#MusicMonday, Vol. 75: Sweet Valley, Childish Gambino, Owl City, The Divine Fits & more

What the CL Music Team is jamming this fine Monday to rocket launch the work week (audio/video included).

Shae - Judy Garland, "Get Happy" (1950)
While "Get Happy" is catchy in its own right, and I could listen to it by itself (and often do), it's the video that makes this song so special. A bit of back-story: This number comes at the end of the movie, Summer Stock, a musical from the '50s starring Ms. Garland and Gene Kelly. Judy plays a dowdy, no-nonsense farmer. Not one for manual labor, her younger sister runs off to join the theater in the city, but comes traipsing back to the farm when her theater company needs a place to put on their production. The family barn is, of course, the perfect spot. Garland initially puts her foot down, but Kelly, the troupe's director, flashes her that heart-melting smile and uses his nice-guy charm to get her to concede. Practice begins. The sister is set to star in the review, but realizes it's too much work for too little gain, so she runs back to the city with the play's male lead. Kelly catches Garland doing a bit of soft-shoe while drying dishes and sees that the production can be saved! Garland protests. Once again, Kelly works his charisma, dances with her in the barn. They fall in love, and Garland buckles down, learns about hokum and how to hoof it, and the show goes on.

The review, the big finale of the film, is, as expected, rather corny. There's a bit where Garland and Kelly are dressed as children, with candy-striped costumes and bows. There's a dog bit with Phil Silvers. And then — bam! A cabal of men in black tie, leaping and spinning away from center stage to reveal Garland, in a tuxedo jacket, apparently without pants, a jaunty fedora and a cool confidence. Gone is the frumpy farm gal, and in her place, a sassy, seductive songstress. It almost seems like a sacrilege to be singing about the judgment day and the promised land while looking like she does, but oh, how it works! And after playing this video, I spend the rest of the day humming this tune and throwing up jazz hands.

Taylor - Owl City, The Midsummer Station (Out Aug. 21, 2012 via Universal Republic)
Endlessly sing along-able but increasingly retrospective and personal, Adam Young's music is getting better and better with each record.

Julie - Patrick Watson, Adventures in Your Own Backyard (Domino, 2012)
People seem to like my cooking even though I'm horrible at following recipes. My guiding principle is that I use the right combination of ingredients I love. Pretty common sense, right? Even so, too many cooks over-season or fail to follow their own muse, refraining from deviating even just a little from what Emeril, Giada or Mario dictate. Plaintive singer-songwriter Patrick Watson, on the contrary, is an expert music epicurean. He heaps his soulfully sincere falsetto on a mixture of acoustic guitar, majestic piano, Spaghetti Western horns, and waltzing beats combine to seduce and sway you, leaving your soul properly fed. His Adventures are new to me, and I look forward to future explorations in his Backyard. His album has appeared on NPR's "Best of 2012 (so far)" list. Ranging from elegantly simple to richly baroque, Watson's tunes should appeal to fans of Rufus Wainright, Arcade Fire and M. Ward.

Gabe - Jellyfish, Live at Bogart's 1991 (2012)
Finally released in it's entirety, this uncovered artifact finds the power-pop quartet playing their hearts out while on their first tour supporting their marvelous debut album, Bellybutton. There's a fair share of faithful covers thrown in to the mix (Paul McCartney's "Let Em In," Argent's "Hold Your Head Up," etc.), but the real beauty is in the purity of the performance of the original material. "Calling Sarah" recalls Beach Boys harmonies layered over Queen-like melodies. Drummer/vocalist Andy Sturmer is as charming and comical in his between-song banter as he is effortlessly cool and passionate in his vocal delivery. Keyboardist Roger Manning lets his presence be known by filling in gaps with his outstanding chops and his amazing backing vocals. Excerpts from this show had been released in various different formats, but pop enthusiasts will rejoice in knowing that this complete recording is now available at last. If possible, seek out the limited edition double-vinyl pressing on luminous blue vinyl. There's three sides of music and the fourth side contains cool laser-etched graphics. For those still mourning the loss of this short-lived pop band, take solace in reliving their heyday with this fantastic live document recorded at a small club while the band was at their peak.

Evan - Kishi Bashi, 151a (Joyful Noise, 2012)
Despite the summery feel of 151a, Kishi Bashi is a violinist and producer who hails from gloomy Seattle. He's toured with Regina Spektor and of Montreal — and nabs the recent glossy production of the former and the controlled madness of the latter. 151a is an epic, synth-flavored swirl of influences. It has M83's scope, Sigur Ros' refinement, The Shins' honey-throated vocals, and Owen Pallett's violin finesse. In all, it's a summertime treat for people who like their music intricate. Listen to "Bright Whites" below.

Infinite Skillz - Childish Gambino, Royalty (2012)
This mixtape in a word is "Unnecessary"... and that's a good thing. With features from Bun B, Beck (yes, that Beck) and multiple Wu-Tang members, Gambino's latest offering is unapologetically brash and a great soundtrack for when you want to party without worrying about tomorrow. Highlights are the aforementioned "Unnecessary" and "It May Be Glamour Life featuring RZA. If you listen to only one song make sure it is his mixed and mashed version of Britney Spears' pop hit "Toxic." Yeah ... quite unnecessary.

Valerie - Ed Sheeran, + (2011)
I've been on a Brit music kick lately, most recently jamming 21-year-old Ed Sheeran's latest album. I admire his spunky, straightforward lyrics and sincere approach to his music. For those who haven't heard of him before, his performance at last night's Olympic games closing ceremony — where he covered Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" wearing his signature fashion of a hoodie and jeans — should have changed that quickly. Check out his track "Lego House" in the official music video featuring Rupert Grint below.

Scott - The Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits (Out Aug. 28, 2012 via Merge)
The Divine Fits is a new joint effort by Spoon's Britt Daniel, Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs principal Dan Boeckner, and Sam Brown from New Bomb Turks. On the group's first full-length, Daniel's hip, slinky and somehow Stones-y vibe collides serenely with Boeckner's more Old Wave-informed tendencies to create something shimmering, groovy and infectious. Both true to timeless rock tradition and uniquely inspired and executed, it's easily one of the best things I've heard so far this year; there's something here for every stage of a great night, from the after-work ramp-up of "What Gets You Alone" to the stylish, rumpled comedown of "Flaggin' A Ride."

Deborah - The Lumineers, The Lumineers (2012)
Before I was even through a complete listen to the first track of The Lumineers debut album, "Flowers In Your Hair," I fell in love with it's folky finger-plucked simplicity. In the weeks since, the album has become my go-to standard for when I need to hear something that just simply makes me feel good inside. From start to finish, The Lumineers is chock full of Dylanesque love songs, heartfelt lyrics, and joyous singa-longs all tied together with mandolins, violins, and cello.

Their live show is sure to be full of highlights; the clap along of "Classy Girls," and shouted chorus of "Hey Ho" perfectly crafted for a raucous Friday night. It's the softer moments of this release that have crawled under my skin, though; "Dead Sea" in particular is one of the finest love songs I've heard in a long time. Check out a raw acoustic live version of the song I just can't stop singing below.

What the CL Music Team is jamming this fine Monday to rocket launch the work week. Click here to check out previous entries.

Leilani - Ponderosa, Pool City (New West, 2012), Lawrence Arabia, The Sparrow (Bella Union, 2012), Sweet Valley, Stay Calm (Fool's Gold, 2012), Ape School, Jr. Violence (Hometapes, 2012)
These four albums all dropped within the past month and caught my attention within a matter of days of each other. Before this week, I hadn't heard a lick of music by any of these bands. All four are brand new to me, a fact I find very exciting...

Lawrence Arabia's The Sparrow (the third outing of the New Zealand outfit) is warm piano-driven indie rock with strings and horns adding symphonic drama and big fat basslines bringing a casual pop-grooving balance. The whole thing has a warm and indecipherable retro quality - it could be the '60s, it could be the '70s, but whatever it is, it definitely reminds you of something, even if you can't quite put your finger on what that something is.

Sweet Valley is the screwed, sampled and spliced experimental electro-break side project of Wavves' frontman Nathan Williams and brother Kynan. Stay Calm is a little spooky and out-there in the vein of The Avalanches, but with more bright island appeal and soulfully screwball moments.

Ponderosa's Pool City — which actually came as a physical copy (very rare these days) — captured me after about five listens with its hazy mix of roots rock, dream pop and alterna-folk; the direct sonic by-product of a band weaned on My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear. This is the Atlanta band's second album and according to what I've read, it's a big departure from their more Southern rocking debut.

Finally, Ape School is the alias of of Michael Johnson, his music a mix of acid bouncing electro pop, Beta Band-esque experimentalism and light New Wave ambiance marked by lots of synth texture, sonic blips and embellishments, and all manner of psychedelic flotsam and jetsam. Totally loving on "Marijuana's on the Phone," which apparently began as a drunken strum into a tape recorder that filled out the next morning with analog synths and a swinging baritone sax. Listen to the track after the jump and check out the rest of the CL Music Team's entries for our 75th edition of MusicMonday...

About The Authors

Gabe Echazabal

I was born on a Sunday Morning.I soon received The Gift of loving music.Through music, I Found A Reason for living.It was when I discovered rock and roll that I Was Beginning To See The Light.Because through music, I'm Set Free.It's always helped me keep my Head Held High.When I started dancing to that fine, fine...
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