August 30, 2010

Modcast #176: A Firm Grasp Of The Obvious

Welcome to Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World. My mod world has been rocking out to a lot of power pop this week, so I kicked things off with a bit of early 80s Seattle power pop, courtesy of Jim Basnight and the Moberly's. Basnight is a jack of all trades when it comes to music, and something of a basketball fiend with the rest of his life, running a college basketball blog dedicated to the UW Huskies.

Even with all the power pop I've been imbibing of late the first full set of the show is new soul music. The soul revival continues, full-fledged with groups like the Diplomats and Fitz & The Tantrums, and winding its tentacles into indie pop with acts like She & Him. And, since it is summer, or at least the last few days of summer, I had to throw a little bit of summery, sunshiny, effervescent pop music. I don't know what in the world Japanese band The Bridge is singing about, but whatever it is it sounds good to me. They were one of the forerunners of Tokyo's whole Shubuya-kei scene in the early 90s that produced a slew of great artists/bands like Pizzicato Five, Towa Tei, Flippers Guitar, Fantastic Plastic Machine and a bunch more. I'm thinking I could do an entire show with just Shubuya bands. Hell I could easily do two such shows. And I just might.

Just to keep you all on your toes I've rounded things out with a set of two-tone styled ska, most notably featuring all girl ska band The Belle Stars. Most people, if they know The Belle Stars at all, probably know them from their hit cover of "Iko Iko" that was featured in the movie Rain Man, allegedly because Dustin Hoffman liked the band and lobbied for their inclusion -- no matter that the song had languished for five years before that and the band had already broken up. But, for my money their best stuff was their early stuff, so you get their debut single from 1980 like it or not (I think you'll like it).

That's it for this week's modcast. I'm working up a review of garage rockers The Ruiners new LP Happy Birthday Bitch for later this week and will hopefully find time to share a few other videos, songs, and what nots. Stay tuned, supposedly it gets better.

Jim Basnight & The Moberlys -- Tonight (198?)
Fitz And The Tantrums -- Dear Mr. President (2010)
Diplomats of Solid Sound -- Promise Of A Brand New Day (2010)
She & Him -- Don't Look Back (2010)
Bridge -- Pool Side Music (1994)
Very Truly Yours -- Things You Used To Say (2010)
Skypark -- Secret Hideaway (1998)
Belle Stars -- Hiawatha (1981)
Kingpins -- Plan Of Action (1996)
The President's Men -- State Of Mind (1980)
The Ruiners -- Happy Birthday Bitch! (2010)

She & Him -- You Really Got A Hold On Me

Fitz & The Tantrums -- Winds Of Change

Download the modcast.

August 24, 2010

Dean Martin Rolls The Rolling Stones Onto His Show

On Dean Martin's show the Stones could make sweet love to you, but on Ed Sullivan you weren't allowed to spend the night together. Go figure.

August 20, 2010

Modcast #175: Gentlemen Start Your Engines

Welcome to the 175th installment of Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World. You are in for a treat today with some great covers that you will absolutely love, as well as some old school mod power pop, and a few bright and shining pieces of the now sound of indie power pop. What more can you ask for? If you're looking for one of the last things Ella Fitzgerald ever put on an album, or a shining example of soulful power pop courtesy of The Chords, or maybe something new from Scottish power poppers The Martial Arts, then you've come looking in the right place. Gentlemen, and ladies, start your engines. The race starts now.
The Punkles -- Glass Onion (2006)
The Martial Arts -- Empty Out Here (2010)
The Burning Hotels -- French Heart Attack (2010)
The Love Language -- Heart To Tell (2010)
The Action -- She's Got My Heart (1982)
Twist -- This Is Your Life (1979)
The Second Generation -- The Way You Were (1988)
Supergrass -- Condition (1995)
The Chords -- Knock On Wood (1979)
Stupidity -- You've Got My Number (1983)
Ella Fitzgerald -- Get Ready (1969)

Supergrass -- Grace

The Chords -- Something's Missing

Download the modcast.

New Soul Album on the way from Fitz and the Tantrums

Fitz and The Tantrums is a new soul combo out of Hollywood that has been making a splash among soul fans for a number of months now. Earlier this year they releasde a five-song EP of love gone wrong songs appropriately titled Songs for a Breakup. The EP was accompanied by some great videos and the buzz about the band has been growing ever since. Now they're on the verge of releasing their debut full-length release and it seems they're on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream even. The new album, Pickin' Up The Pieces, includes the EP tracks along with a slew of new originals ranging from the fully orchestrated organ ballad "Tighter", to the moody and super soulful, floor pounding "News For You", to the title track "Pickin' Up The Pieces" which is a catchy, melodious bit of sunny soul-pop.

Fronted by soul singer and French ex pat Michael Fitzpatrick, the band delivers sixties influenced soul that is reminiscent of motown sounds of the Temptations, the Miracles, and the Four Tops. Yet, the band has avoided being simply a schmaltzy retro band, due in thanks to their passion for the music, and some very good song crafting. And you can't ignore Fitz's striking lead vocals which are excellently backed up by the velvety voiced Noelle Scaggs. All along the way the band delivers some great organ, drums and horns -- primarily saxophone. Interestingly, there's no guitar which doesn't detract at all from their pitch perfect take on sixties styled soul, but rather keeps the songs light and fresh.

Having opened this year for bands like The Specials and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and now with this fabulous new release it seems as if they're on their way to the top.

You can get a sneak piece of the new album --due out on Aug. 24th-- on the Fitz and The Tantrums website.

Fitz and the Tantrums -- Pickin' Up The Pieces

Fitz and the Tantrums -- New For You

Fitz & The Tantrums -- Breakin' The Chains Of Love

August 18, 2010

The Darling Buds Were Criminally Underrated

Out of the forerunner to Twee, known as c86, came a slew of bands that built the launching pad for the Britpop scene of the 90s. Among those earliest Britpop sounding groups were the Primitives, the Wonder Stuff, Soup Dragons and The Darling Buds. All had elements of new wave power pop backed by fuzzy guitars and the beginnings of the madchester psychadelic sound later perfected by Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, and the ever mod friendly Charlatans.

Maybe it was just the era in which they came together, or maybe it was a combination of differing personal styles, but whatever it was The Darling Bud's managed to craft an eclectic blend of sounds that ultimately paid off in later groups like Elastica and Supergrass. The band could easily go from sounding like Fuzzbox, to dropping lyrical references to the Buzzcocks in the midst of a Damned like guitar riff, and then bounce on to a sort of soulful and haunting shoegaze psychadelia.

The Darling Buds earliest sound was pure janglepop that had a sort of Blondie meets the Ramones quality underlying it all.  There was a more overt poppiness than that might signal, the sort that softened their sound, partly in thanks to the very poppy yet stunningly suave vocals of the vampishly goregous Andrea Lewis (who at times seemed more Debbie Harry than Debbie Harry).

The Darling Buds highwater mark came with their debut album Pop Said which climbed into the top 30 of the UK charts, bolstered primarily by the video of the almost bubblegummish pop hit "Burst" which went into heavy rotation on MTV. Not to take anything away from "Burst" which was a fun bit of music, but the rest of the album was far superior in almost everyway. Sadly, tracks like "Spin" and "Shame On You" and the spiky "Mary's Got To Go" boasted catchy hooks that should have caught on but went largely unnoticed as the band released other weaker singles.

After Pop Said the band oddly released an album that compiled earlier songs -- including some from Pop Said -- before finally releasing all new material the very same year. That second record, Crawdaddy, had a more polished producution and produced one fine single, "Crystal Clear". By their third and final album, Erotica in 1992, the band's sound had matured into a rather cliche, bland, 90s alternative sound and lacked the sense of fun and joy that had punctuated their earlier work.

The mid-90s came and ushered in a slew of bands that picked up where Pop Said had left off and took us all on a nice Britpop ride, alas without The Darling Buds who broke up somewhere around 1993.

The Darling Buds -- Mary's Got To Go

The Darling Buds -- Valentine

The Darling Buds -- Burst

August 16, 2010

Mr. Suave's Swingin' Cocktail Loungecast #2

Welcome to Mr. Suave's Swingin' Cocktail Lounge which this week is filled with swank sounds top to bottom. This week in the lounge I've got cool tunes from Swing Out Sister and James Clarke, got some exotic tiki music from tikiyaki orchestra and the Tiki Tones, as well as some seriously swingin' bachelor pad trax from Googie Rene and Eldee Young. To really set the stage, opening the show is the one and only, lounge legend, Les Baxter with the title track to his 1970 album Que Mango, arguably one of the best lounge album ever recorded. Since the sun is out and Seattle is sweltering I've mixed myself a batch of my special recipe lemonade and I suggest you do the same. Then sit back, put your feet up and just lounge around.
P.S. If you're looking for cool cocktail recipes, news and what not check out Waitiki International's cocktail blog, The Cocktail Journal.

Les Baxter -- Que Mango! (1970)
Boris Schoska -- Toys for Boys (195?)
Swing Out Sister -- Certain Shades of Limelight (2004)
James Clarke -- Double Take (196?)
Eldee Young -- Mr. Kicks (1962)
Combustible Edison feat. Juan Esquivel -- Miniskirt (1994)
Googie Rene & His Orchestra -- Caeser's Pad (1959)
Tikiyaki Orchestra -- Mai Tai's on the Moon (2007)
Waitiki International -- Primativa (2005)
Tiki Tones -- Sneaky Tiki (1996)
Garry Blake & His Orchestra -- The Odd Couple (1968)

Tikiyaki Orchestra -- Song of Delilah

Download this program.

August 8, 2010

Modcast #174: Get Ready For Action - Featuring Sal from The Goldstars

Get ready for action, indeed! As always, this week on the modcast I've got another great show with lots of cool garage rock and power pop, and also including an interview with front man Sal of Chicago garage rockers The Goldstars. If you're not hip to The Goldstars then you're in for a treat. And if you're already cued in on the band well, you're still in for a treat.

Len Price 3 -- Man Who Used To Be (2010)
Material Issue -- 2 Steps (1997)
Mondo Topless -- Pick You Up (1998)
The Goldstars -- D.M.V. (2006)
Interview w/ Sal from The Goldstars Pt. 1
The Goldstars -- She's Gonna (2010)
Interview w/ Sal from The Goldstars Pt. 2
60 Ft. Dolls -- Back To The Summer (1998)
Small World -- Liberty (1982)

Len Price 3 -- Mr. Grey


August 5, 2010

Modcast #173: Mr. Suave's Losers Lounge

In the early 90s there was a bubbling up of cocktail music coming from the unsorted Goodwill record bins all the way to the dusty film music libraries of long dead or dormant record labels. Like a slow burn it crackled and hissed its way from one hi-fi set to the next, reviving memories of the yesteryear of 50s and 60s music, mostly amongst folks (like yours truly) just a tad to young to actually have such memories.

Listen now

In 1993 a little book called Incredibly Strange Music Volume 1 accompanied by a CD compilation arrived to little fanfare. Like they say it only takes a spark. The fire that got going not only included an explosion of lounge music compilations (multiple volumes of Music For a Bachelor's Den, the Beat at Cinnecita and Easy Tempo series, and the grand-daddy of lounge mixes, Capitol's Ultra-Lounge series which is still going strong) but also original acts like Love Jones and Combustible Edison who were echoing the smooth, suave, and sometimes silly and screwy, sounds of Esquivel, Martin Denny, Les Baxter and even Burt Bacharach and The Rat Pack among others. The lounge revival was in full swing, complete with it's own movie, Swingers. And later it's own parody, Austin Powers.

It's not surprising that mods like myself, lovers of all things 60s, grew up and into the lounge revival. The music evokes some of the best aspects of 60s culture above and beyond the typical British Invasion, soul, and garage rock sounds most mods were weened on.

Joining me on this week's loungecast is loungemaster extraordinaire, Ken from The Shingles, a long time mod friend, and he who is guilty of turning me on to the sounds of the cocktail nation all the way back in the early 90s. Here then is our primer on lounge music with a few better known tracks, some lesser lights, some easy listening, and some more jazzy stuff. Overall this is as good a lounge sampler as you might stumble across anywhere.

And, for those so inclined here are a few recommendations for what to spin during your next cocktail hour.

Love Jones -- Here's to the losers (1993)
Martin Denny -- Exotica (1968)
The Beach Boys -- Diamond Head (1968)
Bert Kaempfert -- No A Go Go (1966)
Walter Wanderly -- Call Me (1966)
Burt Bacharach -- Promises Promises (1969)
Tom Jones -- Promise Her Anything (1964)
Combustible Edison -- Millionaire's Holiday (1994)
Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 -- Constant Rain (1967)
Corduroy -- Something In My Eye (1993)
David Whitaker -- Hammerhead's Apartment (1968)
Frank Sinatra -- Here's To The Losers (1964)

Combustible Edison - Vertigogo

Love Jones - Paid For Loving

August 1, 2010

What time is it? Time to get some better software!

Due to technical difficulties this week's modcast has been slightly delayed. I think I need a new watch. One that does better audio editing!