Thursday, May 22, 2008

Casual Listening 5-23-08

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

Style Pandora Contest Deadline Extended to Tuesday, May 27!

Contest rules at

Check out for this weeks reviews, where Jeff’s brother Dave helps to pick the best of the week. Donna Summer, Foxboro Hot Tubs, Orchestra Baobab, and more. Meanwhile, today’s guest writer is Matt Dufek, the second of the Stump Pandora winners, who’s also got one of the best critical ears of anyone I know.

May 23, 2008

An interesting party question I like to ask is “What albums are your recent classics?” Meaning, what albums have you have kept in fairly regular rotation for the past 5 or so years? This is an interesting question to me because it supersedes the notion of “artistic merit” and gets to what I think the most beautiful aspect of music: connection. What albums connect with you? Which have become a regular part of your life (perhaps even in spite of yourself)?

Here’s my list in no particular order:

Mooney Suzuki – People Get Ready

The only album I still listen to from the barrage of garage-rock revival at the turn of the millennium. Punky, rock n’roll, rump-shakers with a great back-beat for a fast drive. Play this loud and you cannot help but feel cool, even if you drive a Corolla. In fact, the crappier the car, the better this music would sound in it.

For fans of: The White Stripes, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, MC5

American Analog Set – Know By Heart

Soothing and at times dreamy while retaining a vibrant pulse with skittering percussion, vibraphone, hushed vocals, chiming guitars and that warm, fuzzy organ. A cozy sonic blanket.

For fans of: Luna, Stereolab

The Busy Signals – Baby’s First Beats

This album makes me smile every time I play it. Built with samples of cooing female vocals, loungy horns, flutes, strings, and lo-fi beats and sung in a boyish unassuming tone. Relaxing and groovy, great for a sunny ride on a spring day.

For fans of: Beck, Beulah,

The Constantines – The Constantines

I’m gonna be cheap and quote someone else’s review; I think it’s such a spot on description: Bruce Springsteen fronting Fugazi (an arty, D.C. punk band). Gritty, bluesy, punky and earnest. No pretentions here, just honest-to-goodness rock n’ roll. Also, possibly the best live act out there.

For fans of: Fugazi, Bruce Springsteen, Spoon, The Clash

M Coast – Say It In Slang

Breezy, jazzy, Steely Dan-esque tunes. Charming boy/girl vocals with a background of light electric and acoustic guitars, horns, piano, vibraphone and plenty of flute. Honestly, the flute really makes this album awesome. Music for wine and dinner parties and really just about any other event or non-event.

For fans of: Steely Dan, Of Montreal, Astud Gilberto

Mojave 3 – Puzzles Like You

This album should have made Mojave 3 more of a household name than The Shins. Sun-shiny pop with upbeat tempos and brilliant hooks. Guitar pop at its very finest, catchy yet down-to-earth.

For fans of: The Shins, Yo La Tengo

The Features – Exhibit A

Driving bombastic rock with plaintive vocals, raging guitars and 60’s sounding organ. My wife and I saw them open up for the Raconteurs and The Features blew away the headliner. Did I mention the killer rhythm section? Dang!

For fans of: The Hives, Superchunk, Kings of Leon

The Minders – Cul-De-Sacs & Dead Ends

Jangly, Beatles-esque indie pop. Imagine Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices fronting Neutral Milk Hotel. This is probably my favorite album right now.

For fans of: Guided By Voices, The Beatles, Apples In Stereo

Stereolab – Margerine Eclipse

How do you explain this band to someone who has never experienced the lounge/jazz/bossanova/psychedelia/krautrock/electronica fusion that is Stereolab? For a real treat, listen to this one on headphones. Gorgeous.

For fans of: Air, Burt Bacharach, Björk

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