Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Songs of the Day: Minutemen - "Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth" and "Little Man with a Gun in His Hand"

Minutemen released so many great songs (and so many songs, period) that it's difficult to pick just one, so as I've done before, I'm breaking my own non-existent rules and posting two songs. It's nearly impossible to talk about Minutemen without mentioning their 45-song (43 on CD) double LP Double Nickels on the Dime. If you watched MTV in the past 10 years, you know at least one song from it, courtesy of Jackass. The album is all over the place musically, ranging from 1-minute punk songs to acoustic instrumentals to songs that actually sound like some sort of jazz.

If you didn't catch it from the name of this post, Minutemen also have some of the greatest song titles of all time, from "There Ain't Shit on TV Tonight" to "Maybe Partying Will Help" - and those are just from Double Nickels. The first song below is also from that album and shows off the band's softer side, while the second song is from Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat (and the DNotD vinyl) and more indicative of their punk side (though it does cross the 3-minute mark). While Double Nickels is a must-own, I'd also recommend Post-Mersh Vol. 2 on CD, which combines Buzz or Howl and the Project: Mersh EP.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Song of the Day: Red Red Meat - Moon Calf Tripe

Don't be too frightened by the band name. Or the song title. Red Red Meat probably wouldn't be confused with any current indie band - their sound is definitely '90s, somewhere between the slacker vibe of Pavement and the Stones' homage of Liz Phair. Yet the band manages to sound unique, which made their Jimmywine Majestic album a difficult listen for me when I first heard it in college. Today's song of the day won't exactly have you humming the tune the rest of the day, but hopefully it will leave you wanting to check out the rest of the album.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Song of the Day: The War on Drugs - I Was There

A couple of weeks ago, when The War on Drugs released their new album, Slave Ambient, I couldn't read a music blog or check updates on Twitter without seeing something about it. Upon first listen I didn't quite get the hype, and I realize it's extremely uncool to not be the first to post about a new album, but it took a few weeks for this one to grow on me. Part of my initial issue was how much the band sounded like Kurt Vile, who I now understand was actually in The War on Drugs at one time. But is sounding like Kurt Vile a bad thing? Not for me - that's why my favorite song on the album is probably the one that sounds most like him.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Song of the Day: The Black Angels - Telephone

Yes, more '60s revivalists! Hard to believe this one is from 2010 - "Telephone" not only sounds like something from the '60s, but it clocks in at 2:02, under the 2 minutes and 30 seconds that was the norm for singles pre-"Like a Rolling Stone." It doesn't have the darkness to it of their first "song of the day" appearance - this one is pure '60s pop.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Song of the Day: Papercuts - Wait Til I'm Dead

Papercuts have opened for two of my favorite bands of the last few years - Grizzly Bear and Beach House. Unfortunately, I completely missed them for the GB show, which took place in 2007 (note that while trying to confirm when this show happened, I also found out that Foreign Born also opened, yet I have no memory of them either). And when they opened for Beach House last year, I only caught about half of the performance.

Still, what I heard was enough to motivate me to buy Papercuts' last two albums, including this year's Fading Parade. You can hear shades of Grizzly Bear and Beach House, especially the latter in atmospheric songs like "Wait Til I'm Dead."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Song" of the Day: Steven Wright - 7's and Museums

It's the middle of the week and I need a laugh to keep me going. The first time I saw Steven Wright, it was on Late Night with David Letterman, I was probably about 12 or 13 years old, and I don't think I even laughed so hard. Over the years Wright was a frequent guest on all the talk shows, and the VCR was always set to record them. I imagine Zach Galifianakis was also watching - his humor seems very similar, with absurd one-liners such as "My girlfriend looks a little like Charlize Theron...and a lot like Patrick Ewing."

But Steven Wright will always be the best to me, as he entered my world at the perfect time, when new music, comedy, etc. left the most significant impression. This track is off of his 1985 album I Have a Pony.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Song of the Day: Joni Mitchell - Carey

I didn't really know much about Joni Mitchell a decade ago, but two nearly simultaneous events led me to seek out her Blue LP. One was seeing the band Travis (when they were touring for The Man Who) play "River" in concert. The other was the scene from Almost Famous where William discovers the records that his sister left him - Blue was one of those LPs.

I won't say the record changed my life - in fact, it's probably nowhere near my top 100 albums, or maybe even 500, if such lists existed - but there are quite a few memorable songs. "River" is probably the best known, but my favorite is "Carey," which has the best backing vocals of any song on the LP and is probably the most "rocking" (it's all relative).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Song of the Day: Cymbals Eat Guitars - Wind Phoenix (Proper Name)

We ended the week with '60s revivalists the Brian Jonestown Massacre, so let's start this week with '90s revivalists Cymbals Eat Guitars. They've got a new record coming out soon, and seeing their name in the news recently made me realize I never touched upon their debut LP, Why There Are Mountains, despite it being one of my favorite records of 2009. Admittedly I haven't listened to it in a while, but hearing today's song of the day again, I remember why this made the list - part Pavement, Dinosaur Jr and very '90s.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Playlist: July 2011 blog songs

Song of the Day: The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Telegram

I've posted a song from BJM before, so I won't bother repeating myself. Earlier this week I wrote about how prolific Jason Molina is, and the same can be said about Anton Newcombe - according to, BJM released 10 albums in 15 years, and that doesn't count EPs, compilations and singles, of which there are many.

This song is off of one of my favorite albums, Bravery Repetition and Noise, one of their more cohesive, less sprawling efforts. As a bonus, it's pressed on the most awesome purple vinyl you'll ever see AND the cover features director Jim Jarmusch.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Song of the Day: Sunny Day Real Estate - In Circles

I first heard Sunny Day Real Estate as a freshman in college, and listening to Diary, I figured the lead singer was a woman (think Thalia Zedek of Come). I was pretty obsessed with this album and Shudder to Think's Pony Express Record, thanks to my girlfriend at the time (ironically, I think she may have heard about them from her ex-boyfriend).

They became a pretty big cult band, and while I own all their records and even went to their reunion concert a couple years ago, I've never fully succumbed to the cult. Truth be told, I can't name more than a handful of songs that aren't on Diary - so perhaps needless to say, today's song of the day is in fact on that record. Which SDRE LP is your favorite?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Song of the Day: Lou Barlow - Monkey Begun

I've already written about how great and underrated Sebadoh is, and while I don't share Lou Barlow's affinity for tape loop experiments, the guy has more great songs than I can name. The vast majority are under the Sebadoh moniker, but his solo albums have quite a few gems. This one, off his first proper solo album Emoh, is one of my favorites.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Song of the Day: The Clientele - I Had to Say This

I liked The Clientele from the opening notes of this song, the first track off their debut album (which was technically a compilation of singles and what not). It doesn't take long to realize the band is British, and the Suburban Light LP will always remind me of my first trip to London - I went within weeks of picking up the album (Badly Drawn Boy's The Hour of Bewilderbeast, Coldplay's Parachutes and Doves' Lost Souls also bring back those memories). The Clientele have gone on to make a number of solid albums, but for me, the ethereal sounds of the backwards guitar and the "do do do" backing vocals of "I Had to Say This" will never be topped.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Song of the Day: Songs: Ohia - An Ace Unable to Change

Jason Molina is as prolific as Ryan Adams, but you might not know it. For one, he's never been as popular, but he also has an identity issue - after about 8 albums in 6 years as Songs: Ohia, he put out 2 albums under his own name and another 4 as Magnolia Electric Co in the next 6 years.

He's never strayed far from a core sound, no matter the name behind the music. His songs are often melancholy, but he knows how to rock - I'm not talking Led Zeppelin here, but it's all relative. This song, for instance, the opening track off his second Songs: Ohia album, Impala, showcases the more low-key side.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Song of the Day: Roxy Music - Love Is the Drug

I have no idea how certain songs get stuck in my head - the subconscious is a weird and wonderful place. Obviously you sometimes hear a song in the grocery store or some other place where your mind is elsewhere, and you don't realize it, but later you're whistling the song and wondering where it came from.

This morning I woke up with two songs in my head - "Where the Saints Go Marching" (is that what it's called?) and "Love Is the Drug." The former was actually the version sung by none other than Homer Simpson, and I haven't heard it in years (you can listen here). The latter I also haven't heard in years, but I can guess how I arrived at it.

A few weeks ago, Chuck Klosterman wrote a "second-by-second analysis of Edgar Winter's finest nine minutes" on The clip was a favorite of mine, as it was from The Old Grey Whistle Test, one of the finest music DVDs in my collection. And though I've never been a huge fan of the band, Roxy Music is also featured in the DVD, and it's a weird and inspired performance (watch it here).

So that's how I somehow arrived at "Love Is the Drug," probably one of their better known songs. In looking for it, I noticed a song called "2HB," which I featured on the blog before. However, the version I played is from the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack, with an all-star band featuring Thom Yorke on vocals, and I had no idea it was a Roxy Music song. I have Siren on vinyl, but I've listened to it maybe once - perhaps it's time to go back and see what I've been missing.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Song of the Day: Verbena - Junk for Fashion

This is another record that I don't remember hearing or reading about, yet it somehow ended up in my collection. That said, I'm pretty glad it did - though not as good as either groups' output (what is?), Souls for Sale reminds me a little bit of Rolling Stones crossed with Nirvana. This song, for instance, starts bluesy but also has some feedback-tinged soft/loud elements.

P.S. Note that despite the label on the Grooveshark player, and the listing in, this song is really called "Junk for Fashion."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Song of the Day: Phish - Stash

I think I've seen Phish live more than any other band - about 6 or 7 times. I got into them in college, and it was in my early 20s when I saw them three nights in a row - two in Atlanta, then back home in Raleigh. That was a weekend I'll never forget (except for the parts that I do), though my affinity for Phish has waned over the years. I still listen to them occasionally, but the only album on my iPod is A Picture of Nectar, which contains my favorite Phish song, "Stash."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Song of the Day: Liam Finn - Cold Feet

I haven't enjoyed FOMO as much as Liam Finn's first album, but it's growing on me. Here is one if its best songs:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Song of the Day: The Monkees - Porpoise Song

I know two things about The Monkees - that they were basically manufactured for a TV show, and that David Bowie changed his name from David Jones to Bowie because he didn't want to share a name with Davey Jones of The Monkees.

In other words, I don't know anything. So when I heard this song off on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack 10 years ago, it didn't fit with what I thought The Monkees sounded like (probably based solely on "I'm a Believer"). It's a pretty interesting song, and I've finally remembered that I owe The Monkees another listen. Can anyone recommend a good starting point?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Song of the Day: Stevie Wonder - Master Blaster (Jammin')

I can't believe I'm 400+ songs into this and haven't played any Stevie Wonder. But where to begin? I'm going with something off of one of his lesser (but still good) albums, Hotter Than July. This is a bit of a reggae ditty, and I really love his vocal performance here. Hell, he probably played all the instruments too so I'm probably slighting him by just pointing out the vocals, but so it goes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Song of the Day: PJ Harvey - England

One of my favorite records this year is undoubtedly PJ Harvey's Let England Shake. It took me a few listens to get into it, and I was probably somewhat dubious given that I didn't love her last couple albums as much as her 1992-2000 output. But she still has one of the best voices in pop music, and I'm again a believer. Here's why:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Song of the Day: UFO - Rock Bottom [live]

This interview with Joe Elliott of Def Leppard on the AV Club was an interesting read, but reading the comments proved to be even more fruitful. One user began a thread about a band I had never heard of, UFO, and how awesome their guitarist is. A number of other users agreed, and the album that most mentioned was a live LP called Strangers in the Night - in particular, a few mentioned the song "Rock Bottom." I immediately went on Spotify to seek out the album and started with that song...

And wow - I was blown away. The riffs are great, but the solo, especially around the 7-minute mark, is completely insane. Before the song was over, I was on eBay looking for a copy of the LP on vinyl, which I won a few days later.

I had never even heard of Michael Schenker, the guitarist, and then a few days after hearing UFO, I heard his name again - this time it was in the Anvil documentary (highly recommended btw). This is why I'll never stop buying music - just when I run out of new things to buy, something older rears its head and suddenly I have a new obsession.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Song of the Day: Cass McCombs - County Line

The third "Song of the Day" post back in February of 2010 was Cass McCombs; now, over 400 songs later, he makes another appearance with a song off his new album, Wit's End. I haven't had a chance to listen to the album more than a few times, but the opening track immediately resonated, with the falsetto and "whoa whoa whoa" backing vocals. McCombs is on my short list of artists I really want to see live - if you've seen him, hit me up in the comments and let me know how it was.

P.S. Interesting (to me) fact about the new album - the first 3 songs are each listed as being 5 minutes and 37 seconds long. Weird.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Song of the Day: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - If It Wasn't You...

I've been seeing the new album by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., It's a Corporate World, mentioned all over the place, but I've resisted listening to it solely based on the fact that the band is called Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. I mean c'mon.

But never judge a book by its cover, right? Despite the band name (and now that I think about it, a pretty bad album cover), the album is more beach volleyball than NASCAR; that is, it's a little more relaxed and poppy than I expected - acoustic guitars and computer blips abound.