Song of the Day

Song of the Day: Harlem Shakes – Strictly Game

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Today’s song of the day is a tribute to the ephemeral state of good indie music. Today I simultaneously discovered Harlem Shakes and mourned their passing…apparently back in 2009. This awesome alt rock band formed in 2006, released its first, very well received, album, Technicolor Health (a great name for an album), in 2009 and then disbanded that same year. There’s nothing worse than discovering a great new artist, googling them and then finding the following statement on Wikipedia, “(insert band name here) WAS an American indie rock band…” This knowledge unfortunately also comes on the heels of my discovering that my very first indie rock love, Voxtrot, disbanded last year. Wahwahh.

But still the music Harlem Shakes made was fantastic and, I think, deserves some love. My favorite two tracks off of their debut, and only, album, are Sunlight and Strictly Game. Sunlight is a fun tongue-in-cheek rendition of a story from the Bible – that in and of itself is super impressive. I can’t really imagine a) coming up with that idea or especially b) being able to verbalize it and sell it to others as a worthwhile project, but I’m so glad they did because this song is addictive. Strictly Game is a totally dance-able, and yet surprisingly weighty and un-ironic look at life and what it takes to create a little happiness. So join me in putting ‘a little bit of bitter in your pink lemonade’, give this track a listen, and perhaps feel that same twinge of regret that I felt that you’ll never get to see this band live.

Song of the Day/SXSW Reminiscing: The Head and the Heart – When I Fall Asleep

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One of the shows I regret missing this year was Seattle folk pop act The Head and the Heart at the Microsoft Party at SXSW Interactive last year. Now as you know, SXSW Interactive is a four or five day festival where a lot of internet professionals go to mingle, add each other on twitter (and subsequently, forget about them) and drink their face off. Large companies such as Google, Microsoft and Adobe often throw parties to show off how much money they have/make people like their brand. So at the Microsoft Party, the company hired The Head and the Heart, Yeasayer and some other band to play their party at the GORGEOUS Moody Theatre.

Now these parties typically have open bars, so as me and Derek made our way to the W hotel for the party, we were expecting some sort of alcoholic intake. What we did not expect, was that the there was another party, thrown by some other company on the terrace of the W hotel. Confusingly walking into that one (that’s the easiest way to crash parties). We were shocked to discover the high quality free alcohol they were serving – pricey cognacs and Johnny Walker Blacks. What what!

Among a sea of free Lonestars, Dos Equis and Captain Morgan Rums, finding a party with free quality liquor at SXSW is like hitting the jackpot. Rising to the opportunity, I pretended to be friends with the people at the front of the line to get the drinks quickly. There was some frowns from the people behind me, but then I told them I had 20,000 followers on Twitter and I would @ them, and all was peaceful once again.

As you would expect, we over indulged on cognac/whiskey, and by the time the Head and the Heart came on, the Panic Manual crew was a mess. Derek somehow made it back to the hotel at some point, I made it through both the Head and the Heart and Yeasayer but don’t remember any of it and apparently walked home with a poster.

While it seemed amusing at the time, I regretted being in such poor state when this band came on. All you have to do is listen to this song to figure out why:s full of delightful strings, pianos and colorful arrangements, the track’s gentle tones and toe tapping rhythm is pleasant to the ear and the heart. It’s a shame I missed it all. Next time, I won’t.

The song is off the band’s recently released Itune sessions CD. It features a bunch of cool songs. Check it out here

Song of the Day: Jeremy Fisher – Scar That Never Heals

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I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for a good synthesizer – finish it off with a beat and some lyrics and you’ve got everything you need for the makings of a killer song. However, every once in a while, I resurface from my hazy synthesizer-induced state, needing to be unplugged.

It was in exactly this state of mind that I discovered “Scar That Never Heals” by Jeremy Fisher, and it provided me with everything I needed: a clean acoustic guitar and a tambourine. It even throws in some super low tech hand clapping and an accordion riff mid-song for good measure. This song has the feel of Bob Dylan meets the Beach Boys meets Brendan Benson – get into an unplugged frame of mind and give it a listen. It’s hard not to enjoy an eco-friendly-bicycle-enthusiast-singer-songwriter who writes music about gun-running girls.

Song of the Day: Tanlines – Real Life

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Only recently did I realize that the bongos are an entirely underutilized instrument. You can’t miss something you never had, and until I heard “Real Life” by Tanlines, it would never have occurred to me that bongos are the perfect instrument to infuse a song with a tropical beat.

It would also have never occurred to me that my music lacked a tropical beat. So I say kudos to Brooklyn-based experimental indie-pop duo Tanlines for discovering the unlikely dream team of bongos and synthesizers and using them as a backdrop for their minimalist, entirely inscrutable lyrics, which somehow meld mind-blowingly well with their tropical electronica-esque sound. I would never have thought of it myself, but I seriously cannot get enough of it.