Wallet Art: “The Beets” in graphite on 2″ x 3.5″
Press play on “Preso Voy” off The Beets release Let the Poison Out and you will be assaulted by a cacophony of angular guitar riffs, floppy drums and a yearning vocal that are firmly footed in the foundations of American rock and roll and the dirty underborough of Queens, New York.
I have no clue what language is being sung (well… it’s probably Español because the singer is originally from Uruguay) and therefore I have no insight into what this song is possibly about… but the recording strikes that dissonant chord that destroys the cobwebs trapping your brain in conformity by igniting your synapsis with trashy and untrained rhythm and blues.
Listen at high volumes near your parents on a playlist with The Troggs and Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs.
Get the Record: Let The Poison Out
Go to their Website: The Beets
Buy the Original Wallet Art: “Art Brut” in graphite on 2″ x 3.5″
Quick wrists slap out a jangly guitar riff over a meandering base line and hard hitting rock drums on “Emily Kane,” the lead single by the English and German, Berlin based indie rock outfit Art Brut on their debut album Bang, Bang, Rock and Roll released on May 30th 2005.
Art Brut, like many of us, find it difficult to get over young love. That first girlfriend makes an impact. You see her everywhere… when you squint your eyes, when you see other couples kiss… you pine for that feeling that none of the new girls can deliver despite your repeated attempts and the encouraging taunts from your friends.
Whether this song is truly earnest or British style tongue in cheek irony doesn’t matter. “Emily Kane” highlights the fact that memory can be a powerful force, stopping forward momentum and growth.
I hope that we, along with Art Brut, can internalize the fact that we must use the past to inform our decisions in the present as we prepare for the future. We can’t get stuck counting the 10 years, 9 months, 3 weeks, 4 days, 6 hours, 13 minutes and 5 seconds that it’s been since we’ve last seen Emily Kane.
Get the Record: Bang Bang Rock & Roll
Go to their Website: Art Brut
Buy the Original Wallet Art: “The Drums” in graphite on 2″ x 3.5″
A bouncy traveling bass line and sparse keys underscore the indie pop number “Money” by The Drums on their album “Portamento” released in 2011 on Frenchkiss Records.
You will be joining in when the band gets to the chorus… even on the first listen. Why? Because it’s SUPER catchy.
The singer wants to buy his girlfriend a makeup gift… but he has no cash…
The Drums ask the question, how do you make things rights with your girl if you have empty pockets? They assert that it’s too late… you can’t.
They only leave you singing… “But I don’t have any money… but I don’t have any money.”
But in real life… a kind word, a hug, a sweet gesture, a walk in the park, or a love note in a hand made card may work just as well. Unless she wants a wedding ring… then The Drums are right.
Get the Record: Portamento
Go to their Website: The Drums
Buy the Original Wallet Art: “Peter, Bjorn & John” in graphite on 2″ x 3.5″
Drum roll, shakers… now put your lips together and whistle like this….
“Young Folks” is the first single off of the Swedish indie pop band, Peter, Bjorn & John’s third album Writer’s Block released in 2006 on Wichita Recordings. The duet has Peter Morén’s singing accompanied by Victoria Bergsman of The Concretes and Taken by Trees. Muted bass line (sounds like Björn Yttling shoved some toilet paper under the strings close to the bridge… or the digital equivalent) over a shuffle punctuated by the hands of John Eriksson on congas.
This upbeat number illustrates a new couple contemplating their relationship and the time they spend together. Sorta like this: If you really knew me… would you stick around? You say you will? Sweet! Now we don’t care about anybody but us. Let’s be into each other. Hooray!
I dare you to listen without whistling along.
Get the Record: Writer’s Block
Go to their Website: Peter, Bjorn & John
Buy the Original Wallet Art: “The Dismemberment Plan” in graphite on 2″ x 3.5″
“Spider in the Snow” is track 4 on The Dismemberment Plan’s 1999 release Emergency & I on DeSoto Records and reissued by Barsuk on vinyl in 2011.
Lonely keyboards with a warbly tone reminiscent of a 70s public service video played on a reel to reel 8mm machine in 7th grade history class are punctuated by a funky beat, chicken scratch guitar and a groovy bassline. Travis Morrison’s lyrics are talked more than sung and have an odd phrasing that makes singing along difficult but very satisfying when one gets it right.
The song contemplates the fact that a life of constant change can lead to a life of cold loneliness. Moving fast will not get you out of a rut. You will still be “scared, obvious and alone – a spider in the snow”
So please, for your own sake, slow down, make connections, remember to love… so you won’t be the target of a metaphoric winter bird looking for a snack.
Get the Record: Emergency & I
Go to their Website: The Dismemberment Plan
Buy the Original Wallet Art: “Railroad Jerk” in graphite on 2″ x 3.5″
“Clean Shirt” is one of my favorite tracks off of Railroad Jerks’s last album, The Third Rail, released on Matador records in 1996. Drummer, Dave Varenka and bassist Tony Lee relentlessly hammer the rhythm home with thundering low tones in perfect unison. It’s angular guitar melodies and vocal moaning express the DYI punk ethos and the difficulty in making a name for yourself.
The way to do it you ask? I suggest you do it like Marcellus Hall sings… don’t be afraid to ask for help… but it’s up to you to to pick yourself up, get up off the the dirt, put on something nice like your best clean shirt and make your mother proud. In that next big meeting, remember to treat people right, look sharp, get up if you fall and swing for the fences. That’s what Railroad Jerk would want.
Get the Record: The Third Rail
Go to their Website: Railroad Jerk
Buy the Original Wallet Art: “Nada Surf” in graphite on 2″ x 3.5″
“Concrete Bed” is the lead track off of Nada Surf’s The Weight is a Gift produced by Chris Walla (of Death Cab for Cutie), recorded at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco and released on Barsuk Records in 2008. The jangly guitars and driving baseline support a melody that anyone can sing along to. Indie rock overtones underpinned with pop sensibilities make the two and a half minutes fly by setting the stage for the rest of the album.
“Concrete Bed” explores the lifelong pursuit of love by straightforwardly pronouncing that “to find someone you love, you’ve gotta be someone you love”. As we grow and get set in our ways we realize that before we can love another we have to love ourselves.
Listen to this song in your car while driving on the freeway… and sing at the top of your lungs with the windows down, wink at yourself in the rearview mirror and give yourself some love!
Get the Record: Weight Is a Gift
Go to their Website: Nada Surf