Categories
A Gun That Shoots Knives Argo Audio Cars Can Be Blue Man Plus Nicky Click Racetrack Tea Cozies The Hot Toddies The Snakebites The Trucks We Wrote the Book on Connectors

Imaginary Indie Tunes Podcast {November 2006}

 

Three Imaginary Girls created a series of podcasts between 2005-2010 titled the Imaginary Indie Tunes podcast. Each episode served as a mixtape of our favorite songs for each given month, spotlighting the new releases and upcoming shows. {all currently published podcast episodes}

 

Here’s a look back on our fourth episode, originally published in September 2006. This episode includes a lot of great artists from Seattle and beyond.

PLEASE NOTE!!! This podcast includes a very naughty set of songs (right there smack in the middle of the episode) so put some naughty-cancelling headphones on the kids and coworkers.

 

Playlist for November 2006

  • The Hot Toddies
    “Seattle” (self-released EP) {facebook}
  • Racetrack
    “Jumping the Shark” (Demo)
  • Man Plus
    “Sister Says I’ll Love Again” (From the self-released LP We Had No Sex) {bandcamp}
  • Argo
    “All You Say” (Pleasurecraft remix) (Demo) {website}
  • Nicky Click
    “Don’t Call Me Baby” (From the self-released LP You’re Already a Member {website}
  • Voxy
    “Chix with Dictionaries” (self-released)
  • Cars Can Be Blue
    “The Dirty Song” (From the Happy Happy Birthday to Me release All the Stuff We Do {facebook}
  • The Trucks
    “Titties” (from the Click Pop release The Trucks)
  • A Gun That Shoots Knives
    “Every Year” (self-released) {bandcamp}
  • We Wrote the Book on Connectors
    “Gonna Eat Some Cake” (self-released) {bandcamp}
  • The Treatment
    “Invisible Bruise” (debut release on Loveless Records)
  • Fernando
    “Everybody Knows” (From the release Exit to Enter)
  • Tea Cozies
    “Tranciting” (From their debut, self-titled EP) {bandcamp}
  • The Snakebites
    “Everybody Feels It When We Get Together” (From the release Love, Hate, Rage, & Sorrow) {bandcamp}

 

Produced by Three Imaginary Girls
Engineered by DKB productions

Permission to podcast all music in the Imaginary Podcast has been obtained from the artist and is on file at the imaginary office.

Thanks to the Wedding Present for the wonderful opening riff on each episode.

 

Categories
Audio Math and Physics Club Shorthand for Epic Sirens Sister Stars of Track and Field The Doll Test The Drug Purse The Pharmacy

Imaginary Indie Tunes Podcast {September 2006}

Three Imaginary Girls created a series of podcasts between 2005-2010 titled the Imaginary Indie Tunes podcast. Each episode served as a mixtape of our favorite songs for each given month, spotlighting the new releases and upcoming shows. {all currently published podcast episodes}

 

Here’s a look back on our third episode, originally published in September 2006.

 

Playlist:

  1. Math and Physics Club
    “April Showers” from the release Math and Physics Club {website}
  2. Trevor Dickson
    “Just Because” (MySpace demo)
  3. The Pharmacy
    “Tropical Yeti Song” **TIG exclusive!**
  4. Birdwatchers United
    “Sex Machine” (MySpace demo) {bandcamp}
  5. Shorthand for Epic
    “My Own Private Weimar” from the EP “Shorthand for Epic”
  6. Billy Corazon from Shorthand for Epic
    Live in the Imaginary studios. First an interview, then Billy’s stunning live cover of Elvis Costello’s “Sleep of the Just”
  7. The Doll Test
    “Gasoline & Banks” from the EP Gasoline & Banks
  8. The Drug Purse
    “There is Nothing for You” (MySpace demo)
  9. Stars of Track and Field
    “With You” from the record Centuries Before Love and War
  10. Sirens Sister
    “Kissing Her” from the record Echoes from the Ocean Floor

Produced by Three Imaginary Girls
Engineered by DKB productions

Permission to podcast all music in the Imaginary Podcast has been obtained from the artist and is on file at the imaginary office.

Thanks to the Wedding Present for the wonderful opening riff on each episode.

 

Categories
Audio Bugs Eat Books Bunnygrunt Cars Can Be Blue Heather Duby Optimus Rhyme Stuporhero The Gazetteers The Long Winters The Trucks

Imaginary Indie Tunes Podcast {August 2006}

Three Imaginary Girls created a series of podcasts between 2005-2010 titled the Imaginary Indie Tunes Podcast. Each episode served as a mixtape of our favorite songs for each given month – spotlighting the new releases and upcoming shows. Listening to this episode 12+ years after it was originally published,  further proves that a good song is a good song and even though we shared them for the first time a while back, they are still very lovable. {all currently published podcast episodes}

Here’s a look back at our second episode which was originally published in August 2006 (the first one has become truly imaginary). It makes sense to start this thing back up with a Long Winters track.

Playlist for August 2006:

  • The Long Winters 
    “Pushover” from the release Putting the Days to Bed {website}
  • Heather Duby
    “Would Have Liked You (I’m Pretty Sure)” from the album Heather Duby {subpop}
  • The Trucks
    “Zombie” from the forthcoming release The Trucks
  • Cars Can Be Blue
    “I Like” from the release All the Stuff We Do {bandcamp}
  • Bugs Eat Books
    “Ian is Going to New Zealand” {bandcamp}
  • Bunnygrunt
    “Wild Summer, Wow!” from the release Karen Hater’s Club {bandcamp}
  • The Gazetteers
    “Bedroom Community”
  • Umeko
    “Mad Rad Hair”
  • Optimus Rhyme
    “LEDs” from the record School the Indie Rockers {website}
  • Stuporhero
    “Cherry Blossom Cool” from the record It Would Be Nice to Wake Up” {bandcamp}

 

Produced by Three Imaginary Girls
Engineered by DKB productions

Permission to podcast all music in the Imaginary Podcast has been obtained from the artist and is on file at the imaginary office.

Thanks to the Wedding Present for the wonderful opening riff on each episode.

 

Categories
Allo Darlin Audio Darren Hanlon Eux Autres Fortuna Pop! Imaginary Mixtape Math and Physics Club Matinee Sea of Bees

Imaginary Mixtape {December, 2010 – part 2} featuring Eux Autres, Darren Hanlon, Allo Darlin, Sea of Bees, Math & Physics Club

It’s that time of year again: the time of year in which we can listen to “Last Christmas” without headphones and not get chastised by our coworkers.  It also gives us a time to sift through our holiday mixtapes and listen to our favorite bands get all holly jolly Christmas for us. Is there any better way to get into the mood for the Imaginary Holiday Office Party on December 16, 2010 at the Columbia City Theater?

You can listen to a stream of the podcast below or download the MP3 version of the podcast on the imaginary bandcamp page.

If you are the type that likes to listen to podcasts in itunes, download the .m4a file here {it’s one single file with fancy chapter markers!} and then open it in your itunes {big thanks to Jigsaw Records and Indie Pages for hosting the file!}.

Tracklisting:

Eux Autres – “Another Christmas At Home” from the limited edition single
This song makes me want to spend the holidays with Eux Autres, or at least be one of the friends that they sneak out and meet at the bar after Santa arrives. This song appears on limited edition vinyl and cd and it looks like if you head to the Eux Autres bandcamp page you might still be able to procure your own copy (go go go!). Also of note, Eux Autres released a pretty awesome new album in November and we’ll feature our pick from that in next week’s podcast.

Math and Physics Club – “It Must Be Christmas” from Matinee Holiday Soiree
I hope that this second holiday song from the MaPC camp (they recorded “Marshmallow World” a few years back)  is a sign that they are slowly but surely working on a full album of holiday songs for us. At this rate it might not come out until 2020, but I’ll still be first in line at the record store for it. This track is only available on the limited edition Matinee Holiday Soiree EP that features eggnog-flavored tracks from fellow twee-poppers Bubblegum Lemonade, Northern Portrait among others. Hear the whole EP at our Imaginary Crafternoon Listening Party on December 5th at Neptune Coffee!

Allo Darlin’ – “S P A C E Christmas” from the S P A C E Christmas EP
2010 is my year of Allo Darlin, so it should come as no surprise that if they have a holiday song, I’m going to include it on my holiday mix. The band actually has four holiday songs on this EP, so we’re set for years to come. Wait until you hear next year’s A.D. holiday pick!

Darren Hanlon – “Spend Christmas Day with Me” from Christmas Songs 7″
Let this fine and touching holiday song serve as a reminder of Darren Hanlon’s 2010 release I Will Love You At All. It is equally as charming, subtly intricate, and cute as heck.

Sea of Bees – “Feliz Navidad” from digital release
The softest song in the mix rounds out our holiday jingle jangle. This song is available digitally (through the usual bookmarked outlets) with all proceeds going to the Trevor Project.

{Top photo: Behind the scenes at last year’s Imaginary Holiday Party – photo by Jason Tang}

 

Categories
Audio Bloodhag Chuckanut Drive Conner CSS Emergency Umbrella Eugene Mirman Imaginary Scoop Lil Hospital Lucy Bland Mooncalf Nouvelle Vague Sub Pop Suicide Squeeze The Court & Spark The Melvins The Sadies The Village Green Voltaire

AstroPOP! for June 2006

Your monthly imaginary horoscope told in album reviews!


Gemini (May 21 – June 21)
The duality of Gemini can be a dark and painful thing, as when you let someone down you didn't intend to, and don't seem to care. But it can also be a mystical and beautiful thing, as when you deliver an experience to someone that transcends the ordinary, that reaches out and clenches the soul-strings. You'll be doing that this month, Gemini, as The Village Green do on their crackling, electrifyingly fresh-sounding and yet saturated-with-Samsara (the Eternal Return) debut album, Feeling The Fall. It might be a little early to talk about a record that isn't out until the end of August, but the band's leader will be playing a no doubt completely fetching solo performance with Bre of Daylight Basement on July 1st at the O Lounge in Seattle, which none of you should miss. (Dual deliciousness! Just like Gemini!) The autumnal-yet-sunny full-length still carries the 60s/70s love tracers of the band's first EP (released a few short months ago), but exchanges some stock garage riffing for full-screen emotional splendor, stepping up to a pedestal of pure song-craft that will be rarely rivaled any further this year. It is making me regret my original low rating for their introduction, as it now reveals more splendor to me as well. But there are so many levels to this new twelve song canvas of swirling fear, love, doubt, and change, and so much wonderful musicianship, I need to mention it now and remind everyone of it again later. Glorious.

Cancer (June 22 – July 22)
People tend to count on Cancers for reassurance, even if a Cancer herself might have difficulty making it through this world. The beginning of summer is a good time to release burdens, dear Cancer, about being the shoulder others always lean on. The band The Court & Spark has been the sturdy soft-music faithful for furry folks for some time, since 1993 even, coming together as a mellow collective at the University of California. In the meantime, "leader" M.C. Taylor's songwriting skills and mellifluous vocals have truly ripened into an intoxicating blend of the spirit and the flesh. Hearts is easily my favorite album of theirs, and I must reveal that I have been a hard listener to convince, only recently turned around since their collaborations with Linda Thompson and M. Ward. "Let's Get High" will be a summer song for many porch drinking poetry readers this season, and the soul-wandering closer "The Ballad of Horselover Fat" does its literary inspiration justice without even seeming like science fiction. The band plays out here in Seattle on June 6th at the Crocodile Café, so bring out the monster bongs and mellow out big-time.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Part of Leo's attractive qualities is her low key self-assurance. She knows she's a good thing to have around, especially on long hot summer days when a cool sense of self-acceptance is a delightful trait to throw in with. The Foundry Field Recordings Emergency Umbrella has that sort of cocky sense of being grounded on their debut, Prompts/Miscues. Vocalist and guitarist Billy Schuh has a voice stripped of all pretense or unnecessary glamour, but is in no way unattractive. Like Laurie Anderson, you would listen to anything he has to say, and like certain Saddle-Creek recording artists of somewhat similar genre, what he has to say is usually really worth listening to and picking apart. The massive troupe of players who back him with shambling rhythms and massaging strings lead each cinematic fable into near-martial attention. High points include the mid-tempo "Buried Beneath the Winter Frames," which ends the full-length debut like a perfect Roddy Frame or Ben Gibbard anthem, before settling into the after-hours epilogue of the chilling "Circuits on Board." Come to Seattle! Please! Soon!

Virgo(August 23 – September 22)
Virgos can be prominent in several careers at once; it's weird and lovely how scattered forms of creativity can somehow collide into one body, and ripen to fate. Summers are for Virgos, and if you have the feeling you want to make this your season, feel free to break the rules, and put good things together somehow. Mooncalf does this, taking crisp and rhythmic, merry or melancholic combinations into surreal gleeful taunting and compassionate Choir boy caterwauling. "Do I contract myself, I contradict myself, we like contradiction," as the Clash sang about themselves on their own "Death Or Glory," so Mooncalf does on "Hoorah." (Bio facts: a mooncalf is a daydreamer or absent minded-person, a fool, a freak; and the 'two Matts' and their friends score with the description "This band is a mess.") The vocals, keyboards, and head-fucked unpredictability of course brings to mind Grandaddy, but set on an LSD farm, not by smoking weed in the parking lot mall. A little pedal steel from Tim Seeley on "Hoorah" puts it straight on to MY seasonal play-list. Sweetly crooned, "Sack of Potatoes: begins: "Your teeth looked ugly under the black-light" … good Lord, I'm going to have catch them live just to see what they'll sing next. Also on that same night at the High Dive (June 7th), Lucy Bland will be playing, which doesn't match at all! With Anil (Heather Duby) Seth's whiskey ice cream sweet, smooth, and bracing vocals, her tiny harshly existential bubble observations are cloud-carried by sweet cotton burbles of keyboard mirth and mellow, with perfect blue music also contributed by members of Ubiquitous and Omniverse. Music is rarely this pleasurable, meaningful, and soothing on tracks like "Centuries" and the Suzanne Vega-ish "Streaker." A very charming debut EP.

Libra (September 23 – October 23)
You live with a very lofty set of personal values, Libra, which is strange, because you so rarely adhere to them. Wisely, you at least understand that others can'teither. Chukanut Drive is a great band for someone like you to listen to, as vocalist and songwriter Steve Leslie shares a universal sense of Not Hitting It into country-soul folk stompers with the occasional instrumental panache of the Sadies and the caustic journal-keeping wit of a snarlier Robbie Fulks. Their album title The Crooked Mile Home is a perfect way to tag an unlucky thirteen batch of white boy blues, masterfully plucked and rock-a-boogie driven of course. "Eight Days" is about the 'cure of the road,' and could be the next "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." Don't take that flippantly; there is the fire of Hank Williams here, but it's damn catchy pop too. (Check 'em out June 9th at Conor Byrne.) Speaking of The Sadies, I can't recommend highly enough their double disc (!) 41 song (!!) blisteringly live collection, In Concert Vol. 1, featuring guest stars Kelly Hogan and Neko Case among many others. Taking some perfect rural lysergic
hoedown songwriting, sparkle up with absolutely lovely playing, and you go from the threshing "Cheat" to the trembling, tough as nails barnyard waltz of "Evangeline," then the band turns around with the perfect Dylanesque garage-pop of "Tailspin." The whole thing seems like a great box set of Americana music boiled perfectly into a puree of pure roots love. This swarm of ancients-kissed talent seems like it could pass for The Basement Tapes of our generation, molasses-flooded with sticky ghosts from the old, weird, sexy, dark America.

Scorpio (October 24 – November 21)
Scorpios cannot tolerate timidity, and maybe that's why the cycles of rage and lust lead a Scorpio to just taking the early days of June as just another reason to party, nothing more significant than that. Yet Bloodhag admonishes the lazy-minded Scorpio to add perfervid literacy into the lifestyle, and that of two very specific genres: A hard shell of body-slamming razor-edged blood-curdling thrash-punk with a creamy intellectual center of science fiction author worship and evangelism. "Edu-coring" the masses since the mid-90s, the Seattle lit-punk band has followed up their tours of libraries with their first Alternative Tentacles release, Hell-Bent For Letters, and songs like "Douglas Adams," "Madeline L'Engle," and "Edgar Allen Poe" are a unique form of crossover. Catchy, crunchy, extremely funny rock about authors' lives and ideas anyone even moderately into 'speculative fiction' (sissy!) should hear pronto. Meanwhile, just as literate and even more atomic, Seattle-adored The Melvins lovingly and live recreate their classic Cobain-endorsed album Houdini, giving it more fire power and an intensely clear replication of the mind-eating murk throbbing within the original early 90s release. Houdini Live is raw subterranean rock infused with the spirit of science fiction, too, but rather than proselytizing for the cause the Melvins just play and howl as if it's already a soul-eating dystopia or the end of the world was already happened. You want it heavy as hell and smart as an A-bomb, check both these releases out.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
Sagittarius can be great in marriage or other long-term sexual relationships, thanks to their fierce sense of affection and hormonally frothing desires. This Summer, dear Sag Lil Hospital's latest album, Heavy Metal (Total Gaylord Records), is perfect music for your summer lovin romance. Ditch Rizzo and Pinky for the Sandra Dee of your dreams and play the good girl for once. Heavy Metal ill make even the most leather of Tuscederos melt with their Hidden Cameras reminiscence and Beach Boys pop mathematics. Their lyrics mix serendipity, sweetness and pink lemonade to give an echoey beach mix tape. The Red Pony Clock laissez-faire ascetic, complete with horns and violins, will jingle your sweet jangle. Remember, sand in your bikini is a good thing.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
You are an extreme individualist, Capricorn, extreme in most of your views, and June will be a period of time in which you're really heating up. You are going to need a soundtrack that is as stubbornly self-actualized as you are, and going out strong in a thousand different directions at once too. Suicide Squeeze has released a luxurious, extremely creative and often very loud recollection of some of their best moments since inception in 1996, on a double disc sound-documentary tracing the band's beloved roots (764-Hero, Modest Mouse, Elliott Smith) to the still sizzling new sounds of Hella and These Arms Are Snakes. Suicide Squeeze perfectly captures true punk rock energy in all of their releases, with all thought put into promotion of great songs, no matter what actual genre. The label is simply an outstanding testament to doing things your own way, and rocking out as hard as you can at the same time. In the meantime, quality is always assured, making Slaying Since 1996 sound like a various greatest singles from several different, much more butt-licked labels. How such passionate individuality and quality control can still seem so overlooked in the independent market is a mystery, but the idiosyncratic appeal of bands as diverse as Red Stars Theory alongside The Unicorns alongside Iron & Wine should leave no discerning music fan wondering. Similar to the recent very-necessary Merge compilation, you need this. Pick it up at Easy Street or Sonic Boom immediately.

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
Speaking of Sonic Boom, June is the month these mechanical phenomenons tend to happen, due to heat and expansion and speed. Aquarius will need to be careful at the beginning of summer, as your sensibilities are keen, your feelings tender, and life can be endless dynamic tension for you. This tension is expertly described on the vital, bronze-strong riffs and chant-beats of Hello Graphic Missile, the debut album from Conner, an album of high quality new rock that is as adorable as it seems alienated. Every slashing note is passionately perfect, as the dance-floor big beat propels the listener into a dystopian existence of planned obsolescence and prefab relationships. "Floating On Error" has a fetching Euro-rock sheen and chorus, and one can't help be transfixed by the sad story unfolding in the perfect groove. Conner must be an absolute monster to see live, as I haven't heard the various cogs of a rock engine entwine with such deterministic energy since the debut of the Futureheads or more recently Figurines. While the vocals are less warm than either of those bands, the distance just creates more tension for the tight-wire songs. Sonic Boom Recordings (easily one of my very favorite labels) hits it again! (Will I ever tire of playing Rotten Apples? I don't think so.) While not a Seattle band, local fans shouldn't miss out on this.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
Pisces often want to clean up the corruption in this world. June is going to be a month for her to find some sort of distraction, because the world is truly fucked. The best way I've found to distract oneself and still have integrity is with humor, whether it's accompanied by music or not. The latter can be best enjoyed by the inclusive, gentle, empathetic, thought-provoking comedy of the awesome Eugene Mirman, who will be playing Neumo's at the end of June for a full set with some rock bands, a crazy thing he just likes to do. The fact that Mirman can open for bands like Modest Mouse and carry it off, when his humor is so intelligent and often very subtle, just confirms his absolutely charismatic cutie-pie swanky-schlub personality. Some early reviews of his Sub Pop debut En Garde Society seem to mourn some sort of harsh early work, but one listen to the gut-slapping knee-punching "Revolve (The Complete New Testament in the Form of a Teen Magazine)," every word of it read out of a sleazy Bible translation geared towards rendering the minds of teenage girls, or the warmly autobiographical "Swearing In Russian, Immigrating" shows just how distinctive and delightful Mirman continues to be. Sub Pop also has comedy mixed with music on offer, too, on Cansei De Ser Sexy by female-dominated
Brazilian band CSS. "Suck suck suck my art hole, lick lick lick my art tit!" a disengaged female voice intones in "Art Bitch," and I am on the floor, dying. There's a lot of so-called clever, narcissistic 'grime' coming out of comfy cubby holes like Olympia these days, and this surrealistic, venomous take on fashion, art, sexual fetishes, passed along notions, is both ALARMINGLY funky and fun, but spot-on with every pun and verbal joust. "Let's Make Love And Listen to Death From Above" and "Meeting Paris Hilton" are sublime high points, with great keyboard playing and drum beats and some of the coldest put-downs ever. From the country that brought you Os Mutantes and Gilberto Gil, and while not as adventurous in terms of expanding musical structure, more than makes up for it with satirical venom.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)
You are given to aggressiveness, Aries, due to your moon in Mars. So avoid those drunken frat parties with your pals from Kentucky in the next few weeks in my neighborhood, and stay home with your significant other, pitching hot woo instead. The perfect music to listen to while you do that would probably be the upcoming Nouvelle Vague album, A Bande Apart. As TIG readers might remember, I was a slobbering advocate of this various-female vocalist band last year for their debut, a French faux bossa nova-based compilation of post-punk covers that fell together like a great accidental novel. This sophomore release is no less attractive, and what it loses a little in shock value it makes up for in interpretative skill and romantic resonance. After seeing them play at Chop Suey's, I became a fan for life, watching the lanky gals dance on the bar slurring out "Too Drunk To Fuck" with robust go-go all-ya-got. There's nothing as shocking as that choice of material here, but wisely Nouvelle Vague resuscitate lost 80s gems like the Lords of the New Church's entrancing and boldly erotic "Dance With Me," bedazzle everyone with the drama of a smooth but ember-fiery "Don't Go" (Yazoo), the latter actually featuring the introduction of male vocals on a NV record. It is then that the album deepens the band's sound more seriously, making everything less cabaret and far more soul-saturated. Lighter and weirder moments aren't left out, though, as joyously flippant takes on "Dancing With Myself" and "Heart Of Glass" lighten the smoky, boozy mood throughout. Meanwhile, a real New Wave comic-chanteuse of the 80s has come out of nowhere to record an album with Jules Shear. Slow Children were the definition of eclectic electronic pop in the early part of the Reagan decade, and the band's vocalist Pal Shazar has been apparently writing very smart songs for herself ever since. Her album The Morning After features thirteen funny, nervously confessional, casually topical songs that don't let on that she was once the techno-existentialist in "Spring in Fialta." Combine a lighter Sam Phillips with a female woody Allen, and you might have some idea of what Shazar has been up to. I have a strange addiction (she would understand that) to her naked, superbly performed vocals, which are like no one else's in alternative rock. A very welcome return.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Because Taurus is dependable and practical, we tend to rely upon them more than they can rely upon us. This does not mean however that a Taurus does not have her own needs, which can often be overlooked, no matter how awesome. June would be a great month to explode on the world with what you want, as the zealously passionate protagonists and characters in the songs by Voltaire often do. Those protagonists and characters are probably all Voltaire himself, an incredibly gifted multi-talented vocalist, songwriter, musician, cartoonist, artist, et al, who can take any position in his topical songs, as long as its based in subversive spiritual empathy and naked embrace of certain important dark things. His cryptically romantic new album Then and Again follows a handful of quietly received classics that I think will boil down to a superb greatest hits once the undervalued songwriter and performer breaks through to the people who need to hear him. Those with Gothy pasts and a perverse sense of humor will appreciate his smooth croon, questioning, self-depreciative sense of humor, and very tasteful and emotionally reflective musicianship (great strings and multi-tempo shifts very clearly produced). Sort of the Randy Newman of the crushed black velvet set, Voltaire makes little sense, other than an astonishing talent in the underground to keep track off and hope he finally takes what's his instead of being taken for granted. Melancholy beloved low points: "Wall of Pride," "Born Bad," and a nice cover of "Lovesong."

Categories
Audio Elf Power Imaginary Scoop Josh Ritter Lifetime Mountain Con Nardwuar Palodine Public Enemy Roy Sub Pop Tarnished Records The Coup The Go-Betweens The Hope Blister Trapped By Mormons V2

AstroPOP! for May-June 2006

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Taurus is full of life, vivacious, often brilliant, but ultimately so healthy she may scare lovers with frail psyches. Mountain Con's new album Sancho Panza is full of challenges to those weak in intellect, faith, and the ability to dance off their problems. The band is from originally from Montana, and lead singer-mastermind Jim Nugent sounds like a sardonic, practical Everyman from Missoula who comes to the City with his possessed muse to dance, but like the character in the title of this album, goes through a transformative process that defines him beyond the electric, entropic era he lives in. Mountain Con play a warm art-frat rock incorporating squeaky turntables, frolicking bass, and various low rent later period Clash effects. This is odd, as Nugent writes tales of the world's end in debris and hubris, which could actually be more chilling than any other songwriter working today. Take the disturbing ambiguity of the pumping "Killers," which could be about a bragging hipster or a demented fan or both, and the tormented protest of Eno-billy "Devotion Is So 20th Century." Very few albums since Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited have made Biblical imagery so intoxicating and humorous.

Gemini (May 21 – June 21)
Spring is a time of duality, the frost of winter evaporating as the sun of summer settles in for these longer days. You might find yourself musing spiritually and feeling a little carnal at the same time. Gemini struggles with duality, according to archetype. On Back To The Web, Elf Power also creates an earthy, joyful, yet very reverent hymn-cycle of lust and transcendence. Glistening like dew on just-lit overgrown bracken and brambles, the strangely shiny production for this sublimely melodic folk-rock record perfectly complements the simmering fire beneath "An Old Familiar Scene" and the mesmerizing "King Of Earth." Spider webs of succulent acoustic and twelve string guitar drape between sturdy trees of backwoods song craft. Check out and see how far Elf Power has come since their crazy days hanging out with Neutral Milk Hotel a few years ago.

Cancer (June 22 – July 22)
Some find you a little head-strong, Cancer, but your tender heart is always generous. This might be a good season to diversify your acquaintances, learning a little from each one, drawing strength for yourself from where you can. Acquired Taste is an example of just how diverse and strong Sub Pop has been as a label since their last DVD compilation, Video Program: Network One (although I've yet to stop playing that one either). This succulent new collection features a devastating plethora of animation and real life narratives to illustrate the inventive underground pop sounds of many creative bands. The video collection begins with The Shins' notorious and adored ode-to-80s indie rock albums covers' "New Slang," a ubiquitous confection of a song that never gets old and has a giggling visual homage to Cowboy Mouth, Squirrel Bait, Husker Du, and the Minutemen as well. Next up is Ugly Casanova's "Thing I Don't Remember (unedited)," adorably scatological and fart-obsessed, showing how the label runs the gamut between the sacred and profane. Other highlights include the disturbingly sensual and demented Love As Laughter anthem "Dirty Lives," done by Chad Vangaalen, whose own music is represented here by "Clinically Dead" as well. The collection also has one of Rosie Thomas' best songs, really funny vids for Wolf Parade's "Shine A Light" and Mudhoney's (bringing us round full circle at the end of the disc) "It Is Us." But wait till you see the emotionally wrenching combination of image and song in Low's "Death Of A Salesman" too. A DVD not to be missed.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Leo is insanely confident, even when performing within quiet lives of denigration. Thus, Leo is the ideal American. An ode to this American way of life can be heard in all its mordant power on Seattle band Palodine's traumatically tender and awesomely affecting Desolate Son. Similar to the new American rock of certain neo-psychedelic bands, this debut is formed in the rustic ferocity of Sixteen Horsepower's religious-schizophrenic wake. But the stark lilting or loping late afternoon desert soundtrack is balanced by Katrina Whitney's singing from the bowels of spiritual poverty and mutilated bloodlines. Desolate Son is a relentless dark rain of apocalypse beneath stumbling cries of mercy. "Devils Song" and "Devour Me" are one-two punches of gospel folk-metal, confirming the album's sequence of valley, peak, valley, inverted.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Virgo has an attraction to older people, so she feels less confident with her peers. This can be found in the music of Josh Ritter on his V2 release The Animal Years, where a young man from the plains of Western Washington, whose parents are both scientists and people of faith, raised a troubadour far more wise than his earthly years. This is Ritter's third and best record, built around a vociferous ten-minute folk-rock "Sister Ray" moment called "Thin Blue Flame," in which the transgressions of this world run headlong to match the entropy at the end of time. Ritter's work belongs in the same canon as Phil Ochs or Karen Dalton, a well-read, genuine voice of spiritual distress and a hunger for experience that may lead to damage. "Girl In The War," which opens the record, may be the most meaningful "pop" song ever written about heaven. This is pretty mellow stuff, and I would love to see more demon lover terror blues as "Thin Blue Flame," but for now its whiskey and The Animal Years for me every Sunday morning.

Libra (September 23 – October 23)
Libras should be urged to plan their lives, as they are determined by conduct and values. With the weather starting to get nice, and the days becoming longer, more wrong choices could be made. That's one reason why punk rock has always been great in EP form, as with Trapped By Mormons' debut Go Go Go. Five solid punches of back porch barbeque big beat, the high points on this record are the wickedly burning "Evil Can Evil" and the questionable but wonderful guilty pleasure "Chinese Girls." Both are funny and smack ya juicy in the face with brass knuckles. Trapped By Mormons have the potential to break out of the punk rock scene niche by following a more garage style rock energy, but whatever they do is liable to sound mean and fun, thanks to Todd Nolan's eviscerating vocals. Great drumming from Brandon Samdahl too.

Scorpio (October 24 – November 21)
Scorpios are often extremely attractive because of their intolerance for timidity. Their ability to Get Shit Done is one of the reasons you want to be near them, even when the world is falling apart. However, even tenacity can be seen as absurd in the eyes of the universe. Take Vancouver, BC-based interviewer Nardwuar the Human Serviette, whose double
DVD collection of interviews from Canada's Much Music (with much raw footage he uses to construct his specials on that channel) show a focused but frenzied man asking some of the most audacious questions to musicians both mainstream-popular (Snoop Dogg) and underground-adored (Ian McKaye from Fugazi). I will gush and say that the sheer gut-punching fanboy harassment style Nardwuar uses when interviewing artists has earned him a deep place in my heart, and this extremely generous collection of visceral and hilarious conversations is easily one of my favorite DVDs ever. Some punks like McKaye (especially in the outrageous long version of Nardwuar's interview with him) and Henry Rollins come off fairly humorous, and my opinions of these icons is a little less after seeing how they treat the Human Serviette in response. Jello Biafra seems to have maintained a Lou Reed-Lester Bangs style relationship with him over the years however, only occasionally veering into abuse. Perhaps the most pleasant segment is Franz Ferdinand's, who seem utterly gracious and grateful to be interviewed by Nardwuar, and play along and enjoy him for who he is without trying to come off cool or above it. That brought them up several notches in my book, regardless of whether or not I would actually buy a FF album. Mad love to Alternative Tentacles for releasing this!

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
Sagittarius loves to work with animals, especially when their lifestyles don't permit them to have pets. Animals are unpredictable, but their beauty and mystery are something every Sagittarius tends to respect. The Hope Blister was a band that 4AD's Ivo created out of the ashes of This Mortal Coil, and it released a gorgeous, emotionally-slaughtered debut album a few years ago entitled Smile's OK. They followed this masterpiece up with the what-the-fuck Underarms, a fans-only release that was seven single notes played through distortion and developed by mixing into a dreamy sonic canvas. This is where the creature becomes something you don't understand, but you still love it, as its spirit is the reason you own it in the first place. It might piss on your rug, but what delightful colors the fabric now has, and every time you smell it the odor reminds you of the beast you love. A re-release with a full album remix job by Markus Guenter called Sideways has just happened, and it's pure joy, not for one single 4AD devotee to avoid. This is the raw delight of the aesthetic, and both can be purchased simultaneously by inventive-ambient music fans under the title Underarms and Sideways.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
Because Capricorns tend to focus ahead on their lives and dreams, they tend to avoid colors. The New Jersey band Lifetime used a limited palette to evoke the world, but its gritty emotionally-noir punk was as much an inspiration to basement-begun bands of the 90s as Embrace was to the same in the 80s. Their extravagant collection Somewhere In The Swamps Of Jersey not only harvests two complete sequences of their supernova-exploding debut Background, but over two stacked discs presents all the dangling 45s, outtakes, demos, and live and comp tracks you can imagine. Obviously a labor of love over time, an accidental novel about life in the garbage-strewn and heartbroken heartland of the state that claims Hoboken, Jade Tree should be commended for putting out such a tidy, delicious buffet of hardcore-kissed independent rock and roll. The remix job on the earlier material was much needed and superb; and the title track should be the start for a great movie about some kid fresh out of juvie.

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
Like Jude with his three names, Aquarius often seems to be of more than one personality. Albums themselves are becoming combinations of music and visuals, as evidenced by two excellent compact discs accompanied by DVDs, Public Enemy's New Whirl Odor and The Go-Betweens' That Striped Sunlight Sound. Public Enemy offers up their best new album in years, featuring extremely funky beats and viciously hilarious rhymes from Chuck D and Flavor Flav, smeared by a lot of deep bass and produced hard but subtle. Tracks like "Preachin' To The Quiet" and "Check What You're Listening To" are a couple of the most prime PE recorded since the late 80s, and the accompanying DVD is a delightful assortment of new videos, documentary footage, and commentary on the album and these times. The Go-Betweens album comes in a two-set DVD of enjoyable live footage, one with a band and one acoustic, and a set of live songs from their delectable oeuvre that is actually the first set of the DVD (but playable in your car stereo or Discman, as opposed to kicking back with some wine and watching at home). It's a remarkable set, featuring many of their best (but a bit more laid back) tracks, from the mesmerizing, metaphysical "Black Mule" to the haunting, deceptively happy "Streets Of Your Town." Both of these album/DVD collections by extremely talented since-the-80s vets give far more bang for the buck than much else out in the market right now, and old fans of Public Enemy would do well to check back in with one of the best bands on earth, while new fans of Go-Betweens get a sweet run-down of earlier material very enjoyably presented.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
We live in a time of decision, and Pisces is equipped to reflect the passions of this age. So too are The Coup, whose Pick A Bigger Weapon is easily their best, most consistent album to date, and could be my vote for album of the year. This is decades-spanning hip-hop, infusing the no-bullshit every day politics of Kurtis Blow with the smmoth grooves and loving-life aesthetic of a Gil Scott-Heron. There is no other hip-hop group like The Coup, and no one else I'd rather listen to preach than Boots Riley, whose charismatic, fuck-shit-up sensibilities make this a perfect soundtrack for sabotaging work and drinking liquor out of your lover's mouth on the same day. "We Are The Ones" just cold assesses the misery we have to deal with being have-nots and somehow surviving, with a classy persona voice and some very empathy-inducing details about life on the lean. "Laugh, Love, Fuck, and Drink Liquor" is going to be played at ten on my stereo every laundry day at this apartment building the next three months, my neighbors be damned (or come on over for a beer, y'all). "Yes 'Em To Death" brings true humor and honor back to the between-song skits of rap albums, whilst "Ass Breath Killers" takes a large chunk out of the upper backside of Yes Men and poseurs. This is accessible, danceable, funny, and startling hip-hop, fervently political but extremely inclusive. The Coup feels bad for you even when they're preaching good shit; like the Sex Pistols, that's a perfect combination. The Best Coup DVD Ever is a very enjoyable separate The Coup release from MVD and has seven earlier videos, all great, especially "Me And Jesus The Pimp In A '79 Granada Last Night" and some with classic animation. Truly elucidating interviews with Pam the Funkstress and Riley, and an illuminating travelogue makes this one of MVD's best releas
es, and a perfect way to find out more about the band that just dropped one of the best records of the past few years.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)
The influence of Mars on Aries gives it a need to be active. Otherwise, Aries can go insane trying to figure out what to do with her time. This sort of thing happened to Phil Ochs, for example, whose manic depressive anxiety disorder combined with political trauma from the 60s and an attempted assassination plot by the CIA led him to adopt an angry fat guy persona called 'John Train.' What this has to do with Tacoma band Roy's new album Roy Killed John Train I'm not sure, though the fun and ferocious full length features Ochs on the cover, long before the madness had set in, a censor bar over his face. A bluesman, perhaps Robert Johnson, is on the cover too, and I don't know what that means either, as this isn't really bluesy. But it is rock and roll from the economic trenches, battered out by men under the heels of their bosses, open about their contempt for business as usual and willing to express just how "Fucked and Forlorn" they really are. These are great story songs of lives gone wrong, not unlike the bloodhound-infested existences of the musical heroes displayed in the album art, and "The Middle Son" and "Fresh Lies From The Patron Saint Of Liars" are songs two folk and soul icons could have crafted if they were playing the club circuit in 2006.

Categories
Audio Friday Mile Half-handed Cloud Imaginary Scoop Modern Skirts Monostereo Noodles Ray Davies The Swim Team Velvet Blue Music

AstroPOP! for February 2006

Your monthly imaginary horoscope told in album reviews!


Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
As Aquarians themselves may testify, water is a symbol of life and rebirth. The shimmering beauty of such timelessly heartbreaking underground pop bands as Guadalcanal Diary has been reincarnated in The Swim Team, with all the mystery, romance, and fire of its forebears. Juice For Jesus is one of the most refreshing Seattle debut albums you'll hear. In razor-sharp political taunts like "Dubya" or the mesmerizing "This Is Not My Dance" their sound seems crafted from the kudzu and shattered hubris of the South gone wrong, which could just as well be the haunted affairs in foliage near Roosevelt High School as well. The power is in their restraint. Jangling guitars, handsome vocals from songwriter Amos (his well-thought-out lyrics not afraid to either be topical or provocative), and the slinky rhythm section of Lari Garrison and Adonis Torro means I have a new CD set for repeat in my player for a few weeks. When they play live, I will be there.

Aquarius Valentine's Day Tip: "Forget her face, forget her hand, leading me through this demon land."

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
Even in romance, Pisces tends to be a patriot and a humanitarian. It's this effective combination of commitment and empathy to the Other that is exemplified by the madly devoted spiritual songs of Half-handed Cloud, fierce in praise and yet tender in performance. The What's The Remedy? five song vinyl EP is a bit more sedate and contemplative than Halos & Lassos, the head-spinning nineteen track song cycle Asthmatic Kitty will release in March. That album will be an essential purchase for fans of absolutely hypnotic marginalist apocalypse pop, but then so should this wonderful collaboration with Sufjan Stevens. That's right! John Ringhofer of Half-handed Cloud plays with Stevens! This is an exceptional, if more laid-back, version of their art-gospel music. A small, very affectionate Seattle audience thrilled to John's appearance at the Crocodile Café last month (last minute added to a Three Imaginary Girls' bill), so hopefully he will return (and treat us to that delightful cover of The Smiths' "Reel Around The Fountain" again.)

Pisces Valentine's Day Tip: "That the entire universe, as we experience it, could be a forgery is best expressed by Heraclitus. Once you have taken his notion, no doubt into your head, you are ready to deal with the issue of God" (Philip K. Dick, Valis).

Aries (March 21 – April 19)
Speaking of Theophanous and the idea of the divine disclosing through doubt, consider how the Buddhists consider that maybe the universe doesn't even exist. As opposed to Noodles, which definitely does exist and has in fact been around a while, as cherubic as the three young women who make up the band look. Led by the supremely confident vocalist/songwriter Yoko, their new eight-song CD Ivy Noodles is fiery, if a bit familiar-sounding. It is poetic alternative rock, powerfully played, with exceptional drumming from Ayumi. It is with the girl-group harmonies of songs like "April" and the precise guitar frenzy of "Draw" that the songs eventually become hard to resist. Like most Arien women, there is a very strong organizational quality here, evident in the graceful maturity of the compositions. I have the feeling that live these catchy anthems really burn up the stage like Roman candles. {Catch Noodles at the Crocodile on February 11th with Mon Frere and The Stereo Future (5p, all-ages)}

Aries Valentine's Day Tip: "At time of such, I've been in my heart."

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Taurus can avoid many mistakes if she decides to just stop and think before she bellows. She doesn't enjoy making a fuss, she actually regrets it. Such emotional outbursts and consequences thereof same are described in the songs of the Seattle band Friday Mile's debut album Using Up Our Trust. Jace Krause is from Montana, and there's a chilling expanse to the relational distances he sings about on this sublime ten-song folk-rock album, especially on heartbreakers like the excellently written "Harborview." Fans of Rocky Votolato will find much to like here; Krause isn't quite as tenaciously bitter or passionate, goes down a lot more easily, but is no less poignant. Small details fill each track with vivid scenarios of trust and hope spoiling and rising suspiciously. This is easily some of the best singer-songwriter material heard since the breakthrough work of Freedy Johnston. While I'm still waiting for a masterpiece to absolutely slay me, I have trust Krause will probably come up with one by the next disc.

Taurus Valentine's Day Tip: "Wear those clothes around your neck, tied up tight so they don't fall. Wear that cross around your neck, tells you when it's time to go."

Gemini (May 21 – June 21)
Gemini can charm the birds right out of the trees. Like the Little Prince, this month he better figure out if he can handle what he's tamed. I don't know if the Posies' Jon Auer tamed Monostereo in his studio whilst producing their six song introductory EP Evil Awesome, but there's a sexy, dangerous feel beneath these moody, mostly mid-tempo rock songs. Lea Tucker sings and plays guitar with a feckless ease even when the vibe is stark and indicting, as on the gripping title track. The "Louie, Louie" styled sweetened swagger of "Ringer" could be all over the airwaves, and will no doubt end up on some show produced by Fox. That is not to mean this is overtly commercial music; there doesn't seem to be a second of empty ambition on these half-dozen well-crafted songs, that Auer seems to have captured perfectly.

Gemini Valentine's Day Tip: "Open the screen door and come on inside."

Cancer (June 22 – July 22)
For Cancers who love piano-based love burning you down wide-screen small city scenarios, the grand pop of Modern Skirts will be the perfect soundtrack for the month of romance on Catalogue of Generous Men. It's Black History Month as well, which has nothing to do with this band's sound, though a hint of gospel trickles through nicely, especially in the windswept opener, "New York Song," which also has a delicious almost-Queen dramatic bridge. Modern Skirts are from Athens, and twilight walks around lakes and joy rides through the woods can be heard all over this lush, college rock opera. Jay Gulley has a nice, healthy, slightly haunted voice to match his warm, nicely detailed lyrics. Think if Sameer Shukla was out in the sticks and hadn't plagued himself with demon women and eye plagues yet, bringing the piano up in the mix and lowering the sarcastic sheen. Layers of different style keyboards, an ability to rock and chamber-pop non-pretentiously on great stories like "My Bully" make this a band to watch out for.

Cancer Valentine's Day Tip: &qu
ot;If you like, ride a bike; it's better for the city."

Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Leos have excellent disposition, emotional involvement, the ability to win honors, and an intuitive avoidance of trouble going for them. Even in a somewhat tense month like February, where winter chill meets romantic expectation, Leo can call on inner strengths, such as can be found all over the sterling, Stoic, song craft of Ray Davies' Other People's Lives. This album is as friendly, thought-provoking, well-played, and occasionally wonderful as any Ray has done solo or with the Kinks. The peaks and valleys are fewer, but Davies never forgets to create an awesome "keep on living mate" anthem like "Life After Breakfast" or a satirical, shrewdly acted high-concept topical song like the cranky and a bit vicious "Stand Up Comic." The fact he is still delivering albums both so parochial and universal in scope, filled with real human thoughts and emotions, hopes deferred and fears still unmet, like a fine novelist or a consistently pleasing filmmaker, is astonishing. He gets a little zero to the bone in sharp character studies like "Next Door Neighbor" and "Creatures of Little Faith," but I believe he never writes out of anything but love (and occasional self-deprecation). Superb veteran singer-songwriting without an inch of flab or a even plethora of hard-earned wrinkles.

Leo Valentine's Day Tip: "Don't be a total embarrassment to your friends and family, take the pills and drink the tea."

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
The romantic life of a Virgo is complicated, as they don't accept others on face value. It takes some time for a Virgo to get to know whether they like someone or not. One of the most surprising things about punk rock history is the romantic depth felt by young women who participated in the scene since its inception; a secret history that has often been neglected by the various collections grouping the 'anti-hits' of the pugnacious pop-art movement. On Music Video Distributor's new DVD collection God Save The Queen the usual grimy suspects are judiciously stacked for maximum (rock and roll) visceral value, including wonderful live performance pieces from Johnny Thunders and Iggy & The Stooges to the Buzzcocks. But the great thing about this video compilation is the interview segments and footage of punk rock goddesses Bekki Bondage (Vice Squad) and Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex, really fantastic documentation I've never seen anywhere else. Also included is prime sexy Generation X conversation and live action, confirming the fact that Billy Idol was actually really talented back in the day. The rare Toy Dolls and Adicts' clips are lots of fun and very engaging, with their unique frontmen mugging it up and being very theatrical, showing a sense of humor left out of a lot of overly dramatic anthologies of this type. But if you want drama, the blistering bombast of full-on punk provided by UK Subs and Subhumans is not to be missed either. I've never been a big Brit gutter punk fan, but these clips are essential to any punk rock collection. I would have bought this for the Spex doing "Identity" alone. If you're unfamiliar, please pick uop copies of Germ-Free Adolescents with this awesome compilation immediately.

Virgo Valentine's Day Tip: "Oh bondage! Up yours!"

Libra (September 23 – October 23)
It takes a lot to ruffle a Libra, but eventually they may become unglued if their life is out of balance, as romance tends to make it. Then a Libra might have a tendency to wallow in darkness, and nothing helps that out like a couple of great songs on some nice vinyl grooves. Velvet Blue Music in Orange County just put out two elegant seven inchers, one from the band Map, led by intuitive charmer Josh Dooley, who writes songs like "A Monk With A Gun" and the bum trip "Alone on Christmas" which is bad dream pub-folk, coarse like worn silk and strange as liquid fog. (Arch art-blues "Sequels and Remakes" is thrown in for good measure.) LN sends out a solid original, "Without Your Song," but it's the compellingly mordant cover of "Girls Just Want To Have One" (written from a male perspective by new waver Robert Hazard in the first place anyways) on the B-side that makes it an essential purchase and will no doubt grace many a depressing mix tape. Excellent graphics make these singles very collectible.

Libra Valentine's Day Tip: Your father's got a point, it's time to live your life right.

Scorpio (October 24 – November 21)
Scorpio has the ability to express other people's points of view almost as well as their own; their identities are built on a seamless objectivity, combining talents learned from others as if they were their own as well. This can be useful for romance, as it fights against sexual narcissism. In the case of a stunningly original album like Llama's self-titled debut, Rusty Willoughby crafts classic independent pop. It was fantastically produced by Kurt Bloch a comes complete with guitars that click right up to your ears and bass that curls around the tips of the hairs along your spine and drums that chunk down in your bowels. Richly vivid in sound-craft, lyrically concerned with finding peace and love in the storms of relationships whilst the music never fails to hook you, moving you with a glistening groove through almost neo-psychedelic romps like "Alright" (with a fabulous trippy ending), the multi-tempo "The End," and the blessed-out drugged-up drum-driven "It's OK." There's a hypnotic immediacy and precision to all of this that demands attention. Remember how the Cars stripped it all back and shined it all up perfectly at the same time? Llama sounds nothing like the Cars, but the legacy of perfect power pop continues just the same.

Scorpio Valentine's Day Tip:"Because if Heraclitus is correct, there is in fact no reality but that of theophanies; the rest is illusion." (ibid., page 39). That doesn't mean that you don't have to buy her flowers on February 14th, though.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
A Sagittarius leaps from idea to idea like a frisky centaur, the way that real punk rock used to do. Even when the subject matter is just girls, first wave punk rock could always put a spin on things. That's why picking up copies of two extremely well-done reissues from the gloriously forever-hardcore Vancouver label Sudden Death, The Young Canadians' No Escape and the Modernettes' Get It Straight, is crucial to understanding the spirit of those times. These over 20-track each anthologies collect virtually everything both critically important Canadian punk bands ever released, but this is not empty-headed buzz-saw brute rock. These are slyly observed, urban milieu-drenched discussions of cosmopolitan down-life, captured over streams of seven inch records and Extended Plays that got dearer to the darkened hearts of city kids the more they were played. Songs like the Modernettes' hilarious "Suicide Club" and the Richard hell-poetic "Red Nails" are terrific, sarcastic and sinister adult rock, adeptly penned by talented writer Buck Cherry and with gut-punching bass-lines by r
ock goddess Mary-Jo Kopechne; the Young Canadians combined smart-ass skanking with power pop to prime the pubs. This stuff bounces and thrills non-stop, never failing to excite, as much as anything that Stiff Little Fingers or the Voidoids ever recorded. Canadian punk had a lot more to say, both lyrically and musically, than a lot of the mildly caustic noise American bands outside of NYC were getting away with in the late 70s. The Modernettes are expert players, exuding a sexy energy they didn't feel the need to leave out of their protests, and the Young Canadians wrapped it all up with the mix tape classic "I Hate Music" (anyhow, that's how I first heard it). If you're currently getting off on the Epoxies and the Briefs and wonder if there's some old school stuff not completely played out you can still discover transgressive catchy underground rock energy in, order these two pleasure-packed dystopian compact discs right away.

Sagittarius Valentine's Day Tip: "Your red nails are going to kill me."

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
Capricorns enjoy being alone and spending time by themselves. This can sometimes be tough on their lovers, but then some romantic music might be helpful to make things less awkward. The Moore Brothers' lilting mod-folk may seem a bit icy at first, but the earnest trembling in tender serenades like "Girl With A Light" or "Wish You'd Stay" make their fourth album Murdered By The Moore Brothers The Moore Brothers a light joy throughout. A lyrical phrase about "Jesus walking on the water" or "everything going wrong" make this seem like angels singing the blues. This album was recorded by the grandson of the painter Renoir, and it sounds as artful as that might imply. Greg Moore has a delicate but never effete way of constructing a beautiful tapestry of choral light and desire. The whole thing just hangs together like a crisply acoustic sound-lattice. It will remind you of no one, even as it charms you like classic turtleneck folk-pop bands of the 60s and early 70s. A slight avant-garde edge creeps out when you least expect it, as in the strange chorus of haunting closer "Pham," making you come back again and again to figure out the mystery.

Capricorn Valentine's Day Tip: "Now Is The Time To Chill."

Categories
Antony And The Johnsons Audio Cast King Elekibass His Name is Alive Imaginary Scoop Matthew Shaw Paul Weller Queen Red Pony Clock Shim The Darkness The High Violets TsuShiMaMiRe

AstroPOP! for January 2006

Your monthly imaginary horoscope told in album reviews!


Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
There is more to Capricorns than meets the eye. The first month we find out just how deep the proverbial waters run with you, winter baby, just like the listener will hear layers of keyboard melodies and drum machine burps and cool tiny riffs beneath the five songs on Matthew Shaw's lively yet polished Convenience. Every melancholy but madly memorable chorus is a keeper, especially on "Deadlines & Days Off" and "Quicksand." More than that, the EP has songs written out with sharp details about feeling creepy ("Today I have figured out that I am the asshole that plagues your life" from the anthemic "Quicksand"), romantic failure, selfishness, the whole dung-hill of "the hell that is other people" (thanks Capricorn Jean-Paul!). Fans of Grandaddy will love this, or anybody who likes delightfully-recorded bedroom tweak-pop.

Capricorn New Year Resolution: More coffee and Advil.

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
Famous Aquarians have included Susan B. Anthony, Lewis Carroll, Mozart and Mendelsson. You are not only talented, but humane, warmhearted, and a friend to those in need, just like the resplendently gorgeous new EP from Antony And The Johnsons, You Are My Sister. This is easily the best EP I've heard since the new Long Winters, and that's two classic extended plays within just a few short months. There's a spirit of heart-wrenching liberation and finger-lickin' pure imagination in each of the four ballads here, from the deeply moving title track (sung with the lovely, legendary Boy George (!)) from Antony's essential I Am A Bird Now (released last year), and three soul-kissed new slices of heaven, each a meditation on fathers or brothers or sisters. Does anyone love to sing, and sing so beautifully as Antony? How are arrangements so intricate and emotional as the middle-to final part of "Poorest Ear" somehow kept from a huge audience? Why not treat yourself to something (or someone) as delicious as this sweet teaser, Aquarius, to get through the chilly second winter month?

Aquarius New Year's Resolution: Tell your family (organic, imported, or hand-picked) that you love them.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
Consider the symbol of Pisces, two fish swimming in opposite directions. You are moving but you are also bucking the stream at the same time, Pisces. Your instincts are a little like the hilarious little quiet admissions of absurdity and awkwardness all over Red Pony Clock's self-released Red Pony Clock Presents: Tunes From Terrace Towers. Singer/songwriter Gabe's sweet, weary, jaded singing voice draws you through the schizophrenic melange of They Might Be Brian Esquivel Wilson Hippie Hate Fuck Candy Pop tunes. Through the bobbing and weaving anthems "It's Gonna Work Out Alright," "Nothing's Worse Than Being Uncool," and "Hayward Gurizz," the drunken horns, weird keyboards, and other odd acoustic instruments make a sort-of garage dub mess, never ending where you think it will be.

Pisces New Year's Resolution: Pick up your toys.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)
"I am drinking beer and I am cooking up my steak," sings SHIM on the opening track "Satisfied," and as mundane as that sounds, Aries, the tight riffing your life depends on is as tricky with the imagery as this band's lyrics can be ("I am climbing ladders, corporate they are not"). January should be a month to party in spite of the end of the holidays, and this is Martin Feveyear-recorded party rock with an atomic brain. The noted producer (Slender Means, The Hope) is rumored to have been interested in the band after hearing them after a live broadcast on KEXP's "Audioasis." You just never know where the body of one of these eleven songs is going to throw a punch or a kick next, even though all the limbs and joints are fairly well worked out already. The in-yer-face but melodic chorus of "Country Music" (which sounds like anything but) and the great shouted line "I ain't scared of country music, WHOAH!" is awesome. You're good at loosening up when you want to, Aries, and this is the sort of music you want to have around when planning to. (And plan to see SHIM January 14 at the High Dive!)

Aries New Year Resolution: Point your finger at yourself.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Taureans are strong, steady, systematic, and kindly people, but sometimes your kindness can be taken for granted, as inner beauty is easy to step on by poseurs. Portland's The High Violets are admittedly also using very recognizable rock forms with their elegant and sometimes breathtaking ecstasy-laced textures, recalling the glory years of staring-at-your-toes early 90s neo-psychedelic pop, but sounding as fresh as warm out of the oven hashish brownies. Kaitlyn Ni Donovan's perfect vocals melt through the Tony (Tahiti 80, Dandy Warhols) Lash and Jeff (Malkmus, Sleater Kinney) produced hallucinogenic batter whipped up by Clint Sargent, Aaron Overstreet, and Ben Nugent on the fluid guitars-bass-drums. They claim it took three years to cultivate this nine-song delight, and that seems reasonable, as "Chinese Letter," "To Where You Are," and "Love Is Blinding" will be popping up on mix CD-Rs for years. CMJ gobbled up the band's debut ("44 Down") and The High Violets have even been broadcast on the BBC. A remix album for this is already in the works. 2006 should be a tasty and intoxicating year for The High Violets, and for you, Taurus, as true character shines through in the end.

Taurus New Year Resolution: Treat yourself with respect, even when you're stoned.

Gemini (May 21 – June 21)
Gemini, you're a sucker for the shallow. Your heart's infatuations come and go and leave many hurt in your wake, no matter how responsible you are with other matters. You should take a tip this month from The Darkness, a band that wears its passions on its flowing silk sleeves. Their consuming desire for perfect glam-licked hard rock coated with red velvet production and made very distinctive by hilarious lyrics can be seen even in the sublime album title, One Way Ticket To Hell And Back. They're a dazzling musical outfit stitched from the working class pre-punk of Slade ("Hazel Eyes"), 80s hair metal bands ("Dinner Lady Arms"), and even the starker qualities of Ziggy-era artistes Be Bop Deluxe ("English Country Garden"). This dapperness can be deluding, as the funny lines are buried beneath a bed of note-perfect riffing and coy 70s rock radio stylings. So fire up the gong, turn this on while you watch your Freaks & Geeks DVD box set, and try to forget those stupid rumors about rock album sophomore slumps, as the Darkness has transcended that passed along notion.

Gemini New Year Resolution: Get back too yer haus and listen to your heart's synthesi
zer!

Cancer (June 22 – July 22)
"Sing you little fuckers, sing like you got no choice!" goes a line in one of the best songs Paul Weller has written since his days with The Jam, on his new, long-awaited full-length As Is Now. That song is called "Come On/Let's Go," and it's accompanied by thirteen other fast burning-mod-soul-funk-rock slices of dance floor bliss, which is exactly what you need right now, Cancer. The holidays were a burden for your sensitive soul, and January will come as a respite for your doggedness of spirit. This album is just as tenacious, spiritual, and ready with the fisticuffs as you must be now. Yeproc does it again, releasing one of the year's best records by a weathered but still utterly vital veteran. If you have been a little disappointed by the brunt of Weller's previous solo albums and have been holding out for another perfectly-matched soundtrack in the city, the acoustic guitars, organs, crackling drums, and bluesy vocals of As Is Now will have you hoisting pints and scouting the right yob for a brawl. Recorded at Oasis' Wheeler End Studio, recorded by Jan Kybert and engineer Joeri Saal Wisselord, responsible for the simmering collection of covers Weller released last year (Studio 150). Welcome back, Paul, you genius punter!

Cancer New Year Resolution: Get a cab, avoid the tube station at midnight.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)
You're a forgiving soul, Leo, but you can be provoked by lassitude and indifference, and there are times the holidays bring out the feisty temper in you. That quick surliness is offset by the joy of watching a wonderful album-by-album analysis of the iconic Queen's 70s output, Queen: Under Review 1973-1980, a DVD that's sort of a video article from MOJO or Uncut about one of the world's greatest bands. Their glory years are adeptly analyzed by critics and music industry observers in everything from Freddie Mercury's Superman-like unique-to-rock showman's ambitions to Brian May's inventive and playful guitar playing, honestly exploring the band's big trip-ups and huge smashes equally. This is an interesting approach, more incisive and musical-analytical than documentaries you see on VH-1 — actually more comparable to the music geek wallowing of the best of the BBC musician specials. The DVD offers fantastic live footage of their bombastic early years, up to their suave hot funk and new wave inspired period, featuring rare footage and awesome performances of "Killer Queen," "Stone Cold Crazy," and "Don't Stop Me Now." That ought to tame your prideful rage, Leo, as you watch Freddie shake his fabulous ego-mane for the loving cameras.

Leo New Year Resolution: Continue to be well-versed in etiquette; it hides the man-eating side of you very well.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
You can become prominent in several careers at once, Virgo, without even intending to, your retentive brains analyzing data like a computer. But this doesn't mean you're not creative, as the way you process information ends up making it more than the sum of its parts. Just like His Name Is Alive on their striking new album Detrola, featuring the confident and grooving vocals of Andrea and some other sistahs, mixing wonderful 70s music like Carol King and the Carpenters with 80s techno, 90s shoe gaze noir, and upcoming dance and trance sounds being invented as the endlessly-inventive album plays. A fixation on pyrophilia and the mysteries of night play out through the songs as His Name Is Alive reinvent both electro and pop, coming up with a quiet brain-burst of an album, steeped in sound sculpture ("In My Dream"), tone-poetry ("Your Bones'), and traditional song-craft being futurist bent ("Seven Minutes"). This is a perfect example of how micro-managing ideas can develop deep dreams with no hope deferred, delivering an album as evolutional as anything Brian Eno ever produced.

Virgo New Year Resolution: Burn down the house.

Libra (September 23 – October 23)
The Libran scales are based on the ancient Babylonian belief that the stellar constellations will judge the living and the dead. The weirdness of this condition causes you to strive for balance in the midst of chaos, Libra, and that sort of struggle is heard in TsuShiMaMiRe's terrifically schizoid disco-rock monster mash Pregnant Fantasy, a nines-song slab of chromosome-damaged dance floor thrash from three Japanese women who rocked the Three Imaginary Girls-sponsored event of the Rockrgrl conference at the High Dive back in October. Personally endorsed by the Buttersprites' Haruko last we spoke, Frankenstein spazz-pop tracks like "Tea Time Ska," with Cure-like bass-lines and Nina Hagen space funk rhythms and screams and spoken passages and cookie monster growls, are irresistible. It'll probably be awhile before they're back to rock Seattle, so order this CD before it takes off to some distant galaxy.

Libra New Year Resolution: Take more pictures of your friends.

Scorpio (October 24 – November 21)
Your duality may cause you to postpone focusing on your main career, Scorpio, so a turning of the year is a good time to focus on work and not all the assorted angles you could be making. Then again, you could drop some mushrooms and blow the whole thing off with Elekibass. On Welcome Wonderful World, they celebrate the new year with an insanely funny, retrodelic, utopian party-vibe based in strawberry field-flavored sushi-slivered parts of Magic Mystery Tour and the happier side of some Ralph Records bands. Superbly played and recorded, this Japanese band just wants you to clap and sing along to the psychotically catchy "We All Live Happily Together," "Almanack," and "I Don't Want To Clap My Hands." Probably shouldn't have been sung in English, but that unintentional humor adds even more charm to the giddiness. This is music your stomach makes after the pain of the strychnine has been absorbed by the laughter of your friends. Another great record from Happy Happy Birthday To Me!

Libra New Year's Resolution: Remember, the best drug dealers are cops.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
You're a hard worker, Sagittarius, but tend to marry on impulse and develop habits to justify your impetuous ways. Cast King sing bloodied lover's creek folk songs and originals on the dark but delightful Saw Mill Man, a collection of a dozen songs saturated with rural-blues verisimilitude that should be all over the airwaves instead of the classic rock with faux Nashville twang that they call "country." The economic despair of the title track, the jaunty tramping of "Long Time Now," and the timeless bitter lamentations of "Wino," will never fail to charm real lovers of song. And that's just the first three songs. Do you love lines like "I gave her a big fancy car with a built-in bar but Rose loved another man?" Then get this. Also in the same vein is Go Contrary, Go Sing an expertly chosen, limi
ted pressing collection of old school grizzled punks picking up hollow-bodied axes and singing their heroin and whiskey saturated hearts out. Joey "Shithead" Kiethley from DOA does the frisky and fightin' "You Won't Stand Alone," best protest rock since Phil Ochs fucked up the man. Mike Hudson and Cheetah Chrome are here, too, doing an affecting "3000 Miles From Home," sounding awesome and full of fire, as well as Sab Grey from Iron Cross, Vic Bondi, and Joe Pop-O-Pie and Klaus Flouride. Seattle acoustic punks and veteran Ave rats should be all over this thing. This was smartly assembled by 34-year-old Rich Stemme from the excellent Brooklyn punk band The Deacons, and crusties and Wobblies and anarchists alike should be ordering it pronto. It's a labor of love, an obviously loving tribute to his heroes, and I wish I could say the same about more multi-artist compilations.

Sagittarius New Year Resolution: 40 ouncer, kill a bouncer!

Categories
Audio BOAT Branta Daylight Basement Easterly Estocar Friday Mile Ghost Stories Marlo The Elephants The Online Romance The Sea Navy The Swim Team Young Sportsmen

TIG on KEXP for December 2005

Make sure you tune in to KEXP this Saturday, January 28, at 7p! Three Imaginary Girls will be making our monthly guest appearance on Audioasis, the local Northwest music show, and we've got some great new local songs of the moment to play, including songs from Easterly, Branta, and The Online Romance (from Portland, not to be confused with Romance, from Seattle).

And, in case you haven't heard, not only will we be spinning songs, we'll be performing!

Well, kind of.

Seattle band Boat will be playing a few songs at 8p, and they've asked us to be part of their rhythm section {rhythm section duties include and are limited to clapping along to the beat for a portion of two songs}. Being the perfectionists we are, we've been feverishly practicing our clappling for weeks.

Well, kind of.

I'm especially excited to play a sneak-peak single from a collaboration between Ian Parks of An American Starlet and Sarah Paul Ocampo from Love Hotel. I don't want to give too much away, but it sounds like equal parts of Mazzy Star and Neko Case. Tasty!

This month, we'd love to hear what YOU think of the songs we play. Visit us on MySpace and post comments about the bands we play on Audioasis.

But before we go on the air again — we realized that in the excitement of the holidays and the Seahawks finally making it to the Superbowl, we forgot to post our setlist from our December appearance {on December 3rd at 7}. It was our last radio performance of 2005. There was laughter, there were tears, there were CD's that wouldn't play. Here was the setlist!

December 2005 Three Imaginary Girls Setlist on Audioasis:

Tune in at 7p on Saturday to hear more great local music from Three Imaginary Girls!

Categories
Audio Barsuk Boot To Head Field Notes Frank Sinatra Ghost Stories Hush Imaginary Scoop Los Straitjackets Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell Ris Paul Ric Rocky Votolato Scissors For Lefty Sonic Boom Recordings The Clergy The John Benders The Stivs The Weapons Toothfairy V2 Yep Roc

AstroPOP! for December 2005

Your monthly imaginary horoscope told in album reviews!

December 2005 AstroPOP! is brought to you with musical reviews by Chris Estey.


Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)
"The boss man says there is no work this winter, so go on home now and check back in the spring," Rocky Votolato observes within the bleak "The Night's Disguise," one of many lines he utter-plausibly sings on the twelve songs that make up his way-long-awaited release, Makers. Through masculine, subterranean, absolutely convincing street-level vignettes like the mini-opera "Where We Left Off," the updated Simon and Carbuncle "Uppers Aren't Necessary," and the romantic debris arranged and rearranged for "Portland is Leaving," this album is one a young Bruce Springsteen or Tom Waits would have taken a few years off to let ferment, too. The album combines bitter experiences in the real world elongating into haunted expressions of metaphysical proportion. The acoustic-based rock is pleasantly full and mellow, while paradoxically nail-tough vocals and sagacious lyrics consistently grab you by the black pea-coat lapels with juxtaposed images of aching hope, and hope achingly deferred. Yet this robust Barsuk release reminds the Sagittarius in all of us that challenge can make one great. This is a preliminary plug for an album so important that we had to warn TIG readers (Sadj and otherwise) to be ready to add it to their Top Ten lists as the new year commences (release date is late January 2006).

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
Once you have made up your mind, Capricorn, you cannot stop making things your own way. Like Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age, who has never been tempted to make anything less than the most soulful music he can. When Lanegan met Belle & Sebastian's Isobel Campbell in Glasgow, dropped a hint that he'd love to make a record with the divine-sounding chanteuse. Now V2 has released the resulting Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell collaboration, the paradoxically gritty yet pretty Ramblin' Man EP, which is a little taste of Ballad of the Broken Seas, the upcoming full-length they've recorded and plan to release next year. The Hank Williams title track is the sort of dark night of the soul you go through this time of year, Capricorn, despite your upcoming birthday. "Come Walk With Me" is a balm to the bitter soul, their voices interlocking magically. The two B-sides also included feature Campbell, and are necessary jewels for any B&S fans' obscure gem collections (she was born to record "St. James' Infirmary").

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
"Even a vampire wouldn't drink my blood," Ron Lewis sadly admits on the opening track to his four-song taster (ha!) for his band Ghost Stories. But Aquarius thirsts, and once this Fruit Bats drumming, Rogue Wave-supporting artist behind Ghost Stories (helped along live by members of Blessed Light and Blue Sky Mile, among others) pours his intelligence and wit into a pop song, you can't help but take a big gulp. "Even a Vampire" starts with squeaking keyboards and chunking drums, and Lewis hauntingly tells a story of romantic desperation that borders on pathological, while "Isn't It Appropriate That Way" chugs with musical joy even if Lewis trembles with fear in its anxious lyrics. While Ghost Stories sound absolutely nothing like XTC, the elements of perfectly creative pop are here in similar ways, willing to be psychedelically abstract but driving at the same time. In other words, Aquarius, keep your head above water — the end is in sight.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
Judas was a patriot and a humanitarian, as well as being a Pisces. He hated the corruption of Rome, a nation that exploited the countries surrounding it. For those willing to take an uncomfortable stand in history, say, by moving from Seattle and leaving behind his band Mines and taking up residence in a Brooklyn studio-home, Chad Nelson's songs for Field Notes sound like something that could make pop culture history themselves. Shining most on the intricate and intimate mesmerizing parlor room pop of "Full Circle" and the 80's style post-punk dance rock of "Sister Says," Color of Sunshine is proper solo journeying, inflected with pastels at dusk. Don't know what they make of this sort of thing in Brooklyn, but in backyards here it's a perfect sound track for Pisces to watch leaves fall in the plastic pool.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)
Aries are aggressive. But because they don't show bruises, they look pretty no matter how hard they're playing. For Purple Blaze, Christopher Paul Richards, AKA Ris Paul Ric may not be still making music as angular and avuncular as his original band, Q AND NOT U. In fact, he's crafting early Shins-style acid-afternoon raindrop-pop (the splendid, gently-ranting title track) with light psychedelic-Michael Jackson bedroom folk-funk ("Run Up Wild On Me"). Touring with Dan Caldas of Black Eyes, many have been able to come out and feel his soft Armageddon vibe this fall; and now they can play his sensual miniatures at home, pretending that Syd Barrett is Prince of the Air.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)
Hot-headed, the builder, the producer: Taurus needs music this month to inspire her through the seasonal paralysis. Theo Prince's punchy, occasionally trashy-sounding gutter-pop band The Weapons has an EP called Formula For A Fight, which, while not blazingly original, is sturdy Saturday afternoon getting drunk punk ("40 oz.," "Jawbreaker"). Reminding me of seeing Love As Laughter at the Velvet Elvis in the late 90s, this Northwest-crawling neo-pub band has already hit the High Dive, The Crocodile, and venues elsewhere. This five-song debut is a good way to see if you care to spend some time out with them some night, Taurus — as we know you're not going to want to stay home no matter how dark it gets…

Gemini (May 21 – June 21)
For Gemini, whose colors of green and red are perfect for the holidays, we present two perfect yuletide season albums, to match your dualistic moods. First, there's Los Straitjackets doing sparkling, driving, Surf and Tex-Mex-inspired Christmas instrumentals for Yep Roc, including a Tarantino-flick sounding "A Marshmallow World," with its big drum opening, and a "Feliz Navidad" in a car crash with "La Bamba." The Mexican wrestler-masked Los Straightjackets unwrap similar surprises throughout, which they'll be showing on the road (and in Seattle on 12/10) with the amazing-dancing' World Famous Pontani Sisters! Meanwhile, for those Geminis who choose spoken word over instrumental rock, V2 has released the soundtrack and DVD for "The Aristocrats," possibly the most offensively-hilarious movie ever made, in which a single vaudeville joke is repeated ad nauseam (for some, literally, particularly when things get scatologic
al to the extremes). "92 Comedians, 1 Joke!" the cover says, and some of the former include George Carlin, Paul Reiser, Richard Jeni, Bob Saget (!), Andy Dick, Rita Rudner, Judy Gold, and many others doing outstanding versions of the same filthy classic set-up over and over. If you have the stomach for it, it will bust it right open. Was it all a hoax by Penn & Teller? Who knows, but Rita Rudner's variation ("The Cocksucking Motherfuckers") is worth admission alone. If you missed the movie in the theater, buy this in both film and album versions (one for the house, one for the car!).

Cancer (June 22 – July 22)
Being a natural leader and organizer, Cancer, it's strange that you're attracted to full-on aggressive past-times, but Boot To Head Records from Portland, OR puts that kind of stuff out for you, so there are at least two Christmas presents you're going to want this year. The first is The Clergy's transcendental gutter-punk, perfectly captured on their All Who Fly album, a strange mixture of remarkable emotional vulnerability and overt spirituality (the latter which may put many off). Christie Simonatti's voice is better than ever, with as much passion as she had on their early 90's indie tapes, but the band is more capable of subtle interludes now, and Kevin Collins' classically shrieking guitar mingles perfectly with Jim Swanson's sonorous bass-lines. The other Boot to Head release, The Stivs' Sweet Heartache and the Satisfaction is fairly pedestrian garage punk, although a near bombastic Stooges feel on a few songs sometimes takes the rudimentary rock into more transgressive territory. While Jack Endino does a fine job producing, they could just get a little scarier, and leave the Squad 5-0 cum Black Halo cliches behind. Mix tape keeper: "The Satisfaction."

Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Leo is an effortless charmer, destined for long relationships, and a happy family life. Hush Records' new shining star is Toothfairy, a sweet and tender collection of hooligan midi journal entries, with character-rich vocals talk-singing slices of life full of delightful humor ("I Was Kicked Out of The Band," which quotes "I Melt With You" and "Stephanie, My First Crush") through layers of exquisite keyboard melodies, blips, and hand-claps. The on-the-one bedroom funk of "Buzz Cut" will be hitting indie play lists from coast to coast, if that isn't happening already. Toothfairy's Chad Crouch (who actually is Toothfairy) used to be in Blanket Music, which was praised by Magnet and Pitchfork, and while admitting a Postal Service influence, I find his observations and experiments less chilly and more inviting — just like you, dear Leo.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
You're a practical person, Virgo, and not given to utopian schemes. Thus we recommend thejohnbenders new four song EP, The Single Sided Conversation in which good old emo-core fuses with modern crunch rock, delivered by four men who obviously want to help and change the world (playing Tsunami Benefits, etc.). The worshipful vocals ("sweet forsaken one") and spiraling, spindly guitar-lines of opener "Overpass" make the inevitably ferocious shouted chorus seem appropriate, as if drama is occurring, not just drama queens being shrill from one moment to another. The band recorded this debut with Kane Hodder producer Tony Dallas Reed in Port Orchard's Temple Sound, and the almost rock opera vastness of the results are impressive. Funny, just as this sort of thing seems played out, some bands use it to evolve rock itself.

Libra (September 23 – October 23)
You are sexually attractive, personally magnetic, entertaining, and affluent, Libra, so what if you have to occasionally knock off someone or you get a little depressed in the lonely wee hours? Just like Frank Sinatra, who recorded his rawest, most artful work after his big band years and before his 60's cinematic aspirations, with such elegantly despairing songs as "Angel Eyes" and "It Was Just One Of Those Things." Those two classics are just one of many great black-and-white early television performances captured on Frank Sinatra Show with Bing Crosby and Dean Martin, one of the best DVD reissues from MVD. Dark, grainy, filled with forced humor and strangely avant-garde choreography, the world of Sinatra never seemed more stark or inviting.

Scorpio (October 24 – November 21)
You're a twisted freak, Scorpio, but at least your sociopathic nature makes for fun and games. Life with you is never dull, but try to keep it light and frothy this dark month. Listen to Scissors For Lefty's Bruno, a scraggly collection of homemade disco and singer-songwriter spoken word with tinkles and beats, delivered with truly fantastic and diverse vocals, showing why this band has been able to share stages with everyone from Grandaddy to Black Heart Procession. "Ghetto Ways" is delightful dance floor illegal rave, "Softly The Sea Swallows the Sun" has a great slattern feeling with juicy shuffles, and "More Than The Summer" is for perfect winter heavy rotation with its breathy rap and Donovan style chorus. Put the knife away, Scorpio, and chill with some slacker progressive mini-mall trip-hump.