Quick Hitters: almost summer


In honor of the greatest season of all, it’s time to look ahead and use songs that have already been released to bring in the summer full force. These are all tunes that have a female lead vocalist along with a lo-Fi sound, which is perfect for summer.

Best Coast-Feeling Ok


The first is “Feeling Ok” by Best Coast. Best Coast is one of my personal favorites.  This has been the case since I heard their album Crazy for You which featured classics like “Boyfriend”, “When I’m With You”, and the title track. While their sound has evolved from a vintage lo-fi act to a more polished, contemporary style; they still feature catchy guitar riffs and Bethany Constantino’s vocals seem to have more range than on previously recorder tracks. This song is a prime example of that.


Alvvays-Adult Diversion

Another band that gives off a summer vibe with their sound is Alvvays. Taking a page out of CHVRCHES book with the purposely incorrect spelling of their name, Alvvays has made their presence known in the indie scene lately. They join Mac Demarco and Purity Ring as another of my favorite bands that hails from Canada. Adult Diversion is a peppy, evenly flowing track with an equally satisfying verse-chorus combo. It also features some thoughtful lyrics which makes this band stand out to me.



Beverly-You Can’t Get It Right


Simply cannot get enough of this band. The dynamic usage of guitar featured by this group is so powerful. The parts during the bridge and in-between the chorus is where it really shines (@1:29). Drew Citron and Frankie Rose’s vocals pair together exceptionally well yet again for this track. This side project has unlimited potential and I can only hope that we hear news of another album in the works soon.




Quick Hitters: The ABC’s of Non-Singles XYZ


We’ve made it! We’ve made it to the end of our countdown. I hope that the jubilant expressions these historic figures have here are similar to what you felt during this run-through of oft-forgotten tracks



Jamie XX-All Under One Roof Raving


This catchy, British electronica song is representing the X category and it does it quite well. A song comprised of subtle effect, heart-thumping beats, and a multitude of people with British accents talking about various things. I’ve always liked these types of songs because they take little effort to enjoy. Since there’s not much going on and it runs for 6 minutes, you can sit back and enjoy it for its effective simplicity.




Weird Al Yankovic-MoneyFor Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies


While Weird Al has definitely had some misses in his career, I’ve always admired his commitment to the spoof of modern mainstream music. I also really admire his originality when doing so. Some were pretty superficial and unimaginative, like “Amish Paradise” (still funny though). But then there were others where he really thought outside the box. Case in point, his spoof of Dire Straights’s “Money for Nothing”. He took two things that could not have been more unrelated and merges them into something that is pretty comical. Judge for yourself but I think you’ll have a tough time holding in laughter as the backing vocalist bellows out “Be-ver-ly, be-ver-ly, be-ver-ly hill-billy.”




Zero 7-Passing By


This band has perfected the art of creating the song that fits the occasion of sitting down after a long/stressful/momentous day in the life of a generation Y’er. They don’t disappoint with the track “Passing By”. One could argue it sounds pretty similar to another of their songs, “In the Waiting Line”, but I feel there’s a enough difference to make it worth your listen.


Quick Hitters: The ABC’s of non-singles R-W

“Grand Funk Railroad paved the way for Jefferson airplane, which cleared the way for Jefferson starship. The stage was now set for the Alan Parsons project, which I believe was some sort of hovercraft”



Real Estate-Easy

The opening track of their album, Days. It’s a vintage Real Easte Song; freely flowing but with a nice little hook. They have a way with coming up with choruses that feature Martin Courtney’s vocals blending in well with the subtle yet effective instrumentals that Real Estate provides.




Smashing Pumpkins-Geek USA

A longer, more heavier hitting version of another Siamese Dream track, “Quiet”. They have somewhat similar guitar riffs; the ones that made that whole album remarkable. But I like the way this tracks mixes with the pacing and goes from a fast, percussion driven song to a slower, head-rocking masher all within a matter of seconds. While it may not have the luster as “Today” or “Cherub Rock”, Geek USA was just as important to that album as any other track that was more featured on it.




Third Eye Blind-Graduate

I think the main reason this song didn’t receive hardly any radio play was because it was on an album that had countless other singles on it. If it hadn’t been on their breakout self-titled album, it likely would be more recognized. It’s nothing much different than everything else they’ve done, but you have like the angsty yet smooth tune this song carries. Stephan Jenkins delivers his noticeable style and along with some good lyrics, this made for another quality release on an album already chalked full of them.




Urge Overkill-Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon

I’ll admit that I know no other songs by this group. And I’m willing to bet this song did receive some airplay back in ’92 when it was released. However, I’m putting it in this posting for two reasons. One, there are few bands that start with “U” and two, even though you might recognize this song from “Pulp Fiction”, it’s unlikely you recognize this group. So perhaps you’re being reintroduced to this classic or you’re hearing it for the first time which works just as well.




Veruca Salt-Fosythia

This song starts out really chill but progressively gets heavier and concludes with a sweet guitar solo and chorus. Then it ends just the way it began. It’s the guitar/bass combo that makes this song stick out as vocalist Nina Gordon doesn’t seem to put much feeling into her vocals on this track. But I think that’s what the band was going for with this one and you’re left with a under the radar, cool song that doesn’t sound like it’s trying too hard.




Wavves-Nodding Off (featuring Best Coast)

My favorite song by this group was a collaboration effort that ended up appearing on the album Life Sux. “Nodding Off” has an amped up intro and the song never really lets up from there. The chorus is extremely catchy and the guitar solo kicks in just at the right time toward the closing of the song @2:40. My only complaint is that it’s ends abruptly making it too short in my opinion.



Quick Hitters: The ABC’s of non-singles L-Q


Luscious Jackson-Life of Leisure


Sure, everybody remembers “Naked Eye”. There was a lot more to this band than that song. In my opinion, they were a staple to great 90’s music. This was mainly due to their signature bass lines and their smooth, relaxing vocals. This was one of their songs I was lucky I stumbled upon. While many may consider a life of leisure to be desirable, the band is calling out those types in this song. I don’t think you want to be on their bad side…






If you’re familiar with Moby’s best selling album, Play, then you’re well aware of the stockpile of great songs that are featured in the first part of the album. “Porcelain”, “Find My Baby”, and “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad” are the main ones that come to mind. You may have liked those so much that it caused you to skip through track #4 because there’s no lyrics and it doesn’t fit in that great with the rest of the hits. If you listen to on it’s own, I think you’ll find that it’s quite the work of art. A 3 minute journey into the ambient abyss is what “Rushing” can provide you with.




 New Politics-Dignity


While this Danish band has been emerging recently (I’d say more declining, based on the strength of their last few songs I’ve heard), one of their earlier releases that got a little airplay was “Dignity”. I’m partial to the chorus. The vocals during that part are what stick out to me. It has some lyrics that speak out against violence, oppression, or something else. Despite it’s somewhat whiny message, it’s a solid song.




Our Lady Peace-Happiness & The Fish


This is my favorite song off their similarly named album, Happiness…is not a fish that you can catch. It features some really high-pitched lyrics by Raine Maida. It’s his unique vocal delivery paired with some excellent guitar riffs that makes this song memorable. There’s also some peculiar lyrics that also add to the memorabledness.




The Postal Service-Brand New Colony


Yet another astoundingly great track of their first album, Give Up. This one never became quite as popular as the very commercially successful “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” and “Such Great Heights”. I’m not sure why; this song still boasts many listener friendly electronic instrumentals (the intro sounds like a level from Super Mario). Ben Gibbard gives us his usual vocals but it’s the backing vocals during the last sequence of the song that I feel are most appealing (@3:08).




Queens of the Stone Age-The Sky is Fallin’

There are like 10 bands in the history of ever that decided to name their band something that started with “Q”. That said I am grateful for Queens of the Stone Age (Sorry Queen Latifah fans). “The Sky is Fallin’ is another quality song off of the album Songs for the Deaf. There’s more heavy, fuzzy guitar riffs on this album than you know what to do with. That is a great thing, though, and you get another large dose of that here in this song. But amidst all of the rock-outedness that would describe the general direction of this track, there’s a easy listening chorus and some obscure sounding moments in the song that make it more interesting than your typical masher.



Quick Hitters: The ABC’s of non-singles F-K

Best be packin’ your beats for these tracks




Foo Fighters-Halo

Again, probably my favorite song on the album and most of the general public hasn’t heard it. Although, I’ll add that part of the allure of a great song that most people don’t know about is…the fact that most people don’t know about it. It almost makes the track have a more personal feel when you discovered it on your own without the help of the radio/web. One could argue this is a knock-off of “Times Like These”, another great song off the album. But “Halo” boasts some great verses and some very good lyrics.




Green Day-Letterbomb

Track number ten on their legendary album, American Idiot, “Letterbomb” is yet another great song that made the album the 2005 rock album of the year (along with getting ALBUM of the year nominations as well). It’s a fast paced, peppy song that still has a heavy side to it. As always, Billie Joe’s enthusiastic and energizing vocals are the mainstay of this song, it features many exhilarating guitar riffs. My favorite part starts @2:42, a killer bridge that leads into the final chorus.




Even though this song somewhat reeks of mainstreamedness, it’s has an obscure sound to it at the same time. The song did receive a little airplay but most people probably haven’t heard it in a long time. The lyrics are nothing are nothing special but the vocals are great. Doug Robb’s is at his best during the woah-woah-woah-oh-oh-oh’s and subsequent chorus roughly around the 2:03 mark.



I Break Horses-Load Your Eyes


This is going to surely be one of the more lesser known bands on this post. Unless you keep up with the indie/electronic scene, then there is zero chance you’ve heard of I Break Horses. Lucky you, as you are about to be exposed to a stream of awesomeness the likes of which have never been seen before! Okay…I may over-hyping them just a tad. I’ll let their music do the talking, the sequence that begins @the 3:00 mark is unparalleled. Enjoy the trip




Jimmy Eat World-Authority Song


An fun, upbeat song that features vintage Jimmy Eat World guitar riffs. I’ve always enjoyed the backing vocals of their songs as well. The female whose name I haven’t been able to pinpoint, has a voice that contrasts/complements lead vocalist Jim Adkins exceptionally well. This was on one of the bands first albums, self-titled. It also has some funny lyrics, and is worth a look.




The Knife-We Share Our Mothers Health


An indie-electronic staple, The Knife makes their appearance on this list. A Swedish group, they have a knack for taking quirky sounding instrumentals and mixing them together for an invigorating melody. While they have almost a tropical island beat to them because of the different percussion elements, “We Share Our Mothers Health” has more of an industrial feel to it. I think you’ll see what I mean after listening. The vocals aren’t all that inviting, but after a few listens, you’ll realize that that’s the beauty of it. That combined with all of the other vocal effects makes for an obscure ride into indie electronic greatness.


Quick Hitters: the ABS’s of non-singles

It’s becoming a sad fact of the music industry, people aren’t buying albums anymore. With the advances of technology resulting in being able to stream almost any song for free, there really isn’t a reason to purchase your favorite band’s album anymore. I am guilty of this myself, even though I still like to support that band however I can. With unlimited access to great music while in the comfort of your home, at work, or out and about; carrying albums around with you to listen has become a thing of the past.

That said, I’ve had many meaningful listening sessions courtesy of the albums I’ve purchased over the years. Like most, I would usually buy a CD based off of the strength of two or three songs. You hoped that the whole album was good start to finish but it didn’t always work out that way. However, there was more than one occasion where I discovered a song that I may not have otherwise found without buying the album. Sometimes they ended up being just as good or better than the “hit singles” that I originally bought the album for.


Therefore, we’re going to do something different in this post. I’m going to post songs from well-known bands that received little to no airplay but are remarkable nonetheless. I’m going to cover bands from A-Z. Some are going to be hard, no doubt (Q and X come to mind), but I’m willing to navigate the library in order to bring you some new, old songs that you’ll like.





This song came off of Sever, which was an underrated album in itself. Sever is a wonderfully complex, highly rocking song that delivers classic 311 beats with one of my favorite guitar solos from the band. It starts @3:30 after a climatic build-up. One of the best outros ever




Alice in Chains-Sunshine


My favorite song off of the album, “Sunshine” was another example of how great this band was (especially in their early years) and how vocally talented Layne Staley was as well. I thought about putting “Sea of Sorrow” in this spot but I did recall that song receiving some radio play whereas I never heard this one until I bought the album. It’s grunge at its best and features some changes of course as far as the direction the song is going in.




Breaking Benjamin-Forget It


A very non-Breaking Benjamin sounding song, “Forget It” is a pleasant sounding escape from their normally heavier, semi-screamo sound. This track features a few tone changes as well as some soothing vocals you’re probably not used to hearing from frontman Benjamin Burnley.




Catherine Wheel-The Nude


Coming off of their masterpiece of a debut album, Ferment (album review here), Catherine Wheel came out with some great songs on their follow-up album, Chrome. Namely this one, “The Nude”. Catherine Wheel sound is what I would describe as easy-listening shoegaze. There’s plenty of fuzzy guitars to satisfy your shoegaze fix; but there’s also plenty of well written and melodic vocals to please those who like a more pop style. This is definitely evident here:




Deadmau5-There Might Be Coffee


Deadmau5’s stock is on the rise no doubt. I’m certainly impressed with how many albums and singles he’s been able to dish out in not that long of a time period since he first hit the scene. This is one of his lesser known greats from the album, >Album Title Goes Here<. It features some great, fast paced beats. I don’t really like the high pitched keyboard that goes on for part of it, but it doesn’t ruin this song for me.




Everclear-Heartspank Dollarsign


A band that I’ve liked less and less over the years, Everclear once was pretty good. Sparkle and Fade had a number of winners on it. This was my favorite off of it (while “Heroin Girl” is a very close 2nd). It sends a powerful message while maintaining a gloomy, pessimistic vibe. The well thought-out lyrics and guitar riffs are brilliant in this one.


quick hitterz: sunshine indie pop

Tracks of this genre are very refreshing to me. While it’s easy to make something along the lines of this style and have it sound awful (like this), when it’s done right, you have a timeless, feel good tune that you can always go back to. Case in point; these three songs. It’s hard for me to listen to them and not feel good afterward, even when the lyrics are of a possibly depressing nature (as in the 2nd video). Whatever the case, here’s a few tracks that I hope will get you to dig deeper into the albums and groups from which they are featured.


1. Silversun Pickups-There’s No Secrets this Year

This is the opening track off of their masterpiece album “Swoon”. The opening guitar riff give you the hint that you’re in for something killer. It lightens up after the verses start and leads into a heavy but chill chorus. They make very good use of  instrumental elements throughout this album and this song is no exception. The best parts of this song come after the second chorus @2:24 and during the guitar solo @2:54 (there’s also a reprise right at the end). An under-loved song that was overlooked partly because there were so many other great songs on that album.


How did the photographer keep a straight face when asking “so how many prints would you like of the strangling family pic?”



2. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart-Heart in Your Heartbreak

This song incorporates keyboard/synths and guitar as good as any other that I’ve heard. Although this group has not come out with anything else I really like, this song is one of my favorites OF.ALL.TIME. While the main vocalist has a voice I’m not crazy about, it fits this song very well. It’s a song about, well…heartbreak, duh! The lyrics get a little cheesy at some parts, but in contrast there’s some really good ones (And your friends don’t understand that the world could end,
And it would feel no worse than this). It’s an awesomely bittersweet song that features a great guitar kick @1:54. The closing chorus and instrumental solo during the outro capitalize this magnificent effort by Pains of Being Pure at Heart. The band name needs some work, however.



3. Wolf Gang-Lions in Cages

Another goodie that was overshadowed by the band’s hit single “The King and His Men”, Lions in Cages is a track worth your time from the London based group Wolf Gang. It appears to be a song about not allowing yourself to be confined and just getting out there and embracing life. It appears there’s some type of love story tied in with it as well, I don’t know…it’s hard to follow. The point I’m trying to make is that this is a very nice change of pace song and this is a band that doesn’t follow the trends set by many other groups. The vocals are unique, and they provide an interesting piano/synth combo in this particular track. Thepart @1:35 with some excellent  backing vocals is the highlight for me.



Quick Hitters: Epic Music Videos

I’ve stated in a previous post that for the most part, I don’t like music videos all that much. It seems like they are even less in the public eye now than they once were. At least, nobody I know talks about them anymore except when a artist does something in the video so outrageous it generates a jaw-dropping reaction from the masses. This is usually not the mark of a GOOD music video. No, to be something that actually adds to the song rather than just using footage to market the track, you mainly just need to be creative and come up with something cool. The following music videos are ones that I feel are shot not only to the tune of a great song, but were videos that didn’t do what everyone else did. They thought outside of the the box, effort was put into it, and at some point something happens that makes you picture the music video whenever you hear the song.


I included a video from each decade that I’ve been around for-90’s,00’s, and now (I purposely excluded the 80’s as I was not at a point in my life where I could appreciate a good music video…and a lot of them were weird).


1. The Prodigy-Smack my B!tch up

****NSFW**** (for language, drug use, nudity…I could keep going on so just don’t watch it at work)

“Woah”…that was the only reaction I could muster the first time I witnessed this video. The effect of all that is going on is further amplified by the fact that I was only 10 years old when I would have seen this. The premise of it is the night out from a direct first-person perspective. You know nothing about this person going into it. You get the idea the person is going to be making some questionable decisions later on in the evening simply by their behavior while preparing for the evening. The person involved doesn’t disappoint as you are taken on a roller-coaster ride of debauchery that includes several physical altercations, destruction of property, and graphic loss of bodily fluids. It’s uncomfortable and entertaining at the same time. They also made sure to include a twist at the end to make it that much more memorable.


2. Steriogram-Walkie Talkie Man

One could make the argument that this is the type of music video we’ll look back at in 20 years and laugh at. It is somewhat campy but still very original. It is the first and likely only music video to be composed mostly of string. Besides the band-members and extras, nearly every other part of the set is knitted on-site. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. This video takes on the refreshing  mindset that they’re just trying to have fun with it, and nothing else.

There’s an interesting subplot going on as well’ with the antagonist, “giant string man” we’ll refer to him as, trying to destroy the entire city. He is successful in the early going, wreaking carnage on everything in sight and appearing almost invincible. But eventually he tries to take out the capitol records building which ends up being his undoing. Two studio execs, who appear to be no older than 12 years of age, save the day and the lead singer who ends up being partially dismembered as a result of the attack. All the while, there’s a decent song playing featuring some of the fastest dishing out of lyrics I have ever heard in my life.



3. Lorde-Tennis Courts

Earlier I said a good music video needs to think outside of the box. Lorde does that and more here. While it’s insanely simple, I think it’s a great music video. It says so much more that your typical vid that just has the artist strutting/dancing in the middle of an entourage of fellow strutters/dancers while trying to look cool mouthing out their lyrics. “Tennis Courts” is creepy, unique, and has great use of back lighting. You may wonder what the hell you’re watching if you’ve never seen it before but once you get into the song, I think you’ll learn to appreciate the whole experience.









Quick Hitters: Summer Jams

Summer is here, and with that comes the absence of poor weather outside of the occasional spell of sweltering heat or pouring rain. For me, everything seems to be better in the summer. Lots of activities to do, longer periods of daylight, and of course many outdoor live shows to catch. One of note that I plan to see on July 29 is Fitz and The Tantrums at the Simon Estes Ampitheater in Des Moines. This is part of their Nitefall on the River series.


But if you’re like me, you don’t need a band playing in front of you to enjoy the great summer vibe. You can enjoy life just as much out on your deck, with some friends, and some tunes that capture the positive waves that summer sets out. I’ll post three songs here that I think do this quite well. Hopefully they’ll get your summer started off on the right foot…and maybe it’ll even bring back a few cherished memories like…



Wow, that got dark quickly.


1. Metric-Stadium Love (Che Andre Remix)

A much more chill version than the original. This is a remix of a song off of one of my favorite albums, Fantasies. The original is a much grittier, while still fun, track. This takes the original lyrics and puts a more acoustic, summery feel to it.



2. Junior Prom-Sheila Put the Knife Down

A lot of swearing, a violent theme…this is still one of the more jubilant sounding tracks I’ve heard in recent memory. Given the nature of this song and the name of the band, I have a bad feeling these guys may be headed toward one-hit wonder territory. Hopefully I’m wrong. Sheila put the knife down is a peppy, upbeat track filled with lots of good synths and and great guitar bit @2:23.




3. Best Coast-Who Have I Become

While I am a big fan of this group, I used to think that not much thought went into writing their songs, especially the lyrics. This song made that mindset go away quickly. Most of Best Coast’s songs are pretty short but this track clocks in just under 5 minutes. It moves along well the entire time. It’s a thrill-ride that has some more complex guitar playing and lyrics than I’m used to hearing from this group. I really like the opening verse:

“Sometimes I hate myself for loving you…
And my dreams are just dramatic versions of
My real life.
And life is short, but so am I.
What does it matter anyway?
Just a small price that I pay to feel the same way every single day…
Every single day…”

Everything about this song is awesome, from Bethany Cosentino’s vocals to the guitar solo @3:33 all the way to the excellent outro that features some well placed backing vocals. I doubt you’ll have a hard time getting jacked for summer after giving this a listen.


Quick Hitters-EDM faves

To commemorate the recent twitter battle between Win Butler of Arcade Fire and Deadmau5, I’ve put together 3 of my favorite EDM songs that I’m guessing you haven’t heard before. If you’re left feeling confused after reading the last sentence, I’ll break it down for you. EDM stands for electronic dance music. Within the past 10 or so years, I’ve noticed that indie groups were looking to branch out from the conventional stringed instruments and began to heavily utilize electronic sounds in their music.



The irony is that Arcade Fire is one of the bands that helped pioneer this movement of experimenting with their own sound using electronics (example here). It’s gone over well in the world of indie and artists like Foster the People, Daft Punk, CHVRCHES, and Cut Copy are considered just as indie as the more traditional, stringed instrument-based groups such as  The Strokes, Pavement. or the Pixies.

Back to the fabled twitter battle, Arcade Fire frontman, Win Butler, sent out a tweet that simply stated “Shout-out to all the bands still playing actual instruments at this festival” (referring to Coachella). Deadmau5 took offense to the statement and it’s easy to see why; it’s clearly a knock on artists that rely heavily on their power Mac and other accessories to create their sound onstage. Deadmau5 unleashed a couple of response tweets essentially saying that it doesn’t matter what method you use to create you art, good music is good music. You can see the whole story here.


Personally, I side with Deadmau5 on this one. While I see where Butler is coming from, I have fully embraced the EDM movement in Indie. I think it’s great that Indie fans have their own brand of dance music and neither have to lackadaisically sway back and forth while zoning out to the more traditional indie brand of music; or have to pretend to enjoy themselves while dancing it out to this uninspired, lamestream brand of dance music. And artists like Deadmau5 are huge reason why it’s not like that anymore.





1. The Whitest Boy Alive-Golden Cage (Fred Falke remix)


So there you have it folks, now for some under the radar EDM tunes that I’m hoping you’ll enjoy. First off is the Fred Falke remix of The Whitest Boy Alive’s “Golden Cage”. It’s tough not to feel good after hearing this song. It has what seems to be sad lyrics but the beat is uplifting. I haven’t heard much of anything else from these two artists but if they can produce more of this, I’ll give them a closer look.




 2. Prodigy-Climbatize

Prodigy has always been one of my favorite electronic acts and their album The Fat of the Land will always go down as one my favorite albums from the 90’s. Most have probably heard “Firestarter”, “Breathe”, or “Smack my Bitch Up” from this album at some point during their lives but climbatize is favorite of the non-singles from this album. It’s long and doesn’t sound like an EDM song right from the start (starts slow w/ little percussion in the intro), but once it gets moving along it’s a unique and fun blend of synths and percussion instruments. It’s keeps your interest throughout and has a cool outro with all of the instrumentals pushed to the background to give it a sound as if it’s being played far away.



3. Deadmau5-Not Exactly

I didn’t think it would be right to close out this post without including a song by Deadmau5 himself so here’s “Not Exactly”, my favorite track off of album Random Album Title.