30 March 2008

traxxlisting #1 :: hottest all-girl groups

I'm introducing a new feature to the blog today: Traxxlisting. It's pretty much a Top 7 list of whatever I feel like counting down on that day. I'm starting with a simple topic for the first list:

Top 7 Hottest All-Girl Groups

  1. The Spice Girls

  2. Yeah, I mean they pretty much had to make the list. No guy my age didn't get through middle school without picking a favorite. Mine was Baby at the time, but as an adult now I must say that Sporty had a much better voice and is honestly quite the looker as well.

  3. Fem 2 Fem

  4. I'm aware that they're lesbians. Why the hell do you think they made the list? Seriously, hotness.

  5. The Flirts (10¢ A Dance Lineup)

  6. I wish I could find a real photo of the ladies from The Flirts, but this odd album cover caricature will have to do. They're hot because they have this strangely awesome combination of being hot chicks that look like they can hold their own in a fight. I, for one, find this incredibly attractive.

  7. All Saints

  8. Definite hotness here as well. They're definitely '90s chicks, but I'm okay with the cargo pants / metallic silver nail polish look.

  9. Dream (Original Lineup)

  10. Remember Dream? They had a semi-hit with the song "This Is Me" back in 2001. There was also a commercial where a little girl was singing the song and dancing with a cardboard cutout. It's completely mindless pop music, but they were definitely a bunch of cute girls. I like the readhead in particular because she looks like the quiet nerdy chick from science class that was probably really good at making out.

  11. The Eyeliners

  12. Hot sisters are always a plus. They aren't too well known as a band, but I remember seeing the front of their CD a couple of years back and their cuteness sticking in my mind. Très sexy.

  13. Bardeux

  14. Do I really need to make a commentary here? Let the photo speak for itself. These ladies are HOT. The only way a girl group could be hotter than Bardeux is if Acacia & Jaz each had an equally hot daughter and then they made a hi-nrg supergroup. *cough* Please?

22 March 2008

"grazing in the grass" || cc: DIVA || 1988

I must admit that I'm totally a sucker for awesome covers. This is definitely one of them.

The song "Grazing In The Grass" was originally a soul tune recorded in 1968 by an African trumpeter named Hugh Masekela. His early work had been very political, focusing on struggles faced by citizens of South Africa. When he made it to the United States in the '60s, he made friends with Harry Belafonte and his work became much more oriented toward mainstream jazz. "Grazing In The Grass" was instrumental as recorded by Masekela.

The Friends Of Distinction recorded their version a year later, which would go on to become the most well-known version of this song to American audiences.

cc: DIVA's version is unforgivingly '80s. It's a healthy blend of garage house and Italo-disco, two genres which fit surprisingly well together. It brings a nice '80s attitude to a song whose lyrical content was already surprisingly '80s, despite having been written 20 years prior. It's just a nice tune for a summer day.

Thanks very much to my blog buddy Nasty G for turning me on to this track!

Listen to it here.

Available On:
Yowusupwidat?EMI-ManhattanCDP 7 48832 2CD

"love to run" || firefox ak || 2006

This song has taken almost two years to see release in the United States, but it was worth the wait. I can't really explain what's so special about the music, but the chorus is some the most intoxicatingly catchy melody that I've come across in new music in years. It's in the classic pop vein of snippets that you can hear one time and sing for the rest of the day.

After a raindrop-synth opening melody over ambient rainfall, we're suddenly greeted with a shotgun cock, effectively making the drum machine sound like a gunshot when it kicks in. The song's first verse is in a minor key, which, when coupled with the gun-blast effect, gives the song an immediate sense of disharmony and longing. Suddenly, the chorus hits, we're in a major key, and the lyrics explain the gunshot effect. It eases a little bit of tension that we may have felt at first as listeners, and brings about a sense of joy for the rest of the track. The song ends rather abruptly, which leaves me feeling as if something is unresolved.

Firefox AK is Andrea Kellerman, a Swedish lady who got her cool stage name from seeing "firefox" written on a fire hydrant and "AK" from her initials. She seems to be inspired to write music by the slightest oddities, such as living in Berlin for three months and "not seeing a single bird" during that time. She details this and other things about herself on her MySpace page.

She just released her second album, If I Were A Melody, in Sweden, and hopefully it'll see US release before too long. Until then, Madame, Madame can certainly tide me over. Really, "Love To Run" can do the job by itself.

Listen to it here.

Available On:
Madame, MadameMinty Freshmf81CDBuy it here!

20 March 2008

"i'm in love with a german film star" || the passions || 1981

A gorgeous blend of soft rock & new wave rock. This song is perfect to play late on a summer afternoon, right as the sun is going down, but while the coals are still hot on your grill and before everybody's decided it's too dark to continue throwing a frisbee.

It glows. I swear it to you, this song glows. It warms your skin and you feel as if you're immersed in a warm bubble bath.

This song gained The Passions one-hit wonder status in the UK, but the song didn't even get them that much attention in the US. It's from an album called 30,000 Feet Over China, and I wish I could say that there are other gems like this one on it, but there really aren't. The sound is pretty much consistent throughout; it all sounds like very early British new wave rock (and with good reason, because that's what it is), but the other tracks just don't give me warm fuzzies the way "German Film Star" does.

I wanted to save this one for a nice summer evening in a couple of months, but I figured I'd plant the seed in your heads now. Don't worry, when it comes time to spin this one in July, I'll be here to remind you.

Listen to it here.

Available On:
Electric 80'sSony BMG82876 70538 2CD

08 March 2008

"just one kiss" || maria vidal || 1985

Eighties movie soundtracks are so cool. Many of them are gems that contain songs from scenes at high school dances, the kinds of songs that make you wish you had bands that cool playing at your high school.

Today's track is from the soundtrack to the 1985 Jim Carrey movie Once Bitten, which follows his virginal teenage plight to escape the fangs of a hungry vampira (played by '60s model Lauren Hutton), and, of course, get laid in the process. The soundtrack is ripe with the goofy '80s pop rock & new wave rock sound, pausing only for a funky electro number ("Makes Me Crazy") and the movie's title theme, which was very pleasantly included as the last track on the album.

The song I chose for today, though, is the one from the school's Halloween dance. Maria Vidal performs it live in the movie, complete with her backup band, as the costumed kids do their thing on the dance floor. After the song is over, the vampira shows up, Maria strikes up the band and a ridiculous '80s movie dance-off ensues between Carrey's character Mark, his girlfriend, and the fanged wonder. (Check out that scene here, complete with the very unusual live version of that song.)

This album is kinda tough to find. Beware of CD copies that circulate on eBay -- the only ones I've ever seen are bootlegs from Germany. I'm not certain that an actual MCA factory-pressed CD exists of this soundtrack. I got extremely lucky and found my first copy on cassette at a thrift store downtown. It still plays perfectly (I even listened to it just this morning)! I've seen several copies the LP on eBay, and I have a golden rule that it's much safer to buy an LP as the odds of your winding up with a bootleg in that case are slim to none. If anyone has info on whether or not a factory CD does exist of this soundtrack, information would be much appreciated.

Listen to it here.

Available On:
Once Bitten SoundtrackMCA RecordsMCA-6154LP
Once Bitten / Just One KissAriola Benelux107.9187"

04 March 2008

"i saw it on your keyboard" || hellogoodbye || 2006

Okay, time for an overload of cute.

Hellogoodbye disgusts me. I find their saccharine music so overwhelmingly syrupy that it leaves my lips feeling like they've just made out with a girl who wears too much cherry lip gloss.

But my gosh is it quality pop music.

This adorable little tune samples Beethoven's "Ode To Joy" and turns it into a sugary pop confection. The synth calls to mind images of neon hard candy crunching in teenage mouths, as young lovers chat with each other on AIM and Facebook. The lyrics are about the inevitable longing that comes with teenage puppy love, so there's of course no depth whatsoever.

This one is purely carmelized fun.

Listen to it here.

Available On:
Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!Drive Thru RecordsDTR 69CD

02 March 2008

"synchronicity ii" || the police || 1983

I'm trying a new section in the bottom of the blog, where I inform you where you can purchase a copy of the day's track, i.e. what album or compilation it appears on. I don't want to promote the purchase of music from any certain media outlet, so I probably won't post direct sales links to online music stores unless items are only available specifically from one company. You probably already have a favorite place to shop for music, and I'm not trying to lure you to another site. I will, however, always include a "buy it here" link if the item is available for sale directly from the artist on their website, as I firmly believe that music should be purchased that way whenever possible. I've also added a new link list of sites that I find useful when shopping for music, and you may employ them at your own discretion.

Any feedback on these changes would be most appreciated.

This song forced tears to the backs of my eyes the first time I heard it. To call it hauntingly beautiful sounds almost insulting, as I don't know that it was Sting's intention to write a song about haunting beauty. It's an extremely powerful insight into the philosophical theory mentioned in the title, and it's sure to leave you with a spine tingle and a cold chill or two.

The theory of synchronicity, as I understand it, explains that sometimes two events occur simultaneously but very distantly, and that the fact that they're synchronous has meaning. For example (and please bear with me, as I'm making this up, quite literally, as I type), imagine that I get out of my bed here one day to go for a run, only to throw on my iPod and discover that its hard drive has died. Now imagine a woman in Seattle who's just discovered that her boyfriend is cheating on her. She's furious, and is throwing all of his CDs out the window of their apartment and they're smashing on the street below. Now, of course, I don't know this woman in Seattle. We're miles apart; we've never met. She doesn't know who I am or even that I exist. But my iPod crashed at the same moment that her boyfriend's CDs are being destroyed. Synchronously, we're both losing our music, and that makes the theory of synchronicity applicable here.

Now of course the connection between events in question is almost never this blatant, but you get the idea, right?

The lyrics of this track present members of a "suburban family" who are miserable. The father hates his repetitive life and his family & job make him miserable. The mother threatens suicide as a call for help to the others, but they think she's full of crap. The grandmother won't shut up. As this picture is painted, we're also thrown brief glimpses of a lake in Scotland, from which a nondescript creature is rising.

The song is quick and driving, almost to the point of fury, which gives it a sense of immediacy, discomfort, and recklessness. I love that the song has no conclusion, as I feel any ending to this story would have been a disappointment. Instead, we're left to ponder what will become of both family and creature.

I hope you now understand why the adjectives "haunting and beautiful" are applicable yet are mere litotes when trying to describe the lyrical contents of this song.

"Mother chants her litany of boredom and frustration / But we all know her suicides are fake"

If a more potent lyric were ever written in a song, I've yet to find it.

Listen to it here.

Available On:
The PoliceA & M RecordsB0009080-22 x CD
Synchronicity IIA & M RecordsCD 3735CD