Thursday, September 30, 2010

Song of the Day: Jeff Buckley - Grace

It's strange to think about what Jeff Buckley would be doing today, at the age of 43, had he not tried to go nightswimming in the Mississippi River at the age of 30.  His lone "real" album, Grace, was an obsession of mine in the mid/late '90s, and I was recently listening to it for the first time in years.

I wasn't quite sure it was having the same effect on me as it once did, but when I heard the title track, I remembered why I was so smitten.  The key asset of Jeff Buckley's music is his voice - he can hit the high notes, he's got a good Rock scream - but it's not difficult to imagine a parallel universe where this voice is part of a AOR or Pop juggernaut that would make music snobs like myself want to throw up.  Thankfully, this is not the case, and the band that plays on Grace couldn't me more underrated (check out the drumming, for instance).  One of the best debut albums of the last 20 years.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Song of the Day: Harry Nilsson - Jump into the Fire

There is a decent chance you know this song. Perhaps right now you're trying to place it, but you can't quite make it out. Imagine a coked-out guy driving around trying to sell some guns, process some cocaine...yup, it's Goodfellas, featuring some of the best use of music in any movie.

For not knowing much about Harry Nilsson's music, I know a decent amount about the man - most famously, he was involved in John Lennon's "Lost Weekend." The Walkmen covered one of his albums in its entirety. A new documentary is out (now or soon) about him.  And he seems to have one hell of a cult following.

All of this information led me to seek out Nilsson Schmilsson, often cited as one of his best albums.  It also contains one of his best-known songs, "Coconut" ("you put the lime in the coconut").  I simply do not understand the appeal of this song, but a lot of the album is good, and this song - perhaps in part due to its involvement in Goodfellas - is my favorite.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Song of the Day: Death from Above 1979 - Black History Month

This duo's one and only album, You're a Woman, I'm a Machine, is a pretty heavy record, especially considering there is no guitar involved.  Believe it or not, this is actually one of the quieter songs on the album.  I have no idea what the title has to do with the song - either I don't get it, or the answer is "nothing."  Discuss.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Song of the Day: The Strokes - Modern Age

This was my first exposure to The Strokes - the original version of Modern Age, off of the EP of the same name.  They were heavily hyped by NME, and I bought into the hype immediately upon hearing this song.  I apparently wasn't the only one buying into the hype.  I was still living in NC at the time the debut came out, and a couple months later, I went to see them at the Cat's Cradle, and I've never seen so many people trying to scalp tickets - there must have been 50 or 60 people out there, and the Cradle only holds a few hundred.  But it was an amazing show, as they were very tight for a band with only one album under their (fashionable) belts.

Note that the vocals of this song sound a lot different than on the album - much more Lou Reed-like.  These guys were the perfect amalgam of the Velvet Underground, Television and other bands I loved, and their debut is probably already considered a classic, despite being all of ten years old.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

no more weekend posts

After 225 songs in about 223 days, I took this weekend off. And it was tremendous. Therefore, no more weekend posts unless I hear something that just has to be posted.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Song of the Day: Neko Case - Lady Pilot

My first exposure to Neko Case was the first New Pornographers' album, Mass Romantic. But it wasn't until her Blacklisted LP that I became a huge fan. I had a really difficult time picking a song from this album, but I figure I can't go wrong with this one.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Song of the Day: Talib Kweli - Get By

Kweli is part of the group Black Star - another being the part-time actor Mos Def. Full disclosure: this is the only one of his songs I've ever heard. I have the 12" single, and I'm not even sure what else is on it. It's a hell of a song though, and features production from Kanye West (before he had dropped an album of his own).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Song of the Day: The Walkmen - Victory

I liked The Walkmen since I first heard their "white" EP, which I think was only released on vinyl. It was eventually combined with the "black" EP to form their first album on CD, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone.

I have a couple other Walkmen records, but I've been out of the loop for the last few. I've been reading mostly positive reviews of the new album, Lisbon, and decided to listen to give it a try. After a number of runs through the album on Grooveshark, I have to say I'm impressed. This song is my early favorite from the album.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Song of the Day: Red House Painters - Cruiser

I got to see two great shows this past weekend - Local Natives/The Love Language (which I called the show of the year) and Mark Kozelek, leader of Red House Painters.  The latter was at Largo, host to many of my favorite shows

Kozelek came out with a scowl on his face - he didn't say anything to the audience, and just sat down and started tuning his guitar.  After two songs, he asked, "do I look like I'm in a bad mood?  I'm not in a bad mood" and laughed about it.  He had some great between song banter, including lambasting someone for a cell phone interfering with the speakers.

I'm not the biggest fan of Red House Painters or his other outfit, Sun Kil Moon - these groups have amazing cult followings, and one of the records I have by SKM goes for about $150 on eBay.  But Kozelek's got a really mellow voice (as also heard for a few lines in Almost Famous), and his albums are great for late night listening.  This is my favorite song of his, and one he attempted at the show when someone requested it - he just couldn't remember the words.  But it was still great.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Song of the Day: Battles - Atlas

I bought Mirrored after reading a number of positive reviews, but I honestly haven't given it a fair share of listens.  When I saw Beck at the Hollywood Bowl last year, this song came on the PA before Beck came on, and it reminded me how cool and weird this song is.  Unfortunately listening through tinny laptop speakers doesn't give it justice - the drums are amazing and need to be heard on a stereo (or the Bowl PA).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Song of the Day: Daniel Johnston - Some Things Last a Long Time

Despite being from 1990 (and the album 1990), I just heard this for the first time three days ago. I had heard of Daniel Johnston before - mainly because of his backstory, which involves a history of mental illness, and his acceptance in the "indie" music community. It's difficult to say whether knowing anything about this affects how one hears the music - I would venture to say Yes.  If I didn't know otherwise, I would think this was sung by a heartbroken teenager, which doesn't make it any less effective.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Song of the Day: The Chambers Brothers - All Strung Out Over You

I first heard The Chambers Brothers on a commercial about 10 years ago.  I'm not sure what the product was (effective advertising), and I actually thought the song was by the Rolling Stones.  Through the glory of the internet, I found out it was actually "The Time Has Come" by The Chambers Brothers (also interesting is that these really are four brothers, literally and in the parlance of our times, plus a white dude on drums...just not something you see much any more, unfortunately).  Further research led to many recommendations for the album of the same name.

This song is my favorite from the album - the backing vocals (including the "ooohs") are fantastic, and the lead singer sounds a bit like Otis Redding.  Handclaps and cowbells are an added bonus. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Song of the Day: Cults - Go Outside

I first heard this song months ago at Gorilla Vs. Bear, but the song didn't affect me enough to make me buy the 7-inch. Big mistake - listening to it again, it's completely stuck in my head, and the vinyl is sold out.  A contender for my top 10 songs of 2010.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Song of the Day: Urge Overkill - Sister Havana

From one end of the "authenticity" spectrum to the other, today's song is by one of my favorite '90s bands, Urge Overkill.  My friend Jim had the Saturation cassette, which got played on many a ride to school.  Then Urge showed up on the No Alternative compilation, and then of course got mildly famous for their Neil Diamond cover in Pulp Fiction

While I find their final album, Exit the Dragon, to be better than it gets credit for, I'm really surprised at the lack of current appreciation for Saturation.  Urge could be schlocky (they have a song about Susan Lucci's "Erica Kane" and one titled "Crackbabies"), but it is impossible to hear "Sister Havana" and not want to play air guitar. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Song of the Day: Fugazi - Turnover

Fugazi is a band that I want to love, mainly for their approach to their fans - five-dollar concerts, ten-dollar CDs, etc.  I've never quite delved into their catalog as I probably should - I once owned Steady Diet of Nothing, but I can't remember a thing about it.  However, their first album, Repeater, has remained in my collection, and it's a terrific album for cranking up while driving around LA.  The opening track in particular, featured below, is a favorite of mine.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Song of the Day: The Juan MacLean - Give Me Every Little Thing

I bought this 12" from the DFA label (see: LCD Soundsystem) around the same time I got into Junior Boys.  I'm not a big dance music guy, but this song is awesome, and it reminds me a bit of Parliament.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Song of the Day: Man Man - Hurly Burly

Feeling a little slow today.  I saw these guys at the Echoplex and they put on a good show.  Rabbit Habits is a good album - I always think of Captain Beefheart when I hear it.  Is it the dude's singing?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Song of the Day: The Black Angels - The First Vietnamese War

As I mentioned in my very first song-of-the-day post (and probably many times after), I once had the opportunity to guest DJ on Indie 103.1.  In order to do this, I had to submit a 12-song playlist, and when I got to the station, I asked how the selection process was administered (I was wondering if it was random, or if they actually looked at the playlist).  It turns out one of the reasons I was selected is because I included a song by The Black Angels, and Mark Sovel (aka Mr. Shovel), the music director, was a big fan.

This is one of my favorite songs of the last few years - I love the late '60s feel of it, which is due not only to the lyrics but the organ and guitar feedback.  I later bought the Passover LP and found that all of their songs have this vibe.  In fact, this morning I saw via Stereogum that they were on Letterman last night, playing an even more '60s sounding tune.  Hope you dig it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Song of the Day: The Rakes - Retreat

I make no qualms about my love of British rock, be it the classics (The Who, Rolling Stones) or lesser known bands (Futureheads, Maximo Park).  Add this to the latter list, and like many of those bands, I'm not sure I could name another song by The Rakes.  "Retreat" is from a 12" EP of the same name.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Song of the Day: Dr. Dog - My Old Ways

I first heard "My Old Ways" on MTV2 - a few years ago, I used to record reruns of MTV's 120 Minutes and another show whose name escapes me. Sadly, I just went to the MTV2 website and can't find it, and even more depressing is the fact that none of the shows appear to be music shows. So I guess when MTV3 launches they'll get back to music? But I digress. The video was nifty, but the song really got stuck in my head over the next few days.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Song of the Day: Brightblack Morning Light - Everybody Daylight

I think I owe Pitchfork for this one. Their eponymous album is solid, and it's about as laid back as an album can be. I accidentally played it at 45rpm one time, and it still sounded slow (and sounded pretty good until the singing started and I realized my mistake).  This song is the standout, and it's a great one to end an evening.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Song of the Day: Beat Happening - Godsend

Beat Happening is often mentioned among classic indie bands, and between Calvin Johnson's K records and his appearance on Beck's One Foot in the Grave, I thought I'd check them out.  His voice is definitely an acquired taste; in fact, my favorite song on the album is "Godsend," which features Heather Lewis instead.  I've since grown to enjoy Johnson's voice, but this is still the song that resonates the most to me.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Song of the Day: Split Enz - I Got You

I checked out Split Enz after getting obsessed with Liam Finn, son and nephew of the Finn Brothers of Split Enz (and later, Crowded House).  Their best of, History Never Repeats, is a great place to start, as its solid from top to bottom.  You can definitely see where Liam got his pop sensibilities.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Song of the Day: The Zutons - You Will You Won't

I first heard this song on an NME compilation of live songs from XFM. It reminds me a little of The Coral, with the raspy singer and somewhat '60s feel to it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Song of the Day: James Gang - Walk Away

The best of the James Gang LP was a recent purchase for me, and it epitomizes why I'll never stop buying music - even when I become a curmudgeonly old man who shuns new music, there will always be older music I've not yet explored.

In this case, I was surprised to find I already knew a number of James Gang songs.  In fact, I think I grew up listening to this one on classic rock radio, not knowing that it was the James Gang.  Although I "hate the fucking Eagles" I have to admit this Joe Walsh band is pretty badass.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Song of the Day: The Jesus & Mary Chain - Darklands

My first exposure to The Jesus & Mary Chain was through the Pixies, but it was the Stoned & Dethroned album that made me a fan.  JAMC is often associated with the feedback of their debut Psychocandy, but the clearer (and even - gasp! - acoustic) guitars on Stoned did not detract from the impact of the songs.

For that reason, I really like the Darklands LP, which is a nice mix of what came before and what was to come.  The opening, eponymous track is a particular favorite of mine.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Song of the Day: The Lemonheads - Hannah & Gabi

The Lemonheads' It's a Shame About Ray was a big album for me.  I was a sophomore in high school, and as I mentioned in my Bob Mould post, I had started looking to Rolling Stone's CMJ (College Music Journal) chart for inspiration.  The album was in the top 10, and once I saw a performance on Letterman, I was hooked (these were pre-internet days, so TV played a big part in hearing new artists).

I still really enjoy Ray, though it doesn't quite hit me the way it used to.  It's an album where my favorite song changes with each listen, but the mostly acoustic "Hannah & Gabi" is always near the top.

I found the video in question. God bless the Internet