I never knew what a good time was till I had a good time with you

I have to say I was really excited a couple weeks ago when I saw someone on lala.com was sending me The Dead 60s by The Dead 60s. I'd read some stuff about them that proclaimed them to be the future of British rock (this was a couple months before the Arctic Monkeys were declared the future of British rock). Well if this is the future, it sounds a lot like the past.

The whole album reminds of something by The Clash, but without the anger. You know what The Clash would sound like without their anger? That's right, crap. Now, I don't think The Dead 60s are total crap, but I just kept thinking that I could be spending this time listening to actual Clash songs instead of sad imitations. It's more just a waste of time.


Coming over Waterloo, dreaming of your hands

My first album in the letter D is sort of an iTunes fluke. According to Mr. Amazon, myself and anyone with any sense, the title of today's album is Lost Songs. Somewhere along the way, though, someone in computer land decided that it's actually called David Gray Lost Songs, thus jumping it into the D's. Yes, it's nitpicky, but Mr. Gray should really learn to wait his turn.

Anyway, Lost Songs was released in 1999 on the tails of the hugely successful White Ladder. Suddenly, everything David Gray ever hummed was being burned onto a CD. This set of songs were recorded between 1995 and 1998 in the years after Gray had been dropped from a label for the second time. Needless to say, they're a little stark and sad.

The people on Amazon love this album, but I can't say I really agree. I knows me some sad and British and while this is decent I've seen sadder and Britisher. Many of the songs lack the strong melodies I love in all of David Gray's other stuff, so none of them really stick with me. I guess it would me more good coffee shop background music, but how much of that does the world need?


My heart beats faster than safe

I bought some Reds tickets a couple weeks ago in preparation for Josh and Harleigh's visit to Cincinnati ("The Kidneys of Rock and Roll") but so many things are conspiring against us. First, there is the weather. Earlier they said it would be all beautiful and nice but now the weather people say its gonna maybe rain. There's still time for that to change (again) but it's still bumming me out.

Then, there are the reality stars. Evidently there is a diabetes fundraiser this weekend that involves getting to hang out with reality television "stars." It ends with a trip to the Reds game on Saturday where for $20 one can sit in the bleachers with people like the Linz brothers from The Amazing Race or Coby from Survivor. My bleacher seats only cost $4, though, so I'm a much cheaper date.

As I'm willing to guess that I'm the only one who watches any reality TV, I'll be playing my own game of reality star bingo while sitting in the rain. This is gonna require a beer.


How about another installment of New Music Monday? I'm proud to announce my discovery of the first sad and Swedish band. Yes, the country that has brought us incessantly perky groups like ABBA, Ace of Base and The Cardigans have finally produced a band with a mood to match their weather. And I love them.

I'm speaking of the Shout Out Louds and their 2005 album Howl Howl Gaff Gaff. Pay no attention to the title, it's an excellent album featuring sad love songs and pop sensibility. Those are pretty much my two favorite things. They toured in America a lot last summer and I'm kind of sad I missed them. Hopefully they'll come to the Midwest sometime so I can be sad and Swedish in person.

Tomorrow, on to the D albums!


Headlong into the irresistible orbit

I originally bought Cure For Pain by Morphine back when it came out in 1993. I'd heard "Buena" on 120 Minutes and liked their whole sound. Morphine is probably another of those one song bands, though. When you only have three members and they play drums, saxophone and a two-stringed bass repsectively, your sonic options are pretty limited.

Anyway, I actually just re-acquired this album a couple weeks ago, thanks to lala.com. A few years ago I swapped my two Morphine albums with a coworker for two albums by The Clash and a copy of Girl With Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace. I'm not sure either of us thought the trade would be permanent but when that coworker got fired, it did. So Charles, I hope you're enjoying those Morphine albums.


Why did you travel far abroad so you could sleep with strangers?

Declan's going back to his roots today with one of the last albums I have in the letter D. It's Cruel Smile by Elvis Costello and the Imposters and it's really one for the fans.

Cruel Smile is full of live tracks, outtakes and remixes. Those are usually the albums I buy out of a sense of obligation, listen to once and never touch again. This one has stuck with me, though. I'm not a huge fan of the live tracks (if you haven't picked up on it yet, I'm generally not a fan of live albums) but the remixes and outtakes are great to have if you're a Costello fan.

The album starts and end with different (and suitably cheeky) versions of a song written by Charlie Chaplin called "Smile." It's perhaps the most bizarre Costello recording since he wrote "Dip Your Big Toe in the Milk of Human Kindness" for a Disney movie. The alternate version of "When I Was Cruel" and "Peroxide Side," a great remix of "Episode of Blonde," are a couple highlights. Overall, it's nothing I would recommend to the casual listener but there are some treats in there for the avid fan.


Say good night to the last psychedelic band

I know I lose a lot of indie rock cred for saying this. I know I'm supposed to worship at the altar of Pavement, but I don't know what the big deal is. The lyrics are cool and it seems like they invented the literate, ironic lead singer that indie rock loves so much these days, but I don't like their music all that much. I listened to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain again today and I'm still not feeling it.

"Cut you Hair" is still pretty awesome, though.


I wonder, do I want the simple, simple life that I once lived in so well?

Crash is the last of the Dave Matthews Band albums still left on Declan. Most everything else has been kicked off to make room for better music, but I just can't get rid of Crash, it's a big Nostalgia Train CD for me.

According to Mr. Amazon, Crash was released April 30, 1996, almost 10 years ago to the day. I was in college and it was the album that every college student owned. Everybody played it in their apartment. It was literally the soundtrack of my life for a year or two. I couldn't have avoided it if I wanted to.

Everybody is sick of the song "Crash" by now. It was on the radio constantly. I'm still a big fan of "Two Step" even if it took me about six months to figure out that the line was the very Yoda, "celebrate, we will" and not my preferred "celebrate, drool." Eh, it's Dave's loss.

So I think this might be my last hurrah for Crash. I'm going to need to make some room for new albums and it's just not something I listen to much these days. I'll be sure to bust it out the next time I want to think about college, though.


Without your tight little denim, your virtues would all go unknown

There are some bands that have one song. It's more pervasive than a "sound''or style, it just seems to be one song. Don't know what I'm talking about? Think of Everclear, Oasis or Tom Petty. Also, think of Cake.

Now, my take on bands with one song is easy. If you like the one song, you'll love the band and if you don't you won't. But after listening to Comfort Eagle by Cake I was faced with a third question. What if you like the song a little, but it starts to get on your nerves?

Cake is probably best known for their 1996 hit 'The Distance" and everything they've released pretty much sounds like that. I bought Fashion Nugget and enjoyed it, but it wasn't love. I don't know what compelled me to purchase their 2001 album Comfort Eagle, then. I knew I only loved them enough for one album. It was probably some CD club deal.

Comfort Eagle is catchy and it's pretty fun, but I just find myself getting tired of the one song. I'm capable of loving one song bands. I have many albums by Oasis and Everclear, I think I'm just tired of Cake's one song.


I made a lot of mistakes in my mind

Sufjan Stevens is a guy after my own heart. He's said he wants to make an album about each of the 50 states, but I don't think anybody really believes him. His first album was all about Michigan, but where do you from there? There's tons of great stuff to write about Michigan so everything else will pale in comparison - especially when your next state is Illinois. Right?

So just as millions thought I'd never make it past "B" on my iPod, Sufjan has made it to Come On Feel The Illinoise. Even if the album is terrible, it already wins best title of 2005.

Sufjan does take a little getting used to. He makes music for people who buy cast albums to musicals they've never seen and listen to indie rock. It's a small demographic, but probably not as small as people who buy cast albums and listen to gangsta rap.

The songs are elaborate and filled with twee backing vocals. I'll tell you, it didn't catch my fancy right away and this is from somebody who was instantly captivated by a girl who plays a harp and sings like an elf. I gave Illinois a cursory listen last fall and began to think maybe it wasn't for me. When I dialed it up on Declan today, though, I started to see the appeal. He has beautiful lyrics and the soft music can be lulling but isn't annoying. Believe me, there's a difference.

Sufjan also has the sweetest song ever about a serial killer and that beats any cast album any day (even Assassins).


Another day that I can't find my head

O.k., who here DOES NOT own Come Away With Me by Norah Jones? That's what I thought. I'm pretty sure this album came with everyone's 2002 tax returns. I can't remember buying it but I can remember driving all over Nevada County whilst listening to it. I am particularly reminded of Dog Bar Road for some reason.

It's good and I still like it but these days it seems a little soft rock than I remember it sounding back then. In 2002 it was suitably cool enough that Norah Jones didn't seem like the new Kenny G. These days I think the jury may be out.

Finally, a little trivia. Norah Jones' father is noted musician Ravi Shankar. Who is Ravi Shankar? Well, he taught George Harrison how to play the sitar and he's widely regarded for his skills on the instrument. Norah doesn't like to talk about him, though, because she never really knew him. So if you see her in a bar, it might be best to avoid sitar discussions. Just a tip for all you boys out there.


Sweet dreams 'til sunbeams find you

Declan's album today is another personal mix. It's from Maggie and it's called Coffee & The Sunday New York Times. As you might be able to guess, it's got some mellow jazz and lots of great songs from classic singers like Nina Simone. It's exactly the kind of album you'd want to have on as you work your way through the endless pile of paper that is the Sunday New York Times. I ought to try it sometime.

See, I tend to read the New York Times online on Sunday evenings. I love the idea of getting up some morning and walking down to a coffee shop and getting the paper. Too bad I don't live within walking distance of a coffee shop. Also, I'm lazy and cheap so my Sundays usually involve getting up slightly before noon, making a pot of coffee and watching the episode of CBS Sunday Morning I Tivoed earlier in the day. It's not bad but it's not very metropolitan of me.

So for now I'll listen to Maggie's mix and pretend I lead the kind of life where I drink French press coffee and someone goes and gets me a copy of the New York Times every Sunday. I'll listen to Mama Cass sing "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" and effortlessly finish the crossword puzzle. The weather is always warm and my apartment is always clean - it's a nice thought.


365 days, 255 posts

That's right! A year ago today I gave the interweb a big smack on the butt and said "scoot over and make room for me!" Sad & British was born.

Oh, we've had some good times this year. We met Elvis Costello. We saw the Kenyans in the New York Marathon. We went to King's Island and drove to Fargo. We had to listen to 14:59 by Sugar Ray. It's safe to say we've learned some valuable lessons.

It's been fun writing something every day that 10 to 20 people might read. It hardly seems like anything, but every time I get tired, somebody leaves a comment or mentions something to me about the site and I feel a little more inspired. So, thanks to all of you who comment and/or complain. You're the wind beneath my wings.

I'll get back to my list of listening tomorrow, but today it's time for NEW MUSIC MONDAY! I'm not sure this will be a regular installment but we'll see. With all the albums I've been getting from lala.com, I have a lot of new music.*

Last week I bought Give 'Em All A Big Fat Lip by The Whigs. Yes, like the political party. No, not the Afghan Whigs. Rolling Stone just called them, "A fiery, young and timelessly tuneful rock trio from Athens, Georgia -- may well be the best unsigned band in America." So, I had to check them out.

First of all, they are very good. The album didn't excite me immediately but I think that had more to do with a poor running order than anything. The first two songs are mid tempo rockers that never take off the way I'd hoped. The third track, "Technology" is a keeper, though. So good. After a few listens the whole CD has started to grow on me and I pronounce them to be an excellent band.

Imagine, if you will, a mix of Kings of Leon and Gomez with a little bit of The Strokes thrown in. If you don't know any of those bands, get thee to a record store. If you do know them, you'll be pleased to know that The Whigs has a little bit of that southern rock crunch and the looser jamminess of Gomez, but they're not afraid to play the garage rock card every once in awhile, too. It's a nice mix.

Since they're unsigned, you can only get their album from iTunes (which is cool like that) or their web site. Think of how good it would make you feel to help out a little band and buy their album. Besides, it will give you cool points later when they become all famous.

*by "new music" I mean music that's new to me. Some of it might actually be new, new, too.


I thank you all for your inappropriate love song suggestions. I'll compile the full list here in a few days but I'd like to announce that Summer is the winner of the inappropriate love song contest. She and Matt actually seemed to give the question the thought it deserves, and as somebody who probably has a wedding in her future, it affects her the most. Summer, please avoid inappropriate love songs (I do give matt a pass on "To Love Somebody" but it's a close call).

So email me with your preferred iTunes song and I'll send it your way. If I may suggest a tune, it would be my favorite inappropriate love song "Almost Blue" by Elvis Costello.


Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.

I was wondering tonight if I own any movie soundtracks to films I haven't seen. So far I haven't been able to think of one, so that means I have to admit to seeing Clueless, the 1995 film that is Emma meets 90210. I really shouldn't complain. It's a funny movie and it came in handy when I only had two days to read Emma in college. I managed to get through the discussion by relying on the movie I'd seen a year earlier.

After seeing Clueless, I didn't rush out and buy the soundtrack. I can't remember when I actually got the soundtrack but it wasn't that long ago. I'm pretty sure I bought a used copy because I really only wanted it for one song - the Counting Crows cover of "The Ghost in You." it's a great version of the Psychedelic Furs classic and as far as I know it's never been released on another album.

There are a few other good tunes on the album. I'm a big fan of "Alright" by Supergrass (but I already own that CD) and there's a nice acoustic version of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees." I'm still all about Counting Crows, though.


Your smile, it comes back to me

I'm pleased to announce that Sad & British has a new toy. Over there on the right is a music player. When I am on top of my game, I will load some tracks from whatever album I'm writing about so you can experience it, too. It's called multimedia, people!

I set it up so you actually have to click on it to make it play, because there's nothing I hate more than web sites that just start blaring music at you. It makes it obvious when you're wasting time at work. Anyway, let me know if it's working for you because I'm actually having some trouble with it on the computer I'm using right now.

If it is working correctly, you'll be able to hear some songs from Cloud Nine by George Harrison. Originally released in 1987 it's filled with all the great 80s guitars and overproduction that we've learned to sneer at these days. It is, however, at least nine times better than any solo albums Paul McCartney made in the same era.

And why is it better? One song - "Got My Mind Set On You." You have to at least tap your toe when that song comes on and everybody remembers the video. As Josh's mom might say, it's "fun, fun, fun."


Living on Funyuns and beef jerky

Closer is my least favorite Better Than Ezra album. This is saying something, too, because I own most of their CDs. On this one, though, they thought they could rap. See the title of this post? He rhymed it with Albuquerque. Seriously.

Hey, I have Lala invites and I still need inappropriate love songs. Email me!


I have a few invites to lala.com. If you want one email me at sadandbritish@gmail.com.


Time has gotten by on alibis and wine

The self released (and self-titled) album by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah spent a lot of time in my car this winter. It was on constant rotation and all the songs have burned holes in my brain. I haven't listened to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in a couple months, though, so it was nice to dig it out again today. Besides, they're playing at the Southgate House on Wednesday so the people of Cincinnati need to hear about this band.

Sadly, I have to work so I will not get to see them Wednesday. I saw them last October and knew only one of their songs. They won me over anyway with their catchy tunes and, yes, actual hand clapping. I bought their album that night, and after looking past the kitschy first track, found it to be just as good as their live show.

There's been a lot of buzz about CYHSY in the last year. They are good and they are fun but they are not the new saviors of indie rock. The lead singer sounds a little like a young David Byrne and 90% of their lyrics are completely unintelligible. Despite that, they're still great. Do good music everywhere a favor and buy this album.


Jeff and I were talking a couple weeks ago about inappropriate love songs and since I have some weddings to go to this year, I'd like some feedback. What are inappropriate love songs? They're songs that people dance to at proms or play at weddings that sound all sweet and lovey. Upon a closer listen to the lyrics, however, one might realize that their love-like themes are perhaps more sinister than a wedding or prom may suggest.

It all started with a discussion of "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt. It's a sweet little tune, but it's really just about being high and running into your ex on the subway. Not exactly the stuff of great love affairs. The Police are full of inappropriate love songs with "Every Breath You Take" being an all-time classic. It sounds like love at first, then it sounds like stalking. Take your pick.

So I'd like build a little list of inappropriate love songs. Send me your suggestion and reason why it's inappropriate and we'll see what we come up with. Maybe the best suggestion will get a free song from iTunes. That sounds like a good deal to me.


You've got too much to wear on your sleeves. It has too much to do with me.

The Shins should be my perfect band. Their lyrics are intelligent and funny and their music has the sort of pop hooks I find irresistible. Still, while I enjoy The Shins, they are far from my favorite. I think it's the lead singer's voice.

I also shouldn't be picky about voices. Lots of people can't stand Adam Duritz and Elvis Costello. I even found a way to love Joanna Newsome. But a couple of minutes into the The Shins' 2003 album Chutes Too Narrow and my teeth are starting to hurt. It's sad, too, because the first track "Kissing the Lipless" is one of my favorite songs on the album.

Maybe the whole reaction is involuntary. It's like how I hate touching cotton balls or my dad hates the feel of velvet. Some sort of strange sensory overload.

That said, their quieter, lower songs don't bother me at all. "New Slang" from the Garden State soundtrack is a good example. I've heard their new album might sound more like that so maybe I'm in luck because it's not like I hate The Shins. It's really more like an allergy.