Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Fitted Shirt-Spoon

Spoon didn't really start to sound like their mature sound until the excellent, but slow-to-grow-on, effort Girls Can Tell. The Fitted Shirt sounds like a direct continuation of the classic rock sound of the late 70s. It begins with a Led Zeppelin beat and is gruesome sounding. The prominent musical thought being "Finish her!". There's no good finish here. I don't want to know what they're getting at, to be honest. But the song is more sophisticated than that and the fitted shirt theme is introduced along with, of all things, a harpsichord sound. I think a normal person would like this song just because of the Zeppelin feel. I like it because it has harmonizing in the middle and truly sounds like Spoon and nothing else.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Heart +Soul-Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

This is a song for having a romantic relationship hanging in the balance where you recognize the power of the other to do serious damage, while you hold out hope that they won’t. You are in that particular manic “up” phase where you have confidence that it all might work out at the very same time realizing shit is about to be f*cked up. This is before you put on the really aggro stuff or the Smiths. This is the song where it seems the protagonist is wavering between hope and despair, between confidence and insecurity. If the damage has already been done you just blast it thinking what might have been, waiting, wading through the driving fuzzed out guitar, tingling when the woo woo woo woos slide in at the 3:40-something mark to nail it down. Perfect song for the crappy movie you wish were really a music video because all the songs were good. From their decent second effort Take Them On, On Your Own.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Run-Snow Patrol

Here's the truth. Snow Patrol is not all that great a band. They are too eager to work in Coldplay sound and sentimentality and the lead singer's voice doesn't make it near that orbital. Their big selling album Final Straw is fine. But like a 7/10 fine. Yet somehow, out of that comes this f*cking unbelievable song, Run.

Run sounds like what would happen if Grandaddy did an Elbow cover (interestingly, the song was featured on the Jason Lytle mix CD, Below the Radio. It is broad and sweeping. It leaves you feeling vulnerable, sad, and teary. I think the key is the repetitive nature of the instrumentation and the slow build up to a pretty decent emotional climax. Having heard these guys in concert, this is the song that makes me actually feel the music. I can listen to this song indefinitely and feel that tiny uneasy feeling in my stomach every time.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

16 Military Wives-The Decemberists

The Decemberists are one of the most original and fun pop groups out there. Their music is whimsical, poetic, and exuberant. So why not, of all the bands out there, write something political? This song is harshly cynical, but it's marked by the one of the most upbeat and catchy songs they've written. There are so many good parts in this songs: the horns, the la di da di da refrain, and the New Pornographers power pop arrangement. I also like the numbering of events. For example:

16 military wives
32 softly focussed brightly coloured eyes
17 company men of which 12 will make it back again

The other interesting part of the political message of the song is the complicity of the media with the foul and diseased US foreign actions. Nobody is spared in this song: celebrities, liberals, and everyone of us. Which is only fair.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Rhododendron-The Beta Band

There are too few artists in the world that truly ripoff Brian Wilson. Everyone is influenced by his music, but the stuff they steal from him isn't what really in his heart. Beta Band is unafraid to play true homage in so many different songs from their last ever CD (sniff), Heroes to Zeroes. Rhododendron is really a continuation of Let's Go Away for a While, from Pet Sounds. I love the sentimentality of both songs and the unfearing use of percussion.

Beginning with a strange combination of mallet percussion (xylophone?) and weird high synthy instrument, Rhododendron forms a tight little canon with the bells, synth, and finally timpany. It's a quintessential Brian Wilson instrumental arrangement, highly reminiscent of the Holidays instrumental bootleg track from the old SMiLE sessions. I love this song and therefore Pinko will have objections.

Friday, July 15, 2005

good song for a bad day spent dealing with asshats.

this should not need explanation. just read the lyrics, doi. it is from okkervil river's Black Sheep Boy the song is called "A Stone".

Hot breath, rough skin, warm laughs and smiling, the loveliest words whispered and meant - you like all these things. But, though you like all these things, you love a stone. You love a stone, because it’s smooth and it’s cold. And you’d love most to be told that it’s all your own. You love white veins, you love hard grey, the heaviest weight, the clumsiest shape, the earthiest smell, the hollowest tone - you love a stone. And I’m found too fast, called too fond of flames, and then I’m phoning my friends, and then I’m shouldering the blame, while you’re picking pebbles out of the drain, miles ago. You’re out singing songs, and I’m down shouting names at the flickerless screen, going fucking insane. Am I losing my cool, overstating my case? Well, baby, what can I say? You know I never claimed that I was a stone. And you love a stone. You love white veins, you love hard grey, the heaviest weight, the clumsiest shape, the earthiest smell, the hollowest tone - you love a stone. You love a stone, because it’s dark, and it’s old, and if it could start being alive you’d stop living alone. And I think I believe that, if stones could dream, they’d dream of being laid side-by-side, piece-by-piece, and turned into a castle for some towering queen they’re unable to know. And when that queen’s daughter came of age, I think she’d be lovely and stubborn and brave, and suitors would journey from kingdoms away to make themselves known. And I think that I know the bitter dismay of a lover who brought fresh bouquets every day when she turned him away to remember some knave who once gave just one rose, one day, years ago.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Emotional Rescue-The Rolling Stones

I make no apologies for this song. I don't care if it is disco. I don't care if it is period of the Stones' that most would like to forget coming off the oh so very high hump (68-72) and a lot of hump it was. The song starts with some Charlie Watts' high hat and associated drumming, in slinks Bill Wyman. I'm not even sure if Keef is on this track. Anyway, first it sounds all romancy, then it sounds like Mick has one of his epic bouts of blue balls, I mean he is crying, crying over you and then of course, once success is in his sights as it will always be, he confidently comes to your emotional rescue, on his fine Arab charger, leaving, of course the sexual ravishment unstated, but definitely understood. Oh yeah, there's a little bit of Keef at the end. The falsetto f*cking kills. He's going to own you and he defines his sexual satisfaction as your emotinal rescue. Possibly one of their sleaziest songs, up there with "Monkey Man" and "Live with Me" but probably more a surreptitious "Under My Thumb." A f*cking plus, boys.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Battle of the Broken Hearts-Mojave 3

This is one of the greatest songs I have ever heard. Now, I realize that every SotD post I write might sound like that, but please don't let it take anything away from how much I love this song, from the excellent CD Spoon and Rafter. There are so many things that make me love this song. I'll do my best to describe them:

First, the song has movements and dramatic tempo changes arranged into an A-B-C-A-B-C form. Basically, medium tempo, up-tempo, and then dramatic down-tempo heart-wrenching beautiful, before returning to the original form. I like the changes and each part affects me in a different way. With clearly C being the best part.

Second, the song begins with that Shins-like sound of ooohs from New Slang. Great beginning

Third, theremin introducing down-tempo. Nuff said.

Fourth are the lyrics in the middle of the song:
She said
no one wants you when you're broken
no one needs you when you're hurt
you can't love me 'cause I'm broken
you can't know me while I'm hurt
no one wants you when you're broken
they can't love you and it's sad
I mean dude, how can you possibly recover from that? (Ed. note, when we link to lyrics we attempt to link to band's official or unofficial pages, not the spyware cobags that archive all the song lyrics).

Fifth, voice plus mallet percussion singing the tune that sounds kind of like from A Day in the Life that you always have to sing along to. You know the part with the oooh ooh oohs. The part that is impossible to not hum along to because it is the most beautiful melody ever.

In the world of iTunes musical rankings, you have two ways to go for perfect songs. Either give them a 13/5 or something like that. Or you can add significant figures to the 5. For example, 5.0000. A better song would be 5.00000. I don't know the right way to do it, but I know that this is a song that brings up such dilemmas. Is that enough gushing?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Cornflake Girl-Tori Amos, Blue Skies-BT, Ziggy Stardust-Bauhaus, Duel-Propaganda, Any Lords of Acid

Marcelo P. Camargo Edition-

Marcelo liked lots of kinds of music. Lots meaning even up to and including Celine Dion. His favorite artist was Tori Amos, to the point he was quite proud that he had all of her albums and singles, and many imports and bootlegs too. He definitely liked her music, but he also thought she was a total babe. It was probably her dark side that he liked. He was as mild mannered as anyone could be but he also like Goth tunes. I would ask if you like Tori at all to put your favorite Tori song and why in the comments, because it is something that Marcelo would appreciate.

I am choosing "Cornflake Girl" from Under the Pink for this post because, besides being the best song by Tori that I know, I believe it to be a poignant take on human isolation and the possibly shattering feeling of coming to a realization. "Never was a corn flake girl......This is not really happening/You bet your life it is." I'm sure it is not germane, but the lyrics are cryptic enough they are gonna damn well mean that.

Blue Skies is an empty, soaring techno track (if I used the wrong term go here and correct me) by BT featurind disembodied soaring vocals from Tori Amos that make you wish she did this more often. I think Marcelo liked this song and he would have loved it at the club.

He had a side that he didn't necessarily feel like showing all the time (especially in Mormonville USA)- he liked club music, especially goth and some industrial. We had a joke that this cute teller at our bank would someday say to Marcelo- (he was always chatty, and we talked about it because we worked near each other and I would see him on the way to the bank- he would ask me, do you know X? and I would say "yeah" and he would say "she's a cutie" and I would say "yeah")- anyway we joked that she would say to Marcelo "I just broke up with my fiancee." And Marcelo would say "I'm so sorry, what happened." And she would say "I told him that even though I seem nice and cute, I just want to wear black and be a Goth chick." He was surprised that I knew all the bands that he was talking about, we probably brought it up because I heard him playing something at his house, and was shocked that he liked it.

He loved Bauhaus, and I have chosen a Bauhaus cover of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust for this part of the post. Bauhaus is kind of like a particular flavor or offshoot of David Bowie. It could be because of their similar voices (Peter Murphy and David Bowie), but the dark side of glam always felt a little Gothy to me. I mean once you have the make-up on in your glam phase, how hard is it to put on too much eyeliner?

I have also chosen "Duel" by Propaganda. These early all digital pioneers were really like an electro-pop band fueled by the rich voice of Claudia Bruecken, but they basically sang about S & M stuff, kind of the female, less strutting, more confident version of early Depeche Mode. This song is about S & M- the chorus goes "the first cut won't hurt at all/the second only makes you wonder/the third will have you on your knees/you start bleeding I start screaming". Yet the music comes across as a less romantic OMD. I would also mention another Claudia Bruecken song here, from her work with the duo Act- "Absolutely Immune"- a song about rejecting the cares and slights of those around you, declaring in the chorus "I'm absolutely immune."

Finally, I have to mention Lords of Acid here. These techno-shock assholes are all about sex and disgusting you, with a stomping hardcore beat. I believe the correct term from Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music is "downtempo". Anyway we had a yard sale and Marcelo brought some CDs over to sell, that he just didn't listen to anymore. We joked about his Lords of Acid CD Voodoo U. The cover is very risque as you see below. It was tucked into a big pile of lots of other CDs. But as you would have it, some little kid was looking and of course, it is the most brightly colored one in the pile and pulls it out and is about to wave it around his mom. I remember launching myself across the yard to snatch it away before the child was forever scarred by this:
Marcelo, you are in our hearts.

Monday, July 11, 2005

coupla things,,er songs rather. 1. track three from joanna newsom. yeah, i killed my dinner with karate too. 2. antony and the johnson's for today i am a boy. i wonder if the drag queens listen to this song as they are getting ready to work the weekend brunch shift at the place across the street called the bump and grind. they serve good food, can toss fake boobs across the restaurant to the other ones dress all the while singing and yelling. the way brunch should be served? 3. stepdaughter by califone for it was the first to come to mind reading about pinkopunko's neighbor.. i dont feel like explaining.

If You Fall-Azure Ray

I first heard this song on Indie Pop Rocks on SOMA-FM, a fine internet radio station. It was one of those 'who are these guys and how did they write such an amazing song' moment. Which, upon getting proper confirmation from Pinko Punko that they were truly awesome, led me to the purchase of their CD Hold On Love. It's really not the best album overall, but to its credit, it has "If You Fall". It also has one other very good song, "These White Lights Will Bend to Blue". Good title.

The song begins with the kind of piano line and melody that lets you know right off the bat that this is going to be a fun poppy song. I don't mind that it appears to be about the ups and downs of the pursuit of love or what have you - it's not remotely whiny. The female voices are delightful and wonderfully harmonic. The song has a good beat. It's like a slow version of a Strokes song. It's also a perfect example of why any good song can be made better by adding piano. The song ends with a little strings flourish. What can I say, Azure Ray wrote a really damn cute song and I like it!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Tomorrow- Morrissey (teen angst series)

So Morrissey haters, I hear you. He is an acquired taste. Morrissey, and his famous other band The Smiths, tend to have a couple of types of songs. Some, where the music kind of follows or fills in after his lead ("Last of the Famous International Playboys", "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side", others where the songs seem to have more drive- examples here would be "The Queen is Dead" and "Bigmouth Strikes Again" from The Queen is Dead, my personal fave Smiths album.

These songs that seem to have more impetus are the ones to listen to if you want to try to get Morrissey, however you already have to have somewhat of a bent toward romantic, English guitar angst. The production here is by the late Mick Ronson (from the album Your Arsenal) and he gave Moz a harder more reverby edge. Since this post is about if you were back in high school and just got dumped, hear his words...
Tomorrow, will it really come/
and if it does come/

will I still be human/
all I ask of you is the one thing that you'll never do/
would you put your arms around me...

I won't tell anybody

The awful thing about Moz is he'll turn around and destroy you in the next song for your patheticness, but you were only that pathetic to begin with because he described you so well in the previous one. Other songs I suggest as an intro besides the ones mentioned, "Panic" and "Paint a Vulgar Picture" (The Smiths) and "November Spawned a Monster", "Lucky Lisp", "Suedehead" and "Interesting Drug" (Morrissey solo stuff). Listen, I know, I used to hate him, but he is a lyrical genius and when surrounded by the right musical pieces he hits you right in your poor crumpled teenage heart. Remember when you were young and you cared ever so much about the little things?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Popular-Splitsville

Coming on from indiefied 70s reveling am pop balladeers/troubadours Splitsville, this song centers around a climbing chorus of "And I feel the pain of the pop-u-lar/I feel your pain" and you have a vague feeling of something biting and larger than the strummy stylings. Of course I just looked up the lyrics, and I don't know what the hell I am talking about. The song is both a warped joke and the dark side of a person's psyche. Completely at odds thematically, but musically absolutely cohesive, "Popular" is followed by a gorgeous, pining tribute to Brian Wilson called "The Lovesongs of B. Douglas Wilson" that ends:
Surf's up again...
The album of course is titled The Complete Pet Soul, which might give you a clue whence the band hails musically. 10/10 (even with the screwed up lyrics, don't worry you can't understand them anyway)

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Trapeze Swinger-Iron and Wine

In Good Company was a pretty decent movie and featured surprisingly good ensemble acting. What also kept my attention throughout the movie was a very good soundtrack, prominently featuring the work of one of my favourite artists, Iron and Wine. Thus, the highlight of the movie for me was the previously unreleased Iron and Wine song played over the closing credits, "The Trapeze Swinger". This song is probably the only good reason to buy the movie's soundtrack. Realizing this, the evil people at iTunes made this the one track that couldn't be individually purchased. That might have something to do with the 9:29 length of the song, but I'm sure it's because of people like me.

The song itself is utterly crushing. It is the emotional equivalent of taking cyanide. Musically, this track nestles itself amongst the pieces of The Creek Drank the Cradle, most resembling the standout track, "Upward Over the Mountain". The song carries the same painful nostalgia, constantly asking the woman of the song to "remember me". In fact the poetry in the song is so beautiful that it is worth reading on its own here. The music of each stanza doesn't change very much, but it actually serves to increase the sense of longing and regret. I don't think it is remotely boring, and features a particularly lovely hymnal chorus in the background and beautiful sparse percussion. As the song progresses, it sounds like Sam Beam is joined by a female voice, but it's subtle and distant. Like his lost love. The last musical change near the end of the song is a series of rising and descending whole notes by what sounds like a subdued piano that takes the listener to the final abrupt ending.

Even though this song is probably my favourite Iron and Wine song, I would urge a new listener to begin with The Creek Drank the Cradle, and wait to embrace this song only after falling in love with Iron and Wine's delicate mastery.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Exciteable-Def Leppard

Sitting around 2nd period, trig?, maybe third period drama. Bell rings half hour early. Oh yeah, there's an assembly today. They just come out of nowhere. What is it? Dance Concert. Dance Concert? I'll just sleep in the back. People shuffle in, maybe talk to one another. I just sat by myself, thinking I was going to go to sleep anyway. Lights go down, way down. Some figures, too dark to see thake their places onstage. A voice comes over the PA, some processed weirdness, "are you excitable?" What the?

Then the gyrating, high school flashdance chunk of cheesesteroid flattens the place while engendering salutes from the pubertationally competant. I can't say that I felt it was sexy per se. For 4.5 minutes, though, one became utterly convinced that the upcoming junior and senior years would be a runaway train of delightfully hedonistic debauchery, if one would only pay the nerd piper for one crappy year. Thanks, Def Leppard, and High School Dance Team. Thanks for filling my head with lies and deception. What seemed at the time to be a funk hammer statement of unbridled testosteration, was merely a Def Leppard preformed sh*t nugget designed for concert openers and toss off 6th singles. Thanks, c*ck teasers. Thanks for nothing.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Dark Road Window-Radar Brothers

Radar Brothers are the kind of band that are unappreciated because people just haven't heard of them and music critics feel guilty about hyping bands that remind them of Pink Floyd. It's kind of inexcusable on both ends. Their music is typified by being slow, dreamy, and yearning. Former Medicine and Maids of Gravity member Jim Putnam's voice resembles Jason Lytle of Grandaddy (maybe-ed.), and any fan of one band is an obligate fan of the other. Dark Road Window is the standout track from their new CD, The Fallen Leaf Pages, yet is also probably the best song I've heard by Radar Brothers. Their previous CD, And the Surrounding Mountains, is one of the uniformly most solid CDs I own, but I would give up that entire CD just for this one song.

The track begins with a foreboding guitar line in tempo with the cymbals. Lyrically, it is dark. I suppose just like a dark road window. One quickly realizes that this is not Radar Brothers having a pleasant dream. While I can't actually hear all the lyrics, I pick up snippets like "golden creatures of the sea" and "makes the sky go black" and I realize that this is a fantastical nightmare. This explains the foreboding guitar and it's anxious melodic progression. However, the stars of this song are the overdubbed voices of Jim Putnam. The vocals pick up from the guitar and in one crazy Dark Side of the Moon moment simply emerge as their own instrument, sounding a haunting and taunting wordless lament. I will sleep tonight hearing that sound and know that the ancient dragons wait for me as well.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Surprise, Honeycomb-The Wrens

Eclectic, risen from the grave New Jersey DIY basement rockers The Wrens reissued their almost invisible album Secaucus some years ago to absolute indie acclaim. For fans of messy, esoteric, raw rough gems of songs, Secaucus is not that indie album that can be recommended to anyone. It, however, contains the absolute best, haunting, cryptic, pop-rock song about a serial killer's spree (akin to Martin Sheen's in Badlands, but a more urban feel, and not the MTV of Natural Born Killers). I absolutely cannot do this song justice. It is a song that seems to have many different parts, but you cannot separate them in your mind, and when the song is over, it is gone like a puff of smoke, not in a forgettable way, but in an elusive way that you feel you need to recapture. I usually mention lyrics, because some songs I pay attention and some songs I never notice. I feel like "Surprise, Honeycomb" is a sort of tombstone elegy for sociopath.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Year Of The Dragon-Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens has been gaining quite a lot of notoriety for his masterful folkie Americana suites about states (Greetings from Michigan, and the soon to be released Illinois). But this is the music he makes on too much drugs. Know Your Rabbit, the album this song is on, is a song cycle based on the Chinese calendar, and is largely electronicy and minimalist. Year of the dragon is probably the centrepiece of this cycle. Timed at 9:26, it is not the longest song, but it is probably the most grandiose and adventurous. The first half is highly reminiscent of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells". It is hypnotically repetitive and builds slowly with a few new synthesized instruments added in over time. At about the four minute mark the piece changes dramatically. Time becomes compressed and the bass starts to play more and more powerful descending chords. It is a stunning and moving moment. Just as the crescendo seems like it can't go any further, the entire song dissolves into a bleepy interlude and it starts to build and move in a different direction. The song finally ends with a Morse code series of beeps and then a short cacophony of fuzzy bass.

I really like this song a lot. It is probably the one song on the whole album that made me feel it was worth buying. I also think I like it for the same reason that I like "Tubular Bells". It has a well structured flow and keeps my attention throughout. I'm quite curious what inspired Sufjan to pick this particular song as "Year of the Dragon". Supposedly people born in the year of the dragon are healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered, and stubborn. This track, however, would probably be detestable to people with the above traits. Nevertheless, the track begins and ends like the roar of a dragon. 9/10.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Wrote for Luck-Happy Mondays

This song off the Bummed album features the Manchester "baggy beat" but also has a feel closer to older bands like the Chameleons UK in its jangly, reverby guitar. This is not a song that reminds of their next album and commercial high point Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches. The Uncanny Canadian hates this song, but the insistence of the guitar riff layered with some chimey bits makes it feel like a Stone Roses hybrid (with that beat) and the ringing stuff from a song like The Chemical Brothers' "Sunshine Underground." A great song. The riff sounds like a jangly version of the same one that U2 probably borrowed from someone else for "The Fly". Bummed is out of print in the US I believe, but you can find it at used CD stores. If you really want to experience this song, avoid the recently released Happy Mondays US Singles compilation, as it has a truncated version.