Thursday, March 31, 2011

Song of the Day: Gossip - Listen Up! [2007 Version]

This is a great dance track, featuring some fantastic singing and probably the right amount of cowbell, unless Bruce Dickinson gets involved.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Song of the Day: The Meters - It Ain't No Use

I became obsessed with The Meters for a short time, but I hadn't listened to them in years until I pulled out my copy of Rejuvenation - and now I remember why I was obsessed. Outside of James Brown and Funkadelic, I don't think I've heard funk music as fascinating as this, particular in today's song, an 11-minute jam that never gets tiresome.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Song of the Day: The Besnard Lakes - And You Lied to Me

These guys fall somewhere on the My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses side of the spectrum - heavy vocal reverb, catchy rock songs.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Song of the Day: The Specials - A Message to You Rudy

Fishbone is the closest to ska I'd ever experienced until I saw The Specials on an excellent Old Grey Whistle Test compilation DVD. I've posted the song from the debut album as well as the video, and you can hear that the video version is faster and tighter. They just don't make 'em like this any more.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Song of the Day: Wolf Parade - Modern World

Wolf Parade's debut LP, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is another album I can't believe I left off my best of the 2000s list. I really enjoy how the two different songwriters have different approaches (and very different voices), yet the band still manages to be cohesive. I can't pick a favorite between Dan and Spencer, the lead singers, but Dan's "Modern World" is my favorite track off the album.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Song of the Day: Elton John - Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

Elton John and David Bowie occupy a similar space in my record collection - they both have a number of timeless, iconic songs that I can never get tired of. And they both have a ton of songs that I would prefer never to hear again.

I'm not even talking about the recent stuff that's a result of just being an artist that's been around a while. I'm talking about songs and albums released during their heyday that can't hold a candle (in the wind (yes, I went there)) to their best.

But I came here to praise Elton, not to bury him. While I knew the biggest of his hits, it wasn't until seeing what is now one of my favorite all-time movies, Almost Famous, that I heard this one for the first time. It's subsequently become one of my favorite songs, and it's led me to discover some of Elton John's other great songs (and, of course, some of his stinkers).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Song of the Day: The Cardigans - Carnival

This Swedish band was a one-hit wonder in the U.S., but I was fortunate to see them live before that one hit actually hit. I still really enjoy listening to Life and First Band on the Moon, and they were a very competent live band (I realize that may sound like an insult, but I don't intend it to be). I've heard that their subsequent LP has become something of a cult album, and according to, they've even released a few since then. Hearing this song, the first from Life (and not the hit), makes me wonder whether I want to seek out more. But I think I'll just stick with these two, each of which also include a Black Sabbath cover (yup).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Song of the Day: X - White Girl

The first thing I heard from X was a snippet of this song, only I didn't know it was this song, and I didn't know it was X. In "Good Time Boys," the first track of Red Hot Chili Peppers' Mother's Milk LP, three samples are played in the bridge - Fishbone's "Bonin' in the Boneyard," Thelonius Monster's "Try" and this song.

I had heard of X, but I wasn't prepared for the awesomeness of their second album (and my first), Wild Gift. They're often associated with punk, and while there are definitely punk elements, the songs also have a rock and roll (particularly rockabilly) feel to them. Not to mention, the lyrics are fantastic, and the singing and chemistry between John Doe and Exene Cervenka (a one-time couple) really make the songs burn. And "White Girl" exemplifies X at their best - catchy chorus, driving beat, Exene's yearning background vocals...just a perfect song.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Song of the Day: Bob Mould - Thumbtack

As I've mentioned before, I love Bob Mould, in a purely platonic way. I never got a chance to see my favorite Bob Mould group (Sugar), but I have had the pleasure of seeing him live twice. The second time, he was part of an amazing show at the Walt Disney Hall in downtown LA called "Songs of the City." It included, among others, Dan of Grizzly Bear, John Doe of X, She and Him before they even had a name, Kip from TV on the Radio, Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave, Sondre Lerche...and a few others I wasn't familiar with at the time. The most amazing thing about this show? My wife and I had front row center seats. That's never happened to me before, and each of these artists were literally about 10 feet from us. It was wonderful.

Each artist played two songs, and since most of the songs were about city life, I had a feeling Mould would break out this one. Thankfully, he obliged, and it was a beautiful rendition of this song off his self-titled solo album.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Song of the Day: Portugal. The Man - People Say

When I first heard Portugal. The Man's The Satanic Satanist, the songs sounded instantly familiar. Listening to the first track, today's song of the day, I'm wracking my brain to figure out who they sound like - but maybe it's not just one particular band, which is why I can't quite name it.

When I become obsessed with an album, my first order of business is to locate a vinyl copy. In this case, most of PTM's LPs are out of print, and The Satanic Satanist in particular was going for about 60 bucks on eBay (on a very cool colored vinyl, I should point out). So I was pretty happy to see a number of their albums back in print at Amoeba last week, even though it makes me a hypocrite - when I own an original, I hate reissues. Oh well - I've been called worse.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Songs of the Day: Fleetwood Mac - That's All for Everyone, Save Me a Place, Beautiful Child

I've been extremely lax lately and haven't posted a song since Monday, so I'm hoping to make it up to you (me) by going for a threesome. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I've been on the mother of all Fleetwood Mac kicks, listening to as much Tusk as possible.

While it's not exactly the White Album, Tusk suffers and benefits from a lack of cohesion. It's more a collection of songs than an album, though the songs do share an aesthetic quality - they are immaculately produced. Like any double LP, there are a few clunkers, but the good outweighs the bad by miles (to mix metaphors).

And to me, these are the best of the best - "That's All for Everyone" could be a Lindsey Buckingham solo song, "Save Me a Place" has the entire group harmonizing, and "Beautiful Child" stands up to the best Stevie Nicks songs.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Song of the Day: Public Enemy - Welcome to the Terrordome

As I mention every time I post a hip hop song, I'm not a rap aficionado.  But Public Enemy is one of my favorite groups of all time - you may have noticed this blog is named after one of their songs. And while I'm partial to It Takes a Nation of Millions, one of my favorite PE tracks is undoubtedly "Welcome to the Terrordome." For my money, no one can hold a candle to Chuck D's voice, and this track his him at his best.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Song of the Day: The Dead Weather - Hang You from the Heavens

This version from the Horehound LP can't hold a candle to seeing The Dead Weather play it live, mainly due to Alison Mosshart's amazing stage presence. But still, this is by far my favorite DW song.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Song of the Day: Sleater-Kinney - Combat Rock

I never thought of Sleater-Kinney as a political group, but One Beat, released in 2002, engenders very much a political spirit. In particular, check these lyrics from today's song of the day, "Combat Rock":

Where is the questioning where is the protest song?
Since when is skepticism un-American?
Dissent's not treason but they talk like it's the same

And this:

Show you love your country go out and spend some cash
Red white blue hot pants doing it for Uncle Sam

The latter couplet is particularly great, given that the government at the time was pushing that capitalism and blind patriotism would cure all ills (I'm perhaps paraphrasing). That they were able to turn this sentiment into such a spectacular song and album makes me love the band even more.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Song of the Day: Jimmie Dale Gilmore - Blinding Sun

I first saw Jimmie Dale Gilmore in The Big Lebowski (he may or may not have been over the line), but it was another film, Noah Baumbach's Kicking and Screaming (note this is not the one with Will Ferrell) that made me a fan of his music. Gilmore has a unique voice (to say the least), and he's a great songwriter, but my favorite song of his isn't actually his - it's a cover of a Mudhoney track, from a Sub Pop split in the mid '90s (where Mudhoney also covered one of his tracks).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Song of the Day: Badly Drawn Boy - Once Around the Block

I was completely and utterly obsessed with The Hour of Bewilderbeast when it came out. Shortly thereafter, I visited London and felt a connection to the album that was even beyond what I had originally experienced, and it remains one of my favorite albums of all time. Sadly, the album may also represent the biggest shock to the system in regards to everything that came after it; that is, if Bewilderbeast is a 10.0 to me (in the parlance of Pitchfork), Have You Fed the Fish? is probably a 6.0, and everything after is sub 4.0. I can't really put my finger on why his debut is that much better; sure, the songs are probably superior, but there is an innocence and an experimentation happening there that's largely absent from the later records.

Take today's song of the day, "Once Around the Block." There are three guitars, multi-tracked harmonies and vibraphone (I think), yet it still engenders a home recording feel to it. To paraphrase a lyric from the song, I wish Badly Drawn boy could take a left, a sharp left and another left, and return to making albums of this quality.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Song of the Day: Corinne Bailey Rae - Enchantment

I don't know what provoked me to pick up a couple of 45s by Corinne Bailey Rae, but I'm glad I did. In fact, it's not the A-sides from her first album that have enticed me, but rather the B-sides. One of them features Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Loving You" as a slow jam, and the other features this gem of a song (the A-side is "Like a Star").

Friday, March 4, 2011

Song of the Day: Sea Wolf - You're a Wolf

This song is from a split 7" with a band called Eulogies. I've heard good things about Sea Wolf but haven't checked out any of their (his?) proper albums. This is a great song, and I'm pretty sure I've even heard it in a commercial (which obviously means it's good?)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Song of the Day: The dB's - Moving in Your Sleep

I picked this song because I needed something slow and quiet this morning, not realizing that the title actually expresses how I feel right now. I've sung the praises of The dB's before, and while this song is more ballad than power-pop (and thankfully it's not a power-ballad), it reinforces my love for this band.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Song of the Day: The Verlaines - Heavy 33

Here's another track off the No Alternative compilation, which I've mentioned a couple times before. I know nothing about this band, but I love this song.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Song of the Day: Radiohead - Exit Music (for a Film)

Everybody's talking about The King of Limbs and whether they should be talking about The King of Limbs (see AV Club, Village Voice). Personally, I need at least a few spins before I can come to some sort of opinion about an album. Of course, that opinion will often change dramatically over the course of more listens - I've changed my mind about a record, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, more times than I can count. Many factors can influence a change of opinion - age, where I hear the album, hype, my mindset, and "vegetables."

My first exposure to Radiohead was, of course, "Creep." So when The Bends was released a couple of years later, I was reticent to give it a second thought, despite hearing some good things about it. I finally did give in, and it was (and is) fantastic.

So when OK Computer was released, I didn't need much persuasion to buy the album. I had heard "Karma Police" and seen the video on MTV (yes, I'm dating myself), so I already had some idea it was going to be great. But it wasn't until I was in Boone, NC visiting some friends that I heard the album during an induced epiphany, if you will, and it utterly and completely blew me away. OK Computer is a fantastic sounding record (especially on vinyl), and every song (not every track - I'm looking at you, "Fitter Happier") could be my favorite on a given day.

The sonic detail on the album is amazing, and the details are what keep me coming back. Take today's song of the day, "Exit Music (for a Film)" and listen to how, at the end of every verse, you can hear Thom Yorke finish the word with his lips smacking ("...from your sleep") or his tongue touching the front of his teeth ("drying all your tears"). The cymbals coming in, then the drum roll, the sound effects, Thom wailing "in everlasting peace" - yes, I'm obsessed, but this is a song and an album worth obsessing about. So I'll get back to you on The King of Limbs - but maybe not for 14 years.