Superdeformed: Matthew Sweet’s Altered Beast Demos

This is not a music or mp3 blog, but I am a huge fan of Matthew Sweet. His Girlfriend album was one of the first CDs (not tapes) I bought with my own money and we named our youngest daughter Evangeline after the song of the same name on that album.

Needless to say, I like his music a little bit.

Now I come to find that he’s almost finished with a new album, Modern Art, which appears to feature album artwork of his cat sculptures. I can’t wait. But the thing that got me thinking about Matthew Sweet this week was listening to his unreleased demos for the Altered Beast album, code-named Superdeformed 1 & 2.

I’ve had his Son of Altered Beast EP for some time and I’m pretty sure I’ve had various mp3s of his copious demo albums for both Girlfriend and Altered Beast at some point but for whatever reason I’d nearly forgotten them.

This week I’ve re-discovered both Superdeformed 1 & Superdeformed 2 thanks to The Hype Machine.

Standout tracks (for me) are “Long Way To Go (Speed of Light)” and “Born in Sin” off the first CD.

So many of the other unreleased tracks are so good, you can see how they informed subsequent albums. “Bovine Connection” seems like “Cats vs. Dogs” off of Kimi Ga Suki Raifu, “It’s True” steals a riff from “Girlfriend”, “You’re Mean” could be a track off “Living Things” and “Girls” is a straight up tribute to Big Star’s “September Gurls

The second CD has some more well-known tracks that weren’t on his full-length albums. Tracks like “Ultrasuede” and the eponymous “Superdeformed” are both good but I really enjoy the atmospheric trippiness of “Money” and the effects on “Eskimo”. Those latter songs really remind me of “In Reverse“.

Superdeformed 1 & 2 are really great additions to your music library if you’re a Matthew Sweet fan. They really show how prolific and experimental he was/is.

Here are track listings (courtesy of Jon Relph):

Superdeformed 1:

Superdeformed 1

Superdeformed 1

  1. Long Way to Go [Speed of Light]
  2. Dinosaur Act
  3. Devil with the Green Eyes
  4. Reaching Out
  5. Do It Again
  6. In Too Deep
  7. Evergreen
  8. Bovine Connection
  9. Time Capsule
  10. Born in Sin
  11. Put It Together [Finding Out]
  12. Fantasy World
  13. You’re Mean
  14. It’s True [Something’s Got to Give]
  15. Girls [Cobra Girls]

Superdeformed 2:

Superdeformed 2

Superdeformed 2

  1. Ugly Truth
  2. Falling
  3. Eskimo
  4. Ultrasuede
  5. Money [Marnie]
  6. Superdeformed
  7. Wait And See [Open Eyes]
  8. Idiot Child
  9. So Blue [Finally So Blue]
  10. Weekend Outlaw
  11. What Do You Know [What Do You Know?]
  12. The End
  13. Trace Of Love
  14. Drugs

Happy Listening!

End of Summer Jams

The hit of the last fortnight has been Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You” (both the text-only version and the newer official version).

The hummable (if not singable) nature of the song and the amazing videos (as different as they are) got me thinking about another great tune with a stunning video: Her Morning Elegance by Oren Lavie. If you haven’t seen already (or it’s been a while and you want a refresher) here you go:

Petapixel posted an amazing “making of” video today that shows just how the process of creating the video came to be. Check it out:

There’s even a traveling art exhibit of the stills that make up the stop motion video OR you could own a piece of creative and buy one of the photos yourself for $250.

Anyhow, the Cee-Lo stuff (despite the completely opposite sentiment and presentation) got me thinking of Oren Lavie.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Venice Is Sinking

My cousin Elyse is in Venice, Italy right now doing a semester of study abroad. This fact has nothing to do whatsoever with the rest of this post. She is in Venice, the city, and it is not sinking, to the best of my knowledge, but it is very wet due to all the canals and such.

No, this post is about the Athens, GA based band Venice Is Sinking. I’ll clarify below.

Yesterday morning a coworker was doing his normal morning rounds: going to get his tea, smiling and waving. All very neighborly, cheerful stuff for a coworker to do. I like the guy.

Well, I liked him a whole lot more yesterday when he strode into my office and presented me with a gift: a shrink-wrapped CD, “Sorry About The Flowers” by – you guessed it – Venice Is Sinking.

I could use adjectives like “orchestral” or “lush” or “pastoral” or “atmospheric” to describe the band and their music but what does that tell you, really?

I’m no music critic, but all the songs seem handcrafted.

Not overdone.
Not twee (in style or harmony).
Not stark either.

Simple, yes, but equally complex and satisfying.

I’d make some hipster band comparisons but that would be as thin a veil as the adjectives above. Suffice it to say that if you enjoy male-female duets/harmonies, a dash of strings, the jangle of acoustic guitars and an easy, plaintive sway you’ll be dancing in the right sweater, beard and glasses tonight.

Which reminds me, *this* is genius:

I think it's pretty clear from the chart that Venice Is Sinking should earn a few spots on your iPod.

I think it's pretty clear from the chart that Venice Is Sinking should earn a few spots on your iPod.

Enough of the tomfoolery. Give Venice Is Sinking a listen.

They were nice enough to follow me on Twitter (and #FollowFriday me too).
They make some nice tunes.
They’ve got a new CD, AZAR, out now.

Enjoy them and your weekend!

Velocity Girl

The quality of the embed video below sucks, but you’ll get the idea of the shoegaze-turned-indie-pop that jangled into my mind this morning that I had to tweet about:

Part of the nostalgia is fueled by the onset of Fall and football season and my (fading) memories of my freshman orientation – back in Summer, 1994 – and my own stint as an Orientation Leader two years later during the “Olympic Summer” of 1996.

The first concert I saw in Athens was actually on campus at UGA while I was there for my Freshman orientation. I saw Velocity Girl at Legion Field for $3.00, I think. I’m sure I have a ticket stub somewhere.

Doing a little sleuthing online, it looks to have been the end of July, since the band performed on 99x on the 29th.

I’m just swimming in nostalgia today but this band is tied to so many good memories for me: summer time, jangly (if slightly fuzzy) guitars and being on campus.

I was very much in to Matthew Sweet at the time (still am) so I’m glad I had a moment of remembrance today.

For those that want to similarly belabor a point and jump down the memory hole with me can check out SubPop’s original site for Velocity Girl.

In related news, you should really make a genius playlist with some Power Pop as the seed song. Good use of technology and your own two ears.

Enjoy!

Making Athens, Georgia Proud

I’m only recently aware of Allison Weiss and her music, but I’m wowed by her sound, her aesthetic and her approach to making music and connecting with her fans.

I’d actually heard of her before – on Twitter – through a semi-acquaintance brokered by an ex-professor. Quite random, I know.

Her main appeal at the moment is for folks – you or me – to donate to the creation of an EP. In exchange for our cash, she’ll give us (assuming we participate) access to cool exclusives and, for a price, inclusion in the liner notes and beyond (depending on the amount).

Here’s her video explaining the whole deal with Kickstarter:

This is an ingenious way for an obviously talented, albeit cash-strapped college student to raise the funds necessary to pursue her dreams. I know I’ve got a few dollars burning a hole in my pocket to contribute to the cause. For another perspective on an artist doing her own thing and connecting with her fans, check out David Meerman Scott’s interview with Amanda Palmer of Dresden Dolls.

I won’t be able to catch her Quest For Glory tour in Atlanta or Athens due to a vacation, but I may try to make the “internet” date. ;-)

All of this is made that much better for me because of the Athens, GA connections (see above: professor, semi-acquaintance & Allison herself) involved.

My Alma Mater.
My Other Mother.
My home away from home.

And if you need further proof of Allison’s bonafides, here she is doing a cover of Elliott Smith’s Between The Bars:

Additional props to Athens for getting top-billing on Boston.com’s Big Picture blog. Lightning downtown never looked so eerily cool.

Have I mentioned that Football is only 38 days away? Go Dawgs! [Via Georgia Sports Blog]

Hope you’re having a wild, wacky Wednesday, just like me.