Friday, October 14, 2005

DC Bits, Russian Bits, Swiss Bits

We are going places today! Get out your maps and put on your sensible walking shoes because I've once again scoured the globe for worthy tunes. Remember to hold my hand as we cross the streets.

Keeper: Army of Me – Come Down To DC – Most of the reviews I’ve read of “Come Down To DC” zero in on the lyrics that seem to propose a double-suicide. “Let’s take a ride, me and you, crash the car…a suicide, me and you, arm in arm,” pleads Vince Scheuerman, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for Army of Me. But I hear something different. I hear someone suggesting a metaphorical rebirth; an ending of all old ties and ways, a true starting over. The next line Vince sings is “Let’s take the time, me and you, to get out of this place.” How many of us are willing to “take the time” to make the big changes we need to make in our lives? On the other hand, Army of Me is really and truly from Washington, DC, so maybe this song is simply their contribution to the tourism board of my nation’s capitol. Doesn’t matter to me; I just like this song a lot.

Keeper: The Crimea – White Russian Galaxy - The fellow who wrote this song says he was “trying to write about the effects of alcohol on the psyche of young women.” There’s a little more to the story and, while the song sounds playful, I don’t think it’s meant to be funny. You can read about it at The Crimea's official website (go to About Us then click on Lyrics/Notes), as well as listen to some of the band’s other great tunes. Also check out an unofficial website for additional information. The band has toured with Billy Corgan, Kings of Leon, Primal Scream, Stereophonics and Dashboard Confessional, among others. I haven’t had a White Russian in at least 16 years but I remember they were pretty tasty. The Crimea, a place in Ukraine, is one thing. The Crimea, the band, is another thing and they’re from London. That’s in England, you know.

Keeper: Torpedo – From Russia With Love – Heh. Two songs that reference Russia in their titles. I couldn’t help it. “From Russia With Love” comes to us from a Swedish band called Torpedo. The opening lyrics crack me up: “They come from Russia with love, switchblades in their pockets; put on a rubber glove and pull my arms out of their sockets.” I don’t know if the song was inspired by the James Bond movie or not, but it sure is a catchy tune, isn’t it? Poppin’ guitar work and clever little effects throughout. What it is about Sweden that produces so many talented musicians? And why do I always think Stockholm (Torpedo’s hometown) is in Germany? Somebody get me an Atlas.

Keeper: Paul Duncan – In A Way – I couldn't find much on the internet to tell us about Paul Duncan. You can try looking at the Hometapes site but you’ll learn much more about him by reading this review. Paul currently lives in Brooklyn, where he recorded his soon-to-be-released CD, “Be Careful What You Call Home,” in his apartment. Paul likes to experiment with layers of sound produced by acoustic and electronic instruments, most of which he plays himself. “In A Way” starts out with a brief drumbeat intro then quickly changes direction and becomes a lovely stroll through an acoustic woodland. OK, there’s a part in there where it sounds as if one of the guitars forgets what song it’s supposed to be playing and sort of wanders off the map for a moment. But everything comes together just in time for the fade out that comes much too soon.

Chin Stroker: Heroes of Switzerland – Waiting – Imagine my surprise and delight the other day when I received an extremely polite and friendly email from Ian Lockwood of Heroes of Switzerland. Ian wanted to know if I’d be interested in listening to a few of his band’s tunes and share my opinion. Ian suspected his band’s style of music might not be my “cup of tea” (and I thought I was the only person who used that phrase) and I had to agree with him initially. But I told Ian I’d post “Waiting’ because I thought I might know a few people who would like it. Well, damn it, Ian, after listening to “Waiting’ off and on for the past week, I’m starting to like it quite a bit myself. It’s sort of a wall-of-sound-in-your-face kind of thing most of the way through but all that swirling psychedelic layering creates the perfect base upon which to nail a sensational guitar solo at the very end. Go to their website and order the EP. By the way, Heroes of Switzerland are from Nottingham, England, and that just really screws with my geographic dyslexia.

Other Stuff: My blogging buddy, BritBox, is in China at the moment. His itinerary includes such exotic places as Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Ningbo. I sure hope he has a map with him and he doesn’t, like, have to call me for directions or anything.


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