Posts Tagged '#eatatjoes'

5 Tasty Treats to Feed your iPod this Fourth of July Weekend

The only thing that can make America’s favorite secular holiday better is some new music to liven up the BBQ, beer and incendiary devices. Each of the five artists below isn’t for everybody, but one of the great freedoms we enjoy in this gilded age is the 99 cent song. Remember when the only way to get music was to go to Sound Warehouse and drop $15 on a whole CD that had three good songs on it if you were lucky? For each of these albums, The Beverage has selected a single track to recommend, and the links should launch it for you in the iTunes store. Give it a try. If you don’t like it, you’re only out a buck. You may find something you enjoy.

  1. Alejandro Escovedo Street Songs of Love. The Beverage doesn’t claim to be a longtime Escovedo fan, but people who have been there for years swear by the central Texas roots rock/punk practitioner. He sometimes sounds like Springsteen and sometimes like Jesse Malin, but Escovedo always makes simple rock-n-roll sound really cool. He nearly died a few years back, and the lyrics and vibe of Street Songs of Love imply a man reborn. On Anchor, the album’s first single, Escovedo belts out “I’m in love with love” in a way that makes you believe what would otherwise sound pretty sappy. And you have to admire a guy who unabashedly employs a full compliment of doo-wap backup singers like the Commitments or something. This is perfect fare for the family barbecue. Broad appeal, easy on the ears, just enough edge. Escovedo is reportedly gaining a bigger following now as he nears 60, and when you hear this you’ll understand why.
  2. Monsters of Folk Monsters of Folk.  If you’re not already familiar with the Monsters of Folk, it’s a collaboration of the Bright Eyes duo Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis with Yim Yames (ne Jim James of My Morning Jacket) and solo artist M. Ward. That’s a mouthful, but the music is worth the effort. The mood swings around a bit through the course of the album, befitting the mixing bowl of styles. But the best track, Map of the World, is jaunty and bright, despite its somber lyrics, and it currently ranks as The Juice Box’s second most requested song after Vampire Weekend. If you enjoy this, you should also check out the further meta-collaboration between Monsters of Folk and The Roots (Jimmy Fallon’s house band) on Dear God 2.0. When you add jazzy hip-hop to that already interesting mix, it gets extra saucy.
  3. Broken Bells Broken Bells.  While we’re on strange combinations, this one hardly makes any sense at all, but it works. Broken Bells is a new project of James Mercer, the voice of The Shins, and Danger Mouse, the Grammy-winning producer and Gnarls Barkley pioneer. The first single they released back in March, High Road, is a minor revelation. Acoustic guitars share the soundstage with electronic beepings and noodlings, and it finishes with a Shins style multi-part vocal chorus. There have been reports that this is supposed to be a long term endeavor, but it has the feel of a prototype, not intended for mass production. While it lasts, sit back and enjoy the mellow groove.
  4. Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane over the Sea.  This is not new. In fact, it’s more than 10 years old. But The Beverage discovered it recently and likes it very much. The group came to a sad end after this album achieved critical acclaim in 1998, with bandleader Jeff Mangum retreating from the public eye almost entirely after a reported nervous breakdown. You can understand how that might happen if you spent a year holed up in a closet writing songs about Anne Frank, but the album apparently has a well deserved cult following in the world of lo-fi indie rock. This 2005 Pitchfork review explains it much better than I can, if you want to read more, but I recommend the track Holland, 1945 for a listen if you want to challenge your ears with something a little different.
  5. Eminem Recovery.  Wait, I know what you’re thinking. Left this for last because I didn’t want (almost) everyone to stop reading, but Em is back. Parts of Recovery are good. First, the obvious, by way of warning. This stuff is virulently, extravagantly profane. But at his best Em can make you feel 10 feet tall, and when he operated at the peak of his powers a decade ago he produced some of the most original American popular music of our generation. I remember to this day the time when I first heard Stan, Em’s iconic anthem to a psychotic and murderous fan. It just grabs you. Em is certifiably crazy, so it has always been spotty, but a couple of tracks on the new album are as near to perfect as he’s come since we were partying like it was 1999 because it was. It makes you want to go out and get right to work on the Y2K problem. The track Em shares with Rihanna, Love the Way you Lie, is the easiest listen on the new album and the most popular. It evokes Stan, with Rihanna’s lilting vocals bracingly juxtaposed against Em’s staccato rhymes. I’m pretty sure that near the end Em threatens to burn an entire house down around his ex-wife and erstwhile muse Kim, but I try to ignore that. He’s a troubled lad.

Hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday weekend, and let us know if you try any of these tracks and like them (or don’t). Pig burying has been postponed until Winter on account of weather (it is too hot to dig a hole that large), but we’re firing up the smoker this evening to do a big, giant all-American brisket. To our family back home floating the river (you know who you are), we wish we could be there too.