Fingertips Music Guide to betterPropaganda: July '06

Our collaboration with one of our favorite bloggers, Jeremy Schlosberg from Fingertips, continues. Start reading this months Top 5 recommendations and don't forget to check out Fingertips while you're at it for more in depth reviews.

1) "Beanbag Chair" - Yo La Tengo
This perpetually idiosyncratic band has a peppy horn-flecked tune in store for us this time. What really grabs me here is the delicately harmonized melody in the chorus, which sounds like something out of a '60s folk pop tune, but skewed and lit up by the quirky horns, Ira Kaplan's whispery tenor, and the casual, difficult-to-pin-down harmonies. This really grew on me with repeated listens.

check out a more detailed review on Fingertips:

2) "Put Us Back Together Right" - The Headlights
This song has such distinctive elements that it almost sounds like a mash-up by itself: there's the mellow '70s piano part and the galloping drum-and-guitar part, the drony synth part and the disaffected female rock vocal part. Mix it all up, finish with a super-echoey guitar solo and a braking railcar in the middle of the night, and it becomes, somehow, a nifty little song.

3) "The Admiral" - White Whale
"The Admiral" manages the unusual trick of being jaunty and intense at the same time, to engaging effect. And see how neatly this new band from Lawrence, Kansas channels the perenially praiseworthy Ray Davies--in vocal inflection, word choice, and general music-hall ambiance, they've got the Kinks frontman covered. Pretty cool, to my ears.

4) "Regiment" - David Byrne & Brian Eno
If songs from the landmark My Life in the Bush of Ghosts album, dating back to 1981, sound far less bizarre than they did 25 years ago, consider that a testament to how prescient a recording it was. This mysteriously engaging melding of funky beats, looped percussion, creatively edited rhythms, and exotic vocal sampling no longer sounds unusual but neither will it ever, I don't think, sound dated.

5) "Gone Gone Gone" - John Ralston
This may start like just another weepy, acoustic ballad, but John Ralston has much more up his sleeve than the current pack of bland, jam-band-inspired troubadours. First, when the full band kicks in after 20 seconds, the strength of the original melody becomes surprisingly evident. And the real killer is the chorus, which sizzles with spirit, his voice transforming in its higher register into an instrument of power and bite. Nicely done.

June Reviews:

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