Steal This Song: Little Tybee, “Nero”

There are few slopes that are as slippery as music that could fairly be described as precious. A wrong move in any direction, and that ‘c’ becomes a ‘tent’, if you know what we mean. It was therefore with great trepidation that we clicked Play on the song from Little Tybee, a group of Georgians whose press release was quick to mention Fleet Foxes. And don’t get us wrong, we like Fleet Foxes…but do we need a dozen of them?

little tybee

As it turns out, “Nero,” the first song from the band’s upcoming album Humorous to Bees, is probably being done a disservice by being compared to anyone, but you know how press releases work – they need to mention a couple of successful bands to give the reader a reference point (and truthfully, that’s exactly how we like it). If anything, the song reminds us of a less amped version of the Noisettes’ song “Wild Young Hearts,” perhaps refitted for play in a jazz club. Trade out drum sticks for brushes, throw in some fiddle, and groove, man. Good stuff. The record drops in April. Hopefully this will tide you over until then.

Click here to download Little Tybee’s “Nero”


Steal This Song: U.S. Royalty, “Monte Carlo”

Holy west coast pop, Batman. Now this is a sound that we wouldn’t mind seeing catch on and infiltrate the mainstream…again.


We’re on our first spin through Mirrors, the debut album U.S. Royalty, a band who is about as far removed as one can get from the west coast while still being in the States (they’re from Washington DC), and it has a vibe to it that is instantly familiar without sounding derivative. Big, soaring vocals with some nicely stacked harmonies, along with the occasional foray into feedback, these guys are definitely a band to watch. Fans of Fleetwood Mac are going to jump all over “Monte Carlo.” It’s like “Dreams” as a driving song. Get it now, so you can say you were there first.

Click here to download U.S. Royalty – Monte Carlo


The Jayhawks reissues, Part I: Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass

RIYL: Flying Burrito Brothers, early Wilco, Gram Parsons

We say Part I because Jayhawks guitarist Gary Louris personally told us that there are plans to reissue the band’s remaining three albums with American and Lost Highway before the end of the year. Insert fist pump here.

It sure seemed like the planets were aligned, on several occasions, for the Jayhawks to become a much bigger band. They were discovered in an only-in-the-movies fashion, as American Recordings A&R chief George Drakoulias was on the phone with the president of Twin Tone Records and heard Blue Earth, the band’s 1989 sophomore album, in the background. He quickly signed them and produced their first two major label albums. They sold well, but beneath the ‘next Black Crowes’ hype they were tagged with at the time, which was a silly tag to hit them with in retrospect, but you know how the music business works, even when it’s counterproductive to a band’s long-term health.

Jayhawks 2010 edit

And ultimately, that inability to break through to the next level cost them in more ways than one. Singer and founder Mark Olson left the band shortly after the song “Blue” failed to take off the way they had hoped it would, and Louris took over the band for three more albums before quietly calling it a day. Then something strange and wonderful happened: Olson realized that he and Louris had unfinished business. The two made a quiet album together, 2009’s Ready for the Flood, and before they knew it, the definitive Jayhawks lineup was playing together again and are currently putting the finishing touches on their first album in eight years. As an appetizer, Sony Legacy has reissued the band’s first two albums for American Recordings along with some hard-to-find B-sides and basement tapes that were the stuff of urban legend. Dig in.

Hollywood Town Hall

Modern rock radio was still in its infancy when Hollywood Town Hall came out in late 1992, and you can’t help but think that the fact that they received support from modern rock stations actually cost them airplay on the traditional rock stations. Whatever the reasons, it deserved to do better, because this is one solid rock album, thanks in no small part to the blossoming of Louris as a songwriter. The Jayhawks were Olson’s band in the beginning, but he would never have written something like “Waiting for the Sun” or “Settled Down Like Rain,” and it’s no coincidence that both of those songs were tapped as singles. The harmonies are as tight as ever, and the inclusion of piano and organ fleshes the songs out and gives even the more countrified moments a rock flavor. For a band that began as country rock act, Hollywood Town Hall is certainly far removed from their roots, yet the band’s essence remains intact.

The bonus tracks are just as good, too, particularly “Leave No Gold” and a raucous version of the gospel standard “Up Above My Head.” Many of these songs never saw the light of day in the US (and two of them were never released at all), so their inclusion here is a big, big plus.

Tomorrow the Green Grass

Here is all you need to know about Tomorrow the Green Grass: when the band announced that they had reformed and were doing a mini-tour, and would be dedicating certain nights to playing one of these two albums in its entirety, the shows where they were playing all of Tomorrow the Green Grass were the first ones to sell out. With keyboardist Karen Grotberg involved in the recording sessions (she came on board after the band had finished recording Hollywood Town Hall) and the band ready to experiment with different sonic textures, songs like the string-kissed “I’d Run Away” soared like no Jayhawks song had ever soared before. “Nothing Left to Borrow” is the best song the Byrds never wrote, and “Blue” practically started its own religion. It’s pop in the best sense of the word, melding a myriad of influences (check out the rockin’ “Real Light”) to create something wholly unique. Tomorrow the Green Grass is in a class all its own.

And look what Legacy dug up to go with it – the so-called Mystery Demos that Jayhawks fans gossiped about for a good 10 years on message boards. Comprised of two sessions between Olson and Louris (one of which featured a violinist), several of these songs wound up on Tomorrow the Green Grass, but the stark versions here are just as memorable, particularly “Red’s Song” and an almost fully formed “Nothing Left to Borrow.” Of the tracks to receive the deluxe recording treatment, the Grotberg-sung “Last Cigarette” and the stomping title track are highlights. We eagerly await Round II of the Jayhawks reissue campaign, not to mention the band’s new album, their first in eight years, later this spring. For the first time in a long time, it’s good to be a Jayhawks fan. (Sony Legacy 2010)

The Jayhawks official website
Click to buy Hollywood Town Hall from Amazon
Click to buy Tomorrow the Green Grass from Amazon


Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Senior Editor David Medsker’s picks

Having children has had a profound impact on my musical tastes. Will it make them cry? Will it teach them naughty words? Will it bore them? Then it doesn’t get played around the house, which has resulted in my sharp turn towards the poppier side of modern. And really, once you’ve seen your three-year-old completely lose his shit when hearing a song with a chorus of “Na, na na na, na na na, na na na na na na na,” it’s hard to push anything on him that doesn’t come armed to the teeth with the pop hooks. Mind you, I think the Ramones are a pop band too, so I’m painting with a pretty broad brush here. But make no mistake – these bands are pop bands, of varying stripes and shapes. If you fancy yourself a hipster, you’d be best to move on and check out one of the other writers’ lists. I gave up being hip a couple years ago, and let me tell you: it’s extremely liberating.

Note: Some of the notes at the end of the write-ups will offer suggestions of which songs to check out. Others actually offer the songs. If you see “Click here for a free download…”, those songs are on our server, meaning you won’t be dragged off to some site that asks you to give up your email address for a song. These puppies all come with no strings attached, so please download away.

Top 10 Albums of 2010

1. Mark Ronson: Record Collection
Ahhhhhh. If I get to heaven, this is what the radio station will sound like. Tasteful drum beats paired with even tastier synth tracks, highlighted by brilliantly chosen guest contributors from Q-Tip and D’Angelo to Simon Le Bon and a devastating performance by Boy George. Definitely gonna ride this bike until we get home.
Download these: “The Bike Song,” “Somebody to Love Me,” “Record Collection”

2. Hey Champ: Star
I’m a sucker for any band that justifies my love for New Order and the Buggles, and this Chicago trio threw down synth pop/rock that, in an ideal world, would have Passion Pit opening for them, not the other way around.
Click here for a free download of Hey Champ’s “Neverest”
Click here for a free download of Hey Champ’s “Cold Dust Girl”

3. Prefab Sprout: Let’s Change the World with Music
Man, what a sweet surprise this was. Originally scheduled to be the follow-up album to 1990’s Jordan: The Comeback, the album was scrapped despite Prefab leader Paddy McAloon already finishing studio-quality demo versions of every song. Eighteen years later, the songs finally see the light of day, and the result is instant nostalgia. He supposedly has dozens more albums on his shelves from the same period. Please don’t make us wait 18 years for the next one, Paddy.
Download these: “Let There Be Music,” “Ride,” “God Watch Over You”

4. The Hours: It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish
This one is knocked down a few rungs on a technicality, in that it’s a Franken-album consisting of the best songs from the band’s two UK-only releases. But hot damn, are those songs good. Shimmering, sky-high, piano-driven pop that addresses the darkness in people’s lives but strives for hope and change. No wonder Nike used one of these songs for their unforgettable “Human Chain” ad earlier this year. Favorite lyric: “I can understand how someone can go over to the dark side, ’cause the Devil, he’s got all the tunes.”
Download these: “See the Light,” “Big Black Hole,” “Come On”

The Hours – “See The Light” 2010 Edit from Adeline Records on Vimeo.

5. The Silver Seas: Chateau Revenge
I’m still pissed about this one. I got a sneak peek of the record months before its release because our publicist is tight with the band. We played the daylights out of it, and couldn’t wait to sing its praises when it came out in April…only April never happened. Then it was July, and when it came out, the damn thing was buried. Why, why, why? Not enough irony or cynicism? I see no reason why the Shins can sell millions while the Silver Seas still toil in obscurity. The phrase ‘criminally underrated’ was written about bands like this.
Click here for a free download of the Silver Seas’ “The Best Things in Life”

Read the rest after the jump...

Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Staff Writer Mike Farley’s picks

It was an interesting year for me music-wise. So much great stuff passed my desk or by e-mail from publicists, but something odd happened: my old PC started getting so slow that I literally could not listen to my iTunes and work at the same time. Makes writing CD reviews tough, but makes listening while I work to get a feel for new music even harder. I persevered, playing stuff in the car and also, finally, getting a super-fast new PC recently. My joy of listening to my iTunes catalog and discovering new music has returned. And so, I give to you, my Top 10 albums of 2010:

1. The Silver Seas: Chateau Revenge
There are two songs on this album that can bring anyone from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in no time flat: “The Best Things in Life” and “What’s the Drawback.” Daniel Tashian and company continue to make some of the best music that, unfortunately, most people have never heard. So hey, this holiday season, do something about that. Go buy the Silver Seas’ music, and tell them I sent you.

2. Rooney: Eureka
Editor David Medsker to me, “Hey, I think you’ll like these guys.” Me, after hearing band: “Um, understatement.” It’s just good, unadulterated pop/rock – no whiny kid voice and no Auto Tune.

Read the rest after the jump...