“Mad Men” — Herzog
Don Draper had nothing to do with the first single from these Cleveland natives, but he would have approved of the group’s branding as “subtlety-free rock.” From the beginning of “Mad Men,” the scuzzy pop of Herzog is exactly as described, with cymbals crashing alongside an infectious, careening guitar riff. The band’s second LP “Boys” will be debuted today, May 9, at a release party and show at The Happy Dog, starting at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.
“Losing to the Dark” — La Sera
“Loosing to the Dark” is the latest single from La Sera, the dreamy pop songwriting vehicle for Katy Goodman of Vivian Girls. Goodman’s voice perfectly compliments the dissonant guitar flourishes that drive the song’s melody forward until, suddenly, the song goes up in smoke. La Sera’s new album, “Hour of the Dawn” will be released on May 13 on Hardly Art Records.
“Time of Dark” — Tune-Yards
This tune takes a while to get started, and even when it does, “Time of Dark” is a strange tune to place. Groovy percussion and keyboards bounce off the punctuated wails of lead singer Merril Garbus in a do-it-yourself approach to world music. This blend of the contemporary and the traditional makes Tune-Yards’ most recent record, “Nikki Nack,” an accessible and exciting piece of pop music.
“Life For Me” — Lily Allen
Stealing the playful guitar of Vampire Weekend, “Life For Me” is one of the better cuts off of Lily Allen’s latest album, “Sheezus” (yes, a direct dig at Kanye West). Released on May 5, this song tells the tale of Allen’s nearly five-year hiatus from the music industry and subsequent feelings of disconnect. If “Life For Me” proves anything, it’s that Lily Allen’s playful brand of pop still has a place in the modern music scene.
“Root Down” — Beastie Boys
May 4 marked the second anniversary of Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch’s passing after a three-year battle with salivary gland cancer. “Root Down” is a prime example of what made the Beasties so good; bringing a funk and sense of rhythm to hip-hop that just isn’t heard anymore. And it does this by prominently sampling the Jimmy Smith song of the same name. This tune also features one of Yauch’s greatest verses, epitomizing the love he had for his art: “ I’m feeling good to play a little music/ Tears running down my face ’cause I love to do it.” Rest in peace, MCA.
Retro Pick of the Week:
“Zig Zag Wanderer” — Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band
Captain Beefheart is one of the most unclassifiable musicians of the 60s and 70s, fusing jazz, blues and rock into his own unique brand of avant-garde music. “Zig Zag Wanderer” is one of the more straightforward songs in his canon of work, driven in equal parts by its fat riff and Beefheart’s gruff vocals. Echoing the sounds of the Kinks and the Doors, Captain Beefheart is required listening for anyone looking to absorb the sounds of the late 60s.
Teddy Eisenberg is a third year programmer at WRUW-FM 91.1 Cleveland. He hosts The ’59 Sound, an exploration of rock music, every Thursday morning from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. and co-hosts the variety talk show Max and Teddy in the Morning at Night (Sometimes) on Mondays from 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. The crackle of vinyl warms him on cold Cleveland nights.