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Saturday, November 11, 2006


“You walk right in and you raise the level”

Some kind soul over at has discovered some unreleased demos from Scissor Sisters guitarist Del Marquis. In addition to being an extremely interesting listen, I think they prove that any of the Sisters could end up having a successful solo career if they wanted to. Take Raise The Pressure, for example. Del sounds remarkably like Andy Bell cavorting with David Bowie on this electropop stormer, with an insanely catchy chorus and a real experimental (yet still pop) edge to it. It seems like each day this group gets better and better. To think of all of the stuff that the band members have stuffed away in their vaults...

Del Marquis - Raise The Pressure

Del Marquis - Any Kind Of Love

Del Marquis - It Beats On

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the Sisters' album here.)

Friday, November 10, 2006

#1 Hits is on Myspace!!!

#1 Hits From Another Planet is spreading like a gloriously addictive virus, and Myspace is the new target. I urge (because I never beg) you all to add me to your friend's list. I would love to meet some of the #1 Hits readers. The Myspace site is in its initial stages now... but if all goes as planned it will become a great supplement to the main site.

Click here to visit, or if you want to jot down the address, fold it into a paper airplane, and fly it to everyone you know, here's the link:


“I went to the beach in my flip flops”

Today's post is a duet between two great Swedish artists and friends, Steso Songs and Bobby Baby, recorded this summer as a self-proclaimed "summer hit." The song is absolutely entrancing. If it doesn't strike you upon first listen, give it time. It has a very minimal electronic backdrop, but it's really the vocals and overall mood of the song that gets to me. Plus, it becomes deliciously clever around the 2:40 mark, incorporating a familiar refrain into the many ethereal layers already floating about. It's the "hit dance song" by two ladies who clearly don't write "hit dance songs," and it's brilliant.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Download more Steso here and Bobby Baby here - all free.)

Nellie Mckay - Pretty Little Head
Release Date: October 31, 2006
Label: Hungry Mouse

Two years ago, Nellie McKay released a double-album debut of fearless creativity that garnered her a bizarre hodgepodge of artistic comparisons ranging from Frank Zappa to Eminem to Doris Day. Now, she’s followed this up with her second double-album, originally meant to be released last year but shelved by her then record-label Columbia for being too long (and, one assumes… too ambitious). I hate to side with a record label, but Pretty Little Head could have done with a little trimming. Still, there is plenty here to love.

What made McKay’s debut such a standout was its seemingly endless stream of ideas. It was the sound of a theater geek turned inside out, verve and drama dripping from every hook. Too often on Pretty Little Head, McKay succumbs to her (admittedly fantastic) Doris Day impressions. In other words, some of the album is actually quite dull. That being said, cocky standouts like Cupcake, Real Life and The Big One replicate McKay’s earlier sound and help bolster the album along. Food, meanwhile, is a positively euphoric explosion that comes and goes all too soon. Pretty Little Head’s best track, Beecharmer, a duet (and cowrite) with Cyndi Lauper nearly rekindles some of that Time After Time magic.

On this double disc, the first half is far superior. Despite a jaunty duet with K.D. Lang and the aforementioned Food, tracks like the overwrought Mama & Me and the oh-too-cute Lali Est Paresseux end up sinking the final third of Head. However, with twenty-three tracks, it’s a wonder that so much here works. Pretty Little Head may be a step below McKay’s debut, but it is clearly the work of an artist that wants to give her fans more. Take it or leave it. One thing’s for sure: it will not be compromised. B

Key Tracks: Beecharmer, Food, Cupcake
TV From Another Planet: Day Five


Premise: Niagara Falls gift shop cashier Jaye Tyler thinks she’s going crazy when a small wax lion starts to talk to her… turns out more and more inanimate objects start giving her directions that result in surprising consequences.

Why it rocked: The shortest of the five cancelled series I'm featuring (it was only on the air for four episodes!), it’s also the strangest. The show gets better as it progresses. Each episode is like some strange carnival fun-house reality that manages to be smart, surprising, and side-splittingly funny. Created by some of the fine folks behind Dead Like Me and Malcolm In The Middle, Wonderfalls was far too original for the FOX network. The best thing about this series is that, despite its short length at 13 episodes, it manages to tell a complete story arc and, as such, plays very well on DVD. The premise is of course quite novel, and carried out in a really clever way. Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas), like George Lass in Dead Like Me, is an unconventional female lead and much of the show’s quirky authenticity stems from this. The supporting cast, as well, is fantastic. Also, for the Firefly fans from yesterday, Jewel Staite has a recurring role as the series progresses.

More Information
Buy It

Wonderfalls theme song

Watch the entire pilot episode!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


“Feel so alone when I'm with you”

Universal Poplab are releasing a new album, Uprising, on November 29th. Let's hope that the title is some sort of omen as to what's going to happen to this criminally under-recognized band. Heart Apart is the second single from the album and is as brilliant as all of the rest of the band's tracks (though the lyrics in the chorus are a bit dubious... are they really saying you're heart's aparting?). Universal Poplab songs have such a distinctive, upbeat sound. I think they just may be impossible not to like.

Universal Poplab - Heart Apart

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)

Mcfly - Motion In The Ocean
Release Date: November 6, 2006
Label: Island

There’s something to be said for a pop group that only gets better with each release. British pop scamps McFly launched on the scene with a debut brimming with youthful, noisy energy, followed that up with their “grown-up” record a year later, and have now released Motion In The Ocean, an encapsulation of both sounds that is at once a perfect combo and a giant leap forward.

It’s great when a pop band surprises you, and from the galloping anthem-in waiting We Are The Young to the operatic marching band drama of Transylvania, Mcfly do just that. They must have taken a cue from their faithful cover of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now earlier this year (and also included on this release), as the majority of the album is clearly inspired by 70’s-80’s power pop and light, bubbly sing-along rock. Lead single Star Girl isn’t even among the strongest tracks. Look to the Def Leppard crunch of Friday Night or the Green Day-meets-Queen balladry of Sorry’s Not Good Enough for highlights. Please, Please, a single left over from this summer, is also an early standout. In fact, Motion In The Ocean is quite nearly the perfect pop album. It never wears out its welcome and is almost self-consciously catchy. There are hooks within hooks, something new around every corner.

Motion In The Ocean is unabashed pop that’s safe for anybody to like. While it may not measure up as high art or offer any deep insight into the human condition, it is that rarest of things: an album of singles. If the boys are this good right now, their next release should be something well worth waiting for. A-

Key Tracks: We Are The Young, Friday Night, Transylvania
Video Premiere: Oh No Ono - Practical Money Skills For Life

In Oh No Ono's second video from their debut release, they only further their aliens-beamed-down-from-another-universe status. The dolls are freaky, the needlepoint is downright strange (I mean, who has needlepoint in their music video?) and the whole thing is utterly brilliant. I love videos like this... ones that would never get played on MTV.


“The world is waiting, love is all around”

Loto come from Portugal (my first Portugese band!) and play a delicious blend of pop, rock and electro. Cuckoo Plan is the first single from their new album and features Peter Hook of New Order/Joy Division fame. The song itself sounds a lot like New Order, with a great beat and hook. Even more exciting, I hear their new album also features a track with guitar work by Scissor Sisters' own Del Marquis! Any friend of Scissor Sisters is definitely a friend of mine. Plus, how many pop songs come out with Cuckoo Plan as the title? Not many, I'd guess.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)

TV From Another Planet: Day Four


Premise: A space-cowboy soap opera… similar in theme to Cowboy Bebop but with a distinguishable plot… nomadic bounty hunters roam space for work… a Joss Whedon creation.

Why it rocked: With my love for Buffy and Angel, it’s no surprise that this show is on my list. I’m normally not really into shows of the Star Trek flying-through-space variety, but Joss gave this one a nice character-driven twist. No matter who you are or what TV genre you prefer, you will fall in love this show. The dialogue and writing is so great that each character really becomes part of your life. It helps also that the special effects and action sequences are top-notch for television. Funnier than it has any right to be, this is the kind of series that develops a cult following in a snap. Like both Stars (Trek and Wars) before it, Firefly created a world of its own… a world anyone would be glad to get lost in. Throw in epic subplots and you’ve got an extremely addictive series. Shame that the equally as good movie spin off Serenity did so poorly in theaters. No accounting for taste….

More Information
Buy It

Trailer (fan-made but really good)

Trailer for Serenity (the movie sequel)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Track of the Week

In the poll for last week's #1 Hits Track of the Week, Fibes, Oh Fibes! - Can't Be So and The Cinematics - Break tied for first place. Of course, there were only nine votes cast, so the results could definitely "be subject to a recount." Still, you gotta start somewhere, so please cast your vote for one of the seven fantastic choices below.

Track of the Week (Oct. 29th - Nov. 4th)
Free polls from


“Please let that be you, knocking on my door so loud just like you do”

Continuing with the synth stylings of Effete yesterday, today’s post is from The Rentals, a synth/rock/pop/whatever group from California. The group’s been releasing material for awhile and are currently working on their next album for a 2007 release (or so I hear). My post today focuses on an older track. Please Let That Be You may take awhile to get to the chorus, but the catchy synth hook combined with near-choral boy/girl vocals will comfort you until it gets there. Plus, the guy in the back looks a bit like Scissor Sisters' Babydaddy, yes? On a completely unrelated note, let me say that (for the first time in god knows how long), I am proud of my country for what happened last night (and on through today!).

The Rentals - Please Let That Be You

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)

TV From Another Planet: Day Three

Freaks And Geeks

Premise: Follows two groups of outsiders (the freaks and the geeks - betcha couldn’t have guessed that from the title) in 1980 Michigan. It’s that simple!

Why it rocks: It’s quite simply the most realistic (and best) high school show ever produced, with one of the coolest casts that I can ever remember. The storytelling is gut-wrenchingly funny and can also be extremely moving (a similarity all of my five shows have in common). Most of all, Freaks & Geeks is authentic. Seen through the eyes of brother/sister pair Sam and Lindsey Weir (the fantastic John Francis Daley and Linda Cardellini), the real fun is in the intertwining of the groups and the relationships formed between characters. Other highlights include James Franco in an early roll and the colorful groups of freaks and (you guessed it) geeks. There are a lot of people very passionate about this show (as well they should be), even though it only lasted for eighteen episodes (though they do manage to tell a nice, self-contained - yet pleasingly open-ended - story arc). If you haven’t seen it yet… watch it as quick as you can. You’ll fall in love. Guaranteed.

More Information
Buy it

Opening Credits (perhaps the best trailer you could get… with the end of a scene tacked on before it for some reason)

The drug assembly… great scene!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A New Way To Get Your Hits

#1 Hits is devoted to uncovering the best music every single day. There's so many tracks from so many great new bands coming at you all, and it occurred to me that it might be nice to have somewhere to put these samples. So, I'm introducing bimonthy mix-cd covers (with patented track orders!). Simply right-click (images may need to be increased in size), save-as, cut out, fold in half and tape/glue/whatever and you have your very own #1 Hits sleeve! These cd sleeves will also be posted on the sidebar shortly. Let me know if you all like (or dislike) this idea so that I know if I should continue it or not!

A note to clutch to your breast and treasure:

Added today to my blogroll is a link to the website Independent Clauses, a new partner of #1 Hits From Another Planet. Each month reviews from my website will be featured on Independent Clauses and I will be writing a short monthly column as well, including some of my favorite musical finds. make sure to check it out! In addition to music and gig reviews there are contests, editorials, and other special columns.


“Give me long legs and that face of yours"

As I bite my nails off over this damn U.S. election tonight (you should have seen me two years ago), I thought I'd post a really fun synth-pop track with the hope that it will distract my ears. Despite choosing Effete as their band name, the band's sound isn't worn out at all. Have It All is a strong synth-pop/dance track with a great beat (think West End Girls on speed) and vocals that at times conjure up the glorious Marie Fredriksson from Roxette (though Marie would never sound so sharply punky on those choruses). Come to think of it, the character behind this song might as well be the one from Roxette's Dressed For Success, yet with no interest in working to get ahead. Instead of dressing for success, they'll get plastic surgery... if that made a speck of sense at all. I told you I'm distracted by all this political mish mash! Just enjoy the music because I'm bringing the 80's back today!

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! No album yet, but you can hear more here.)

TV From Another Planet: Day Two

Jack & Bobby

Premise: Follows the childhood of a boy destined to become the greatest American President of all time… flash-forwards hint at future events while the emphasis is on what shaped the kid into such an important figure.

Why it rocked: A better question is… why couldn’t the country see how extremely fantastic this little show was? One of the most intelligent, moving and well-written (and acted) shows to ever grace television screens (especially those tuned into the WB), Jack & Bobby impressed me each week with its depth, topical relevance and deep convictions that not everything has to be wrapped up in a neat little package at the end of each episode. One of the few shows to actually bring me to tears at the end of pretty much every episode, this show impassioned me so much that I headed a Save Jack & Bobby campaign when it appeared that the show would be cancelled. This was the first and only time I’ve ever been prompted to do something like that. The bulk of the credit (besides the inspiringly good writing, of course) goes to the trio of Christine Lahti, Logan Lerman, and Matt Long, delivering three of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen as an unconventional, deeply flawed yet inspiring family. No show has depicted the connection between two brothers better than this one. It’s hard to explain why I love this show so much (it is my #1 show of all time)… better to just watch it and get that “wow” feeling yourself.

More Information
Buy It (Unfortunately, you can’t - studios haven’t released it yet - but I do have all the episodes on DVD)


A heated argument between Jack and Grace (not many videos online for this show… wish I could have found a different one with Bobby in it as well, but this one’s still good)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Video Premiere: Lamont - Rather Do It

Now here's how you make a music video! Lamont have been a #1 Hits favorite for a while now, and the video for their newest single is just icing on the cake. Kristofer's performance is very Ola Salo (who coincidentally produced this song) and the costumes/dancing/general weirdness is completely refreshing. This video actually reminds me of the delightfully campy promos for Abba's Waterloo and Ring Ring.


“I'd like to say hello and welcome you, good day, that is my name"

I thought the above picture was approriate today, as the pacific Northwest (where I live) is flooding like no other after days of rain. Sigh, fall/winter is here. Moving on to the song, don't let the fellows' colorful accountant look full you. Good Day is one of the most alive tracks I've heard in a long time. It would fit in no problem on Queen's Night At The Opera. That'll pretty much tell you all you need to know. Freddie Mercury would be proud (especially at the 2:20 mark, where the song completely changes - one of many stylistic shifts). At some times the singing actually sounds eerily like Mercury. Most importantly, it's not like nothing else out there today, yet it's a sound that I think a lot of bands are currently striving for. Insanely catchy and continually inventive, who knew music this good was still coming from the States?

Tally Hall - Good Day

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)

TV From Another Planet: Day One

Dead Like Me

Premise: Girl gets killed by fallen space-station toilet seat… becomes a grim reaper… takes souls for a living… discovers that they afterlife is a lot harder than advertised.

Why it rocked: Other than being one of the funniest (and at times most touching) shows of recent years, Dead Like Me was all about two things: characters and moments. First the characters: English low-life Mason (Callum Blue); terminally grumpy meter maid Roxy (Jasmine Guy); delusional actress Daisy (Laura Harris); and, my personal favorite… temp agency boss Dolores Herbig (“as in, her big brown eyes”). But, it’s through the intelligently sarcastic eyes of George Lass (Ellen Muth), the show’s unlikely protagonist, that everything comes together. The acting is top notch (not only from these characters but by the entire cast) and the show layers so many unforgettable, character-driven yet absolutely jaw-dropping moments, one on top of the other. Each episode is life-affirming yet in no way schmaltzy. One of the most original shows I’ve ever seen. I’ve yet to have anybody not become hooked after the first episode. The show may have only lasted two seasons, but it was one of the all time best to ever be put on the air.

More Information
Buy It

Season One Trailer

The infamous “pap” scene - comic genious

Sunday, November 05, 2006

#1 Hits isn’t exclusively devoted to music. Of course, new exciting music will always be the focus, but starting on Monday I’m going to delve into TV a bit. I could of course tell you that the Simpsons, Buffy and Malcom In The Middle reign supreme, that Nip/Tuck is the best show on TV right now and that Heroes is the only new series worth watching this season, but I intend to focus instead on five shows that were yanked off the air too soon. All five are (quite literally - well, literally if you’re an obsessed fan like me) life-changing, A+ series. In addition to regular posts I’ll give an overview of my top shows that have unfortunately been jettisoned to another planet. I guess some things are just too good for their time…
Video Premiere: Melody Club - Destiny Calling

Much more simple and performance oriented than I was expecting. Not my favorite Melody Club video (check out the wonderfully surreal Baby for that), but it's definitely a step up from Wildhearts (lord do I hate concert videos). The colors are great and it highlights the pop simplicity of the song. Plus, it's great to see Nicko from The Mo in action again (minus the spiked hair, though).


“I was afraid you wouldn't turn up"

Ready for two minutes, thirty-five seconds of absolute bubblegum rock? Germany's Good Heart Boutique (love the name) have created an absolute disease of a song - so incredibly catchy and punchy that it'll knock you flat. Even the shrill scream that happens at about the 1:19 mark (think the horror of Agnetha's shriek in Abba's The King Kong Song - for those who know what I'm talking about) doesn't distract from the giddiness. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and compare this song to Abba doing a bit of punk rock. You're gonna like it, even if you try not to.

Good Heart Boutique - Give A Cry

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)

Ezra Reich - Milkshake Arcade
Release Date: October 16th, 2006 (itunes only)

Taking one look at the cover of Ezra Reich’s new album Milkshake Arcade, it’s clear that the artist is going for a classic pop sound. But, while pink milkshakes may immediately conjure up the thought of sixties soda fountains, the album itself is concerned with a later generation’s pop nostalgia: late-seventies new wave.

Much of Milkshake Arcade sounds like David Bowie in his Thin White Duke period covering tunes from the Cars. It’s a winning formula, with songs like the opener Supergirl (My Daughter) and The Answer floating along effortlessly on breathy come-ons and stabbing pop/funk guitar. Tracks like these, and the delicious doo-wop of Walking In Circles, put most of today’s ubiquitous second-generation new wave acts to shame. Not everything works so well (Got 2 Me and On And On succumb to their clever sounds and forget to present a worthy melody), but the majority of the album is strong. Not only that, but it feels very authentic. Step back in time twenty-five years and these songs would fit in just fine. Inside The Box and I Need A Moment Alone, in particular, sound like long lost classics.

Much of the credit goes to Reich’s vocal performance… a mix of classic rock attitude and throaty cabaret. Even when the songs don’t quite measure up, Reich is always captivating. The same can certainly be said for Milkshake Arcade. It takes a revivalist trend that’s so completely dominant at this point in history and stretches it until it sounds like nothing else out there right now. B

Key Tracks: Supergirl (My Daughter), Walking In Circles, Inside The Box
VIDEO PREMIERE: Scissor Sisters - Land Of A Thousand Words

The video's finally here! Quite elegant... and I don't think the film credits idea has ever really been done before. They obviously took their "James Bond theme" description of the song literally. Lots of people seem to balk at the idea of this song as a single, but I think it sounds like an instant classic (much like the album it comes from).

Shawn Colvin - These Four Walls
Release Date: September 12, 2006
Label: Nonesuch

Grammy-winner Shawn Colvin is best known for her late nineties hit Sunny Came Home, the kind of song that is all but dead on modern mainstream radio: the product of an artist rather than a crack team of songwriters, completely stripped down yet transformed into a hit despite itself. Much of Colvin’s new album follows suit. It has a distinguished intimacy and, although unlikely to produce any hits on the scale of Sunny, it’s a pleasant listen.

Therein lies both the album’s strength and its weakness. Colvin’s voice and songwriting are in fine form and she chooses a pair of covers wisely (especially the Bee Gees' Words, which closes the album). These Four Walls also opens with a winning trifecta of songs, highlighted most notably by Tuff Kid, a nostalgic sing-along that, more than anything else on the album, allows Colvin to show some personality and versatility in sound. The rest of Walls, especially the latter portion, doesn’t stray too far from the kind of light folk-pop that artists like Jewel and Paula Cole rode to success during their Lilith Fair years. It’s all very pretty and makes fine background music for an evening in, but it’s not as surprising or lyrically probing as Colvin has been in the past.

Still, that doesn’t mean that These Four Walls is a bad album. In fact, in some ways the best aspect of the record is that it doesn’t push to be something new and different. It feels very personal, a record that Colvin made for herself and her fans before even contemplating radio play and music videos. This alone will make it stand out, even if the music isn’t always as engaging as it could be. B-

Key Tracks: Tuff Kid, Fill Me Up, These Four Walls