Track of the Day: Tara Jane O'Neil - "Ballad of El Goodo"

The "Ballad of El Goodo" is one of those songs that's a renewable resource. Each time I hear it, something new seems to rise to the surface. With nearly every cover, Big Star's signature track seems to bend to the strength of its interpreter, drawing out the best of the coverer & the covered. Tara Jane O'Neil's delicate rendition (Day 24 of the Our First 100 Days comp) plays to her ethereal soundscape in a way that you won't miss that drum fill for one moment.

The bonus is that for $30, you can purchase the entire comp which includes other luminaries like Angel Olsen, Ryle Walker, Califone, Bill Fay, & Toro Y Moi. The proceeds go to help a bevy of organizations who support causes like reproductive rights and immigration as we get through the first 100 days of the Tweet-in-Chief.

Music Video: The Magnetic Fields - "'83 Foxx and I"

Easily, one of the highlights of this coming music year will be the release of The Magnetic Fields 50 Song Memoir. In the tradition of 69 Love Songs, the album will be a mammoth, 5 disc undertaking, with each track chronicling a year (or moment in a year) from principle Field Stephin Merritt. The album drops March 10. As teasers, we got a taste, last year of 5 songs from the album, and now almost a month before the release, we get to see some visuals with "'83 Foxx and I." As Merritt describes, the song is a tribute to John Foxx, a synth pioneer, and leader of Ultravox. The video, directed by Alex Basco Koch, uses strings of archival footage to accompany Merritt's appropriately synthy score. Like memory, the video feels like a return to time before, highlighting Merritt's prodigious songwriting.

Track of the Day: Frederick the Younger - "Leaves are Gone"

National discourse may have been all about that other Frederick last week, but one of my Bandcamp ACLU pick-ups was Human Child, the debut LP from Louisville, KY's Frederick the Younger. I've been a long time lover of this band since the Dr. Vitamin days and I have to say that this LP fulfills one of the best parts of being a music fan--when a band that's got all the mixins brings it all together.

Look, the band's musical acumen is unquestioned. And "Horoscope" the single and first track on the record is going to immediately catch your ear with its chamber pop orchestration and anthemic chorus. But, I want to highlight a bit of a deeper cut--"Leaves are Gone." 

The track begins with a creeping infinite groove juxtaposed with a splash of keys so that by the time the drums kick in, you'll be full head nod and foot tap. But this just sets the table. The first two tracks, "Horoscope" and "Tell Me" highlight vocalist Jenni Cochran's chops, but her voice here takes a darker turn: "The leaves are all gone now / the world is falling down / it is not the time to love me." There's a brashness and cut to the Cochran's singing that cuts against the grain with an angular dissonance. "Leaves are Gone" is a ballad of dis-ease. As Cochran sings that she's looking for places brighter than here, the track picks up steam, fueled by uncertainty. Musically and lyrically, you're not going to find another band willing to tackle such conflicting turns on such a sonically rewarding track.

Some Recommended Buys on Bandcamp Today (will help benefit the ACLU)

Following the U.S. President's "Not all" Muslim(s) Ban & Refugee suspension or whatever the hell they're saying to justify this illegal, immoral, and unAmerican action, Bandcamp bravely stood up and is putting money where its online mouth is. Ethan Diamond, the founder and CEO gave an impassioned statement, which stated:
98% of U.S. citizens (including the President), I am the descendant of immigrants—my great-grandparents came to America from Russia and Lithuania as teenagers and worked in sweatshops until they were able to afford to bring the rest of their families over. Most everyone you speak to in this country has a similar story to tell, because we are, in fact, a nation of immigrants, bound together by a shared belief in justice, equality, and the freedom to pursue a better life. In this context, last week’s Executive Order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Middle Eastern countries from entering the United States is not simply immoral, it violates the very spirit and foundation of America.
So, the site is donating 100% of their share to the American Civil Liberties Union. Over 200 artists have gone further, pledging to donate their money to the ACLU as well. Here's a list of those artists. As music critics, we make no money and ask for none, but here's some recs for what to buy today. Take some time and spend that $10 you do on a streaming service and put it toward something that can help those who are being unjustly targeted by national origin and religion.

Ba Da Bing! -- rec. artists The Baird Sisters, Sharon Van Etten, Beirut
Merge -- rec. artists Mount Moriah, William Tyler, & Future Bible Heroes
Mexican Summer -- rec. artists Marissa Nadler & Weyes Blood
Kill Rock Stars -- rec. artists Marnie Stern, Deerhoof, Elliott Smith, & Horse Feathers
Pelican -- rec. record The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
Sub Pop -- rec. Low & Rose Windows
Tomkins Square Park -- rec. record Imaginational Anthem Vol. 8: Private Press
Xiu Xiu -- donating 100% of Bandcamp revenue for the next 4 years to the ACLU

Record Store day only comes around once a year. Let's make this Bandcamp day!

Café Tacvba - "Futuro" (Music Video) - featuring the Pope and Donald Trump

Long before most of us were even conscious of the neoliberal order, Mexico's Café Tacvba was already galvanizing thousands to fight it through a uniquely eclectic style. Early albums like Re were apt to swing, from one moment to the next, from metal to ranchera. It's been 5 years since there last record and, frankly, we need them back now.

"Futuro" is the second video release from their new album due this spring. For first time listeners, "Futuro" might bring to mind the recent dark psych of The Flaming Lips. The backlit figures from Mexican folklore and trippy ride on a pysched-out magical school bus complete with surreal visions of the U.S. President and the Pope grooving out to an electronic beat seems to encapsulate the surreal pessimism that greets us daily. But, as vocalist Quique Rangel told Billboard "The relationship between life and death and the perception of time are two themes that 'Futuro' explores without solemnity or optimism. But it also points to a brighter promise if we allow ourselves to recognize the here and now (without the desire to be a self-help song)."

Track of the Day: Caitlin Kraus Torres - "Waiting for the World"

Dear Discriminating 7" record purchaser,

Our new favorite label, Austin's Keeled Scales, dropped a 7" from Caitlin Kraus Torres this last June. "Waiting for the World" begins with a dark, shaking sound before the melody and instruments begin to creep in and Torres shows off her strong vocals. You'll hear traces of Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten mostly because of Torres' vocal strength. But, that's not the entire showpiece here.  There's a understated but sophisticated orchestration that creeps in during the track. While we begin with what seems to be solely noise, by the end, "Waiting for the World" becomes a lush almost chamber pop piece that ranks right up there with bands like The Castanets.