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Month: December 2008

"Valley Winter Song" gets tapped by L.L. Bean

The criminally underappreciated Welcome Interstate Managers by Fountains of Wayne should get a boost. L.L. Bean tapped “Valley Winter Song,” one of my favorite tracks off the album, for a commercial. The commercial isn’t anything that exciting, but the fact that Fountains of Wayne is getting some love (that doesn’t include Rachel Hunter or “Stacy’s Mom”) is exciting to me.

Here’s the L.L. Bean commercial.

Here’s a couple other commercials with indie bands in them.

Kira Willey was introduced to me via this Dell Commercial.

Of Montreal parodies themselves for Outback steakhouse.

An emotionally impactful GM commercial with Brandi Carlisle in it.

This trend is good; I hope it continues with many more  undiscovered (and discovered) bands.

Aaron Robinson and the Lost Verses

I seek out the stark beauty of songs that are composed of acoustic guitar and voice. Aaron Robinson has several songs on his Myspace that fit that bill. There’s a purity to the expression that draws me to the songs; they are the barest elements, the first-fruits of the songwriting. There’s nowhere to hide in an acoustic song; if you can’t hack it, we’ll know really quickly.

That’s why a perfectly constructed and performed acoustic song is so much more interesting to me than a full-band performance; if a punk band gets sloppy, it goes by fast enough that it’s hardly noticeable, and someone will probably cover the mistake with their noise. In “A Dying Art,” there’s nowhere to hide. It’s a man and his baritone ukelele (!), both double-tracked. The delicate, intricate performances are real; not studio. It feels honest and passionate, even in its calm mood. “You Will Be Called Home” is beautiful in much the same way; although the piano in the song makes it feel a little less like what I’m relating and more like a full song. It’s still beautiful; let it not be said otherwise. But “A Dying Art” makes a much stronger impression on me because it is simple and powerful.

But even more engaging than the demos is a live version of “Price is Right,” which maintains much of the morose, beautiful feel of acoustic-only pieces, but incorporates some percussion and graceful, twinkling keys. Robinson pleads with the listener through sweeping, elegant vocal lines; the jagged strum pattern is tempered against the smooth croon of “The price is right for me.” The song never lets go of its sweeping, tragic feel; if the audience didn’t clap at the end, this would be the perfect end to a mixtape or a depressing movie.

A Dying Art

Price is Right

Listen to  tracks from his fantastically-titled debut We are Racing Ghosts at his myspace page.


Okay, I’m behind. I know this. This guy has already been on TRL. He doesn’t qualify as indie. I’m writing up NeverShoutNever! because he sounds exactly like the late great the Format. It’s eerie how close Christofer Ingle (Never Shout Never!) gets to sounding like Nate Ruess of The Format when he goes for high notes. Add in the fact that it’s bright, jangly acoustic-based indie-pop, and it gets even closer. Add in some really morose lyrics on the happy music, and you’ve got an incredibly fun and interesting sound; one which both the Format and NeverShoutNever! have. Since the Format unceremoniously disbanded, I guess NeverShoutNever! will do in my mind as an acceptable substitute.

To hear NeverShoutNever! sound like the Format, listen to “Your Biggest Fan” on their myspace page. It’s eerie. Cool, but eerie.