Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hearing Voices

>> Featured Artist: Blonde Redhead

Blonde Redhead were big in my ACRN days, and yet it never really caught my ear or break out from among the other college rockers.

But there were quite a few Lobsters who made the leap and fell in love with this band. I guess I always expected they'd finally get me.

On "23," the song that has alll the cool kids swooning these days, they might have finally done it. The melody soars above an urgent drum riff and takes a lot of really amazing turns before it hits its "nah nah nah nah nah" section.

Still, I can't tell if it's an angel singing - or a four-year-old. And the only words I can make out are the occasional title mention. It sounds important, if that counts.

So let "23" be one of the first summer songs of 2007. And let's see what this band can do.

>> Album Lookout: Boxer

The National - Due Out: May 22, 2007 Beggars Banquet

As promised, I'm giving The National yet another turn in the Toaster. And here's yet another song that seems to be more of a departure from what I expect from this band.

"Start a War," probably the centerpiece of Boxer, finds The National channeling Dire Straits. It's good enough for a West Wing emotional moment, for sure.

The song builds from a beautiful acoustic guitar hook, which is good enough to be repeated. This isn't a band that opens for Arcade Fire just to sing its fun and filthy "Mr. November" chorus. This is a band that, with the songwriting prowess exhibited here and in last week's post, has the potential to be one of the best bands of 2007.

>> Reverting to: 1956

They called him "Frogman." Clarence Henry's smash hit "Ain't Got No Home" might have helped earn him that nickname, you know, with his matter-of-fact statements that he can sing like a girl and he can sing like a frog. Then he proves it by belting out the 3rd and 4th verses with his best falsetto and croak.

But it's the "woo" intro and bridge that gets stuck in my head. And it will get you too.

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