Tag Archives: twee

Pinoy Twee

I was looking in vain for YouTube footage of Orange Juice playing “Moscow Olympics” and discovered that there’s a band named after the song.  You’d guess such a band would be pretty good, and you’d be right.  But you might not guess they’d be from the Philippines!  I didn’t know before tonight that there’s a healthy scene of Filipino bands making pop records that sound like they were made 15 years ago in Sweden — see and hear, for instance, The Wentletraps.  (I like the instrumental “Vignettes.”)  I’d like to hear their cover of “Just Like Honey,” but I can’t find it online.  OK, maybe you knew there was a Filipino twee pop scene — but did you know there was a Filipino Christian twee pop scene?  These guys can’t be the only Christian pop band in the world called “Grace Period” but I’ll bet they’re the best.  (Listen:  “Can’t Get Away From You.”)

Anyway, if this is all too bright and sweet for you, cleanse that palate with a really disturbing ukulele version of “Helter Skelter” by Karinne Keithley.  OK, I’ll concede this is bright and sweet too.  But in a “Helter Skelter” kind of way.

helterskelter.mp3

Update:  Hey, here’s the Wentletraps playing “Just Like Honey”:

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Pythagorean doldrums

Since the All-Star Break the Orioles have scored 79 runs and allowed 93.  According to the Pythagorean formula we should have won about 7 of the 17 games we’ve played.  Instead we’re 4-13, with tonight’s 9th-inning loss to Detroit in a game we’d led 5-0 the latest sour little burst of dispirit.

If you need some cheerful Pythagoras to balance that out, look no further than the brand-new record from SF indie-pop outfit The Invisible Cities, featuring a hypnotic and slightly kooky track called “Pythagorean Theorem”:

‘a’ squared plus ‘b’ squared
the sum equals ‘c’ squared

opposite the angle ninety degrees wide
the hypotenuse likes saying it is the ‘c’ side
the other two keep stretching they don’t mind
they’re crafting copper etchings they’re just fine

For a limited time, their new album is free for download.  I recommend it (though my favorite song of theirs remains the older “Bumper Cars,” which you can listen to on their myspace page.)

Update: “Pythagorean Theorem” now live on YouTube.

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Prickly: 14 songs

Update:  The download link in this post is dead, but you can now get 14 Songs from my Google Drive.

I’ve blogged before about the great Boston indie rock group Prickly, who released a handful of contributions to various compilations and one album on Harriet Records (the very tall and thoughtful impresario behind which is now a dean, and maybe always was..)  I like the description from this site:

Prickly is a soft-spoken intricate little union between four people who have never visited my kitchen but seem welcome any time.

photoOne of the guys from Prickly worked at The Million-Year Picnic in Harvard Square and would give a copy of Prickly’s cassette-only demo, 14 Songs, to anyone who asked.  I got one.  On the front there’s a drawing of an angry gnome-like man with a hat, highlighted with yellow marker.

I recently learned how to use Audacity to transfer cassette tapes to .mp3.  Which means I can now present to you  — with the permission of singer Collin Oberndorf, the only member of Prickly I was able to track down — what I believe to be the only digital copy of 14 Songs in existence.  Download it here. The sound quality isn’t great, but I think it’s as good as I can get out of this 15-year-old cassette.  And the music, a kind of quietly roaring superimposition of soprano harmonies, NZ guitar, and ambient noise, still sounds great to me.  That description doesn’t make it sound very twee, but it is. Here is the always on-point Glenn McDonald on one of the best tracks, “Fashion Sense of Famous Monsters of Filmland”:

I think I’ve got everything Prickly did now, three singles, one CD EP and a few stray compilation tracks. This 1995 disk is actually the earliest single, as best I can tell self-released. The prize, in my opinion, is the title track, a hauntingly compassionate Frankenstein slow-dance (to go with Too Much Joy’s rousing “Pride of Frankenstein”, perhaps), intertwining traces of the Velvet Underground, Buffalo Tom and Salem 66. “Phonebill” and “Spotty Dog” are faster, but less dramatic, the contrast between the band’s swirling drive and Collin Oberndorf’s weightless voice less unnerving. 45, black. Strange cartoon art.

My favorite song here is “The Lonely Passion of Joey Heatherton.”  You can hear a clean recording of the song as covered by Shumai here: but I much prefer Prickly’s version, with no keyboards, just a lot of strumming and a young woman singing at the top of her range — in a way that sounds more like asserting — “I can’t dance at your thousand dollar wedding….”

Tracklist:

  • Phonebill
  • The Lonely Passion of Joey Heatherton
  • Hedgeclipping Song
  • Stunt Double
  • Good Bison Bad Bison
  • Pigeons
  • Fool
  • Fashion Sense of Famous Monsters of Filmland
  • Spotty Dog
  • Sposeta Be A Funeral
  • Gordon’s Gone
  • Flatland
  • The Intriguing One-Finger Melody
  • Wire
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Two complaints about Juno

  • I like dense, fast, quirky dialogue as much as the next fellow, but what they put in the mouths of the teenage characters in this movie is too much to be believed. I kept thinking, “This is fine, but if Joss had written it, it would really work.” I’ve read a lot about about the power of Ellen Page’s performance. And she was good! But actually the movie relaxed a little and was better whenever she was offscreen.
  • The movie seems to care a lot about what records it likes; and that’s fine. But then why present a main character who allegedly worships the Stooges and Patti Smith, to the point of talking about how it makes all modern music (including the Melvins!) sound “precious,” and then have the soundtrack be the preciousest, tweest specimens of indie cuddlecore imaginable? What does it say about this movie that when Belle and Sebastian comes on the radio your reaction is “OK, now we’re rocking out?”
  • One non-complaint:  all credit to the movie for including a song by the great Barry Louis Polisar, whose anthem “Don’t Put Your Finger Up Your Nose” was #1 with a bullet on my childhood record player.
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