The La's - There She Goes

Today's Hump Day Retro-Closet tune is from The La's. The La's are unique for many reasons. First, the founder of the band, Mike Badger, was forced out before the recorded and album. Second, their only studio release only made it to #196 on the US top 2000 and #30 on the UK charts. Finally, although many people have not heard of them (except some real brit-pop fans), they have heard the song, There She Goes, off their self-titled debut release. Many believe it to be the perfect pop song.

Perfection was the undoing of the band. Leader Lee Marvin was such a perfectionist, the band broke up as he was so fixated on every detail of the music that recording a new album was impossible.

Interesting not: Bassist, John Powers left The La's and formed Cast. The last word of the last song on the La's only album is 'Cast'.

Los Lobos - Hurry Tomorrow

Los Lobos has been playing and recording for over 30 years achieving 3 Grammys. Formed in Los Angeles, Los Lobos ('The Wolves') in 1973, they released their first album independently in 1978. They teamed up with T-Bone Burnett and released How Will the Wolf Survive? The album was a sort of coming out and put Los Lobos on the map.

In 1987, they released By the Light of the Moon and also recorded several tracks for the soundtrack to the movie La Bamba. The title track became a #1 hit.

They have released over a dozen albums including their most recent release of a Disney covers.

Hurry Now, written by Robert Hunter (who wrote many of the Grateful Dead songs) is off their 2006 release, The Town and the City.

Donovan Frankenreiter - Move By Yourself

Donavon Frankenreiter is a long-time friend of Jack Johnson, sharing music and surfing. As a teenager, he took up surfing in San Clemente, California, and was signed to a sponsorship deal with Billabong. This allowed him to travel which is where he met Johnson. He rented a room in North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, from Jack Johnson's parents. They formed a strong surfer-musicians friendship which may be why they both have a similar sound.

His early music career is not as well known as he does not talk about it in interviews, so many believe he is fairly new He played in local bands, but in 1996 he began to seriously pursue a musical career when he formed the band Sunchild. He did not sing, but played lead guitar. They released two very hard to find albums.

In 2000, he went solo, recording a self-titled debut on Johnson's Brushfire records. Johnson produced and appears on the album. Frankenreiter has released 3 more albums, 2 EPs and a DVD since going solo. He has built up a large fan following around the world. His music has become more polished, but has never lost that free-spirit surfer feel that makes you want to just kick back relax, have a cold one and enjoy the tunes.

Move By Yourself is a perfect Frankenreiter tune off his 2006 release of the same name.

Jeff Golub - Cold Sweat

Jeff Golub started off by learning and playing 60's blues rock guitar like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. But once he heard Wes Montgomery play, his guitar playing course completely changed. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston and in 1980 he moved to New York, joining rocker Billy Squier. Jeff appeared on 7 Squire albums and 3 world tours before joining Rod Stewart from 1988 until 1995, performing on 4 albums and 5 world tours as well as recording the live DVD "One Night Only" live at Royal Albert Hall.

However, playing jazz is his first love. He released his first solo recording, Unspoken Words in 1988 and then became a band leader for Avenue Blue when he released the band's self-titled album in 1994. In 2000, he went solo and released Dangerous Curves, releasing five more solo albums since. He is an excellent guitarist that crosses over between jazz, smooth jazz, blues, rock and pop very easily. For his latest release, he returns to his '80s rock roots with the electric blues album Blues for You which includes vocals from such old pals as Billy Squier, Peter Wolfe and John Waite.

Cold Sweat, the classic James Brown tune, off his 2002 release, Do It Again, really showcases what he can do.

The Donnas - Take It Off

The Donnas are like a female version of the Ramones and AC/DC mashed together. These girls can definitely rock. Hailing from Palo Alto, CA, The Donnas formed in eighth grade as a metal band called The Electrocutes. After high school, they decided to create a second band with the same four members with a bit less edge and called themselves the The Donnas. Like the 70's hard rock girl band, The Runaways, they all changed their names with each taking the name Donna and their last initial: Donna A., Donna R., Donna F., Donna C.

Darin Raffaelli, a onetime member of trash-punkers Supercharger, heard them and presented several Ramones style songs he had written and then took over as their manager. Almost from the beginning, they became an underground rock favorite. They released their first Album, a self-titled release, in 1998 and their fan base has only grown.

Take It Off is a rocking song off their 2002 release, Spend The Night.

Dean & Britta - Night Nurse

Dean & Britta are the duo of Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips. They were both former member of Luna. Wareham was a founding member in 1992 and Britta joining in 2000 as a replacement bassist. In 2003, Wareham was working on a solo project when he heard Phillips demo tapes. He asked her to join him and they released L'Avventura as Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips.

After Luna broke up in 2005, Wareham and Phillips teamed up again and worked on several film scores and on a Luna documentary. Later, in 2006, they went back into the studio to record a follow up to L'Avventura. During the recording, they married and released the album under the shortened name, Dean & Britta.

Night Nurse is off their debut release L'Avventura.

Aimee Mann - Looking For Nothing

After dropping out of Berklee College of Music, Aimee Mann began her career with a punk band called Young Snakes. If anyone listens to her music now, that would seem surprising. Mann described them as "a little punk noise-art outfit". After a few years, she left to seek a return to "sweetness and melody". She then founded Til' Tuesday and immediately gained success with the hit Voices Carry. After two more albums with the group, she left to pursue a solo career in 1990.

This was a good move as it allowed Mann to really develop as a songwriter. Although her early work did not achieve strong commercial success, she did get excellent reviews from critics. Her first album, Whatever, suffered when her label, Imago, went under. She released her next album through Geffen, but experienced conflicts with the label.

It was her friendship with film director Paul Thomas Anderson, through her husband Michael Penn, that helped her regain success. Anderson asked her to write and record the soundtrack for the movie he was working on called Magnolia. The soundtrack was unique in that Anderson deliberately worked from Mann's lyrics to create the film's characters and situations.

She gave up on established labels, formed her own and released Bachelor No. 2, which she recorded while with Geffen, but the label saw no hits and did not release it. The album was originally sold at shows but eventually sold through distributors and was a commercial success.

Mann continues to record as a 'more indie than indie' artist and has release several more excellent albums. Looking for Nothing is off her 2008 release, @#%&*! Smilers.

Cal Tjader - Soul Sauce

I still remember the first time I heard Cal Tjader. I was in college and was dating a woman. We went on a date and had a bite to eat on the Delmar Loop area of St. Louis. Afterward, we stopped by the stellar used record store, Vintage Vinyl. We browsed around and she pulled out Cal Tjader's 1954 Mambo with Tjader. She went up and asked them to put it on and began to dance to the first track, Mamblues. Soon almost everyone in the place dancing and jamming. The beginning of a memorable night. Ah, youth....

Tjader was born in St. Louis in 1925 and moved to San Mateo when he was 2. After serving in WWII, he attended San Jose State on the GI bill, intending to teach. He transfer to San Francisco State where he took timpani lesson. While in San Fransisco, he met up with Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond and became the drummer in the Dave Brubeck octet. The octet broke up, but Tjader and Brubeck formed the Dave Brubeck trio and became a fixture in San Francisco jazz scene. It was during this time that Tjader taught himself the vibraphone.

The trio disbanded in 1951 after Brubeck's diving accident in Hawaii and Tjader bounced around and became more influenced by the Latin Jazz sound. He recorded several album on the Fantasy Label before moving over to Verve in the early 60's. He recorded with a wide range of artists including Donald Byrd, Anita O'Day, Willie Bobo, Armando Peraza, Kenny Burrell and a young Chick Corea.

He continued to record prolifically but was hurt in the 70's by the huge growth of Rock and Roll. He played on and in 1980, he earned his only Grammy, winning Best Latin Recording for La Onda Va Bien. He died in 1982 while on tour in Manila.

Today Hump Day Retro-Closet tune is Soul Sauce, Tjader's biggest hit, off his 1964 recording of the same name.

Joe Jackson - Invisible Man

Joe Jackson is one of those musicians who will move between genres, not because that is where popular music moved, but instead where he moved. In his 30+ year career, Jackson has ranged from post-pink new wave to old style swing and blues to soundtrack work to Orchestral work.

Born David Jackson in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire and growing up in Portsmouth England, he suffered from severe asthma throughout his childhood and turned to music instead of sports. He played violin, timpani and oboe and then eventually his parent bought a second-hand piano. He won a scholarship to study musical composition at London's Royal Academy of Music in 1973. No wanting to stay with classical music, he gravitated toward pop. After several unsuccessful bands in the mid 70's, producer David Kershenbaum heard Jackson's demo tape, and signed him to A&M Records in 1978. Jackson quickly went into the studio and record the fantastic album, Look Sharp!.

The album was a hit and the song 'Is She Really Going Out With Him' is still a staple on many FM stations. The song was was nominated for a 1979 Grammy - Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male. He soon released I'm The Man and then Beat Crazy. Beat Crazy was not a commercial success and Jackson's band broke up. Jackson went into the studio and then recorded Jumpin' Jive, featuring the songs of Cab Calloway, Lester Young, Glenn Miller, Louis Jordan. And quickly followed up with the 1982 album, Night and Day, which was a tribute to the wit and style of Cole Porter. Night and Day became the only top 5 album from Jackson with two top singles in Steppin' Out and Breaking Us In Two.

He continued to record and release music, and it seemed by the late 90's he had retired from mainstream pop, instead concentrating more on semi-classical pieces. But in 2000 he began to record pop tunes again with his release of Night and Day II. However, he never regained the mainstream success of his early career.

Invisible Man is a great tune off his 2008 release, Rain, and shows that Jackson can still write great music.

Trivia: Jackson took the name Joe after is was said he looked like the puppet Joe from the late 60's British show Joe90.

Christine Anu - Sunshine On A Rainy Day

Many people first heard of Christine Anu when they saw her sing the song, the song "My Island Home", at the Sydney 2000 Olympics Closing Ceremony. She has been performing for several years, first as a backup singer for The Rainmakers. She released her first album, Stylin' Up, in 1995. It took 5 years to release her second, Come My Way, which went gold in Australia. She has since release 3 more albums, stared in several Australian TV shows and Broadway plays, including Rent.

Sunshine On A Rainy Day is off her 2000 release, Come My Way.

Kings of Leon - Use Somebody

Kings of Leon is a family affair, consisting of brothers Anthony "Caleb" Followill, Ivan "Nathan" Followill, and Michael "Jared" Followill, with their cousin Cameron "Matthew" Followill. Each member of the family group is known by their second name as opposed to their first name.

The brothers spent their childhood traveling the south while their father, a preacher, preached at churches and tent revivals. They were essentially home schooled until 1997 when their parents divorced and they moved to Nashville. Here, they honed their songwriting skills and the two older brothers, Caleb and Nathan signed on with RCA Records, but the label wanted them to have a band.

In an interview, Caleb admitted to "kidnapping" their cousin Matthew from his hometown in Mississippi in order for him to join the band. They told his mother that he was just staying for a week, but they just never let him return home. Drummer Nathan added, "When we signed the deal with RCA, it was just me and Caleb. The label told us they were going to put a band together, but we said, 'We're going to buy our little brother a bass, he's a freshman in high school. Caleb will teach himself the guitar. Our cousin Matthew played guitar when he was 10 and I'll play drums.' The record label agreed,". Jared was just 16 when they released their first album, and EP titled Holy Roller Novocaine.

From there, they're fan base grew and since 2003, they have released four albums. Use Somebody, is off their fourth full release, Only by the Night.

Useless trivia: They named themselves Kings of Leon in honor of Nathan, Caleb, and Jared's father and grandfather, who were both named Leon.

Great Lake Swimmers - Your Rocky Spine

Canadian acoustic group, Great Lakes Swimmers, has been compared to Nick Drake and Iron and Wine blending the same haunting and melodic acoustic sound with intellegent lyrics.

They released their first album in 2003 in Canada, which was then picked up for release in the US in 2005. Since then they have released 3 more albums, each one receiving excellent reviews. It was not until Your Rock Spine, off their third release, Ongiara, was featured on the soundtrack to the show Weeds.

Their fourth album, Lost Channels, expands on their brand of mellow folk-pop but add more orchestrated sound.

Afro Celt Sound System - Deep Channel

Afro Celt Sound System (sometimes just called the AfroCelts) uses modern dance rhythms (trip-hop, techno, etc.) with traditional Irish (Celtic) and West African music. Producer-guitarist Simon Emmerson
put together the group after playing Afro-pop star Baaba Maal in 1991. While making an album with Maal in Senegal, Emmerson was struck by the similarity between one African melody and a traditional Irish air.

Emmerson put together a group of accomplished world music musicians and released their first album on Peter Gabriel's Real World Records label. They are reportedly the best selling artist on the label.

To date, they have released five albums and have gained a large worldwide fan base and several artists have recorded with the group; Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, Pete Lockett, Sinéad O'Connor and Heather Nova to name a few.

Deep Channel is off their fourth release, 2003's Seed. If you haven't heard them before, I would highly recommend giving them a listen. The music is lush and you can listen to a track several times and each time hear a new instrument or melody hidden in there.

Bell X1 - The Great Defector

Bell X1 is a great Irish band that creates wonderful music with witty and whimsical lyrics. The began as the band Juniper, which was a success ground in Ireland in the 1990s. The group included Damien Rice before he became a solo artist.

Bell X1 (named after the Bell X-1 - the first plane to break the sound barrier) has a definite Talking Heads sound which can be easily pick up on any of their four studio albums. After their third studio release, Flock, keyboardist Brian Crosby left the band to persue writing music for TV and film. The three remaining members, drummer Paul Noonan, bassist Dominic Philips and guitarist Dave Geraghty.

The Great Defector is off their 2009 release Blue Lights On The Runway.

XTC - Senses Working Overtime

Today's Hump Day Retro-Closet track is from XTC, a smart witty British band. They came onto the scene in the 70's during the punk era and their sound was a mix of funk, punk, ska, reggae, and art rock. They were never a huge success, save a few hits, but were always favorites of the critics.

The band had many personnel changes over the years and singer Andy Partridge early on took over the songwriting and singing. In the early 80's they became a studio only band (with occasional radio performances) after a Andy Partridge's breakdown in 1982 at a concert in Paris. Partridge's wife threw out his supply of Valium, which Partridge had been using since his was a teenager to help cope with his parent's divorce.

The band settled into a trio of Partridge, Dave Gregory and Colin Moulding for the rest of 80's and 90's, with first Gregory leaving in the late 90's then the duo breaking up in 2005 after Moulding lost interest in music.

Sense's Working Overtime off the excellent release, 1982's English Settlement, was on of XTC's early hits.

Eddie Vedder - Hard Sun

Born outside Chicago, Eddie Vedder grew up in San Diego. Vedder had a rough childhood with his parents divorcing when he was 1. He grew up thinking his step-father was his real father and did not find out until his mother divorced from his step-father. By then his real father has already died after suffering from multiple sclerosis.

After re-locating briefly back to Chicago, Vedder returned to San Diego and played in several local bands. By 1990, he was without a band, but he continued to write and record demos. After hearing Vedder's tape, former Mother Love Bone members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament invited Vedder to come to Seattle to audition for their new band. The band, Temple of the Dog, released only one album. The members also formed another band Pearl Jam (originally calling itself Mookie Blaylock).

They recorded and released their debut album, Ten, which became one of the best selling alternative albums of the 1990s and the rest is history.

Hard Sun is a remake of the 1989 song by Indio and is one of the tracks on the first solo project by Vedder, the Into The Wild soundtrack.

Guggenheim Grotto - Her Beautiful Ideas

Uniquely named band, Guggenheim Grotto, hails from Dublin Ireland. Kevin May (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Mick Lynch (vocals, guitar, bass, viola) played together in Dublin and soon recruited Shane Power (drums, keyboard) who helped with the band's first EP. As you can see each member of the trio is multi-instrumental.

You can hear this multi-instrumentalism in their 2005 debut release, …Waltzing Alone. The self-released album garnered critical acclaim in their native Ireland. After touring extensively in the US for several years, playing at SXSW, performing in every venue from listening rooms to large festivals and doing interviews and performances on small radio programs to nationally syndicated shows like Charleston's Mountain Stage radio/TV show, they built up a large faithful U.S. following.

After all this touring, they did not take a break, going back to the studio and recording their follow up, Happy the Man. This release shows how their sounds has expanded as they delve into more sampling and electronic techniques.

Her Beautiful Ideas is a fantastic tune off this sophomore release.

José González - Time To Send Someone Away

José González hails from Sweden (didn't see that one coming, did you?). He is of Argentine descent and his parents moved to Sweden 2 years before he was born. To continue the contradictions, although his current music is solo classical guitar with soft vocal melody, his prior musical groups were a hardcore punk band and a rock band.

He recorded his debut album, Veneer, in 2003 while still studying for a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Gothenburg. His PhD has been put on hold since his musical career has taken off.

Time To Send Someone Away is off his second full release, In Our Nature. González lyrics on In Our Nature were influenced by his reading of books like The God Delusion by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and Practical Ethics by ethicist Peter Singer.

Carbon Leaf - Life Less Ordinary

Richmond, Virgina based band, Carbon Leaf, began playing mixers and parties while attending college at Randolph-Macon College in 1992. After graduating, they began to tour the college circuit and released their first album, Meander, in 1995.

They have the same rootsy, Celtic-influenced sound (e.g. Dave Matthews Band and Pat McGee Band) that originates in the Richmond, VA music scene. They built up a fairly loyal following and released their first five albums on their own label.

Life Less Ordinary is off their Vangard Records release, Indian Summer. It was their first release not on their own label.

Lizzie West - Dusty Turnaround

Lizzie West is a free spirit musician who's music represents her very well. She moved to London when she was 18 and after returning to America four years later she purchased her first guitar from a pawn shop in Nashville. Moving back to New York City, she began performing her songs on street corners, subways, and her sister's bar, the Stinger, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After touring with the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band and Double Trouble in 2001, she caught the attention Warner Bros. Records and signed a multi-album recording deal. However, she only released her debut album on Warner Bros.

Her current work is called Midwestern Tumbleweed, a cabaret style musical show that is evolving along with her artist's coop initiative based in two houses, one in Columbia, Missouri and the other in New York.

Dusty Turnaround is off her excellent debut album, Holy Road. (although this version is from a Live From Studio M.

St. Germain - Pont Des Arts

Gt. Germain is the stage name for Frenchman, Ludovic Navarre. Navarre began recording the 90's under many alias: Subsystem, Modus Vivendi, Deepside. He first recorded as St. Germain with the 1996 release, Boulevard. His music has been described as a mix between house and jazz.

Pont Des Arts is off his second release, Tourist. Tourist, released on Blue Note Records, is an excellent album that expands more into jazz than Boulevard by bringing in many jazz musicians to play over his house grooves. Trumpter, Pascal Ohse, sax and flute player, Edouard Labor, and guitarist Ernest Ranglin lend their touches to make Tourist an album that has been on constant rotation on my MP3 player.

Dire Straits - Six Blade Knife

Dire Straits was formed in 1977 by Mark Knopfler, his younger brother David Knopfler, John Illsley, and Pick Withers. They named the band after their financial situation. In 1977, they recorded a five-song demo tape and took it to BBC Radio London DJ Charlie Gillett, who had a radio show called "Honky Tonk". The band simply wanted advice, but Gillett liked the music so much that he played "Sultans of Swing" on his show. Two months later, Dire Straits signed a recording contract with Phonogram Records and in 1978 recorded their self-title debut album.

The album did not do well at first in the UK. However, after a re-releasing "Sultans of Swing" and it climbing the UK charts, they began a tour as opening band for the Talking Heads. This led to a United States recording contract with Warner Bros. Records and, before the end of 1978, Dire Straits had released their self-titled debut worldwide. They received more attention in the United States and landed at the top of the charts in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Their debut album eventually went top 10 in every European country.

Mark Knopfler, the creative force behind the group, began doing soundtrack work and the band took a brief hiatus. After the break, the group went back to the studio and record Brothers In Arms. The album became their biggest selling album and became the first CD to sell 1 million copies. In support of the album, they toured extensively during the next two years, playing 247 shows in over 100 different cities.

Knopfler continued to do solo projects and again the the band took another hiatus, this time for 3 years. They go back together in 1990 and a recorded a final studio album before disbanding for good.

Six Blade Knife is today Hump Day Retro-Closet track off their debut album. The song highlights Knopfler's slow hand fingerstyle guitar style.

Ben Folds - Landed

In one of those stars aligning moments, Ben Folds learned to play piano because his father brought one home when he was 9, the result of a barter trade he made with a customer who was unable to pay for his work.

During his early career, he played piano, bass and drums eventually settling in as bassist in a band called Majosha in the late 80's. The band had a strong following in the college towns of North Carolina but eventually broke up.

He moved to Nashville. Then attended the University of Miami - Frost School of Music on a percussion scholarship, but dropped out with one credit to go before graduating. Then moved to New Jersey, decided to give up music and work in theater. Then moved back to North Carolina.

It was back in North Carolina that he met up with bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee and with him playing piano, formed Ben Folds Five. They enjoyed much success, mainly on the adult contemporary and modern rock charts. The group disbanded and Folds went on to release several solo albums. He continues to record and work on many side projects recording and producing.

I love piano intro for Landed which is off his Songs for Silverman release. Something to look forward to: Folds announced that he plans to record an album with English author Nick Hornby, with Hornby writing the lyrics and Folds writing the music.

Yo La Tengo – Mr. Tough

Yo La Tengo has been called "the quintessential critics' band" and has a strong cult following. The band was formed in 1984 by husband/wife duo, guitarist Ira Kaplan and drummer Georgia Hubley and solidified into a trio with bassist James McNew. They love to explore and expand their music with each album; doing a full acoustic album covering songs from almost everybody, recording the instrumental score for eight short undersea documentaries by Jean Painlevé and even collaborating with Yoko Ono on the 2003 charity album Wig in a Box: Songs from and Inspired by Hedwig and the Angry Inch in support of the Harvey Milk High School.

Mr. Tough is a fun track off one my favorite album titles, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.

Great Trivia: The name "Yo La Tengo" (Spanish for "I've got it!") came from a baseball anecdote. During the 1962 season, New York Mets center fielder Richie Ashburn and Venezuelan shortstop Elio Chacón found themselves colliding in the outfield. When Ashburn went for a catch, he would scream, "I got it! I got it!" only to run into Chacón, who spoke only Spanish. Ashburn learned to yell, "¡Yo la tengo! ¡Yo la tengo!" instead. In a later game, Ashburn happily saw Chacón backing off. He relaxed, positioned himself to catch the ball, and was instead run over by left fielder Frank Thomas, who understood no Spanish and had missed a team meeting that proposed using the words "¡Yo la tengo! as a way to avoid outfield collisions. After getting up, Thomas asked Ashburn, "What the heck is a Yellow Tango?".

Amos Lee - Supply And Demand

I remember when I first heard Amos Lee. It was Arms of a Woman off his debut release. The song was so simple, quiet, yet very powerful; you could feel the emotion come through. It seems that all his music has the quality. He puts his heart and soul behind each song and that feeling is what make his music stand out.

Lee was born in Philadelphia and grew up there and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. After graduating high school, she enrolled at the University of South Carolina and graduating with an English degree. Music entered Lee's life in college when his stepfather gave him an acoustic guitar and he got a job at a record store that specialized in jazz musicians, where he picked up an affinity for Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis.

After college, he moved back to Philadelphia and taught elementary school for two years, but later made the decision to stop teaching in order to pursue a music career. In 2003, he released a self-produced EP that featured five songs and was signed by Blue Note Records soon afterward. The EP sold well in Philadelphia, catching the attention of Norah Jones. Jones invited Lee to open for her on her 2004 tour and her bassist, Lee Alexander, produced his self-title debut album.

Supply and Demand is off his second album of the same name.

Pink Martini - Let's Never Stop Falling In Love

Portland Oregon band Pink Martini is a difficult band to categorize. They blend genres of music such as Latin, lounge, classical, and jazzand their music has often been described as "vintage music". Band Leader, Thomas Lauderdale describes the band's sound as "music of the world without being world music. It's kind of like urban symphonic crossed with Cuban/Brazilian street Carnival parade, Breakfast at Tiffany's/United Nations kind of thing." Ok, got that?

However you describe their music, it is a wonderful listen. Their music has appeared in several film such as Nurse Betty and Mr. & Mrs. Smith; television shows such as The Sopranos and The West Wing. Their music is even the background/setup music for Microsoft's Windows Server 2003.

They released their debut album, Sympathique, in 1997 on their own label, Heinz Records, and sold over 1.3 million copies. It took seven years to release their follow up, Hang On Little Tomato, which starts with the track Let's Never Stop Falling In Love.

Air – La Femme D'Argent

French duo, Air, is of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel. The two met when attending École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Versailles. They began creating music that is generally termed electronica.

Their form of electronic music was influenced by the synthesizer sounds of the 1970s such as Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Francis Lai. and psychedelic rock pioneers Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream.

The duo uses a wide array of studio instruments (e.g. Moog synthesizers, the Korg MS-20, Wurlitzer and Vocoder) both for recording and live on stage. When performing live, they improvise and usually take well-known tracks from the albums and extended or altered them.

La Femme D'Argent is one of my favorite Air pieces off their Moon Safari release.

Trivia: The name AIR is a backronym for Amour, Imagination, Rêve which translates to Love, Imagination, Dream.

Robert Bradley's Blackwater Suprise - After You Love

Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise
was formed in Detroit in 1994 when former members of the band Second Self met a blind street performer by the name of Robert Bradley. The band overheard Bradley through an open window while rehearsing for a new project. After listening to Bradley sing for an hour, they invited him up to the studio to record several acoustic songs, then invited him to become their vocalist. The result was the 1996 debut release Blackwater Surprise.

Bradley's gruff soulful voice is the signature sound of the group. Although the group has changed around him, the constant throughout the years since he was 'found' is the soulful, R&B/Blues sound that he creates.

After You Love is off the debut album and like most of the tracks on the album, was a first take recording.

R.E.M. - Driver 8

R.E.M. is a one of a long line of great eclectic musical artists from Athens, GA (e.g. Indigo Girls and B-52's). The group began with a chance meeting at the record store where Peter Buck worked. Michael Stipe kept buying all the records that Buck was setting aside for himself and Buck wanted to know who was this guy who seemed to share his own musical tastes. They then met Mike Mills and Bill Berry and formed a band with no real plan on what they would do. Their first gig was a birthday party and they had to come up with a name, so settled on the name R.E.M., which Stipe pulled randomly from a dictionary.

They recorded their first song, Radio Free Europe, which became an underground college hit. Buck's arpeggiated guitar playing and Stipe's mumbling unclear vocals created a unique sound. They toured extensively in the early 80's and built up a large college radio following with a string of college hit releases: Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction showed their musical development.

Each release saw Stipe's vocals become clearer and the songs more polished and they finally 'made it' when the song, The One I Love, off their Document release, reached #2 in 1987.

Their sound has changed a lot over the years, but I always seem to gravitate back to those first 3 albums and marvel at how good their un-polished and raw sound was.

So today's Hump Day Retro-Closet track is Driver 8 off their 3rd full release, 1985's Fables of the Reconstruction.

Lavender Diamond - Here Comes One

Lavender Diamond, fronted by the ethereal voiced, Becky Stark, has it's origins in Stark's work in a play Birdsongs of the Bauharoque, as the character Lavendar Diamond. It was created and written by puppeteer Xander Marroher who was inspired by the work of artist Paul Laffoley. She produced a CD of her songs to accompany the play.

Feeling her songs deserved to be taken more seriously, she moved to Los Angeles and met up with other band members, guitarist Jeff Rosenberg; pianist Steve Gregoropoulos and drummer Ron Rege, Jr.

In 2005 they released an EP, The Cavalry of Light, and a split 7" with Queens of Sheeba. Interest grew in the band after performances at ArthurFest and South by Southwest and touring with the Decemberists, eventually leading to a full record deal.

Here Comes One is off their first release, 2007's Imagine Our Love.

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