It's been a little quiet here at Poplist HQ with the beginning of the new year and all. Lots of time spent shaking out the cobwebs, doing some inventory, and ramping up for the year ahead. Imagine our shock when we were awakened from a peaceful reverie by the first sleeper hit of the year! "So soon," we thought. "So good," we enthused! The album in question is called Shadows, the band is called Maston (named after the chief architect of their sound, Frank Maston.) Influenced by Van Dyke Parks, the Beach Boys, Ennio Morricone and Burt Bacharach, but with a spooky late-60s Psych undercurrent and plenty of Nilsson-esque songcraft, the album is a stunning outlier in the usually rockin' Trouble in Mind catalog. Here, take a listen for yourself....

The album doesn't come out until February 12th, but we were so stoked about it that we wanted to hear from Frank right away! Here's his Poplist: The PrisonerI first heard of The Prisoner earlier this year when I saw a blog post on my EP Voyages from Spain that mentioned the theme song. I looked it up on YouTube and was instantly hooked. I think 'hooked' is an understatement, because it has since become a huge part of my life. I watched the whole series very rapidly and was having dreams of walking around The Village for months. While I was recording "Shadows" I was watching "The Prisoner" or interviews with Patrick McGoohan whenever I took a break. It's visually stunning, brilliantly written, and in my opinion, one of the best programs ever made.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRPDO63rI1E[/youtube]
 
Leon Russell - "A Song For You"
This live version of Leon Russell's "A Song For You" is very strange and moving. It feels sort of like a rehearsal. I adore this song, and I've always preferred Leon's version to anyone else's. My father was a huge fan of Leon's and his music has been a constant in my life since childhood. It wasn't until I was much older and had my own tastes defined that I learned he was part of the Wrecking Crew, and played on Phil Spector and Beach Boys records. This will always be one of my favorites.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37dw2r45Xzg[/youtube]
 
The Virgin Suicides
I missed this movie the first time around, although I remember being aware of it. I ended up renting "The Virgin Suicides" about ten years ago and it really struck me. I've been listening to the score by Air pretty regularly since then. It's a very original story that touched a nerve, and is not easily forgotten. I ended up finding it on DVD at a thrift store last year, but when I got home I realized it was Region 2 only. So a very kind person gave it to me for Christmas this year and I have seen it at least three times since. The soundtrack of period music is also very well done...
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qEoK4PYN5I[/youtube]
 
Gilbert O'Sullivan - "Alone Again, Naturally"
Although I had heard it before, this song really stuck out to me in The Virgin Suicides, in the scene where the characters take turns playing songs for each other over the phone. It's possibly one of the saddest songs I've ever heard, but I like the juxtaposition of the melancholy lyrics with the lovely melody and bouncy arrangement. I'm also very fond of this weird music video, where they've assembled all these musicians to mime to a backing track.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_P-v1BVQn8[/youtube]
 
Tim Buckley - "Strange Street Affair Under Blue"
I recently covered a song for an upcoming covers split on Trouble in Mind Records. Although I didn't choose this one, I was listening to a lot of songs that I had always thought about covering and sort of rediscovered how incredible this track is. It comes pretty early in the running order of Tim's debut album, and has very beautiful surreal lyrics and a very kinetic arrangement. Absolutely stunning.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf_E8ybTTrg[/youtube]

(Check Maston's Soundcloud page for lots more interesting stuff!)