Me, Myself, and iPod 5/12/10: The world’s worst action hero gets a theme song

esd ipod

Vicki St. Elmo – Champion
Between this and last week’s song from the Protomen, it’s clear I have a weakness for songs that sound like they should be from a lost ’80s soundtrack. Of course, that’s the point with this one, as Vicki St. Elmo is the character Kristen Wiig plays in the MacGruber skits on “Saturday Night Live,” and the most unlikely skit yet to be transformed into a motion picture. But don’t laugh: we have it on high authority – my fellow movie critic colleague Jason Zingale – that the movie is absolutely better than you think it is.

The Golden Filter – Hide Me
Synth pop is hard. Everyone thinks that they can grab a couple keyboards and a drum machine and that’s good enough to be considered a synth pop band. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Since there are natural limitations to what you can accomplish, you have to make sure everything works, from the melodies to the arrangement to the vocals. Especially the vocals. Nobody likes a snotty synth pop singer; it suggests contempt for the material. This New York duo seems to get it. I haven’t absorbed the album that this song comes from yet, but it reminded me of Hooverphonic, which in this writer’s mind is a very good thing.

Imogen Heap – Say Goodnight and Go (Back Ted N Ted Remix)
I’m actually posting this to highlight the remixer more than the artist he’s mixing. Back Ted N Ted has a solo album coming out later this summer, and if the bits on his MySpace page are any indication, it’s going to be a doozy.

Steel Train – You and I Undercover
So heartfelt, so achingly sincere. Yes, we’ve heard this song many times before, but I like seeing bands reach for the rafters. Kind of like Fountains of Wayne going for Coldplay-type grandeur.

Toro y Moi – Blessa
Blissed-out bedroom pop. Fans of Dri and her song “You Know I Tried,” take note.

Outrageous Cherry – Fell
You’d expect something, well, outrageously sounding from a band called Outrageous Cherry, but this song in fact reminds me of another band with fruit in its name: the Lemon Pipers. Let me guess: everyone under the age of 30 who just read that last sentence said, “Huh?” Psssst: Google ‘green tambourine,’ and see what happens.

Places & Numbers – Waking the Dead
Solo project from Bobby Darling, previously of Gatsbys American Dream. I bet he and the Republic Tigers would get along great.

  

Sonos: Sonos

A cappella music is supposed to be the domain of fun-for-a-minute novelty acts like the Nylons or the Blenders, and even the best of the genre often sounds as though it was recorded by the same grinning, finger-snapping, vest-wearing nerds you laughed at during spring assembly in high school. The last time anyone cared about an a cappella single was in 1993, when Huey Lewis and the News scored a fluke hit with a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “It’s Alright” – and when a genre’s last taste of success came from Huey Lewis, you know it’s seen better days. Into this cultural vacuum steps the six-member Los Angeles outfit known as Sonos, and although their press materials contain all the dreaded buzzwords used by makers of terminally unhip music – “push the envelope,” “redefine a genre” – their self-titled debut is actually far better than you might expect, especially given their über-hip taste in cover selections (Bjork’s “Jaga,” Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place,” Imogen Heap’s “Come Here Boy”) and/or the presence of AAA radio pox Sara Bareilles, who contributes vocals to her own “Gravity.” It helps that they aren’t a straight a cappella outfit – many of the tracks incorporate light instrumentation, and they aren’t afraid to chop and twiddle with their vocals – but what really puts Sonos across is the ease with which the group manages to substitute a cool modern feel for the stereotypical Up With People vibe. No vests here, in other words – and if Sonos is still a novelty, it’s one that’ll take a good, long while to wear off. (Big Helium 2009)

Sonos MySpace page

  

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