Thursday, June 30, 2011

Album of the Week: Cat Power - You Are Free

I'm on vacation until July 8th, so I'll tide you over with one of my favorite all-time albums. I was a fan of Cat Power beginning with Moon Pix, but You Are Free was an amazing step forward, despite being a more "traditional" album musically. Her voice never ceases to amaze me - half the songs on this album sound like they are whispered more than sung, and her background vocals are always inventive (see "Fool"). Despite my love for her voice, perhaps it's surprising that I don't care for her covers records that much - her original stuff is what really gets me, so it's too bad she only releases a new album every 3-4 years. But hopefully that means we're due for a new one soon. Until then, enjoy 2003's You Are Free.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Song of the Day: James Brown - Try Me [live]

James Brown's Live at the Apollo never fails to bring a smile to my face. The screaming audience is fantastic, and the background vocals and horns are perfect throughout. This is one of the best live albums you'll hear, and here's my favorite song.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Song of the Day: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Rifles

B.R.M.C. came up in a conversation I had last week with a co-worker. I've lost track of the band over the years, perhaps unfairly thinking they had nothing to offer. The reason for this attitude is that their first album, which spawned today's "song of the day," is so good, a mix of Spiritualized, Jesus & Mary Chain and shoegazer. Their second album, on the other hand, failed to connect with me, and I wrote them off and haven't looked back. Listening to this first album again, it seems unlikely they could have slipped that much, so maybe it's time to seek out their more recent album and see what happens.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Song of the Day: Cell - Never Too High

This '90s band got off to a promising start, releasing their first single (and today's "song of the day") on Thurston Moore's label and getting signed to a major label, DGC (home of Sonic Youth at the time). This song didn't make their debut album, but it was released on a DGC compilation (one which includes some other quality tracks - see here) years later. If you're interested in checking out more, the debut album has unfairly graced used CD bargain bins for over a decade; it's well worth the two bucks.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Song of the Day: Everclear - Santa Monica

I used to love this album when I was in my teens, but I probably haven't listened to it more than once since. It's interesting to listen to this song now that I live in Santa Monica, which seemed inconceivable as a teenager in North Carolina. Given that we're in the middle of June Gloom, I really do just want to see some sunshine, and I live beside the ocean (sort of). I just don't have the heroin addiction that Art Alexakis had. Though I have been eating a lot of Skittles lately, which I imagine are kind of like heroin.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Song of the Day: Lambchop - Up with People

I bought two Lambchop CDs (Nixon and What Another Man Spills) based on downloading a couple of songs from Napster, but truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of the band. I like the idea of Lambchop ("Nashville's Most Fucked Up Country Band"), but I just can't get into the records. That said, when a Lambchop song occasionally pops up on my iPod, I usually enjoy it - maybe I just haven't given them enough of a chance?

What exactly is my point? I don't know either. But this song intrigues me and is the one title I could remember, so it evidently made some sort of impression on me. The background vocals remind me of Exile on Main St, but I can't quite place any other elements. Let me know if there are other Lambchop songs I should be listening to and enjoying.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Song of the Day: My Morning Jacket - One Big Holiday [live]

I'm going to see MMJ tonight for the fifth time. The venue has gotten bigger each time - it started at the Cat's Cradle in 2003, then I moved to LA and saw them at the Fonda, then the Wiltern, then the Greek. For their new album, Circuital, I guess they're scaling it back a bit, playing at the Pantages (apparently a capacity of about 2,700, compared to 6,000+ at the Greek).

In case you've never seen them in person, let me clue you in to something - they may be the best live band on the planet. Now, it's been a few years since I last saw them, and by all accounts the new album is more laid back (I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail), but I'm still expecting a hell of a show. As such, it seems appropriate to share the song that they always seem to play and that always brings the crowd to another level - from their live album, Okonokos, this is "One Big Holiday."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Song of the Day: Ty Segall - You Make the Sun Fry

I'd never heard of this guy, but Insound has been tweeting about his new album religiously, and eventually hitting me over the head with it made me curious to check it out (the cover art didn't hurt either). Unfortunately, Grooveshark only has one song from Goodbye Bread, but it's fantastic.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Song of the Day: The La's - There She Goes

You probably know this song, but if you knew it's The La's, I'm impressed. I became obsessed with finding the album (their first) many years ago when it was out of print, and I was surprised to find it was just released in 1990 - it seems much older than that (or am I just old?). Even more surprising - it's the band's only album. According to, the band basically disappeared after releasing it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Song of the Day: Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train

It's been a long week, and I think I've stepped aboard Ozzy's train.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Song of the Day: The Smiths - Never Had No One Ever

As I was trying to figure out which song to post today, I saw from Rob Sheffield that today is the 25th anniversary of The Queen Is Dead. Problem solved.

I've posted a song from the LP before, the rocking title track that opens the album. Today is an overcast, crappy day here near the West Coast, so a more melancholy affair feels in order. Thankfully, the album delivers a plethora of those; thus, here's "Never Had No One Ever."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Song of the Day: Dead Confederate - Heavy Petting

I saw these guys on Conan a while ago (pre-TBS) and really enjoyed this song. The singer shreds his vocal cords a la Kurt Cobain, and the music is somewhere between Vitalogy-era Pearl Jam and '90s Neil Young. These guys aren't even close to that level, but on this song they pull off a pretty good reproduction of that era.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Song of the Day: Tool - Forty Six & 2

In my Mastodon post last week, I referenced Tool and was surprised that I hadn't posted one of their songs before. So I'm here to make amends, as I'm a pretty huge fan of the band. Aenima is not only my favorite of their albums, but it's also the record in my collection that I spent the most money on - $75. It regularly goes for triple digits on eBay, so I don't feel too bad about it (though my wife might). It's difficult for me to pick a song from this one (though the interstitial tracks are easy to rule out), but "Forty Six & 2" is definitely one of the best.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Song of the Day: Mark Lanegan - Wildflowers

I've already spent a week on the guy, but last night I had one of the best concert experiences of my life at a Mark Lanegan show.

First off, the setting was spectacular, as it took place in the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which looks like this:

Secondly, the show was just Lanegan and a guitar player, and given the intimate setting (and that my wife and I were only a few rows back), it sounded and looked amazing. He also played some of my favorite songs, including this track off of his first solo LP, The Winding Sheet:

And finally, despite the fact that Lanegan never talks or smiles on stage (I believe he had three in-between-song statements: Thanks, Let's hear it for the opening band, This is Jeff on guitar), we found out before the show that he would be singing autographs afterwards.

I ended up fourth in line, and since he entered the room with Greg Dulli, when I got up there I asked him if he and Greg were working on another album. He said they weren't working on anything right now...and that was it. I shook his hand and thanked him for a great show. Here's my prize, on a live 10" that I've never seen before:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Song of the Day: Mastodon - The Last Baron

Whitney Matheson of Pop Candy started a discussion today about Metal that was prompted by Klosterman and Guns 'N Roses. Personally I don't think of G 'N R as a Metal band - they basically play Rock that's not that much different than the Stones, except it's "harder"; thus, I think of them as a Hard Rock band (I should maybe also point out that I don't think of Tool as Metal either, though many would probably disagree).

At any rate, I didn't start this post to get into what comprises Metal (to each his own). Instead, I wanted to post a song from Mastodon's Crack the Skye, an album I was pretty obsessed with a couple years ago. One thing I don't like in my Metal is a lot of screaming, and while Mastodon occasionally lets one rip, I find the vocals to be melodic throughout. If you're into labels, the album could probably be called Metal or Prog, given the concept and musicianship. Here's the 13-minute closer from the album, which seems to encompass Rock, Metal, Prog, and even Polka (just kidding). Enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Song of the Day: Tokyo Police Club - Nature of the Experiment

I don't know what happened to this band, but maybe I just haven't been paying attention. "Nature of the Experiment" was the first song of theirs that I heard, and it sounded much better than anything else on their album. In fact, it sounded like it could have been on the Arctic Monkeys' debut. Let me know in the comments if I should check out more of Tokyo Police Club's work.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Song of the Day: Jane's Addiction - Jane Says [live]

As I mentioned yesterday, I hit up a flea market this past weekend and bought a few records. Jane's Addiction's debut album wasn't exactly a must-have on vinyl - I have the mp3s and don't listen to them all that much - but it caught my eye, and, apparently, my wallet. This version of "Jane Says" from the album is a little rougher than that on Nothing's Shocking; Perry Farrel's voice sounds more strained, and most notably is that a steel drum later replaced the bongos heard on this live version.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Song of the Day: Frank Zappa - Peaches en Regalia

You could probably spend years listening to the Frank Zappa catalog, and that's only if you literally listened without pause. The guy released a ton of albums while alive and possibly even more posthumously, and throwing in live albums and bootlegs, his catalog is daunting.

I started with Strictly Commercial, a greatest-hits compilation for a guy who had no hits. But it's a pretty good overview of his songs and probably a good starting point for deciding on whether to dig deeper. I then gave We're Only in It for the Money (technically credited to the Mothers of Invention) a spin, and while I enjoyed it, it didn't kickstart a desire to hear more.

This weekend, however, I was at the Pasadena City College flea market and saw a couple of his records. For some reason (probably the cash burning a hole in my pocket), I plunked down 40 bucks for Hot Rats and Apostrophe, each of which contained songs from Strictly Commercial that I liked. One of those songs, "Peaches en Regalia," is an instrumental with a lot of interesting instrumentation. Check it out:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Song of the Day: Spoon - Lines in the Suit

It's hard to say whether Spoon are underrated or overrated. To make the former argument, I could note that their albums are consistently good, yet they don't get the kind of hype that many other less-deserving bands receive. To say they're overrated, I'd point out that they don't have many songs that Wow me. Furthermore, I've seen them live a few times, from small clubs to the Hollywood Bowl, and I find their live show to be snoozers.

One day, I'm sure I'll look back and say that even though I really like Spoon, I probably never gave them enough credit. But for my money, at this time, I would say (to quote Bill Simmons) they are properly rated. That said, they have a few songs that do Wow me, and I still think Girls Can Tell (which spawned today's SOTD) is an amazing LP.