The Bird & the Bee: Recreational Love (Album Review)

No one does pop better than The Bird & the Bee. Inara George and co. make a very welcome return with the July 17th release of their new album, Recreational Love. You can stream the entire album via Spotify below.

“Young and Dumb” opens the album with The Bird & the Bee’s unmistakablly signature, insanely catchy indie-pop sound with a nice piano flourish at the end.

“Doctor” is a clever satire on our modern pill-popping culture with the refrain “Doctor give me pills or give me love.” The B&B take their cybered 80s nostalgia to a new level with some E Street sax embellishments.

The Office Spacesque video for “Will You Dance?” (see below) features comedian Patton Oswald and The Big Bang Theory‘s Simon Helberg.

The moody undercurrent of “We’re Coming to You” makes it the standout track.

Recreational Love ends with the lovely lullaby “Lovey Dovey.”

Buy @ Amazon

The Bird & the Bee Official Site

Muruch’s Top 25 Albums of 2010

It’s that time again! Following are my Top 25 Albums of 2010. Like ’em or not, these are the albums I’ve personally enjoyed and listened to most often in the past year. Click on the album titles to read the full reviews, purchase the albums, and, in some cases, download mp3s…

*Honorable mention to Florence + the Machine’s Lungs, which would have been #2 on this list had it been released this year.

Muruch’s Top 25 Albums of 2010

25. Sheila Nicholls: Songs from the Bardo

…I was so excited to see Sheila Nicholls name on a new press release!…genre-hopping…moody experience…Sheila’s lovely vocals drive every song

Sheila Nicholls – Bardo (mp3)*
Sheila Nicholls – Natural Law (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

24. The Concretes: WYWH

…sultry and atmospheric…blends mellow electro-pop melodies with ambient beats beneath new lead singer Lisa Milberg’s whisper soft vocals

The Concretes – All Day (mp3)*
The Concretes – Good Evening (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

23. Heart: Red Velvet Car

…a step back from the pop-rock endeavors of recent decades in favor of a multi-instrumental style…perfect display of Ann’s astounding vocal power and Nancy’s searing guitar riffs.

Buy @ Amazon

22. Warner Nuzova: Russian Music for Cello & Piano

…The deep resonance of Warner’s cello is juxtaposed and intertwined with the emotive peels of Nuzova’s piano, resulting in a sound full of somber beauty and classical romance.

Buy @ Amazon

21. Screaming Females: Castle Talk

…loud, exhilarating, wailing punk rockers…a spectacular cacophony of ferocious growls, frenzied shrieks, scorching guitar licks and tempestuous rhythm

Screaming Females – I Don’t Mind It (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

20. Brooke Fraser: Flags

…a collection of subtle folk-influenced melodies and pretty, infectious pop fleshed out with innovative arrangements and all wrapped up in Brooke’s warm voice

Buy @ Amazon

19. Agent Ribbons: Chateau Crone

…churns atmospheric retro pop-rock with modern rock riffs, handclap percussion, and girl group harmony. The result is somewhere between The Zombies and The Shangri-Las.

Buy @ Amazon

18. Creed Bratton: Bounce Back

…With the help of his backing band The 3DVB’s and his The Office co-star Ed Helms, Creed has made an unusual, funny, funky, and all around awesome album.

Creed Bratton – Rubber Tree (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

17. Robert Plant: Band of Joy

…an almost perfect marriage of Robert Plant’s psychedelic sway and Buddy Miller’s freight train of rocked up Americana

Buy @ Amazon

16. Danielle Ate the Sandwich: Two Bedroom Apartment

…The combination of that kind of sweetly self-deprecating humor and Danielle’s clear, warm voice along with some very pretty acoustic melodies make this album a charmer.

Buy @ Amazon

15. Robert Stallman: The Nightingale in Love

…Whether you’re a classical aficionado or simply enjoy pretty instrumental music, this lovely album is definitely one to try…Simply put, The Nightingale in Love is beautiful. So very beautiful.

Buy @ Amazon

14. Sade: Soldier of Love

…an album everyone should hear…strong artistic integrity combined with an exquisitely exotic voice and elegant melodies give Sade’s music a rare grace and beauty.

Buy @ Amazon

13. Katharine McPhee: Unbroken

…an excellent mix of infectious pop melodies and singer-songwriter acoustics…Her multi-faceted voice effortlessly flows from impressive Divaesque acrobatics to a warmer, relaxed charm reminiscent of classic Carole King.

Buy @ Amazon

12. Loreena McKennitt: The Wind that Shakes the Barley

…brimming with a heady mix of Celtic and folk instrumentation…Loreena’s supernatural soprano is on gorgeous display

Buy @ Amazon

11. The Bird & The Bee: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates

…tribute to 1980s pop icons Hall & Oates is no parody, instead this is a sincere and happy homage to one of my favorite guilty pleasure bands…the perfect soundtrack for summer.

Buy @ Amazon

10. Sing Me To Sleep: Indie Lullabies

…a wide variety of charming, serene covers by various indie acts…The entire Sing Me To Sleep album flows together to create a lovely, gentle mood.

Dean & Britta – Making Me Smile (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

9. The Gaslight Anthem: American Slang

…one of the most excellent, enjoyable rock albums I’ve heard in years…infectious but substantial rock – settled delciously somewhere between arena and roots.

Buy @ Amazon

8. Allison Crowe: Spiral

…Her voice flawlessly flows between the most pristine soprano and gut-wrenching, full-bodied wails…I hear Allison Crowe sing, and I remember the effect music is supposed to have on you.

Buy @ Amazon

7. The Innocence Mission: My Room in Trees

…pristinely pretty…Sparse arrangements are coupled with poetic lyrics full of scenic imagery and bittersweet emotion – all carried by the lovely soprano of Karen Peris.

The Innocence Mission – God is Love (mp3)*
The Innocence Mission – Happy Mondays (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

6. Moreland & Arbuckle: Flood

…If Moreland & Arbuckle’s upcoming album Flood is any indication, 2010 is gonna be a great year for music…this mix of Delta blues, folk, country, soul, and rock is one wild ride.

Buy @ Amazon

5. She & Him: Volume Two

…another collection of airy, retro-styled pop songs fleshed out with folk instrumenation…a breezy pop soundtrack for summer.

Buy @ Amazon

4. Kate Miller-Heidke: Curiouser

…like a collaboration between Kate Bush and Lady Gaga. Mainstream pop fans will definitely enjoy this disc, as will those searching for catchy tunes with lyrical substance.

Buy @ Amazon

3. Janelle Monáe: The Archandroid

…Conceptually and musically, this multi-facted, genre-mashing masterpiece has everything you could want in an album and then some. And Janelle’s supernatural vocal range is as chameleonic as the songs she sings.

Buy @ Amazon

2. Xavier Rudd: Koonyum Sun

…Xavier Rudd is my favorite artist, full stop…yet another breathtaking masterpiece that’s sure to land Xavier Rudd at the top of my year end list again.

Buy @ Amazon

1. Anaïs Mitchell: Hadestown

…transforms the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice into a post-apocalyptic American fable with Depression era style and indie-folk sensibility. This gorgeous, exciting project reminds me why I love music so much and why I love writing about music so much.”

Anaïs Mitchell – Flowers (mp3)*
Anaïs Mitchell & Bon Iver – Wait for Me (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

*all mp3s hosted by & posted w/ permission of artists, labels and/or their PR reps

The Bird & The Bee: Tribute To Daryl Hall And John Oates

The Bird & The Bee’s new album Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall And John Oates will be released by Blue Note Records on March 23rd. The Bird & The Bee are singer Inara George and multi-instrumentalist/producer Greg Kurstin. Their tribute to 1980s pop icons Hall & Oates is no parody, instead this is a sincere and happy homage to one of my favorite guilty pleasure bands.

The opener “Heard It On The Radio” is the sole original on the album. Considering the concept, I think the song should have been placed at the end of the album. Regardless, the airy pop tune does go very well with the covers.

The selection of Hall & Oates covers includes pop hits like “I Can’t Go For That,” “Kiss On My List,” and “Maneater” (feat. Garbage’s Shirley Manson on backing vocals), but it’s the inclusion of “Rich Girl,” “Sara Smile,” and “She’s Gone” that proves the band’s songwriting talents were worthy of tribute.

“Sara Smile” has always been my personal favorite Hall & Oates song, and The Bird & The Bee do a superb job of capturing the sultry jazz tone of the original. And the clap happy true-to-original take of “Private Eyes” reminds me why the song was such a big radio hit in the ’80s.

As I said in my review of last year’s Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future, Inara George “possesses a lovely, effervescent voice that melts beautifully into the lightest of melodies.” While these are genuine odes to Hall & Oates, most of the songs have been reworked in The Bird & The Bee’s signature electro-pop style.

The Bird & The Bee’s Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall And John Oates is the perfect soundtrack for summer. I only hope that The Bird & The Bee will record a tribute to Olivia Newton-John for Interpreting The Masters Volume 2.

I was not granted permission to share an mp3, but you’ll be able to hear samples at the links below closer to the release date…

Buy @ Amazon

The Bird & The Bee Official Site
The Bird & The Bee MySpace

The Bird & The Bee: Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future

While everyone else seems to be raving about Animal Collective (excuse me while I yawn), I wonder why the new disc by The Bird & The Bee isn’t get more love? I’ve seen a few posts here and there, but not the attention it deserves. The Bird & The Bee are Greg Kurstin (formerly of Geggy Tah – remember “Whoever You Are”?) and Inara George (daughter of Little Feat singer Lowell George), and Rays Guns Are Not Just The Future was just released by Blue Note Records. It’s not the typical jazz usually associated with the label, rather it is an upbeat and melodic mix of dream pop and dance music that is simultaneously futuristic and retro. Basically, it’s a lot of fun and I love it.

After an introductory blast of “Fanfare”, Rays Guns Are Not Just The Future slides into the clap happy “My Love”. The dreamily infectious track sets tone for the whole album. I recommend the disc to fans of Venus Hum. The airy “Diamond Dave” follows, paying homage to Van Halen‘s original frontman.

George – who recently appeared on Eleni Mandell’s Artificial Fire – possesses a lovely, effervescent voice that melts beautifully into the lightest of melodies. The album’s atmospheric title track is the prime example of this, though the music masks serious lyrical content. “Ray Gun” was inspired by a 60 Minutes story on an actual ray gun built by the military and the fright of things only imagined in the past becoming reality in the present.

From the west to the east, I have flown to be near you
I come all this way, to be close, to be here with you
& all of my heart I will lay down precisely at your feet

The stunner is the hook-laden “Love Letter To Japan”, which just may be the perfect pop song. The first time I listened to this song, I was driving through the snow-covered backwoods just as the sun began its evening descent. Bare trees cast eerie shadows on the white blanket of the ground as bright orange fire spread across the distant sky. I thought perhaps those scenic surroundings influenced my immediate and intense affection for the tune, but listening to it again indoors was just as exciting. I can almost guarantee there will not be a catchier song played anywhere this summer.

“Meteor” is a breathy, Olivia Newton John influenced retro dance number, and “Baby” pairs angelic coos with harp-like flourishes. “Polite Dance Song” – which first appeared on the Please Clap Your Hands EP – is a humorous ode to hip-hop that isn’t quite as charming as it thinks it is, but the jaunty “You’re a Card” is. “Witch” simmers with sultry drama worthy of a Bond theme, while “Lifespan of a Fly” provides a delicate finale.

I was not granted permission to upload an mp3 to my own server, but Spin was. I guess the label prefers popularity over taste when it comes to mp3 authorization. Not that I’m bitter! At least their PR rep emailed me the mp3 link to post…

The Bird & The Bee – My Love (mp3) *

*mp3 hosted on & link posted w/ permission of Toolshed Media

The Bird & The Bee – Love Letter To Japan (audio stream)

The Bird & The Bee Official Site

Buy @ Amazon

Obi Best: Nothing Can Come Between Us Mp3

Obi Best is the new project by former The Bird & The Bee backup singer Alex Lilly. Their debut album Capades will be released on August 25th. The following track is a quirky little piano pop tune.

Obi Best – Nothing Can Come Between Us (mp3 removed)

Obi Best Official Site (Purchase links there)
Obi Best on MySpace