2011 – The Bunny The Bear – If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say



Are you angry? You will be after you hear this. I was introduced to The Bunny The Bear this week, and wanted to share them with you. They fall in to the genre of post-hardcore, combined with some electronica (or what Wikipedia is calling “Electropop”). Reaching higher and higher up the scale, with a voice similar to Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria, “The Bear” compliments “The Bunny,” who growls his way through songs unapologetically.

There are songs I like better than the video embedded above for C’est Pas Si Lion, but I think the song does a fantastic job of showcasing how the band is a well constructed self-juxtaposition. The band members are clearly very talented, and wouldn’t have to rely on such a strange gimmick as plastic animal masks, but they stick with it – and it adds to the eerie factor that I think suits the month of October quite well.

Clear the trees / Then you’ll see through to me / I’m rotting on the ocean floor / Where seeds of grass abhor their situation” is sang and screamed in what combines in to a hauntingly elegant song. The band is original in many ways, and although not “my usual” and only something I’ve just discovered, I actually enjoy it quite it a bit, and would encourage readers here to give them a sample and try to broaden your own musical horizons with a little bit of The Bunny The Bear..

2003 – Tokyo Rose – Reinventing a Lost Art

I remember liking this band “back in the day” – and when I was just 19 I had a chance to see them at the Warped Tour. I was blown away by just how much fun the band members looked like they were having. I’d heard a song or two of theirs, but didn’t know just how much I would really enjoy their whole album, at the time. Once I listened to it, beginning to end, I was hooked.

Reinventing a Lost Art was Tokyo Rose’s first “full length” album, and came out when Emo was reaching full force. This is more of the classic “pop-punk” / Post-Hardcore genre we’ve come to appreciate, with some talented vocals over top of quick drums and upbeat guitar riffs. You can’t help but enjoy this album, and they start out the album with a song that gets you in the mood for fun.

Saturday, Everyday, the opening track, begins this chorus with Tokyo Rose’s call for a good time: “So when we rule the world / we’ll put it up to a vote / to make another day / one more like Saturday…” Another track, Weapon of Choice plays off of the old phrase coined by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” “Enclosed is my weapon of choice,” they sing, as they recall writing letters to friends, family, and significant others as the band toured trying to make it.

You might think I want you to buy the 2007 Tokyo Rose album, Promise in Compromise, because I was one of the early pre-orders who got the select honor of finding our names printed inside the sleeve… cool, yes, but if I really ever expect you to listen to that album, I need to get you hooked on the band first. And to do that? We’ve got to start with Reinventing a Lost Art, the album that really sucked me in and made me a fan of Tokyo Rose.

1998 – Eve 6 – Self Titled


I remember the holiday season of 1998 like it was yesterday. I was given a portable CD player, and a few albums. One of the albums I had asked for was Eve 6’s album, Eve 6. I remember listening to the major single from the album, Inside Out over and over. Little did I know, at the time, that the rest of the album would grow on me so much.

The album opens up with the track How Much Longer, which immediately gets you bobbing your head and tapping your toe with percussion. You’re pulled in to a fast paced album and you’re hooked. It’s followed up with the major single, Inside Out, then other tracks that I can’t get out of my mind to this day continue to follow up. Leech, includes lines about the kind of person who needs to lie to try to make themselves more interesting in social situations… “you’re suckin’ on my brain / you’re the teacher I’m the student / turnin’ things around, your story’s not congruent.” Something that holds as true now, as it did when I Was 14, is the fact that I’m still shocked to hear the word “congruent” in a lyric.

Maybe the song writer simply used a rhyming dictionary, but it really seemed like an intelligent form of rock that was hard to find. I was thrilled when I heard Open Road Song, just because it was a fun song that made you want to go fast – whether I was cranking it through headphones while roller blading at 14, or when I turned 16 and got my driver’s license. Still songs like Small Town Trap seemed like an anthem for my tiny hometown and people like me stuck in it as teenagers. And even as a child, I could tell that the song Tongue Tied was about someone tired of being smarter than their classmates, and just wanting to be one of the kids in class, just like everyone else: “Pardon me, sir, / could I ask you a favor? / Make me a cowboy / like my next door neighbor.”

Yes, Eve 6 was geek rock, in the vein of the Weezer music of the time. That is to say, a time before Weezer got an unusual amount of confidence in who they were, and forgot that they grew up in their garages playing Dungeons and Dragons and listening to KISS. But I digress. The self titled Eve 6 album is a rare gem I still find myself enjoying from time to time, and it is something you should listen to more than just the hit single from. Eve 6 wasn’t a one-hit-wonder in my memory, I really enjoyed their first major-label album all the way through.

1967 – The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Music Monday isn’t always about discovering something new. It’s just something you should hear. And if you grew up like I did, you heard a lot of The Beatles. And if you’re father is like mine, track 11 on this album will be etched in your 8 AM memory like no other song in history.

I, like most teenaged computer geeks, stayed up too late and slept in whenever I could. But 8 AM when my dad (Red) wanted to wake me up, we would pop this disc in, skip to 11, and crank it… to 11. A rooster crows, the band kicks in, “Good morning, good morning, good morning, good morning, good morning-a!” Many people call this the album where The Beatles sold out – their style changed, it was too accessible.

I disagree, because prior to this, they were pop-gold! Songs like HELP!, and even on Revolver, just prior to Sgt. Pepper, Got to Get You in to My Life – the songs were love songs. It wasn’t until the follow up to Sgt. Pepper, fall ’67’s Magical Mystery Tour that the flop top good boys from across the pond really started to “off the deep end” and starting putting out more and more psychedelic songs.

You get a taste of that on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, in the song A Day in the Life, which really takes you on a journey and tells a story. But from beginning to end, I still love this album, and it holds a special place in my memory. Songs like Fixing a Hole, and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds might’ve been a precursor of things to come, while songs like When I’m Sixty Four are just simple sweet love songs. It was a great album when The Beatles were at a crossroads, and when the boys from Liverpool were growing up the only way 1960’s rock stars knew how.

1997 – Cornershop – When I Was Born for the 7th Time

You might not remember Cornershop, but you’ve probably heard them. Their album is an eclectic sampling of influences from around the world, and Spin magazine called it album of the year in 1998. It’s easy to see why, it’s addicting.

American audiences (with their new found love of Hindi-films on Netflix) may only just be beginning to understand some of the references, but that won’t stop you from nodding your head along with catchy drumming, easy vocals, and myriad of instruments. But the opening two tracks, for most people, are probably the most memorable. Sleep on the Left Side and Brimful of Asha hook you right in to the album. Brimful… is also known as “Bosom for a Pillow” because of the refrain “everybody needs a bosom for a pillow, everybody needs a bosom.”

Candyman has a funky sound you can’t help but love, and while you keep expecting some form of contemporary rap to appear on top of the song (which eventually and only briefly arrives), it remains, for the most part, an instrumental only piece. The nearly 4 minute song is very light on lyrical influence, letting the drums and bass guitar do most of the work. You can say the same for a track called State Troopers. Track 11, however, takes what you’re used to and expecting, and swaps it for a American style country-music-influenced song entitled Good to be Back on the Road Again, which includes lines such as “It’s good to be on the trail / from where my heart set sail / put an anchor down for friends, and good beer.”

The entire album really takes what you expect from a pop album, and mixes in more of what we’re seeing from current generation Psychadellic-Funk-Indie-Rockers. If people ask me about albums I’ve been listening to for well over a decade, standards that I keep in my collection and I always go back to, When I Was Born for the 7th Time is at the top of that list.

2007 – Secondhand Serenade – Awake

I don’t know if this album falls under “guilty pleasures” or what, but in 2007 when I first stumbled on to it, Awake from Secondhand Serenade had me hooked. I’m a sucker for a guitar and someone who actually has some vocal talent. It happens so rarely that someone with talent shows up in the music industry, but then when I read more about the album and was even more impressed.

John Vesely was pretty much a one man show, with vocals and instrumentals by John Vesely. He used multi-tracking to make it sound like there were more voices and instruments. When on tour (I got to see him in Lancaster in 2008), he would bring a band with them, but only used them for some of the songs from the 2008 album, and when singing more tracks from the 2007 album Awake they left the stage and the audience filled in the other voices.

I won’t even get in to lyrics and music, I think I’ve already explained quite a bit. Secondhand Serenade saw some fame when the 2nd album released, but I’ve genuinely enjoyed awake Awake, and I think you will, too!

2008 – Dr. Dog – Fate

Dr. Dog has a wonderfully old fashioned sound, that only a few indie bands have capitalized on. Falling somewhere between The Beatles and Modest Mouse, Dr. Dog has had a long journey to find their slice of fame, and has kept their sound fairly consistent. When I first learned of them, Fate was just about to be released and they had a sound that was refreshing to my ears.

Their 2008 album, “Fate,” certainly has multiple tracks with religious overtones. The lyrics don’t shy away from the natural inner conflict one might have, questioning one’s faith. The Ark opens with the line: “God / he called for rain / so I built an ark / but no rain came. / I was ashamed.”

Meanwhile, a few romantic overtones shine through in parts of songs. A track simply titled From opens with one of the sweetest lines a person could ever hope to hear from their lover: “Oh, oh my love / don’t you leave me / ’cause I don’t want to learn how to die / oh, oh my love.”

The songs feature beautiful guitar strumming, electric and accoustic, some calming bass and drum work, and piano playing that will put your mind at ease. Although a few tracks have a modern rock sound, the indie-folk sound is undeniably present, and will draw you deeper and deeper in to Dr. Dog’s “Fate” album. Listen to it and let me know if you’ll be listening to it over and over, as I have.

2011 – Jonny Corndawg – Down on the Bikini Line

Jonny Fritz, AKA Jonny Corndawg, is a country singer who knows that Nashville sound as well as anybody, but he also knows how to play songs that appeal to more and more people. He doesn’t take the “hard right” stance that a lot of country singers do, and doesn’t sing about how great America is and how great it is to swill beer all day. In fact, in his song Exercise, from a previous album, the chorus includes “understand that immigrants have the hardest lives.”

The opening track to 2011’s Down on the Bikini Line album is Shaved Like A Razor. It was the first song I had ever heard from Jonny Corndawg, and I was immediately hooked by a classic barn-dance type song with great guitar solos, fantastic fiddle playing, and a kind-hearted twang in Jonny’s voice. Played on a local radio station here in Rochester, NY, they announced that later that night the band would be playing in town. Off I went to see Jonny and company at a local venue. I was not disappointed. The band is down to earth, and Jonny really seems to enjoy what he does. They literally travel the country on their tour, crashing wherever they can after each show, playing to small crowds and recognizing their fans who have seen them more than once.

Jonny isn’t afaid to shine the spotlight on the occasional absurdity of country music, as in the track When a Ford Man Turns to Chevy, as the line immediately following the title line continues with “an angel gets it’s wings, and the babies they won’t never cry no more.” Undercover Dad is a touching song that Jonny sings about wanting to get to know his child better, and the lessons he has learned about parenting by being out on the road seeing younger crowds at shows every night, learning what he can expect to have to face someday.

If Amazon isn’t for you, you can get Down on the Bikini Line and other albums direct from the band’s Bandcamp site, so go get your fix!

2012 – Purity Ring – Shrines

Releasing tomorrow, Purity Ring’s “Shrines” is a beautifully crafted psychadellic trip through a musical soundscape. Much like many of the recent electronica type indie bands of late, you’ll be hard pressed to find the occasional “real instrument” on the album, but that won’t make it any less enjoyable.

If you’re one of the many millions who has been enjoying the vocal stylings from Gotye’s Somebody that I used to know, lately, then you are going to enjoy the haunting ethereal voice of Megan James. Corin Roddick pops in part way through the album with a voice inspired by contemporary hip-hop artists, whch acts as an enjoyable contrast to the ghost-like voice of James.

And if you’re not keen on preordering something you’ve never heard before, you’re in luck. NPR actually has the whole album available for your preview pleasure. But if you have enjoyed the likes of Neon Indian or Air France over the last few years, Purity Ring will end up on your playlist in the very near future.