From the Ears of Your Favorite Peef: New Music for the New Year

I've been blessed with an unusual amount of spare time lately...ok. NOT REALLY. I have actually been busting my hump trying to find a job, but I've also managed to spend a little bit of time staying current with the music scene.

Today I bring you a group of bands that you may have already heard of but who all have something very special in common. EVERY ONE OF THEM has an odd band name. And we aren't talking Phish or Dead Milkmen odd, we are talking about bands that simply chose names that have little relation to their musical sound.

Band names always seem to conjure a specific mental image for me... and I can't be the only one who wonders what the heck they were thinking when the look and feel of said band and the mental image conjured by the band name simply DO NOT mesh.

This Christmas, my sis dubbed me with a handy-dandy little gift card to iTunes. This much appreciated gift went to good use just as the year (that shall no longer be mentioned) was coming to a close. Because there was a limit on the card, I found it necessary to spend my budget wisely.

The first thing I did was to make a list. Unfortunately, that did NOT help. The list grew and grew and grew. One evening, I showed it to Lo and she looked upon the lengthy list with a great deal of amazement.

"I have never heard of half of these bands" she said to me. "Are you sure you want ALL of these?" she continued.

"Of course I want them" I responded, "They are ALL the best and most talked about new bands that came to mind in the past twelve hours."

"I think you should start narrowing it down," she suggested, "Maybe start with the ones whose CD's you could live without. After all, these are DOWNLOADS."

I have to interject here. I am still a bit "old school" and like to have the physical CD, rather than just an audio file. It's not that I don't enjoy the inst-o-matic approach to downloading music, I just want to have a hard copy of it for posterity. I want a MUSIC COLLECTION. For me, a CD collection is immediately revealing. The ability to browse through the collection of CD's in my friend's living room is far less invasive than hopping on their personal computer to snoop around in their audio files.

Lo did not feel any great amount of compassion for my plight.

"Well, good luck with that," she smirked, and she sauntered away.

After weeding out all of the bands I decided I needed to possess physical evidence of... and then the ones that for whom owning a single song would do, I narrowed my selections down to two.

The Airborne Toxic Event was a band recommended to me a few months back by a good friend in Seattle. I trust her recommendations, and after taking a listen on myspace, I decided they made the cut.

Vampire Weekend is not ONLY one of the most press-worthy bands of 2008, but they were also recommended (and hence, VALIDATED) by our VERY hip friends in Fargo, ND. Seriously, folks. Fargo IS the Promised Land, after all. And, if you don't believe me, just take a listen for yourselves. Thanks to sattelite raido, these Fargo-nians have great taste in music.

Another animal altogether is Girl Talk (Check it out at Don't be fooled by the "pay what you like" mentality on his Web site, Gregg Gillis is seriously good. And so is his laptop, which he has affectionately named Girl Talk. King of mash-up (the art of taking rap/hip-hop and mashing it with top40/alternative/classic rock tunes), Girl Talk puts together some funky tunes -- things that will make you want to get up off the couch and do some serious grooving. Sensitive souls might be wary of a bit of the foul language that leaks in, thanks to liberal sampling of rappers like Too Short (don't ask). But, if you can overlook that, it's all golden. The New York Times Magazine has called his music "a lawsuit waiting to happen"... and bloggers everywhere have discussed whether his blatant "rip offs" are worth getting uptight about. Personally, I'm not getting my undies in a bundle. Gregg is just FAR too fun. Interested? Check out more at the Future of Music Coalition.

Now, I've rambled on for quite some time already. But, I have one last thing to share with those of you who've kept with me this far... I'd also like to give a shout-out to Neko Case, who happens to be featured in the February issue of Paste Magazine, where you can read all about the piano orchestra that she threw together in her barn. Since I'm a big fan of The New Pornographers (again, what's WITH these odd band names??!!), Neko is a natural pick for me. Her last solo album, Fox Confessor, showcases smart vocals and haunting instrumentation. But, she's also got a new album coming out. Middle Cyclone releases on March 3rd, and I'm totally looking forward to it.

You've made it this far, which is a serious accomplishment.
AND it just so happens that I can offer you something for your trouble.
Take a listen to "People Got a Lot of Nerve" -- Neko's new single.
In exchange, Neko Case will make a $5 donation to Best Friends Animal Society. Isn't that nice of her??

Neko Case - People Got A Lotta Nerve


Jbro said...

Fargo, the land of milk and honey, baby!

Rachel said...

Off I go to Pandora to see what these weird people are singing about.