Thursday, November 30, 2006

So Who Has $17,000.00 To Loan Me?

And that's with eight days left to go...What an amazing piece of history though--a "one-of-a-kind acetate" of the Warhol-approved version of the Velvet Underground & Nico album for sale on eBay right now. I remember seeing this on a VU unauthorized documentary not too long ago. I'm sure the bidding will probably get substantial higher in the final day.

You know, it is the season of giving; maybe if you each pitched in a few measley grand you could make me a very happy boy this Xmas.... :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Sorry I haven't posted anything in a few days (including the review of Aronofsky's "The Fountain" that I promised. I'm currently in Chicago prepping for a big work presentation on Friday, and I'm working around the clock to finish it in time. I'll try my best to get the Fountain review up by Saturday. Take care everybody!

Sunday, November 26, 2006


It could very well be that I am (yet again) drastically behind the times, but I accidently stumbled upon an album today that makes me wish I hadn't already completed my "Ten Best" list, because this should have definitely been on there.

The album is called "the electricity in your house wants to sing" by a group called "i am robot and proud". The "group" is actually one guy from Toronto named Shaw Han-Liem, and he makes some of the most interesting, delicate and original pop electronic music I've heard in a while. My first listen to the album reminded me of the first time I ever put on Boards of Canada's "Music Has The Right To Children"; though the style is quite different, it gives me the same warm and fuzzy feeling, like I'm a little kid walking home from school on a sunny day. It's been a pretty lousy weekend, and this was just the album I needed....

Here's a live performance clip from YouTube--

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Some live footage of one of my favorite bands of this year, Ponies In the Surf --

I'm about halfway through typing up my review of Darren Aronofsky's new film "The Fountain", which I saw Thanksgiving night. Hopefully should have it up this evening or early next week.

Friday, November 24, 2006


After years of rumors and delays, it looks like Fantoma will finally be releasing "The Films of Kenneth Anger: Volume One".

Kenneth Anger is one of the most influencial filmmakers of the New American Cinema movement, essentially the birth of experimental cinema in the United States. While a contemporary of Stan Brakhage, Anger chose to a style completely different than Brakhage's "supremacy of image" non-narrative silent works, instead making experimental narratives rich with occult mythology, popular music and vibrant colors.

Anger will probably be best known as an Occult filmmaker (he was closely associated with the Church of Satan and includes many references to Aleister Crowley in his work from the 60's), but he was also just as interested in exploring gay eroticism ("Fireworks") and American pop and consumerist culture ("Kustom Kar Kommandos", "Mouse Heaven"). He also made one of the most beautiful homages to the magic of cinema since Melies with his film "Rabbit Moon".

Music was always just as important as image to Anger, and as a result his films have some of the most impressive soundtracks in cinema history. His film Lucifer Rising features an epic soundtrack written by former Manson Family member Bobby Beausoleil (an alternate version was also scored by Led Zepplin's Jimmy Page), and films like "Puce Moment", "Scorpio Rising" and "Kustom Kar Kommandos" featured hip montages of 50's and 60's popular music, a technique that would influence filmmaker Martin Scorcese in films such as "Goodfellas'.

Time has not been kind to Anger. Despite remaining an active filmmaker, he has sadly become a victim of mental illness and poverty and in the past few years has been evicted from his LA apartment and was arrested for assault. But his great work still remains available. While the Fantoma DVD will not be out until late January, you can still rent some of his films on VHS at Waterfront Video as well as find them available on many p2p sites. Or if you want to experience them as they were truly meant to be experienced, get some friends together & split the cost of a 16mm print rental from Canyon Cinema and Inaugurate your Pleasure Dome!

(P.S.--Casey posted a link to the Jimmy Page version of the Lucifer Rising soundtrack here. )

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I recently went to see Andrew Bujalski's new film "Mutual Appreciation" at the Music Box Theater on N. Southport in Chicago. I've been wanting to see this movie for a while, being a fan of Bujalski's first feature-length film "Funny Ha Ha" (which is currently available for rent at the wonderful Waterfront Video on Shelburne Road).

"Funny Ha Ha" was one of the most unique, yet familiar, films that I've seen in a while. And as much as I hate phrases like "it captured the zeitgeist of the generation" it, well, kinda did. The film is about a young woman named Marnie (played perfectly by non-actress Kate Dollenmayer) who is a few years out of college and is kind of meandering from temp job to temp job during the day and party to party at night. She's pretty, popular and confused, especially in her love life. She confesses to her friends that she's still in love with Alex (Bishop Allen band member Christian Rudder), whom she confessed her feelings to on a drunken night the past summer to only have him dismiss her....and then elope with his ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile, Marnie starts a new job with another temp company and meets Mitchell (director Bujalski) who quickly falls in love with her, but, similar to Marnie's position with Alex, the feelings aren't mutual.

Apparently this myth of "Mutual Appreciation" really appealed to Bujalski, as it became the title of his next film. "Mutual Appreciation" is an incredible sophmore work, with an direction and editing style that has matured greatly in a just a few years. Despite the seemingly improvised feel of both films, they are both carefully scripted with very little in the way of improvision. This approach has led to many (somewhat) justified and flattering John Cassavettes comparisons, which makes sense considering one of Bujalski's Boston University mentors was Cassavetes scholar Ray Carney.

"Mutual Appreciation" starts with a young man named Alan (star Justin Rice, another Bishop Allen member) and woman named Ellie (Rachel Clift) lying next to each other in bed, fully dressed, having a funny and flirty conversation about iron deficiency. It seems like they're about to consumate a successful first date when suddenly a second man (Bujalski) leaps into bed between them. Kinky three-way? No, this is Lawrence, Ellie's live-in boyfriend. Alan is an old high-school chum of Lawrence who just moved to Brooklyn from Boston after his band broke up, and we quickly see that his presence in NYC is going to cause some issues.

The next scene has Alan at a local college radio station, discussing his former band "The Bumblebees" and his upcoming solo show at a hip Williamsburg club. Two things become evident from the interview: 1) Alan is not at all prepared for this gig and has never played out without a backing band before and 2) the DJ, a cute girl named Sara (played by Seung-Min Lee) has an obvious crush on Alan. The second becomes a bit more obvious in the next scene, when Sara brings Alan back to her apartment, seducing him by pimping out her brother to play drums for Alan's gig & then jumping on an awkward and obviously not-to-infatuated Alan.

While Mitchell is busy working overtime as a professor for a local college, Alan and Ellie spend more time together, discussing Alan's plans and conspiring to start a tongue-in-cheek "cool, inclusive club", which they don't immediately invite Mitchell to join as the name was still "a work-in-progress". Their flirting and chemistry becomes increasingly evident as the days go on, with the sexual tension being very obvious, in an awkward Brooklyn hipster kind of way (a lot of "umms", trembling smiles and staring at shoes).

Soon Alan plays his gig with Sara's brother, including a dynamic performance of the Bishop Allen song "Quarter to Three". The crowd is very small, yet very receptive, including a record industry friend of Alan's father. The industry guy only attended the gig as a favor to Alan's dad, a business bed-fellow who calls his son in NY only to try to persuade him to get a real job. The industry guy invites Alan and his friends (Sara and her brother) to a "party" at his place.

From there, the night gets more and more interesting, but it's probably best not to give a full synopsis here. Go and see it yourself.

And why should you go see it? Well, for one, it's probably the best cinematic representation of the "current hip-oisie" since Richard Linklater's "Slacker", though utilizing a much more straightforward narrative & being more interested in following few characters than exploring vignettes and tangents. And for fans of cinema verite documentaries and the early films of John Cassavetes--you will not be disappointed. The same kind of energy and deceptive perceptions of "truth" are here, through authentic dialogue and grainy 16mm black & white (how heavy-grained, small format film stock ever became associated with autheticity is beyond me). And while you won't see the drunken male camraderie and spousal abuse that help defined Cassavettes' films as time capsules of the 50's, you will see the awkward confusion, post-modern irony and blue-collar debutantism that will someday define the youth of the 00's (scary thought, but you know it's true).

While "Mutual Appreciation" and "Funny Ha Ha" are far from perfect films (they tend to drag unintentionally, especially towards the end; the editing style is still fairly sophmoric), it's nice to see an original filmmaker who is finding his own voice & who is obviously just a few films away from really hitting his stride.

"Mutual Appreciation" is currently not playing at any Vermont theater (big surprise), but will be available on DVD February 23rd, 2006, jam-packed with lots of extras. I'm sure you'll be able to rent it at Waterfront Video, where "Funny Ha Ha" is currently available in their "Offbeat" section.

It begins...

After the quick death of my website, I think it's time for me to start contributing to the World Wide Webernet again. I realized that when Casey Rea over at SolidState did his shout outs to his regular contributers that I was one of the few without a Blogspot link. So, as usual, I'm a little bit late jumping on to the bandwagon, but I'm glad to be here!

I was going to call this blog "Kitchen Sink" because I wanted it to be a bit ecclectic, but luckily that name was already taken (because it was pretty lame). So instead I decided to try to little Dada trick and I turned on the TV and wrote down the first line I heard. Thankfully, it was trashy morning television, so my blog will henceforth be known as Spitting Out Teeth. It also works well with my recurring nightmare of losing teeth...but that's for another post.

I figured since I've been bugging Casey about creating a "Top Ten" list of his favorite albums of 2006, I guess I should get the ball rolling myself. So here are my favorite (new & old) albums of 2006:


#10: Sparklehorse, "Dreamt For Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain"

This one is kind of bittersweet. I'd been eagerly awaiting a new Sparklehorse release for nearly four years, since Mark Linkous' masterpiece "It's A Wonderful Life" was released. Yet, while "Dreamt..." is not a bad album by any stretch of the word (the songs are meticulously crafted and delicately beautiful), it wasn't what I was expecting. Or maybe it was exactly what I was expecting, which is even worse. IAWL took the band in a completely different direction than previous releases like "Good Morning Spider" and "Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot", with Mark opening the door of his little cave of introversion to let like-minded collaborators like Tom Waits and P.J. Harvey in (I'm still waiting for the inevitable Daniel Johnston duet). But "Dreamt..." just sounds to me like a pared-down version of IAWL at its' best and a mockery of itself at worst (the distorted mic vocals seeming a bit forced and unnecessary at times).

However, that said, it's still on my top ten for a reason. There are not too many musicians out there like Mark, with the ability to put a thrashy noise track and a gentle piano pop song back-to-back on an album and make it flow. His music is always so deeply textured, yet nothing ever seems superfluous and the melody always holds the forefront. The gentle electronica of "Getting It Wrong" is like a Thom Yorke wet dream; "Return To Me" has a Will Oldham meets Mick Jagger feel & "Knives of Summertime" is like the best Tom Petty song that Tom Petty never wrote or performed on. And if you need a nice 10-minute plus lullabye, the title track is perfect.

#9: Bishop Allen, "Charm School"

Ok, I'll admit it--I'm one of the many who are just getting into Bishop Allen this year due to Justin Rice's leading role in Andrew Bujalski's wonderful new film "Mutual Appreciation". But after seeing this movie in Chicago this past month, I couldn't get the song "Quarter to Three" out of my head and I had to buy this album.

While it's an imperfect album in many respects (whoever chose the tracklisting deserves to be shot), there are still a few very catchy jems on "Charm School" that you'll find yourself humming for weeks. "Quarter to Three" is definitely one of them, despite the version on the album unfortunately opting for twee artiness over the raw energy of the live version from the film.
"Little Black Ache" is a cute song with precious (in a good way) lyrical moments, such as " keys have found a way to lock me out again". It's also a great example of the masterful way this band can build a song, starting as simple indie drum/bass/vocals song, then morphing into a Byrds-style pop jangle, and then ending with Butterfield-esque guitar riffs that sound like a outtake from "Blonde on Blonde".

By far the standout track of the album is the very anthemic (again, in a good way) "Things Are What You Make Of Them", which had it been the title track probably would have gotten Bishop Allen some major radio airplay. Alas, it wasn't to be, but it's still a great song with an understated but perfectly appropriate slide guitar and an early Pavement-on-ecstacy kind of feel to it. I don't dance, but this song makes me want to shake my ass a little bit.

#8: Akron/Family, "Akron/Family"

I purchased this album on my first visit to the wonderful Reckless Records in Chicago this summer, and have since returned there many times. I absolutely adore this shop, and as much as I hate to criticize my beloved Pure Pop, they could learn a lot from Reckless. The staff is always incredibly helpful, friendly & never condescending and the owners of the store have the staff choose about 30-50 albums a month that they write reviews for, along with "if you're a fan of...." listings. The newest Akron/Family album, "Meek Warrior", was one of their monthly picks, but seeing as I wasn't acquainted with the band I decided to pick up the preceeding album, the self-titled "Akron/Family".

It's a brilliantly minimalistic and restrained album, reminding me a bit of Burlington's own "The Cancer Conspiracy" at times (at least in the instrumental sections). Then, at times, it gets into crazy little jam sessions that sound a little bit "Exile On Main Street" and a little bit Animal Collective. The track "Running, Returning" is a strange but engaging tune that combines a Radiohead-esque lead in, breaking out into a Joan of Arc style straining vocals over folksy guitars. "Shoes" sounds like a collaboration with The Books at the beginning and then takes multiple turns, such as vocal harmonies/clapping/stamping tangent that vaguely reminded me of "The White Album". Weird review, I know. It's a weird album. But a great "put-on-the-headphones-on-a-rainy-Sunday" listen.

#7: Pants Yell!, "Recent Drama"

2006 will forever go down in history (at least the history of my own mind) as "The Year Jay Learned To Love Twee". It was just one of the few musical styles that I could never really get into; it always just seemed so whiny and childish and pretentious. And I hate to say it, too effiminate for my tastes. I'm by no means into "cock rock", but I've always been more interested in strong, confident, defiant vocals backed up by adventurous instrumentals. Dylan, Yorke, Waits...these were my guys. Not some dork hipster in a cardigan vest playing jangle-pop.

Then I was introduced to Asaurus Records. Asaurus is a great independent twee label from Michigan (they distribute a lot of local-boy Colin Clary's stuff), and they have the truest representation of a D.I.Y. record company that I've ever seen. Most albums are about five bucks. The CD sleeve & artwork is all mediculously handmade. And to top it all off, they have gotten some of the most talented and innovative bands around to record with them.

Pants Yell! is one of these bands, and their latest release "Recent Drama" is one of my favorites. The songs are deceptively simple and well-crafted with very catchy melodies. They kind of remind me of a human version of Ben Folds Five, without the cockiness and lyrical self-importance. Just fun "bopping-your-head-around-with-a-cute-girl-in-dark-framed-glasses-and-a-thrift-store-dress" kind of music, but also enjoyable to have playing on a road trip.

The opening track, "Kids Are the Same" are a good example of the no-nonsense, get to business style of the band. It starts off like a shot & doesn't quit. "You Want Trouble" is a hilarious threat, coming from a band who, no matter who you are, you KNOW you could kick their ass. My favorite track on the album however is the second-to-last, "Your Feelings Don't Show" a Belle and Sebastian style ode to not being able to quit a girl (in a twee song? no way....). If you're looking for fun, goofy, nerdy music that will put a smile on your face, "Recent Drama" is a good pick.

#6: Bonnie Prince Billy, "The Letting Go"

I should have gotten into Will Oldham years ago, but as usual, it took me a while to catch on. I've been a long-time fan of independent filmmaker Caveh Zahedi and when he released a new film on his website, I had to pick it up. It was called "Tripping With Caveh" and was meant to be a series of short films (ala "Fishing With John") in which Caveh takes mushrooms with various celebrities. So far, the only person to take him up on the offer has been Oldham. It's a hillarious film, with Caveh in the depths of a bad trip, speaking in tongues and lying immobilized on the lawn while Oldham trips joyfully while jumping on a trampoline and riding around in go-carts.

Then out of nowhere, this crazy bald-headed hippie starts singing and playing the guitar and I was awestruck. I never imagined that such a voice could be attached to that body, that such wise lyrics could come from the mind of such a young goofball. But they did, and I've been listening to as much of Oldham's work as I can lately.

"The Letting Go" is the latest from one of Oldham's nom-de-plumes, Bonnie Prince Billy. The opening track, "Love Comes To Me", is spellbinding with its beautiful string-section playing off of Oldhams gentle acoustic strumming and the interminging vocals of Will and Dawn McCarthy (who reminds me a lot of Cat Power's Chan Marshall, and doesn't deserve the negative criticism she's been getting for her additions to this album). The beautiful and slightly off-kilter "Wai" is another standout, with the song seeming to fight Oldham's attempts to keep it simple and straightforward. And "Cursed Sleep" is one of the most perfect songs I've ever heard, with the best blending of strings & acousting guitar on the album and the evocative lyric "I dreamed of her inside of me". I really want to take this album on a camping trip; I can almost hear the music bouncing off the trees listening to it in my living room.

#5: Beirut, "Gulag Orkestar"

Do you ever have one of those albums that you've been waiting your entire life to hear, but you don't realize it until you actually hear it? Beirut's "Gulag Orkestar" was that album for me. A strange bastardization of Tom Waits' "The Black Rider", mixed with a bit of Kurt Weill & The White Stripes, it takes you back in time half a decade and then snaps you right back to present day in a matter of minutes.

Vaudeville music and culture are making a comeback recently, and I personally welcome it with open arms. I love the accordian and clarinet in popular music, whether it's a romantic French song, a Klesmer band or just strange German/Gypsy hybrids like this album. It's such a foreign, unbalanced sound and makes me feel like something magical and new is happening. The opening track, "The Gulag Orkestar", is a bold waltz that makes you feel like you're entering Calligari's cabinet. "Mount Wroclai" sounds like an outtake from the "Amelie" soundtrack that should have never been taken out.

By far, my favorite song on the album is the second track, "Prenzlauerberg", which is a strange oompa song that makes you feel like you should be holding hands and dancing in a circle in some beer hall in Romania, everything in black and white.

#4: Animal Collective, "Hollinndagain"

I've been a fan of Animal Collective for a while now, starting with their bizarre, sometimes painful noise compositions and learning to appreciate and love their forays into more "conventional" (as if AC could ever be conventional) popular music. Hollinndagain was one of the few albums by the band that I had never heard, mainly because the album was so rare and expensive.

However, the band decided it was time to finally release this popular live recording on CD this year and I'm glad they did. It took me back to the Animal Collective of old, the harsh and improvisational (but never chaotic or out-of-control) experiments with sound.

The opening track, "I See You Pan", is one of the most interesting ten minutes of music I've ever heard, evolving from what sounds like a cheap tape recorder white noise loop into a electric field of vocoded lightning zaps and distortion thunder. Suddenly, simple two note synthesizer comes across clearly and starts to grow into a simple, recognizable melody. Vocals build, and it begins to sound like a Radiohead b-side being played in between radio stations--a pretty song underneath layers of static. Then it deconstructs again into calm two note synth and a hissing back beat, while an intermittent mouth-clapping chant fades in and out. It's like the soundtrack that Stan Brakhage would never allow on one of his films.

#3: Tom Waits, "Orphans: Brawlers, Bawler & Bastards"

Tom Waits is the man. He's like some kind of relic from another time that we're blessed to have with us right now, a musical Bukowski of the 21st century. He has the voice of an eighty year old barfly with a trachiotomy, yet he uses it to portray rugged lyrical beauty in a way that no one since Louis Armstrong has been able to pull off. And to top it all off, he's the only musician I've ever known who has stuck a live Red Snapper down his pants for the purposes of cinematic art. Gotta love the guy.

While it would have been nice to have an album of new work, the "Orphans" box set was a very nice surprise. A collection of rowdy bar room songs (Brawlers), softer and more poetic ballads (Bawlers) and covers & everything in between (Bastards), this set goes through the Waits archives to make the most interesting collection of B-Sides since the release of the Bob Dylan "Bootleg Series Vol.1-3" set. And unlike most bootleg collections, I would have no problem recommending this set as a proper introduction to Waits' oeuvre.

Some highlights from the set--the raw, harmonica and banjo blues of "Ain't Goin' Down To The Well", the twisted Weimar circus ballad "Little Drop of Poison", and the most creative and re-invented cover from the recent "The Late Great Daniel Johnston" set, "King Kong".

#2: Thom Yorke, "The Eraser"

Radiohead is my favorite band. Hands down. I can remember the first time I ever listened to "OK Computer" on a set of headphones in my apartment freshman year. I was listening to nothing but Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and Schubert at the time and had no interest at all in what was going on in modern popular music. And then I saw this strange album cover, all white paint & esperanto & airplane safety card graphics and was intrigued. So I bought it, took it home & it said all the things I wanted to say and made all of the sounds that I wanted to make. It was one of the few times I've ever had a spirtual experience with music.

Since that day, I've went on to purchase everything that the band has put out, from the jumbled pop/grunge mess of "Pablo Honey" to the album that changed the face of popular music, "Kid A". It was always obvious that the songs were in large part driven by the moods, interests and tastes of frontman Thom Yorke, and I figured it was only a matter of time before he released a solo album.

It took longer than I figured it would, with Yorke finally releasing his first solitary effort, "The Eraser", this year. When I first heard it, I hated it. All of the things that I loved about Radiohead were gone--the complex layering of sound, the beautiful otherworldly wails of Yorke on songs like "Creep" or "Paranoid Android"...what the hell is this? It just sounded like Yorke recorded some demos for new Radiohead songs in Garage Band and when the band didn't dig them, he figured "Eh, bollocks, I'll release them myself".

It literally took me dozens of listens to really get this album. And even then, I wasn't fully convinced until I saw Yorke perform the songs live on the Henry Rollins show. This isn't an album of half-assed electronica with some lyrics thrown on it--it's a thought out concept piece with some incredibly complex melodies, meticulously pared down so that only the bare bones shine through. It's Yorke finally having the confidence to not hide behind a perfect vocal range and Johnny Greenwood's layers of analog synths. They're deeply personal songs, probably more so than anything he's ever done with "the band".

Some of my favorites are "The Clock" (though you really have to see the live Rollins' Show version to truly appreciate the manic Shamanistic energy), the speed-rush of "And It Rained All Night" and the heartbreaking "Harrowdown Hill", which is about the tragic controversial suicide of UN whistleblower Dr. David Clark.

#1: Ponies In the Surf, "Ponies on Fire"

This album took me by the jugular and hasn't let go. Another album purchased due to the recommendation of a staff member at Reckless Records, this was the album that single-handedly made me rethink Twee as a serious musical genre and also introduced me to the Asaurus Records label. It's the best five bucks that I've ever spent in my life.

A true brother-sister act (unlike those White Stripes phonies), Camille and Alex McGregor have managed to reimagine their simple "classical-guitar-and-cute-little-girl-vocals" in the recording studio into one of the most ethereal and beautiful albums I have ever heard, "Ponies On Fire".

"Joe" is probably the closest to the PITS (uggh....bad acronym) live sound, but brought to life through some simple organ overlays and a heavily reverbed vocal effect. It sounds like a little girls' hidden private love song brought to life.

"Part One/Little Boy Lost" is the answer to that love song. The distant, in-limbo vocals and phased organ track help to bring autheticity to the lyrics of a scared little man/boy set adrift. It sounds like a psychedelic Jack-in-the-box hymnal, or something that you would rock yourself to sleep with after a bad day.

Following up that angst is "Too Many Birds". I take back what I said about Joe being the closest song on the album to the band's live sound--this IS the sound. The McGregor's were born in Columbia and the influence of the music of that reason is evident throughout this album, especially in this song. Very pretty, but not a standout for me.

"Fairy In My House" is one of my favorites though. The creepy Dick Dale-style lead guitar and bass really define the song, along with the jazzy chorus of jazz cymbals and the lyric "bite the fingernails down to the bone". I don't think I've ever really heard a song like this before; not too many artists are making music like this.

"Slow Down Sugar" is nearly a throw-away song, except for the interesting John Cage kiddie piano & buzzing synth interlude about a minute in. I wish the whole song could have just played off of that.

"New Century Program" is a tainty little pop tune, maybe a bit too cutesy but with some of the most interesting lyrics on the album ("It's the newest filthy habit/It's the new childhood dream/It's the latest contraceptive/It's the new discography/And at the party it always stands apart").

The next track, appropriately titled "Piano Intermission" is the only all-instrumental song I've ever heard by the band and makes me hungry for more. It's too easy to label this a cute twee pop band and ignore the ecclectic musical influences and clever lyrics that make this band such a standout. This track sounds like it is being recorded from an old saloon player piano or, even more appropriately, the piano player warming up the crowd at a turn-of-the-century bijou movie theater. Does anyone remember how they used to have a piano player at the Bijou theater in Morrisville when it was just a one-screen theater (or am I terribly dating myself....)?

"Mimi Come Home" is a cute song about a lost dog that sounds a bit like a White Stripes b-side. Beyond that, there's not much.

"Gov't Brand #2" is one of the stand out tracks on the album. A brilliant re-working of a formerly acoustic-and-vocals only version of the song released on the bands' "A Demonstration" EP, this new imagining adds perfectly understanded percussion, lead guitars and organ to turn this into the song that I found myself humming in the shower EVERY FRIGGIN' DAY for the past THREE MONTHS. As you can probably tell, it's a true love/hate relationship...and apparently it's not just me--director Wes Anderson ("Rushmore", "The Royal Tennenbaums") is reported to be using the song in his next film. And if the opening lyrics don't evoke the joie-de-vivre of going to hear your first concert ("There is an echo outside/Down by the loading docks/The kids have gone clapping/And it bounces back here where we hide"), I don't know what does.

"Sing My Lord" is a lovely little fingerpicked acoustic hymn. If they actually played songs like this at church, I might actually be tempted to re-think my status as an agnostic.

The last two songs on the album sound like long-lost outtakes from two classic albums--"Casey" having a definite "White Album" feel, with Alex's vocals sounding very Lennon-esque and Camille sounding like what you wish Yoko would have sounded like. The final song "Aviary" should appeal to the Beach Boys fans out there, which instantly makes me think of "Pet Sounds" or, maybe more appropriately "Smiley Smile". Great way to end out a great album.

I realize there are a lot of big-name comparisons here, but this album lives up to them. I'm really hoping "Ponies on Fire" starts getting the recognition it deserves, because it's one of the greatest contributions to popular music that I've heard in quite a while. If you want to listen to it yourself, I highly recommend going to the Asaurus Records website & picking up a copy right now for $5. And support your local boy Colin Clary and pick up one of his albums at the same time!

That's it for now; next time I'll be writing up a review of Andrew Bujalski's "Mutual Appreciation". Thanks for visiting my blog!