Monday, November 07, 2005:

Tom Paxton, Karamelo Santo, Soft, Pet Politics, Calvanes

spring, summer, fall, winter ... and spring
After months of humidity and stultifying heat, we had two days of fall--chilly mornings and brisk breezes--and then it snapped back into good weather for shorts and sandals. If Florida were a person it would be not be a Buddhist: it's quite attached to summer and stands terrified at the prospect of anything else: "what would it be like, this ... 'coldness' thing of which you speak? Sort of a humid heat, only ... without hurricanes? No? Oh. So ... sort of a humid heat, only ... less hot?"

Tom Paxton -- Bottle of Wine
Tom Paxton kicks us off with a very springy sort of song: picked guitar ringing out "life-fun-everything great," with lyrics that it would be easy to sing along to without paying much attention to: "Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine, when you gonna let me get sober? / Let me alone, let me go home, let me go back and start over." Tricksy, that: a cheerful-sounding song about a drinking problem.

Paxton has a strong voice--confident but not overpowering, giving just enough and not a bit too much. His work ranges from the bitterly satiric to the plaintive to the mellow and accepting. He started performing in the 1960s, often focusing on political themes (some of which, like "Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation," are more specific than universal; others, like "Daily News" or "What Did You Learn in School Today?," still have a clear relevance). Paxton is still performing, still releasing new albums.
Tom Paxton's site;
I Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound @;

Karamelo Santo -- Fruta Amarga
Sylvie from Delanuca Records wrote some time back introducing me to Karamelo Santo, an Argentinean ska-punk band. "Fruto Amargo" is a Rubén Blades cover: stuttering funky bassline, horn section, slightly distorted rubber-wristed electric guitar, and a melody that telegraphs high noon, barbecues, volleyball on the beach. Good times.
Karamelo Santo's site;
Delanuca Records, which has a downloads section under "media/press";
Sylvie's blog;

Soft -- Higher
The rock band Soft, based in Brooklyn, wrote me a few days ago mentioning that their EP would be released soon. They have a good sense of composition and arrangement--when to add things, drop them out, bring them back--and a great sense of melody; I bet they put on good shows. I posted their track "You Make Me Wanna Die" about a year ago and I was glad to hear from them again.
The band Soft;
The Soft EP @;

Pet Politics -- In My Head
Magnus from Pet Politics emailed me in late August; we swapped a couple of emails and then the conversation fell off. He had a round of postings in September but here he is again in case you missed him. Pet Politics is one of those "bands" that's just one person: that's Magnus arranging drums, playing guitar, singing. His music has sort of a wintry quality to it that I like quite a lot: it's like sitting in watching a film, cozy in your pile of blankets, cold creeping in around the curtains. There's something about the melodies he comes up with that's somehow both new and immediately familiar; it gives his sound a sense of nostalgia and oddness at the same time.
The Pet Politics site, with another mp3 up for download;

Calvanes -- Buzz Buzz Buzz
The Calvanes are a doo-wop group that cut a few sides in the 1950s and never put together a full album before 2001. In Harmony has some great tracks on it, especially this one, their Leiber/Stoller cover "Smokey Joe's Cafe," and their lead-off track "Travellin' Stranger". This one's exuberant, catchy, with an open love and a contagious joy broadcasting sunrise, dewy grass, tweeting birds, green twigs, flowers in bloom.
In Harmony @

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Thanks a lot! :))

My pleasure. Thanks for letting me know.

Doesn't hold a candle to the Hollywood Flames' version.

Eh. Sorry. Haven't heard that one, actually

Would you like to guest post, btw? Seems you have a much greater knowledge of doo-wop than I do, in spite of my love for it.

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