Fingertips Music Guide to bettePropaganda: December '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) "Last Cast" - The End of the World
A compelling mid-tempo rocker that's equal parts unresolved chords and resolving melodies. This NYC-based band shows yet again how satisfyingly present a trio is in a rock context: with guitar, bass, and drums, nothing is buried, no sound unaccounted for, and singer Stefan Marolachakis has a large, offhand presence that ties it all together for me.

check out a more detailed review on Fingertips:

2) "Phantom Limb" - The Shins
The Shins' frontman, James Mercer, has the rare if not unique capacity to be deeply sincere while singing lyrics that you can't really understand. Maybe it's because his melodies are so exquisite, and interesting--in a way they are more like classical motifs than pop melodies: artfully crafted lines that link together, and recur through the piece. If this is an indication of what's in store on the new CD (due out in January), we're in for another treat.

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3) "Decider" - Prototypes
A buzzy, deadpan, neo-new wave rave-up. The appeal here is all in the vibe: there's something steely and electro going on with that astringent drumbeat and ringing guitar line; at the same time singer Isabel Le Doussal's uninflected speak-singing in the verse adds something mysterious and earthy to the beat-driven proceedings, which churn away with unrelenting vigor. Mysteriously compelling fun.

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4) "Sonic Boom" - Andy Partridge
As buoyant, crisp, and driven as any number of great XTC songs Partridge wrote in his years as that seminal British band's singer and principal songwriter. And why shouldn't it be? This was one of more than 100 songs Partridge had accumulated over a couple of decades that never made it to an XTC album for a variety of reasons. They've now been released on an eight-CD set that is nirvana for XTC devotees; the crunch and pop of "Sonic Boom" is one small taste of it.

5) "The President's Dead" - Okkervil River
A strange and compelling dream of a song, delivered with breathless uneasiness by Will Scheff, Okkervil River's masterful singer and songwriter. A supporter of an unnamed president pours out his stunned feelings upon hearing of the assassination; the song's inherent emotional (not to mention political) complexities are underscored by the way Scheff's torrent of words overspill the container of the simple but affecting melody. Unusual and memorable.

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