Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hell Bent For Leather-Judas Priest

Here at Song of the Day we like all kinds of music. Some music we like because it is fun. I don't think this is the same as "it's so bad, it's good" or "ironically" liking something. The thing about almost all ironic music is that it always seems to where it's heart on it's sleeve. Music that makes no apologies for how emotional, grandiose or ridiculous it seems or is. Many songs I would never buy, but I love hearing in the car- you know- radio music- songs that you can sing along to like Karaoke, because what is being said in the song is not something you would ever say- it is almost like role playing.

The role playing part of the above paragraph has nothing to do with this song, I assure you, which I found myself singing along to yesterday in the car- thanks 107.7 the Bone- your DJs all sound like my high school principal or they should be on a Christian station, yet you play this:
Seek him here, seek him on the highway
Never knowing when he’ll appear
All await, engine’s ticking over
Hear the roar as they sense the fear

Wheels! a glint of steel and a flash of light!
Screams! from a streak of fire as he strikes!

Hell bent, hell bent for leather
Hell bent, hell bent for leather

Black as night, faster than a shadowcrimson flare from a raging sun
An exhibition, of sheer precision
Yet no one knows from where he comes

Fools! self destruct cannot take that crown
Dreams! crash one by one to the ground

Hell bent, hell bent for leather
Hell bent, hell bent for leather

There’s many who tried to prove that they’re faster
But they didn’t last and they died as they tried

There’s many who tried to prove that they’re faster
But they didn’t last and they died as they tried

Hell bent, hell bent for leather
Hell bent, hell bent for leather
Hell bent, hell bent for leather
Hell bent, hell bent for leather

Um, Rob Halford was never in the closet, it seems. The closet was in plain sight. PRIEST!! RAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Architecture in Helsinki-It'5!

Architecture in Helsinki are a strange collective. It's probably an Australian thing. I think they make up instruments that they want in a song ahead of time and put the song together around that. Which makes for interesting songs, especially when the tuba is involved. Their previous CD, Fingers Crossed, was all about cutesy and ecelctic music. I like it a lot. It kind of falls into the Elephant 6 subgenre of music, of which I'm a big fan. I like poppy and unabashedly 60's-influenced music.

It'5! is a very different song, from their very different CD In Case We Die. It begins with a chant of the obscure lyric "stranger danger, danger stranger, when you gonna follow through?" And then gets right into a disco beat, which keeps getting interrupted by random things until the song really takes off. Once it does, it resembles a Badly Drawn Boy song more than anything else. Maybe a little Scissors Sister. With the occasional refrain "It's 5!" or "It is 5!". The beat is pretty good. I could almost see someone dancing to the music. Maybe myself .....

I'm curious why people keep comparing In Case We Die to the Fiery Furnaces. I just don't hear it. They happen to be two groups that make diverse sounding music, that sometimes changes abruptly. AiH never sounds proggy while FF is very proggy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mesh-New Order

Ian Curtis’s all too early exit from this world (the lead singer of what was then Joy Division killed himself before their first US Tour was to start. Joy Division became New Order. The New Order that was then was different from the New Order you think about, the New Order of the sorority girls screaming to each other to flock to the dance floor and the first strains of “Bizarre Love Triangle” (don’t get all pissy, Three Bulls! was slinking onto the floor right behind them). The transition between Joy Division and New Order was never as seamless as on a B-side to the 1981-1982 Everthing’s Gone Green/Temptation EP- “Mesh” (also found of singles comp Substance). The difference being that the synthesizer is less a slash across the starkness of the music like on the Joy Sivision set Closer and, while still stark, and that the darkly, searingly personal vocals of Ian Curtis are replaced by the more distant, almost contemplative (at least on this track) vocals of Bernard Sumner. This track along with the rest of the EP are what I consider to be New Order’s best work, and for those that consider them lightweights, this track is a post-punk classic.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Kids on Holiday-Animal Collective

A mystical, hushed koan to some airport in Purgatory. The vocals emanate from some crack in the wall as the music, no, the sound shuffles through ambient samples. These guys have been decribed as spacey cracked campfire music embellished with a load of Brian Wilson studio outtakes. I don't know. I think if you can handle the off-kilter nature of this song, it comes across as a spacey poem. Below is a drawing from someone at Tiny Mix Tapes who drew this song.
The whole article is here (you have to see it). The lyrics merely list the observed details of a trip to the airport in a kind of stream of consciousness that feels like monks chanting, their hushed, lilting voices settling you into sleep. For some reason it does not conjure up the airport of today with security delays and fear of terrorism, but the aiport of our childhoods, the gateway to the unknown via the sky chariots of Eastern, Pan-Am, TWA, Braniff.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Way Out-The La's

The late, great, lamented La's. Part of the English tradition for retro, psychedelic bands with jangly guitars. Many such bands sound derivative, while some sound only like themselves (The Smiths). The La's are in bewtween. Clearly a retro sound, but their sole self titled album is clearly their own work. The song you know is "There She Goes" a perfect slice of jangly strummed guitar pop. In some markets, they even got another song played, "Timeless Melody"- I hold this one closer to my heart, as it has not been covered by a pop band and played in every mall in America. "Way Out" is in a semilar vein, assertive, jangly guitar, paired with gravelly vocals, some hand claps. I always saw our heroes driving into the sunset with the credits rolling listening to the song- "givin' it all you got now..."

Rat in Mi Kitchen-UB 40

I don't know if this song is a cover or an original. It has been requested by Geenie Cola in honor of our apparent rodent houseguest. Our guest is not a rat, but has sadly been marked for death, luckily this liberal non-homeowner is in charge, and this house is not Tora Bora, so there is a good chance that this little furry guy is dead meat. Back to the song- I know UB40 are the touch of death to coolness, but I like this song. "There's a rat in the kitchen/what I'm a gonna do?/I'm gonna feast on rat/that's what I'm gonna do/I'm gonna feast on rat/whoa-oh-oh yeah". A relaxing mix of English dub/reggae superior to their instant-reggae covers, and the extended version has a great Herb Alpert trumpet solo. Reminds me of the 80s in a non-retro cheese way, summer camp, good times. And a soon to be dead mouse. Sorry, PETA. We'll do it as painless as possible, not Abu Ghraib for this little guy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Inside Out-Chameleons UK

Chameleons are a relatively unknown yet influential English band. They had a Geffen release Strange Times from 1986 and they do sound a little dated, perhaps it is the bombastic type lyrics. The reason they continue to be awesome is their expansive, urgent and spacious guitar sound. Their sound remains controlled, so it never reaches the stadium bombast of U2 or Simple Minds (the Steve Lillywhite sound), and music is just restrained enough that the guitars don't chime bouncing off the moon a la The Edge, merely a very large warehouse. Much more lush than Echo and the Bunnymen, yet less romantic. This band is the clear antecedent of Interpol's debut Turn On The Bright Lights, more so than the oft quoted Joy Division. Chameleons UK's most famous track is "Swamp Thing", which got play on some Modern Rock stations in the US (obviously they were much bigger in England). "Inside Out" is from a release of Strange Times with bonus tracks, and is the most common version floating around, but not the one on iTunes. This song, whether you like (or hate) the vocals and lyrics has such an insistent guitar and commanding rythym, that it should still make an impression. The overly dramatic delivery of the lead singer doesn't bother me, because I fell in love with this album on headphones on an airplane with the volume maxed and all I could hear was the space within the songs and the chiming, snaky guitar, which are at their most insistent on "Inside Out". Also amongst the bonus tracks, a Bowie cover, and a cover of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" that is converted completely into a Chameleons song (whether you think that is a travesty or not).

Friday, August 12, 2005

Ocean Rain-Echo and the Bunnymen

Maybe now that some of Three Bulls! are in love and some have had their hearts broken, more of us will appreciate the complexities of this song. Who knows what this title track from their fourth album? really means, but every note of the song drips with longing/possibly heartbreak/possibly love in a langourous and spare way. Actually romantic strings, minimalist guitar (Will Sergeant is not a guitar genius as has been romaticized, but he is full of good taste and creative), somehow a space wider than an ocean for Ian McCullough to fill with his expansive baritone. He sparingly uses that space between his registers, you know the "Lips Like Sugar" space, until he just absolutely lets go "screaming from beneath the waves/beneath the ocean waves" and you want him to go down, only so you can be released from his power. I love this band and I think this is their best song by far (all the kids these days might know them from "The Killing Moon" which was used in Donnie Darko). That song is also from Ocean Rain, and the band plays the last four songs off the album together in a block. There's a reason why the final song is "Ocean Rain" and not "The Killing Moon".

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Song For Children-Brian Wilson

As part of my celebration of the second live performance I have seen of Brian Wilson's SMiLE, I chose this particular track because it reveals so much about how things changed from the days of the Beach Boys bootlegs and how the final album matured so much.

Song for Children began as an instrumental melody called Look. Look is a lovely track. It began with a keyboard and a beautiful horn flourish followed by bass stuff and a very high-pitched mallet percussion melody with different percussive and tubic punctuations. It's a beautiful piece. For the final SMiLE version, several things changed without the structure and melody being altered. First, the piece was placed thematically in the second suite - centred on children. Second, the piece was directly hooked to the previous track Wonderful through the ingeneious transition of Wonderful->Won->One->Wonderful. It's so great. Third, the thematic link of Child is the father of the son was brought back lyrically. The song is not so much a single lyrical message, as a combination of all the songs in the suite. By adding the words and the thematic links to other parts of SMiLE, the song is a million times better. Even though it isn't the same level of masterpiece as Cabinessence, Good Vibrations, Heroes and Villains, or Surf's Up, I think this is the quintissential SMiLE track.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Use It/Twin Cinema-The New Pornographers

Power pop evil-geniuses continue their assualt on our abilities to resist hookaliciousness. Just when we thought they couldn't become even more harmonious, integrating song-writers and different voices, Carl Newman's straining poptastic lead, Neko Case's booming country belt tamed for AM radio bliss, and Dan Bejar's theatrically leaning croak after second album growth and refinement on The Electric Version. Well, our favorite supergroup of all time returns with two offerings from their forthcoming Twin Cinema LB out August 24. Downloadable here. Both songs show growth, and both are Carl Newman leads with Neko Case backing. Info on their website claims these are the two standouts from the new album, but I would doubt that considering their albums are always chock-a-block full (nary a skippable track to my ears). "Use It" shows more growth, with "Twin Cinema" more of a refined usual track, and each get better with every listen. Some people consider their songs too busy, and "Twin Cinema" has an unfortunate guitar "solo" that detracts from the song, but segues into a nice break, which segues into a nicer break that comes back around the the great intro part, so no probs. "Use It" is more accessible and whets our appetite for the full album.
"You had to send the wrecking crew after me/I can't walk right"

Monday, August 08, 2005

Open Request Thread

We still have more gift certificate to blow and we've been getting totally awesome suggestions, keep them coming. Also, if you want to write up a song yourself, throw it in the comments, and we'll put it above the fold.

Hopeless-The Wrens

There's a lot of buzz on SoftD about The Wrens. And for good reason. The featured SoftD song by said group, Surprise, Honeycomb, is one of the great songs. Period. But more mature and moving than Secaucus as a whole was the latest CD by The Wrens, The Meadowlands. This CD tells the story of what happens to rock musicians when they grow up and become adults. There is heartbreak. There is love. There is hurt. There is divorce. There is lonliness. And it is all captured on this fantastic and moving CD.

Hopeless is probably the most, well hopeless, seeming of the tracks. But it really isn't. The theme of the song is the concept of being used. A bad relationship whose only possible conclusion is its termination and where the only dignity that could come of it was in doing the leaving. It's bitter, biting, and in the end justly vindictive. The woman getting served in this song deserves it in the worst way, and the only thing not leaving you crushed to pieces is the righteousness of the anger. For me, this particular lyric sums up the song nicely (full lyrics available here):

and now you're sorry for the things you did to me
I want you to know
I feel I was the one who got used and use to
just about anything you would tell me
I love the contrast between being used and getting used to. Funny that for a song that I like so much, I haven't commented on the music yet. The music is perfect, but I can't describe why. It has the driving guitar, and the beat that starts slow and keeps bulding in tempo and dynamics as the anger grows and grows. And like the words, the music is relentless and loud. The singing is terrific as well. During the more dramatic lyrics, there is some overdubbing that, while not quite harmonic, does sound richer and more joined. This is the song of many men - not one.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Final Solution- Pere Ubu

How Jedmunds can have a soft, rotten spot in his heart for Oasis, yet treasure the straight-ahead feeling of the Avett Brothers and now this absolute art-punk masterpiece by Pere Ubu? What can I say, Pere Ubu is a band namechecked more by musicians than those not in bands. This song unfolds with a slow grind of a staccato riff, yet seems to proceed in movements. As raw as it sounds, it clearly has been fashioned, there is guitar noise that seems the product of a idiot savant, every squawk, grind, fill seems to fit perfectly organically into the song. It is no use to try to explain it. Hearing this song, was like having 10 songs that probably ripped off its sound on the tip of my tongue, yet not being able to name any of them. Then the last two minutes hit, like a soaring outro, without histrionics, without pandering, the song just goes into a different gear. I feel like Jonny and Ed from Radiohead have this album, even though I can’t say they sound similar. It is like anti-prog that is still prog in that the song has movements and virtuosity of a sort, but none of them conventionally proggy-wank. The only drawback is the phrase “final solution” which for me is too attached to the Holocaust to completely feel comfortable with it in a song, not that this song has anything to do with that. Apprently this song was a single that originated with the band that gave birth to Pere Ubu, and is from ‘76(!!) iTunes says it’s their most popular track, but I would look into more by these guys. Once again, A f*cking plus from the readers. Keep it up kids, we haven’t wasted a buck yet!

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Fitted Shirt-Spoon (Reprise)

NOTE: Jedmunds- we're going with the Pere Ubu coming up- if you feel like gettin' your hands on Surprise, Honeycomb by the Wrens, we think you might like it.

The Uncanny One decided that all he wanted to convey about this song from Spoon's Girls Can Tell was a vaguely Led Zep thump to the drums (think “When The Levee Breaks” for the feel but not the same beat- nothing could be as heavy as Bonzo on that track). Instead I’d like to convey that this song is destined for one place, to be ruined by a shitty movie, while at the same time making that movie worth watching. In the film this song will first be used to show the protagonist getting ready for work, putting on the clothes, walking down the street- Manhattan of course, the skyline shot, the crowd shot, the camera pan up the big tall office building, the protagonist walking in, the song fading out as the asshole boss comes up. Helen Slater, is that you at the drinking fountain? Then the middle portion of the song will be reprised over the credits as scenes of the movie will play into freeze frames, solely for the sake of playing this awesome f*cking song again. The film, if that is what it wants to be called, will of course get the song wrong.

It is not an ode to the working man- it is an to a working man, someone remembering his dad go to work, represented by the fitted shirt. How can a song be so conservative really, and not be reactionary at all? Because being wistful for long gone days, doesn’t mean you are going to force the world back into your own personal dark ages. And besides, in the totally amazing break down we hear “one day it’ll take/ and they’ll start to make/shirts that fit right/til then I suppose/ I still got dad clothes/ I guess that’s alright/”. It may be seen by a shout out to the patriarchy, I see it as a shout out to dad, in a way that’s probably a little conservative (the real definition) and I could get behind that, because you know? He said “its alright.”

Thursday, August 04, 2005

If You Could Save Yourself (You’d Save Us All)-Ween

Perhaps I am the perfect person to write this, as I am the non-Ween fan that had sneaking suspicions that there must be something to all the lunatic Weeniacs claims that there is something to be maniacal about. See, the brothers Ween dropped the biggest turd in the history of turds to ever be turded. That turd was like manna from heaven for pot-smoking frat boys and was known as “Push the Little Daisies” and sung in a style so grating, it was as if pot smoke was really helium to make their voices all squeaky in between the bongy giggles. This atrocity has led me to wish to never hear Ween again. Of course, Ween album after Ween album comes out and some douchey critic says “Ween’s awesome! One of them farted at my local late night diner after the show! I’ve made that booth a shrine!”

In fact the epiphany that is IYCSY(YSUA) is from the Ween album Quebec, and I was struck by the memory that a song had played in a record store, and it sounded similar to Beck’s “Nobody’s Fault But My Own”- in the downer, psychedelic way, and I asked the clerk what is was and he said “Ween.” And of course I thought he was f*cking with me because I wasn’t cool enough to know who the band really was. Coming to the point: this Ween tune is like a non-country psychedelic sister to yesterday’s song. The psychedelia is that of say Roger Waters a la “Goodbye Cruel World” with a little bit of organ, filtered through Three Bulls! faves The Radar Brothers. It has that sort of lilting punch-drunk waltz feel, and it does also feel like the kind of f*ck you defiance of somone that at last has the inclination to pick ones head up off the bar, if only one last time- “I was on my knees/when you knocked me down”-- I could only love this song when I knew it was over and the hated “Push the Daisies Up” Ween had indeed proven to have done just that. A fucking plus Iggie. The world needs to come out of their Ween-shelters.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Request Thread, or write it yourself

You know what to do.

Swept Away (Sentimental Version)-The Avett Brothers

Three Bulls! has answered the Jedmunds call- today's song is a country-folksy roots offering from the Avett Brothers called "Swept Away" from their 2004 album Mignonette. Right off the bat we can see that we fucked up when we first bought the non-sentimental version, which is more banjo and like the band is playing at a bar that plays both kinds of music, alt- country and western, whereas the delicate and sensitive "Sentimental Version" has the female back-up and quietly picked and strummed guitar- oh a bonus verse by the backup singer so it is the old sing and response- and the lead vocals are sung in a more emotional and deliberate way. The normal version comes off as straight-ahead and doesn't quite connect, but the feeling in the "Sentimental Version" blows the doors off. A great song. We would guess this should be filed under alt-country, or bluegrass, or a little folky. The stuff that we listen to usually only has a little country flavor ("contains 1% country"), Iron and Wine, Kingsbury Manx, Wilco (not country but they have the roots), Mojave 3, Pernice Brothers, the Sadies, Neko Case, and Rilo Kiley. Easily worth 1.98 plus tax (we'll only count a buck against our stipulated 5. My rule is if you have heard of the band, borrowing is OK to preview, but if you want it, buy it. Support the band. Odds are no one would ever hear of them if everyone stole their shit. And writing about them on Teh internets does not absolve you of your sin against indie music.

Iggie has the next request as her first was already on our shelf. 4 dollars left, people. There have got to be songs out there that you want to share. Or just waste our money, pick something by GG Allin. No link, cobags, you can look it up in Wikipedia.

Monday, August 01, 2005

We Used To Be Friends-Dandy Warhols

Their videos are not great but you can listen and watch the song for free here.

Our first request of our Song of the Day challenge. This goes out to our loyal reader Iggie. Who is now making me think that I must know his Boston-lovin' tuna sub eating self, and maybe he is sending some bizarre message to me, like I have probably screwed him over somehow and know his comments are the frickin' Tell-Tale Heart thumping away under my floorboards. I totally don't think I killed anyone named Iggie, but if ghosts can post, I may be done for.

Today's song is "We Used To Be Friends" by the Portland retro-psych guitar fuzz jokesters. 3.2 million Americans, probably know this song as the theme song to the delightful "Veronica Mars" that has also featured some cool toons on the show, which probably stopped appearing when they got a full season pick up, because the rights to said cool songs would make the DVD impossible. The show twists the song into a cynical party shout out to all the people that maybe turned their backs on you in high school "We used to be friends/a long time ago/but I haven't thought of you lately at all...(falsetto) cmon now Honey/bring it on bring it on/yeah." Kind of like that 12th grade, f*ck you bastards, I'm shaking my booty on the way out of this joint.
In reality, the song is probably another Courtney Taylor-Taylor (their lead singer) special. He's basically a dick, who's a little (lot) self-absorbed, and the song is basically about, I'm this cool guy, and I just kind of forgot about your existence, which is the ultimate put down. Dick though he may be, these guys are a professional band, and notwithstanding their apparent subpar show at Lollapalooza, everytime I have seen them, they've put on a great show, a long show, and a professional show- they gave a shit, even if Courtney's attitude seemed otherwise. From their underrated more electronic-y, 80s-ish fourth album Welcome to the Monkey House. All albums are good, start with their second Dandy Warhols Come Down which features the stand outs "Be-In", their Neil Young jag-off "Minnesoter" and of course "Hard On (for Jesus)". WUTBF= 9/10, but Iggie, did we???

23 Lies-Death in Vegas

One of their nice come-downy space trip floating female vocal ones. This should be the part where the heroine realizes she's been totally fucked over, but she's still in the grip of the bad guy, but the bad guy really is Tom Cruise, even though he's playing the good guy, cuz the movie is Ridley Scott's Legend. This is one of those times where I'm not conveying anything that I want to convey. The point is for you to waste 99 cents or 10 or zero and see what I mean. The only bad songs we talk about here are clear that they are bad and all the other ones are good. We're trying to expand your horizons people. Go ahead, expand ours. We will buy from iTunes the first 5 songs you commenters request, the dearest songs to your little hearts and review them right here.