Yo Gabba Gabba: Music Is…Awesome! Volume 2


RIYL: hipster bands, watching your kids dance

Landing a cool 10 months after the release of Volume I of Yo Gabba Gabba’s Music Is…Awesome! series, this set rights some of the wrongs of that first album by including some of the bands they overlooked the last time (Jimmy Eat World, MGMT, Datarock, and thank God they finally released the Ting Tings’ cover of “Happy Birthday”). The catch with this set is that the songs by the contributing rock bands are much better, but the songs from the show are, well, not. Yes, “Hold Still” finally makes an appearance, but it’s the lesser of the two versions that have appeared on the show. Meanwhile, the “Freeze Game” song here does not measure up to the ‘you can’t catch us!’ ‘Freeze’ song from another episode. (Perhaps they chose the version they did so they didn’t have two songs that featured Brobee whining about not being able to keep up.) Alas, the Aggrolites’ song “Banana” is still nowhere to be found, nor is GOGO13’s song “Pick It Up” which, years after their debut on the show, are still the two most commonly sung “Yo Gabba Gabba” songs in this writer’s household. Their exclusion from these sets is bordering on comical, if it weren’t so tragic. Still, the Weezer song (“All My Friends Are Insects”) is great, as are the songs by Hot Hot Heat (“Time to Go Outdoors”) and the Apples in Stereo (“That’s My Family”). In the end the album, much like the show, has some moments of genius, surrounded by stuff that you merely tolerate for the sake of your kids. No excuses, guys: put “Pick It Up” and “Banana” on the next set, or there will be hell to pay. (Filter 2010)

OK Go MySpace page
Click to buy Music Is Awesome! Volume 2 from Amazon

  

Me, Myself, and iPod 6/30/10: Katy Perry’s giant breasts finally put to good use

esd ipod

With the long weekend ahead, we have an extra-long list of songs for you to play at your next party/intervention/funeral. Mostly party. And we start by shamelessly using the success of the biggest phony in pop music in order to drive some extra traffic to the site. Given the way she’s made us suffer, she owes us this, at the very least.

Katy Perry – California Gurls (Hyper Crush Remix)
I was willing to give Ms. Everybody Look at Me Why Isn’t Everyone Looking at Me Come On I Have Big Tits Please For God’s Sake Look at Me the benefit of the doubt when EW claimed this was the song of the summer, but I’m sorry, I’m still not convinced. She bends over backwards to be lyrically controversial because she knows that if she doesn’t, everyone will realize how utterly ordinary her songs really are. This one is no exception. Um, I mean, come on and download this killer remix of the summer’s best song by Hype Machine regulars Hyper Crush! Katy RULZ! \nn/

Ugh, that hurt.

The Henry Clay People – Your Famous Friends
It’s like Wilco, back when they used to have fun. Actually, I’m not sure Wilco ever made a record this fun.

Apples in Stereo – Hey Elevator
I’m loving the ELO renaissance that’s sprouting among the indie poppers. First this, and the Silver Seas give them a nice name check (with matching string riff) in their song “What’s the Drawback.” Any fan of Jeff Lynne should check out the Apples’ new one, Travellers in Space and Time. ‘sGood.

Violens – Acid Reign
This is a tune I’ve wanted to share for a while, but only recently got the green light to do so. This is right in my alt-rock-dance wheelhouse, with a driving rhythm section and vaguely Manchester-ish sound. There’s a bit too much swearing (nothing will turn you into a prude faster than having children), but it’s a damn good track. Looking forward to the full-length album Amoral, due in October.

Trances Arc – Boom City
You mean there are white people in Atlanta making music, too? Can’t say I’m crazy about their band name, but I like the Airborne Toxic Event-style slow build-and-explode that the song possesses, and minus the melodrama, to boot.

Steel Train – Bullets
Gotta say, this band is carving out quite a unique niche for themselves. Scarlett Johannson has covered them. They have an undeniable reach-for-the-rafters grandeur to them. And then sometimes, they want to be MGMT. Not on this song (that would be “Turnpike Ghost”), but still, for a band with such an unrevealing name, they’re quite versatile.

Jukebox the Ghost – Empire
Good to see this band back after their impressive debut a couple years ago. This song, from their upcoming album Everything Under the Sun, is a bit more mannered than their debut, but it’s no less catchy. Think Ben Folds, back when he allowed himself to have fun.

Halsted – Walking Shoes
Their name matches a Chicago street I used to live near, so I was predetermined to like these guys before I heard them. But then when I discovered that they play smoothed out guitar pop, well, that’s when they had me.

Isaac Russell – Lighthouse
The love child of Jakob Dylan and Jason Mraz? Sure, that’ll work.

Carl Broemel – Heaven Knows
Taking time from his day job in My Morning Jacket to do a solo record, Broemel gets downright rootsy, at least on this song. Haven’t heard the rest to know if it’s like this or MMJ.

  

The Apples in Stereo: Travellers in Space and Time


RIYL: ELO, The Beatles, Cliff Richard

If the early returns are any indication, 2010 is the year that musicians realized that it was all right to admit that they like ELO. The power pop circuit has been cribbing from Jeff Lynne for years, of course, but they have about 600 records sold to show for it. Perhaps that’s why bands like the Apples in Stereo and the Silver Seas (wait until you hear their song “What’s the Drawback”) waited until they developed a devoted fan base before dropping the news on their fans that yes, they like ELO, too. For a band that was so successful, the ELO name carries a curious amount of baggage.

Apples_in_Stereo_04

Don’t be surprised if Travellers in Space and Time, the new album by the Apples in Stereo, changes that stigma some. This is not the first time the Apples have dabbled in Lynneisms, but Travellers ups the ante by exploring different aspects of the ELO sound. “Hey Elevator” is this album’s “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” while “Dignified Dignitary” is a clear descendant of both “Do Ya” and the band’s own song “Go.” “Wings Away” is the album’s big Beatles moment, with one of those instantly recognizable ascending progressions in the chorus. The album does explore other catalogs besides ELO’s, though, as “Next Year at About the Same Time” sounds like Squeeze covering David Bowie’s “Blue Jean.”

At 16 tracks, the album does feel a tad long, even with two of those tracks being interludes. Still, it’s nice to see a band tackle the whole in-crowd notion of indie pop and declare the party open to anyone and everyone interested in attending. Get your Vocoder on. (Yep Roc 2010)

Apples in Stereo MySpace page
Click to buy Travelers in Space and Time from Amazon