A Classic-Rock-Free Morning

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For the first time in a long time, Rocks Off is sitting here at HQ not listening to classic rock. (Ramon, let that sink in for a second.) Because I happened to have it with me on the way back from my parents’ house, I set up the trusty XM Satellite Radio unit in my office this morning, tuned to college/indie channel XMU (XM 43), and wrote down a few observations.

10:04 a.m. Wolf Parade, “Soldier’s Grin” – Wide-screen indie-rock capped by an odd piccolo’s (or something) melodic shard. If this is from new album At Mount Zoomer (above) - and it is - they’ve still got a ways to go to shake the Modest Mouse Jr. tag, though.

10:15 a.m. Adele, “Chasing Pavements,” – Adele is probably making albums because her voice is remarkably similar to Amy Winehouse, but in a good way – smoky and like a sob is just around the next lyrical corner. Perky acoustic-guitar arrangement is a little Lulu-like, too.

Austin's Octopus Project will show its true faces at Warehouse Live Friday.

10:30 a.m. The Octopus Project, “An Evening With Rthrtha” - Synthesizers and guitar stuck in reverse and a chop-socky cascade of drums. And, like everything else the Austin quartet playing Warehouse Live Friday seems to do, totally adorable.

10:45 a.m. Michael Franti & Spearhead, “A Little Bit of Riddim" – What a great song for a Monday morning. Morse-code guitar and a deadly hip-hop/dancehall beat, heavy on the handclaps, that makes me want to get out from behind my computer and start pop-locking. It already feels like Friday.

11:03 a.m. Fleet Foxes

, “White Winter Hymnal” – Remember how much people loved Band of Horses a couple of years ago? Triple that, and that’s the approximate amount of affection now being lavished on Fleet Foxes. I’m in the minority – I’m not completely sold on FF’s self-titled Sub Pop CD, (pretty but unfocused) but it’s hard to argue with celestial harmonies like these.

11:20 a.m. Donkeys, “Walk Through a Cloud” – Looks like the Donkeys have discovered “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Bob Dylan, call your attorney. The San Diego indie-folk band is not to be confused with Brazilian dance-punk nymphos CSS’ new Sub Pop album Donkey, by the way.

11:30 a.m. Maritime

, “For Science Fiction” – Someone else I’ve never heard of, but I love the splattery fuzz-bass here – it sounds like the way someone like Jackson Pollock would paint. Guitars, keyboards, etc. sound like the Strokes with a little more Casio thrown in. From last year's Heresy & the Hotel Choir (right), this is upbeat but melancholy, and quite nice.

11:44 a.m. Muse, “Supermassive Black Hole” – For college radio, this is like when the Arrow plays “Whole Lotta Love” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” – nothing you haven’t heard before, but are you seriously going to complain about it? 2006's Black Holes and Revelations is one of my favorite albums of the decade, and now that I think about, "Supermassive Black Hole" is a little like if Queen let Zeppelin borrow Freddie Mercury for a song.

12:13 p.m. Of Montreal

, “I Was Never Young” – People also seem to be really into Of Montreal (coming to Warehouse Live Nov. 12) these days, at least those people who haven’t sworn they’ll never have anything to do with Kevin Barnes again because of the whole Outback Steakhouse thing.

This song, from 2005's The Sunlandic Twins (right), before all that Outback shit really got started - is like an indie-rocker’s idea of Zapp-like ‘80s electro-funk with mariachi horns thrown in for good measure: All over the place, but oddly likeable, particularly the multi-tracked harmonies.

12:15 p.m. The National, “Mistaken for Strangers” – Another band getting Arrow-like spins on college radio these days, with good reason. “Mistaken for Strangers” is brooding and expansive, singer Matt Berninger’s rumination on alienation blown up as big as all outdoors.

12:31 p.m. MGMT

, “Electric Eel” – From this year's

Oracular Spectacular

(right), "Electric Eel" is odds-on favorite for 2008 Song of the Year (college-radio division). Just try not to groove to the Brooklynites’ Prince-ly stylings.

I also heard cool stuff from the Raconteurs, Supergrass, the Rapture, Superdrag, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Yeasayer, Sleater-Kinney and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ great “Phenomena” cover. Other stuff by Jamie Lidell, Johnny Foreigner and a few others. To each his own, I guess. Whatever – I’m switching back to Big Tracks now.

By the way, when I did, the song playing was Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight,” one of a few classics the band didn’t play Saturday. – Chris Gray

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