as a traveling coffee salesman that provided the best training. McDowell learned to mold himself into a different person depending on whom he was selling to and it did the trick. Soon enough he was making 25 quid a week.

McDowell was introduced to Mrs. Harold Ackley through a girlfriend of his who was taking elocution lessons with her. He was quite taken by the ex-silent film star, and promptly began working with her to rid himself of his Yorkshire accent. The lessons paid off and soon he was performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre. McDowell became fed up with the hierarchy there, remarking that he felt as if he was only there to move furniture and had yet to meet the director, Peter Hall. At the end of the season, McDowell told Hall that he was leaving to become a movie star. His statement was met with laughter.

From there he landed a few bit parts in televisions series, which turned into a few bit parts in movies. His first big break came in the form of a 1968 film called, “If….”, which he landed after a particularly physical audition. Him and co-star, Christine Noonan began wrestling with each other onstage and it was then and there that he won the role of Mick Travis, the revolutionary stuck under the totalitarian rule of an all boys English public school. Lindsay Anderson, who became a long time mentor to McDowell and supposedly developed a bit of a crush on him too, directed the satire. The film received an X-Rating and exposed traditions of English public schools in the 1960’s such as “fagging” and “caning”. It was shot in color and black and white completely at random depending on the budget and what kind of film Anderson felt like using that day.

In the film, Mick Travis and his two non-conformist friends spend their down time sneaking liquor, throwing darts at pop culture icons, and listening to the “Sanctus” from the Missa Luba, a Latin Mass in an African style, sung by a choir of Congolese children. The songs were written and composed by Baluba of the Kasai and Katanga, with Father Haazen, according to Wikipedia, and the selection used in “If….” made it onto the UK singles chart in the 1960’s.

Fun Musical Fact: The Clash refer to the recording of the Missa Luba in the lyrics of their song 'Car Jamming' on the 1982 album Combat Rock.

Stanley Kubrick watched “If….” and said he would not direct “A Clockwork Orange,” unless he had Malcolm McDowell as his lead. Kubrick presented him with the book by Anthony Burgess, which McDowell read three times before declaring it, “a modern classic” to Kubrick’s delight. Terrified about taking on the difficult role of Alex DeLarge, McDowell turned to Anderson for help.

He also developed a friendship with Kubrick, after many games of ping pong and chess. The famous rape scene took almost a week to film and over 30 canes were destroyed in the process. Kubrick encouraged McDowell to come up with a few ideas of his own and he allegedly sang, “Singin’ In the Rain” because it was the only song he knew all the words to. Kubrick was so enchanted with the outcome that he immediately bought the rights to the ditty that day.

Also worth noting, is Alex DeLarge’s obsession with Beethoven, or Ludwig Van as he often refers to him. He indulges in the pleasures of his favorite music by this German composer and pianist combined with images of ultra violence. After undergoing the Ludovico Technique, a form of aversion therapy, he can no longer listen to the music (specifically Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony) without being overcome by bouts of intense nausea. Beethoven’s Ninth was composed during Beethoven's late period and was the last symphony he completed. It was finished in 1824 and is upheld as a masterpiece and a symbol of Romantic music.

Wendy Carlos was responsible for the rest of the film’s soundtrack. She was born Walter Carlos but underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1972. Carlos attended Brown University and got her masters degree in music at Columbia University where she met Robert Moog and became one of the first to try out his Moog synthesizer. With this new instrument, she went on to compose ambient music made up of blended and synthesized sounds with only a trace of melody. In 1971, Carlos composed the soundtrack for “A Clockwork Orange,” and went on to work with Kubrick a second time on “The Shining.”

Fun Musical Fact: The Colorado quartet, DeVotchKa, got their name from Anthony Burgess’s Nadsat word for “young girl”.

Immediately after ACO, McDowell returned to Anderson to film part two of the Mick Travis trilogy, “O’ Lucky Man” which was a symbolic representation of the struggles of life in capitalist society. The film was developed from a script by McDowell based on his previous experiences as a coffee salesman. Anderson worked Alan Price into the movie, the keyboardist from the British group, The Animals, after failing to make a documentary about his band because of the cost of licensing all the songs they covered while on tour. Price left The Animals in 1965 and agreed to compose the score, which took on a Greek Chorus type of role in the film. McDowell believed it to be Price’s greatest work.

After a slew of box office flops, McDowell married Margot Bennett Dullea and moved to the U.S. to escape the failing British film industry. It was at this time that he starred in the notorious film, “Caligula”. Bob Guiccione of Penthouse Magazine financed the film based on the work of Gore Vidal (who later asked to have his name removed from the project), and provided them with a flock of Penthouse pets as well. The young Italian director, Tinto Brass, agreed to direct the controversial film, which featured big talents such as Peter O’Toole, Sir John Gielgud, and

Helen Mirren. Yes, “the queen” does some surprisingly naughty things. This film is certainly not for the faint of heart. Guiccione filmed scenes with the pets at night and later edited them into the movie, replacing scenes that had been

shot by Brass. While the film managed to portray the depravity of Rome under Caligula’s rule to a certain extent, it was overshadowed by the gratuitous sex scenes, which left the critics disgusted.

The soundtrack of the scandalous film however, was actually somewhat respectable. A

majority of the music was written by Paul Clemente, better known as Bruno Nicolai, the Italian composer and orchestra director. Bruno attended the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome where he became friends with Academy Award winning-composer, Ennio Morricone. The two went on to collaborate on many fine projects together. Also wedged into the impressive soundtrack was the work of the Russian composer, Sergei Prokofiev. By age seven, Prokofiev had already written his first piano composition and was an avid chess player as well. I was still learning how to tie my shoes. First you fashion them into bunny ears and then you… well, never mind. At age nine he composed his first opera. Now he's just making me look bad. One of the pieces that was used in the film was from, “The Love for Three Oranges,” a Prokofiev creation from 1919, based on the play, “L'Amore delle tre melarance” by Carlo Gozzi which was based on Giambattista Basile's fairy tale "The Love for Three Oranges". (Kind of like how “He’s Just Not That Into You,” was a movie based on a book that was based on an episode of the television show, “Sex and the City,” which was also based on a book. Oh what tangled webs we weave.) The opera is in the form of Commedia dell’Arte and is one of Prokofiev’s most popular pieces.

Fun Musical Fact: The electropop musician, Little Boots, got her stage name from emperor Caligula, who was nicknamed Little Boots because he wore a soldiers uniform like his father, Germanicus’ at the wee age of two when he attended the campaigns in northern Germania with him.

McDowell made his American film debut with, “Time After Time,” in 1979 and fell in love with co-star Mary Steenburgen. Together they had two children; Lily Amanda McDowell and Charles Malcolm McDowell. Shortly after, McDowell returned to theatre and received rave reviews. The 1980’s were cruel to McDowell who developed a devastating cocaine habit, aged poorly, and could no longer get the leading man roles he once received. To spare me the pain, let’s gloss over this dark and cruel period of time.

McDowell managed to kick his cocaine addiction after turning to the Betty Ford Center for help, and remarried to artist, Kelly Kuhr in 1991, with whom he had three more children; Beckett Taylor McDowell, Finnian Anderson McDowell, and Seamus Hudson McDowell. He later appeared in the 1994 Sci-fi film, Star Trek Generations. Dennis McCarthy was in charge of the music and used a series of blended electronic sound effects, and William Shatner was in it. Enough said!

More recently, I have spotted McDowell in popular television series such as “Heroes” and “Entourage”. In "Heroes," he portrayed Daniel Linderman, a notorious mobster with the superhuman ability to heal any living thing. In the hit show, "Entourage," he played the distinguished Terrance McQuewick; former boss of super-agent Ari Gold and his stiffest competition. The Entourage soundtrack ranges from hip-hop to indie (okay, mostly hip-hop) featuring rappers like Saigon, who had a small part on the show, and bands like TV on the Radio, whose most recent album, Dear Science, was proclaimed the best album of 2008 by Spin, MTV, Rolling Stone, and readers polls orchestrated by the Gods over at Pitchfork.

Although McDowell is now 65, it is comforting to know that he's still playing those high status villain types that made his career flourish 40 years ago. Yesterday, I was flipping through a magazine when I came across a list of the Top Twenty Scariest Villains. Sandwiched between Darth Vader and Michael Myers (did I mention McDowell was in Rob Zombie's 2007 release as Dr. Sam Loomis?) was his portrayal of Alex DeLarge. The following page displayed McDowell fully equipped with the customary "Clockwork Orange" bowler hat and cane. The eighties may

have turned his tresses white, but there is still a twinkle in his blue eyes and a knowing smile hidden in the corners of his signature Alex DeLarge sneer.

For further information on the illustrious Malcolm McDowell, you may visit his Wikipedia page here or browse this extensive website created by a fellow fan.

A Clockwork Orange

The Thieving Magpie (Abridged) by Wendy Carlos mp3

Ninth Symphony, Second Movement, Beethoven (Abridged) by Wendy Carlos mp3


Wood Sequence by Paul Clemente, becomes Prokofiev's, "The Love for Three Oranges" at the end mp3

Thursday, April 2, 2009

List: 5 Winter to Spring Trade-ins

Spring has arrived! (At least for now). It is time to put away the wool sweaters and take some light blazers out of storage. It is time to trade the fuzzy ugg boots for converse sneakers and ballet flats. It is time to bust out the sunglasses and the straw bags and, in due time, the bathing suits and flip flops.

In addition the many wardrobe changes associated with the beginning of over-50 degree weather, I find that when the first spurt of spring arrives so begins a shift away on my recently-played list. I exchange my Ray Lamontagne and Fleet Foxes records for something more whimsical and light, like a Camera Obscura or a Noah and the Whale.

So in honor of that, I have complied a list of some spring "trade-ins" - meaning replacements for those bands that really only fit into the cold blustery days. Bust out your sunglasses, it is going to get bright in here...

From Fleet Foxes to Noah and the Whale
Fleet Foxes is one of my favorite "mountain-y" bands, as I have stated before. The fact that their sound emits certain 'snow covered mountain' imagery is unmistakable. So when the sun is out and the snow has melted, trade in your Fleet Foxes for your Noah and the Whale. NATW is pure joy and features ukulele, piano and clapping. Like Fleet Foxes, NATW has choruses and verses of enchanting harmonies. "Five Years Time" even has whistling! Delightful!

From Joshua Radin to Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers
Both of these male singer-songwriters have a certain amount of mainstream charm but have been largely unable to cash in. Radin, on one hand, is the perfect fall/winter artist. He even has a song named "Winter." His vocals are quiet, yet powerful. Kellogg is a lighter version. Even though he is from Massachusetts, there is a certain degree of Southern twang in his voice. He is a great lyricist who departs wisdom on his listeners. He captures how it feels to be young and innocent in songs like "Summer" and "Blue Jean." "Milwaukee" (from 2007's "Glassjaw Boxer") is all about growing up and dealing with the changes of life. Throughout the song he repeats "I guess I learned that too" as a response to all of the experiences that occurred in his young years.

From Interpol to Spoon
One of the major characteristics of "spring" bands for me is the use of lighter instruments, like ukuleles, tambourines and percussion shakers. In creating their own signature style, Spoon utilizes these tools. 2007's "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" is an excellent example. It includes Britt Daniel's charming vocal style and melodies. "Don't You Evah" and "Rhthm and Soul" both feature light drums and could be inserted into any road trip mix cd.

From The Frames to The Long Winters
Glen Hasnard, front man of The Frames, has a strong presence and a stronger sense of how to construct interesting lyrics. John Roderick, the front man of The Long Winters, also shares this talent. The Frames are much heavier than The Long Winters and that is why TLW are one of my favorite spring band replacements. The acoustic nature of many of their songs lend themselves to a feeling of airy goodness. One song, "Hindsight," wonders what happens when the snow melts: will things be the same? Of course, TLW use some electric guitars ("Rich Wife," "New Girl," and others) but Roderick's vocals, harmonies and acoustic sounds are the most noticeable. Overall, when listening to this band, you will imagine open fields and crave the sunshine.

From Ryan Adams to Limbeck
Limbeck is one of these bands that I believe more people should know about. Hailing from Orange County, California, they are an alt-country rock band whose influences include The Beach Boys, The Replacements and Old 97s (according to their wikipedia page). The great part about Limbeck is the way they play - with pure enjoyment. Their songs are geographically aware and touch upon experiences that are incredibly universal - like hanging out with friends, trying to decide what to do ("Everyone's in the Parking Lot"), feeling frustrated ("Trouble") and being home ("Let Me Come Home"). Their use of tambourines and hand claps is unmistakably interesting. "Honk and Wave," one of their best tracks, is kind of about a road trip and kind of about a broken heart. The version on "Hey, Everything's Fine" (an acoustic/live recording of the songs found on 2003's "Hi, Everything's Great) features banter and hand claps. It is as if the band is reliving the experience via a sing-along with all of their fans and friends.