1. The Coral — Dreaming of You
Andrew thinks music needs to be overlaid with at least four technically difficult instrumental parts. He wants two guitars thrashing over top of each other, a base slapping up and down the scale in sixteenth note increments, and a drummer with four arms.
But sometimes simplicity is best, which is why I like the moody acoustic folk feel of The Coral.
Dreaming of You wraps subtle organ and horns around a driving bass in an upbeat but minor key. It works well with the “can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em” message of the song.
That alternating bass line is almost like a somber polka — but not quite. Throw in some tambourine and clownish biking and I’m pressing repeat on the ol’ iPod.
2. The Refreshments — European Swallow
Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy is one of my favorite CDs of all time. The Refreshments didn’t last long, but frontman Roger Clyne still slings some of those old songs as Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers.
The band is known for its The-Eagles-meet-Three-Stooges sensibility, matching an Arizona desert-billy sound with cartoon-quality pop reverence. (If you don’t already know, The Refreshments perform the theme to King of the Hill.) And we can’t fault a band with such an obvious love of Star Trek. From Banditos:
So give your ID card to the border guard
Your alias says you Captain Jean Luc Picard
Of the United Federation of Planets
Cause they won’t speak english any ways
European Swallow is about stealing a bar floozy from her boyfriend, but it’s the pacing that’s unusual as Clyne periodically does some appropriate fast-talk. Add acoustic scratching and a little prostitution humor, and I’m spreading a big smile between my headphones.
This live version only gets better about two-thirds of the way through when Clyne slips into a Violent Femmes homage with the bridge from Kiss Off. I’ll apologize for some of the gritty sound in this concert bootleg, but it’s still one of the best live tapes floating around YouTube.