This Week’s Finds: August 3-9 (Guided By Voices, The Raveonettes, Steve Wynn)

“My Kind of Soldier” – Guided By Voices

Guided By Voices, a quirky Ohio garage band led by the disconcertingly prolific Robert Pollard, has put out at least 15 CDs over the last 15 years, not counting live recordings and re-releases. This has seriously confused me. Even as the band appears to specialize in the sorts of melodic but offbeat guitar rock I tend to like, I’ve never been able to jump in and follow them because they always seem to have a new CD out before I’ve checked out the last one. But maybe not this time. To be sure, a band with a tendency to record this much is definitely not to be judged on the merits of one song. But something about “My Kind of Soldier” sticks with me and makes me want to hear more. There are plenty of ringing guitars for us ringing guitar fans; there are pleasingly elusive lyrics; it’s catchy in a rumpled sort of way; and, on top of all that, the thing is blessedly short: just two minutes, thirty-seven seconds. There are not enough short songs out there anymore.

“That Great Love Sound” – The Raveonettes

Dumb but cool. This is the kind of song that, it seems, the British music press just loves every few years (or is that weeks?). This young Danish band does the neo-garage thing with an almost Spector-like “Wall of Sound” and the simplest of choruses but hey, why mess with a winning chord progression? At worst, “That Great Love Sound” will be forgotten in another month; at best, the Raveonettes themselves will be forgotten over time but the song will forevermore call up something ineffably profound yet fleeting about the Summer of ’03.

“California Style” – Steve Wynn

Wynn is somebody I like more in theory than in reality, but he’s so well-regarded by people who know what they’re talking about that I’m assuming I’m just missing something, so I’m going to keep listening. (He is also, I should add, well-regarded by people who don’t, necessarily, know what they’re talking about: a rave review on AllMusic.com praises this song’s “killer chorus,” and yet, as you’ll hear, it doesn’t even have a chorus! If you really want a killer chorus, try “That Great Love Sound” [see above].) In any case, this song strikes me as reasonably good summery fun, so tune in yourself and see what you make of his deadpan voice and offbeat sense of rhyme. This one is from his new CD, Static Transmission.

This Week’s Finds: July 20-26 (Glenn Tilbrook, Pete Townshend, Autour de Lucie)

“Parallel World” – Glenn Tilbrook

Twenty years past the band Squeeze’s commercial prime, the group’s lead singer and co-principal songwriter sounds like an old friend on this song from his overlooked solo CD from 2001, “The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook.” He’s not breaking new ground here but he doesn’t have to—his agreeable voice and effortless sense of melody work in his favor, as they did all those years with Squeeze.


“There Is No Message” – Pete Townshend

Hm, it looks like old rockers’ week here at Fingertips. It turns out that the Who’s guitarist has quite a store of streams up on his site, including 20 songs that he apparently contemplated releasing as a CD called “Twenty” but never did. A lot have a demo-like feel to them, but this one is a viable throwback to “Let My Love Open the Door” era Townshend—catchy, sharp, and rendered better than it should be by his evocative, yearning vocals. (Then again, I’m someone who always thought the best Who songs were the ones he sang; I could never stomach Daltrey’s bombast.)


“L’Accord Parfait” – Autour De Lucie

Okay, to avoid the look and feel of a classic rock station, here’s something rather different. I’m a complete sucker for this sort of thing: it’s airy, it’s got ringing guitars, an irresistible power-pop chorus, a woman singing in French, and it’s 3 minutes and 33 seconds: classic single time. What’s not to love? Apparently this band gained a bit of an audience when it played the Lilith Fair back in 1997, but I never heard of them until I stumbled upon them online. This song is from their first, eponymous (there! I can be a music writer—I’ve used the word “eponymous”) CD, released in 1996.