December 17th, 2009
Thursday Evening, 9:01 PM
Happy Birthday Rosie!
- Science of Silence - Richard Ashcroft - 2002 - Human Conditions
Another one of those British Imports (Verve's old lead singer) I brought back with me from some random trip to the UK. It's sappy, and mushy and all that alright, but the message is much more "Imagine" then "We Are The World." It's one of those "why are we on this rock" type of songs....well, "All You Need Is Love."
- Lake Michigan - Rogue Wave - 2007- Asleep At Heaven's Gate
This track would be in the top ten if I had one. I love all the simple & subtle changes, hand claps, lyrics and guitar motifs created. The perfect indie blog track. YouTube from Craig Ferguson:
- Poor Places - Punch Brothers - 2008 - Daytrotter Session
There is this great website called the daytrotter sessions which according to its about section convinces: "These fine people – as they’re traveling through America’s heartland – take two hours out of their travels between shows to stop in for a Daytrotter Session at The Horseshack in downtown Rock Island, Ill. The name of the city is not ironic..." Many of the indie greats have stopped by to play a five song set list, Spoon, Death Cab, Of Montreal and most recently 110 song maker, Brendan Benson, but none have "wowed" me as much as The Punch Brothers and their cover of Wilco's "Poor Places" did. By stripping the song down to its basics, taking out all of the noise and mood that Jay Bennett (RIP) and Jeff Tweedy created, The Punch Brothers made "Poor Places" their own melancholy folk song.
Here is a YouTube to prove it:
- This Could Be Good - Pugwash - 2006 - Jollity
What if XTC were actually laid back Irish guys that liked their pints more then their prose? That is what we have here with another Power Pop find from across the pond. Worth a download.
- Hurt - Johnny Cash - 2002 - American IV
Tell me the first time you heard this song or saw this video that you were not blown away by the broken down Cash (a year before he passed) and by how this song was perfect for him. Man that Rick Rubin sure knows what he is doing by building the tension at the end of the track. As Trent Reznor said when Rubin first played it for him, "Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore…"
- Since U Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson - 2004 - Breakaway
How many hours have we all invested? How man "Dawgs" have we digested? It had to be represented in some way, some fashion on the list. America's number one guilty pleasure of the 00s (what you don't watch - come on) has given us at least one good Pop song. And gosh darn, at least it was from "our Kelly" and not the bloody "Soul Patrol."
- All For Swinging You Around - The New Pornographers - 2003 - Electric Version
Now this is more of what I want from a female vocalist. I heart Neko Case and her merry band of North of the Boarder players, you to AC. If you have a chance this week, check out Neko on Elvis Costello's Spectacle show on Sundance. She shines and shows her soul during the show, fairly moving.
- Do You Realize? - The Flaming Lips - 2006 - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Another in the long line of "one day you are going to die" pick-me-up tracks, from those loop-jobs from Nebraska or Oklahoma (one of these states picked this song as the new state song - no kidding) or whichever fly-over land mass they hail from. Pretty song, nice message, but I still can't get the 15 minutes of that horrible attempt of a movie "Christmas On Mars" they slaved over for 4 years, out of my mind. Bad taste, still.
- Meaningless - Jon Brion - 2001 - Meaningless
Many of you probably have never "heard" of Jon Brion, but all of you have heard his work over the course of the past decade. In movie scores (Eternal Sunshine, Punch-Drunk Love, The Step Brothers), as a Producer (Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright) and even as Kanye West active musical Consigulary (yes he even produced Kanye's landmark Late Registration). If Jon was a Brit, he would be Sir Jon by now. Instead, he is shacked up in LA playing every Friday night for the faithful at Largo, blowing their bloody minds. I once saw JB play Largo back early 00s when this record came out. I compared watching him live to what it must have been like watching Willie Wonka make the candy in the factory. It's just Jon and 8 instruments and he plays them all, records them and then melts them all into a single track. He is a genius, he can play anything, and if it was the 60s he would be a massive star. If you are heading to LA, go see him, and let him blow your mind.
- Song For Children - Brian Wilson - 2004 - SMiLE
I love Brian. This blog was named after one of his songs. In the late 90s I became somewhat obsessed with Mr. Wilson. I truly found Pet Sounds when the box set (remember those) and bootleg copies of the tragically unreleased SMiLE hit the scene. I would imagine you all know the story of SMiLE and how it was left in a vault for 30 plus years and how it caused Brian to literally lose his mind and stay in bed for 3 years (at least the Barenaked Ladies got a hit out of his misery). But this decade was all about that burden being lifted for one of Americas great songwriters. With the help from his amazing backing band, Brian put the pieces of the SMiLE puzzle together and in 2004 performed (which I saw at Carnegie Hall - a dream come true) and finally released his masterwork for the world to hear. The critics (Metacritic has it as the highest reviewed Album of the 00s) and the fans loved it. Brian was out of his fog, he enjoyed playing it live and he started to write new material again. Personally when I heard this fragment and how it was intended to be connected to his beautiful "Wonderful" (how did I not figure that out?), I just knew the finished SMiLE was going to be something special. And that it is.
- Spitting Game - Snow Patrol - 2003 - Final Straw
Thanks to my Scottish nanny at the time, and not some sappy ABC TV show, I found this album in 2003. Like Coldplay, Snow Patrol is one of my guilty UK (this time Scot) pleasures of the decade. I like the emo lead vocals, the straight forward beats and top-of-the-line production. Plus, there is a great opening line on this track - "I broke into you house last night...." You know how I feel about stalker songs.
- Chicago - Sufjan Stevens - 2005 - Come On Feel The Illinois
Fitting that Stevens comes on the shuffle right after a band that named dropped him and this track in their song "Hands Open". Bottom line, this guys is as creative as hell. His songwriting choices, the instruments he picks, the topics (he is going to make albums highlighting all 50 states - he has two done so far), the contributing artist he works with, he is an indie blog darling and an original.
- Rehab - Amy Winehouse - 2006 - Back To Black
Before the trainwreck, we had the music, the voice and most importantly, Mark Ronson's "man behind the curtain" throw-back to Motown sound production.
- Sometime Around Midnight - The Airborne Toxic Event - 2008 - The Airborne Toxic Event
Horrible band name, reeks of one-hit-wonder, but, still moving, sweeping, filled with rage & sorrow & hopelessness. It connects. It builds. And so does the rage. What is she doing? Who hasn't been this guy, in a bar, watching as she leaves with someone else? Drink up guys, it's gonna be a long night.
- Brighter Than Sunshine - Aqualung - 2005 - Strange and Beautiful
Ben Folds does the Beatles. Sometimes you listen to these songs and you wonder why did I play them so much in the past. It had to be the strings in this thing. I am a sucker for strings in songs. I blame "I Am A Walrus" and all those damn Elton John songs that Philly radio made me listen to during my formative years.
- Here It Goes Again - Ok Go - 2006 - Oh No
Nice little band here. Brown U guys that are very imaginative and creative. Made it more for the video then anything else. That and it sounds like it would be found on side two of Cheap Trick's Dream Police.
- Hey Ya! - Outkast - 2003 - Speakerboxx
It's here for the line "shake it like a Polaroid picture..." and because it rocks.
- White Limousine - Duncan Sheik - 2006 - White Limousine
This song reminds me of the late 90s and early 00s. "While America Slept" and Software companies were still sending us in droves out to Vegas for "kick-offs" and "trade-show", we perfected the fine art of All-American gluttony. Two wars going on and we are driving to the Palm in some white limo. Sure, this makes sense. Note - Last year was the first year my SW company, and many others, didn't send people to Vegas. Financial collapse tend to impact limo trips to Cheetah.
- Guaranteed - Eddie Vedder - 2007 - Into The Wild (Soundtrack)
While watching this impeccable movie, I heard Eddie's voice and could not believe it. The music was good, the lyrics were not as pretentious as usual and the tracks had an organic quality to them. This one, and Hard Sun, stood out to me. It forced me to give Eddie a second chance and then he and PJ released Backspacer this year. Good form Ed.
- Don't Steal Our Sun - The Thrills - 2003 - So Much For The City
Irish guys doing Brother era Beach Boys songs. This could be a match made in music heaven for me. While The Thrills have never matched the vibe of this auspicious debut, they were able to hook me for a summer with all those "ooohhhs" and "eeeewwws". Worth seeking it out.
- I Don't Know What It Is - Rufus Wainwright - 2003 - Want One
Funny, I was just reading Zach Galifianakis (you know the fat guy from The Hangover) iTunes Celebrity Playlist and he said that this song helped get him through some difficult times. I won't go that far, but I will give a genius his due. And that is the only word I think of when I think of Rufus. His music is a gift from the gods. This song reminds me of driving around Basking Ridge, right around the time my eldest daughter started to talk, and she would sing along to this song.
- Bartender - Dave Matthews Band - 2001 - The Lillywhite Sessions
I remember this song from the summer before 9/11. This was one of the first Internet "leak" albums. Matthews didn't like it, it was too dark (wasn't that the point Dave?), so legend has it producer Steve Lillywhite leaked it to the web to prove to the DMB that it was the best thing they ever accomplished. Advantage Lillywhite. The DMB went back into the studio (after it was so well received by critics and fans) and rerecorded the record more to their liking. Match, set Lillywhite.
- Sequestered In Memphis - The Hold Steady - 2008 - Stay Positive
If the E Street band came out in the 00s they would sound like these guys. I am always amazed at how many Bruceheads I play this for and they don't get it (that's called blind worship). Another one of those indie darlings (Brooklyn), but these guys, unlike the 1000s of others, actually can rock with the best of them. For all of you "modern rock" station managers, wake up people, this is the tightest band playing in America right now.
YouTube on Letterman:
- Kids - MGMT - 2008 - Oracular Spectacular
Talk about indie blog darlings, these guys are the Brooklyn poster children. Something funny happened on the way to Manhattan from the 2 and 3 trains; Soccer Moms started to use this as their ring tones and people played it at pool parties miles away from Park Slope. Be careful what you wish for. Backlash is on the way. For now, try not to tap your feet or sing along about "a family of trees." Massive track.
- 1901 - Phoenix - 2009 - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Holy Sophia Coppella's French husband! What a joyously exuberant taste of pop/rock. 1901 is a head-bopper with hooks at every turn and at every speed. I have a feeling this song is gonna sell a lot of crappy American cars.
- I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You - Black Kids - 2008 - Wizards of Ahhhs
CMJ favs and the best band out of Jacksonville, Florida since Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (sorry Matchbox 20/Twenty), the Black Kids are infectious.
- All These Things That I've Done - The Killers - 2004 - Hot Fuss
Brandon Flowers has been quoted saying they wanted to write their own "Where the Streets Have No Name" when they set out to write this song. I think they did that and more. Not many rock tracks better then this one in the past 15 years. Plus, "I got soul, but I'm not a soldier" is priceless.
Youtube of The Killers, Coldplay and Bono doing this song in the UK:
- Straight Lines - Silverchair - 2007 - Young Modern
These guys should be massive here in the US, but sadly the state of rock music in the USA is on proverbial life support (Nickelback was just named Rock Artist of the decade by Billboard - kill me now). Instead they have carved out a nice little corner of the world market (their home in Australia and New Zealand) and focused their talents there. Smart move boys. I love the way this track builds. Johns is a phenomenal songwriter (hello America). This song will always remind me of dancing around the living room with my youngest daughter.
- The Sweet - The Major Labels - 2008 - Aquavia
Ahhh the Major Labels. The side project of two of my favorite Power Pop hold-outs, Bleu and Mike "the Voice" Viola. They released this album as a lark on a pay-as-you-want website called Nosietrade, they recorded it at a country house in Mass, they had a blast and it comes out on the record. Aquavia was my favorite album of 2008. It has it all, hard rock, Summer of 69 references, Queen vocals, and this White Album/RAM wannabe track. Broken down into four sections, The Sweet highlights the exceptional talents of each band member, Bucky, Blue and Viola. I saw these guys do the album live somewhere south of Houston St. in NYC (The Living Room? I forget) and they didn't play the track. I asked Mike why and all he said was becasue it would have been too damn hard. Hence, no YouTube.
- Perfect Lovesong - The Divine Comedy - 2001 - Regeneration
Produced by longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Regeneration was a departure from the chamber pop that Neil Hannon and his band became famous for. Personally, I dig it for the audacity ("this will be the perfect love song dammit!") and the Beach Boys and Beatles line at the start of the song. You need all three of those to truly make the perfect love song. If not, it's just going to sound like that David Foster crap from the 80s and 90s.
- 99 Problems - Jay-Z - 2003 - The Black Album
The best, hands down, rapper in the world today. The key to Jay is that he pulls it off by not coming across as trying too hard, it comes natural, and when the right buttons are pushed, it works. Kind of like Sinatra back in the day, Jay just has it. And like old Blue Eyes, something tells me that Jay is one of the hardest working people in music around. Backed by Rick Rubin's perfect production, Shawn Carter lays out the logic according to Jay in close to four minutes of power, fury and cross-over appeal.
- Boulevard Of Broken Dreams - Green Day - 2004 - American Idiot
This was the album when Green Day grew-up. This was the album when Green Day became more then another pop-punk wannabe outfit, passing all those Fall Out Boys and 3 Doors Down and Dashboard Whatevers. This is the album that will get Green Day into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame one day and rightfully so. By far the greatest ROCK album of the decade, American Idiot, woke the youth of America up for a brief moment out of their PS3/XBox haze. It made them take notice, think twice about their coddled existence and I bet, it had an impact on the Election of 2008. Plus, the last 40 seconds of this song could be the greatest moment of Rock rage in all of the 00s.
- American Boy - Estelle (featuring Kanye West) - 2008 - Shine
One of those, smile-on-your-face-as-soon-as-you-hear-it type of songs. Great beat, great trans-continental/Atlantic lyrics (I mean you really want to hop right on a jet when this tune is over) and it features Kanye's best guest rap to date. "What's your persona about this Americana....And I'm feeling like Mike at his Bad-est, like the Pips at their Glad-est..." Bloody hell right.
- You Know So Well - Sondre Lerche - 2002 - Faces Down
This guys was 19 when he released this song. Pretty astonishing. Sondre hails from Norway where he is considered their cross between Cole Porter and Elvis Costello. This is the first track from his debut and I still feel it is his best. Check out his duet with Regina Spektor called "Hell No", it's like a modern day "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Here is a YouTube of YKSW:
- Crazy - Gnarls Barkley - 2006 - St. Elsewhere
It does not matter what genre of music you listen to, back in 2006 everyone tried to claim Crazy as theirs. Every station up and down the dial played it. Hip-hop, rock, pop, even country (I kid). Crazy really doesn't fit into one category and that is what made this track so perfect. Backed by arguably the best base grove of the decade, Danger Mouse proves that he could just very well be, the best Producer of the decade.
- Yellow - Coldplay - 2000 - Parachutes
Who cares if Radiohead did not write Radiohead songs anymore, these guys from the UK came out of the gates writing them for us all. This song offers glimpses of what was to come throughout the decade; the stylish guitar work, Martin's high-pitched wails, the minimalist lyrics during a chorus, all there, for all of us to sing along to.
- Blueside - Rooney - 2003 - Rooney
One of those "as seen on The O.C." groups that came out early in the decade while that nonsense was still on FOX. I liked this track thanks to its subtle (yeah right) genuflection to the alter of Jellyfish and the Beach Boys. Plus, the band is named after principal Ed Rooney, from the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Good stuff.
- Daughters - John Mayer - 2003 - Heavier Things
This song is here for two reasons - one, because I had two of them (daughters that is) this decade and two, because I like the bridge. But really, it's because of number one.
- Fill My Little World - The Feeling - 2006 - Twelve Stops From Home
Another find from one of my trips across the pond. They don't make 'em in the USA like The Feeling anymore. One whiff of this song and you know right were it comes from; somewhere North of London I suppose, a place where the tap water is so sweet that it must be chocolate milk coming out of those faucets. In turn, the Brits become accustomed to digesting these sweet treats and it makes all of their little British teeth crooked. Big in the UK and a dot on the radar here in the US, The Feeling are the type of band that I seek out when I head to Europe. They are the type of band that has perfected that lost art of the clever little three minute pop songs. The ones that the rest of the cavity filled world loves.
YouTube of the Brits and their festivals - they know every word:
That's all for now, see you this weekend with some Movie list and then poof, this thing is done.