Two songs I can't stop listening to right now:


The first comes from Nashville's the Parting Gifts, the (possibly one-off?) collaboration between Reigning Sound's Greg Cartwright and the Ettes' Coco Hames. Their new album Strychnine Dandelion, just out on In the Red Records, is a 15-song blast of terrific garage pop, complete with a Jagger/Richards cover ("Walking through the Sleepy City") for good measure. The existence of the Parting Gifts raises the two important questions: 1) how many bands can Greg Cartwright be in, anyway? and 2) how more awesome can Coco Hames be? There's no shortage of great songs on Strychnine Dandelion, but album opener "Keep Walkin'" succinctly sums up the album's appeal: junky, punky garage riffing that gets straight to the point.


The Parting Gifts - "Keep Walkin'"


The other song couldn't be more different: Bay Area band Birds and Batteries have come out with Panorama, a weird and wide-ranging album that, upon my first listen, sounded at times wispily experimental and other times ploddingly adult contempo. But then there's this amazing song, "Strange Kind of Mirror," which almost doesn't work at all—but, in fact, it totally does. That chipping drumbeat seems at odds with the languid melody, and that vocal is located somewhere uncomfortably between Rick Danko and Trey Anastasio. But good god, what a song, and what a sneaky way it tangles itself around your heart. Supposedly the song was written while frontman Mike Sempert watched a friend's wedding and noticed how similar the bride and groom were. An odd sentiment, to be sure, but a weirdly affecting one. I'll be listening back over the rest of Panorama with a careful ear, to find moments as good as this one. I expect I'll find some.


Birds and Batteries - "Strange Kind of Mirror"

Neither Birds and Batteries nor the Parting Gifts currently have Portland dates on their tour schedules.