Steal This Song: Morningwood, “Best of Me”

Truth be told, I’m a bit shocked that the music press is rather indifferent to New York glam rockers Morningwood. I know they’re not the best band New York’s given the world, but their blend of punchy guitars, perky beats and that force of nature named Chantal Claret at the microphone strike some primal chord in me. Maybe it’s a reminder what what rock bands used to sound like, before they worried about whether they were cool enough, or if they were attracting the “right” fans. What a joke, really. Do you think Cheap Trick ever gave a fuck who was listening to their records, as long as people were buying them? Hell, no.

That’s why people refer to the music business these days as junior high school with money. Sadly, the same peer pressure rules apply to the people who write about bands. They want to be seen as cool, too (probably more so than the musicians they write about), so once a band has the perception of not being hip, the writers tend to fall in line. Case in point: a very well-known blogger told me at Lollapalooza in 2007 that they were surprised at how much they liked Silverchair’s performance, yet they the band down in their column. Oh, the price some pay for hipster credibility.

But not me. I gave that ghost up years ago, and I can’t tell you how much easier things are since I did. Of course, this might make bands reluctant to receive my stamp of approval, since it comes with a giant asterisk – Shit! He’s uncool! Wait, unless it’s cool to not care about being cool. Damn, this is hard – but I’m not high enough on the food chain yet for that to matter. Anyway…

Personally, I’ll take a band like Morningwood and a song like “Best of Me” over the more popular Paramore any day of the week. It’s brief (just a hair over three minutes), it’s catchy, it’s confident without bragging, and best of all, it’s all major keys, so there’s no unnecessary melodrama. It reminds me of Pat Benatar in her ass-kicking days (i.e. before she started her family). And you can have it for free. Dig in. And as an appetizer, here’s the video, which contains a nice callback to the band’s hilarious clip for “Sugarbaby,” which is one of my singles of the year.

To download Morningwood’s Best of Me, click here


Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: The Twilight Saga: New Moon

RIYL: Vampires, werewolves, everlasting love

Say this for soundtrack supervisor extraordinaire Alexandra Patsavas: with the soundtrack to “New Moon,” the second installment in Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, she leaves nothing in the bag, as it were. With a lineup chock full of megastars and indie darlings, New Moon is the most ambitious soundtrack to come down the pipe in a while. It’s also decidedly more grown-up than its predecessor, forsaking teen angst poster children Paramore and Linkin Park for the moody stylings of Bon Iver (teamed up with St. Vincent here), Sea Wolf, and Grizzly Bear. Muse is the only returning act – expect them to appear on the soundtrack for every “Twilight” movie, as Meyer is a devout fan – and it’s a doozy, as “I Belong to You,” from their latest album The Resistance, is punched up and, more imporantly, edited down (no piano break, woo hoo!). Thom Yorke delivers the wonderfully minimalist electro brooder “Hearing Damage,” and Patsavas scores a massive coup by securing the first new song by OK Go in four years, the endearingly oddball “Shooting the Moon.”


The biggest problem with the soundtrack is the sequencing. It will surely make sense in context with the movie, but as a straight-through listen sans visuals, it’s awfully up and down. All quibbling aside, New Moon is far better than anyone had a right to expect it to be, growing up along with its audience. Bravo, Alex. (Chop Shop/Atlantic 2009)

Twilight: New Moon MySpace page
Click to buy New Moon from Amazon


Yo Gabba Gabba: Music Is…Awesome!

RIYL: Old school hip hop, hipster bands, your children

Anyone who was lucky enough to snap up a copy of 2008’s here-today-gone-yesterday Yo Gabba Gabba! CD will likely be disappointed with Music Is…Awesome!, the newest release of songs from the TV show that’s a hit with both kids and stoners. Eight of the 13 tracks from the previous release are here, along with songs from the Shins, Chromeo, Of Montreal, I’m from Barcelona, and Money Mark. That’s a whole lotta hipster, right there, and the decision to include the hipster bands over acts that actually had our kids singing along – there is no excuse, for example, for the exclusion of the Aggrolites’ “Banana” or GOGO13’s fantastic ska tribute “Pick It Up” – is a curious one, to say the least. Then again, the soundtrack supervisors had positively tons of bands to choose from (The Bird and the Bee, the Ting Tings, Mates of State, Jason Falkner, MGMT, Jimmy Eat World, Datarock, the Clientele, etc.), not to mention original songs (“Hold Still,” “Please, Thank You”), so it stands to reason that they were going to leave some essential YGG moments out. Be that as it may, Music Is…Awesome! is good, but not quite as awesome as it could have been. (Filter/Fontana 2009)

Yo Gabba Gabba MySpace page
Click to buy Music Is…Awesome! from Amazon


Steal This Song: General Elektriks, “Take Back the Instant”

Somewhere in California, Beck is throwing stuff across the room, pissed that he didn’t come up with this first.

The project of French expatriate Hervé “RV” Salters, General Elektriks is minimalist blue-eyed funk filtered through a microphone and a bevy of vintage synthesizers. RV seems particularly fond of the Clavinet (think “Superstition,” “Trampled Underfoot”), which makes sense considering it’s arguably the funkiest instrument ever created. Adding the horns for the last verse is a nice touch, too.

general elektriks

Wow, look at that shirt and tie combo. All right, so the guy might be color blind. But when it comes to music, color blindness is never a bad thing. It-it’s time to get, it-it’s time to get funky, kids.

General Elektriks – Take Back the Instant

General Elektriks MySpace page


Air: Love 2

RIYL: Gary Wright, Tangerine Dream, Phoenix

The French electronic duo’s first album since 2007’s Pocket Symphony – and the first to be recorded in the band’s brand-new recording studio – Love 2 is a back-to-basics effort of sorts, dusting off several of the keyboards they used on their genre-busting 1998 album Moon Safari. But don’t think of Love 2 as a Moon Safari sequel; it shares a little bit of that album’s spacey loungey cool (hey, it’s Air, how can it not), but the goings here are much lighter and peppier. “Love” is the bounciest song the band’s done in years, and “Be a Bee” is a far better foray into rock than pretty much everything on 10,000 Hz Legend.


Granted, it’s a bit slighter than their best work (we’ll pause while you crack your best ‘slighter than air’ joke), but as long as they give us something like “Heaven’s Light” every couple of years, you will get no complaints from us. (Astralwerks 2009)

Air MySpace page
Click to buy Love 2 from Amazon