Today in Music: Who’s Empire Is It Anyway?

Dean & Britta performing at The Triple Door
on KEXP 4/11/07
Photo by Jim Beckmann

Every Monday-Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. The podcast features exclusive in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent musicians that KEXP DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection is from the 2007 album Person Pitch by Panda Bear:

Panda Bear – Comfy in Nautica (MP3)

You can catch a couple videos by Panda Bear here. Learn more about podcasting and subscribe now.

  • The official Lollapalooza roster has been announced, featuring such rock luminaries as Pearl Jam, Iggy & The Stooges, and Patti Smith, along with a few lesser-known bands like Interpol, Modest Mouse, and M.I.A. You can find the whole mind-blowing lineup at Brooklyn Vegan and be sure the create your own “paloozahead.”
  • Aversion reveals that a new Pixies tribute album is in the works and will include covers by They Might Be Giants, J. Mascis, Mogwai, and The Rosebuds.
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., one of the few interesting writers you’re likely to read in a high school English class these days, died yesterday at the age of 84. Chad over at Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands has a touching tribute to the Slaughterhouse Five author with audio and video clips.
  • If you’re a die-hard Nick Drake fan, you probably have at least one of the “Tanworth-In-Arden” bootlegs regularly passing between traders (or that you purchased as an “import”). All Nick Drake fans can rejoice as some of those tracks will be remastered and included on the upcoming “Family Tree,” which compiles lo-fi recordings the reclusive artist made in his own home. Bryter Music, the official website of the Nick Drake Estate, has the details.
  • Kicking yourself for skipping SXSW this year? Well, now you can be there, sort of, as you watch a generous selection of videos on Grouper. Thanks to Rock Sellout for cluing us in to these. Of course, you can also still hear performances from the KEXP broadcast at SXSW on our Live Performances Podcast page.
  • And also on the horizon for new releases: Coldplay has unveiled a new collection of singles on 7″, which, according to The Tripwire, will go for about $100.
  • While it’s doubtful that the average Coldplay fan will shell out a c-note for the vinyl collection, it’s likely the box set will challenge sales by such other British Isle imports as The Frames, whom I was thinking about the other day and about how they’re nearly as unrecognized in America as they are talented. While you can hear The Frames on a handful college, indie and the modern equivalent of “adult contemporary” (which is more Ray LaMontagne than James Taylor) radio stations, the Irish band just hasn’t broken the U.S. What is the key to success that Coldplay has found and The Frames have not? Someone once told me that they were “too Irish,” whatever that means, but the same was said about U2 at one point. I’ve also heard others claim certain English bands to be “too British.” Are Americans afraid of such a thing? Was that why Mike Skinner of The Streets could never be as popular as Eminem? Here’s a look at some of the bands fronting the most recent British Invasion. Feel free to rate them at home. We suggest using our scale to rank them from Noel Gallagher (very British) to Madonna (not so much):

  • We would rate the increasingly popular and very young Lily Allen, who doesn’t hide her middle-class accent and writes songs about her hometown of London, more Noel than Madge. Judge for yourself on this track, courtesy of Silence Is a Rhythm Too:
  • Lilly Allen – LDN (MP3)

  • The equally young Jaime T adds a bit more punk into his British blend of hip-hop and rock. While he has yet to break in the U.S., the DJs here at KEXP have been getting a lot of positive response for the few tracks they can play on the air. Watercoolergossip has this, one of his least expletive-laden numbers:
  • Jaime T – Salvador (MP3)

  • Imagine if Amy Winehouse kept a low profile in the tabloids — would you know then that she was British? Her deep infusion of 50’s style R&B, going so far as to use Sharon Jones’ Dap-Kings to back her, definitely draws her more to this side of the pond. However, American audiences might be surprised to learn that the brand new and red-hot Back to Black is Winehouse’s second album. Here’s one of her more recent songs, courtesy of The Late Greats:
  • Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good (MP3)

  • If you have eyes and/or ears, you’re probably aware of “Flathead” by The Fratellis, which has become the anthem of iPod aficionados these days. The supposedly Goonies-inspired lads were once a fledgling British rock group stationed on a small U.K. punk label, which is now parented by much larger international label. Here’ the video for the ubiquitous tune:
  • The Holloways have yet to achieve a similar amount of success in the U.S., probably because their full-length So This Is Great Britain?, which debuted at #1 on the U.K. charts, has yet to earn a domestic release. When it does, will the band skyrocket, assuming The Fratellis haven’t already burned up all the fuel first, or will their thicker British accents slow their ascent? Listen “Dance Floor” and “Generator” on the band’s MySpace page (or just listen to The Morning Show with John) and decide for yourself.
  • The Holloways – KEXP at SXSW 2007 (MP3)

  • An upcoming band that you might have heard here on KEXP and who has yet to release an album at all, either in the U.K. or the U.S., is Leeds-based garage-rockers The Pigeon Detectives. A new album has supposedly leaked on the Internet, so expect it to actually hit the shelves for real in the next couple of months. Here’s an amusing video for the extremely catchy single “I Found Out”:
  • Hopefully, as you were keeping score of these artists, you were also considering the extent to which their level of British-ness will help or hinder their success. To us ‘mericans, does a thick accent turn us on (Art Brut) or turn us off (also Art Brut)? Will Milburn garner as much praise as the other, less British sounding, U.K. rockers? As the British continue to invade our shores, will they or we be colonized?

    If you have any other suggestions for music that we should be listening to and discussing, or would like to tip us off to any good music news, email us at

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